Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Birthdays!

Happy Halloween!

I was curious about those born on this eeriest of holidays. Did (do) they suffer teasing at the hands of schoolmates? Did/do they worry that they were somehow flawed or subject to paranormal leanings? My mother was born on Friday the 13th, and she always spoke as if that fact had skewed her luck for life. She was a bit of a pessimist, to be sure.

Born today were:
Peter Jackson, New Zealand filmmaker, of the Lord of the Rings franchise, King Kong; Happy 47th, Peter! (For his birthday, he wants The One Ring…)

John Candy, Canadian actor much beloved in our household; favorites are Planes, Trains & Automobiles as the annoying but amiable shower curtain ring salesman, and who could forget his portrayal of Barf, the “mawg” (half man, half dog) in the classic Spaceballs? Candy was taken from us much too soon; he was 43 when he passed on 3/4/04, a victim of a heart attack.

Dale Evans, cowgirl extraordinaire and wife to sweetheart cowboy hero Roy Rogers. She really did write “Happy Trails To You.” 1912 – 2001.

And… Michael Landon, eternally youthful heartthrob of the Ponderosa. (“Little Joe’s” hair would be a good rival for Patrick Dempsey’s today…) Michael was born Eugene Orowitz to Jewish and Irish Catholic parents, grew up in the East. Many people remember him for that role as the youngest Cartwright on Bonanza, and probably even more think of Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie where he played one of TV’s most endearing dads.

But did you know he was married three times, and had nine children (including two step-children) that range thirty years in age? That his sports specialty was javelin throwing, which got him into UCLA on a scholarship? That he smoked up to 4 packs of unfiltered menthol cigarettes a day? (He later attributed his pancreatic cancer to years of poor eating habits, moderate drinking and, of course, the smokes. He was diagnosed just three months before his death at 54.)

He wore “lifts” when shooting with comparable giants Dan Blocker and Lorne Greene, his co-stars on Bonanza. It is said that he was devastated by the deaths of Blocker, and later, his Highway to Heaven co-star, Victor French. He counted among his close friends Johnny Carson, Ronald Reagan and Ernest Borgnine.

As to his stage name, Landon said he picked the name out of a Los Angeles telephone directory.

Landon is credited with saying, “I want people to laugh and cry, not just sit and stare at the TV. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think viewers are hungry for shows in which people say something meaningful.” I tend to agree, and would venture to apply his philosophy to today’s viewers as well.

As a young child, I had quite the crush on Little Joe. (I swooned over Pernell Roberts until I was told he wore a wig!)

Oh, and Patrick Dempsey? I just couldn't resist. It's the hair, you know. You'll have to wait until January 13th for more on McDreamy.

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