Meet Liberace, performance artist - in a cameo on The Monkees he appeared at an avant-garde art gallery as himself, gleefully smashing a grand piano with a sledgehammer
Lee could have had a whole other career.
September 29, 1948 -
Laurence Olivier's powerful interpretation of Shakespeare's melancholy Dane, Hamlet premiered in New York City on this day.
The film was greatly influenced by the inventive camera effects that Orson Welles and Gregg Toland pioneered in Citizen Kane, and by the psychological reinterpretations of the play that were being floated at the time.
September 29, 1953 -
The family comedy Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas, premiered on ABC TV on this date.
The title "Make Room for Daddy" actually grew out of an in-joke within Danny Thomas's family. Whenever Danny was away on a nightclub tour, his children more or less had the run of the house. When he returned from a tour, it was time to spread out and "make room for daddy", hence the show's title.
September 29, 1954 -
The movie musical A Star Is Born, (the third version of the film, fourth, if you count What Price Hollywood) starring Judy Garland and James Mason, had its world premiere at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood on this date.
The film was re-edited several times. Premiering at 181 minutes, the studio (Warner Bros.) cut the film by 30 minutes despite the objections of director George Cukor and producer Sidney Luft (Judy Garland's husband). In 1983, all but 5 minutes of the cut footage was found and re-instated, but some footage had to be reconstructed using production stills.
September 29, 1955 -
The only film Charles Laughton directed, The Night of the Hunter opened in New York City on this date.
While the poor critical reviews are often cited as the reason Laughton never directed another feature, Laughton himself said that he much preferred directing in the theatre. In the theatre you could constantly change and amend the production - adding lines, changing lighting and sets - but with film once it was done it could never be changed.
September 29, 1960 -
We were all welcomed into the Douglas household when My Three Sons, starring another of TV favorite alcoholic dads, Fred McMurray, premiered on ABC on this date.
At Fred MacMurray's insistence, all episodes were filmed out of sequence during the show's entire run using a technique now known as the MacMurray method. MacMurray would do all of his scenes in 65 nonconsecutive days. The cast regulars got haircuts once a week in order to maintain continuity. Guest stars would have to return months later to complete an episode.
September 29, 1963 -
My Favorite Martian, starring Ray Walston and Bill Bixby premiered on CBS-TV on this date.
The character 'Uncle Martin' was ranked #3 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends" (1 August 2004 issue).
September 29, 1967 -
The indestructible Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, filmed in Supermarionation, premiered on ITV in the United Kingdom on this date.
According to Gerry Anderson, The Mysterons were written as an invisible enemy because Gerry didn't want to offend any aliens if life were ever found on Mars. (I wonder if Uncle Martin would have been offended?)
Today in History:
September 29, 1399 -
... For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings...
Richard II was deposed, on this date,which only served him right for having posed in the first place. He was succeeded by Henry IV Part I.
September 29, 1513 -
Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean, on this date (although he may have discovered it four days earlier - I'm not sure what the Spanish Navy's stance was on the the whole rum ... question.)
How something that covers roughly a third of the earth's surface could have been lost for so long is a question that stumps historians to this day.
It's Miguel de Cervantes' birthday today. Born in 1547, Cervantes is best known as the author of Don Quixote, a cunning satire on mental illness. The work is an epic treatment of the perennial question, "wouldn't the world be better off if we were all crazy?"
Ever since the publication of Don Quixote, the idea of improving through world through mental illness has taken root in the popular culture of the west. From the good soldier Svjek and Prince Myshkin to Chauncy Gardener, Elwood P. Dowd and Forrest Gump, western readers and filmgoers have a galaxy of benevolent lunatics to show them the way to a better, purer existence. Grand mal seizures, delirium tremens, and hallucinations are merely the price of admission to their wistful world of blissful ignorance.
The sane and hard-working do not come off nearly so well in film or literature. In fact, sane and hard-working people seldom even appear in film or literature. No one wants to read about them, or spend good money to watch them go about their plodding lives, because most of us are surrounded by sane and hard-working people already and know what they're like—they're just like us, only less so.
Early to bed and early to rise may make a man healthy, and wealthy, and wise, but it won't do a goddam thing for his Nielsens. In fact, if you're healthy, wealthy, wise, and well-rested, you're only going to piss the rest of us off. Lighten up, slack off, drink up, and spend plenty of quality time with imaginary friends.
That's the real road to happiness—or at least our acceptance, without which you have no right to be happy.
September 29, 1957 -
An explosion at the Chelyabinsk-40 complex, a Soviet nuclear fuel processing plant, irradiated the nearby city of Kyshtym with strontium-90, cesium-137, and plutonium.
This accident released twice the radioactivity of the Chernobyl incident.
September 29, 1976 -
At his birthday party, musician Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shot his bass player Norman Owens twice in the chest, trying to open a soft drink bottle with a .357 magnum. Owens survived and filed a lawsuit.
September 29, 1988 -
Stacy Allison became the first American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, all 29,035 feet, on this date.
The first people ever to reach the Mount Everest summit was New Zealand native Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, who climbed the mountain in 1953.
September 29, 1989 -
Zsa Zsa Gabor, a person famous for no apparent reason and with no visible means of support (It's too weird to think that Zsa Zsa was once Paris Hilton's step-grandmother), was convicted of slapping a Beverly Hills police officer on this date.
Gabor later complains that she was denied a jury of her peers, saying "It was not my class of people, There was not a producer, a press agent, a director, an actor."
And so it goes.