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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.