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Category Archives: Obituary

R.I.P. Farley Granger

Cropped screenshot of Farley Granger from the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Who will be three?

Everyone knows the adage “Bad things come in threes.” Well, poor Liz Taylor passed away just six days ago. Now Farley Granger has gone to that big movie lot in the sky. Just yesterday, Granger died at the age of 85 “from natural causes,” according to Wikipedia. Between Wikipedia and IMDB, one can put together a pretty good bio in five hundred words or less. He was born on the best coast, San José, California in 1925. Best remembered for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock: Rope (1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

Immediately after graduating from high school, Granger caught the eye of Sam Goldwyn. (I wonder how that worked.) He was cast in a few small roles, but then joined the Army and served his country in World War II. His longtime partner (since 1963), Robert Calhoun, collaborated with Farley on his 2007 memoir “Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway“. Granger worked with many great actors and actresses during a long career that didn’t end until 2001. From David Niven to Anne Bancroft, Granger worked with a host of old timey, great performers. He also managed carve out a career in the Italian movie industry. While he never broke out into superstar status, his resumé is one that any parent would be proud of.

I don’t know if he ever weighed in on the gays in the military. The fact that I’ve never heard of Granger’s involvement in any kind of gay rights activism seems to say more about the era in which he was born and raised, rather than about him. Like Rock Hudson, he was a heart-throb whose career was dependent on something of a macho image. Unlike Hudson, Granger could act. He scored a brief career comeback with Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap,” in 1980. He is quoted as saying that he enjoyed watching movies, but didn’t like making them. That’s a sad statement. Maybe he would have been better off as a Catholic priest?

I have never felt the need to belong to any exclusive, self-defining or special group. I find it difficult to answer questions about ‘gay life’ in Hollywood when I was living and working there. There were, of course, gay cliques, but I had no close friends who belonged to any of them, and I had no desire to become involved with any of them … I was never ashamed, and I never felt the need to explain or apologize for my relationships to anyone. –Farley Granger

Arrivederci, Farley. It sounds as though you may have had a touch of self-loathing going on. I can’t say that I’m going to run to the nearest book store to buy your memoirs, but I’ve provided a link to Amazon, where you can buy a copy, if you are so inclined. I hope your passing was easy. Now we are all left with the question, “Who will be number three?” Because bad things always, always come in three’s.

Hitchcock directed Granger in two movies

Below: His star on Vine, on the east side across from the Hollywood Plaza Hotel.


R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

It is a sad day indeed here in Hollywood. An icon of epic proportions just died. I am speaking of Elizabeth Taylor. I heard the news on the Washington Post’s web site. It appears she left her body some time around 11 a.m. Pacific time. The cause of death is listed as complications of congestive heart failure. She’d been in hospital for a couple of weeks at Cedars Sinai, celebrating her birthday there on February 27. Her four children were with her when she died according to IMDB. As the peons and praises pour in, let my add my weak voice to the chorus. An Oscar laureate two times over, she never really garnered the acclaim as an actress that she deserved. She was accused of dragging down Richard Burton, ruining his career and making him a lap poodle. Let’s remember that Sir Richard was an alcoholic of raging proportions, that he remarried her just for the sadistic pleasure of leaving her again.

Why should we care about the passing of Liz Taylor? Because it marks the end of an era. A child actress, she made her fame in Lassie (the movie) and National Velvet. As an adult, her list of credits is endless. She worked hard for the money, yet according to all reports, she was a gracious lady to all comers, hence the Larry Fortensky fiasco. With Ms. Taylor’s passing, gone is a woman who turned all heads, world round, not just with her beauty but also her very public private life. She is one of the last of a dying breed- a real actor who put herself into a role without losing herself in that role. An actor who took her work more seriously than public persona. We could use more Liz Taylor’s and less Angelina Jolie’s in the movie business, that’s for sure. Despite her strange proclivities, such as her friendship with Michael Jackson, she did her best to leave the world a better place than when she found it, especially her groundbreaking work on the part of victims of AIDS. She’s probably done more single-handedly to humanize the plight of these people, and to encourage research and development of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS. God Bless her. She will be missed by generations of fans.

What are my favorite movies by Liz? You may ask. Here’s a short list: Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Butterfield 8 (a campy romp that landed her first Oscar). Virginia Wolfe was Oscar number 2. She did her share of stinkers- remember the Sandpipers? On the whole, her career was lengthy and full of well-deserved plaudits. She was a ground breaker in many ways. Did you know that she was the first actor to be paid a cool million for a role? That was back in 1963. Can you imagine Angelina Jolie condescending to take a role for only one million? Never!

Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Eliza...

Image via Wikipedia- Taylor & Burton in Cleopatra (1963)

Remember when she became the official vamp/femme fatale when she “stole” Eddie Fisher from poor little Debbie Reynolds? Nothing like that could ever happen again in this jaded world in which we live. The whole Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston affair was like a puff of smoke compared to the media explosion caused by the Reynolds-Fisher breakup and Liz’s role in it. Liz was a mirror of our society in many ways, from her mixed up marital shenanigans, to her charity and finally in her passing. According to sources, she went gently into that goodnight, to paraphrase a Welsh poet. Good bye, Liz. This is one blogger who will mourn you deeply. Speaking of bloggers, I stumbled across a great blog that has tons of beautiful pictures of the former Queen of Glamour. Please allow me to treat you to a couple.

Below is a more down to earth image of Liz, from the filming of Suddenly Last Summer, another great Taylor vehicle. When she is standing on the catwalk above the “insane” people, her facial expressions are amazing and real. Those smoldering glances and piercing eyes captured my heart when I was a little boy. I’ll never stop loving you, Liz! You will live forever in the hearts of your fans and in the body of work that you’ve left behind.

Smoldering in Suddenly Last Summer

Liz in 1964, photographed by Avedon

R.I.P. Dan Avey

His star then

After a five year battle against prostate cancer, Dan Avey passed away at Cedars Sinai hospital on August 15, 2010. He was a long-time Los Angeles radio personality and newscaster, in a thirty-year career that won him about the same number of awards, including 15 Golden Mikes. Avey began his radio career at KXLY in Spokane, Washington. During his radio career in Southern California, Avey primarily worked at KFWB, KFI and KABC as a reporter and anchor for news and sports. He also taught at USC and Cal State Northridge.
Avey spent 1966-68 in the Army and served in Vietnam as a member of the Green Berets.
In November 2001, KABC hired him to be paired with Ken Minyard in the morning. He continued on as KABC news anchor from noon to 6 p.m. during The Sean Hannity Show and the Larry Elder show. He is survived by his wife, Michele Davis-Avey and four children : Kim Clemens, Kristin Romano, Ally Avey and Jennifer Avey; as well as six grandchildren; and two brothers Mike and Tom.

Avey received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.  It is in front of the El Capitan Theater. Los Angeles King’s fans will surely note his loss come hockey season.
It should be noted that KFI is owned by Clear Channel Communications, a multi-million dollar conglomerate that owns more radio stations than any other entity in the United States of America. KFI is home to such personalities as Rush Limbaugh.
This obituary was compiled with the help of the Los Angeles Times and Wikipedia.

His star today

Colleague and admirer

Another who will miss Avey

You must thank the LAPD

Porn star plunges to death

AP Photo/Axel Koester

The video in this post is a bit tart. I wouldn’t recommend showing it to anybody who is either suicidal, or has a problem with seeing a man plunge to his death. Granted, the man in question was an utterly unsavory character. While his real name was Stephen Clancy Hill, he went by the stage name Steve Driver. He allegedly slashed one co-worker to death and injured 2 others. According to the L.A. Times, the man was going to be fired from his job. Besides being paid to have sex in front of cameras, he also earned money packaging his own and others’ videos at the pornography company’s production facility in Van Nuys. (To those readers who are unfamiliar with the San Fernando Valley, its number 1 export is pornography.) Apparently Mr. Hill was also facing eviction. I’m not saying that I feel sorry for this man; however, the LAPD was sent in to keep him from committing suicide, so that he could be arrested and face trial for his terrible crimes.

So while this man is teetering on the brink of a cliff, the nincompoop on the right with a gun shoots him with “a less than lethal munition,” according to the AP. Of great interest to all the news outlets is the fact that all of Mr. Hill’s victims were co-stars with him and each other.

It only gets worse. “Sources familiar with the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly said Hill had a history of violence that included a 1999 assault-with-a-firearm conviction for threatening to kill one of his college instructors for not giving him an A. Hill, of Riverdale, Md., allegedly told the University of Maryland instructor that he was ‘a mobster and would dismember the instructor’s body if he didn’t get the grade,’ according to a 1999 story in the Washington Post.” As a Marylander and alumnus of the University of Maryland, College Park, I can only lower head in shame. I wonder if he ever completed a degree program? Threatening a professor for a grade is the lowest form of grade grubbing. I wonder who dropped the ball and let this guy back out on the streets back in 1999?

Mr. Stephen Clancy Hill fell to his death in scenic Chatsworth, California.

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

R.I.P. Malcom McLaren

Dead at 64

The Los Angeles Times reports that Malcolm McLaren passed away on Thursday, April 8 in a Swiss hospital after a long struggle with cancer. He was 64 years old. McLaren is survived by his son, Joseph Corré, his love-child by Vivienne Westwood, as well as his longtime girlfriend, Young Kim. While he was behind other bands of note, such as Bow Wow Wow (of mohawk fame) he’s best remembered for his association with the Sex Pistol’s. While the breakup was acrimonious, it does seem to exemplify McLaren’s controversial manner.

McLaren was a restless cultural entrepreneur and talent spotter whose ears were attuned to the discontented undercurrents, both in popular music and in British society, that gave rise to punk. LA Times

His relationship with Vivienne Westwood was more of business-like than romantic, as they opened boutiques that offered pre-torn tee-shirts and jeans with safety pins, as well as leather gear with a B&D flair. Their fashion sense can still be seen today from the streets of Hollywood all the way to the Big Apple and beyond. A well-placed mohawk is still a sight to see and will draw attention as if it were still 1978. Let’s not forget, he also helped Adam and the Ants gain recognition during their short-lived career.

Those were the days...

It’s difficult to gauge McLaren’s impact on culture. I’m sure Vivienne Westwood’s boutiques would have prospered with or without him. The Sex Pistols? I’m not so sure. Annabella, of Bow Wow Wow fame described him as a genius. He certainly knew what he was doing when he plucked her out of a WestEnd hairdresser’s and put her in front of a microphone. Annabella also described McLaren as “a little boy in a man’s body,” who “was very much an intellectual,” with an appreciation of life’s finer pleasures, but who also “got bored very easily.” Perhaps he suffered from adult ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). If so, he was able to parlay it into a successful career.

I am sad. I was a youth during this last gasp of originality in popular culture. It’s time to check another name off the list of my cultural heroes. As Freddy Mercury would say, “Another one bites the dust.” They say that Steve Jones, who never failed to spout brimstone and sulphur at the mere mention of Malcolm McLaren, has softer words for the brief arbiter of cool. You will have to hear that for yourself on Jonesy’s Jukebox. I stopped listening a few years ago.