Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s only daily newspaper, created a list
of the top 100 celebrities who hailed from “Greater Cleveland” or
who could claim a strong Northeast Ohio connection.  While I know
you’ll be shocked - SHOCKED! - I did not make this list, I quickly
realized I could use it to fill up a bloggy thing.  Even if he was
still alive, I bet “actor, director, screen legend, race-car driver
and humanitarian Shaker Heights native” Paul Newman would not have
thought of that.  And yet...he still got the number one spot on the
list. Oh, really, Plain Dealer jury? Really?

I figured it might be fun and relatively easy to look at the list
and mention the people on it who have some connection to comics,
fantasy/horror/science fiction, or me personally. Though he was an
all-around great actor and human being, Newman fails to make it on
my “comics etc.” list.  Unless you want to consider that artist Gil
Kane reportedly based the face of Ray “the Atom” Palmer on Newman.
So let’s give Newman an honorable mention.

Bob Hope (#2) appeared in 109 issues of The Adventures of Bob Hope
from February-March 1950 to February-March 1968.  Dean Martin (#3)
was in 40 issues of The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
from July/August 1952 to October 1957.  When the team broke up, it
was Jerry who got custody of their comic book.

Halle Berry (#4) played Storm in three X-Men movies, Catwoman in a
Catwoman movie and James Bond girl Jinx in Die Another Day.  Berry
was also in The Flintstones (1994) and a single episode of the very
short-lived They Came From Outer Space TV series (1991).  I’d rank
her higher than Dean Martin, but not as high as Bob Hope. 

Hal Holbrook (#6) appeared in a 2000 episode of The Outer Limits.
Tom Hanks (#7) was the voice of “Woody” in Toy Story and starred in
Road to Perdition (2002) based on the graphic novel by Max Allan
Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. Hanks has other genre credits,
but I’m going to leave tracking them down to you.  Be the first to
post a comment listing them and you will win bragging rights among
those of my readers who also have too much time on their hands.

Tim Conway (#9) worked with Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson, Cleveland’s
greatest monster movie host of all time, and is also the voice of
Barnacle Boy in SpongeBob Squarepants.  He also voiced “Weeper” in
an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

John Lithgow (#11) played alien captain “Dick Solomon” in 3rd Rock
From the Sun
(1997-2001).  He has many other credits that qualify
him for this sub-list, but that’s the one I love the best.  If you
are so inclined, feel free to name others.

Talk-show host Phil Donahue (#15) went to St. Edward High School in
Lakewood, Ohio.  So did I, though I was several years behind him.
He makes my list.

Actress Ruby Dee (#20) was unforgettable as Mother Abigail in The
, a 1994 TV mini-series based on the amazing novel by comics
reader and very occasional comics writer Stephen King.  She also
appeared in the 1992 remake of The Cat People.

Ernie Anderson (#21) went to Hollywood and became the voice of ABC.
But, to me, he’ll always be movie host Ghoulardi, my guide to some
of the best and worst monster movies of all time.

Harvey Pekar (#23) was one of the greatest comics writers ever and
you should know that already.  Margaret Hamilton (#25) played the
Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.  TV weatherman Al Roker (#28) was
a customer of my Cosmic Comics store when he worked in Cleveland.

Joel Grey (#29) was memorable in his three Buffy the Vampire Slayer
appearances and also appeared in episodes of The Outer Limits, Star
Trek Voyager
and Rod Sterling’s Night Gallery.  Noted screenwriter
Joe Eszterhas (#30) was still working for the Plain Dealer when I
was a copy assistant there in the early 1970s.  I recall I did not
much like him.

Cleveland Heights native Debra Winger (#31) was Wonder Girl in The
New Adventures of Wonder Woman
.  From Shaker Heights, Fred Willard
(#32) was the President of the United States in episodes of Lois &
Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
and has done voice work in a
bunch of cartoons.

Martin Mull (#36) was Principal Willard in TV’s Sabrina the Teenage
and has other credits that fit this sub-list’s criteria.  I know
you’ll have a blast tracking them down and posting them to our
comments section.

Lakewood’s Teri Garr (#38) was the voice of Terry McGinnis’ mother
in Batman Beyond, Inga in Young Frankenstein and Roberta Lincoln in
the “Assignment Earth” episode of the original Star Trek.  Coming
in at #39, director and screenwriter Wes Craven is best known for
A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream.  Burgess Meredith delighted
viewers with his portrayal of the Penguin in the campy Batman show,
but he broke our hearts as poor Henry Bernis in the unforgettable
“Time Enough at Last” episode of The Twilight Zone.  He comes in at
#40 on the Plain Dealer list.

There are some very familiar names in the next batch of Cleveland
celebrities. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (#41) are the creators of
Superman.  My friend Harlan Ellison (#45) would be my pick for the
world’s greatest living author with the awards to prove it.  He’s
publishing book after book of late and there’s not a bad one in the
bunch.  Look for his 7 Against Chaos graphic novel, which will be
coming soon from DC Comics.

At #51 is Jim Backus, the voice of Mister Magoo.  Terrence Howard
(#56) played James Rhodes in the first Iron Man movie.

Cartoonists Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame (#61) and Tom
Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean, Crankshaft) made the list, but the Plain
Dealer jury overlooked a number of other worthy cartoonists.  Off
the top of my head, I would have include Brian Michael Bendis, Derf
Backderf and Ziggy creator Tom Wilson.

For me, this list starts thinning out once you get past my friend and
occasional employer Tom Batiuk (#64).  Les Roberts (#75) writes those
great Miles Jacovich novels, but there’s no comics connection or a
connection to fantasy/horror/science fiction. 

Molly Shannon (#82) played “Stage actor Joyce” in the 2003 American
movie.  When actress, singer, comedian Kaye Ballard (#88)
was a girl growing up in Cleveland, her family got bread delivered
to their house by my family’s Isabella Brothers Bakery.

Jack Weston (#92) was in two episodes of the original Twilight Zone
and also had roles in Thriller, Steve Canyon, Out There, Rod Brown
of the Rocket Rangers
and Captain Video and His Video Rangers.  The
wonderful Ray Wise (#94) has been in a great number of movies and
TV series that fit my criteria, including the forthcoming Big Ass
Spider, X-Men: First Class, Dollhouse, Reaper, Jeepers Creepers II,
Swamp Thing
and Robocop.

Robert Patrick (#98) appeared in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the
X-Files TV series.  His cartoon credits include voice work in Duck
Dodgers, Avatar: The Last Airbender
and Batman Beyond.

Jack Riley (#100) is one of the funniest actors on the planet and
is worth watching in just about anything.  He was the voice of Stu
Pickles in the Rugrats movies and TV series. 

That’s those members of the Cleveland Celebrities Top 100 that have
a connection to me, comic books, or fantasy/horror/science fiction.
I left out many of their credits because this is an “interactive”
edition of the bloggy thing.  You get to ferret out those missing
credits and send me comments about them.  I think you’ll have a lot
of fun doing this and it won’t ever occur to you that your Tipster
was just too lazy to do this himself.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. This just in from the Plain Dealer jury:

    "The reason Tony Isabella didn't make the list is because he's an idiot!"

    Paul Newman was also in Road to Perdition and, as I now recall, he was brilliant in it.

    Thanks to my Facebook friend Lou Mazzella for the reminder.

  2. Tom Hanks played Professor Robert Langdon in two adaptations of Dan Brown novels (THE DA VINCI CODE and ANDELS & DEMONS) both of which had a slight fantasy/mystical element to them.

    He's playing Walt Disney in SAVING MR. BANKS, which is about the making of MARY POPPINS.

    He starred in CLOUD ATLAS, some of whose stories were science fiction.

    He starred in the TV series ELECTRIC CITY.

    He starred in THE POLAR EXPRESS.

    He starred in THE GREEN MILE.

    He starred in an episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

    He starred in BIG.

    He starred in SPLASH.

    He starred in the made-for-TV movie MAZES AND MONSTERS.

    He appeared in the horror movie HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE.

    And for two seasons of BOSOM BUDDIES an entire supporting cast of supposedly intelligent people ever realized that he and Peter Scolari weren't actually women. Talk about your fantasy world!

    There is that enough?

  3. Oh and Paul Newman was in the original CARS

  4. Oh and Paul Newman appeared in an episode of the TV series THE JOE PALOOKA STORY and early science fiction anthology TV series TALES OF TOMORROW.

  5. It makes perfect sense that Newman was in CARS.

  6. Hal Holbrook (#6) also played Superman.

    That's right. Superman's Fiftieth Anniversary was a TV comedy special aired in 1988. I forget which network it was on, but I've been told that it was an extra on the Superman II DVD released in 2006. In one segment, Holbrook parodied his own one-man Mark Twain stage show by putting on a Superman costume and doing the same as the Man of Steel. It was one of the two or three bright spots in an embarrassing program.

    And Kaye Ballard (#88) did the voice of Lucy opposite Arthur Siegel's Charlie Brown in a 1962 vinyl LP, Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Peanuts, in which they reenacted many classic Charles Schulz strips.

  7. How can you not mention Lithgow's brilliant Dr. Emilio Lazaro in BUCKAROO BANZAI? Not only a great SF film, but also adapted into comics. he was also the voice of Lord Farquaad in several of the SHREK films.

  8. "That's right. Superman's Fiftieth Anniversary was a TV comedy special aired in 1988. I forget which network it was on"

    ...but now that I think about it, it must have been NBC, because most of the cast was from SNL: Fred Willard, Jan Hooks, Dana Carvey, Franken & Davis...

  9. Tim Conway was in McHales Navy, and Dell published (at least) 3 issues of a McHales comic in 1963.

  10. "Cleveland Heights native Debra Winder (#31) was Wonder Girl in The New Adventures of Wonder Woman."

    All good writers hate typos. So I must say: It's Winger, Tony. Although I wouldn't mind checking out "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman & Winder Girl."