As a kid in the 1930s growing up in a tough New York neighborhood, kinetic wiseguy Larry Storch took in the multi-ethnic flavor of his surroundings and started blurting out various accents as a juvenile to provoke laughs and earn attention. Little did he know that this early talent would take him on a six-decade journey as a prime actor and comedian. Larry’s gift as an impressionist paid off early as a teen in vaudeville houses. Following military duty during WWII as a seaman (1942-1946), a happenstance meeting with comedian Phil Harris in Palm Springs led to an opening act gig at Ciro’s for Lucille Ball’s and Desi Arnaz’ show. From there he received his biggest break yet on radio with “The Kraft Music Hall” when he was asked to sub for an ailing Frank Morgan. Larry not only delivered his patented star impersonations, he did a devastating one of Morgan himself that went over famously.
A summer hosting replacement on the TV variety show Cavalcade of Stars (1949) was followed by Larry’s own variety series, The Larry Storch Show (1953). In musical revues from the early 1950s with such showcases as “Red, Hot and Blue” and “Curtain Going Up,” he also became a fixture on the nightclub circuit. He made a leap into legit acting with the musical “You Never Know” (1955) and comedies “The Tender Trap” (1956) and “Who Was that Lady I Saw You With?” (1958), in which he played a hyper Russian spy. In the meantime, a long-lasting friendship with Tony Curtis that formulated during his Navy days paid off in spades. Curtis started finding work for his buddy in his films, beginning with an unbilled bit in the Universal costumer The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951). When Larry’s career was going through a noticeable lull in the early 1960s, Curtis again came to the rescue by giving him top supporting roles in some of his prime cinematic fluff–Who Was That Lady? (1960) (in which he recreated his stage role), 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962), Sex and the Single Girl (1964) and Wild and Wonderful (1964).
TV audiences soon started seeing his manic-looking mug regularly on episodic TV, including The Phil Silvers Show (1955) and Car 54, Where Are You? (1961). Larry’s biggest claim to fame would come via his role as Forrest Tucker’s loyal but not particularly bright sidekick Cpl. Randolph Agarn in the western comedy F Troop (1965). While continuing to make an “impression” in nightclubs, Larry found a lucrative outlet in animation, too, giving vocal life to four decades’ worth of cartoons, including the series Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963), Underdog (1964), The Pink Panther Show (1969) and Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969). He also provided the voice of Koko the Clown in the syndicated cartoon show Out of the Inkwell (1961).
Beginning in the 1980s Storch made a comic resurgence of sorts under the theater lights with a healthy run opposite Jean Stapleton and Marion Ross in “Arsenic and Old Lace” from 1986-1988, and in the musicals “Oklahoma!” (1990) and “Annie Get Your Gun” (2000), the latter as Chief Sitting Bull. He also appeared with his friend Curtis again, this time in a musical stage version of Curtis’ classic film Some Like It Hot (1959). Larry was married to actress Norma Storch from 1961 until her death from cancer in 2003.
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