A nod to comedian and comic actor Art Metrano (1936-2021).
Metrano’s signature bit is better known than either his name or any of his roles. It has woven its way into folk culture. As kids we used to imitate it after seeing it on television…sort of everybody did. It was kind of a hilarious take-down of corny show business culture then still in vogue (the 1970s), not worlds away from the stuff that was on The Gong Show, or was being done by the Unknown Comic, Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman. Humming his own show bizzy soundtrack to the tune of “Fine and Dandy”, Metrano would come out on TV variety shows in a Vegassy tuxedo and do a routine of such minimal impressiveness yet with such cheer and confidence, that you laughed at his cajones in daring to do it front of national audiences. It was the sort of act a toddler might do in the living room, with exactly same sort of exuberance the toddler might bring to it. (Basically it was a breezy “magic trick” where he made his fingers appear, disappear, jump from hand to hand, etc). There’s a version on Youtube, but I won’t link to it. I’ve learned not to link to Youtube clips anymore the hard way. Metrano did this act on The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and many many others. He got lots of positive reinforcement for it.
Metrano’s taking THAT act THAT far would have been impressive enough, but he also racked up a TON of proper acting credits, ranging from bit parts (on shows like Bewitched) to bigger ones. He had a recurring role on The Chicago Teddy Bears (1971), two episodes of Love American Style, five episodes of Ironside, the “Chopper” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1975), a recurring role on Baretta (1975-77), a recurring role on Movin’ On (1975-76), a regular role on the short-lived sitcom Loves Me, Loves Me Not (1977). He played Leonardo Da Vinci in Mel Brooks’ The History of the World, Part One (1981); had a recurring role on Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-83); played “Mauser” in the Police Academy movies (1985-86); and was a third-billed regular role in the short-lived sitcom Tough Cookies (1986). And numerous other credits through 2001. Dozens and dozens, more than I’d ever be able to list here.
My old buddy the Art Star David Jenness whom I used to perform with a lot back in my Surf Reality days wrote me a few month back with some insider scoop on the Art Metrano phenomenon. I now turn you over to him:
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