Order Extra Candles For Today’s Birthday Roll-Call 6/29

Six birthday boys. Fire up the cake!

Bernard Hermann stamp otd-mb-0629-herrmann

(1) Composer Bernard Hermann was born today in 1911. His very first film score, for Citizen Kane (1941), was an Oscar nominee. But it lost — to Hermann’s other nominated film score, for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941).

Some of Hermann’s most famous work was for Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

He also wrote The Twilight Zone theme that was used in its first season (though not the one most identified with the show; Marius Constant’s theme replaced it in season two.)

(2) Animator, producer and LASFS member Ray Harryhausen, was born in 1920.

(3) Actor Slim Pickens, born in 1919, broke into Hollywood as a singing cowboy before directors realized his full comedic potential.

In Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb he played B-52 pilot Major T.J. “King” Kong. Before his big scene riding an A-bomb to glory he cracked up the audience with this soliloquy:

“Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”

(Thanks to Bruce Townley for posting this quote today on Facebook.)

Pickens was also the evil cowboy boss Taggart in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, where his many iconic lines include one that launches the climactic set-smashing brawl – “Piss on you! I’m working for Mel Brooks!”

(4) Artist Michael Whelan was born this day in 1950.

(5) Fellow artist David B. Mattingly was born the same date in 1956.

(6) Jeff Duntemann, oft-quoted in File 770’s Hugo roundups, was born in 1952.

The SF field also suffered two especially noteworthy losses on June 29.

5 thoughts on “Order Extra Candles For Today’s Birthday Roll-Call 6/29

  1. The link between the first two of those is that Bernard Hermann scored a few of Ray Harryhausen’s films, such as Jason and the Argonauts, Mysterious Island, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. He was very innovative, he made a lot of use of electronic music in scores for films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and It’s Alive. I think my favourite is his final score, completed just before his death, the one to Taxi Driver.

  2. In Pickens’ speech, the weekend in Vegas is over-dubbed because the original dialog was a weekend in Dallas and the film had the misfortune of being scheduled for release in December 1963 though the release was pushed back a few weeks.

  3. Herrmann wrote one of the Twilight Zone themes, and it is not the most well-known one that pops into everyone’s head when the show is mentioned. Perry Mason was written by Fred Steiner, not Herrmann.

  4. Herrmann’s completion of his Taxi Driver score was really just before his death. He decided to finish recording it one night rather than leave it to the next day and did so. He died that night. That’s why there is a dedication to him at the end of the credits of Taxi Driver.

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