Today In History (February 2, 1949)

Happy birthday to Brent Spiner, born in Houston on February 2, 1949. While the actor is best known for playing Data in the Star Trek: The Next Generation franchise, he’s appeared in everything from (the highly underrated) Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains to Comedy Bang! Bang! (Meanwhile, he’s done voice work for The Simpsons and Star Wars Rebels, among other animated shows.) He’s also an accomplished stage actor, having appeared in several Broadway shows and earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for his 1998 portrayal of John Adams in 1776.

Since I was always intimidated by the sheer volume of Star Trek projects (feel free to recommend a starting point in the comments), I came to know Brent Spiner through his guest appearances on Night Court when I was growing up. While the Bob Wheeler character (accompanied by Annie O’Donnell as his long-suffering wife, June) only appeared in six episodes, he became an instant favorite in my house:

In 1991, Spiner released Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back, his covers album of 1930s and 1940s pop tunes. In Hollywood Hi-Fi, George Gimarc and Pat Reeder reveal that Spiner’s CD is “quite competently performed, tastefully restrained, well produced, and in no way at all embarrassing…In other words, [Spiner]’s good, but he’s no William Shatner!” Spiner’s version of “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie” features backing vocals by the Sunspots, better known as his Star Trek co-stars LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, and Patrick Stewart:

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