Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rant #159: Two Celebrity Deaths

With so many people running around during this time of year, you might have missed two celebrity deaths that were announced during the past few days.

Connie Hines was one of the stars of the TV show "Mr. Ed," probably one of the dumbest concepts that ever worked on television. Just to remind you, the show was about the Posts, who owned a talking horse that was often smarter than they (or any human on the show) were. Alan Young played Wilbur, who knew that his horse talked, and Hines played his wife, who didn't have a clue until the show's last season.

Hines passed away recently. Although the horse was the main draw of the show, Hines was certainly no slouch. As one of the most beautiful women ever to appear on a sitcom (my opinion), she had the looks to draw males to this cockamamee show. Even though most of the storylines were rather childish, the writers knew what they had in Hines--a potential female blonde bombshell with an incredible figure--and they infused the show with the occasional double entendre joke.

One that I recall was that Hines thought she was losing her husband to his horse (!), and that the horse was more important to him than she was. She was scheming to devise ways to lure him back--get a new hairdo, wardrobe--but the neighbor said something to the effect of "You have nothing to worry about. Your figure is like a refrigerator!"

And yes, that was pretty funny, comparing the buxom Hines to an early 1960s refrigerator.

And then we have Arnold Stang, the bespectacled nebbish actor who had a more than half century career as an actor, a voice actor, and the actor who all nebbishes must be compared with.

He was the voice of Top Cat, so he solidified myself in my childhood as the voice of one of my favorite cartoon characters.

He was also in perhaps the worst movie of all time. He co-starred in Governor Ahnold's first movie "Hercules in New York" in 1969. To demonstrate how bad a movie this was, Ahnold's voice was dubbed in because at the time, his English was wretched.

On the other hand, Stang was in numerous terrific movies, including "The Man With the Golden Arm" with Frank Sinatra, and, of course, my favorite film of all time, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Stang had a small part in that film, but it was unforgettable. He played one of the gas station attendants--along with Marvin Kaplan--who witness Jonathan Winters' wrath. Winters tears apart the gas station piece by piece by piece, and all Stang and Kaplan can do is watch--or more to the point, run away whenever Winters comes their way.

I think it is probably the funniest movie scene I have ever had the pleasure of watching, and I can watch it again and again and again and laugh as hard as I first did when I saw the movie as a kid.

Hines and Stang are pretty much footnotes in show biz history, but to me, their passings were noteworthy.

Have a good holiday and I will be back at Ranting and Raving next week.

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