Harvey Lembeck

Harvey Lembeck (April 15, 1923 – January 5, 1982) was an American comedic actor best remembered for his role as Cpl. Rocco Barbella on The Phil Silvers Show (a.k.a. Sgt. Bilko , a.k.a. You'll Never Get Rich) in the late 1950s, and as the stumbling, overconfident quasi-outlaw biker Eric Von Zipper in beach party movies during the 1960s. He also turned in noteworthy performances in both the stage and screen versions of Stalag 17. He was the father of actor and director Michael Lembeck and actress Helaine Lembeck.

Harvey Lembeck
Harvey lembeck
as "Eric von Zipper"
BornApril 15, 1923
DiedJanuary 5, 1982 (aged 58)
Cause of deathHeart attack
Years active1947-1982
Spouse(s)Caroline Dubs
(19??-1982; his death; 2 children)
ChildrenMichael Lembeck
Helaine Lembeck

Early life

Born in Brooklyn, Lembeck started his career right out of New Utrecht High School, as a dancer at the 1939/40 New York World's Fair. He was half of an exhibition dance team known as The Dancing Carrolls. His partner, Caroline Dubs, became his wife.[1]

The son of a Brooklyn button manufacturer, Lembeck yearned for a career as a radio sports announcer. Following his discharge from the United States Army at the end of World War II in 1945, he attended New York University, obtaining a degree in radio arts in 1947. However, he chose the stage as a career upon the advice of one of his instructors, Prof. Robert Emerson, who had seen him perform in college plays.[2]

Lembeck was Jewish.[3]

Career

1940s and 1950s

Two weeks after graduation, Lembeck won the role of Sam Insigna in Mister Roberts, which he played on Broadway for nearly three years.

Lembeck made three movies for 20th Century Fox, You're in the Navy Now, Fourteen Hours, and The Frogmen, all released in the first half of 1951. He went back to Broadway as Sgt. Harry Shapiro in Stalag 17,[4] subsequently playing the same role in the film version directed by Billy Wilder, earning the Theater Owners of America's Laurel Award for outstanding comedy performance and best possibility for stardom. From 1952 to 1954 Lembeck also made nine other films, mostly playing military roles.

In 1954, he returned to Broadway, appearing in the play Wedding Breakfast.[4] That same year, he appeared with Skip Homeier in the episode "Eye for an Eye" of the NBC legal drama Justice, based on case studies of the Legal Aid Society of New York.[5] His stint with Phil Silvers' popular Sergeant Bilko series began in 1955. Lembeck played Bilko's sidekick, Corporal Rocco Barbella. The show ran for four years.

Lembeck also performed onstage in 1955 in the musical revue Phoenix '55, and from 1959-1961 was the standby for the role of Fiorello LaGuardia in the musical Fiorello!.[4]

1960s and 1970s

In the 1961-1962 television season, Lembeck played a theatrical agent, Jerry Roper, in the ABC sitcom The Hathaways, starring Peggy Cass and Jack Weston as "parents" to the performing Marquis Chimps. He appeared twice as "Al" in "Variations on a Theme" and "Music Hath Charms" (both 1961) on another ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show.

Having spent a great deal of his adult life in uniform, Lembeck once again donned Navy togs in the 1962-1963 season to co-star with Dean Jones in the NBC sitcom Ensign O'Toole. He co-starred with Steve McQueen in Love with the Proper Stranger and then spent part of the early 1960s playing the lovable bad guy malaprop Eric Von Zipper in seven American International beach party films, with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. (He did not appear in the second "beach" film, 1964's Muscle Beach Party.) The Von Zipper character, leader of the Rat Pack motorcycle gang, was a parody of Marlon Brando's role in The Wild One (Von Zipper reveals in Beach Blanket Bingo that one of his idols was "Marlo Brandon".) Among other things, Von Zipper pronounced his judgments on others by saying "Him, I like", or "Him, I do not like". In 1964 he also co-starred with Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

In 1964, Jack Kosslyn of the Mercury Theatre asked Lembeck to take over his actors' workshop. Lembeck took this opportunity to create his comedy workshop. Initially working with comedy scripts, he soon ran out of good comedy material and found that improv was a wonderful tool to teach and exercise comedy. He realized that the improv method, new in the early 1960s, was one of the best ways to develop actors' comedy instincts. Lembeck returned to the theatre to star as Sancho Panza in the first national company of Man of La Mancha. President Lyndon Johnson chose this company to give a command performance at the White House.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Lembeck became a mainstay on television, making over 200 guest appearances, including Ben Casey, Mr. Novak, The Munsters, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Route 66, The Monkees, Night Gallery, It Takes a Thief, The Partridge Family, Chico and the Man, Vega$, All in the Family, Batman and Mork and Mindy.

Lembeck also directed the road companies of Stalag 17 and Mister Roberts, along with the revues A Night at the Mark in San Francisco and Flush in Las Vegas.

Death

Lembeck continued to perform and teach acting up until his death from a heart attack on January 5, 1982. He was performing in an episode of Mork and Mindy when he took ill, collapsed as he was leaving the set and died. He was age 58. In an interview taped shortly before his own death in 1985, Phil Silvers said he was shocked and saddened by the untimely death of his friend Lembeck, and missed him terribly.[6]

Theatrical appearances

Selected filmography

References

  1. ^ Staff (March 28, 2013) "Harvey Lembeck Stays Liked" Classic Film and TV Café
  2. ^ "Harvey Lembeck and the Ratz and Mice Cast Music of the Beach Party Movies" BeachPartyMovieMusic.com
  3. ^ Abramovitch, Ilana and Galvin, Seán (2002) Jews of Brooklyn Boston: Brandeis University Press. Accessed January 1, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Harvey Lembeck" on the Internet Broadway Database
  5. ^ "Justice". The Classic TV Archive. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  6. ^ Interview taken from Sgt. Bilko - 50th Anniversary Edition (The Phil Silvers Show) DVD

External links

Andy Romano

Andrew "Andy" Romano (born June 15, 1941), is an American actor, known for playing "J.D.", an outlaw motorcyclist and right-hand henchman of the character Eric von Zipper (played by Harvey Lembeck) in the 1960s Beach Party movies (which starred Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon).

When the Beach Party saga ended, Romano went through much of the 1970s and 1980s appearing in minor roles in television episodes and some TV movies. In the late 1980s, he returned to film in supporting roles. He retired from acting in the late 1990s and settled in Washington state.

Back at the Front

Back at the Front (titled Willie and Joe in Tokyo in the UK) is a 1952 American comedy film directed by George Sherman and starring Tom Ewell and Harvey Lembeck, very loosely based on the characters Willie and Joe by Bill Mauldin. It is a sequel to Up Front (1951).

Beach Blanket Bingo

Beach Blanket Bingo is an American International Pictures beach party film, released in 1965 and was directed by William Asher. It is the fifth, and also best-known, film in the beach party film series. The film starred Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Linda Evans, Deborah Walley, Paul Lynde, and Don Rickles. Earl Wilson and Buster Keaton appear. Evans's singing voice was dubbed by Jackie Ward.

Bikini Beach

Bikini Beach is a 1964 American teen film directed by William Asher and starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. The film belongs to the beach party genre of movies, popular in the 1960s. This is the third in the series of seven films produced by American International Pictures (AIP).

Dan Raven

Dan Raven is an American crime drama starring Skip Homeier which aired on NBC between September 23, 1960, and January 6, 1961. The setting of the series is the famous Sunset Strip of West Hollywood, California. The series focuses on activities of the sheriff's department, including those of the fictitious Lieutenant Dan Raven and his assistant, Sergeant Burke, played by Dan Barton. Quinn K. Redeker appeared as photographer Perry Levitt.

Dan Raven featured contemporary celebrities appearing as themselves, including Buddy Hackett, Paul Anka, Marty Ingels, Bob Crewe, and Bobby Darin. Darin appeared in the first of the hour-long episodes, "The High Cost of Fame".The long-running 77 Sunset Strip ran on ABC at 9 p.m. Eastern on the same Friday evenings as Dan Raven, which started at 7:30. Dan Raven, in the hour format, faced difficult opposition from the second season of CBS Western series Rawhide starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. Its competition on ABC was the sitcom Harrigan and Son, starring Pat O'Brien and Roger Perry.Other selected episodes include:

"The Mechanic" with Buddy Hackett on September 30

"The Trade" with Paul Anka on October 7

"Penny" with Paul Richards (1924–1974) on October 21

"The Empty Frame" with Suzanne Storrs on October 28

"The Night Is Numbered" with Paul Crewe on November 4

"The Satchel Man" with Paul Anka and Parley Baer on November 11

"The Junket" with Don Dubbins (1928–1991) and Mel Torme (1925–1999) on November 18

"The Man on the Ledge" with Marty Ingels on November 25

"Amateur Night" with Marty Ingels and Claude Akins (1926–1994) on December 2

"Tinge of Red" with Julie London (1926–2000), Judson Pratt (1916–2002) and Gavin MacLeod (born 1930) on December 16

"Buy a Nightmare" with Don Haggerty (1914–1988), Harvey Lembeck (1923–1982) and Adrienne Ellis, the series finale.Dan Raven was replaced on January 13, 1961, by the return of the Ronnie Burns's Happy.

Ensign O'Toole

Ensign O'Toole is a military comedy that aired on NBC from September 23, 1962, to May 5, 1963, with Dean Jones in the title role of a nonchalant United States Navy ensign during the early 1960s. Jones played an officer aboard the fictional U.S. Navy destroyer USS Appleby, which roamed the Pacific Ocean.

Girls in the Night

Girls in the Night is a 1953 American film noir crime film directed by Jack Arnold starring Harvey Lembeck, Joyce Holden and Glenda Farrell. The film was released by Universal Pictures in January 15, 1953. A family's efforts to move into a better neighborhood is hampered when their son is accused of killing a local blind man.

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is a 1965 Pathécolor beach party film from American International Pictures. The sixth entry in a seven-film series, the movie features Mickey Rooney, Annette Funicello, Dwayne Hickman, Brian Donlevy, and Beverly Adams. The film features brief, uncredited appearances by Frankie Avalon and includes Buster Keaton in one of his last roles.

Just Across the Street

Just Across the Street is a 1952 American comedy film directed by Joseph Pevney and starring Ann Sheridan, John Lund and Robert Keith.The film's sets were designed by the art directors Bernard Herzbrun and Emrich Nicholson.

Love with the Proper Stranger

Love with the Proper Stranger is a 1963 American romantic comedy drama film made by Pakula-Mulligan Productions and Boardwalk Productions and released by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Robert Mulligan and produced by Alan J. Pakula from a screenplay by Arnold Schulman.

The film stars Natalie Wood, Steve McQueen, Edie Adams, Herschel Bernardi and Harvey Lembeck. The film also marked the screen debut of Tom Bosley and features a brief, uncredited appearance by the director's younger brother Richard Mulligan, who later became a well-known television actor.

The film's title song, written by Elmer Bernstein and Johnny Mercer, was recorded by Jack Jones.

Mister Roberts (play)

Mister Roberts is a 1948 play based on the 1946 Thomas Heggen novel of the same name.

The novel began as a collection of short stories about Heggen's experiences aboard USS Rotanin and USS Virgo in the South Pacific during World War II. Broadway producer Leland Hayward acquired the rights for the play and hired Heggen and Joshua Logan for the adaptation.

Mister Roberts opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on February 18, 1948, starring Henry Fonda, David Wayne, Robert Keith, and Jocelyn Brando, who replaced Eva Marie Saint before the show opened. Logan's brother-in-law, William Harrigan, played the Captain. The original production also featured Harvey Lembeck, Ralph Meeker, Steven Hill, Lee Van Cleef, and Murray Hamilton. Fonda got out of a Hollywood film contract to star in the Broadway theatre stage production. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. The production ran for 1,157 performances. Fonda later reprised his role of Lieutenant Roberts in the 1955 film of the same name.

Tyrone Power starred in the London company. John Forsythe appeared in a national touring production. Many actors began their careers in various productions and touring companies. Fess Parker began his show-business career in the play, in 1951.

Joshua Logan's account of his collaboration with Thomas Heggen in the writing of the play is in Logan's autobiography, Josh: My Up and Down, In and Out Life.

Pajama Party (film)

Pajama Party is a 1964 beach party film starring Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello. This is the fourth in a series of seven beach films produced by American International Pictures. The other films in this series are Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).

This fourth entry has not always been considered a follow-up to the three films that preceded it. Several sources have noted, however, that while it is not a proper sequel, it is indeed a part of what is now termed AIP's ‘Beach Party series.’ Moreover, AIP marketed it as a sequel in its trailer, stating "The Bikini Beach Party Gang is Warming Up! – For the ‘Party’ that Takes Off – Where others Poop Out!" and "All the ‘Beach Party’ Fun … in Pajamas!"

Additional links that tie this film to the others are the return of Eric von Zipper and his Rat Pack (who previously appeared in Beach Party and Bikini Beach) and the return of Candy Johnson as Candy for the fourth time in as many films.

Regulars Frankie Avalon, Don Rickles, Annette Funicello, Jody McCrea and Donna Loren all appear (albeit with character name changes – not the first time this happens in the series, nor the last); Susan Hart makes the first of three appearances in the AIP brand of the genre; Buster Keaton makes the first of four appearances, and Bobbi Shaw makes the first appearance of five. In addition, several background players in this film (Patti Chandler, Mary Hughes, Johnny Fain, Mike Nader, Salli Sachse, Luree Holmes, Ronnie Dayton, Ed Garner, Ray Atkinson, Linda Benson, and Laura Nicholson) also appear in three or more films in the AIP brand of the genre.

The film is not to be confused with the 1963 novel Pajama Party about lesbian activities among college girls, which was banned on the grounds of obscenity.

Stalag 17

Stalag 17 is a 1953 comedy-drama war film which tells the story of a group of American airmen held in a German World War II prisoner of war camp, who come to suspect that one of their number is an informant. The film was adapted by Billy Wilder and Edwin Blum from the Broadway play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, which was based on their experiences as prisoners in Stalag 17B in Austria.

Produced and directed by Wilder, it starred William Holden in his Oscar-winning role, Don Taylor, Robert Strauss, Neville Brand, Harvey Lembeck, Peter Graves, Sig Ruman and Otto Preminger. Strauss and Lembeck both appeared in the original Broadway production.

The Command (film)

The Command is a 1954 CinemaScope Western film directed by David Butler. It stars Guy Madison and James Whitmore. It was based on the novel Rear Guard by James Warner Bellah and features a screenplay by Sam Fuller.

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

Ghost in the Invisible Bikini is the seventh and last of American International Pictures' beach party films. Released in 1966, the film features the cast cavorting in and around a haunted house and the adjacent swimming pool. No beach appears in the film.

Besides the usual bikini-clad cast, random singing, silly plot line, musical guests, and ridiculous chases and fight scenes, the continuity linking this to the other beach films is the Rat Pack motorcycle gang led by Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), as well as the appearance of previous beach party alumni Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Bobbi Shaw, Jesse White, Aron Kincaid, Quinn O'Hara and Boris Karloff.Pop singer Nancy Sinatra, who was on the rise at the time just before the film was released, has a supporting role and performs one song written for the film; and The Bobby Fuller Four appear as themselves and sing two songs. Claudia Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, co-stars in the film as Lulu. The briefly famous Italian starlet Piccola Pupa appears as herself and sings a song.

The Hathaways

The Hathaways is a 26-episode situation comedy, which aired on ABC from October 6, 1961, to March 30, 1962, starring Peggy Cass and Jack Weston as suburban Los Angeles "parents" to a trio of performing chimpanzees. Weston portrayed Walter Hathaway, a flabby real estate agent. Cass is his zany bride Elinore, "mother" and booking agent to the Marquis Chimps, named Candy, Charlie, and Enoch. The chimps had earlier appeared on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show, a Jack Benny special in 1959 and several commercials in 1960.Supporting roles were filled by character actress Mary Grace Canfield as Mrs. Amanda Allison, a housekeeper; Barbara Perry as Elinore's friend and neighbor, Thelma Brockwood, and Harvey Lembeck as Jerry Roper, the theatrical agent of the chimps, Another neighbor, Mrs. Harrison was played by Belle Montrose, the mother of comedian Steve Allen.

The premiere episode is entitled "Love Thy Neighbor": the Brockwoods decide to purchase the house next door despite reservations about the chimps being their neighbors too. Joe Flynn, guest-starred as Freddie Winkler in the third episode "Walter Takes a Partner", which aired on October 20. Vaughn Taylor played a veterinarian Dr. Dorsey in "Candy's Tonsils" (November 10). Robert Q. Lewis portrayed Barney Holt in "TV or Not TV" on (November 24). Other episodes were entitled "The Hathaways Sleep Out", "Grandma's Lamp", "TV or Not TV", "The Practical Joker", "Help Wanted", "The Shrewd Trader", "A Man for Amanda", and the series finale, "Elinore's Best Friend".

Ratings for the Screen Gems series were so low that ABC had largely to self-sponsor the program (although the series was sponsored on alternate weeks, throughout most of the season, by Ralston-Purina). The writers included Tom Adair and James B. Allardice; story consultants were Hugh Wedlock and Howard Snyder, who co-wrote the premiere episode with Dick Wesson. Some of the directing was handled by Richard Kinon. The series followed another short-lived ABC series, Straightaway starring John Ashley and Brian Kelly as race-car enthusiasts. It preceded the popular cartoon series The Flintstones. Its principal competition was the Clint Eastwood western series Rawhide on CBS.

Despite the lack of television success, The Hathaways produced a comic book of the chimpanzees in 1962.

The Last Time I Saw Archie

The Last Time I Saw Archie is a 1961 comedy film set in the waning days of World War II. Robert Mitchum stars as Arch Hall Sr., a lazy, scheming American in an aviation school for pilots too old to fly aircraft but not too old to fly military gliders and liaison aircraft. Jack Webb produced, directed and costarred.The film is currently unavailable on DVD. There is an Internet petition to support a home video release. The campaign was initiated by the Jack Webb Fan Club Los Angeles Chapter.

The Wild Weird World of Dr. Goldfoot

The Wild Weird World of Dr. Goldfoot was a 30-minute TV special which was a sequel to Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965). It aired on Shindig! in November 1965.

You're in the Navy Now

You're in the Navy Now is a Hollywood film released in 1951 by Twentieth Century Fox about the United States Navy in the first months of World War II. Its initial release was titled USS Teakettle. Directed by Henry Hathaway, the film is a comedy starring Gary Cooper as a new officer wanting duty at sea but who is instead assigned to an experimental project without much hope of success.

Filmed in black-and-white aboard PC-1168, an active Navy patrol craft, You're in the Navy Now featured the film debuts of Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Lee Marvin, and Harvey Lembeck in minor roles as crewmen. Screenwriter Richard Murphy was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for "Best Written American Comedy", basing his script on an article written by John W. Hazard in The New Yorker. Hazard, a professional journalist and naval reservist, had served during World War II as executive officer of the PC-452, a similar craft that served in 1943-44 as a test bed for steam turbine propulsion.

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