Sunday, January 6, 2008
Today was the birthday for 1970s-80s television star Vic Tayback.
Victor "Vic" Tayback (January 6, 1930 – May 25, 1990) was a New York City-born American actor of Syrian descent.
Tayback moved with his family to Burbank, California during his teenage years and attended Burbank High School. He ended up living in the city for the rest of his life.
His most famous role was diner owner Mel Sharples in the 1974 movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, followed up by his reprisal of the role on the related television series, called Alice, which ran from 1976 to 1985.
Tayback also guest starred in an episode of the fourth season of All in the Family which was called "Et tu, Archie?" In this particular episode, Tayback portrayed Archie's old friend, Joe Tucker.
Tayback's performance as the alien gangster boss Jojo Krako in the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action" was also memorable.
Kirk: ...I don't think you're stupid, Mr. Krako; I just think your behavior is arrested.
Krako: I AIN'T NEVER BEEN ARRESTED IN MY WHOLE LIFE!!!
He also appeared in TV commercials including one for Aqua Velva after shave lotion as a spectator in the stands who shouts at then-Cincinnati Reds third baseman Pete Rose "Hey, Pete Rose! What does a man really want in an after-shave lotion?" Tayback was also afraid of bees.
His award winning character, Mel, was first introduced to audiences in the 1974 movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. He again found himself in that role two years later when CBS introduced the comedy television series Alice, starring Linda Lavin, and the show became an instant hit with audiences worldwide. The popular TV series ran from 1976 to 1985 and made Vic, who played the part of crusty Mel's Diner owner, as well as his zany waitresses, household names. He won Golden Globe awards in 1979 and 1980 for Mel's loudmouth, overbearing antics.
On Alice, one of the things for which Mel was always condemned, both by waitresses and customers alike, was his cooking and Vic took a lot of kidding about it. As he joked in a 1985 interview, "If I walked into a restaurant, the other diners would look around and say, "I hope you're not cooking." This prompted the famous Heinz USA company to pick him up as their official spokesman. They were looking for a man to help promote their Heinz 57 sauce and Vic was the right man for the job. The theme used in the promotion: "I used to be a lousy cook."
One of Tayback's last roles was in the 1989 video remake of the Buck Owens' (and later The Beatles) hit "Act Naturally" which featured Owens and former Beatle Ringo Starr.
Tayback died of a sudden heart attack in 1990 and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park at Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California. Tayback was 60 years of age.