Archive for Ferncliff Cemetery

Judy Tyler

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on January 10, 2022 by Cade

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October 9, 1932 – July 3, 1957

On June 17, 1957, filming wrapped on Elvis Presley‘s new movie, Jailhouse Rock. Two weeks later, his young costar – an up-and-coming actress named Judy Tyler – was dead.

Tyler was born and raised in the New York City area. Encouraged by many in her entertainment-rich family, she began acting as a teen. She made regular appearances on the popular Howdy Doody television show and found work on Broadway. In 1955, she landed a starring role in Pipe Dream, a new musical from Broadway legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Continue reading

Dwight “Heavy D” Myers

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on January 3, 2022 by Cade

May 24, 1967 – November 8, 2011

Dwight Myers, known professionally as “Heavy D”, was a Jamaican/American rapper and actor who became popular in the late 1980s and throughout the ’90s and 2000s. As the front man for Heavy D & the Boyz, Myers’ rapping was featured in a string of gold and platinum records that were all Top 10 on the U.S. R&B charts. The group’s hits included “Big Tyme” and “Nuttin’ But Love.” Heavy D also performed with both Michael and Janet Jackson and rapped on a number of TV show themes in the ’90s including In Living Color and MADtv. Continue reading

Moss Hart

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , , on December 13, 2021 by Cade

October 24, 1904 – December 20, 1961

With the help of a beloved aunt, Moss Hart grew up enamored by the possibilities of the theater. To be able to create worlds and characters that weren’t bound by the economic or social insecurity he saw everyday was thrilling to him. So, growing up in New York City, it was no surprise when he started to write about these worlds and characters. By the time he was in his mid-20s, Hart had his first hit on Broadway: a play called Once in a Lifetime that he cowrote with George S. Kaufman. Kaufman and Hart would go on to collaborate on a string of hit plays including You Can’t Take it With You, George Washington Slept Here and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Continue reading

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on December 6, 2021 by Cade

December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005
October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014

Raiford Chatman “Ossie” Davis was an actor, writer, director and activist whose career charged across the stage and screen through the turbulent middle half of the American 20th Century. Along with contemporaries like Sidney Poitier and Melvin Van Peeples, Davis forever altered how black artists approached their roles and the stories they told.

Ruby Ann Wallace was an actress, poet, writer, journalist and activist whose seven decade career garnered a Drama Desk award, an Emmy, an Obie, a Screen Actors Guild award, and a Grammy. She was nominated for a Academy Award for her performance in the 2007 film American Gangster.

In 1946, Davis and Dee met on the Broadway production of Jeb. They were married shortly thereafter and their partnership would become legendary. Continue reading

Basil Rathbone

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on November 29, 2021 by Cade

June 13, 1892 – July 21, 1967

Philip St. John Basil Rathbone was an English actor and accomplished performer and is most widely known for starring as Sherlock Holmes in a string of successful movies and radio shows about the legendary detective in the 1940s. Born in South Africa, his family moved back to Britain when he was young. His first appearance on stage was in a 1911 production of Shakespeare‘s The Taming of the Shrew. This started a career that saw him become one of the most accomplished Shakespearian actors of his time. Service in World War I; however, would pause that career briefly. Continue reading

James Baldwin

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , , on November 22, 2021 by Cade

August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987

How does one sum up James Baldwin in a single, concise blog post?

He was an influential writer and activist who pondered and expounded upon what it meant to be black in the height of the American civil rights movement, what it meant to be gay long before societal acceptance had begun to take hold, and what it mean to be, frankly, human, in a century that saw progress and cyclical violence all at the same time. Continue reading

Cab Calloway

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , , on November 15, 2021 by Cade

December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994

Cabell “Cab” Calloway III was one of the most prominent jazz bandleaders of the swing era of the 1930s and ’40s. He was most closely associated with the famed Cotton Club in Harlem where he and his band started by filling in for Duke Ellington when Ellington was on tour. Cab grew up in Baltimore and often found himself in trouble for playing dice or skipping school. Eventually, he found a more positive outlet for his energies: singing. Despite his mother’s protests (she wanted him to be a lawyer like his father) Cab continued to pursue music. He met and worked with greats like Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie and moved to New York City. After a stint at the Savoy, his band broke up and he joined The Missourians and jumped to the Cotton Club.

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Jackie “Moms” Mabley

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on February 27, 2014 by Cade

mabley1March 19, 1894 – May 23, 1975

Did you hear the one about the young girl from North Carolina who lost both of her parents tragically as a child, was raped twice before the age of 14 and had to give up the resulting children for adoption? Hoo-boy! It’s hilarious!

Such were the beginnings of one of the most influential female stand-up comics of all time. Jackie Mabley (born Loretta Aiken) ran away from all that to start a life of comedy…because that’s really all you can do at that point. Fast forward a few years and we find “Moms” -as she’s now referred – as a very popular comedian who is known for her racy material and frumpy on-stage persona. Continue reading

Jerome Kern

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on February 24, 2014 by Cade

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January 27, 1885 – November 11, 1945

Jerome Kern’s contributions to American music in the first half of the 20th Century cannot be ignored. He wrote dozens of hit musicals for the Broadway stage and worked with many of the top lyricists of the day. Though his biggest hit – the groundbreaking Show Boat – is essentially the only show that has maintained its popularity, his stable of popular songs written for other shows and films remains a staggering portfolio even today. Songs like “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Pick Yourself Up,” “Ol’ Man River” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” have been covered by everybody from Frank Sinatra to Billie Holiday. Continue reading

Malcolm X

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags on November 20, 2013 by Cade

x1May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965

Malcolm X was a controversial religious and civil rights activist during the tumultuous American 1950’s and ’60’s. A leader in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm – also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz – rose to prominence as the very public face of the very outspoken group. His views on race relations were seen by many as inflammatory and racist in their own ways. The Nation of Islam’s belief in black supremacy and the the “white devil” did little to quell the controversy. In 1964, he split from the Nation and converted to Sunni Islam. The split was contentious and he received a number of death threats for his repudiation of the Nation’s teachings. Continue reading