This Day in Death

7.25.14: David Lee Roth… ’s Uncle Manny – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:05 pm August 8, 2014

MANNY_ROTHThe world mourns for David Lee Roth, aka Diamond Dave, the legendary frontman for hard rock pioneers Van Halen, as he mourns the death of his significantly less famous uncle Manny (lower right inset).


Well, you’re here now, so you might as well read the rest of this thing, despite the false pretense of the title. Hey, that’s how they got me to watch eight seasons of Home Improvement before I realized I was still no closer to knowing how to weatherproof my deck. You take your losses.

Anyway, Manny Roth was the owner of “Cafe Wha?,” the famous Greenwich Village nightclub that was home to all manner of 60s counter-culture weirdos from Lenny Bruce to Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix. “Cafe Wha?,” of course, was a shortened version of the club’s original name; “Cafe What the Hell is in Allen Ginsberg’s Beard?” (Shrimp scampi. It was shrimp scampi.)

In 1959, someone told Mr. Roth about a garage that used to be an old horse stable on Macdougal between Bleecker and West Third Streets. You had to go down steep stairs to reach the dark, dank basement, which was bisected by a trough once used as a gutter for horse dung. Mr. Roth immediately recognized it as an excellent site for a coffee house — that legendary genre of cafe where, at least in the haziness of memory, hipsters smoked, sipped espresso and discussed Sartre.

I’m not sure what kind of mental state a person has to be in to see the crusted remains of animal feces and immediately think, “yeah, people should probably be eating here,” but somehow it worked and, despite a temporary change of ownership, continues to operate to this day. So if you were looking for a place to hang out with hipsters so entrenched in their own haughtiness that their chunky glasses only work if they’re looking at an Arcade Fire concert, Cafe Wha? in 2014 is probably a safe bet. Or, if you wanted to get even deeper into the culture, I hear the new place to hang out and pretend to work on your manuscript is a club situated on a single plank of wood protruding from the remains of a tenement fire somewhere on Detroit’s lower east side. The WiFi password is “PuppyPaws87.”

Source: The NY Times

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5.18.14: Jerry Vale – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:47 pm May 21, 2014

JERRY_VALETypically the phrase “great Italian hits” is just a list of people Frank Sinatra has had killed. Man, if the Italians were allowed on the internet I would be in some shit right about now.


50s-era singer Jerry Vale is dead today, most likely from something medical, but I feel we shouldn’t shut the door just yet on the possibility of a new rabies strain that only affects aged crooners. Sorry, “natural causes” has just reached the saturation point of boredom for me. You gotta spice this shit up, Nature.

Vale also played himself in the films Goodfellas and Casino, the latter of which is actually just Goodfellas with an additional half hour of Joe Pesci calling Sharon Stone a “puttana,” plus some stock footage of a roulette wheel spinning. Probably.

Mr. Vale rose to stardom performing in supper clubs as a teenager, and hit the charts for the first time in 1953 with “You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart.” He was a fixture at Columbia Records, where he recorded more than 50 albums and churned out hits like “Two Purple Shadows” and “Al Di La.” His biggest hit, “You Don’t Know Me,” peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list in 1956.

More like, “You Don’t Know This Song,” am I right? Ha! I tell you, sometimes they just write themselves. Not this time, though. That one actually took a deceptively long time. But I’m still left strangely unsatisfied, like watching a fat mime. Let’s see if we can get even further out of my web-savvy target demographic’s wheelhouse. Hey Blockquote; Have you got anything with that uncomfortable old person smell on it?

After Mr. Vale and his wife, Rita, moved to California, the two became a constant presence at Mr. Sinatra’s Rancho Mirage ranch. He played at the annual Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament for several years and once performed at the event in 1996.

Holy Methuselah in white pants. I haven’t seen so many geriatric bullet points since I lied about my age to join the AARP. Goddammit, members get a 15% discount at participating Denny’s restaurants and I can’t go 12 hours without a Grand Slamwich, I did what I had to do.

Source: The NY Times

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5.12.14: A Couple of Cartoon Voice Actors – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:21 pm May 12, 2014

LEE_MARSHALL_EFREM_ZIMBALISTIn a Class-Off, I’m giving this to Alfred in a walk. Granted, a neckerchief adds a touch of sophistication, but that lead shrinks pretty significantly when it’s literally the only thing you’re wearing. Also, stitching your name onto it? What are you, in third grade? Who wants to steal some mountain biking tiger’s sweaty neckwear anyway?


Animation: It’s kind of bullshit. Loosed from the constraints of reality that the rest of us are slavishly beholden to, animators get to just go around drawing any damn thing, things which may not even really exist, and we’re supposed to be impressed. Wow, vast landscapes of the imagination and delightfully colorful characters, huh? What do you expect me to do with that? Why don’t you get back to me when you’ve drawn something real, like… a loveless marriage of convenience? Or student loan debt? Teachers don’t get to make up which facts they’re going to teach. Surgeons don’t get to just freestyle crucial labia-enhancement procedures. Yet we let animators just make shit up and nobody’s policing any of it. I mean, there’s the FCC, but they’re tied up doing God’s work of making sure I don’t accidentally hear an f-word at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday, because apparently I live in a Sear’s catalog from 1956.

Today we’ve got a double-shot from animation’s saving grace, the clothing-optional world of voice acting: First up is Lee Marshall, the voice of Frosted Flakes’ sugarpeddling mascot Tony the Tiger, who had spent decades accompanying ethnically-diverse youngsters on whitewater rafting trips like everything was just totally normal there. HOW DID HE GET OPPOSABLE THUMBS!?

Marshall began voicing the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes mascot in 1999, filling in for the original actor, Thurl Ravenscroft.

Marshall got his first full-time radio job at the age of 14 in Phoenix. He had a prematurely deep voice and lied about his age. His career included radio newsman, rock ‘n’ roll disc jockey, sports broadcaster and wrestling ring interviewer.

Well, I can’t imagine the ring itself has all that much to say in an interview, but then again I’m not a sports fan.

Next up is fellow voice actor Efram Zimbalist, Jr., who portrayed Alfred Pennyworth in the seminal Batman: The Animated Series… uh, series. At least it means I get to talk about Batman, which, frustratingly, was at least half the reason I started this stupid blog in the first place. Did you know Burt Ward is still perfectly healthy? Guy doesn’t even have a wasp’s nest on his property or anything. It’s horseshit is what it is.

Zimbalist found a whole new generation of fans through his voice roles on several animated TV series, including as Doctor Octopus on Spider-Man, Justin Hammer on Iron Man, and as King Arthur on The Legend of Prince Valiant. But it was as Bruce Wayne’s droll butler and confidante Alfred Pennyworth on Batman: The Animated Series that he may be best known to IGN readers.

Also of note to IGN readers: “Efram Zimbalist, Jr.” is what it sounds like when you say “X-Men symbolist fever” with tape over your mouth. Really surprised that didn’t make the article. There must have been a word limit or something.

Source: USA Today and IGN

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4.11.13: Comedian Jonathan Winters – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:52 am April 15, 2013

JONATHAN_WINTERSAbove, forward, even diagonal… that motherfucker could point at *anything.*


So comic legend Jonathan Winters died last week, but I’m not taking it too hard. See, once you become a famous and handsome comedy blogger you realize that all comedians fall neatly into one of two categories: ‘Dave Coulier’ and ‘Other.’ Don’t argue, just accept.

But apparently a lot of people out there feel differently. Specifically, 140 characters worth of differently. Because, despite the story not going live til two days after his death, all of the quotes CNN pulled about his death were tweets. Because phone calls are for assholes and old people, not the hip, tech-savvy newshounds at CNN, with their Mountain Dew IV drips and their backwards “Keep Cool with Coolidge” baseball caps. That also explains why Wolf Blitzer got that Skrillex haircut.

“First he was my idol, then he was my mentor and amazing friend,” tweeted Williams. “I’ll miss him huge. He was my Comedy Buddha. Long live the Buddha.”

“R.I.P Jonathan Winters,” tweeted comedian and filmmaker Albert Brooks. “Beyond funny, he invented a new category of comedic genius.”

“Had a great run. Actual genius,” tweeted Kevin Pollak.

“A genius and the greatest improvisational comedian of all time,” tweeted Richard Lewis.

“The first time I saw Jonathan Winters perform, I thought I might as well quit the business,” tweeted Dick Van Dyke after hearing of Winters’ death. “Because, I could never be as brilliant.”

Oh my! It’s a veritable “Who’s Who” of “There’s No Way That Guy is Still Alive.” Nonetheless, I’m gonna roll with it; Richard Lewis isn’t gonna come up often on this blog, and so this may be my only chance to post this:

If there was any justice in this stupid country, “Bemulleted Richard Lewis wearing a utility belt full of adult juice boxes” would be the number one Halloween costume every single year.

Source: CNN

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1.14.13: Conrad Bain, Mr. Drummond of Television’s “Diff’rent Strokes” – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:21 pm January 16, 2013

 CONRAD_BAINNot to be confused with Soviet-era Batman villain, Comrade Bane. I kinda feel like I should get the rest of the day off after that one.

Conrad Bain, who played Mr. Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes, died on Monday of natural causes, and if you’re worried that I’m gonna be disrespectful and make a lot of stupid jokes, or make it all about me somehow, then you obviously don’t know this blog as well as you think. See, one of the things I’m most known for, besides breaking up with exotic supermodels for having birthmarks larger than 1/8th of a square inch (sorry, baby, I can’t risk catching that), is tactfulness. With that in mind, please watch this very special episode of Diff’rent Strokes where the local bike shop owner turns out to be a child molester. It taught kids everywhere that if an adult is ever nice it probably means he plans to molest you. I’d go so far as it to say it inadvertently helped kick-start the fear-based media cycle that keeps us locked into unfounded paranoia, turning us into a nation of terrified, reactionary, and easily manipulated lemmings eager to be led off a cliff in the interest of an imagined safety. While the world spins into environmental chaos and political corruption my newsfeed is filled with unverified stories detailing new gang initiations and misattributed, fallacious political screeds about gun rights and domestic terrorism, carelessly reposted by people who STILL don’t know how to use Snopes even though it’s 20goddamn13. You have easy access to the internet, the most thorough and sophisticated source of information that any civilization has ever even conceived of, why can’t you check on these things first? Oh Christ my ear is bleeding. It’s a gusher, this is bad. This is seriously bad. Anyway, enjoy the show!

Okay, so, child molestation is bad, and I’m not just saying that because I’m required by court order to do so. But relatively speaking, it’s at least encouraging that he wasn’t excluding children of color. That show was pretty progressive for the 80s. I mean, I’m not advocating molesting children, I’m just saying that if you’re gonna do it *anyway* don’t be a bigot and consider children outside of your own race. Oh, so now *I’m* somehow being offensive? Fine, whatever. You guys are reacting just like those closed-minded fascists at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

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12.24.12: Jack Klugman, Star of The Odd Couple – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:43 am December 31, 2012

JACK_KLUGMANThough they certainly had their detractors, the singing duo of Klugman & Dog left nary a dry eye in the house during their rendition of “Strangers in the Night.”


Actor Jack Klugman died on Christmas Eve, but I waited til now to tell you about it so that it wouldn’t ruin your holiday, unlike that year when your white brother thought it was the perfect time to announce he’d joined the Nation of Islam, and you know he only did it to piss off your racist uncle. Just let everyone enjoy some goddamn ham before you make everything all weird, Jerry!

Klugman was best known as Oscar, the filthy, degenerate slob from the mismatched buddy television series The Odd Couple. The show was based on the Neil Simon play of the same name, which was itself based on an earlier stage play about Ayn Rand renting a flat with a reincarnated Karl Marx. That play was, of course, based on a collection of Thomas Nashe sonnets chronicling the comedic misadventures of King Edward III being forced to share his castle with a dish full of sassy Black Plague bacterium. Interestingly, those sonnets were themselves a loose adaptation of a series of cave paintings by Ook the Brave detailing a wild bison’s attempts to get along with a mild-mannered spear. I dunno, I think some of those paintings still hold up pretty well.

Never anyone’s idea of a matinee idol, Klugman remained a popular star for decades simply by playing a gruff but down-to-earth guy, his tie stained and a little loose, a cigar in hand during the days when smoking was permitted.

Klugman’s cause of death is believed to be natural causes, although it’s worth noting that he suffered from throat cancer in the 80s. The cancer had robbed him of his voice, but, amazingly, Klugman was able to teach himself how to speak again. It’s a pretty courageous feat, and I’m definitely using it as inspiration to one day go back into my bedroom after seeing that spider in there last week and running away. In retrospect it might have just been a lint ball, but this is hardly the time to be taking any chances.


Source: USA Today

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11.8.12: Lucille Bliss, the Voice of Smurfette – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:36 pm November 20, 2012

Bliss, seen here with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and Prince Charming’s “friend” Greg. Listen, Cindy’s a nice beard and all but just be yourself already. It’s been 60 years! Nobody has a problem with that anymore!

Cartoon voice actor Lucille Bliss is dead today at the age of 96, which is a good age to stop doing much of anything anyway, so good timing there. Bliss is perhaps best known for voicing the first female Smurf, the meticulously-named Smurfette. Seriously, they just called her Smurfette and everybody figured that was solid enough. Don’t try to tell me no one went home early that day.

Throughout her career, Bliss was met with plenty of rejection. She lost her job as Elroy Jetson, she told interviewers, when she wouldn’t work under a stage name that would hide the fact that she was a grown woman playing a little boy, which is a common scenario in cartoons.

“Life as a voice actress is tough,” she once said. “It’s not an easy career.”

“Yeah, that’s really tough. Now excuse me while I spend the next 20 minutes trying to dislodge a tube sock from a public school toilet for $10 an hour while kids throw quarters at me,” said people who actually have to work. Sorry, but it’s hard to sympathize with how difficult a career path must be if you can turn down good work on the grounds of it not bringing you name recognition. Hell, I’ll never know my mailman’s name, and he’s brought me years of joy in the form of pizza coupons and that lifetime subscription to Miniature Donkey Talk. Let’s be honest, voice acting is a pretty sweet gig, all things considered. There are only two jobs that require virtually nothing more than functioning throat muscles, and voice actors don’t have anything on Colombian sex workers. Those ladies really have to give it 110% every day.


Source: The LA Times

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10.13.12: Actor and Miss America Pageant Host Gary Collins – DEAD!

Filed under: Uncategorized —James @ 8:29 pm October 16, 2012

Probably the best part of hosting the Miss America pageant is getting to help dedicated young women realize their dreams.  Probably the second best thing is stealing as many used swimsuits as you can hide under your cummerbund.


Notable television actor Gary Collins died on Saturday, which is the kind of thing that might mean something to you if your television is one of those ones that can receive broadcast signals and isn’t just a refrigerator box with Dr. Pepper caps for knobs. It’s just supposed to be a conversation piece, get off my back.

Oh shit, here comes TMZ, everybody lower your brows:

Collins’ resumé is a mile long … having appeared on episodes of such hit shows as “Fantasy Island,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Alice,” “The Love Boat,” “Police Story” … the list goes on.

Collins was also known for hosting the talk show “Hour Magazine” and from 1980-1988 and hosted the Miss America Pageant from 1985-1989.

He married former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley in 1967 and the couple had one child together. They separated last year.

I imagine some poor editor had to remove at least five hyperbolic uses of the word “literally” just to get that published. Explaining grammar to those troglodytes must be the worst job in the world.  “But chief! His resume really WAS a mile long! I sawr it, I did!”

Anyway, I’m sure it looks good on paper, but be careful marrying beauty pageant winners. For one thing, they get extremely snippy when you use their sash as toilet paper. Listen, your majesty; If I knew this relationship was gonna require me to remember a bunch of arbitrary rules I would’ve just kept picking up chicks at the VD clinic like normal people do.

Source: TMZ

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9.6.12: NFL Team Owner Art Modell – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:40 am September 7, 2012

Ha! That dog’s wearing pants!!


As I’ve said before, we don’t do sports posts too often around here because if I really felt the need to see a bunch of angry rich white guys tell a bunch of black guys what to do I’ll just rewatch “Roots.” But it’s Friday and I don’t feel like looking for anything else today so we’re doing this thing on Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell anyway. You should be lucky I’m even bothering to put up original content; Normally by this point in the week I’m just copying and pasting bits from David Niven’s autobiography and passing them off as my own.

Anyway, Modell was a once-popular and hugely influential team owner who became a pariah to the great (?) state (??) of Ohio when he moved the Browns to Baltimore. My broheims down at Buffalo Wild Wings insist it’s a fascinating story. But I don’t care about any of that so I’m just going to skim this issue of “Cat Fancy” while you read a boring ass block quote.

For 31 years, from 1962 to 1993, he represented National Football League owners in negotiations with television networks that generated $8.4 billion for the league and gave fans at home a coast-to-coast succession of games, turning Sunday afternoons, Monday nights and eventually Sunday nights into lost weekends for the most ardent fans. An innovative, relentless promoter, Mr. Modell even toyed with Friday night football.

Let’s skip ahead to what would be the 35-minute mark if this were an episode of “Behind the Music.” God, I wish this were an episode of “Behind the Music.”

But all that came crashing down in 1995 when Mr. Modell announced that, having lost $21 million in the previous two seasons, he would move the Browns to Baltimore for 1996.

Wounded Cleveland shrieked betrayal. There were street protests, an avalanche of hate mail and death threats against Mr. Modell. Sportswriters reviled him. At the final home game, beer bottles and seats torn from their moorings rained down on the field.

GRRRRR FOOTBAAALL!!! Oh, Cleveland! You truly are Ohio’s Detroit. I dunno, guys… maybe hang your city’s financial future on something other than the stability of roving bands of ‘roided up living Nike billboards and their vamprific handlers. Didn’t you guys used to have a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or have the rat kings pretty much laid their claim by now?

Alright, well, I’m done here for the week. The only thing I’ve got left in the tank is “Fart Modell.” Yup. You stayed til the end for a flatulence joke. Go ahead and ruminate on that until my new shipment of snark arrives for Monday.


Source: The NY Times

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7.27.12: Norman Alden, Allegedly Notable Person – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:06 am August 1, 2012

Pictured: A man who existed [citation needed].


Let’s just… let’s just get right to this.

Norman Alden, an instantly recognizable character actor who recurred on TV series including “My Three Sons” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and sported more than 200 credits in film and television, died of natural causes in Los Angeles on July 27. He was 87.

Admittedly, that’s quite prolific, but I’m still not putting anything together here. Either this guy was the goddamn invisible ninja master of film or I’ve been huffing too much Rustoleum. Keep ‘em coming, Block Quote…

Alden guested on a vast array of series, including “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,” “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” “Perry Mason,” “The Untouchables,” “Bonanza,” “The Smothers Brothers Show,” “The Mod Squad,” “Kung Fu,” “Gunsmoke,” “Alice,” “Dallas,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Falcon Crest” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

His other appearances on the bigscreen included roles in Jerry Lewis films “The Nutty Professor” and “The Patsy,” Sonny and Cher starrer “Good Times,” “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” “Kansas City Bomber” (he had once skated in roller derby), “Semi-Tough” (he was the football coach), “Back to the Future,” “Ed Wood” (he played Woods’ cameraman), “Patch Adams” and “K-PAX.” In “Back to the Future,” he played Lou Carruthers, owner of a diner in 1955 and of an aerobics center in 1985.

Well, okay. The Back to the Future thing, maybe… I’ll be honest, that entire resume looks like stuff I *should* recognize but absolutely do not. I feel like I pissed off an elderly indian shaman and woke up in some parallel universe where everything is mostly the same but just a bit off. I half expect to see fish flying through the sky and then learn that our holiest tradition is getting together with our families to watch Bicentennial Man every Christmas. Is there something, anything at all that I can definitively place this man in?

A celebration of the life of Norman Alden, voice of Aquaman, will be held in Los Angeles in August and another in Fort Worth, Texas in September.


A celebration of the life of Norman Alden, voice of Aquaman


voice of Aquaman



Oh thank God. Thus concludes the least notable entry I’ve ever written. No offense to Skippy Jeffers or whatever his name was, I’m sure he was the perfect blank template for “ruggedly handsome actor,” but I’d probably get more hits from writing about that horse at the fair that plays Tic Tac Toe. Believe you me, that horse is gonna be HUGE one day.

Sources: Variety and The Inquisitr

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