Archive for the ‘1970s’ Category

Obit watch: January 14, 2018.

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Some more from the past couple of days:

Keith Jackson, legendary announcer.

Edgar Ray Killen is burning in Hell.

David Toschi passed away a week ago Saturday. FotB RoadRich mentioned this to me in the middle of the week – he saw it on a low-rent cable channel – but I had a lot of trouble finding a good obit. I couldn’t find the actual obit on SFGate: I was only able to get at an arthive.org version.

Anyway, “David who”? He was a famous San Francisco PD detective. He was one of the lead investigators on the Zodiac killings.

He was removed from the case after revelations that in 1976 he had sent several letters praising his own work to a San Francisco newspaper writer under fake names.
“It was a foolish thing to do,” he acknowledged at the time.

I don’t remember where I picked up this detail (maybe in the archive.org version), but that “newspaper writer” the NYT doesn’t name? Armistead Maupin, who was working as a reporter for the SF Chron at the time.

But that wasn’t the only reason he was semi-famous, at least among us common sewers connoisseurs:

Mr. Toschi was a personality in the police department even before his involvement with the Zodiac case, so much so that Steve McQueen had borrowed from him for the fictional police officer he played in the 1968 movie “Bullitt.”
“They literally were filming in my dad’s office,” Ms. Toschi-Chambers said. “My dad took off his jacket, and Steve McQueen said, ‘What is that?’ And my dad said, ‘That’s my holster.’ And Steve McQueen told the director, ‘I want one of those.’ ”

(I wonder what that holster was: and if it’s out of production, how much do vintage ones go for? There’s a discussion on defensivecarry.com, but I can’t judge how accurate it is.)

Clint Eastwood also drew on Mr. Toschi for his portrayal of the title character in “Dirty Harry,” Don Siegel’s influential 1971 movie about a San Francisco police inspector, Harry Callahan, who hunts a psychopathic killer. Mr. Toschi, though, was bothered by Callahan’s penchant for administering his own brand of justice. He is said to have walked out of a screening of the movie, which was released when the Zodiac investigation was in full swing.

(Damn shame. He missed out. And I still haven’t seen “Zodiac”.)

Edited to add: this might lead to a longer post later, but: there are certainly worse hobbies in the world than engaging in Steve McQueen cosplay. Though I will concede that could get expensive quick, especially if you go full “Bullitt” and start looking for a Mustang.

Obit watch: December 29, 2017.

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Rose Marie.

Originally known as Baby Rose Marie, she is probably best remembered for her “Dick Van Dyke Show” role as Sally Rogers, one of three comedy writers — the others were Rob Petrie (Mr. Van Dyke) and Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) — who worked for the fictional series-within-a-series, “The Alan Brady Show.”

I’m too young to remember the “Dick Van Dyke Show” (and oddly, never caught it in reruns).

Sally was witty, wisecracking and independent-minded, but she was also perpetually on the hunt for a husband; though tough as nails, she was not immune to romantic misadventures. Her main significance, though, was that she worked as a comedy writer, a rarity for women at the time. (One inspiration for the role was said to be Selma Diamond, who had written for Sid Caesar in the 1950s.)

Yeah, that Selma Diamond. I did not know this.

She was also seen frequently — from the first episode, in 1966, to the last, in 1980 — on the original version of “Hollywood Squares,” the game show on which celebrities answered questions (and made jokes) to help contestants score X’s or O’s on a giant tick-tack-toe board. There, with her trademark bow in her hair, she flaunted the persona she had perfected: a feisty, witty, outspoken spinster (although she was actually a widow) who refused to grow old without a fight.

This is where I remember her from. And here’s a neat piece of trivia:

In this first phase of her career, she performed with Rudy Vallee, Benny Goodman and Milton Berle, among many others. She had at least one famous friend outside show business as well: Through her father she met Al Capone, who took an interest in her career, often driving her to and from shows. She referred to him as “Uncle Al” in her memoir and quoted him saying, “If you ever need me for anything, tell your father to call me.”

Obit watch: December 1, 2017.

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Jim Nabors.

Firings and obits: November 22, 2017.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Seems like the story of my life, firings and obits. Anyway:

Ken Norton Jr. out as the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.

I don’t think this is the dumbest thing I’ve read on ESPN, but I do think it is in the top 10.

…if you are a college football player, try to avoid punching one of your assistant coaches in the head twice.
Because that behavior doesn’t just get you benched: it gets you thrown off the team and expelled from the university.

And now, it gets you charged with aggravated assault.

Bob Stitt out as Montana’s head coach.

Obits, mostly for the record: David Cassidy. Della Reese.

Obit watch: regular edition, November 1, 2017.

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Jack Bannon passed away last week.

He was one of those knock-around actors: he had credits on “Love Boat”, “Kojak”, “Mannix”, “Petticoat Junction”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, and lots of other television shows.

But he was best known to me as “Art Donovan” on “Lou Grant”.

Nostalgia is a moron, but I loved that show when I was in high school, and the DVDs are on my Amazon wish list. Memory tells me that there was less eyeball bleeding liberalism in the series than you’d expect from a show starring Ed Asner, but it was a long time ago…

Obit watch: October 25, 2017.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Robert Guillaume.

Man, what a career.

He landed his part in “Soap” in 1977 after a Tony-nominated run as Nathan Detroit in an all-black Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls.”

I’d love to see that. I’m sure it exists…in an archive…somewhere in New York City…

Mr. Guillaume said Benson’s sharp tongue and dignified mien had allowed him to transcend his station while getting laughs. “What made the humor was that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said of the character in an interview for this obituary in 2011. “He wasn’t trying to be mean; he was just trying to be his own man.”

Obit watch: October 2, 2017.

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Monty Hall.

“Let’s Make a Deal” became such a pop-culture phenomenon that it gave birth to a well-known brain-twister in probability, called “the Monty Hall Problem.” This thought experiment involves three doors, two goats and a coveted prize and leads to a counterintuitive solution.

I’m not so sure about the “two goats” thing. But I also think that part of the problem with the “Monty Hall problem” is that people aren’t precise in stating the terms of the problem, and that leads to “counterintuitive solutions” based on what people think the terms are.

See also.

S.I. Newhouse, magazine publisher.

Obit watch: September 11, 2017.

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Don Ohlmeyer, legendary “Monday Night Football” producer, and later NBC executive.

In 1998, Mr. Ohlmeyer feuded with Norm Macdonald, the sardonic comedian and anchor of the “Weekend Update” news segment on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” Mr. Ohlmeyer called Mr. Macdonald increasingly unfunny and ordered Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of the series, to remove him from the segment immediately.

“The Last Tycoon”, Amazon’s series based on the unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Interestingly, a few days ago Amazon also cancelled “Z: The Beginning of Everything”, a series based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. “Z” had actually already been renewed and was apparently in pre-production for the second season when Amazon pulled the plug.

Is there just not a great demand for Scott Fitzgerald any longer? Or were these just not very good series?

Obit watch: September 1, 2017.

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Richard Anderson.

Yes, yes, we all remember him as Oscar Goldman. But he knocked around in a whole bunch of other stuff before “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Bionic Woman”. Every now and then, we’ll be watching something at Lawrence’s and say, “Hey, wait, is that…yes, it’s Oscar Goldman!” (Yes, he was in “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, just like everyone else in Hollywood.) He did guest spots on “Mannix”, “Mission: Impossible”, the good “Hawaii 5-0”, “T.H.E. Cat”, and he was a regular on “Perry Mason”. He was in “Kitten With a Whip”. And Chief Quinn in “Forbidden Planet”.

I hate to reduce the man to one role, no matter how famous it was. But I do think this is one of the great TV show openings of all time.

Obit watch: July 27, 2017.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

June Foray, one of the greatest voice talents ever. (Edited to add 7/28: NYT obit.)

I’ll quote at length the A/V Club obit just to give you some idea of the scope of her work:

…it would probably be easier to list the beloved animated series she didn’t appear on: Her versatile voice showed up in The Flintstones, Peter Pan, Mister Magoo, dozens of Looney Tunes shorts—with director Chuck Jones supposedly once noting that “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray”—The Twilight Zone (where she voiced murderous doll Talky Tina), Woody Woodpecker, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Get Smart, Curious George, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, DuckTales, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures, Gummi Bears, Garfield And Friends, Rugrats, Felix The Cat, Mulan, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and, of course, Rocky And His Friends (and its 2000 film version).

She was 99. What a life.

This isn’t quite an obit, but I want to put it up anyway:

The baby is Angelina Liu. She’s the daughter of Sanny Liu and Officer Wenjian Liu of the NYPD.

Officer Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were ambushed and killed in their patrol car on December 20, 2014. The suspect later committed suicide. The Liu’s had been married for three months: Mrs. Liu asked the doctors to harvest and preserve her husband’s sperm so that she could have his child.

Awful lot of dust in the air, you know? F’ing allergies or something.

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.

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.