Pittsburgh's Stars of Stage and Screen

by BucCollector - 14 cards (Last updated on Aug. 31, 2017)

1. 1953 Topps Who-Z-At Star? #37 Gene Kelly

Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third son of Harriet Catherine (Curran) and James Patrick Joseph Kelly, a phonograph salesman. His father was of Irish descent and his mother was of Irish and German ancestry.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the largest and most powerful studio in Hollywood when Gene Kelly arrived in town in 1941. He came direct from the hit 1940 original Broadway production of "Pal Joey" and planned to return to the Broadway stage after making the one film required by his contract. His first picture for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was For Me and My Gal (1942) with Judy Garland. What kept Kelly in Hollywood were "the kindred creative spirits" he found behind the scenes at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The talent pool was especially large during World War II, when Hollywood was a refuge for many musicians and others in the performing arts of Europe who were forced to flee the Nazis. After the war, a new generation was coming of age. Those who saw An American in Paris (1951) would try to make real life as romantic as the reel life they saw portrayed in that musical, and the first time they saw Paris, they were seeing again in memory the seventeen-minute ballet sequence set to the title song written by George Gershwin and choreographed by Kelly. The sequence cost a half million dollars (U.S.) to make in 1951 dollars. Another Kelly musical of the era, Singin' in the Rain (1952), was one of the first 25 films selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry. Kelly was in the same league as Fred Astaire, but instead of a top hat and tails Kelly wore work clothes that went with his masculine, athletic dance style.

2. 1953 Topps Who-Z-At Star? #30 William Powell

William Powell was on the New York stage by 1912, but it would be ten years before his film career would begin. In 1924 he went to Paramount Pictures, where he was employed for the next seven years. During that time, he played in a number of interesting films, but stardom was elusive. He did finally attract attention with The Last Command (1928) as Leo, the arrogant film director. Stardom finally came via his role as Philo Vance in The Canary Murder Case (1929), in which he investigates the death of Louise Brooks, "the Canary." Unlike many silent actors, sound boosted Powell's career. He had a fine, urbane voice and his stage training and comic timing greatly aided his introduction to sound pictures. However, he was not happy with the type of roles he was playing at Paramount, so in 1931 he switched to Warner Bros. There, he again became disappointed with his roles, and his last appearance for Warners was as Philo Vance in The Kennel Murder Case (1933). In 1934 Powell went to MGM, where he was teamed with Myrna Loy in Manhattan Melodrama (1934). While Philo made Powell a star, another detective, Nick Charles, made him famous. Powell received an Academy Award nomination for The Thin Man (1934) and later starred in the Best Picture winner for 1936, The Great Ziegfeld (1936). Powell could play any role with authority, whether in a comedy, thriller, or drama. He received his second Academy Award nomination for My Man Godfrey (1936) and eventually did five sequels to "The Thin Man," the last one in 1947. He also received his third Academy Award nomination for his work in Life with Father (1947). His screen appearances became less frequent after that, and his last role was in 1955. He had come a long way from playing the villain in 1922.

3. 1964 Donruss The Addams Family #5 You Rang?

Ted Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Philippi, West Virginia. He was a well respected actor who portrayed many different characters during his film and television career. His most notable role was Lurch, the faithful butler on the television series The Addams Family (1964). His most memorable dialogue as Lurch would be, "You rang?", whenever someone summoned him. Due to his large size, (6ft. 9in.) he portrayed larger than life characters. His deep voice, was used for narrations and for dubbing certain character's voices. His acting career spanned three decades. Ted Cassidy died in 1979 from complications following open-heart surgery.

4. 1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back #32 Whacking Robin's Wings

Frank Gorshin Jr. was born on April 5, 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At age 17, he won a local talent contest. The prize was a one-week engagement at Jackie Heller's Carousel nightclub, where Alan King was headlining. It was Frank's first paid job as an entertainer and launched his show business career. Frank attended Carnegie-Mellon Tech School of Drama and did plays and performed in nightclubs in Pittsburgh in his spare time.

Frank appeared in a number of lovable B-movies for American-International Pictures: Hot Rod Girl (1956) and Dragstrip Girl (1957), and everybody's favorite, Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957). Frank finally got a substantial role in the A-movie, Bells Are Ringing (1960), with Dean Martin and Judy Holliday. He did a thinly-disguised Marlon Brando impression. Frank also appeared in Hollywood nightclubs, including the Purple Onion. He also did Las Vegas engagements, opening for Bobby Darin at The Flamingo. On television, Frank appeared on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956) and had a dozen guest shots on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948). In 1966, Frank gave his breakout performance, performing what has become his best-known role: The Riddler on Batman (1966), for which he received an Emmy nomination. He also played The Riddler in the movie, Batman: The Movie (1966), based on the television series. "I could feel the impact overnight", Frank recalled later.

In 1970, Frank made his Broadway debut as the star of "Jimmy", for which he got rave reviews. He also starred in many touring company productions, such as "Promises, Promises", "Peter Pan", "Prisoner of Second Street" and "Guys and Dolls". He appeared in over 70 movies and made over 40 guest appearances in television series.

5. 1975 Topps Planet of the Apes #2 Comdr. Alan Virdon

Born in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania--a small town just east of Pittsburgh--Ron Harper became valedictorian of his senior class and won an academic scholarship to Princeton University, where he supplemented his academic studies by appearing in a number of plays and musical comedies. He earned a fellowship to study law at Harvard but the "acting bug" lured him instead to New York, where he studied with Lee Strasberg. Next came a stint in the US Navy (mostly spent in Panama), followed by a return to New York. After several disappointments he earned a job as Paul Newman's understudy in "Sweet Bird of Youth". Hollywood soon beckoned and Harper appeared in a succession of TV series: 87th Precinct (1961), The Jean Arthur Show (1966), Wendy and Me (1964), Garrison's Gorillas (1967) and Planet of the Apes (1974).

6. 1987 Topps Harry and the Hendersons #2 "Harry"

Kevin Peter Hall attended Penn Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He started his junior year at 6' 5" and finished high school at 7' 2"! He played basketball at George Washington University while majoring in Theatrical Arts, and played professionally in Venezuela before his acting career took off. He played Harry in both the movie and the TV series, the Predator in Predator, Warren Merriwether in 227, and Big John in Big Top Pee-Wee.

7. 1988 Hostess Hot Summer Flicks Stickers #6 Cyndi Lauper / Jeff Goldblum / Peter Falk

Jeffrey Lynn Goldblum was born October 22, 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of four children of Shirley (Temeles), a radio broadcaster who also ran an appliances firm, and Harold L. Goldblum, a doctor. His father was of Russian Jewish descent and his mother was of Austrian Jewish ancestry.

Goldblum began his career on the New York stage after moving to the city at age seventeen. Possessing his own unique style of delivery, Goldblum made an impression on moviegoers with little more than a single line in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), when he fretted about having forgotten his mantra. Goldblum went on to appear in the remake Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and co-starred with Ben Vereen in the detective series Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980) before a high-profile turn in the classic ensemble film The Big Chill (1983).

Goldblum was the rather unlikely star of some of the biggest blockbusters of the 1990s: Steven Spielberg's dinosaur adventure Jurassic Park (1993) and its sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), as well as the alien invasion film Independence Day (1996). These films saw Goldblum playing the type of intellectual characters he has become associated with. More recently, roles have included critically acclaimed turns in Igby Goes Down (2002) and Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). In 2009, he returned to television to star in his second crime series Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001).

8. 1990-91 Pacific The Andy Griffith Show #16b Howard Sprague

Jack Dodson was arguably best known for playing "Howard Sprague", the county clerk on The Andy Griffith Show (1960). This amazingly funny character actor endeared himself to 60s and 70s audiences as the straight-laced "straight man" to the "comic idiot" character "Goober". He brought laughs throughout the end of the run of The Andy Griffith Show (1960) and its spin-off, Mayberry R.F.D. (1968) (alongside Ken Berry in the "Andy" knock-off role). Dodson got his start on Broadway, later coming to Hollywood and "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960) in 1967. In fact, Andy Griffith saw Jack on Broadway in 1964's, "Hughie", and hired him for "The Andy Griffith Show" straight away.

In 1971, Mayberry R.F.D. (1968) fizzled, but Jack remained busy with television and film appearances. From his first effort in Munster, Go Home! (1966) to the Griffith film Angel in My Pocket (1969) and even a nod as "Dr. Douglas" in the very scary Disney (Ray Bradbury) film Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983).

9. 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum #297 Fred Rogers

Fred McFeely Rogers was an American television personality, famous for creating, hosting, and composing the theme music for the educational preschool television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968–2001), which featured his kind-hearted, gentle, soft-spoken personality, and directness to his audiences. Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. WQED developed his own show in 1968 and it was distributed nationwide by Eastern Educational Television Network. Over the course of three decades on television, Fred Rogers became an icon of American children's entertainment and education. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes.
Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees, and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, was recognized by two Congressional resolutions, and was ranked No. 35 among TV Guide's Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time.

10. 1992 Star Pics Saturday Night Live #129 Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller was born on November 3, 1953 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He is a writer and producer, known for Dennis Miller Live (1994), Dennis Miller (2004) and Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed (2003).



Jun. 12, 2017 - 9:13PM

Bios via IMDB.com.

Sep. 3, 2017 - 10:12AM

I enjoyed this list.  When I visited the Senator Heinz Museum this summer, i got to see the Mr. Rogers set!

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