DCS: shannon hoon

Shannon Hoon had two passions — sports and music. In high school, he wrestled, played football and was a pole vaulter on the track and field squad. Influenced by The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, Shannon began to front various bands on weekends.

At 18, Shannon left his native Indiana for the bright lights and promises of stardom in Los Angeles. At a party, he met several young musicians and soon a band was formed. Shannon named his band “Blind Melon,” a dismissive nicknamed his father used to refer to “stoners.” He hooked up with his sister’s boyfriend (and fellow Indiana transplant), also a musician in a band. The boyfriend — Axl Rose — asked Shannon to help out on some songs his band was recording for a scheduled album release. Shannon happily contributed backing vocals to songs on Use Your Illusion I and II, released in 1991.

Blind Melon released their debut in 1992. They toured with Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N’ Roses, and Soundgarden overt the next year, with their single “No Rain,” a Billboard Top 20 song, getting airplay all over the world. Blind Melon toured extensively over the next two years. On a stop in Vancouver, Shannon was arrested after exposing himself and urinating on an audience member. In 1994, Blind Melon performed at the notorious Woodstock ’94 festival. Shannon, high on LSD, did the show while wearing his girlfriend’s white dress.

During a break from touring, the band released Soup, their second album. Shannon, by now a heavy drug user, allowed a drug counsellor to accompany the band on tour. After a disappointing show in Houston, a distraught Shannon went on a drug binge as the band travelled to New Orleans for the next stop on the tour. In the afternoon of October 21, 1995, Blind Melon’s sound engineer went to the tour bus to wake Shannon for a sound check. He found the singer unresponsive. An ambulance was called and Shannon was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 28 years old.

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DCS: bo peep karlin

For someone with such an interesting and unusual name, there is not a lot of information about Bo Peep Karlin.

She was born Lioba Karlin in 1910 in Green Creek, Illinois, located midway between St. Louis and Terre Haute, Indiana. An aspiring dancer, Bo Peep made her film debut in an uncredited role in the early talkie The Great Gabbo, starring Erich Von Stroheim as a possessed ventriloquist, and early entry in the the oft-used movie trope. Bo Peep went on to appear in eight more film roles, all but one uncredited. Her final role, the one for which she received screen credit, was in the 1963 musical Bye-Bye Birdie. She played “Ursula’s Mother.” The character didn’t even have an actual name. Bo Peep retired from acting at the conclusion of filming.

Bo Peep married actor turned studio executive Gaston Glass. Glass was a popular silent movie actor whose career plummeted when talking pictures came into prominence. He took the opportunity to work behind-the-scenes. Glass served as a production manager at 20th Century Fox, working on such films as All About Eve, State Fair and Three Coins in the Fountain. He later moved on to television, where he supervised the production of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space and Batman. He was briefly married to Renée Adorée before marrying Bo Peep Karlin.

Bo Peep and Gaston Glass had three children, including movie and television score composer Paul Glass. They remained married until Glass’s death in 1965. Bo Peep passed away four years later at the age of 58.

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inktober52: dino

Dino Martin was encouraged to pursue a career in show business. After all, his father was Dean Martin, one of the most famous figures in entertainment. Just into his teens, Dino teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Billy Hinsche and drummer Desi Arnaz Jr., both of whom Dino knew as grammar school classmates. The trio auditioned for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records and, before they knew it, they had a couple of hits on the Billboard charts.

Dino’s musical fame was short-lived, as he moved to the world of sports. He became a successful tennis player, even making an appearance in a junior competition at Wimbledon. He also took a shot at acting, landing a role in the 1979 film Players, as — ironically — a tennis player. Around the same time, he dropped his “Dino” nickname, opting for his given name of Dean Paul. Later, he was part of the ensemble cast of the sci-fi series Misfits of Science with a young Courteney Cox.

At 16, Dean Paul obtained a pilot’s license and, in 1980, he was made an officer in the California Air National Guard. On a routine training mission in 1987, Dean Paul crashed his F-4 Phantom II jet into a mountain where visibility was low due to a snowstorm. Dean Paul was 35 years old.

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DCS: al adamson

Al Adamson wasn’t about to set Hollywood on fire. He wasn’t making groundbreaking film. He wasn’t an innovator of directorial technique. He was churning out low budget schlock and he knew it. And he didn’t care.

Al’s films touched on many genres — westerns, horror, sexploitation, blaxploitation, soft-core porn, outlaw biker films, sex comedies, science-fiction, martial arts. You name it, Al made it — all on a budget equal to what most people carry in their wallet. Al’s films were lurid, over-the-top pictures with paper-thin plots of the grindhouse and drive-in variety. As bad as they were, Al’s cinematic output garnered a loyal cult following. In later years, distribution rights to several of Al’s movies were picked up by indie B-movie powerhouse Troma Pictures.

In 1969, Al and his crew shot a film called Psycho A-Go-Go. The film was later re-edited into a different film called Blood of Ghastly Horror with new scenes featuring veteran character actor John Carradine. Still not content, Al once again recut the film, rereleasing it as The Fiend with the Electronic Brain. Even later, it was syndicated to late-night movie packages as The Man with the Synthetic Brain.

Al was able to recruit some of Hollywood’s respected actors on the downslope of their careers, including a number of Western stars like Bob Livingston and “Red” Barry. He even signed on Russ Tamblyn, Yvonne DeCarlo and former Mouseketeer Tommy Kirk along the way. (Tommy Kirk noted that his role in Blood of Ghastly Horror was a low point in his career.) Al filmed a few of his movies at the notorious Spahn Ranch. His 1975 film Blazing Stewardesses was originally written as a vehicle for the remaining Three Stooges, but Moe Howard to too ill to work. Al’s last film, 1983’s Lost was also the final screen appearance for Sandra Dee.

By the end of the 70s, Al had given up on directing, focusing more on the more lucrative real estate business. Although successful in real estate, he continued to write scripts, including one in which the main character is murdered over a financial dispute and buried beneath his house.

In 1995, Al hired contractor Fred Fulford to make some repairs and improvements at his California home. Al had intentions of flipping the property once the work was completed. He gave Fulford a credit card to use for supplies, but Al later accused Fulford of overspending and abusing his privilege. Fulford became confrontational during a heated dispute over money. Fulford murdered Al and buried his body in a cement foundation that once formed the base of a hot tub. Family members reported Al missing. Investigators were led to a hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida where Fred Fulford was arrested on suspicion of murder. During a trial, details that were eerily reminiscent on an Al Adamson screenplay were revealed. Fulford was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Al Adamson was 65 years old.

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DCS: gilbert gottfried

My wife and I recently visited the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York. Despite its somewhat remote location, the center houses an impressive and comprehensive collection of all aspects of comedy — including films, props, costumes and awards. Through numerous interactive displays, the world of comedy is explored, reviewed, analyzed and, of course, celebrated. In a secluded area, accessed by a nondescript elevator, a small room devoted to “blue” humor is behind a closed door surrounded by many large warning signs. Once the decision is made ignore the warnings, the door is opened and guests are greeted by a huge placard that reads “MOTHERFUCKER” in large block letters, offering a precursor to what is yet to come. The walls are lined with excerpts from controversial routines by Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Redd Foxx among other comics known for their “adults only” humor. On one monitor, a film clip of Gilbert Gottfried delivering a lengthy take on the infamous “Aristocrats” joke while performing at a celebrity roast of Hugh Hefner, shortly after the September 11 attacks plays on a loop. During our visit (and I’m sure at all other times), a small crowd of broadly-smiling guests had formed around that particular monitor.

With Gilbert Gottfried’s surprising and untimely passing on April 12, 2022, I thought about two of the funniest things related to the comedian — and neither one of them was part of any stand-up routine. In 1986, a young Gilbert Gottfried wrote an article for National Lampoon’s “Hot Sex” issue. The piece was entitled “How Not to Get Laid.” It read like a standard instruction manual offering the finer points of how to avoid sex. At its conclusion, the article was summed up with a simple directive that listed the three places where one was guaranteed not to get laid. Those places were (according to Gilbert): 1) A Star Trek convention. 2) The lobby of a Star Trek convention and 3) Anywhere within a 10 block radius of a Star Trek convention.

More recently, my wife and I were looking for something to watch on television and, after our third round of channel-switching with the remote control, we landed on an episode of a show called Celebrity Wife Swap. I am not a regular viewer of this show. The premise is pretty simple. Two male celebrities “switch” lives for a week, each moving in with the other’s family and treating their spouses as though they were their own. This particular episode featured Gilbert Gottfried along with Alan Thicke, the one-time talk show host, highly touted to unseat Johnny Carson as “late night king.” (Spoiler Alert: he did not succeed.) Later, Mr. Thicke found a career-saving home as one of America’s favorite TV sitcom dads.

In the episode, Thicke is taken to Gilbert’s modest Manhattan apartment. We watch as Thicke snoops around, trying to figure out who lives here and with whose wife he will spend the next seven days. He spots a figurine of Iago the parrot from Disney’s Aladdin and he sees a poster for the film Problem Child. He chuckles, smiles and announces that it must be Gilbert Gottfried. Meanwhile, Gilbert is allowed access to Alan Thicke’s home — a sprawling estate with huge, manicured lawns, a multicar garage and room after room of pretentious décor. After a few minutes, Gilbert — eyes squinting nearly shut, hand flailing in all directions — squawks in his unmistakable voices: “Oh, It’s that guy! That guy I never liked! Alan Thicke” The out-of-shot camera crew could not contain their laughter.

Gilbert was one of a kind. His brazen sense of humor will be missed. He was one funny guy.

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inktober52: camouflage

Tommy Cooper was a popular British comedian for four decades. The hulking funnyman, never without his trademark red fez, would perform magic tricks… most of which failed miserably. He used his failures as fodder for rapid fire one-liners that had his audiences rolling in the aisles.

In April 1984, Tommy was performing on the popular television program Live from Her Majesty’s. Minutes into his faux magic act, Tommy suffered a fatal heart attack and died on live television. His death was witnessed by a theater full of people as well as millions of home television viewers… many of whom thought his on-stage collapse was part of the act. Tommy, a heavy drinker and smoker, was 63 years old.

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DCS: christa speck

Twenty-one year old Christa Speck was working as a secretary at Bank of America when she was discovered by Playboy talent scouts. Soon the German-born beauty found herself gracing the pages of the September 1961 issue as the “Playmate of the Month.” Her popularity earned her the title of “Playmate of the Year,” the first time the honor had been given to a foreign-born model.

An invitation by magazine publisher Hugh Hefner to move into the Playboy Mansion was welcomed by Christa and she soon began working as a “bunny” at the Chicago Playboy Club. She also was featured in every pictorial about life at the Mansion that was published in 1960s… much to the delight of her increasing legion of fans. As a matter of fact, Christa was chosen among the Top Ten Playmates of the magazine’s first decade in a poll of editors and readers.

In 1965, Christa married children’s programming producer Marty Krofft. She left the spotlight to start a family. Christa and Marty had three daughters together. They remained married until Christa’s death from natural causes in 2013. She was 70 years old. Marty claims he never read Playboy.

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