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Q&A: Classy cast filled 'Night at the Opera'

A classy cast for comedy

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WUSF recently aired the Marx Brothers' classic film A Night at the Opera. Who played Rosa, Riccardo and Mr. Lassparri?

A Night at the Opera, released in 1935, is considered one of the top 100 American films. Groucho, Harpo and Chico Marx starred, and it was their first film without Zeppo.

Rosa, an opera singer, was played by Kitty Carlisle, who was probably better known as a panelist for 20 years on the TV show To Tell the Truth.

Riccardo, an opera singer who was in love with Rosa, was played by Allan Jones. He also appeared in A Day at the Races with the Marx Brothers, and was the father of singer Jack Jones.

Lassparri, played by Walter Wolf King, was the egotistical opera star who wanted Rosa for himself. King moved into TV in the late 1950s and later became an agent.

Two Paul Rudds don't overlap

I thought the Actors Equity forbade any two actors having the same name, but haven't there been two actors named Paul Rudd? I saw a Paul Rudd years ago off-Broadway in The Showoff, and he was not the actor with that name I see in movies these days.

There are, indeed, at least two Paul Rudds in the acting world.

The famous one has worked on Broadway but is better known for his roles since 1995 in such movies as Clueless, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Role Models and I Love You, Man.

The other Paul Rudd is on the faculty of the New School for Drama in New York. He worked as an actor and director from 1967 to 1986 on Broadway (and off) and in regional theaters before beginning a teaching career.

It's true that Actors Equity does not permit the duplication of names among its members. We don't know if either Rudd is or was a member of Actors Equity, but since their acting careers did not overlap, it probably doesn't matter.

Successors to 'Night Stalker'

Some years ago, I remember watching a TV movie starring Darren McGavin, called The Night Stalker. Along with Dennis Weaver's Duel, this ranks near the top of all TV movies, in my opinion.

The Night Stalker, which starred McGavin as reporter Carl Kolchak, was a huge TV-movie hit in 1972. McGavin reprised the role in 1973's The Night Strangler and in the 1974-75 TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. The whole thing helped inspire The X-Files, where McGavin was an occasional guest star.

The original Night Stalker and Night Strangler are available on a double-feature DVD; the Kolchak TV series and the 2005 Night Stalker series are also on DVD. So, by the way, is 1971's Duel, which in addition to starring Weaver, was directed by a kid named Steven Spielberg.

Q&A: Classy cast filled 'Night at the Opera' 04/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:02pm]
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