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Archive for the ‘Classic movies’ Category

Happy Birthday, Paul Frees!

“Paul Frees is EVERYWHERE!”  A cartoonist of my acquaintance adopted that statement as both a personal mantra and a tribute to the man born Solomon Hersh Frees in Chicago on this date in 1920.  For a time during the 50s/60s/70s, it was nigh impossible to sit through a movie or TV episode without hearing Frees’ […]

Happy Birthday, Ona Munson!

The effort to cast the motion picture adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s classic novel Gone with the Wind is almost as epic as the content itself.  For the role of madam Belle Watling, producer David O. Selznick considered such actresses as Tallulah Bankhead and Billie Dove…and even at one point during pre-production (though many have surmised this was […]

Happy Birthday, Howard Culver!

In the summer of 1949, with CBS working on the idea for what would eventually become Gunsmoke, an audition was recorded (“Mark Dillon Goes to Gouge Eye”) that starred Howard Brasfield Culver—born in Larimer County, Colorado on this date in 1918—as Dodge City’s resolute lawman.  (The name of the character was later changed to Matt Dillon, of course.)  Howard Culver […]

Happy Birthday, Bob Hope!

We’re commemorating Memorial Day today…and it seems only fitting that the entertainer who established his legacy performing in United Service Organizations (you know it as the USO) shows for the benefit of active duty American military personnel (he made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991) should be celebrating a birthday on this […]

Happy Birthday, Dashiell Hammett!

“I’ve been as bad an influence on American literature as anyone I can think of.”  So declared the man born Samuel Dashiell Hammett on this date in 1894, a confession he made to his daughter Josephine in a display of cynicism that would be most appropriate of his famous literary creation, shamus Sam Spade.  Hammett […]

Happy Birthday, Ben Alexander!

With the death of Barton Yarborough in December of 1951, Jack Webb was anxious to find a replacement for the actor who had portrayed Ben Romero to his Joe Friday on the radio and television versions of his hit police procedural Dragnet.  Webb relied on several actors in the interim, including Barney Philips and Herb […]

Happy Birthday, Bing Crosby!

At one time in the 1940s, the man born Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby, Jr. in Tacoma, Washington on this date in 1903 was the top-selling recording star…the number-one box office attraction…and the most popular performer on radio (headliner of The Kraft Music Hall).  Author Gerald Nachman observed in his book on Radio’s Golden Age, Raised […]

“…that most famous of all manhunters…”

Nick Carter received the first knock at his radio door on this date in 1943.  I know this sounds like an odd statement, but I’m referring to the memorable opening that signaled the start of Nick Carter, Master Detective—a popular radio crime drama, and a program that would become one of the Mutual network’s most enduring […]