Saturday, August 31, 2013

Remembering John Candy October 31, 1950 - March 4, 1994

John Candy was born in Newmarket, Ontario Canada and was raised in a catholic family.  Following high school, Candy completed his college education at both Centennial College in Toronto and
McMaster University.

His first movie role was in a small 1973 film, "Class of 44 and continued to appear on other low budget films during the 1970's including a film "Silent Partner" with Elliott Gould and Christopher Plummer.  He was also a member of Toronto's "The Second City" where he continued to gain North American popularity as a cast member of the comedy variety show "Second City Television" and won Emmy awards for the show's writing in 1981 and 82.  Candy was great at impersonations including Jerry Mathers "The Beaver" "Jimmy the Greek" Richard Burton, and Jackie Gleason along with several others.

In 1980, Candy began a more active film career having appeared in "1941" and "The Blues Brothers"  Soon after, he had a role in the successful film "Stripes" along with appearance in "National Lampoon's Vacation" and appeared on Saturday Night Live on two different occasions.    Three years later he headlined the film "Going Beserk"  and was soon approached about doing a role in an upcoming film called "Ghost Busters"

Over the years, Candy became a box office sensation with roles on some of the funniest movies ever.  He had a supporting role in "Spaceballs" followed by "Volunteers" "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" Who's Harry Crumb?" and one of my favorites "Uncle Buck"  He also produced and starred in a Saturday morning animated children's show "Camp Candy"

Candy's career took a decline in the early 1990's.  He had roles in comedies but also tried to blow air into his career by taking a couple of serious roles.  He appeared in "Only the Lonely" and Oliver Stone's "JFK as a shady lawyer.

Candy appeared in 34 movies during the 1980's which allowed him "to go from macaroni and cheese to macaroni and lobster."

John Candy along with hockey great Wayne Gretzky became part owners of a Canadian Football team, "Toronto Argonauts" that attracted a great deal of attention in Canada.
Candy's prayer card

John Candy's funeral program
In 1994, John Candy was filming "Wagons East!" in Durango, Mexico.  One evening, he called his partners and told them he was planning to sell his share of the football team.  He had just cooked a late meal for himself and went to bed.  During his sleep, on March 4, 1994, Candy died from a heart attack. The following morning his assistant rang for him and when he didn't get answer, the assistant let himself in and found Candy lifeless in bed dressed in a black and red checkered night shirt .  It was determined that he died between 5:00-7:00am.  At the request of John's wife, there was no autopsy performed.

Candy's memorial service
John Candy's funeral mass was held at the St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Los Angeles (program and prayer card pictured) on March 21, 1994 near his home.  Among those who attended his funeral were Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris and Rick Moranis. Dan Ackroyd read the lyrics of Candy's favorite song "O Canada"
A memorial service was also held in St. John's Cathedral in Toronto and was broadcast live on Canadian television.

John Candy rests in a mausoleum in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California (two crypts above actor Fred MacMurray of My Three Sons fame).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering Robert "Evel" Knievel October 17, 1938 - November 30, 2007

"Robert "Evel" Knievel's legacy as America's Legendary Daredevil, Last of the Gladiators, and King of the Stuntmen will undeniably live on among millions of the fans, past, present, and future."
However, the memories of the man apart from his legend will live on even stronger in the hearts of his friends and family.  Despite his well-known swagger of self confidence, the legacy he wished for most of all was simply to be an inspiration."

These are the words written on the funeral program from his funeral on Monday Dec. 10, 2007 that was held at the Butte, Montana Civic Center.

Evel Knievel was born in Butte, Montana on Oct. 17, 1938.  He always said that living in Butte were some of the most valued times of his life.  His fame took him far and wide across the country and even overseas, but Knievel never let go of the love and pride he had for his hometown.  He attended the Butte public schools prior to serving in the U.S. Army reserves.  In his younger years, he was an exceptional athlete.  He also excelled in many different professions before he found his calling as a daredevil.

Over the years, Knievel earned a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for having broken the most bones in a lifetime (over 433 of them).  He accomplished many memorable feats including his longest jump that took place on October 25, 1975 at Kings Island theme park in Cincinnati where he jumped 14 buses.  He also attempted a jump over the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho but his parachute deployed after take off and his vehicle crashed a few feet from the river's edge.  His nationally televised motorcycle jumps were four of the twenty most watched ABC's Wide World of Sports events in history.  He endorsed Harley Davidson and the Ideal Toy Company.  His life story was featured in 1977 in the film Viva Knievel and was portrayed by George Hamilton.  Other movies about him featured Sam Elliott and George Eads. He jokingly stated that during his career, he had earned $60 million dollars and spent $62 million.  He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.

As a celebrity, Knievel loved fast cars, fancy yachts, and private airplanes along with fancy clothes and jewelry.  He became friends with the rich and famous in Hollywood.  He had few regrets in his later years.  He claimed to have always strived to do the right things.  His family was extremely important to him as well as his real friends.  He never forgot where he came from as well as those who helped him over the years .  His colors of red, white, and blue for which he was famous for were as much a tribute to his character as they were for his feeling of living and growing up in America.  He admitted that he was very materialistic in his younger years.

Near the end of Knievel's life, he claimed to have found the fulfillment of Jesus Christ in his life.  He was baptized publicly on April 1, 2007 on the Hour of Power in the Crystal Cathedral by Dr. Robert Schuller several months prior to his death.

Knievel suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in the final years of his life and required supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day.  He also had severe pain throughout his body from all of the injuries he had received over the years.

Evel Knievel died on November 30, 2007 at the age of 69 en route to the hospital from his home in Clearwater, Florida.

Dr. Robert Schuller, who had baptized Knievel about seven months before his death, officiated Robert Evel Knievel's funeral that was attended by thousands of family, friends, and fans. Schuller said "Heaven will rejoice that he wrote the last words to his life and was standing next to You when he wrote them.: Believe in Jesus Christ."   Actor Matthew McConaughey, a friend of Knievel said of him "He's forever in flight now.  He doesn't have to land."

The music at the service was a mix of country and Frank Sinatra's "My Way."  As his casket entered the Butte Civic Center, a three minute display of red, white, and blue fireworks lit the night sky.
Evel's funeral held at Butte Civic Center

Knievel's funeral program
The Duggan Dolan Mortuary later laid Knievel to rest in the Mountain View Cemetery in Butte.

I will end with
Evel's Knievel's words printed on the program

"Concerning my purpose in life   I feel that God put me here   to do the best,  to live the best, and to be the best at what I've chosen to do and I am trying to do that.  And when He's ready, He'll take me--A human being cannot ask for a better deal than that."     Evel Knievel
His resting place at Mountain View Cemetery

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Remembering Black Jack January 19, 1947 - February 6, 1976

Most of my blogs are writings about two legged celebrities and everyday heroes.  Today, however, I have chosen to write about a four legged one named Black Jack.

Black Jack was a coal black Morgan-Quarter Horse mix born January 19, 1947.  He was named for General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing and became the symbol for a fallen leader.

He joined the military on Nov. 22, 1952.  As a foal from Fort Reno, Oklahoma, he was taken to Fort Myer, Virginia and was the last of the Quartermaster-issue horses branded with the Army's U.S. brand. He served in the Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
His army serial number was 2V56 that was imprinted on the left side of his neck.  Black Jack was described in a book called "Black Jack  America's Riderless Horse" as a beautiful, sleek and well-muscled, jet black in color with a small, white star on his forehead.

Black Jack would become the most famous "riderless horse" in history having served more than 1000 Armed Forces with Full Honors Funerals, the majority having taken place at Arlington National Cemetery.  Among those he represented were President John F. Kennedy (1963), President Herbert Hoover (1964), President in Lyndon Johnson (1973), and Five star General Douglas MacArthur (1964) having served in four state funerals.

Black Jack at JFK funeral
Black Jack at Hoover funeral
I still remember his impact when watching John F. Kennedy's funeral at the age of 12.  It was the first time I had ever seen a caparisoned (riderless) horse and can recall his beauty as he led the march of JFK's funeral cortege from the White House to St. Matthew's Cathedral on November 25, 1963 and following the service, marched on to Arlington.

During most of Black Jack's funerals, he was accompanied by Army Major General Philip C. Wehle.

Black Jack's 25th birthday party
Nixon letter
Following JFK's funeral, a woman by the name of Nancy Schado took a keen interest in Black Jack.  She was a huge animal lover and was the wife of an army colonel.  Nancy was a very active woman and served as the president of the Army Arlington Ladies.  This organization assigns one of its members to every military funeral held at Arlington.  She took a keen liking to Black Jack while visiting him at the stables one day.  It was the beginning of a long lasting relationship.  She visited him every week.  She also had an annual birthday party for him.  She would bake him a cake and invited the soldiers in the caisson unit to his party.  Black Jack would here her voice and begin kicking the stall in anticipation of her visits.  Former President Richard Nixon was even invited to Black Jack's birthday party (letter shown).  In the Nixon letter, he said of Black Jack "Black Jack has been a poignant symbol of our nation's grief on many occasions over the years.  Citizens in mourning felt a burst of pride in seeing this majestic horse whose quiet dignity and purpose conveyed a simpler yet deeper tribute to the memory of those heroic "riders" who had given so much for our nation. "

Over the years, hundreds of school students would visit this living American symbol.

Black Jack died on February 6, 1976 following a 29 year military career.  He was cremated and his remains were laid to rest in a plot at Fort Myer, Virginia on Summerall Field.  He is one of only two horses in United States history to be buried with Full Military Honors.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Remembering Dominick Dunne October 29, 1925 - August 26, 2009

No one knew the dark side of the rich and famous better than Dominick Dunne.

Dunne was an American writer and investigative reporter who studied and reported on the crimes and
murders of the rich and famous.  In addition to writing, he was also a movie producer in Hollywood and made frequent appearances on television including his TV series, "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice that was popular on Court TV.

Dunne was the second of six children and was born in Hartford, Connecticut.  His father was a prominent heart surgeon.  As a boy, he was known as "Nicky."  He attended Kingswood School and Canterbury School in Connecticut followed by Williams College.  He was also a decorated World War II veteran having received the Bronze Star for heroism during the Battle of Metz.

Following his military service, Dunne returned to New York City having taken a job as a stage manager for television.  He was later brought to Hollywood by the legendary Humphrey Bogart who wanted Dunne to work on the television version of "The Petrified Forest."Eventually, Dunne became the vice president of Four Star Television. It was during those days that Dunne ran around with the rich and famous.  During that time, Dunne faced several addictions and decided for his own wellbeing, he would settle in rural Oregon.  It was there that Dunne wrote his first book called "The Winners."

Dunne was a frequent writer for "Vanity Fair" magazine and did a lot of fictional writing about real life events.  He covered many famous trials including the cases of O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bulow, Michael Skakel and the Menendez brothers. Following his daughter, Dominique's murder, Dunne wrote "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of his Daughter's Killer."

He frequently socialized with, wrote about, and was photographed with celebrities.  His story was written in the release of "Dominick Dunne: After the Party.

Dunne disclosed his recent diagnosis with bladder cancer in 2008. During that time, he was writing his final book called "Too Much Money." He died at his home in Manhattan on August 26, 2009.

Dunne's funeral program
Dominick Dunne's funeral mass (program pictured) was held at the St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan and was attended by hundreds from the world of society and celebrity.  Fr. Daniel Morrisey said Dunne spent over nine years planning every detail of his funeral, which began with the singing of his favorite Cole Porter song "Anything Goes."  Tina Brown, former editor for Vanity Fair said of Dunne "He became a celebrity, but never behaved like one.  Do any of us doubt that if he was alive he would be working this  funeral today." Others who eulogized Dunne included columnist, Liz Smith.  The service ended with his granddaughter, Hannah telling how he always sent her
flowers for Valentine's Day.  She then sang "Funny Valentine."
Dunne's resting place

Dunne was laid to rest in the Cove Cemetery in Hadlyme, Connecticut.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Remembering Truman Capote September 30, 1924 - August 25, 1984

I recall one night during my Freshman year of high school being invited to an overnight at a friend's house to watch a newly released movie called "In Cold Blood"  Needless to say, anyone who has seen the film knows that we probably didn't get much sleep that evening.  The movie was produced from a book of the same name written by Truman Capote.

Born Truman Streckfus Persons in New Orleans, Louisiana, his parents divorced at an early age.  He was raised by his mother's aunt in Monroeville, Alabama.  He was a very smart boy having learned to read at an early age and showed signs of writing at the age of 11.

In 1933, Truman moved with his mother and second husband to New York City and would soon adopt him and rename him Truman Garcia Capote.  Truman attended Trinity School followed by Greenwich High School where he had a job with the school newspaper, "The Green Witch."  He ended his education at the age of 17 and went to work for the "New Yorker" magazine.  He soon began to write for "Mademoiselle" magazine and Truman wrote his
first successful story called "Miriam" that won the O. Henry Award (best first published story) in 1946.  He was soon awarded a contract with "Random House" to write a novel and used the money to write another story called "Other Voices, Other Rooms"A controversial photograph of Capote appeared on his second article that created a great deal of media attention.

Capote was quite a flamboyant character and was extremely outspoken.  He was openly gay.  Capote developed a relationship with another writer by the name of Jack Dumphy who would become Truman's lifetime companion.

In 1959, he became interested in a series of murders (Clutter family) and was fascinated by the story.  He traveled to Holcomb, Kansas to investigate the killings.  Those murders were the basis for his book, "In Cold Blood."  Other writings by Capote were equally popular including "Breakfast at Tiffany's" "House of Flowers" and "A Christmas Memory."  He also wrote another story called "Summer Crossing" that remained on the shelf until 20 years after his death and was published posthumously.

He was also very successful on stage and screen having  completed "House of Flowers" and co-wrote with John Huston "Beat the Devil."

The personal side of Capote included an addiction to alcohol and drugs and his bizarre lifestyle.  He often appeared on television talk shows including the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.  His final years involved numerous trips to rehab clinics.

Truman Capote died at the home of his friend, Joanne Carson, (Johnny's former wife) in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California on August 25, 1984 at the age of 59 from liver cancer.

Following his death, he was cremated and a portion of his cremated remains were given to his longtime companion, Jack Dunphy and the other portion remained with Carson. Carson's portion was once stolen and returned.  His partner, Dunphy died in 1992 and was reported that a portion of Truman was placed in a niche at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles and some
Scattering location at Crooked Pond
Resting Place at Westwood Village
of them were scattered at Crooked Pond near Bridgehampton, New York (a marker pictured) shows the location of scattering.

Funeral folder from Westwood
Capote's Broadway Tribute program
A Tribute to Truman Capote was held on September 25, 1984 (program pictured) in the Shubert Theatre on Broadway.  Author William Styron said of Capote "Here was a writer whose gifts took my breath away.  Here was an artist my age who could make words dance and sing, change colors mysteriously, perform feats of magic, provoke laughter, send a chill up the back, touch the heart ---a full fledged master of the language
before he was old enough to vote."The service ended with Bobby Short singing "Don't Like Goodbyes." His memorial card is also pictured.

Remembering "The Man on the Moon" Neil Armstrong August 5, 1930 - August 25, 2012

If you were asked to name a modern day pioneer-who would it be?

My answer, without a doubt, would be "the first man to walk on the moon."

Neil Armstrong was born in a small town in Ohio by the name of Wapakoneta and because of his father's job as a state auditor, Neil moved and lived in nearly twenty towns growing up before returning to Wapakoneta.  Neil's interest in flying began at an early age when his dad took him to the Cleveland Air Races.  He took his first airplane ride at the age of 5 in Warren, Ohio on a "Tin Goose."  He began taking flying lessons during his school years at Blume High School and earned his flying certificate at the age of 15 (before he had his driver's license).  He was always driven to be the best he could be as evidenced by his earning the "Eagle Scout" award and the Boy Scouts remained important to him throughout his life.

Neil began studying aeronautical engineering at the age of 17 and following high school, he enrolled in Purdue University to continue his studies.  He received his bachelors degree and continued his education at the University of Southern California where he received his master of science in Aerospace Engineering.  Years later he earned honorary doctorate degrees from both of those universities.

Neil entered the U.S. Navy in 1949 and received flight training during which he qualified for carrier landing aboard  the USS Cabot and USS Wright and became a fully qualified Naval Aviator in 1950.  During the Korean War, Armstrong flew 78 missions.  Armstrong also spent time as a test pilot and found himself in many risky situations over those years.

In 1958, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force's "Man in Space Soonest" program.  He became more and more interested in the future space program and four years later was asked to be a part of the NASA Astronaut  Corps and was among the "New Nine"  He then became backup commander for Apollo 8 and on Dec. 23, 1968, Deke Slayton asked Armstrong to be the commander of Apollo 11 and in March 1969 at private meeting, it was determined that Armstrong would be the first person to walk on the moon.

He set the first step on the moon on July 21, 1969 and would soon speak those famous, yet unprepared words "That's one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind."  It has been said that the quote was broadcast through "Voice of America" to nearly 450 million listeners.  Soon to follow was that molded image of the placing of the American flag on the moon's surface.

Following Armstrong's retirement from NASA in 1971, he did some television commercials and was a spokesman for several businesses.  He also served on the board of directors of several corporations.  He was a voice actor for the character of "Dr. Jack Morrow" in Quantum Quest, a science fiction animated film.  He was also an instructor at the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

Although Neil Armstrong was one of the most famous people in history, he was a very humble and down to earth man.  He refused to sign autographs and was sometimes called the "Reluctant American Hero."
Wink at the Moon service

He developed a serious heart condition and underwent bypass surgery on August 7, 2012 to relieve blocked coronary arteries.  He died of complications from the surgery on August 25, 2012 and his death was announced to a "shocked nation."

On the following days and weeks, a number of tributes were held in his honor including a private memorial at the Camargo Club in Cincinnati on Aug. 31, 2012.  A tribute was held two days following his death on August 27
From Purdue memorial
at his Alma Mater, Purdue University.  Those in attendance received a poster (pictured.)

A memorial service was held in his hometown of Wapakoneta that was coined "Wink at the Moon"(program pictured) that came from the family's statement released at his death "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request "Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the Moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
Among those who participated was Astronaut John Glenn.

Prayer card
Washington Cathedral
A public memorial (program pictured) to Neil took place on September 13, 2012 in Washington D.C. at the Washington Cathedral.  Among those who spoke was the last person to walk on the moon, Astronaut Eugene Cernan who said of him "He embodied all that is good and all that is great about America.  Neil, wherever you are, you again have shown us a way to the stars. As you soar through the heavens where even eagles dare not go, you can now truly put out your hand and touch the face of God."  Hundreds waited in line to witness the memorial.  The Navy choir sung "Eternal Father Strong to Save" and Grammy winning jazz artist, Diana Krail sung Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon."

Memorial in Washington DC
Following cremation, Neil Armstrong's ashes were committed to the Atlantic Ocean on September 14, 2012 in accordance with the Navy Flier's wishes.  Neil's family and a few close friends along with members of the Navy aboard the Navy missile cruiser "Philippine Sea" attended the ceremony off the shores of Florida.
Committal service aboard the Philippine Sea

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Remembering Geraldine Hoff Doyle "Rosie the Riveter" July 31, 1924 - December 26, 2010

Something that brings a great deal of pride to our family is the fact that my late mother in law, Gloria Dallau, was a "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II.  After high school, she was employed at the Fisher Body Bomber manufacturing plant in Cleveland, Ohio and her job was working on B-29 Aircraft.  During the war, there were thousands of women just like her who were extremely important in the outcome of the United States success in winning the war.

A woman by the name of Geraldine Hoff Doyle is believed to be the real life model for the World War II era poster "We Can Do It" that represented the embodiment of the iconic World War II character "Rosie the Riveter."

Geraldine was born in Inkster, Michigan.  Her dad died at an early age and her mother
Geraldine Doyle as Rosie the Riveter
a composer.  Following Geraldine's graduation from Ann Arbor Michigan High School, she worked as a metal presser in the American Broach & Machine Company in Ann Arbor.  During World War II, the men went off to war and women replaced them on the manufacturing assembly lines.  Geraldine was an accomplished cello player and was concerned that her job would effect her hands and decided to stick to music and give up her job in the factory.  However, one day while she was still working in the plant, a United Press International photographer took her picture.  A graphic artist by the name of J. Howard Miller saw the photograph and decided to work on the image for Westinghouse Company's War Production Coordinating Committee and it continues to be the famous image of Rosie the Riveter that continues to represent her as seen today.

The Rosie the Riveter poster, "We Can Do It" didn't become widely known until the 1980's because earlier it was used for internal Westinghouse project use.  Doyle, herself, didn't know she appeared on the poster until 1984 when she came across an article in "Modern Maturity" magazine.  The original photograph was used by Time-Life books for a publication called "The Patriotic Tide: 1940-1950 that was printed in 1986.  Geraldine's image appeared with her red and white bandana covering her hair and the sleeves of her uniform rolled up showing her bulgy biceps that represented the strength  of the American woman.

The Rosie the Riveter character based on Doyle and other World War II women who worked in factories to support the war effort remains an icon and appeared on a 1999 postage stamp by the US Postal Service.

Geraldine Doyle funeral program
Geraldine Hoff Doyle died on December 26, 2010 in Lansing, Michigan from complications of arthritis.  She was 86 years of age.

A memorial service was held at 4pm on January 8, 2011 at the Tiffany Funeral Home in Lansing, Michigan (funeral program pictured).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Remembering Mike Wallace May 9, 1918 - April 7, 2012

If I were a public figure, one of the last persons I would want to be interviewed by would be Mike Wallace ( of 60 Minutes fame).  He was a man who wasn't afraid to ask the "tough questions."

Myron Leon Wallik was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to Russian Jewish immigrants.  His dad was both a grocer and an insurance broker.  After graduating from high school, Mike entered the University of Michigan.  While attending the university, he was a reporter for the Michigan Daily.  During his final year in Michigan, he was a guest on a popular radio quiz show "Information Please" and began working for the radio as a newscaster and writer for a station in Grand Rapids.  He soon moved on to Detroit as an announcer and then moved to Chicago, Illinois.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 where he was a communications officer during World War II aboard the USS Anthedon ( a submarine tender).  Although he never saw combat, he had the opportunity to travel the world until he was honorably discharged in 46.   He continued his radio career with the task of announcing radio shows including the then popular "Sky King" "The Green Hornet" and The Spike Jones" show and others.    He also announced professional wrestling in Chicago.

In the late 1940's, Wallace took a job with CBS  as a staff announcer.  He even did commercials on the Groucho Marx "You Bet Your Life" and was the character Myron Wallace on the radio drama "Crime on the Waterfront"

He would soon move to television where he hosted game shows.

He got his first dose of news reporting in 1957 on "Night Beat" that was renamed "The Mike Wallace Interview."

He became the lead reporter of 60 Minutes and over the years he had numerous run ins with some of the people being interviewed.  Among them included Louis Farrakhan and Nigeria and Gen. William Westmoreland and Vietnam.  He worked for 60 Minutes for 37 years and announced his retirement on March 14, 2006.  He continued with CBS News as a "Correspondent Emeritus" but was not required to work the long and gruesome hours as he had done the past 37 years.  His final interview was with baseball star Roger Clemens and it was during that time that Wallace's health began to fail.

On a personal level, Wallace unknowingly suffered from bouts of depression.  His life had its fill of tragedy having had a younger son, Peter, die in a mountain-climbing accident.  He classified himself as a "political moderate".  Richard Nixon wanted Wallace as his press secretary during the Nixon administration.

Mike Wallace memorial service
Over Mike Wallace's career, he earned 21 Emmy Awards including his reporting of the 911 terrorist attacks.  He also won three George Peabody Awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Mike Wallace died in his home in New Canaan, Connecticut on April 7, 2012 at the age of 93.
Mike Wallace Remembrance Program

A Remembrance of Mike Wallace was held on May 1, 2012 in the Frederick P. Rose Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City (program pictured).  Among those who honored him were his 60 Minutes colleagues Steve Kroft and Morley Safer.  His son, Chris, who followed in his father's footsteps also spoke of his life.  Scenes from his interviews were injected in the service and his toughness and hard-nosed reporting were humorously discussed by his family, friends, and associates.
Graveside at West Chop Cemetery

Memorial card
Mike was cremated and laid to rest in the West Chop Cemetery in Tisbury, Massachusetts at a private graveside service.

A quote from Mike Wallace that appeared on the back of his remembrance program

"It's the story.  It is the feeling that you really make a little bit of difference.  You're doing something useful...helped somebody out of some trouble, you've righted a wrong, you've exposed something worth exposing."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Remembering Jim Henson September 24, 1936 - May 16, 1990

Jim Henson's name is probably not quite as visible as his cast of characters.  He is best known for his creation of "The Muppets"

As a child, Henson was always fascinated by television.   He was born in Greenville, Mississippi and raised as a Christian Scientist. He spent his early childhood in Leland, Mississippi until his family moved to Hyattsville, Maryland in the late 1940's.  He remembered the day his family's first television arrived and claimed it was "the biggest event of his adolescence."  He enjoyed watching Edgar Bergen, a radio ventriloquist and was fascinated with his talent.

In 1954, Henson learned of a job opening at a local radio station.  The job was to perform with puppets on a children's show.  He had always wanted on television so he and a friend made a couple of puppets and that was the start of Henson's illustrious career.  The show didn't last long but soon took his talents to another station and called it "Sam and Friends."

He continued to work with the puppets to create and make them as real as possible.  His first character was "Kermit the Frog" and remained with Jim throughout his life.  He soon created other characters and throughout the early 60's, Henson made appearances on variety and talk shows around the country.    It wasn't until his appearance on Sesame Street in 1969 that Henson's dream came to reality.  Sesame Street was made for preschoolers and his "Muppets" had a huge influence on them.  In addition to Kermit, his Muppet family included "Big Bird" "Oscar the Grouch" "Cookie Monster" "Ernie" and "Bert." and others. He created them with their own personalities and in 1976, "The Muppet Show" was born.  The show ran until 1981and Jim took his cast of characters to the big screen having produced three box office hit movies.

In addition to his television and movie career, he also produced several commercials that included the promotion of Wilkins Coffee.  He wanted to appeal to adults as well as his kids audience.  Also, later in his career he decided he would like to offer Disney the business side of his creation and Henson would continue to focus on the creative side.  He completed the production of the television special "The Muppets at Walt Disney World" as well as a Disney attraction at Disney World and began developing ideas for a television series "Muppet High."

His celebration folder
During the production of his later projects, Henson became ill.  He experienced flu-like symptoms.  In May of 1990 while appearing on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (one of his last television appearances), he told his publicist that he was extremely tired.  He was admitted to a hospital and by that time, Henson couldn't breathe and his condition rapidly worsened until he died the morning of May 16, 1990.  Henson was 53.  They determined the cause of death was organ failure resulting from Streptococcus pyogenes (a severe bacterial infection).

His memorial program
A public memorial service was held in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on May 21, 1990 (programs pictured).  Henson had made it clear that he wanted no one wearing black.  Among those participating in the memorial were of course "The Muppets" as well as the song "Turn the World Around" sung by Harry Belefonte.  That song was used on The Muppet Show.  "Big Bird" also performed Kermit's signature song "Bein Green."  (not a dry eye in the house). At the conclusion of the service that lasted over two hours, the Muppets performed a medley of Henson's favorite songs.  The funeral was described by "Life" as an epic and almost unbearably moving event.

"Jim Henson is gone but his Muppet family live on."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Remembering Helen Thomas August 4, 1920 - July 20, 2013

At Helen Thomas' memorial service in Troy, Michigan on August 15 of this year, she was referred to as a trailblazer.  It is said that she paved the way for women in journalism.

She was born in Winchester, Kentucky and was the seventh child of nine to immigrants from Tripoli (Lebanon) and came to America (via Ellis Island).  She grew up in Detroit, Michigan where her dad ran a grocery store and was raised as a Christian in the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

She took an interest in journalism during her high school years and after graduation, she was accepted at Wayne State University where she would eventually earn her bachelor's degree n English.

Helen at a Press conference
She moved to Washington D.C. following college and took her first journalism job as a copygirl for the former Washington Daily News.  She and many of her colleagues were fired as the result of a strike.  She then went to work for the United Press (1943) where she covered societal issues, celebrity and women's news.  She began writing a column called "Names in the News" and her job was to interview Washington movers and shakers.  She was assigned to cover the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and the doings of Capitol Hill.  She became active in Washington having served as president of the Women's National Press Club.
Helen authored over 40 books

Her reputation really became noticeable when she began covering President John F. Kennedy's election and would soon became the White House UPI correspondent in 1961.  She received nicknames from her position and was referred to as "The Sitting Buddha" and "First Lady of the Press."She was known for ending all of the press
conferences with "Thank you, Mr. President."

Thomas was a "hard nosed reporter."  She fought for woman's rights and commanded respect by all those she dealt with.

Over her career, she covered ten U.S. Presidents from JFK to Obama.  She even dated JFK briefly (before his marriage).  She became more and more outspoken over time and wasn't afraid to question policies from war to various debated issues facing our country.  In recent years, she challenged leaders about the Iraq War and foreign policy.  Because of her attacking nature, she was forced to retire in 2010 from comments recorded by a rabbi that were sensitive toward Israelis.  Upon her retirement, she said "I paid the price for that, but it was worth it, to speak the truth.

She was named one of the World Almanacs 25 Most Influential Women in America and authored over forty books.
Helen Thomas funeral

Helen Thomas Memorial Program
Helen Thomas died on July 20, 2013 at her home in Washington D.C. at the age of 92.  Following her death, President Obama said of her "a true pioneer" and that "she never failed to keep presidents--myself included--on their toes."

A memorial service honoring Thomas was held at the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church (the same church she attended as a child) in Troy, Michigan (memorial program pictured) on Thursday, August 15, 2013 that included hundreds of family members, friends, and journalists.  During the service, a vase containing Thomas' ashes rested on a table along with a portrait of her.

Rev. Joseph Antypas, pastor of the church, said of Helen "she was a giant lady who left an impact on so many people.  We are proud of our own Helen Thomas---an American icon."

Following the services, the cremated remains of Helen Thomas were laid to rest in a
Detroit cemetery (name unknown).