Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A few odds and ends

The New York Post has done an admirable thing—and that may be the first and only time on this blog you will see “New York Post” and “admirable” in the same sentence—by drawing attention to the recent heated discussion as to why the CBS Network is determined to keep twenty-five public domain Jack Benny Program television masters locked away from the public rather than (*heavens to Murgatroyd!*) take on the potential hassles of licensing, etc. (I love how this article opens up with the question: “So, who’s the cheapskate now?”)

An old friend of mine—well, more old than friend, as Fred Allen would say—has been giving me grief over at Facebook because I like to join groups connected with classic films and old-time radio, etc. She will probably tsk-tsk my latest participation in a group that I had to be a member of—“I survived the "Big Dipper" at Camden Park!” I’ve mentioned Huntington, WV’s premiere amusement park a time or two on the blog, and when I saw the picture for the group (to your right)—Camden’s commercials would always end “at the sign of the Happy Clown”—I was hooked. (For the uninformed, the “Big Dipper” is the park’s resident roller coaster—which I rode ten times one day as a kid, armed with my all-day hand stamp.)

Unfortunately, all this wistful nostalgia must give way to the tragic news that, according to Sarah Weinman at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind author Robert B. Parker has passed on at the age of 77, “just sitting at his desk” at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Parker is renowned as being one of the best detective novelists of his time, having created one of my all-time favorite gumshoes: Boston’s own Spenser, who was later brought to television in a woefully short-run series from 1985-88 (and some telefilms afterward) starring Robert Urich. Spenser is no doubt Parker’s best-known creation, but the author also brought to life private dicks like Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, and Western icons Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. (He even tackled a pair of Philip Marlowe tomes—Poodle Springs [1989], a completion of Marlowe creator Raymond Chandler’s last unfinished novel; and Perchance to Dream [1991], a sequel to Chandler’s immortal The Big Sleep.)

R.I.P, Mr. Parker. You will be sorely missed.

Someone at Facebook pointed me towards this list at HollywoodToday.net that compiles all the notable celebrities who went on to their rich reward in 2009. I try to post obituaries as often as I can but even I manage to miss a couple now and then—and this list confirms that quite a few personages slipped through the TDOY radar: Olga San Juan, Claude Berri, Susanna Foster, Sydney Chaplin, Jack Grimes, Jody McCrea, Maxine Cooper (Gomberg), Frank Aletter, Dorothy Layton, Huey Long (not the governor, the guitarist-singer with the Ink Spots), Ken Roberts, Brenda Joyce, Beverly Roberts, Virginia Carroll, Sammy Petrillo, Virginia Davis, Johnny Carter, Army Archerd, Zakes Mokae, Dorothy Coonan Wellman, Timothy Bateson, Dick Durock, Pamela Blake, Al Martino, Linda Day and Maggie Jones. By no means is this a complete list; these are just the names I recognized right off the bat…so for all the talent we lost last year, I most assuredly want to state that they will be missed.

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1 comment:

Philip Schweier said...

I see where Ken Roberts died. At first I thought it was his son, Tony Roberts, secure in the belief that Roberts Sr. had passed on many years ago. But no, the announcer of The Shadow has indeed faded into the ether.