Day in History 28 June – Texas Jack Omohundro – Rod Serling

Texas_Jack_OmohundroOn this day in 1880, frontier scout, actor, and cowboy, Texas Jack Omohundro died of pneumonia in Leadville, Colorado at the age of 33.  Born John Baker Omohundro on 26 July 1846 in Pleasure Hill, Virginia.  In his early teens, he left home, made his way alone to Texas, and became a cowboy.  He participated in early cattle drives, notably on the Chisholm Trail.  On one drive across Arkansas to meat-short Tennessee, grateful citizens nicknamed him “Texas Jack.”  In 1869, he moved to Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska, near Fort McPherson and became a scout and buffalo hunter.  There he met William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.  Together, they participated in Indian skirmishes and buffalo hunts, acted as guides for notables such as the Earl of Dunraven, and led the highly publicized royal hunt of 1872 with Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia and a group of prominent American military figures.  Omohundro and Cody traveled to Chicago in December 1872 to debut in The Scouts of the Prairie, one of the original Wild West shows produced by Ned Buntline.   Observers described Omohundro as physically impressive and magnetic in personality.  He was the first performer to introduce roping acts to the American stage.  During the 1873-74 season, Omohundro and Cody invited their friend James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok to join them in a new play called Scouts of the Plains.  On August 31, 1873, Omohundro married Giuseppina Morlacchi, a dancer and actress from Milan, Italy, who starred with him in the Scouts of the Prairie and other shows.  The Final Footprint – Omohundro is interred in Evergreen Cemetery in Leadville.  His grave is marked by flat granite VA marker and a large upright granite marker erected by his friends including Cody.

rodSerlingZeroHourOn this day in 1975, United States Army Airborne veteran, screenwriter, novelist, television producer, and narrator Rod Serling died of a heart attack in Rochester, New York at the age of 50.  Born Rodman Edward Serling on 25 December 1924 in Syracuse, New York.  Perhaps best known for his television series The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.  Serling served as executive producer and head writer for both shows.  The Twilight Zone ran on CBS for five years from 1959 to 1964 and featured several young actors who would later become famous including; Ron Howard, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, and William Shatner.  In my opinion, The Twilight Zone is one of the greatest shows in the history of television.  Serling was married to Carol Serling (1948-1975 his death).  The Final Footprint – Serling is interred in Lake View Cemetery in Interlaken, New York.  His grave is marked by an individual engraved granite VA marker.  Other notable Final Footprints at Lake View include; 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield; member of The Untouchables, Eliot Ness and John D. Rockefeller.

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Day in History 27 June – Jack Lemmon – John Entwistle – Shelby Foote

On this day in 2001, United States Navy veteran, Academy Award-winning actor and musician, Jack Lemmon died of colon and bladder cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 76.  Born John Uhler Lemmon III on 8 February 1925 in Newton, Massachusetts.  Lemmon graduated from Harvard.  In my opinion, Lemmon is one the funniest and best film actors.  My favorite Lemmon movie roles include; as Jerry “Daphne” in Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis; as Nestor Patou/Lord X in Wilder’s Irma la Douce (1963) with Shirley MacLaine; as Felix Ungar in The Odd Couple (1968) with Walter Mathau and written by Neil Simon; as George Kellerman in The Out-of-Towners (1970), written by Simon; as Jack Godell in The China Syndrome (1979) with Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas; as Shelley Levene in David Mamet‘s Glengarry Glenn Ross (1992) with Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Spacey; as John Gustafson in Grumpy Old Men (1993) with Ann-Margret, Mathau and Burgess Meredith and in the sequel Grumpier Old Men (1995) with Ann-Margret, Sophia Loren, Mathau and Meredith.  Lemmon was married twice; Cynthia Stone (1950-1956 divorce) and Felicia Farr (1962-2001 his death).  The Final Footprint – Lemmon is interred in a bench estate plot, near his friend Mathau, in Westwood Memorial Park (a Dignity Memorial property) in Los Angeles.  His grave is marked by an upright slant granite marker engraved simply, JACK LEMMON in.  Other notable final footprints at Westwood include; Ray Bradbury, Sammy Cahn, Truman Capote, James Coburn, Rodney Dangerfield, Janet Leigh, Farrah Fawcett, Brian Keith, Don Knotts, Burt Lancaster, Peter Lawford, Peggy Lee, Karl Malden, Dean Martin, Walter Mathau, Marilyn Monroe, Carroll O’Connor, Roy Orbison, George C. Scott, Dorothy Stratten, Natalie Wood and Frank Zappa.

John_Entwistle-1On this day in 2002, bass guitarist, songwriter, singer, horn player, and film and record producer who was best known as the bass player for the rock band The Who, The Ox, Thunderfingers, John Entwistle died in hotel room 658 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas one day before the scheduled first show of The Who’s 2002 US tour, at the age of 57.  The Clark County medical examiner determined that death was due to a heart attack induced by cocaine.  Born John Alec Entwistle on 9 October 1944 in Chiswick, London.  The Final Footprint – His funeral was held at St Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, England, on 10 July 2002.  He was cremated and his ashes were buried privately.  A memorial service was held on 24 October 2002 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London.

Shelby_FooteOn this day in 2005, historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a massive, three-volume history of the war, Shelby Foote died at Baptist Hospital in Memphis on June 27, 2005, aged 88.  He had had a heart attack after a recent pulmonary embolism.  Born Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. on 17 November 1916 in Greenville, Mississippi.  The Final Footprint – He was interred in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.  His grave is beside the family plot of General Forrest.

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Day in History 26 June – Roy Campanella

On this day in 1993, Hall of Fame baseball player, 8x All-Star, World Series Champion, 3x NL MVP, Campy, Roy Campanella died of a heart attack in his Woodland Hills, California home at the age of 71.  Born on 19 November 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  In my opinion, he is one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game.  His father was a Sicilian immigrant and his mother was African American, so he wasd barred from Major League Baseball before 1947.  His career was cut short in 1958 when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident.  On 4 June 1972, the Dodgers retired Campanella’s uniform number 39 alongside Jackie Robinson’s 42 and Sandy Koufax’s 32.  Campanella was married three times; Bernice Ray (1939 divorce), Ruthe Willis (1945-1963 her death) and Roxie Doles (1964-1993 his death).  Campanella authored the inspirational book It’s Good to Be Alive. The Final Footprint – Campanella was cremated.  Simon & Schuster published a biography of Campanella written by Neil Lanctot, Campy – The Two Lives of Roy Campanella (2011).

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Day in History 25 June – George Armstrong Custer – Johnny Mercer – Michael Jackson – Farrah Fawcett

georgeCuster_Portrait_RestoredOn this day in 1876, United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars, George Armstrong Custer died, along with his brothers Boston and Thomas, at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana at the age of 36.  Born on 5 December 1839 in New Rumley, Ohio.  Custer was admitted to West Point in 1858, where he graduated last in his class. However, with the outbreak of the Civil War, all potential officers were needed, and Custer was called to serve with the Union Army.

Custer developed a strong reputation during the Civil War.  He fought in the first major engagement, the First Battle of Bull Run. His association with several important officers helped his career, as did his success as a highly effective cavalry commander.  Custer was eventually promoted to the temporary rank (brevet) of major general and promoted major general of Volunteers.  (At war’s end, he reverted to his permanent rank of captain.)  At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, in which he and his troops played a decisive role, Custer was on hand at General Robert E. Lee‘s surrender.

After the Civil War, Custer was dispatched to the west to fight in the Indian Wars.  His disastrous final battle overshadowed his prior achievements.  Custer and all the men with him were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, fighting against a coalition of Native American tribes, Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake), in a battle that has come to be popularly known in American history as “Custer’s Last Stand.”  Custer married Elizabeth Clift Bacon (1842–1933) (whom he first saw when he was ten years old) on 9 February 1864.

The Final Footprint – Following the recovery of Custer’s body and that of his brother Tom, the remains were buried on the battlefield side by side in a shallow grave, after being covered by pieces of tent canvas and blankets.  One year later, Custer’s remains and those of many of his officers were recovered and sent back east for reinterment in more formal burials.  Custer was buried again with full military honors at West Point Cemetery on 10 October 1877.  The battle site was designated a National Cemetery in 1876.

Johnny_Mercer,_New_York,_N_Y_,_between_1946_and_1948_(William_P__Gottlieb_06121)On this day in 1976, lyricist, songwriter and singer, Johnny Mercer died from a brain tumor in Bel Air, California at age 66.  Born John Herndon Mercer on 18 November 1909 in Savannah, Georgia.  He is best known as a lyricist, but he also composed music.  He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others.  From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time.  He wrote the lyrics to more than fifteen hundred songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows.  He received nineteen Academy Award nominations, and won four.  My favorite Mercer songs include:

  • “I’m an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande” (1936)
  • “Hooray for Hollywood” (1937) (music by Richard A. Whiting)
  • “”You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (1938) (music by Harry Warren)
  • “Jeepers, Creepers!” (1938) (music by Harry Warren)
  • “Fools Rush In” (1940) (music by Rube Bloom)
  • “That Old Black Magic” (1942) (music by Harold Arlen)
  • “I’m Old Fashioned” (1942) (music by Jerome Kern)
  • “Midnight Sun” (1954) (music by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke)
  • “Summer Wind” (1965) (music by Henry Mayer)
  • “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” (1943) (music by Harold Arlen; theme song of the 1957-1958 NBC detective series, Meet McGraw, starring Frank Lovejoy)
  • “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (1944) (music by Harold Arlen)
  • “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” (1945) (music by Harry Warren)
  • “Come Rain Or Come Shine” (1946) (music by Harold Arlen)
  • “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” (1946) (music by Harold Arlen)
  • “Glow Worm” (1952) (music Paul Lincke)
  • “Satin Doll” (1953) (music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn)
  • “Something’s Gotta Give” (1954)
  • “Moon River” (1961) (music by Henry Mancini)
  • “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962) (music by Henry Mancini)

Johnny_MercergraveThe Final Footprint – Mercer was buried in Savannah’s historic Bonaventure Cemetery. The simple line drawing caricature adorning his memorial bench is in fact a reproduction of a self-portrait.




Michael_Jackson_1984On this day in 2009, multiple Grammy Award-winning recording artist, dancer, singer-songwriter, musician, producer, choreographer, and philanthropist, King of Music Videos, The King of Pop, Michael Jackson died at his home in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles of acute propofol intoxication at the age of 50.  Born Michael Joseph Jackson on 29 August 1959 in Gary, Indiana.  Perhaps the most successful entertainer of all time.  His contribution to music, dance, and fashion made him a global figure.  His distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced numerous artists.  My favorite Jackson songs, and videos, inlcude; “Thriller”, “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, “Black or White”, “Scream”, “Bad”, “Man in the Mirror”, “Smooth Criminal”, “Dirty Diana”, “They Don’t Care About Us”.  The Final Footprint – Jackson is entombed in the Great Mausoleum, Holly Terrace, Sanctuary of Ascension in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.  The mausoleum is private and is not open to the public.  Jackson’s memorial service was held on 7 July 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi performed at the event.  Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson gave eulogies, while Queen Latifah read, “We had him,” a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou.  Other notable Final Footprints at Forest Lawn Glendale include; L. Frank Baum, Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney, Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jean Harlow, Sam Cooke, Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Casey Stengel, Jimmy Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy.

Farrah_Fawcett_1977On this day in 2009, University of Texas at Austin attendee, actress and artist, Farrah Fawcett died from anal cancer in the intensive care unit of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, with Ryan O’Neal and Alana Stewart by her side.  She was 62.  Born Farrah Leni Fawcett on 2 February 1947 in Corpus Christi, Texas.  A multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee, Fawcett rose to international fame when she first appeared as private investigator Jill Munroe in the first season of the television series Charlie’s Angels in 1976.  Fawcett later appeared off-Broadway to critical approval and in highly rated and critically acclaimed television movies, in roles often challenging (The Burning Bed; Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story; Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story; Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White) and sometimes unsympathetic (Small Sacrifices).  Fawcett was a sex symbol whose iconic poster, released the same year Charlie’s Angels premiered, broke sales records, making her an international pop culture icon.  Her hairstyle was emulated by young women in the 1970s and 1980s.  In 1996, Fawcett was ranked #26 on TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time” list.

Farrah_Fawcett_grave_at_Westwood_Village_Memorial_Park_Cemetery_in_Brentwood,_CaliforniaThe Final Footprint – A private funeral was held in Los Angeles on June 30.  She is buried in a private hedge estate at the Westwood Village Memorial Park (a Dignity Memorial property) in Los Angeles.  Other notable final footprints at Westwood include; Ray Bradbury, Sammy Cahn, Truman Capote, James Coburn, Rodney Dangerfield, Janet Leigh, Brian Keith, Don Knotts, Burt Lancaster, Peter Lawford, Peggy Lee, Jack Lemmon, Karl Malden, Dean Martin, Walter Mathau, Marilyn Monroe, Carroll O’Connor, Roy Orbison, George C. Scott, Dorothy Stratten, Natalie Wood and Frank Zappa.

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Day in History 24 June – Lucrezia Borgia – Jackie Gleason – Eli Wallach

Lucretia_Borgia_PinturicchioOn this day in 1519, daughter of Pope Alexander VI, Lady of Pesaro and Gradara, Duchess of Bisceglie and Princess of Salerno, Duchess of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia Borgia died in Ferrara, Italy at the age of 39 from complications after giving birth to her eighth child, having had a lifelong history of complicated pregnancies and miscarriages.  Born in Subiaco, near Rome on 18 April 1480.  Her mother was Vannozza dei Cattanei, one of the mistresses of Lucrezia’s father, Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI).  Her brothers included Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Gioffre Borgia.  Lucrezia’s family later came to epitomize the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy.  Lucrezia was cast as a femme fatale, a role she has been portrayed as in many artworks, novels, films and an opera.  Very little is known of Lucrezia, and the extent of her complicity in the political machinations of her father and brothers is unclear.  They certainly arranged several marriages for her to important or powerful men in order to advance their own political ambitions.  Lucrezia was married to Giovanni Sforza (Lord of Pesaro), Alfonso of Aragon (Duke of Bisceglie), and Alfonso I d’Este (Duke of Ferrara).  Tradition has it that Alfonso of Aragon was an illegitimate son of the King of Naples and that Lucrezia’s brother Cesare may have had him murdered after his political value waned.  lucretiaborgiaGrave_of_Duke_Alfonso_I_d'Este,_Lucretia_Borgia,_etc__-_Ferrara,_ItalyThe Final Footprint – Lucrezia was entombed in the convent of Corpus Domini.  On 15 October 1816, the Romantic poet Lord Byron visited the Ambrosian Library of Milan.  He was delighted by the letters between Borgia and her one-time lover, poet Pietro Bembo (“The prettiest love letters in the world”) and claimed to have managed to steal a lock of her hair (“the prettiest and fairest imaginable”) held on display.  Victor Hugo’s 1833 stage play Lucrèce Borgia, loosely based on the stories of Lucrezia, was transformed into a libretto by Felice Romani for Donizetti’s opera, Lucrezia Borgia (1834), first performed at La Scala, Milan, 26 December 1834.

jackiegleasonjackiebioOn this day in 1987 comedian, actor and musician Jackie Gleason died at his home in Lauderhill, Florida at the age of 71.  Born Herbert Walton Gleason, Jr. on 26 February 1916 in either Bushwick or Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.  Perhaps best known for his role on television as Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners and for The Jackie Gleason Show (1952-1970).  His most noted film roles were as Minnesota Fats in the drama film The Hustler (1961) starring Paul Newman, and as Buford T. Justice in the Smokey and the Bandit movie series.  Gleason married three times; Genevieve Halford (1936-1970 divorce), Beverly McKittrick (1970-1975 divorce) and Marilyn Taylor (1975-1987 his death).  His trademark phrases were “And away we go!” and “How sweet it is!”.  In my opinion, The Honymooners is, without question, the “Bang, Zoom” funniest show that ever aired on television.  And I will stand on Jerry Seinfeld‘s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.  I remember watching The Jackie Gleason Show as a kid.  Gleason was hilarious in Smokey and the BanditThe Final Footprint – Gleason is entombed in a private mausoleum in Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Miami, Florida.  Engraved at the base of the mausoleum is his epitaph; “AND AWAY WE GO”.  A life-size statue of Gleason, in full uniform as bus driver Ralph Kramden, stands outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.  Another statue stands at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in North Hollywood, California, showing Gleason in his famous “And away we go!” pose.  Local signs on the Brooklyn Bridge, which indicate to drivers that they are entering Brooklyn, have the Gleason phrase “How Sweet It Is!” as part of the sign.

th-16On this day in 2014, actor, graduate of the University of Texas, Eli Wallach died of natural causes at the age of 98 in Manhattan.  Born Eli Herschel Wallach on 7 December 1915 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Wallach’s  career spanned more than six decades, beginning in the late 1940s.  On stage, he often co-starred with his wife, Anne Jackson, becoming one of the best-known acting couples in the American theater.  Wallach initially studied method acting under Sanford Meisner, and later became a founding member of the Actors Studio, where he studied under Lee Strasberg.  His versatility gave him the ability to play a wide variety of different roles throughout his career, primarily as a supporting actor.

For his debut screen performance in Baby Doll, he won a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Among his other most famous roles are Calvera in The Magnificent Seven (1960), Guido in The Misfits (1961), and Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).  Other notable portrayals include Don Altobello in The Godfather Part III, Cotton Weinberger in The Two Jakes (both 1990), and Arthur Abbott in The Holiday (2006).  One of America’s most prolific screen actors, Wallach remained active well into his nineties, with roles as recently as 2010 inWall Street: Money Never Sleeps and The Ghost Writer.

Wallach received BAFTA Awards, Tony Awards and Emmy Awards for his work, and received an Academy Honorary Award at the second annual Governors Awards, presented on November 13, 2010. Wallach and Jackson were married from 1948 until his death.  The Final Footprint – Wallach was cremated.

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Day in History 23 June – Ed McMahon

On this day in 2009, United States Marine Corps veteran, comedian, game show host and announcer, “The Human Laugh Track”, “Toymaker to the King”,  Ed McMahon died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 86.  Born Edward Peter McMahon, Jr. on 6 March 1923 in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Lowell, Massuchusetts.  Perhpaps best known as Johnny Carson’s sidekick and the host of The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992.  He also co-hosted the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  McMahon introduced each night’s episode of The Tonight Show with a drawn-out “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” and served as the on air sounding board for Carson’s jokes.  McMahon was married three times; Alyce Ferrill (1945-1974 divorce), Victoria Valentine (1976-1989 divorce), Pam Hurn (1992-2009 his death).  The Final Footprint – McMahon was cremated.

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Day in History 22 June – Judy Garland – George Carlin

On this day in 1969, actress and singer, mother of actress Lorna Luft, mother of singer/actress Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, died from an accidental overdose of barbiturates at her Chelsea, London home at the age of 47.  Born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Perhaps best remembered for her role as Dorothy Gale in Victor Fleming‘s The Wizard of Oz (1939), based on L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), and her unforgettable performance singing the Academy Award-winning song “Over the Rainbow”.  Her post Oz career was highlighted by her vaudeville-style, two-a-day engagement at Broadway’s newly refurbished Palace Theatre.  The 19-week engagement was considered a huge triumph and garnered Garland a Special Tony Award.  Also notable was her Oscar nominated performance in the 1954 musical remake of the 1937 film, A Star is Born.  Garland was married five times; David Rose (1941-1944 divorce), Vincent Minnelli (1945-1951 divorce), Sid Luft (1952-1965 divorce), Mark Herron (1965-1969 divorce) and Mickey Deans (1969-1969 her death).  The Final Footprint – Garland was initially entombed in the mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York.  Other notable Final Footprints at Ferncliff include:  Aaliyah, Joan Crawford, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, Thelonious Monk, and Ed Sullivan.  In addition, John Lennon and Nelson Rockefeller were cremated at Ferncliff.  In January 2017, Garland’s family had her remains relocated to Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.  The move will ensure that Garland’s family will someday be with her.  Other notable Final Footprints at Hollywood Forever include voice actor Mel Blanc (yes, his epitaph is “That’s All Folks!”), director/producer Cecil B. DeMille, director Victor Fleming, actress  Joan Hackett, director John Huston, actress Jayne Mansfield’s cenotaph, actress Hattie McDaniel’s cenotaph, mobster Bugsy Siegel, actor Rudolph Valentino, and actress Fay Wray.

George_Carlin)On this day in 2008, stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, actor and writer/author, George Carlin died of heart failure at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica at the age of 71.  Born George Denis Patrick Carlin on 12 May 1937 in New York City.  The Final Footprint –  In accordance with his wishes he was cremated, his ashes scattered, and no public or religious services of any kind were held.

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Day in History 21 June – John Lee Hooker – Niccolò Machiavelli

On this day in 2001, Grammy winning blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, King of the Boogie, John Lee Hooker, died in Los Altos, California at the age of 83.  Born on 22 August 1917 in Coahoma County, Mississippi.  Hooker performed his own unique style of what was originally closest to Delta blues; a ‘talking blues’ style that was his trademark and his own unique genre of the blues, often incorporating the boogie-woogie piano style and a driving rhythm into his masterful and idiosyncratic blues guitar and singing.  His best known songs include “Boogie Chillen'” (1948), “I’m in the Mood” (1951) and “Boom Boom” (1962), the first two reaching R&B #1 in the Billboard charts.  Hooker appeared and sang in the John Landis film, The Blues Brothers (1980), starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.  His songs have been covered my many artists including;  Buddy Guy, Cream, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Tom Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, The Yardbirds, The Animals, The Doors, George Thorogood, R. L. Burnside and The J. Geils BandThe Final Footprint – Hooker is entombed in Chapel of the Chimes Columbarium and Mausoleum in Oakland, California.  His crypt is marked by a bronze plaque with his likeness and the epitaph; KING OF THE BOOGIE.

Niccolo_Machiavelli-partOn this day in 1527, Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance, Niccolò Machiavelli died in Florence at the age of 58.  Born Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli on 3 May 1469 in Florence.  He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs.  He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics.  He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry.  His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language.  He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.  He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.  His moral and ethical beliefs led to the creation of the word machiavellianism which has since been used to describe one of the three dark triad personalities in psychology.  niccolomachiavellitombThe Final Footprint –  He was entombed at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy.  An epitaph honoring him is inscribed on his monument.  The Latin legend reads: TANTO NOMINI NULLUM PAR ELOGIUM (“so great a name (has) no adequate praise” or “no eulogy (would be appropriate to) such a great name”).  Santa Croce is the burial place of some of the most famous Italians and is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell’Itale Glorie).  Other notable final footprints at Santa Croce include Michelangelo, Ugo Foscolo, Galileo, and Rossini.

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Day in History 20 June – Bugsy Siegel – Jim Shoulders

On this day in 1947, gangster Bugsy Siegel was shot to death in the Beverly Hills home of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, at the age of 41.  Born Benjamin Siegelbaum on 28 February 1906 in in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to a poor Jewish family from Letychiv, Podolia Governorate of the Russian Empire, in modern Ukraine.  Siegel played a major role behind the development of metropolitan Las Vegas.  During his youth, Siegel befriended Meyer Lansky.  In 1930, Lansky and Siegel built ties to Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Frank Costello, future bosses of the Genovese crime family.  Siegel became a bootlegger and was associated with Albert “Mad Hatter” Anastasia.  Siegel was involved in bootlegging in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.  Siegel and Anastasia, together with Vito Genovese and Joe Adonis, were the four gunmen who shot New York mob boss Joe Masseria to death on Luciano’s orders on 15 April 1931, formally ending the Castellammarese War.  On September 10 of that year, Luciano hired four trigger men from the Lansky-Siegel gang to murder Masseria’s rival, Salvatore Maranzano, cementing Luciano’s rise to the top of the U.S. Mafia and marking the birth of modern American organized crime.  Lansky and Siegel assisted in Luciano’s brief alliance with Dutch Schultz.  Siegel was sent to California in 1937 to develop syndicate gambling rackets.  He soon became involved in, and eventually took over, the development of the Flamingo casino and hotel on what would become the Las Vegas Strip.  The project was completed although the large cost overruns and revenue shortfall may have tried the patience of his mob investors, leading to his killing.  Siegel was married to Esta Krakower (1929-1947 his death).  The Final Footprint – Siegel is entombed in the Beth Olam Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.  In the Bialystoker Synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Siegel is memorialized by a Yahrtzeit (remembrance) plaque that marks his death date so mourners can say Kaddish for the anniversary.  A bronze memorial plaque was placed at the Flamingo near the wedding chapel.  In Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (1969) and the 1972 film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola, the character of Moe Greene, played by Alex Rocco, appears to be heavily based on Siegel.  Although Greene’s death is not described in the novel, in the film he is shot through the eye, evoking Siegel’s death.  Additionally, Puzo’s and Coppola’s sequel, The Godfather Part II (1974) adds a new character related to Greene, Hyman Roth, who appears to be based upon Siegel’s partner Lansky.  Sergio Leone’s film Once Upon a Time in America (1984) appears to be loosely based upon the lives of Siegel and Lansky.  Siegel has been portrayed in films and television by Harvey Keitel, Armand Assante, Eric Roberts and, perhaps most memorably, by Warren Beatty in Barry Levinson‘s Bugsy (1991), also featuring Annette Bening as Virginia Hill, Keitel as Mickey Cohen and Ben Kingsley as Lansky.  Other notable Final Footprints at Hollywood Forever include voice actor Mel Blanc (yes, his epitaph is “That’s All Folks!”), director/producer Cecil B. DeMille, director Victor Fleming, actress  Joan Hackett, director John Huston, Judy Garland, actress Jayne Mansfield’s cenotaph, actress Hattie McDaniel’s cenotaph, actor Rudolph Valentino and actress Fay Wray.

jimshouldersOn this day in 2007, cowboy, rodeo athlete, 5x All Around Pro Rodeo Cowboy, 16x World Champion, Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer, National Cowboy Hall of Famer, “the Babe Ruth of Rodeo”, rancher, Jim Shoulders died of heart disease at the age of 79 in Henryetta, Oklahoma.  Born 13 May 1928 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The Final Footprint – Shoulders is interred in New Sonoro Cemetery in Henryetta.

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Day in History 19 June – J. M. Barrie – Sam Giancana – James Gandolfini

On this day in 1937, author and dramatist, J. M. Barrie died of pneumonia in London at the age of 77.  Born James Matthew Barrie on 9 May 1860 in  in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland.  Perhaps best remembered as the author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up (1904) the play about the ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland.  The play was developed by Barrie into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy.   George Bernard Shaw described the play as “ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people.”

When he was 6 years old, Barrie’s next-older brother David (his mother’s favourite) died two days before his 14th birthday in an ice-skating accident.  This left his mother devastated, and Barrie tried to fill David’s place in his mother’s attentions, even wearing David’s clothes and whistling in the manner that he did.  Barrie’s mother apparently found comfort in the fact that her dead son would remain a boy forever, never to grow up and leave her.  Barrie married Mary Ansell (1894-1909 divorce).  They had no children.  Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, which continues to benefit from them as Peter Pan has been adapted many times.  My favorite adaptation is Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991) with Robin Williams as a grown up Peter.  The Final Footprint – Barrie is interred in the Barrie and Ogilivie family plot in Kirriemuir Cemetery.  The family plot is marked by three large upright markers.  A bronze Peter Pan statue was erected in Kensington Gardens, London.  Barrie was portrayed in the semi-biographical film, Finding Neverland (2004), by Johnny Depp.  The film was nominated for an Oscar, as was Depp, and also stars Kate Winslet and Hoffman.  Neverland Valley Ranch was named by Michael Jackson after Barrie’s Neverland.

samgiancanasambioOn this day in 1975, Sicilian American mobster and boss of the Chicago Outfit from 1957–1966, “Momo”, “Mooney”, “Sam the Cigar”, “Sammy”, Sam Giancana died from multiple gunshot wounds in his home in Oak Park, Illinois at the age of 67.  Giancana was killed shortly before he was scheduled to appear before a U. S. Senate committee investigating supposed CIA and Cosa Nostra collusion in plots to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.  Born Salvatore Giangana to Sicilian immigrants in Little Italy, Chicago.  The Final Footprint – Giancana was entombed next to his wife Angelina in the Giancana family private mausoleum in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

JamesGandolfiniSept11TIFFOn this day in 2013, actor James Gandolfini died of an apparent heart attack in Rome at the age of 51.  Born James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr. on 18 September 1961 in Westwood, New Jersey.  Perhaps best known for his role in The Sopranos as Tony Soprano, a troubled crime boss struggling to balance his family life and career in the Mafia.  Gandolfini garnered enormous praise for this role, winning both the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series three times.  The Final Footprint – Gandolfini’s funeral service was held on 27 June 2013 at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Morningside Heights, New York City.  He was cremated.

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Posted in Day in History, Extravagant Footprints, Hollywood Footprints, Infamous Footprints, Literary Footprints | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment