Category Archives: Obituary

The Little Girl Harpo Marx Was “Crazy About”

Harpo Marx Loved A Little Visitor To The Set So Much, He Seriously Wanted To Buy Her

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming  of Duck Soup 1933

Harpo Marx with Shirley Temple in the studio commissary during the filming of Duck Soup 1933

Maybe today this would be considered kind of creepy, but anyone who knew Harpo Marx would have said it was not, because it was “so Harpo-like.”

The story sounds apocryphal, but according to Groucho Marx as told to Richard Anobile in The Marx Brothers Scrapbook it is true.

In the midst of the Great Depression during the production of the Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers in 1932, Harpo Marx would see this adorable girl who was about four-years-old along with her parents watching the Marx’s work on the set. During breaks in the filming, Harpo starting talking to the child and her parents. Groucho says, “Harpo was crazy about this girl.” He became so enchanted with this little girl, that he offered to adopt her and give her parents $50,000 as compensation.  They of course refused.

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

Shirley Temple with Shirley Temple doll 1934

This all happened before the little girl was in a single film and would go on to become the biggest child movie star of all-time – Shirley Temple.

The photograph at the top of this article was taken a year after Harpo’s offer. By that time, Shirley Temple had still not made a feature film, but appeared in many ten minute shorts. Shirley was just beginning to become known to the public when she revisited Harpo while in the studio commissary.

Shirley Temple died in Woodside, CA, Monday February 10, 2014 of natural causes. She retired from motion pictures at the age of 21 in 1949. Shirley was happily married for 55 years to Charles Black. She became a United States ambassador and by all accounts had a very happy and fulfilling life.

Because Harpo’s wife Susan Fleming was unable to have children, Harpo did eventually adopt four children who all say he was the most wonderful father in the world.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner, Mets Longtime Announcer And Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Dies At 91

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game - 1953

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game – 1953

For many New Yorker’s who grew up watching or listening to baseball, a part of their childhood ended today February 6 2014, with the death of Pirates slugger and Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner.

Ralph Kiner had a brief, yet great playing career followed by a long TV and radio career where he had been with the Mets broadcast team since their inaugural season in 1962.

Besides announcing Mets games, many baseball fans enjoyed watching Kiner through the Mets post-game TV show Kiner’s Korner.

The obituary writers will surely cover Kiner’s career thoroughly, but here are five things you might not have known about Ralph Kiner:

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

1. In the 1940’s Chicago Cubs scout Dutch Ruether found two bright prospects he wanted to bring to the Cubs. He got Ralph Kiner and Ewell Blackwell to agree to be signed for what he thought were bargain price bonuses. The Cubs didn’t sign Kiner saying it was too much money. The cost? $3,000!  Blackwell wanted only $750 and the Cubs passed on him too!

2. Ralph Kiner came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and had one of the most extraordinary starts to a career, leading the National League in home runs for seven consecutive years.

3. In 1947 Ralph Kiner became just the fifth player in the history of baseball to hit 50 or more home runs in a year.

4. In his short career which spanned only ten years (1946-1955) Kiner hit 369 career home runs and walked 1,011 times, but struck out only 749 times.

5. According to Pirate teammate Joe Garagiola, Kiner was one of the great practical jokers in baseball. Kiner’s frequent victim was Pirates trainer Doc Jorgensen. One day Kiner removed all of the bottles and bandages out of Jorgensen’s medical kit. Later during a game when a player got spiked, Jorgensen ran out to the field and opened his bag to treat the player, and found that it was filled with sandwiches courtesy of Ralph Kiner.

Jerry Coleman Baseball Legend Dies At 89

Ballplayer, Broadcaster, World War II and Korean War Combat Hero, Jerry Coleman Passes Away

Jerry Coleman Phil Rizutto 1949

Vaudeville Tactics

New York: Jerry Coleman, second baseman for the Yanks does a nip-up like a vaudevillian to get the ball down to first after putting out Bobby Dillinger of the Browns in the first inning of the game at Yankee Stadium on August 6. The throw was not fast enough to get to first before George Elder who had grounded out to Bobby Brown at third. Yankees won, 9-8. That’s Phil Rizzuto, Yankees shortstop lurking in the background. Credit: (ACME) 8-6-49

Jerry Coleman died at Scripps Hospital in San Diego, CA January 5, 2014 of complications from head injuries he suffered in a fall last month.

In his major league baseball career he hit only 16 home runs and batted just .263, but the slick fielding Jerry Coleman was a beloved baseball legend by fans on both coasts.

Coleman played his entire career for the New York Yankees from 1949 -1957. He appeared in six World Series, was the MVP of the 1950 World Series and appeared in one All Star game.

After his playing career ended Coleman worked in the Yankees front office. In 1960 he became an announcer, first with CBS television on the Game of the Week, then in 1963 he rejoined the Yankees and stayed with their broadcast team for the next seven years. Continue reading

Art Donovan, A True Character and Football Great Dies At 89

Baltimore Colts Tackle, Football Hall of Famer, Art Donovan Passes Away

On Sunday, August 4, 2013 Art Donovan, one of the greatest tackles to ever play in the NFL died at the age of 89 of a respiratory ailment at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium, MD.

The New York Times obituary summarizes Donovan’s interesting life appropriately. I’ll just say that professional athletes like Donovan are a rare breed today; talented, honest, humble and funny.

I remember the many classic Miller Lite beer commercials that Art Donovan appeared in. Unfortunately none are currently available for viewing.

This video clip below from 1988 is a classic. Art Donovan is promoting the paperback release of his autobiography “Fatso” on Late Night with David Letterman.

Letterman brings up the fact that when Donovan was on the show previously promoting the hardcover release of the book, Donovan admitted he had not read it.

Letterman asks, “now that it is out in paperback have you read it?”

Donovan shakes his head and says, “Uh, no David I can’t say I have. I know all the stories, so why should I waste my time reading the book!”

Exactly.

Rock n’ Roll Deaths In April 2013

Andy Johns, Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones Right Hand Man; Storm Thorgerson, Album Cover Creator Extraordinaire; Christina Amphlett, Lead Singer Divinyls; All Die in April

April has been a bad month for the world of rock ‘n roll, as death has taken away three unique talents.

Andy Johns with Eddie Van Halen © Getty Images

Andy Johns with Eddie Van Halen © Getty Images

Andy Johns who worked on some of the greatest rock albums of all-time as a producer and engineer died in Los Angeles on April 7, at the age of 62 due to complications of a stomach ulcer.

Johns was a name not known to casual rock fans because he worked behind the scenes, but his contributions to dozens of classic albums is immeasurable. From the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street to Led Zeppelin’s greatest period of production in the early 1970’s, Johns was setting up and overseeing the recording of albums that will be played for as long as people listen to rock n’ roll. Some of the many bands and artists Andy Johns worked with included Free, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Cinderella, Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Mott The Hoople.

After Andy Johns died I scanned The New York Times on a daily basis in disbelief that they did not cover his death. Nearly two weeks after his passing, an obituary finally appeared.

Here, Andy Johns talks about his experiences working with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the recording of Led Zeppelin’s classic Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. 4 Symbols or Untitled) and the song Stairway To Heaven.

David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Throrgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky

David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Thorgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky

Storm Thorgerson was a name even less known by the general public than Andy Johns, but literally millions of people have seen his work. Thorgerson, as half of the design firm Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, created dozens of the most iconic record album covers, sleeve and insert artwork of all time. After the dissolution of Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson ran his own firm and continued working until he died on April 13 at the age of 69 from cancer.

LP Cover Scorpions Lovedrive LP Cover The Who Who's Next LP Cover Led Zeppelin Presence LP Cover AC DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Thorgerson’s work was surreal and many times bizarre. But it caught your attention like any great artwork that was meant to be contemplated. Millions of people who bought albums would study the large canvas that an LP album offered for insights and clues about the music and the band they were listening to. With the supremacy of CD’s in the 1990’s, cover artwork was given a much smaller space and a less important role in point of purchase sales of music. Despite this, Thorgerson maintained a steady stream of clients who wanted original and outstanding works of art to go with their musical output.

LP Cover Yes Going For The One LP Cover Peter Gabriel LP Cover Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here LP cover Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy Gatefold

Best known for his long association with Pink Floyd, Thorgerson also created album covers for a wide variety of bands including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Scorpions, UFO, Phish, AC/DC, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Alan Parsons Project, Anthrax and many others.

In this clip below, Thorgerson talks about the beginnings of Hipgnosis.

Chrissy AmphlettThe Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett was known in the United States as more of a one-hit wonder for the 1991 top ten song I Touch Myself than for anything else. But in her native Australia, Chrissy Amphlett was a rock legend. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even spoke of the impact of Amphlett’s death and what she meant to the Australian music scene.

Amphlett died in New York City at the age of 53 on April 20 after battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer for many years.

The Divinyls were not just a pop band, they could rock as hard as anybody as evidenced here in a 1982 live performance of Boys in Town. With her schoolgirl outfit Amphlett displays some head-banging moves reminiscent of AC/DC’s Angus Young.

 

Clive Burr, Iron Maiden Drummer Dies At 56

Clive Burr – Iron Maiden’s Masterful And Highly Underrated Drummer Passes Away

Clive Burr Drumming 1982Clive Burr, who was Iron Maiden’s drummer from 1979-1982, died in his sleep at his home in London, England on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. He had been in ill-health for a number of years.

Burr played on the first three Iron Maiden albums, Iron Maiden, Killers and The Number of the Beast. With Iron Maiden on the verge of worldwide stardom, Burr was replaced under circumstances which remain murky to this day by Nicko McBrain for 1983’s Piece of Mind album. The official reason given was personal problems and difficulties in dealing with the heavy touring schedule.

Clive Burr Interview 1982Burr played with a string of other bands for the next dozen years, but never achieved the success he had with Iron Maiden. In the early 1990’s Burr’s musical career came to an abrupt end when he noticed tingling in his hands. He received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1994.

His former band mates held several charity events during the last decade which they called “Clive-Aid” to raise money to help Burr with his medical expenses which had left him in debt.

Iron Maiden Cliveaid 2007

Steve Harris, Dave Murray and Clive Burr at 2007’s CliveAid Concert

Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood said in 2002 at the first benefit, “Maiden has always been a family and even after all these years, we still consider Clive to be part of the family and as such we feel we should help him in any way possible.”

There has been a long simmering debate among hardcore Maiden fans about who was the better drummer, Burr or McBrain?

They were so different in style that a comparison is very difficult, but I always preferred Burr’s lucid, free jazz-style drumming. Continue reading

Two Baseball Greats Pass Away- Stan Musial & Earl Weaver And Remembering An Infamous Interview

Cardinals Superstar Stan Musial Dies At 92, Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Dies At 82 And One Very Dirty, Funny Radio Show

If you are like me, Saturday, January 19, 2013 will be remembered by baseball fans as a very sad day because two Hall of Famers died.

Stan Musial was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and was a gentleman on and off the field.

Earl Weaver was supposedly a gentleman off the field. On the field he could be a terror to the umpires.

I’ll leave the comments of greatness to others on both of these legends. While both of these men will get accolades and fond remembrances in the obituary pages, few will mention the outtake reel from “The Manager’s Corner” with Earl Weaver and Tom Marr.

This pre-game show that usually aired 20 minutes before every Orioles game never made it on the air for obvious reasons. I first heard this about 15 years ago. It had me rolling on the floor with laughter. I’d like to remember Earl as having a funny enough sense of humor to purposely make a radio show un-airable. Here is the story of how this 1982 “interview” transpired.

WARNING – EXTREMELY STRONG LANGUAGE – Play in the presence of children if you swear like a sailor.

Jack Klugman, Odd Couple’s Oscar Madison, Dies At 90

Last Of “12 Angry Men” Cast Passes Away At Home

Jack Klugman with son Adam Klugman promoting Tony and Me 2005 © stuffnobodycaresabout.com

Jack Klugman with son Adam Klugman promoting Tony and Me 2005 © stuffnobodycaresabout.com

When Jack Klugman decided to write a book he insisted it would not be an autobiography. He was too modest for that. Instead he wrote a book about his close relationship with his Odd Couple co-star Tony Randall. The book, Tony and Me A Story of Friendship, published in 2005 by Good Hill Press, was short on details about Klugman’s life, but very illuminating about Randall and Klugman’s close relationship.

After Klugman was treated for throat cancer he thought his acting career might be over. It wasn’t. With the encouragement of Tony Randall, Klugman returned to the stage and began his career anew, re-learning how to use his new voice, a scratchy rasp that pained some people to listen to. Klugman insisted it didn’t hurt him at all to talk, it just sounded that way to others.

The star of one of the best written and best acted television programs of all-time, The Odd Couple, Jack Klugman died on December 24, 2012 at his home in Woodland Hills, CA at the age of 90. He had been in declining health for the past year. He leaves behind his sons Adam and David and his second wife Peggy. His first wife actress Brett Somers died in 2007, they had been separated since 1974, but had never divorced.

I spent quite a bit of time in 2005 with Jack Klugman helping to promote his book. One of the things I asked him was why he didn’t write an autobiography. He said, “This is all there ever will be. I’m the sort of of person who likes to keep things private. I’ll write about Tony because our relationship was special and that story should be told, but that’s it.”

Our conversations about life and acting made me believe that this was a mistake, and I told Jack Klugman he could have told the world so much more about his career and recollections and many people would be fascinated.

He politely replied that it wasn’t that interesting.

I disagree. His full life story would have been very interesting.

Some things people may not have known about Jack Klugman:

Klugman had an incredibly sharp mind and he attended the prestigious Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University).

On The Odd Couple, Klugman portrayed Oscar Madison, a sloppy sportswriter who was a New York Mets fan. In reality Klugman knew little about modern baseball and his knowledge after the DiMaggio era of baseball was lacking. I arranged an appearance on the New York Mets pre-game radio show with Gary Cohen to promote his book. After some initial nervousness and hesitancy on Klugman’s part, he did the interview and both Klugman and Cohen were very satisfied with the results and Cohen said it was one of his favorite interviews that he had ever conducted. Klugman’s real love was the track. He loved the horses. But for that interview you would not have known that Jack Klugman was not a real life New York Mets fan.

He worked with some of the most famous actors of their day, such as Humphrey Bogart, on live television. Most of those appearances are now lost forever.

Klugman’s role as Juror #5 in of one of the all-time greatest movies, 12 Angry Men was a breakthrough part for him, leading to many more acting offers. He discounted his importance to that film as being “small.” It wasn’t small. Klugman’s portrayal may have had the most authenticity of all the actors based on his rough and tumble upbringing.

On a bright day in late June 2005 in the midst of the book publicity tour in a chilly New York office building, we had some spare time alone between interviews. Klugman was wearing his trademark V-neck sweater and cap.  I asked Klugman what he remembered about working with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb and rest of the stellar cast of 12 Angry Men. Klugman grew wistful, saying, “I never really liked acting in the movies, the pace was too slow. I always preferred the stage and television. But that cast…that was amazing. It was a privilege to be a small part of that movie.”

We talked about John Fiedler (the voice of Piglet from Winnie The Pooh) who had co-starred with Klugman on a couple of episodes of The Odd Couple and appeared in 12 Angry Men as Juror #2.  I told Klugman he just passed away.

Klugman was surprised and said, “I just spoke to John a few months ago.” Apparently no one had told him about Fiedler’s very recent death. He was silent for a moment or two, looked out toward the window and said slowly, “They’re all gone. Fonda, Balsam, Cobb, Warden. I’m the last of the 12 Angry Men.”

You Are Creative And You Are Wasting Your Life

The Most Important Piece Of Career Advice You Will Ever Read

Forget all those best-selling, life affirming books which “reveal” valuable lessons that you should follow to have a happy life or a lucrative career.

Linds Redding, an award winning graphic designer who worked in the advertising industry for nearly 30 years, started a blog in 2011, the day he found out he had esophageal cancer.

The piece he wrote on March 11, 2012 called A Short Lesson In Perspective is a must read for anyone who is indulged in a creative profession or aspires to one. Even if you do not consider yourself creative, this is still well worth the few minutes it will take to read. It is not technically advice as much as it is self-reflection that has enormous value to the reader.

It is 2,900 words long, but even for those with short attention spans, I urge you to read to the end.

The whole article can, and should, be read here, and an excerpt (not from the beginning) is reproduced below:

My old life looks, and feels, very different from the outside.

And here’s the thing.

It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to  enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”

What do I think?

I think you’re all fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a fucking TV commercial. Nobody give a shit.

This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.

The scam works like this:

1. The creative industry operates largely by holding ‘creative’ people ransom to their own self-image, precarious sense of self-worth, and fragile – if occasionally out of control ego. We tend to set ourselves impossibly high standards, and are invariably our own toughest critics. Satisfying our own lofty demands is usually a lot harder than appeasing any client, who in my experience tend to have disappointingly low expectations. Most artists and designers I know would rather work all night than turn in a sub-standard job. It is a universal truth that all artists think they a frauds and charlatans, and live in constant fear of being exposed. We believe by working harder than anyone else we can evaded detection. The bean-counters rumbled this centuries ago and have been profitably exploiting this weakness ever since. You don’t have to drive creative folk like most workers. They drive themselves. Just wind ‘em up and let ‘em go.

2. Truly creative people tend not to be motivated by money. That’s why so few of us have any. The riches we crave are acknowledgment and appreciation of the ideas that we have and the things that we make. A simple but sincere “That’s quite good.” from someone who’s opinion we respect (usually a fellow artisan) is worth infinitely more than any pay-rise or bonus. Again, our industry masters cleverly exploit this insecurity and vanity by offering glamorous but worthless trinkets and elaborately staged award schemes to keep the artists focused and motivated. Like so many demented magpies we flock around the shiny things and would peck each others eyes out to have more than anyone else. Handing out the odd gold statuette is a whole lot cheaper than dishing out stock certificates or board seats.  (continued on Lind’s web site)

Linds Redding passed away at the age of 52, October 31, 2012.

“Mongo” – Alex Karras NFL Star Dies At 77

Karras, Famous For Stellar NFL Career, Will Always Have A Place in Movie Comedy History

Alex Karras died in Los Angeles at the age of 77 on October 10, 2012 due to kidney failure and other health complications.

The Detroit Lions All-Pro defensive tackle will be remembered by many as a great football player who played from 1958-1970. But I, along with many other people, will remember his acting career which stretched from 1968 -1998. Mel Brooks comedy fans especially loved Karras’ portrayal as the monosyllabic ruffian cowboy, Mongo, in Brooks brilliant 1974 western satire Blazing Saddles.

Karras did not have many scenes in the movie, but they were all very funny.

This scene below is the one that shocked audiences: Karras’ one punch knockout of a horse.  As an fyi -Karras did not actually hurt the horse and people would later come up to him and ask how he could do such a horrible thing.  “I thought it was hilarious, but I didn’t want to hurt that horse at all, believe me,” Karras said in a 2011 interview with the “Sports and Torts” Internet radio show. “I’m not the type of person to do that.”