Saturday, June 1, 2024

Karen Carpenter

 

"People never think of entertainers as being human.  When you walk out on stage, the audience thinks nothing can go wrong with them.  We get sick and we have headaches just like they do.  When we are cut, we bleed."

Karen Anne Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut on March 2, 1950.  In 1963, her family moved to Downey, California, where she continued her education, eventually enrolling at California State University at Long Beach.  It was here that she began her musical education, learning the drums and honing her voice.

Talent, it seems, was not limited to Karen, as her brother Richard had musical aspirations as well.  In 1969, they formed The Carpenters, signing on with A&M Records, achieving great commercial success throughout the 1970s. She sang most of the songs on the group's first album, known today as Ticket to Ride.  They'd follow it up one year later with their second album, Close to You.  It contained what would become two of their signature hits, (They Long to be) Close to You and We've Only Just Begun.  Over the course of their 14-year career, they'd release 11 albums, selling more than 4 million copies.

Fame was not without its price however, and by 1975, it was beginning to take its toll.  Carpenter began to exhibit symptoms of anorexia nervosa, a condition that would plague her throughout her remaining years.  She ultimately died of heart failure caused by the disease on February 4, 1983.  She was just one month shy of her 33rd birthday.

Karen Carpenter was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California.  By 1996, both of her parents had passed as well, and they would each be buried next to their daughter.  In 2003 however, Carpenter's family opted to exhume all three and relocate them to Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Park in Westlake Village.  A 46,000-pound private mausoleum was constructed at an estimated fee of $600,000.  The interior is inscribed with the phrase "A Star on Earth - A Star in Heaven."


Rest in peace.

Trivia
  • If you want to learn more about Karen Carpenter, take a voyage to Amazon.  It's all in books.

  • Although Carpenter died a married woman, she had planned to divorce her husband, real estate mogul Thomas James Burris.  She was to sign the divorce papers the very day she died.

  • After finding success in the 1970s, Carpenter and her family bought two apartment complexes in Downey, California, dubbing them "Close to You" and "Only Just Begun."  They're still in operation today, and units can be rented via Apartments.com.

  • In 1980, Carpenter recorded a self-titled solo album, which A&M Records reportedly shelved.  It was finally released in 1996, 13 years after she passed.  Take a listen on YouTube.

  • After her death, the family started what is today called The Carpenter Family Foundation in her honor.  It raises money for research on eating disorders while providing funding for the arts and education.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Agnes Moorehead

"I've been in movies and played theater from coast to coast , so I was quite well known before Bewitched and I don't particularly want to be identified as a witch."

Agnes Robertson Moorehead was born in Clinton, Massachusetts on December 6, 1900.  She was the daughter of a Presbyterian clergyman and knew from an early age that she wanted to be an actress.  In later years, she would often state that her first public appearance was reading the Lord's prayer in her father's church when she was just three years old.

She attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in biology before moving to New York.  There, in 1922, she met Orson Welles, beginning a friendship and acting collaboration that would continue for half a century.  Ultimately, her first acting role was in his 1941 classic Citizen Kane, in which she played his mother.  Here's a clip.

Radio and the stage would follow, but she'd truly make her mark on television.  In 1961, she appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "The Invaders," a one-person play in which she has not a single line of dialogue.  It holds up today as a fan-favorite episode and is often cited as one of the series' best entries.  Check out a clip on YouTube.

However, it is her role on Bewitched for which she is most famously known, that of Endora, a witch more than 4,000 years old.  Endora was the mother of Samantha, played by series star Elizabeth Montgomery, and mother-in-law and constant irritant to Darrin, played by Dick York and later, Dick Sargent.  Here's a compilation of some of her series highlights.

The series ended in 1972 and Moorehead retired to Rochester, Minnesota.  Her health was in decline, having been diagnosed with uterine cancer.  She ultimately passed on April 30, 1974.  She was 73 years old. 

Agnes Moorehead was entombed in Memorial Abbey at Dayton Memorial Park Cemetery in Ohio.  Attendees at her service included her mother, who outlived Agnes by 16 years, eventually passing away in 1990 at the age of 106.


Rest in peace.

Trivia
  • If you want to learn more about Agnes Moorehead, take a voyage over to Amazon.  It's all in books.

  • Moorehead appeared in the 1956 film The Conquerors, which was filmed in what is today known as the Nevada Testing Grounds. Along with Moorehead, several of the film's cast and crew, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Director Dick Powell, have all died of cancer.  Although unproven, many today believe that they were all exposed to fallout material during production.

  • Moorehead initially turned down her most famous role, but reconsidered after being asked by series lead Elizabeth Montgomery.  She accepted the role believing that the series would not last more than one season. It ran for eight.

  • Moorehead's limousine is on permanent display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.  Take a look on Facebook.

  • The graves of two of Moorehead's co-stars, Dick York and Paul Lynde, have also been profiled by this blog.

  • If you're planning to visit Moorehead yourself, do not go on Saturday, when the Abbey is closed to the public.  It's open Sunday-Friday.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Blog #200: The Mafia Cemetery

 

Its our 200th blog here at Six Feet Under Hollywood, which demands something special.  This week, we take you to Queens, New York and St. John's Cemetery, also known as the Mafia Cemetery.  Here, you'll find the likes of notable gangsters, both real and fictional, as well as a host of other crooked characters, including politicians and actors. The cemetery boasts nearly sixty famous names, of which you'll see five that we found on a recent visit.  Enjoy!

Charles "Lucky" Luciano was born Salvatore Lucania in Italy on November 24, 1897.  As a young man, he came to America and carved his own version of the American dream, establishing what we know today as the American mafia. He died of a heart attack on January 26, 1962.  He was 64 years old. 



John Joseph Gotti, Jr. was born in the Bronx, New York on October 27, 1940.  He rose to serve as Boss of the Gambino Crime Family in New York City, earning the nickname "Dapper Don" for his expensive wardrobe and his rapport with the media.  Gotti died of throat cancer while in federal custody on June 10, 2002.  He was 61 years old.


Mario Matthew Cuomo
was born in New York City on June 15, 1932. A lawyer and politician, he first came into the national spotlight during the 1984 Democratic National Convention, later serving three terms as Governor of New York.  He ran for a fourth term in 1994 but was ultimately defeated by George Pataki.  He died of heart failure on January 1, 2015.  He was 82 years old.




Philip Anthony McKeon
was born in Westbury, New York on November 11, 1964.  Like his younger sister Nancy, McKeon was a child actor most famous for his role as Tommy Hyatt on the long-running CBS sitcom Alice.  When the series ended in 1985, he began a career as a DJ, working at radio stations in California and Texas, where he died on December 10, 2019, after a long, as-yet unidentified illness.  He was 55 years old.  He died just six weeks after his father, with whom he is buried.

Geraldine Anne Ferraro
was born in Newburgh, New York on August 26, 1935.  Another politician, she represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 to 1985.  As her headstone also states, she was the first woman to run for Vice President on a national party ticket in 1984, the same year Ronald Reagan won 49 states (even New York).  She spent her later years as a contributor for FOX News, before ultimately passing of multiple myeloma on March 26, 2011.  She was 75 years old.




Other notables buried at St. Johns include physical fitness guru Charles Atlas, Godfather actor Al Lettieri (the Turk), and New York Yankees great Joe Pepitone.  May they all rest in peace.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Blog #199: Joseph Cotten

 

"I didn't care about the movies really.  I was tall.  I could talk.  It was easy to do."

Joseph Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia on May 15, 1905. He was son of the local postmaster and the oldest of three children.  From an early age, he showed great interest in acting and was often described as "an expert storyteller."

After high school, Cotten attended the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, DC.  He paid for his tuition by playing professional football on Sundays in a time before the NFL.  After graduation, he moved to Miami and became an advertising salesman with The Miami Herald.  He simultaneously began his acting career at the Miami Civic Theatre, later reviewing those shows for the Herald.

In 1932, Cotten moved to New York City and the Broadway stage.  It was here where he met Orson Welles, beginning a friendship that would last for the next fifty years.  Welles regarded Cotten as a brilliant actor, and ultimately cast him in the role for which he is most famously remembered, that of Jedediah Leland in Citizen Kane (1941).  It is widely regarded as Welles' best work.  For Cotten, it spawned a career that would last four decades. 

By the early 1980s, Cotten's health was in decline.  He suffered both a heart attack and a stroke, which impacted his ability to speak.  He eventually regained his voice after years of physical therapy.  By the 1990s however, he would be stricken with cancer, eventually losing his larynx to the disease.  He ultimately died of pneumonia on February 6, 1994.  He was 88 years old.  

Cotten was returned to his native Virginia.  He was buried in the family plot at Petersburg's Blandford Cemetery.






Rest in peace.

Trivia
  • In 2012, Cotten's wife, actress Patricia Medina, passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 92.  She was also brought to Virginia and buried next to her husband of 34 years.


  • In 1987, Cotten penned his autobiography Vanity Will Get You Somewhere.  You can pick up a copy from Amazon.

  • Like many people from his generation, Cotten served his country during World War II.  He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit, which produced training films for new recruits.

  • Despite his impressive acting resume, Cotten was never nominated for an Oscar Award.

  • Hat tip to vlogger Jordan the Lion for sharing the location of Cotten's grave in a recent YouTube video.  Check it out.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ron Goldman

 

Last month, this blog took readers for a tour of the final resting place of Nicole Brown Simpson, who was famously murdered in June 1994. Since then, the story has once again made headlines following the death of her husband and prime suspect, OJ Simpson.  In this blog, we will revisit that case and the grave of the crime's other victim.

Ronald Lyle Goldman was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 2, 1968. His parents divorced just six years later, and Ron was raised by his father Fred.  He briefly attended Illinois State University, intending to earn a degree in psychology.  Less than one year in however, he relocated to Los Angeles with his family and discontinued his studies.

After moving west, Goldman lived independently of Fred and supported himself through a number of jobs.  He worked as a waiter, a tennis instructor, and as an employment headhunter.  He told friends that he wanted to open a bar or restaurant in the Brentwood area and he began learning all facets of the business.

To that end, Goldman took work as a server at Mezzaluna Tratoria in Brentwood, a restaurant favored by Nicole Brown Simpson.  The two had become fast friends, with Goldman even borrowing her Ferrari on occasion.  

On Sunday June 12, 1994, Nicole took her mother Juditha to the restaurant for dinner.  Later that evening, Juditha realized she had left her glasses on the table.  Nicole called Ron, who promised to return them later that evening.

While the full details of what happened upon his arrival will never be clear, it is certain that Ron was murdered on her doorstep moments after she was.  With the acquittal and subsequent death of OJ Simpson, the case is considered closed.

Ron Goldman was laid to rest at Pierce Brothers Oaks Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Location: Beth Olam Garden, Plot #63, Grave D


Rest in peace.

Trivia
  • The inscription on Goldman's marker reads: "Sometimes when we're alone and lost in thought and all the world seems far away, you come to us as if in a dream, gently taking our hands and filling our hearts with the warmth of your presence.  And we smile, knowing that although we cannot be together for now, you're always close in our thoughts.  Missing you now, loving you always."

  • In 1997, Goldman's family released a book about their son entitled His Name is Ron: Our Search for Justice.  You can pick up a copy at Amazon.

  • Shortly before his death, Goldman received certification to serve as an emergency medical technician.

  • Not surprisingly, Goldman had Hollywood ambitions.  He got his start as a contestant on the FOX dating show Studs, hosted by Mark DeCarlo.  You can check out Ron's episode on YouTube.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Rick James

 

"I had always been a free spirit, and always gotten what I wanted."

Rick James was born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. in Buffalo, New York on February 1, 1948.  While still a teenager, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve.  Then in 1964, he moved to Toronto, where he formed his first band, The Mynah Birds.  The group signed a deal with Motown Records, which put Rick back on the Navy's radar.  He was convicted of desertion and spent several months in jail.

In the 1970s, Rick returned to Buffalo and formed the Stone City Band, which proved very popular in local circles.  As a result, he signed with Motown's Gordy Records and released his first album, Come Get It.  Other albums would follow, including his most successful, 1981's Street Songs.  It included the single for which he is most famously known, Superfreak.

By the early 1990s, Rick's career was on the decline, hampered by his ongoing drug addiction.  He also faced a series of legal problems including two separate instances of kidnapping (!) for which he served a three-year sentence at famed Folsom State Prison.  He was released in 1996 but would suffer a stroke just two years later.  He'd spend the next six years under the watchful eye of a caretaker.

On August 6, 2004, Rick was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment.  His official cause of death was natural causes, a combination of heart failure, diabetes, and a stroke.  An autopsy revealed that his system was swimming with drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, Xanax, and so many more.  However, the coroner stated that none of these drugs were at the level that could have resulted in fatality.  Trust the science!

Following a public viewing at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Rick was returned to Buffalo.  A public funeral was held at St. John's Baptist Church, where 6,000 fans came to say goodbye.  Following the service, Rick was cremated, and his ashes were buried at Forest Lawn in Buffalo.


Rest in peace.

Trivia

  • The inscription on Rick's headstone reads "I've had it all, I've done it all, I've seen it all, it's all about love....God is Love."  It's a quote from his hit single Taste.  Take a listen on YouTube.

  • If you want to learn more about Rick James, take a voyage over to Amazon.  It's all in books!

  • Rick appeared (and performed) as himself on a 1985 episode of The A-Team.  Curious?  Here's a clip.

  • Rick's uncle, Melvin Franklin, was a member of The Temptations.  Rick worked as a writer and producer on their 1982 Reunion album.

  • Did you ever think that MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This sounds a lot like Superfreak?  So did Rick, who sued Hammer in 1990.  The case was settled out of court, and today, Rick has received a songwriting credit for Hammer's hit single.  Rick proved that he could, in fact, touch it, when he was included on the Grammy award the song won for Best Rhythm and Blues in 1991.  Ironically, it was the only Grammy he ever won.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Bill Paxton

 

"I don't believe in heroes and villains, ultimately.  I believe people are capable of great villainy and great heroism - the same person."

William "Bill" Paxton
was born in Fort Worth, Texas on May 17, 1955.  He could trace his ancestry back to the Civil War, when his great-great grandfather served as a brigadier general in the Confederate army, ultimately perishing at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

After high school, Paxton studied at Richmond College in London.  He then relocated to Los Angeles, where he hoped to find work as a director.  In the meantime, he worked at several Hollywood prop and art departments while also serving as a parking valet at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  It was during this time that he decided to focus on acting instead.

His first role was as a mortuary assistant in the 1983 film Mortuary.  The following year, he'd have a more memorable role as a punk who runs afoul of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.  He'd have a much more substantial role alongside Schwarzenegger in 1985's Commando.  He is probably best remembered however, for his role of Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993) and for Brock Lovett in Titanic. (1997).

Paxton also found work on the small screen as well.  For six seasons, he starred as polygamist William Orville Henrickson on the HBO series Big Love.  He also had a memorable role as Randall McCoy in the History Channel's presentation of The Hatfields and The McCoys (2012).

On February 14, 2017, Paxton underwent surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to repair an aortic heart valve, the result of his childhood bout with rheumatic fever.  The following day, he had emergency surgery to repair a damaged coronary artery, and his condition would only get worse.  He'd spend the next ten days in recovery, before ultimately passing from a stroke on February 25th.  He was just 61 years old.

Bill Paxton was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Location: Court of Liberty, Map #H36, Lot #2104
Inscription: "You Are In Our Hearts Forever"

Rest in peace.

Trivia
  • Know before you go!  Forest Lawn staff members do not give out the locations of their famous residents.  If you want to find Bill's marker, simply follow the GPS coordinates found on his Find a Grave page. 

  • The marker's inscription is somewhat ironic, given that heart complications led to Paxton's untimely death.

  • One year after Paxton's death, his family field a wrongful death lawsuit against surgeon Ali Khoynezhad, claiming the doctor had not been present during key portions of Paxton's surgery. The family believed this contributed to the complications Paxton developed and which ultimately led to his death.  In 2022, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

  • When he was eight years old, Paxton went with his family to see a speech by then-President John F. Kennedy, who was visiting Texas at the time.  The date was November 22, 1963.  A photo of Paxton in the crowd that day is on display at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

  • Paxton was famous for playing characters who did not survive the film.  He died in The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), Next of Kin (1989), Navy Seals (1990), Predator 2 (1990), Tombstone (1993), U-571 (2000), Vertical Limit (2000), and Club Dread (2004).  Despite all this, his real death was no less shocking.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Green Acres' Mr. Haney

 

"CBS canceled everything with a tree in it - including Lassie."

Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram was born in Addison, Alabama, on June 19, 1915.  He was the son of a Methodist minister who would later study for the ministry himself, as a student at Birmingham-Southern College.

While studying for his degree however, Buttram began acting in school plays and appearing on local radio programs, eventually earning his own show on CBS. It was his ticket to Hollywood, where he landed in the 1940s, quickly finding work as a reliable character actor, often paired with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

In 1965, Buttram landed the role for which he is most famously remembered, that of Eustace Haney on the CBS sit-com Green Acres.  It was canceled in 1971 in what is now known as the "rural purge."  CBS canceled a slew of series that featured a rural setting, including The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres.  Of the purge, Buttram once famously quipped "CBS canceled everything with a tree in it - including Lassie."

When the series ended, Buttram found steady work as a voice actor in several animated features with the Walt Disney Company.  He voiced Napolean in The Aristocats (1970), The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood (1973), and later, a Toon Bullet in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). This blogger fondly remembers his role in Back to the Future Part 3, where he famously quipped "everyone will say Clint Eastwood is the biggest yellow-belly in the west."  You can watch a compilation of his finest hits on YouTube.

Buttram died of kidney failure at the UCLA Medical Center on January 8, 1994.  He was just 78 years old.  He was returned to his native Alabama, where he was laid to rest at Maxwell Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Double Springs.


Rest in peace, Mr. Haney.

Trivia
  • The inscription on Buttram's headstone reads "A Man Deserves Paradise Who Can Make His Companions Laugh." This blogger attempted to find the origin of this quote, but there remains much online debate.  It is often attributed to the Koran, though there seems to be no direct passage as such.

  • In 2015, author Sandra Grabman released her biography on Buttram's life.  You can pick up a copy of Pat Buttram: The Rocking Chair Humorist from Amazon.

  • In 1982, Buttram founded the Golden Boot Awards to honor actors, stuntmen, and other Hollywood professionals working in the western genre.  The awards were eventually discontinued in 2007.

  • Buttram has both a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and another on the Alabama Stars of Fame walkway in Birmingham.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Nicole Brown Simpson

 

Nicole Brown Simpson was born on May 19, 1959, in Frankfurt, West Germany, where her father, an Air Force Captain, was stationed.  The family eventually returned to the United States, settling down in southern California.

After graduating from Dana Hills High School in 1976, Nicole went to work as a waitress at a Beverly Hills night club called The Daisy.  It was there in 1977 that she met former Buffalo Bills running back OJ Simpson.  Although he was married at the time, true love could not be denied, and the couple were married on February 2, 1985.

By 1989, the couple had experienced their fair share of ups and downs.  On more than one occasion, Nicole called 911, and ultimately filed charges of spousal abuse.  She'd later withdraw her charges after speaking to her family, who had benefitted financially from Simpson's association with Hertz Rental Car.

Nicole eventually did file for divorce on February 25, 1992, citing irreconcilable differences.  She moved out of their shared estate in Brentwood and relocated just a few blocks over.  Following their divorce, they eventually reconciled, though according to Nicole, it was still a very volatile relationship.

On June 12, 1994, Nicole and her friend Ron Brown were found brutally murdered outside her home.  Although a suspect was initially identified by police, he was later cleared by a jury of his peers.  To this day, no one has any idea who really killed Nicole.

Nicole Brown Simpson was laid to rest at Ascension Cemetery in Orange County, California.  Despite how it was depicted in the documentary The People vs. OJ Simpson, the grave is not visible from the road, and her husband, or anyone else, would have to exit their vehicle in order to pay their respects.


Rest in peace, Nicole.

Trivia
  • This blogger took the photo shown above in 2006.  You'll note that it appears as if the marker is intended for two people, as there is plenty of space left for another name.  In fact, eight years later, Nicole's father, Louis Brown, Jr. passed away at age 90.  He was laid to rest with his daughter, and the marker was updated.  Then in 2020, Nicole's mother Juditha passed away at age 89, and an entirely new marker was installed, bearing all three names.  This blogger would love to know what became of the original marker.


    Photo courtesy of findagrave.com
  • Nicole's husband was once famously filmed in a white Ford Bronco driving down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.  Today, that Bronco in on display at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  This blogger recently saw it on display.


  • In 1998, a construction team working at the Rockingham estate owned by Nicole's widower accidentally dug up a discarded knife, which some purport may or may not be the murder weapon.  Today, it is on display in Pigeon Forge, at Beyond the Lens, an interactive museum owned by the National Enquirer.  This blogger recommends both museums.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Steve and Eydie

 

Earlier this week, we lost singer and actor Steve Lawrence, who passed away at 88 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.  Lawrence was best remembered as one half of Steve and Eydie, a married musical duo who entertained generations in concert halls and nightclubs the world over.

They first met in the mid-1950s, when they were both cast members on what is today called The Tonight Show.  They were married in 1957 and spent the next five decades touring the world with their own unique blend of pop culture hits. 

She was born Edith Goremano in the Bronx, New York, on August 16, 1928. Her parents had emigrated from Turkey, and Eydie was from the first generation born in America.  

After high school, she worked as a Spanish translator, but had her eye on music.  She had her first hit in 1956, Too Close for Comfort.  She'd follow it up one year later with the singles Mama, Teach Me to Dance and Love Me Forever.  Over the course of their career, the duo released thirteen albums together.

Eydie Gorme Lawrence passed away on August 10, 2013, one week shy of her 85th birthday.  Steve issued the following statement.

"Eydie has been my partner on stage and in my life for more than 55 years.  I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing.  While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time."

Eydie was entombed at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.  The currently vacant slot next to her is reserved for Steve himself, and as her marker declares, they will soon be reunited.


Rest in peace Eydie...and Steve.

Trivia
  • The inscription on Eydie's marker contains a verse from one of the couple's greatest hits, Our Love is Here to Stay.  Take a listen to it on YouTube.

  • Steve and Eydie had two children together, one of whom passed away from a heart ailment at just 23 years old.  The grieving couple did not perform for over a year following his death

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Bell Tolls for Patsy Cline

 

Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Virginia, on September 8, 1932. From an early age, she had an interest in music, with her sights set on Nashville.

After several false starts, including an audition at the Grand Ol' Opry, Cline released her first album in 1955.  The first single to hit the airwaves was called A Church, a Courtroom, Then Goodbye.  Although the song was not a commercial success, more would follow, including her signature hit Crazy, released in 1961.  Over the course of her brief career, Cline recorded a total of 104 songs.

On March 3, 1963, Cline performed a benefit concert in Kansas City, Kansas, in honor of a local DJ killed in a car accident one month earlier. Appearing with her on stage were notable country luminaries including Dottie West, George Jones, and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Her final song that night, and ultimately the final song she ever performed live, was I'll Sail My Ship Alone.

She spent the night at a local motel, intent on flying out the next morning. Fog conditions prevented any takeoffs, however. Although West offered her a ride back to Nashville, Cline opted to wait another day and try again, telling West and her husband "don't worry about me, Hoss.  When it's my time to go, it's my time."

On March 5th, she checked out of the hotel and arrived at Fairfax Airport.  There, she boarded a Piper PA-24 Comanche with several of her friends, including amateur pilot Randy Hughes.  The plane stopped in Rogers, Arkansas to refuel, then headed to Dyersburg Municipal Airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee.  There, they were advised by the airfield manager to postpone their travel due to inclement weather, even offering to put them up in a local motel for the night.  Hughes declined the offer however, telling the group "I've already come this far.  We'll be there before you know it."  The plane took off in high winds at 6:07pm.  It soon disappeared from radar.

The next morning, a local man named Roger Miller discovered the plane's wreckage on his property.  It had crashed nose down, and forensic analysis would conclude that all five passengers died on impact.  Cline's watch had stopped at 6:20 pm, just thirteen minutes after take-off.

Cline's body was returned to her hometown of Winchester, where she was laid to rest at Shenandoah Memorial Park.  A bell tower was erected nearby, which chimes every day at exactly 6:20 pm in her honor.


Located on Patsy Cline Highway in Winchester, Virginia.

A section of the park is dedicated to the memory of Cline and
her husband, Charles Dick.

The shared grave of Cline and her husband Charles, who didn't
pass until 2015.

The headstone includes Cline's real name.

A belltower in the park was created in tribute to Cline's legacy.
It tolls every day at 6:20 pm, the exact time her plane crashed 
in 1963.

A memorial plaque at the base of the tower.

Rest in peace.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Bettie Page - The Queen of Curves

 

"I never was the girl next door."

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22, 1923. She was the second of six children to Walter Roy Page and Edna Mae Pirtle.  Her childhood was brief.  Walter went to prison for stealing a car while Edna Mae held down two jobs to support the children.  In their absence, Bettie assumed responsibility for the care of her younger siblings.

Despite this, Page excelled academically. In 1940, she graduated as salutatorian of her high school class after being named "Girl Most Likely to Succeed."  She earned a scholarship to what is today Vanderbilt University, intent on becoming a teacher.  By her sophomore year however, she began studying acting, hoping to become a movie star.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944.

After a brief marriage and a quickie divorce, Page moved to New York City.  While working in a store at Coney Island, she met Jerry Tibbs, a New York City police officer and avid photographer.  He took the initial photos that would inevitably launch her career.

She quickly found work as a pin-up model, posing for several photographers throughout the 1950s.  Her photos eventually caught the eye of Hugh Hefner, who was just starting his new magazine, Playboy.  She appeared as Miss January 1955, one of the very first Playmates of the Month.

In 1959, Page became a born-again Christian and went to work for Reverend Billy Graham.  She studied at Bible colleges in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, now intent on doing missionary work in Africa.  She was ultimately rejected however, on account of her divorce. She would later twice remarry, but both would end in divorce as well.

In 1978, Page had a nervous breakdown and was arrested for assaulting her landlady.  She was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and would spend the next 14 years in and out of institutions.

In December 2008, Page was hospitalized in critical condition following a heart attack.  She was placed on life support, which her family opted to discontinue.  She died on December 11, 2008.  She was 85 years old.

Bettie Page was buried at the famed Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Rest in peace.

Trivia

  • A number of Page biographies have cropped up over the years, including:
       * The Real Bettie Page: The Truth About the Queen of the Pin-Ups   
       * Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend
       * Bettie Page: The Lost Years

  • Page is buried next to notable character actor Allan Melvin and his wife, but this blogger can find no connection between them.  Melvin is probably most famous for his role of Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch.

  • This blogger loves attending autograph shows and comic cons, such as the Chiller Theatre Expo and The Hollywood Show. Page would never participate in these events however, stating "I want people to remember me the way I was."

  • Page's photos were the inspiration for the leading lady of the Rocketeer comics, a series that became the basis for the film adaptation The Rocketeer in 1991.  It starred Jennifer Connelly as a Bettie Page-inspired character named Jenny.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Dudley Moore - Buried in New Jersey

 

"I can't imagine not having music in my life, playing for myself or for other people.  If I was asked, 'which would you give up,' I'd have to say acting."

Dudley Stuart John Moore was born in London, England on April 19, 1935.  Now, I always knew him as an eccentric actor from the two Arthur films, neither of which I've ever seen, but not much beyond that.  It wasn't until I visited his grave and saw his headstone that I knew he had any connection to the music industry. A talented pianist he was.

His love of music came early, and by the time he was eleven, he'd already earned a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music, where he studied the violin, the harpsichord and musical composition.  It was enough to earn him a full scholarship to Oxford.

Although music was his first interest, he moved to Hollywood in the late 1970s.  His early film roles included Foul Play (1978) and Blake Edwards 10, which became one of the biggest box-office hits of 1979.  It launched Moore to leading man status, though he'd prefer to be known for his musical talent.

In April 1997, doctors told Moore that he had calcium deposits in his brain, which had caused irreversible frontal lobe damage.  On top of that, he underwent coronary artery bypass surgery, which led to a series of strokes.

For the next few years, Moore was cared for by friend and fellow musician Rena Fruchter in Plainfield, New Jersey. She was holding his hand when he ultimately passed away on March 27, 2002, at the age of 66.  Acording to Fruchter, Moore's final words were "I can hear music all around me."

Dudley Moore was buried at Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.  His headstone includes a tribute to his skills as a pianist.

Rest in peace.

Trivia

  • In 1998, author Barbara Paskin released her biography of the actor/musician.  Pick up a copy of Dudley Moore: The Authorized Biography from Amazon.

  • After he passed away, several of Moore's works were turned into books as well, which are also available from Amazon, including Letters From Dudley (2006) and Songs Without Words (2011).

  • In 1983, Moore turned down the lead role in the romantic comedy Splash. The part ultimately went to Tom Hanks.

  • Moore disowned the 1988 sequel Arthur 2: On The Rocks.

  • A bar in Cromwell, Connecticut, Digger McDuff's Tavern, is named in his honor.  I don't get it either.

  • Moore died the same day as legendary comedian Milton Berle.