March 20 in the 20th Century

95 years old today…

American actor, director, producer, and writer of comedy, Carl Reiner has had a career spanning nearly seven decades.

 

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During the early years of television comedy, from 1950 to 1957, he co-wrote and acted on Caesar’s Hour and Your Show of Shows, starring comedian Sid Caesar. In the 1960s Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also had great success as a film director and writer, and partnered with Steve Martin in the 1970s when Reiner co-wrote and/or directed some of Martin’s most successful films, including 1979’s The Jerk.

Reiner played a comedy duo in “2000 Year Old Man” with Mel Brooks, and acted in films such as The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) and the Ocean’s Trilogy (2001-2007). Reiner has won twelve Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award during his career. He is the father of actor and director Rob Reiner and author Annie Reiner.

80 years ago…

…Jerry Reed Hubbard was born.  Known professionally as Jerry Reed, he was an American country music singer, guitarist, and songwriter, as well as an actor who appeared in more than a dozen films. His signature songs included “Guitar Man”, “U.S. Male”, “A Thing Called Love”, “Alabama Wild Man”, “Amos Moses”, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” (which garnered a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance), “Ko-Ko Joe”, “Lord, Mr. Ford”, “East Bound and Down” (the theme song for the 1977 blockbuster Smokey and the Bandit, in which Reed co-starred), “The Bird”, and “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)”.

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Reed died in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 1, 2008, of complications from emphysema.

60 years old today…

Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee s an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983.

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He made his directorial debut with She’s Gotta Have It (1986), and has since directed such films as Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), 25th Hour (2002), Inside Man (2006), and, most recently, Chi-Raq (2015). Lee has acted in ten of his own films.

Lee’s movies have examined race relations, colorism in the black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. Lee has received two Academy Award nominations, a Student Academy Award and an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and won numerous other awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, an honorary BAFTA Award, an Honorary César and the 2013 Gish Prize.

35 years ago…

…in music: Today in 1982, The Jam went to No1 in the UK Album Chart with The Gift, for one week.  It achieved Gold certification and would be their last album together.  The lead single had been A Town Called Malice that went straight in at No1 the previous month.  The follow-up single, The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow), peaked at No2.

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30 years ago…

…cinema: Released this day in UK cinemas, Burglar is a 1987 Canadian-American comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson and distributed by Warner Bros. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg as Bernice “Bernie” Rhodenbarr, Bobcat Goldthwait as Carl Hefler, and G.W. Bailey as Ray Kirschman.

Adapted from the 1978 novel The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block, in which Bernie Rhodenbarr is a white man.   Burglar was initially intended to be a serious vehicle for Bruce Willis with Whoopi Goldberg filling the role of the character’s neighbour.  When Willis dropped out, Goldberg took on the lead role.

Critical reception was largely negative. Roger Ebert described the film as “a witless, hapless exercise in the wrong way to package Goldberg. This is a woman who is original. Who is talented. Who has a special relationship with the motion picture comedy. It is criminal to put her into brain-damaged, assembly-line thrillers.”

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