Archive for September, 2013

Betty Grable

Posted in Inglewood Park Cemetery with tags , on September 26, 2013 by Cade

grable1December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973

I had a professor in college who would constantly – and without prompting – tell us: “Betty Grable had the best legs I have ever seen.” Well, this one’s for you, Dr. Wright!

Elizabeth Ruth Grable was an actress, singer and dancer who was a fixture in the hey dey of the American film musical. Her looks, and yes, her legs, made her a very poplular star. In fact, she was Farrah Fawcett some 30 years before Farrah ever donned that red swimsuit. A pin-up photo of Betty in a bathing suit (see the photo on the vase on her grave below) became an icon and one of the most recognizable photos of the World War II era. The movie studio she was under contract with insured her gams for $1,000,000 with Lloyds of London. This was serious business.

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Ed Sullivan

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags on September 26, 2013 by Cade

sullivan1September 28, 1901 – October 13, 1974

“Ed does nothing, but he does it better than anyone else in television.”
– Alan King

Edward Vincent Sullivan wasn’t a terribly talented man. He couldn’t really act.  Or sing. He was a decent writer, apparently, but who isn’t? Yet, somehow, he managed to change the face of the entertainment world forever. Rising through the ranks as a newspaper columnist, a radio entertainment commentator and ultimately, a television variety show host, Sullivan found a niche – something he didn’t have to be particularly great at, just good enough – and turned the world on its ear. His variety show, Toast of the Town, went on to become The Ed Sullivan Show and famously showcased new talent to audiences across the country. His show brought American audiences legendary performances by the Rolling Stones, Elvis, the Jackson 5, Richard Pryor, the Temptations, George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, the Supremes, and, of course…the Beatles. Ed may have done nothing, but his ability to do it gave us some of the most memorable moments in television history. Continue reading

Isabel Sanford

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , on September 26, 2013 by Cade

sanford1August 29, 1917 – July 9, 2004

Eloise Gwendolyn Sanford wanted to be an actress. Her mother forbade it. But, that didn’t stop her. Sanford, now going by “Isabel,” pursued acting anyway and eventually found herself in Hollywood. After landing a supporting role in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? opposite Tracy and Hepburn, she was cast in the role that would change her life and define her career. For fourteen years (and a few more times after the fact – ’cause…money) Isabel played Louise “Weezy” Jefferson alongside Sherman Hemsley’s George in Norman Lear’s immensely popular TV show All in the Family and the eventual, eponymous spin-off, The Jeffersons. Continue reading

Cesar Romero

Posted in Inglewood Park Cemetery with tags , on September 26, 2013 by Cade

romero1February 15, 1907 – January 1, 1994

Known to some as The Cisco Kid, to others as Falcon Crest‘s Peter Stavros, and almost universally as The Joker from the 1960’s Batman television series, Cesar Romero was everywhere for a good number of years.  His other credits included Freddie Prinze’s absent father on Chico and the Man and a slew of Latin lover roles. Romero was also a dancer and comedian and appeared in lighthearted musicals such as Springtime in the Rockies – with fellow Golden West resident, Betty Grable. But, it is likely The Joker for which he is most remembered. The toothy grin, white face paint and trademark cackle are pop-culture mainstays. Cesar, a lifelong “confirmed bachelor,” died on New Year’s Day in 1994. Continue reading

e.e. cummings

Posted in Forest Hills Cemetery with tags , on September 25, 2013 by Cade

cummings1October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962

                   [cummings (edward estlin)
poems prodigy age8harvard]                wrote plays also
modern style (syntax
be damned)  ambulance corps, the great
war (spy?)
hated war
loved france

             personal tragedy

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Jim Henson

Posted in Cremated with tags , on September 24, 2013 by Cade

henson1September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990

I know. I know. How do you do a grave blog post about someone who doesn’t have a grave?  I don’t care. Jim Henson was/is my hero. Today would have been his 77th birthday. I’m gonna write about him.

James Maury Henson was a beloved entertainer, writer, producer and, of course…puppeteer. Henson first found his way onto television via 5-minute segments called Sam and Friends on a local Washington D.C. TV station. The puppets in Sam and Friends (including a lizard named Kermit that he created out of an old, green coat) were used very differently than any in the past. Continue reading

Bruce Lee

Posted in Lake View Cemetery with tags on September 24, 2013 by Cade

lee3November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973

Perhaps the most famous martial artist of all-time, Bruce Lee transcended the physical art that made him famous and became a pop-culture phenomenon. The son of a Cantonese opera singer, Lee was born in San Francisco, spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong, and moved back to America with his father as a young man. He studied martial arts from the age of 13 and began teaching it in Seattle at 18.  He quickly gained a lot of attention within the tournament circles and drew significant criticism for teaching Chinese martial arts to non-Chinese people. Lee’s rise as a competitor caught the eye of television producers and he was cast as Kato in a short-lived Green Hornet series. This opened doors for Lee to eventually take on more roles. Though, he was frustrated with his limited success in the States, so he returned to Hong Kong where he received a very unexpected hero’s welcome. Continue reading

Dominique Dunne

Posted in Westwood Memorial Park with tags , , on September 24, 2013 by Cade

dunne1November 23, 1959 – November 4, 1982

Not all Hollywood stories have happy endings.

Dominique Dunne was a rising star who had appeared in a number of television shows when her life was cut short by a jealous and possessive ex-boyfriend.  Dunne – the daughter of writer Dominick Dunne and sister of director/producer Griffin Dunne – appeared in the 1981 horror classic Poltergeist. This was to be her first and only feature film appearance.  She was cast in and was in rehearsals for a new mini-series, V, when she was attacked and strangled on her front porch by her estranged boyfriend. Continue reading

Miles Davis

Posted in Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx) with tags , on September 23, 2013 by Cade

mdavis1May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991

I could go on and on about the impact that Miles Dewey Davis III had on not only jazz, but popular music in general.  I could list his accolades and triumphant successes like Milestones, Bitches Brew, On the Corner and his magnum opus, Kind of Blue.  I could talk about the Grammys. I could talk about the cocaine use, short temper and contentious relationships with the press, critics and fellow musicians (like fellow Hard-Bopper, Thelonious Monk).  But, why bother when we can both just sit and spend the next 9 1/2 minutes listening to this: Continue reading

Shelley Winters

Posted in Hillside Memorial Park with tags on September 23, 2013 by Cade

winters1August 18, 1920 – January 14, 2006

Shelley Winters (née Schrift) was an Academy Award winning actress who shook off the shackles of the overused blonde bombshell Hollywood stereotype and crafted herself a fine career that lasted for more than 50 years. Winters, from St. Louis, was best known for her film and television roles, as well as her many theatrical performances. She was, however, also an author and wrote a couple of autobiographies in which she did not hold back about her personal life. Shelley was married four times and had romantic relationships with many of the biggest names in entertainment, including Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Errol Flynn and Marlon Brando. That’s quite a (partial) list. Continue reading