Category: RIP

RIP: Allan Melvin

I just discovered via Mark Evanier’s site that Allan Melvin passed away last Thursday. While you may not know his name, I’ll bet you’ll know his face. Melvin was probably best known as “Sam the Butcher” from the Brady Bunch, but there was a time when Melvin was, as Mark Evanier states, “in everything.”
Melvin appeared repeatedly on “The Phil Silvers Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show” [my favorite Melvin guest roles], “Gomer Pyle,” “Lost in Space,” “All in the Family” and so many more shows. He made every show he was on just a little bit better just by being there.Mr. Melvin was 84 years old and is survived by his wife, his daughter, his grandson and many fans. My thoughts and prayers go out to them all.

RIP: Maila "Vampira" Nurmi

Maila Nurmi, better known as Vampira, passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Although few would recognize Ms. Nurmi’s name, almost everyone knows her “Vampira” character.
Maila Nurmi was born in Finland, but moved to the US with her family while still in her teens. Maila dreamed of stardom on the silver screen and headed for HollywoodAlthough romantically linked to Marlon Brando, Orson Welles and even James Dean, it was a masquerade ball in 1954 that led to her pop culture iconic status. Maila attended dressed as Mortica Addams [from Charles Addams New Yorker cartoons which later became the basis for the popular Addams Family tv series]. Maila won the contest by beating out nearly 2,000 other contestants.
Maila made such an impact that several months later she was offered the role as host of KABC’s late Saturday night horror movies. With a few costume modifications and new name, Vampira was born! Maila and the show were an instant hit and provided the framework for all of the horror hosts that would follow. Vampira was profiled in Life and Newsweek [within a month of each other] and Maila began guesting on nationally syndicated shows. She was even nominated as the “Most Outstanding Female Personality of 1954” by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.Judging by her impact on popular culture, you’d probably think that Vampira’s horror host role lasted years, immediately led to movies, comics, and more — but you’d be wrong. Despite the show being a smash hit,.it lasted just over a year. Some say that Maila was difficult to work with, while others say that the FCC and network blackballed her due to her on-air comments and double entendres.

Maila did make appearances in a few movies after her tv show was cancelled; most notably Ed Wood’s infamous “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Maila left show business in the early 60’s, but her spirit lived on through the antics of dozens of other horror hosts such as Zacherley, Sammy Terry, and even Elvira [who was later unsuccessfully sued by Maila]. With the growth of the goth movement, the “popularity” of “Plan 9” and Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” film, Maila enjoyed renewed popularity in her later years.

It appears that Maila died leaving behind no family members. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and many fans.

RIP Evel Knievel

Robert Craig Knievel aka Evel Knievel died today. He was 69 years old. Many of you younger ZONE readers may not remember Evel, but my guess is you know something about this outrageous daredevil whose biggest claims to fame came from unsuccessful jumps.

In 1965, Knievel led a group that he named Evel Knievel’s Motorcycle Daredevils. They would travel from town to town performing typical motorcycle stunts of the era: riding wheelies, driving through fire walls and jumping things. Knievel had a knack for self-promotion and a talent for jumping his motorcycle over things. In 1966 he began touring alone and his jumps continued to become bigger.

On New Year’s Day in 1968 he failed in his attempt to jump the fountains at Caesar’s Palace. Although the jump nearly killed him, it also launched him in to popular culture history. In the years to follow there would be more jumps, astronomical paychecks, tv and movie appearances, Evel Knievel toys and collector cards and an ever growing legend. Most kids my age went through a period when they considered Evel Knievel to be “the man.” He was outrageous, traveled where he wanted, had tons of money and beautiful women and risked his life doing what he wanted.

In 1974, Knievel was paid $6 million dollars by ABC for the rights to televise his attempt to jump the Snake River canyon in a rocket-motorcycle. I remember watching the show live and my total disappointment when the chute malfunctioned almost immediately. Although Knievel continued to make big jumps and big money, I had lost interest. Knievel retired from big jumps in 1976, but continued touring into the 1980’s. He had been in failing health in recent years.

In 2006, Evel was quoted as saying, “No king or prince has lived a better life.” Evel lived his life doing things his way and for a several years he was as popular as any rock star. It’s hard to imagine that a guy who jumped his motorcycle over things could have had such an impact on popular culture, but Evel Knievel did.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and fans.

RIP Dick Wilson aka Mr. Whipple

Dick Wilson the actor who played tv icon Mr. Whipple in over 500 commercials spanning 21 years died today. Mr. Wilson was 91. If you grew up in the 60’s, the 70’s or 80’s you knew Mr. Whipple and not to squeeze the Charmin [at least when he was around].

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Wilson’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: The Fabulous Moolah

I was never much of a fan of women’s wrestling. Even when I was a kid and lived and breathed pro wrestling, I didn’t care about the women mixing it up in the ring. Of course back then we didn’t have the divas or the bathing suit matches, etc. Still, the one woman wrestler that I did know was the Fabulous Moolah. It amazed me that despite the country being broken up into territories, with each having their own champion, Moolah was recognized as the Women’s Champion everywhere.

Mary Lillian Ellison aka The Fabulous Moolah was born in 1923 — the youngest and only girl of 13 children. Her mother died of cancer when she was just 8. Mary attended weekly pro wrestling cards with her dad and perhaps that’s where he love of the sport began.

Moolah was the Women’s World Champion from from 1956 to 1984. Then from 1985 – 1987. In 1999, at age 76, she won the title for a final time.

To be honest, I really didn’t like most of the angles that the WWE used with Moolah when she came back in the late 90’s. Still I admired the fact that at her age she was still able to get out there and take bumps and that her name still got a rise from the fans.

So despite the fact that I wasn’t a fan of women wrestlers, I felt it right to pay my respects to a performer held in such high regard in the “sport” that I loved as a kid. Rest in peace, Moolah. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and fans.

RIP: Mike Wieringo

John Beatty called me at work this morning to tell me the news. Mike Wieringo had passed away. It was hard to fathom. Mike was only 44 years old and appeared in good health. He worked out, ate right and by all appearances was in fine shape. The news hit hard. Big Beatty was at a loss… and so was I. What could be said? What could be done?Mike was one of the most popular artists currently working in comics today. Fans loved him. Pros loved him. I never, ever, heard a single negative thing said about Mike or his art. My dealings with Mike were limited, but they were always positive. I first met Mike about 5 or 6 years ago. Mike was gracious and kind to both my son and me, but that’s the way he was with ALL of his fans.

I became a regular visitor to Mike’s blog and would often leave comments about his weekday posts. When Mike posted a sketch of Rocky Balboa along with his thoughts on the movie, I wrote to say that if he ever considered selling the sketch, I would be interested. Mike wrote me back to say that several of the fans who post on his site had already suggested that I might like to have it for my collection. Mike said that as he was drawing it, he thought the same and it was mine for the taking… gratis. Mike went on to say that he would be honored to have his work appear in my gallery. Can you imagine? That’s the kind of guy Mike was. I suggested that if he wouldn’t take money, since he liked the movie, I would be happy to purchase the dvd for him. He said that wasn’t necessary, but did finally agree and acted like I was doing him the favor.

I knew that my blog today would be about Mike Wieringo. Mike positively touched so many lives that I knew that my voice would just be one of the many remembering him, but I knew that I had to mark his passing. I figured that I would probably post the Rocky sketch that he gave me. The when I checked my mail, I found a letter from my old friend Jim Ivey. Jim has always teased me about being a Sylvester Stallone fan. One of Jim’s comments is that Sly has sad eyes… and Jim drew them on the envelope of his letter. Talk about appropriate.

Today Mike Wieringo’s family, friends and fans are in mourning. Yes, there are tears in our eyes. We’ve lost not only a great artist, but a wonderful human being. My life was better for knowing Mike Wieringo. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

 

RIP: Merv Griffin

A few minutes ago it came over the wires that Merv Griffin had passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 82. Mr. Griffin started out as a singer, but really hit it big with his self-titled talk show which ran for more than 20 years. He is also known for being the creative genius behind two of television’s most popular and longest running game shows “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
Growing up, I enjoyed watching The Merv Griffin Show. Merv always seemed like a down-to-earth guy who was having fun hanging out with the celebrities joining him for the day. He was a true success story. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

RIP: Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder, best known for his late night talk show, Tomorrow (which aired at 1am after The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson), died yesterday at the age of 71.

Younger ZONErs may not know of Tom Snyder, but I fondly remember staying up late to catch his show during the summer when I was in junior high and high school. At the time, Snyder seemed like no other talk show host on television. His sets were minimal, but his guests and topics more than made up for the lack of showbiz glitz. He was cool, but not hip. Most of all, Snyder seemed like a real guy, not a tv show host. I enjoyed the hours I spent watching his programs and the memories that remain.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

Bob Clark – RIP

Director Bob Clark and his 22 year old son Ariel were killed early this morning when a car suddenly swerved over and hit them head on. The driver of the other car was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and gross vehicular manslaughter. While the accident killed Clark and his son, the other driver suffered only minor injuries.

Bob Clark is best known for co-writing and directing the classic “A Christmas Story”. Mr. Clark was also the brains behind the very successful “Porky’s” [which he co-wrote and directed] which in turn led to several sequels. Mr. Clark directed many other films [horror, comedy, children’s], including “Rhinestone” [with Sly Stallone and Dolly Parton].

I’ll never forget the first time I watched “Porky’s” with my brother-in-law. We laughed until we cried and talked about the movie for days. Christmas isn’t Christmas without watching “A Christmas Story” with the family. Bob Clark not only left us with some fun films, he provided the source of some great family memories as well.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and fans.

Marshall Rogers – RIP

Marshall Rogers has died. He was 57 years old. The cause of death is not known at this time.

What is known is that Rogers burst onto the comics scene in mid 70’s and became an immediate fan favorite. Best known for his work with writer, Steve Englehart and inker, Terry Austin, the trio redefined Batman and his cast of supporting characters in Detective Comics #471-#476. Rogers then went on to do more groundbreaking work on Mr. Miracle and later Dr. Strange. In addition Rogers worked on the Silver Surfer, Detectives, Inc. [graphic novel and comic series], The Coyote, and his own creations Captain Quick and the Foozle, and later Scorpio Rose as well as other series.

Rogers left comics in the early ‘90s but later returned and even followed up on his classic Batman stories by reteaming with Englehart and Austin on Batman: Dark Detective.

I was a huge Marshall Rogers fan. I loved his work on Batman, Mr. Miracle, and even Dr. Strange [not one of my favorite characters, but Rogers made him work!]. Detectives, Inc. with Don McGregor is a fondly remembered graphic novel. As is Rogers great “Strange” portfolio. I followed Rogers work on everything he did until he left comics. Like everyone, I strongly recommend his Batman stories. They are easily found and definitely work looking up. Another title worth searching out is the Demon with a Glass Hand graphic novel adaptation that he penciled and inked from an original story and script by Harlan Ellison. It’s great stuff… which is to be expected since Marshall Rogers worked on it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marshall Rogers fans, friends and family.

And You Shouldn’t


9-11-01.

You know where you were. You know what you saw. You know what you felt.

Five years later.

You still remember like it was yesterday. You won’t forget… ever.

And you shouldn’t.

RIP: Steve "Croc Hunter" Irwin

When I first read the news this morning that Steve “Croc Hunter” Irwin had been killed by a stingray, I have to admit that I thought it might have been a sick hoax. So I immediately started checking legitimate news sources and found that the news was true and had spread all over the internet and tv.

Irwin became an international celebrity in 1992 when his “Croc Hunter” television show was picked up by the Discovery Channel. Irwin’s genuine love of nature and animals was infectious and I don’t know anyone who didn’t know and enjoy his work.

Steve Irwin leaves behind a wife and two children as well as a world of fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them all.


RIP Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane died yesterday. He was 88 years old and had cancer, so the news shouldn’t come as quite a shock. It’s just that Mickey Spillane was one of those guys that seemed like he could live forever.

Although Mr. Spillane started his career as a comic book writer, it was his Mike Hammer novels that made him a superstar. The first, “I, the Jury” was a hit with readers everywhere, critics be damned. Spillane followed up with 12 other Mike Hammer books… 9 other novels… and a bunch of short stories. Most folks don’t realize that Mr. Spillane also wrote two young adult novels [one which won a prize from the Junior Literary Guild].

As much as I enjoyed Spillane‘s books, I liked his attitude even more. He considered himself a writer, not an author. Spillane was more concerned with royalty checks than reviews… and his fans dearly loved him.

I miss him already.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mickey Spillane‘s family, friends and fans.

Dan Curtis – Rest in Peace

Dan Curtis, best known as the creative force behind “Dark Shadows” died today at the age of 78. Curtis‘s career as a producer, writer, and director spanned five decades. Many would say that the high point of his career was in 1983 when he produced, directed and co-wrote the highly successful “Winds of War” mini-series starring Robert Mitchum. But I would argue that his work on “Dark Shadows” is what most folks will remember.

Curtis created a cult classic that was “must see tv” for the five years that it ran. Ok, ok, truth be told, it wasn’t until the second year and the addition of Jonathon Frid as Barnabus Collins that the series really took off; but boy did it! “Dark Shadows” spawned two feature films [not as good as the tv series], comic books, novels, trading cards, and more. Even now, as I think back at how all of my friends and I were “into” “Dark Shadows” I have to smile.

Curtis’s wife of 54 years died earlier this month. He is survived by his two daughters and a world of fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today.