In Memoriam 2011

There were a number of celebrity deaths in 2011, but the following were also significant contributers to Pop Culture.

Elizabeth Taylor 2/27/32-3/23/11 One of the world’s most famous actresses, her award-winning performances in films and her scandalous personal life made her a pop culture icon. Ms. Taylor will also be remembered for her personal jewelry collection, perfume lines and perhaps most importantly, her crusade on the behalf of AIDS sufferers.

Anne Francis 9/16/30-2/2/11   The actress is best remembered for her role in the Sci-Fi film classic Forbidden Planet, and also won a 1966 Golden Globe for her portrayal of TV’s sexy private detective Honey West.

Jeff Conaway 10/5/50-5/27/11  The actor appeared on Celebrity Rehab, but sadly lost his battle with addiction. He also played Kenickie in the classic musical Grease, and Bobby Wheeler on TV’s Taxi.

Ryan Dunn 6/11/77-6/19/11  The Reality TV star and fan-favorite performer in the Jackass series lost his life in an alcohol-related car crash.

Cliff Robertson 9/9/25-9/10/11  The actor, writer and director won an Academy Award, Emmy, Theater World Award and Advertising Age Award. He rose to pop culture fame for his portrayal of Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies.

Heavy D 5/24/67-11/8/11  The pioneering hip-hop MC and actor died of a pulmonary embolism.

Patrice O’Neal 12/7/69-11/29/11 The stand-up comedian and radio host died from complications after a suffering a stroke in October. He had appeared on The Office, Chapelle’s Show, and the Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen.

Harry Morgan 4/11/15-/12/7/11  The prolific film actor was best known for his television work in Dragnet and as Colonel Potter in M*A*S*H.

And no, Jon Bon Jovi did NOT die. That was all a hoax.


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California Condom Controversy?

Various and diverse issues seem to find their way onto California ballots. The June 2012 presidential primary ballot will be no different, when Los Angeles residents will be asked to weigh in as to whether porn actors should be required to wear condoms.

America’s 2nd largest city is home to the multibillion dollar U.S. porn industry, which health advocates say is riddled with STDs. “There are thousands of STD’s in this industry,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The group gathered over 71,000 signatures, well over the 41,000 needed to get the issue on the ballot.

Some in the industry have argued that using the latex would take away the fantasy appeal of their product. It could also force the adult companies out of the city, state or underground, making it even less safe for performers.

Only time will tell whether LA voters will endorse safer sex in the blue movies.

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Cheetah, Chimpanzee in “Tarzan” Movies Dies

Cheetah, the chimpanzee who starred alongside Maureen O’Sullivan and Johnny Weissmuller in “Tarzan and His Mate” and “Tarzan the Ape Man” in 1932 and 1934, died on Saturday after suffering from Kidney failure at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, FL. After leading a long life filled with filming the Tarzan movies and touching the lives of many, Cheetah passed away at the age of 80.

According to Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary’s outreach director, Cheetah spent the last years of his life at the sanctuary painting, watching football, and listening to Christian music. Throughout his stay at the sanctuary, Cheetah was known to brighten the days of the staff and visitors through his antics. On the sanctuary’s website, fans of Cheetah are posting their memories of Cheetah and mourning his passing, leaving loving words and kind goodbyes.

Mia Farrow, the daughter of Maureen O’Sullivan, posted to her twitter account: “Cheetah the chimp in Tarzan movies died this week at 80. My mom, who played Jane, invariably referred to Cheetah as ‘that bastard.’”

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What Was Wrong With The ‘Dolly For Sue’?

The original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story was written as a giveaway for the Montgomery Ward department stores by Robert L. May in 1939. In 1949, May’s story was made into a song by Johnny Marks, who also wrote ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Holly Jolly Christmas.’ Johnny also wrote Chuck Berry’s sequel hit ‘Run Rudolph Run.’

Rudolph The Red-Nosed reindeer is the longest-running holiday special in the world (How the Grinch Stole Christmas came out in 1969, and the Peanuts Special for ran on Thanksgiving night, 1965). There have been several changes to the broadcast version over the year. Did Yukon Cornelious really fire off his guns in that Christmas special? Did he ever find that Peppermint mine? The answer is yes, depending on which edited version you’ve seen.

She started out as a “Dolly for Sue,” and ended up as one of the great mysteries of Christmas in the late 20th century. Her first appearance in 1964’s ‘Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer’ lasted only a few seconds as a tertiary character on the Island of Misfit Toys, ruled by good King Moonracer, a flying lion.

Some of the misfit characters included a polka-dotted elephant, a Charlie-in-a-box, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a grape-jelly gun, a plane that doesn’t fly… you get the point.

‘Useless toys’ in the traditional sense, but definitely fitting the ‘misfit’ label.

In the 1965 (and all future airings), the Misfit Toys had a bigger role; in the original airing, the Island of Misfit Toys were simply forgotten. The network got questions, even complaints, as children wondered what happened to these poor, unwanted toys. With the additional time to complete their part of the story, the toys were given more “on-air” time. That air-time was added by having Santa save some time himself by delivering gifts by parachute instead of sneaking into people’s homes.

That extra attention has made many people ask what made that little doll such a misfit. I am reasonably confident that I have finally found the answer.
The original Misfit Toys were all for boys (this was 1964!). With the fleeting scene during the first airing, my theory is that they needed a ‘girl toy,’ so the “Doll for Sue” was created.

In 2007, on NPR’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” Rudolph producer Arthur Rankin Jr., said that Dolly’s problem was psychological, and was caused from being abandoned by her mistress (Sue?) and suffering depression from feeling unloved. Backing that up, when sold at CVS in 1998, her tag said ”I’m a little rag doll who just wants a friend. I think that will help my broken heart mend.”

Many people accepted that answer, but putting 21st century psycho-babble into a stop-motion animatron created for a few seconds of air-time on a children’s television special from nearly fifty years ago just doesn’t make sense.

The reality: She was a last-minute add-on misfit toy so the young girls watching had a toy they could relate to.

What made her a misfit toy?

It’s as plain as the nose on your face. More precisely, it’s the nose missing from her face.

Mystery solved.

People often ask, why  is Hermie often referred to as ‘Herbie’ in the film, and why does Santa take off at the end with 7 reindeer, counting Rudolph, instead of the full nine mentioned in the song?

I think these people have too much time on their hands.

Just enjoy the special!

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