Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Dennis Day

Dennis Day was born on 21 May, 1916 in New York City, New York, USA and died on 22 June, 1988 of Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 72 in Los Angeles, California, USA. Dennis Day is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery. Dennis Day’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6646 Hollywood Boulevard.

Born Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty, was an Irish-American singer, radio and television personality.

Dennis Day was born and raised in New York City, the son of Irish immigrants. Dennis Day’s father was a stationary engineer. Dennis Day graduated from St. Patrick’s Cathedral High School, and attended Manhattan College, where he sang in the glee club.

Dennis Day appeared for the 1st time on Jack Benny’s radio show on 8 October, 1939, taking the place of another famed tenor, Kenny Baker. Dennis Day remained associated with Benny’s radio and television programs until Benny’s death in 1974. Dennis Day was introduced (with actress Verna Felton playing his mother) as a young (19 year old), naive boy singer — a character he kept through his whole career. Dennis Day’s
1st song was “Goodnight My Beautiful”.

Besides singing, Dennis Day was an excellent mimic. Dennis Day did many imitations on the Benny programme of various noted celebrities of the era, such as Ronald Colman, Jimmy Durante, and Jimmy Stewart.

Sam Berman’s caricature of Dennis Day for 1947 NBC promotional bookFrom 1944 through 1946, he served in the US Navy as a Lieutenant. On his return to civilian life, he continued to work with Benny while also starring his own show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day (1946-1952). Dennis Day’s having 2 programmes in comparison to Benny’s 1was the subject of numerous jokes and gags on Benny’s show, usually revolving around Dennis Day rubbing Benny’s, and sometimes other cast members and guest stars’ noses in that fact.

Dennis Day’s TV series, The Dennis Day Show (aka The RCA Victor Show) was telecast from 1952 to 1954. Between 1952 and 1978, he made numerous TV appearances as a singer, actor and voice for animation (such as the Walt Disney feature Melody Time, voicing multiple characters).

In 1948,Dennis Day married Peggy Almquist; the marriage lasted until his death in 1988. The couple had 10 children. 1 of his brothers was wed to actress/singer Ann Blyth.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Michael Zaslow

Michael Joel Zaslow was born on 1 November, 1942 and died on 6 December, 1998. Michael was an American actor. Michael is best known for his role as villain Roger Thorpe on CBS’s Guiding Light, a role he played from 1971 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1997.

Michael had earlier played Dick Hart on the CBS soap opera Search for Tomorrow and Dr. Peter Chernak on Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Michael also played David Rinaldi on ABC’s One Life to Live from 1983 to 1986, and in 1998. Michael Zaslow was also a writer for the NBC soap opera Another World.

Michael Zaslow guest starred on a number of other television shows and soap operas, including Barnaby Jones and Law & Order. In the episode “The Man Trap,” the series’ 8September,1966 premiere of Star Trek, he played Crewman Darnell, the 1st starship Enterprise crewmember to be killed off. Michael also appeared as “Jordan” in the episode 1, Mudd.

Michael Zaslow’s Broadway theatre credits included Fiddler on the Roof, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Onward Victoria.

In 1997, he began to experience difficulty speaking. When it became noticeable on screen, he was placed on leave at Guiding Light. (There are conflicting stories as to whether Michael Zaslow was then fired; there was for some time a legal action against Guiding Light and sponsor Procter & Gamble, which eventually was settled.) It was some time before Michael Zaslow was finally diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Michael Zaslow did not return to GL and his role was briefly recast before being written off. (In 2004, Michael Zaslow’s character on GL died off-screen.)

In a show of support, Michael Zaslow was hired at One Life to Live in 1998 to play David Rinaldi again; his condition was written into the storyline. Michael Zaslow made several appearances before he was too ill to continue working; his final appearance on One Life to Live was televised on 1 December, 1998, days before his death.

Michael Zaslow’s widow, psychologist/writer Susan Hufford, and ZazAngels, a foundation that wishes to raise funds in order to find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Several of his Guiding Light and One Life to Live castmates, along with many Broadway-based theater luminaries, have participated in tributes to Michael Zaslow that were fundraisers for ZazAngels.

In 2004, Michael Zaslow and Susan Hufford’s daughter Helena died. Susan Hufford released a book last year about Michael Zaslow and his fight with ALS, titled Not That Man Anymore. Michael Zaslow had begun writing the book several years earlier.

In 2006, Michael Zaslow’s widow Susan Hufford lost her battle to cancer.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Lane Smith

Walter Lane Smith III was born on 29 April, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA and died on 13 June, 2005 of Lou Gehrig’s Disease at his home in Northridge, California at the age of 69. Lane Smith was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in April 2005.

Lane was an American actor best known for his role as Perry White in the American television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and as Richard Nixon in The Final Days, for which he received a Golden Globe award nomination.

Lane graduated from The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Glen Arbor, Michigan where he is enshrined in the school’s Hall of Fame, and spent 1 year boarding at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania before going off to study at the Actors Studio in the late 1950s and early 1960s along with Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino.

After his graduation, he found steady work in New York theater before making his film debut in Maidstone in 1970. During the 1970s, he regularly made appearances in small film roles including Rooster Cogburn in 1975 and Network in 1976. Lane also acted on television, notably playing a U.S. Marine in Vietnam in the made for television miniseries A Rumor of War.

Lane made a major breakthrough in 1984 with significant roles in Red Dawn, Places in the Heart and the television series V. In 1989, Lane Smith gained great recognition for his portrayal of former President Richard Nixon in the docudrama The Final Days. Newsweek praised Lane Smith’s role by stating, “is such a good Nixon that his despair and sorrow at his predicament become simply overwhelming.” Lane Smith later earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Lane Smith also appeared in the original Broadway stage production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross as James Lingk. For his role, he received a Drama Desk Award.

In 1990, he appeared in Air America playing a U.S. Senator. 2 years later, he played a small-town district attorney opposite Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, followed by a role as Coach Jack Reilly in The Mighty Ducks. However, it was not until 1993 that Lane Smith landed his 1st major television role as Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The show last for 4 seasons before ending in 1997. Lane Smith’s final film appearance was in The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000.

Lane Smith was married twice. Lane’s 1st marriage was to writer Sydne MacCall. The couple had 1 son together: Robby Smith born on 24 January, 1987. In 2000, he remarried to Ruth Benedict who had 1 son from a previous marriage.

Lane Smith was previously in a relationship with actress Mariette Hartley before the 2 split.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Linda Bove

Linda Bove was born on 30 November, 1945 in Garfield, New Jersey, USA. Linda Bove attended Gallaudet University. Linda is a deaf American actress who played the part of Linda the Librarian on the children’s television programme Sesame Street from 1971 to 2003. Linda Bove has introduced thousands of children to sign language and issues surrounding the Deaf Community. Linda Bove’s role as Linda on Sesame Street is currently the longest recurring role in television history for a deaf person. Linda Bove has been married to Ed Waterstreet since 1970. Like Linda Bove, Ed Waterstreet is also deaf. Ed Waterstreet also performed with the National Theater of the Deaf.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Molly Picon

Molly Picon was born Małka (Margaret) Opiekun on 1 June, 1898 in New York City, New York, USA to Clara and Louis (or Denis) Opiekun (later changed to Picon). Opiekun is a Polish language name meaning, “guardian” or “caretaker”. Molly Picon died on 5 April, 1992 aged 93, from Alzheimer’s disease in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Molly Picon is buried in the Yiddish Theater section of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.

Molly Picon’s husband, from 1919 until his death in 1975 from cancer, was Jacob Kalich. They had no children.

Molly Picon was an American star of stage, screen and television, as well as a lyricist. Molly Picon was first and foremost a star in Yiddish theatre and Film, but as Yiddish theatre faded she began to perform in English-language productions.

Molly Picon’s career began at the age of 6 in the Yiddish Theatre. In 1912, she debuted at the Arch Street Theatre in New York and became a star of the Second Avenue Yiddish stage.

Molly Picon was so popular in the 1920s that many shows had the name Molly in their title. In 1931 she opened the Molly Picon Theatre. Molly Picon appeared in many films, starting with silent movies. Molly Picon earliest film still existing is East and West which deals with the clash of new and old Jewish cultures. Molly Picon plays an American-born daughter who travels with her father back to Galicia in East Central Europe. Real-life husband Jacob Kalich plays one of her Galician relatives from Eastern Europe.

Molly Picon’s most famous film, Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936), was made on location in Poland, and has her wearing male clothing through most of the film. In the film, a girl and her father are forced by poverty to set out on the road as traveling musicians. For her safety, she disguises herself as a boy, which becomes inconvenient when she falls in love with one of the other musicians in the troupe.

Molly Picon made her English language debut on stage in 1940. On Broadway, she starred in Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn and the Jerry Herman musical Milk and Honey, both in 1961. In 1966 she quit the disastrous Chu Chem during previews in Philadelphia; the show closed before reaching Broadway.

Molly Picon’s first English speaking role in the movies was the film version of Come Blow Your Horn (1963), and she portrayed Yente, the Matchmaker in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof in 1971.

In the 1970s, she was featured as a madame named Mrs. Cherry in For Pete’s Sake, a film starring another famous Jewish-American actress, Barbra Streisand. Molly Picon later played a role on television on the soap opera Somerset.  An entire room was filled with her memorabilia at the Second Avenue Deli in New York
(now closed).

The little “yente” with the big, expressive talent, New York-born Yiddish icon Molly Picon entertained theater, radio, TV and film audiences for over seven decades with her song-and-dance routines while helping to popularize the Yiddish culture into the American mainstream as well as overseas. Raised in Philadelphia, she was performing from age 5 but broke into the big time with a vaudeville act called “The Four Seasons” in 1919, eventually making a comedy name for herself in the Second Avenue Theatres on the Lower East Side back in New York. The indefatigable Molly Picon was a real live wire and played very broad, confident, dominant characters on stage, which ended up making it hard for her to be taken seriously in dramatic pieces.

In film she is best remembered for her Yiddish-language showcases of the 30s, notably in Yidl with His Fiddle (1936), the story of a traveling musician who dresses as a boy to avoid unwarranted male advances. Molly Picon was cast as a Yiddish Cinderella, a dutiful but unappreciated daughter who cares for her father and his large family, in Mamele (1938), the last Jewish film made in Poland. During one musical vignette, Molly Picon portrays her character’s grandmother in several stages of life. In the 1940s, Molly Picon started to include English-speaking plays as well and as she grew into matronly roles, became synonymous as the typical well-meaning but overbearing and coddling “Jewish mama.” Such amusing, unflappable film roles would be found in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) (as an interfering Italian mother) and Fiddler on the Roof (1972) as Yente the matchmaker. Molly Picon long association with husband and corroborator, Yiddish stage star Jacob Kalich, was a fruitful one. Husband Jacob Kalich became her mentor, the author of many of her popular plays and the manager of her career. They Married in 1919, Jacob Kalich died in 1975 but she continued performing albeit sporadically. Vicariously known as the “Jewish Charlie Chaplin” and “Jewish Helen Hayes”, she was a patriot and humanitarian at heart, with an energy, creativity and ability to entertain that couldn’t help but make her one of entertainment’s most beloved citizens.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Mabel Albertson

Mabel Albertson was born on 24 July, 1901 in Lynn, Massachusetts, USA and died on 28 September, 1982 of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 81, in Santa Monica, California. Mabel Albertson’s remains were cremated and scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Mabel was the older sister of Academy Award-winning actor Jack Albertson and one-time mother-in-law of Academy Award winning actress Cloris Leachman. Mabel is best known as “Phyllis Stephens”, Darrin’s interfering mother on the television sitcom Bewitched, who inevitably ended her stays at the Stephens’ home by saying, “Frank [her husband], take me home. I’ve got a sick headache.”

Mabel also played Donald Hollinger’s mother on That Girl, Howard Sprague’s mother on The Andy Griffith Show, Dick Preston’s mother on The New Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mrs. Van Hoskins, a wealthy woman whose,jewels are stolen, in the screwball comedy, What’s Up, Doc?

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Arlene Francis

Arlene Francis, the witty actress and popular television personality, was born Arlene Francis Kazanjian on 20 October, 1907 in Boston, Massachusetts. Arlene’s father was an Armenian immigrant, later painter and portrait photographer; her mother was the daughter of actor Alfred Davis. Even at an early age, Arlene said, “I started out with one goal: I wanted to be a serious actress.” Arlene studied at the Theatre Guild and then went to Hollywood. Arlene’s movie debut was in Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), in which Bela Lugosi (often cast as a villain or mad scientist in many of his over 40 movies) tied her to an X-cross to extract her blood (trivia: Arlene and Bela were both born on Oct. 20). The live theater, however, was her first love, and she appeared in many plays. In 1935, she married movie executive Neil Agnew; they’d stay together for 10 years. Arlene made her Broadway debut in 1936 and had her first major role in “All That Glitters” two years later. Arlene appeared with Orson Welles in the Mercury Theatre production of “Danton’s Death” in 1938, and in “Journey to Jerusalem” in 1940. Arlene’s big hit was “The Doughgirls” in 1942; it ran for 1-1/2 years. Arlene had auditioned for her first radio part at the same time she was getting started in the theater; she later recalled, “Radio came easily.” In the 1940s, she played in as many as five radio serials a day.

Arlene married actor Martin Gabel in 1946 (he died in 1986), and they had a son, Peter. Arlene also was host of a radio dating show called “Blind Date,” which was adapted to a TV series in 1949 (“Blind Date” (1949)), and she was the host (1949-1952). It was television that brought Arlene fame, and she became one of the highest-paid women in TV. Arlene was a permanent panelist on CBS’ “What’s My Line?” (1950) (a ‘Mark Goodson (I)’ -Bill Todman production) from 1950 through 1967 and continued as a panelist in a syndicated version that ran until 1975, thus being with the show for its entire 25-year run. Arlene was warm, witty and had a cute laugh and was always fashionably dressed. Arlene wore a diamond heart-shaped necklace, which started a fad. Arlene was still doing radio while on TV, and in 1960, she was the star of “The Arlene Francis Show,” a daily interview show in New York, on WOR; it ran for 23 years. Arlene retired from show business after that and lived comfortably. Arlene was still giving interviews in 1991.

Arlene spent her last years living in San Francisco. Arlene died of cancer on Thursday 31 May 2001, in a Francisco hospital, at the age of 93. Arlene’s many fans will miss her, Arlene was truly one of the greats.

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