Day in History 11 February – Rene Descartes – Elizabeth Siddal – Sylvia Plath – Whitney Houston

Descartes portrait after Frans Hals 1648

On this day in 1650, philosopher, mathematician, scientist and writer, “The Father of Modern Philosophy”, René Descartes, died in Stockholm, Sweden at the age of 53.  Born in La Haye en Touraine (now Descartes), Indre-et-Loire, France on 31 March 1596.  He is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement “Cogito ergo sum” (French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am; or I am thinking, therefore I exist or I do think, therefore I do exist), found in part IV of Discourse on the Method (1637 – written in French but with inclusion of “Cogito ergo sum”) and §7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (1644 – written in Latin).  The Final Footprint – As a Catholic in a Protestant nation, he was interred in a graveyard used mainly for orphans in Adolf Fredriks kyrka in Stockholm. In 1666 his remains were taken to France and buried in the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. Although the National Convention in 1792 had planned to transfer his remains to the Panthéon in Paris, he was entombed in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 1819, missing a finger and skull. His skull is on display in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris.  The inscription on his tomb, in Latin, reads in part; MEMORIAE RENATI DESCARTES RECONDITIORIS DOCTRINAE LAVDE ET INGENII SVBTILITATE PRAECELLENTISSIMI QVI PRIMVS A RENOVATIS IN EVROPA BONARVM LITTERARVM STVDIIS RATIONIS HVMANAE IVRA SALVA

elizabethSiddal-photoOn this day in 1862, wife of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, artists’ model, muse, poet and artist Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Siddal died at the age of 32, from complications related to an overdose of laudanum, at her home at 14 Chatham Place, London, now demolished and covered by Blackfriars Station.  Born Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall, on 25 July 1829, at the family’s home at 7 Charles Street, Hatton Garden, London.  Siddal was painted and drawn extensively by artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Walter Deverell, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais (including his notable 1852 painting Ophelia) and her husband.  She featured prominently in Rossetti’s early paintings of women.  Rossetti’s relationship with Siddal is explored by Christina Rossetti (Dante’s sister) in her poem “In an Artist’s Studio”:

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel – every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

 

The Final Footprint – Siddal was interred at Highgate Cemetery in London.  Rossetti enclosed in his wife’s coffin a journal containing the only copy he had of his many poems.  He reportedly slid the book into Siddal’s red hair.  By 1869, before publishing any newer poems, he became obsessed with retrieving the poems he had slipped into his wife’s coffin.  Rossetti and his agent, Charles Augustus Howell, applied to the Home Secretary for an order to have her exhumed.  It was done at night to avoid public curiosity and attention.  Rossetti was not present.  Howell reported that her corpse was remarkably well preserved and her delicate beauty intact, probably as a result of the laudanum.  Her hair was said to have continued to grow after death so that the coffin was filled with her flowing coppery hair.  Rossetti published the old poems with his newer ones.  They were not well received by some critics because of their eroticism, and he was reportedly haunted by the exhumation through the rest of his life.

Seven years after his wife’s death, Rossetti published a collection of sonnets entitled The House of Life; contained within it was the poem, “Without Her”. It is a reflection on life once love has departed:

What of her glass without her? The blank grey
There where the pool is blind of the moon’s face.
Her dress without her? The tossed empty space
Of cloud-rack whence the moon has passed away.
Her paths without her? Day’s appointed sway
Usurped by desolate night. Her pillowed place
Without her? Tears, ah me! For love’s good grace,
And cold forgetfulness of night or day.

What of the heart without her? Nay, poor heart,
Of thee what word remains ere speech be still?
A wayfarer by barren ways and chill,
Steep ways and weary, without her thou art,
Where the long cloud, the long wood’s counterpart,
Sheds doubled up darkness up the labouring hill.
— From Without Her

Other notable final footprints and Highgate include: George Eliot, George Michael, Christina Rossetti, and Jean Simmons.

Sylvia_plathOn this day in 1963 poet, novelist, short story writer, Pulitzer Prize recipient, Sylvia Plath committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in the kitchen of her flat at 23 Fitzroy Road near Primrose Hill, London, at the age of 30.  Born on 27 October 1932, in Massachusetts Memorial Hospital, in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.  Plath studied at Smith College and Newnham College, Cambridge, before receiving acclaim as a professional poet and writer.  She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956 and they lived together first in the United States and then England, having two children together, Frieda and Nicholas.  Plath suffered from depression for much of her adult life.  Controversy continues to surround the events of her life and death, as well as her writing and legacy.  Plath is generally credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry with her two published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel.  In 1982, she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems.  She also wrote The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death.  The Final Footprint – Hughes appears to have been devastated by Plath’s death, despite the fact that the couple had had been separated five months.  In a letter to an old friend of Plath’s from Smith College, he wrote, “That’s the end of my life. The rest is posthumous.”  Plath is interred in the Heptonstall’s parish churchyard of St Thomas the Apostle.  Plath’s gravestone bears the inscription that Hughes chose for her:  “Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.”  The quote has been variously attributed to the 16th-century Buddhist novel Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng’en or to the Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita.  The gravestone has been repeatedly vandalized by those aggrieved that “Hughes” is written on the stone; they have attempted to chisel it off, leaving only the name “Sylvia Plath.”  When Hughes’ partner Assia Wevill killed herself and their four-year-old daughter Shura in 1969, this practice intensified.  After each defacement, Hughes had the damaged stone removed and replaced.  Plath mourners accused Hughes in the media of dishonoring her name by removing the stone.  Wevill’s death led to claims that Hughes had been abusive to both Plath and Wevill.  In 1970, poet Robin Morgan published the poem “Arraignment”, in which she accused Hughes of the battery and murder of Plath.  Reportedly some threatened to kill him in Plath’s name.  In 1989, with Hughes under public attack, a battle raged in the letters pages of The Guardian and The Independent.  In The Guardian on 20 April 1989, Hughes wrote the article “The Place Where Sylvia Plath Should Rest in Peace”: “In the years soon after [Plath’s] death, when scholars approached me, I tried to take their apparently serious concern for the truth about Sylvia Plath seriously. But I learned my lesson early. […] If I tried too hard to tell them exactly how something happened, in the hope of correcting some fantasy, I was quite likely to be accused of trying to suppress Free Speech. In general, my refusal to have anything to do with the Plath Fantasia has been regarded as an attempt to suppress Free Speech […] The Fantasia about Sylvia Plath is more needed than the facts. Where that leaves respect for the truth of her life (and of mine), or for her memory, or for the literary tradition, I do not know.”  Plath was portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow and Hughes was portrayed by Daniel Craig in the 2003 film Sylvia.

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston Welcome Home Heroes 1 cropped.jpg

Houston performing at Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston in 1991

On this day in 2012, singer, actor, model Whitney Houston died of accidental drowning in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, at the age of 48. Born Whitney Elizabeth Houston on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey. Houston is one of the best-selling music artists of all-time. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold certification. Houston’s crossover appeal on the popular music charts, as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for “How Will I Know”, influenced several artists who follow in her footsteps.

Houston’s self-titled debut album (1985) was named by Rolling Stone as the best album of 1986. Her second studio album, Whitney (1987), became the first album by a woman to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Houston made her screen acting debut as Rachel Marron in the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard (1992). She performed the lead single from the film’s original soundtrack, “I Will Always Love You”, which received the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Houston made other high-profile film appearances and contributed to their soundtracks, including Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). The latter’s soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.

Houston performing “Saving All My Love for You” on the Welcome Home Heroes concert in 1991

Throughout the 1980s, Houston was romantically linked to American football star Randall Cunningham and actor Eddie Murphy. She then met R&B singer Bobby Brown at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. After a three-year courtship, the two were married on July 18, 1992. On March 4, 1993, Houston gave birth to their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown (March 4, 1993 – July 26, 2015), the couple’s only child. 

Houston performing “My Love Is Your Love” with her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown on Good Morning America, September 1, 2009

Whitney Houston at the O2 Arena, April 28, 2010, as part of her Nothing but Love World Tour

 

The Final Footprint

The Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Houston’s body was found

“We miss you” message at the Los Angeles Theatre

Flowers near the Beverly Hilton Hotel

 

On February 11, Houston was found unconscious in Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. Beverly Hills paramedics arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m. and found the singer unresponsive and performed CPR. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. PST. On March 22, 2012, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office reported the cause of Houston’s death was drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use”. The manner of death was listed as an “accident”.

An invitation-only memorial service was held for Houston on Saturday, February 18, 2012, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. The service was scheduled for two hours, but lasted four. Among those who performed at the funeral were Stevie Wonder(rewritten version of “Ribbon in the Sky”, and “Love’s in Need of Love Today”), CeCe Winans (“Don’t Cry”, and “Jesus Loves Me”), Alicia Keys (“Send Me an Angel”), Kim Burrell (rewritten version of “A Change Is Gonna Come”), and R. Kelly (“I Look to You”). The performances were interspersed with hymns by the church choir and remarks by Clive Davis, Houston’s record producer; Kevin Costner; Rickey Minor, her music director; her cousin, Dionne Warwick; and Ray Watson, her security guard for the past 11 years. Houston was buried on February 19, 2012, in Fairview Cemetery, in Westfield, New Jersey, next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003.

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Day in History 10 February – Arthur Miller

On this day in 2005, playwright and essayist, Tony Award winner, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Drama, Arthur Miller, died at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut at the age of 89.  Born Arthur Asher Miller on 17 October 1915 in Harlem, New York City.  His notable plays include; All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (one-act, 1955; revised two-act, 1956).  Death of a Saleman was commercially successful and critically acclaimed, winning a Tony Award for Best Author, the New York Drama Circle Critics’ Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; the first play to win all three of these major awards.  Miller received a BA in English from the University of Michigan.  Miller married three times; Mary Slattery (1940 – 1956 divorce), Marilyn Monroe (1956 – 1961 divorce) and Inge Morath (1962 – 2002 her death).  Miller also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Misfits (1961) starring Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach.  Miller and Monroe would divorce shortly before the movie’s premier.  The film marked the final movie for both Monroe and Gable.  Miller’s papers are housed at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.  The Final Footprint – Miller is interred with his wife Inge in Roxbury Center Cemetery, Roxbury, Connecticut.  Their grave is marked by an irregular granite upright marker and they each have flat granite foot markers.  Her foot marker is inscribed; BEAUTE MON BEAU DESIR, which translates as, Beauty My Beautiful Desire.

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Day in History 9 February – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Bill Haley

On this day in 1881, writer and essayist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, died in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire at the age of 59 from a  pulmonary haemorrhage.  Born Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky on 11 November 1821 in Moscow, Russian Empire.  His notable novels include; Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot ( 1869) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).  Dostoyevsky’s works explored human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society.  Considered by many as a founder or precursor of 20th-century existentialism and acknowledged by critics as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in world literature.  In his posthumous collection of sketches A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway cited Dostoyevsky as a major influence.  In a book of interviews with Arthur Power (Conversations with James Joyce), Joyce praised Dostoyevsky’s prose: …he is the man more than any other who has created modern prose, and intensified it to its present-day pitch.  It was his explosive power which shattered the Victorian novel with its simpering maidens and ordered commonplaces; books which were without imagination or violence. In her essay The Russian Point of View, Virginia Woolf said:  The novels of Dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms, waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. They are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul. Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture. Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading. Dostoyevsky married twice;  Mariya Dmitriyevna Isayeva (1857 – 1864 her death) and  Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (1867 – 1918 his death).  The Final Footprint – Reportedly, among Dostoyevsky’s last words was his quotation of Matthew 3:14–15: “But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness“, and he finished with “Hear now—permit it. Do not restrain me!”  When he died, his body was placed on a table, following Russian custom.  Dostoyevsky is interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Saint Petersburg near his favourite poets, Karamsin and Zhukovsky.  His grave is marked by a large granite monument featuring his bust and the inscription; Verily, Verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (Excerpt from John 12:24, which is also the epigraph of his final novel, The Brothers Karamazov.)  A statue in his honor was installed in Omsk.  There is a Dostoyevsky monument outside the Russian State Library in Moscow.  The Dostoyevsky statue was erected outside the Mariinsky Hospital, his birthplace in Moscow.

Bill Haley
Haley smiling

Bill Haley in 1974

On this day in 1981, musician, singer and songwriter Bill Haley died possibly from a heart attack at his home in Harlingen, Texas at the age of 55. Born William John Clifton Haley on July 6, 1925 Highland Park, Michigan. One of  the first artists to popularize rock and roll in the early 1950s with his group Bill Haley & His Comets. They had  million-selling hits such as “Rock Around the Clock”, “See You Later, Alligator”, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, “Rocket 88”, “Skinny Minnie”, and “Razzle Dazzle”.

Sunday, August 7, 1955 rehearsal publicity photograph on the Ed Sullivan Show or Toast of the Town, CBS, Hartford, Connecticut

Bill Haley and the Comets performing during 1974

Bill Haley and Elvis Presley at the Brooklyn High School Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, October 20, 1955

Bill Haley was married three times:

  • Dorothy Crowe (11 December 1946 – 14 November 1952) (divorced) (2 children)
  • Barbara Joan Cupchak (18 November 1952 – 1960) (divorced) (5 children)
  • Martha Velaesco (1963 – 9 February 1981; his death) (3 children)

Bill Haley on a lobby card from the 1956 Columbia Pictures film Rock Around The Clock. (One hair lock is styled into a kiss curl)

The Final Footprint 

After a small funeral service, Haley was cremated.

Sunday, April 28, 1957 second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show rehearsal photograph, CBS

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Day in History 8 February – Mary Queen of Scots

Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots by Francois Clouet

On this day in 1587, Queen regnant of Scots, Queen consort of France, Mary Stuart, Mary Queen of Scots, was executed at Fotheringhay Castle Northamptonshire, England, at the age of 44.  Born on 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, Scotland.  Mary was the only surviving legitimate child of King James V of Scotland.  Mary of Guise was her mother.  She was 6 days old when her father died and she was crowned nine months later.  In 1558, she married Francis, Dauphin of France, who ascended the French throne as Francis II in 1559.  Mary was widowed on 5 December 1560 and then returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561.  As a devout Catholic, she was regarded with suspicion by many of her subjects.  Scotland was torn between Catholic and Protestant factions, and Mary’s illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, was a leader of the Protestant faction.  The Protestant reformer John Knox also preached against Mary, condemning her for hearing Mass, dancing, dressing too elaborately, and many other real and imagined offences.  In 1565, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.  Their marriage was not a happy one.  In February 1567, there was an explosion at their house, and Darnley was found dead, apparently strangled, in the garden.  Mary then

Royal Standard of Scotland

married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, who was generally believed to be Darnley’s murderer.  Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle on 15 June and forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son, Charles James who then became James VI King of Scots and later James I King of England.  After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, Mary fled to England seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Mary had previously claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics, including participants in the Rising of the North.  Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her arrested.  After 19 years in custody in a number of castles and manor houses in England, she was tried and executed for treason for her alleged involvement in three plots to assassinate Elizabeth.  The motto of Scotland; In My Defens, God Me Defend!  The Final Footprint – Mary was initially entombed in Peterborough Cathedral in Peterborough, England.  James later had his mother’s body moved to Westminster Abbey and entombed about 30 feet away from Elizabeth.  The site of her burial vault is marked by an effigial monument.  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Edward The Confessor, Elizabeth I, George II, George Friederic Handel, James I (James VI of Scotland), Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Charles II, Edward III, Edward VI, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, Richard II, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Mary I, Mary II, Thomas Shadwell, Edmund Spenser, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and William III.

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Day in History 7 February – Dave Peverett – Dale Evans

On this day in 2000, singer and songwriter, founder of the blues-rock band Foghat, Lonesome Dave, Dave Peverett, died in Orlando, Florida at the age of 56 from cancer.  Born on 16 April 1943 in Dulwich, South East London, UK.  The band’s biggest hit was “Slow Ride” which Peverett wrote.  Their notable albums inlcude; “Foghat” (1972), “Energized” (1974), “Fool for the City” (1975), “Nighshift” (1976), “Foghat Live” (1977) and “Stone Blue” (1978).  Foghat has always been one of my favorite bands.  The Final Footprint – Peverett was cremated.

 

 

On this day in 2001, writer, film star and singer-songwriter, the third wife of singing cowboy Roy Rogers, Dale Evans died of congestive heart failure at the age of 88 in Apple Valley, California.  Born Lucille Wood Smith in Uvalde, Texas on 31 October 1912.  She took the name Dale Evans in the early 1930s to promote her singing career.  Evans wrote one of the classic cowboy songs, “Happy Trails”.  Evans married four times; Thomas Frederick Fox (1927–1929 divorce), August Wayne Johns (1929–1935 divorce), R. Dale Butts (1937–1946 divorce) and Roy Rogers (1947–1998 his death).  My heroes have always been cowboys and cowgirls.  The Final Footprint – She was interred at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Apple Valley, next to Roy.  Happy trails, Dale and Roy.  For her contribution to radio, Evans has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6638 Hollywood Blvd.  She received a second star at 1737 Vine St. for her contribution to the television industry.  In 1976, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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Day in History 6 February – Rubén Darío – Gustav Klimt – Vince Guaraldi – Arthur Ashe

Rubén_DaríoOn this day in 1916, “The Prince of Castillian Letters”, poet Rubén Darío died aged 49, in León, Nicaragua.  Born Félix Rubén García Sarmiento on 18 January 1867 in Metapa, today known as Ciudad Darío, Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  Darío initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo (modernism) that flourished at the end of the 19th century.  Darío has had a great and lasting influence on 20th-century Spanish literature and journalism.  He has been praised as the undisputed father of the modernismo literary movement.  The Final Footprint –  Dario’s funeral lasted several days, and he was entombed in Catedral de la Asuncíon de María de León on 13 February 1916, at the base of the statue of Saint Paul near the chancel under a lion made of marble by the sculptor Jorge Navas Cordonero.

gustavklimtOn this day in 1918, painter Gustav Klimt died in Vienna at the age of 55, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia due to the influenza epidemic of that year.  Born 14 July 1862 in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary.  Klimt was a symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement.  His primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism.  In addition, he painted landscapes.  Early in his artistic career, he was a successful painter of architectural decorations in a conventional manner.  His work was the subject of controversy that culminated when the paintings he completed around 1900 for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna were criticized as pornographic.  He subsequently accepted no more public commissions, but achieved a new success with the paintings of his “golden phase,” many of which include gold leaf.  The Final Footprint – Klimt was interred at the Hietzinger Cemetery in Hietzing, Vienna.

Gallery

A section of the Beethoven Frieze, at Secession Building, Vienna (1902) 

Judith II (1909) 

Golden phase and critical success

The Kiss 1907–08, oil on canvas, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna 

 Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), which sold for a record $135 million in 2006, Neue Galerie, New York 

 The Sunflower, c. 1906 

 Decorative patterns were often used by Gustav Klimt in his paintings. Die Umarmung (“The Embrace”) – detail from the Palais Stoclet in Brussels. 

Drawings

 Rosebushes under the Trees

Oberösterreichisches Bauernhaus

Klimt – Sonja Knips 

Gustav Klimt – Beech Grove I 

Vinceguaraldi_blackwhite-150x146On this day in 1976, United States Army Veteran, Grammy award winning jazz musician and songwriter, Vince Guaraldi died of a heart attack at the age of 47 at the Red Cottage Inn in Menlo Park, California.  Born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio on 17 July 1928 in San Francisco’s North Beach area.  Noted for his innovative compositions and arrangements and for composing music for animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip.  Guaraldi went on to compose scores for seventeen Peanuts television specials, including the Christmas special, plus the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.  The Final Footprint – Guaraldi is interred in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, California.  Another notable final footprint at Holy Cross; Joe DiMaggio.

On this day in 1993, U. S. Army veteran, tennis legend and social activist, Arthur Ashe, died in New York City at the age of 49 from AIDS-related pneumonia.  He contracted the HIV virus from blood transfusions during heart bypass surgery.  Born Arthur Robert Ashe. Jr. on 10 July 1943 in Richmond, Virginia.  Ashe attended UCLA and was the first African-American man to win Wimbledon and the U. S. Open.  I enjoyed playing tennis once ago and Ashe has always been one of my favorite players.  I was pulling for him to win that match at Wimbledon.  I used Head tennis rackets because Ashe did.  Ashe was married to Jeanne Moutoussamy.  The Final Footprint – Ashe is interred in the Ashe Private Estate in Woodland Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.  His grave is marked by a large black granite marker.  The marker features the inscription; Distinguished Athlete, Scholar and Humanitarian, and A HARD ROAD TO GLORY.  After his death, Arthur Ashe’s body lay in state at the governor’s mansion in Virginia.  The last time this was allowed was for Stonewall Jackson of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  The city of Richmond posthumously honored Ashe’s life with a statue on Monument Avenue, a place traditionally reserved for statues of key figures of the Confederacy.  In 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.  The main stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, where the US Open is played, is named Arthur Ashe Stadium in his honor. This is also the home of the annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.  His memoir is entitled Days of Grace. 

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Day in History 5 February – Banjo Paterson – Doug McClure

Banjo_PattersonOn this day in 1941, Australian bush poet, journalist and author Banjo Paterson died of a heart attack in Sydney, aged 76.  Born Andrew Barton Paterson at the property “Narrambla”, near Orange, New South Wales, the eldest son of Andrew Bogle Paterson, a Scottish immigrant from Lanarkshire, and Australian-born Rose Isabella Barton, related to the future first Prime Minister of Australia Edmund Barton.  Paterson wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood.  His more notable poems include “Waltzing Matilda”, “The Man from Snowy River” and “Clancy of the Overflow”.  On 8 April 1903 he married Alice Emily Walker, of Tenterfield Station, in St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, in Tenterfield, New South Wales.  The Final Footprint – Paterson’s grave, along with that of his wife, is in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Sydney.

 

dougmcclure-211x300On this day in 1995, actor Doug McClure died in Sherman Oaks, California at the age of 59.  Born Douglas Osborne McClure on 11 May 1935 in Glendale, California.  Perhaps best remembered for his role as Trampas on the Western television servies The Virginian which ran from 1962 to 1971.  One of my favorite shows as a kid.  McClure was married five times; Faye Brash (1957 – 1961 divorce), BarBara Luna (1961 – 1963 divorce), Helen Crane (1965 – 1968 divorce), Diane Soldani (1970 – 1979 divorce) and Diane Furnberg (1979 – 1995 his death).  The Final Footprint – McClure is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California.  His grave is marked by a flat granite marker with his picture and the inscription; Loving Husband & Father and Forever In Our Hearts We Miss You.  Other notable Final Footprints at Woodlawn include; actress Barbara Billingsley, actor Harvey Korman and actor Glenn Ford.

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Day in History 4 February – Karen Carpenter

Karen and Richard Carpenter

On this day in 1983, drummer, singer and songwriter, Karen Carpenter, died at her parents’s home in Downey, California at the age of 32 from complications related to anorexia nervosa.  Born Karen Anne Carpenter on 2 March 1950 in New Haven, Connecticut.  Along with her brother Richard, they formed the duo The Carpenters.  Best known for their album, 1970’s Close to You, featuring two big hit singles: “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.”  The songwriter Tom Bahler wrote the song “She’s Out of My Life” after she broke up with him.  The song would eventually became a hit single for Michael Jackson.  Carpenter married Thomas James Burris (1980 – 1983 her death).  The Final Footprint – Carpenter’s funeral service took place on 8 February 1983, at the Downey United Methodist Church.  Dressed in a rose-colored suit, Carpenter lay in an open white casket.  Over 1,000 mourners passed through to say goodbye, among them her friends Dorothy Hamill, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, and Dionne Warwick.  Carpenter’s estranged husband Tom attended her funeral, where he took off his wedding ring and placed it inside the casket.  Carpenter was initially entombed in a private crypt in the Ascension Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Compassion, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Cypress, California.  In 2003, Richard had Karen and their parents moved to the Carpenter Family Private Mausoleum at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Westlake Village, California.  Karen’s crypt front features the inscription; A STAR ON EARTH – A STAR IN HEAVEN.

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Day in History 3 February – The Day the Music Died – Buddy Holly – The Big Bopper – Ritchie Valens

The Day the Music Died


On this day, in 1959, singer and songwriter, rock and roll pioneer, Buddy Holly died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, at the age of 22.  Ritchie Valens, J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and the pilot, Roger Peterson, were also killed in the crash.  Holly’s bandmate Waylon Jennings reportedly gave up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!”  Jennings shot back facetiously, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!”  It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for decades.  Born Charles Hardin Holley on 7 September 1936 in Lubbock, Texas.  Music critic Bruce Elder described Holly as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.”  Holly apparently inspired contemporary and later musicians, notably The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton.  In my opinion he exerted a profound influence on popular music.  Paul McCartney owns the publishing rights to Holly’s song catalogue.  In his 1998 Grammy acceptance speech for his Time out of Mind being named Album of the Year, Dylan said;  “And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him…and he looked at me.  And I just have some sort of feeling that he was — I don’t know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.”  Keith Richards reportedly said that Holly had “an influence on everybody.”  In a 24 August 1978 Rolling Stone interview, Bruce Springsteen told Dave Marsh, “I play Buddy Holly every night before I go on; that keeps me honest.”  Don McLean‘s popular 1971 ballad “American Pie” is inspired by Holly and the day of the plane crash.  The American Pie album is dedicated to Holly.  Holly was married to Maria Elena Santiago.  My favorite Holly songs are “That’ll be the Day” and “Not Fade Away”.  Holly co-wrote “That’ll be the Day” with Jerry Allison apparently after watching the movie The Searchers, starring John Wayne.  In the movie Wayne’s character, Ethan Edwards says that line four times; once in response to Jeffrey Hunter’s character Martin Pawley telling Ethan, “I hope you die!”  Ethan responds. “That’ll be the day.”  Holly’s music has certainly not faded away.  Indeed, 3 February 1959; the day the music died.

The Final Footprint –  Holly is interred in the City of Lubbock Cemetery in Lubbock.  His grave is marked be a flat granite marker, with the inscription; IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR OWN BUDDY HOLLEY.  A memorial has been created near the crash site, (which i have visited) where fans still leave mementos in honor of those who died in the crash.  There is a bronze statue of Holly on Lubbock’s Walk of Fame and a Holly mural on 19th street.  In June 1988, a four-foot tall granite memorial bearing the names of the three entertainers and Peterson was dedicated outside The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, the site of their final performance.  In 1988, Ken Paquette, a Wisconsin fan of the 1950s era, erected a stainless-steel monument depicting a steel guitar and a set of three records bearing the names of each of the three performers.  It is located on private farmland, about one quarter mile west of the intersection of 315th Street and Gull Avenue, approximately eight miles north of Clear Lake.  I have visited the crash sight.  Stood there in the blowin’ cold, thinkin’ about what happened.  Paquette also created a similar stainless steel monument to the three musicians near the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  That memorial was unveiled on 17 July 2003.  Holly’s life story inspired a Hollywood biographical film, The Buddy Holly Story (1978).  Gary Busey received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Holly.  Paul McCartney produced and hosted a documentary about Holly in 1985, titled The Real Buddy Holly Story.  In 1987, Marshall Crenshaw portrayed Buddy Holly in the movie La Bamba.  Other notable final footprints in Lubbock cemetery include Bobby Layne.

The Big Bopper

The_Big_BopperBorn Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. on 24 October 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas.  Perhaps best known for his recording of “Chantilly Lace”, a song he co-wrote with Jerry Foster and Bill Rice.  The Final Footprint – In January 2007, Richardson’s son Jay requested that his father’s body be exhumed and an autopsy be performed to settle the rumors that a gun was fired or that Richardson initially survived the crash.  The findings indicated there were no signs of foul play and that Richardson died immediately.  After the autopsy, Richardson’s body was re-interred next to his wife in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont, Texas.  Jay then allowed the old casket to be put on display at the Texas Musicians Museum.

Ritchie Valens

Born Richard Steven Valenzuela on 13 May 1941 in Pacoima, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.  Valens is considered rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement.  His recording career lasted only eight months but he had several hits, most notably “La Bamba”, which was originally a Mexican folk song.  Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement.  The Final Footprint – Valens was interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California.  Valens has been the subject of several biopic films, including the 1987 film La Bamba.  Primarily set in 1957-1959, it depicted Valens from age 16 to 17 and introduced Lou Diamond Phillips as Valens.

Roger Peterson

Born Roger Arthur Peterson on 24 May 1937 in Alta, Iowa.  A memorial service for Peterson was held at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Ventura, Iowa on February 5.  A funeral was held the next day at St. Paul Lutheran Church in his hometown of Alta and Peterson was buried in Buena Vista Memorial Cemetery in nearby Storm Lake. Peterson’s parents would later receive condolence letters from the families of Holly and Valens.

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Day in History 2 February – Boris Karloff – Gene Kelly – Philip Seymour Hoffman

Borris_Karloff_stillOn this day in 1969, actor Boris Karloff died after a long battle with arthritis and emphysema, he contracted pneumonia, succumbing to it in King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, Sussex at age 81.  Born William Henry Pratt at 36 Forest Hill Road, Honor Oak, London on 23 November 1887.  Karloff is perhaps best remembered for his roles in horror films and especially for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939), which resulted in his immense popularity.  His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966).  He also had a memorable role in the original Scarface (1932).  For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Karloff married five times: Grace Harding (1910-1913, divorce), Montana Laurena Williams (1920, divorce), Helene Vivian Soule (1924-1928, divorce), Dorothy Stine (1928-1946, divorce) and Evelyn Hope Helmore (1946-1969, his death).  The Final Footprint –  Karloff was cremated, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford Crematorium, Godalming, Surrey, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance.  A memorial service was held at St Paul’s, Covent Garden (the Actors’ Church), London, where there is also a plaque.

genekellygOn this day in 1996, dancer, Academy Award nominated actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer, Gene Kelly, died at his home in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 83.  Born Eugene Curran Kelly on 23 August 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks, style and the likeable characters that he played on screen in movie classics including, Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris.  Kelly graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Economics and enrolled in law school at Pitt but dropped out later to pursue his career in entertainment.  His Oscar nomination came from his role in Anchors Away, co-starring with Frank Sinatra.  Kelly was married three times Betsy Blair (1941 – 1957 divorce), Jeanne Coyne (1960 – 1973 her death), Patricia Ward (1990 – 1996 his death).  The Final Footprint – Kelly was cremated at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary (a Dignity Memorial® provider) and his cremains were given to his family.  He left instructions that there was to be no funeral or memorial service. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman 2011.jpg

Hoffman at the Paris premiere of
The Ides of March in October 2011

On this day in 2014, actor, director and producer Philip Seymour Hoffman died from an accidental drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment at the age of 46. Born July 23, 1967 in Fairport, New York. Perhaps best known for his distinctive supporting and character roles.

Drawn to theater as a teenager, Hoffman studied acting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He gained recognition for his supporting work, notably in Boogie Nights (1997), Happiness (1998), Patch Adams (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), and Along Came Polly (2004). His portrayal of the author Truman Capote in Capote (2005), won multiple accolades including the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hoffman’s profile continued to grow, and he received three more Oscar nominations for his supporting work as a brutally frank CIA officer in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), a priest accused of pedophilia in Doubt (2008), and the charismatic leader of a Scientology-type movement in The Master(2012).

While he mainly worked in independent films, including The Savages (2007) and Synecdoche, New York (2008), Hoffman also appeared in Hollywood blockbusters, such as Twister (1996) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and in one of his final roles, as Plutarch Heavensbee in the Hunger Games series (2013–15). The feature Jack Goes Boating (2010) marked his debut as a filmmaker. Hoffman was also an accomplished theater actor and director. He joined the off-Broadway LAByrinth Theater Company in 1995, where he directed, produced, and appeared in numerous stage productions. His performances in three Broadway plays – True West in 2000, Long Day’s Journey into Night in 2003, and Death of a Salesman in 2012 – all led to Tony Award nominations.

Hoffman at Cannes in 2002 promoting Punch-Drunk Love

Hoffman at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009, where he was nominated for Doubt

Hoffman at the Moneyball premiere in September 2011

Hoffman, Anton Corbijn and Grigoriy Dobrygin promoting A Most Wanted Man at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2014, less than two weeks before his death

Hoffman at a Hudson Union Society event in September 2010

For the last 14 years of his life, he was in a relationship with costume designer Mimi O’Donnell, whom he had met in 1999 when they were both working on the play In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, which Hoffman directed. They lived in New York City. Hoffman and O’Donnell separated in the fall of 2013, some months before his death.

The Final Footprint

A funeral was held at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan on February 7, 2014. His remains were cremated.

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