Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Almost Certain Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor

Category: Obituary

It is with tremendous sadness that I report there is a void in the comedy on this earth.

Harvey Korman died today (Thursday 5/29) of complications from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm suffered four months ago.

While comedy is subjective, I will make the bold proclamation that if Harvey Korman didn't make you laugh at least once, you have no sense of humor to speak of. This man was positively nuts -- in the best way possible. He took home four Emmy Awards for his work on The Carol Burnett Show. In reunion shows he, co-second banana Tim Conway, and Carol Burnett all admitted that Korman and Conway lived to crack each other up. (If you've ever seen outtakes of the show, you have witnessed how successful they were at making their co-stars laugh.)

What may arguably be Korman's legacy, however, is the role of Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles. Constantly referred to as "Hedy" to his chagrin (and apparently the real Hedy Lamarr, who sued Mel Brooks over the use of her name -- not that Brooks cared, as is referenced in the film's scene where Governor LePetomane tells Korman's character, "Hey, it's eighteen something, you can sue her!"), Korman played the evil, lusty (remember him fondling the statue of Lady Justice?) attorney general to perfection. In a movie of parodies one of the best was Lamarr telling the gang of thugs he assembled to raid Rock Ridge, "You will be risking your lives, while I will be risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor!"

Harvey Korman in
SurfSide 6, 1961

Korman appeared as an actor in numerous television shows and films. It is his comedic skills on The Carol Burnett Show and in the works with Mel Brooks ("It was comedy heaven to make Harvey Korman laugh," a distraught Mel Brooks told the Associated Press) that will live on forever.

Farewell to the remarkably talented Harvey Korman, who passed away at age 81.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Obituaries of Note

Category: News

More sad passings to report from the world of entertainment:

Richard "Dick" Sutcliffe (died May 11): The name might not ring a bell with you; however, Sutcliffe gave the world a piece of popular culture. He was the co-creator of the popular religious children's show Davy and Goliath, the Sunday morning saga of a boy (Davy) and his dog (Goliath) that always featured a Biblical message or faith-based lesson. Sutcliffe was 90 and died from complications resulting from a stroke.

Lloyd Moore (died May 22): A man recognized as the oldest living NASCAR driver passed away at the age of 95. According to the NASCAR obituary, Moore finished tied for 15th with Junior Johnson for most top 5 finishes (13) in the first six years of professional stock car racing.

Dick Martin (died May 24): Laugh-In always finished with Dan Rowan saying, "Say goodnight, Dick," to which Dick Martin replied, "Goodnight, Dick." (This is parodied at the conclusion of the Eagles' song "On the Border" from the album of the same name in 1974.) Martin graduated from comedian in front of the camera to director, putting his skills to work on The Bob Newhart Show, Brothers, Mama's Family, and the cult classic Sledge Hammer! Martin was 82 and died from respiratory failure.

Thelma Keane (died May 23): The name isn't familiar, but her character has delighted comic strip readers for generations. She was the inspiration for the wife in her husband Bil Keane's long-running strip The Family Circus. Thelma Keane was 82 and had Alzheimer's disease.

Geremi (Jeremi) Gonzalez (died May 25): A former major league pitcher who pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and New York Mets. Gonzalez was 33 and was killed by a lightning strike in his native Venezuela.

Sydney Pollack (died May 26): A man of multiple talents who could direct a great comedy like Tootsie (in which he also appeared as Dustin Hoffman's frustrated agent) or a majestic drama such as his Oscar-winning Out of Africa. Pollack died of cancer at age 73.

Earle Hagen (died May 26): Don't know the name? Betcha five bucks you know his song. Imagine a black-and-white image on a TV with a sheriff and his young son, fishing poles over their shoulders, walking down a dirt road. You're whistling, aren't you? That's Earle Hagen's signature song, which Andy Griffith actually released with lyrics under its title, "The Fishin' Hole." Other TV theme songs Hagen wrote include I Spy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mod Squad, and That Girl. Hagen was 88 and had been in ill health for several months.

A heartfelt farewell.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Obituaries of Note

Category: News

Barry Maggert, 47, killed in a plane crash in Colorado on May 10. Maggert's younger brother is Jeff Maggert, professional golfer. Jeff withdrew from the Players Championship after his opening round to be with his family.

Jerry Wallace, 79, a singer with two distinctive careers (60s pop singer and 70s country performer), died May 5 of congestive heart failure. My country blog has more information.

Dottie Rambo, 74, Gospel Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter, died May 11 when her tour bus was blown off the interstate in Missouri. The other blog also carries more details.

John Rutsey, 55, died May 10th from a heart attack. The name probably does not ring a bell with anyone except die-hard fans of one band. He was the original drummer and co-founder of the Canadian FM rock power trio Rush. He left the band in 1974 and was replaced by Neil Peart.

Larry Levine, 80, died May 8th (his 80th birthday) from emphysema. Levine was the sound engineer on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album as well as a number of records produced by Phil Spector. Levine also won a Grammy for his work on Herb Alpert & the Tiajuana Brass' hit "A Taste of Honey."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Triumph and Tragedy at the Kentucky Derby

Category: Sports News

Favorite Big Brown won the 134th Kentucky Derby on Saturday (May 3), a race marred by tragedy when second place finisher Eight Belles broke both front ankles in the post-race gallop.

Eight Belles was scratched from the Kentucky Oaks, the traditional race for 3-year-old fillies held on the day before Kentucky Derby day in order to run her in the Kentucky Derby. Eight Belles' trainer, Larry Jones, won the Kentucky Oaks with Proud Spell.

This is not the first tragedy to strike horse racing's Triple Crown. In 2006, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke down shortly after the start of the Preakness Stakes. He was finally euthanized in early 2007 after a valiant effort by his owners to save his life. In 1993, Preakness winner Prairie Bayou broke down during the Belmont Stakes and was euthanized.