Follow by Email

Friday, December 18, 2009

His death leaves big shoes to fill... and other '09 departures you may have missed.

Coco the clown, a circus favorite and the man who helped create Ronald McDonald (and played Ronald in the early commercials for the fast-food giant), died at age 86. "He was very serious about being funny," said the president of the International Clown Hall of Fame. Coco made folks laugh for more than 80 years. He could handle 16-foot stilts and take a pie in the face as well as anyone... except maybe Soupy Sales, who also died this year. Makes you wonder... what in the heck are we going to do with all those custard pies now? His death leaves big shoes to fill... size 39-EEEEEE actually.

Bill Lister, the man billed as "Radio's Tallest Singing Cowboy," also died at age 86.  He will long be remembered for that old favorite, "There's a Tear in My Beer," or not. He was 11 feet, 9 inches tall... (or 6 feet, 7 inches without his gun).

We also lost Benson, the world's biggest carp. He died at 87 pounds.

His Highness, Giorgio Carbone died at age 73. In 1963, he proclaimed himself the Prince of Seborga,  the only leader the 320 people in that 'mini-state' have ever known. Claimed by Italy, Seborga sits at its nearest point to Nice. It has been recognized by the Vatican as an independent state which has never formally been made part of any country. The Seborgan army consists of a single individual, in a ceremonial uniform (with epaulettes no less!), who served as His Highness's personal 'gofer' and bodyguard. Since Seborga pays taxes to Italy, the Italians don't really care what Seborga calls itself. His Serene Highness Giorgio I (his self-named official title) was beloved by his people.

Waldo Hunt, the man who invented the pop-up book, died at age 89. True to his creation 'til the end, Hunt kept "popping up" every time they tried to place him in his casket, causing great consternation among the 'neatnik' morticians.

The smile died in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia this past year as those states forbade drivers to smile for their license photos. Smirks, however, might be 'snuck in' when no one is looking.

Actress Jennifer Jones who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Bernadette in the 1943 movie, The Song of Bernadette, died at age 90. The real Bernadette, a French peasant girl who saw the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, was cannonized a saint by the Catholic Church in 1933. It was reported that Jones, playing Bernadette, actually had a personal revelation on the set of that movie... She felt a spirit telling her, "You are going to die." Then, just last week, the spirit came again to her and said, "See. I told you so." (Please tell me God has a sense of humor.)

Harold Bell, the marketing agent for the "Lassie" show, died at age 90. He is better remembered as the man who created the character Woodsy Owl, the plump bird in a red-feathered hat who told children to "Give a hoot, don't pollute."

Frank Coghlan Jr. died at 93. Who? The kid who played Captain Marvel's alter-ego, Billy Batson, of course. It is Billy Batson who meets a shaman in Siam who teaches him to transform himself into our superhero, Captain Marvel. Coghlan was the  perfect example of a homeless waif, said Cecil B. DeMille who directed the Captain Marvel serials in 1925. And when Billy Batson saw injustice, he said the magic word which transformed him, through a bolt of lightning, into CAPTAIN MARVEL! The magic word was S-H-A-Z-A-M which stood for - the wisdom of Soloman - the strength of Hercules - the stamina of Atlas - the power of Zeus - the courage of Achilles - the speed of Mercury. His powers included super strength, of course, speed, stamina, physical and magical invulnerability, courage and wisdom... the usual stuff. While Billy Batson was a young, crippled newspaper boy with a crutch, Captain Marvel became this Arnold Schwarzenegger-like Adonis in a red, tightly-fitted outfit with a big yellow M on his chest, a flowing red cape with yellow piping and knee length yellow boots. What a guy? My favorite power... lightning. He could control lightning. You shoulda seen him smite those bad guys. Good night Captain Marvel, or as they say in comic land, M-A-Z-A-H-S (Shazam backwards, of course.)

And finally, Claude Levi-Strauss died shortly before his 101st birthday. Known by many as the man who shaped Modern Anthropology and revered by all, he often lamented the disappearance of a simpler time. " We live in a world where I feel out of place. The one that I knew, that I loved, had 1.5 billion inhabitants. The world today is made up of six billion humans.  It is no longer mine."

I can relate to that.

No comments:

Post a Comment