Archive for the ‘1970s’ Category

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.

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: April 24, 2017.

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Erin Moran, for the historical record. I’m not linking to the AV Club obit because it’s ugly and below their usual standards.

Albert Freedman died a few weeks ago, though the NYT didn’t report his death until Saturday.

Mr. Freedman was a television producer in the 1950s. He specialized in televised game shows: the most famous of the shows he produced was “Twenty-One”.

And now you see where I was going with this, don’t you? Yes: Mr. Freedman was the person who recruited Charles Van Doren and fed him answers so he could defeat Herbert Stempel, leading to the “Quiz Show” scandal.

(I kind of knew in the back of my mind that Charles Van Doren was still alive: I remember when that New Yorker essay was published, though I don’t think I read all of it. What I didn’t know until I looked it up: according to Wikipedia, Herbert Stempel is also still alive.)

Kate O’Beirne, National Review writer and editor. Lawrence sent this to me: I’m not a regular NR reader, but their obit makes her sound like someone I’d enjoy having a holiday dinner with if I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Obit watch: April 7, 2017.

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Don Rickles: NYT. LAT. AV Club.

Joe Harris passed away on March 26th, though the NYT didn’t get around to reporting it until a week later. Mr. Harris was a commercial illustrator who is credited with creating the original Trix rabbit. Later on, he joined Total TeleVison, a company that produced Saturday morning cartoons. There he created Underdog.

Yeah, the animation may not have been great, but it did have one of the best cartoon theme songs ever.

Question for the huddled, wretched masses yearning to breathe free: what are some of the other great cartoon theme songs? Off the top of my head, I love the themes for “SuperChicken” and “George of the Jungle” (I have been known to quote the “SuperChicken” theme at work.) Oddly enough, I also have fond memories of the “Hong Kong Phooey” theme (and when are we going to get a live action “Hong Kong Phooey” movie?). Am I just a sucker for good theme songs wrapped around bad animation?

Obit watch: April 6, 2017.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

I’m seeing reports from reliable sources (and CNN) that Don Rickles has passed away, though I’m not seeing anything link-worthy.

If I get a chance, I’ll update later today: otherwise, it may be tomorrow before I’m able to throw up a good round-up.