HONORING RICH LITTLE|
At Our Next Luncheon: APRIL 20, 2018
Comedian, singer, actor, artist, entertainment legend, Rich Little is a master mimic of more than 200 voices. Some of Rich Little's favorites may be U.S. Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, both George Bushes and Barack Obama ... Rich Little has a voice for every administration.
A professed classic movie buff, he's particularly fond of doing Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart, but Little has also latched on to baby boomer-friendly characters, such as Paul Lynde, Kermit the Frog, Andy Rooney and Dr. Phil. Currently, he loves mimicking Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, and Clint Eastwood. "They're easy to do," he says. "They are larger than life."
Little says, "An impression is what you think a person sounds like. It could be an exaggeration or a cartoon. It's your impression. I think of an impersonation as more of an exact copy. Knowing the person personally is not important; it's knowing the speech patterns and mannerisms [in order] to imitate the person the way the public sees him."
The son of a doctor in Ottawa, Little started his "career" at the age of 12 when he answered back to his teachers in their own voices.
Little's first appearances were in a small club in Canada. "I got booked into this place in Quebec, and when I started my act, I discovered that no one in the audience understood English. It was strictly a French-speaking audience." He figured he was dead until an inspiration hit him. "I did walks - Jack Benny's walk, Bob Hope's walk, John Wayne's walk. They all walk the same in any language," he recalls.
Impressions came in handy too Little while working as a disc jockey and talk show host. During one April Fool's Day marathon, he had "Jimmy Durante" emcee the morning show, "Julia Child" do a cooking show and "Elvis Presley" host a teenage show. Like the infamous 1939 broadcast of War of the Worlds, 500 autograph-hungry Elvis-believing fans besieged the station, thinking the King was really there. When they found out it was Little, the fans started throwing things at him.
Still in his early 20s, Little was discovered while working in the United States. His friend, singer Mel Torme, then on the musical team of CBS network's The Judy Garland Show, asked him to make a tape. Instead of the usual impressions, Little did voices nobody did, including Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Dennis Weaver. Garland thought it was great, particularly his James Mason, and Little was signed to the show.
Appearances on TV variety shows starring Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Glen Campbell and Dean Martin followed, as well as on series such as Laugh-In, The John Davidson Summer Show and as a regular on The Julie Andrews Show. Little also had his own variety show in the 70s and was the star of the TV show KopyKats. Little was a guest host early on for The Tonight Show, hosting 12 times. He quickly became a household name Muppet Show.
Named "Comedy Star of the Year" by the American Guild of Variety Artists, Little was the perpetrator of nine comedy albums and three HBO comedy specials, as well as the Emmy-award winning specials Rich Little's Christmas Carol with "W.C. Fields" as Scrooge, "Humphrey Bogart" as one of the ghosts and "Paul Lynde" as Bob Cratchit.
One of his appearances on HBO was as Johnny Carson in the movie The Late Shift, which dealt with the race to succeed Carson on The Tonight Show. Little has appeared on the daytime soaps The Young and the Restless and Santa Barbara. He has made dramatic guest shots on Fantasy Island, Chips, Murder She Wrote, Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, Police Woman and Mannix.
His greatest fear? A sore throat. "Other people get a cold and they just get a cold. I get a cold and John Wayne gets a cold, Orson Welles gets a cold, Nixon gets a cold and Truman Capote gets the sniffles. I get a cold and it's all over."
In June 1998, Little's star was added to the Canadian Walk of Fame to go along with his current stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Palms Springs Walk of Fame and Las Vegas Walk of Fame.
In 2003, Little wrote a one-man play entitled, Jimmy Stewart and Friends in honor of this beloved actor and dear friend. The story of Stewart's amazing big screen career, his military record and his family life, including many celebrity impersonations, was met with rave reviews during a decade of touring at performing arts centers.
In January 2010, Little became a United States citizen and was sworn in, with a suggestion from the judge to do it as John Wayne! His wife at the time, Marie, also passed away that year. Little later created the Marie and Rich Little Foundation, in honor of his wife, which focuses on helping children, the homeless and animals in need. Rich is also very supportive of Wounded Warriors and causes for the armed services. He proudly has two daughters: Bria and Lyndsay, and a beautiful granddaughter, Alaina. Little has been married four times. He currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. When not working, he spends most of his time with his one-eyed cat, T-Bo.
Rich Little has recently released his autobiography, "Little by Little (Celebrities I've Known and Been)."
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