HERB RITTS (12/26/02) - Photographer. Mr. Ritts is known for taking photos, often candid, of celebrities for such publications as Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. We're think of setting up a hibachi on Herb's grave and cooking a nice meal. What the heck, everything tastes better when it sits on a Ritts (Man, Andy Griffth must be cringing about that one).
STANLEY ROSENFELD (12/23/02) - World Cup Photographer.
A fella name Stanley took shots
Of gentlemen racing their yachts.
He would always devote
Time to camera and boat....
And to filling up green, grassy plots.
JOE STRUMMER (12/22/02) - Not a good year for punk rockers. Joe Strummer, guitarist for punk/garage rockers The Clash has died. They tried repeatedly to give a him a "little jump from electrical shockers" to no avail.
BRAD DEXTER (12/12/02) - Actor Brad Dexter has died. Dexter appeared in the Magnificent Seven and, no kidding, once saved Frank Sinatra from drowning. Dexter, Coburn..... If we were Bronson, we'd be a bit worried.
ROONE ARLEDGE (12/05/02) - Former ABC TV executive, Roone Arledge has died. Arledge created such institutions as Wide World of Sports, Nightline, and Monday Night Football. Here's a tidbit on Roone, he was notorious for not returning phone calls. Bet that won't be changing!
BILLIE BIRD (11/27/02) - Actress Billie Bird has flown the coop.
GEORGE CHRISTIAN (11/27/02) - Former advisor to Lydon B. Johnson, George Christian has died. Although we couldn't find too much funny about this fella we did find out that he was lured into politics by a guy named Jake Pickle.
JAMES COBURN (11/19/02) - Actor. James Coburn appeared in such greats as In Like Flint, Our Man Flint, and The Magnificent Seven. Better make that six.
JONATHAN HARRIS (11/03/02) - Actor Jonathan Harris has died. You'll likely remeber Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith from the classic, yet campy, science fiction series "Lost in Space." Harris had a blood clot in his heart. Oh dear!
JAM MASTER JAY (10/31/02) - DJ, Jam Master Jay, of Run DMC fame was fatally shot in his studio yesterday. Tougher than leather maybe. Tougher than bullets, definitely not.
RICHARD HARRIS (10/25/02) - Actor. Man, after all this guy did for that four eyed Potter kid, you'd figure the little bastard coulda waved that wand of his and cured the Hodgkin's Disease.
PAUL WELLSTONE (10/25/02) - On October 25, 2002 the Senator from the State of Minnesota's plane dropped outta the sky like a, well, stone.
WALTER ANNENBERG (10/01/02) - Publisher, philanthropist, and former ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Annenberg, has died. We're talking Philadelphia Inquirer. We're talking Seventeen Magazine. We're talking the gosh darn TV Guide folks. Sure the whole ambassador to Great Britan thing is a blemish, but TV Guide darn it!
BOB HAYES (9/18/02) - Athlete. Mr. Hayes was an Olympic sprinter who ended up playing pro football with Dallas. Here's a guy they called "The Bullet" and the "World's Fastest Human." Then, like so many other pro ballers, he gets messed up with drugs and drink. Bob ended up doing some time, during which we're certain his speed helped out at times. The guy died young, 59, of liver problems and prostate cancer. If you thought he could run fast, you shoulda seen how quickly he wasted his potential.
JAMES GREGORY (9/16/02) - Actor. Mr. Gregory played Inspector Luger on Barney Miller. That was back in the days before Hal Linden took his sorry ass so seriously. Anyway, James had a resume a mile long. The fella always played great character parts. Inspector Luger was the greatest and best known of these parts. Anyone know how Wojciehowicz is feeling?
LAWANDA PAGE (9/14/02) - Actress. Ms. Page played Aunt Esther on Sanford and Son. Those were the days when TV was grand. Aunt Esther Damnit! What else can we say.
KIM HUNTER (9/11/02) - Actress. Besides the fact that Ms. Hunter also had an interest in a fella name "Blue Eyes," she was a pretty swell actress. A Street Car Named Desire, The Tender Trap, and, of course, Planet of the Apes proved that. Sadly, a recent heart attack provided Kim with her final escape from the planet of the apes.
JOHNNY UNITAS (9/11/02) - Footbal Hall of Famer. Mr. Unitas had a name like a 1950's television boy adventurer. Besides that, he won three championships with the Colts and broke nearly every passing record in football. Johnny was the first quarterback to throw over 40,000 yards in a career. Heck, the guy was voted the best quarterback of all time. Then he got sacked.
W. CLEMENT STONE (9/3/02) - Rich dude. Mr. Stone is known for turning $100 dollars into an over $2 billion dollar empire. And the guy did it without a single Arkansas real estate deal. W. Clement formed what is known today as AON Corporation from a small $100 insurance company. Mr. Stone was a philanthropist, giving much of his money to a variety of organizations. W. Clement co-authored three books, The Success System that Never Fails, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, and The Other Side of the Mind. We're not sure about the mind, but he's definitely going to be seeing the other side.
LIONEL HAMPTON (8/31/02) - Musician. Mr. Hampton was a Jazz legend. This vibraphobe virtuoso spent over sixty years in the world of Jazz music. He performed with everyone from Benny Goodman to Quincy Jones. Besides the vibraphone, Hampton played drums, sang and played piano. Interestingly, he played using only two fingers, as if they were vibraphone mallets. Hampton performed at the White House for presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Bush. In addition, he'll soon be performing for Kennedy.
ENOS SLAUGHTER (8/12/02) - Baseball Player. Mr. Slaughter was a hall of fame baseball player who batted 0.300 in 19 seasons. The guy played in five World Series and was won four Championships! Mr. Slaughter also played in 10 All Star Games. Plus, he was a clever guy.....Enos his first name (just for you Matt).
CHAIM POTOK (7/23/02) - Author. Mr. Potok penned the novel, The Chosen. Chaim, a Rabbi turned author, struck a chord with many readers by juxtaposing the secular and the spiritual worlds. In the end however, Chaim opted for the spiritual world.
JOAQUIN BALAGUER (7/14/02) - Politician. Mr. Balaguer ruled the Dominican Republic for 22 years. He remained active in Dominican politics many years after his rule ended. Outside his home, where his body was taken after his death, hundreds of Dominicans shouted "Balaguer lives! Balaguer lives." With that in mind, one can't help but wonder why someone hasn't invaded those guys yet.
ROD STEIGER (7/9/02) - Actor. Mr. Steiger was a swell actor. The guy won a well deserved Oscar for In the Heat of the Night and appeared in many more great films. He played his most famous scene with Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront. We always told Rod to spend a little less time on the waterfront or he'd catch pneumonia. Damnit, he just wouldn't listen.
LORE NOTO (7/8/02) - Producer. Mr. Noto produced the longest running musical in history, The Fantastiks. This show about young love, written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, ran an impressive 42 years. The show shut down in January of 2002. Mr. Noto shut down shortly thereafter.
JOHN FRANKENHEIMER (7/8/02) - Director. Mr. Frankenheimer directed a coupla of classics: The Manchurian Candidate and Birdman of Alcatraz. Of course, he also directed The Challenge and Prophecy. We're guessing the challenge was making consistently good movies. As for the prophecy, it probably had something to do with spinal surgery. John shoulda paid closer attention to that one.
TED WILLIAMS (7/5/02) - Baseball Player. Mr. Williams was a baseball legend. Ted played for the Boston Red Sox, where he earned the nickname "Splendid Splinter." The last player to hit .400, Williams is known as the greatest hitter of all times. Heck, you shoulda seen him hit the floor.
ROSEMARY CLOONEY (6/29/02) - Singer and actress. Ms. Clooney was a hit in the 1950s with songs such as "Come On-A My House" and "Mambo Italiano." Heck, she starred opposite Bing Crosby in White Christmas. Director Mike Nichols once stated that Clooney "sings like Spencer Tracy acts." Interestingly, she is now acting like Spencer Tracy too.
JAY BERWANGER (6/27/02) - Former Footbal Player. Mr. Berwanger won the first Heisman Trophy. Jay was also the first person to be drafted to the NFL. Apparently Jay gave the trophy to his aunt and she used it as a doorstop. Now she has something to use as a doornail too.
JOHN ENTWISTLE (6/27/02) - Musician. Mr. Entwistle played bass for one of the most influential rock acts in history, The Who. Unlike the other members of the group, John was a classically trained musician. Also unlike the other members of the band, John was quite docile while on stage. John died of a massive heart attak at the age of 57. Perhaps he should have gone for a Quadr-uplebypass-aphenia.
ANN LANDERS (6/22/02) - Advice columnist. Ms. Landers, born Esther Lederer, made a career of telling people how to solve their problems. Yup, folks would write her and say things like: "I can't stop eating bon-bons" and Ann would reply with some pithy comment like: "your habit is certain to result in weightier issues, stop with the bon-bons." Although we feel it's appalling that many adults are so pathetic that they can't figure out how to live their lives without the advice of a total stranger, we'll ask Ann one ourselves anyway. Hey Ann, how do you recover from multiple myeloma? Ann? Ann?
JACK BUCK (6/18/02) - Sports broadcaster. Mr. Buck spent almost 50 years in the broadcasting business. Buck was a mainstay in St. Louis baseball. In addition, Jack called a variety of national sports events from bowling to Superbowls. He was known not only for his broadcast style but his gravelly voice. And speaking of gravel Jack.....
ROBERT WHITEHEAD (6/15/02) - Broadway producer. Mr. Whitehead produced some of the greats: Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill. In 1947, his production of Medea proved that serious plays could succeed on the Great White Way. Unfortunately, the only thing Robert is going to be producing now is a rather unpleasant odor.
BILL BLASS (6/12/02) - Fashion designer.
There once was a fella named Blass.
Whose clothes were a symbol of class.
He simply designed
Clothing chic and refined,
But now he's just feeding the grass.
JOHN GOTTI SR. (6/10/02) - Mobster. Some people loved Mr. Gotti, some people hated Mr. Gotti, and many people feared Mr. Gotti. This (good) fella ran the Gambino crime family for many years. He was nicknamed "The Dapper Don" for his swank dress and "The Teflon Don" because many charges brought against him didn't stick. Then he ended up getting busted and doing life. The only thing we've been able to ascertain from this whole thing is why the Godfather always talked so funny. It was the throat cancer.
DEE DEE RAMONE (6/5/02) - A Ramone. Dee Dee was one of the original Ramones, a band that essentially started punk rock in the United States. Say what you will, the Ramones could rock the place. Joey Ramone died a while back of Lymphoma, which was a shame. Dee Dee on the other hand opted to overdose, which is really shameful. Apparently, Dee Dee wanted to prove that he did, in fact, want to be a pinhead.
LEW WASSERMAN (5/31/02) - Hollywood mogul. Mr. Wasserman not only built MCA as a company, he was the first guy to give actors a percentage of the pictures they were in. This changed Hollywood forever. Lew is credited with nurturing a young Steven Spielberg. You say Jaws, we think Wasserman. You say The Sting, we think Wasserman. You say Miami Vice or Columbo and yup, we think Wasserman. But mostly, you say "stroke" and we think Wasserman.
MILDRED WIRT BENSON (5/28/02) - Journalist and Author. Besides working at the Toledo Blade and the Toledo Times, Ms. Benson found time to author over 130 books. Among the most famous were the Nancy Drew mystery series. Nancy made many young girls feel they could break out of the traditional girlhood role and be adventurers. Of course, that Sluggo fella was always there to kick a little ass if Nancy got into trouble.
SAM SNEAD (5/23/02) - Golfer. Mr. Snead was a golf legend. They called him "Slammin' Sam" for his powerful swing. Sam won tournaments across six decades of golfing. Heck, in 1950 he won 11 tournaments alone. In fact, from his start as pro in the late 1930s, Sam won a tournament every year but one for 23 consecutive years. Sam was a real pro, from his first swing to his last stroke.
STEPHEN JAY GOULD (5/20/02) - Biologist/Paleontologist. Mr. Gould wrote a heck of a whole lot on evolution and the science of man. He thought evolution a "a fortuitous cosmic afterthought." He debated creationists. He even appeared in the Ken Burns documentary, Baseball. Among Stephen's works are Ever Since Darwin, The Mismeasure of Man, and The Panda's Thumb. An upcoming work, The Scientists Tumor, has been postponed indefinitely.
DAN DEVINE (5/9/02) - Football Coach. Mr. Devine coached pros. He coached college. He had a "win" record damn close to 75 percent over 22 years in college coaching. He knew running, punting, tackling, and passing. But, his quadruple by-passing game was a little weak.
HUGO BANZER (5/5/02) - Bolivian President. Mr. Banzer was dictator. He reigned from 1971 to 1978. Then (dig this) he ran in numerous democratic elections finally winning one in 1997. Some say he did more for democracy than any other Bolivian leader. Others say he continued the role of a dictator, even after his switch to democracy. Regardless, his award for science fiction literature is coveted by all who write that genre of story.
LISA "LEFT EYE" LOPES (4/26/02) - Singer. Ms. Lopes was one of the three members of the R&B group TLC. The group had hits including Waterfalls and Creep. Both of those tracks were off the groups second album CrazySexyCool. Althouth the group insisted "Left Eye" was the crazy one, we're confident she is now the cool one.
LINDA LOVELACE (4/22/02) - Porn Star and Activist. Ms. Lovelace's real name was Linda Boreman. However in 1972, under the name Lovelace, she did a little porn picture entitled Deep Throat which changed the face of porn. Linda later claimed she was forced by her husband to do the picture (and several people in it). She divorced that fella and became an anti-porn activist. We're not sure if she loved lace or not, but we sure hope she likes satin and wood. (As a side note, we think our Leo Ornstien obituary was prophetic).
THOR HEYERDAHL (4/18/02) - Explorer. Mr. Heyerdahl navagated the pacific in a balsa boat. He wrote about it in the book "Kon-Tiki." The idea was to prove the Polynesian islands could have been settled by early South American people. A movie based on the book won an Oscar. Of course, you probably know him as the god of thunder.
ROBERT URICH (4/16/02) - Actor. Mr. Urich starred in several hit TV series including Vega$, Spenser: For Hire, Soap, and S.W.A.T. In fact, Robert holds the record for starring in the most TV shows. He starred in 15 of them! Ya know life ain't fair! You spend '78 to '81 in Vegas and your number comes in '02 in Thousand Oaks.
BYRON R. WHITE (4/15/02) - Athlete and Supreme Court Justice. Mr. White was one heck of college football player. He went on to play for the Steelers and the Lions. Back in those days, they called Byron "Whizzer." Later Byron worked under the Kennedy admistration and ultimately became a Supreme Court Justice, serving for 31 years. You're named Byron but they call you "Whizzer." Life is cruel.
LAYNE STALEY (4/13/02) - Musician. Mr. Staley was the front man for Seattle grungers Alice in Chains. Staley and the band had quite a few hits in the early '90s. Ya know, back in the Nirvana days. Staley got hooked on drugs and it appears that he overdosed. Jeez, there's a story you don't hear every day. Ya hit a one in million chance by making it in the world of popular music. Ya make some dough doing something you love. Then you blow it all on drugs and end up dead. I suppose we should feel pity rather than the disgust, huh? Did we mention the Alice in Chains hit, "Man in the Box?"
THE QUEEN MOTHER (3/30/02) - Duh! The Queen's mother. Born Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Queen Elizabeth reigned through World War II. She became Queen when Edward VIII abdicated the throne to his younger brother Albert (King George VI), Liz's husband. Elizabeth became the Queen Mother after her daughter's succession to the throne in 1952, upon George VI's death. So, there's a little history lesson for those of you who thought this old broad birthed Freddie Mercury.
BILLY WILDER (3/27/02) - Director. Mr. Wilder directed some of the classics, Stalag 17, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, and Double Indemnity. Heck, he won three Oscars for his picture The Apartment. He wrote, co-directed, and produced that picture. Did we mention he directed Sabrina too. Man, how he was able to work with that dumb-ass teenage witch is beyond us.
MILTON BERLE (3/27/02) - Comedian, Mr. Televison, Actor. What do you say about this guy? Great comic! Fun actor. One of the founders of televsion variety shows. The guy was a classic. Not to mention, they say he had a pretty big johnson. All that being said, we love this guy in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World and we thought his work in The Muppet Movie was pretty swell too. Unfortunately, the Mr. Television is out of service.
DUDLEY MOORE (3/27/02) - Actor, pianist. Mr. Moore acted in numerous motion pictures throughout his career, typically comedy. Dudley is probably best known for his work in the movies Ten with Bo Derek and Arthur with Liza Minelli and Sir John Gielgud. In addition to acting, Moore was an accomplished pianist. Dudley had a rare and incurable brain disorder. That may help expalin the picture Six Weeks.
MAUD FARRIS-LUSE (3/18/02) - Former oldest person in world. Ms. Farris-Luse is famous because the 'ol gal stuck it out for 115 years and 56 days. After a life spanning three centuries, this is the quote they get from her great-granddaughter, "It was her time." No friggin' kidding! It was her time when Jimmy Carter was President.
SPIKE MILLIGAN (2/27/02) - Comedian. Mr. Milligan was the last surviving member of the British comedy group, The Goons. He, along with Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine, and Peter Sellers got their start in radio in the 1950's. Interestingly, Spike was a generally unhappy man fighting major bouts of depression. Must be that whole comedy/tragedy thing. Anyway, Spike's kidneys failed. Let's hope those crazy Brits don't try and make a pie or something.
LAWRENCE TIERNEY (2/26/02) - Actor. Mr. Tierney was a "B-Movie" actor. Kill Or Be Killed and Born to Kill were among his features. Had Lawrence thought ahead he might have been an Olivier. Had he plotted his career, Larry might have been a Cain. Had Lawrence just thought about his future, he might have at least been Tim Allen. But no. Larry's mom and dad clearly did not have a Tierney of vision.
LEO ORNSTEIN (2/24/02) - Composer and pianist. Mr. Ornstein was a piano prodigy at a young age. From there, he studied in Russia and then the U.S. Leo composed many an avante-garde piece, often causing a stir in the music world. In the 1920's he ceased composing and pursued teaching music. This continued until the mid 1950s at which point he went back to composing. Leo finished his last work in 1990 while in his mid 90s. Also, his last name kinda rhymes with "porn queen."
RAYMOND FIRTH (2/22/02) - Social Anthropologist. Mr. Firth is credited with helping form what is termed "economic anthropology." We hear he also loved to flirt with the ladies, have a few drinks, and stay up all night chatting. Not suprising. He was a social anthropologist, wasn't he?
JOHN THAW (2/21/02) - Actor. Mr. Thaw really took off in the acting game in 1975 with his role in the British series The Sweeny. You probably know John's more recent work as Inspector Morse from the PBS Mystery! series. John had been battling throat cancer, so we're guessing John thaw theveral doctorth and thome nurtheth.
CHUCK JONES (2/22/02) - Cartoon Director. Mr. Jones animated some of the best cartoons ever made. We're talking Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Marvin Martian, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, and The Grinch. Chuck is a guy we really, really liked. We can hear Chuck arriving in the hereafter now and saying something along the lines of "This doesn't look like Pismo beach!"
HOWARD K. SMITH (2/15/02) - Newsman. Mr. Smith was a pioneer in broadcast news. From his work with Murrow during World War II through his Anchor days with ABC. Howard moderated the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960. He also appeared, as himself, in the 1975 motion picture Nashville. In 1966 Howard wrote a memoir titled Events Leading Up to My Death. Talk about foresight.
WAYLON JENNINGS (2/13/02) - Musician. Mr. Jennings, a country music star, cut 60 albums and had 16 number 1 hit singles on the country charts. Waylon also narrated The Dukes of Hazard, for which we are truly grateful. Jennings gave up his plane seat, to J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, for the infamous flight Richardson took with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. All things considered, we think Mr. Jennings was pretty lucky, even if he did have to go through life named Waylon.
PRINCESS MARGARET (2/9/02) - Princess. The sister of an aging queen
Was vivacious, flirtatious, and keen.
She sure liked to smoke,
Which gave her a stroke,
And forced her to pastures more green.
ASTRID LINDGREN (1/28/02) - Children's Author. Ms. Lindgren wrote numerous children's books from the 1940s through the 1980s. Her most recognized work is her first, Pippi Longstocking. Astrid had long careers as both a writer and as an editor for children's books. Here's a career highlight we couldn't resist: In 1986 the Swedish Council of America names Astrid "Swede of the Year." That same year, Astrid received the Lego Prize from Denmark. Let's hope the Danes aren't building the casket.
PEGGY LEE (1/21/02) - Singer and composer. Ms. Lee was a popular singer throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Her hits include Why Don't You Do Right?, Big Spender, Where or When, Fever, and The Way You Look Tonight. Peggy's singing style was termed "soft and cool." Although she'll be losing that softness, we're glad to report she'll be remaining quite cool.
CARRIE HAMILTON (1/20/02) - Actress, writer and musician. Ms. Hamilton was the daughter of Carol Burnett. That alone makes one kinda famous to start. Then Carrie goes and does a whole bunch of television including Fame, Murder She Wrote, Thirtysomething, and Beverly Hills 90210. In addition, Ms. Hamilton was a member of the touring group for the play Rent. In 1991 Carrie did a television movie titled A Mother's Justice, which is making us a little suspicious of a certain ear tugging redhead right about now.
TED DEMME (1/13/02) - Director and producer. Mr. Demme is best known as the nephew of director, Jonathan Demme. Of course Ted did quite a few things on his own. He directed Blow. Heck, he produced Yo! MTV Raps. They should put that one his tombstone just so he can't forget it. Ted also won an an Emmy for co-producing the TV movie A Lesson Before Dying. We're guessing the lesson was you shoulda been more like your uncle Tedster.
CYRUS VANCE (1/12/02) - Statesman. Mr. Vance was fighting cancer and Alzheimer's. Cyrus was Secretary of Sate under Jimmy Carter. What'd the peanut man have to say about Mr. Vance? "A champion for peace and human rights, he was a superb statesman, who served me and other presidents well..." Then Carter was heard mumbling something about a bunch of hostages.
DAVE THOMAS (1/08/02) - Fast food guy. After working with Colonel Sanders (really), Thomas broke out and started his own fast food chain named after his daughter. Ya know, the square hamburger joint. No, not the square hamburger joint called White Castle. The square hamburger joint called Wendy's. In the 1980s Dave decided to be his own pitch man. Since that time, he appeared in over 800 commercials for Wendy's. Look, Thomas was no Burger King, Ronald McDonald, or Chuckie Cheese but, as evidenced by recent events, at least the guy was a real person.
AVERY SCHEIBER (1/07/02) - Comedian. Mr. Schreiber, along with his partner Jack Burns, was a standard on 1960's and 1970's television. Burns and Schreiber even had their own show for a bit in 1973. After the duo split, Avery remained popular by appearing in Doritos commercials as characters who were disturbed by the crunching of Doritos. Avery appeared as a chef, sultan, judge, pilot and, in the most recent commercial, a corpse. "That crunching could wake the dead."
ANTONIO TODDE (1/03/02) - Oldest man in world. Mr. Todde was listed by Guinness as the oldest man in the world. Antonio was 112. He was just days away from the 113 mark when he cashed out. Mr. Todde was born and spent his life in Italy where he was a shepherd. We wonder if Antonio ever met Maude Farris-Luse or, more importantly, if he'll be meeting her soon.