exordia

"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"


"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Don Grady aka Don Louis Agrati

Composer who started as a Mouseketeer and part of a prominent TV family -- via the New York Times. From the year I was born, "My Three Sons," now largely forgotten, was the dominant family show for 12 years. It was so successful that it jumped networks, from ABC to CBS, in 1965. At that time, it went from black-and-white to color as well. For 11 of those years, Don Grady played Robbie Douglas, brooding, charismatic, musical middle/oldest son of eligible, avuncular, bemused widower/architect Steve Douglas (the pipe-sucking Fred MacMurray).

Most illuminating for me were the frequent switches in continuity and personnel, precipitated behind the camera, and how they were explained in the Douglas universe. It was extremely and equally disillusioning and enlightening, being able to see on both sides of the curtain, so to speak.

We had  Bill Frawley as  Grandpa Bub, then William Demarest as Uncle Charley after Frawley got too sick to work. We lost the oldest son Mike after five years, due to a dispute with actor Tim Considine. So Don Grady was promoted to oldest from middle son, and Chip (Stanley Livingston) went from youngest to middle, and adoptee Ernie (Barry Livingston) took on the dorky youngest role.

And it turns out that MacMurray would shoot all his scenes out of sequence in a bunch at the beginning of each season, and then take off. They shot around him. Nice -- and far more real-life than the homiletic hijinks that usually held sway at the Douglas mansion.

Robbie was the struggling conscience of the show -- Chip and Ernie were far more likely to get involved in some humorous shenanigans. Women came and went, oddly peripheral, with Uncle Charley acting as cranky aproned former Merchant Marine mother-substitute. Only when Steve married Beverly Garland's character in 1969 did the wheel begin to come full circle. Robbie and his wife have . . . triplets. Three boys. His three sons.

Grady did an awesome job with a somewhat colorless role. He was consistent, dependable, traits he brought to his later work as a composer. Still, for those my age he will always be that perfect, charming older brother we wanted to imitate.







Doris Singleton aka Dorthea Singleton aka Doris Singleton Issacs

Actress -- via the Chicago Tribune. She did it all, really. She started as a dancer, then sang in front of a big band. She worked in radio, and gained great stature in early TV, working with Lucille Ball all three of her shows,   "My Three Sons," and many other landmark shows.

Death, then and now: a 200-year update

The New England Journal of Medicine celebrates its 200th year of publishing by printing a comparison of morbidity factors, then and now. How jolly! -- via io9.com.

Sergio Tedesco

Actor, singer and voice artist -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Carlos Cobos

Actor -- via Fox News.

Carlos Reichenbach

Filmmaker -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Lou Pride

Soul and blues singer -- via soultracks.com.

Tim Mooney

Drummer -- via stereogum.com.


Abram Wilson

Jazz trumpeter and vocalist -- via the Guardian.



Teofilo Stevenson

Cuba's greatest boxer -- via the Sporting News. Three-time Olympic heavyweight champion.

Lord Archer of Sandwell aka Peter Kingsley Archer

Lawyer,writer, campaigner for human rights -- via the Telegraph.

Rosa Guy

Author -- via the New York Times.

Shauna Crockett - Burrows

Journalist who focused on Positive News -- via the Guardian.


Nora Ephron

Screenwriter, director, humorist, essayist, novelist, playwright, journalist and author -- via the National Post. Her big hits -- "Silkwood," "When Harry Met Sally . . . ," "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Julie and Julia."

Gitta Sereny

Writer who examined evil -- via the New York Times.

Lina Haag

Anti-fascist activist -- via the Sontaggsblatt.


Ron Onions

Radio journalist -- via the Guardian.


Anthony Bate

Actor -- via the Guardian.






Judy Freudberg

Emmy-winning (17) for television, and for film -- via the New York Times. A long-time presence on "Sesame Street," she also co-wrote "An American Tail," "Follow That Bird," and "The Land Before Time."