Tuesday, January 31, 2012

01/31 Miguel Ferrer

Ferrer began his career in the early 1980s making guest appearances on episodic television. In 1983, he was given a small part as a waiter in The Man Who Wasn't There. He also had a small part in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) as the Excelsior helm officer. He had a major role in the 1987 action movie RoboCop as aspiring, cocaine-snorting corporate executive Bob Morton. Since then, Ferrer has been cast in many major movies, usually in the role of flamboyant villains with a sense of humour. Ferrer's notable screen roles include a sinister biker in Valentino Returns (1988), an engineer in DeepStar Six (1989), Commander Arvid Harbinger in the comedy Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), Lloyd Henreid in the Stephen King mini series The Stand (1994), investigative reporter Richard Dees in Stephen King's The Night Flier (1997), and Eduardo Ruiz in Traffic (2000).

In the early 1990s, Ferrer appeared on three primetime TV series simultaneously: as D.A. Todd Spurrier in Shannon's Deal (1989–1991), as Cajun cop Beau Jack Bowman in Broken Badges (1990–1991), and as cynical, wittily abrasive FBI forensics specialist Albert Rosenfield in Twin Peaks (1990–91). Ferrer reprised the role of Albert in the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). He played another medical examiner on the small screen, Dr. Garret Macy, in the television crime/drama series Crossing Jordan (2001–07).

Ferrer performed as the voice of the Heretic leader in the video game Halo 2, as well as the protagonist, Jack, in the video game BioShock.[citation needed] In 1999, at the 41st Grammy Awards, he was nominated for "Best Spoken Word Album for Children" in Disney's The Lion King II, "Simba's Pride Read-Along". In 2003, Ferrer made his New York stage debut in the off-Broadway production of The Exonerated.

Ferrer played a supervillain called The Weatherman in the failed 1997 TV pilot, Justice League of America. Later in the year, Ferrer provided the voice for a similar character, Weather Wizard, in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Speed Demons". Ferrer also voiced Aquaman in another Superman: Animated episode, "A Fish Story". Ferrer has also provided voice-over roles in the TV series Robot Chicken (2006) and American Dad! (2007).

He co-created and co-wrote various comic books with Jenerators band member Bill Mumy, including Comet Man, The Dreamweaver, and Trypto the Acid Dog (released by Dark Horse Comics).

Ferrer played Jonas Bledsoe on NBC's short-lived update of the Bionic Woman series. Ferrer also starred in another short-lived NBC series, Kings, in 2009 as a military commander of Gath. He played Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Felix Valdez in the 2011 Lifetime police procedural drama, The Protector. Also in 2011 he started a multiple episode guest role on the final season of Desperate Housewives.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

01/24 Steve Lawrence, Gene & Georgetti's

Born Stephen Leibowitz, 8 July 1935, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. The son of a cantor in a Brooklyn synagogue, Lawrence was in the Glee club at Thomas Jefferson High School, where he began studying piano, saxophone, composition and arranging. He made his recording debut for King Records at the age of 16. The record, "Mine And Mine Alone", based on "Softly Awakes My Heart" from Samson & Delilah, revealed an remarkably mature voice and style. Influenced by Frank Sinatra, but never merely a copyist, Lawrence's great range and warmth earned him a break on Steve Allen's Tonight television show, where he met, sang with and later married Eydie Gorme. He recorded for Coral Records and had his first hit in 1957 with "The Banana Boat Song". It was the infectious "Party Doll" which gave him a Top 5 hit in 1957 and he followed that same year with four further, although lesser successes, namely "Pum-Pa-Lum", "Can't Wait For Summer", "Fabulous" and "Fraulein". During his US Army service (1958-60) he sang with military bands on recruiting drives and bond rallies.

Back home he and Eydie embarked on a double act, their most memorable hit being "I Want To Stay Here" in 1963. As Steve And Eydie they made albums for CBS Records, ABC Records and United Artists Records, including Steve And Eydie At The Movies, Together On Broadway, We Got Us, Steve And Eydie Sing The Golden Hits and Our Love Is Here To Stay, the latter a double album of great George Gershwin songs, which was the soundtrack of a well-received television special. Lawrence, on his own, continued to have regular hits with "Portrait Of My Love" and "Go Away Little Girl" in 1961/2, and enjoyed critical success with albums such as Academy Award Losers and Portrait Of My Love. As an actor he starred on Broadway in What Makes Sammy Run?, took the lead in Pal Joey in summer stock, and has acted in a crime series on US television. During the 70s and 80s he continued to record and make television appearances with Gorme, with the couple gaining a record-breaking seven Emmys for their Steve And Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin special. The couple also joined Frank Sinatra on his Diamond Jubilee Tour in 1991.

Larry Congratulates Gene & Georgetti's Restaurant on their 70th Anniversary.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

01/17 Robert Wagner

Robert Wagner was born in Detroit, and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was seven. Always wanting to be an actor, he held a variety of jobs (including one as a caddy for Clark Gable while pursuing his goal, but it was while dining with his parents at a restaurant in Beverly Hils that he was "discovered" by a talent scout. He had a bit part in The Happy Years (1950) but it was a small part as a crippled soldier in the Susan Hayward film With a Song in My Heart (1952) that got him attention. His fresh, all-American looks landed him a contract with 20th Century-Fox, which put him in a succession of undemanding roles in Technicolor pictures where his looks were more important than his talent (Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), Prince Valiant (1954)), but he did manage to show that he was indeed an actor of talent in several showy roles in smaller pictures (A Kiss Before Dying (1956), Between Heaven and Hell (1956)). As he became one of Fox's rising young stars, the studio, as was customary back then, set him up with a host of nubile young actresses, among them Debbie Reynolds. While the pairing didn't lead to any romance, it did lead to a lifelong friendship.

In 1957 Wagner fell in love with 18 year old actress Natalie Wood and they married later that year on December 28. However, the marriage was short-lived, lasting just three years. Wagner had a supporting role in The War Lover (1962), and went to Europe to make the movie The Longest Day (1962). In Europe he met with his old friend Marion Marshall. They began a romance, and married on July 22, 1963. He helped raise her two sons by director Stanley Donen. On May 11, 1964, the couple had a daughter, Katie Wagner. For the first several years, R.J. and Marion seemed to be very happy, but Wagner's lagging career put stress on the marriage. In 1968 he reluctantly went into television to star in "It Takes a Thief" (1968) (later he would say it was the right move). The series lasted two years before ending in 1970. Wagner briefly returned to the big screen opposite Paul Newman in Winning (1969). Wagner's career seemed to be thriving, but his personal life wasn't. He and Marion went their separate ways and divorced in 1971 after nearly a decade together.

Over the next two years Wagner struggled to find work. In 1971 he became engaged to Tina Sinatra, but they ended their engagement in January 1972. Just six months later, on July 16, 1972, he remarried Natalie Wood after a brief reunion. On March 9, 1974, they had a daughter, Courtney Wagner. Wagner went on to appear in the blockbuster "disaster film" The Towering Inferno (1974), starring Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and Faye Dunaway. He also starred in two successful television series. The first was the police show "Switch" (1975) with Eddie Albert, and the series lasted three years before its cancellation in 1978. The second was playing Stefanie Powers' husband in the hit "Hart to Hart" (1979)), which would run for five years. His professional and personal lives seemed to be right on track. Then on November 29, 1981, Natalie drowned in a freak boating accident. Shortly after, at the beginning of 1982, Wagner began a relationship with actress Jill St. John, whom he had first met in the 1950s when he was an up-and-coming actor and she (like Wood) was a teenage starlet. Wagner starred in Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), and had another TV series, "Lime Street" (1985), which was short-lived. He and Jill finally married on May 26, 1990 after eight years together.

Wagner has since revived his career as the eye-patch-wearing henchman Number Two to Mike Myers' sinister Dr. Evil in the spy spoofs Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). He also became the hose of Fox Movie Channel's "Hour of Stars" (1955), which shows recently discovered and restored episodes of the old TV anthology series "The 20th Century-Fox Hour" (1955), some of which Wagner himself had starred in. In 2008 he began a recurring role on the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" (2003). Later that year he published his autobiography "Pieces of My Heart."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

01/10 Dirk Benedict, Battlestar Galactica

It's a long way from the vastness of Montana's Big Sky country to the vastness of outer space, but Dirk Benedict is taking the transition in stride. The actor's hometown of White Sulphur Springs, Montana, was so small and remote that it lacked either a motion picture theatre or television station. Benedict became the co-star in MCA TV's "Battlestar Galactica" (1978) as a skirt-chasing, fun-loving combat pilot aboard an embattled spaceship in a far-off galaxy.

It was at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington, that Dirk became interested in acting. During his freshman year, he accepted a dare to audition for the Spring musical and won the lead role of "Gaylord Ravenal" in "Showboat". The next three years were filled with many more musical productions. Upon graduation, Benedict began a two-year training program under John Fernald, who had headed London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London for fifteen years. He then played repertory theatre in Seattle and in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he played such roles as "Edmund" in "King Lear", "Tarleton" in "Misalliance", "Ensign Pulver" in "Mister Roberts" and the lead in Neil Simon's "Star-Spangled Girl".

Meanwhile, Benedict maintained an active interest in music and formed a Dixieland Jazz Band in Seattle. Prior to their debut, he visited New York to meet an agent recommended by his college professor. Benedict never made it back to Seattle. The agent sent him to an audition which resulted in a co-starring role with Diana Rigg and Keith Michell in "Abelard and Heloise", first on Broadway, then in Los Angeles. Two weeks after the show closed on Broadway, he was winging across the Atlantic to Sweden for his first movie, Georgia, Georgia (1972) in which he co-starred with the late Diana Sands. This film about draft resisters, shot entirely in Sweden, was written by the well known writer Maya Angelou. In Sweden, Benedict lost his heart to Miss Sweden, discovered Akvavit and began a new way of eating based on whole grains and vegetables. On his return to New York, he replaced Keir Dullea in "Butterflies Are Free" on Broadway where he worked with the ever-young Gloria Swanson, as his mother. When the New York run ended, he received an offer to repeat his performance in Hawaii, opposite Barbara Rush. While there, he appeared as a guest on "Hawaii Five-O" (1968). The producers of a psycho-thriller called Sssssss (1973) saw Benedict's performance in "Hawaii Five-O" (1968) and promptly cast him as the lead in that movie. He next played the psychotic wife-beating husband of Twiggy in her American film debut, W (1974). Benedict starred in the television series, "Chopper One" (1974) then retreated to his cabin in the mountains of Montana where he spent nearly a year writing. Two of the scripts he wrote during that "sabbatical" were optioned for motion picture production and he is at work on his first novel, which will be set in Montana.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

01/03 Fred Dryer, Hunter

John Frederick "Fred" Dryer (born July 6, 1946 in Hawthorne, California) is an American actor and former football defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). Dryer played 13 years in the NFL, playing 176 games, starting 166, and recording 104 career sacks with the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams. Dryer is the only NFL player to score two safeties in one game.

Following his retirement from football, Dryer had a successful career as a film and television actor, notably starring in the series Hunter. His height (6'6" or 1.98 m) and physique was useful for his action roles.