Rich Little
Rich Little

Richard Caruthers Little (born November 26, 1938) is a Canadian-American impressionist and voice actor. Typically often called the “Man of a Thousand Voices”, Little has recorded 9 comedy albums and made quite a few tv appearances, together with three HBO specials.[1]

Formative years

Little was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the center of three sons. His father, Lawrence Peniston Little, was a surgeon who served as a lieutenant commander within the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve throughout World Conflict II after which labored for the Division of Veterans’ Affairs till his dying in 1959.[2] His mom, Elizabeth Maud (née Wilson), was a housewife.[3] A 3rd-generation Canadian, he’s descended from English inventory on his father’s facet and Irish on his mom’s. On his mom’s facet, he’s descended from John Willson, who was Speaker of the fifth Parliament of Higher Canada within the 1820s. His paternal great-grandfather, William Carruthers Little, was a Liberal-Conservative Member of Parliament within the Canadian Home of Commons from 1867 to 1881.[2]

He attended Lisgar Collegiate Institute. In his early teenagers, he fashioned a partnership with Geoff Scott, one other budding impressionist (and future elected politician), concentrating on reproducing the voices of Canadian politicians comparable to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton.

Profession

Early profession in Ottawa

Beginning when he was 11, Little acted in two documentary films for Crawley Movies of Ottawa.[2]

Little was an usher on the Elgin Film Theatre in Ottawa, the place he perfected his voices whereas standing behind the theatre. He began his newbie performing profession on the Ottawa Little Theatre, successful his first performing award on the Japanese Ontario Drama Competition in Deep River, Ontario. At 17, his buddy and fellow impressionist Geoff Scott and he received a expertise contest on CBOT in Ottawa, the primary time he was paid for his impressionist expertise, which led to an look on Decide the Stars, a nationwide expertise contest broadcast by CBC Tv in 1956.[4] They then appeared on The Jackie Rae Present in the course of the 1956–57 season.[5]

Little and Scott’s comedy group carried out at numerous native occasions and venues. Nonetheless of their teenagers, they developed a 10-minute act that they carried out at Shriners’ conventions and Knights of Columbus conferences.[6] Scott later entered journalism, and in the end politics.[2]

Little turned a reduction announcer on Ottawa radio station CFRA and carried out comedy sketches with Les Lye on Lye’s morning present, earlier than being employed as a disc jockey on CJET in Smiths Falls, Ontario. His afternoon-evening shift ran from 4 to eight pm weekdays, and the present gave him the chance to make use of his impressions on the air.[4][2] By the Nineteen Sixties, Little was taking his act to Toronto, the place he carried out at espresso homes and different venues.[6]

In 1963, Little issued two LPs via the Canadian division of Capitol Data: My Fellow Canadians with Les Lye. The album was impressed by Vaughn Meader’s hit American satirical album The First Household and targeting Canadian political satire, that includes Little impersonating figures well-known to a Canadian viewers comparable to Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson and Tommy Douglas, and Scrooge and the Stars, which featured Little performing out Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol fully on his personal, enjoying all of the roles as 22 completely different Hollywood stars, starting from Jack Benny to Jack Webb. The album was launched in early November, however it needed to be withdrawn a number of weeks later as a result of assassination of John F. Kennedy, as Little had imitated JFK within the position of the Spirit of Christmas Current and had Kennedy say the road “Scrooge, my life upon the globe is transient; it ends tonight. In actual fact, it ends as quick as you may say your title.”[2]

Breaking into the US

Little’s first efficiency within the US was in December 1963 at Man Lombardo’s inn and nation membership in Tierra Verde, Florida.[2]

Little’s American profession was helped by Peppiatt and Aylesworth, a Canadian writing group who had moved to Hollywood and labored on numerous specials and selection collection, together with The Judy Garland Present. Acquainted with Little’s work in Canada, Peppiat had labored on The Jackie Rae Present on which Little made a tv look at 17, and the group had written for Little’s Canadian nightclub act. They performed a recording of Little for Garland, and the present’s musical director, Mel Tormé, they usually inspired her to audition him. Tormé had met Little after they each carried out in a CBC Tv selection present in Toronto, and bonded over their love of outdated films.[6]

The audition received him the job, and in January 1964, Little made his American tv debut on CBS’s The Judy Garland Present, the place he impressed Garland by imitating numerous male celebrities, together with James Mason, who had been Garland’s co-star in A Star Is Born.[7][2] Tv appearances on selection reveals hosted by Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Rudy Vallee, Mike Douglas, George Burns, and Al Hirt adopted over the subsequent two years.[2]

Peppiatt and Aylesworth additionally helped deliver Little on to different American reveals for which they wrote, comparable to The Jimmy Dean Present, The Kopykats, and The Julie Andrews Hour and continued to jot down materials for his act after he moved to the US completely on the finish of 1965.[2]

In Canada, Little starred in his personal present The Wealthy Little Present, on CBC Radio in 1966.[2] He additionally made his first appearances on The Dean Martin Present and The Jimmy Dean Present in the course of the 1965–1966 season.[2]

In 1965, Little offered the voice for the Pink Panther in two cartoons, Sink Pink and Pink Ice; these two cartoons had been made by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises to experiment with giving the Panther dialogue, opposite to him often being mute.

In 1966 and 1967, Little appeared in ABC-TV’s Judy Carne sitcom Love on a Rooftop because the Willises’ eccentric neighbour, Stan Parker. He appeared on That Lady in 1967 as a author who impressed Marlo Thomas’ character along with his impersonations. He additionally made two memorable appearances as accident-prone Brother Paul Leonardi on The Flying Nun in 1968; it marked one in every of his few appearances as a personality actor somewhat than an impressionist. In 1969, he appeared in an episode of Petticoat Junction as newly engaged fiancé to Billie Jo in “Billie Jo and the Large Large Star”.

Little in a publicity photograph for Hawaii 5-O, 1976

Nixon

Little was most notable for impressions of U.S. President Richard Nixon. In the course of the Nineteen Seventies, Little made many tv appearances portraying Nixon, and as soon as carried out his impersonation in entrance of Nixon himself, whom Little says didn’t understand he was imitating him in any respect and “questioned why I used to be speaking to him in such a humorous voice.”[8] In 1972, he portrayed Richard Nixon with the voice and mannerisms of Oliver Hardy in One other Good Mess.[9] Little later appeared as Nixon on the cleaning soap opera Santa Barbara, in a 1991 fantasy sequence concerning Gina’s perfect sperm donor.[citation needed]

In 2020, Little developed Trial on the Potomac: The Impeachment of Richard Nixon, a one-man present primarily based on the 2015 e-book The Actual Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot That Introduced Nixon Down by Geoff Shepard, alleging a conspiracy to take away Nixon from workplace.[10]

Nineteen Seventies

Little was additionally a semiregular on the Emmy-winning ABC-TV selection collection The Julie Andrews Hour in 1972–73. In response to his imitation of Jack Benny, the comic despatched Little an 18-carat gold cash clip containing this message: “With Bob Hope doing my stroll and also you doing my voice, I could be a star and do nothing.” He was named “Comedy Star of the Yr” by the American Guild of Selection Artists in 1974.

Little’s best-known persevering with TV collection was The Kopycats, hour-long segments of The ABC Comedy Hour, broadcast in 1972. Taped in England, these comedy-variety reveals consisted fully of movie star impersonations, with the actors in full costume and make-up for each sketch. The solid included Little, Frank Gorshin, Marilyn Michaels, George Kirby, British comic Joe Baker, Fred Travalena, Charlie Callas, and Peter Goodwright.

Little was a daily visitor on The Dean Martin Superstar Roasts within the Nineteen Seventies, showing in 24 of the specials,[11] the place he roasted celebrities comparable to Don Rickles,[12] Jack Benny,[13] Johnny Carson,[14] Frank Sinatra,[15] Jimmy Stewart[16] and Kirk Douglas.[17]

The Wealthy Little Present (1976) on NBC and The New You Requested for It (1981) had been makes an attempt to current Little in his personal individual, away from his gallery of characterizations. Little additionally appeared on a second-season episode of The Muppet Present.[18]

The 1978 one-man present Wealthy Little’s Christmas Carol was his first HBO particular, produced by and initially aired on CBC Tv, Little portrayed well-known comedians in established roles (W. C. Fields as Ebenezer Scrooge, Paul Lynde as Bob Cratchit, et al.).

Eighties

In 1981, Little appeared in a comedy LP known as The First Household Rides Once more, which was the fourth and closing of the First Household comedy LPs initially created by Bob Booker and Earle Doud. Little starred together with Melanie Chartoff, Michael Richards, Shelly Black, Jenilee Harrison, Earle Doud, and Vaughn Meader, making mild of U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s first few months within the White Home.

One other HBO particular adopted in 1983 with Wealthy Little’s Robin Hood, together with portrayals of Groucho Marx as Robin Hood, Humphrey Bogart as Prince John, John Wayne as Little John, Carol Channing as Maid Marion, Laurel and Hardy as Sheriffs of Nottingham, George Burns as Alan-a-Dale, and numerous different characters.

Outdoors of any comedic context, Little’s expertise for impersonation has been utilized in films when an actor’s dialogue was impaired by poor well being. When David Niven proved too in poor health for his voice for use in his appearances in Path of the Pink Panther (1982) and Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), Little offered the overdub as an imitation of Niven’s voice. He carried out comparable duties to dub an imitation of James Cagney’s stroke-impaired voice within the 1984 TV film Horrible Joe Moran[citation needed] and within the 1991 TV particular Christmas on the Motion pictures by offering an uncredited dub for actor/dancer Gene Kelly, who had misplaced his voice.[19]

He additionally lent his voice to the narration of three specials that had been the forerunners for the animated collection The Raccoons: The Christmas Raccoons, The Raccoons on Ice, and The Raccoons and the Misplaced Star.[20]

In 1987, in the course of the We the Folks 200: The Constitutional Gala tv particular, Little personified numerous historic figures, together with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Edward R. Murrow, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Little’s efficiency was described as eclectic, impersonating Henry Fonda as Abraham Lincoln and doing Winston Churchill giving a rousing speech.[21][22]

The Tonight Present

Little was a frequent visitor on selection and speak reveals within the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, and had an unofficial month-to-month slot on The Tonight Present Starring Johnny Carson for a number of years, and likewise visitor hosted this system a few dozen occasions.[6] He developed an impression of Johnny Carson, capturing The Tonight Present host’s voice and lots of onstage mannerisms, and later performed Carson within the HBO TV film The Late Shift. Little’s spot-on impersonation allegedly bought beneath the skinny pores and skin of Carson, and he was completely banned from showing on the Tonight Present with out discover or purpose after his August 1982 look. Little claims in his biography that he was banned as a result of Carson was offended by his impression, and this declare was supported by Henry Bushkin, Carson’s long-time lawyer, who acknowledged that no one bought beneath Carson’s pores and skin greater than Little.[23] Little had been doing the impression for the reason that early Nineteen Seventies, although, a decade previous to his bookings on the present coming to an finish, together with performing the impression to the Tonight Present’ host’s face when Carson was the visitor of honor at The Dean Martin Superstar Roast of Johnny Carson in 1973.[24] In response to Little’s claims, Fred DeCordova, Carson’s producer, mentioned they only weren’t taken with hiring him any extra resulting from his lack of latest impressions.[25]

Las Vegas and later profession

Little has been showing in Las Vegas for the reason that mid-Nineteen Sixties, when he had dates on the Golden Nugget[2] and went on to play at different Vegas venues comparable to The Sands, the place he debuted in 1969 with a two-year contract. In 1973, he carried out at Caesars Palace for 4 weeks because the opening act for The Osmonds. He then appeared on the Desert Inn with Juliet Prowse for a month in 1974. His appearances continued all through the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties; he headlined on the Desert Inn for eight years within the late Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, on the MGM Grand with Nell Carter in 1985; at Bally’s, with Charo in 1986; the Sands in 1991 and 1992, and on the Golden Nugget once more in 1991.[11]

With alternatives for him to work in tv and movie in decline, and his tv work virtually fully drying up by the mid-Eighties, the main focus of Little’s profession shifted from Hollywood to Las Vegas.[6] The decline in his profession was blamed partially on him not having up to date his repertory of impressions with youthful voices, a reality he blames on current generations of actors utilizing a naturalistic supply that makes their voices much less distinctive. “It’s a lot simpler to do Humphrey Bogart than Tom Cruise,” he mentioned. “How do you imitate Brad Pitt? George Clooney? Wouldn’t imply something.”[6]

Little offered his home in Los Angeles and relocated to Las Vegas in 1990, and purchased a house in 1992,[26] when he signed an unique, long-term contract with the Sahara, staging a revamped model of The Kopykats with different impersonators. He later moved to Paris Las Vegas, the place he starred in The Presidents, a play on 9 Presidents of the US from Kennedy to George W. Bush, beginning in 2002.[11] In 2004, he moved to the Suncoast.[11]

Within the early 2010s, he carried out a one-man present, Jimmy Stewart and Pals, primarily based on the lifetime of Jimmy Stewart, on the Westgate lodge, and on tour.[6] After the dying of his buddy Jimmy Stewart within the late Nineties, Wealthy recorded the crosswalk messages for intersections in Stewart’s hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania, utilizing his imitation of the star’s voice.

Since 2015, Little has been a daily performer on the Chuckle Manufacturing unit within the Tropicana lodge in Las Vegas.[27] His one-hour present, Wealthy Little Reside!, is a profession retrospective together with video highlights from his TV profession, and is carried out 5 nights every week.[28] All through the present, he shows most of the charcoal sketches he has drawn of the celebrities he has impersonated.[27][29]

Little was the host for the 2007 White Home Correspondents’ Affiliation dinner. Though President George W. Bush was reported to have loved Little’s efficiency, it was panned by some reviewers for “his historical jokes and impressions of useless folks (Johnny Carson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan).”[30][31][32]

Little voices as a visitor star in Futurama comparable to Futurama: Bender’s Recreation, enjoying his personal movie star head: “That is Wealthy Little, impersonating Howard Cosell.” Many occasions, he performs a sports activities commentator. In 1998, Little was inducted into Canada’s Stroll of Fame, and was inducted into the On line casino Legends Corridor of Fame in 1999, and was given a star on the Las Vegas Stroll of Stars in 2005.[11]

In 2017, Little launched his memoir, Little by Little: Folks I Have Identified and Been.[28] In 2021, CBS Information Sunday Morning profiled Little; in the course of the interview, he acknowledged he believed it was the primary time he had been on community tv in 30 years, and hoped it might “go over properly!” [33]

in 2018, he appeared as himself within the documentary They will Love Me After I’m Lifeless about Orson Welles’ closing movie The Different Aspect of the Wind. Little was within the unique 1970 solid however left for different commitments and his scenes had been reshot utilizing Peter Bogdanovich enjoying half. Bogdanovich accomplished directing the movie in 2018 after Welles died in 1985.[34] Little is credited as a celebration visitor in The Different Aspect of the Wind.

Different pursuits

Little has been lively in a number of charities, together with the Juvenile Diabetes Fund and the Kids’s Miracle Community. He has been named to Miami Kids’s Hospital Worldwide Pediatrics Corridor of Fame and been honoured by the naming of the Wealthy Little Particular Care Nursery at Ottawa Civic Hospital. He has been a serious supporter in serving to veterans via the Gary Sinise Basis.

Private life

Little was engaged to Canadian actress Jean Christopher in 1965, however they didn’t find yourself marrying.[2]

Little was married to Jeanne Worden, whom he met when she was working as a secretary on The Joey Bishop Present, in 1971. The couple had a daughter collectively, Bria, earlier than their divorce in 1989.[35] Little had a short relationship with Lalette Cottrell, of Delaware; the couple had a daughter collectively, Lyndsay (born 1988).[36]

Little was engaged to magician Melinda Saxe, however she broke off the three-year relationship in 1991, saying she had found he had secretly videotaped them having intercourse in 1988. Saxe sued Little for defamation, invasion of privateness, and inflicting emotional misery, claiming he had joked about their relationship on stage.[37] Little claimed the videotaping was consensual.[38][39] The lawsuit was ultimately settled out of court docket.[35]

He married comic and impressionist Jeannette Markey in 1994;[40] they divorced in 1997. He was married to Marie Marotta from 2003 till her dying in 2010 of a deliberate overdose of sleeping capsules after years of affected by migraines and persistent ache.[41] He married his fourth spouse, Catherine Brown, a former actuality present contestant,[42] in a personal ceremony in 2012; they divorced in October later that yr.[43]

In 1998, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Stroll of Stars was devoted to him.[44]

In 2010, Little turned a naturalized citizen of the US.[45][26]

  • Official web site
  • Wealthy Little at IMDb
  • “Talktails #031: The Man of A Thousand Voices — Wealthy Little”. YouTube. Vegas Video Community. Jul 3, 2012. Archived from the unique on 2021-12-22.


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