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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Something in the Water

We've mentioned before how there are certain days of the year in which more than one famous celebrity shares the same birthday, but in the case of this day, June 1, two entertainment legends not only share the birth day, but also the same birth year. Both Marilyn Monroe and Andy Griffith were born on June 1, 1926. Griffith is still with us at age 85, and of course Marilyn died at 36 in 1962.

Marilyn went from a pretty young starlet, shown here in an early studio pubicity still, to become one of the 20th Century's most potent sex goddesses. Suspicions still abound about her death, whether it was really a suicide or whether someone had her killed, and at this point, we'll probably never know the full truth. But regardless of her untimely end, luckily we still get to enjoy her magnificent presence on film, and what a presence it was. Marilyn was sexy, funny, she could sing; she was far more talented, and much smarter, than anybody ever really probably knew. If you've not seen a lot of Monroe's movies, just watch "Some Like It Hot", and in that one movie, it's all there, the sexy playfulness, but also the real, insecure searching that framed Marilyn's real life off-screen.

Andy Griffith started out in early t.v. and movies, most notably in 1957 in Elia Kazan's prophetic "A Face in the Crowd", (if you wonder how our politics become so corrupt, all you have to do to understand is watch this movie), and then he struck gold with his own self-titled sitcom. "The Andy Griffith Show", 1960-68, is still regarded, even fifty years later, as one of the top five sitcoms of all time. It's interesting to note that in the first year of the show, Andy was supposed to be the comedian on the show, but when Don Knotts got bigger laughs as "Barney Fife", Griffith settled into the role of straight man. Griffith went on to star in another hit t.v. drama for nine years, "Matlock", in the late 80's, and has worked for over fifty years in countless other movies and t.v. shows. He also received a Tony nomination in 1955 for his role in the Broadway play, "No Time For Sergeants". Most recently, Griffith got into trouble with the Sarah Palin crowd when he made a commercial extolling the benefits of Pres. Obama's new health care law for senior citizens. The Tea Baggers were not happy.

Oh, and if June 1 being the birthday of two legendary entertainers like Andy Griffith and Marily Monroe are not impressive enough for you, June 1 also marks the birthday of another little actor you might have heard of. He only pops up in every other movie made, and has an Oscar on his mantle to show for it. Morgan Freeman, who turns 74 today, won his Oscar for "Million Dollar Baby", and has been nominated four other times. Inexplicably, he wasn't nominated for "Unforgiven", which we actually think is one of his best performances. But most of all, we love Morgan Freeman because if not for his early hipster role on "The Electric Company" in the early 70's when we were kids, we might never have learned to count.

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