This Day in Comedy History
June 22 - June 30
1947 - Best known for playing Squiggy on the hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley, David L. Lander is born in Brooklyn, New York. Lander was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984, which he made public in 1999, and served as a Goodwill ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
1958 - Bruce Campbell is born in Royal Oak, Michigan. He starred in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead horror-comedy movie and TV franchise, and many low-budget cult films, including Crimewave (1985), Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989), Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), The Man with the Screaming Brain (2005), The Escort (2015) and My Name is Bruce (2007), which spoofs his movie career. He also starred in the TV series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–94) and Jack of All Trades (2000).
1974 - Actor and comedian Donald Faison is born in New York City. He is best known for starring as Dr. Chris Turk in the ABC/NBC series Scrubs (2001–2010) and as Phil Chase in the TV Lane sitcom The Exes (2011-2015). He also appeared in the movie Clueless (1995) and its spinoff television series. Other film credits include Uptown Girls (2003), Something New (2006), Next Day Air (2009), and Kick-Ass 2 (2013).
1988 - Based on the children’s song of the same name and produced by Cordell Barker for the National Film Board, the animated short The Cat Came Back is released. It was shown in Canadian theatres as an opener to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and A Fish Called Wanda, and would win a Genie Award and be nominated for an Oscar.
1995 - On The Jon Stewart Show, Marilyn Manson does two songs with his band, then lights a bible on fire, and they trash the stage. The show is cancelled the next day, leaving just that night’s show to go, where in a rare talk show appearance, David Letterman tells Stewart not to confuse cancellation with failure.
2014 - Steve Rossi, half of the 1960s comedy duo Allen & Rossi, who made more than 700 TV appearances, died of cancer aged 82. Allen & Rossi’s televised appearances included 44 Ed Sullivan Shows, among them two of the famed Beatles episodes.
1949 - The classic dark “Ealing Comedy” Kind Hearts and Coronets premieres in the UK, opening at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London. Featuring Alec Guinness playing nine different roles, it would be nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Film. In 1999 it was also ranked six in the British Film Institute's rating of the Top 100 British films, and in 2005 it was included in Time Magazine's list of the top 100 films produced since 1923.
1957 - “Triple Crown of Acting” (at least one Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award), and BAFTA Award winning actress Frances McDormand is born in Gibson City, Illinois. McDormand is best known for her collaborations with the Coen Brothers since the 1980s, including Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996), Burn After Reading (2008) and Hail, Caesar! (2016). Other film credits include Almost Famous (2000), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), The Butcher’s Wife (1991), Passed Away (1992), Wonder Boys (2000), Short Cuts (1993), Palookaville (1995), Madeline (1998) and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008).
1972 - Selma Blair is born in Southfield, Michigan. Selma Blair Beitner (born June 23, 1972) is an American actress. She starred as Zoe in the WB sitcom Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane (1999–2000), as Kim in the US version of Kath & Kim (2008-2009) and as Kate in the sitcom Anger Management (2012-2014). She is also known for her work on the big screen, in Legally Blonde (2001), The Sweetest Thing (2002), Storytelling (2001), A Guy Thing (2003), A Dirty Shame (2004), Dark Horse (2011), Ordinary World (2016) and Mom and Dad (2017).
1976 - The Neil Simon penned comedy mystery, featuring an ensemble cast of Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan, Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Truman Capote, James Coco, Nancy Walker, Alec Guinness and Estelle Winwood, Murder By Death opens in wide release.
1980 - With his first foray into hosting his own program, The David Letterman Show debuts on NBC. The 90-minute morning show would run……. yes, morning show, until August when it would be cut back to a one-hour format, and go off the air in October.
1983 - It’s Saturday night, which means Billy Barty’s Roller Fantasy in Fullerton, California isn’t just a family friendly roller skating rink - it’s also a concert venue! The veteran actor introduces the band New Order to his stage, who open their ten song set with Blue Monday as members of their audience roller skate in circles in front of them.
1996 - Actor Robert Downey Junior was arrested on drug charges after authorities found crack cocaine, heroin and an unloaded .357 Magnum revolver in his truck during a traffic stop in Malibu, California.
2011 - He was a four-time Emmy winner for his role as the title character in Columbo, but let’s not forget The In-Laws, The Princess Bride, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Cheap Detective, Robin And The 7 Hoods and The Great Race, actor Peter Falk passes away at the age of 83.
1916 - Silent film superstar and “The Girl with the Curls” Mary Pickford - also known as "America's Sweetheart" despite being Canadian - signs a new contract with studio boss George Zukor giving her full authority over production of the films in which she stars, as well as a salary of $10,000 per week - unheard of at the time.
1959 - Dutch singer and comedian Lodewijk Ferdinand Dieben, better known by his stage name Lou Bandy, commits suicide in his apartment, in his home town of The Hague, The Netherlands, at the age of 69. He was the nation’s - and one of Europe’s - most popular entertainers of the interwar period, known for his happy songs and playful lyrics, who unfortunately was not nearly so happy in his private life.
1965 - Actress Danielle Spencer, best known as a child star for her role as Dee Thomas on the 1970s ABC sitcom What's Happening!!, is born in Trenton, New Jersey. She would later reprise the role as an adult in the series' sequel, What's Happening Now!!
1966 - At a time when few bookers would take a chance on putting on a Lenny Bruce show, for fear of being shut down by police, rock empresario Bill Graham brings the comic to San Francisco for two nights at his legendary Fillmore Auditorium. Opening each show is Frank Zappa’s band The Mothers of Invention. While audience members might have said it wasn’t like seeing him at his peak, they didn’t yet know they were seeing his last ever live performances. He would pass away 5 weeks later.
1970 - Based on the Joseph Heller novel of the same name, the black war comedy Catch-22 opens. Directed by Mike Nichols, the cast includes Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Martin Balsam, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight, Paula Prentiss, Richard Benjamin and Buck Henry (who also did the screenplay).
1979 - A writer, director and executive producer, as well as playing Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s The Office, before creating, producing, and starring in her own series The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling is born Vera Mindy Chokalingam in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1985 - Stand-up comedian and actor Justin Hires is born in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is known for playing Detective James Carter on the CBS series Rush Hour, and for playing Juario in the film version of 21 Jump Street (2012).
1987 - Best remembered as Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, and no fewer than three different programs titled The Jackie Gleason Show, “The Great One” Jackie Gleason passes away, aged 71, at his Florida home.
1997 - Actor of stage, film and TV fame Brian Keith, suffering from lung cancer and financial difficulties, and two months after his daughter’s suice, committed suicide himself, at his home in Malibu, California. In his six decade long career he is best known for his television work, including starring roles in Family Affair, playing an uncle turned reluctant parent, his own The Brian Keith Show, and in the comedy series Heartland. He also appeared in such movies as Disney’s original The Parent Trap (1961) and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! (1966). He would be given a posthumous star on the Walk of Fame in 2008.
1939 - Stage and TV actress Barbara Montgomery is born in Queens, New York. She began her career in New York theatrical groups such as Negro Ensemble Company and the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, eventually winning an Obie Award and appearing on Broadway. She is best known for playing Cassietta Hetebrink in the NBC sitcom Amen for the first four seasons, before leaving to star in ABC’s sitcom Married People.
1951 - On this date in 1951, at 4:35pm, CBS aired the first color show in TV history. It was a one hour live program appropriately named “Premiere”. The second half was hosted by Ed Sullivan and it featured humorist Sam Levenson, the Bil and Cora Baird marionettes, a well received vegetable slicer sketch by Garry Moore and Durward Kirby. The show was broadcast to 19 specially built color receivers provided by CBS in five cities on the east coast of the US.
1971 - Angela Martin on the U.S. version of The Office, also from the sitcoms Your Family Or Mine and Haters Back Off, as well as co-hosting the award-winning podcast Office Ladies with Jenna Fischer, actress Angela Kinsey is born in Lafayette, Louisiana.
25 June 1979 - British comedy legend Ernie Morecambe, of Morecambe & Wise, had a heart bypass operation following his second heart attack. His doctors told him he only had three months to live, but he would continue performing until his dying day - in 1984.
2014 - Presented by Funny Or Die, the second Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival is announced, with a monster lineup including Sarah Silverman, Louis CK, , Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr, Marc Maron, Whitney Cummings, Demetri Martin, Reggie Watts, Amy Schumer, Nate Bargatze, Jim Jefferies, Hannibal Buress, Dave Attell, Rory Scovel and more!
1925 - The film that he said he most wanted to be remembered for, and one selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress, Charlie Chaplin’s film The Gold Rush is released. The movie also includes the famous dancing bread rolls scene.
1946 - Citing health issues, radio star Fred Allen had announced he would be stepping down from the show, and the final episode of The Fred Allen Show aired on NBC on this date. The kicker, his final guest was the other radio giant he had waged a faux rivalry with for years, Jack Benny.
1953 - Prior to the release of their film adaptation of the Broadway stage hit, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-stars Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell have their prints enshrined in concrete at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
1955 - Actor and comedian Gary "Gedde" Watanabe is born in Ogden, Utah. He is best known for voicing the character of Ling in the Mulan (1998) and Mulan II (2004), and for playing Asian exchange student Long Duk Dong in John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles (1984).
1956 - Chris Isaak is born in Stockton, California. He’s definitely most famous as a singer/songwriter, but is also an actor who comedy fans will best remember for his own adult sitcom The Chris Isaak Show on Showtime.
1980 - From his film debut in 1998’s Rushmore, an actor most associated with director Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr. Fox) though also known for I Heart Huckabees, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Big Eyes, Shopgirl and Bewitched, Jason Schwartzman is born in Los Angeles.
1984 - A sketch and improv performer with the Upright Citizens Brigade, best known for playing April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, Aubrey Plaza is born in Wilmington, Delaware. FUN FACT: She shares a birthday with Parks and Rec castmate Nick Offerman.
1992 - Jennette McCurdy is born in Los Angeles. She is known for playing Sam in Nickelodeon’s teen sitcom iCarly (2007–2012) and its spin-off series Sam & Cat (2013–2014). She also appeared in Malcolm in the Middle (2003–2005) and her own web series What's Next for Sarah? (2014).
2002 - Feeling scorned by the community, Butters (in his guise as Professor Chaos) keeps coming up with plans to get revenge, only to be told they’ve all been done before…...on The Simpsons. The South Park episode Simpsons Already Did It airs on Comedy Central.
2008 - Brian Keith, an American stage, film and TV actor whose career spanned more than six decades, is given a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Keith is best known for his television work, including starring roles in Family Affair, playing an uncle turned reluctant parent, his own The Brian Keith Show, and in the CBS comedy series Heartland.
1974 - The first successful variety show hosted by an African-American performer on US network television, as well as a forum to present musical acts and up and coming comedians to a new audience, comes to a close after four seasons. The final Flip Wilson Show airs on NBC.
1980 - The first movie written and directed by the Zucker (David), Abrahams, and Zucker (Jerry) team, Airplane! opens at 7 theatres in Toronto and 2 in Buffalo. The following week the Leslie Nielsen starring flick would open in wide release and be one of the highest grossing films of the year.
1986 - The Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker kidnapping, murder, adultry, blackmail, black comedy Ruthless People opens in theatres. The cast includes Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater, Bill Pullman and Anita Morris.
1995 - Rom-com superstar Hugh Grant is arrested for engaging in "lewd conduct" with a prostitute in a rented BMW in Los Angeles… As far as premises go, that probably ranks somewhere between Notting Hill and Two Weeks Notice.
1995 - WMMS Cleveland radio engineer William Alford was sentenced to ten days in jail and a $1,000 fine for snipping a wire to cut off a Howard Stern Show broadcast the previous year, in which Stern held a “funeral” party in the streets of Cleveland for his “dead” competitors after reaching #1 in the ratings. Stern continued on with the program over a phone line as engineers worked to quickly patch together the severed broadcast wire. Two WMMS colleagues were later also found guilty of misdemeanors.
2001 - South Park introduces physically challenged character Jimmy Valmer to the mix and many assume he and Timmy will immediately bond. They would be wrong. The episode Cripple Fight airs on Comedy Central.
2003 - Dead Like Me premieres on Showtime. With over a million viewers, it’s the highest rated show to premiere on the network ever - a record that wouldn’t be broken until Shameless (US) premiered seven years later.
1926 - The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety and Spaceballs are just some of the films from a guy who started in the writer’s room at Your Show Of Shows. The legendary Mel Brooks is born in New York City.
1932 - Initially known for his recurring roles on M*A*S*H, Sanford and Son and Blansky’s Beauties before landing the part of “Arnold” Takahashi on Happy Days, and then landing the part of Mr, Miyagi in The Karate Kid. Pat Morita is born in Isleton, California.
1938 - Comic and impressionist known for his early appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, his own John Byner Comedy Hour, multiple appearances on Soap and The Carol Burnett Show, his 80’s sketch series Bizarre and 90’s stand-up showcase Comedy On The Road, John Byner is born in New York City.
1948 - Academy Award winning actress Kathy Bates is born in Memphis, Tennessee. Selected film credits include Primary Colors, About Schmidt and Fried Green Tomatoes. On television, she starred in the legal comedy-drama Harry’s Law and won a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the 1997 mini-series The Late Shift, about the behind-the-scenes late night talk show “war” between Jay Leno and David Letterman.
1951 - Amos n’ Andy premieres on US TV, and despite drawing immediate criticism from the NAACP it runs until 1953, and airs in syndication until 1966 when CBS bowed to pressure and made the unprecedented decision to pull the show from its airwaves entirely.
1951 - The classic English “Ealing Comedy” The Lavender Hill Mob is released in the UK. The film would go on to win the BAFTA Award for Best British Film while at the Oscars it also won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay while its star Alec Guinness was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The British Film Institute has ranked this movie the 17th greatest British film of all time.
1966 - Actor, writer, producer from films including Grosse Pointe Blank, Hot Tub Time Machine, America’s Sweethearts, Sixteen Candles, High Fidelity, Bullets Over Broadway, Tapeheads and Say Anything. John Cusack is born in Evanston, Illinois.
1969 - Actress and comedian Tichina Arnold is born in New York City. Film credits include Little Shop of Horrors (1986) and How I Got into College (1989), but she’s better known for her work on TV. She played Pam in Fox’s sitcom Martin (1992-1997), mom Rochelle on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009), Judi in TV Land’s sitcom Happily Divorced (2011-2013), Cassie in the sitcom Survivor's Remorse (2014-2017) and Tina in the CBS sitcom series The Neighborhood (2018-).
1969 - Danielle Brisebois is born in Brooklyn, New York. She is best known for her childhood role as Stephanie Mills in Norman Lear’s sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. She also played Molly in the original Broadway production of the musical Annie.
1979 - The Canadian summer camp comedy Meatballs is released. In addition to it being the highest grossing film in the country for the year (and thus winning the Golden Reel Award at the next year’s Genies) it also gave Bill Murray his starring role in a movie and launched Ivan Reitman’s career as a director.
2015 - Brooklyn-born comedian Jack Carter passed away, aged 93. Carter’s TV appearances included Cavalcade of Stars. He had a long career and is remembered for his fast-paced delivery of jokes, similar to contemporary comedians Morey Amsterdam and Milton Berle.
1919 - Rodeo performer turned actor known for films including Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles, The Flim-Flam Man, Never A Dull Moment, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Hawmps! and 1941, Slim Pickens is born in Kingsburg, California.
1933 - Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle died of a heart attack on the night of June 29, 1933, shortly after celebrating with friends in Manhattan. His career and life, which were derailed by a major Hollywood scandal years earlier, were finally getting back on track. That morning he had signed his first feature film deal with Warner Brothers, and it was his and his wife’s first anniversary.
1944 - Actor Gary Busey is born in Goose Creek, Texas. Comedy credits include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Entourage (the series and feature film), The Player, Piranha 3DD, Black Sheep, Rookie of the Year, Nashville, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Sharknado 4 and The Last Sharknado, Bounty Killer, Dr. Dolittle 3, Chasers, The Gingerdead Man, Insignificance, Slap Shot 2, Bikini Academy and D.C. Cab.
1961 - Sharon Lawrence is born in Charlotte, North Carolina. She starred in the sitcoms Fired Up, Ladies Man, Drop Dead Diva and Me, Myself and I. She also had recurring roles in Desperate Housewives, Shameless and On Becoming a God in Central Florida.
1964 - Kathleen Wilhoite is born in Santa Barbara, California. Film credits include Private School (1983) and Crossing Delancey (1988), but she is best known for her recurring role as Liz Danes on Gilmore Girls.
1967 - Sex symbol and actress from the comedies Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Girl Can’t Help It, The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw, A Guide for the Married Man, Too Hot to Handle and Promises! Promises!, Jayne Mansfield is killed in a high speed car crash outside of Slidell, Louisiana, in Eastern New Orleans, at just 34 years old.
1967 - Michael’s sometime boss, sometime love interest, all times adversary Jan Levinson on The Office, also known for Monk, Transparent and The Bold Type, actress and singer Melora Hardin is born in Houston, Texas.
1978 - Actor Bob Crane, best known for his portrayal of Colonel Robert Hogan on the war sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, is murdered in the Scottsdale, Arizona apartment he was staying in while performing in Beginner’s Luck at the local Windmill Dinner Theater.
1978 - An Emmy Award winner for his portrayal of Lenny Bruce in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, actor Luke Kirby is born in Hamilton, Ontario. The National Theatre School of Canada graduate is also known for the films Take This Waltz and Mambo Italiano, and the TV shows Slings and Arrows, Republic Of Doyle and Little Voice.
1982 - SNL’s Colin Jost is born in New York City. The comedian has been a writer for Saturday Night Live since 2005 and Weekend Update co-anchor since 2014, who has had two stints as a head writer on the show.
2020 - Actor, comic, writer and producer known for his works with Mel Brooks, on the sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, Your Show Of Shows and the Oceans trio of films, who would win 11 Emmy Awards, a Grammy, be inducted into the Television Hall Of Fame and receive the Mark Twain Prize For American Humor, Carl Reiner passes away in his home at the age of 98.
1936 - Actress Nancy Dussault is born in Pensacola, Florida. In her 50+ year career, the two-time Tony Award nominated actress and singer is best known for playing Muriel Rush in the sitcom Too Close for Comfort (1980–1987).
1952 - David Garrison is born in Long Branch, New Jersey. He’s a prolific theatre actor but most comedy fans will know him best as the Bundys neighbour Steve Rhoades in the sitcom Married... with Children.
1974 - Comedian and actor Tony Rock is born in Brooklyn, New York. He’s best known for playing Uncle Ryan on Everybody Hates Chris (2008-2009) and starring in the CBS sitcom Living Biblically. He also appeared in the series All of Us (2003-2007) and hosted the game show Can You Tell?
1982 - Lizzy Caplan is born in Los Angeles. She first acted in the cult comedy Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000) and went on to star in Related (2005–2006), The Class (2006–2007), and Party Down (2009–2010). Movie credits include Mean Girls (2004), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), Save the Date (2012), Bachelorette (2012) and The Interview (2014).
1994 - The premier stand-up showcase show of its time, the final original episode of An Evening At The Improv airs. Marsha Warfield hosts, with guests Dana Gould, Nancy Norton, Alex Thomas, Michael Platt and John Mendoza.