Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Happy Birthday Laraine Newman

Laraine Newman's pioneering work as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live will always ensure her a place in the hearts and minds of - ahem - people of a certain age, myself wholeheartedly included, even though I am very much on the young end of that particular spectrum, thank you very much.

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1952, Newman's comedy career began with the legendary comedy troupe The Groundlings, and her character-driven work on SNL definitely benefited from that. In fact, she was one of the first people on television to impersonate the verbal cadences and mannerisms of that peculiar breed of young lady most often found at the Sherman Oaks Galleria - the Valley Girl.

Since leaving the cast of SNL after five seasons in 1980 Newman's career has been spotty at best; still, whenever she does appear, it's always a delightful surprise.

To read her many trenchant (not to mention occasionally bitter and often hilarious) insights into her time on the show, read the excellent Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, edited by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller; or, you can always watch her in action. The first five seasons of SNL are available in their glorious commercial-free entirety on DVD.
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