Monday, October 29, 2007

Did you know that --

Let’s face it. This blog is just too serious half the time. Abraham Lincoln/Shmabraham Lincoln. I like People Magazine too. So, just for fun, did you know that --

Leonard Nimoy played a Martian invading earth in Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952), a tv serial starring the actor who played Captain Video, and also starred in many tv western series prior to his Star Trek days.

Before commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, William Shatner (who was in one less episode of Star Trek than Nimoy – the pilot) was on Howdy Doody, The Twilight Zone, Route 66, Burke’s Law, The Outer Limits, The Man From Uncle, The Fugitive, The Big Valley, The Virginian and Dr. Kildare multiple times.

Christopher Walken played Annie Hall’s suicidal brother in that movie’s two best scenes (just my opinion). He turned down the role of Jor-El in Superman Returns.

Samuel Jackson played a small role in Goodfellas.

Unknown Bruce Willis was sitting in the courtroom audience in The Verdict.

Jason Alexander, whose real name is Jay Greenspan, played a hardware store clerk in Mosquito Coast (everyone already knows about An Officer and a Gentleman).

Jerry Seinfeld, who had almost no tv career before Seinfeld, was in two episodes of Benson.

Michael Richards was in Miami Vice, St. Elsewhere (recurring role), Hill Street Blues, The Scarecrow & Mrs. King and Cheers before Seinfeld.

Jennifer Anniston was, pre-Friends, seen on Herman’s Head (one of my favorite short term tv shows), Quantum Leap and several episodes on Ferris Bueller (the tv show, not the movie).

Also prior to Friends, Lisa Kudrow was on one episode of Cheers, Coach, the very last episode of Newhart, and was also in a couple of movies that sound like those B sex/murder tapes that look good on the videotape cover, but are horrible: The Heat of Passion and The Heat of Passion II. [NOTE FOR MEN ONLY: according to Celebrity Sleuth Magazine, Lisa has a 36 26 36 figure]. You already knew about Mad About You, but should really rent The Opposite of Sex where she played a very un-Phoebe like role and was superb in doing so.

In David Schwimmer’s early career he had multiple appearances on Blossom, NYPD Blue, LA Law and Wonder Years (the sister’s boyfriend, including one of the best episodes, “Stormy Weather” where she dumped him).

Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) had a recurring role as a doctor on Thirty Something (does anybody remember Thirty Something?) and one episode of Matlock.

Robin Williams appeared on Eight is Enough and Laugh-In before his big break on Happy Days as Mork from Ork. I’d like to see those.

Harrison Ford appeared on The Virginian, Ironsides, The Mod Squad, Love American Style, The Intruders, Gunsmoke and even Kung Fu before playing Hans Solo (1977).

Tom Hanks had roles on The Love Boat, Taxi, Happy Days and Family Ties.

Ryan O’Neal was on Dobie Gillis, Bachelor Father, Leave it to Beaver, Perry Mason, Peyton Place, Wagon Train, and The Virginian.

Besides Spock, Kirk, Harrison Ford and Ryan O’Neal, the following well known actors also appeared on The Virginian: Michael Constantine, Bruce Dern, Jack Warden, Yvonne De Carlo (Lily from the Munsters), Star Trek's James Doohan and DeForest Kelly, Ida Lupino, Kurt Russell, Charles Bronson, Andy Devine, The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Darren McGavin, Cloris Leachman and Ted Knight, Clint Howard (you know, Richie Cunningham’s real life brother), Burgess Meredith, Alan Hale, Jr. (The Skipper), Strother Martin, E.G. Marshall, Anthony Franciosca, Tim Matheson, David Hartman, Lee Majors, Warren Oates, Lee J. Cobb, Ricardo Montalban, Slim Pickens, Vera Miles, Fabian and even Jack Albertson, the old guy from Chico and the Man. That show was the road to stardom.

You probably didn’t think there was trivia about Jack Albertson. During his lengthy career he turns out to have played the small role of the post office employee who had the idea to direct all the mail for Santa to the Courthouse in one of my favorite movies, Miracle on 34th Street (the one and only worthy version, made in 1947). In some sense, he’s the movies unsung hero.

Interested in a lot of famous actors stuffed into one movie. The winner has to be -- It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, which included in its cast (deep breath) Spencer Tracy, Jim Backus, Edie Adams, Jonathan Winters, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Ethel Merman, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, William Demarest, Norman Fell (Three’s Company), Andy Devine, Peter Falk, Leo Gorcey, Buster Keaton, Don Knotts, Carl Reiner, Larry Fine, Mo Howard, Joe Derita (a Curley replacement), Jesse White (well, people knew him back then), Jimmy Durante, Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny and (phew) Sid Caesar.

And, in case you think the actors were born to play roles you love them in –

Michael J. Fox blew his first audition for Family Ties before getting a second chance.

Jim Backus turned down the role of Abner on Bewitched.

John Denver turned down the Richard Gere role in An Officer and a Gentleman.

Deniro was supposed to play the lead in Angel Heart but decided on Lucifer (good call though).

Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings as did Patrick McGoohan (The Avengers). Russell Crowe turned down the role of Aragorn as did Daniel Day-Lewis. They actually started filming with someone named Stuart Townsend before they got Viggo Mortensen. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) thought he was going to play Denethor and Orlando Bloom tried out for Faramir (which would not have likely propelled him to stardom). Danny Bonaduce was slated to play Frodo (no, I made that one up).

Connery was originally supposed to play Austin Power’s father in Goldmember, and his Dr. No co-star, Ursula Andress, Austin’s mother. Connery also turned down Morpheus and The Architect roles in the Matrix series because he couldn’t understand it (took me three times) but later regretted it, Captain Von Trapp in the Sound of Music and Spock’s brother in Star Trek: The Final Frontier (the word Sha-Ka-Ree in that movie is a play on his name).

Will Smith turned down the Matrix role of Neo Anderson. It would have been somewhat of a different movie perhaps with Sean Connery and Will Smith. Too bad we can't see both.

George Raft turned down the lead roles for High Sierra (Paul Muni too) and the Maltese Falcon. Not only that, but Ronald Reagan almost played Rick in Casablanca. Imagine never having heard of Bogey.

Cary Grant, not Jimmy Stewart, was going to star in It’s a Wonderful Life (which, he probably was glad about, as it was considered a flop at the time).

Robert Redford turned down the Dustin Hoffman role in the Graduate. Doris Day turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson.

But, then again,Warren Beatty turned down the role Redford took in The Way We Were.

Steve McQueen turned down the role Richard Dreyfuss’ took in Close Encounters.

Meg Ryan turned down the lead in Basic Instinct (Can you picture that? I can’t, but it’s true). The girl can act, so who knows.

Gene Hackman turned down Nicholson’s role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I can see that one. Hackman has to be one of the most versatile actors around.

Nicholson wasn’t first choice in Terms of Endearment – Burt Reynolds was.

John Wayne and Frank Sinatra had the first two shots at Dirty Harry.

Tom Hanks turned down the lead roles in American Beauty and Jerry Maguire.

Sylvester Stallone was first choice the role of Hans Solo (oh, thank you, God, thank you).

Tom Selleck was first choice to play Indiana Jones.

Harrison Ford, however, has turned down the lead roles in Big (so did Deniro), Dragonfly (I know, big deal), A History of Violence, The Hunt for Red October, JFK, Jurassic Park, Kinsey, Misery, Outbreak, The Patriot, The Perfect Storm, Schindler’s List, Syriana (he said he regretted this one – why?), The Untouchables, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (thank God Dustin Hoffman turned it down too), among others. Well, you know, he’s busy.

Audrey Hepburn turned down The Birds, A Bridge Too Far, Cleopatra (smart move), Doctor Zhivago, Gigi, Goodbye Mister Chips, Out of Africa, The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Spartacus and The Ten Commandments (obviously, she would not have played Moses, but an Egyptian queen).

Streisand was supposed to star in Cabaret (in which case, would we ever have heard of Liza?).

And, finally, did you know that

Larry David was the voice of George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld.

Thing (the hand on The Addams Family) belonged to Lurch (Ted Cassidy) when the rest of his body wasn’t in the scene too. He once also played a hulking android on Star Trek. A little more surprising, “Lurch” wrote the screen play for The Harrad Experiment, the 1973 film of a then outrageous 60’s novel which dealt with college students having sex with each other (hey, I was shocked when I was a little kid in the 70s and realized what was going on in colleges). Cassidy got to play a bit part in it too. Strangely, so did Melanie Griffith, Gregory Harrison (Gonzo from Trapper John, M.D.), Fred Willard and I love this one, Melody Patterson aka Wrangler Jane (one of her very few roles). Not a bad group for a pretty dumb movie.

Melody was one of the most beautiful stars ever, and because she played a grown up on a tv show when I was a kid, I figured she had to be well into her 70s now, like Ken Berry. But, because Wrangler was only a 16 year old high school student when she started F-Troop (she lied to get the role) it turns out she is only 10 years older than I am, 58. (Speaking of F-Troop, am I the only one who was certain Larry Storch was long dead of a heart attack? Maybe. He’s still kicking at 84 and I would’ve sworn . . . ).

You’ve Got Mail is, for my money, one of the best screenplays ever written. We all know that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred and that Jean Stapleton had a small role. But even though I have seen it over a dozen times, I had no idea that Meg’s boyfriend, Frank, was played by Greg Kinnear, because he looks nothing like him now, and plays a rather eccentric character very unlike Greg’s more recent movie roles. I also had no idea that Kevin, Tom Hank’s friend and employee, was played by none other than Dave Chapelle (probably because I never saw his tv show). The movie itself is actually a superior remake of a 40s Jimmy Stewart movie, supposedly set in Hungary, called The Little Shop Around the Corner (which is the name of Meg Ryan’s store in the remake). I made the sacrifice of buying and watching the original. Don’t.

OK, I love this stuff, but we’re done. This is the first post I’ve done just using the internet, with little knowledge of my own about the trivia. Who knows how reliable the websites actually are. I used several that seemed like they cared about reliability and had indications when they had their doubts about a claim (in which case I didn’t use it). I double checked as much as I could in the limited time I gave myself. It was fun, but got to get back to something substantial next week.


  1. Now you're cooking. This is the fun stuff. No one gives a rat's hiny about Lincoln and Shields.

  2. Ow. That hurts. I care. My mom would care if she were alive (not that she would read it). My millions of readers (dividing each actual reader into subparts of several hundred thousand) care. Well, maybe not, but I do, and its my damn bloggedy blog blog blog.

    p.s. You can tell when Bear has been on vacation when he is not correcting my spelling/grammar errors.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .