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I Didn't Know That!


Defenestrator
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I thought I would start a string of things we have all newly discovered after thinking we knew just about everything about our favorite character actors, B-movies, classic TV shows, etc. I'll start with this one...

Last night I was watching the "77 Sunset Strip" episode "The Heartbeat Caper" and was surprised to learn it was written by the amazing actor Jason Wingreen, who was the original voice of Boba Fett in "The Empire Strikes Back" (before it was changed for the special edition) and also appeared in a bit part in the original "Star Trek" although he was perhaps most visually recognizable for his regular role on "All in the Family" and later "Archie Bunker's Place" as one of Archie's buddies at Kelsey's bar. It turns out that in addition to his long, impressive acting career, Wingreen had done four other regular series teleplays, including one each for Boris Karloff's "Thriller" and "The Wild Wild West." I do wonder why he didn't stick with that second career, as the latter script from 1965 was his last although his acting roles run up to 1994 and he himself lasted until age 95, called home on Christmas of 2015.

The thing is, having been a regular viewer of the current run of the "77 SS" repeats for the past few years, I had another piece of information stored in my memory that had also surprised me when I first learned of it. It was when I was so excited to be finally watching one of the latter episodes of the series called "Lovers' Lane" since I knew it had both Yvonne Craig and Bruce Dern (two of my all-time favorite people, who would work together again years later in the last "Land of the Giants" episode "Wild Journey") that also having a key role was a young actor named Hampton Fancher, who it turns out had also appeared in an earlier "Sunset Strip" episode called "Reunion at Balboa." Fancher's career as an actor started as a co-zombie with Leonard Nimoy in 1958's "The Brain Eaters" and continued with impressive under-the-radar roles on memorable TV shows until the late seventies, after which he turned his career to his greatest claim to fame, becoming the writer of the "Blade Runner" movies.

With last night's revelation, it just seemed interesting that one promising writing career peters out in favor of a great acting career, and a successful but lesser acting career graduates to a significant writing achievement, both with the same TV series as a sort of middle ground.

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14 minutes ago, Defenestrator said:

The thing is, having been a regular viewer of the current run of the "77 SS" repeats for the past few years, I had another piece of information stored in my memory that had also surprised me when I first learned of it. It was when I was so excited to be finally watching one of the latter episodes of the series called "Lovers' Lane" since I knew it had both Yvonne Craig and Bruce Dern (two of my all-time favorite people, who would work together again years later in the last "Land of the Giants" episode "Wild Journey") that also having a key role was a young actor named Hampton Fancher, who it turns out had also appeared in an earlier "Sunset Strip" episode called "Reunion at Balboa." Fancher's career as an actor started as a co-zombie with Leonard Nimoy in 1958's "The Brain Eaters" and continued with impressive under-the-radar roles on memorable TV shows until the late seventies, after which he turned his career to his greatest claim to fame, becoming the writer of the "Blade Runner" movies.

I also recall Hampton Fancher as the rich-kid heel in Parrish (1961). I was very surprised when I first learned he was the screenwriter of Blade Runner, one of my favorite films.

I encountered this kind of revelation recently while watching The Untouchables and seeing actor Lawrence Dobkin in a couple of episodes as Dutch Schultz. I've seen Dobkin in dozens of shows and movies, but I was surprised to learn that he was also a writer and director, helming the pilot of The Munsters, and creating the show The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. He has 212 acting credits on IMDb, 81 directing credits, and 6 writing credits.

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Yes, I became a big fan of Dobkin's ever since looking him up after his great scene opposite Tony Curtis in "Sweet Smell of Success" ("You tell Hunsecker that he's a disgrace to his profession.") and knowing that I had seen him so many times, notably in "Them!" as the officer reacting to the worrying mother of the missing kids ("Yeah, I see what you mean.") and one of the members of Leo G. Carroll's "alphabet soup" round table in "North by Northwest"; and learning that he directed the "Star Trek" episode "Charlie X" among so many other things, but kept on acting, even appearing in a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode all those years later. And I remember he even found time to write one of the Ron Ely "Tarzan" episodes. Can't hold a job, eh?

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Moving onto another item that shocked me, this one relating to another actor who was in "Sweet Smell of Success" and this one much more on a very saddening note. I sincerely do ask your pardon as I move onto something so heart-breaking: I only learned last week of the tragedy that affected David White, whom we all know as Larry Tate on "Bewitched." Last week, TCM in its continued March focus on films about journalism included the 1952 independent production "Park Row" which featured actress Mary Welch in the female lead opposite Gene Evans as rival New York newspaper publishers in the 1890s (and with future "George Jetson" George O'Hanlon portraying the Steve Brodie who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge around that time). I learned that Mary Welch was David White's wife, but sadly she passed away eight years after this film at the young age of 36 during childbirth in delivering their son Jonathan. Sadder still is that Jonathan White died at the young age of 33 on May 31, 1988, as one of the passengers killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, with David passing away only two and a half years later. The order of the events shows the strength of this man, that a year after "Sweet Smell of Success" David suffered the first of those losses, yet he was back in top form in "The Apartment" two years after that and making us all laugh with "Bewitched" and other roles, including a regular role on "Dallas" I recall, preceding that second unthinkable tragedy. It should be noted, according to his Wikipedia listing, that David did remarry another actress, Lisa Gorsuch, in 1959, with whom he had a daughter, Alexandra. Lisa, who is listed on the imdb site as "Lisa Figus" (born Elizabeth Margaret Gorsuch), was of course the stepmother of Jonathan over his time on Earth, and survived her husband, but passed away in 2017, according to that site, at age 93. Daughter Alexandra reportedly survives them all, and I'm sure I speak for us all in wishing her our deepest condolences for each of these losses. I should point out one discrepancy between the Wiki and imdb sites, which is in the bio section of the imdb site for David White it lists his marriage to Lisa as being from 1946 to 1953, preceding his marriage to Mary Welch from 1955 to her 1958 passing, contradicting what I have related here from Wikipedia which has the reverse order of the marriages, and I don't know where imdb would get that timeline. Perhaps someone here can figure out a way to confirm which site is in error before proceeding to correct it. One other thing: I visited the Find a Grave website and did see that in David White's resting place they have included the bust of his head that they made for the "Bewitched" episode, the one that switches back and forth between the sculpture and David in clay makeup portraying the sculpture as he comes to life due to an Endora spell and talks at the most inopportune moments. Throughout all your tragedies, thank you for all the laughter you have given us, sir.

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You are. You're talking 'bout Larry Dobkin. Eh, set aside anything he did in TV. The guy is far more of a legend in radio. Superlative voice actor.  'Gunsmoke' on radio ran ten years; he is probably in 80% of those shows. Constant appearances as a villain, a farm-hand, saddlebum, or a mumbling, barely-literate 'sod-buster'. But you'd swear it must be two different guys with the same name because he was also 'Archie Goodwin' to Sidney Greenstreet in 'Nero Wolfe'; 'Louie the Cabbie' in Vincent Price's 'The Saint'; and 'Lieutenant Matthews' in 'The Adventures of Philip Marlowe'. And there, he sounds completely different. It is uncanny. You literally cannot hear the slightest trace of western twang in his voice when he plays in an urban setting. Astounding. He's practically a ventriloquist.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Dobkin

https://www.otrcat.com/p/larry-dobkin

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Next item that surprised me because I should have known all along. Does anyone here know who narrated the original theatrical trailers for the first three "Jaws" films? I'll give you a chance to think about it, with the memory of that voice in the "Jaws" trailer saying it was as if God created the Devil and gave him 'jaws' and later asking in the "Jaws 2" trailer "In all the vast and unknown depths of the ocean, how could there have been only one?"

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  • 1 month later...

Just a postnote to my first post in this thread. That episode "Lover's Lane" of "77 Sunset Strip" aired again last week, and on this viewing it reminded me of something else. In the episode, actor Hampton Fancher (who as aforementioned would go on to author the "Blade Runner" movies) played the son of a politician whom Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s character was trying to exonerate of a murder he had been framed for. In one key scene, Efrem visits the scapegoat Hampton who tells him he has given up on being cleared so Efrem is just wasting his time. I suddenly remembered an old episode of a later Zimbalist series, "The F.B.I." called "The Scapegoat," which had the same exact scene of sorts, with Efrem visiting the young accused man who was all but resigned to spending the rest of his life in prison for the frameup that has convicted him. In that episode though, the scapegoat wasn't the author of "Blade Runner," but its star Harrison Ford. Must have been deja vu for Efrem filming it, but I wonder if anyone ever noticed the similar scene by two people who had that connection so many years later. Just thought I'd mention.

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