Don Herbert, otherwise known as Mr. Wizard, passed away Tuesday of bone cancer at the age of 89. Though I first saw him on Nickelodeon’s Mr. Wizard’s World during the 1980’s, he first appeared from 1951-1964 in Watch Mr. Wizard. I loved that show, because it made science interesting and fun for younger kids. He did experiments you could duplicate at home, forcing you to make observations, formulate hypotheses, test them, and then think about what the results meant and what conclusions you could draw from them. Along with 3-2-1 Contact, Mr. Wizard’s World is one of my favorite non-fiction shows of all time. Here’s a testament to his fame: when Late Night with David Letterman debuted in 1982, Mr. Wizard was one of the first night’s guests.
* * *
On the other side of the coin, we find actor Malcolm McDowell celebrating his 63rd birthday today. He’s pretty stereotyped now, but his filmography is filled with unbelievable roles. Best known for starring in A Clockwork Orange, McDowell’s career has expanded since the early 90’s, acting in Star Trek: Generations (though THAT was a piece of crap), the TV remake of Fantasy Island, and Entourage. He’s also done voices for a few Wing Commander games, the Star Trek: Generations video game, and if you’re a comic geek, he’s also been in Tank Girl (um, not his best work); was part of a live-action adaptation of Fist of the North Star; done voices for Batman: The Animated Series, Biker Mice from Mars, Justice League, an episode of South Park, the mid-90’s Spider-Man series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Teen Titans; and he’s most recently been seen in my favorite TV show, Heroes (too bad he had his brain squished).
Also celebrating birthdays today: actor Stellan Skarsgard of Good Will Hunting and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (56); comedian Tim Allen of Home Improvement fame (54 – and his best role was in Galaxy Quest); NBC and CNN sports journalist Hannah Storm (45); former NBA guard and one of the first European players to be a real stud on an NBA team, Sarunas Marciulionis (43); former U.S. gymnast and Des Moines native Lance Ringnald (37); and the Olsen Twins, Mary Kate and Ashley Fuller, are finally drinking legally at the age of 21.
You know you’d be devoid of useless trivia without me.