Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Cavalcade of Useless Celebrity Facts!

This week I completed a writing project that required me to research every actor ever nominated for an Emmy. Ever. Believe me, if I realized I’d need to check the bios of every single nominee in all sixty-six years of the Emmy awards, I wouldn’t have pitched the idea, but I did and I did and now it’s done. By virtue of having looked into all these people’s lives, I picked up a good deal of trivia that I have no better use for than listing it all here, for your edification and listicle-driven entertainment.

Taran Killam, who appeared in the third Naked Gun movie, is the great-nephew of Unsolved Mysteries host Robert Stack.

Former Saturday Night Live star Paul Brittain is also the nephew of Bob Newhart. This combined with the fact that Jason Sudeikis is the nephew of George Wendt means that there was a great deal of second-generation Hollywood in the Seth Meyers years of SNL beyond just Abby Elliott.

Cougar Town star Christa Miller is the niece of actress Jill St. James.

Lorzeno Lamas’s father is, kinda-sorta, the Most Interesting Man in the World from those Dos Equis commercials. Lamas’ father was Argentinian actor-director Fernando Lamas, and the third of his four fives was actress was actress Arlene Dahl, Lorenzo’s mother. Fernando Lamas was friends with actor Jonathan Goldsmith, who plays the Most Interesting Man in the World and who used Fernando Lamas’s speech patterns and mannerisms as inspiration for the character.

Fernando Lamas’ fourth and final wife, until his death in 1982, was Esther Williams, which means that the most famous synchronized swimmer in the world was Lorenzo Lamas’ stepmother.

Remember Passions? That weird, supernatural soap opera that aired on NBC for the better part of a decade? The big bad witch character, Tabitha, was played by Juliet Mills, who happens to be the sister to Miss Bliss herself, Hayley Mills. Just from the commercials for the show, I remember that Tabitha had a creepy little sidekick. It turns out his name was Timmy, and that the actor who played him, Josh Ryan Evans, died the very day that Timmy died on the show. Even weirder? That wasn’t the only real-life death to coincide with a character’s death on the show. Weirdest of all? Juliet Mills is married to Michael Carrington himself, Maxwell Caulfield.

Mare Winningham used to be married to A Martinez.

Golda Meir was a family friend to Charlotte Rae.

Peter Pan stage actress Mary Martin was the mother of Larry Hagman.

Alia Shawkat’s maternal grandfather was the actor Paul Burke, who starred in Valley of the Dolls as the main love interest, Lyon Burke.

Kate Spade is David Spade’s sister-in-law.

Catherine, Selina’s daughter on Veep, is played by Sarah Sutherland, Keifer Sutherland’s daughter.

Actor Danny Thomas was the son of two Lebanese immigrants, meaning that his daughter, Marlo Thomas, is half-Lebanese. Thus, the star of That Girl was actually That Asian-American Girl.

Marlo Thomas has been married to Phil Donahue since 1980.

James Lipton used to be married to Nina Foch. This is pretty much only notable because Foch’s acting heyday was in the 40s and 50s, and that seemingly puts her in a different era than the Inside the Actor’s Studio guy, who I think of as being contemporary. Then again, it’s easy to forget that Lipton is 87. Nina Foch, by the way, was born Nina Fock, and I like how someone thought switching the “k” to an “h” was change enough, instead of just calling her, like, Nina Johnson.

Marcia Cross was the long-time partner to actor Richard Jordan, who was the grandson to famed judge Learned Hand. Also, it’s worthwhile to reflect on the fact that a human named Learned Hand once existed.

Will Geer, who played the grandfather on The Waltons, was the partner of gay activist Harry Hay. Before that, Geer was married to actress Herta Ware, 1934-1954. She had a lengthy career, but she is most familiar to me as Mrs. Sugarman, the convalescent home patient from Cruel Intentions.

Paul Winfield was Blacula’s cousin.

David Schwimmer’s mother was Elizabeth Taylor’s attorney during her divoce from Larry Fortensky.

While attending college, Sherry Stringfield was roommates with Parker Posey.

Martin Balsam, who played the doomed Detective Arbogast in Psycho, was the father of Talia Balsam, who is famous for being (a) Mona Sterling on Mad Men, (b) married to John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on Mad Men, and (c) previously married to George Clooney.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Katherine Helmond once starred together in a TV movie titled The Legend of Lizzie Borden, as yes, in fact, you can watch the entire thing on YouTube.

Ann-Margaret was born in Sweden and didn’t move to the U.S. until she was five.

The Prisoner star Patrick McGoohan was American by birth.

Dick Van Dyke actress Rose Marie was a child star who performed under the stage name Baby Rose Marie. Please, watch. She was an uncanny cross between moppet and adult and I don’t know how to feel about it.

Earle Hyman, who played Cliff Huxtable’s father on The Cosby Show, was the voice of Panthro on Thundercats.

The legs on the poster for The Graduate belong not to Anne Bancroft but to Linda Gray, before she became famous on Dallas. Also, Gray was an aunt by marriage to Bionic Woman star Lindsay Wagner. Actress Martha Scott played Gray’s mother on Dallas and Wagner’s mother on Bionic Woman.

Somehow, Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick starred in a NBC detective series about mystery-solving ladies and I didn’t know about it. It was titled The Snoop Sisters and aired in the same timeslot as Banacek. The opening credits are just so, so appealing.

This exists, and not as a joke but a real proto-Veronica Mars:

Rue McClanahan’s mother was named Dreda Rheua-Nell Medaris McClanahan. Also, there’s a good chance that Rue, who was of Choctaw ancestry, may have been the first actor of Native American descent to win an Emmy.

Loni Anderson was going to be named Leiloni until her parents realized it would sound like “Lay Loni.”

The actress Irene Worth pronounced her name “eye-REE-nee.”

Barbara Bel Geddes was the daughter of industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes and Helen Belle, meaning that her mother’s name would have been Helen Belle Bel Geddes.

Ron Perlman is married to a woman named Opal Stone, making her full name Opal Stone Perlman.

Fyvush Finkel is actually using a stage name. His actual name is Philip Finkel.

Ellen Burstyn is using a stage name, however. She was born Edna Rae Gilooly.

Sigourney Weaver, born Susan Alexandra Weaver, took took her stage name after Suigourney Howard, Jordan Baker’s aunt who is briefly mention in The Great Gatsby.

And finally, based on this photo alone, I’m assuming that midcentury television star Imogene Coca was most likely a time-traveling Alyson Hannigan,

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