Day in History 16 June – Mel Allen

On this day in 1996, sportscaster, “The Voice of the New York Yankees”, Mel Allen died of heart failure in Greenwich, Connecticut at the age of 83.  Born Melvin Allen Israel (Hebrew name: Mordechai ben Yehuda Aliah) on 14 February 1913 in Birmingham, Alabama.  Allen graduated from the University of Alabama and obtained a law degree from Alabama as well.  He became Arch McDonald‘s partner on radio broadcasts for the Yankees and the New York Giants in 1939.  The following season he became lead broadcaster for both teams.  After World War II, Allen began doing Yankees games exclusively.  He eventually called 22 World Series on radio and television and 24 All-Star Games.  Allen served as mentor to a young Curt Gowdy who was partnered with Allen for two seasons.  Allen’s catchphrases were;  “Hello there, everybody!” to start a game, “How a-bout that?!” or “Going, going, gone!” on home runs and “Three and two. What’ll he do?”  Allen never married.  The Final Footprint – Allen is interred in Beth-el Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.  His grave is marked by an individual raised engraved granite marker.  On 25 July 1998, the Yankees dedicated a plaque in his memory for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.  The plaque calls him “A Yankee institution, a national treasure” and includes his line, “How about that?”    Monument Park is an open-air museum containing a collection of monuments, plaques, and retired numbers honoring distinguished members of the Yankees.  Other notable Yankees whose final footprints include memorialization in Monument Park; Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, George Steinbrenner, Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Bob Sheppard, and Casey Stengel.

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Day in History 15 June: Ella Fitzgerald – John B. Connally

On this day in 1996, Grammy Award winning singer, “The First Lady of Song”, “Lady Ella”, Ella Fitzgerald died from complications of diabetes at her home in Beverly Hills at the age of 79.  Born Ella Jane Fitzgerald on 25 April 1917 in Newport News, Virginia.  In my opinion, she is one of the most notable interpreters of the Great American Songbook.  She made her singing debut at 17 on 21 November 1934 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.  Perhaps best known for her series of “song book” recordings, collectively considered a cornerstone of 20th century recorded music.  They are;

  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (1956)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook (1956)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook (1957)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook (1958)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (1959)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook (1961)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook (1963)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook (1964)

Fitzgerald married three times; Benny Kornegay (1941-1943 annulled), Ray Brown (1947-1953 divorce), and possibly Thor Einar Larsen in 1957.  Bing Crosby summed it up; “Man, woman, or child, Ella is the greatest.”  The Final Footprint – Fitzgerald is entombed in the Sunset Memorial Garden Mausoleum, Sanctuary of the Bells, in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.  Other notable Final Footprints at Inglewood Park include; Ray Charles, baseball player Curt Flood, actress Betty Grable, attorney Robert Kardashian (father of  Kim, Kourtney and  Khloé), soul musician Billy Preston and blues musician T-Bone Walker.

John_ConnallyOn this day in 1993, graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, U.S. Navy veteran, influential American politician, 39th governor of Texas, Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy, Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard M. Nixon, John B. Connally died  of pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 76, in Houston.  Born John Bowden Connally on 27 February 1917 in Floresville, Texas.  While he was Governor in 1963, Connally was a passenger in the car in which President Kennedy was assassinated.  Connally was seriously wounded during the shooting.  John_B__Connally_tombstone_IMG_2144The Final Footprint – His funeral was held at the First United Methodist Church of Austin where he and his wife, Nellie Connally, had been members since their days living one block to the south in the Texas Governors Mansion, 1963–1969.  The Connallys are interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.  Other notable final footprints at Texas State Cemetery include; Stephen F. Austin, J. Frank Dobie, Barbara Jordan, Tom Landry (cenotaph), James A. Michener (cenotaph), Ann Richards, Edwin “Bud” Shrake, Big Foot Wallace, and Walter Prescott Webb.

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Day in History 14 June – Giacomo Leopardi – Salvatore Quasimodo – Alan Jay Lerner – Henry Mancini


Leopardi,_Giacomo_(1798-1837)_-_ritr__A_Ferrazzi,_Recanati,_casa_LeopardiOn this day in 1837, Italian poet, essayist, philosopher, and philologist, Giacomo Leopardi died in Naples at the age of 38 during the cholera epidemic.  Born Giacomo Taldegardo Francesco di Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi on 29 June 1798 in Recanati, Papal States.  Although he lived in a secluded town in the ultra-conservative Papal States, he came in touch with the main thoughts of the Enlightenment, and by his own literary evolution, created a remarkable and renowned poetic work, related to the Romantic era.  leopardi_napolitombThe Final Footprint – Thanks to Antonio Ranieri‘s intervention with the authorities, Leopardi’s remains were prevented from being ignominiously buried in the common grave (as the strict hygienic regulations of the time required) and he was entombed in the atrium of the church of San Vitale at Fuorigrotta.  In 1939 his tomb, moved to the Parco Virgiliano, was declared a national monument.

Salvatore_Quasimodo_1959On this day in 1968, Italian author and poet, 1959 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature “for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”, Salvatore Quasimodo died from a cerebral hemorrhage in a hospital in Naples at the age of 66.  Born on 20 August 1901 in Modica, Sicily.  Along with Giuseppe Ungaretti and Eugenio Montale, he is one of the foremost Italian poets of the 20th century.  The Final Footprint – He was interred in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan.

Alan_Jay_LernerOn this day in 1986, American lyricist and librettist, who in collaboration with Frederick Loewe, created some of the world’s most popular and enduring works of musical theatre for both the stage and on film, Alan Jay Lerner died of lung cancer in Manhattan at the age of 67.  Born on 31 August 1918 in New York City.  He won three Tony Awards and three Academy Awards, among other honors.  My favorite Lerner and Loewe musicals are My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960).  He married eight times: Ruth Boyd (1940–1947), singer Marion Bell (1947–1949), actress Nancy Olson (1950–1957), lawyer Micheline Muselli Pozzo di Borgo (1957–1965), editor Karen Gunderson (1966–1974), Sandra Payne (1974–1976), Nina Bushkin (1977–1981) and Liz Robertson (1981–1986 his death).  The Final Footprint – Lerner was cremated and his cremains scattered.

henrymancini1On this day in 1994, United States Army veteran, composer, conductor and arranger, Grammy, Emmy and Oscar winner, Henry Mancini, died of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 70.  Born Enrico Nicola Mancini on 16 April 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio.  His parents emigrated to America from the Abruzzo region of Italy.  Perhaps his best-known works include the theme to The Pink Panther film series (“The Pink Panther Theme”), the Peter Gunn Theme from the television series, the song “Baby Elephant Walk” from the Howard Hawks’s film Hatari (1962) starring John Wayne, and for the songs “Moon River” from the Blake Edwards‘ film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn and “Days of Wine and Roses” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, from the 1962 Edwards’s film of the same name starring Jack Lemmon.  Mancini was married to Virginia “Ginny” O’Connor (1951-1994 his death).  The Final Footprint – Mancini was cremated.

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Day in History 13 June – Benny Goodman – Deke Slayton – Tim Russert – Jimmy Dean

BennyGoodmanStageDoorCanteenOn this day in 1986, American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; widely known as the “King of Swing”, Benny Goodman died from a heart attack in New York City at the age of 77, in his home at Manhattan House, 200 East 66th Street. Born Benjamin David Goodman on 30 May 1909 in Chicago. The Final Footprint – Goodman is interred in the Long Ridge Cemetery, Stamford, Connecticut.

dekeSlaytonOn this day in 1993, American World War II pilot and later, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, Deke Slayton died of a brain tumor in League City, Texas at the age of 69.  Born Donald Kent Slayton on 1 March 1924 in Sparta, Wisconsin.  He was portrayed in the movie The Right Stuff (1983) by Scott Paulin.  The original seven Mercury astronauts included Alan Shepard,  Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom, John Herschel Glenn, Jr., Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Walter Marty “Wally” Schirra, Jr., and Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr.  The film is based on the book by Tom Wolfe, and also featured; Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Dennis Quaid as Gordon Cooper, Fred Ward as Gus Grissom, Charles Frank as Scott Carpenter and Lance Henriksen as Wally Shirra.  The Final Footprint – Slayton was cremated and his cremains were scattered over the Slayton family farm in Wisconsin.

Tim_RussertOn this day in 2008,  American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert died from a heart attack in Washington D.C. at the age of 58.  Born Timothy John Russert on 7 May 1950 in Buffalo, New York.  The Final Footprint – Russert is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery, next to the historic Soldiers’ Home, in Washington’s Petworth neighborhood.

Jimmy_Dean_1966On this day in 2010, American country music singer, television host, actor and businessman, Jimmy Dean died at the age of 81 of natural causes at his home in Varina, Virginia.  Born Jimmy Ray Dean on 10 August 1928 in Olton, Texas. The Final Footprint – He was entombed in a 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) piano-shaped mausoleum overlooking the James River on the grounds of his estate.  His epitaph reads “Here Lies One Hell of a Man”, a quote from a lyric from his uncensored version of the Dean and Roy Acuff song, “Big Bad John”.

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Day in History 12 June – William Cullen Bryant – Medgar Evers – Nicole Brown Simpson – Ron Goldman – Gregory Peck

William_Cullen_Bryant_Cabinet_Card_by_Mora-cropOn this day in 1878, American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post, William Cullen Bryant died at the age of 83 of complications from an accidental fall suffered after participating in a Central Park ceremony honoring Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini.  Born 3 November 1794 in a log cabin near Cummington, Massachusetts.  Perhaps best known for his poem “Thanatopsis”.  The title is from the Greek thanatos (“death”) and opsis (“sight”); it has often been translated as “Meditation upon Death”.  The Final Footprint – Bryant is buried at Roslyn Cemetery in Roslyn, Long Island, New York.

Medgar_EversOn this day in 1963, African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, Medgar Evers was assassinated by gunshot in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi.  He was 37 years old.  Born Medgar Wiley Evers on 2 July 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi.  MedgarEvers_headstoneThe Final Footprint – Mourned nationally, Evers was buried on June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery where he received full military honors before a crowd of more than 3,000.  Other notable Final Footprints at Arlington include; the Space Shuttle Columbia, the Space Shuttle Challenger, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Edward Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Lee Marvin, Audie Murphy and Malcolm Kilduff, Jr..

Nicole_brown_simpsonOn this day in 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were stabbed to death in front of her home 875 South Bundy Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles.  Nicole Brown was born 19 May 1959 in Frankfurt, West Germany.  Ronald Lyle Goldman was born 2 July 1968 in Cook County, Illinois.  The Final Footprint – Nicole Brown is interred in Ascension Cemetery, Lake Forest, California.  Goldman is interred in Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.  O. J. Simpson was tried for the murders of both his ex-wife and Goldman.  In October 1995, after a public trial that lasted nearly nine months, Simpson was acquitted of both murders.  In a 1997 civil trial, a jury found Simpson liable for the wrongful death of Goldman and awarded $33 million (USD) in damages to the Goldman family.  The rights to O. J. Simpson’s book, If I Did It, a first-person account of how he would have committed the murders, had he committed them, were awarded to the Goldman family in August 2007.  The family was granted the proceeds from the book in 2007 as part of the civil jury award against the ex-football star they had been trying to collect for over a decade.  The Goldmans own the copyright, media rights and movie rights.  They also acquired Simpson’s name, likeness, life story and right of publicity in connection with the book, according to court documents, ensuring Simpson would not be able to profit from the book.  After renaming the book If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, the Goldmans published it in September 2007 through Beaufort Books.  The Goldman family contributed a portion of proceeds from the book sale to the newly founded Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice.  The foundation provides grants for multiple organizations and programs that provide resources to victims and survivors of violent crimes.  In 1994, Nicole Brown’s sister Denise established The Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation to help victims of domestic violence.

Gregory_Peck_in_Gentlemans_Agreement_trailer_closeupOn this day in 2003, Academy Award winning actor Gregory Peck died at his home in Los Angeles from bronchopneumonia at the age of 87.  Born Eldred Gregory Peck on 5 April 1916 in La Jolla, California.  My favorite Peck movie roles include: as John Ballantyne in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) with Ingrid Bergman; as Harry Street in The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) based on the Ernest Hemingway short story of the same title, with Ava Gardner; as Joe Bradley in William Wyler’s Roman Holiday (1953) with Audrey Hepburn; as James McKay in Wyler’s The Big Country (1958) with Jean Simmons and Charlton Heston; as Sam Bowden in Cape Fear (1962) based on John D. McDonald’s novel The Executioners, with Robert Mitchum; as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) based on the Harper Lee novel of the same name, with Robert Duvall.  Peck was married twice; Greta Kukkonen (1942-1955 divorce) and Veronique Passani (1955-2003 his death).  The Final Footprint – Peck is entombed in the mausoleum of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

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Day in History 11 June – John Wayne – DeForest Kelley

On this day in 1979, legendary actor, producer, director, Academy Award winner, recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, American icon, Duke, John Wayne, died of stomach cancer at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 72.  Born Marion Robert Morrison on 26 May 1907 in Winterset, Iowa.  Wayne’s family moved to Palmdale, California, and then in 1911 to Glendale, California.  A local fireman at the station on his route to school in Glendale started calling him “Little Duke” because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier, Duke.  He preferred “Duke” to “Marion” and the name stuck.  For his screen name, director Raoul Walsh suggested “Anthony Wayne”, after Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony” Wayne.  Fox Studios chief Winfield Sheehan rejected it as sounding “too Italian.”  Walsh then suggested “John Wayne.”  Sheehan agreed, and the name was set.  Wayne himself was not even present for the discussion.  Wayne attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship.  My list of favorite Wayne movies includes:  Howard Hawk’s Red River (1948); John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) with Maureen O’Hara; Ford’s The Searchers (1956) with Vera Miles, Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond, Ken Curtis and Natalie Wood, perhaps my favorite movie ever; Hawk’s Rio Bravo (1959) with Angie Dickinson, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Bond; North to Alaska (1960) with Capucine, Stewart Granger and Fabian; Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) with Miles, James Stewart, and Lee Marvin; McLintock! (1963) with O’Hara, his son Patrick, Stephanie Powers, Chill Wills and Yvonne De Carlo, The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) with Martin and Dennis Hopper; Hawk’s El Dorado (1966) with Robert Mitchum, and James Caan; The War Wagon (1967) with Kirk Douglas; Hellfighters (1968), with Katherine Ross and Miles and based on the real-life hellfighter Red Adair; as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969) with Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Strother Martin and Hopper; The Undefeated (1969) with Rock Hudson and Roman Gabriel; Chisum (1970); Hawk’s Rio Lobo (1970); Big Jake (1970); The Cowboys (1972); Cahill, United States Marshall (1973); Don Siegel’s The Shootist (1976) with Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, and Stewart.  His memorable movie quotes include;

  • “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, I require the same from them.” (The Shootist)
  • “Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!” (True Grit)
  • “That’ll be the day!” (The Searchers – Spoken four times; inspired Buddy Holly to write a song with that title.)
  • “Pilgrim.” (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and McLintock!.)
  • “I haven’t lost my temper in 40 years; but, Pilgrim, you caused a lot of trouble this morning; might have got somebody killed; and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won’t. I won’t. The hell I won’t!” (He belts him in the mouth). (To Leo Gordon in McLintock!)
  • “Not hardly!” (Big Jake – used several times throughout the movie when told by others “Jacob McCandles?! I thought you were dead!”)
  • “It’s a hard life!” (The Cowboys – in response to “The ‘long-haired man'” played by Bruce Dern saying “You’re a hard man!”)
  • “We’re burnin’ daylight!” (“The Cowboys”)
  • “Wrong word. Fact!” (When Laurence Murphy accuses Chisum of a threat.)

Wayne was married three times Josephine Alicia Saenz (1933-1945 divorce), Esperanza Baur (1946-1954 divorce), and Pilar Pallete (1954-1979 his death).  The Final Footprint – Wayne is interred in Pacific View Memorial Park, a Dignity Memorial property, in Corona del Mar, California.  His grave is marked by an individual flat bronze marker with the epitaph; “Tomorrow is the most Important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”  Reportedly, Wayne wanted his epitaph to be; “Feo, Fuerte y Formal”, a Mexican epitaph Wayne described as meaning “ugly, strong and dignified”.  There are many memorials, celebrations and landmarks dedicated to him.

DEFOREST_KELLEYOn this day in 1999, United States Army Air Forces veteran, actor, screenwriter, poet and singer, DeForest Kelley died of stomach cancer in Wooodland Hills, California at the age of 79.  Born Jackson DeForest Kelley on 20 January 1920 in Toccoa, Georgia.  Known for his iconic roles in Westerns and as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy of the USS Enterprise in the television and film series Star Trek.  “He’s dead, Jim.”  The Final Footprint – Kelley was cremated and the ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

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Day in History 10 June – Spencer Tracy – Ray Charles

Spencer_tracy_state_of_the_unionOn this day in 1967, actor, one of the major stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, 9x Academy Award nominee, 2x Academy Award winner, Spencer Tracy died in his apartment in Beverly Hills, California from a heart attack at the age of 67.  Born Spencer Bonaventure Tracy on 5 April 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Tracy married Louise Treadwell (1923 – 1967 his death) and had a long term relationship with Katharine Hepburn from 1941 until his death.  stracyForestlawn_TracyThe Final Footprint –  A Requiem Mass was held for Tracy on June 12 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in East Hollywood. Active pallbearers included George Cukor, Stanley Kramer, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart and John Ford.  Out of consideration for Tracy’s family, Hepburn did not attend the funeral.  Tracy was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.  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, Michael Jackson, Carole Lombard, Casey Stengel, Jimmy Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Ray_Charles_Ronald_ReaganOn this day in 2004, legendary Grammy award winning singer and musician, Ray Charles, died of liver cancer at his home in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 73.  Born Ray Charles Robinson on 23 September 1930 in Albany, Georgia.  His music defied boundaries, from soul,  rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues to country, rock and roll and pop.   Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business.”   Billy Joel noted: “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley. I don’t know if Ray was the architect of rock & roll, but he was certainly the first guy to do a lot of things . . . Who the hell ever put so many styles together and made it work?”  Charles started to lose his sight at the age of five. He went completely blind by the age of seven, apparently due to glaucoma.  I believe the highest compliment that can be paid to a singer is to say that when they record a song, it instantly becomes the definitive version.  Charles has recorded the definitive version of many songs.  My partial list of favorite songs sung by Charles includes; “What’d I Say”, “Georgia on My Mind”, “Hit the Road Jack”, “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, “Unchain My Heart”, “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”.  I could go on!  Charles was married twice; Eileen Williams (1951-1952 divorce) and Della Beatrice Howard Robinson (1955-1977 divorce) and fathered 12 children with nine different women.  His long term girlfriend and partner at the time of his death was Norma Pinella.  The movie Ray (2004) is a biographical film focusing on 30 years of the life of Charles.  The film was directed by Taylor Hackford and starred Jamie Foxx in the title role; Foxx received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.  Charles was set to attend the opening, but died before the premier.  The Final Footprint – Charles is entombed in the Mausoleum of the Golden West, Eternal Love Corridor in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.  Other notable Final Footprints at Inglewood Park include; Ella Fitzgerald, baseball player Curt Flood, actress Betty Grable, attorney Robert Kardashian (father of  Kim, Kourtney and  Khloé), soul musician Billy Preston and blues musician T-Bone Walker.

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Day in History 9 June – Charles Dickens

On this day in 1870, novelist Charles Dickens died at his country home, Gads Hill Place, in Higham, Kent, England after a stroke at the age of 58.  Born Charles John Huffman Dickens on 7 February 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England.  Probably the most popular novelist of the Victorian era.  Dickens remains popular.  Some of the characters he created are among the most iconic characters in English literature.  In 1830, Dickens met his first love, Maria Beadnell, but her parents evidently disapproved of the relationship and sent her to school in Paris.  Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth (1836-1870 his death) although they separated in 1858.  He possibly had a long affair with Ellen Ternan.  The iconic characters he created include;  Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, Oliver Twist, The Artful Dodger, Fagin, Bill Sikes, Pip, Miss Havisham, Charles Darnay, David Copperfield, Mr. Micawber, Abel Magwitch, Daniel Quilp, Samuel Pickwick, Wackford Squeers, Uriah Heep.  My favorite Dickens’s novels are;

  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist (Monthly serial in Bentley’s Miscellany, February 1837 to April 1839)
  • A Christmas Carol (1843)


  • David Copperfield (Monthly serial, May 1849 to November 1850)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 30 April 1859, to 26 November 1859)
  • Great Expectations (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 to 3 August 1861)

The Final Footprint – Dickens is interred in a vault in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, despite the fact that his wish was to be buried at Rochester Cathedral in Rochester, Kent, “in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner”.  His last words, as reported in his obituary in The Times were alleged to have been: “Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fullfilled all the rules of art”.  His will stipulated that no memorial be erected to honour him.  The only life-size bronze statue of Dickens, cast in 1891 by Francis Edwin Elwell, is located in Clark Park in the Spruce Hill neighbourhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Edward III, Edward IV, Edward The Confessor, Elizabeth I, George II, George Friederic Handel, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, James VI and I, Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mary I, Mary II, Mary Queen of Scots, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Richard II, Thomas Shadwell, Edmund Spenser, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and William III.

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Day in History 8 June – Andrew Jackson

On this day in 1845, Old Hickory, politician, army general, United States Senator from Tennessee, Military Governor of Florida, the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson died at The Hermitage, his home near Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 78, of chronic tuberculosis, dropsy, and heart failure.  Born on 15 March 1767 in the Waxhaws region on the border of North and South Carolina.  His parents were Presbyterian Scotch-Irish colonists.  Jackson had red hair and blue eyes and was about six feet, one inch, tall.

Jackson defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans (1815) and the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814).  His enthusiastic followers created the modern Democratic Party, and the 1830-1850 period later became known as the era of Jacksonian democracy.  Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory” because of his toughness and aggressive personality that produced numerous duels, some fatal.  He was a rich slave owner who appealed to the masses of Americans and fought against what he denounced as a closed undemocratic aristocracy.  As president, he supported a small and limited federal government but strengthened the power of the presidency.  Jackson was strongly against the national bank, and vetoed the renewal of its charter and ensured its collapse.  Whigs and moralists denounced his aggressive enforcement of the Indian Removal Act, which resulted in the forced relocation of Native American tribes to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).  Jackson served as POTUS from 4 March 1829 to 4 March 1837.  His legacy is now seen as mixed by historians.  Jackson is praised as a protector of popular democracy and individual liberty for American citizens, but criticized for his support for slavery and Indian removal.  Jackson married Rachel Donelson (1794-1828 her death).  The Final Footprint – Jackson was entombed next to Rachel at The Hermitage.  There are many memorials dedicated to Jackson and many streets, counties, cities, parks and schools are named after him.  I have been to Washington DC and seen the huge bronze equestrian statue of Jackson that was cast from a bronze cannon captured in his last campaign against the Spanish and has graced Lafayette Park since 1853.  I have spent some time enjoying Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

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Day in History 7 June – Robert the Bruce – Jean Harlow – Bob Welch – Christopher Lee

RobertthebruceOn this day in 1329, King of Scots from 25 March 1306, until his death, one of Scotland’s greatest kings and one of the most famous warriors of his generation, one of Scotland’s national heroes, Robert the Bruce, Robert I died on 7 June 1329, at the Manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton at the age of 54.  Born 11 July 1274 most likely in Turnberry Castle in Ayrshire, the head of his mother’s earldom.  Robert led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England.  He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent nation.    Dunfermline_Abbey_-_entranceThe Final Footprint – Robert’s final wish reflected conventional piety, and was perhaps intended to perpetuate his memrory.  After his death his heart was to be removed from his body and borne by a noble knight on a crusade against the Saracens and carried to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, before being brought back to Scotland.  He died utterly fulfilled, in that the goal of his lifetime’s struggle, untrammelled recognition of the Bruce right to the crown, had been realised, and confident that he was leaving the kingdom of Scotland safely in the hands of his most trusted lieutenant, Moray, until his infant son reached adulthood.  Six days after his death, to complete his triumph still further, papal bulls were issued granting the privilege of unction at the coronation of future Kings of Scots.

The king’s body was embalmed and his sternum was sawn to allow extraction of the heart, which Sir James Douglas placed in a silver casket to be worn on a chain around his neck.  The body was taken to Dunfermline Abbey, and Robert the Bruce was entombed in what was then the very centre of the abbey, beneath the high altar, and beside his queen.  The king’s tomb was carved in Paris by Thomas of Chartres from alabaster brought from England and was decorated with gold leaf.  The tomb was transported to Dunfermline via Bruges and was erected over the king’s grave in the autumn of 1330.  Ten alabaster fragments from the tomb are on display in the National Museum of Scotland and traces of gilding still remain on some of them.

When a projected international crusade failed to materialise, Douglas and his company sailed to Spain where Alfonso XI of Castile was mounting a campaign against the Moorish kingdom of Granada.  Douglas was killed in battle during the siege of Teba in August 1330 while fulfilling his promise.  His body and the casket containing the embalmed heart were found together upon the field.  They were both conveyed back to Scotland by Sir William Keith of Galston.  In accordance with Bruce’s written request, the heart was buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire.  In 1920, the heart was discovered by archaeologists and was reburied, but the location was not marked.  In 1996, a casket was unearthed during construction work.  Scientific study by AOC archaeologists in Edinburgh, demonstrated that it did indeed contain human tissue and it was of appropriate age.  It was reburied in Melrose Abbey in 1998, pursuant to the dying wishes of the King.

Portrayed in Mel Gibson‘s film Braveheart by Angus Macfadyen.

jeanHarlow_stillOn this day in 1937, actress, Baby, the Blonde Bombshell, the Platinum Blonde, Jean Harlow died of renal failure in Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 26.  Born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on 3 March 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri.  Howard Hughes signed Harlow to a contract and she appeared in his film Hell’s Angels (1930).  She was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 1930’s and appeared in five films with Clark Gable.  Harlow married three times: Charles McGrew (1927-1929 divorce), Paul Bern (1932-1932 his death), Harold Rosson (1933-1934 divorce).  After her third marriage ended in 1934, Harlow met William Powell, another MGM star, and quickly fell in love.  Reportedly the couple were engaged for two years, but differences kept them from formalizing their relationship (she wanted children; he did not).  Harlow also said that Louis B. Mayer would never allow them to marry.  The Final Footprint – Harlow is entombed in a private family room in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.  Her crypt is lettered; OUR BABY.  She was buried in the gown she wore in Libeled Lady and in her hands she held a white gardenia and a note which Powell had written: “Goodnight, my dearest darling.”  Spaces in the same room were reserved for Harlow’s mother and Powell.  Harlow’s mother was entombed there in 1958, but Powell remarried in 1940 and after his death in 1984 was cremated: his ashes were scattered over the Palm Springs Desert area.  Gable was a pallbearer.  Other notable Final Footprints at Forest Lawn Glendale include; L. Frank Baum, Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney, Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Sam Cooke, Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Michael Jackson, Carole Lombard, Casey Stengel, Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Spencer Tracy.

On this day in 2012, musician, songwriter, former member of Fleetwood Mac, Bob Welch died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest in his Nashville home, at the age of 66.  Born Robert Lawrence Welch, Jr. on 31 August 1945 in Los Angeles.  Welch had a successful solo career in the late 1970s. His singles included “Hot Love, Cold World”, “Ebony Eyes”, “Precious Love”, and his signature “Sentimental Lady”.  The Final Footprint – Not known at this time.

christopherleeOn this day in 2015, actor, singer, and author Christopher Lee died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Chelsea, London, after being admitted for respiratory problems and heart failure, shortly after celebrating his 93rd birthday.  Born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee in BelgraviaWestminsterLondon, on 27 May 1922.  With a career spanning nearly 70 years, Lee initially portrayed villains and became known for his role as Count Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films.  His other film roles include Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saruman inThe Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–2014), and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002 and 2005).

Lee was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011 and received the BFI Fellowship in 2013.  Noted as an actor for his deep strong voice, Lee was also known for his singing ability, recording various opera and musical pieces between 1986 and 1998 and the symphonic metal album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross in 2010.  The heavy metal follow-up titled Charlemagne: The Omens of Death was released on 27 May 2013.  He was honoured with the “Spirit of Metal” award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden God awards ceremony.  Lee married Danish painter and former model Birgit “Gitte” Krøncke (1961-2015).  The Final Footprint – Final arrangements not known at this time.

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