Friends, a little earlier today the Retroist made an announcement, down here in the Vault. It appears that Harry Anderson passed away today at age 65. I have to tell you in all honesty, I sat here in the control booth and had to fight back some tears. You see, Harry Anderson was indeed a role model for me in my youth. Thanks to his role as Judge Harold T. Stone in the hit NBC series, Night Court. I became a huge fan of magic, stylish hats, and of course the crooning of Mel Torme.
I truly idolized Anderson. I attempted to adopt his sense of humor in interviews and roles on television. As well as his style of clothing, soon after entering Junior High School, I was always sporting a fedora. Even his hair style is something I attempted to copy. My Family barber was rather taken aback when I brought in a photo of Anderson, asking him to style my hair in a similar fashion.
I suppose it was Harry Anderson’s craft in stage magic or illusion that endeared him to me the most. I was certainly surprised that I never caught any of his 8 appearances on Saturday Night Live. However I did manage to see him perform a few times on The Tonight Show. Like in this 1987 episode, where he entertains Johnny Carson and the audience with a levitation trick. One that was developed by Daniel Dunglas Home, an 19th century physical medium.
Kudos to Johnny Carson of course in that clip for knowing how to go to commercial in style. One of the things I also appreciated about Harry Anderson was his honesty. He never shied away from talking about his days as a con man. A street magician at the tender age of 17. A fast-talker much like the character he played in Cheers. All in all, he appeared in 6 episode as Harry ‘The Hat’ Gittes between 1982 and 1993.
From his roles in the 1988 remake of The Absent-Minded Professor, Tales from the Crypt, Stephen King’s It, as well as Dave’s World. I followed Anderson through them all and was always entertained. It’s hard to lose an idol but at the very least we have so many of his performances left behind to enjoy. Obviously we will dim the lights in the Vault’s auditorium in his honor.
Take a moment and enjoy Harry Anderson explaining how card tricks work. In addition while on the set of Night Court!
Don Rickles was a legendary entertainer. Furthermore he earned that title through his years of incredibly cutting humor. As well as receiving the moniker of ‘Mr. Warmth’, which was bestowed on him by Johnny Carson in fact. Don Rickles owed his big break in TV thanks to Carson, not that you would see him acting thankful. No, I would add that it caused him to lean in with the insults even more. To say nothing of taking shots at his special guests, like Frank Sinatra.
I think it is quite important to understand that Don Rickles never actually meant what he said. It was all part of the act. Beyond a life of stand up comedy, Rickles of course worked in film and television. Appearing in everything from The Twilight Zone to Innocent Blood. While he might have best been known in his later years as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story animated films and shorts. I remember the very first time I was introduced to him, thanks to a showing at the 62 Drive-In. It was in 1970’s Kelly’s Heroes as the sarcastic supply Sgt. Crapgame!
I feel that if you really want to see Don Rickles at the top of his game however. You need only take a look at his appearances on the popular The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. For example, I think you will enjoy how he handles the then Governor Ronald Regan.
On the other hand, Don Rickles was also known to momentarily go after his fellow roasters, temporarily letting the roastee off the hook. Remember I did say temporarily as is proven in this clip from the roast for Jerry Lewis.
The world is a bit sadder for the loss of Don Rickles, friends. Of course we hockey pucks have a silver lining. And that is Rickles certainly has left us with an impressive legacy. 62 years of solid performances and laughs.
One of my favorite TV appearances by Don Rickles was his role in the Tales from the Crypt episode entitled The Ventriloquist’s Dummy. The perfect blend of horror as well as humor.
With the last Retro Radio Memories Podcast we showed all too well how the legendary (Even if he began to bristle at that term by 1968) Groucho Marx could think on the fly, gladly abandoning scripted works to cause the audience and his fellow performers to have to work twice as hard to keep up and not be reduced to a bad case of the giggles.
Take this almost six minute clip from the Friar’s Club Roast of the then Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. On the panel of celebrities there to roast their friend you had former New York Mayor John Lindsay, Ed Sullivan, Alan King, Flip Wilson, Ed McMahon, Steve Allen, Dick Cavett, and of course Don Rickles. Groucho may stick a little closer to script in this particular case as this was being broadcast on NBC but you can easily see where he is ad-libbing and doing so hilariously.
[Via] Steve Duryee
In Groucho’s closing comment he asks Johnny for Hermione Gingold’s phone number, you might know this actress best from her roles in the Music Man, Gigi, and Munster, Go Home!
Now I’m going to leave you with the esteemed Don Rickles as he steps up to share his love of Johnny Carson.
[Via] Steve Duryee