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Arnold Stang (born September 28, 1925) is a comic actor who plays a small and bespectacled, yet brash and knowing big-city type. Never known as a solo performer (despite the existence of an unsold television pilot called The Arnold Stang Show), he works best in an ensemble cast in which he plays one of a diverse group of comic characters.

Early beginnings

Stang was born in Chelsea, Massachusettsmarker, a son of Harold and Anna (Chest) Stang. He began performing at the age of nine in radio shows such as Let's Pretend, but playing in dramas and mysteries as what he once called "little killers," according to radio historian Gerald Nachman (Raised on Radio). He told Nachman that he knew his nasal voice was his meal-ticket. "I'm kind of attached to it," he quipped to Nachman. "My personal logo. It's like Jell-O or Xerox." He also told Nachman that the bulk of his fan mail doesn't even address his film or television work. "All about my radio career," he said.

Career

He was popular on radio in the 1940s as a sidekick to cantankerous comedian Henry Morgan. That led to a recurring role in the TV show The School House on the Dumont Network in 1949. Then, during television's Golden Age, Stang became a supporting player on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater, often berating or heckling the big-egoed star for big laughs. Stang also had guest roles on several variety shows of the day including the Colgate Comedy Theater.

In films, he played Sparrow in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) with Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. In It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) he played Ray, who along with his partner Irwin (played by Marvin Kaplan), owns a gas station that is destroyed by Jonathan Winters. He appeared in Hello Down There (1969). In one of the oddest movie pairings, he partnered Arnold Schwarzenegger (billed as "Arnold Strong") in the latter's first film, the camp classic Hercules in New York (1970).

As a voice actor for animated cartoons, Stang provided the voice for Popeye's pal Shorty (who looked somewhat like Stang), Herman the mouse in a number of Famous Studios cartoons, Tubby Tompkins in a few Little Lulu shorts, the famous Hanna-Barbera lead character Top Cat (modeled explicitly on Phil Silvers's popular television character as scheming, wisecracking Sgt. Bilko), and Catfish on Misterjaw. He also provided many extra voices for the Cartoon Network series Courage the Cowardly Dog. On television, he appeared in commercial for the Chunky candy bar, where he would list all of its ingredients, smile and say, "Chunky, what a chunk of chocolate!" He provided the voice of the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee in the 1980s and was also a spokesman for Vicks Vapo-Rub.

Stang appeared on an episode of The Cosby Show with guest star Sammy Davis Jr. In one TV ad he played Luther Burbank, proudly showing off his newly-invented "square tomato" to fit neatly in typical square slices of commercial bread, then being informed that the advertising bakery had beat him to it by producing round loaves of bread. He played the photographer in Dennis the Menace.

Family

Arnold and his wife, the former JoAnne Taggart, reside in New Rochelle, New Yorkmarker. Joanne Stang writes for the New York Times. They have two children.

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