This Day in Death

7.26.16: Television Psychic Miss Cleo – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 1:42 pm August 5, 2016

MISS_CLEONow listen, I refuse to accept advice from people in puka shell necklaces. Sure, standing by my principles has gotten me into a lot of JNCO-centric scuffles, but as the saying goes, “I’d rather die on my feet than drag around a chain wallet like an asshole.”

 

There’s something about putting a camera in front of someone that makes us assume we’re not being lied to. A little sprinkling of that manufactured authenticity and you can convince us that politicians aren’t lizard people, or that Bear Grylls isn’t just hanging out by the interstate, or that David Duchovny is a real person and not a drowsy elephant seal that wandered onto the set.

Or take Youree Dell Harris, aka Miss Cleo, who conned countless Americans into ponying up for “psychic readings” just by sitting in front of a MacBook wallpaper and cobbling together the least-convincing Jamaican accent I’ve heard since I tried opening that jerk chicken restaurant in Cleveland. Honestly, lady; How hard would it have been to rent Cool Runnings one more time, just to be sure?

Of course, Harris’ whole act couldn’t have been any more transparent if she were sitting on top of a literal barrel of snake oil, but thanks to the vaseline-slathered magic of television, it worked. In fact, it worked for seven long years. And then it didn’t. And then she died. So, yeah… How you gonna fix this mess now, Television?

Harris’ run as a TV psychic was not without controversy. Access Resource Services, the company behind Psychic Readers Network, was hit with numerous lawsuits in 2001, and the following year the Federal Trade Commission charged the company’s owners with deceptive advertising, billing and collection practices, in a case that was eventually settled.

After that well dried up, Harris took a series of bizarre gigs to make ends meet, including doing commercials in character for a used car dealership, hawking breakfast cereal, and voicing a character in one of those games that white people used to blame violent crime on until they heard about Muslims.

Harris’ post-fame struggles just go to show that, wherever you are financially, you never know what the future will bring. So, if you’re anything like me, you started saving for your midlife crisis in your early teens. If you haven’t done the same, you should really sit down with your loved ones and think about the specific, pathetic way in which you hope to refute your rapidly-approaching end of days and put together a realistic plan to make it happen. Perhaps you’re finally gonna open that bistro you were only ever half-hearted about to begin with, or maybe you’d like to own an unnecessarily loud motorcycle with which to broadcast to the neighbors, “Hey everyone! I’m still vital and useful to the world!” Whatever dumbass idea you want to see through in order to briefly convince yourself that maybe Death isn’t snickering at the meaninglessness of literally everything you’ve ever done, it’s a stupid dream that I can help you achieve. Just send away for my free informational pamphlet, So You’re Denying Your Irrelevance: The Delusional Fool’s Guide to Personal Finance. How can I afford to send it to you free of charge? Ha, well… let’s just say a certain blogger was really into stamp-collecting for, like, two weeks.



Source: The Wrap

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8.17.15: Yvonne Craig, TV’s Batgirl – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:25 pm August 23, 2015

YVONNE_CRAIGThere, American Dental Association: I just did in 15 seconds what you guys have spent 150 years trying to do. Pfft, dentists! Truly the podiatrists of the medical world.


Actress and reason I hit puberty 14 years before I was conceived Yvonne Craig has died of breast cancer at the age of 78. Best known as Batgirl in the ’60s Batman tv show, Craig was added to the series in the third and final season to boost ratings and de-sausage the crimefighting sausage fest that was going on in the Batcave. Hey, you know who I feel bad for? People trying to put together a literal sausage fest. It must be impossible to get funding for that anymore. I mean I like a good sausage as much as anybody, but I’d definitely never go to one. No way, I hear those places are total sausage fests, bro.

Craig also had a memorable guest spot on Star Trek as the green-skinned alien Marta. Typical Hollywood: Would rather cover a white woman in paint than just hire a green actor to begin with. And don’t even get me started on how disenfranchised translucent Americans are in show business. It’s like they’re invisible or something.

Her numerous TV credits besides “Batman” included “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Kojak,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Mod Squad,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “Love, American Style” and “Emergency!”

[…]

“She had been able to do this with joy and much laughter and she wouldn’t have changed a thing,” Ms. Craig’s family said. “Well, maybe one thing, and that would have been not to get cancer.”

Was that a burn on the recently deceased? Is there supposed to be a rimshot there or something? I’m not really offended morally, just professionally. Look, grieving family: I went to school for years to understand how to use autocorrect. Don’t try to horn in on my niche unless you’re looking for some serious trubble.

 

Source: The NY Times

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7.31.15: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 4:24 pm August 5, 2015

ROWDY_RODDY_PIPERPiper, right, opting to leave his shirt on during extreme physical exercise. It’s a good look, and suddenly I don’t feel so alone for refusing to go topless in the pool at the YMCA. Hey, if we could all have hairless shoulders the world would be a very different place.

 

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, WWE Hall of Famer and the last person named “Rod” not to go into gay porn, was found dead in his Hollywood home last week. Piper’s death is being reported as natural causes, which may sound unusual considering he was only 61, but in wrestling years that puts him in, like, his early 400s. Those guys have life expectancies that make medieval peasants look like Greek gods.

Technically cast as a villain among the pro wrestling personalities of the World Wrestling Federation (also known as the WWF and later the WWE), Piper’s charisma, over-the-top personality, and boundless energy made him a key pop culture figure. The WWE has named him as the greatest villain in wrestling history.

I’ve discussed my utter confusion about wrestling before, but one area that I’m completely into is the impossibly steep curve of insane stunts that the fans force the wrestling industry to climb as time goes by. Once your headline is that Seth Rollins just beat a man with an actual steel fucking ladder there’s no going back to the fundamentals. The industry could survive another 10,000 years and you’ll never see anyone talk about trying a back to basics approach that really emphasizes holds and good sportsmanship. You’ve crossed a one-way threshold. If you were to travel just five years into the future your brain probably couldn’t even acclimate to how much more psychotic the whole thing will have become in such a relatively brief time. By 2020 you’ll have guys with surgically-altered lizard faces cannonballing through brick walls and ripping out each others’ shoulder blades to use as oars with which to paddle themselves to safety, since it all takes place within a Plexiglass cage that is slowly filling up with hundreds of gallons of the performers’ own HGH-infused sweat. And that’ll be the undercard.

Just, you know… no blood. It really sends the wrong message about violence, and these are family-friendly events.

 

Source: Screenrant

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4.1.15: Pillsbury Doughboy Creator Rudolph Perz – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:44 pm April 9, 2015

 RUDOPLH_PERZ_STAN_FREBERGSo, what, are his hat and neckerchief also made of dough, just like his body? Wouldn’t that be like a human chef who wears clothes made from his own skin? Oh, why was I born without the ability to appreciate whimsy!?

 

Sad news from the world of advertising, as we’ve entered day 12,000 of not being able to find the beef. Let’s try to keep hope alive, America.

Not making things any better is the fact that Rudolph Perz, creator of the Pillsbury Doughboy, aka Poppin’ Fresh, has died at the age of 89. For those of you who aren’t familiar (and, yes, I’m referring to all of you psychopaths without televisions) Poppin’ Fresh is an anthropomorphic blob of glop who manipulated the illusion of togetherness to hawk said glop to people who get their cultural and culinary identities from vacuum-sealed cardboard tubes. Wow. That settles it: I’m getting that Chomsky neck tattoo after all.

Although, to be fair, and also to fill up space, there is something to be said for the wide-eyed earnestness of old-fashioned advertising. Commercials used to create an idyllic landscape that could make you believe it’s possible to someday have friends who aren’t quietly plotting your demise, or family that doesn’t kick you out at Thanksgiving for stealing silverware. Commercials used to be little 30-second bursts of heartwarming dopamine injected directly into your brain, a brief reprise from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman‘s constant reminders that life is neither easy nor particularly funny. Nowadays, in this post-Joey world of television, every ad is so hyper-aware and ironic that I don’t know if I’m being sold a pair of pants or an MFA. Where’s the artificial, prepackaged love?

“We are saddened by the loss of Rudy Perz. Nearly 50 years ago, he created one of America’s most loved and adored characters, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Our thoughts are with Rudy’s family during this difficult time,” Pillsbury president Liz Nordlie said in a statement.

50 years! And the little gremlin hasn’t really changed at all in half a century; Still pale as a Tim Burton wet dream. Isn’t it time for a doughperson of color, or maybe an autistic spokescreature that can raise both yeast and awareness? And do we even know how fluid his gender identity is? It’s hard to deny that Pillsbury is just flaunting their bigotry now, and there’s no hashtag I won’t relentlessly retweet until our voice is heard. Wow. That settles it: I’m getting that Jezebel tramp stamp after all.

 

Source: Time

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8.11.14: Robin Williams – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:12 pm August 14, 2014

ROBIN_WILLIAMSWilliams in his breakout role in Mork & Mindy, the show that put rainbow suspenders on the map. Yeah, the map of Dorksylvania! NERD SLAM!

 

 

Beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his home on Monday. Evidence suggests that his struggle with depression had driven him to commit suicide. It’s going to be to tough to make jokes about the tragic loss of such an esteemed figure without being offensive, but luckily I was born a lillywhite coward so I’m just gonna not even try. Hey, I’m just honoring my heritage. Either respect the beliefs of my yellow-bellied forefathers or you might find yourself the victim of a terse, anonymous comment on your YouTube channel some day.

But I guess we still need to find something to do around here… Hey, it looks like NJ.com was able to find the one Jersey resident whose hands weren’t completely slathered in bronzer and let him use the community Lenovo to gather a bunch of celebrity Tweets, so let’s just mock those instead. I appreciate the legwork, guys. Your greasy state is alright.

OH IS RICHARD LEWIS JEWISH? YOU’D THINK HE’D ALLUDE TO IT SOMEWHERE!

Frankly I’m flabbergasted. Maybe this was some kind of personal in-joke between him and Williams, but that wouldn’t explain the hundreds of retweets. I’m gonna assume we collectively didn’t wanna look anti-Semitic, so we just kinda wrote Lewis a blank check on this one and told ourselves this made some kind of sense. This is really more our bad than his.

CHERCAP2

Those of you who are both longtime readers and don’t suffer from memory loss due to crippling Benzodiazapine addictions (which my click traffic Venn diagram tells me consists solely of one Gary Lepinksi of Cincinnati, Ohio. Way to keep your engine clean, Gar!) will note that this isn’t the first time Cher has blindly tripped over profundity following a respected celebrity’s death. Still, I almost kind of get what she thinks she’s saying this time. Do you have a follow-up Tweet that’s a bit more… Lennie Small-esque, we’ll say?

CHERCAP3

Eh, I still kinda understand. When I read Cher’s Tweets I wanna be legitimately concerned that I may be having an aneurism. Deeper!!

CHERCAP1

Theeere it is. Sorry, but Cher’s Twitter feed is an endless source of both amusement and shocking ineptitude for me. It’s like a fountain that only spouts schadenfreude. Truly, it give Great. But tread carefully! It can also, for those who don’t exercise caution, Take All.

Source: NJ.com and Twitter

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7.19.14: James Garner – DEAD!

Filed under: Uncategorized —James @ 7:19 am August 3, 2014

JAMES_GARNERHey, I had that issue! Yeah, I used to wrap it around my Princess Di fanzines in middle school. Made a solid spitball shield as well, if I recall. Anyway, she was the People’s Princess, you know.

 

Sad news as actor James Garner has passed away due to a massive heart attack. But you know what’s still alive? My love of spicy salsa music. The rhythm’s gonna getcha!

You probably know Garner best from his work on The Rockford Files, the Files being the worst football team the Rockford, Illinois school district ever founded (Ha, I misunderstood the concept!). He also starred in Maverick, which I never saw but have to assume was about a guy named Johnny Maverick traveling the country obeying local laws and ordinances. When did you get so on the nose, television?

He was fiercely independent, challenging the studios on both “Maverick” and “Rockford” when he felt he wasn’t being treated fairly. He sued studios twice and won both times.

Garner was also a longtime political activist. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and frequently donated to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.

Ah, the Democrats; Endearingly clueless at first, then infuriatingly bumbling for years to come. Really the Steve Urkels of American politics. Actually, I believe they used all of those donations to buy a sweet new slogan in ’76:

DEMOCRATS

Sorry, but if you really wanna make a difference, grassroots efforts are the only place where your good intentions might not be ground down into a gritty paste by the bootheel of political corruption. For instance, you could donate to my lawsuit against Target for willfully selling me this “My Swag is Ill” t-shirt. It turns out that it grossly misrepresents the nature of my swag, and they failed to inform me of this at the time of purchase. That’s definitely on them.


Source: CNN

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6.24.14: Eli Wallach – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:42 pm June 29, 2014

ELI_WALLACHI don’t claim to know the reason behind the downturn in Westerns being produced nowadays, but if it has anything to do with budgetary constraints you could probably save a few bucks by filming all of the desolate, ghost town scenes in the ruins of what we used to call Detroit. Just make sure to crop out all those “cash for gold” storefronts.

 

Stage and screen actor Eli Wallach passed away last week at the age of 98. Well, technically, 98 and a half. Impressed now? I thought so. Let’s move on.

Wallach is remembered for playing the titular “ugly” in 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He also starred in 1960’s The Magnificent Seven as Calvera, one of the decidedly non-magnificent characters. Not, uh, not the most ego-flattering of billings during that decade for Mr. Wallach, it would seem. Later, he could be seen in The Godfather Part III: Still ‘Fatherin’, Chinatown follow-up The Two Jakes (released in America as Chinatown 2: The Sequeling) and more recently in Wall Street: The Bad One.

Unlike his Method brethren, Wallach didn’t go for tragic grandeur; he was not one to mumble or mope. The men he played could be evil — sometimes pure evil, like his psycho-killer Dancer in Don Siegel’s 1958 crime drama The Lineup — but they usually enjoyed their venality, revealing a smile behind the scowl. […] For all his Method training, Wallach had the born showman’s gift of communicating to audiences the pleasure he got from acting.

Plus, if the 21 inhaler salute I just heard is any confirmation, Wallach also portrayed the villainous Mr. Freeze in the 60s Batman television show. Again: Mr. Freeze. Because the character’s birth name is Victor Fries and he’s big on cryogenics, you see. Awful, yes, but that’s goddamn Tolstoy compared to naming a character E. Nygma because he loves riddles, or having a William Tockman be really into… clocks, which is stupid on a couple different levels. With a roster that weak you’d really think DC Comics would take my proposed new character, The Blogger, a bit more seriously. He threatens the world by trolling WordPress forums and forgetting to pay the rent, gradually weakening the world’s economic infrastructure. He’s sorta working the long con that way.

 

Source: Time

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6.15.14 – Casey Kasem – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:53 am June 18, 2014

CASEY_KASEMOOOH NOOO NO NO; If you’re a cartoon dog functioning at a level that involves standing up for photo ops and rudimentary vocal ability then you’re anthropomorphized enough to get a real job and contribute to society right alongside us humans and our crushed spirits. No more of this laid back, best-of-both-worlds Marmaduke shit. Hell, Goofy has Down syndrome but even he manages to put a vest on himself every morning. At least he’s trying.

 

Legendary voice actor and American Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem passed away on Sunday amidst antagonism between family members pertaining to his hospice care. Kasem’s death had been a slow and painful ordeal, only slightly worse than trying to convince America that Imagine Dragons is a legitimate musical force every damn week. I don’t know what kind of substance is running in Seacrest’s veins that gives him the strength to power through that particular shame with his creepy rictus intact, but if it’s human blood I’ll eat my oversized novelty hat.

His voice was familiar to fans who tuned in weekly to hear him count down the nation’s most popular songs, a tradition that he continued with Casey’s Top 40, American Top 20 and American Top 10.

“Hosting various versions of my countdown program has kept me extremely busy, and I loved every minute of it,” he said upon his retirement in 2009.

Kasem seemed like a pretty nice guy and the story of his death has been a particularly sad one, so I figured we’d just look at some insincere tweets, I’d probably microwave this gas station burrito that’s been sitting around for a while, and we’d all pack it in for an early yet productive day. Then I found this:

 

 

Now, at first this struck me as the usual “Even in grief, I can’t go 140 characters without talking about myself” celeb tweet that we’ve poked with a stick before, but something just seemed extra obnoxious about Osmond here. Maybe it’s the painfully earnest profile picture suggesting a total lack of self-awareness, I don’t know. At any rate, I decided to follow the rabbit hole down a little further.

Donny Osmond’s Twitter account is a perfect example of why I hate Twitter. (Speaking of which, make sure to follow the TDiD’s new Twitter account! Social media experts agree: It’s pointlessly superfluous.) I realize that, at its core, the stupid thing is just an image management tool for celebrities, but Jesus Christ at least pretend you’re giving me something akin to a meaningful content handjob. Instead, just about every single tweet is The Donfather either vainly reposting a stranger’s compliment about him or touting what he believes to be his revolutionary new phone app. Since I’m extremely suggestible, I downloaded said app, and… it’s nothing. It’s literally nothing but samples of the cover songs on his new album with a couple of lines written about each. Also known as what we used to call a web site. You know, back in the Oughties.

So what the hell? Chicago Sun-Times, what have you got for me?

“The record company thought I was nuts to allow two minutes’ worth of sampling, but I told them, if they like what they hear, they’ll want to buy the album,” Osmond said. “And the app asks for absolutely no permissions; I have no interest in invading people’s cell phones like the rest of the apps out there that invade your phone with permissions. And it absolutely had to be a free app. I’m a HUGE tech geek, so I designed it to be easy to use, extremely simple in design. I turned it over to an engineer for the code and we went through a few incarnations and it’s finally out.”

You see, cynics? The Wizard of Os isn’t gonna give you the snowjob: You get those samples of/blurbs about other peoples’ songs for FREE. Yes, I’m sure he’s taking a serious hit by letting us be advertised to, absolutely free of charge and without swearing NSA loyalty oaths, but that’s why they call him Silicon Valley Don. I mean, like, just now I called him that. Technically, that counts.

But don’t take my word for it; Just look at this review from noted person who totally exists Jamie Heiker, who reminds us that “Donny has always been on the cutting edge of music and technology.” That must be all kinds of true. Would you expect anything less forward-thinking from a man who once owned a technicolor dreamcoat? And who can forget his annual one-man expeditions to the Internet to sandblast all of the accumulated YouPorn grime from its tubes, or his current work with controversial noise-rock poster boys Death Grips?

DEATHGRIPSDONNYOSMOND

So there you go. Donny Osmond officially considers himself to be on the bleeding edge of technological innovation. You guys caused all this, what with your Tweeting about how you’re synching your Pinterest to your Tumblr or whatever the hell. Now even Donny Osmond knows what an app is and I have to maintain a Twitter account, because the internet is terrible. Oh, and Casey Kasem is dead, too. It’s really just piling on at that point.



Source: People

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6.1.14: Ann B. Davis of “The Brady Bunch” – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 4:27 pm June 4, 2014

ANN_B_DAVISI don’t care how bad the ratings were slipping by the fifth season, I still say recasting Anton LaVey as Bobby was just gimmicky.


Decades before Adam Sandler had begun just daring us to step into a movie theater, The Brady Bunch was flying the flag of offensively dull blended families all by itself. Yes sir, from stories about why you shouldn’t lie to stories about why you should always tell the truth, there was only one rule if you wanted to survive in the cutthroat world of the Brady Bunch writers’ room: “Pretty much all holds barred.”

Sunday marked the death of one of the show’s stars, Ann B. Davis, better know as the Brady’s live-in maid Alice, who maintained and cooked every goddamn thing despite Carol being a stay-at-home mom. Because when your husband is pulling in that sweet architect salary, why should you even bother trying to maintain something as sprawling and unruly as a two-story house? That shit is for poor people, go get yourself a deep-tissue massage.

“I made up a background story. I did have a twin sister, so I used that as a basis. … I cared very much about this family. It was my family. It was as close to my family as Alice would ever get. I would have died for any single one of them at any point,” she said. “You know, they wrote me such gorgeous things to do, as the intermediary between the kids and the adults, and between the boys and the girls. And they gave me funny things to do.”

Fun fact: During the first season, the theme song was preformed by a band called Peppermint Trolley Company. I’m not even making that up! Those guys came up with a name that sounds like something spray-painted on the side of a van that sells crystal meth to neighborhood children and decided to run with it because they were just that innocent. I swear, if the state ever allows me to have kids, I’m never raising them in the 70s.


Source: CNN

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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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