This Day in Comedy History
May 22 - May 31
1927 - American actor of Greek descent Michael Constantine is born Gus Efstratiou in Reading Pennsylvania. He is today best known for playing Nia Vardalos’ father Gus in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel, but earned acclaim much earlier for his 1970s television work, especially as long-suffering high school principal Seymour Kaufman on ABC sitcom Room 222, for which he won an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Primetime Emmy Award. He also starred in his own sitcom Sirota’s Court, as Judge Matthew J. Sirota.
1938 - Actor and movie director Richard Benjamin is born in New York City. He first came to prominence as an actor, starring in a number of well-known comedies such as Goodbye, Columbus (1969), Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1970) and Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys (1975). Later he focused on directing; his first feature film was My Favorite Year (1982), followed by such other notable comedies as City Heat (1984), starring Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood, The Money Pit (1986) with Tom Hanks, and Whoopi Goldberg in Made in America (1993).
1942 - It’s certainly an original film. Covering a quarter-century of American 'syncopated’ music (Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, Blues, Boogie Woogie) from the early 1900s through prohibition, the stock-market crash, the depression and into WWII, with music lover Bonita Granville and coronet player Jackie Cooper trying to wring out laughs along the way. William Dieterle’s Syncopation, also starring Adolphe Menjou as Granville's father, premieres.
1954 - The Boxtop Kid episode of The Jackie Gleason Show premieres, featuring the familiar Honeymooners characters. Seeing Alice’s sister off on a cruise to Europe - and a bunch of other prizes she won - a jealous Ralph gets the idea of buying a bunch of foods that are running contests so he can win something for himself. With Ed’s “help”, he does win - a big dog from The Happy Hound Dog Food Company! Not deterred, Ralph tries to claim another prize by scamming Slimo bread into believing he (Ed posing as Ralph) has lost fifty pounds eating their product.
1961 - Actress Ann Cusack (The Jeff Foxworthy Show, A League of Their Own) is born.
1962 - At the 14th Emmy Awards the short-lived original Bob Newhart Show wins for Outstanding Comedy Program (the first time a show that only lasted one season - comedy or drama - ever won the top prize). Don Knotts took Outstanding Supporting Actor for his role as Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show, Carl Reiner won Outstanding Writing for The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Peter Falk won the Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role trophy for an appearance on The Dick Powell Theatre.
1964 - Stand-up comedian and actor Mark Christopher Lawrence is born. Best known as Big Mike on NBC’s series Chuck, he has also appeared in many other shows, including My Name is Earl, Crossing Jordan, Dharma & Greg, Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm & Eddie, Men Behaving Badly, Seinfeld, Murphy Brown, Good Luck Charlie and Martin. Movie fans may also recognize him as DJ Tone Def, in the 1994 rap mockumentary Fear of a Black Hat.
1965 - In the Gilligan’s Island episode Goodbye Old Paint, the castaways find a famous eccentric artist on the island, and try to trick him into wanting to return to civilization so that they can go home too. We’ll let you wonder if their plan succeeds or not, but here’s a hint: it’s Gilligan’s Island.
1968 – Irish comedian, writer and actor Graham Linehan is born. He is best known for his TV work, having created or co-created the sitcoms Father Ted (1995–1998), Black Books (2000–2004) and The IT Crowd (2006–2013). As a writer, he has also worked on Count Arthur Strong, Brass Eye and The Fast Show.
1970 - Stand-up comedian Brody Stevens is born Steven James Brody. He is best remembered for starring in his own Comedy Central reality series Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!, and his many appearances on other comedy series, particularly as a regular panelist on Chelsea Lately. Notable film roles include The Hangover and Due Date.
1974 - Actor Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Gilmore Girls) is born.
1976 - Comedian Buck Henry is back hosting Saturday Night Live for the second time, with musical guest Gordon Lightfoot.
1976 - Laverne & Shirley point at the ceiling on the cover of TV Guide.
1981 - The Richard Pryor movie Bustin' Loose is released, co-starring Cicely Tyson.
1985 - Richard Pryor must have liked releasing movies on May 22nd! His hit film Brewster's Millions, co-starring John Candy, also hit theatres, on this day.
1986 - Molly Ephraim is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A film, television, and Broadway actress, she is best known for her role as Mandy Baxter in the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing (2011–2017) and her work on other comedy series, including Brockmire (2017) and Casual (2018).
1989 - The popular sitcom Kate & Allie, starring Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin as two divorcees, one free-spirited and one not-so-much, who decide to share a home with their combined three kids, airs its 122nd and final episode on CBS, bringing the show to a close after six seasons.
1992 - American actress Anna Baryshnikov is born. She is known for starring as Lavinia Norcross Dickinson in the Apple TV+ series Dickinson as well as the CBS sitcom Superior Donuts, while also appearing in the British sitcom Doll & Em.
1992 - The actual final episode of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, with no guests but lots of clips, airs on NBC. The show ends with Carson perched on a stool and saying: “And so it has come to this: I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I want to thank the gentlemen who've shared this stage with me for thirty years. Mr. Ed McMahon, Mr. Doc Severinsen, and you people watching. I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. And I hope when I find something that I want to do and I think you would like and come back, that you'll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been. I bid you a very heartfelt good night.”
2002 - About Schmidt premieres at Cannes. The comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Kathy Bates, Dermot Mulroney and Howard Hesseman would go on to win two Academy Awards - Nicholson for Best Actor, and Bates for Best Supporting Actress.
2002 - Homer becomes chief of police after Chief Wiggum is forced out under a cloud of scandal in The Simpsons episode Papa's Got a Brand New Badge, premiering on this date.
2005 - American voice actor and singer Thurl Ravenscroft passes away in Fullerton, California. Ravenscroft is remembered for voicing many Disney features, providing the booming voice behind Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes animated spokesman Tony the Tiger in TV commercials for more than 50 years, and as the vocalist of the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from the classic Christmas television special, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
2009 - Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is released, starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.
2011 - The Simpsons episode The Ned-Liest Catch premieres. Mrs. Krabbapple gets suspended after Bart gets hurt, but Flanders comes to her rescue - will romance ensue?
2019 - ABC broadcasts Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons, produced by Lear and Jimmy Kimmel and starring Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, Kerry Washington and Ellie Kemper.
This Day in Comedy History
1910 – American musician, actor and comedian Scatman Crothers is born, as Benjamin Sherman Crothers. He was a prolific voice-over artist for various animated series and movies (including Hong Kong Phooey and Aristocats), and also appeared in many movies as an actor (among them The Patsy, Silver Streak, The Cheap Detective, Bronco Billy and Zapped!) - but he is probably best remembered by comedy fans as Louie the Garbage Man on the TV show Chico and the Man.
1958 - Stand-up, star of his own eponymous TV series, and host of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (US) and The Price is Right, Drew Carey is born in Cleveland, Ohio. And why wouldn't he be? "Cleveland Rocks!"
1969 - With their first film, the horror comedy The Maltese Bippy about to open. Rowan & Martin hide out on the cover of Life Magazine.
1975 – Jackie Mary Aiken passes away. She is best remembered for her legendary comedy character Jackie “Moms” Mabley, which she developed in the 1920s and became a hit on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” of African-American vaudeville. She would become the first female stand-up to play the Apollo Theatre and to headline Carnegie Hall.
1981 - Breaking through in the American market, the cast of SCTV - the winners of our “Best Sketch Comedy EVER” WWCA Readers’ Poll - make the cover of TV Guide Canada.
1981 - Eight Is Enough, the ABC sitcom based on newspaper columnist Tom Braden’s comically autobiographical book, and starring Dick Van Patten as the father of eight kids, comes to an end as its 112th and final episode airs, after a successful five season run.
1991 - An episode that the network didn’t want to have produced, that would go on to be considered one of the classics of the Seinfeld series, Jerry, Elaine and George spend the entire show waiting for a table in The Chinese Restaurant. The episode is also notable as being the first of only two episodes to not include Michael Richards as Kramer.
2005 - Fisher Stevens is the victim of a celebrity roast in NYC, with such guest roasters as Annette O'Toole and Michael McKean (the roastmaster). The roast raised money for Naked Angels, a New York theater group that Stevens founded.
2008 - Chris Rock becomes the first comedian to headline the o2 Arena in London on this, the first of a two-night engagement.
2014 - The Angriest Man in Brooklyn premieres, starring Robin Williams as a man who cuts loose after finding out that he’s living on borrowed time.
2015 – Comedian and actress Anne Meara passes away. She is best remembered as half of the comedy team Stiller & Meara with her husband, Jerry Stiller; they hit it big in the 1960s.
This Day in Comedy History
1914 - Two-time Golden Globe nominee Lilli Palmer is born Lilli Marie Peiser in Posen, Prussia (now Poznań, Poland). She worked extensively in both British films (in the 1930s), and then in major Hollywood productions. A popular international actress, she worked in countless comedies, among them: The Pleasure of His Company (1961), God's Thunder (1965), Her Man Gilbey (1944), But Not for Me (1959), Fireworks (1954), And So to Bed (1963), A Girl Must Live (1939), High Society Limited (1982), The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965), Good Morning, Boys (1937), The Gentle Sex (1943), No Minor Vices (1948), Life Together (1958) and The Four Poster (1952).
1926 - Stanley Baxter is born in Glasgow. A comedian, impressionist and author, Baxter began his career as a child actor on BBC Scotland and later became known for his British television comedy shows, particularly his own variety and sketch series (The Stanley Baxter Show, The Stanley Baxter Picture Show, The Stanley Baxter Series) and for starring as the title character in the children’s series Mr. Majeika.
1938 - Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong is born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Aside from his Cheech and Chong projects, he’s also known for many solo movie appearances, as well as TV roles - particularly for playing Leo in Fox's That '70s Show.
1943 - He’s of course best known for playing Corporal “Radar” O’Reilly in the movie M*A*S*H as well as the TV series based on it - the only major character to be in both. But he’s also an accomplished theatre actor (originating the role of Charlie Brown in 1967’s You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and was a regular panelist on the celebrity game show Match Game. Gary Burghoff is born in Bristol, Connecticut.
1944 - Dominique Lavanant is born in Morlaix, France. A César Award-winning film and theatrical actress, she is renowned for her comedy skills especially with posh and distinguished characters.
1945 - Priscilla Presley is born in Brooklyn, New York. As an actress, she is best known for co-starring with Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun film trilogy, as well as the Andrew Dice Clay movie The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
1949 - Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actor Jim Broadbent is born in London, England. Best known for dramatic work, Broadbent is also known for playing Roy Slater in Only Fools and Horses. Notable comedy film roles include The Borrowers (1997), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Hot Fuzz (2007), Another Year (2010), Arthur Christmas (2011), Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2 (2017).
1953 - Alfred Molina is born in Paddington, London, England. Notable comedy film roles include: Promising Young Woman, Vice, The Devil Has a Name, Breakable You, We’ll Never Have Paris, Love is Strange, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein. He has also provided voice work for the films Rango (2011), Monsters University (2013), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) and Frozen II (2019).
1960 - Actress Kristin Scott Thomas is born in Redruth, Cornwall, England. A five-time BAFTA Award, and an Academy Award and Olivier Award nominee, she won the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). She is also known for such films as Gosford Park (2001), The Valet (2006), Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), and My Old Lady (2014).
1965 - John C. Reilly is born in Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for starring as the title character in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, earning Grammy and Golden Globe nominations for its title song, for voicing Wreck It Ralph in the Disney film series, and for co-starring with Will Ferrell in both Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers. His supporting role in Chicago and co-starring role with Steve Coogan in Stan & Ollie (playing Oliver Hardy) earned him an Oscar nomination and two more Golden Globe nods. His other credits include Cyrus, Carnage, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Lobster, Cedar Rapids, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, The Dictator and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. But wait, there’s more! Because on TV, he played Dr. Steve Brule in Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, a character so popular it was spun off into its own series, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule - and he created and starred in the Showtime series Moonbase 8. So yeah, the guy’s done some mother-flippin’ comedy.
1967 - Rapper Heavy D is born Dwight Arrington Myers in Mandeville, Jamaica. He made guest appearances in many sitcoms, and is also known for acting in the films Who's the Man? (1993), B*A*P*S (1997), The Deli (1997), Life (1999), Big Trouble (2002), Larceny (2004) and Tower Heist (2011).
1971 - Drive, He Said premieres at Cannes. Directed by Jack Nicholson, the comedy follows the star player of a college basketball team, whose life starts to go off the rails as he engages in an illicit love affair and his roommate desperately schemes to avoid the war draft. The film stars William Tepper, Karen Black, Michael Margotta and Bruce Dern.
1975 - Funnyman Will Sasso is born in Ladner, British Columbia, Canada. The actor and comedian’s most memorable roles include five seasons as a cast member on MADtv and the sitcoms Less than Perfect (2003-2006), How I Met Your Mother (2008-2012), and United We Fall (2020). On the big screen he has made many appearances, most notably for starring as Curly in The Three Stooges (2012).
ALT: With a covering featuring the hit shows Mork & Mindy, Taxi, Three’s Company and WKRP in Cincinnati, TV Guide asks if sitcoms are getting better, or worse… For your sake I hope they’re getting even better, TV Guide!
1981 - Aussie comedian and musician Andy Lee is born in Melbourne. He is known for his work alongside Hamish Blake in the comedy duo Hamish & Andy, and as an author of children’s books.
1984 - American television and film actress Sarah Hagan is born in Austin, Texas. Her acting work includes the films Orange County and Spring Breakdown, and the TV series Freaks & Geeks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
1997 - Irish actor Edward Mulhare dies in Van Nuys, California. He is best remembered for starring in the supernatural sitcom The Ghost & Mrs. Muir with Hope Lange, based on the hit movie. He also starred in the TV movie Gidget Grows Up.
2002 - The tale of Terry Cahill and Dean Murdoch, two headbanging buddies who live by the credo “Just Give’r”, Michael Dowse’s film starring Dave Lawrence and Paul Spence, FUBAR opens in limited release.
2004 - “Captain Stubby” (real name Tom Fouts) passes away following a stroke in Kokomo, Indiana, at the age of 85. The comedian and author is best remembered for his many humour columns, his own radio show, and particularly for his radio appearances with his musical group “Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers”.
2005 - Feinstein’s At The Regency nightclub in New York City hosts cabaret act No Standards, with a cast consisting of husband and wife Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole, and their stepdaughter Nell Geisslinger. The show would run through June 4th… That same night, McKean is seen as a guest programmer for Turner Classic Movies, presenting four of his favorite films: Paths of Glory (1957), North by Northwest (1959), The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1943) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954).
2008 - Dick Martin passes away in Santa Monica, CA. The American comedian and director was best known as the co-host of the sketch comedy program Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In from 1968 to 1973.
2010 - English ventriloquist and television entertainer Ray Alan passes away in his sleep in Reigate, Surrey, England, aged 79. He was a prominent entertainer from the 1950s into the 1980s, touring the world as a cabaret artist with an act that also showcased his magic skills and musical ability (he played the ukulele) - but he is primarily remembered for his work with his dummy Lord Charles (whose look was partially inspired by Stan Laurel) and puppets Tich and Quackers. FUN FACT: Lord Charles was the first ventriloquist's dummy to have his own personal microphone, which became a staple for ventriloquist acts thereafter.
2011 - In New York, the season two finale of Glee, the Glee Club gets ready to perform at the Nationals in New York City. Which is really high stakes... I mean, this isn’t just regionals, guys - this is nationals!
2013 - The Hangover III is released, starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis… Will these guys never learn?!
2014 - Chicago’s Annoyance Theater held their first performance at their new Belmont space - it was founder Mick Napier's Invisible World.
2021 - Broadway and movie actor Samuel E. Wright, best remembered for voicing Sebastian in Disney's The Little Mermaid, including providing the lead vocals for the Best Original Song Academy Award winning toe-tapper "Under the Sea", dies of prostate cancer at his home in Walden, New York, at the age of 74.
This Day in Comedy History
1862 - Most of his works were German language Possen mit Gesang (“farces with singing”). He also produced a number of operatic parodies (including Cendrillion, La Cenerentola, Lohengrin, Martha, Robert le diable, Tannhäuser and Zampa) as well as works parodying popular dramas (including Karl von Holtei's Lorbeerbaum und Bettelstab and Raupach's Robert der Teufel). From Graz and Pressburg to a residency at Theater an der Wien, his more than 80 comedy works, famed for their social criticism and biting satire, live on - and continue to be produced - today. Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy passes away in Graz, Austria.
1878 - Bill Robinson is born Luther Robinson in Richmond, Virginia - though he became famous under his stage name, “Bojangles.” As a tap dancer, actor, and singer his career progressed from minstrel shows to vaudeville to radio (where he was known for his catchword “copacetic!”), then on to Broadway and the recording industry. Then he was on TV and in Hollywood musicals, where he is best remembered today for dancing with Shirley Temple in a series of films in the 1930s. His signature routine was the “Stair Dance,” in which he would rhythmically tap up and down a staircase - a routine so important to his act that he attempted to patent it. A very popular performer, he became the most famous and best paid black entertainer in the first half of the 20th century. FUN FACT: Well, not so much “fun” as “important” - Robinson used his popularity to challenge and overcome numerous racial barriers of his day, such as becoming: one of the earliest black performers to overcome vaudeville's infamous “two-color rule” by performing solo... and one of the first minstrel/vaudeville performers to perform as black without wearing blackface makeup... and one of the first black headliners on Broadway, including becoming the first black performer to headline a mixed-race Broadway production… and the first black performer to appear in a Hollywood film in an interracial dance number (with Shirley Temple in 1935’s The Little Colonel). He also led and supported a number of causes to fight racial prejudice in his private life as well.
1888 - William Malleson is born in Croydon, Surrey, England, but he’s more famously known as English actor Miles Malleson. He is particularly remembered for his appearances in British comedy films from the 1930s to 1960s - most notably as the poetic hangman in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), as Dr. Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), and as The Sultan in the fantasy film The Thief of Bagdad (1940). As a dramatist he is probably best remembered for his adaptations of Molière's plays The Misanthrope (which he titled The Slave of Truth), Tartuffe and The Imaginary Invalid.
1917 - Broadway, film and TV actor - and one of the original "Hollywood Bad Boys" - Steve Cochran is born in Eureka, California as Robert Alexander Cochran. Cochran appeared in such films as The Gay Senorita (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946), She's Back on Broadway (1953), and with Groucho Marx in Copacabana (1947).
1925 - Academy Award nominated actress Jeanne Crain is born in Barstow, California. Among her many film roles are the comedies Margie (1946), Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), People Will Talk (1951) and Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) and Apartment for Peggy (1948), co-starring with William Holden (pictured).
1926 - Claude Akins is born in Nelson, Georgia. He had a long career as a theatre, film and TV actor, but Akins is definitely best remembered for playing Sheriff Lobo on the 1979–1981 television series B. J. and the Bear, and later The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, a spin-off series.
1933 - Sarah Marshall is born in London, England. A Tony Award nominated theatre actress, she was also a frequent guest star in many television series of the 1960s and 1970s. But she is best remembered for her only full-time regular series role - as Evelyn Winslow in the 1979 sitcom Miss Winslow & Son in 1979. On the big screen, Marshall also appeared in the films Lord Love a Duck, Wild and Wonderful, Dave, and The Long, Hot Summer.
1939 - Broadway and TV actress Dixie Carter is born McLemoresville, Tennessee. Carter was a regular in many sitcoms, including On Our Own (1977–1978), Filthy Rich (1982–1983), Diff'rent Strokes (1984–1985) and Desperate Housewives (2006–2007), but is best remembered for starring as Julia Sugarbaker in Designing Women (1986-1993).
1939 - Ian McKellan is born in Burnley, Lancashire, England. The acting legend is best known for dramatic roles, but on the comedy side he can be seen in such films as Last Action Hero, Cats (which is terrible), Cold Comfort Farm, Jack and Sarah, I’ll Do Anything and Six Degrees of Separation. His voice can be heard in Flushed Away, Doogal, The Magic Roundabout, and Animal Crackers. On the small screen, he starred in the comedy series Vicious, and was also the special guest star for an episode of Ricky Gervais’ Extras (pictured), for which he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. He also starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in The Dresser, and appeared in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
1943 - Tony Award winning and Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress Leslie Uggams is born in Washington Heights, New York City. She has made many guest appearances in TV series (such as The Muppet Show) and hosted her own variety series The Leslie Uggams Show, and has also been seen in films like Deadpool and Deadpool 2.
1944 - Frank Oz is born Frank Richard Oznowicz in Herford, Herefordshire, England. The American actor, puppeteer, and director began his career with Jim Henson’s Muppets, performing and voicing such classic characters as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and doing the same for Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. As a director, his films include such comedy classics as The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), What About Bob? (1991), In & Out (1997), Bowfinger (1999) and Death at a Funeral (2007).
1947 - Karen Valentine is born in Sebastopol, California. The actress is best known for playing idealistic schoolteacher Alice Johnson in Room 222 (1969-1974), winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1970 and receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination in 1971. She also starred in her own short-lived sitcom Karen (1975), and in the Disney family comedies Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978) with Don Knotts, and The North Avenue Irregulars (1979).
1955 - The Pitbull of Comedy, gravelly voiced stand-up and actor (Get Shorty, Dream Girls, Bandits) Bobby Slayton is born in Scarsdale, New York.
1959 - Alternative comedian, TV personality, pantomime artist and author Julian Clary is born Surbiton, Surrey, England. A television fixture since the mid-1980s, coming to prominence through a series of appearances on Friday Night Live, he is mostly known today for hosting and guesting on a number of reality and game shows, like Prickly Heat, Trick or Treat, All Rise for Julian Clary, Sushi TV for Challenge, It's Only TV...but I Like It (as a quiz team captain), The All Star Talent Show, The Underdog Show, and of course his own campy satirical game show Sticky Moments with Julian Clary. He’s also known for co-starring with Lee Simpson in Channel 4’s sitcom Terry and Julian, a parody of Terry and June in which the audience was asked to participate, and for winning Celebrity Big Brother 10 in 2012.
1963 - Mike Myers is born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. SNL, Wayne's World, Austin Powers, Shrek, yadda yadda... we won’t waste too much of your time telling you about him, we’re pretty sure you already know who Mike Myers is.
1969 - Anne Heche is born in Aurora, Ohio. Her film credits include the sex comedy Spread (2009), Cedar Rapids (2011), Rampart (2011), the dark comedy Catfight (2016), but she’s probably best known for co-starring with Harrison Ford in the rom-com adventure film Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). On TV, Heche starred in Men in Trees (2006–08), Hung (2009–11) and Save Me (2013).
1970 - Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actress Octavia Spencer is born in Montgomery, Alabama. She has appeared in such comedy movies as Gifted (2017), Instant Family (2018), Onward (2020) and Thunder Force (2021). On TV she could be seen in the CBS sitcom Mom (2013–2015).
1970 - Stand-up comedian and actor Jamie Kennedy is born in Upper Darby, PA. He is best known for The Jamie Kennedy Experiment (2002–2004) on The WB Network, and for providing voice-work for the series The Cleveland Show. Also he has appeared in such films as Bowfinger (1999), Malibu's Most Wanted (2003), Finding Bliss (2009) and Good Deeds (2012).
1972 - “KJo” - aka Karan Kumar Johar - is born in Bombay, India. A television personality who also works in Hindi films, he is known for directing the romantic comedy-drama Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) but is most recognizable for hosting his own talk show, Koffee with Karan, the dating show What the Love!, and the radio show Calling Karan.
1973 - Actress Molly Sims is born in Murray, Kentucky. She is best known for playing Delinda Deline in NBC's comedy-drama series Las Vegas (2003–2008) with James Caan and Josh Duhamel (pictured), as well as for roles in such films as The Benchwarmers (2006), Yes Man (2008), The Pink Panther 2 (2009), and Fired Up! (2009)
1975 - While it actually had its World Premiere in March in Los Angeles (at that point a city in a country that didn’t yet know them), Monty Python and the Holy Grail opens in the UK.
1976 - Actor Ethan Suplee is born in Manhattan, New York City. He is known to comedy fans for appearing in several Kevin Smith films as well as The Wolf of Wall Street, Without a Paddle and Fanboys (pictured). On TV he played Frankie in Boy Meets World, and Earl’s dimwitted brother Randy Hickey in My Name Is Earl, which is the role he is probably best known for.
1976 - Cillian Murphy is born in Cork, Ireland. Known for more dramatic roles, Murphy can still be seen in a number of comedies, including Breakfast on Pluto (2005), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, and an IFTA win. Other credits include the dark comedy Intermission (2003), Sunburn (1999), Perrier’s Bounty (2009), Watching the Detectives (2007), Free Fire (2016) and The Party (2017).
1989 - Congress designates this day to be “National Tap Dance Day” in the U.S., in honour of multi-talented entertainer Bill Robinson's birthday.
1990 - Victor E. "Vic" Tayback passes away in Glendale, CA. The actor is best known for his role as Mel Sharples in the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) as well as the associated television series Alice (1976–1985), for which he won two consecutive Golden Globe Awards and got a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
1990 - A uniquely innovative and modern show that incorporated old-time components (a wrap up monologue to end the show, constant breaking of the fourth wall) that would win three CableACE Awards as Best Comedy Series in its four year run, the final episode of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show airs on Showtime.
1992 - The first Tonight Show of the post-Johnny Carson era airs on NBC, with Jay Leno behind the desk (instead of David Letterman, who moved to CBS).
1994 - He reeeeaallly doesn’t want to leave that city. Beverly Hills Cop 3 opens.
2000 - After two seasons, the 42nd and final episode of NBC’s Christina Applegate-starring sitcom Jesse airs.
2001 - The Mary Pickford Theatre is established in Cathedral City, California, named for the Canadian born Queen of Movies of the silent film era. FUN FACT: The theatre boasts hundreds of solar panels, making it the first 100% sustainable movie theatre in the United States.
2005 - Graham Kennedy dies in Bowral, New South Wales, Australia. The Australian entertainer, comedian, variety performer, actor and TV/radio personality was inspired by vaudevillian and radio comedy star Roy Rene and was known as "Gra Gra" (pronounced "gray-gray"). He won six Gold Logies, including the Logie Hall of Fame Award and Star of the Year Award in 1959, making him the most awarded star in the history of Australian TV, and earning him the nickname "The King of Australian Television". He was best known for his collaborations with Bert Newton and American-born TV personality Don Lane.
2006 - The BBC sanctioned, Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant scripted, official French version of The Office, Le Bureau, premieres on Canal+. In this version, the mockumentary is focused on Gilles Triquet, the boss at Cogirep, a small company based in an industrial park outside Paris.
2007 - Charles Nelson Reilly passes away in Los Angeles. An American actor and comedian known for his comedic roles in theatre and on television, Reilly performed in the original Broadway casts of Bye Bye Birdie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Hello, Dolly! His TV credits include The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and of course Match Game, where he was a regular and favourite panelist.
2022 - Mattel releases a new doll as part of its Barbie Tribute Collection: it’s four time Emmy nominated actor Laverne Cox, best known for her role as Sophia in Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black
This Day in Comedy History
1886 - Al Jolson is born Asa Yoelson in Seredžius, Lithuania (at the time part of the Russian Empire). The Russian-American singer, comedian, actor, and vaudevillian was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer" at the peak of his career - he was America’s most famous and highly paid entertainer in the 1920s - but in more recent times he has been referred to by critics as "the racist king of blackface performers", who perpetuated black stereotypes and performed traditionally African-American music, particularly jazz and blues, for white American audiences. Today he is best remembered as the star of the first “talkie”, 1927’s The Jazz Singer, but he also starred in a series of other successful musical films during the 1930s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was the first American star to entertain their troops overseas during World War II - a feat which he repeated after the Korean War broke out in 1950, when he did 42 shows in 16 days, the exhaustion of which is likely at least partly responsible for his death weeks later, after returning to the US.
1894 - Paul Lukas is born Pál Lukács in Budapest, Austria-Hungary. The Academy Award and Golden Globe winning Hungarian film and theatre actor is best known for dramatic roles, but also appeared in such comedy movies as Bob Hope’s The Ghost Breakers, Grand Slam, Fun in Acapulco (with Elvis Presley), Strictly Dishonorable, Ladies in Love, Rockabye, Gift of Gab, Grumpy, The Countess of Monte Cristo (with Fay Wray), Slightly Scarlet, and By Candlelight (pictured), co-starring with Elissa Landi.
1904 - George Brent is born George Patrick Nolan in Ballinasloe, Ireland. The stage, film, and television actor is best remembered for the eleven films he made with Bette Davis, which included the comedies Front Page Woman (pictured) and The Golden Arrow. Other notable comedy film roles include The Goose and the Gander, In Person (with Ginger Rogers), Honeymoon for Three, Twin Beds, More Than a Secretary (with Jean Arthur) and Snowed Under.
1904 - George Formby is born George Hoy Booth in Wiggan, Lancashire, England. The actor, singer-songwriter and comedian was the song of music hall mainstay, comedian James Booth, who also performed as George Formby - and when he died the younger Formby took over his stage act. He became famous worldwide in the 1930s and 1940s from his many stage and screen performances, and recordings of his comical songs, in which he usually played his signature ukulele (or banjo ukelele). He became hugely popular during WWII, especially with the troops, and also became the UK's highest-paid entertainer.
1907 - Marion Robert Morrison is born in Winterset, Iowa, but there's a slight chance you might know him better by his stage name: John Wayne. And even though The Duke is definitely most famous for starring in dozens and dozens and dozens of serious westerns, he also left behind quite a few comedies. Among them: The Quiet Man, Donovan’s Reef, Hatari!, Brannigan, The Train Robbers, North to Alaska, Seven Sinners (with Marlene Dietrich), the sports comedy Trouble Along the Way, Winds of the Wasteland, His Private Secretary, A Lady Takes a Chance, Lady for a Night, Girls Demand Excitement, A Man Betrayed, Overland Stage Raiders, Three Texas Steers, Somewhere in Sonora, the Claudette Colbert rom-com Without Reservations - and the unrelated Bob Hope mystery comedy Cancel My Reservation. Of course his most successful comedy was McLintock! with co-star Maureen O'Hara, which featured such "hilarious" scenes as the one pictured below, in which he assaults her with a metal tool. Wayne was also a frequent guest in countless TV comedy, variety and talk shows - and even had his own comedy special, Swing Out, Sweet Land, in which he and an all-star cast of friends told the story of America through a series of sketches.
1908 - Academy Award nominated actor Robert Morley is born in Semley, Wiltshire, England. Morley had supporting roles in many productions in Britain and the United States during his long career, frequently as a pompous, double-chinned, bushy-eyebrowed English gentleman. In this role, personifying the conservative “establishment,” Morley was a frequent fixture in many comedy and caper films, including Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. He also received critical acclaim for co-starring in the dark comedy Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Renowned as a witty raconteur, he also became an accomplished author; among his works was the play Goodness, How Sad which was adapted into the comedy-drama Return to Yesterday.
1912 - Jay Silverheels is born Harold Jay Smith in the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations reserve in Ontario, Canada. Although he will forever be remembered as The Lone Ranger’s loyal sidekick Tonto, he also guest starred in a number of TV comedies (like The Brady Bunch episode Brady Braves, pictured) and such films as Bob Hope’s Alias Jesse James, The Phynx, The Story of Will Rogers, James Garner’s One Little Indian, Family Honeymoon (starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray), Make a Wish, Good Morning Judge, Song of the Sarong, Gas House Kids Go West, Singin’ in the Corn, Abbott & Costello’s Lost in a Harem, The Feathered Servant, Tahiti Nights, and the Lucille Ball movies Too Many Girls and Valley of the Sun.
1913 - Karin Ekelund is born in Ystad, Sweden. She starred in the comedy With You in My Arms (1940) (aka Med dej i mina armar) opposite Edvin Adolphson (pictured), as well as Lärarinna på vift (1941).
1925 - Legendary theatre actor Alec McCowen is born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. He first took the stage at the Repertory Theatre, Macclesfield, in 1942 as Micky in the romantic comedy Paddy the Next Best Thing. With the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) during WWII he toured India and Burma in Kenneth Horne's West End comedy Love in a Mist during 1945, continuing in repertory until 1949, during which time he played a season in St John's, Newfoundland, Canada. He also played in Shakespeare’s comedies A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night, and with the Royal Shakespeare Company in A Comedy of Errors. His roles in Hampton's sophisticated comedy The Philanthropist and Moliere’s The Misanthrope won him his first two Evening Standard Awards - his total of three is matched only by Laurence Olivier and Paul Scofield. On the big screen, he appeared in such comedies as Personal Services and Travels with My Aunt, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination opposite Maggie Smith, seen here:
1927 - Co-star of Les Girls (pictured) and A Global Affair who made many guest appearances in TV comedies, Revlon bigwig Jacques Bergerac is born in Biarritz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France.
1937 - Gopishantha, better known by her stage name Manorama, and also called Aachi, is born in Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu, India. The prolific, award-winning Indian actress and comedian appeared in so many films (1500+) and TV series between the 1950s and 2015, when she retired shortly before her death, that she was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. She is probably best remembered for her partnership with another well known comedian, Nagesh, with whom she co-starred in 50 films.
1949 - Golden Globe nominated actress Pam Grier is born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Although she’s famous for starring in many action movies, she also has comedy chops, having starred in the television series Linc’s and Bless This Mess. Comedy film credits include Jawbreaker (1999), Poms (2019) and the rom-coms Just Wright (2010) and Larry Crowne (2011).
1952 - Lucille Ball becomes the first female TV star to make the cover of Time Magazine.
1962 - Comedian, actor and filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait is born in Syracuse, New York. He’s perhaps best known for playing Zed in the Police Academy film series, and for voicing Mr. Floppy in the TV series Unhappily Ever After, and for directing such movies as God Bless America and Shakes the Clown.
1963 - Actor and improviser Claude Legault is born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was a star of the Ligue Nationale d'Improvisation from 2000-2003 and has been acting regularly on television, stage and film ever since. He was part of the cast of the sitcoms Catherine, 450, chemin du Golf and Annie et ses Hommes. He also developed and wrote (and co-stars in) the action-comedy series Minuit, le soir and the sci-fi parody TV and film series Dans une galaxie près de chez-vous, with his creative partner Pierre-Yves Bernard. As an actor he has also appeared in The Pee-Wee 3D: The Winter That Changed My Life, French Kiss and The 3 L’il Pigs, which got him a Best Actor Genie Award nomination.
1967 - The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is released. Featured on its cover are individuals influential to, and selected by the group. Among the crowd in the Grammy Award winning cover pic are comics and comic actors Mae West, Lenny Bruce, WC Fields, Tommy Handley, Laurel and Hardy, Max Miller and Issy Bond.
1970 - The 139th and final episode of I Dream of Jeannie airs, starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman.
1971 - South Park co-creator Matt Stone is born. Together with Trey Parker he has also written the hit musical The Book of Mormom, the movies Cannibal: The Musical, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Orgazmo, and multiple video games. They also co-starred in BASEketball.
1976 – Australian comedian and actor Stephen Curry is born in Melbourne. He is best known for the television series Frontline and Sit Down, Shut Up, and the films The Nugget, Thunderstruck, Take Away and the sports comedy Save Your Legs!
1981 - English comedian, television personality and theatre actor Jason Manford is born in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. He’s best known for being a team captain on the popular Channel 4 panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats (2007-2010), and for hosting numerous television shows on BBC and ITV, including Comedy Rocks (2010–2011), Show Me the Funny (2011) and Bigheads (2017). He has also starred in numerous stage musicals, including West End productions, such as The Producers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Curtains.
1983 - After 18 episodes, ABC’s new version of the classic TV sitcom The Odd Couple (itself based on the classic Neil Simon play and film), appropriately titled The New Odd Couple, comes to an end. The show starred Ron Glass (of Barney Miller fame) and Demond Wilson (of Sanford & Son fame) as updated, African-American versions of Felix and Oscar.
1987 – Australian comedian Josh Thomas is born in Blackwater, Queensland, Australia. In 2005 he won the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Raw Comedy Competition. He’s best known as the Generation Y team captain on Network Ten's Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation, and his own television series Please Like Me on ABC2 and Everything’s Gonna Be Okay on Freeform.
2001 - Anne Haney dies of heart failure in Studio City, CA. The actress is best remembered for her roles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Mother, Liar Liar, The Best of Times, The American President and Forces of Nature, and also for playing Alberta Meechum in the sitcom Mama’s Family.
2005 - Eddie Izzard appears on BBC's Question Time, describing herself as a "British-European" and comparing that with other cultural identities like "African-American".
2005 - Actor Eddie Albert passes away in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, CA, at 99 years of age. Albert is best remembered as the star of the hit television series Green Acres, but he was also a two time Best Supporting Actor nominee at the Academy Awards, for the rom-coms Roman Holiday and The Heartbreak Kid. Other notable movie roles include Oklahoma!, the Brother Rat movies and the Burt Reynolds football comedy The Longest Yard.
2006 - Stamps commemorating such stars as comedy legend John Candy, silent film era “Queen of the Movies” Mary Pickford, Fay Wray and Norma Shearer are issued by the Canadian Postal Service as part of their Canadians in Hollywood series.
2008 – American actor and Academy Award winning filmmaker Sydney Pollack passes away in Los Angeles, CA. Among the movies he directed are the comedies The Electric Horseman, Sabrina (starring Harrison Ford), Castle Keep, The Scalphunters and Tootsie, for which he was nominated for a Best Director Oscar. As an actor, he appeared in Woody Allen’s Husbands & Wives, Robert Altman’s The Player, Death Becomes Her and Made of Honor. He also made frequent guest starring appearances in TV comedy series, including Will & Grace, in which he played Will’s father George.
This Day in Comedy History
1911 - Horror movie icon Vincent Price is born in St. Louis, Missouri. Among his comedy roles: The Raven, Catchfire, Theater of Blood, Dead Heat, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Bustin’ Loose, Scavenger Hunt, The Monster Club, Elvira's Haunted Hills, House of Long Shadows, Comedy of Terrors, Tales of Terror, Beach Party, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, It's Not the Size That Counts, Bloodbath at the House of Death and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. He also voiced (and sang as) Professor Rattigan in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective as well as The Thief and the Cobbler and various Scooby-Doo episodes and movies. On TV he also played Egghead in the 1960s TV series Batman, and served as the poetic narrator for every episode of the Canadian cult classic comedy series The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
1922 - Christopher Lee is born in Belgravia, London, England. He’s famous for more dramatic roles but has also been in such comedies as: Dark Shadows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, 1941, The Color of Magic, Burke and Hare, Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Crimson Pirate, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Five Golden Dragons, Jocks and The Stupids.
1935 - She replaced Julie Newmar as Catwoman in both the movie and TV series Batman, and can also be found in films such as The Ultimate Legacy, Love & Debt, Hell’s Kitty, Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt and with Andy Griffith and Jerry Van Dyke in Angel in My Pocket. She has also guest starred in many sitcoms and variety series, and worked as a theatre actress, appearing in such plays as the interactive comedy Grandma Sylvia's Funeral. Former Miss America (1955) Lee Meriwether is born in Los Angeles, CA.
1936 - Actor Lou Gossett Jr. is born in Brooklyn, New York. Comedy credits include The Landlord, Skin Game, Travels with My Aunt and El Diablo.
1943 - Cilla Black is born in Liverpool, England. Championed by The Beatles, she began her career as a singer and had several hits, including a cover of Dionne Warwick’s "Anyone Who Had a Heart," which became the UK’s biggest selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. After this success, Black hosted her own BBC variety show, Cilla (1968–1976) and became an actress in many comedies. In 1975 the Writers Guild of Great Britain named Black Britain’s Top Female Comedy Star after she starred in Cilla’s Comedy Six - a series of six half-hour situation comedy plays on ITV by Ronnie Taylor. Because of its success, a second series - Cilla’s World of Comedy - was commissioned. From the 1980s through the 1990s she was a fixture on British television as a guest but primarily as a host, helming such hit entertainment shows as Surprise Surprise (1984–2001), Blind Date (1985–2003) and The Moment of Truth (1998–2001). Black celebrated 50 years in show business with her own special episode of ITV’s The One & Only in 2013, hosted by comedian Paul O'Grady.
1955 - Richard Schiff is born in Bethesda, Maryland. The Emmy Award winning actor is known for such comedy films as Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, Doctor Dolittle, Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day of Camp, Major League II, Johnny English Reborn, Jean-Claude Van Johnson, The Hudsucker Proxy, Michael, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! and Forces of Nature. On TV, he had recurring roles on the HBO series Ballers as well as House of Lies and Entourage.
1961 - Peri Gilpin is born in Waco, Texas. The actress is best known for playing Roz Doyle in the television series Frasier.
1962 - Actor and filmmaker Steven Brill is born in Utica, New York. He directed and co-wrote Little Nicky and also directed Mr. Deeds, Without A Paddle, Heavyweights, and Drillbit Taylor. He is perhaps best known for directing reshoots of Fanboys, which resulted in controversy after he engaged with upset fans and his email responses were made public. Anyway, here's a picture of Ethan Suplee in that movie...
1964 - American TV and radio personality, comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla is born in Los Angeles, CA. His podcast The Adam Carolla Show set the Guinness World Record for "most downloaded podcast" in 2011. He co-hosted Loveline with Drew on the radio and MTV, then co-created and co-hosted The Man Show with Jimmy Kimmel. They also co-created and performed in Crank Yankers. He also hosted The Adam Carolla Project and The Car Show, and wrote two New York Times Best Sellers, In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks and Not Taco Bell Material.
1967 - Actor Eddie McClintock is born in Canton, Ohio. He is best known for his role of Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer in the Syfy series Warehouse 13.
1970 - BAFTA-nominated actor Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, The Darwin Awards, Running with Scissors) is born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
1971 - Paul Bettany is born. Comedy fans will best recognize him from the rom-coms A Knight’s Tale and Wimbledon. He is also known for his work within the Marvel cinematic universe, particularly for co-starring as Vision in the popular Disney+ miniseries WandaVision.
1972 - George Carlin performs in concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The show, which included soon-to-be-legendary bits including "Muhammad Ali-America the Beautiful" and "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television", was recorded and would be released later in the year as his breakthrough album Class Clown.
1973 – Comedian and actor Jack McBrayer (30 Rock, Late Night with Conan O’Brien) is born.
1977 - John Waters’ infamous X-rated comedy Desperate Living is released. The third and final instalment of Waters’ “Trash Trilogy,” following Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974), it stars Liz Renay, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Susan Lowe, Mary Vivian Pearce and Jean Hill. Waters described the film as “a lesbian drama about revolution” and “a monstrous fairy-tale comedy.” Like the other two films, it was not well received by mainstream critics.
1982 - The final episode of Mork & Mindy airs, after four seasons.
1984 - After performing in a charity show at his friend and fellow comedian Stan Stennett’s Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and returning for six curtain calls to play band members’ instruments, Eric Morecambe (of Morecambe and Wise) suffered his third heart attack as the curtain fell, and died. His wife Joan was in the audience, and according to Stennett before the show he Morecambe had discussed Tommy Cooper’s passing on stage the year before: “Eric said he wouldn’t like to die like that on stage. I made a joke of it and said I’d died in front of a few audiences.”
1986 - Greek character actor Giorgos Tzifos, best known for playing supporting roles in comedies, passes away.
1988 - Veteran Swedish actress and singer Hjördis Petterson dies in Stockholm at the age of 79. In her long career Petterson appeared in more than 140 films, most of them comedies, such as: The Adventures of Picasso, SOPOR, Fröken Chic, The Pleasure Garden, Mannen som blev miljonär, Miss April, Lasse Maja, Anderssonskans Kalle, Dum-Bom, Bom the Flyer, Sexlingar, Kungliga patrasket, Little Martin Returns, Sängkammartjuven, The Gay Party and Wandering with the Moon.
1990 – Golden Globe winning actor Chris Colfer of Glee fame is born in Clovis, California. He also wrote and starred in this comedy-drama film: Struck By Lightning.
1994 - The final episode of The Arsenio Hall Show airs on Fox, and goes out in style with guests including Whoopi Goldberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes, Luther Vandross, Quincy Jones, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, and the King of Soul himself, James Brown.
2006 - Film and TV actor Paul Gleason passes away in Burbank, CA at the age of 67, due to lung cancer caused by asbestos. He is known for the films The Breakfast Club, Trading Places, Not Another Teen Movie, Die Hard, Johnny Be Goode, Arthur, She’s Having a Baby, Money Talks and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and Loaded Weapon 1.
2007 - Broadway and TV actor Gretchen Wyler dies of complications related to breast cancer at age 75, in Camarillo, CA. Her stage credits include Guys and Dolls (1950-1953), Damn Yankees (1955–1957), Rumple (1957), Bye Bye Birdie (1960–1961) and Sly Fox (1976-1978). She is also remembered for co-starring in the CBS sitcom On Our Own (1977-1978), as the boss of a New York advertising agency. She was also well known as a devoted animal welfare activist who founded the Genesis Awards, was the first woman to serve on the board of the ASPCA, and is an inductee in the Animal Rights Hall of Fame.
2011 – Two time Golden Globe nominee Jeff Conaway, best known for playing Bobby in Taxi and Kenickie in the movie Grease, passes away in Encino, CA, aged 60, the result of aspiration pneumonia related to a drug overdose.
2013 - English comedy actor Bill Pertwee - best known for playing the antagonist, Chief Warden Hodges, in the sitcom Dad's Army - passes away in Truro, Cornwall, England.
2015 - Appearing as a guest on WGN Morning News in Chicago, stand-up comedian Kenny Moore apologizes to an audience from his show in Oklahoma - 25 years earlier. The audience member was a heckler, and the apology was because Moore had smashed a 12 string guitar over his head. The incident had been recorded on VHS tape, copies of which had circulated among the comedy community before eventually being posted on YouTube where a whole new audience had discovered it.
2019 - The two-hour documentary presentation Chris Farley: Anything for a Laugh premieres on AMC.
2020 - A week after Happy Days actor Scott Baio attacked her on Twitter for her support of Joe Biden, Wanda Sykes replies a typically hilarious clapback.
2021 - South African comedian Chomi Ya Jeso does his first one man show at Sosha Cafe in Soshanguve, South Africa.
This Day in Comedy History
1911 - Dame Thora Hird is born in Morecambe, Lancashire, England. The English actress and comedian had a career spanning more than seven decades, in which she appeared in over 100 films and television programmes and won three BAFTA Awards for Best Actress, all of which made her a household name and a British institution.
1918 – Johnny Wayne, half of the legendary Canadian comedy duo Wayne & Shuster, is born Louis Weingarten in Toronto.
1932 - Chiquito de la Calzada is born in Málaga. The hugely influential and popular Spanish comedian, flamenco singer and actor was a staple on Spanish TV in the 1990s.
1939 - Beth Howland is born in Brighton, Massachusetts. The American TV and stage actress was best known for playing Vera in the sitcom Alice, the sitcom inspired by the Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). She also originated the role of Amy in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim's Company.
1944 - Faith Brown is born Eunice Irene Carroll in Liverpool, England. The actress, comedian and impressionist was a star of the ITV impressions show Who Do You Do?, and was The Voice in the TV show Trapped!
1949 – English comedian, radio presenter and journalist Martin Kelner is born.
1951 - The very first Goon Show is broadcast - called, against the wishes of The Goons themselves, Crazy People. It would end up running for ten series on BBC radio, and become one of the greatest and most influential comedy shows of all time.
1958 - Louis Mustillo, a stage and screen actor best known known for the sitcom Mike & Molly, is born.
1962 - Former child actor Brandon Cruz, who played rascally little wannabe matchmaker Eddie in the Bill Bixby sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, is born.
1964 - Christa Miller, of Scrubs and The Drew Carey Show fame, is born.
1969 - Justin Kirk, best known for the TV series Weeds, is born.
1970 - Actor Glenn Quinn is born in Dublin, Ireland. Quinn is best remembered for playing Becky’s not-so-bright boyfriend then husband Mark in the sitcom Roseanne, as well as for playing half-demon Doyle in season one of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff series Angel.
1976 - Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, the dark comedy Family Plot screens at Cannes. The film stars Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris (who would be nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance) and William Devane.
1977 - Game show host, actor and singer John Davidson is at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, where he is booked as the evening’s headlining act, when a fire breaks out. Best known for guest hosting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 87 times in 1970s, hosting That's Incredible!, Time Machine, and Hollywood Squares in the 1980s, and hosting a revival of The $100,000 Pyramid in the 1990s - Davidson helps others escape the blaze before fleeing himself through a backdoor. The fire ends up killing 165 people and injure more than 200 others. Davidson would later appear in a charity concert to help raise funds for the fire’s victims and their families. The lot where the BHSC once stood, just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, remains empty except for a memorial plaque, and the fire remains the third deadliest nightclub fire in US history.
1978 - Actor and comedian Jake Johnson, best known for playing Nick in the Fox sitcom New Girl, is born in Evanston, Illinois.
1979 - Monica Keena, best known for the sitcom Undeclared, is born.
1984 - At 3am, hours after suffering his third heart attack as the curtain closed on a wonderful six-curtain-call charity show performance in Tewkesbury (see above), Morecambe & Wise's Eric Morecambe passes away at Cheltenham General Hospital in Gloucestershire.
1998 - SNL utility man, NewsRadio star and Simpsons voice maestro Phil Hartman is shot to death by his wife Brynn in their Encino, California home. She had been intoxicated and using cocaine at the time, and confessed to the murder before committing suicide.
1998 - Rolling Stone magazine celebrates 30 years by saying good-bye to Seinfeld.
1999 - 74 year old actor and dwarfism activist Billy Barty sustains injuries while performing on an outdoor stage at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival after the motor scooter he was riding flips over and drops him head first onto concrete stairs. He suffers a fractured eye socket and is hospitalized overnight.
1999 - Actor Cameron Boyce is born in Los Angeles, CA. He is best remembered for appearing in the comedy films Grown Ups (2010) and Grown Ups 2 (2013), and for starring in the Disney Channel/Disney XD comedy series Jessie (2011–2015) and Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything (2015–2017).
2010 - Actor and comedian Gary Coleman passes away, due to an epidural hematoma, after falling down the stairs at his home in Santaquin and hitting his head. One of the most famous child actors in TV history, he was a huge star and one of TV’s highest paid actors in the 1970s and 1980s, best known for playing Arnold Jackson in the hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes and for starring and appearing in several films, including On the Right Track, Jimmy the Kid, The Kid with the Broken Halo, Dirty Work, An American Carol and Midgets vs. Mascots.
2015 - Written by its star and Steven Wright, the episode The Road Part 2 of Louis CK’s FX series Louie airs. The last show of its 5th season, FX CEO John Landgraf said the door was open for a sixth, but following CK's scandal, to this point it remains the series finale.
2015 - Actor and comedian Reynaldo Rey passed away due to complications from a stroke, at the age of 75 in Los Angeles, CA. He appeared in many television shows and more than 50 movies, including Friday, House Party 3, White Men Can't Jump, A Rage in Harlem and Harlem Nights. As a stand-up comedian, he frequently opened for his friend and mentor Redd Foxx.
2019 - The comedy documentary Jeff Foxworthy: Stand Up Guy premieres on AMC.
This Day in Comedy History
1903 - Comic star of stage, radio, TV and film, Leslie Townes Hope, better known as Bob, is born in Eltham, London, England.
1950 - Television’s first late-night comedy-variety show, Broadway Open House premieres live on NBC. Despite a rocky beginning - the 26 year old host Bob Hope recommended, comedian and novelty pianist "Creesh" Hornsby suddenly contracted polio and died the day he was supposed to present the premiere episode, forcing the network to delay its debut and rely on a run of guest hosts - it found an audience, though it wasn't particularly long lasting, running until August, 1951. The hosts the show did settle on found great popularity, including Jerry Lester, Morey Amsterdam and especially Jennie Lewis, who rose to superstardom after initially only being hired to "sit there and act dumb - your name is Dagmar."
1951 - Fanny Brice passes away in Hollywood, California at 59 years of age. The comedian and actress who made many stage, radio, and film appearances but is best known as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series The Baby Snooks Show. Thirteen years later she would be portrayed on Broadway by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl; Streisand also starred in its 1968 film adaptation, for which she won an Oscar, and in its 1975 sequel, Funny Lady.
1953 - He wrote the themes for The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives, and also the scores for many comedies - often working with Tim Burton and Sam Raimi. Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman is born in Los Angeles, CA.
1956 - It is announced that a Gold record of the famous Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First” routine would be put on permanent display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
1957 - Prolific actor Ted Levine is born in Belaire, Ohio. He has appeared in many comedies, but is perhaps best known for the role of Capt. Leland Stottlemeyer in the hit television series Monk (2002–2009).
1958 - Fresh from its Broadway run, No Time for Sergeants makes its film debut with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts reprising their roles from the stage play. Here's Griffith in the previous TV version:
1958 - She’s a one-time Emmy, two-time Tony and four-time Academy Award nominee (for the films The Grifters (1990), American Beauty (1999), Being Julia (2004), and The Kids Are All Right (2010)), as well as the winner of two Golden Globes and a BAFTA - actress Annette Bening is born in the entertainment hotbed of Topeka, Kansas.
1959 - Two-time nominee at both the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards, Rupert Everett is born in Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk, England. He’s best known for the films My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) and An Ideal Husband (1999), starring with Cate Blanchett and Minnie Driver (pictured).
1962 - At the 4th Annual Grammy Awards, the Best Comedy Performance trophy goes to the album An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
1963 - Three Emmy Awards, creator, writer and executive producer of Arrested Development; co-creator, writer and EP of both The Ellen Show and Lady Dynamite; writer and EP for The Golden Girls and The John Larroquette Show. Mitch Hurwitz is born in Anaheim, California.
1963 - Lisa Whelchel is born in Littlefield, Texas. The actress is best known for her early role as a Mouseketeer on The New Mickey Mouse Club, and her nine-year role as rich preppy Blair Warner on the hit sitcom The Facts of Life.
1969 - The 17th film in the Carry On series, Carry On Camping has its premiere in London. Best remembered for the Barbara Windsor exercise gag, it would later be voted the favourite of the 31 movies in the franchise.
1970 - Broadway comedy star Brenda Vaccaro is featured on the cover of Life magazine.
1971 - Andy Kaufman graduates from Boston's Grahm Junior College with an associates degree in applied science.
1971 - Their groundbreaking first season now complete, TV Guide tries to decide if All in the Family is good or not.
1972 - Emmy Award winning actor Laverne Cox, best known as Sophia in the series Orange is the New Black, is born in Mobile, Alabama.
1974 - Creator and writer of The Boondocks comic strip and TV series Aaron McGruder is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1975 - Comedian Sarah Millican is born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, England. Millican won the Best Newcomer comedy award at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She also wrote the book, How to Be Champion.
1975 - Comedian and TV personality Daniel Tosh, best known for hosting the Comedy Central series Tosh.0 (2009-2020) is born in Boppard, West Germany.
1979 - “Queen of the Movies” Mary Pickford, one of the biggest stars of the silent-then-sound eras and one of the original pioneers of Hollywood, Mary Pickford, passes away in Santa Monica, CA. Despite famously being the first starlet to be dubbed "America's Sweetheart", the Canadian actress was afraid that her marriage in the States might have caused her to lose her Canadian/British citizenship status, so she had officially petitioned the Canadian government in February with her wish to “die a Canadian”. Although she had never lost her Canadian passport or taken US citizenship, her petition was granted.
1989 - Brandon Mychal Smith is born in Los Angeles. The actor is best known for his work in comedy TV series, playing Li'l Danny Dawkins in Phil of the Future, Nico Harris in Sonny with a Chance and So Random!, and Marcus in One Big Happy.
2008 - American actor and comedian Harvey Korman passes away in Los Angeles, CA, aged 81. He appeared in many TV shows and films - including several Mel Brooks movies - but is best remembered for his performances on the sketch comedy series The Carol Burnett Show for which he won four Emmy Awards.
2009 - After 3,775 shows over 17 years, Jay Leno hosts his final Tonight Show… at least we thought so at the time. He would return nine months later for another four years behind the desk after Conan O’Brien struggled in the ratings and was let go by NBC. That Conan/Leno awkwardness would be especially awkward, considering he was Leno’s final guest on this night, with Jay calling his replacement “a terrific guy and a good friend” who he “couldn’t be prouder of,” and ending his show by asking the show’s audience to “please give Conan as much support as you’ve given me throughout the years.” Little did they know at the time.
2009 - Phil Spector is sentenced to 19 years to life after being convicted in his second trial for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson (My Favorite Year, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Amazon Women on the Moon). She had been found shot dead in the record producer’s mansion in February, 2003. The initial trial had ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked at 10-2 to convict.
2011 - The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club expands its name to “The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club & Podcast Theatre.” A premiere event called Podammit was held, in which Kevin Smith hosted six podcasts, including Jay & Silent Bob Get Old with Jason Mewes and The ABCs of SNL, a This Is Your Life-style interview with Lovitz about his life and career.
2014 - Undateable premieres on NBC. The sitcom would run for 36 episodes over three seasons, with a cast featuring Chris D’Elia, Brent Morin, Bianca Kajlich, Ron Funches, Rick Glassman and David Fynn.
2018 - ABC cancels the revival of the sitcom Roseanne after its star, Roseanne Barr, sent a racist tweet saying of President Barack Obama’s former advisor, Iranian-born, African-American Valerie Jarrett: "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." The network would quickly re-tool the show, minus its former star, as The Conners, while Roseanne initially blames her tweets on the sleep aid Ambien before apologizing for her comments.
2020 - The new, sixth branch of the American Armed Forces becomes fodder for comedy as Space Force premieres on Netflix, starring Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Tawny Newsome and Ben Schwartz.
This Day in Comedy History
1935 - Actress Ruta Lee is born Ruta Mary Kilmonis in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Walk-of-Famer appeared in the comedy musicals Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (as one of the brides) and Funny Face and guest-starred on many television series, including as a regular featured guest in such game shows as Hollywood Squares, What's My Line?, Match Game, and in High Rollers as Alex Trebek's co-host.
1951 - Veteran character actor Stephen Tobolowsky is born in Dallas, Texas. You definitely know his face from his many film roles (most notably as insurance salesman Ned “Watch Out For That First Step - It’s A Doozie!” Ryerson in Groundhog Day), as well as such television characters Sandy Ryerson (Glee), Stu Beggs (Californication and White Famous), "Action" Jack Barker (Silicon Valley), Dr. Leslie Berkowitz (the new version of One Day at a Time), and Principal Earl Ball (The Goldbergs). Tobolowsky is also an author and podcaster.
1958 – A talented actor known for Revenge of the Nerds and numerous TV shows, Ted McGinley is born. He’s been labelled by some as a “series killer” because he joined successful shows later in their runs, shortly before they were cancelled (like Dynasty and Sports Night), but that label is unfair! Happy Days lasted another 60 episodes after he joined the cast, as did The Love Boat, which he joined as “Ace - Your Ship’s Photographer” (pictured). Hope and Faith ran 70+ with McGinley in the caste, and Married... With Children ran for an incredible 167 more episodes after his Jefferson D’Arcy replaced Steve Rhoades as Marcy’s husband.
1961 - Broadway and TV actor Ralph Carter is born in New York City, NY. Carter is best known for playing the youngest son, Michael, in the hit sitcom Good Times.
1964 - Stars of McHale’s Navy display varying degrees of excitement over being on the cover of TV Guide. All three are legends: Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway and Joe Flynn.
1971 - Actor and sketch comedian John Ross Bowie is born in New York City, NY. He’s best known for his work in sitcoms - playing the guys’ friend-slash-antagonist Barry Kripke in the hit The Big Bang Theory, Jimmy in Speechless, Jared in Retired at 35, and Dr. Max von Sydow in Children’s Hospital. Bowie is also known for his work at Upright Citizens Brigade, particularly with his sketch troupe The Naked Babies, with fellow comedians Rob Corddry, Seth Morris and Brian Huskey.
1987 - Actress Javicia Leslie is born in Augsburg, Germany. She is best known for the sitcom God Friended Me, and for starring in the movie Always a Bridesmaid.
1997 - "What's a courtroom circus without a couple of clowns?" The legal comedy film Trial & Error premieres, starring Michael Richards, Jeff Daniels and Charlize Theron.
1999 - Sean Giambrone is born in St. Joseph, Michigan. He plays Adam in the sitcom The Goldbergs and Ron Stoppable in Kim Possible. As a voice actor he plays Jeff Randell in Clarence, Russell in Russell Madness and Yumyulack in Solar Opposites.
2006 - Australian sketch TV series The Wedge makes its debut on Network 10.
2009 - Steve Martin makes his first appearance on The Grand Ole Opry.
2012 – American comedian John Fox passed away, due to complications related to colon cancer. A friend of Rodney Dangerfield, he was known as “the Nick Nolte of stand-up comedy.”
This Day in Comedy History
1879 - Madison Square Garden opens at its original location. FUN FACT: Eleven comedians have had sold out shows at the current MSG: Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Andrew Dice Clay, Chris Rock, Russell Peters, Dane Cook, Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer, and Trevor Noah.
Here's a picture... wow, it hasn't changed a bit!
1930 - Clint Eastwood is born in San Francisco, California. We know the legend is not most famous for comedies, but he has done a bunch, among them: Kelly’s Heroes, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Coogan’s Bluff, Paint Your Wagon, Bronco Billy, Pink Cadillac, City Heat, Honkytonk Man, and of course the monkey movies Every Which Way but Loose and Any Which Way You Can.
1945 - The comedy-variety radio series The Frank Morgan Show comes to an end on NBC Radio. This version of the show had lasted almost a year - he had previously co-hosted The Frank Morgan-Fanny Brice Show, before going solo.
1949 - Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Tom Berenger is born in Chicago, Illinois. Comedy film roles include Major League 1 & 2, The Big Chill, Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball, Supervised, Butch & Cassidy: The Early Days, Rustlers’ Rhapsody, In Praise of Older Women, Love at Large, Silent Venom and The Hollywood Sign.
1950 - The film My Friend Irma Goes West premieres in American theatres. Directed by Hal Walker, the film is based on the hit radio series and gives much more screen time to the comedy team of Martin & Lewis, who were introduced to movie audiences in the previous year’s My Friend Irma.
1958 - Sheb Wooley’s novelty song Purple People Eater hit the top of the pop charts and stayed there for six weeks. It also reached #1 in Australia, and #12 in the UK. The popular song spawned toys and even a feature film 30 years later, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Dustin Diamond, Peggy Lipton, and Thora Birch (in her film debut), with special musical guest appearances by Chubby Checker and Little Richard. The song also featured prominently in the 2016 BBC America series Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
1960 - Comedian Chris Elliott, known for his work on TV (Get a Life, Late Night & Late Show with David Letterman, SNL, Schitt’s Creek, Eagleheart, How I Met Your Mother) and in films (Cabin Boy, Groundhog Day, There’s Something About Mary, Scary Movie 2 & 4, Kingpin, Osmosis Jones), is born in New York City.
1961 - Best known for playing Lorraine in the Back to the Future film trilogy and con artist Laura in the 1989 movie version of The Beverly Hillbillies, and of course for starring in her own NBC “Must See TV” series Caroline in the City, actress Lea Thompson is born in Rochester, Minnesota. She’s also in Howard the Duck - but we forgive her.
1962 - The final episode of Tell It To Groucho airs on CBS-TV.
1965 - Model turned actress Brooke Shields is born in Manhattan, New York. The two time Golden Globe nominee is best known for starring in the NBC sitcoms Suddenly Susan (1996–2000) and Lipstick Jungle (2008–2009), and for voicing Beverly Goodman in the Adult Swim animated series Mr. Pickles and its spinoff Momma Named Me Sheriff.
1975 - The cast of The Bob Newhart Show relax on the cover of TV Guide.
1976 - Actor Colin Farrell is born in Dublin, Ireland. He is best known for starring in In Bruges, a role for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Action in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. His resume includes a number of other notable comedy movies - particularly dark ones, such as The Lobster (which earned him another Golden Globe nomination), Intermission, Horrible Bosses, Seven Psychopaths and the horror-comedy Fright Night.
1979 - It's time to start the music! It's time to light the lights! On the big screen! The Muppet Movie is released.
1985 - The Spotlight 88 drive-in movie theater in North Sewickley Township, Pennsylvania is destroyed by an F3 tornado, forcing the business to close permanently. As a fun farewell, the owners put one final post in the theatre's "NOW SHOWING" sign: "Gone with the Wind." Well played, Spotlight 88.
1985 - An undercover newspaper writer chasing a story about drug trafficking on area beaches gets caught up in a bigger, deadlier story. The sleeper Chevy Chase film Fletch opens in the U.S.
1987 - Actor Curtis Williams Jr. is born in Los Angeles. He’s best known for playing Nicholas in the WB sitcom The Parent Hood in the 1990s, and as a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
1990 - Seinfeld, starring Jerry Seinfeld if you could believe it, debuts on NBC as The Seinfeld Chronicles.
1992 - Unbeknownst to the cast, and without a chance to wrap up or say goodbye, what turns out to be the final episode of Night Court airs on NBC.
1998 - Flip, the final episode of The Larry Sanders Show, airs. Guests include Warren Beatty, Carol Burnett, Sean Penn, David Paymer, Greg Kinnear, Jim Carrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Clint Black, Tom Petty, David Duchovny, Jon Stewart, Bob Odenkirk, Bruno Kirby, Jeremy Piven, Tim Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld (17 days after his own finale).
1998 - Singer Geri Halliwell (at bottom), better known as Ginger Spice, quits the Spice Girls, breaking the hearts of comedy fans around the world who today are still clamoring for the long-awaited sequel to Spice World.
2009 - Norm Macdonald appears on Million Dollar Password.
2012 - On the 284th episode of the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, Tony Clifton (the lounge singer character originated by Andy Kaufman) is interviewed, to promote his “Tony Clifton Revue” at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
2013 - Showtime debuts Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, a documentary featuring interviews with Dave Chappelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, George Lopez, Bob Newhart, Richard Pryor Jr., Lily Tomlin, and Robin Williams.
2013 - Best remembered as Edith Bunker on All in the Family, a role that won her three Emmys and two Golden Globes, actress Jean Stapleton passes away at the age of 90.
2014 - “Weird Al” Yankovic wins the ACE Award (Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinaire) from the National Cartoonists Society at its awards banquet in San Diego, CA. We don't have a picture from that, so here's one of him with a Grammy.
2014 - The 74th Annual Peabody Awards are presented and the winners include Inside Amy Schumer and This Week Tonight with John Oliver.