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Dean Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti; June 7, 1917 – December 25, 1995) was an American singer, film actor, television star and comedian.
One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th Century, Martin was nicknamed the "King of Cool" due to his seemingly effortless charisma and self-assuredness. A member of the "Rat Pack," Martin was a major star in four areas of show business: concert stage/night clubs, recordings, motion pictures, and television.
Martin's relaxed, warbling crooning voice earned him dozens of hit singles including his signature songs "Memories Are Made of This", "That's Amore", "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", "Sway", "Volare" and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?".
Martin was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to Italian parents, Gaetano and Angela Crocetti (née Barra). His father was from Montesilvano, Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy, and his mother was of Neapolitan and Sicilian ancestry. Martin had an older brother named Bill. Martin spoke only Italian until he started school. He attended Grant Elementary School in Steubenville, and took up the drums as a hobby as a teenager. He was the target of much ridicule for
Salvatore Phillip "Sonny" Bono (/ˈboʊnoʊ/; February 16, 1935 – January 5, 1998) was an American recording artist, record producer, actor, and politician whose career spanned over three decades.
Sonny Bono was born in Detroit to Italian immigrants Santo Bono (born in Montelepre, Palermo, Italy) and Zena "Jean" La Valle. Sonny was the youngest of three siblings; he had two older sisters, Fran and Betty. Bono attended Inglewood High School in Inglewood, California, but did not graduate.
Bono began his music career working at Specialty Records where his song "Things You Do to Me" was recorded by Sam Cooke, and went on to work for the record producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s as a promotion man, percussionist and "gofer". One of his earliest songwriting efforts was "Needles and Pins" which he co-wrote with Jack Nitzsche, another member of Spector's production team. Later in the same decade, he achieved commercial success, along with his then-wife Cher, as part of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. Bono wrote, arranged, and produced a number of hit records with singles like "I Got You Babe" and "The Beat Goes On", although Cher received more attention as a performer. He also played a
Thomas B. Kin "Tommy" Chong (born May 24, 1938) is a Canadian-American comedian, actor, writer, director, activist, and musician. He is well known for his marijuana-themed Cheech & Chong comedy movies with Cheech Marin, as well as playing the character Leo on Fox's That '70s Show.
Chong was born as Thomas B. Kin Chong at University Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His mother was Lorna Jean (née Gilchrist), a waitress of Scots-Irish and French ancestry, and his father was Stanley Chong, a Chinese truck driver who emigrated to Canada from Guangdong province, China in the 1920s, where he first lived with his aunt in Vancouver. While he was still young, Chong's family moved to Calgary, Alberta to a conservative neighbourhood Chong refers to as the Dog Patch. He says that his father had "been wounded in World War II, and there was a veterans' hospital in Calgary. He bought a five-hundred dollar house in Dog Patch, and raised his family on fifty dollars a week." He later dropped out of Crescent Heights High School in Calgary, Alberta. “I dropped out of Crescent Heights High School when I was 16 but probably just before they were going to throw me out anyway,” Chong laughs as he
Tom Dreesen (born September 11, 1942) is an American stand-up comedian.
Dreesen grew up in Harvey, Illinois, south of Chicago. While working as an insurance salesman in 1968, he met Tim Reid through a local Jaycee chapter, and the two teamed up to form the first biracial stand-up comedy duo in the United States. Shortly thereafter they sought the assistance of radio personality Vince Sanders, who would coach the act and handle some of its business affairs for the next four years.
Though their material is now considered cutting-edge for its time, the pair struggled to make a living together and split up in the mid-1970s. However, each found individual success: while Reid landed a role on WKRP in Cincinnati, Dreesen became a regular on The Tonight Show and toured with Frank Sinatra as the crooner's opening act. In 1989, Dreesen released a comedy album through Flying Fish Records called That White Boy's Crazy. The album was recorded in front of an all-black audience in Harvey, Illinois.
Dreesen continues to perform today. He is also involved in philanthropic endeavors and hosts an annual golf tournament called the Tom Dreesen Celebrity Classic. In 2008, Dreesen, Reid, and former
Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller; February 14, 1948) is an American magician, illusionist, comedian, writer, and the frequently silent half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette. Teller is an atheist, debunker, skeptic, and a fellow of the Cato Institute (a free market libertarian think tank which also lists his partner Penn Jillette as a fellow). The Cato Institute Association is featured prominently in the Penn and Teller Showtime TV series Bullshit!. He has legally changed his name to just "Teller".
Teller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Irene B. (née Derrickson) and Joseph Teller. His father was from Brooklyn and his mother was from a farming family in Delaware; the two met as painters in art school. Teller attended Central High School and Amherst College and taught English and Latin at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He was selected to be a member of the Central High School Hall of Fame in 2001.
Teller began performing with friend Weir Chrisemer as The Ottmar Scheckt Society for the Preservation of Weird and Disgusting Music. Teller met Penn Jillette in 1974, and they became a three-person act with Chrisemer
Straight man in double act:George Burns & Gracie Allen
George Burns (January 20, 1896 – March 9, 1996), born Naftaly Birnbaum, was an American comedian, actor, and writer.
He was one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television. His arched eyebrow and cigar smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century. Beginning at the age of 79, Burns' career was resurrected as an amiable, beloved and unusually active old comedian, continuing to work until shortly before his death, in 1996, at the age of 100.
Naftaly (later called Nathan) Birnbaum was born on January 20, 1896 in New York City, the ninth of 12 children born to Louis "Lippe" and Dorah (née Bluth) Birnbaum, Jewish immigrants who had come to the United States from Romania. Burns was also an active member of the First Roumanian-American congregation. His father was a substitute cantor at the local synagogue but usually worked as a coat presser. During the influenza epidemic of 1903, Lippe Birnbaum contracted the flu and died at the age of 47. Nattie (as he was then called) went to work to help support the family, shining shoes, running errands, and selling newspapers.
When he landed a job as a syrup
Straight man in double act:Desi Arnaz & Lucille Ball
Desi Arnaz (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986) was a Cuban-born American musician, actor and television producer. While he gained international renown for leading a Latin music band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, he is best known for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the American TV series I Love Lucy, starring with Lucille Ball, to whom he was married at the time. He is generally credited as the inventor of the rerun.
Desi Arnaz was born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Santiago de Cuba to Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II (March 8, 1894 - May 31, 1973) and his wife Dolores de Acha (April 2, 1896 - October 24, 1988). His father was Santiago's youngest mayor and also served in the Cuban House of Representatives. His maternal grandfather was Alberto de Acha, one of the three founders of Bacardi Rum. According to Arnaz himself, in his autobiography A Book (1976), the family owned three ranches, a palatial home, and a vacation mansion on a private island in Santiago Bay, Cuba. Following the 1933 Cuban Revolution, led by Fulgencio Batista, which overthrew President Gerardo Machado, Alberto Arnaz was jailed and all of his property was confiscated. He was released after six months when U.S.
Gerald Isaac "Jerry" Stiller (born June 8, 1927) is an American comedian and actor.
He spent many years in the comedy team Stiller and Meara with his wife Anne Meara. Stiller and Meara are the parents of actor Ben Stiller (with whom he co-starred in the movies Zoolander, Heavyweights, Hot Pursuit and The Heartbreak Kid) and actress Amy Stiller.
Jerry is best known for his recurring role as Frank Costanza on the television series Seinfeld and his supporting role as Arthur Spooner on the television series The King of Queens.
The eldest of four children, Stiller was born in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Jewish parents, Bella (née Citrin) and William Stiller, a bus driver. He lived in the Williamsburg and East New York neighborhoods before his family moved to the Lower East Side, where he attended Seward Park High School. A drama major at Syracuse University, he gained a Bachelor's degree in Speech and Drama in 1950.
In the 1953 Phoenix Theater production of Coriolanus (produced by John Houseman), Jerry Stiller (along with Gene Saks and Jack Klugman) formed "the best trio of Shakespearian clowns that [he] had ever seen on any stage."
Stiller has two children, who followed in his
Oliver Hardy (January 18, 1892 - August 7, 1957) known as Ollie, was an American comic actor famous as one half of Laurel and Hardy, the classic double act that began in the era of silent films and lasted nearly 30 years, from 1927 to 1955.
Oliver Hardy was born Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia. His father, Oliver, was a Confederate veteran wounded at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. After his demobilization as a recruiting officer for Company K, 16th Georgia Regiment, the elder Oliver Hardy assisted his father in running the vestiges of the family cotton plantation, bought a share in a retail business and was elected full-time Tax Collector for Columbia County. His mother, Emily Norvell, the daughter of Thomas Benjamin Norvell and Mary Freeman, was descended from Captain Hugh Norvell of Williamsburg, Virginia. Her family arrived in Virginia before 1635. Their marriage took place on March 12, 1890; it was the second marriage for the widow Emily, and the third for Oliver. He was of paternal English American descent and maternal Scottish American descent.
The family moved to Madison in 1891, before Norvell’s birth. Norvell’s mother owned a house in Harlem, which was
William Alexander "Bud" Abbott (October 2, 1895 – April 24, 1974) was an American actor, producer and comedian. He is best remembered as the straight man of the comedy team of Abbott and Costello, with Lou Costello.
Abbott was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey into a show business family. His parents worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus: his mother, Rae (née Fisher), was a bareback rider and his father, Harry, was an advance man. Rae was from Maryland of German Jewish heritage and Harry was born in Pennsylvania of British parentage. Bud Abbott dropped out of school as a child and began working in Coney Island. When Abbott was 16, his father, now an employee of the Columbia Burlesque Wheel, installed him in the box office of the Casino Theater in Brooklyn. Eventually, Abbott began arranging burlesque show tours.
In 1918, he married Betty Smith, a burlesque dancer and comedienne. Abbott and his new wife soon began producing a vaudeville "tab show" called Broadway Flashes, which toured on the Gus Sun Vaudeville Circuit. Around 1924, Abbott began performing as a straight man in an comedy act with Betty. As his reputation grew, Abbott began working with veteran comedians like Harry
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation.
A multimedia star, from 1934 to 1954 Bing Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings and motion picture grosses. His early career coincided with technical recording innovations; this allowed him to develop a laid-back, intimate singing style that influenced many of the popular male singers who followed him, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Yank magazine recognized Crosby as the person who had done the most for American G.I. morale during World War II and, during his peak years, around 1948, polls declared him the "most admired man alive," ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII. Also in 1948, the Music Digest estimated that Crosby recordings filled more than half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music.
Crosby exerted an important influence on the development of the postwar recording industry. He worked for NBC at the time and wanted to record his shows; however, most broadcast
Richard Remick "Dick" Smothers (born November 20, 1939) is an American actor, comedian, composer and musician. He is best known for being half of the musical comedy team the Smothers Brothers, with his older brother Tom.
Smothers was born in New York City, the son of Ruth (née Remick), a homemaker; and Thomas B. Smothers, an army officer who died a POW in April 1945. After moving to Southern California, Dick attended Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga, California, and graduated from Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California, and later attended San José State University then called San José State College. At SJSC, Smothers participated as a distance runner for the track team (coached by Lloyd (Bud) Winter).
The Smothers Brothers have appeared on numerous television shows over the past three decades, including two shows of their own: The Smothers Brothers Show, a sit-com from 1965 to 1966; and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, a variety show in 1967. Without Tom, he also appeared in the 1995 Martin Scorsese-directed film Casino in an uncharacteristically serious role as a dishonest Nevada State Senator.
In February 2010, Dick Smothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy