Abe Vigoda was a versatile actor who could play both tough dramatic and comedic roles. He struggled though at the beginning of his career first appearing on stage at the age of 17 and worked in bit roles for twenty years.
Abe’s first break came in 1960’s with a reoccurring role in the TV horror soap, Dark Shadows. But his real big shot in show business came as the back stabbing ‘Tessio’ in Academy award winning film “The Godfather.” This was quickly followed with world-wide recognition thanks to the part of Det. Phillip Fish, the long-suffering, just waiting for retirement time cop in the TV series “Barney Miller.”
He also moved on to his own short-lived series “Fish,” a spin off from “Barney Miller.”
Abe was offered the role as The Monster in Mel Brooks “Young Frankenstein.”
His role as the villain in the 1960’s “Shakespeare in the Park” production of “Richard III” drew rave reviews.
Abe won the part of ‘Tessio’ in “The Godfather” from a group of over 500 who had auditioned.
Was once mistakenly reported as dead in People magazine.
On explaining how he won the role of Det. Fish on “Barney Miller” he said the producer said that he had looked tired. He explained he was tired from jogging 5 miles. The producer then said “You also look like you have hemorrhoids, in which he replied “What are you, a doctor or a producer?”
Birth Name: Abraham Charles Vigodah
Date Of Birth: February 24, 1921
Died: January 26, 2016
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: New York City, New York
Height: 5′ 10″ (1.77 m)
Gerald McRaney spent eight years as private investigator Rick Simon in the series “Simon & Simon” on the CBS Television Network, then returned to the Network for four years as a U.S. Marine in “Major Dad.” Since the latter series ended its run in 1993, McRaney has become a valuable and reliable character player in many highly rated television films and mini-series.
McRaney was born in Collins, Miss. and became interested in acting when a football knee injury in junior high school sidelined him. He joined his school’s drama club and went on to major in drama at the University of Mississippi. Although he briefly segued out of acting and onto the Louisiana oil fields, he landed a job as an assistant stage manager with a New Orleans repertory company and was eventually cast in some of its stage productions.
McRaney made his television debut in an episode of “Night Gallery.”
Tony Randall was born Leonard Rosenberg in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1920. At age 12 he attended a school play and decided he wanted to become an actor. At age 20, after a year studying acting with Northwestern University’s Theatre Department, he set out for New York and the Neighborhood Playhouse.
There he trained tirelessly for a career in which the odds of making a living were totally against him. Luckily he drew support from his parents – $10 a week. In the early 1940s, it was enough to avoid starvation. In 1941, he married Florence Mitchell, from Northwestern, and started to find steady work in radio. His rich voice was heard on soap operas such as “Portia Faces Life.” He also made his New York stage debut and appeared with Ethel Barrymore.
The next year, Randall reported to the Army and served until 1946. In 1947, he was back on the boards appearing in The Barretts of Wimpole Street and Anthony and Cleopatra. In 1952, he joined Wally Cox as a regular on the hit show Mr. Peepers. By the end of the decade he was starring in Hollywood movies opposite stars such as Jayne Mansfield, Debbie Reynolds, Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
In 1960 he appeared with Marilyn Monroe in Let’s Make Love. In the 1970s Randall was teamed with Jack Klugman in the TV series The Odd Couple. From there he hosted his own The Tony Randall Show and appeared often in films and on TV. He returned to Broadway in the late ’80s in the triumphant M Butterfly.
Film and TV actress Barbara Eden was born Barbara Jean Huffman on August 23, 1934, in Tucson, Arizona, to, Alice Huffman and Harrison Connor Huffman. Eden was a cheerleader in high school and a pop singer as a teenager. She graduated in 1949 from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California.
Eden is most indelibly associated with her role as the genie in the bottle in the long-running TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, co-starring Larry Hagman.
In I Dream of Jeannie, Major Anthony Nelson (Hagman) is a NASA astronaut who finds a decorative pink bottle on a desert island after he splashes down in the ocean. The bottle has a beautiful blond genie in it (Eden), who immediately assumes that Nelson is her master. He brings her home to live in Cocoa Beach, Florida. In each episode, the forbidden use of Jeannie’s well-meaning mystical powers alters reality in some wacky way that must be carefully explained away by Nelson. No other person knows of Jeannie’s existence except for Nelson’s bumbling friend, Major Roger Healey. Together they conspire to keep her secret from everyone else, especially from Nelson’s commanding officers at NASA.
The sitcom gained a cult following, and Eden appeared from time to time in commercials and cameos that poke gentle fun at her former role.
Before focusing on a TV career, Eden had parts in a series of unremarkable films in the 1950s and 1960s. Her first film role was in Back from Eternity (1956). In 1957, she starred on TV in How to Marry a Millionaire (1957) and after I Dream of Jeannie’s successful five year run from 1965 to 1970, she starred in Harper Valley PTA (1981-82). She published her autobiography, Barbara Eden: My Story, in October 1986.
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