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Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm 50, Dammit!

America's "Girl Next Door", Doris Day, is 89 today. Wow. The bulk of her movie work was before our time, although we've seen it all thanks to Turner Classic Movies, but we certainly remember watching "The Doris Day Show" as kids. For years, Day was ridiculed as an anachronism, a representation of an era when America chose to favor naive fantasy over reality, but now, compared to the screeching banshees of Bravo's "Housewives" and MTV's "Jersey Shore" set, Doris Day and her work seems like a breath of badly needed fresh air.

Besides having a legendary show business career, Doris Day plays a footnote role in another famous American historical incident, the Manson killings. Day's son, Terry Melcher, was a record producer in the late 1960's, and he once met Charles Manson when Manson was attempting to launch a singing career in Hollywood. Melcher, who had previously lived in the house where Sharon Tate was murdered, brushed Manson aside, and so many believe that when Manson sent his followers to Tate's house and told them to kill everyone inside, his real target was Melcher, who he thought still lived in the house.

Also celebrating a birthday today is actor and comedian Eddie Murphy.

Murphy, who turns 50 today, has made some great, and some not-so-great, movies in the past couple of decades, but as more time goes by, we look back more and more fondly on his days on "Saturday Night Live", which rocketed him to overnight fame. What's stunning about Murphy's time on "SNL" is that he appeared on the show at only 19, seemingly out of nowhere, but he quickly took over the show, became its biggest star, and helped to revitalize the show after it threatened to go over the cliff after the end of its original five year run.

There haven't been many funny nights of "SNL" since the 1970's, but one brief, explosive era which helped to create the legendary status of the show was when Murphy starred. Some of his best bits were Gumby, Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood, Buckwheat, and come on, that night that he opened the show as James Brown singing "Hot Tub", oh Jesus, that was real genius.

(eddie murphy as james brown in the "hot tub")

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