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Art Clokey, the creator of the whimsical clay figure Gumby, died in his sleep Friday at his home in Los Osos, Calif., after battling repeated bladder infections, his son Joseph said. He was 88.
Clokey and his wife, Ruth, invented Gumby in the early 1950s at their Covina home shortly after Art had finished film school at USC. After a successful debut on "The Howdy Doody Show," Gumby soon became the star of its own hit television show, "The Adventures of Gumby," the first to use clay animation on television.
After an initial run in the 1950s, Gumby enjoyed comebacks in the 1960s as a bendable children's toy, in the 1980s after comedian Eddie Murphy parodied the kindly Gumby as a crass, cigar-in-the-mouth character in a skit for "Saturday Night Live" and again in the '90s with the release of "Gumby the Movie."
Today, Gumby is a cultural icon recognized around the world. It has more than 134,000 fans on Facebook.
As successive generations discovered the curious green character, Gumby’s success came to define Clokey's life, with its theme song reflecting Clokey's simple message of love: "If you've got a heart, then Gumby's a part of you."
"The fact is that most people don't know his name, but everybody knows Gumby," said friend and animator David Scheve. "To have your life work touch so many people around the world is an amazing thing."
Clokey was born Arthur Farrington in Detroit in October 1921 and grew up making mud figures on his grandparents' Michigan farm. "He always had this in him," his son, Joseph, recalled Friday.
At age 8, Clokey's life took a tragic turn when his father was killed in a car accident soon after his parents divorced. The unusual shape of Gumby's head would eventually be modeled after one of the few surviving photos of Clokey's father, which shows him with a large wave of hair protruding from the right side of his head.
After moving to California, Clokey was abandoned by his mother and her new husband and lived in a halfway house near Hollywood until age 11, when he was adopted by Joseph W. Clokey. The renowned music teacher and composer at Pomona College taught him to draw, paint and shoot film and took him on journeys to Mexico and Canada.
Art Clokey attended the Webb School in Claremont, whose annual fossil hunting expeditions also inspired a taste for adventure that stayed with him. "That's why 'The Adventures of Gumby' were so adventurous," his son said.
Clokey served in World War II, conducting photo reconnaissance over North Africa and France. Back in Hartford, Conn., after the war, he was studying to be an Episcopal minister when he met Ruth Parkander, the daughter of a minister. The two married and moved to California to pursue their true passion: filmmaking.
During the day, the Clokeys taught at the Harvard School for Boys in Studio City, now Harvard-Westlake. At night, Art Clokey studied film at USC under Slavko Vorkapich, a pioneer of modern montage techniques.
Clokey's 1953 experimental film, "Gumbasia," used stop-motion clay animation set to a lively jazz tempo. It became the inspiration for the subsequent Gumby TV show when Sam Engel, the president of 20th Century Fox and father of one of Clokey's students, saw the film and asked Clokey to produce a children's television show based on the idea.
In the 1960s, Clokey created and produced the Christian TV series "Davey and Goliath" and the credits for several feature films, including "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini."
Gumby's ability to enchant generations of children and adults had a mystical quality to it, said his son, and reflected his father's spiritual quest. In the 1970s, Clokey studied Zen Buddhism, traveled to India to study with gurus and experimented with LSD and other drugs, though all of that came long after the creation of Gumby, his son said.
His second wife, Gloria, whom he married in 1976, was art director on Gumby projects in the 1980s and '90s. She died in 1998.
Besides his son Joseph, Clokey is survived by his stepdaughter, Holly Harman of Mendocino County; three grandchildren, Shasta, Sequoia and Sage Clokey; his sister, Arlene Cline of Phoenix; and his half-sister, Patricia Anderson of Atlanta.
Instead of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Gumby's name to the Natural Resources Defense Council, of which Art Clokey was a longtime member.
"Gumby was green because my dad cared about the environment," his son said. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:32 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Whenever Teddy Pendergrass hit town with one of his "Ladies Only" concerts, there were a whole lot of lonely guys in town that night. The seductive Philly Soul singer's raw, gravelly baritone so enthralled women in the 1970s and '80s that they often threw teddy bears and things much more personal on stage as he sang ballads like Turn Off the Lights and Close the Door.
The virile singer, whose meteoric rise was cut short by a devastating car crash that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 1982, died Wednesday of colon cancer at a hospital in suburban Philadelphia. He was 59.
Pendergrass joined veteran R&B group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1970, and it wasn't long before the ruggedly handsome, bearded lead singer became a sex symbol for the passion and energy he brought to such hits as I Miss You, If You Don't Know Me By Now, The Love I Lost, Wake Up Everybody and Hope That We Can Be Together Soon, which featured Sharon Paige.
He went solo in 1977, and Pendergrass, who was inspired to be a singer after watching how women swooned over Jackie Wilson, soon had them at his feet as well. He unleashed a steady stream of hit songs and albums that women loved and gentlemen were wise to own. Men understood that dinner, candlelight and a little Teddy on the stereo was a winning ticket for romance.
His was one of the most distinctive voices of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's legendary Philadelphia International Records, and he was Grammy-nominated for best R&B male vocal five times. Songs like Joy, Two Hearts, I Don't Love You Anymore, I Can't Live Without Your Love and his signature Love T.K.O. remain radio staples.
As big as he was in 1982, he seemed destined for even greater things when the brakes failed on his Rolls Royce and he hit a tree, leaving him in a wheelchair for life. He continued his recording career, though the underlying power of his vocals was diminished by his resulting breathing problems.
But Pendergrass proved to be more than just an entertainer. He inspired millions as an outspoken advocate for the disabled.
His first album after the accident, Love Language, was released in 1984 and included a duet (Hold Me) with a then-unknown Whitney Houston. He returned to the stage a year later to perform at Live Aid in Philadelphia, and in 1997 he starred with Stephanie Mills in the touring gospel musical Your Arms Too Short to Box With God. His autobiography, Truly Blessed, came out in 1998, the same year he established the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance to benefit people with spinal cord injuries. He played his first concerts in 19 years in 2001 with two sold-out shows at the Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
He announced his retirement in 2006, but he did participate in Teddy 25: A Celebration of Life, Hope & Possibilities in 2007. The celeb-studded tribute concert marked the anniversary of his accident and raised money for his charity.
But Pendergrass will always be indelibly etched into fans' minds as the sexy soul singer who could send women into a frenzy by simply crooning, "Come on and go with me ... Come on over to my place." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:17 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
NEW YORK -- J.D. Salinger, the legendary author and fugitive from fame whose "The Catcher in the Rye" shocked and inspired a world he increasingly shunned, has died. He was 91.
Salinger died of natural causes at his home Wednesday, the author's son, actor Matt Salinger, said in a statement from Salinger's longtime literary representative, Harold Ober Associates Inc. He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in a small, remote house in Cornish, N.H.
"The Catcher in the Rye," with its immortal teenage protagonist, the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield, came out in 1951, a time of anxious, Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. Enraged by all the "phonies" who make "me so depressed I go crazy," Holden soon became an iconic American anti-hero.
The novel's sales are astonishing -- more than 60 million copies worldwide -- and its impact incalculable. Decades after publication, the book remains a defining expression of that most American of dreams: to never grow up.
Salinger was writing for adults, but teenagers from all over identified with the novel's themes of alienation, innocence and fantasy, not to mention the luck of having the last word. Novels from Evan Hunter's "The Blackboard Jungle" to Curtis Sittenfeld's "Prep," movies from "Rebel Without a Cause" to "The Breakfast Club," and countless rock 'n' roll songs echoed Salinger's message of kids under siege.
"The Catcher in the Rye" became both required and restricted reading, periodically banned by a school board or challenged by parents worried by its frank language and the irresistible chip on Holden's shoulder.
"'Catcher in the Rye' made a very powerful and surprising impression on me," said Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon, who read the book, as so many did, when he was in middle school. "Part of it was the fact that our seventh grade teacher was actually letting us read such a book. But mostly it was because 'Catcher' had such a recognizable authenticity in the voice that even in 1977 or so, when I read it, felt surprising and rare in literature."
The cult of "Catcher" turned tragic in December 1980 when Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, citing Salinger's novel as an inspiration and stating that "this extraordinary book holds many answers." A few months later, a copy of "Catcher" was found in the hotel room of John David Hinckley after he attempted to assassinate President Reagan.
Salinger's other books don't equal the influence or sales of "Catcher," but they are still read, again and again, with great affection and intensity. The collection "Nine Stories" features the classic "For Esme -- with Love and Squalor," the deadpan account of a suicidal Army veteran and the little girl he hopes, in vain, will save him. The fictional work "Franny and Zooey," like "Catcher," is a youthful, obsessively articulated quest for redemption.
His last published story, "Hapworth 16, 1928," ran in The New Yorker in 1965. In 1999, New Hampshire neighbor Jerry Burt said the author had told him that he had written at least 15 unpublished books kept locked in a safe at his home.
"I love to write and I assure you I write regularly," Salinger said in a brief interview with the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate in 1980.
Jerome David Salinger was born Jan. 1, 1919, in New York City. Like Holden, Salinger was an indifferent student with a history of trouble in various schools. He was sent to Valley Forge Military Academy at age 15, where he eventually earned his only diploma.
He served in the Army from 1942 to 1946, writing "whenever I can find the time and an unoccupied foxhole," he told a friend.
By 1952, he had migrated to Cornish. Three years later, he married Claire Douglas, with whom he had two children, Peggy and Matthew, before their 1967 divorce.
Meanwhile, he refused interviews, instructing his agent not to forward fan mail and reportedly spending much of his time writing in a cement bunker.
Against Salinger's will, the curtain was parted in recent years. In 1998, author Joyce Maynard published her memoir "At Home in the World," in which she detailed her affair with Salinger in the early 1970s. In 2000, daughter Margaret Salinger's "Dreamcatcher" portrayed the writer as an unpleasant recluse.
Actor Matt Salinger, the author's other child, said, "He was a caring, fun, and wonderful father to me, and a tremendous grandfather to my boys." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:47 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Jaime Escalante, the high school teacher whose ability to turn out high-achieving calculus students from a poor Hispanic neighborhood in East Los Angeles inspired the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver,” with Edward James Olmos in the starring role, died Tuesday, March 30th at his son’s home in Rosedale, Calif. He was 79 and lived in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
The cause was pulmonary arrest brought on by pneumonia, his son Jaime said.
Mr. Escalante, a Bolivian immigrant, used unconventional techniques to explain mathematical problems and to convince his students at James A. Garfield High School, known for its dismal test scores and high drop-out rate, that they could compete with students from wealthier schools. Rock ’n’ roll records played at full blast, remote-controlled toys and magic tricks were all brought into play.
“Calculus need not be made easy,” read one of the motivational signs in Mr. Escalante’s classroom. “It is easy already.”
In 1982, 18 students in the special calculus program that Mr. Escalante had created at Garfield four years earlier took the College Board’s advanced placement test in calculus. Seven of them received a 5, the highest possible score; the rest, a 4.
Officials at the company administering the test suspected cheating and asked 14 students to take the exam again. A dozen did, and their performance validated the original results.
Mr. Olmos’s performance in “Stand and Deliver” earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor and turned Mr. Escalante into an educational hero. The year of the film, Henry Holt published “Escalante: The Best Teacher in America,” by Jay Mathews.
“He was working with a group of students who did not have much in life,” said Erika T. Camacho, who took algebra with Mr. Escalante and now teaches mathematics at Arizona State University. “They were told that they were not good enough and would not amount to much. He told them that with desire and discipline, they could do anything.”
Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutiérrez was born on Dec. 31, 1930, in La Paz, where his parents were elementary school teachers. He taught physics and mathematics there for several years before political unrest led him to emigrate with his family to the United States in 1963.
In addition to his son Jaime, Mr. Escalante is survived by his wife, Fabiola, another son, Fernando, of Elk Grove, Calif., and six grandchildren.
While attending Pasadena College, where he earned an associate degree in arts in 1969, Mr. Escalante worked as a busboy in a coffee shop and as a cook. He later found work testing computers at the Burroughs Corporation while studying mathematics at California State University in Los Angeles, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1973.
After receiving his teacher’s certificate from Cal State in 1974, he began teaching at Garfield. The events telescoped into a single year in “Stand and Deliver” unfolded over a much longer time. Beginning with five calculus students in 1978, Mr. Escalante developed a program that eventually attracted hundreds of students keen to go on to college. In 1988, 443 students took the College Board’s advanced placement test; 266 passed.
Success, acclaim and the celebrity status that came with “Stand and Deliver” brought strife. Mr. Escalante butted heads with the school’s administration and fellow teachers, some jealous of his fame, others worried that he was creating his own fief. The teacher’s uni0n demanded that his oversubscribed calculus classes be brought down in size.
In 1991, Mr. Escalante left Garfield to teach at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento. Without him, Garfield’s calculus program withered. In 2001 he retired and returned to Bolivia.
Mr. Escalante always impressed on his students the importance of “ganas” — desire. “I’ll make a deal with you,” he once told his class. “I’ll teach you math, and that’s your language. You’re going to go to college and sit in the first row, not in the back, because you’re going to know more than anybody.”
Robert Culp, a dashing actor who earned his most enduring fame for his starring role opposite Bill Cosby in the hit 1960s espionage TV series "I Spy" and as part of the swinging quartet of suburban lovers in the 1969 film comedy "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," died March 24 at a hospital in Los Angeles after a fall near his home. He was 79.
Although he appeared on Broadway and sporadically in movies, Mr. Culp was mostly a familiar presence to several generations of TV viewers. Tall and lithe with smoothly combed black hair, he was adept at conveying charm and wit. As the years passed, he developed an appealing grumpiness on such TV series as "The Greatest American Hero," as an FBI agent, in the early 1980s and "Everybody Loves Raymond," as Ray Romano's father-in-law.
Beginning in the 1950s, Mr. Culp appeared in several Broadway productions and in early TV anthology series. Summoned to Hollywood, he proved his versatility in a supporting role in "PT 109" (1963) as Ensign George "Barney" Ross; in the romantic comedy "Sunday in New York" (1963) with Jane Fonda; and in "The Raiders" (1964) as Old West gunfighter "Wild Bill" Hickok.
In later years, his aged good looks and debonair style led to many roles as elected officials, including in "Turk 182!" (1985) as the mayor of New York and "The Pelican Brief" (1993) as the commander in chief.
Television historian Robert Thompson said Mr. Culp's greatest legacy was his co-starring role in "I Spy," which Thompson called one the "hippest TV shows to have ever aired." The espionage adventure, which was on NBC from 1965 to 1968, was groundbreaking in casting the little-known nightclub comedian Cosby. The series was one of the first to present a black male actor in a dramatic leading role.
The show, which combined dry humor and intrigue, attracted a devoted following, and Mr. Culp earned several Emmy Award nominations playing Kelly Robinson, an American spy masquerading as a world-class tennis player. Cosby, also an agent, portrayed Robinson's trainer and traveling companion Alexander Scott. In plotlines, they out-schemed foreign governments and engaged in shootouts with evil henchmen atop skyscrapers in exotic locales. Much of the filming was done on location.
When the show was recalled in later years, Cosby's historical role in the series often overshadowed the easy chemistry between Cosby and Mr. Culp, who was regarded as the finer actor.
"Bob could make mincemeat out of me in front of the camera," Cosby told the New York Times in 1965, "but he's been very unselfish, a tremendous help."
Robert Martin Culp was born Aug. 16, 1930, either in Oakland or Berkeley, Calif., according to biographical sources. He attended several colleges before entering drama school at the University of Washington.
He reportedly dropped out shortly before earning a degree to move to New York, and he soon began to win small parts on Broadway. He said his role in an off-Broadway production of "He Who Gets Slapped" earned him an acting award that led to bigger TV roles, including a starring role in CBS's western series "Trackdown," and then to film.
After the success of "I Spy," Mr. Culp was in great demand as an actor. His best leading role came in director Paul Mazursky's "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," a highly popular film at the time that satirized the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Mr. Culp and Natalie Wood played California spouses Bob and Carol, whose therapy sessions at a trendy retreat lead them to embrace a wife-swapping lifestyle with their friends Ted and Alice (played by Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon).
In the 1970s, Mr. Culp, who had written several "I Spy" scripts, tried his hand at film writing and produced a documentary on the economics of black America called "Operation Breadbasket," which he sold to ABC-TV. Mr. Culp, who had grown active in civil rights causes, later admitted that his talents were better used other than writing.
"After I made it," Mr. Culp told The Washington Post in 1985, "Jesse Jackson told me I'd do the most good for the movement and for myself if I returned to my profession, so I did."
In 1972, Mr. Culp co-wrote and directed the movie thriller "Hickey & Boggs," starring Cosby and himself as downtrodden private eyes in Los Angeles. It made no impact at the box office.
Mr. Culp was married and divorced several times, including once to actress France Nuyen. Information on survivors could not be confirmed. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:35 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story!
Dick Giordano, a comic book artist and former executive editor at DC Comics who helped revive aging comic book characters and reimagine them for new audiences, died on Saturday, March 27th at the Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was 77 and lived in Palm Coast, Fla.
The cause was complications of treatment for leukemia, Pat Bastienne, a longtime friend and colleague, said in an e-mail message.
Mr. Giordano worked in the comic book industry for more than 40 years. As an editor at DC, he oversaw projects that signaled a new level of maturity in the medium, including “The Dark Knight Returns,” about the twilight years of Batman, and “Watchmen,” about heroes in a world on the brink of nuclear war. During his tenure, DC Comics also introduced its first graphic novel collections, a format that has grown increasingly popular and profitable.
His skills as an inker — the artist who interprets the penciled page — influenced a generation of comic book creators.
One of Mr. Giordano’s first jobs was in 1952 at Charlton Comics, where he began as a freelance artist, illustrated many covers and worked his way up to editor-in-chief.
At Charlton, he helped come up with a line of action heroes, including Blue Beetle, The Question and The Peacemaker, that would later be purchased by DC Comics and become the basis for the heroes in “Watchmen,” which was adapted into a feature film last year.
In 1967, Mr. Giordano moved to DC Comics, where he worked as an artist and an editor.
Mr. Giordano left the company in 1971 and co-founded, with the artist Neal Adams, Continuity Associates, which handled commercial artwork and supplied illustrations to comic book publishers.
He returned to DC Comics in 1980 and eventually became vice president/executive editor, a title he retained until 1993. During that period he worked with the artists George Pérez and John Byrne on, respectively, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” an epic story conceived to simplify the accumulated histories of the DC heroes, and on “The Man of Steel,” which restarted the Superman myth for a new generation of fans.
As an editor, Mr. Giordano uniformly credited writers and artists on the covers, the first such policy by a major comic book publisher, Paul Levitz, the president and publisher of DC Comics from 2002 to 2009, wrote in an e-mail message.
Richard Joseph Giordano was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Graziano and Josephine Giordano on July 20, 1932. He discovered comic books early.
“Dick fell in love with comics as a kid when he had scarlet fever and his cab driver dad brought them home for him to read during his long recovery,” Mr. Levitz wrote.
As a teenager, Mr. Giordano attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan, later called the High School of Art and Design.
Mr. Giordano was well regarded for his work as an inker. “As far as those who keep track can tell, he inked more pages for DC than anyone else,” wrote Mr. Levitz, who added that Mr. Giordano, with his fine lines, and Joe Sinnott, with his broad brush work, are seen as two of the industry’s pre-eminent inkers in the Silver Age of comics, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
Mr. Giordano retired from DC Comics in June 1993, a few months after Marie, his wife of 37 years, died of stomach cancer. He is survived by his daughters Lisa Giordano-Thomas and Dawn Arrington, both of Palm Coast, Fla.; his son, Richard Jr., of Stratford, Conn., and two grandchildren. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:40 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
H. Edward Roberts, 68, who developed an early personal computer that inspired Bill Gates to found Microsoft, died April 1 of pneumonia at a hospital in Macon, Ga.
Dr. Roberts, whose build-it-yourself kit concentrated thousands of dollars worth of computer capability in an affordable package, inspired Gates and childhood friend Paul Allen to come up with Microsoft in 1975, after they saw an article about the MITS Altair 8800 personal computer in Popular Electronics.
"Ed was willing to take a chance on us -- two young guys interested in computers long before they were commonplace -- and we have always been grateful to him," Gates and Allen said in a joint statement. "The day our first untested software worked on his Altair was the start of a lot of great things."
The man often credited with kick-starting the modern computer era never intended to lead a revolution.
Henry Edward Roberts was born in Miami, spent time in the Air Force and received an electrical engineering degree from Oklahoma State University in 1968. He later parlayed his interest in technology into a business making calculators. When large companies such as Texas Instruments began cornering the business, Dr. Roberts began to turn to computers, which at the time were hulking machines available almost exclusively at universities.
"He came up with the idea that you could have one of these computers on your own," his son David Roberts said, adding that his father expected to sell a few units. "Basically, he did it to try to get out of debt."
David Roberts described his father as a tinkerer who surveyed his friends before building his personal computer. The Altair was nothing like the ultra-slim laptops of today. Operated by switches and with no display screen, it looked like little more than a metal box covered in blinking red lights.
"My assumption was that there were a bunch of nuts out there like me that would like to have a computer," Dr. Roberts told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1997. "To engineers and electronics people, it's the ultimate gadget."
Dr. Roberts founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, which sold the kits. A young Gates and Allen later founded their fledgling Microsoft firm in Albuquerque, where MITS was based.
Dr. Roberts sold his company in 1977 and retired to a life of vegetable farming in rural Georgia before going to medical school and getting a medical degree from Georgia's Mercer University in 1986. He worked as an internist, seeing as many as 30 patients a day, his son said.
But Dr. Roberts never lost his interest in modern technology, even asking about Apple's highly anticipated iPad from his sick bed. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
Mutual friend Bob Cabeen has just informed me of the passing of my former business partner Carl Macek. Carl died of a heart attack on Saturday.
Among his many accomplishments Carl created Robotech, co-founded Spumco with John K. and co-founded Streamline Pictures (Akira, Fist of the North Star, Laputa, etc.) with me.
Carl began his career doing grassroots promotional work on sci-fi films such as Star Wars and Alien, and worked for numerous industry icons including Dino Di Laurentiis and Ivan Reitman. He wrote the book The Art of Heavy Metal (Animation for the Eighties) in 1981. In 1984, Macek began his long association with Japanese animation. He worked with Harmony Gold, U.S.A. to develop the groundbreaking anime series ROBOTECH that has been credited with igniting the anime movement in the US. After his stint at Harmony Gold, Macek moved on to work for D.I.C. and Bill Kroyer’s studio.
In 1988, Macek divided his time between forming Spumco with John K. and partnering with me to create Streamline Pictures. In 1990, after helping sell Ren & Stimpy to Nickelodeon, Macek parted with Spumco to develop Streamline Pictures full time. Streamline imported and dubbed anime features for US movie theaters, for television showings and home video for over a decade. One of his most enduring projects during this period was producing the original English-language dub of the Miyazaki classic My Neighbor Totoro.
In the late 1990’s, Macek returned to original animation production and was instrumental in developing several projects (Heavy Metal 2000 and Lady Death). Most recently, he has adapted, produced and directed English–language versions of Tomino’s classic 49-episode fantasy Aura Battler Dunbine. He also adapted numerous Japanese anime for the North American market including Naruto and Bleach.
Carl had been working on a slate of original projects as well, including War Eagles, a novel and screenplay inspired by Merian C. Cooper’s unproduced film treatment. Some of his recent science fiction short stories can be read at storyleap.com.
Carl had his critics. But one thing is certain: the popularity of anime in the North America would not be where it is today without Macek’s groundbreaking work on Robotech and his efforts on behalf of Streamline Pictures.
The photo above (with Ed Asner) was taken recently on the set of Audrey, where his wife, Svea, was costume supervisor. Below is a video of Carl at a recent anime convention (January 2010) in San Francisco discussing what he’s been up to recently.
Frank Frazetta, an illustrator of comic books, movie posters and paperback book covers whose visions of musclebound men fighting with swords and axes to defend scantily dressed women helped define fantasy heroes like Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, died on Monday in Fort Myers, Fla. He was 82.
The cause was complications from a stroke, said Rob Pistella and Stephen Ferzoco, Mr. Frazetta’s business managers.
Mr. Frazetta was a versatile and prolific comic book artist who, in the 1940s and ’50s, drew for comic strips like Al Capp’s “Lil’ Abner” and comic books like “Famous Funnies,” for which he contributed a series of covers depicting the futuristic adventurer Buck Rogers.
A satirical advertisement Mr. Frazetta drew for Mad earned him his first Hollywood job, the movie poster for “What’s New Pussycat?” (1965), a sex farce written by Woody Allen that starred Peter Sellers. In 1983 he collaborated with the director Ralph Bakshi to produce the animated film “Fire and Ice.”
His most prominent work, however, was on the cover of book jackets, where his signature images were of strikingly fierce, hard-bodied heroes and bosomy, callipygian damsels in distress. In 1966, his cover of “Conan the Adventurer,” a collection of four fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp, depicted a brawny long-haired warrior standing in repose on top of a pile of skeletons and other detritus, his sword thrust downward into the mound, an apparently naked young woman lying at his feet, hugging his ankle.
The cover created a new look for fantasy adventure novels and established Mr. Frazetta as an artist who could sell books. He illustrated many more Conan books (including “Conan the Conqueror,” “Conan the Usurper” and “Conan the Avenger”) and works by Edgar Rice Burroughs (including “John Carter and the Savage Apes of Mars” and “Tarzan and the Antmen”).
“Paperback publishers have been known to buy one of his paintings for use as a cover, then commission a writer to turn out a novel to go with it,” The New York Times reported in 1977, the same year that a collection of his drawings, “The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta,” sold more than 300,000 copies.
Frank Frazzetta was born in Brooklyn on Feb. 9, 1928, and as a boy studied painting at a local art school. (Early in his career, he excised one z from his last name because “with one z it just looked better,” Mr. Pistella said. “He said the two z’s and two t’s was too clumsy.”)
Mr. Frazetta began drawing for comic books of all stripes — westerns, mysteries, fantasies — when he was still a teenager. He was also a good enough baseball player to try out for the New York Giants.
The popularity of Mr. Frazetta’s work coincided with the rise of heavy metal in the early 1970s, and his otherworldly imagery showed up on a number of album covers, including Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” and Nazareth’s “Expect No Mercy.” Last year, Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist for Metallica, bought Mr. Frazetta’s cover artwork for the paperback reissue of Robert E. Howard’s “Conan the Conqueror” for $1 million.
Mr. Frazetta married Eleanor Kelly, known as Ellie, in 1956. She served as his occasional model and as his business partner; in 2000 she started a small museum of her husband’s work on their property in East Stroudsburg, Pa. She died last year.
Mr. Frazetta is survived by three sisters, Carol, Adel and Jeanie; two sons, Alfonso Frank Frazetta, known as Frank Jr., and William Frazetta, both of East Stroudsburg; two daughters, Heidi Grabin, of Englewood, Fla., and Holly Frazetta, of Boca Grande, Fla.; and 11 grandchildren.
After Ellie Frazetta’s death, her children became embroiled in a custodial dispute over their father’s work, and in December, Frank Jr. was arrested on charges of breaking into the family museum and attempting to remove 90 paintings that had been insured for $20 million. In April, the family said the dispute over the paintings had been resolved, and the Monroe County, Pa., district attorney said he would drop the charges. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Tue May 11, 2010 3:15 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Ronnie James Dio, whose soaring vocals, poetic lyrics and mythic tales of a never-ending struggle between good and evil broke new ground in heavy metal, died Sunday, according to a statement from his wife and manager. He was 67.
Dio revealed last summer that he was suffering from stomach cancer shortly after wrapping up a tour in Atlantic City, N.J., with the latest incarnation of Black Sabbath, under the name Heaven And Hell.
"Today my heart is broken," Wendy Dio wrote on the singer's site, adding he died at 7:45 a.m. "Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away.
"Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all," Wendy Dio continued. "We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us ... Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."
The statement was confirmed by Los Angeles publicist Maureen O'Connor. Dio was being treated at a Houston hospital, according to his site.
Though Dio had recently undergone his seventh chemotherapy treatment, he was hopeful to perform again. Earlier this month, Heaven And Hell canceled its summer tour, but Dio did not view being sidelined as a permanent thing.
"Wendy, my doctors and I have worked so hard to make it happen for all of you, the ones we care so much about, that this setback could be devastating, but we will not let it be," he said in a statement. "With your continued love and support, we ... will carry on and thrive. There will be other tours, more music, more life and much more magic."
Dio rose to fame in 1975 as the first lead singer of Rainbow, the heavy metal band put together by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who had just quit Deep Purple.
Dio then replaced legendary vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath in 1980 with the critically acclaimed album "Heaven And Hell," considered by many critics to be one of the finest heavy metal albums of all time. His on-again, off-again tenure with Black Sabbath touched off an intense debate among fans as to which singer was the true essence of the band — a discussion that lasted until his death.
He also enjoyed a successful solo career with his self-titled band, Dio, in between his three stints with Black Sabbath (1980-82; 1992; and 2007-2009, when the band toured as Heaven And Hell, to differentiate it from Osbourne-led versions of Sabbath).
Many of his most memorable songs revolved around the struggle between good and evil, including his signature tune "Heaven And Hell." He also drew heavily on medieval imagery in songs like "Neon Knights," "Killing The Dragon" and "Stargazer."
"He possessed one of the greatest voices in all of heavy metal, and had a heart to match it," said Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French, whose band toured with Dio since 1983, and was to do so again this summer at European rock festivals. "He was the nicest, classiest person you would ever want to meet."
Dio organized an all-star charity collaboration in 1986 called "Hear N' Aid" to raise money for famine relief in Africa, styled on the successful "We Are The World" campaign of a few years earlier.
His solo hits included "Rainbow In The Dark," "The Last In Line" and "Holy Diver."
\m/ _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Tue May 18, 2010 1:00 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
\m/ _________________ "Life's a journey, not a destination..." -Aerosmith ('Amazing')
Current RPG(s): (None)
Tue May 18, 2010 7:54 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
DES MOINES, Iowa — Paul Gray, the bassist for Grammy-winning metal band Slipknot, was found dead Monday in an Iowa hotel room but there was no indication of foul play, police said.
A hotel employee found Gray, 38, dead in a room at the TownePlace Suites in Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines, police said in a statement. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.
"Paul Gray was an awesome person on and off stage. He will be missed by many including myself," Jacoby Shaddix, lead singer of metal band Papa Roach, said in a statement late Monday. "His spirit will live on through the killer music he wrote."
Gray had been staying at the hotel for "a couple days," Urbandale Sgt. Dave Disney said, declining further comment. Gray lived in the nearby suburb of Johnston.
Amy Sciarretto, a publicist at Slipknot's record company, Roadrunner Records, confirmed Gray's death but declined further comment.
Known for its grotesque masks, trashing sound and aggressive, dark lyrics, Slipknot released its self-titled debut in 1999, and it sold about 2 million copies. Most of the band's members grew up in the Des Moines area.
"It's a devastating loss. Paul was a wonderful human being," said Andy Hall, music director of Des Moines rock station Lazer 103.3 who said he'd known Gray for 10 years. Hall said Gray was a talented bass player and one of the friendliest, most caring people he knew.
"This is a big blow, not only to the community of Des Moines but fans of metal at large, worldwide," Hall said, noting that his station planned to broadcast an hour-long tribute to Gray on Monday night.
Slipknot emerged in the mid-1990s with an aggressive mix of heavy metal and a vocal style that included growling, rapping and singing. The band has been known for extreme behavior during live performances, including urinating and vomiting on stage, according to biographies.
The band won a Grammy in 2006 for best metal performance for the song "Before I Forget," and concert industry trade publication Pollstar ranked Slipknot 18th in its Top 20 Concert Tours list in 2009.
Advertisement | ad infoIn 2003, Gray acknowledged that he was on drugs when his red 2001 Porsche collided with another car that year in Des Moines. No one was seriously injured. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of possession of marijuana, cocaine and syringes.
Media reports at the time noted that court records included a handwritten note from Dr. Joe Takamine that described discussions with Gray that were "very frank and open about his sporadic use of various drugs and of the long periods of abstinence in between."
Tom Ramirez, a drummer from Des Moines who became friends with Gray in high school, said he ran into Gray at a concert a few months ago and thought Gray "looked great." Ramirez remembered Gray as someone who always made time for his fans and old friends in Des Moines.
"He was always accepting and he wasn't stuck up. He was a people person. He knew his friends and who his friends were," Ramirez said. "He didn't forget the little people back here."
Slipknot remains one of the most popular metal bands and can still fill arenas, said David Gehlke, editor in chief of blistering.com, a heavy-metal and rock website.
The band is on a yearlong hiatus, and Gray planned to play with Hail, an all-star metal band that includes the former lead singer of Judas Priest and covers songs by that band, Motorhead and Iron Maiden, Gehlke said.
"This is going to be quite the blow to Slipknot and their fan base," Gehlke said during a telephone interview from Pittsburgh.
Gehlke noted the deaths of heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio, who performed with several bands including Black Sabbath, last week and singer-bassist Peter Steel last month.
"This is just a big surprise for a lot of us and it's a shame too," Gehlke said. "We just had Dio pass away, Peter Steel from Type-O Negative — three pretty significant blows to heavy metal community." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Tue May 25, 2010 2:12 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Martin Gardner, 95, a journalist whose omnivorous curiosity gave rise to wide-ranging writings that popularized mathematics, explored theology and philosophy, debunked pseudoscience and dug into Lewis Carroll's beloved children's books with the gusto of an investigative reporter, died May 22 at a hospital in Norman, Okla.
His son, James Gardner, said the cause of death was not known.
A native of Tulsa, Mr. Gardner was writing stories and poems for a children's magazine in the 1950s when he submitted an article about hexaflexagons -- pieces of paper folded intricately to resemble, Mr. Gardner once said, "a budding flower" -- to Scientific American. The editor, Dennis Flanagan, was so taken with the piece that he hired Mr. Gardner to produce a regular column on recreational mathematics.
The resulting monthly feature, "Mathematical Games," ran from 1956 to 1981. It became one of Scientific American's most popular items, capturing the imagination of amateur and professional mathematicians and introducing a generation of young readers to the pleasures of problem-solving.
The sharp-witted column, packed with cultural references, humor and accessible logic puzzles instead of academic jargon, featured the mathematical concepts behind fractals, Chinese tangram puzzles and the art of surrealist M.C. Escher. Widely read around the world, "Mathematical Games" made Mr. Gardner -- who never took a math class after high school -- the beloved grandfather of recreational mathematics and the inspiration for countless young people to consider careers in math and science.
"Beyond calculus, I am lost," he once said. "That was the secret of my column's success. It took me so long to understand what I was writing about that I knew how to write in a way most readers would understand."
Math puzzles were just one part of Mr. Gardner's sprawling career.
Among more than 70 books by Mr. Gardner, one of his first, "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science," heralded a lifelong passion for discrediting scientific fraud and quackery. Deemed "unputdownable" by Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda, "Fads and Fallacies" used calm logic to expose flat-Earth theorists, flying saucers and believers in extrasensory perception.
In 1976, Mr. Gardner joined with Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov and others in founding the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the group encourages rational investigation of everything from homeopathic remedies to fortunetellers. Mr. Gardner later wrote a monthly column, "Notes of a Fringe Watcher," for the committee's journal, the Skeptical Inquirer.
Following his own fascinations, he wrote books to explain scientific phenomena including Einstein's relativity theory ("Relativity for the Million," 1962) and oddities such as right- and left-handedness in mollusks and crystals, and the bathtub vortex, in which water in a bathtub in the Northern Hemisphere is said to drain counterclockwise, while water in the Southern Hemisphere drains clockwise ("The Ambidextrous Universe," 1964).
Mr. Gardner, a childhood fan of Frank L. Baum's "Wizard of Oz" books, used his inquisitiveness as a tool of literary criticism. In 1960, he published perhaps his most popular book, "The Annotated Alice," a line-by-line examination of the wordplay, satire and allusions in Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its sequel, "Through the Looking-Glass."
Filling the margins of the original text with explanatory notes and compressed essays, Mr. Gardner used physics, psychology, history and math to illuminate the classic tale, offering two possible origins for the phrase "grin like a Cheshire Cat" and digging up weather records to show that July 4, 1862, the "golden afternoon" that Carroll described in the first lines of his book, had actually been "cool and rather wet."
The book "memorializes the meeting of two remarkable eccentric minds in a particular moment in intellectual history," wrote critic Adam Gopnik in the New York Times in 1999, upon the release of a new edition of "The Annotated Alice."
"Gardner has an old-fashioned, almost 19th-century, Oliver Wendell Holmes kind of American mind -- self-educated, opinionated, cranky and utterly unafraid of embarrassment."
Mr. Gardner used a similar technique to annotate other classics, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge's long poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and Ernest L. Thayer's baseball poem "Casey at the Bat."
In interviews, Mr. Gardner said that among his favorite works was "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener" (1983), a collection of essays about issues including faith, prayer, evil and immortality. Faith was also the subject of his 1973 semi-autobiographical novel, "The Flight of Peter Fromm," in which the title character and his atheist professor of divinity grapple for decades with questions about God.
"This is a brilliantly illuminating metaphysical novel that employs ideas as adversaries and translates them into human dilemmas," wrote Martin Levin in a New York Times review. "Can a novel whose action is essentially cerebral be exciting? Yes indeed -- if the novelist is as engaged by the history of ideas as is Gardner."
Writing at Humpty Dumpty
Martin Gardner was born Oct. 21, 1914, in Tulsa, where his father owned a small oil business. The younger Gardner grew up playing chess, practicing magic tricks and reading the "Wizard of Oz" series, which he later satirized in the 1998 novel "Visitors From Oz: The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman."
He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in philosophy in 1936, then worked as a journalist and in public relations before serving during World War II as a Navy yeoman aboard a destroyer escort.
He launched a postwar freelance writing career with the publication in Esquire magazine of a story called "The Horse on the Escalator," a tragically comic tale about a man who collected jokes about horses. Several years later, he found steady work in New York at Humpty Dumpty Magazine, a children's publication. Each month for eight years, he wrote a short story and a poem offering moral advice, some of which were later collected in "Never Make Fun of a Turtle, My Son" (1969).
His wife of 48 years, the former Charlotte Greenwald, died in 2000. In addition to his son James, of Norman, survivors include another son, Tom Gardner of Asheville, N.C.; and three grandchildren.
Over the years, Mr. Gardner earned a devoted following and respect from such diverse thinkers as the poet W.H. Auden, science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould and philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky, who once wrote, "Martin Gardner's contribution to contemporary intellectual culture is unique -- in its range, its insight, and understanding of hard questions that matter."
The writer's admirers have gathered every two years since 1993 for a conference called "Gathering for Gardner." Begun as a tribute, the event features presentations by magicians, mathematicians and puzzlelovers of every stripe.
"Many have tried to emulate him," mathematician Ronald Graham said of Mr. Gardner in 2009. "No one has succeeded." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Tue May 25, 2010 3:37 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Actor and filmmaker Dennis Hopper, 74, died Saturday at his Venice, Calif., home, surrounded by family and friends. He had been battling prostate cancer.
For this prolific, influential yet reckless showbiz veteran, life was rarely an easy ride.
Of course, there were some highs along the way. As buckskin-draped Billy and star-spangled Wyatt, he and Peter Fonda became hippie-era icons as stoner cowboys in search of America atop heavy-metal steeds in 1969's Easy Rider. The road-trip odyssey directed by Hopper, produced by Fonda and co-written by both was an Oscar-nominated classic of its kind, an independent production that cost less than $400,000 and sold uptight Hollywood on the benefits of exploiting youth culture and a new generation of filmmakers.
Even today, the shot of the two long-haired drifters astride their customized low-riding motorcycles is as identifiable as the faces atop Mount Rushmore.
But ever since a teenaged Hopper appeared in 1955's Rebel Without a Cause opposite mentor James Dean— who would die in a car crash at age 24 before their second film together, 1956's Giant, was even released — his journey often was a rough one, marked by self-destructive drama and blurred by excessive drugs and alcohol.
Yet somehow his talent would eventually trump his weaknesses, allowing Hopper to admirably pull himself together and become an invaluable, oft-villainous screen presence in the second half of his career.
Though shocking, it isn't too surprising that even from his sick bed, he was embroiled in a messy divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria, the source of his longest marriage at 14 years and mother of 6-year-old daughter Galen. He issued this statement about breaking up the union: "I wish Victoria the best but only want to spend these difficult days surrounded by my children and close friends."
Hopper had his share of good times, such as his supporting-actor Oscar nomination as a town drunk turned assistant basketball coach to Gene Hackman in 1986's Hoosiers that signaled his return to form.
But the lows could be positively hellish, such as Hopper's quickie marriage in 1970 to Michelle Phillips, an actress and a member of The Mamas & the Papas singing group. "The first seven were pretty good," he joked about the eight-day union. Meanwhile, she claimed he kept her in handcuffs and fired guns inside the house.
Most disastrous was his directorial follow-up to Easy Rider, 1971's The Last Movie, a crazily incoherent commentary on filmmaking shot in the Peruvian jungle. No studio would allow him behind a camera again for another 16 years with the hard-hitting gang-war drama Colors starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall.
Hopper eventually received a hallucinogenic wakeup call in 1983 when he had to be institutionalized after being found wandering naked on a Mexican highway with visions of space ships and World War II spinning in his head. The bizarre incident would lead to a stint in rehab and a chance at career revival.
Once redeemed, the actor proved himself to be a true pro right to the end. He even finished work on the second season of Crash, the cable TV series based on the 2004 Oscar-winning drama, before seeking experimental treatment for the disease, a diagnosis that was made public in October.
As if making up for any lost time, Hopper rarely turned down work. Even at his most wasted, he would scrounge up jobs in Europe. He wasn't above such roles as reptilian bad guy King Koopa in the inane 1993 video-game adventure Super Mario Bros. The father of four once related how son Henry, then 6, asked him why he took such a role. "I said, 'Well, Henry, I did that so you could have shoes.' And he said, 'Dad, I don't need shoes that badly.' "
There are almost 200 film and TV credits on his resume, not to mention an equal number of appearances on talk shows and at awards ceremonies, narrating jobs and behind-the-scenes video footage. That's an astonishing sum for someone who, by his own admission, spent the last five years before he got sober consuming the following: "A half-gallon of rum with a fifth of rum on the side, 28 beers and three grams of cocaine a day — and that wasn't to get high, that was just to keep going, man. I was a nigxmlare. I finally just shorted out."
Hopper knew he was lucky to survive such '60s-enabled excesses, especially after being blackballed by the industry for eight years until Francis Ford Coppola cast him as a hyper-manic photojournalist who rambles on about Marlon Brando's nutty Col. Kurtz in 1979's Apocalypse Now. "I should have been dead 10 times over," The actor said. "I've thought about that a lot. I believe in miracles. It's an absolute miracle that I'm still around."
For movie lovers, it is a good thing he hung in there. Given his colorful past, he was reborn as an elder statesman of cool thanks to associating with cutting-edge filmmakers who supplied their idol with custom-tailored roles. Would David Lynch's surreal noir Blue Velvet (1986) be half as riveting without Hopper's Frank Booth, a nitrous-oxide-huffing sadomasochist of a criminal with a fetish for both the title fabric and F-word-studded profanity?
As he famously told Lynch: "You have to let me play Frank Booth. Because I am Frank Booth!"
And consider the odd sort of pathos that he lent to Feck, a one-legged ex-biker and drug pusher who prefers the companionship of a blow-up doll ever since shooting his girlfriend's head off 20 years before in River's Edge (1987).
And who can forget his decidedly non-PC turn in Tony Scott's True Romance (1993). As the father of Christian Slater's on-the-run comic-book store clerk, Hopper stops the show while being tortured by Christopher Walken's gangster kingpin with a vividly delivered Quentin Tarantino-penned reverie about Sicilians.
By the time his mad bomber sent Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves on that wild goose chase in 1994's Speed and he hassled Kevin Costner's fish man as a bald, eye-patch-sporting futuristic pirate in 1995's Waterworld, Hopper was on top of the deranged villain heap.
Adding to his rep with Gen X: A series of attention-getting Nike ads in which he played an obsessed fan posing as a football ref who confronts various NFL superstars.
A native of Dodge City, Kansas, who was raised on a farm, he excelled at drama in high school and earned a scholarship to San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, where he performed Shakespeare. The novice made an early splash as an epileptic on the early '50s TV series Medic and became a hot property. Though telling Columbia Pictures fearsome exec Harry Cohn to "buzz off" (but with a less-polite four-letter word) after the mogul insulted his theater training didn't exactly help his cause — especially after he got thrown off the lot and was banned from the studio.
He went to New York to study Method acting with Lee Strasburg, and paid his dues in a string of Western roles, both in features (1965's The Sons of Katie Elder and 1969's True Grit with John Wayne, 1969's Hang 'Em High) and on TV (Wagon Train, Bonanza, Gunsmoke), as well as appearing in 1967's Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman.
But it was 1967's The Trip, an LSD-laced exploitation flick, and 1968's Head, the far-out cult film starring the Monkees, that would bring him into contact with such future Easy Rider collaborators as Fonda and Jack Nicholson. The rest is psychedelic cinema history.
Hopper, who as a child in Kansas was once taught painting by Midwest master Thomas Hart Benton, became a professional photographer early in his career and had a knack for collecting art. One of his first buys was an Andy Warhol soup can that sold for $75 in 1962. His own work is on display in galleries around the world.
He has had his share of celebrity feuds over the years, including losing a defamation lawsuit filed by actor Rip Torn after Hopper told Jay Leno on the air in 1994 that Torn pulled a knife on him during pre-production of Easy Rider. (Torn, who was replaced in the cast by Nicholson as an alcoholic lawyer, said it was Hopper who pulled the knife.) Hopper also sued Fonda over the film's script credits and his percentage of proceeds from the sale of rights.
Probably the most shocking thing about the clean-and-sober Hopper, however, isn't that he appeared in no fewer than seven films last year. It's that he was a card-carrying Republican who defied the liberal leanings of most of his Hollywood cohorts. But despite years of being a Bush supporter, he showed his rebel side once more when he voted for Obama — as a protest against Sarah Palin, as he explained on TV's The View.
Given his past indiscretions, Hopper was never one for nostalgia. But he did once humbly sum up his success this way. "I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City and my grandparents were wheat farmers. I thought painting, acting, directing and photography were all part of being an artist. I have made my money that way. And I have had some fun. It's not been a bad life." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:58 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
LOS ANGELES — John Wooden, college basketball’s gentlemanly Wizard of Westwood who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever, has died. He was 99.
UCLA said Wooden died Friday night of natural causes at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since May 26.
With his signature rolled-up game program in hand, Wooden led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships, including an unmatched streak of seven in a row from 1967 to 1973.
Over 27 years, he won 620 games, including 88 straight during one historic stretch, and coached many of the game’s greatest players such as Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor — later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
As a coach, he was groundbreaking trendsetter who demanded his players be in great condition so they could play an up-tempo style not well-known on the West Coast at the time.
But the Wizard’s legacy extended well beyond that.
He was the master of the simple one- or two-sentence homily, instructive little messages best presented in his famous “Pyramid of Success,” which remains must-read material, not only for fellow coaches but for anyone in a leadership position in American business.
He taught the team game and had only three hard-and-fast rules — no profanity, tardiness or criticizing fellow teammates. Layered beneath that seeming simplicity, though, were a slew of life lessons — primers on everything from how to put on your socks correctly to how to maintain poise: “Not being thrown off stride in how you behave or what you believe because of outside events.”
“What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player,” was one of Wooden’s key messages.
Wooden began his career as a teacher during the Great Depression and was still teaching others long past retirement. He remained a fixture at UCLA games played on a court named after him and his late wife, Nell, and celebrated his 99th birthday with a book he co-authored on how to live life and raise children.
Asked in a 2008 interview the secret to his long life, Wooden replied: “Not being afraid of death and having peace within yourself. All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.”
Asked what he would like God to say when he arrived at the pearly gates, Wooden replied, “Well done.”
Even with his staggering accomplishments, he remained humble and gracious. He said he tried to live by advice from his father: “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books — especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”
While he lived his father’s words, many more lived his. Those lucky enough to play for him got it first hand, but there was no shortage of Wooden sayings making the rounds far away from the basketball court.
“Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow,” was one.
“Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you,” was another.
Born Oct. 14, 1910, near Martinsville, Ind., on a farm that didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, Wooden’s life revolved around sports from the time his father built a baseball diamond among his wheat, corn and alfalfa. Baseball was his favorite sport, but there was also a basketball hoop nailed in a hayloft. Wooden played there countless hours with his brother, Maurice, using any kind of ball they could find.
He led Martinsville High School to the Indiana state basketball championship in 1927 before heading to Purdue, where he was All-America from 1930-32. The Boilermakers were national champions his senior season, and Wooden, nicknamed “the Indiana Rubber Man” for his dives on the hardcourt, was college basketball’s player of the year.
But it wasn’t until he headed west to Southern California that Wooden really made his mark on the game.
Wooden guided the Bruins to seven consecutive titles from 1967 through 1973 and a record 88-game winning streak in the early 1970s. From the time of his first title following the 1963-64 season through the 10th in 1974-75, Wooden’s Bruins were 330-19, including four 30-0 seasons.
The bespectacled former high school teacher ended up at UCLA almost by accident. Wooden was awaiting a call from the University of Minnesota for its head coaching job and thought he had been passed over when it didn’t come. In the meantime, UCLA called, and he accepted the job in Los Angeles.
Minnesota officials called later that night, saying they couldn’t get through earlier because of a snowstorm, and offered him the job. Though Wooden wanted it more than the UCLA job, he told them he already had given UCLA his word and could not break it.
The Bruins were winners right away after Wooden took over as coach at UCLA’s campus in Westwood in 1949, although they were overshadowed by Bill Russell and the University of San Francisco, and later Pete Newell’s teams at California.
At the time, West Coast teams tended to play a slow, plodding style. Wooden quickly exploited that with his fast-breaking, well-conditioned teams, who wore down opponents with a full-court zone press and forever changed the style of college basketball.
Still, it would be 16 seasons before Wooden won his first NCAA championship with a team featuring Walt Hazzard that went 30-0 in 1964. After that, they began arriving in bunches, and top players such as Alcindor, Walton, Sidney Wicks and Lucius Allen began arriving every year in Westwood.
Each would learn at the first practice how to properly put on socks and sneakers. Each would learn to keep his hair short and face clean-shaven, even though the fashions of the 1960s and ’70s dictated otherwise.
And each would learn Wooden’s “pyramid of success,” a chart he used to both inspire players and sum up his personal code for life. Industriousness and enthusiasm were its cornerstones; faith, patience, loyalty and self-control were some of the building blocks. At the top of the pyramid was competitive greatness.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are,” Wooden would tell them.
Wooden never had to worry about his reputation. He didn’t drink or swear or carouse with other coaches on the road, though he did have a penchant for berating referees.
“Dadburn it, you saw him double-dribble down there!” went a typical Wooden complaint to an official. “Goodness gracious sakes alive!”
Wooden would coach 27 years at UCLA, finishing with a record of 620-147. He won 47 NCAA tournament games. His overall mark as a college coach was 885-203, an .813 winning percentage that remains unequaled.
But his legacy as a coach will always be framed by two streaks — the seven straight national titles UCLA won beginning in 1967 and the 88-game winning streak that came to an end Jan. 19, 1974, when Notre Dame beat the Bruins 71-70.
After the loss, Wooden refused to allow his players to talk to reporters.
“Only winners talk,” he said. A week later, UCLA beat the Irish at home by 19 points.
A little more than a year later, Wooden surprisingly announced his retirement after a 75-74 NCAA semifinal victory over Louisville. He then went out and coached the Bruins for the last time, winning his 10th national title with a 92-85 win over Kentucky.
After that victory, Wooden walked into the interview room at the San Diego Sports Arena to face about 200 reporters, who let their objectivity slip and applauded.
Long before that, though, the road to coaching greatness began after Wooden graduated with honors from Purdue and married Nell Riley, his high school sweetheart.
In a 2008 public appearance with Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, in which the men were interviewed in front of an audience, Wooden said he still wrote his late wife — the only girl he ever dated — a letter on the 21st of each month. “She’s still there to me,” he said. “I talk to her every day.”
He coached two years at Dayton (Ky.) High School, and his 6-11 losing record the first season was the only one in his 40-year coaching career.
He spent the next nine years coaching basketball, baseball and tennis at South Bend (Ind.) Central High School, where he also taught English.
“I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession,” he once said. “I’m glad I was a teacher.”
Wooden served in the Navy as a physical education instructor during World War II, and continued teaching when he became the basketball coach at Indiana State Teachers College, where he went 47-17 in two seasons.
In his first year at Indiana State, Wooden’s team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the NAIB tournament in Kansas City. Wooden, who had a black player on his team, refused the invitation because the NAIB had a policy banning African Americans. The rule was changed the next year, and Wooden led Indiana State to another conference title.
It was then that UCLA called, though Wooden didn’t take the job to get rich. He never made more than $35,000 in a season, and early in his career he worked two jobs to make ends meet.
“My first four years at UCLA, I worked in the mornings at a dairy from six to noon then I’d come into UCLA,” he told The Associated Press in 1995. “Why did I do it? Because I needed the money. I was a dispatcher of trucks in the San Fernando Valley and was a troubleshooter. After all the trucks made their deliveries and came back, I would call in the next day’s orders, sweep out the place and head over the hill to UCLA.”
After he enjoyed great success at UCLA, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly offered Wooden their head coaching job at a salary 10 times what he was making, but he refused.
Nell, Wooden’s wife of 53 years, died in 1985. He is survived by son, James, and daughter, Nancy Muehlhausen; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:06 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Harvey Pekar's life was not an open book. It was an open comic book.
Pekar chronicled his life and times in the acclaimed autobiographical comic book series, "American Splendor," portraying himself as a rumpled, depressed, obsessive-compulsive "flunky file clerk" engaged in a constant battle with loneliness and anxiety.
Pekar, 70, was found dead shortly before 1 a.m. Monday by his wife, Joyce Brabner, in their Cleveland Heights home, said Powell Caesar, spokesman for Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
Pekar and Brabner wrote "Our Cancer Year," a book-length comic, after Pekar was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1990 and underwent a grueling treatment. He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and also suffered high blood pressure, asthma and clinical depression, which fueled his art but often made his life painful.
"American Splendor" carried the subtitle, "From Off the Streets of Cleveland," and just like Superman, the other comic-book hero born in Cleveland, Pekar wore something of a disguise. He never stepped into a phone booth to change, but underneath his persona of aggravated, disaffected file clerk, he was an erudite book and jazz critic, and a writer of short stories that many observers compared to Chekhov, despite their comic-book form.
Unlike the superheroes who ordinarily inhabit the pages of comic books, Pekar could neither leap tall buildings in a single bound, nor move faster than a speeding bullet. Yet his comics suggested a different sort of heroism: The working-class, everyman heroics of simply making it through another day, with soul -- if not dignity -- intact.
"American Splendor" had its roots in Pekar's friendship with R. Crumb, the seminal underground comic-book artist. The two met in 1962 when Crumb was working for American Greetings in Cleveland. At the time, Crumb was just beginning to explore the possibilities of comics, which would later lead to such groundbreaking work as "Mr. Natural" and "Fritz the Cat."
When Pekar, inspired by Crumb's work, wrote his nascent strip in 1972, Crumb illustrated it. Crumb also contributed to Pekar's first full-fledged books, which Pekar started publishing annually in 1976.
"He's the soul of Cleveland," Crumb told The Plain Dealer in 1994. "He's passionate and articulate. He's grim. He's Jewish. I appreciate the way he embraces all that darkness."
Yet the darkness came with a humorous silver lining. As Pekar said, "The humor of everyday life is way funnier than what the comedians do on TV. It's the stuff that happens right in front of your face when there's no routine and everything is unexpected. That's what I want to write about."
Pekar often complained that he made no money from his comics, but they did not go unappreciated. He won the American Book Award in 1987 for his first anthology of "American Splendor." He was a regular guest on "Late Night With David Letterman," until they had a falling out. (Letterman declined to comment.) And in 2003, the film adaptation of his comics, also titled "American Splendor," won the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic films at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
Pekar reacted to the prize with his characteristic mordant wit.
"I'm always shook up and nervous and I've got the hospital record to prove it," he said that night. "I wake up every morning in a cold sweat, regardless of how well things went the day before. And put that I said that in a somewhat but not completely tongue-in-cheek way."
Pekar was born Oct. 8, 1939, to Saul and Dora Pekar, who had emigrated from Bialystok, Poland. His father, a Talmudic scholar, owned a small grocery store on Kinsman Avenue, and the family -- who included Harvey's younger brother, Allen, a chemist -- lived above the store.
He graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1957, and went on to Case Western Reserve University, dropping out after a year when the pressure of required math classes proved too much to bear. He served in the Navy, then returned to Cleveland and a series of menial jobs before landing at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Cleveland as a file clerk, a job he would hold until he retired in 2001.
He was married three times, the last to Brabner, whom he met in 1983 when she wrote to him asking for an issue of "American Splendor." They were married on their third date, and a comic book naturally followed. "American Splendor No. 10" was subtitled, "Harvey's Latest Crapshoot: His Third Marriage to a Sweetie from Delaware and How His Substandard Dishwashing Strains Their Relationship."
They became legal guardians of Danielle Batone when she was 9 years old, in 1998, "raising her as our own," Pekar said.
After he retired from the VA hospital, Pekar continued to write jazz reviews and "American Splendor," garnering the accolades of his peers and critics.
In 1989, the New York Times Book Review said, "Mr. Pekar's work has been compared by literary critics to Chekhov's and Dostoevski's, and it's easy to see why."
The filmmaker David O. Russell ("Three Kings"), who was on the Sundance jury that awarded "American Splendor" the grand prize, said, "It's really great for people to see someone like Harvey Pekar, this guy who wants to remain authentic, isn't going to buy [garbage], isn't going to the malls, keeps on collecting old jazz music that's important -- that kind of independence."
In the 1994 Plain Dealer article, R. Crumb said Pekar's work examined the minutiae of everyday life, material "so staggeringly mundane it verges on the exotic."
Pekar himself summed it up as revealing "a series of day-after-day activities that have more influence on a person than any spectacular or traumatic events. It's the 99 percent of life that nobody ever writes about." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
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