DCS: bill macy

God'll get you for that, Walter

Bill Macy earned a living as a Brooklyn cab driver for over a decade until he landed a spot on Broadway. Well… sort of. He was cast as Walter Matthau’s understudy in the 1958 production of Once More, With Feeling. In the 60s, he landed a small role of a cab driver in the soap opera The Edge of Night.

He joined the controversial off-Broadway musical Oh Calcutta! from 1969 until 1971, later performing in the 1972 filmed version of the risque production.

Noted television producer Norman Lear spotted Bill on Broadway and brought him to Hollywood. He cast Bill in a small role as a uniformed police officer in an episode of All in the Family. Lear was so pleased with the performance that he offered Bill the supporting part of “Walter Findlay,” the long-suffering husband of the outspoken “Maude” on the popular sitcom starring Bea Arthur. Bill stayed with the series for its entire six-season run. Afterwards, he appeared in guest roles on episodic television, both comedy and drama. He appeared in a memorable story arc of Seinfeld as a resident of Del Boca Vista, regularly butting heads with Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan as Jerry’s parents.

Bill also costarred in a number of successful films including Mel Brooks’s original The Producers in 1967, Serial, The Jerk with Steve Martin, My Favorite Year and Analyze This. His last film was Mr. Woodcock in 2007.

Bill passed away in October 2019 at the age of 97.

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inktober 2019: week five

inktober 2019 week five

Inktober 2019 comes to an end and the final week’s illustration is Curt Siodmak. He was a novelist and screenwriter, best known for writing the screenplay for the 1941 Universal Studios horror classic The Wolf Man. Curt’s work created a lot of the legends associated with werewolf ethos, including the sign of the pentagram and the use of a silver bullet to dispose of the monster, as well as the verse that has been used in many werewolf films:

Even a man who is pure in heart,
And says his prayers by night
May become a Wolf when the Wolfbane blooms
And the autumn Moon is bright

These important parts of werewolf lore were purely products of Curt Siodmak’s imagination, despite being revered as centuries-old. Siodmak also wrote the novel on which Donovan’s Brain was based, as well as a number of screenplays in — and out — of the horror genre.

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DCS: emperor norton

by royal decree

Joshua Norton came to the United States during the Gold Rush of 1849. He landed in San Francisco and dove headfirst into the real estate business. He was successful at first, but he got greedy. He hatched a plan to take advantage of a rice shortage in 1853. However, when huge shipments of the grain arrived in San Francisco, prices plummeted and Joshua Norton was financially ruined. He disappeared for several years until he showed up at the offices of the San Francisco Bulletin one day in 1859. With a royal decree in his hand, Joshua proclaimed himself “Emperor Norton I of the United States.”

The new and “exalted” Emperor Norton would parade daily through the streets of San Francisco. He was met with bows and revered greetings from the citizens, who got a kick out of playing along with the charade. The newspapers took great pleasure in publishing Emperor Norton’s decrees, including a proclamation dissolving the United States and naming himself sole monarch, all while the country was teetering on the brink of the Civil War. When the French invaded south of the border, Norton added “Protector of Mexico” to his title.

Emperor Norton’s popularity grew. He was adopted as a sort of mascot for the city of San Francisco, despite his lack of formal governmental power. Emperor Norton dolls were sold in shops across the city. Theater owners saved him a seat at the opening night of every play. Train and ferry companies let him ride free of charge. Some of the city’s restaurant allowed him to dine free of change in exchange for the right to post an imperial seal of approval that read: “By Appointment to His Imperial Majesty, Norton I.” He still remained poor, but people would offer him alms under the guise of “paying their royal taxes.” Army officers supplied him with a replacement when his trademark epaulet-clad uniform began to get shabby. One of the most famous mandates came in the early 1870s, when Emperor Norton announced that the city should appropriate funds for construction of a bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. Ignored initially, Norton I’s decree eventually came to fruition in 1936 with the opening of the Bay Bridge. Emperor Norton was immortalized by author Mark Twain in the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” as the inspiration for the eccentric character “The King.”

Emperor Norton I passed away in January 1880 at the age of 61. The San Francisco Chronicle‘s front page headline announced: “Le Roi Est Mort” (“The King is Dead”). Ten thousand “loyal subjects” attended his funeral.

Just after the publication of this blog post, I was contacted by the Emperor’s Bridge Campaign, an online entity devoted (in their words) “to honor the life and advance the legacy of Emperor Norton.” They asked for permission to include my illustration among the other illustrations appearing in their online gallery, some dating back to the 19th Century. I happily gave them my blessing. You can see my illustration in good company here.  Actually you can see my illustration at the top of this page, but there are some other pretty good ones here too.

 

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inktober 2019: week four

inktober 2019 week four

Week Four of Inktober 2019 brings demure Mary Shelley, the unlikely author of arguably the most famous horror novel of all time, Frankenstein (or The Modern Prometheus). On a summer vacation with family and friends in 1816, 19-year old Shelley conceived the story of a doctor experimenting with dead tissue. The completed novel was published in 1818 and has since spawned an abundance of movies, plays, television series and related stories.

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inktober 2019: week three

inktober 2019 week three

Wow! Is it Week Three of Inktober 2019 already? Then here’s the modern Master of Horror Stephen King. One of the most prolific and consistently popular authors of all time, King has published 58 novels and over two hundred short stories. And it all started when his wife fished his first manuscript — Carrie — out of the trash.

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inktober 2019: week two

inktober 2019 week two

It’s Week Two of Inktober 2019 and here’s Bram Stoker, the British author who brought the world the classic vampire tale Dracula in 1897. Stoker was the manager of the 2100-seat Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End, a position he held for 27 years. Inspired by a trip to the Northern English town of Whitby, Stoker penned his Gothic yarn about an ancient vampire making plans to move to London seeking fresh blood and bent on spreading his curse of the undead. His story, in turn, inspired countless films, plays, television shows and books.

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DCS: diahann carroll

half of what I say is meaningless
I drew this picture to give to Diahann Carroll when I met her at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in 2018. She was among a group of celebrity guests that were attending the show to meet fans and sign autographs. I had been collecting autographed photos of “celebrities” for almost thirty years before stopping in 2017. The prices had gotten too out of hand and those claiming “celebrity” status became questionable.

Diahann Carroll, however, was a bonafide celebrity. She was a Tony Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actress with a long and successful career. She is best remembered, of course, as “Julia Baker,” the title character in a groundbreaking NBC sitcom. Diahann was the first African-American actress to have her own show in a non-servant role. The show was very successful for Diahann. She later appeared in a regular role on the nighttime soap opera “Dynasty” as a rival to Joan Collins’s “Alexis Carrington.”

At the convention, Diahann was seated behind a table covered with glossy photos highlighting her illustrious career. I approached her table. At 83, she was still the glamorous star I recalled from my youth. I handed her a print of my drawing and told her that I was a big fan. She looked at the print and said, “Oh, remember those short hair styles?” Then she offered a half-hearted smile. realizing that I was not going to purchase an autograph. I was not offended. She was there to make a little unreported income.

Diahann Carroll passed away on October 4 at the age of 84.

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DCS: irwin jacobs

everything the light touches...

Irwin Jacobs was a shrewd investor. He had an uncanny ability to spot an opportunity to make money. In the middle 1970s, Irwin purchased the Grain Belt Brewing Company. He tried to make the failing brewery profitable, sinking nearly $200,000 a month into the company. After eight months, he called it quits, but sold the brand to G. Heileman Brewing Company at a four million dollar gain. Next, he turned a huge profit by negotiating a deal for the bankrupt five-and-dime giant W.T. Grant’s accounts receivable. He owned Cable Value Network, a television retailer that was eventually sold to QVC for another huge profit.

Irwin’s investment company owned Genmar Holdings. one of the largest manufacturers of recreational motorboats. He also owned Watkins Incorporated, a huge consumer products conglomerate, Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), a sporting travel company and partner of Walmart, as well as numerous other product and investment companies. He was also a minority owner of the Minnesota Vikings football team, until he sold his share in 1991.

Irwin was known as a generous philanthropist. He served as chairman of the Special Olympics after is donations reached $8 million. One of Irwin’s five children was born with cerebral palsy.

In early 2019, Alexandra Jacobs, Irwin’s wife of 57 years showed advanced signs of dementia and was wheelchair-bound. According to friends, Irwin was distraught over her condition.

On April 10, 2019. 77-year old Irwin and his wife were found dead from gunshot wounds at their 32-acre suburban Minneapolis estate. Investigations determined it to be a murder-suicide.

 

 

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inktober 2019: week one

inktober 2019 week one

As the weather grows cooler, Inktober is once again upon us.  That means it’s time for hundreds of talented artists worldwide… and me…. to create special works daily just for October, based on a set of suggestions from the official Inktober website.  Always one to buck the system, I follow my own set of rules for Inktober. I will be posting a new, black & white drawing each week for the entire month (in addition to my participation in Illustration Friday and a Dead Celebrity Spotlight). Every year, I choose a theme in keeping with the “spirit” of the Hallowe’en season. This year, each of my drawings will be a tribute to the authors who bring you stories that thrill and chill.

Week One kicks off with Gaston Leroux, a popular detective novelist who created the amateur sleuth “Joseph Rouletabille.” Rouletabille appeared in seven novels by Leroux. Gaston Leroux also published a number of other novels, including the one for which he is most famous, The Phantom of the Opera. Originally serialized in 1909 and 1910, the novel was the basis for numerous films and remakes over the course of decades beginning in 1925 with Lon Chaney featured in the title role. In 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber brought the story to the musical stage in his Tony Award winning production. Webber used an earlier musical by Ken Hill as his inspiration, but it all began with Gaston Leroux.

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