Tag Archives: Betty White

In Memorium: Ernest Borgnine; AKA The Importance of Being Ernest

As they say, these things come in thirties, and yesterday Ernest Borgnine joined the ranks of the many actors, celebrities and famous figures to leave us this year, passing away at ninety-five less than a week after Nora Ephron and less than two weeks after Andy Griffith.  Borgnine was one of those life-time, living legend actors, sort of a male Betty White, a performer whose career spanned more decades than most marriages, a half-century of a work on his resume.  By the time we knew who he was, or at least knew his name, he was already into the golden age of his career, a silver-headed silver back.  And we came know him best – for better or worse – as Manny the doorman on NBC’s The Single Guy.  Certainly, this is not the crowning achievement of his career, that would be his Oscar for 1955’s Marty, and the NBC sitcom is more of a footnote on his illustrious filmography, but it is the role with which we most associate him.  We didn’t choose to be twelve-years-old when The Single Guy came on the air, it choose us.  And how were we not supposed to watch the show between Friends and Seinfeld?  But that’s where The Single Guy was, 8:30pm on Thursday nights, the cushiest spot for any fledgling sitcom in all of television, and there on that show was an adorable, bushy-haired old man.  And that’s how we remember Ernest Borgnine.

In lieu of any choice excerpts from The Single Guy (if such a thing exists), here’s Borgnine talking about that show and its rapid demise.  His quiet bemusement over the show’s sudden cancellation and the questionable machinations of showbiz indicates that Borgnine the person was not so unlike the Borgnine characters: upbeat, gentle, and genuine.

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Filed under Count Bleh, In Memoriam, Must See TV

In Memoriam: Richard Dawson

Many of you know Richard Dawson as the original host of Family Feud, others know him as the original host of Family Feud who kissed every female contestant that didn’t have visible cold sores, others know him as the original host of Family Feud who kissed every female contestant that didn’t have visible cold sores who died this past weekend, and still others know him as the villain in Running Man who spoofed his image as original Family Feud host who kissed every female contestant that didn’t have visible cold sores who died this past weekend.  But, for us, we remember Dawson best for his prior work that helped birth Family Feud, his years next to (or below) Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers on Match Game.  Along with host Gene Rayburn, those three formed the nucleus of Match Game throughout the 70s, gleefully dabbling in double entendre, sipping a drink or two before (and sometimes during) tapings, and walking the tight rope of what censors would allow on daytime TV in 1975.

We vaguely remember seeing Match Game as a young child, far too young to really understand the game and the dated references, let alone the suggestive material, and we certainly had no concept of who the panelists were.  But our personal connection to Match Game came later in the mid-2000s when it was in constant reruns on GSN (né The Game Show Network).  At this time our father had undergone a silly surgery that involved part of his leg being refashioned into his jaw.  While he spent an extended period of time in the hospital recuperating and learning how to be a bionic man, we spent an extended period of time watching reruns of The Match Game, which seemed to run on two-hour blocks, one after another after another.  It’s weird to say – perhaps even somewhat morbid – but Match Game reminds of us good times spent with our family in a cold, sterile hospital room, munching on the spongy bread rolls my dad stowed away in the drawers that became his for two weeks.  So to see Richard Dawson go is to see a friend go, someone who helped get our family through a  particularly difficult time.

But even without Match Game‘s role as family therapy, we still would have a special affection for the show, because it revealed to us, for the first time, that people in the 70s (“old people”) could be funny.  That TV could be loose, freewheeling, dangerous.  There’s a lot that Dawson, Reilly, Somers, Betty White, Fannie Flagg, et al, got away with then that they probably couldn’t today (except for Betty White, since she’s been certified as a national treasure and the rule has been firmly established that the dirtier an older person is the funnier he or she is.  Direct correlation).  Yes, we all remember the gaffes on shows like The Newlywed Game, but those were more the exception than the rule.  Match Game was a party, a kegger, and we were invited.

And if Gene Rayburn was throwing that party, and Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers were the comedy tag-team trouble makers bringing the beer, then Richard Dawson was the preternaturally cool guy that everyone wanted to talk to.  He oozed charisma, smooth and confident, pulling off a turtle neck and loud blazer combo like no one before and no one after. Reilly and Somers gave the party laughs, Dawson gave it cred; the boys came for the alcohol and the fun, the young, pretty girls came for Dawson.  And, indeed, everyone literally wanted to talk to him, as he became such a popular choice in the final “Super Match” round that for a time contestants were forbidden from  selecting him.  And it was this unique acumen in the final rounds that was partly the inspiration for Family Feud, asking 100 people an inane question and listing the top answers.  Of course, the other, more important, part of the inspiration was Dawson’s immense popularity, so big, in fact, that he had to start his own party.  He may perhaps be the only game show panelist whose performance demanded a spin-off, a celebrity panelist who became a greater celebrity because of it.

So, yes, most people will remember Richard Dawson as the older, maybe even kinda creepy, guy who kissed every woman on Family Feud.  But we’ll remember him as the laid-back, vaguely British guy on Match Game whom every woman wanted to kiss.  And who, along with Reilly, Somers and Rayburn, gave our family a little cheer when we needed it, even if the party ended thirty years prior, the hangovers long since worn off, all four now gone off to that bright game show set in the sky.

One more time, a round of applause for Richard Dawson:

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Filed under In Memoriam, Match Games, Nostalgia Corner

You Do NOT Do This To Sue Simmons, Especially Not Today

Listen up, subway platform poster vandals.  We have no problem with you scrawling your signature “mustache” mustache on Betty White or Angelina Jolie or that girl from Heavy.  But you do not, DO NOT, touch Sue Simmons.  The woman is a city treasure and should be treated as such.

Speaking of Sue!  It just happens to be the biggest Sue Simmons day of the year!  Groundhog Day!  Which means that it’s time for her famous groundhog impression!  We’ll keep an eye out for her 2011 version, but, for now, here’s last year’s:

Brava, Sue.  Brava.

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Filed under It's gross., Lady Holiday, Local Flavor, Mustachio'd

Gratuitious Search Term Bait of the Day: Ladies Night

Over on the wonderful Splitsider it’s “Women in Comedy Week,” so perhaps that’s why today we had the search term “best female cast members in snl history.”  If that’s the case, we welcome those readers.  And if that’s not why you’re here, we’re still thrilled to have you.

What would bring you to this site would most likely be a pair of in-depth SNL posts we’ve presented in previous years.  The first, Lorne Michaels Dismisses Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson & It Makes Sense: SNL Past, Present and Future, we put together in the fall of 2009 to address concerns of SNL restricting its female constituency.  The second, The Real Women of SNL: They are Fambily; Plus: a Totally Unnecessary Look Back at the History of Female Not Yet Ready for Primetime Players, we posted last November following the SNL compilation special celebrating its female cast members, capitalizing on the momentum begun when Betty White hosted earlier in the year.  We think that both posts are two of our best, most informative pieces, so we’re happy to have the chance to link to them again.  And, for further reading, we recommend The Groundbreaking Women of Sketch Comedy, one of contributions to the aforementioned Women of Comedy Week on Slipsider.

And, of course, we’re going to leave you with an SNL sketch focused on the female contingent.  But instead of looking back on the past greats, let’s look forward to the future of women on SNL:

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Filed under Gratuitous Search Term Bait, Saturday Night Live, Yvonne Hudson

Today In Jason Sudeikis News: JSuds & ScarJo???

Well, after posting a quick Jason Sudeikis clip yesterday, we might just go ahead and make this Jason Sudeikis week because, apparently, he conquest of attractive female SNL hosts has taken him from January Jones to Scarlett Johansson.  Pretty impressive stuff to be the rebound from Ryan Reynolds.

Curiously though, whereas Sudeikis and Jones had several moments together during her episode (sketches that Sudeikis basically carried her though, no doubt winning her over in the process) Johansson and Sudeikis shared very little screen time together during her last hosting turn in September.  In fact, if we’re not mistaken this is the only instance in which they appeared in the same sketch:

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But, then again, the guy’s got moves.  It’d be no surprise if Scarlett fell for him in those few seconds.

So if this doesn’t work out who’s next?  Betty White?  Emma Stone?  Which is the lesser of two evils?

Vulture via Life & Style

(btw, the Santa Monica restaurant where this date supposedly took place, Father’s Office, is awesome.  Just wanted to mention that)

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Filed under Local Flavor, Mancrush, Saturday Night Live, Yasmine Bleeth

Wait, Didn’t ‘SNL’ Do This Already? Like Twice?

EW reports that the lady ghosts of Saturday Night Live past will reunite on November 1 for “The Women of SNL,” a two-hour prime time tribute to such greats as Siobhan Fallon and Melanie Hutsell.  But wait, didn’t they already do this in May?  And then again two weeks ago?  Well, I guess SNL has shown time and time again that it’s never heard the term “too much of a good thing,” nor the phrase “You brought back Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph for the Betty White episode last season and then again in this season’s premiere.  Don’t you think that’s enough?”  But we also know the show has no reservations about repeating itself.

Let’s hope the show, which will be comprised of old sketches as well as new material, will include some of these classics, and nothing with Gilly or Penelope or anything else terrible.

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Nora Dunn, Ana Gasteyer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Laraine Newman, Cheri Oteri, and Molly Shannon are also slated to return.  However, no word yet on Ellen Cleghorne.

But all kidding aside, where’s Jan Hooks on that Murderer’s Row-esqe lineup?  She was the best lady on there in the late 80s/early 90s and we’d love to see her go up against the youngins,  sort of like when Rocky fought Mason “The Line” Dixon.  And her appearances on 30 Rock weren’t enough to quench our Hooks-thirst, nor they did truly demonstrate her versatility.

Also crossing our fingers for Yvonne Hudson.


Filed under Flashback!, Saturday Night Live, Yvonne Hudson

‘SNL: All-Stars’; Or: Where Was Betty White?

Amy Poehler returned to host the 36th season premiere of SNL this past week, but did it feel like she ever really left?  Between her frequent appearances last season on the big show and her stint co-anchoring Weekend Update Thursday last fall she was really on the show as much as Jenny Slate was, and probably more times than Jay Mohr during his brief run (cheap shot, sorry, Jay).  She even capped last season by coming back for the famed, Emmy-winning Betty White episode, joining her fellow former female castmates like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon in helping White carry the hosting weight.  That episode, the 2nd to the last of the season, felt more like a prime-time special than a regular show (indeed, it was billed as a Mother’s Day edition, but as a result of coincidental timing and to justify bringing in the ringers to support White, who then proved she really didn’t need assistance).  And while host-in-residence Alec Baldwin made his annual appearance to close out the season a week later, White’s episode really felt like the big finish.  And wouldn’t you know it, SNL felt like it picked up just where it left off, by pulling out the big guns and bringing back the all-time greats, starting with Ms. Poehler herself.

Read on: Parade of Stars: Timberlake, Dratch, Rudolph, Fey, Fallon & Peterson. Also, whom did SNL really rip off?

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Filed under Analysis, Saturday Night Live, Yvonne Hudson

NBC Thursday Night: Respect Your Friends, Respect your Coworkers, Respect Your Lovers, Respect Your Characters, Respect Your Viewers

Yesterday we gave our brief thoughts on the then impending return of the NBC Thursday night comedies, reflecting on the last season while looking forward to the next.  And on the morning after, how do we feel?   Impressed, pleased and disappointed, in that order.  With the night going from Community to 30 Rock to The Office, we found that the first continues to improve, the second is showing encouraging signs of life, and the third is still struggling to return to its glory days.  Taken has a whole, it was a good night, and two out of three ain’t bad.  But really, we don’t want “ain’t bad.”  We want great, we want three out of three.  And, unfortunately, that just didn’t happen.

Continue: We will follow Community down a long, dark alley…


Filed under Analysis, Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam, Good Humor, Must See TV