This Day in Comedy History
September 1 - 7
1884 - Swedish silent film comedy actor Sigurd Wallén is born in Husbykvarn, Tierp, Sweden. He had roles in such films as Her Little Majesty (1925), The Million Dollars (1926), The Red Day (1932), His Life's Match (1932), The Storholmen Brothers (1932), Love and Deficit (1932), Servant's Entrance (1932), Black Roses (1932), The Count of the Old Town (1935) and Swedenhielms (1935).
1922 - Dramatic Hollywood star who would find a new generation of fans starring as Herman’s vampire wife Lily on the CBS sitcom The Munsters, Yvonne DeCarlo is born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
1922 - Italian actor and director Vittorio Gassmann is born in Genoa. He starred in such comedies as Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), Il Sorpasso (1962), We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974), For Love and Gold (1966), Scent of a Woman (1974), The Great War (1959), The Monsters (1963), Tempest (1982), Viva Italia! (1977) and La Tarrazza (1980), and is remembered as one of the most important figures of Italian cinema.
1928 - George Maharis is born in Astoria, Queens, NYC. A dramatic actor best remembered for starring in the adventure series Route 66, his relation to comedy is tangential - but it’s there. In Arrested Development’s season four premiere, Flight of the Phoenix, when George Michael grows tired of being connected to the pop singer of the same name who was famously arrested for soliciting gay sex in a public men’s restroom, he first considers then rejects the new moniker “Boy George” - as that's another singer with the same possible connection - before accidentally adopting the name “George Maharis”... Only the most ardent Hollywoodphile would know the relevant piece of obscure trivia: that Maharis was the name of yet another George who'd been arrested for a sex crime of that ilk, after facing charges in 1974 for having sex in a men’s public restroom with hairstylist Perfecto Telles. The name of cousin Maeby’s boyfriend in that very same season of AD? Perfecto Telles. Well done, Arrested Development. Well done.
1943 - Actor Don Stroud is born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Among his hundreds of credits are such films as Coogan's Bluff (1968), Armed and Dangerous (1986) and Wild America (1997), as well as many TV guest appearances.
1948 - Production begins on the British “Ealing Comedy” Kind Hearts and Coronets, starring Alec Guinness in nine different roles, which is today considered one of England’s all time classic comedy films.
1967 – English actor and comedian Steve Pemberton, best known for his work on Psychoville and as a member of The League of Gentlemen, is born in Blackburn, Lancashire. Other TV credits include Inside No. 9, Benidorm and Shameless (UK).
1970 - Hwang Jung-min is born in Masan, South Korea. He starred in such comedies as Veteran (2015), Dancing Queen (2012) and Battlefield Heroes (2011), and is the third actor named to the prestigious "100 Million Viewer Club" in Chungmuro.
2006 - In an effort to protect the Chinese animation industry, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television places a ban on all cartoons from other nations between the hours of 5 and 8 PM.
2015 - American actor known for his affiliation to Walt Disney Studios (That Darn Cat!, Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Million Dollar Duck and the Herbie the Love Bug series), Dean Jones passes away from Parkinson’s at age 84.
1929 - Actor from Oh, What A Lovely War!, The Return Of The Pink Panther, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, and The Beatles films A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour, Victor Spinetti is born in Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Wales… That just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
1948 - Four time Super Bowl champion quarterback who has also acted and made cameo appearances in numerous sitcoms and films (including Failure to Launch), Terry Bradshaw is born in Shreveport, Louisiana.
1964 - After his acting debut on the Canadian sitcom Hangin’ In, but before films like Speed and The Matrix and John Wick series, he was known for comedies like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Parenthood, I Love You To Death, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Much Ado About Nothing and Freaked. Canadian stage and screen actor Keanu Reeves is born in Beirut, Lebanon.
1966 - Mexican-American actress from Fools Rush In, Wild Wild West, Dogma, Sausage Party, The Hitman's Bodyguard, Like a Boss and the Grown Ups films, as well as the series 30 Rock, and Executive Producer and Emmy-nominated guest star of the series Ugly Betty, Salma Hayek is born in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico.
1971 - Veteran comedian and sometime troublemaker Katt Williams is born Micah Sierra Williams in Cincinnati, Ohio. He’s best known as a cast member on MTV’s Wild n’ Out and the sitcom My Wife and Kids, and for playing Money Mike in the movie Friday After Next and Lord Have Mercy in Norbit. He is an Emmy Award winner for his guest performance on the series Atlanta.
1979 - Marsha Warfield wins the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. Juggler Michael Davis took second place, Dana Carvey finished third, Michael Winslow (the sound effects guy from Police Academy) got fourth, and fifth went to A. Whitney Brown, best known for his “The Big Picture” segments on SNL’s Weekend Update. Warfield was the first African-American comic to win the competition, and to this date, is still the only female.
1986 - Canadian groupie Cathy Smith is sentenced to three years for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the drug overdose death of comedian John Belushi in 1982, after admitting in a National Enquirer interview to having injected him with multiple speedballs.
1994 - Two days after his 62nd birthday, versatile English comedian and musician Roy Castle passes away just after five in the morning in his home in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, of lung cancer. The star of stage, TV and film is best remembered for his many years hosting the children’s series Record Breakers. He is also the namesake of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, a new centre which he helped raise £12 million to build, equip and run, and which he continued fundraising for until his death.
1997 - The Howard Stern Show comes to Canada as it is broadcast by CHOM in Montreal and CILQ in Toronto for the first time. Stern's comments about French people being “pussy-assed jackoffs,” “scumbags” and “cowards” would soon cause a rift with listeners. Following complaints and citations by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the show would be cancelled in Montreal in 1998 and in Toronto in 2001.
1999 - The film debut for both director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman, the fantasy comedy Being John Malkovich has its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The cast included John Cusack, Catherine Keener, Cameron Diaz and Malkovich himself.
2002 - Popular Whose Line Is It Anyway? (US) cast member Wayne Brady gets his own daytime talk show on ABC. The Wayne Brady Show had started in 2001 as a variety show, but was retooled after it failed to catch on, and was an immediate success in its new slot, winning five Emmy Awards and lasting until 2004.
2003 - Meanwhile, back in Venice, the legal romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty premieres at the Venice Film Festival. It stars George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer and Billy Bob Thornton.
1976 - The film Car Wash hits theatres featuring an eclectic collection of stand-ups and comic actors in its cast including Franklin Ajaye, Richard Pryor, Irwin Corey, Ivan Dixon, George Carlin, Antonio Fargas and Garret Morris. Also featured: The Pointer Sisters!
1998 - Twenty years from her film debut in Halloween - and with Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later playing in theatres - Jamie Lee Curtis, who had starred in such comedy hits as Trading Places (1983), A Fish Called Wanda (1986) and True Lies (1994), receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With her were her mother Janet Leigh, husband Christopher Guest, and daughter Annie.
1931 - Mitzi Gaynor is born Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber in Chicago. Notable film roles include There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), The Birds and the Bees (1956), Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1953) and We’re Not Married! (1952).
1951 - Stage, film and TV actor Judith Ivey is born in El Paso, Texas. The winner of two Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play, for her performances in Steaming (1981) and Hurlyburly (1984), she was also nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for the Hallmark comedy What the Deaf Man Heard (1997).
1953 - Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington on the ABC series Welcome Back Kotter, actor Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs is born in New York City. Movie credits include Claudine (1974), Cooley High (1975) and Paramedics (1988).
1957 - While initially a dancer and choreographer (for Whitney Houston’s tours), as an actress she is best known as Catherine Duke from NBC’s NewsRadio (1995-1998), as well as from such films as There’s Something About Mary (1998), CB4 (1993), Greedy (1994) and House Party 3 (1994), Khandi Alexander is born in Jacksonville, Florida.
1966 - The first Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon kicks off at the Americana Hotel in New York. The event would bring in just over $1 million dollars in pledges, and would eventually raise more than 2.5 billion for Muscular Dystrophy research with Lewis as the host.
1970 - Ione Skye is born in Hampstead, London, UK. She rose to prominence for her starring role in Cameron Crowe's Say Anything... (1989). Other notable roles include Wayne's World (1992), Fever Pitch (2005), and a recurring role on the series Arrested Development.
1977 - After performing a Proctor and Bergman show at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, comedians Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman of Los Angeles’ famed surreal sketch comedy troupe Firesign Theatre ate at the Golden Dragon restaurant. Unfortunately, “Golden Dragon Massacre” happened while they were dining. When members of the Joe Boys Chinese youth gang entered and began shooting, attempting to kill leaders of the rival Wah Ching Chinatown gang, five people were killed and 11 others injured (none of them gang members), the two dove for cover, but after realizing the gunmen had emptied their weapons, Bergman, an Army veteran, rose in time to see their faces as they fled. His later testimony helped ensure their convictions at trial. Unfortunately the experience rattled the duo, and they gave up their road performances to instead focus on their next studio album, 1978’s Give Us a Break.
1979 - Max Greenfield is born in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He is best known for his Emmy and Golden Globe nominated starring role as Schmidt in the Fox sitcom New Girl, as well as for the WB sitcom Modern Men. He has also had recurring roles in Ugly Betty and The Neighborhood, and has voiced Roger in the Ice Age movie franchise, as well as numerous characters in the shows Bob's Burgers, Robot Chicken and BoJack Horseman.
1993 - When he wasn’t pointing out “Ze plane! Ze plane!” on Fantasy Island, he found time to do a lot of comedies, like: The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight (1971), The One and Only Milton Miller (1978), Forbidden Zone (1980), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), The Telephone (1988) and Two Moon Junction (1988). French-American actor Hervé Villechaize, after years of suffering from chronic pain due to having oversized internal organs, took his own life by gunshot at his North Hollywood home. He was 50 years old.
2006 - “The Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin, star of The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (2002) and various nature/reality TV shows, is tragically killed after being pierced in the chest by a stingray’s barb while filming a wildlife documentary in the Great Barrier Reef. He was just 44 years old.
2011 - Butter, a film about the Iowa State Fair butter sculpture contest, focusing on its disparate competitors, and a satire of the 2008 Democratic Primaries, premieres at Telluride a month ahead of its wide release. Despite starring Yara Shahidi, Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone, and Hugh Jackman, it would get lackluster reviews and go on to bomb at the box office.
1921 - On this date in 1921, silent film comedy star Fatty Arbuckle, who had suffered burns to both buttocks while working on a movie, took a break from filmmaking and had a party with friends at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Aspiring actress Virginia Rappe became seriously ill and died days later, with some making spurious claims that Arbuckle had raped and murdered her. He was eventually cleared after three trials, but his career never recovered.
1939 - After becoming the youngest, shortest-tenured and only non-British-or-Irish James Bond ever, he appeared in such comedies as The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), Universal Soldier (1971), Never Too Young to Die (1986) and Twin Sitters (1994). George Lazenby is born in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
1940 - Internationally known sex symbol aslo known for the comedies Bedazzled, The Magic Christian, Fuzz, Legally Blonde, Mother, Jugs and Speed, and a Golden Globe winner for The Three Musketeers, Raquel Welch is born in Chicago.
1946 - Director and comedian Dennis Dugan is born in Wheaton, Illinois. He is best known for his collaborations with Adam Sandler, who he has directed in the films Happy Gilmore (1996), Big Daddy (1999), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), Grown Ups (2010) and Grown Ups 2 (2013), Just Go with It (2011) and Jack and Jill (2011). Dugan is a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director winner, and four time nominee.
1950 - Creator of the comic strip Cathy, which ran for 34 years, Cathy Guisewite is born in Cayton, Ohio… So Happy Birthday, Cathy! We hope you finally get that perfect swimsuit you’ve been looking for :)
1973 - American actor Rósa Arianna McGowan - better known by her screen name, Rose McGowan - is born in Florence, Italy. Her film debut came in Encino Man (1992). Since then she has starred in such comedies as The Doom Generation (1995), Going All the Way (1997) and Jawbreaker (1999).
1991 - In his first public appearance in two months in the wake of the media tidal wave after his arrest for masturbating in a Florida porno theater, and following the vague introduction “Ladies and Gentlemen, MTV is proud to introduce someone who has been a friend for a long time”, Paul Reubens, as Pee-Wee Herman, takes the stage to a standing ovation to open the MTV Movie Awards. His opening line: “Heard any good jokes lately?”
1947 - An original member of the “Not Ready For Primetime Players” who would remain at Saturday Night Live for its first five seasons, the go on to co-star in the series Kate & Allie and 3rd Rock from the Sun, Jane Curtin is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1964 - A three-time Emmy nominee as a choreographer on In Living Color, whose acting credits include Do the Right Thing, White Men Can’t Jump, Pineapple Express and The Flight Attendant, Rosie Perez is born in Brooklyn.
1966 – Two sitcoms premiere on ABC: Phyllis Diller stars in The Pruitts of Southampton, and the western comedy Rounders stars Ron Hayes and Patrick Wayne (John Wayne’s son). Neither show would last beyond one season.
1989 - While introducing Cher on the sixth annual MTV Awards, Andrew Dice Clay makes remarks about overweight women and sex and tells a couple of his infamous "nursery rhyme" jokes. MTV would apologize to viewers after the show… but really, what did they expect X-rated comedian Andrew Dice Clay to say when they booked X-rated comedian Andrew Dice Clay?
1990 - Actor Charlie Sheen left a rehabilitation center in Santa Monica, California, after nearly a month of treatment for alcohol abuse. And as we all know, he’s been very, very clean and sober since then.
2018 - The world’s top box office draw for five consecutive years in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, known for the films Smokey and the Bandit, The Longest Yard, Semi-Tough, The Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace, and an Emmy and Golden Globe winner for the TV series Evening Shade, Burt Reynolds dies of a heart attack aged 82.
1950 - Happy Birthday, Marge Simpson! On this date in 1950, actress Julie Kavner was born in Los Angeles. She won an Emmy in 1992 for voicing The Simpsons’ matriarch, but her first Emmy came in 1978 for playing Valerie Harper’s sister in Rhoda.
1966 - Just after finishing his set on a Friar’s Club roast, as the audience was applauding, vaudeville comedian Al Kelly collapsed dead in his chair. He was the second comedian to die right after performing on a Friar’s Club roast.
1970 – American actor Tom Everett Scott - whose credits include such films as That Thing You Do!, Dead Man On Campus, The Love Letter, An American Werewolf in Paris, Because I Said So, Danger One and La La Land - is born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
1970 - While Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice and M*A*S*H were in the rear-view, and now he was coming off two consecutive bombs (Getting Straight and Move), Elliot Gould arrives on Time. At least it was a chance to use his new headshot.
1980 - At the 32nd Emmy Awards from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Taxi wins for Outstanding Comedy Series for the second year in a row, Richard Mulligan and Cathryn Damon take Lead Actor and Actress for the sitcom Soap, and the Supporting Actor and Actress awards go to Harry Morgan and Loretta Swit for M*A*S*H. Incidentally, none of these winners were there to receive their award, as an actors’ strike kept 51 of the 52 at home.
1988 - Steven Wright’s The Appointments of Dennis Jennings premieres at The Boston Film Festival. Starring Wright, Rowan Atkinson and Laurie Metcalf, with a cast including David Hyde Pierce, Dana Ivey, Mike Starr and others, it would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.
1991 - A sequel to the popular original, The New WKRP In Cincinnati debuts. Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson), Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek) and Richard Sanders (Les Nessman) would all reprise their old roles, there would be guest shots from other original series stars, and Mykelti Williamson, Tawny Kitaen, Michael Des Barres, Kathleen Garrett and French Stewart would add new blood to the series that would run two seasons.
1997 - The sitcom Alright Already premieres on The WB Network. Created by and starring comedian Carol Leifer, with co-star Amy Yasbeck, the show about an optometrist and her best friend would not be renewed for a second season.
1998 - The movie There's Something About Mary, starring Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller and Chris Elliott, hits number one at the box office, eight weeks after its release. It's believed to be the first film to rise to the top so long after it opened.
2006 - The Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival and spares no expense on transportation.
2015 - Stephen Colbert makes the cover of Time.