Mar 22, 2006

The Birthday Boys

March 22 marks the birthdays of three important men in film history, two living and one, sadly, gone to that great casting call in the sky:

Stephen Sondheim, famed composer and lyricist, is 75. Sondheim grew up in New York City, studied under the legendary Oscar Hammerstein II, and wrote some of the most famous lines in soundtrack history - he can claim credit for the lyrics accompanying the scores West Side Story and Gypsy, to name a few. Oscars: One, but I think his seven Tony Awards speak more to his accomplishments.

With one of the most frustratingly recognizable faces in cinema history (calling his name to mind, however, proves a bit more difficult), Karl Malden celebrates his 94th birthday today. You may remember Malden as Stanley Kowalski's poker-playing buddy in Streetcar Named Desire, as the frustrated stepfather in Gypsy, or even as scruffy, rapids-rafting papa to Debbie Reynolds' Lili Prescott in the epic How the West Was Won. Oscars: One, for his supporting part in Streetcar, 1952

Rogue gunslinger Artemus Gordon's (The Wild, Wild West) real-life counterpart, actor Ross Martin, was born Martin Rosenblatt on March 22, 1920, in Grodek, Poland. Martin died in 1981 and left a staggering filmography - he played a myriad of cameos and appeared in dozens of popular sitcoms throughout his career - though his focus was more on the medium of television rather than big-screen projects. Oscars: One nomination for his role in Blake Edwards' 1961 Experiment in Terror; I still think he deserves some posthumous gold for playing the sly, swarthy swashbuckler in The Great Race.

Just so you know, Artie, when my sisters and I used to take cap guns and play The Wild Wild West in our backyard, I was always you. And by the way, whatever happened to Miguelito Loveless....?