Today is more about behind-the-scenes for us, with two TV production-side stalwarts sharing a November 17th birthday. But first, a nod to a couple of TV-oriented actors we love.
Danny DeVito turns 69 today! Best known, at least television-wise, for his five-year run (1978 - 83) on the hit sitcom Taxi as grouchy dispatcher Louie De Palma, De Vito is a multi-talented show business hyphenate, too. In addition to his myriad acting roles on TV and in movies, he's served as exec producer on TV series including Reno 911 and Karen Sisco, done director duty on TV projects like Amazing Stories, Mary and Taxi (not to mention major motion pictures Hoffa, The War of the Roses, Throw Momma from the Train). De Vito is now gleefully part of the gang on FXX's all-out comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Robert Brown turns 87 today! Need we say anything more than Brown played the strapping lumberman Jason Bolt who traveled to Massachusetts to bring back ladies for his workers in the popular
ABC romantic adventure series Here Come the Brides which aired for two seasons beginning in 1968. Dashing, vital, deeply handsome in his leather prairie pants...well, Jason Bolt was a frontier dreamboat! Brown also starred in the title role as Primus for a season in 1971, as well as many other guest star roles both before and after his success in HCtB. He's also permanently in the cult TV Hall of Fame for his role as Lazarus in the first season episode "The Alternative Factor" from Star Trek: The Original Series.
Lynn Stalmaster who began working in the TV industry back in the early 1950s (and acted at first, too) and eventually branched out into casting features. The names of the projects he worked on is practically endless: Have Gun - Will Travel, Whirlybirds, The Untouchables, Gunsmoke, My Living Doll, Hogan's Heroes, My Favorite Martian, Hey, Landlord, The Rat Patrol, Hart to Hart and more. He then worked both in features and TV movies, including Farewell to Manzanar, New York, New York, Convoy, Superman, The Right Stuff and so many others. Stalmaster was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the 1996 TV miniseries Crime of the Century about the Lindbergh kidnapping case. For a deeper look into his amazing career, you will want to watch his interview at the Archive of American Television, available by clicking here.
Harry Ackerman, born on November 17, 1912. Ackerman was the man behind an impressive number of the all-time favorite situation comedies from the late 1950s through the 1970s and beyond. Ackerman's name is associated with shows like Leave it to Beaver, The Flying Nun, Love on a Rooftop, Bachelor Father, Dennis the Menace, Hazel, Gidget, The Farmer's Daughter, Occasional Wife, The Second Hundred Years, The Ugliest Girl in Town, Bewitched, and The Paul Lynde Show. That is like a laundry list of some of my favorite shows, even the short-lived ones! Married for many years to the wonderful actress Elinor Donahue, Harry Ackerman's unerring eye and ear for comedy magic made TV laugh for hundred and hundreds and half-hours. (Even his flops were interesting!). He passed away in 1991 and is much missed.