Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Good Bye, Arnold Stang

The acting world hosts a limited number of reliable "oh that guy!" [OTG] actors. So the death of one of the titans of OTG work, Arnold Stang, stings particularly hard. Stang was the epitome of OTG quality: instantly recognizable, reliably funny and able to make a decent living by capitalizing on his uncommon looks, voice and talent. Stang died on Dec 20, 2009. He was 91.

Any old jerk can be an action hero, kittenish ingenue or classy leading lady. But the women and men classified as "OTG" actors are essential by bringing a touch of vaudeville and silent film exaggeration to modern film and television. They look like people you may actually know, but excel at performing a (usually comedic) grotesque kind of hyper-reality. 

OTG actors play wacky neighbors in sit-coms, greasy sidekicks, service workers who take their jobs too seriously, or any other supporting but genuinely memorable role -- despite the fact that the general public has trouble remembering OTG actors' names.

Stang, a veteran of radio comedy, transitioned to film and television, showing off his dramatic chops as Frank Sinatra's loyal friend in The Man with the Golden Arm:

Recognize that voice? You should. Stang was the title character in Hanna Barbera's Sgt. Bilko knock-off, Top Cat.

Raise a glass to Arnold Stang this week.