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A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of July, Solar Year 2018

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

July 22, 1947 was the birthdate of actor, comedian and producer Albert Brooks.

Albert Brooks led a new generation of self-reflective comics appearing on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”. His onstage persona was  that of an egotistical, narcissistic, nervous comic, one who tore himself down before an audience by disassembling his mastery of comedic routine. He once performed a humorless, five-minute stand up comedy routine on “The Tonight Show” in 1962 that didn’t produce a single laugh until the punchline – when he explained to the audience that he had been working as a stand up comic for five years and had run out of material. Johnny Carson swore the hilarity which followed this set-up lasted a full minute.

Brooks appeared in 1976 in his first mainstream movie role as Tom in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” , where Scorsese allowed him to improvise much of his dialogue. Brooks directed his first feature film, “Real Life”, in 1979, playing the lead role as a man obnoxiously filming a typical suburban family in an attempt to win an Oscar as well as a Nobel Prize. His film, “Lost in America”, released in 1985, was one of his best-received productions. It featured Brooks and Julie Hagerty as a couple of yuppies who drop out and travel in a motor home, meeting obstacles and disappointments in their dream.

Albert Brooks received good reviews for his films in the 1990s, showing his off-beat style and his seamless successions of shots in his filming. His “Defending Your Life” comedy with Meryl Streep portrayed an after-life trial of Brooks to determine his cosmic fate. Brooks received positive reviews for “Mother” in 1996 as a middle-aged writer moving back home to his mother, played by Debbie Reynolds. His 1999 film “The Muse” featured him as a Hollywood screenwriter who lost his edge and finds an authentic muse, played by Sharon Stone, to give him inspiration.

Brooks played an insecure, supremely ethical network television reporter in James L. Brooks’ hit “Broadcast News”. For this role he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also appeared as the vicious gangster Bernie Rose, the main antagonist in the motion picture “Drive”, a role given much critical praise and positive reviews.

Albert Brooks did voiceover work in the Pixar film “Finding Nemo” in 2003, voicing the character of Marlin, one of the film’s protagonists. He reprised the role of Marlin in the 2016 sequel “Finding Dory”. Brooks also appeared as a guest voice on “The Simpsons” five times during its run, always under the name of A. Brooks, and is particularly known for his role as super-villain Hank Scorpio in the episode “You Only Move Twice”. He later also voiced the character of Russ Cargill, the central antagonist of “The Simpsons Movie”.

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