Arnold Stang

Active - 1942 - 1993  |   Born - Sep 28, 1925   |   Died - Dec 20, 2009   |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family, Fantasy, Musical, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor Arnold Stang was a professional almost all his life -- but unlike other "professional kids," he actively sought a career and wasn't strong-armed into it by ambitious parents. Winning an audition at age nine on radio's Horn and Hardart's Children's Hour, Stang launched a two-decade stint as one of radio's most stalwart supporting players. He appeared as a regular on Let's Pretend, and later was generously featured on Gertrude Berg's serialized family drama The Goldbergs. As his skills increased, Stang discovered he could get laughs, and worked steadily with such comedians as Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, and especially Milton Berle, with whom Stang continued his association on television. On the satirical Henry Morgan Show, Stang was a regular member of the comedy stock company, most often as a nerdy teenager named Gerard. Stang started doing cartoon voiceovers in the '40s, beginning with Popeye the Sailor's pal Shorty, then moving into a lengthy hitch as "Hoiman" the mouse in Paramount's Herman and Katnip series; he also performed in 24 episodes of Hanna-Barbera's 1961 cartoon series Top Cat, playing the title role in a "Phil Silvers" manner until the sponsors demanded less of Silvers and more of Stang. In films since 1942's My Sister Eileen, Stang had his best movie role in Man with the Golden Arm (1955) where he played Frank Sinatra's skuzzy but loyal pal Sparrow - a characterization eerily reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman's Ratso Rizzo in the much-later film Midnight Cowboy (1969). During the '50s, Stang was the TV spokesman for Chunky candy, fondly remembered by today's baby boomers for his enthusiastic "Chunky...what a chunk o' chocolate!" Still active in the '90s, the owlish, bespectacled Arnold Stang delighted his long-time fans with an amusing character role in the John Hughes film Dennis the Menace (1993). Stang died at age 91 in December 2009.

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