Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Leonard Nimoy & Vicki Lawrence!

Today March 26 is not only the birthday of two of my favorite TV stars, but it is also the birthday of one of my all-time favorite comic book artists! I will talk about Jose Luis Garcia Lopez tomorrow but for now it's TV Tuesday so it's time to celebrate Leonard Nimoy and Vicki Lawrence!

Happy Birthday, Leonard Nimoy!

I first came across Mr. Nimoy on some science fiction show called "Star Trek." You may have heard of it. I think the character of Mr. Spock is incredibly attractive to kids in general and boys in particular: as you are getting older, how do you balance your inclination to be "smart" with your wanting to be "active" and to "fit in." Atleast, that's what attracted me to the Mr. Spock character. As a kid I didn't understand the formula for the Kirk-Spock-McCoy friendship; I just knew it was fun to watch them. Very quickly I identified with Spock and McCoy over Kirk; to this day Kirk is one of my least favorite "Star Trek" characters. He's just not that interesting to me! Spock, on the other hand, was brought to life by Leonard Nimoy and I could watch him for hours and hours.

Quick question: what character played by Leonard Nimoy appeared as a one-named "supporting" character to the "lead" character named Jim, then went away without any explanation whatsoever? The answer, is, of course, The Great Paris from "Mission: Impossible!" Yes, there have been quite a few actors who appeared on both "Star Trek" and "Mission," but none as prominent as Leonard Nimoy! When Martin Landau quit the show after three years, Leonard was already on the Paramount lot, having just lost his "Star Trek" job. A quick contract later, Spock was replaced by Paris; Jim Kirk was replaced by Jim Phelps. I've read that Mr. Nimoy almost never gets asked questions about his "Mission" days....so if I ever get to meet him, I'm for sure going to ask him some "Mission" stories.

Here's a great example of just how far into pop culture Leonard Nimoy has permeated. 
Here he is with two voice cameos on "The Big Bang Theory." 

Happy Birthday, Vicki Lawrence! 

Have you heard the story about how Vicki Lawrence was "discovered" by Carol Burnett? She was graduating from high school in 1967 and wrote a fan letter telling Carol about how many people told her she (Vicki) resembled her (Carol). Carol and her husband visited Vicki on a lark and was taken with the youth; they hired her for The Carol Burnett Show that fall. Vicki was able to show just how talented she was, and stayed with the show the entire eleven years. During this time she helped create the role she is most famous for, Mrs. Thelma "Mama" Harper. After The Carol Burnett Show ended, Vicki Lawrence reprised the role on "Mama's Family" from 1983~1990. Along the way, she also recorded the Number One hit, "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia," written by her then-husband, Bobby Russell. Reba McIntire later re-made it in 1991.

The Carol Burnett Cast reunion circa 2000
(Lyle Waggoner, Vicki, Harvey Korman, Carol, and Tim Conway)

Here's Vicki as "Mama" and Carol as "Eunice" on Password Plus circa 1980. 
They play in character. It's hilarious! There are atleast seven parts if you want
to watch them all...!  

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