Thursday, July 30, 2020

Richard Dawson - Good Answer!

A few weeks ago, Six Feet Under Hollywood brought you the life and tragic death of Family Feud host Ray Combs.  Now we turn the spotlight on his predecessor Richard Dawson, who fared somewhat better in life and career.

He was born Colin Lionel Emm, in Gosport, Hampshire, England, on November 20, 1932.  It would not be a normal childhood however, as Europe was gearing up for the second World War.  Dawson and his family were often on the move, and he spent very little time in school.

By 14, he'd had enough, and he left home to join the British Merchant Navy.  He was assigned to the RMS Mauretania, which took him to The Bahamas, Havana, and New York City.  While in the service, he took up boxing, earning nearly $5,000 in shipboard matches. 

Following his discharge from the service, Colin set his sights on a career in comedy.  To that end, he changed his name to Dickie Dawson for a few years, before ultimately settling on Richard.

Hogan's Heroes cast photo.
Jobs came quickly for the up-and-coming comedian.  When he was 21, he made his first television appearance on The Benny Hill Showcase, a precursor to the more-famous Benny Hill Show.  He'd spend the next ten years appearing regularly on a number of BBC series and BBC Radio as well.  He crossed the pond in 1963, making appearances on The Jack Benny Program and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Dawson wouldn't become a household name until 1965 however, when he was cast as Corporal Peter Newkirk in the Bob Crane sit-com Hogan's Heroes.  How that show ever got made is still a mystery to me.  Oh those zany Nazis!  The show lasted for six seasons and continues to air in syndication to this day.  (How has it not been targeted yet?)

During the show's final year, Dawson was pulling double duty as a cast member on Laugh-In, which he stayed with until the series ended in 1973.  Here's a clip of Dawson discussing that experience.

That same year, Dawson found new life as a game show personality when he joined the cast of the Mark Goodson series Match Game '73 (later '74, '75, etc.).  He proved quite popular in the part, both for his wit and in his ability to come up with the correct response.  He was a fan favorite who was often chosen by the contestants to participate with them in the Super Match bonus round.  Here's a clip of some of his funnier moments.

Match Game '73.

By 1976, Dawson was interested in hosting a show of his own.  In response, Mark Goodson created a Match Game spin-off series dubbed Family Feud.  The series was an overnight success and would become the project for which Dawson is most fondly remembered for.  For the first two years of the show's run, he continued serving as a panelist on Match Game, before finally retiring from that series in 1978. 

The Feud was canceled in 1985, but would return a few years later with new host Ray Combs.  Dawson returned to his acting roots with a surprise starring role in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running ManHere's a clip of him chewing up the scenery.

"I'll be back."
"Only in a rerun."
Then a strange thing happened.  In 1994, Dawson was asked to return to Family Feud in an attempt to revitalize the ratings.  It didn't help however, and the series was canceled again just one year later.  With that, Dawson officially retired from show business.

Dawson was a well-known smoker.  In fact it was often part of his act.  He didn't quit until he was 61, but by that point the damage had been done.  He died of esophageal cancer on June 2, 2012 - 16 years to the day after Ray Combs committed suicide.

He was buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village.  His closest celebrity neighbor is Jim Backus, the subject of a previous post here at Six Feet Under Hollywood.  His Hogan's Heroes co-star Bob Crane is just a short walk away.

Inscription: Forever in our hearts.  Beloved husband, father & grandfather.
Rest in peace, Richard.

  • Dawson was a man of many talents, but singing wasn't one of them.  Still he tried, releasing a psychedelic 45 in 1967.  It included the songs "His Children's Parade" and "Apples and Oranges."  Give each one a listen.  Just don't blame me.

  • Most folks aren't lucky enough to have that magical moment caught on tape - the moment when they meet the love of their life.  Dawson was that fortunate however, meeting his future bride Gretchen Johnson when she appeared on the Feud.  Check out the episode in its entirety here.  She certainly was ready for action! 

  • Dawson was well known for kissing the female contestants who appeared on the Feud, a practice that no doubt would have him banned from television today.  The habit earned him the nickname "The Kissing Bandit," so ABC executives asked him to stop.  He didn't give in however, explaining that as a child, his mother had always kissed him for good luck, and he was expressing the same sentiment to the ladies on the show.  He ultimately left it up to the viewers, who voted overwhelmingly to keep the kissing as part of the show. 

  • Dawson occasionally served as a guest host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.  During a taping in 1979, actress and guest Della Reese suffered a near-fatal aneurysm while being interviewed by Dawson, and production was canceled.  Reese survived the health scare.

Saturday, July 25, 2020


Wladziu Valentino Liberace was born in Wisconsin on May 16, 1919.  God, no wonder he shortened his name.  He was born into a family of musicians.  His father, an Italian immigrant, had played the French horn in theatres, but he paid his bills as a laborer.  His mother had been a concert pianist in Poland, but ironically found music lessons for her son to be a luxury.  This was after all, during the Great Depression.

By age 4, Liberace was already playing the piano, at which he was a natural.  A few years later, he attended a concert in Milwaukee featuring the Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski.  He was instantly inspired.  "I was intoxicated by the joy I got from the great virtuoso's playing," Liberace recalled.  "My dreams were filled with fantasies of following his footsteps...I began to practice with a fervor that made my previous interest in the piano look like neglect."

He started making a name for himself when he was just 18, when he entered a formal music competition.  Although he didn't win, he was praised for his flair and showmanship.  It started his career and within a few years he was touring around his home state of Wisconsin. It was in the town of La Crosse just a few years later that he would first play "Three Little Fishes," the tune that would become his signature song.

By the 1940s, he was working the clubs in New York City.  He signed with the Radisson and Statler Hotel chains, which increased his exposure.  He also began appearing in "soundies," the precursor to music videos (minus the profanity and half-naked women). It got him noticed, and by 1945, Variety was impressed, describing him as a cross between Cary Grant and Robert Alda (Alan's father).

He arrived in Hollywood in 1947.  Within a few years, he'd be appearing in films, including 1950's South Sea Sinner with future soap opera star MacDonald Carey and 1955's Sincerely Yours.  Click on each title to see a clip from the respective film.  The latter film was a flop at the box office, and it largely killed his big-screen ambitions.

In the early 1950s, Liberace eschewed radio, recognizing  television as the dominant medium.  He appeared on a number of variety programs, such as The Kate Smith Show and The Jackie Gleason Show, but he found their formats limiting, particularly when it came to his screen time.  In response, he started his own series, appropriately titled The Liberace Show.  It ran in syndication for 17 years.   Here's the first episode in its entirety.

He's probably best remembered for his years headlining in Las Vegas however, where he took up permanent residence.  During his decades-long career there, he earned the nickname "Mr. Showmanship" and introduced a host of new acts to America, including an up-and-coming singer named Barbra Streisand.  Known around town for his exotic outfits and his flamboyant lifestyle, he once described himself as "a one-man Disneyland."

He died on February 4, 1987 at the age of 67.  In his final years, he battled numerous health conditions, including emphysema, coronary artery disease and most significantly, HIV.  Ultimately, his cause of death was listed as pneumonia.

He was entombed at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with his mother Frances and his brother George.

Here's a close-up shot.

Rest in peace, Chandell.

  • Liberace never publicly admitted his sexuality, but he often defended it.  In 1956, he sued London's Daily Mirror newspaper for libel when it claimed he was a homosexual, winning $200,000.  In 1982, he was sued by a former chauffeur who said the two had been lovers, a claim Liberace denied under oath.  The $113 million lawsuit was ultimately settled out of court for $75,000 and three dogs.  In 2011, more than 20 years after his death, Liberace's longtime friend Betty White put the issue to bed, when she told the gabbers on The View that she would often accompany him to public events in order to downplay his sexuality.  When Joy Behar remarked that there was no hiding the fact that Liberace was gay, White replied "Not. At. All."

  • Liberace had a twin brother who died at birth.  Ironically, he would later portray twin brothers, one good, one evil, on the 1960s Batman TV show.  It was the highest-rated episode of the entire series.  Here's a clip.  Personally, I liked Catwoman.

  • On November 22, 1963, Liberace was found unconscious in his Pittsburgh dressing room after "accidentally" inhaling dry cleaning fumes from his recently pressed costume.  He later reported that he probably would have died had his entourage not come in to tell him of President Kennedy's assassination that day.  He did however, suffer kidney failure as a result of the incident.

  • In 1979, Liberace opened his own museum in Las Vegas, which operated for more than 30 years.  When it closed in 2010, The Liberace Foundation tried re-opening it on the Las Vegas strip, but negotiations ultimately failed.  Today, many of his cars and artifacts are on display at various Vegas attractions.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Jayne Mansfield

Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on April 19, 1933.  After she was born, her family moved to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, where her father worked as an attorney.  He died of a heart attack however when Jayne was just four, so her mother remarried and moved the family to Dallas.

From an early age she had dreams of stardom.  To that end, she took ballroom dance lessons while studying the violin, the piano and the viola.  She also excelled in school, particularly in mathematics.  It was a very well-rounded education.

At 17, she married her first of three husbands, Paul Mansfield, whose name she'd carry throughout her career.  Five months after the marriage, her first child, a daughter named Jayne Marie Mansfield, was born.  At this point, she got serious about starting her career.  The family moved to L.A. in 1954, where Jayne held a variety of odd jobs.  She taught dance, did some part-time modeling, and even sold popcorn at the Stanley Warner Theatre.  She also spent some time behind the camera, working as a photographer for actress Esther Williams.

The June 1963 issue.
By 1955, she was starting to make a name for herself.  She caught the attention of Playboy Magazine publisher Hugh Hefner, who made Mansfield his Playmate of the Month that February.  It would ultimately launch her career while boosting sales of the magazine as well.  She did several return pictorials over the next few years, ultimately landing on the cover in June 1963.

Having made a name for herself, Mansfield started landing film roles.  Her earliest was a low-budget drama called Female Jungle, for which she'd earn a staggering $150.  Here's the trailer.  Bigger roles would follow.

The following year, Mansfield signed a six-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox.  The studio saw her as a replacement for Marilyn Monroe, who executives were finding more and more difficult to work with.  Mansfield appeared in a number of films over the next few years, including The Girl Can't Help It (1956), The Wayward Bus (1957) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957).  Click on each title to view the respective trailer.

To this blogger's incredible amazement, the demand for statuesque blonde bombshells started to decline in the early 1960s.  The public had begun to tire of the unending publicity surrounding such notables as Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page.  As a result, Mansfield's Hollywood career started to decline, and the studio loaned her out to foreign productions.  Her biggest hit during this era was Too Hot to Handle, produced in Great Britain in 1960.

A few years later, Hollywood execs wised up, and offered her a starring role in the Dean Martin film Kiss Me, Stupid.  Mansfield turned it down however, as she was pregnant with future Law and Order actress Mariska Hargitay, a product of her second marriage to Hungarian actor Mickey Hargitay.  Mansfield's final film role was in 1967's A Guide for the Married Man, which starred Walter Matthau.

Mansfield had also developed a nightclub routine for which she was frequently on the road.  On June 29, 1967, she left an engagement in Biloxi, Mississippi headed for New Orleans.  She was accompanied by her attorney Sam Brody and driver Ronnie Harrison, who all rode up front in the 1966 Buick Electra.  In the back seat, three of her children (including Mariska) were peacefully asleep.

As the car approached Slidell, Louisiana, it was engulfed in a heavy fog, the result of insecticide spraying that made visibility nearly impossible.  Harrison didn't slow down in time, and the car drove into the rear of a tractor trailer.  All three adults were killed, while thankfully, the children were unharmed. 

A popular urban legend contends that Mansfield was decapitated in the accident, after a photograph was published showing blonde hair entangled in the smashed windshield.  This is untrue however, verified through her official death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain.

She was interred at Fairview Cemetery in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania.  The inscription reads "We live to love you more each day," a famous Mansfield quote.

Normally, I'll offer directions on finding the grave, but this one sticks out like a sore thumb.  It's a very small park and you won't have any trouble spotting her distinctive headstone.

Rest in peace, Gorgeous.


  • Although she's buried in her home town in Pennsylvania, Hollywood hasn't forgotten her either.  A cenotaph in her honor was placed at Hollywood Forever, the cemetery where many stars are laid to rest.  It bears the same inscription as her headstone in Pennsylvania.

  • Mansfield's death car is on permanent display at the Dearly Departed Museum in Los Angeles.  Although I've taken the tour myself, photography is not usually allowed.  You can see it in this video however, posted by vlogger Jordan the Lion.  The car comes in at the 7-minute mark.

  • Mansfield's death would bring change to the automotive industry, after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommended the placement of an underride guard on all tractor trailers to prevent similar accidents in the future.  Today, it is often referred to as the Mansfield Bar.

  • Several musicians have recorded tribute songs to Mansfield.  These include "The Ballad of Jayne" by L.A. Guns and "Kiss Them For Me" by Siouxsie and the Banshees (the title is a reference to a 1957 Mansfield film).  Click on the titles and give them a listen.

  • While studying Dramatics at the University of Texas at Austin, Mansfield joined a campus theatrical society called The Curtain Club.  Other members included comedian Rip Torn, crooner Tom Jones and character actor Pat Hingle.

  • Early in her career, Mansfield lost a modeling gig for General Electric, as the company feared her breasts were "too prominent."

  • In 1965, Mansfield released two songs with Jimi Hendrix backing her on guitar, "As the Clouds Drift By" and "Suey."  Give them a listen.

  • While Mansfield portrayed the image of the "dumb blonde," she was anything but.  She boasted an I.Q. of 163 and spoke five different languages.  She often complained that the public didn't care about her brains, saying "it's not the 163, its the 40-21-35."  

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bonnie and Clyde

"Bonnie was a waitress in a small café.
Clyde was the rounder who took her away.
They both robbed and killed til both of them died.
So goes the legend of Bonnie and Clyde."
  --Merle Haggard,
        "The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde"

From 1932 to 1934, Bonnie and Clyde traveled middle America robbing banks and gas stations, funding an attack based on revenge that would come years later.  Over the course of their crime spree, they are believed to have murdered nine police officers and four civilians, but exact numbers may never be known.  So who were Bonnie and Clyde?

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker
was born in Rowena, Texas on October 1, 1910.  She was the second of three children of Charles Robert Parker, a bricklayer who died when Bonnie was just four years old.  After the loss of her husband, Bonnie's mother Emma Parker relocated the family to West Dallas where she worked as a seamstress.

Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born in Ellis County, Texas on March 24, 1909.  He was the fifth of seven children to Henry Basil Barrow and Cumie Talitha Walker.  When the family moved to Dallas in the early 1920s, they were so poor that they lived under their wagon for several months until they could afford a tent.  Being that poor, it's no wonder Clyde turned to crime, stealing his first car at just 17.

Although there are many different versions of the "how they met" story, most historians believe that it took place in January 1930 at the home of a mutual friend.  The two were immediately taken with one another and as it tuned out, they shared many of the same interests (theft, violence, etc.).

Those crazy kids re-enact one of their most
famous killings.  As loving couples do.
Shortly after they met, Clyde was incarcerated at the Eastham Prison Farm where he spent the next two years.  While in custody, he committed his first murder, killing a fellow inmate who was sexually assaulting him.  Just six days prior to his release, he chopped off two of his own toes in an effort to avoid hard labor in the fields.  And you thought your kids were lazy.

Upon his release, Clyde was determined to seek his revenge on the Texas Department of Corrections for the abuses he believed he had suffered while in their custody.  Many of the gang's early robberies were geared towards planning an attack on the Eastham Prison Farm, and they continued to work towards that goal.

After two years of planning, the gang attacked Eastham Prison on January 16, 1934.  They released five inmates from the camp, including former members of their gang.  This assault brought the full weight of the federal government down on the gang, and would lead to their inevitable downfall.

Former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer was recalled from retirement with orders to find the outlaw couple.  He tracked them to Bienville Parish in Louisiana, where on May 23, 1934, he coordinated an attack on the couple, who were visiting family members in the area. 

The Bonnie and Clyde death car.
As Clyde drove them down a lonely rural road, Hamer and his posse launched their attack.  Clyde was hit first and was dead before he knew it, after receiving a single gun shot wound to the head.  Reportedly Bonnie, sitting right next to him, screamed in horror at the sight.  Her screams would end, but not until 130 rounds had been pumped into the vehicle.

Bonnie was interred at Crown Hill Memorial Park in Dallas.  You'll find her marker in front of a chain-link fence when you first enter.
The inscription reads: "As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew, so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you."

Clyde was interred across town at Western Heights Cemetery, which is often mistaken to be abandoned.  It's in a rather poor state of disrepair, but Clyde's marker is still easy to find.  When you enter the main gate, look to your left and you'll see it by the far wall.  He shares the plot with his brother Marvin, who died one year earlier.

The inscription reads: "Gone but not forgotten."


  • Bonnie is often referred to as an outlaw poet.  In fact, the inscription on her marker is one of her original works.

  •  A week before her sixteenth birthday, Bonnie dropped out of high school and married her classmate Roy Thornton.  They'd stay together for three years before eventually separating, although they never officially divorced.  Bonnie was still wearing the wedding ring he had given her when she died.

  • Hollywood has produced several films on the outlaw couple, the most famous being Bonnie and Clyde starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (1967).  Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson tracked down the duo in 2019's The Highwaymen.  Click on the titles to see their respective trailers.  The earliest film however, was a solo piece on Bonnie, simply titled The Bonnie Parker Story, in 1958.  You can watch that film in its entirety here

  • When her marriage ended, Bonnie took a job as a waitress in Dallas.  One of her regular customers was a postal worker named Ted Hinton.  A few years later, he joined the police force and would eventually serve in the posse that killed the outlaw couple.

  • The Bonnie and Clyde death car is on permanent display at Whiskey Pete's Casino in Primm, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas.  Check out this review from Roadside America.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Just One More Thing

Peter Falk was born in New York City on September 16, 1927.  He was raised in Ossining, where his father owned a dry goods store and his mother was an accountant.  He excelled academically as both a star athlete and as president of his senior class.

When he graduated from high school in 1945, he had dreams of serving his country in World War 2.  He attempted to enlist in the army but was rejected due to his missing eye (more on this later).  He was however able to join the U.S. Merchant Marine, where he served as a cook and as a mess boy.  Of the experience, he'd later write "there they don't care if you're blind or not.  The only one on a ship who has to see is the captain.  And in the case of the Titanic, he couldn't see very well, either."  When he was released from the service, Falk went to college, eventually earning a bachelor's degree in literature and political science.

After graduation, Falk had a few "normal" jobs before setting his sights...err sight...on acting.  He took a job as an efficiency expert with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau in Hartford.  Ironically he'd lose this job due to his constant tardiness.  It was in Hartford that he joined his first local theatre group.  He proved such a success that he quit his job in 1956 and moved to Greenwich Village, intent on becoming a professional actor.

He found success on the Broadway stage, appearing in such plays as Diary of a Scoundrel and Saint Joan.  But the turning point in his career wouldn't come until 1960, when he was cast in the film Murder, Inc., the story of a 1930s New York gang of the same name.  He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.  Watch the trailer here.

More roles would follow throughout the 60s, including It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), and The Great Race (1965).  Click on each title for their respective theatrical trailers.

This was all leading up to the role for which he is most famously identified, that of Lieutenant Frank Columbo.  Falk played the part for seven seasons on the hit series Columbo.  It would return as a series of specials that ran from 1989 to 2003.

Explaining the success of the character to a TV critic, Falk once stated "It's not enough to get most of the details, it's necessary to get them all.  I've been accused of perfectionism. When (the head of Universal) said that Falk is a perfectionist, I don't know whether it was out of affection or because he felt I was a monumental pain in the ass."

After the series, Falk would continue to work with roles in such films as Murder By Death (1976), The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and of course, The Princess Bride (1987).  Click on each for its respective trailer.  His final film was 2007's Next starring Nicolas Cage.

The following year, Falk was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  It resulted in a trial for conservatorship between his second wife and the children from his first marriage, which she ultimately won.  Interestingly, the dementia was attributed to a series of dental operations Falk endured in 2007.  His personal physician testified that the anesthesia may have worsened his mental state.  The more you know.

Falk ultimately passed from pneumonia on June 23, 2011.  He was 83 years old.  He was interred at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village in its famed Celebrity Row.

Inscription: I'm not here.  I'm home with Shera.
Rest in peace, Columbo.

  • Shera Danese was Falk's second wife and conservator of his estate. She had guest starred on more episodes of Columbo than any other actress.  Leading up to his death, she did not allow his adult children to visit their dying father and she did not provide them with updates on his rapidly changing condition.  A few years after his death, New York introduced legislation to allow family members the access that Falk's family had been denied.  The Peter Falk Law has now been adopted in ten states.

  • Falk was born with a hereditary genetic defect known as retinoblastoma, which causes cancer in the eye.  When he was three years old, doctor's removed his right eye to prevent any further spread.  Falk wore an artificial eye most of his life, giving him that signature squint that Columbo was famous for.

  • Falk graduated from Syracuse University with a Masters in Public Administration. The program was designed to train civil servants for a career in the federal government.  Falk would later quip that he had "no interest in and no aptitude for" that line of work.  Dude, that doesn't stop anyone.

  • Although Columbo premiered as a series in 1971, Falk first played the character in the 1968 made-for-TV movie Prescription: Murder. When it finally went to series, the pilot episode was directed by a 24-year-old newbie named Steven Spielberg.

  • Like Gilligan, Columbo's first name is a subject of great debate.  While it was never spoken on screen, the name "Frank" does appear on his identification, which he'd show from time to time.

  • Falk appeared in character for an episode of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.  The evening's victim was none other than Frank Sinatra.  Watch the segment in its entirety here.

  • Falk's daughter Catherine decided to follow in her father's footsteps.  Not as an actor, but as a detective.

  • In 2007, Falk released his autobiography, appropriately titled Just One More Thing.  Pick up a copy from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Leon Klinghoffer

Leon Klinghoffer will probably always be best remembered for how he died rather than how he lived.  That's a shame, cause he had a rather interesting life.

He was born in New York City on September 24, 1916.  While he was in school, he worked in his family's hardware store, Klinghoffer Supply Company.  Later, when America entered the second World War, Klinghoffer enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he trained as a navigator.  He was attached to the 93rd Bombardment Group and flew missions in the B-24 Liberator bombers.  He was honorably discharged from the service in 1944.

The B-24 Liberator.
After he returned to America, Klinghoffer and his brother opened an appliance store in which they sold their own inventions.  Their signature item was the Roto-Broil Rotisserie Oven (Roto-Broil 400), which proved quite popular in the 1950s.  Yes, Klinghoffer and his brother invented the rotisserie oven.  He enjoyed a successful career for the next few decades.

By the 1980s, he had retired and was now confined to a wheelchair, but it didn't stop him from living his life.  In October 1985, Klinghoffer and his wife Marilyn celebrated 36 years of marriage with a cruise to Israel.  They booked passage on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, a name that would become synonymous with terrorism.

On October 7, the ship was seized by four terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front as it was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said.  The passengers and crew were held hostage and the captain was ordered to set sail for Syria.  The terrorists also demanded the release of 50 Palestinians confined in Israel.

Syria, along with both the U.S. and Italian governments, did not respond to any of their demands.  The terrorists decided at that point that it was time to start executing the prisoners.  They agreed that an American should die first, and Klinghoffer was chosen for a variety of reasons, one being that he was brusque and uncooperative with his captors.  But ultimately he was chosen for a more sinister reason.

The Achille Lauro.
A terrorist known as Molqi later recounted why Klinghoffer was chosen, giving this chilling statement.  "I and Bassm al-Ashker agreed that the first hostage to be killed had to be an American.  I chose Klinghoffer, an invalid, so that they would know that we had no pity for anyone, just as the Americans, arming Israel, do not take into consideration that Israel kills women and children of our people."

Molqi ordered one of the ship's waiters to bring Klinghoffer above deck.  There, the hijacker shot him in both the head and chest, killing Klinghoffer instantly.  The waiter was ordered to throw his body overboard, but, unable to do so on his own, Molqi recruited the ship's hairstylist to assist.

One week later, the Syrians recovered Klinghoffer's body and it was returned to the U.S.  More than 800 people attended his funeral at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City.  He was buried in Beth-David Cemetery in Kenilworth, New Jersey.

Inscription #1: Beloved and Devoted Father, Husband and Friend
Inscription #2: His Courage is Our Strength
Rest in peace, Mr. Klinghoffer.

  • Klinghoffer's grave is very difficult to find.  I've had more luck finding people who didn't even have headstones!  Once you enter the main gate, drive straight down until you reach the traffic circle as shown below.  Park your car, then walk down the first aisle after the circle on your left.  Klinghoffer's grave is in this general area.

  • As a child in New York, Klinghoffer was close friends with future Marvel Comics legend Jack Kirby.  Kirby is often referred to as Stan Lee's un-credited partner, who helped create a variety of Marvel characters, including The Fantastic Four.

  • None of the hijackers' demands were met, and they were eventually granted safe passage to Tunisia.  President Reagan had other ideas however, and he ordered a U.S. fighter jet to intercept the getaway plane.  It was forced down in Italy, where a long extradition fight began. Ultimately, they were tried in Italy, but they were never convicted.  Italian authorities felt there was insufficient evidence to link them to the hijacking.

  • Just four days after his execution, Klinghoffer's wife Marilyn lost her battle with colon cancer.