Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Those Who Have Passed – Part 2

And so today we continue with our look back at those who passed in 2014 …

July ~
James Garner
He was born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma. After a rough upbringing by his stepmother, Garner joined the Merchant Marines but suffered from seasickness. He returned to Los Angeles and finished high school before joining the Army and serving in Korea.

In 1954, Garner landed a non-speaking role in the Broadway show, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial where he was able to watch Henry Fonda night after night and develop his style. Garner then began acting in TV commercials and in 1957 changed his name to Garner when he landed the lead role of Bret Maverick in the Western comedy Maverick. (1957 to 1960) He soon became a household name.

Garner went on to star in a variety of films during the 1960s including The Great Escape (1963), Grand Prix (1966) and Marlowe (1969). The 1970s saw Garner hit his stride as private investigator Jim Rockford in the television series The Rockford Files for which he received an Emmy for Best Actor.

During the 1980s, Garner starred in Polaroid camera commercials and performed as characters that were a bit darker and less self-deprecating than those he had played before. He went back to comedy in the 1990s, acting opposite Mel Gibson in a theatrical remake of Maverick. He starred in My Fellow Americans in 1996 and Space Cowboys in 2000.
James Garner died on July 19 in Brentwood, California. He was 86 years old. Garner’s remains were cremated and his ashes given to his family.

Theodore Van Kirk
Theodore (Dutch) Van Kirk was the last surviving member of the 12-man crew that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan and ended WWII.  Van Kirk was born on February 27, 1921 in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. He joined the Army Air Force just two months before Pearl Harbor, in October 1941, and flew with the 97th Bomb Group, the first operational B-17 Flying Fortress group in England.

The plane was called the Red Gremlin and included Paul Tibbits as pilot and Tom Ferebee as bombardier with Van Kirk as navigator. They flew 58 missions and returned to the U.S. in June 1943. But in late 1944, the three were selected for a top-secret mission and trained to fly the B-29 Super Fortress, the plane that would drop the first atomic bomb.

The 13-hour mission to Hiroshima was flown on August 6, 1945 in the B-29 known as Enola Gay: Tibbets piloted the plane, Ferebee was bombardier, and Van Kirk navigated. When asked in 1995 if he would take part in the bombing again, Van Kirk replied, “Under the same circumstances -- and the key words are 'the same circumstances' -- yes, I would do it again. We were in a war for five years. We were fighting an enemy that had a reputation for never surrendering, never accepting defeat. It's really hard to talk about morality and war in the same sentence.”

Van Kirk wrote a book, My True Course, in 2012, a biography about his life and the war. Van Kirk was well known on the aviation circuit, lecturing and signing books at air museums around the country.

Thomas Van Kirk died on July 28. He was 93-years-old. Van Kirk was buried in Riverview Cemetery in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

August ~
Lauren Bacall
She was known for her sultry voice and those noir movies of the 1940s, many of which she appeared along side her husband, Humphrey Bogart. She was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924 in New York City. Her father was an alcoholic who abandoned the family when she was 6-years-old. Her mother changed their name to Bacall, her maiden name.

Bacall worked in the theatre as a model before being discovered in 1943 by the wife of a famous Hollywood producer. Bacall did a screen test and was encouraged to change her name to Lauren; something she never fully approved of. Her first film was To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart when she was just 19-years-old.

The two fell in love during filming and Bogart divorced his wife.  Bogart and Bacall were married on May 21, 1945. Bacall did more movies including The Big Sleep (1946), where she established herself as the “femme fatale” character. She also starred in Dark Passages (1947) and Key Largo (1948), opposite Bogart. Bacall became selective of the films she did during the 1950s and developed a reputation for being “difficult.”

Bogart died in 1957 of lung cancer. Bacall rallied her career and took to the boards, appearing on Broadway in Goodbye, Charlie (1959),
Cactus Flower (1965) and Applause (1969). She married Jason Robards Jr. in 1961, but the couple divorced in 1969.

Bacall wrote her first biography, By Myself in 1978 where she described her life with Bogart and his difficult death. She wrote her second book, Now, in 1994. She appeared in a few films in the early 2000's but overall distained Hollywood. In 2005, she followed up with her third book, By Myself and Then Some.

Lauren Bacall died in Manhattan of a stroke on August 12: she was one of the last stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was 89-years-old. Bacall was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California next to Bogie.

Robin Williams
He was known for his fast-paced humor and memorable television and film characters, and was, yet again, another comedian who left us too soon.

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois. Williams studied acting and attained a full scholarship to the Julliard School in 1973, which he attended with Christopher Reeve, Mandy Patinkin and William Hurt. Williams moved to California where he did stand-up comedy around San Franscisco and L.A. during the mid-1970s. He went on to do Inprov at LA Improv and The Roxy before being cast as a loveable alien in Mork and Mindy (1978 – 1982).
Williams was prolific in films, starring in close to 70 movies including, Popeye (1980), The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning Vietnam (1987) Dead Poets Society (1989), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), The Birdcage (1996), One Hour Photo (2002) and Night at the Museum (2006 and 2014) He also voiced several film cartoon characters and did several HBO comedy specials.

Williams credited Jonathan Winters, Peter Sellers and Richard Pryor with influencing his style of comedy and delivery.  Throughout his life, Williams won an Academy Award, two Emmy’s, six Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild awards and five Grammy’s.

Robins Williams committed suicide on August 11 at his home in Paradise Cay, California. He was 63 years old. Williams was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the San Francisco Bay.

September ~
Joan Rivers
She was known as a sharp-talking comedian who appeared numerous times on The Tonight Show. Joan Rivers was born on June 8, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York.

Rivers began her career in theatre in the late 1950s, but her big break came when she appeared on The Tonight Show in 1965. Johnny Carson helped her develop her comedic style, and she went on to host a rival show, The Late Show with Joan Rivers; the first woman to host a late night network talk show.

Rivers went on to host other talk shows, did various
red-carpet interviews during award programs and starred in a reality show with her daughter Melissa Rivers called Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? Rivers was also known as a writer, producer and comedian.

Joan Rivers died on September 4 from cardiac arrest occurring during minor surgery. She was 81-years-old. Rivers was cremated and a private memorial service was held in Manhattan.

Bruce Morton
He was a life-long correspondent who reported on the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the Watergate hearings for CBS News, and later for CNN.

Bruce Alexander Morton was born on October 28, 1930 in Norwalk, Connecticut but grew up in Chicago. Morton began working in television news in New York City in 1952. He joined ABC News in 1962 and was stationed in London.

In 1964 he joined CBS and worked from Washington, D.C. as a Congressional correspondent. From 1974 to 1977, Morton co-anchored the CBS Morning News with Hughes Rudd. Morton left CBS in 1993 to work at CNN, from which he retired from in 2006.

During his tenure in broadcast news, he won a Peabody Award in 1976 and a total of six Emmy Awards for news and documentaries.

Bruce Morton died on September 5 at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 83-years-old.
October ~
Paul Revere
He was the founder and keyboard player for an American rock band that was extremely popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Paul Revere Dick was born on January 7, 1938 in Harvard Nebraska. Revere formed a band, The Downbeats, which changed its name to Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1960 when they released their first album. The instrumental “Like, Long Hair” went to No. 38 on the Billboard chart and the group began appearing more in public. Revere became known as “the madman of rock and roll" for his outlandish Colonial costumes and performances on stage.

In 1965, the band moved to Los Angeles and began emulating the sounds of the British bands. They appeared on numerous TV shows including Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, Happening ’68, The Ed Sullivan Show and It’s Happening. By the late 60’s, the band’s popularity was fading. Band member, Mark Lindsay took more control of the group’s sound, shortened the name to The Raiders and soon had them back on track, releasing their biggest hit Indian Reservation in 1971. But by the mid-70s, their sound was again out of style. Lindsey left the group to go solo, but Revere added more musicians and continued as an oldies act.

The 1980s and 90’s saw numerous groups revive old Raiders tunes, but the original band released few songs or albums. Paul Revere announced his retirement from the band in August 2014: the band now tours as Paul Revere’s Raiders.

Paul Revere died of cancer on October 4 at his home in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was 76 years old. Revere is buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Idaho.
Ben Bradlee
He was the executive editor of The Washington Post who challenged the federal government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers during the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s.

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was born on August 26, 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts. Bradlee grew up in a wealthy family and served as a naval communications officer during WWII. After the war, Bradlee worked for the Office of U.S. Information and Education Exchange – the federal propaganda unit.

In 1954, he began working for Newsweek in France but was forced to leave the country in 1957 after interviewing Algerian guerrillas. Bradlee was appointed executive editor of the Washington Post newspaper in 1965. He covered the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. In fact, Bradlee and the Washington Post were the major forces behind demanding that the government publish the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon Administration. Bradlee backed reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward during their quest to find answers to the Watergate break-in, which eventually led to Nixon’s resignation as President of the United States.

Bradlee published his autobiography in 1995, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures. He was interviewed extensively by PBS Newshour host, Jim Lehrer in 2005 for an hour-long documentary, which aired in June 2006.

Ben Bradlee died on October 21 of natural causes due to Alzheimer’s disease. He was 93-years-old. Bradlee is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

November ~
Marion Barry
Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. was born on March 6, 1936, the son of a sharecropper, in Itta Bena, Mississippi. Barry grew up in a segregate south and was well aware of racial divisions. During college, he became active with civil rights and joined the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and began leading sit-ins and marches around the South. While pursuing his doctorate degree, he was appointed leader of the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), a U.S. civil rights organization formed by students in the 1960s. In 1965, he moved to Washington, D.C. to found and manage an SNCC office.

In 1971, Barry ran as an at-large member of the D.C. Board of Education. He won and was soon appointed president of the board. In 1974, he was elected as an at-large member of the first elected Washington City Council, serving as chair of the D.C. Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Barry decided to run for mayor of the city in 1978 and won in a close contest. He went on to hold the position of Mayor from 1979 to 1991. He became known as a symbol of African-American political leadership. But in 1990, he did not seek re-election to a fourth term after his arrest for drug use. He served six months in a federal prison before being released in 1992. Two months later, Barry was running for a city council seat, which he won with 70% of the vote.

By 1994, Barry had once again won the mayoral race and held one more term as D.C. Mayor from 1995 to 1999. From 2002 to 2014, he was active on the D.C. Council. Many times, Barry’s foibles brought him to the front of media attention but he always bounced back.

Marion Barry died of cardiac arrest on November 23 at the United Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was 78 years old. Barry is buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Mike Nichols
He was born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky on November 6, 1931 in Berlin, Germany. His family escaped the Nazis and moved to New York City in 1939. Nichols became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1944 and attended school in Manhattan. He attended the University of Chicago but dropped out to pursue acting. In 1955, he joined the Compass Players, the predecessor to Chicago’s Second City Improv troupe. He and Elaine May formed an Improv comedy team in 1958, performing satirical comedy in New York City and across the country. They went on to release three comedy albums, and in 1960 opened on Broadway in An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May. They broke up soon after but remained friends and appeared in several plays together.

During the 1960s, Nichols began directing plays. He won a Tony Award for his directing of Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite and The Graduate with a total of 9 Tony Awards, in all. Nichols moved from theatre to film, directing Catch-22, Silkwood, Working Girl, Primary Colors, and The Birdcage.  In all, he directed 27 theatre plays and 22 movies, winning 9 Tony Awards, 4 Drama Desk Awards, 7 Academy Awards and 17 Golden Globes for producing/directing.

Mike Nichols died on November 19 from a heart attack at his home in Manhattan. He was 83 years old.

December ~
Joe Cocker
John Robert (Joe) Cocker was born on May 20, 1944 in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. He began singing in public at the age of 12 and in 1960 formed his first group, The Cavaliers. By 1961, Cocker had adopted a stage name, Vance Arnold, and started a new group: Vance Arnold and The Avengers. Cover songs and blues were their mainstay until Cocker did a solo album for Decca in 1964. When it flopped, Cocker dropped his stage name and formed a new group known as Joe Cocker’s Big Blues, but again had no luck gaining an audience for his music.

Cocker then formed The Grease Band in 1966, and his career took off. Their first single was Marjorine, but it was the rearrangement of a Beatles hit, I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends that made the Top Ten on the Billboard chart and eventually rose to the number one spot. But The Grease Band was short-lived; Cocker dissolved it in 1969 just before heading to America for a 48-city tour.

The U.S. tour included more than 30 musicians and the tour band was named Mad Dogs and Englishmen. The group recorded a live album and several songs made the Top Ten list in the U.S. But the travel was taking a toll on Cocker and family members requested that he return to England. It would be more than a dozen years before he hit his musical stride.

In 1982, Cocker recorded a duet with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film An Officer and A Gentleman. Up Where We Belong was an international hit and the duo won a Grammy and an Academy Award for the song. Cocker was now turning out number one hits and recording movie soundtracks. He had made a name for himself as a rock/blues singer and would go on to record more than 40 albums in his lifetime.

Joe Cocker died December 22 of lung cancer in Crawford, Colorado. He was 70 years old.

Luise Rainer
She was the first actor to win Oscars back-to-back during the Golden Age of Hollywood films: Luise Rainer was born on January 12, 1910 in Dusseldorf, Germany. In 1926, she auditioned for a play and was soon studying under the direction of Max Reinhardt.

She was “discovered” by MGM in 1934 and considered to be the next Greta Garbo. She appeared in her first film, Escapade in 1935. One year later, she received her first Oscar for The Great Ziegfeld (1936). Then in 1937, she received a second Oscar for The Good Earth making her the first actor to have been awarded an Academy Award in consecutive years. But Hollywood was not kind and Rainer left the film industry in 1938 after being considered for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. All told, Rainer was in 13 films during her life, including The Gambler in 1997.
Rainer married American playwright Clifford Odets in 1937 and divorced three years later. In 1945, she married publisher Robert Knittel who died in 1989. Rainer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and also on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin, Germany.

Luise Rainer died December 30 from pneumonia in London. She was 104 years old.

Miss Me, But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free
Miss me a little - but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me - but let me go …

~ Anonymous

May 2015 bring you happiness, health, wealth and wisdom!

~ Joy

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