If I could read and write, I'd probably have an easier time with crossword puzzles. I don't know what it is lately, but I've had a problem with both...more about that after the theme.
Richard Silvestri's puzzle really wasn't very Thursday-ish. I had two problem areas...both caused by operator error. Otherwise, I might have almost breezed through this one.
The theme is revealed at 38D: Sign...or a description of the answers to the six starred cues? (omen).
And the six O-men are:
17A: *Five-time Wimbledon winner (Björn Borg)...the best-looking one of the bunch. This was my writing error. While saying it correctly in my head, I wrote Bjorg Born...making for a bit of a mess in that area.
24A: *"Numb3rs" star (Rob Morrow). I've never seen it...or even heard of it...but he's actually not bad looking.
51A: *Harpers Ferry raider (John Brown).
64A: *"Newhart" actor (Tom Poston).
3D: *Famed restaurateur (Toots Shor). Here he is with Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe...some time in the fifties.
36D: *Co-star of "The Andy Griffith Show" (Don Knotts). Did anyone else have Ron Howard at first? He's another O-man.
Favorite clues in this one include 22A: Start court proceedings? (serve), 30A: Fire proof? (ash), 31A: "Son of" story (sequel), 47A: Howard in shorts (Moe)...two days in a row, 69A: Catfish Row denizen (Bess), 4D: Perfect pitch (strike), 10D: Vesta, Pallas or Hygiea (asteroid)...a good guess with only two letters in place, 27D: Orly : Paris :: Gardermoen : __ (Oslo), 40D: Athletes on horses (gymnasts)...clever, and 56D: Yclept (named)...that's a new one for me.
My reading problem was at 68A: Classic spy plane. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how UTWO could be correct. I checked and rechecked every answer in that corner until it finally registered...U2. Is it time to turn in my Pentel?
A few more noteworthy answers before I wrap it up. 1A: Lively group? (arts), 5A: Volkswagen route (Bahn), 41A: "The Last Supper," e.g. (mural), 44A: Be deceitful (palter), 57A: 252-gallon unit (tun)...who knew?, 63A: Parsonage (manse)...I'm sure we've had it before, but I needed crosses to get it tonight, 2D: Red, as a Spanish wine (roja), 7D: Silent film star (Harpo), and 28D: " __ paratus" (motto of the U.S. Coast Guard) (Semper)...I think that's Latin for "Always Keep the Boat Afloat." Not really...it's Always Ready.
Skating queen Sonja Henie appears at 53D: "Sun Valley Serenade" star, 1941. Way before my time, but I remember hearing about her when I was a kid. She won her first gold medal at the age of fifteen. You can read more about her here.
That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.