Day in History 23 October – Théophile Gautier – Zane Grey – Robert Merrill

On this day in 1872, French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, art critic and literary critic Théophile Gautier died at the age of 61 in Paris due to a long-standing cardiac disease.  Born Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier on 30 August 1811 in Tarbes, capital of Hautes-Pyrénées département in southwestern France.  He was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur in 1842 and promoted to an Officier de la Legion d’honneur in 1858.  Gautier was an ardent defender of Romanticism, yet his work is difficult to classify and remains a point of reference for many subsequent literary traditions such as Parnassianism, Symbolism, Decadence and Modernism.  The Final Footprint – Gautier is interred at the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.  Two poems from “Émaux et camées”—”Sur les lagunes” and the second of two titled “Études de Mains”—are featured in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Dorian reads them out of the book shortly after Basil Hallward’s murder.  Other notable final footprints at Montmartre include composer Hector Berlioz, French singer Dalida, artist Edgar Degas, author Alexandre Dumas, fils, and composer Jacques Offenbach.

On this day in 1939,  author Zane Grey died of heart failure at the age of 67, at his home in Altadena, California.  Born Pearl Zane Gray on 31 January 1872, in Zanesville, Ohio.  Perhaps best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the American frontier.  Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was his best-selling book.  In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence when adapted as films and television productions.  As of 2012, 112 films, two television episodes, and a television series, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater, had been made that were based loosely on his novels and short stories.  Grey married Lin “Dolly” Roth (1905 – 1939 his death).  During his courtship of Dolly, Grey still saw previous girlfriends and warned her, “But I love to be free. I cannot change my spots. The ordinary man is satisfied with a moderate income, a home, wife, children, and all that….But I am a million miles from being that kind of man and no amount of trying will ever do any good”. He added, “I shall never lose the spirit of my interest in women.”  The Final Footprint – Grey was interred at the Union Cemetery in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.

On this day in 2004, operatic baritone and Metropolitan Opera star, Robert Merrill died at his home in New Rochelle, New York at the age of 87 while watching Game 1 of the 2004 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals.  Born Moishe Miller the son of Polish immigrants in Brooklyn on 4 June 1917.  Merrill made his operatic debut in Verdi’s Aida in Newark, New Jersey and his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1945, as Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata.  In 1969, he sang the Star Spangled Banner on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium and it became a tradition to have him sing on Opening Day and on special occasions.  A recorded version is sometimes still played today.  The Final Footprint – Merrill is interred in Sharon Gardens Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

Robert Merrill’s Monument

His Grave is marked by a large upright granite marker featuring an opera curtain that has been drawn open.  In keeping with Jewish tradition, loose rocks rest on top of the marker.  A foot marker is engraved with the following:  Like a bursting celestial star, he showered his family and the world with love, joy, and beauty. Encore please.

Robert Merrill’s marker

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Day in History 22 October – Cézanne – Kingsley Amis

Paul_cezanne_1861On this day in 1906 Post-Impressionist French artist Paul Cézanne died of pneumonia at his home in Aix-en-Provence, France at the age of 67.  Born 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France.  One can argue that Cézanne formed the bridge between Impressionsim and early 20th century Cubism.  Matisse and Picasso both reportedly said that Cézanne “is the father of us all”.  Perhaps my favorite artist.  He had one son, Paul, with his mistress Marie-Hortense Fiquet, who he later married.  One source of inspiration appears to be the French classical painter Nicolas Poussin.  The Final Footprint – Cézanne is entombed in a single crypt private mausoleum in Cimetiere de Saint Pierre in Aix-en-Provence, France.  His landscape paintings are among my favorites, particularly;

The House with Burst Walls, 1892-1894

Road Before the Mountains, Sainte-Victoire, 1898-1902, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Château Noir, 1900-1904, National Gallery of Art

Bathers, 1894-1905, National Gallery London

Mont Sainte- Victoire, 1882-1885, Metropolitan Museum of Art

L’Estaque, 1883-1885

Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1885-1887, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London

Jas de Bouffan, 1885-1887, Minneapolis Institute of Art

Self Portraits – From left to right:  Self-portrait with Beret, 1898-1900, Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Self-portrait, watercolour 1895; Self-portrait, 1875, Musée d’Orsay; Self-portrait, 1879-1882, Kunstmuseum, Bern

Kingsley_AmisOn this day in 1995, novelist, poet, critic, and teacher Sir Kingsley Amis died at St. Pancras Hospital in London at the age of 73.  Born Kingsley William Amis on 16 April 1922 in Clapham, South London.   Amis wrote more than 20 novels, six volumes of poetry, a memoir, various short stories, radio and television scripts, along with works of social and literary criticism.  He was the father of English novelist Martin Amis.  Amis’s first novel, Lucky Jim (1954), is perhaps his most famous.  Amis was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize three times in his writing career for Ending Up (1974), Jake’s Thing (1978), and finally winning the prize for The Old Devils in 1986.  An admitted serial adulterer, Amis married twice: Hilary Bardwell (1948 – 1965 divorce) and novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard (1965 – 1983 divorce).  The Final Footprint – Amis was cremated and his cremains are at Golders Green Crematorium.  Golders was the first crematorium to be opened in London, and one of the oldest crematoria in Britain.  The crematorium, the Philipson Family mausoleum (designed by Edwin Lutyens), the wall, along with memorials and gates, the Martin Smith Mausoleum, and Into The Silent Land statue are all Grade II listed buildings.  The gardens are included in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.  Golders is in Hoop Lane, off Finchley Road, Golders Green, London NW11, ten minutes’ walk from Golders Green tube station.  It is directly opposite the Golders Green Jewish Cemetery.  The crematorium is secular, accepts all faiths and non-believers; clients may arrange their own type of service or remembrance event and choose whatever music they wish.  Other notable cremations at Golders include; Neville Chamberlain, T. S. Eliot, Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Vivien Leigh, Keith Moon, Peter Sellers, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells and Amy Winehouse.

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Day in History 21 October – Jack Kerouac – Jim Garrison

jackKerouac_by_PalumboOn this day in 1969, novelist and poet Jack Kerouac died at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida at the age of 47, from an internal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking.  Born Jean-Louis Kérouac on 12 March 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts.  He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.  Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel.  He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.  Since his death Kerouac’s literary prestige has grown and several previously unseen works have been published.  His books include: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.  The Final Footprint – Kerouac is buried at Edson Cemetery in Lowell.

On this day in 1992, District Attorney of Orleans Parrish, Louisiana from 1961 to 1973, Jim Garrison died of cancer at the age of 70 in New Orleans.  Born Earling Carothers Garrison in Denison, Iowa on 20 November 1921.  Known for his investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  A controversial figure, opinions vary as to whether he uncovered a conspiracy but was blocked from discovering what actually happened, or whether he bungled a chance to uncover a conspiracy, or whether the whole thing was a complete waste of time and resources.  His book, On the Trail of the Assassins (1988),  served as the basis for Oliver Stone‘s movie JFK, starring Kevin Costner as Garrison.  I believe Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter that day, and I believe the conspiracy lies behind his motive.  The Final Footprint – Garrison is buried in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.  His grave is marked by an upright companion granite marker inscribed with the following;  “LET JUSTICE BE DONE, THOUGH THE HEAVENS FALL”.  Other notable final footprints at Metairie include; jazz trumpeter Al Hirt, Hall of Fame baseball player Mel Ott, swing king Louis Prima and poet Stan Rice.

Sidebar – In 1973, Garrison was defeated for reelection as district attorney by Harry Connick, father of Harry Connick, Jr.  Connick, like his famous son, is a singer and has long performed at Tipitina’s and other New Orleans clubs as a hobby.  During the filming of the movie Hope Floats, starring the younger Connick and Sandra Bullock, near Austin, Texas, the elder Connick was scheduled to sing at a club on 6th Street in Austin.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the show.  Connick and Bullock attended as well and Connick sang a few songs with his father.

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Day in History 20 October – Ronnie Van Zant – Burt Lancaster

Ronnie Van Zant

On this day in 1977, lead vocalist, primary lyricist and founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Van Zant died in a plane crash near Gillsburg, Louisiana.  Also killed in the crash were Steve and Cassie Gaines, Dean Kilpatrick, Walter McCreary and William Gray.  Born Ronald Wayne Van Zant on 15 January 1948 in Jacksonville, Florida.  Older brother of Donnie Van Zant, founder and lead singer of the band 38 Special.  Lynyrd Skynyrd is still one of my favorite bands.  The inspiration for the name came from a high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner.  The surviving band members reunited in 1987 with Ronnie’s younger brother Johnny as lead singer and primary song writer.  Ricky Medlocke, formerly with the band Blackfoot, later joined Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I saw them play at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1998, give or take a year.  In addition to Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird, my favorite Skynyrd songs include, Tuesday’s Gone, Simple Man and That SmellThe Final Footprint– Van Zant was originally entombed in a private mausoleum in Jacksonville Memorial Gardens in Orange Park, Florida.

Ronnie Van Zant’s Mausoleum

Unfortunately, his crypt and that of Steve Gaines were vandalized on 29 June 2000.  Their mausoleums remain as memorials for fans to visit.  Van Zant was subsequently interred in Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida near his parents.  His casket was reportedly enclosed in a massive underground concrete vault.  A memorial park funded by fans and family of the band was built in honor of Van Zant. The Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park is located on Sandridge Road in Lake Asbury, Florida, nearby his hometown of Jacksonville.

Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster - publicity 1947.JPG

Lancaster in Desert Fury (1947)

On this day in 1994, actor Burt Lancaster died in his Century City apartment in Los Angeles from a third heart attack at the age of 80.  Born Burton Stephen Lancaster on November 2, 1913 in Manhattan at his parents’ home at 209 East 106th Street, between Second and Third Avenues, today the site of Benjamin Franklin Plaza.

Initially known for playing “tough guys”, Lancaster went on to achieve success with more complex and challenging roles. He was nominated four times for Academy Awards and won once for his work in Elmer Gantry in 1960. He also won a Golden Globe for that performance and BAFTA Awards for The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Atlantic City (1980). During the 1950s his production company Hecht-Hill-Lancaster was highly successful, making films such as Marty (1955), Trapeze (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), and Separate Tables (1958).

Lancaster and Nick Cravat, performing with the Federal Theatre Project Circus (1935–38)
Cravat and Lancaster performing on the horizontal bars
With Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity (1953)

With Ava Gardner in The Killers(1946)


Drawing of Lancaster after he won an Oscar for Elmer Gantry (1960). Artist: Nicholas Volpe

With Audrey Hepburn in The Unforgiven (1960)

Lancaster and Alexander Pokryshkin in the documentary television series The Unknown War, episode 9 War in the Air. Moscow, USSR, 1978.

In Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Lancaster guarded his private life. He was married three times. His first two marriages – to June Ernst from 1935 to 1946 and to Norma Anderson from 1946 to 1969 – ended in divorce. His third marriage, to Susan Martin, was from September 1990 until his death in 1994. All five of his children were with Norma Anderson. He claimed he was romantically involved with Deborah Kerr during the filming of From Here to Eternity in 1953. However, Kerr stated that while there was a spark of attraction, nothing ever happened. He reportedly had an affair with Joan Blondell. In her 1980 autobiography, Shelley Winters claimed to have had a long affair with him. Recent biographers and others believe that Lancaster was bisexual, and that he had intimate relationships with men as well as women. According to testimony in Kate Buford’s Burt Lancaster: An American Life, Lancaster was devotedly loyal to his friends and family. Old pals from his childhood in NYC’s East Harlem remained his friends for life.

The Final Footprint

Burt Lancaster’s grave

Lancaster was cremated and his ashes were buried under a large oak tree in Westwood Memorial Park located in Westwood Village, Los Angeles County, California. A small, square ground plaque inscribed only with “BURT LANCASTER 1913–1994” marks his final resting place. Upon his death, as he requested, he had no memorial or funeral service. Other notable final footprints at Westwood include; Ray Bradbury, Sammy Cahn, James Coburn, Rodney Dangerfield, Janet Leigh, Farrah Fawcett, Brian Keith, Don Knotts, 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 19 October – Jonathan Swift – Camille Claudel – Edna St. Vincent Millay

Jonathan Swift

On this day in 1745, satirist, essayist, poet, cleric and Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Jonathan Swift died in Dublin, Ireland at the age of 77.  Born 30 November 1667 in Dublin.  His book Gulliver’s Travels is one of my favorite books from my childhood.  The Final Footprint – Swift is entombed next to his friend Esther Johnson in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in accordance with his wishes.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

A bust of Swift is on one of the walls and his epitaph is on a plaque on another wall.  This epitaph, written in Latin, translates as:  “Here is laid the Body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology, Dean of this Cathedral Church, where fierce Indignation can no longer injure the Heart. Go forth, Voyager, and copy, if you can, this vigorous (to the best of his ability) Champion of Liberty. He died on the 19th Day of the Month of October, A.D. 1745, in the 78th Year of his Age.”

Camille_ClaudelOn this day in 1943, French sculptor and graphic artist, elder sister of the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel, Camille Claudel died at the age of 78, after having lived 30 years in the asylum at Montfavet (known then as the Asile de Montdevergues, now the modern psychiatric hospital Centre hospitalier de Montfavet).  Born in Fère-en-Tardenois, Aisne, in northern France on 8 December 1864.  Around 1884, Claudel started working in Auguste Rodin’s workshop and became his muse, his model, his confidante and lover.  After 1905 Claudel apparently began exhibiting signs of paranoia and was diagnosed as having schizophrenia.  She destroyed many of her statues and disappeared for long periods of time.  She accused Rodin of stealing her ideas and of leading a conspiracy to kill her.  On 10 March 1913 at the initiative of her brother, she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital of Ville-Évrard in Neuilly-sur-Marne.  In 1914, to be safe from advancing German troops, the patients at Ville-Évrard were at first relocated to Enghien. On 7 September 1914 Camille was transferred with a number of other women, to the Montdevergues Asylum, at Montfavet, six kilometres from Avignon.  The Final Footprint – Her body was interred in the cemetery of Monfavet, in a communal grave.  The film, Camille Claudel (1988), directed by Bruno Nuytten, co-produced by Isabelle Adjani, starring herself as Claudel and Gérard Depardieu as Rodin, was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1989.  Another film, Camille Claudel 1915, directed by Bruno Dumont, premiered at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in 2013. The actress Juliette Binoche played Claudel.

Edna_St__Vincent_MillayOn this day in 1950, lyrical poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay died at her home, Steepletop near Austerlitz, New York, at the age of 58.  She had fallen down stairs and was found approximately eight hours after her death.  Her physician reported that she had suffered a heart attack following a coronary occlusion.  Born on 22 February 1892 in Rockland, Maine.  She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry, and was also known for her feminist activism and her many love affairs.  Millay married Eugen Jan Boissevain (1923 – 1949 his death).  A self-proclaimed feminist, Boissevain supported her career and took primary care of domestic responsibilities.  Both Millay and Boissevain had other lovers throughout their twenty-six-year marriage.  For Millay, a significant such relationship was with the poet George Dillon, who was the inspiration for Millay’s epic 52-sonnet sequence Fatal Interview.  They later collaborated on translations from Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal in 1936.  The Final Footprint – Millay is interred next to Boissevain in the Steepletop Cemetery.  Millay’s sister Norma and her husband, the painter and actor Charles Frederick Ellis, moved to Steepletop after Millay’s death.  In 1973, they established Millay Colony for the Arts on the seven acres around the house and barn.  After the death of her husband in 1976, Norma continued to run the program until her death in 1986.  At 17, the poet Mary Oliver visited Steepletop and became a close friend of Norma.  Oliver eventually lived there for seven years and helped to organize Millay’s papers.  Oliver herself went on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, greatly inspired by Millay’s work.  In 2006, the state of New York paid $1.69 million to acquire 230 acres of Steepletop, with the intention to add the land to a nearby state forest preserve.  The proceeds of the sale were to be used by the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society to restore the farmhouse and grounds and turn it into a museum.  The museum has been open to the public since summer 2010, and guided tours of Steepletop and Millay’s gardens are available from the end of May through the middle of October.  Parts of the grounds of Steepletop, including the Millay Poetry Trail that leads to her grave, are now open to the public year-round

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Day in History 18 October – Gounod – Sylvia Kristel

Charles Gounod

On this day in 1893, composer Charles-François Gounod died in Saint-Cloud, France.  Born 17 June 1818 in Paris.  Best known for his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette, his much recorded setting of the Latin text Ave Maria and his Funeral March of a Marionette, known as the theme song for the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  The Final FootprintGounod is entombed in a private mausoleum in Cimetiere d’Auteuil in Paris.





Sylvia Kristel
Sylvia Kristel (1973).jpg

Sylvia Kristel in 1973

On this day in 2012, actress and model Sylvia Kristel died at age 60 from esophageal and lung cancer in Amsterdam.  Born Sylvia Maria Kristel on 28 September 1952 in Utrecht, Netherlands.  She appeared in over 50 films, perhaps best known as the lead character in five of the seven Emmanuelle films  

Kristel gained international attention in 1974 for playing the title character in the softcore film Emmanuelle, which remains one of the most successful French films ever produced. After the success of Emmanuelle, she often played roles that capitalised on that sexually provocative image, most notably starring in an adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981), and a nudity-filled biopic of the World War I spy in Mata Hari (1985). Her Emmanuelle typecasting image followed her to the United States, where she played Nicole Mallow, a maid who seduces a teenage boy in the sex comedy Private Lessons (1981).

Sylvia Kristel at the Cannes Film Festival, 1990

In September 2006, Kristel’s autobiography Nue (Nude) was published in France. The writing was translated into English as Undressing Emmanuelle: A Memoir, by Fourth Estate, 2 July 2007 (ISBN 978-0007256952), in which she described a turbulent personal life blighted by addictions to drugs, alcohol, and her quest for a father figure, which resulted in some destructive relationships with older men.

She had her first major relationship with Belgian author Hugo Claus, who was more than two decades her senior. The union produced her only child, a son named Arthur who was born in 1975. She left her husband for British actor Ian McShane, whom she had met on the set of the film The Fifth Musketeer (1979). She also had a relationship with French singer Michel Polnareff. After McShane, she married twice, first to an American businessman. That marriage ended after five months, and she later married film producer Phillippe Blot. She spent a decade with Belgian radio producer Fred De Vree, until his death.

The Final Footprint – Kristel is buried in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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Day in History 17 October – Chopin – Joey Bishop

Frederic Francois Chopin

On this day in 1849 composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric Chopin died, probably from tuberculosis, in Paris at his apartment at Place Vendome 12 at the age of 39.  Born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin on 1 March 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Poland.  A renowned child prodigy he grew up in Warsaw and emigrated to Paris following the Rusian suppression of the Polish November 1830 Uprising.  From 1837 to 1847 he had a relationship with the French author Amandine Aurore Lucille Dupin, the Baroness Dudevant, better known by her pseudonym George SandThe Final Footprint – Chopin planned his final footprint in detail.   On his deathbed he wrote:  “Comme cette terre m’étouffera, je vous conjure de faire ouvrir mon corps pour [que] je ne sois pas enterré vif.” (“As this earth will suffocate me, I implore you to have my body opened so that I will not be buried alive.”)  He requested that after his death his heart be removed from his body and returned to Poland and that his body be buried in Paris.  Chopin’s funeral was held at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, and was delayed almost two weeks, until 30 October, by the extensiveness of the elaborate organisation.  The delay before the funeral enabled a number of people to travel from London, Berlin and Vienna who would not normally have been able to attend.  George Sand did not attend.  Mozart’s Requiem was sung at the funeral, though it is unclear whether this was, as alleged, at Chopin’s request.  The Madeleine Church had never previously permitted female singers in its choir, but finally consented (the female singers had to perform behind a curtain).  The soloists in the Requiem were: soprano Jeanne-Anais Castellan; mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot; tenor Alexis Dupont; and bass Luigi Lablache.  Also played were Chopin’s Preludes No. 4 in E minor and No. 6 in B minor.  The organist was Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély.  The funeral procession to Père Lachaise Cemetery was led by the aged Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski; immediately after the casket, (whose pallbearers included Delacroix, Franchomme, and the pianist Camille Pleyel), walked Chopin’s sister, Ludwika.  At the graveside, Chopin’s Funeral March from his Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, was played, in Reber’s instrumentation.  His heart was sealed in a pillar of the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.  His body is interred in Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise in Paris.

Chopin’s Monument

His grave is marked by a large sculpture monument featuring the muse of music, Euterpe, weeping over a broken lyre, designed by Auguste Clésinger.  He requested that Mozart’s Requiem be sung at his funeral.  Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris and one of the most visited cemeteries in the world.  Other notable Final Footprints at Père Lachaise include; Honoré de Balzac, Georges Bizet, Jean-Dominique Bauby, Maria Callas, Colette, Auguste Comte, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Molière, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Camille Pissarro, Marcel Proust, Sully Prudhomme, Gioachino Rossini, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Simone Signoret, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Oscar Wilde, and Richard Wright.


Joey_Bishop_1967On this day in 2007, U. S. Army veteran, actor, comedian, entertainer, member of the Rat Pack, Joey Bishop died at his home in Newport Beach, California, from heart failure at the age of 89.  Born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb on 3 February 1918 in the Bronx.  Bishop appeared on television as early as 1948 and eventually starred in his own weekly comedy series playing a talk show host, then later hosted a late night talk show.  Rat_PackHe later became a member of the “Rat Pack” with Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin.  Bishop married Sylvia Ruzga, who died in 1999 from lung cancer.  The Final Footprint – Bishop was cremated.

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Day in History 16 October – Marie Antoinette

On this day in 1793 Archduchess of Austria, Queen of France and Navarre, Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine at the Place de la Revolution in Paris at the age of 37.  Born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna on 2 November 1755 in Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.  Her father was Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor.  At the age of 14 she was married to the grandson of King Louis XV, Louis-Auguste, Dauphin of France.  At the king’s death in 1774, the dauphin became King Louis XVI.  In my opinion, she did not say “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“Let them eat cake”), as has been reported, in response to the wide spread famine in France.  During the French Revolution, Louis was executed on 21 January 1793 and Marie was executed on this day in 1793.  Her last words were reportedly an apology to the executioner for accidentally stepping on his foot.  The Final Footprint – Initially, Marie’s body, as well as Louis’, was thrown into an unmarked grave in Madeleine cemetery, rue d’Anjou.  Their bodies were exhumed on 18 January 1815 and entombed in the necropolis of French kings in Saint Denis Basilique in Saint-Denis, France.  There are funerary sculpture monuments inside the basilique of the former king and queen.  Marie Antoinette has become a part of popular culture and a major historical figure, being the subject of

Funerary statue of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

several books, films and other forms of media.  Some academics and scholars have deemed her frivolous and superficial, and have attributed the start of the French Revolution to her; however, others have claimed that she was treated unjustly and that views of her should be more sympathetic.  Perhaps the most famous historical fiction which features Marie Antoinette is the Alexandre Dumas, père novel Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge (The Knight of the Red House,) which centers on the Carnation Plot.  It is actually the first of a series of six books written by Dumas with Marie Antoinette featured, called the “Marie Antoinette novels”, in which the queen is shown in a sympathetic light, particularly during the “Diamond Necklace Affair”.  Some novels that have portrayed Marie Antoinette in more recent years include Carrolly Erickson‘s 2005 novel The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, as well as Elena Maria Vidal‘s 1998 book Trianon.  Perhaps the two best-known movie portrayals of Marie Antoinette have been in the 1938 film directed by W. S. Van Dyke, in which the Norma Shearer played the queen, and the 2006 film directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Kirsten DunstThe Affair of the Necklace was a 2001 film in which Hilary Swank played Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy and Joely Richardson played Marie Antoinette.  Marie Antoinette features prominently in The Ghosts of Versailles, partially an operatic adaptation of BeaumarchaisLa Mère coupable with score by John Corigliano and libretto by William M. Hoffman.  In the film Amadeus she is mentioned twice by her brother, Emperor Joseph II as “Antoinette”, and her eventual downfall is foreshadowed when the emperor tells Mozart why he has banned the play Figaro.  Marie Antoinette is referenced in the lyrics of the song ‘Killer Queen’ by the rock band Queen.

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Day in History 15 October – Cole Porter – Carlo Gambino

Cole Porter

On this day in 1964 composer and songwriter Cole Porter died of kidney failure in Santa Monica, California at the age of 73.  Born Cole Albert Porter on 9 June 1891 in Peru, Indiana.  In my opinion, one of the greatest contributors to the Great American Songbook.  He wrote both the lyrics and the music for his songs.  My favorite Porter songs are: “Let’s do it, let’s Fall in Love”, “I Get a Kick out of You”, “You’re the Top”, “Don’t Fence Me In”, “It’s De-Lovely”, “I’ve got You under My Skin”, “You’d be so Nice to Come Home To”, “Too Darn Hot”Porter met Linda Lee Thomas on 30 January 1918 at a wedding at the Hotel Ritz Paris. They were married on 18 December 1919 in Paris.  They were married until her death in 1954.  The Final Footprint – Porter is interred in the Porter Family Estate in Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru, Indiana between his wife and his father.  His

Porter Family Estate

grave is marked with an upright granite marker.





carloGambino2-230x300On this day in 1976 mafioso, boss of the Gambino crime family, Don Carlo, Capo di tutti capi (Boss of Bosses), The Godfather, Carlo Gambino died of a heart attack at his home (watching the New York Yankees) in Massapequa, New York at the age of 74.  Born 24 August 1902 in Caccamo, Palermo, Sicily, Italy.  In 1931, Charles “Lucky” Luciano created The Commission to avoid mafia warfare.  The Five Families were formed at this time with Luciano head of the Luciano family, Joseph Bonnano head of the Bonnano family, Joseph Profaci head of the Profaci family, Gaetano Gagliano head of the Gagliano family and Vincent Mangano head of the Mangano family.  In the Mangano family, Albert Anastasia served as underboss and Gambino served as caporegime.  On 19 April 1951 Mangano’s brother was found murdered and Mangano vanished and was never found.  Anastasia became boss of the Mangano family with Gambino as his underboss.  Anastasia was murdered on 25 October 1957 and Gambino became head of the Mangano family which was then renamed the Gambino family.  He would later become head of the Commission and thus the Boss of Bosses.  The Final Footprint

Gambino is entombed in the Gambino private room in the mausoleum at Saint John Cemetery in Middle Village, New York.

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Day in History 14 October – Errol Flynn – Bing Crosby

Errol Flynn

On this day in 1959 actor Errol Flynn died in Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of 50 from a heart attack.  Born Errol Leslie Flynn on 20 June 1909 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.  His movie career was defined by his portrayal of dashing, romantic, swashbuckling heroes.  A man of passion, his flamboyant lifestyle equalled and often exceeded his on-screen roles.  His love of women and his reputation as a ladies man led to the popular phrase, “in like Flynn”.  His autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways has been described as compelling and appalling.  Reportedly, his final words were,”I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”  Flynn was married three times: actress Lili Damita (1935 – 1942 divorce), Nora Eddington (1943 – 1949 divorce), actress Patrice Wymore (1950 – 1959 his death).  The Final Footprint – Flynn is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.  His grave is marked by a single flat bronze marker.  Other notable Final Footprints at Forest Lawn Glendale include; Lon Chaney, Dorothy Dandridge, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Harlow, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Michael Jackson, Carole Lombard, Casey Stengel, Jimmy Stewart, and Spencer Tracy.

Errol Flynn’s grave



Bing_Crosby_1942On this day in 1977, singer and actor Bing Crosby died of a heart attack at the age of 74 on a golf course in La Moraleja, Spain, near Madrid.  Born Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. on 3 May 1903 in Tacoma, Washington.  Crosby’s trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century.  A multimedia star, from 1934 to 1954 in records, radio, and motion pictures.  Yank magazine recognized Crosby as the person who had done the most for American G.I. morale during World War II.  Along with Frank Sinatra, Crosby was one of the principal backers behind the famous United Western Recorders recording studio complex in Los Angeles.  Crosby won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Father Chuck O’Malley in the 1944 motion picture Going My Way, and was nominated for his reprise of the role in The Bells of St. Mary’s opposite Ingrid Bergman the next year, becoming the first of four actors to be nominated twice for playing the same character. Crosby starred with Bob Hope and actress Dorothy Lamour in seven Road to musical comedies between 1940 and 1962, cementing the two entertainers as an on-and-off duo.  In 1963, Crosby received the first Grammy Global Achievement Award.  Crosby is one of the 22 people to have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (a star for motion pictures, radio, and audio recording).  Crosby was married twice; singer Dixie Lee (1930 – 1952 her death) and Kathryn Grant (1957 – 1977 his death).  Bing_Crosby's_graveThe Final Footprint – Reportedly his last words were “That was a great game of golf, fellas.”  Crosby is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.  Other notable final footprints at Holy Cross include; actor John Candy, Jimmy DuranteJohn Ford, Rita Hayworth, the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers Chick Hearn, Conrad Hilton, Jr., Bela Lugosi, Al Martino, actress Audrey Meadows, Ricardo Montalbán, actor Chris Penn, singer Jo Stafford and Sharon Tate.

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