Day in History 13 August – Mickey Mantle – Eugène Delacroix – Jules Massenet – H. G. Wells – Phil Rizzuto

On this day in 1995, baseball Hall of Famer, 20x All-Star, 7x World Series Champion, 3x AL MVP, The Mick, Mickey Mantle died at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas at the age of 63.  Born Mickey Charles Mantle on 20 October 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma.  Perhaps the greatest switch-hitter in the history of baseball and, in my opinion, one the the greatest players.  On Mickey Mantle Day, 8 June 1969, the Yankees retired his uniform Number 7.  Mantle was married to Merlyn Johnson (1951-1995 his death).  The Final Footprint – Mantle is entombed in the mausoelum, St. Matthew, above the crypt where his sons Mickey, Jr. and Billy are entombed, at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park, a Dignity Memorial property in Dallas.  His bronze crypt plate has the inscription; “A magnificent New York Yankee, true teammate and Hall of Fame centerfielder with legendary courage.  The most popular player of his era.  A loving husband, father and friend for life.”  The Yankees added a monument to Monument Park at Yankee Stadium to honor Mantle.  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 include; Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, George Steinbrenner, Casey Stengel, Thurman Munson, Roger Maris, Phil Rizzuto (see below), Billy Martin, Mel Allen and Bob Sheppard.  Other notable final footprints at Sparkman-Hillcrest include businessman H.L. Hunt and Tom Landry.

Eugene_delacroixOn this day in 1863, artist Eugène Delacroix died in Paris at the age of 65.  Born Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix on 26 April 1798 at Charenton-Saint-Maurice in Île-de-France, near Paris.  Generally regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school.  Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly appear to have shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic may have inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement.  Delacroix may have taken for his inspiration the art of Rubens and painters of the Venetian Renaissance, with an emphasis on colour and movement rather than clarity of outline and carefully modelled form.  Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes of his maturity, and led him not to the classical models of Greek and Roman art, but to travel in North Africa, in search of the exotic.  Friend and spiritual heir to Théodore Géricault, Delacroix was also apparently inspired by Lord Byron, with whom he shared a strong identification with the “forces of the sublime”, of nature in often violent action.  Yet, it appears that Delacroix was not sentimental and his Romanticism was that of an individualist.  In the words of Baudelaire, “Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible.”  eugeneDelacroixgrave-p1000397The Final Footprint -Delacroix was entombed in Père Lachaise.  Père Lachaise is in the 20th arrondissement and is notable for being the first garden cemetery, as well as the first municipal cemetery.  It is also the site of three World War I memorials.  The cemetery is on Boulevard de Ménilmontant.  The Paris Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on both lines 2 and 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance.  Many tourists prefer the Gambetta station on line 3, as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.  Other notable Final Footprints at Père Lachaise include; Georges Bizet, Honoré de Balzac, Jean-Dominique Bauby, Maria Callas, Frédéric Chopin, Colette, Auguste Comte, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Molière, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Camille Pissarro, Marcel Proust, Sully Prudhomme, Gioachino Rossini, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas,  Oscar Wilde, and Richard Wright.


Jules_Massenet_portraitOn this day in 1912, French composer best known for his operas, Jules Massenet died in Paris at the age of 70, after suffering from cancer.  Born Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet on 12 May 1842 in Montaud, then an outlying hamlet and now a part of the city of Saint-Étienne, in the Loire.  His compositions were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and he ranks as one of the greatest melodists of his era.  Soon after his death, Massenet’s style went out of fashion, and many of his operas fell into almost total oblivion.  Apart from Manon and Werther, his works were rarely performed.  However, since the mid-1970s, many operas of his such as Thaïs and Esclarmonde have undergone periodic revivals.  The Final Footprint – He is interred in the Cimetiere d’Egreville Seine-et-Marne, Ile-de-France Region, France.

H_G_Wells_pre_1922On this day in 1946, writer, “The Father of Science Fiction”, H. G. Wells died of unspecified causes at his home at 13 Hanover Terrace, Regent’s Park, London, aged 79.  Some reports also say he died of a heart attack at the flat of a friend in London.  Born Herbert George Wells at Atlas House, 46 High Street, Bromley, in the county of Kent, on 21 September 1866.  Perhaps best known for his work in the science fiction genre, he was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing textbooks and rules for war games.  His most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds (1898), The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897) and The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896).  In 1891, Wells married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells; the couple agreed to separate in 1894 when he fell in love with one of his students, Amy Catherine “Jane” Robbins whom he married in 1895.  The marriage lasted until her death in 1927.  With Jane’s consent, Wells had affairs with a number of women, including the American birth control activist Margaret Sanger and novelist Elizabeth von Arnim.  In 1909 he had a daughter with the writer Amber Reeves, and in 1914, a son (Anthony West) by the novelist and feminist Rebecca West.  In Experiment in Autobiography (1934), Wells wrote: “I was never a great amorist, though I have loved several people very deeply.”  The Final Footprint – Wells was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 16 August 1946, his ashes scattered at sea.  GGC 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.  GGC 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 GGC include; Kingsley Amis, Neville Chamberlain, T. S. Eliot, Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Vivien Leigh, Keith Moon, Peter Sellers, Bram Stoker, and Amy Winehouse.

Phil_Rizzuto_1953On this day in 2007, baseball player, philrizzutoYankeesRetired10_svgshortstop, New York Yankee, 5x All-Star, 7x World Series Champion, AL MVP, #10 retired, Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, radio and television sports announcer for the Yankees, the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto died in his sleep , three days short of the 51st anniversary of his last game as a Yankee.  Born Philip Francis Rizzuto on 25 September 1917 in Brooklyn.  He had been in declining health for several years and was living at a nursing home in West Orange, New Jersey for the last months of his life.  At the time of his death, Rizzuto was the oldest living member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, at 89.  The Final Footprint – Rizzuto was cremated.  The Yankees added a monument to Monument Park at Yankee Stadium to honor Mantle.  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 include; Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, George Steinbrenner, Casey Stengel, Thurman Munson, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Mel Allen and Bob Sheppard.

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Day in History 12 August – Henry Fonda – Cleopatra – William Blake – Ian Fleming – Lauren Bacall

On this day in 1982 U.S Navy veteran, Oscar and Tony winning actor, father of actor Peter Fonda and actress Jane Fonda, grandfather of actress Bridget Fonda, Henry Fonda died at his Los Angeles home from heart disease at the age of 77.  Born Henry Jaynes Fonda on 16 May 1905 in Grand Island, Nebraska.  My favortie Fonda roles include: as Meredith in A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) with Joanne Woodward and Jason Robards; as Frank in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il West) (1968) with Charles Bronson, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale; as Norman Thayer, Jr. in On Golden Pond (1981) with Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda.  Fonda was married five times; Margaret Sullavan (1931-1932 divorce), Frances Ford Seymour (1936-1950 her death), Susan Blanchard (1950-1956 divorce), Afdera Franchetti (1957-1961 divorce), and Shirlee Mae Adams (1965-1982 his death).  The Final Footprint – Fonda was cremated.

cleopatra-VII_-Altes-Museum-Berlin1On this day in 30 B.C., the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra killed herself, according to tradition, by inducing an Egyptian cobra to bite her.  Born probably in 69 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt.  She was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greek origin that ruled Ptolemaic Egypt after Alexander the Great‘s death during the Hellenistic period.  The Ptolemies, throughout their dynasty, spoke Greek and refused to speak Egyptian, which is the reason that Greek as well as Egyptian languages were used on official court documents such as the Rosetta Stone.  By contrast, Cleopatra did learn to speak Egyptian and represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian goddess, Isis.  Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler.  As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne.  She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name.  After Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar’s legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus).  With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus (her unions with her brothers had produced no children.)  After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian‘s forces, Antony committed suicide.  Cleopatra committed suicide nine days after Antony’s death.  She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh by his supporters, but soon killed on Octavian’s orders.  Egypt became the Roman province of AegyptusThe Final Footprint – The site of Cleopatra and Antony’s mausoleum is uncertain, though the Egyptian Antiquities Service believes it is in or near the temple of Taposiris Magna, southwest of Alexandria.  To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture.  Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and the many dramatizations of her story in literature and other media, including William Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra, Jules Massenet’s opera Cléopâtre and the 1963 film Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Richard Burton as Antony.  In most depictions, Cleopatra is portrayed as a great beauty, and her successive conquests of the world’s most powerful men are taken as proof of her aesthetic and sexual appeal.

William_Blake_by_Thomas_PhillipsOn this day in 1827, painter, poet and printmaker William Blake died at his home in Soho, London at the age of 69.  Born on 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho.  Apparently unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.  It is possible that his prophetic poetry is in proportion to its merits, the least read body of poetry in the English language.  His visual artistry is now highly regarded.  Blake produced a diverse and symbolically rich oeuvre.  Perhaps considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.  His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and “Pre-Romantic”.  Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England (indeed, to all forms of organised religion), Blake appears to have been influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions.  The singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify.  The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised him as a “glorious luminary”, and “a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors”.  Blake met Catherine Boucher in 1782 when he was recovering from a relationship that had culminated in a refusal of his marriage proposal.  He recounted the story of his heartbreak for Catherine and her parents, after which he asked Catherine, “Do you pity me?”  When she responded affirmatively, he declared, “Then I love you.”  Blake married Catherine on 18 August 1782 in St Mary’s Church, Battersea.  I find most interesting, his critical views of the marriage laws of his day.  Blake generally railed against traditional Christian notions of chastity as a virtue.  In part due to Catherine’s apparent inability to bear children, he directly advocated bringing a second wife into the house.  His poetry suggests that external demands for marital fidelity reduce love to mere duty rather than authentic affection, and decries jealousy and egotism as a motive for marriage laws.  Poems such as “Why should I be bound to thee, O my lovely Myrtle-tree?” and “Earth’s Answer” seem to advocate multiple sexual partners.  In his poem “London” he speaks of “the Marriage-Hearse” plagued by “the youthful Harlot’s curse”, the result alternately of false Prudence and/or Harlotry.  Visions of the Daughters of Albion can be read as a tribute to free love since the relationship between Bromion and Oothoon is held together only by laws and not by love.  For Blake, law and love are opposed, and he castigates the “frozen marriage-bed”.  williamblakeFinsbury_bunhill_blake_1The Final Footprint – On the day of his death, Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante‘s Divine Comedy illustration series.  Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside.  Blake is said to have cried, “Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me.”  Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses.  At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died.  A female lodger in the house, present at his expiration, apparently said, “I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel.”  George Richmond gives the following account of Blake’s death in a letter to Samuel Palmer:

He died … in a most glorious manner. He said He was going to that Country he had all His life wished to see & expressed Himself Happy, hoping for Salvation through Jesus Christ – Just before he died His Countenance became fair. His eyes Brighten’d and he burst out Singing of the things he saw in Heaven.

He was buried five days after his death, on the eve of his 45th wedding anniversary at the Dissenter’s burial ground in Bunhill Fields, where his parents were interred.  Catherine believed she was regularly visited by Blake’s spirit.  She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but entertained no business transaction without first “consulting Mr. Blake”.  On the day of her death, in October 1831, she was as calm and cheerful as her husband, and called out to him “as if he were only in the next room, to say she was coming to him, and it would not be long now”.  Since 1965, the exact location of William Blake’s grave had been lost as gravestones were taken away to create a lawn.  Blake’s grave is commemorated by a stone that reads “Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake 1757–1827 and his wife Catherine Sophia 1762–1831”.  The memorial stone is situated approximately 20 metres away from the actual grave, which is not marked.  Members of the group Friends of William Blake have rediscovered the location and intend to place a permanent memorial at the site.  Bunhill Fields is a former burial ground in the London Borough of Islington, north of the City of London, now managed as a public garden by the City of London Corporation.  It is about 4 hectares (9.9 acres) in extent, although historically it was much larger.  It was in use as a burial ground from 1665 until 1854, by which date approximately 123,000 interments were estimated to have taken place.  Over 2,000 monuments remain.  It was particularly favoured by Nonconformists.  Other notable final footprints at Bunhill include; John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe.

Ian_Fleming,_headshotOn this day in 1964, English author, journalist and naval intelligence officer, Ian Fleming died at the age of 56 in Canterbury from a heart attack.  Born Ian Lancaster Fleming on 28 May 1908 in Mayfair, London.  Perhaps best known for his James Bond series of spy novels. Fleming moved through a number of jobs before he started writing.  While working for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division during the Second World War, Fleming was involved in planning Operation Goldeneye and in the planning and oversight of two intelligence units, 30 Assault Unit and T-Force.  His wartime service and his career as a journalist provided much of the background, detail and depth of the James Bond novels.  Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952.  Eleven Bond novels and two short-story collections followed between 1953 and 1966.  The novels revolve around Bond, an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6.  Bond is also known by his code number, 007, and was a commander in the Royal Naval Reserve. The Bond stories rank among the best-selling series of fictional books of all time.  He was married to Ann Charteris, who was divorced from the second Viscount Rothermere as a result of her affair with Fleming.  Fleming and Charteris had a son, Caspar.  Ian_fleming_graveThe Final Footprint – Fleming was buried in the churchyard of Sevenhampton village, near Swindon.  His last recorded words were an apology to the ambulance drivers for having inconvenienced them, saying “I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don’t know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days.”  In October 1975, Fleming’s son Caspar, aged 23, committed suicide by drug overdose and was buried with his father.  Fleming’s widow, Ann, died in 1981 and was buried with her husband and their son.  Bond has appeared in film twenty-five times, to date, and been portrayed by seven actors, including; Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.

Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall 1945 (cropped).jpg

Bacall in March 1945

On this day in 2014, actress and singer Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske in The Bronx, September 16, 1924) died at her apartment in The Dakota, the Upper West Side building overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, at the age of 89 from a stroke. She received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009, “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”

Bacall began her career as a model, before making her debut as a leading lady with Humphrey Bogart in the film To Have and Have Not in 1944. She continued in the film noir genre with appearances with Bogart in The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948), and starred in the romantic comedies How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck. She co-starred with John Wayne in his final film, The Shootist (1976). Bacall also worked on Broadway in musicals, earning Tony Awards for Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). Her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.

On May 21, 1945, Bacall married actor Humphrey Bogart, 25 years her senior. Their wedding and honeymoon took place at Malabar Farm, Lucas, Ohio, the country home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, a close friend of Bogart. The wedding was held in the Big House. They remained married until Bogart’s death from esophageal cancer in 1957. Pressed by an interviewer to talk about her marriage to Bogart, and asked about her notable reluctance to do so, she replied that “being a widow is not a profession”.

On July 4, 1961, Bacall married Jason Robards in Ensenada, Mexico. The couple divorced in 1969.

The Final Footprint – Reportedly, Bacall was cremated and her cremains were scattered over Martha’s Vineyard.

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Day in History 11 August – Andrew Carnegie – Edith Wharton – Jackson Pollock – Robin Williams

On this day in 1919 Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie died in Lenox, Massachusetts of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 83.  Born on 25 November 1835 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.  Carnegie led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and he was one of the most important philanthropists of his era.  Carnegie founded Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company and built it into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world.  Carnegie sold the company in 1901 for $480 million to J.P. Morgan, who created U.S. Steel.  Carnegie built Carnegie Hall and established many libraries, schools and universities.  Carnegie is often regarded as the second-richest man in history after John D. Rockefeller.  Carnegie married once to Louise Whitfield.  The Final Footprint – Carnegie is interred in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.  His grave is marked by a large stone cross.  His wife Louise was interred next to him upon her death in 1945.  The Rockefeller family estate, Kykuit, whose grounds abut Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, contains the private Rockefeller cemetery.

Edith_Newbold_Jones_WhartonOn this day in 1937 novelist, short story writer, designer, Pulitzer Prize recipient, Edith Wharton died of a stroke at the domaine Le Pavillon Colombe, her 18th-century house on Rue de Montmorency in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt.  The street is today called rue Edith Wharton.  Born Edith Newbold Jones on 24 January 1862 in New York City.  Many of Wharton’s novels are characterized by a subtle use of dramatic irony.  Having grown up in upper-class turn-of-the-century society, Wharton became one of its most astute critics, in such works as The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920).  In addition to writing several more respected novels, Wharton produced a wealth of short stories and is particularly well regarded for her ghost stories.  The Final Footprint – Wharton’s final resting place is in the Cimetière des Gonards, the largest cemetery in Versailles on the outskirts of Paris.  It began operations in 1879.  The cemetery covers an area of 130,000 m² and contains more than 12,000 graves.  Another notable final footprint at Gonards is that of poet Robert de Montesquiou.

jacksonPollockOn this day in 1956, artist, Jackson Pollock died at the age of 44 in a single-car crash in his Oldsmobile convertible while driving under the influence of alcohol in Springs, New York.  One of the passengers, Edith Metzger, was also killed in the accident, which occurred less than a mile from Pollock’s home.  The other passenger, muse, artist, author, and Pollock’s mistress, Ruth Kligman, survived.  Born Paul Jackson Pollock on 28 January 1912 in Cody, Wyoming.  A major figure in the abstract expressionist movement.  He was well known for his unique style of drip painting.  During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety, a major artist of his generation.  Regarded as reclusive, he had a volatile personality, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life.  In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy.  jacksonPollock-greenThe Final Footprint – Pollock is interred in Green River Cemetery in Springs with a large boulder marking his grave and a smaller one marking Krasner’s who was interred next to Pollock upon her death in 1984.  Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.  A larger, more comprehensive exhibition of his work was held there in 1967.  In 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London.  In 2000, Pollock was the subject of the film Pollock, directed by and starring Ed Harris.

Robin_Williams_2011a_(2)On this day in 2014, actor and comedian Robin Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California at the age of 63.  Born Robin McLaurin Williams at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois on 21 July 1951.  Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance.  After starring as Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–82), he went on to establish a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting.  He was perhaps best known for his improvisational skills.

Williams starred or co-starred in widely acclaimed films, including; The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Aladdin (1992), Good Will Hunting (1997), One Hour Photo (2002), Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), and Night at the Museum (2006).

In 1986, Williams teamed up with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal to found Comic Relief USA, an annual HBO television benefit devoted to the homeless, which has raised $80 million, as of 2014.

In 1998, Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting.  He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Grammy Awards throughout his career.  Williams committed suicide by hanging himself.  It was revealed shortly after his death that Williams had been suffering from severe depression, Parkinson’s disease, and diffuse Lewy body dementia.

Williams married three times: Valerie Velardi (1978 – 1988 divorce), Marcia Garces (1989 – 2010 divorce) and Susan Schneider (2011 – 2014 his death).

The Final Footprint – His body was cremated and his ashes were spread in San Francisco Bay on August 21.  Broadway theaters in New York dimmed their lights for one minute in his honor.  Broadway’s Aladdin cast honored Williams by having the audience join them in a sing-along of “Friend Like Me”, the Oscar-nominated song originally sung by Williams in the 1992 film.  Fans of Williams created makeshift memorials at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and at locations from his television and film career, such as the bench in Boston’s Public Garden featured in Good Will Hunting; the Pacific Heights, San Francisco, home used in Mrs. Doubtfire; and the Boulder, Colorado, home used for Mork & Mindy.  During the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on 25 August 2014, Billy Crystal presented a tribute to Williams, referring to him as “the brightest star in our comedy galaxy.”

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Day in History 10 August – Isaac Hayes – Adah Isaacs Menken

On this day in 2008, humanitarian, songwriter, musician, singer and actor, Academy Award-winner, Grammy Award-winner, Isaac Hayes died at his home near Memphis from a stroke at the age of 65.  Born Isaac Lee Hayes on 20 August 1942 in Covington, Tennessee.  My favorite songs written or co-written by Hayes include; “Soul Man” co-written with David Porter, “Hold On I’m Comin'” co-written with Porter, “I Thank You” co-written with Porter, and “Theme from Shaft” which Hayes won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.  Hayes was married four times.  The Final Footprint – Hayes is interred in Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.  His grave is marked by a full ledger flat bronze on granite marker.  The inscription is as follows:  God looked around his garden And he found an empty place He then looked down upon this earth And found your star He put his arms around you And lifted you to rest God’s garden is beautiful now He always takes the best But when you left THE BIGGEST PART OF ME LEFT But thanks for leaving a part of us in KOJO The hardest thing always was for you to say goodbye So I won’t either One day we’ll be together again LOVING YOU WAS THE GREATEST THING I’VE EVER EXPERIENCED YOU’LL ALWAYS BE IN MY HEART My Love, Your wife ADJOWA “MARGARET” HAYES

Adah_Isaacs_Menken,_age_19,_1854-55On this day in 1868, actress, painter and poet, said by some to be the “first American Jewish superstar”, the Menken, Adah Isaacs Menken died in Paris at the age of 33 from of peritonitis and tuberculosis.  She died after having just written a friend:

“I am lost to art and life. Yet, when all is said and done, have I not at my age tasted more of life than most women who live to be a hundred? It is fair, then, that I should go where old people go.”

Accounts of Menken’s early life and origins vary considerably.  In her autobiographical “Some Notes of Her Life in Her Own Hand,” published in the New York Times in 1868, Menken said she was born Marie Rachel Adelaide de Vere Spenser in Bordeaux, France and lived in Cuba as a child before her family settled in New Orleans.  In 1865 she wrote that her birth name was Dolores Adios Los Fiertes, and that she was the daughter of a French woman from New Orleans and a Jewish man from Spain.  About 1940, the consensus of scholars was that her parents were Auguste Théodore, a free black, and Marie, a mixed-race Creole, and Ada was raised as a Catholic.  Ed James, a journalist friend, wrote after her death that her real name was Adelaide McCord, and she was born at Milneburg, near New Orleans, on 15 June 1835.  The Menken was best known for her performance in the melodrama Mazeppa, which featured her apparently nude, and riding a horse on stage.  A celebrity who created sensational performances in the United States and Europe, she married six times and was known for her affairs.  The Final Footprint – The Menken’s final resting place is in Cimetière de Montparnasse in Paris.  Other notable Final Footprints at Montparnasse include; Charles Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, Emmanuel Chabrier, Guy de Maupassant, Camille Saint-Saëns, Jean-Paul Sartre,  Jean Seberg, and  and Susan Sontag.

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Day in History 9 August – Sharon Tate – Ruggero Leoncavallo – Hermann Hesse – Jerry Garcia

On this day in 1969 actress Sharon Tate and her unborn son were murdered in her home in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles by followers of Charles Manson.  Tate was 26.  Born Sharon Marie Tate on 24 January 1943 in Dallas, Texas.  Also killed were Tate’s friends, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Steven Parent and Wojiech “Voytek” Frykowski.  The murders were one of the defining moments of the ’60’s.  One could say that the ’60’s ended abruptly that night.  During the 1960s she played small television roles before appearing in several motion pictures.  She also appeared regularly in fashion magazines as a model and cover girl.  After receiving positive reviews for her comedic and dramatic performances, Tate was hailed as one of Hollywood’s most promising newcomers.  She made her film debut in the occult-themed Eye of the Devil (1966), which was produced by Martin Ransohoff.  Tate also starred as Jennifer North in the cult classic, Valley of the Dolls (1967), which earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination.  Tate was married to director Roman Polanski (1968-1969 her death).  The Final Footprint – Tate and her son were interred together in Saint Ann’s Section in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.  Later, her mother Doris (1992) and her sister Patricia (2000) were interred near them.  Their graves are marked by an engraved flat granite marker.  Sharon’s term of endearment is; OUR LOVING DAUGHTER & BELOVED WIFE OF ROMAN.  Other notable final footprints at Holy Cross include; actor John Candy, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, John Ford, the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers Chick Hearn, Rita Hayworth, Bela Lugosi, Al Martino, actress Audrey Meadows, Ricardo Montalbán, actor Chris Penn, and Jo Stafford.  Tate’s biographer, Greg King, wrote in Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders (2000): “Sharon’s real legacy lies not in her movies or in her television work. The very fact that, today, victims or their families in California are able to sit before those convicted of a crime and have a voice in the sentencing at trials or at parole hearings, is largely due to the work of Doris [and Patti] Tate. Their years of devotion to Sharon’s memory and dedication to victims’ rights… have helped transform Sharon from mere victim, [and] restore a human face to one of the twentieth century’s most infamous crimes.”

ruggeroLeonkavallo_Postcard-1910On this day in 1919, Italian opera composer, Ruggero Leoncavallo died in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany at the age of 62.  Born Ruggero Giacomo Maria Giuseppe Emmanuele Raffaele Domenico Vincenzo Francesco Donato Leoncavallo in Naples on 23 April 1857.  His two-act work Pagliacci remains one of the most popular works in the opera repertory.  Pagliacci premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 21 May 1892.  The Final Footprint – His final resting place is the Cimitero Monumentale Delle Porte Sante Florence Toscana, Italy.

Hermann_Hesse_2On this day in 1962, German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter, Nobel Prize laureate, Hermann Hesse died at the age of 85 in Montagnola, Switzerland.  Born on 2 July 1877 in the Black Forest town of Calw in Württemberg, Germany.  His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality.  The Final Footprint – Hesse was buried in the cemetery at San Abbondio in Montagnola.

Jerry_GarciaOn this day in 1995, musician, singer, songwriter, member of the Grateful Dead,  Jerry Garcia died in his room at the Serenity Knolls treatment center in Forest Knolls, California, from a heart attack at the age of 53.  Born Jerome John Garcia on 1 August 1942 San Francisco.  Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire thirty-year career (1965–1995).  Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the Saunders-Garcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, Legion of Mary, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage (which Garcia co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson).  He also released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician.  He was well known his distinctive guitar playing.  The Final Footprint – Garcia’s funeral was held on August 12, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Belvedere.  It was attended by his family, the remaining Grateful Dead members, and their friends, including former basketball player Bill Walton and musician Bob Dylan.  On August 13, a municipally-sanctioned public memorial took place in the Polo Fields of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and was attended by about 25,000 people.  The crowds produced hundreds of flowers, gifts, images, and even a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” in remembrance.  On 4 April 1996, Bob Weir and Deborah Koons spread half of Garcia’s cremated ashes into the Ganges River at the holy city of Rishikesh, India, a site sacred to Hindus.  Then, in accordance with Garcia’s last wishes, the other half of his ashes were poured into the San Francisco Bay.

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Day in History 8 August – Fay Wray – Mourning Dove – Shirley Jackson

On this day in 2004, actress Fay Wray died in her Manhattan apartment at the age of 96.  Born Vina Fay Wray on 15 September 1907 on a ranch near Cardston, Alberta, Canada.  Perhaps best remembered for her role as Ann Darrow in the film King Kong (1933).  Wray married three times; John Monk Saunders (1928-1939 divorce), Robert Riskin (1942-1955 his death) and Sanford Rothenberg (1971-1991 his death).  The Final Footprint – Wray is interred in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.  Her grave is marked by an individual engraved flat granite marker near a memorial bench.  The marker is engraved with her name and her birth and death years.  Two days after her death, the lights of the Empire State Building were extinguished for 15 minutes in her memory.  For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Wray was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6349 Hollywood Blvd.  She received a star posthumously on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto on June 5, 2005.  A park near Lee’s Creek on Main Street in Cardston was named “Fay Wray Park” in her honor.  The sign at the edge of the park on Main Street has a silhouette of King Kong on it.  A large oil portrait of Wray by Alberta artist Neil Boyle is on display in the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, Alberta.  Other notable Final Footprints at Hollywood Forever include; Mel Blanc, director/producer Cecil B. DeMille, director Victor Fleming, Judy Garland, actress Joan Hackett, director John Huston, actress Hattie McDaniel’s cenotaph, Jayne Mansfield’s cenotaph, mobster Bugsy Siegel, and actor Rudolph Valentino.

Mourning_Dove_authorOn this day in 1936, Native American author, Mourning Dove died at the state hospital in Medical Lake, Washington at the approximate age of 48. Perhaps best known for her novel Cogewea the Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range (1927).  Born Hum-isha-ma “in the Moon of Leaves” (April) 1888 in a canoe on the Kootenai River near Bonners Ferry, Idaho , her name was later changed to Christal Quintasket.  The Final Footprint – She is interred in Omak Memorial Cemetery in Omak, Washington.

ShirleyJacksonOn this day in 1965, writer, novelist, Shirley Jackson died of heart failure in her sleep at her home in North Bennington, Vermont at the age of 48.  Born Shirley Hardie Jackson on 14 December 1916 in San Francisco.  Perhaps best known for the short story “The Lottery” (1948), which suggests a secret, sinister underside to bucolic small-town America.  She is also well known for the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Final Footprint – Jackson was cremated.

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Day in History 7 August – Rabindranath Tagore

On this day in 1941, Bengali poet, novelist, musician, painter and playwright, Nobel Prize recipient, The Shakespeare of Inda, Rabindranath Tagore died in an upstairs room of the Jorasanko mansion in which he was raised in Calcutta.  Born on 7 May 1861.  He wrote one of my favorite poems, Unending Love, which Gregory Peck read on camera after Audrey Hepburn’s death.

Unending Love

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.
You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting, the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.
Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.
~Rabindranath Tagore
From Selected Poems, Translated by William Radice

The Final Footprint – Tagore was cremated and his cremains were scattered in the Ganges River.

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Day in History 6 August – Ben Jonson – Rick James – John Hughes – Marvin Hamlisch

Benjamin Jonson, Abraham van Blyenberch

On this day in 1637, English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor Ben Jonson died in Westminster, London at the age of 65.  Born Benjamin Jonson c. 11 June 1572 in Westminster.  A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, and his lyric poems.  Perhaps his best known poems are; “On My First Sonne”; “To Celia”; and “To Penshurst.  Jonson influenced Jacobean and Caroline playwrights and poets.  Jonson claimed his family was of Scottish Border country descent.  The Final Footprint – Jonson is interred in an upright vault in the north aisle of the Nave in Westminster Abbey.  The inscription over his grave says; O Rare Ben Johnson.  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, 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, 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.


Rick_JamesOn this day in 2004, singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, Rick James died at the age of 56 in his Los Angeles home at the Oakwood apartment complex on Barham Boulevard from pulmonary failure and cardiac failure.  Born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. on 19 February 1948 in Buffalo, New York.  Perhaps best known for being a major popularizer of funk music in the late 1970s and early 1980s thanks to million-selling hits such as “You and I” (1978), “Give It to Me Baby” (1981) and “Super Freak” (1981), the latter song crossing him over to pop audiences and selling over three million copies.  It later contributed to the success of rapper MC Hammer‘s “U Can’t Touch This” (1990), for which James sued him, in order to be credited.  James won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song with Hammer for the song, his only Grammy win.  The Final Footprint – James is interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.

JohnHughesOn this day in 2009, film director, producer and screenwriter, John Hughes died at the age of 59 of a heart attack while walking in Manhattan where he was visiting his family.  Born John Wilden Hughes, Jr. on 18 February 1950 in Lansing, Michigan.  He directed or scripted some of the most successful films of the 1980s and 1990s, including National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, and Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkThe Final Footprint – Hughes is interred in Lake Forest Cemetery in Lake Forest, Illinois.

marvinhamlischOn this day in 2012, composer, conductor, an EGOT (those who have been awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), Pulitzer Prize recipient, Marvin Hamlisch died in Los Angeles, California at age 68, following a short illness, primarily due to respiratory arrest caused by a combination of anoxic brain encephalopathy and hypertension.  Born Marvin Frederick Hamlisch on 2 June 1944 in Manhattan.  Hamlisch married Terre Blair (1989 – 2012 his death.  His prior relationship with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager inspired the musical They’re Playing Our Song.  The Final Footprint – Hamlisch is interred in Mount Zion Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York.  At 8:00 p.m. EDT on August 8, the marquee lights of the 40 Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in tribute to Hamlisch, a posthumous honor traditionally accorded to those considered to have made significant contributions to the theater arts.  Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli took turns singing songs by Hamlisch during a memorial service for the composer on 18 September 2012.  At the 2013 Academy Awards, Streisand sang “The Way We Were” in Hamlisch’s memory.

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Day in History 5 August – Marilyn Monroe – Richard Burton

Marilyn_Monroe_-_publicity_-_necklaceOn this day in 1962, actress, singer and model, American Icon, Marilyn Monroe was found dead at her Brentwood, Los Angeles home at the age of 36.  She apparently died from acute barbiturate poisoning.  Theories abound about how the drugs got in her system.  Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on 1 June 1926 in Los Angeles.  She was baptized and raised as Norma Jeane Baker.  Remembered and loved for her beauty, charm and personality.  My favorite Monore film roles include: as Lorelei Lee in Howard HawksGentleman Prefer Blondes (1953) with Jane Russell and Charles Coburn; as Evelyn Keyes in Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955); as Sugar Kane in Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon; as Roslyn Tabor in John Huston’s The Misfits (1961) with Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach.  The Misfits would prove to be the final film for both Monroe and Gable.  Her picture appeared on the cover of the first issue of Playboy magazine in December 1953.  Monroe married three times; James Dougherty (1942-1946 divorce), Joe DiMaggio (1954-1954 divorce) and Arthur Miller (1956-1961 divorce).  She may have had affairs with Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, JFK and RFK.  More questions than answers surround Monroe.  Was her death accidental, suicide or homicide?  Was JFK the last person she talked to?  Was she in love with him?  Was RFK the last person she saw?  The Final Footprint – Monroe is entombed in Westwood Memorial Park (a Dignity Memorial property) in Los Angeles.  Notice how her marble crypt front is discolored compared to the surrounding crypts.  This is caused by the many people who visit her crypt and touch the marble.  Also note the lipstick kisses.  DiMaggio had a half-dozen red roses delivered three times a week to her crypt for 20 years.  A memorial bench is located near her crypt dedicated to her In Loving Memory.  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, Carroll O’Connor, Roy Orbison, George C. Scott, Dorothy Stratten, Natalie Wood and Frank Zappa.

Richard_Burton_-_The_RobeOn this day in 1984, actor, 7x Academy Award nominee, Richard Burton died at age 58 from a brain haemorrhage at his home in Céligny, Switzerland.  Born Richard Walter Jenkins in the village of Pontrhydyfen, Neath Port Talbot, Wales on 10 November 1925.  Although never trained as an actor, Burton was at one time the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.  Burton remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple’s turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.  Burton was married five times; Welsh actress/producer Sybil Williams (1949 – 1963 divorce), Taylor twice, consecutively from 15 March 1964 to 26 June 1974 and from 10 October 1975 to 29 July 1976, Susan Hunt (1976 – 1982 divorce) and Sally Hay (1983 – 1984 his death).  Burton reportedly once said about himself, “I rather like my reputation, actually, that of a spoiled genius from the Welsh gutter, a drunk, a womanizer; it’s rather an attractive image.”  Richard_Burton_graveThe Final Footprint – Burton is interred in Vieux Cemetery, Celigny, Switzerland, in a red suit, a tribute to his Welsh roots, and with a copy of Dylan Thomas’ poems. He and Taylor had discussed being buried together. His widow Sally purchased the plot next to Burton’s to ensure she would be buried next to him.

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Day in History 4 August – Hans Christian Andersen

On this day in 1875, author and poet Hans Christian Andersen died in a house called Rolighed (calmness), near Copenhagen, the home of his close friend Moritz Melchior, at the age of 70.  Born on 2 April 1805 in Odense, Denmark.  Perhaps best known for his children’s stories including; “The Princess and the Pea” (1835), “Thumbelina” (1835), “The Little Mermaid” (1836), “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (1837), “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” (1838), “The Nightingale” (1844), “The Snow Queen” (1844), “The Ugly Duckling” (1844) and “The Little Match Girl” (1848).  Andersen was apparently frustrated in love and may have channeled his romantic grief into his stories.  At one point he wrote in his diary: “Almighty God, thee only have I; thou steerest my fate, I must give myself up to thee! Give me a livelihood! Give me a bride! My blood wants love, as my heart does!”  His unrequited loves included a girl named Riborg Voigt from his youth, Sophie Ørsted, Louise Collin and the opera soprano Jenny Lind, the inspiration for his story “The Nightingale”.  Andersen never married.  I have read many of his stories to my children.  Thank you HCA.  The Final Footprint – Andersen is interred in Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen.  His grave is marked by a large upright individual stone monument.  Inscribed at the the top of the monument is the word DIGTEREN (poet).  At the bottom is inscribed the last lines of Andersen’s poem “Oldingen” (The Old Man);

The soul which God in his image created, 
Is incorruptible, can not be lost. 
Our life on earth is the seed of eternity,  
Our body dies, but the soul can not die!

His stories have inspired many films, plays and ballets.  In the Copenhagen harbor there is a statue of The Little Mermaid, placed in honor of Andersen.  April 2, Andersen’s birthday, is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.  In the United States, statues of Andersen may be found in Central Park, New York, and in Solvang, California.  The city of Bratislava, Slovakia features a statue of Andersen in memory of his visit in 1841.  The city of Funabashi, Japan has a children’s theme park named after Andersen.  A theme park based on Andersen’s tales and life opened in Shanghai at the end of 2006.

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