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Robert Hays, surely it's not your birthday? Yes, he's 66 ... and stop calling him Shirley



Robert Hays, aka Ted Striker in Airplane!, turns 66 years old today. Guess I picked the wrong week to stop writing about celebrity birthdays. So here are five things you probably didn't know about the 1980 film.


1. Talk show host David Letterman screen-tested for the role of Ted Striker. Barry Manilow was also considered for the part.

2. Robert Hays, whose career would come to be definited by the Airplane! franchise, actually had a good TV career going at the time of filming and had to shoot Airplane! between breaks of the TV show Angie.

3. Everyone knows that Airplane! is a spoof of the Airport series. But the film is specifically spoofing Airport 1975, where Karen Black is a flight attendant who pilots a plane when both pilots are incapacitated, Linda Blair is a girl needing a kidney transplant, and Helen Reddy plays a singing nun.

4. Most of the "jive" between the two African-American passengers was improvised after the scripted lines were judged to lack authenticity. (In the Italian version of the film, the "jive" conversation was dubbed in Neapolitan dialect. In the German version, the talk was dubbed in heavy Bavarian dialect.)

5. Three traditionally serious actors who made their comedy debuts in Airplane! - Peter Graves, Barbara Billingsley and Leslie Nielsen - all died in 2010, the film's 30th anniversary year.


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:59am]


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