Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: July 25, 2017.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Ralph Regula, former congressman from Ohio.

Mr. Regula represented Canton and northeastern Ohio for 36 years before retiring in 2008. At the time, he was dean of the state’s congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Among his accomplishments: the creation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Throughout his career, Mr. Regula blocked attempts to change the name of Mount McKinley in Alaska to its original Native Alaskan name, Mount Denali, maintaining that it was important to honor President William McKinley, who was from Canton. For years he included a clause in the Interior Department’s appropriations bill barring the change.

You may also remember him from the National First Ladies Library and Historic Site, previously blogged here.

Hello, Dali.

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Headline of the day:

Exhumation of Dali's remains finds his mustache still intact

Obit watch: July 21, 2017.

Friday, July 21st, 2017

If you are outside of the United States, the TVTropes page linked on the sidebar has resources for other countries.

Obit watch: July 20, 2017.

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

I’ve been going back and forth on this one for a few days, and finally decided it was worth noting here.

Jean-Jacques Susini passed away on July 3rd. To borrow the paper of record’s description of him, Mr. Susini was “a fiery leader of a right-wing terrorist group that opposed Algerian independence from France who was twice condemned to death in absentia for plots to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle of France”.

More:

He was arrested and tried for helping to organize the so-called Week of the Barricades, which turned to bloody rioting. He fled to southern France during a court recess and later to Spain, where he joined the Secret Army Organization, an underground band of right-ring military and civilian extremists that used terrorism tactics to fight against Algerian independence.

Independence finally came to Algeria in 1962, but Mr. Susini was nonetheless involved in plotting to kill de Gaulle later that year and again in 1964. Details of the first attempt — in which de Gaulle’s Citroën was raked by machine gun fire outside Paris but he was unharmed — were used by the novelist Frederick Forsyth to open his 1971 thriller, “The Day of the Jackal.” The film adapted from the novel two years later opened the same way, with de Gaulle and his motorcade attacked by gunmen.

I know this is probably a sign of real geekdom, but I’m still fascinated by the struggle over Algerian independence and would love to find a good history. Wolves in the City: The Death of French Algeria sounds interesting, but it’s pricey.

James Byron Haakenson was killed sometime around August 5, 1976, though his death was not announced until yesterday.

Mr. Haakenson was one of John Wayne Gacy’s victims. His body was unidentified until DNA test results came back earlier this week.

There are six Gacy victims that still have not been identified.

Obit watch: July 17, 2017.

Monday, July 17th, 2017

It seems unfair to reduce Martin Landau to one thing. After all, he was great in “Ed Wood”. And he was excellent in a lot of other stuff:

Well, maybe not that.

But by 1981 the good parts had grown hard to find for both Mr. Landau and Ms. Bain; that year, in what he later acknowledged was a low point, they appeared in the TV movie “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”

Well, maybe not that, either. But there’s one thing that stands out for me. Childhood nostalgia or whatever, let’s run that tape again.

I need to find that episode in my stack of “M:I” DVDs, if for no other reason than to figure out what the deal is with the cat. Plus: Darren McGavin!

I really wish I had more to say about George Romero, but I don’t. I’ve seen “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” and was just pretty much “meh” about both of them.

I miss Hognose.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

VA’s foray into Internet of Things faced ‘catastrophic failure’

I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

I’m sorry that I have to blog this, since:

  • It is a genuine tragedy, and I don’t mean to make light of it.
  • There’s no way that I could not blog this, for obvious reasons.

Fox News reports that Rebecca Burger, who has more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, was killed when a defective whipped cream dispenser exploded and hit her in the chest.

Ms. Burger is described as a “popular French fitness model”. Link goes to the Statesman and not to Fox News because the Fox News story has really obnoxious auto-play video.

I guess this is another one of those “tomorrow is guaranteed to nobody” stories. At any moment you could be hit by a bus, gored by a bull, hit by a falling beam, or even killed in a “freak whipped cream accident”.

Be careful out there.

Obit watch: July 20, 2017.

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Bill Dana. Or perhaps I should say “the other Bill Dana”? (Previously.)

In this case, we’re not talking about the legendary NASA test pilot (who passed away in 2014) but the legendary television comedian, perhaps most famous for his portrayal of José Jiménez.

The character became an immediate hit, and over the next decade Mr. Dana invented a variety of preposterous professions for José, including deep-sea diver, wild animal trainer and, most famously, astronaut. He recorded several hit comedy albums as José (often rendered without accents) and appeared as his alternative self on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The Andy Williams Show,” “The Hollywood Palace” and even, in a cameo role, “Batman.” A series of his own, “The Bill Dana Show,” on which he played José as a hotel bellhop, aired on NBC from 1963 to 1965.

By 1970, Mr. Dana had stopped performing as José — he even read the character’s obituary at an event in Los Angeles sponsored by the Congress of Mexican-American Unity — though he insisted that he made that decision not because of mounting anger about the character but because some people were misinterpreting his intentions.
He decided to drop the character, he said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, because of people “who would tell me, ‘Boy I shore love it when you play that dumb Mexican.’’’

After retiring Jose, he continued to work, but more as a writer than performer: among his writing credits was the Sammy Davis Jr. episode of “All In the Family”.

We extend our condolences to Mr. Dana’s family and friends, and to great and good friend of the blog guffaw.

Obit watch: June 17, 2017.

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Helmut Kohl, former German chancellor.

John G. Avildsen, noted film director. Among his credits were “The Karate Kid” and “Rocky”, the movie that shouldn’t have won Best Picture in 1977, but beat out the far superior “Network”.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anita Pallenberg, sometime actress:

In quick succession, she was cast in “Candy” (1968), based on Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s erotic novel, as a sexy nurse; in “Barbarella” (1968), Roger Vadim’s futuristic space fantasy, as a cruel brunette dictator who dresses in black lace and sparkles and calls Jane Fonda’s character “pretty-pretty”; and “Dillinger Is Dead” (1969), as a woman whose husband (Michel Piccoli) is inspired by a newspaper headline to shoot her.

She may, perhaps, have been better known for her relationships with Brian Jones (“who was reported to have physically abused her”) and after him, Keith Richards. (“She lived with Mr. Richards from 1967 through 1980, and had three children with him.”)

In 1977, Mr. Richards was arrested and charged with heroin possession in Toronto, and as a couple the two entered rehab.

Finally, there’s an interesting obit for Marine Corps Capt. Arthur J. Jackson, who passed away at 92 last Sunday.

During WwII, Jackson (at the time a private first class) committed serious acts of badassery during the invasion of Peleliu:

Loaded up with grenades, he charged the pillbox, raking it with automatic fire while discharging white phosphorus grenades and other explosives. He was credited with killing all 35 occupants.
Continuing alone and again at tremendous peril, he repeated the same maneuver at 11 smaller pillboxes that contained another 15 Japanese soldiers.

He received the Medal of Honor for his actions. After the war, he became a commissioned officer in the Army and then in the Marines.

On the night of September 30, 1961, as a company commander at Guantanamo Bay, he discovered a Cuban who worked as a bus driver (“even though he expressed openly pro-Fidel Castro sympathies and was under surveillance by naval intelligence”) in a restricted area of the base. Jackson and his executive officer decided to escort the Cuban, Ruben Lopez, off the base. But the gate they were using was locked: Jackson sent his XO to get something to break the lock with. And while the XO was gone, Jackson claimed that Lopez “lunged at him” so he shot and killed Lopez with his sidearm.

Jackson and some other Marines buried Lopez in a shallow grave on base. Cutting to the chase, the truth eventually came out, and Jackson was allegedly “thrown out” of the Marines.

Capt. Jackson, who said he long felt “ashamed” of his Guantanamo killing, did not speak publicly about the incident until an Idaho Statesman reporter interviewed him in 2013.
He said his key concern was his “understanding” of a treaty between the United States and Cuba that could have resulted in his detention in a notorious Cuban prison.
“I hoped no one would find out,” he told the newspaper. “The world found out.”

Quick followups.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, aka “War Machine”, was sentenced yesterday. (Previously.)

Yeah, he got life.

Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver will be eligible for parole in 36 years, when he will be 71 years old.

ESPN obit for Jimmy Piersall, which I note here for the following reason:

But Piersall also had furious arguments with umpires, broke down sobbing one day when told he wouldn’t play and got into a fistfight with the New York Yankees’ Billy Martin at Fenway Park, followed minutes later by a scuffle with a teammate.

As far as I can tell, there is no Wikipedia entry, or other comprehensive list, for “People Billy Martin Got Into Fistfights With”. This seems like a failing of the Internet, and perhaps one I need to remedy here. But would it be easier to do a list of people Billy Martin didn’t get into a fistfight with?

Obit watch: June 6, 2017.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Peter Sallis, knock-around British actor, has passed away at 96. (Edited to add 6/7: NYT obit.)

He was in a whole bunch of stuff, including a role on “Doctor Who” and voice work in the animated “The Wind in the Willows” TV series. In England, he may have been most famous for his role in the long running TV series, “Last Of the Summer Wine”: he played Norman Clegg from the start of the series in 1973 until it ended in 2010.

In the US, he may be better known as the original voice of Wallace in the Aardman Animations “Wallace & Gromit” films.

Tribute from Nick Park here.

Roger Smith, “Jeff Spencer” on “77 Sunset Strip”. He was also married to Ann-Margret and was her manager for many years. (edited to add: NYT obit.)

There’s a great story (recounted in Joe Bob Briggs’ Profoundly Erotic among other places): after Ann-Margaret fell in Lake Tahoe, Smith “commandeered” (some sources say “stole”) a small private plane and flew from Burbank to Lake Tahoe and back again, in some accounts through a thunderstorm, with his seriously injured wife, so she could get treatment and reconstructive surgery at UCLA instead of in Lake Tahoe. (As you know, Bob, she made a full recovery. My recollection is that the reconstructive surgery that UCLA did was actually cutting edge work for 1972.)

Obit watch: June 5, 2017.

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Jimmy Piersall, noted center fielder for the Boston Red Sox.

Piersall was an outstanding center fielder, a solid hitter and a two-time All-Star, playing in the major leagues for 17 seasons.

However, he was better known for off-field reasons:

The Red Sox demoted Piersall to the minors in June 1952, hoping he could gain control of his emotions, but his antics continued, and he entered a mental hospital in Massachusetts a month later. He remained hospitalized for six weeks, undergoing shock treatment and counseling for a nervous breakdown.

He returned to the Red Sox, and later wrote a book about his illness and recovery, Fear Strikes Out.

“Mr. Piersall’s courageous description of his struggles with manic depression, now called bipolar disorder, helped bring the disease and its treatments out of the shadows,” Dr. Barron H. Lerner, professor of medicine and population health at the New York University Langone Medical Center, wrote in The New York Times in 2015. “It was really a big deal 60 years ago.”

The book was also famously adapted as a movie, with Anthony Perkins playing Mr. Piersall.

“I hated the movie,” Piersall wrote in his 1985 memoir. Perkins, he said, gave a fine performance but looked foolish trying to play baseball. He maintained that the movie included events that had never happened, and that he had never blamed his father for his breakdown.

(The 1985 memoir is The Truth Hurts.)

And hey, I haven’t brought this up in a while!

Piersall later had broadcasting jobs with the Texas Rangers beginning in 1974 (doing color and play-by-play for televised games) and with the Chicago White Sox from 1977 to 1981, and was teamed with Harry Caray. He ultimately was fired after excessive on-air criticism of team management.

Yes, Jimmy Piersall does indeed show up in Mike Shropshire’s Seasons in Hell. As I recall, at one point he threatens to beat the crap out of Shropshire: they later made up when the team was sold and the new owner hired Mr. Piersall as a salesman and doubled his salery.