Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year...'re still alive and other people aren't. At least three prominent writers died last year - Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations; Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the conscience of Russia; and William F. Buckley, who, in his longevity, could certainly be said to have served as a great part of the conservative conscience in America. Another (not prominent, exactly, but certainly well- known) was Michael Crichton, who came to fame via The Andromeda Strain. He was only 66. Likewise with the 90 year old Arthur C. Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In other areas of pursuit you can say good-bye to Mark Felt, better known as Deep Throat after it was known that he was Deep Throat; before that he was known as Mark Felt, which is to say he wasn't known; and to Yves Saint-Laurent, fashion designer; and to Sir Edmund Hillary, first man up the big mountain called Everest; to Betty Paige, possibly the most famous pin-up girl ever; to Bobby Fischer, chess master and addled genius; to 86 year old Jesse Helms, hero of the pro-life movement; to NBC reporter and Meet the Press host Tim Russert; and to 53 year old Tony Snow, Fox news reporter and White House press secretary under Bush.

On this page you can find a fairly exhaustive list of deceased entertainment personalities. There you will find the foul-mouthed comedian Bernie Mac, lauded after death as such a fine, family values sort of fellow. I'd provide a link, but the two stand-up acts I saw were so relentlessly filthy, I don't want to risk the wrath of female readers. Another funny guy was the religion-despising George Carlin. Here he is despising it. Watch out for his language too. Like Bill Maher (who is, reportedly, still alive) he was funnier when he used to be funny.

There were many to miss, though, and I wish I had energy to pay tribute to them all. A few:

Suzanne Pleshette, who got pecked to death in The Birds, and later played Bob Newhart's wife.

Roy Scheider, who was made famous not by Jaws, but by The French Connection.

Charlton Heston, defender of the 2nd amendment, but also Moses, Ben-Hur, The Omega Man, and on and on, until Alzheimer's took him down without firing a shot.

Paul Newman: Hud, The Hustler, The Sting, etc., but most importantly he stayed married to one of the best (and one of the few, if not the only, self-effacing) actresses in Hollywood, Joanne Woodward, till his own death parted them. A bio.

Harvey Korman, of the Carol Burnett Show, and Blazing Saddles. Here he is with Tim Conway, and with Carol satirizing Born Free.

Cyd Charisse, one of the goddesses of my younger years, here dancing with Gene Kelly, who actually gets to touch her.

Pervis Jackson of The Spinners. He's the bass in this old song.

Jerry Reed, country singer, seen here with Glen Campbell on a couple numbers. Some of you might have caught him in the Burt Reynolds Smokey and the Bandit movies. But he could sing.

Another country singer, Jerry Wallace, singing "In the Misty Moonlight." I remember him from a 50's boyhood.

Likewise with Eddy Arnold.

Rock pioneer, Bo Diddley.

Edie Adams, wife of Ernie Kovacs, imitator of Marilyn Monroe, and pitch girl for Muriel cigars ("Why don't you pick one up and sssmoke it sometime"). She sang a song on the finale of "I Love Lucy."

Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops. I saw them in concert at UF in the late 60's. Here he is trying to sing from his wheelchair. And before that singing one of their hits, "Bernadette." Like the sound of it.

Others you might like to search on Youtube:

director Sydney Pollock, Dick Martin of "Laugh-In", and character actor Robert Prosky.

I almost forgot Eartha Kitt, whom I first saw in a film bio of William Handy with Nat King Cole, but can't remember the title of (St. Louis Blues?). Here she is with Nat, and singing "I Want to be Evil."

No Catholic can help but feel fondly for the great Paul Scofield, who, for us moderns, became the face and voice of Sir Thomas More. In the following embeds, he duels with Cromwell, and later inspires the rear-ends of the eminences at a rigged trial before Parliament to resume their seats.

Thank you, Mr. Scofield. An admiring article.

Lastly, there are those who die alone, sometimes homeless, sometimes nameless, known only to God. May they find peace in their rest.


Lydia McGrew said...

The only one I've watched so far is the Carol Burnet skit. I know it was because of Harvey Korman, but Tim Conway steals the show (as usual). He has such an eloquent face. I laughed till I nearly had tears in my eyes over him dressed up as a lion slurping his tea with his tongue.

By the way, _A Man for All Seasons_ is very much worth just reading or re-reading. The movie is excellent, but the play has extra aspects to it (the Common Man, for example).

wl said...

Did you see the video with Conway playing a dentist and Korman in the chair, and Conway sticks himself with novacaine? I had to keep rewinding because I was missing stuff from laughing.

Lydia McGrew said...

I saw you had that one but haven't watched it yet. I'll have to.

MamaT said...

The whole Carol Burnett show was genius. So many funny moments. I loved Tim Conway as the boss and Carol as "Mrs. Whiggins". I love to watch Korman and Conway try to crack each other up.

And I will never forget Carol walking downstairs with the curtain rods through her sleeves in their Gone with the Wind skit.

Oh, so funny. And not nasty or vulgar. Imagine that.

wl said...

Imagine that.

Believe it or not, some people can't. Too bad for them.