Day in History 2 December – Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici – Marquis de Sade – Aaron Copland

Piero_di_Cosimo_de'_MediciOn this day in 1469, banker, de facto ruler of Florence from 1464 to 1469, during the Italian Renaissance, Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici died from gout and lung disease in Florence at the age of 53.  Born in Florence on 19 September 1416, the son of Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder and Contessina de’ Bardi.  The Final Footprint – Medici is entombed in the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence, next to his brother Giovanni.  The tomb, created by Andrea del Verrocchio, was commissioned by his sons Lorenzo and Giuliano.  Other notable final footprints at San Lorenzo include; Donatello, Cosimo de’ Medici, Cosimo I de’ Medici, Cosimo II de’ Medici, Cosimo III de’ Medici, Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Ferdinando III de’ Medici, Francesco I de’ Medici, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, Giovanni di Cosimo de’ Medici, Giuliano di Lorenzo de’ Medici, Giuliano di Piero de’ Medici, Lorenzo I de’ Medici, and Lorenzo II de’ Medici.

Marquis_de_Sade_portrait-150x150On this day in 1740, French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer, famous for his libertine sexuality, Marquis de Sade died at the age of 74 in Charenton, Val-de-Marne, Paris.  Born Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade on 2 June 1740 in the Hôtel de Condé, Paris.  His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues and political tracts; in his lifetime some were published under his own name, while others appeared anonymously and de Sade denied being their author.  Perhaps best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, criminality and blasphemy against the Catholic Church.  He was a proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion or law.  The words “sadism” and “sadist” are derived from his name.  De Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and in an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life; 11 years in Paris (10 of which were spent in the Bastille), a month in the Conciergerie, two years in a fortress, a year in Madelonnettes, three years in Bicêtre, a year in Sainte-Pélagie and 13 years in the Charenton asylum.  During the French Revolution he was an elected delegate to the National Convention.  Many of his works were written in prison.  The Final Footprint – De Sade left instructions in his will forbidding that his body be opened for any reason whatsoever, and that it remain untouched for 48 hours in the chamber in which he died, and then placed in a coffin and buried on his property located in Malmaison near Épernon.  His skull was later removed from the grave for phrenological examination.


On this day in 1990, Academy Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, teacher, lecturer, critic, writer and conductor, the dean of American composers, Aaron Copland, died in North Tarryton, New York.  Born on 14 November 1900 in Brooklyn.  Best known for Billy the Kid (1938) (ballet), Fanfare for the Common Man (1942), Rodeo (1942) (ballet) and Appalachian Spring (1944) (ballet).  The Final Footprint –  Copland was cremated and his cremains were scattered in a bower at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.   A marker was placed there to mark where he was scattered.

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Day in History 1 December – Pope Leo X – Bobby Layne

PopeLeo_XOn this day in 1521, Pope Leo X died in Rome, Papal States at the age of 45.  Born Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici on 11 December 1475 in the Republic of Florence, the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was head of the Florentine Republic.  Leo was Pope from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521.  He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1489.  Following the death of Pope Julius II, Giovanni was elected pope after securing the backing of the younger members of the Sacred College.  Early on in his rule he oversaw the closing sessions of the Fifth Council of the Lateran, but failed sufficiently to implement the reforms agreed.  In 1517 he led a costly war that succeeded in securing his nephew as duke of Urbino, but which damaged the papal finances.  He later only narrowly escaped a plot by some cardinals to poison him.  Perhaps best remembered for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter’s Basilica, which practice was challenged by Martin Luther‘s 95 Theses.  He seems not to have taken seriously the array of demands for church reform that would quickly grow into the Protestant Reformation.  His Papal Bull of 1520, Exsurge Domine, simply condemned Luther on a number of areas and made ongoing engagement difficult.  He did, however, grant establishment to the Oratory of Divine Love.  Leo borrowed and spent heavily.  A significant patron of the arts, upon election Leo is alleged to have said, “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it”.  Under his reign, progress was made on the rebuilding of Saint Peter’s Basilica and artists such as Raphael decorated the Vatican rooms.  Leo also reorganised the Roman University, and promoted the study of literature, poetry and antiquities. The Final Footprint –  Leo is entombed in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.  Other notable final footprints at Santa Maria include; Saint Catherine of SienaFra Angelico, Popes Urban VII, Paul IV and the other Medici pope Clement VII.

bobbyLayne1-242x300On this day in 1986, Texas Longhorn, quarterback, Hall of Famer, Bobby Layne, died in Lubbock, Texas.  Born Robert Lawrence Layne on 19 December 1926 in Santa Anna, Texas.  Layne attended Highland Park High School in Dallas and attended the University of Texas at Austin.

Hook ’em Horns!

One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947.  He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.  In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores.  Voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl victory over #6 Alabama.  Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts.  Layne played baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well.  In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.  Layne was drafted in the first round, number three overall by the Chicago Bears.  Layne was traded to the New York Bulldogs and then to the Detroit Lions.  In 1952, Layne led the Lions to their first NFL Championship in 12 years.  He would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships, but fell short of a three-peat when the Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns in the 1954 NFL Championship Game.  Layne finished his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196).  He was not the most gifted or talented quarterback in the NFL at the time but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great.  Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask.  According to Doak Walker, “Layne never lost a game…time just ran out on him.” Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.  In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated called him “The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived.”  In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News’ list of Football’s 100 Greatest Players.  His number 22 has been retired by both the Longhorns and the Lions.  The Final Footprint – Layne is interred in City of Lubbock Cemetery in Lubbock, Texas.

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Day in History 30 November – Oscar Wilde – Patrick Kavanagh – Evel Knievel

On this day in 1900, writer, playwright, poet, aesthete, Oscar Wilde died in Paris at the age of 46.  Born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde on 16 October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland.  One of my favorite writers.  Notable works:  The Importance of being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde is also well known for his witty quotes.  For example:  “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”  “A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.”   “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”  “Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.”  “I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones.”  “I am not young enough to know everything.”  “I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.”  “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”  “Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”  “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.”  “In married life three is company and two none.”  “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”  “One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.”  “Women are made to be loved, not understood.”  “I’m not saying we should misbehave, but we ought to look as though we might.”  There are literally hundreds more.  Wilde was married to Constance Loyd (1898 her death).  The Final Footprint – Wilde was initially buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux outside Paris.  In 1909 his remains were disinterred and entombed in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.  His large rectangular granite tomb was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein, commissioned by Robert Ross, who asked for a small compartment to be made for his own ashes which were duly transferred in 1950.  The modernist angel depicted as a relief on the tomb was originally complete with male genitalia which have since been vandalised; their current whereabouts are unknown.  In 2000, Leon Johnson, a multimedia artist, installed a silver prosthesis to replace them.  The epitaph is a verse from The Ballad of Reading Gaol:

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

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, Chopin, 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, and Richard Wright.

Patrick_Kavanagh_by_Patrick_SwiftOn this day in 1967, Irish poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh died at the age of 63 in a Dublin nursing home.  In my opinion, one of the foremost poets of the 20th century.  Perhaps his best known works include the novel Tarry Flynn and the poems Raglan Road and The Great Hunger.  Born in rural Inniskeen, County Monaghan on 21 October 1904.  The Final Footprint – His grave is in Inniskeen adjoining the Patrick Kavanagh Centre.  His wife Katherine died in 1989; she is also buried there.


Evel_KnievelOn this day in 2007, stunt performer Evel Knievel died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in Clearwater, Florida at the age of 69.  Born Robert Craig Knievel on 17 October 1938 in Butte, Montana.  In his career, he attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980.  In 1974, he attempted and failed a jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket.  He suffered more than 433 bone fractures in his career, thereby earning an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime”.  Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.  Knievel said; “You can’t ask a guy like me why I performed. I really wanted to fly through the air. I was a daredevil, a performer. I loved the thrill, the money, the whole macho thing. All those things made me Evel Knievel. Sure, I was scared. You gotta be an ass not to be scared. But I beat the hell out of death.”  Fanfare Films produced Evel Knievel, a 1971 movie starring George Hamilton as Knievel.  Knievel married twice; Linda Joan Bork (1959–97 divorce) and Krystal Kennedy (1999–2001 divorce).  The Final Footprint – Knievel was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in his hometown of Butte on December 10, 2007, following a funeral at the 7,500-seat Butte Civic Center presided over by Pastor Dr. Robert H. Schuller with actor Matthew McConaughey giving the eulogy.  Prior to the Monday service, fireworks exploded in the Butte night sky as pallbearers carried Knievel’s casket into the center.

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Day in History 29 November – Giacomo Puccini – Natalie Wood – Cary Grant – George Harrison

On this day in 1924, composer, Giacomo Puccini, died in Brussels, Belgium at the age of 65 from complications of throat cancer.  Born Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini on 22 December 1858 in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.  Puccini’s operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire.  Some of his arias, such as “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi, “Che gelida manina” from La bohème, and “Nessun dorma” from Turandot, have become part of popular culture.  I fell in love with a pretty woman during a performance of La bohème.  In the autumn of 1884, Puccini began a relationship with a married woman named Elvira Gemignani (née Bonturi) in Lucca.  Elvira became pregnant by Puccini, and their son, Antonio, was born in 1886.  Elvira, Antonio and Elvira’s daughter Fosca, began to live with Puccini shortly afterwards.  Elvira’s husband, Narisco, was killed by the husband of a woman that Narisco had an affair with.  Only then were Puccini and Elvira able to marry, and to legitimize Antonio.  The marriage between Puccini and Elvira was apparently troubled by infidelity, as Puccini had frequent affairs himself, including with well-known singers such as Maria Jeritza, Emmy Destinn, Cesira Ferrani, and Hariclea Darclée.  The Final Footprint –  News of his death reached Rome during a performance of La bohème.  The opera was immediately stopped, and the orchestra played Chopin’s Funeral March for the stunned audience.  Puccini was temporarily entombed in the Toscanini Private Mausoleum in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan.  Puccini’s son arranged for the transfer of his father’s remains to a specially created chapel inside the Puccini villa at Torre del Lago, Toscana, Italy in 1926.



Natalie_Wood_publicity_1963On this day in 1981, actress Natalie Wood drowned near Santa Catalina Island, California at the age of 43.  Born Natalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko in San Francisco on 20 July 1938.  Perhaps best known for her screen roles in Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, and West Side Story.  After first working in films as a child, Wood became a successful Hollywood star as a young adult, receiving three Academy Award nominations before she was 25 years old.  Wood began acting in movies at the age of four and at age eight was given a co-starring role in the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street.  As a teenager, her performance in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She starred in the musical films West Side Story (1961) and Gypsy (1962), and received Academy Award for Best Actress nominations for her performances in Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963).  She was married to actor Robert Wagner twice, and to producer Richard Gregson in between her marriages to Wagner.  She had one daughter by each: Natasha Gregson and Courtney Wagner.  Her younger sister, Lana Wood, is also an actress.  The Final Footprint – Wood died while on a weekend boat trip with her husband Wagner and actor Christopher Walken, and the boat’s captain, Dennis Davern.  Many facts surrounding her drowning are unknown, because no one has admitted seeing how she entered the water.  Wood’s body was discovered by authorities at 8 am on 29 November 1981, one mile away from the boat, with a small inflatable dinghy found beached nearby.  Following an investigation, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office ruled her death an accident by drowning and hypothermia.  The case was reopened in November 2011.  After nine months of further investigation, the Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran amended Wood’s death certificate and changed the cause of her death from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors”.  Natalie Wood was buried in at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary (a Dignity Memorial® provider) in Los Angeles, California.  Scores of representatives of international media, photographers, and members of the public tried to attend Wood’s funeral; however, all were required to remain outside the cemetery walls. Among the celebrity attendees were Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson, David Niven, Gregory Peck, Gene Kelly, Elia Kazan and Sir Laurence Olivier.    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, Jack Lemmon, Karl Malden, Dean Martin, Walter Mathau, Marilyn Monroe, Carroll O’Connor, Roy Orbison, George C. Scott, Dorothy Stratten, and Frank Zappa.

caryGrant,_Cary_(Suspicion)_01_Crisco_editOn this day in 1986, actor Cary Grant died in St. Luke’s Hospital in Davenport, Iowa from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 82.  Born Archibald Alexander Leach at 15 Hughenden Road, Horfield, Bristol, England on 18 January 1904.  Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor and “dashing good looks”, in my opinion, Grant is one of classic Hollywood’s definitive leading men.  He was known for both comedic and dramatic roles; perhaps his best-known films include The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), His Girl Friday (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), To Catch a Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).  Nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor (Penny Serenade and None But the Lonely Heart) and five times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, Grant was continually passed over.  In 1970, he was presented an Honorary Oscar at the 42nd Academy Awards by Frank Sinatra “for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues”.  Any movie with Cary Grant is a good movie.  Grant was married five times: Virginia Cherrill (1934 – 1935 divorce); Barbara Hutton (1942 – 1945 divorce) (one of the wealthiest women in the world, the couple was derisively nicknamed “Cash and Cary”, although in an extensive prenuptial agreement Grant refused any financial settlement in the event of a divorce. Grant bristled at the accusation that he married for money: “I may not have married for very sound reasons, but money was never one of them”); actress Betsy Drake (1949 – 1962 divorce); singer Dyan Cannon (1965 – 1968 divorce); and Barbara Harris (1981 – 1986 his death).  The Final Footprint – Grant was cremated and his cremains were scattered somewhere in California.

George_Harrison_1974_edited-150x150On this day in 2001, musician, singer and songwriter, lead guitarist of the Beatles, member of the Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison died at the age of 58 at a Hollywood Hills mansion that was once leased by Paul McCartney and was previously owned by Courtney Love.  The cause of death is listed on his Los Angeles County death certificate as “metastatic non-small cell lung cancer”.  The second Beattle to pass away after John Lennon’s murder.  Born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on 25 February 1943.  Among the songs he wrote or co-wrote include; “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “It Don’t Come Easy”, and “All Those Years Ago.”  Harrison married twice, first to Pattie Boyd (1966 – 1977 divorce), and Olivia Trinidad Arias (1978 – 2001 his death).  The Final Footprint – Harrison was cremated at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and his ashes were scattered at Varanasi, India, in the Ganges, Saraswati and Yamuna Rivers by his close family in a private ceremony according to Hindu tradition.

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Day in History 28 November – Gian Lorenzo Bernini – Richard Wright

Bernini, self portrait

On this day in 1680, artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, died in Rome.  Born 7 December 1598 in Naples.  Bernini was a student of Classical sculpture and is considered the successor of Michelangelo.  Bernini was also a leading figure in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture.  At the age of only twenty three, he was knighted by Pope Gregory XV.  Among Bernin’s many sculptures in marble is David, which shows the young David about to slay the giant Goliath with a stone from his slingshot.  The original is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.  A replica in white Carrara marble resides at Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte, North Carolina in Section 19, David.  The Final Footprint – Bernini is entombed in the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.


Richard_Wright-150x150On this day in 1960, author of novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction, Richard Wright died in Paris from a heart attack at the age of 52.  Born Richard Nathaniel Wright on 4 September 1908 near Roxie, Mississippi.  Perhaps best known for his novel Native Son (1940).  Wright married twice; Valencia Barnes Meadman (1939 – 1940 divorce) and Ellen Poplar (1941 – 1960 his death).  The Final Footprint – Wright was cremated and his cremains are inurned in a columbarium in Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris.  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, Chopin, 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, and Oscar Wilde.

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Day in History 27 November – Alexandre Dumas, fils – Horace – Eugene O’Neill

Alexandre_Dumas_fils_elderly-150x150On this day in 1895, French author and dramatist, the son of Alexandre Dumas, père, Alexandre Dumas, fils died at Marly-le-Roi, Yvelines, at the age of 71.  Born 27 July 1824 in Paris.  When he was 20 years old, Dumas moved to Saint-Germain-en-Laye to live with his father.  There, he met Marie Duplessis, a young courtesan who would be the inspiration for his romantic novel The Lady of the Camellias (La Dame aux camélias), wherein Duplessis was named Marguerite Gauthier.  Adapted into a play, it was titled Camille in English and became the basis for Verdi’s 1853 opera, La Traviata, Duplessis undergoing yet another name change, this time to Violetta Valery.  Dumas married Nadjeschda von Knorring (1867 – 1895 her death) and Henriette Régnier de La Brière (1895–1895 his death).  The Final Footprint –  Dumas was interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.  His grave is only some 100 metres away from that of Duplessis.  The film Pretty Woman (1990), starring Richard Gere as Edward Lewis and Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, has a similar plot as La Traviata and Lewis takes Ward to see the opera, her first.  Other notable final footprints at Montmartre include composer Hector Berlioz, singer Dalida, artist Edgar Degas, poet Théophile Gautier and composer Jacques Offenbach.


horaceQuintus_Horatius_FlaccusOn this day in 8 BC, Roman lyric poet, Horace died in Rome at the age of 56.  Born Quintus Horatius Flaccus on 8 December 65 BC in the Samnite south of Italy.  The rhetorician Quintillian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: “He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words.”  Horace also crafted hexameter verses (Sermones and Epistles) and iambic poetry (Epodes).  The satirist Persius commented: “as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings”.  His career coincided with Rome’s momentous change from Republic to Empire.  An officer in the republican army defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he was befriended by Octavian’s right-hand man in civil affairs, Maecenas, and became a spokesman for the new regime.  For some commentators, his association with the regime was a balance in which he maintained a strong measure of independence (he was “a master of the graceful sidestep”) but for others he was, in John Dryden‘s phrase, “a well-mannered court slave”.  (Drawing of Horace, as imagined by Anton von Werner.)  The Final Footprint – Horace is entombed near his friend Maecenas in Rome.


On this day in 1953, playwright and Nobel laureate in literature, Eugene O’Neill, died in room 401 of the Sheraton Hotel on Bay State Road in Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of 65.  Born Eugene Gladstone O’Neill on 16 October 1888 in The Barrett Hotel in Times Square.  Perhaps best known for his masterpiece Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1957), which waqs published posthumously and won the Pulizer Prize in 1957.  In addition to that play I like Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) and The Iceman Cometh (1946).  O’Neill married three times; Kathleen Jenkins (divorce), Agnes Boulton (divorce) and Carlotta Monterey (his death).  His sons, Eugene Jr. and Shane, both committed suicide.  His daughter Oona married actor, director, producer Charlie ChaplinThe Final Footprint – O’Neill’s reported last words were; “I knew it.  I knew it.  Born in a hotel room, and Goddamnit, died in a hotel room.”  O’Neill  is interred in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.  The Barrett hotel where O’Neill was born is now a Starbucks, surprise, and there is a commemorarive birth plaque on the outside wall.  A statue of the young O’Neill was installed on the waterfront in Boston.

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Day in History 26 November – Isabella I of Castile – Tommy Dorsey

Isabel_la_Católica-2On this day in 1504, Isabella the Catholic, queen of Castile and León (Crown of Castile), Isabella I died in Medina del Campo at the age of 53.  Born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Ávila, to John II of Castile and Isabella of Portugal on 22 April 1451.  She and her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, brought stability to the kingdoms that became the basis for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.  After a struggle to claim her right to the throne, she reorganised the governmental system, brought the crime rate to the lowest it had been in years, and unburdened the kingdom of enormous debt.  Isabella’s reforms and those she made with her husband had an influence that extended well beyond the borders of their united kingdoms.  Isabella and Ferdinand are known for completing the Reconquista, ordering conversion or exile of their Muslim and Jewish subjects in the Spanish Inquisition, and for supporting and financing Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage that led to the opening of the New World.  Isabella was granted the title Servant of God by the Catholic Church in 1974.  isabellaCatholic_Monarchs-CoffinsThe Final Footprint – Isabella is entombed in Granada in the Capilla Real, which was built by her grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (Carlos I of Spain), alongside her husband Ferdinand, her daughter Joanna and Joanna’s husband Philip; and Isabella’s 2-year-old grandson, Miguel (the son of Isabella’s daughter, also named Isabella, and King Manuel I of Portugal).  The museum next to the Capilla Real holds her crown and scepter.

Tommy_dorsey_playing_tromboneOn this day in 1956,  jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, bandleader of the Big Band era, younger brother of Jimmy, “The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”, Tommy Dorsey, died at his Greenwich, Connecticut home at the age of 51.  Born Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr. on 19 November 1905 near Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.  Dorsey married three times, Mildred Kraft (divorce), Pat Dane (divorce), Jane Carl New (his death).  The Final Footprint – Dorsey is interred in the Dorsey Private Hedge Estate in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.  The estate is marked by a large upright granite marker.  His grave is marked by a full ledger granite marker inscribed with a picture of sheet music and a trombone and his nickname, The Sentimental Gentleman.

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Day in History 25 November – Malcolm II King of Scots

Flag of Scotland

17th Century depiction of Malcolm II

On this day in 1034, King of Scots from 1005 to 1034, Máel Coluim mac Cináeda (Modern Gaelic: Maol Chaluim mac Choinnich), Malcolm II, died at Glamis, a small village in Angus, Scotland (the location of Glamis Castle, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother).  The son of Kenneth II King of Scots.  He was succeeded by his grandson Donnchad mac Crínáin, Duncan I.

19th Century engraving of King Malcolm II’s grave stone

The Final Footprint – Malcolm II is interred in what is now the ancient burial ground, the Rèilig Odhrain (Oran’s burial place or cemetery) of Iona Abbey.  None of the graves are now identifiable; their inscriptions reportedly had worn away by the end of the 17th century.  Iona rose to prominence in Scotland following the establishment of the Kingdom of Alba, Gaelic for Scotland, in the later 9th century.  The ruling dynasty of Alba traced its origin to Iona, and the island thus became an important spiritual centre of the new kingdom, with many of its early kings buried there.  Tradition knew the Pictish stone now called “Glamis 2” as “King Malcolm’s grave stone”.  The stone is a Class II stone, apparently formed by re-using a Bronze Age standing stone.  Its dating is uncertain, with dates from the 8th century onwards having been proposed. While an earlier date is favoured, an association with accounts of Máel Coluim’s has been proposed on the basis of the iconography of the carvings.

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Day in History 24 November – John Knox – Freddie Mercury

Portrait of Knox from Theodore Beza’s Icones

On this day in 1572, Scottish clergyman, a leader of the Protestant Reformation and the founder of the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland, John Knox, died in Edinburgh at the approximate age of 62.  Born sometime between 1505 and 1515 in or near Haddington, the county town of East Lothian.  Believed to have been educated at the University of St Andrews.  Influenced by early church reformers he joined the movement to reform the Scottish church.  Knox was caught up in the ecclesiastical and political events surrounding the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546 and the intervention of the regent of Scotland, Mary of Guise.  He was taken prisoner by French forces the following year and exiled to England on his release in 1549.  While in exile, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, where he quickly rose in the ranks to serve King Edward VI of England as a royal chaplain.  In this position, he exerted a reforming influence on the text of the Book of Common Prayer.  When Mary Tudor ascended the throne and re-established Roman Catholicism, Knox was forced to resign his position and leave the country.  Knox first moved to Geneva and then to Frankfurt.  In Geneva, he met John Calvin, from whom he gained experience and knowledge of Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity.  He created a new order of service, which was eventually adopted by the reformed church in Scotland.  He left Geneva to head the English refugee church in Frankfurt but he was forced to leave over differences concerning the liturgy, thus ending his association with the Church of England.  On his return to Scotland, he led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Protestant nobility.  The movement may be seen as a revolution, since it led to the ousting of Mary of Guise, who governed the country in the name of her young daughter, Mary Queen of Scots.  Knox helped write the new confession of faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church, the Kirk.  He continued to serve as the religious leader of the Protestants throughout Mary’s reign.

Stained glass window, Knox admonishing Mary, Queen of Scots, Covenant Presbyterian Church Long Beach, California

In several interviews with the queen, Knox admonished her for supporting Catholic practices.  Eventually, she was imprisoned for her alleged role in the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley, and James VI enthroned in her stead.  Knox openly called for her execution.  He continued to preach until his final days.  Knox married twice, first to Marjorie then to Margaret Stewart, the daughter of an old friend, Andrew Stewart, a member of the Stuart family and a distant relative of the queen, Mary Stuart. The marriage was unusual because he was a widower of fifty, while the bride was only seventeen.  One of my great-great grandfathers was a Knox.  I was baptised as an infant in The First Presbyterian Church of Canadian, Texas.

St. Giles at night

The Final Footprint – Knox is interred in the churchyard of St. Giles Cathedral, or the High Kirk of Scotland, though no grave marker exists.  St. Giles was the patron saint of Edinburgh, cripples and lepers.  A statue of Knox was incorporated in the International Monument to the Reformation (French: Monument international de la Réformation, German: Internationales Reformationsdenkmal).  Usually known as the Reformation Wall, it is a monument in Geneva, Switzerland that honours many of the main individuals, events, and documents of the Protestant Reformation by depicting them in statues and bas-reliefs.  One of the bas-reliefs features Knox preaching at St. Giles before the court of Mary Stuart including, James Stewart, Lord Darnley and Matthew Stewart.

Freddie_Mercury_performing_in_New_Haven,_CT,_November_1978On this day in 1991, singer, songwriter, lyricist, lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45 surrounded by friends at his home in Kensington, London, from bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.  Born Farrokh Bulsara in the British protectorate of Sultanate of Zanzibar, East Africa (now part of Tanzania) on 5 September 1946.  As a performer, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and powerful vocals over a four-octave range.  As a songwriter, he composed many hits for Queen, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Somebody to Love,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “We Are the Champions.”  In addition to his work with Queen, he led a solo career, and also occasionally served as a producer and guest musician (piano or vocals) for other artists.  The Final Footprint – On 27 November 1991, Mercury’s funeral service was conducted by a Zoroastrian priest.  An intensely private man, Mercury’s service was for 35 of his close friends and family, with the remaining members of Queen (Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon)  and Elton John among those in attendance.  Mercury was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery, West London.  In accordance with Mercury’s wishes, Mary Austin took possession of his ashes and buried them in an undisclosed location.  The whereabouts of his ashes are believed to be known only to Austin, who has stated that she will never reveal where she buried them.

The outer walls of Mercury’s home purchased with Ausitn, Garden Lodge in 1 Logan Place became a shrine to Mercury following his death, with mourners paying tribute by covering the walls in graffiti messages.  Three years after his death, Time Out magazine reported, “Since Freddie’s death, the wall outside the house has become London’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll shrine.”.  Today fans continue to visit to pay their respects with messages in letters appearing on the walls.

In 1992 he was awarded the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was held at Wembley Stadium, London.  As a member of Queen, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004, and the band received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.  Also in 2002, Mercury was placed at number 58 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

In my opinion, Mercury is one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.  In 2005, a poll organised by Blender and MTV2 saw Mercury voted the best male singer of all time.  In 2008, Rolling Stone editors ranked him number 18 on their list of the 100 greatest singers ever.  In 2009, a Classic Rock poll elected him the best rock singer of all time.

Another notable cremation at Kensal Green: Ingrid Bergman.

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Knox preaching to Scottish nobles, painting by David Wilkie

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Day in History – 23 November – André Malraux – Larry Hagman

JFK, Marie-Madeleine Lioux, Malraux, Jackie Kennedy, LBJ

On this day in 1976, adventurer, author and statesman, André Malraux, died in Créteil, near Paris at the age of 75.  Born on 3 November 1901 in Paris.  Known for his novel entitled La Condition Humaine (Man’s Fate) (1933).  He served in several minister positions during De Gaulle‘s entire presidency (1959–1969).  Malraux married three times; Clara Goldschmidt (divorce), Josette Clotis (her death) and Marie-Madeleine Lioux (separation).  I inherited a copy of his book The Voices of Silence (Les Voix du Silence) from my Grandmother Ruby Christner.  Memorable quotes from The Voices of Silence: “Art is an object lesson for the gods.” “The art museum is one of the places that give us the highest idea of man.” “Humanism does not consist in saying: ‘No animal could have done what I have done,’ but in declaring: ‘We have refused what the beast within us willed to do, and we seek to reclaim man wherever we find that which crushes him.’”  The Final Footprint – Malraux was cremated and his cremains were interred in the Verrières-le-Buisson (Essonne) cemetery.  In 1996 on the twentieth anniversary of his passing, in honor of his contributions to French culture, his ashes were moved to the Panthéon in Paris. The Panthéon is a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.  Other notable Final Footprints at the Panthéon include: Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Pierre and Marie Curie, and Alexandre Dumas, père, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Émile Zola.

Larry Hagman
Hagman wearing a cowboy hat

Hagman attending the “Night of 100 Stars” for the 82nd Academy Awards viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, California, on March 7, 2010

On this day in 2012, United States Air Force veteran, actor, director, producer, Larry Hagman died at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas at the age of 81 from complications of acute myeloid leukemia. Born Larry Martin Hagman on September 21, 1931 in Fort Worth, Texas. Perhaps best known for playing oil baron J.R. Ewing in the 1980s primetime television soap opera Dallas and astronaut Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.

Hagman had supporting roles in numerous films, including Fail-Safe, Harry and Tonto, S.O.B., Nixon and Primary Colors. His television appearances also included guest roles on dozens of shows spanning from the late 1950s until his death and a reprisal of his signature role on the 2012 revival of Dallas. He also worked as a television producer and director.

Hagman was the son of actress Mary Martin. He underwent a life-saving liver transplant in 1995.

Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden on
I Dream of Jeannie (1965)

Larry Hagman, 1973

TV series Here We Go Again (1973).
From top: Dick Gautier, Nina Talbot,
Larry Hagman and Diane Baker.

Hagman with Maj Axelsson in 1983

 Hagman in August 2011

In 1954, Hagman married Swedish-born Maj Axelsson (born May 13, 1928, in Eskilstuna, Södermanlands län, Sweden – died May 31, 2016, in Los Angeles, California). Longtime residents of Malibu, California, they then moved to Ojai.

The Final Footprint 

In a statement to the Dallas Morning News, Hagman’s family said: “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for.”

Upon his death, he was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at the Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas.

Actress Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas, called Hagman her “best friend for 35 years”, and was at his bedside when he died. In a statement, she said: “He was the Pied Piper of life and brought joy to everyone he knew. He was creative, generous, funny, loving and talented and I will miss him enormously. He was an original and lived life to the fullest.”

Actor Patrick Duffy, who played Bobby Ewing on Dallas, was also at his bedside when he died. In a statement, he said: “Friday I lost one of the greatest friends ever to grace my life. The loneliness is only what is difficult, as Larry’s peace and comfort is always what is important to me, now as when he was here. He was a fighter in the gentlest way, against his obstacles and for his friends. I wear his friendship with honor.”

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