Quite a few losses for the world of late, and two, in particular, for Canada: Tarek Fatah and Gordon Lightfoot. The interesting thing about Lightfoot, given how celebrated he is by the left in this country, is that if you read the lyrics to Canadian Railroad Trilogy, you can see it is a song celebrating pioneers, celebrating the building up of the country by European immigration. Quite interesting – people don’t pay attention, otherwise he’d be getting posthumous cancellation. Glad he isn’t. Also gone, Harry Belafonte and Dame Edna/Barry Humphries, both exceptional talents. I went through a real Dame Edna phase when I was living in Japan, for some reason. Not sure of the correlation, or if there ever was one. For what it’s worth, my fave Lightfoot song is not among the well-known. Enjoy.
What a career – and yet Lansbury was never an A-List movie star, which shows you how stupid those rankings are and how silly Hollywood can be. The first time I saw her in a movie I was a kid, and it happened to be her first movie, Gaslight. I remember it well, because the movie scared me and she was wonderfully nasty. That she could hold her own against/wish Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman is quite something. She was a teenager. Another Lansbury performance that I love – I believe her third movie – is The Picture of Dorian Gray. In the film, she was the victim of the protagonist though in real life, she and Hurd Hatfield became firm friends. He guest starred on Murder, She Wrote several times and she apparently convinced him to buy property near hers in Ireland.
Impossible to do her versatility justice – think of how wonderfully creepy she was in The Manchurian Candidate, for example. (She also played Elvis’ mother in Blue Hawaii – truly, a terrible film.) She had a remarkable stage career, as well. I mentioned Murder, She Wrote above – sue me, but I loved that series. So fun. There was a reason it was so successful and has such staying power. It is crazily popular in Italy, by the way.
FYI, I had a lovely aunt who looked so much like her. Obituary – of Lansbury, not my aunt – here.
This is my third dead celebrity post in a day! Sad. Still, I can’t not mention Mike Nesmith, who died before Christmas. “After school” for kids in the 1970s meant the following: the hours of 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. spent plunked down in front of the television watching reruns of the Monkees, Get Smart, Bewitched and the Brady Bunch. It was a couple of hours of bliss before the nightmare of my bullying older brother and/or the turmoil of dealing with my parents’ troubled marriage began. Nesmith was a very talented musician (whose mother invented liquid paper – I gather his creative gene came from her) and after his death I went down memory lane online listening to old and familiar songs. Interestingly, I discovered a song I had not heard before that I’d like to share here. He is in a duet with fellow Monkee Mickey Dolenz and it is just lovely. The harmonies! The lyrics (though I don’t think he wrote the song). So sweet.
One of the ironies of the great actor‘s death is how so many progressives/leftists are posting to their social media this late-1960s interview, in which Poitier expresses frustration with the fact that the media are only asking him questions about his race. They are posting it as a criticism – as in, “How terrible! He was not viewed as a man, but only as a black man!” – seemingly unaware of the fact that they only ever want people to talk about their race.
Poitier was indeed the first black actor to win an Oscar, and there is nothing wrong with remembering that about him. Above all, though, he was an actor and for a time, a huge box office draw. In 1967 alone he made three extraordinary movies – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, To Sir with Love and In the Heat of the Night. I adore the first two, of course, but I want to focus on In the Heat of the Night: it was certainly Rod Steiger’s best role, but it is the last scene of the movie that, for me, is most noteworthy. Imagine the same film made in today’s climate – the ending would include either a grovelling apology from Steiger about the wrongness of his ways, or an acknowledgement of his white privilege, or a hug between the two men, or all of the above. Now watch this scene – that wonderful “You take care. You hear?” The smiles from Poitier and Steiger. Real respect has developed. And so perfectly acted.
What can I add to all of the tributes? An animal advocate, a World War II volunteer, a talented comedienne – it has all been said these past ten days. I, of course, first really saw her when I was a kid watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my mother. I watched it again in reruns…and again…and again. I must have encyclopaedic knowledge of the show. I also loved The Golden Girls as did my parents. My father took to nicknaming my mother “Rose,” as the absurd and lengthy stories she told over the years – filled with Norwegian names, all preposterous – were so like Rose’s St. Olaf stories on the series. Hard to choose a preferred Betty White moment, but this comes close – two brilliant performers combined with great writing. Enjoy, and RIP, Betty.
Or perhaps, as a friend of mine says, they are more likely to whine. Millennials and such. Speaking of, the last decade started with this article, which remains 100% true, says this GenXer.
What a decade (yes, I know that technically the decade ends at the end of this year, but shush up, pedants) it has been – my mother gone at nearly 93, my auntie at 90, my uncles at 96 and 95 – not unnatural deaths, of course. Dear God, give me their longevity, and not just that, but their quality of life till the end, their insistence on keeping active and contributing. (One small example – my uncle Paddy worked till the age of 78, and not because he had to.) And there were two unnatural deaths, for lack of a better term. My beloved brother at 63 and one of my closest friends from high school at 49. Make hay, et cetera.
There were many celebrity deaths this year – I never got around to posting about so many of these people who were meaningful to me. Well, I did write about Doris. And Diahann. And a couple of my fave writers. What I didn’t do on this site was mention how much I liked Rip Torn – oddly, my mother and I both had a crush on him. He was quite a handsome devil in his youth, and even into his 60s, but then became rather debauched from alcohol. The great Zeffirelli is gone (obituary in Italian) – he was extraordinary and a friend of another extraordinary Italian, Oriana Fallaci. I believe they both understood how much the West was/is threatened, largely by our own complacency.
And how could I have failed to post about Valerie Harper? My only excuse is that between late August (when she died) and about a week before Christmas, I was extremely busy with work. So all I can say is, Val, we loved you. Thank you. So many clips from which to choose, but I do so adore Rhoda Morgenstern’s comments about makeup, from the 6 minute 15 second mark on here (and yes, young people, that is indeed Marge Simpson as Rhoda’s sister):
And those of us who have struggled with our weight (a constant battle for me) always love this MTM episode:
Rest in peace all, including the decade (again, shush up, pedants).
I am sad about
Alex Trebek who has a
but i have just read
that he is doing better
and in remission
this makes me happy
who else could do such
a terrific job as host?
Wonderful comedian. I was a great fan of The Carol Burnett Show when I was a kid, and I fondly remember Tim Conway as the old man, and Mr. Tudball, but I think this skit is one of the absolute best. So delightful to watch Lyle Waggoner try to keep a straight face.