Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hogan's Hilda Dies

Category: News

Sigrid Valdis, best known for her role as Colonel Klink's secretary Hilda, has died. She died October 14 of lung cancer. Because her family wanted to ensure a private funeral, her death was just announced this week.

Born Patricia Olson on September 21, 1935, Valdis joined the cast of the hit comedy series Hogan's Heroes in the second season. She replaced Cynthia Lynn, who played Helga. Her character was given a new name, Hilda. She was the secretary to Stalag 13's bumbling kommandant, Colonel Klink, and the frequent love interest of Colonel Hogan.

Off screen, Valdis and Crane developed a romantic relationship. They married on the series set in October, 1970. Reports vary regarding the status of their marriage at the time of Crane's murder in 1978: some claim they were in the process of divorcing; however, their son, Scotty, says that, despite a separation, they had reconciled.

Valdis quit acting after Hogan's Heroes until three years ago. According to Scotty Crane, she was also vehemently opposed to the movie Auto Focus, the 2002 movie about Bob Crane's sexual addiction, relationship with John Carpenter, and 1978 murder (for which Carpenter was tried and acquitted). "There are a ton of untruths in it," she is reported to have said.

Hogan's Heroes was a very popular situation comedy set in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. The series was initially controversial because a number of people mistakenly thought the show was set in a concentration camp, or that the show glorified the Nazis. In reality, several of the actors on the show, including John Banner (Sgt. Schultz), Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink), Howard Caine (Major Hochstetter), and Leon Askin (General Burkhalter) were Jewish; and Robert Clarey, who played LeBeau, was a concentration camp survivor.

Sigrid Valdis was 72.

Book on Hogan's Heroes

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Ole Lefthander Has Rounded Third and is Now Home

Category: News

Joe Nuxhall died Thursday night (11/15).

For most of the baseball world, he is the answer to a trivia question. He is -- and, based on current laws, ever shall be -- the youngest player to ever have played professional baseball. He was 15 years old when he stepped onto the mound for the Cincinnati Reds the first time.
For Reds fans, however, Nuxhall's career as a baseball player is almost secondary to his decades in the broadcast booth. For 30 years, he and Marty Brennaman were the broadcast team for the Reds and the envy of the other teams. After Al Michaels left for network sports, Brennaman went into the booth in 1974 and the classic era of Reds radio broadcasting began. Marty and Joe were there for the Big Red Machine years, including the back-to-back World Series championships in 75 and 76. They called Tom Sever's no-hitter, Tom Brownning's perfect game, Pete Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd hit, and the 1990 World Series sweep of the Oakland A's. They were there for the bad times, too. In fact, Marty's signature call, "This one belongs to the Reds!" supposedly began in sarcasm after the Reds finally won a game following a long losing streak in '74.

Nuxie, as he was lovingly called, retired from full-time broadcasting three years ago because of lymphoma. He continued on a part-time basis, choosing his road trips carefully. All the while, he continued to be a fixture for his beloved Reds, a love affair that was definitely two-way. Earlier this year, three microphones were placed beneath the Reds' broadcast booth at Great America Ballpark to honor legendary broadcasters. Two of those microphones were for Marty and Joe. (The third is for Waite Hoyt.)

Nuxie left a legacy that goes far beyond the record he holds for youth. He worked tirelessly for charities for the Reds, and for greater Cincinnati. His trademark sign-off, "This is the Ol' Lefthander, rounding third and heading for home," is featured on the outside of Great America Ballpark (on the third base side, of course). In honor of Nuxhall, the baseball park will be left dark this weekend, except for those words. His statue will also be illuminated.

Even though Joe hadn't been broadcasting much lately, for Reds fans the game will never sound the same again. The Ol' Lefthander has rounded third for the last time, and is now home.

Joe Nuxhall was 79.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barry Bonds Indicted

Category: Sports News

Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has been indicted on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.

The indictment was announced today (11/15), stemming from Bonds' testimony in late 2003 before a federal grand jury investigating BALCO in San Francisco. Bonds denied under oath that he took or received performance-enhancing steroids.

One of the most interesting facts to emerge from the indictment is the fact that Bonds received a positive test for steroids, yet no action was taken against him by Major League Baseball.

The Indictment in its entirity

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Legend Lives On From the Chippewa On Down

Category: History

On November 10, 1975 the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, killing all 29 aboard.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company in Milwaukee and was named for the company's CEO. It was launched in 1958.

On November 10, 1975, the ship encountered a heavy storm while en route from Wisconsin to Detroit (not Cleveland, as the Lightfoot song says; however, many of the sailors aboard were residents of Cleveland). The captain's last transmission said they were "holding their own" in the storm. Approximately ten minutes later, "they might have split up or they might have capsized, they may have broke deep and took water." While the theories are numerous, the fact remains the ship sank -- and quickly.

It was not the worst shipwreck in Great Lakes history (the Algoma, which sank in November 1885, claimed between 37 and 48 lives; Alpena's sinking in October 1880 took an estimated 100 lives); and, had it not been for Gordon Lightfoot, the November 10th anniversary would just be a sad anniversary for the families of those who perished.

However, the legendary folk icon recorded a song about the disaster for his Summertime Dream album in 1976. At six minutes in length and with a detailed, grim account of the events of the ship's sinking, it hardly seemed destined to be a song for the ages. However, Reprise Records released the song as a single in the fall of 1976, and it quickly became a major hit. (The song eventually reached #2 on the Billboard pop singles chart.)

As a result of the popularity of the song, the Edmund Fitzgerald tragedy went from "one of many" to "the most famous. The Weather Channel has a segment every year explaining the details of the Lake Superior storm that caused the wreck of the ship. The Discovery Channel has produced a show on shipwrecks in general, with the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald being the centerpiece.

Superior they said never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

The homepage of the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial site
Edmund Fitzgerald Information from The Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Bay, Michigan

She Said "So Long, Norman"

Category: News

Author Norman Mailer died November 10th of kidney failure in New York. He was 84.

In the "six degrees of Warren Zevon" department, Zevon's song "The French Inhaler" contains the following line:

The French inhaler, he stamped and mailed her
She said, "So long, Norman."

In a 1978 interview, Zevon vehemently denied the line referred to Mailer. "That man is a street fighter," Zevon said, "and I don't want to meet him in a dark alley one night and have to say, 'Listen, Norman, it wasn't about you.'"

After Zevon's death, son Jordan Zevon cleared the air: the line was indeed a reference to Norman Mailer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Donny and Marie's Dad Dies

Category: News

George Osmond, the patriarch of the Osmond family, died today (11/6) in Provo, Utah. He was 90.

His children became famous singing on Andy Williams' variety series in the 60s. Donny first appeared on The Andy Williams Show at age 6.

The Osmond Brothers' biggest hit was the Jackson Five sound-alike "One Bad Apple" in 1971. Donny Osmond's biggest hit as a solo performer was "Go Away Little Girl," also in 1971. His duet with sister Marie, "I'm Leaving It (All) Up to You" was a top 5 hit in 1974. Marie, as a solo performer, had four #1 country hits, including "Paper Roses" (which was also a top 5 pop hit).

George Osmond taught barbershop quartet singing to his four oldest sons (Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay). Their singing netted them a job at Disneyland in the early 60s, where Andy Williams found them and invited them to join his show.

In total, there were nine Osmond children. The oldest two never performed professionally because of hearing impairments.

The elder Osmond's wife, Olive, died May 9, 2004 from a stroke. He is survived by 55 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren.