GET WELL SOON
Just (as in this minute) learned that singer Melissa Etheridge has canceled her current tour to begin treatment for breast cancer. Etheridge is from my current home town of Leavenworth, Kansas. In fact, her mother works with my former wife. Small world. Not sure what this does to her proposed film about Janis Joplin. Please join me in wishing her a positive outcome after her treatment.
THE LOGICAL NEXT CHALLENGE
Now that we've hit the best live albums of all time, I challenge writers and readers to recall their top ten LIVE CONCERTS. One of mine won't even have anything to do with the music!
According to the London Times, Richard Dreyfuss has retired from movies. Dreyfuss, who is currently appearing in "The Producers" on stage in London, told the paper that he want's to concentrate on theater. Along with his work in "Jaws," Dreyfuss gave memorable performances in "American Graffiti," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Goodbye Girl," for which he won the Best Actor Oscar, "Whose Life Is It Anyway," "Tin Men" and "Mr. Holland's Opus," which earned him his second Oscar nomination. I'm proud to say that I helped run Richard's official fan club in the 1970s, which he disbanded shortly after his Oscar win. I met Richard on the set of "Tin Men" in Baltimore and asked if he remembered me. He did, referring to me as "the kid from Florida."
DO NOT PASS GO
This week, the New York Parole Board turned down Mark David Chapman's second request for parole. Chapman, who murdered John Lennon in December, 1980, will have to wait another two years before he can apply again. I'm sure a very touching letter to the parole board, written by Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, helped sway them to make the right decision. In her letter, Ono Lennon not only expressed her sadness at the loss of her husband, but also pointed out the danger Chapman would face if he was released.
This week we lost three true pioneers in their field:
Gordon Cooper: One of the original seven astronauts chosen for the Mercury Space Program, Cooper passed away this week from natural causes. He was 77. Cooper, the youngest of the seven, piloted the last Mercury mission as well as the Gemini 5 mission. Cooper was a fighter pilot in the US Air Force before joining the astronaut program. He continued to test and design new aircraft up until his death.
Readers, though I never mentioned it, I would assume that many of you know that Dennis Quaid played Gordon Cooper in the film based on Tom Wolfe's novel, "The Right Stuff." My good friend, Andrew Armstrong, has sent in a fitting way to end this piece. The following narration appears at the end of the film; "But on that glorious day in May 1963, Gordo Cooper went higher, farther,
and faster than any other American - 22 complete orbits around the world; he
was the last American ever to go into space alone. And for a brief moment,
Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen."
Janet Leigh: Versatile screen actress who excelled in everything from drama to comedy to musical, Miss Leigh passed away at the age of 77 from vasculitis. Born on July 6, 1927 in Merced, California, Leigh moved around often with her parents. A bright child, she graduated high school at the age of 15. Retired actress Norma Shearer is credited with "discovering" Miss Leigh after she spotted a photo of the young woman on her father's desk at a ski lodge in northern California. She arranged a screen test and in 1947 she made her screen debut in "Romance of Rosy Ridge." She followed that film with such movies as "Little Women," "Angel's in the Outfield," "Houdini" (costarring with soon to be husband #3, Tony Curtis) and "Touch of Evil." In 1960, she starred in Alfred Hitchcock's horror classic, "Psycho." Though she is killed off early in the film, her performance earned her a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nomination. In the 60s she appeared in such landmark films as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Bye Bye Birdie." She also appeared with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, in "The Fog" and "Halloween: H20." I used to organize an annual Oscar night charity event here in Kansas in which I would contact celebrities for items to use as silent auction items or raffle prizes. Each year Miss Leigh would always send something. Not a photograph or letter, but something from HER life, be it a book she had read or a record album she had listened, bearing her autograph. Pretty cool, I thought.
Rodney Dangerfield: The master of the one liners, Dangerfield died this week at the age of 82 from complications from heart surgery. He had been in and out of a coma for some time. Born Jacob Cohen on November 22, 1921 on Long Island, he began writing jokes at age 15 and started a career as a comedian, using the name Jack Roy, at age 20. With a wife and two children at home, he gave up show business in the 1950's and sold aluminum siding. After his divorce, he again gave comedy a chance, this time calling himself Rodney Dangerfield. Repeated appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show" brought him immense popularity. He was one of the few comedians who made Sullivan laugh on camera and his 70 plus appearances on "The Tonight Show" is thought to be a record. He made his film debut as a movie theater manager in "The Projectionist" in 1971, but it was his role as Al Czervic in 1980's "Caddyshack" that made him a movie star. 1980 also saw him win a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for "Rappin' Rodney." Other film hits include "Easy Money" and "Back to School," which was one of the first comedies to pass the $100 million mark at the box office. He used his New York City night club, Dangerfields, to introduce to America some of it's finest comedians. He is credited with discovering such talents as Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Rosanne, Andrew "Dice" Clay and Tim Allen. I've been lucky enough to spend time with both Robert Townsend and Sam Kinison, and they both gave great thanks to Dangerfield for the breaks he gave them. He is survived by two children and his second wife, Joan.
MEET THE BEATLES -- PART 37
October 12, 1965. In a rush to have an album out for the holidays, John Lennon and Paul McCartney brainstorm and come up with more then a dozen songs and then, along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, quickly rehearse and record them over the next few weeks. In spite of the rush the album, "Rubber Soul," is still regarded as one of the best of all time.
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.