Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 584
This is the grave of Arnold Stang.
Born in 1918 in New York City, Stang broke into radio pretty early, doing child radio shows in the city. As he grew up, well, he was both quite short and with a very distinctive voice. This set him up very well as a comedic force in the entertainment industry. He played up his height, but the voice, that was the gold. He was appearing on The Goldbergs by 1940. In 1941, he was doing commercials for CBS Radio, but his voice was so strange and cracking that the director thought it wasn’t great for this purpose, but that writers could develop a whole persona around him. He spent the rest of the 40s developing these ideas and slowly becoming more prominent. When Eddie Firestone, Jr. joined the Marines in 1943, Stang replaced him on the popular show That Brewster Boy. He became a sidekick on various shows by leading comedians, including Eddie Cantor, Henry Morgan, and Milton Berle. He had minor roles in a number of films as well.
It was really TV that made Stang a thing. This was a medium and time well-designed for him. A more natural inheritor of the radio show than Hollywood, his height and voice could always get a laugh. Berle hired him to play a character on his Texaco Star Theater show in 1953, in which he routinely insulted Berle. He had frequent guest appearances of all sorts of shows, especially variety shows and game shows. He also had more prominent film appearances after this, including in The Man with the Golden Arm in 1955 and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He also was in the first Arnold Schwarzenegger film, 1969’s Hercules in New York. Moreover, Stang’s voice was really perfect for animation voiceover. He was the voice for T.C. in the Hanna-Barbera show Top Cat and for Shorty in Popeye, a character actually based on Stang’s persona. He was the voice for the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee in the 1980s commercials for the cereal, and before that for Alcoa’s aluminum window screens and Chunky candybars. He remained working through the 90s, making all sorts of guest appearances, animation voices, and commercials. Probably his last well-known role was as the photographer in the extremely forgettable 1993 version of Dennis the Menace that starred Walter Matthau.
Stang died of pneumonia in 2009. His wife JoAnne, who was an entertainment journalist who wrote a lot of features of famous Hollywood people for magazines, died in 2017 and is also buried here.
Let’s watch some of Stang’s work:
Arnold Stang is buried in Newton Cemetery, Newton, Massachusetts, right down the row from Howard Zinn.
If you would like this series to visit some of the other comedians mentioned in this post, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Milton Berle is in Culver City, California and Eddie Cantor is there too. Previous posts in this series are archived here.