This Day in Death

8.24.13: Broadway Star Julie Harris – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:55 pm August 29, 2013

Tarzan - Season 1Harris, on the set of Tarzan in 1966. Pfft. I don’t see what the big deal is; I could’ve played that role, if producers weren’t so close-minded about a Tarzan who keeps his shirt on the whole time.


Famed theater actress Julie Harris died over the weekend, although if you live in a town populated by 18th century fops you probably already knew about it and I’m just reopening wounds right now. Sorry about that, but in my defense, your town sounds awful.

Over the years, Harris’ portrayals of historical women led to her being celebrated as one of the most esteemed performers in the history of Broadway, even surpassing such household names as That One Guy Who Was Most Likely Gay and That Lady Who Died (You Know Who I’m Talking About, the Lady). Wow, wouldn’t it have been amazing to have seen all three of them together in something?!

Sometimes called the first lady of the American theater, she made her first Broadway appearance while she was still in college, and over the next half century-plus earned 10 Tony nominations, more than any other performer. The last was in 1997 for a revival of “The Gin Game,” D. L. Coburn’s mordant comedy about the contentious friendship between two isolated denizens of an old age home that emerges over a card table.

Harris was also an accomplished film star, appearing in films such as 1955’s East of Eden, where she had the honor of sucking serious face with superhunk/white cotton t-shirt aficionado James Dean. I hear, if you do it right, it gives you the power to see in six dimensions.


Source: The NY Times

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8.16.13: Controversial French Lawyer Jacques Vergès – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 11:12 pm August 24, 2013

PORTRAITS D'AVOCATSSo we’re sticking with the Sith Lord look for our legal professionals for the foreseeable future, huh? Fine, but I guarantee that once the Right Honorable Triple H passes the bar you better believe those sleeves are coming right the hell off.


Jacques Vergès died last week and don’t even pretend like you knew who he was. Because you didn’t. Shit, neither did I. In fact, I already had to rewrite this post from scratch because I wasted 300 words under the assumption that he was Jacques Cousteau. Threw away a lot of good jokes about azimuth compasses, you guys really missed out.

No, this Jacques was a controversial lawyer who made a career out of defending Nazi war criminals and other unsavory types. And not like in the way that your girlfriend defends all those Jennifer Aniston movies and embarrasses you in front of your friends. We’re talking high-stakes “in a court of law” defending. Vergès once even claimed he would’ve defended Hitler himself. Got any last words, you soulless bastard?

“When you treat the accused as a monster, you give up trying to understand what happened. And if you don’t try to understand what happened, you deprive yourself of any reflection on how to stop that thing happening elsewhere. If the Americans had reflected on the moral defeat that torture represented for the French army in Algeria, what has gone on at Abu Ghraib would certainly never have happened.”

Ha! I— Hmm… Well shit. This just got really morally complex, like laughing at a clown funeral. I hate when that happens. Today’s modern villains, they can never be bothered to twirl the occasional mustache to let us know which side of the fence they fall on. Listen, this isn’t a damn Peckinpah movie, someone just tell me who I’m supposed to root for already. I’m a busy man and these Bagel Bites aren’t gonna lodge themselves into my arteries. Bah!


Source: The Guardian

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8.20.13: Author Elmore Leonard – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:20 am August 21, 2013

ELMORE_LEONARDLeonard’s Ten Rules of Writing, which is totally just a rip off of Thomas Pynchon’s Four Thousand and Seventy-Eight Rules of Writing. It took me months to read, and for some reason required my acquiring a working knowledge of both Spanish imperialism and the production of Benzethonium chloride, but I’m told it was totally worth it.


Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty, Be Cool, and probably a few books that didn’t indirectly lead to keeping John Travolta in Level 7 Thetan armor, died yesterday at the age of 87. On a positive note, Leonard’s death gives me the opportunity to prove that I have read books. The spine damage on this Anne of Green Gables paperback should put an end to all those rumors to the contrary. NOW LET’S GET LITERARY, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

As described in a 2008 Washington Post profile, Mr. Leonard’s world is “populated by cops who aren’t exactly good, crooks who aren’t exactly bad, and women who have an eye for the in-between.”

What galvanizes this gallery of rogues and scoundrels, more often than not, is a scheme — a kidnapping, con job or robbery that will bring quick and easy money. As it turns out, the money is neither quick nor easy, and the schemes are doomed from the start, spinning down unexpected tangents and threatened at every turn by absurdity.

Pass. Those kinds of stories always get me so anxious, what with all their twists and turns and who knows what other kinds of geometric queasiness. That’s why I prefer books where the characters come up with a plan, it’s executed without any complications, and then the story ends early so we can all get a good night’s sleep. It’s kinda a niche without a lot of entries, so I’ve taken to just reading the first two chapters of a book and then skipping to the last ten pages. You save time and your nerves. I’ve also made my own edit of Cool Hand Luke, where Luke quickly learns to respect the prison system. In my version, most of the movie focuses on Luke communicating clearly with the prison bosses and making sure he doesn’t overeat before strenuous exercise. At the end he’s released after having served his full sentence. Once you take out all the card-playing and general cool-handedness it really becomes a film we can all learn from.


Source: The Washington Post


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8.15.13: Carter Adviser Bert Lance – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:23 am August 19, 2013

LANCE_BERTLOOK, I DON’T GET IT, NEW YORK TIMES, ALRIGHT!? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR?! Please, just let me read my Hi and Lois‘ in peace.


Well, Bert Lance died last week, and if that name doesn’t ring any bells it’s probably because you stopped collecting those Office of Management and Budget trading cards after George P. Shultz. Mmm, that guy could measure the quality of my agency anyday.

So, for those of you who were too busy talking to girls to memorize 92 years of bureaucratic minutia, I’ve got you covered. Let’s just sit back and relax while the Times tries to see how much they can cram into a single run-on sentence before we all forget what the hell we were reading about in the first place:

Bert Lance, a small-town Georgia banker who became pre-eminent adviser and tennis-playing confidant to Jimmy Carter but was forced to resign after eight months as director of the Office of Management and Budget because of accusations that he had personally traded on his ties with the president, died on Thursday in Georgia.

Oh, NY Times reporter Robert D. Hershey Jr.! You are the Wikipediest! All the info with none of the contextual nuance. Alright, let me try one:

“Jesus of Nazareth, who was believed to have been born in or around Judea, and who allegedly performed fish and wine-based miracles for his bros using supernatural abilities his followers believe were granted to him by his father, Thy Living Lord God, and who spent his years working as a common carpenter despite possessing Silver Age Superman power levels because humility I guess, was killed by the Romans maybe probably and hung on a cross on Friday because it looks like those Romans do *not* fuck around.”

I dunno, man. All the facts are there, but it just doesn’t have the love.

Getting back to B-Lanz, you may know him better as the originator of the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately you don’t hear it much anymore, as all of our most valuable phrases have been YOLO’d away in recent years. That’s right; “Where’s the Beef,” “Sit on It,” even the ever-reliable and sagelike wisdom of “No Fat Chicks,” all gone. I tried to warn you guys, but that bastard has been a linguistic A-bomb from day one.

Source: NY Times

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8.10.13: Singer Eydie Gorme – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:32 am August 14, 2013

 EYDIE_GORMEHey! I once got lost in a field, too! Well, technically it was a Trader Joe’s. Sometimes, at night, I swear I can still hear The Spin Doctors playing in the distance.


Oh, hi! Come on in, I didn’t see you there. No, no, you’re not interrupting anything; I was just reading some obituaries over my morning coffee, as I do every day. I have assured myself that this isn’t weird at all.

Well, since you’ve already invaded my private space, I suppose I’ll let you know that Eydie Gorme is dead. She was one of those old-fashioned singers who had to be alluring with just her voice and never got the chance to Tweet pictures of her bush to strangers like today’s young starlets. It’s kinda like Rosa Parks dying before getting to see America elect a black president.

[1964’s Amor] became a hit throughout Latin America, which resulted in more recordings for the Latino market, and Lawrence and Gorme performed as a duo throughout Latin America.

“Our Spanish stuff outsells our English recordings,” Lawrence said in 2004. “She’s like a diva to the Spanish world.”

It’s that kind of crossover trailblazing that’s made it possible for projects like my worship band’s new hardcore LP, Forgive Me Father, for I Have… Rocked!, to get any kind of traction within the metal community. And yes, before you ask, Ronny James Diocese *does* have a bitchin’ cantor solo during “For Those About to Cassock.” Obviously.



Source: USA Today

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7.26.13: ‘Captain Kangaroo’ Puppeteer Cosmo Allegretti – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:47 am August 9, 2013

COSMO_ALLEGRETTILet’s get one thing straight right now, Television; The day I’m gonna let a puppeteer in a kerchief entertain my children is the day I… well, the day I have children, for starters. Although that’s kinda unlikely. It’s just something about how they demand to be fed almost every single day, it really cuts into my free time. Alright, this threat kinda petered out, let’s just get on with the ha-has.


Hey, remember Captain Kangaroo? Alright, shut up, I can’t actually hear what you’re saying. The internet still doesn’t work like that and anyone who told you otherwise clearly does not respect your intelligence or capacity for critical thinking. No, that was just a transparent attempt at being conversational before I tell you about the death of Kangaroo puppeteer Cosmo Allegretti. That’s not a common first name, so take care not to confuse him with classic Seinfeld character Cosmo Kramer. To help you keep them straight, here’s a little mnemonic device: Cosmo Kramer was the one who entered rooms in hilarious fashion for 9 laugh-filled years, while Cosmo Allegretti was the one who wasn’t played by a crazy old racist.

[Allegretti] was a puppeteer for four years on “The Rootie Kazootie Show” before he started on “Captain Kangaroo.” He remained with the show until CBS canceled it in 1984 to free space for a news-oriented morning show.

Putting aside my disappointment that a compromise wasn’t reached involving a news and current events show hosted by puppets (The McLaughlin Group shouldn’t have to be the only one), it’s a good thing the cancellation took place before the internet was around to get all self-righteous about the death of something they didn’t even know was still around. Remember when the world collectively lost their shit during the 20 minutes when you couldn’t buy a Twinkie? Because my Facebook feed sure does. The poor thing is still recovering from the onslaught of self-righteous, hypoglycemic indignation. Before that had you even thought to eat a goddamn Twinkie in the last 15 years? What I’m getting at here is that you guys are really gonna miss this blog once I’ve been indicted for high crimes against the state and this URL just redirects to a video poker site. Frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already. I’m definitely living on borrowed time as it is.

Source: NY Times

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7.31.13: Star Trek’s Commander Kang Michael Ansara – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:51 am August 7, 2013

MICHAEL_ANSARAAnsara was Syrian, so I guess Roddenberry felt he was just some smeared eyeshadow away from becoming a terrifying space alien. More like Racistberry, yah?!


Michael Ansara, who portrayed Klingon Commander Kang in three iterations of Star Trek, is dead at the age of 91. If only there were 500-plus words about Klingon death rituals that I could link to right nGUESS WHAT THERE TOTALLY IS THAT THING I JUST SAID:

When a Klingon warrior was dying, his or her comrades would hold the eyes open while looking into his or her eyes. Once the Klingon in question had died, the other Klingons would raise their heads and howl for several seconds. This howl was a warning to the dead, that a Klingon warrior was arriving. Afterwards, the body was considered to be only an empty shell, and was unceremoniously disposed of following the ritual. [Source]

Granted, it’s a pretty cool ritual in hindsight, but I’m fairly confident that the first Klingon to do that was just being lazy. Here on Earth that’s basically the “OD’d hooker at a toga party” method of body disposal. An honored tradition in its own right, but not especially labor intensive. At any rate, Ansara’s in a better place now. I mean, not like Six Flags Great Adventure better, but definitely at least two or three rungs above, say, St. Louis. Most leading theologians will advise you that expecting any more from the afterlife is just setting yourself up for disappointment.


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7.28.13: Eileen Brennan – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:25 pm August 5, 2013

 EILEEN_BRENNANA lady sergeant? Huh. That must’ve been pretty groundbreaking, like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, or that video of the owl that successfully mated with a duck. Viva la progress!


So it looks like comedic actress Eileen Brennan died last week of bladder cancer. God, this is getting time consuming. If I’d known that so many people died, like, *all* the time, I would’ve just stuck with my original plan for this website; Cataloging Love Is… comics in order of inspirational power.

Among Brennan’s most notable roles were her parts in Private Benjamin, Clue, and The Sting, in which she starred opposite Paul Newman. Oh, Newman… Now THERE’S a guy who could fill out a wifebeater! It looks like today’s Vin Diesels could still learn a thing or two from Old Hollywood after all.

But stories of career achievements don’t pay the hosting mafia I’m in deep with, so here’s a concentrated double-shot of the kind of horrific tragedy you vultures come here for:

In 1982, Brennan was involved in a horrific accident, struck by a car as she exited a restaurant with “Benjamin” co-star Goldie Hawn. She suffered broken bones in her face, an eyeball pulled from its socket and two broken legs. Even after recovering physically — a process that took years — she suffered from an addiction to painkillers and entered the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984.

A few years later Brennan would contract (and beat) breast cancer as well. And then, I dunno, her soul was stolen by a troll or something. Jesus, this lady really earned her peace. It’s a stark contrast to my plan of swallowing this cyanide pill at the first whiff of physical illness. I once had that bastard on my tongue because my leg was asleep slightly longer than I was comfortable with.

Source: CNN

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