Monday, December 28, 2009

Arnold Stang and Brittany Murphy R.I.P.

Arnold Stang

Arnold Stang, comedic actor and the voice artist who gave life to Top Cat, passed on December 20 at the age of 91.

Where Arnold Stang was born and how he got into show business has always been a bit unclear, much of this due to Stang himself. It has often been claimed that Stang was born in Chelsea in Boston, Massachusetts. Stang tended to lend credence to that story with his tale of how  he entered show business was that he entered show business after sending a postcard to the children's radio show Let's Pretend at the age 9. He was told he could audition, so Stang took the bus to New York City, and got the job. His family has said that in actuality he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Stang did indeed write a note to Let's Pretend, but he was a bit older than 9 years old.

Regardless, Arnold Stang did begin his career while young on such shows as The Horn and Hardart Children’s Hour and Let’s Pretend. He appeared on many radio shows, until he received the role of Seymour Fingerhood on The Goldbergs. In 1946 he became Henry Morgan's sidekick on The Henry Morgan Show. He appeared in a similar role on the shows of Milton Berle, Jack Benny, and Eddie Cantor. Arnold Stang also appeared on Broadway,. In 1942 he appeared in the play All in Favour. In 1943 he appeared in the play You'll See Stars. He made his first appearance on film in an uncredited role in My Sister Eileen. He then appeared in the Forties in such films as Seven Day's Leave and Let's Go Steady. It was in 1943 that Stang first lent his voice to a cartoon. In 1944 he became the voice of Herman Mouse in Paramount's series of animated Herman and Katnip shorts.

Stang made his television debut on an episode of Starlight Theatre in 1950. He was the star on The Billy Bean Show in 1951. In the Fifties on television he would appear on The Goldbergs, The Milton Berle Show, The Steve Allen Show, December Bride, and Playhouse 90. Arnold Stang on also continued to appear in feature films, such as Two Gals and a Guy and The Man with the Golden Arm. The last night Herman and Katnip cartoon was released in 1959--Stang had been the voice of Herman for fifteen years.

In the Sixties Arnold Stang guest starred in such shows as Wagon Train, Bonanza, and Batman. He was the voice of the title character in the primetime cartoon Top Cat. He was also a regular on the sitcom Broadside and The Jonathan Winters Show. Stang appeared in the movies The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Skidoo. He was the voice of Nurtle the Turtle in Pinocchio In the Outer Space. In 1969 he appeared on Broadway once last time in a revival of The Front Page.

The Seventies saw Stang in appear in the films as Hercules in New York. He provided voices for the films Marco Polo Jr. Versus the Red Dragon and Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure. He guest starred on the shows Emergency, Flying High, and Chico and the Man.  By the Eighties Stang's career slowed. He voiced Churchy LaFemme for Pogo for President: 'I Go Pogo' and Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats He guest starred on Tales from the Darkside and The Cosby Show. In the Nineties he appeared in the films Ghost Dad and Dennis the Menace. He voiced Top Cat for one last time in the series Wake, Rattle, and Roll. His final work was in the Naughts as various voices on Courage the Cowardly Dog.

Arnold Stang was a remarkable comedic actor. He was also one of the best voice men in animated cartoons. He voiced two of the medium's most famous characters, Herman Mouse and Top Cat. He excelled at comedy, particularly playing nervous, frantic or annoying characters. Stang was also a very good dramatic actor, proving such in The Man with the Golden Arm. He was one of the last great character actors from radio and the Golden Age of  Television, and one of the best.

Brittany Murphy

Actress Brittany Murphy passed on December 20 at the age of 32. The cause was a heart attack. She had appeared in such films as Clueless, Girl Interrupted, and Sin City. She was the voice of Luanne on King of the Hill.

Brittany Murphy was born on November 10, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. Her parents divorced when she was only two years old, so Murphy grew up in Edison, New Jersey and later Los Angeles. She guest starred on Murphy Brown and Kid's Incorporated before becoming a regular on Drexell's Class. She made her film debut in Family Prayers and was one of the cast of the show Almost Home.

It was in 1995 that Brittany Murphy appeared in the movie Clueless. She then appeared in several films, including DriveThe Prophesy II, and Drop Dead Gorgeous. In 1997 she began voicing Luanne on King of the Hill. She stayed with the show for its entire run. In 1999 Murphy had  significant role in Girl, Interrupted and appeared in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous. In 2002 she gave a critically acclaimed performance in 8  Mile. Murphy appeared in the films Just Married, Little Black Book, Sin CityLove and Other Disasters,  and Deadline. She provided voice work for the TV series Pepper Ann and the movie Happy Feet. Her last screen appearance was in The Expendables, due to come out next year.

Brittany Muprhy's passing is particularly sad as she was still very young, and would have had a long career ahead of her had she not died. She was certainly a talented actress, giving good performances in even the most unexpected material. And she was a very good voice artist. For twelve seasons she voiced Luanne on King of the Hill, and provided the voice for Gloria in Happy Feet. It is very sad that she passed all too soon.

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