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"

Shlomo Venezia

Sonderkommando -- via the New York Times.

Kathi McDonald

Blues and rock singer -- via ultimateclassicrock.com. She sang backup on "Tumbling Dice."




Eugene H. Smith

Actor, announcer, and singer -- via obit.dignitymemorial.com.

Irving Adler aka Robert Irving

Author, mathematician, teacher, scientist, activist; victim of the second American Red Scare in the 1950s -- via the New York Times.

Eddie Bert aka Edward Joseph Bertolatus

Trombonist -- via the New York Times.





Sammi Kane Kraft

Actress -- via the Hollywood Reporter. Best known for her role in the remake of "The Bad News Bears."

Harris Savides

Cinematographer -- via indieWire. He did great work on films such as "Milk," "American Gangster," "Zodiac,"and "Elephant."



Robert J. Manning

Journalist and editor -- via the New York Times.

Irving Cohen

Maitre d'hotel of the Concord, in the Catskills; matchmaker -- via the New York Times.

Maurice S. Friedman

Translator and biographer of Martin Buber -- via the New York Times.

Jose Curbelo

Pianist, bandleader, and manager -- via the New York Times.

Ashbel Green

Editor -- via the New York Times.


Turhan Bey aka Turhan Gilbert Selahattin Sahultavy ak The Turkish Delight

Actor -- via the Guardian. Immensely and briefly popular during the period 1941-1953 in Hollywood, the svelte, swarthy-looking Bey played exotic villains and romantic heroes, mostly in the "sword and sandal" spate of Arabian-themed films that swept Hollywood during the period.



My favorite of his? "TheMummy's Tomb" --

Big Jim Sullivan aka James George Tomkins

Guitarist, composer; acclaimed U.K. session musician -- via the Guardian.

Bobby Hogg

Engineer, and last speaker of the Cromarty dialect of Scots English -- via CNN.

Yvonne Mounsey

Dancer and teacher -- via the New York Times.

Nguyen Chi Thien

Poet and political prisoner -- via the New York Times.


Samuel Marshall Grogan Jr.

Master builder of barbeque pits -- via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Alex Karras aka The Mad Duck

Athlete and actor -- via the L.A. Times. One of my favorite people of all time. A strong and brilliant defensive tackle, he excelled for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Detroit Lions. George Plimpton's "Paper Lion" contains numerous achingly hilarious stories about Karras' incessant comedic sallies (although Karras was not with Detroit at the time, suspended that season for gambling on NFL games).

He took a fling as a professional wrestler. He started acting, and he turned out to be quite good. I love him in the 1973 TV movie "The 500-Pound Jerk." He was the inimitable Mongo in "Blazing Saddles":





He met actress Susan Clark when making "Babe," a TV movie about Babe Didrickson Zaharias. They married, and worked frequently together, most significantly on the sitcom "Webster."



He was on the early years of "Monday Night Football." He did great work in "Centennial," "Victor/Victoria," and "Against All Odds." He was inherently funny, and idiosyncratic. What a treat it was to be around when he was.

Gus Schuettler

Photojournalist -- via stripes.com.


Frank Wilson

Songwriter, producer, and minister -- via the BBC. He sang "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)," one of the most rare records in existence.





Jennifer Jaff

Lawyer and advocate for the chronically ill -- via the New York Times.

Dirk Bach

Comedian -- via the Hollywood Reporter.

Michael Henry Heim

Scholar and translator -- via the New York Times.

Wendy Weil

Literary agent -- via Yahoo Finance.

Eric Hobsbawm

Historian -- via the Guardian.

Sahara Davenport aka Antoine Ashley

Drag performer -- via the L.A. Times.

Manheim Fox

Producer of concerts, plays, albums, festivals, and happenings -- via Variety.


Gedalyah Engel

Rabbi -- via jconline.com.

Russell Scott aka Blinky the Clown

TV children's show host -- via the Denver Post.

He passed away on Aug. 27. He had the longest carer of a children's television show host in American history. He started "Blinky's Fun Club" in 1958 in Colorado Springs on KKTV; in 1966 he moved to KWGN in Denver, where he remained on the air until 1998.

He was an integral part of our childhoods in Denver. We all watched Blinky. He did funny routines with puppets such as Barney the Dog; he sang silly songs; he gave us safety tips; he interviewed police officers, firefighters, zoo personnel -- anyone who might interest a kid. He sang "Happy Birf-day" every day --



Of course, his appeal was cheesy, and we laughed at him as much as we laughed with him. Yet it was nice to know he was always there. Through him, we got to see old Heckle and Jeckle cartoons, and Mighty Mouse, Popeye, The Mighty Hercules, and more. He told us to "Please stay out of those streets." He told us to "Mind your mommies and daddies." He told us not to trust strangers, or play with matches, or to forget our pleases and thank yous.

(Did you know that, for a time, he had a second noon-time show as a different persona? Yes indeed. I can't find any documentation on it, but he played Cap'n Dooley, a silly old-time riverboat captain, who had a mascot, the morose puppet Moe the Crow.)

It was our deepest wish to get to go to Blinky's show in person. My friend Tony Watson got to go as part of his Boy Scout troop -- I remember watching him wave at me from the screen as I cursed him bitterly (and ineptly, as only an 8-year-old can). There had long been rumors that Blinky was actually mean. When Tony got back to school the next day, we asked him about his brush with fame. "Before the show," he said, "Blinky was sitting in the back, playing piano and SMOKING." GASP! Our hero was, if not a misanthrope, at the least a melancholy jester.

Blinky's later years were tough. The station brought in Berg and Prince, mimes who clashed with the irascible star. He was dumped unceremoniously by Channel 2. In 2004, his wife of 62 years divorced him. Of the more than 10,000 shows he performed, only TEN survive. Most were thrown out by KWGN.

He kept on with Blinky's Antiques on South Broadway until 2008. Brian Malone's documentary "Blinky" provides us with an in-depth portrait of him --



Clowns are creepy and scary, by and large. But Blinky was loved, despite his flaws. I miss him.


Raylene Rankin

Singer -- via the CBC.

Michael O'Hare

Actor -- via the Hollywood Reporter.

Sylvia Fedoruk

Scientist and champion curler -- via the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Josephine Jimenez

Educator -- via the L.A. Times.

Mary Foster

Journalist -- via the Washington Post.

John Rovick aka Sheriff John

Kids' TV show host -- via the L.A. Times.

Mike Baker

Journalist -- via the Guardian.


Bill King

Circumnavigator and author -- via newsblaze.com.

David Alec Webb

Actor -- via beforeitsnews.com.

Michael Stanley

Gallery owner -- via the Guardian.