Sunday, February 26, 2017


The 89th Annual Academy Awards Ceremonies falls on Sunday, February 26th, this year.  Who will win that coveted statuette?  Who will be taking home an Oscar®?

There are many people in the movie industry who are considered legends, those who were nominated and deserved the Academy Award but never received that elusive prize.  Some of the names will even strike you as What? That can't be true. He/She must have won at least once.

So, in no particular order, here is a cross-section of very deserving movie legends who were often nominated but missed out on the grand prize of the movie industry's top award.

1)  Alfred Hitchcock
With a string of directorial masterpieces to his credit, he never won one of the prized statuettes for directing.  However, in 1968 he was presented an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work.

2)  Cary Grant
He made it look easy which sometimes prevented people from realizing just how good he was—adept at drama and light comedy (and even slapstick, after all he started his career as a vaudeville acrobat in England which certainly equipped him with the dexterity and coordination to do physical comedy).  Considered by many to be the epitome of the romantic leading man.  However, in 1970 he was presented an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work.

3)  Peter O'Toole
He holds the record for the most Best Actor nominations (8) without a win with his most famous role probably Lawrence of Arabia.  My personal favorite of Peter O'Toole's films is My Favorite Year, one of his few comedy films.  However, in 2003 he was presented an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work.

4)  Deborah Kerr
With many outstanding roles, certainly From Here To Eternity and also The King And I, she was nominated six times but no wins.  However, in 1994 she was presented an honorary Oscar® for her lifetime body of work.

5)  Richard Burton
Many outstanding performances including an exceptional one in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe. Six nominations, five of them for Best Actor, but no wins.

6)  Albert Finney
The British actor is probably best known for Tom Jones, one of his earlier films.  He's garnered five nominations but no wins.  My favorite Albert Finney film is Murder On The Orient Express, show casing his marvelous portrayal of Hercule Poirot (with an incredible cast including several Oscar® winners and nominees, among them multiple Oscar® winner Ingrid Bergman who won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress in Murder On The Orient Express).

7)  Angela Lansbury
Today she's best known for her award winning role of Jessica Fletcher, the retired school teacher turned mystery novelist and amateur sleuth in the long running television series Murder, She Wrote.  In addition to television, she has an impressive award winning string of Broadway performances.  But oddly enough, even though she started her career in films and received three Oscar® nominations, it's the acting award that has remained elusive.  One of her Oscar® nominations was for a riveting performance in the original film version of The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey (she played Laurence Harvey's mother even though they were only a few months apart in age).

8)  Fred Astaire
Although best known for a stellar career in a long string of very successful musicals (many with his long time partner, Ginger Rogers), his one and only nomination came for a dramatic role in Towering Inferno.

9)  Charlie Chaplin
He is one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood.  Even though he never won for either acting or directing, I wasn't sure whether to add him to this list of never won an Oscar® because he did win one for Best Original Musical Score in 1952 for Limelight.  However, in 1972 he was presented with an honorary Oscar® for his lifetime body of work and received the longest standing ovation in Academy Awards history (over twelve minutes).

There are, of course, many more nominated actors/actresses/directors who deserve but haven't yet had their name engraved on an Oscar®.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The History of Mardi Gras and the Tradition Of Flashing

 This year Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.  In the Catholic Church, it's Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday.  The date for Mardi Gras depends on the date of Easter—always occurring forty-six days before Easter.

In the most literal sense, the Mardi Gras celebration is the three days prior to the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.  It's the last opportunity for partying and indulgence in food and drink.  In practice, Mardi Gras…or Carnival, as it is called in many countries…is usually celebrated for a full week before the start of Lent.

Celebrations take place all over the world with the most famous modern day festivities being in New Orleans, Louisiana; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Nice, France; and Cologne, Germany.

Even though Mardi Gras is a Christian festival, it dates back to the pre-Christian spring fertility rites and embodies many of the traditions of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  In the early Middle Ages, after converting pagan tribes to Christianity, the Catholic Church was still unable to abolish all the ancient traditions.  To combat this, the Church ended up taking many ancient feasts and festivals originally celebrated in honor of pagan gods and adapted them to Christian beliefs.  An example of the pagan roots: today revelers on parade floats still dress as Bacchus, the Greek god of wine.

The first Mardi Gras celebration in the United States was near modern day New Orleans on March 3, 1699, but it was the mid 1800s before parade organizations, known as krewes, came into being.  The first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans on February 24, 1854, by the Krewe of Comus.  They began the tradition of a parade with floats followed by a ball for the krewe and their guests.  The official colors of Mardi Gras were chosen by Rex, King of Carnival, in 1892 and given their meaning—purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

But what about that popular activity that has become a seemingly integral part of the New Orleans Mardi Gras, much to the chagrin of the festival purists?  Women pulling up their shirts and flashing their bare breasts to procure some worthless plastic beads?

Exactly where did this tradition come from?

Well, first of all, it's not really a tradition.  It's more along the lines of what has become a traditional activity in the same vein as getting stupid drunk and passing out now seems to fall into that same 'traditional' category.  Over the years more and more media attention has been directed toward the drunken revelry that occurs on Bourbon Street which has helped in defining flashing as a traditional part of the Mardi Gras celebration.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point-of-view, flashing in exchange for beads is mostly limited to the New Orleans' French Quarter.  And even in the French Quarter, it's an illegal activity.  Women flashing their bare breasts run the risk of being arrested.

Maybe flashing is not a true tradition, but you can't deny that it has become a custom.  After all, the history of wild Mardi Gras behavior comes from celebrating the last day before Lent—Lent being a time of atonement.  And this naturally lends itself to activities of excess and craziness.

Which apparently has come to include flashing.
But there is one crazy excess even more daring than the momentary baring of the female breasts known as flashing.  And what, you may ask, could possibly be crazier than flashing and still be done in public?  And the answer is having clothes painted on your bare skin.  There are artists who specialize in this.  It probably started as something simple and basic like face painting, but has grown to include full body artistic renderings.  At a casual glance, it appears that the person is clothed (albeit skin tight clothing).  But on closer inspection, you discover that's far from the truth.  Some of these examples shown above are basic and others are quite elaborate.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

History's Romantics

Valentine's Day is the 14th and then it's gone for another year. Fortunately, romance never goes away.  I came across a list referred to as History's Romantics and, in honor of the day of romance I'd like to share it with you. I don't recall where this list came from, but I'm sure you can think of several truly romantic people (and certainly many romantic couples) not on this list.

I do have to take exception to some of these choices being considered truly romantic.  But I leave that decision to you. Keep in mind that the list refers to real people, not fictional characters—Romeo and Juliet (even though based on real people, according to some) don't count. :)

Much uncertainty surrounds the life story of the celebrated Greek lyric poet Sappho, a woman Plato called the tenth Muse.  Born around 610 B.C. on the island of Lesbos, now part of Greece, she was said to have been married to Cercylas, a wealthy man.  Many legends have long existed about Sappho's life, including a prevalent one—now believed to be untrue—that she leaped into the sea to her death because of her unrequited love for a younger man.  

Vatsyayana, author of the Kama Sutra
This ascetic, probably celibate scholar who lived in classical India around the 5th century A.D. is an unlikely candidate to have written history's best known book on erotic love.  Little is known about his life, but in his famous book—actually a collection of notes on hundreds of years of spiritual wisdom passed down by the ancient sages—he wrote that he intended the Kama Sutra as the ultimate love manual and a tribute to Kama, the Indian god of love.  Though it has become famous for its sections on sexual instruction, the book actually deals much more with the pursuit of fulfilling relationships, and provided a blueprint for courtship and marriage in upper-class Indian society at the time.  The Kama Sutra has been translated into hundreds of languages and has won millions of devotees around the world.

Shah Jahan
Emperor of India from 1628 to 1658, Shah Jahan has gone down in history for commissioning one of history's most spectacular buildings, the Taj Mahal, in honor of his much beloved wife.  Born Prince Khurram, the fifth son of the Emperor Jahangir of India, he became his father's favored son after leading several successful military campaigns to consolidate his family's empire.  As a special honor, Jahangir gave him the title of Shah Jahan, or King of the World.  After his father's death in 1627, Shah Jahan won power after a struggle with his brothers, crowning himself emperor at Agra in 1628.  At his side was Mumtaz Mahal, or Chosen One of the Palace, Shah Jahan's wife since 1612 and the favorite of his three queens.  In 1631, Mumtaz died after giving birth to the couple's 14th child. Legend has it that with her dying breaths, she asked her husband to promise to build the world's most beautiful mausoleum for her.  Six months after her death, the deeply grieving emperor ordered construction to begin. 

Giacomo Casanova
The name Casanova has long since come to conjure up the romantic(?) image of the prototypical libertine and seducer, thanks to the success of Giacomo Casanova's posthumously published 12-volume autobiography, Histoire de ma vie, which chronicled with vivid detail—as well as some exaggeration—his many sexual and romantic exploits in 18th-century Europe.  Born in Venice in 1725 to actor parents, Casanova was expelled from a seminary for scandalous conduct.  He embarked on a varied career including a stint working for a cardinal in Rome, a violinist, and a magician, while traveling all around the continent. Casanova's celebration of pleasure seeking and much-professed love of women—he maintained that a woman's conversation was at least as captivating as her body—made him the leading champion of a movement towards sexual freedom, and the model for the famous Don Juan of literature.  After working as a diplomat in Berlin, Russia, and Poland and a spy for the Venetian inquisitors, Casanova spent the final years of his life working on his autobiography in the library of a Bohemian count.  He died in 1798.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The only child of the famous feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the philosopher and novelist William Godwin, both influential voices in Romantic-Era England, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin fell in love with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was only 16.  He was 21 and unhappily married.  In the summer of 1816, the couple was living with Shelley's friend and fellow poet, the dashing and scandalous Lord Byron, in Byron's villa in Switzerland when Mary came up with the idea for what would become her masterpiece—and one of the most famous novels in history—Frankenstein (1818).  After Shelley's wife committed suicide, he and Mary were married, but public hostility to the match forced them to move to Italy.  When Mary was only 24, Percy Shelley was caught in a storm while at sea and drowned, leaving her alone with a two-year-old son (three previous children had died young).  Alongside her husband, Byron, and John Keats, Mary was one of the principal members of the second generation of Romanticism; unlike the three poets, who all died during the 1820s, she lived long enough to see the dawn of a new era, the Victorian Age.  Still somewhat of a social outcast for her liaison with Shelley, she worked as a writer to support her father and son, and maintained connections to the artistic, literary and political circles of London until her death in 1851.

Richard Wagner
One of history's most revered composers, Richard Wagner set his work on the famous Ring cycle aside in 1858 to work on his most romantic opera, Tristan and Isolde.  He was inspired to do so partially because of his thwarted passion for Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of a wealthy silk merchant and patron of Wagner's.  While at work on the opera, the unhappily married Wagner met Cosima von Bulow, daughter of the celebrated pianist and composer Franz Liszt and wife of Hans von Bulow, one of Liszt's disciples.  They later became lovers, and their relationship was an open secret in the music world for several years.  Wagner's wife died in 1866, but Cosima was still married and the mother of two children with von Bulow, who knew of the relationship and worshiped Wagner's music (he even conducted the premiere of Tristan and Isolde).  After having two daughters, Isolde and Eva, by Wagner, Cosima finally left her husband; she and Wagner married and settled into an idyllic villa in Switzerland, near Lucerne.  On Cosima's 33rd birthday, Christmas Day 1870, Wagner brought an orchestra in to play a symphony he had written for her, named the Triebschen Idyll after their villa.  Though the music was later renamed the Siegfried Idyll after the couple's son, the supremely romantic gesture was a powerful symbol of the strength of Wagner and Cosima's marriage, which lasted until the composer's death in 1883.

King Edward VIII
Edward, then Prince of Wales, was introduced to Wallis Simpson in 1931, when she was married to her second husband; they soon began a relationship that would rock Britain's most prominent institutions—Parliament, the monarchy and the Church of England—to their cores. Edward called Simpson, whom others criticized as a financially unstable social climber, the perfect woman.  Just months after being crowned king in January 1936, after the death of his father, George V, Edward proposed to Simpson, precipitating a huge scandal and prompting Britain's prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, to say he would resign if the marriage went ahead.  Not wanting to push his country into an electoral crisis, but unwilling to give Simpson up, Edward made the decision to abdicate the throne.  In a public radio address, he told the world of his love for Simpson, saying that "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." They were married and given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Edith Piaf
Though her life was marked by sickness, tragedy and other hardships from beginning to end, the famous French chanteuse with the throaty voice became the epitome of classic Parisian-style romance for her legions of fans.  Born Edith Giovanna Gassion in 1915, she was abandoned by her mother and reared by her grandmother; while traveling with her father, a circus acrobat, she began singing for pennies on the street.  Discovered by a cabaret promoter who renamed her Piaf, Edith enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom and by 1935 was singing in the grandest concert halls in Paris.  Piaf was married twice, but her great love was the boxer Marcel Cerdan, a world middleweight champion who was killed in a plane crash en route from Europe to New York in 1949.  It was for Cerdan that Piaf sang the achingly romantic Hymne a l'amour, celebrated all over the world as one of her best loved ballads. 

Kathleen Woodiwiss
Born in 1939 in Alexandria, Louisiana, Kathleen Woodiwiss was a young wife and mother when she began writing romantic fiction as a response to her dissatisfaction with the existing women's fiction of the time.  In 1972, she published her first novel, The Flame and the Flower, set on a Southern plantation in the late 18th century.  Its historical setting and theme, florid prose style, and steamy sex scenes inspired a legion of imitators and its smashing commercial success sparked a new boom in romance fiction.  Woodiwiss was given credit for inventing the modern romance novel. In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, Woodiwiss firmly denied the characterization of her books as erotic, maintaining that she wrote only "love stories—with a little spice."  By the time of her death in 2006, Woodiwiss's spicy love stories had sold more than 36 million copies in 13 countries.

Elizabeth Taylor
An actress since early childhood, the dark haired, violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor has won two Best Actress Oscars (for Butterfield 8 in 1960 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966) but is perhaps best known for her rare beauty—and her epic love life.  She has been married a total of eight times—twice to the same man, the actor Richard Burton, whom she has called "one of the two great loves of my life."  The first 'great love of her life' (but not her first husband) was the film producer Mike Todd, who died in a plane crash in 1958.  Taylor and Burton met on the set of Cleopatra, when both were married to other people; their affair soon made headlines around the world and earned a public rebuke from no lesser authority than the Vatican.  After divorcing in 1973, they found it impossible to stay apart and remarried in 1975, only to break up four months later.  Barred from Burton's funeral in 1984 by his last wife, Taylor still received legions of condolences, honoring her and Burton's place in the history of celebrated love stories.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The World's Most Romantic Islands

The Maldives
In honor of upcoming Valentine's Day, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a list of the world's seven most romantic islands, travel destinations that offer more than just beautiful beaches.

Behind the outer wrapping of a tropical paradise with beautiful beaches you will find an interesting and varied landscape. On the way to the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater you pass through vegetation that includes cactus—something not usually associated with a tropical island. There are vast stretches of sugar cane fields, a 1900s cowboy town, and a rain forest with an almost primeval feel to it.

An archipelago in the Indian Ocean with white sand beaches, atolls, and secluded resorts.  This is the world's lowest elevation nation (overall elevation of high and low averaged). You will find a hotel with a coral nursery and an underwater nightclub. And how about a restaurant reachable only by boat?

This five mile long island was once a haven for backpackers with only the most basic accommodations.  Today it rivals many of the well-known Asian destinations.  Boracay starts with a forty-five minute flight from Manila followed by a boat connection to the final destination of White Beach with powdery sand that just might be the softest in the world.

This is the oldest of Hawaii's eight main islands and has the most dramatic scenery from wind sculpted mountains, red-walled canyons (Waimea Canyon is referred to as Hawaii's Grand Canyon), primeval rain forest, and a wide range of waterfalls. Kauai has also been the location for several movies including The Descendants, Avatar, Body Heat, and I think also South Pacific.

Every place you look gives you a postcard perfect view.  White washed buildings, colorful flowers, blue-domed churches all clinging to the hillsides of an ancient volcanic crater.  In addition to the spectacular scenery, Santorini offers a wide variety of diversions—fine wines, black and red and white sand beaches, archaeological sites including one referred to as the Minoan Pompeii.

This four-square mile dot in the Tyrrhenian Sea embodies la dolce vita.  There is a funicular railway to take visitors from the main port to the street of Capri town with its boutiques, restaurants, and romantic getaways.

What could be more romantic than staying in a bungalow above the waters of a turquoise lagoon?  At the heart of Bora-Bora is the jagged peak of Mount Otemanu and on its fringes are islets and a coral reef perfect for snorkeling to observe the varied and colorful marine life.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

10 Jobs That No Longer Exist

This is certainly far removed from a complete list of obsolete jobs, but it's an interesting cross-section. Some of these jobs were prominent centuries ago and have been gone for a long time, some are much more recent. One or two of them may have existed in your lifetime. But either way, they are jobs that no longer exist.

Pre-Radar Listener
World War II (and World War I)…during times of war in the days before radar, listeners were people assigned to detect enemy aircraft. They did this by using acoustic mirrors and listening devices to detect the sounds of engines. (above picture)

We've all seen photographs from back in the day showing the photographer taking a picture, whether a portrait in a studio or Matthew Brady engaged in his landmark history changing photographs from the Civil War. Prior to modern cameras and selfies, daguerreotypes were one of the earliest forms of photography. These images were made by daguerreotypists, who treated a silver-coated copper plate with light-sensitive chemicals. After exposing it in a camera and developing it with mercury, a detailed image appeared.

Ice Cutter
Back when today's electric refrigerators were referred to as ice boxes, there was a reason for it.  Highly insulated 'boxes' held a large block of ice and kept food cold (until the ice melted).  The ice man delivered the large blocks of ice door to door.  These blocks were provided by people known as ice cutters who would literally cut the huge blocks from frozen lakes. And in the summer? Mostly it was 'tough luck.'

Before you become shocked or start laughing, that's not what I'm talking about here. The knocker-up was literally a human alarm clock. A knocker-up would visit your house to make sure you got to work on time. They used a long, light stick to hit their client's doors or windows to wake them.

Rat Catcher
From several centuries ago to even just a couple of centuries ago, cities (both residential neighborhoods and industrial areas) were plagued by disease-carrying rodents. Rat catchers were the people employed to remove the vermin off the streets.

Back in the day when street lights were gas, before the days of electric lamps, lamplighters would use long poles to light, extinguish and refuel street lamps to illuminate the night streets.

Before refrigerators existed, and even in the day of the ice box, it was hard to keep milk from going bad, especially in summer. The milkman made regular neighborhood deliveries. With the advent of home refrigeration and the convenience of modern supermarkets, the need for the milkman disappeared.

Switchboard Operator
At one time switchboard operators were a key part of a telephone network’s operation. Initially, anyone wanting to make even a local call needed the operator to put it through. After local dial was the norm, the operator was still required for long distance. And in businesses where numerous employees were all connected to the same company phone number, the switchboard operator was needed to direct incoming calls. But now, with billions of phone calls made every day, the job of switchboard operator would be virtually impossible.

Before you wrinkle your forehead into a frown and formulate an immediate objection to the concept of computer belonging on a 'no longer exists' list, I'm not talking about the hardware/software combination that is vital to today's society. I'm talking about a person rather than a machine. Computer was an actual job title. Before computers (the machine) became commercially available, these computers (the human workers—commonly women) performed mathematical calculations, converting and crunching numbers by hand. These 'computers' were invaluable during World War II calculating firing logistics for the artillery units at the front.

Also known as 'body snatchers' as well as grave robbers. Resurrectionists were hired to dig newly buried, fresh corpses from graveyards and sell them to universities to be used as cadavers for medical research and instruction.

And as is obvious, many of today's jobs will be obsolete at some point in time. Some of them not that far away.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Those We Lost In 2016—Part 2 of 2

John Glenn
Welcome back to part 2 of this 2-part blog.  Last week I showed a cross section of those who died January through July.  Here in part 2, I'm covering August through December.

David Huddleston, 85 years old, died August 2:  character actor probably best known for his roles in The Big Lebowski and Santa Claus: The Movie.

Pete Fountain, 86 years old, died August 6:  world renowned clarinetist famous for his New Orleans Dixieland jazz.

Kenny Baker, 81 years old, died August 13:  played the lovable R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, achieving cult status without showing his face or speaking any lines.

John McLaughlin, 89 years old, died August 16:  conservative commentator and head of the long running television about Washington politics.

Steven Hill, 94 years old, died August 23:  character actor who achieved his greatest success late in life as District Attorney Adam Schiff on the long running television series Law & Order. I remember him from the very first season of the Mission Impossible television series then Peter Graves took over as head of the Impossible Mission's Force at the start of season 2 for the rest of the series run.

Gene Wilder, 83 years old, died August 28:  the actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such marvelous zany films as Mel Brooks' The Producers and also Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein as well as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He was married to Gilda Radnor of Saturday Night Live until her death from cancer.

Jon Polito, 65 years old, died September 1:  his 200+ credits range from television series Homicide: Life on the Street and Modern Family to films Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski.

Phyllis Schlaffly, 92 years old, died September 5:  outspoken conservative activist who worked to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

Lady Chablis, 59 years old, died September 8:  transgender performer who became an unlikely celebrity after being included in the 1994 best-seller Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil.

Edward Albee, 88 years old, died September 16:  three time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright who gave us such masterworks as Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance.

W.P. Kinsella, 81 years old, died September 16:  Canadian novelist who gave us Field Of Dreams.

Arnold Palmer, 87 years old, died September 25:  the golfing great who brought what had basically been a country club sport to the masses.

Shimon Peres, 93 years old, died September 28:  former Israeli president and prime minister celebrated around the world as a Nobel prize-winning visionary.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88 years old, died October 13:  the world's longest reigning monarch who was revered in Thailand as an anchor of stability through decades of upheaval at home and abroad. When I read 'longest reigning monarch' my first thought was that honor belonged to Elizabeth II of England. So, I had to look it up…the king reigned for 70 years, 126 days. Elizabeth has been on the throne since February 6, 1952 which is 65 years next month.

Janet Reno, 78 years old, died November 7:  the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General.

Robert Vaughn, 83 years old, died November 11:  Oscar nominated actor with many film roles but was most famous for the television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Leon Russell, 74 years old, died November 13:  singer-songwriter who found his own rock'n'roll spotlight in the 1970s after playing anonymously on dozens of pop hits as an in-demand studio pianist.

Florence Henderson, 82 years old, died November 24:  Broadway star who was most famous for The Brady Bunch television series.

Fidel Castro, 90 years old, died November 25:  revolutionary who was Cuba's dictator for 5 decades.

Ron Glass, 71 years old, died November 25:  Emmy nominated for his portrayal of Detective Ron Harris, another of the Barney Miller cast who died in 2016. He also appeared in the sci-fi cult series Firefly as preacher Derrial Brook.

Grant Tinker, 90 years old, died November 28:  former NBC television network chairman who brought such shows as Hill Street Blues to the network. Also co-founded MTM Enterprises with then wife Mary Tyler Moore.

John Glenn, 95 years old, died December 8:  first American to orbit the earth in 1962 followed by a long career as the U.S. Senator from Ohio. Returned to space in 1998 for a 7 day mission, making him the oldest man to go into space.

E.R. Braithwaite, 104 years old, died December 12:  Guyanese author, educator and diplomat whose years teaching in the slums of London's East End inspired the best seller To Sir, With Love, later made into a movie.

Alan Thicke, 69 years old, died December 13:  actor best known for playing the dad on the television series Growing Pains.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99 years old, died December 18:  Hungarian born beauty queen, married 9 times, sister of Eva Gabor. Served 3 days in jail for slapping a Beverly Hills policeman.

George Michael, 53 years old, died December 25:  pop singer whose career started with Wham! in the 1980s before he went out on his own for a solo career.

Carrie Fisher, 60 years old, died December 27: daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, most famous as Princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.
Debbie Reynolds, 84 years old, died December 28:  to everyone's shock, she died the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher's, surprise death. Came to fame starring with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in Singing In The Rain.

William Christopher, 84 years old, died December 31:  best known for his role as Father Mulcahy in the long running M*A*S*H* television series.

There were many more that we lost in 2016.  They will all be missed.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Those We Lost In 2016—Part 1 of 2

Elie Wiesel

The world lost many notable people from the entertainment industry, politics, news/media, literature, and sports during the last year. I've compiled a cross section (most certainly not all of them) listed chronologically. I've divided it into two lists with part 1 (January through July) this week and part 2 (August through December) for next week's blog posting on January 22.

Pat Harrington, Jr., 86 years old, died January 6:  actor and comedian who first garnered attention as one of Steve Allen's television comedy troop (along with Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Louie Nye, and Bill Dana). He later starred as the apartment superintendent on the hit television series One Day At A Time.

David Bowie, 69 years old, died January 10:  musician who crossed pop and rock boundaries with a career that spanned 6 decades along with his persona of Ziggy Stardust.

Alan Richman, 69 years old, died January 14:  classically trained British stage actor, remembered for his Harry Potter villain, Die Hard, and many other films.

Abe Vigoda, 94 years old, died January 26:  character actor whose sad-eyed face made him the perfect selection for the over-the-hill detective on the Barney Miller television series and the doomed Mafia soldier in The Godfather.

Antonin Scalia, 79 years old, died February 13:  influential conservative and member of the U.S. Supreme Court. As of this date, his position on the Supreme Court has not been filled and the 9 person Court has been operating 1 person short for almost a year.

Harper Lee, 89 years old, died February 19:  novelist who wrote the best selling novel To Kill A Mockingbird about racial injustice in a small southern town. Her novel was turned into an Oscar winning film starring Gregory Peck.

George Kennedy, 91 years old, died February 28:  tough guy actor who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in the classic Paul Newman film, Cool Hand Luke.

Pat Conroy, 70 years old, died March 4:  author of The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides, and other best selling novels many of which drew on his difficult childhood.

Nancy Reagan, 94 years old, died March 6:  an actress who became Ronald Reagan's second wife and ultimately First Lady when he became President of the United States.

Frank Sinatra, Jr., 72 years old, died March 16:  followed in his father's footsteps with his own music career. His kidnapping as a young man added a bizarre chapter to his father's legendary life.

Rob Ford, 46 years old, died March 22:  former mayor of Toronto (Canada) whose political career crashed in a drug-driven, obscenity-laced scandal.

Jim Harrison, 78 years old, died March 26:  fiction writer and poet who had mainstream success in middle age with his historical work Legends of the Fall.

Patty Duke, 69 years old, died March 29:  won an Oscar as a teenager for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and maintained a long and successful career in both films and television.

Merle Haggard, 79 years old, died April 6:  country music giant who came from poverty, did time in prison, and went on to international fame with songs about outlaws, underdogs, and an abiding sense of national pride.

Doris Roberts, 90 years old, died April 17:  character actress probably best known for her role as the endlessly meddling mother on Everybody Loves Raymond. Those of us who are 'older' remember her as the secretary on the Remington Steele series.

Prince, 57 years old, died April 21:  inventive and influential musician with hits such as When Doves Cry.

Michelle McNamara, 57 years old, died April 21:  crime writer and founder of the True Crime Diary website.

Jane Little, 87 years old, died May 15:  less than 5 ft. tall, played the double bass for 71 consecutive years which earned her the Guinness World Record as the world's longest serving symphony player.

Morley Safer, 84 years old, died May 19:  newsman and veteran 60 Minutes correspondent who exposed a military atrocity in Vietnam that played an early role in changing the American public's view of the war.

Alan Young, 96 years old, died May 19:  actor-comedian who played straight man to a talking horse in the television series Mr. Ed. Did that theme song suddenly pop into your head? "A horse is a horse, of course of course, unless that horse…"

Muhammad Ali, 74 years old, died June 3:  champion boxer and civil rights crusader whose beliefs cost him his championship, a 3 year suspension and in 1967 resulted in him being sentenced to 5 years in prison yet he never waivered from those beliefs and returned to boxing when his suspension ended.

Anton Yelchin, 27 years old, died June 19:  rising young actor best known for his role of Chekov in the new Star Trek films.

Ralph Stanley, 89 years old, died June 23:  known as the godfather of traditional bluegrass music, he found a whole new generation of fans thanks to his Grammy-winning music for the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Alvin Toffler, 87 years old, died June 27:  a guru of the post-industrial age whose book, Future Shock, anticipated the disruptions and transformations brought about by the rise of digital technology.

Pat Summitt, 64 years old, died June 28:  winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who, during her 38 year career at Tennessee, lifted the women's game from obscurity to national prominence.

Elie Wiesel, 87 years old, died July 2:  Romanian-born Holocaust survivor whose classic book, Night, became a landmark testament to the Nazis' crimes and launched his career as one of the world's foremost witnesses and humanitarians.

Michael Cimino, 77 years old, died July 2:  Oscar winning director of The Deer Hunter, a great triumph in Hollywood's 1970s heyday, and also the director of the disastrous Heaven's Gate.

Noel Neill, 95 years old, died July 3:  first actress to play Superman's girlfriend, Lois Lane, in the 1948 movie serial Superman.

Garry Marshall, 81 years old, died July 19:  writer and producer responsible for many highly successful television series such as Happy Days and its 2 spin-off series, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy, as well as producing Neil Simon's The Odd Couple as a television series. He also directed 18 movies including Pretty Woman, Beaches, and The Princess Diaries.

Check back next week for part 2 of my blog showing a cross section of those we lost in 2016.