DCS: warren zevon

the shit has hit the fan

Warren Zevon was often described as the “anti-Jackson Browne,” an allusion to his easy Laurel Valley melodies coupled with his sardonic lyrics.

On October 30, 2002, Warren was featured on the Late Show with David Letterman as the only guest for the entire hour. He sang songs and openly discussed his battle with cancer. He passed away just under a year later at the age of 56. In between, he enjoyed every sandwich.

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DCS: wilford brimley

eat your oatmeal

I met Wilford Brimley at a collector and autograph show in 2017. While some of the other celebrities had long lines at their individual tables and were engaging in lively conversation with adoring fans, Wilford Brimley sat alone at a small folding table, its surface displaying a few stacks of color photographs depicting scenes from the actor’s career. He sat fairly motionless, silently surveying the vast conference room that was bustling with activity all over — except in his little corner of the world.

I was headed towards the exit when I passed Mr. Brimley and his small collection of photos, so I backtracked on my steps and perused his offerings. There were a couple images from John Carpenter’s 1982 gory re-imagining of The Thing and a few from Ron Howard’s 1985 age-aware fantasy Cocoon, along with several standard studio head shots that were representative of different ages of Mr. Brimley’s life. He didn’t utter a word as I scanned the top of his table. He didn’t even look at me. I selected a full-color head shot of the actor sporting a pastel plaid shirt and a large white fedora. His stare into the camera did not betray any sort of emotion. Any expression was obscured by his trademark mustache which completely covered any indication of a mouth. The figure that sat behind the table was identical to the photo I selected for inscription. Maybe he was wearing a different shirt.

I passed my chosen photo to Mr. Brimley, along with a twenty dollar bill. “I’d like this one, please.,” I said. “Okay,” he replied and picked a black Sharpie from a lineup of pens arranged on his side of the table. He uncapped the marker and wrote something like “Good Luck” or “Best Wishes” and below the sentiment wrote his name in larger, swashier letters. He stashed the twenty in an envelope and handed the signed picture back to me. “Thank you.” he said and I replied with the same. I walked away, picking up where I left off in my path to the exit. The entire conversation that I had with Wilford Brimley consisted of ten words. Three of them were spoken by Mr. Brimley and two of those words were merely repeated by me.

When I got home, I glanced through the photographs that I had collected at the convention that day. I met Danny Lloyd, who played Jack Nicholson’s son in The Shining. As a six-year-old, he wasn’t told that he was starring in a horror movie. After abandoning his acting career, Danny is currently a biology professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He often attends conventions to meet fans and overcharge for his signature. I also met Louise Fletcher, who was awarded the 1976 Oscar for Best Actress for her riveting portrayal of sadistic “Nurse Ratched” in Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Miss Fletcher was gracious and charming and seemed to be bewildered by the crowds. That afternoon, I talked, at length with Danny Lloyd and Louise Fletcher. I thought about my non-conversation with Wilford Brimley and I quickly “googled” his name.

Now, I was kicking myself over a missed opportunity.

Wilford Brimley dropped out of high school and joined the United States Marines. He served for three years in the Aleutian Islands. Upon his discharge, he worked various jobs, including as a blacksmith, ranch hand and animal wrangler. He also employed his size and bulk to work briefly as a personal bodyguard for eccentric businessman Howard Hughes. Wilford’s friend, actor Robert Duvall, suggested that he enter the movie industry, putting to work his knowledge of horses. Wilford became a stuntman and animal wrangler. On the sets of Westerns, he would shoe the horses. He made his stunt debut in Bandelero! with James Stewart, Raquel Welch and Dean Martin. He also performed stunt work in True Grit starring John Wayne. In 1979, he appeared as a bona fide actor in The China Syndrome and The Electric Horseman. His career took off, with roles in some of Hollywood’s best remembered films alongside some of Hollywood’s top stars, like The Natural, Absence of Malice, Brubaker, The Thing and dozens more. He also made numerous appearance on network television, with guest roles in Kung Fu, Walker, Texas Ranger, an eight episode run on The Waltons and even a comedic turn in the final season of Seinfeld. In director Ron Howard’s Cocoon, a film about aging and eternal youth, Mr. Brimley held his own among costars who were twenty years his senior. Despite being only 51, he very convincingly fit right in. He was later tapped as a memorable product spokesperson for Quaker Oatmeal and Liberty Medical Supplies.

Not content with his life endevours thus far, he also was an accomplished singer and harmonica player. He released an album of jazz standards and performed a stirring —and surprising — rendition of “Oh! Suzanna” on Late Night with Craig Ferguson in 2011.

I really wanted to go back to the convention and hear accounts firsthand from Wilford Brimley.

After a two-month long illness, Wilford Brimley passed away on August 1, 2020 at the age of 85. I’m glad I met him, even if we only shared ten words between us.

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DCS: chrissy amphlett

i touch myself

Chrissy Amphlett met guitarist Mark McEntee at the Sydney Opera House in 1980 and soon after formed the band Divinyls. They performed in and around Sydney with a rotating lineup – Chrissy and McEntree as the core members. The band released six albums between 1982 and 1996, hitting its pinnacle in 1991 with the international hit single “I Touch Myself” from their self-titled album. She was a focal point of live shows, often performing in a schoolgirl uniform accented by fishnet stockings. Divinyls wouldn’t release another album until 1996, Underworld, which would be their final effort as a band.

Chrissy toyed with a solo career but concentrated more on acting. She appeared in a number of stage plays, including taking the role of Judy Garland in the original touring production of The Boy from Oz.

In 2007, Chrissy revealed a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Three years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which took her life in 2013 at the age of 53.

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DCS: j. madison wright morris

just too many jessicas

A professional model from the age of five, J. Madison Wright pursued a career in acting. At 9, she made appearances on the sitcom Grace Under Fire and The Nanny playing snotty beauty pageant contestants. Soon after, she landed a regular role on the NBC science-fiction series Earth 2, followed by a guest role on ER and a starring role in the family film Shiloh alongside her younger sister Tori.

After filming wrapped on the made-for-television Disney picture Safety Patrol, J. Madison retired from show business at the age of 15. She returned to her native Kentucky.

J. Madison was suffering from a bout of pneumonia that she could not shake when she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, a disease where the walls of the heart become rigid. Actor Clancy Brown, her co-star in Earth 2, led fundraising efforts to pay for a heart transplant. Her transplant was successful and her recovery was surprisingly quick. J. Madison returned to school where she enjoyed time with the cheerleading squad, as well as giving inspirational talks to promote organ donation. After graduation, she attended college, working towards teaching credentials.

In 2006, one day after returning home from her honeymoon, J. Madison suffered a heart attack. She was admitted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center where she died on July 21, just two weeks after her wedding, and eight days before her 22nd birthday.

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inktober52: ufo

fake

George Adamski built a wooden observatory to house his six-inch telescope and foster his interest in astronomy. Friends and acquaintances called him “professor” and assumed he had some association with Cal Tech’s nearby Palomar Observatory. George rarely denied the title, despite having only a third grade education.

In October 1946, during a meteor shower, George claimed to have spotted a cigar-shaped “mother ship” hovering above the Palomar Gardens campgrounds in San Diego County, California. He made a similar claim again in the summer of 1947, however, instead of just one ship, George asserted that he saw 184 ships. By 1949, George was giving lectures on the subject of alien life and spaceships. He discussed his regular meetings with Venusian pilots of translucent metal ships and photographs of Mars taken by the government. In the 50s, George released two books about space travel and personal summits with aliens, including regular contact with aliens living in Southern California. In the 60s, he told of a meeting he attended with Pope John XXIII that took place on the planet Saturn.

In 1964, just after delivering a lecture on the topic of UFOs, George suffered a heart attack. He passed away at the age of 74. Every one of his claims were proven to be false.

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inktober52: sandy

the fireworks are hailing over little eden tonight

In 1978, the film version of the stage musical Grease was released to theaters. It was a huge hit. Personally, I didn’t like it. However, a recent theory concerning the true story of Grease has been making its way across the internet — making the film a bit more enjoyable… at least to me.

According to the theory, Sandy drowned during her summer encounter with Danny Zuko. She was taken unconscious to the hospital where the entire movie is presented as Sandy’s coma-induced fantasy. At the very end, Sandy unfortunately dies and ascends to heaven in a convertible.

Now… doesn’t that make things better?

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DCS: dorothy dare

yoo hoo hoo

Born in Philadelphia, Dorothy Dare began singing in church and made her stage debut at the age of seven. When she got older, she was spotted during a performance by an impressed Florenz Ziegfeld. The famed producer gave Dorothy a place in his stage show. Soon, she was appearing in a series of Vitaphone musical short subjects.

Dorothy co-starred with Bette Davis in the Michael Curtiz directed Front Page Woman in 1935 and Busby Berkeley’s Gold Diggers of 1935. Film critics were impressed by her performances in the shorts rather than her full-length features.

After the 1942 patriotic musical The Yanks are Coming, Dorothy abruptly left show business. She moved to Orange County, California and rarely gave interviews or spoke about her time in Hollywood. She passed away in 1981 at the age of 70. Her death was barely noticed by the press.

Years after her death, an actress in New York began making claims that she was Dorothy Dare and was briefly entertained by the media — until an investigation exposed her as an impostor.

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