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Entries tagged "obit"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Slip a sable under the tree, for she…

Eartha Kitt has died. She was 81, and pretty much the ultimate "sex kitten", always. She was...si bon.

December 25, 2008 at 10:08 PM |
Categories: Entertainment
Tags: obit | Eartha Kitt

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So long, Lwaxana

Majel Barrett Roddenberry has died. She was 76.

What a dame! She was so protective of Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek and for the future, and she was a witty actress into the bargain. Once several years ago, when she was visiting St. Louis for a fan convention, I was in the autograph line waiting to meet her. As I approached the table where she was signing and graciously chatting with star-struck fan after fan, I overheard her say to an assistant that she'd like to have sushi for dinner and to find out a place they could go.

When it was my turn at the table, she inscribed my photo and we traded a few pleasantries. As I was leaving, almost as an afterthought, I recommended the name of a good local restaurant that I knew to have fine sushi. Her face lit up and she called the assistant back over. "Take this down," she said, and encouraged me to repeat the recommendation. "No, wait," she said. "Get this man's telephone number. You're coming to dinner with us!"

And so I did. I dined with Nurse Chapel, Number One, Lwaxana Troi (sans Mr. Homm). For almost three glorious hours, she held forth with stories and laughter, sake and sushi, and we closed down the Kirkwood eatery I'd recommended. When we parted company, I got a warm hug and a peck on the cheek which, combined with the evening's company, I'll treasure more and longer than any autographed photo.

So long, Mrs. Barrett-Roddenberry, and say hello to your beloved Great Bird of the Galaxy.
December 20, 2008 at 7:19 AM | (2) |
Categories: Get Your Geek On
Tags: obit | Star Trek

Friday, December 12, 2008

Van Johnson

Van Johnson has died. He was 92.
December 12, 2008 at 2:53 PM |
Categories: Entertainment
Tags: obit | MGM

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

She’s on her way

Folk music legend Odetta has died. She was 77.

I had the opportunity to meet her a few years ago when she was in town doing a concert at the Sheldon, which I reviewed for the Post-Dispatch. She was so gracious and, although she was not in the best voice that evening, gave a performance that held the audience rapt. Many encores were demanded and many given. It hurts my heart a little bit to know that there are young people who don't know her name or her legacy; I'll try to do my part to share the music on down.
December 3, 2008 at 9:31 AM |
Categories: A/V Club
Tags: obit | folk music | Odetta

Monday, September 29, 2008

An empty seat at the Mighty Wurlitzer

It seems as though every day another obituary signals the clock running down on the time when people deserved to be called "entertainers". Stan Kann has died. He was 83.

With no offense intended to the achievements of a certain local sporting legend, for those of us in the entertainment business, Stan Kann was "The Man".
September 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM | (1) |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman 1925-2008

"The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out." — Paul Newman
September 27, 2008 at 10:41 PM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace

Author David Foster Wallace has died. He apparently hanged himself in his Los Angeles area home. He was 46.

I spent the day with Wallace in 1997, shortly after he'd received the MacArthur Foundation grant and while he was on the road touring for the publication of Infinite Jest, and interviewed him for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
David Foster Wallace sits at a conference table in the International Writers Center at Washington University's West Campus in Clayton, sipping coffee and chewing toothpicks, an oral substitute for the cigarettes he forswore a few months earlier.

"I'm 35 years old," the author of Infinite Jest says as he begins to describe himself. "I've been doing this for 13 years. I think I'm pretty good, but I don't think I'm real good yet."

This is a rare moment of conciseness for Wallace, whose prose is filled with convoluted but perfectly logical sentences that sometimes seem to go on for pages. Hailed by critics as the most gifted chronicler of his generation, he clearly doesn't believe — or read — his own press coverage.

Although his first two books, a novel and a collection of short stories, showed the promise of a rising new writer, Wallace really caught the attention of critics last year with Infinite Jest, his second novel. It's a 1,079-page work set mostly at a tony tennis academy and a drug rehabilitation halfway house in the near future.

Infinite Jest is actually an assortment of loosely related stories. At its center is the tale of three brothers, the Incandenzas, and the shadow cast over them by their father's suicide. A side plot concerns a band of wheelchair-bound terrorists seeking to control the eponymous "Infinite Jest," a film believed to be so entertaining that it puts anyone who views it into a blissed-out haze. Another side plot follows Don Gately, a drug addict who will found a new religion.

It is a complex book that Wallace insists is just as long and involved as it needs to be.

"The version that I turned in was about 500 pages longer than what came out," he says, "which in and of itself isn't terminal for me, but there's a lot of that 500 pages that didn't really need to be in there. It was very hard for me to listen to the editor, but I did it."

When Little, Brown published Infinite Jest, the book hit store shelves accompanied by an intense six-month publicity campaign. That, coupled with the critical notice Wallace's previous work had garnered, established the media-shy writer as the new literary celebrity.

Wallace, however, is pragmatic about the "publicity tsunami."

"Because of the economics of selling books right now, it has a lot to do with the big stores and with (the publishers) not getting a lot of returns," he says.

"The publishers don't really care if anyone actually reads it, they just want (consumers) to buy it from Barnes & Noble so they don't get a lot of copies back.

"I would rather that fewer people bought it and the people who bought it actually read it, but that's coming from my own ego."

His ego, Wallace acknowledges, is fragile and a large part of why he doesn't care to read reviews of his work.

The high that comes from celebrity, he says, is too seductive and too dangerous to the work of writing to succumb to it. Although first noting his respect for their work, he points to the examples of friends and contemporaries who enjoyed early success and weren't as sheltered from the hype.

"I thought, for instance, Bret Easton Ellis' book Less Than Zero — it's not Dante, but for the guy's age and for the moment — there was magic in it," Wallace says. "And I thought the same thing about Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City."

Wallace tries to put the attention paid to him in perspective, and he gets a lot of help from his friends.

"I'm protected in a lot of ways that I think certain other people aren't," he says. "I'll have this chat with a newspaper, which will mess me up for a few days because it makes me feel more important than I really am, but then it'll go away and I'll go home and my closest friends aren't writers and life is very real."

Home for Wallace is near the campus of Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., where he teaches writing and literature. He grew up in Urbana, where his father was a philosophy professor at the University of Illinois and his mother an English professor at a community college.

"I mostly teach the freshman classes that the other professors don't want to teach and think I'm very gracious to do so when in fact I much prefer it," Wallace says.

Part of the joy of teaching entry-level courses, Wallace says, is introducing his students to works that engage them on their own turf.

"There's an Amy Homes story called 'A Real Doll' about a pubescent boy's affair with his sister's Barbie doll and that story's actually created a few literature majors at ISU," Wallace says. "They had no idea that a story could be that sick and smart and spiritually sophisticated and speak a language that's the same language as their own."

Wallace is taking the year off from teaching, thanks in part to a fellowship he received earlier this year from the MacArthur Foundation, the organization behind the so-called "genius grants." The five-year award, worth up to $75,000 annually, has given the author the freedom to concentrate on his own work.

While giving him the luxury of a sabbatical, the grant has also brought an odd kind of pressure into Wallace's life.

"There are a whole lot of things about it that are real nice that aren't what people would imagine," Wallace says. "They very nicely did a thing in my hometown newspaper that made it sound like you get all the money at once and it's tax-free, so every friend of mine who is some wacko investor came to me with ideas about silver futures and like that. In fact, what it is is like five years of a teaching salary.

"But I quit smoking a few months ago, so I haven't been working very well. It's very easy to run this guilt thing on myself, like when your parents are paying for college and you're screwing off. You feel like 'Oh, God, I just cost the MacArthur Foundation 50 dollars and all I did was watch a movie.'"

Wallace is working on several projects now, mostly short fiction. He says he feels no real pressure to produce another work on the scale of Infinite Jest anytime in the near future.

"I don't have any real desire to have a best seller," he says, "mostly because I think the sorts of books that become best sellers are not really books. They're sort of like television you can carry around with you."

He's content just to write and enjoy his time away from academia. He's not concerned with the critics who have branded him the literary spokesman for his generation.

"I feel that there's such an irony about anybody talking about a spokesman for my generation," Wallace says. "By definition, there can't be a spokesperson because there isn't a collective.

"I do love the term 'Generation X,' though. I don't know why people roll their eyes at that.

"A generation identified by a variable. That's deep."
September 13, 2008 at 7:42 PM | (1) |
Categories: Reading
Tags: obit | David Foster Wallace | author

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Helen Weiss has died

PR maven Helen Weiss has died. Our city has lost another top-notch flack. Helen was a model for what a corporate publicist should be, and a hell of a dame into the bargain. I shall miss her.
September 9, 2008 at 8:44 AM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

Jesse Helms (Odious Prick–NC) has died. Good.
July 4, 2008 at 10:11 AM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Monday, June 23, 2008

So long, Martha Shumway, Martha Shumway

Dody Goodman has died at age 92.
June 23, 2008 at 2:25 PM |
Categories: Theatre
Tags: obit

Sunday, June 22, 2008

George Carlin has died.

Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits. RIP.
June 22, 2008 at 10:39 PM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Associated Press: Mildred Loving, matriarch of interracial marriage, dies

Mildred Loving has died. The black woman whose challenge to Virginia's ban on interracial marriage led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide told The Washington Evening Star in 1965, "We loved each other and got married. We are not marrying the state. The law should allow a person to marry anyone he wants."

(Update: The New York Times obit; Andy Towle has Loving's 2007 statement on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia ruling.)
May 5, 2008 at 12:53 PM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Monday, January 21, 2008

Suzanne Pleshette

Oh Bob! Another classy broad gone to her rest. Actress Suzanne Pleshette has died at age 70. Of course, she was best known for playing smart and sassy Emily Hartley, Bob Newhart's wife on his eponymously-titled sitcom. But I and millions of others also fondly remember her as the frosty but fragile school teacher jilted by Rod Taylor in Hitchcock's The Birds, and for her many dishy and slightly ribald ripostes with Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show. Comedy writer Ken Levine has a very nice remembrance of Pleshette.

I had just landed in Chicago Saturday morning when I heard the news of her death, thinking to myself it was somehow fitting that I raise a glass in her memory in the city that served as the setting for The Bob Newhart Show. Although there's a sub-zero chill outside, I might just have to make a pilgrimage to Navy Pier to visit Bob's statue and spend a few minutes with him remembering all those times he hurried Home to Emily.

I also encourage you to visit More Than Emily Hartley, the wonderful fan tribute site to the life and career of Suzanne Pleshette.
January 21, 2008 at 11:25 AM |
Categories: A/V Club
Tags: obit

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Farewell to a class act flack

There's probably a disparaging show biz joke somewhere that begins, "So a publicist dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates..."

Let me tell you something. When Marty Hendin got there, he was waved right on through. We've lost one of the genuine good guys.
Mr. Hendin, 59, had worked for the Cardinals since 1973, most recently as vice president of community relations after serving in the public relations and marketing departments. Among other accomplishments, Mr. Hendin is credited with the rapid rise of the popular Cardinals mascot, Fredbird, and for collecting all manner of Cardinals and major league memorabilia that virtually spilled out of his office, which became "Trinket City" at Busch Stadium.
I can only add to the chorus of voices quoted in the obituary and at what I'm sure are going to be numerous warm remembrances of Marty over the weeks to come. He was a hell of a guy, the hardest working man in sports publicity and a good, good man.

Somewhere right now, I'll bet Fredbird is lifting a frosty Busch and toasting his biggest fan.

January 13, 2008 at 11:37 PM | (1) |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So long, Anita

Word circulated late yesterday that Anita Rowland has died after living with cancer for several years. She was 51.

Anita and I never met face to face, but she was an active participant in the early weblogging community, particularly as those pesky upstart weblogs and the more established online journaling world threatened to abrade against one another. Anita bridged that (narrow) gap easily, avoided acrimony and welcomed all. As both forms drifted toward what are now commonly thought of as "blogs", she kept right on doing what she'd always done, maintaining her "List of Links" weblog and her "Book of Days" journal. Both have been regular reads for me; I will miss her updates.

Anita was also well-known and loved in the science fiction fandom world and, of course, in Seattle, where she organized some of the earliest weblog/journal meetups and made everyone feel a part of a real community. I know it's tempting when a friend dies to say that a little light has left the world, but in fact I think the world is a far brighter place because Anita shared her light with so many folks and by example encouraged them to pass it along.

Her husband Jack has posted a small memorial for Anita on his own website and thoughts and recollections are being added to it from around the real and virtual worlds. My thoughts are with him and all of Anita's family and with everyone who had the great good fortune to be a part of her book of days.
December 11, 2007 at 12:04 PM |
Categories: Weblog Community
Tags: obit | weblogcommunity

Friday, September 21, 2007

So long, Esmerelda

Man, this has not be a good past few months for the TV touchstones of my misspent youth. Actress Alice Ghostley has died.

Of course, I knew her mostly from Bewitched and, much later, Designing Women, always in daffy roles, always a study in frantic comic timing, and, of course, as a wicked stepsister opposite Kaye Ballard in the original TV Cinderella.

I had the pleasure several years ago of being introduced to her by a mutual friend in Los Angeles. We had a brief chat while we waited to be seated with our respective parties at dinner. I remember her as quite gracious, self-deprecating and—like Esmerelda—I had the distinct impression she was a bit abashed by my attention and might turn invisible at any second. We talked about our mutual Missouri roots, mostly; she hailed from little ol' Eve in the southwest part of the state.
September 21, 2007 at 11:25 PM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rest in ______

Brett Somers has died. She was 83 years old.

She was in our production of Happy Ending back in the 1980s, but will, of course, probably be best remembered for the Match Game. I hope she's gone to be with Charles Nelson Reilly in that great _______ in the sky.
September 17, 2007 at 7:54 AM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Friday, July 13, 2007

Clearing the Cache: July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson died Wednesday at age 94. Political activist David Mixner shares his memories of her:
...her memorial will be Spring time in Washington. Every Spring, this country will be reminded of the Lady from Texas. As trees bloom and flowers carpet our nation’s capital, Lady Bird Johnson will be remembered. Only Lady Bird Johnson could with her vision of a beautiful America, lay claim to Spring as her memorial.
July 12, 2007 at 10:19 PM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Thursday, July 5, 2007

In memoriam

I just received the following from my alma mater:
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Sister Mary Mangan on July 3, 2007. She had been living in the Loretto Motherhouse in Kentucky. A memorial service will be held in Kentucky.

Sr. Mary led a remarkable life dedicated to the Catholic faith, progressive political activism, and academic pursuits. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University (wearing full habit) at a time when there were virtually no women in the discipline. She was continually involved with numerous political activities, from the civil rights movement to the League of Women Voters. As a longtime faculty member in the Department of History/Political Science, Sr. Mary served as department chair as well as chair of the university faculty. She was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus in the 1980s, but continued to be an active teacher and departmental member for another decade.

Those of you who knew Sr. Mary will certainly never forget her wry sense of humor, thirst for knowledge, and commitment to high ideals. She represented the best of the Webster tradition.

To which I can only add "amen". Sr. Mary was the professor and adviser who most challenged me during my undergraduate years. She set very, very high expectations for all of her students and inspired them to meet them. She took me on as an already voracious reader and encouraged me to read even more, particularly about public policy and international politics. And she did have a wicked sense of humor, delivered with a wink; if you could make her smile or laugh, you really felt you had accomplished something for the day. And she had a particular vocal tic that sometimes made even the direst subject amusing; after posing a question to you, she would seemingly involuntarily add "mmm-hmm" with a slight lilt. I confess now that we often gently mimicked her during post-class discussions in the halls of the Administration Building.

Until she moved to Kentucky, I would frequently see her around campus or when I was passing the convent. She always had time for a chat. I found myself thinking of her often in recent years, usually when reading the New York Times or Christian Science Monitor, wondering what she'd have to say about this story or that. I more than occasionally wondered if she ever thought of me since one of the things that most amazed me about Sr. Mary was her uncanny recall of nearly every student she'd ever taught, where they were, what job (or, often, elected position) they held and other, minute details of their lives.

I hope those many connections around the globe and her faith were of comfort to her. Knowing she was in the world, still learning, teaching and speaking truth to power, was something of a comfort to me, particularly in recent years. She'll be missed, mmm-hmm.
July 5, 2007 at 1:40 PM |
Categories: XOXOX
Tags: obit

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

links for 2006-06-27

June 27, 2006 at 5:18 PM | (1) |
Categories: Clearing the Cache
Tags: obit | puppies | flash | chat | Eric Rofes | Frasier | Flash

Monday, May 13, 2002

Death Comes to Time

MOVED: Last December, I enthused about Nick's Friggin' Homepage, one cutie's website chock full of linky goodness. Nick's in a new place these days, and has made a rather appealing promise that may hasten my return to Los Angeles.

VAST WASTELAND: Someone is shopping a "half-hour reality make-over show" called "The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". The premise is that some poor straight schlub gets redecorated by five representatives of the fabulous set, to wit:
The half-hour show assembles an elite team of professionals from the worlds of fashion, interior design, grooming, food and wine and culture and mercilessly throws them upon a straight male subject in need of a makeover. Combining the relevance and substance of Esquire Magazine with the wit and sarcasm of "Will & Grace," "The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is informative, entertaining and bitingly hip.
There are a few problems with this pitch, kids, not least of which is that using the word "wit" alongside "Will & Grade" should be a punishable offense. I really chuckled at the last line in the casting breakdown, though: "Queer yes, camp not necessarily: Professionals first, gay second. Not looking to fill stereotypes ...". "This," he said cynically, "I shall believe when I see." [hat tip to Matt Kingston]

DEATH COMES TO TIME: I was a huge Doctor Who fan for years, so much so that I'd spend Sunday nights sitting close to the TV, fiddling with the antenna, trying to pull in a snowy signal from a public television station broadcasting from 100 miles away. I joined a fan club. I went to conventions. You name it, I've been there, done that, got the scarf (and the frock coat and the fedora and a lot of badges). The obsession has faded for me, supplanted by a dozen other media fascinations and hobbies, but I was still saddened to hear of the recent death of John Nathan-Turner, the program's longest-serving producer, famed for his Hawaiian shirts and his jovial demeanor with fans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Katherine Graham

Katherine Graham, 1917-2001. What an incredible woman. Her autobiography is a remarkably readable account of a woman thrown into the deep end and thriving with pluck, grace and uncommon intelligence. (We're not related, by the way.)

Lileks: "Sometimes I think I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly just to keep up on things I've neither the time nor the interest to keep up on. It's like reading a paper from a city where I lived for a few years. This week, for example, the cover tells of a Backstreet Boy who 'Breaks Down,' and from the pictures inside I can see why he drank too much: only under prolonged and constant intoxication could one accept the fact that you had stupider facial hair than Prince."
July 17, 2001 at 10:06 AM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit

Thursday, May 13, 1999

Freaky feelings

Lately, it seems as though whenever I walk under a streetlamp, it winks out, bathing me in darkness. Same thing often when I enter a room: a lightbulb suddenly burns out or flickers. Last night, this happened to me twice while driving, even. The moment I passed beneath a streetlight, it went out. I watched in my rearview mirror. Neither came back on.

I have the odd idea that I may be personally generating some weird EMF or, possibly, just horrendously bad juju of one sort or another. If I am all sparked up, is there a danger of my spontaneous combustion?
SHC victim profile: Victims are mostly solitary, reclusive, elderly and female. Nearly all victims are overweight to severely obese.

Post-mortem external characteristics: Almost total combustion of the flesh and skeleton, leaving only extremities undamaged. Victims are almost always consumed in a state of shock-induced, paralytic condition.
Whew! OK. I count myself fortunate to be neither elderly nor female, and I'm far from overweight. Hopefully, the qualifiers are not independent conditions. Solitary and reclusive damn near nails it of late.

Anyhow, if it seems like I suddenly stop posting to ye olde weblogge for a few days, it's probably not because there's a pile of fine ash in front of my keyboard. No, I'm off on an excursion, a little solitary, reclusive withdrawal to write and get my head together. Out of town, back next week. Cheerio!


The Dead People Server is now in a new location. It's one of the best ways on the 'net to keep up with the no-longer-respirating celebrity crowd (and not bad raw data to help you field your Ghoul Pool team).

Mac Fontaholic's Anonymous. Not just 12 steps, but 12 weights and x-heights too!

An interesting reflection on an early form of online community-building. Online with the phone company, that is. Online with the party line!
May 13, 1999 at 12:20 AM |
Categories: General
Tags: obit | fonts | partyline

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