Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Memoriam 2009 (Part 1)

The loss list is sadly very long this year. And, this list may not be at all complete.

Brittany Murphy- b. 1977, was an American actress and singer. She starred in films such as Clueless, Girl, Interrupted, 8 Mile, Uptown Girls, Sin City, Happy Feet, and Riding in Cars with Boys. She also voiced Luanne Platter on the animated TV series King of the Hill.

Steve McNair- b. 1973. Was the Quarterback that led the Tennessee Titans to a superbowl championship in 2000.

Natasha Richardson- b. 1963, was a gifted English stage and screen actress. She helped raise millions of dollars for AIDS research and awareness. Natasha was married to actor Liam Neeson and was the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave. She died as a result of a skiing accident.

Farrah Fawcet- b. 1947. Actress who starred in Charlie’s Angels and commercials in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Also she appeared in Playboy in 1995, making it the top-selling issue in the 90’s along with her record sells breaking pin-up poster and popular hair style. She became a cultural icon. Despite that status, Farrah shared much of her brave last health battle with the public.
Farrah was also a fine dramatic actor.

Ed McMahon- b. 1923. TV personality and Johnny Carson’s announcer and sidekick on The Tonight Show from 1962-1992. Ed never came to my door with the big Publisher's Clearing House check. sigh.

Billy Mays TV Pitchman for OxiClean and other products. His distinctive beard and loud sales pitches made him a recognized television presence. His voice was always so annoying to me and yet I for some reason miss it?

Fred Travelena- b. 1942, was an American entertainer, specializing in comedy and impersonations. In 2005 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

David Carradine- b. 1936. Best known for his work in the 1970s television series Kung Fu and more recently in the Kill Bill films. He appeared in more than 100 feature films.

Koko Taylor born 1936 was the "Queen of the Blues." No Doubt.

Waymon Tisdale- b. 1964. Professional basketball player with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns and a smooth jazz bass guitarist.

Dom DeLuise- b. 1933 was an American actor, comedian, film director, television producer, chef, and author. Very funny guy especially in Mel Brooks comedies and with Burt Reynolds.

Bea Arthur- b. 1922. Actress, comedian and singer whose career spanned seven
decades. Arthur achieved fame on the 1970’s sitcom Maude, and as Dorothy Zbornak on the 1980’s sitcom The Golden Girls.

Jack Kemp- b. 1935, was an American politician and professional football player. In the 1996 election, he was Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole’s running mate for Vice President.

Marilyn Chambers- b. 1952. An American pornographic actress, exotic dancer, model, actress and vice-presidential candidate. She was best known for her 1972 hardcore film debut Behind the Green Door.

Karl Malden- b. 1912. In a career that spanned more than seven decades, he featured in classic Marlon Brando films such as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and One-Eyed Jacks. He guest stared in many TV dramas and co-starred with Michael Douglas on The Streets of San Francisco.

Oscar Mayer- b. 1914. Grandson of the original Oscar Mayer who founded the meat company bearing his name.

Robert McNamara- b. 1916, was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense. McNamara served as Defense Secretary for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968.

"Gidget"- b. 1994. The famous Taco Bell mascot from the commercials with his (her) famous tagline “Yo quiero taco bell” was used in a number of TV and movie spots including a commercial for Trivial Pursuit and the movie Legally Blonde 2.

Socks the official pet cat of the Clinton’s during their administration in the white house. Was often photographed in parts of the white house and lived 20 years.

John Hughes- b. 1950. An American film director, producer and writer. He scripted some of the most successful films of the 1980s and 1990s, including National Lampoon’s Vacation; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; The Breakfast Club; Sixteen Candles; Pretty in Pink; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Home Alone and its sequel.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver- b. 1921, JFK 's sister and founder of the Special Olympics in 1962.

Walter Cronkite- b. 1916. American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81). During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America”.

Les Paul- b. 1915. He was an American innovator, inventor, musician and songwriter. He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which “made the sound of rock and roll possible”.

Naomi Sims- b. 1948, is widely credited as being the first African American supermodel.

Alaina Reed, played Olivia on Sesame Street and Rose on sitcom 227. Alaina was 63.

Jennifer Jones, glamorous actress and Academy Award winner was 90 years old.

Sadly we must go on to Part two....

In Memoriam 2009 (Part 2)

2009 was a difficult year. Rock guitarists and rock guitarists mothers, munchkins, politicians, movie stars and more. These people are the public history that we all share. When they pass away our loss is great even if we haven't thought of them for a while or are just learning about them. They are our united memories.

Arnold Stang a character actor whose bespectacled, owlish face and nasal urban twang gave him a singular and recognizable persona, whether on radio or television, in the movies or in advertisements, or even in cartoons. He was 91.

Stang was the voice of Top Cat. The coolest cartoon cat ever.

James Gurley- b. 1939. Virtuoso guitarist with famed San Francisco area rock band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. Tell Janis we miss her.

Gale Storm- b. 1922 ,was an American actress and singer, who starred in two popular television programs of the 1950s, My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show. Gale was 87.

Henry Gibson, a veteran character actor who came to fame in the late 1960s as the flower-holding poet on TV's landmark satirical comedy show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. More recently, Gibson played a recurring role as cantankerous Judge Clark Brown on Boston Legal. He was 73. I loved his goofy poems "by Henry Gibson".

Gene Barry who portrayed debonair lawmen on television like Bat Masterson, and Burkes Law but whose career of more than 60 years ranged from song and dance on Broadway to science fiction. He was 90.

James Whitmore- b. 1921 - Leading American character actor James Whitmore specialized in giving tour de force solo performances on stage, screen, and television, notably with his Oscar-nominated solo turn as President Truman in Give 'Em Hell Harry!

Mary Travers, whose ringing, earnest vocals with the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary made songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” enduring anthems of the 1960s protest movement. She was 72.

Altovise Davis was the widow of Rat Pack singer and dancer Sammy Davis Jr. She was trained as an actor and dancer and met the legendary showman in the mid-1960s, when they were both appearing in Broadway musicals, he in the lead of Golden Boy and she in the chorus line of High Spirits.

Ricardo Montalban, the suave leading man who was one of the first Mexican-born actors to make it big in Hollywood and who was best known for his role as Mr. Roarke on TV's Fantasy Island. In the 1970s and '80s, Montalban was also familiar to TV viewers as a commercial spokesman for Chrysler. He was later widely spoofed for his silky allusion to the “soft Corinthian leather” of the Chrysler Cordoba, although no such leather existed. He was 88.

Ola Hudson
Her name and face might not be instantly recognizable to many, but she was a popular costume designer who clothed John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Diana Ross, and David Bowie. Ola had two sons — Saul and Albion Hudson. Albion’s nickname is Ash, and Saul is Slash the rock guitarist.
Ola is the subject of this stunning 1970 print ad for Dewar's White Label. She was 62

Pat Hingle, you gotta know this guy's face. The veteran actor with more than half a century of impressive work in theater, film and television who was perhaps best known to a generation of movie fans as Commissioner James Gordon in the first four Batman films. He was 84.

Soupy Sales- b. 1926, was a comedian, actor, radio-TV personality and host, and jazz aficionado. He was best known for his local and network children's television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales; a series of comedy sketches frequently ending with Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.

Al Martino the singer whose music career spanned 50 years and produced hits like "Volare" and Spanish Eyes" and played Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.

Connie Hines best known for playing Wilbur Post's wife Carol on Mr. Ed. She was 79.

Brenda Joyce 92, played Tarzan's Jane with both Johnny Weismuller and Lex Barker.

Frank Aletter, is a familiar face to anyone who watched the tube in the 1960s and 1970s -- he starred in several situation comedies and made stops on Kojak, MASH, All in the Family, among others. He was 83.

Mickey Carroll 89, and Clarence Swensen 91, two of the last remaining munchkins from The Wizard of Oz.

Mickey Carroll

Clarence Swensen

Clint Ritchie, soap veteran, who played ranch owner Clint Buchanan for 20 years on One Life to Live. He was 70.

Jon Hager- b. 1941, of The Hager Twins made millions laugh on hit syndicated TV show Hee-Haw for nearly two decades. Jon Hager was said to have been ill and depressed since his identical twin, Jim, died May 2008.

Cheryl Holdridge, The 'Mickey Mouse Club' Mouseketeer, (seen in picture below in 1956 and again in 2001), went on to appear as Wally's girlfriend Julie Foster in Leave It to Beaver and had roles on Bewitched and The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was 64.

Cheryl as Wally's girl Julie Foster on Leave It To Beaver.

Steven Gilborn, played Ellen DeGeneres's dad on the hit sitcom, Ellen. His other TV credits are much too long to list, but include stints on The Practice, L.A. Law, ER and Wonder Years. He was 72.

Ron Silver- b. 1946, was a Tony Award winning actor, producer, director and political activist.

Ted Kennedy- b. 1932, was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected in November 1962, he was elected nine times and served for 46 years in the U.S. Senate. Ted Kenndey left a lasting legacy to his family and his country. The "Lion" of the senate is surely missed especially for his negotiation skills.

Patrick Swayze- b. 1952, actor, dancer and singer-songwriter. He was best-known for his roles as romantic leading men in the films Dirty Dancing and Ghost and was named by People magazine as its “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1991. Patrick's last show The Beast was filmed right here in Chicago and he worked it for as long as he could.

Paul Newman, American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and auto racing enthusiast, and husband of Oscar winner Joanne Woodward. Paul is a great loss to the arts and to humanity.

Michael Jackson- The King of Pop died just as he was preparing for a comeback world tour. Michael was 50 years old and the father of three.