Friday, May 30, 2008

Notable Deaths in 2008, Complete Thru May

May 30 - Harvey Korman, 81, American actor and comedian best- known for long-running role on "The Carol Burnett Show" on TV. Korman also had a fun role in Mel Brooks' western farce "Blazing Saddles"

May 26 - Sydney Pollack, 73, American film director whose most famous movies include "Tootsie", "The Way We Were" and "Out of Africa". Pollack also took small parts in many films, including some of his own. His work as Dustin Hoffman's agent in "Tootsie" was terrific.

May 24 - Dick Martin, 86, American comedian best known as co-host (the one without the pipe) of the "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" TV show in the 1960s. I loved Laugh-In when I was a kid. Stupid as it was, there was nothing else like it on television - do you remember "The Farkles"?

May 20 - Hamilton Jordan, 63, American politician, President Jimmy Carter's chief of staff. It's hard to believe he was 63 when he died. Arithmetic calculates that Jordan was just 32 years old when he was put in charge of President Carter's White House staff.

May 8 - Eddy Arnold, 89, American country singer. My wife might have more to say about Arnold. I know him mainly from TV record offers that I didn't respond to.

May 3 - Eight Belles, 3, thoroughbred race horse, euthanized on the track after breaking down at the Kentucky Derby. Being a thoroughbred race horse is a dangerous job.

May 1 - Buzzy Bavasi, 93, American baseball executive for the Dodgers, Angels and Padres. I'm not sure if Bavasi was still with the Dodgers when I visited Dodger Stadium in 1986, but if so, thanks for a great place to watch a ballgame.

April 17 - Danny Federeci, 58, keyboardist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Pianist Roy Bittan's solos may be more memorable, but Federici's organ and synthesizer work played a major part in the E Street Band's big sound. Listen to "Jungleland" for some of his best.

April 5 - Charlton Heston, 83, American actor best known for starring in "Ben Hur" and for a five-year term as president of the National Rifle Association. Perhaps now they'll be able to pry his gun from his cold, dead fingers, or more likely he was buried with it.

March 30 - Dith Pran, 65, Cambodian journalist, survivor of "The Killing Fields". I'm sorry to hear of the death of this courageous man.

March 19 - Sir Arthur C. Clarke, 90, British author of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and other science fiction works. Stanley Kubrick's film version was the movie ever to enthrall me. It still does, I think.

February 27 - Myron Cope, 79, Pittsburgh-based sportswriter responsible for popularizing the "Terrible Towel," a fan behavior which spawned towel-waving all across the NFL stadiums for the next 30+ years. The trend hasn't been limited to towels or football, as Minnesota Twins' fans waved their "Homer Hankies" back in the '80s. My daughter would probably comment, "How wimpy is that!"

February 27 - William F. Buckley, 82, American writer and commentator, icon of conservative political thought. My earliest recollection of Buckley is his bickering with Gore Vidal as part of the coverage of political conventions in the '60s and '70s. These days we get Democrat James Carville and his Republican wife.

February 10 - Roy Scheider, 75, American actor most famous for role as village police chief in Jaws. On a very much side note, the "Jaws" attraction at the Universal theme park in Orlando was by far my favorite.

February 2 - Ed Vargo, 79, retired major league baseball umpire

January 27 - Gordon Hinckley, 97, President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

January 27 - Suharto, 86, dictatorial Indonesian President from 1967-1998.

January 22 - Heath Ledger, 28, Australian actor nominated for Academy Award for Brokeback Mountain. My daughter, who saw Ledger's other films (A Knight's Tale in particular) was heartbroken to hear of Ledger's death.

January 19 - Suzanne Pleshette, 70, American actress best known for playing Emily Hartley, wife of Bob Newhart's psychologist character on "The Bob Newhart Show." I enjoyed Pleshette and this show during its six-year run--most of the time following the classic "All in the Family." (photo of Pleshette at 1991 Emmy Award ceremony)

January 17 - Bobby Fischer, 64, American, former chess prodigy and world chess champion, died in Reykjavik, Iceland. After beating Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union to break the Russian stranglehold on the world chess championship, Fischer lived in seclusion for most of the second half of his life. During this time, he renounced his American citizenship and became a virulent anti-Semite. Fischer's rise to the world chess championship sparked my very brief interest in chess in 1972. (photo by Heinz Ducklau/AP)


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