Once upon a time, there was a thing called sports, and for those of us that were raised in the Kingdom of Buckeye, football was our favorite form of gladiatorial competition. But alas, sports are no more, and instead, we are forced to find entertainment in other forms.
Today, Saturday, April 11, was to be the Ohio State Buckeyes’ spring football game. So, since there is no OSU football available to watch today, I have put together a list of a dozen things that you can watch from or featuring Ohio State alums.
Now, I must warn you, these selections are random and varied, exemplifying the vast talents found within our glorious kingdom’s borders. Enjoy, or don’t, you’re the one stuck at home, what else do you have to do?
“Inherit the Wind” | Jerome Lawrence Class of 1937
A playwright originally from Cleveland, Jerome Lawrence graduated from Ohio State in nineteen hundred and thirty-seven. Though he was an accomplished playwright, he continued a close relationship with his alma mater, premiering two plays on campus.
Along with his co-writer Elyria-native Robert E. Lee (No, not that one, he wasn’t from Ohio, or alive in the 1900s.) their plays “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” and “Jabberwock” premiered at OSU, the latter actually commissioned by the school.
However, Lawrence’s most enduring work is his dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial, “Inherit the Wind.” The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards in 1956 and the film adaptation, starring Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, and more, was nominated for four Academy Awards in 1961.
Watch “Inherit the Wind” HERE.
“Bye Bye Birdie” | Lee Adams Class of Sometime in the Early 1940s
Sticking with the theatrical legends, Lee Adams was on campus shortly after Lawrence was. A Mansfield native, his career took off when he began collaborating with Charles Strouse. Together, they wrote the musicals “Bye Bye Birdie,” “It’s a Bird...It’s a Plane...It’s Superman,” “Applause,” and more.
Adams won a Tony Award in 1961 for “Birdie” and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989. Along with Strouse, he also co-wrote the theme song for the TV show “All in the Family;” remember when TV shows had theme songs with actual lyrics? Those were the days.
Watch the 1961 film adaptation of “Bye Bye Birdie” starring Dick Van Dyke HERE.
Watch the 1995 TV adaptation of “Bye Bye Birdie” starring Jason Alexander HERE.
Gary LeVox | Class of I Don’t Think He Actually Graduated
Ok, even though it is against my nature, I am going to get away from the theatre artists (you’re welcome) and turn to one of the most successful country music acts of the past two decades. Olentangy High School grad Gary LeVox (originally Gary Vernon Jr.) formed the band Rascal Flatts with his second cousin Tree of Life alum Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney.
They have gone on to sell over 27 million albums and 33.7 million digital downloads over the past two decades, and have the most Billboard 200 number one albums from any group since 2000.
In 2015, LeVox called playing Ohio Stadium during Buckeye Country Superfest “the promised land.”
Watch Rascal Flatts’ “Live from Red Rock” concert:
O.A.R | Classes of the Early 2000s
If country music isn’t your thing, can I interest you in some alternative/jam rock? Back in my day, there was no cooler band at Ohio State than Of a Revolution, and don’t you dare call them “Oar.” In the early aughts, you weren’t cool on campus unless you could sing every word of “Crazy Game of Poker,” intoxicated or otherwise.
Fun story, I sat behind the band’s bass player (or was it drummer) in Poli Sci 101. I know, cool, huh?
Anyway, they were a fixture at the Newport Music Hall and ther various venues around campus and Columbus before hitting it big. And in 2012, they returned to OSU to play a concert on the Oval along with the Ohio State University Marching band.
Four of the five band members (Marc Roberge, Chris Culos, Richard On, and Benj Gershman) went to high school together in Maryland before all coming to Columbus for college, where they met their fifth member, Jerry DePizzo.
Watch O.A.R.’s “Live from MSG” concert:
Richard Lewis | Class of Approximately 1969
True story, you know Ohio State’s sports information director Jerry Emig? He’s the bald guy with the mostly white beard that runs all of the press conferences during football season. By all accounts, he’s one of the nicest guys in the business.
Well, more than 20 years ago, he was forced to resign his position as OSU’s SID after the men’s and women’s basketball media guides listed Richard Lewis as “Actor, Writer, Comedian, Drunk.” in the famous alumni section. Since he was in charge of the department, Emig took the fall. However, he ended up back at Ohio State and things appear to have been smoothed over with Lewis, who still wears his Buckeye love proudly.
Lewis is a legendary comedian who can currently be seen playing a version of himself on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” But, for me, he will always be Prince John from Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”
Ed Sabol | Class of 1938
Had too much non-sports content in the list thus far? That’s fair, so let’s turn our attention to the man who revolutionized how we watch sports, and specifically how we watch football.
Ed Sabol came to Ohio State was a freestyler swimmer, and became an All-American in 1938. Two years before, he had been selected for the United States Olympic team, but declined the invitation, because as a Jewish American, he did not want to compete in Nazi Germany.
After serving in World War II, Sabol had careers as a Broadway actor and a clothing salesman, before he founded Blair Motion Pictures in 1962, landing the contract to film that year’s NFL Championship Game. Two years later, the company changed its name to NFL Films, and is now synonymous with the documentation of America’s favorite sport.
Sabol was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, becoming the oldest member to ever join the hall. His son Steve now runs NFL Films.
Watch Ed Sabol’s episode of “A Football Life”:
Bruce Vilanch | Class of Probably around 1970
And now for something completely different. Depending on your age, you may or may not be familiar with comedian and writer Bruce Vilanch, but if you watched the Academy Awards from 2000 through 2014, you most certainly know his work, as he served as the ceremony’s head writer during those years, working with hosts Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, and Billy Crystal. Vilanch has six Emmy Awards, including two for writing for the Oscars.
Watch Billy Crystal’s opening monologue to the 2004 Academy Awards:
However, in addition to his awards show writing, Villanch has appeared as an actor on stage and screen, as well as a game show panelist.
Watch Vilanch on a 2000 episode of “Hollywood Squares”:
And if that’s not enough, you can watch him perform the song “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from the musical “Hairspray.” He comes in in the red dress at the 2:00 minute mark:
Jack Buck | Class of 1950
Was that one too much for you? Need to get another dose of sports? Ok, I’ve got you. Though he is most associated with the city of St. Louis, the late, great Jack Buck could also be known as “Jack Buckeye.”
Following his Purple Heart winning service in World War II, Buck enrolled at Ohio State. After he graduated in 1950, he began working as a play-by-play announcer almost immediately, and by 1954, he had already worked his way up to being the St. Louis Cardinals’ radio announcer; a job that he would keep for 47 years.
In addition to his work with the Cards, Jack Buck also called 19 Super Bowls and 11 World Series. His calls are amongst the most iconic in sports history, from “I don’t believe what I just saw,” to “We’ll see you tomorrow night.” Perhaps no one has ever done it as well as Jack Buck did. And I dare you to watch the video below and not cry.
Watch a montage of some of the best calls from Jack Buck’s career:
Patricia Heaton | Class of 1980
Chances are, if you’ve watched a television sitcom over the past quarter century, you have enjoyed the acting and comedic stylings of Patricia Heaton. Following a nine year run as the long-suffering wife of sportswriter Ray Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond” (Heaton’s father Chuck was an award-winning sports reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 50 years) she starred in “The Middle” for another nine years, and last fall, her newest show, “Carol’s Second Act,” premiered on CBS.
And if her decades of success on TV wasn’t enough to get you excited about supporting her, the lame-brains at MGoBlog once sarcastically declared her the best Ohio State grad ever following her not embarrassing appearance on the celebrity edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
R.L. Stine | Class of 1965
If you came of age in the 1990s and 2000s, chances are that you are well aware of R.L. Stine’s signature series of spooky books for kids, “Goosebumps.” Despite beginning his career writing joke books, Stine has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling children’s book author of all time, with estimates for the number of books that he’s sold approaching half a billion.
His novels have also been adapted into two films, both starring Jack Black who plays a character named R.L. Stine... it is not based on a true story though.
Watch the “Goosebumps” movie HERE.
Bonnie Milligan | Class of 2006
I’m sorry, I’m going back to the theatre for this one. Over the past few years, Ohio State alum Bonnie Milligan has become one of the most exciting singers and performers in the theatrical community. Nicknamed “Beltin’ Bonnie,” her star-turn as Princess Pamela in the musical “Head Over Heels” received rave reviews, and she has become one of the most talented, funny, and in-demand cabaret performers in New York.
Listen to me chat with Bonnie (and choreographer Spencer Liff) about the Broadway musical “Head Over Heels”:
Watch Bonnie Milligan and Matt Doyle’s ‘90s Medley:
Watch Bonnie Milligan and Laura Osnes’ Princess Medley:
J.K. Simmons | Technically Not an Alum, but Who Cares?
Last, but certainly not least, we have J.K. Simmons. Now, look. J.K. Simmons is technically not an Ohio State alum, he went to the University of Montana (go Grizzlies!). But, unlike many of the other famous Buckeye fans that pursued their degrees elsewhere or not at all (John Legend, Bryce Harper, LeBron James, etc.) Simmons’ father actually taught at OSU, and J.K. only attended Montana, because his dad became the director of the School of Music there when J.K. was entering college.
So, since Simmons remains a die-hard Buckeye fan, I figured that those connections and circumstances were strong enough to he could still count for the purposes of this list (and I just wanted an excuse to share the videos of him and Rich Eisen below).
At this point, if you don’t know who J.K. Simmons is, I don’t know what to tell you. He recurred on “Law & Order” for 13 years, he played J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies and (Spoiler Alert) the post-credits scene in “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” he won an Oscar for “Whiplash,” he’s been the voice of the yellow M&M for two decades, he does those Farmers Insurance commercials (“We are Farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum.”), and he narrated the 2015 Big Ten Network docuseries “Scarlet and Gray Days: Inside Ohio State Training Camp.”
Between him and Legend, there are no bigger Buckeye fans in the world of entertainment.
Watch Simmons in “Whiplash” HERE.
But for me, he will always be Benny Southstreet (in the purple suit on the right) in the 1992 Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls”:
Also, its always good to see Simmons troll Michigan Man Rich Eisen on his own show: