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'Letterman,' 'Fallon': Talk-show osmosis and Shields and Yarnell

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Earlier this week, Nathan Lane guested on David Letterman, and among many pop-culture references, he made a few jokes about Shields and Yarnell. Last night on Jimmy Fallon, the excellent announcer Steve Higgins made a joke about Shields and Yarnell.

Why the sudden late-night pop-up references to a mime duo famous from the 1970s? Don’t know. (I’d wager that Higgins just happened to watch Letterman when Lane was on.) Who are Shields and Yarnell? Do know: They were a husband-and-wife team, Robert Shields and Lorene Yarnell. They appeared on tons of variety shows, from The Tonight Show to The Muppet Show. They had their own show on CBS in 1977-78. Here’s an example of their work:

No one has done a better robot than Shields, whom Marcel Marceau once called the greatest mime in America. (Insert your own mime joke here.)

OK, Jay Leno: time for you to make a Shields and Yarnell reference.

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