Happy 84th birthday, Edd "Kookie" Byrnes!

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Riddick
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Happy 84th birthday, Edd "Kookie" Byrnes!

Post by Riddick » 07-30-2017 06:48 PM

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Born Edward Byrne Breitenberger in New York City on July 30, 1933, Edd dropped his last name at age 13 in favor of "Byrnes", based on the name of his maternal grandfather, a New York City fireman.

Edd escaped from home life at the movies and at the gym, where he developed an athletic body. A taxi driver in the late 1940s he was fired for doing push-ups during his break.

After some summer-stock work and a few bit parts on TV, Edd drove to California in 1955, arriving in Los Angeles on the day James Dean died in a car crash. He managed to get a few minor parts in films and then won a role in a new TV series called 77-Sunset-Strip (1958), which premiered in September of 1958. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Smith starred as private eyes but Edd, playing a hip-talking parking-lot attendant named "Kookie", won the most attention.

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Viewers quoted his dialog, ("Baby, you're the ginchiest!"), and young males imitated the way he wielded his ever-present comb. His fan mail soon reached an astonishing 15,000 letters a week and his single with Connie Stevens, "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb", became a top-5 hit.

In 1975, Merv Griffin hired Edd to host a new game-show called Wheel of Fortune (1983). Two half-hour pilots were filmed. NBC bought the show but didn't want Byrnes as host. Griffin replaced him with Chuck Woolery (who was later replaced with Pat Sajak).

In 2005 he was ranked #5 in TV Guide's list of "TV's 25 Greatest Teen Idols". FULL BIO

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VIDEO: Byrnes & Stevens "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb"
Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show - April 04, 1959

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