The consumate charactor actor, he also served in the U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations in World War II, as a paratrooper with Company B, 1st Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
From the 60s' Gunsmoke, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Twilight Zone to the 2000s' Raising Dead, Star Trek - New Voyages, and Yesterday's Dreams — Windom was a curmudgeon on screen and a delightfully sweet man when the cameras stopped rolling.
The New York Times reports:
Mr. Windom, who was also a tournament chess player, was married five times. Besides his wife of 37 years, Patricia, he is survived by four children, Rachel, Heather, Hope and Rebel; and four grandchildren.
Windom could never teach me a hedgehog move — I was a lost cause: 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 e6 4. g3 b6 5. Bg2 Bb7 6. 0-0 Be7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4 d6 9. Rd1 a6 10. b3 Nbd7 11. e4 Qb8 12. Bb2 0-0 ... it was something like that...
You'll find William Windom's WWII service photo HERE
[UPDATE - August 31, 2012] In July I wrote about the death of my old friend, Sherman Hemsley. I regret that I have to update this post with an article from CNN. As a preface, Sherman hated cold weather. You'll find my remembrances, a video of Sherman, and a photo or two following this update.
(CNN) -- Sherman Hemsley's body lies in an El Paso, Texas, funeral home refrigerator more than a month after his death while a court decides who gets the actor's remains.
A Philadelphia man claiming to be the "Jeffersons" actor's brother is challenging a will Hemsley signed a month before his death, according to the funeral home handling his arrangements.
"It is disgraceful," Hemsley's longtime partner Flora Enchinton told CNN affiliate KVIA-TV. "It is sad. This was a man with dignity."
The will signed by Hemsley on June 13, 2012, a month after he was diagnosed with cancer, named Enchinton as executor and left his entire estate to her, according to court papers.
Hemsley's embalmed remains are kept in a refrigerator at San Jose Funeral Home in El Paso awaiting a court order allowing burial or with instructions on who should be given the body, funeral home employee Renny Dosier said Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the El Paso County Probate Judge Eduardo Gamboa declined to comment about the case.
Enchinton, who said she lived with Hemsley at his El Paso home for the past decade, told KVIA-TV that the dispute gives her a "very ugly feeling, very desperate feeling that I feel inside."
"The emotional thing is you wake up thinking he's still frozen out there," she said.
Contrary to what Enchinton said, Hemsley's body is "embalmed under refrigeration," not frozen, Dosier said.
The man who claims to be Hemsley brother is asking for custody of his remains and possessions.
"I have never heard of a so-called brother named of Richard Thornton in the 20 years I have known Sherman," Enchinton said. "This is not what Sherman would have wanted."
"Sherman left very worried about me, about me staying alone, what was going to happen to me, being alone if he was gone. That's what worried him the most. I guess maybe he sensed what was going to happen. It just gives me these emotions and feelings (that) all of a sudden there's these people that have never known anything about our life, about who we are, about what we're all about, about what we endured," Enchinton said about the validity of her role in Hemsley's life being questioned.
Hemsley played George Jefferson, a wisecracking owner of a dry cleaning business, on "All in the Family" from 1973 until 1975, when the spinoff "The Jeffersons" began an 11-season run on CBS.
Hemsley also played Deacon Ernest Frye in the sitcom "Amen."
Way back in the mid-70s when I was hired to work for the Norman Lear companies, I knew that I was—to use an absolutely appropriate phrase here—walkin' in high cotton.
My first office was on the studio lot at MetroMedia Square. Across the hall from me, and running down the hall, were the table-reading rooms for many of the great Lear sitcoms of the day.
Almost directly across from my office door was the door to the Jeffersons' reading room where the cast would assemble and—weekly—read new scripts aloud with the writers, the director, and other creative types.
The door just to the north of the Jeffersons was the door to the men's room where I first met All in the Family's Caroll O'Connor. (But, that is another story for another day.)
First or second week on the job ... I walked out of the men's room, heard my phone ringing, and crossing the hall, I almost ran Sherman down. Seeing him, I let my phone ring.
Apologizing for our near collision, I said, "I loved you on Broadway, Mr. Hemsley."
"Broadway? You saw Purlie?"
"Three times, Mr. Hemsley," I replied. I stuck out my hand to shake his.
He said, "Purlie tickets were expensive. You saw it three times?" He smiled with that impish grin of his. "Call me Shermie."
And, he hugged me.
After that we became quick friends and whenever we saw each other—in the halls of MetroMedia, in the parking lot, or on the street—we'd yell out, "Hugs!" and we'd hug each other. I cannot tell you how sweet and funny those moments were for us and how startling for some of the on-lookers.
Sherman Hemsley was such a gentleman and such a gentle human being—I adored him. I will miss the man forever. And,I will leave you with one of his songs from the Broadway production of Purlie.
Skinnin' a Cat, Shermie—Purlie, on Broadway
Postscript: My mom came, from Kansas, to visit me a year-or-so after I started working for Lear. I introduced her to Sherman and he was lovely and gracious, and he moved forward to hug her. My mom took a step back and shook his hand.
Frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't seen this copy error more often in early documents.
To learn more from the authoritative source, The Johns Hopkins Gazette, click here.
This is to advise you that President Obama has ordered the United States Flag and all State flags flown at half staff immediately.
This is to honor the victims of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado on Friday, July 20, 2012. The flags should remain at half staff until sunset on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. This action is taken under the Protocol for the United States and Maryland State Flag.
Any questions on the above should be directed to the Office of the Secretary of State.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail
by Gene Autry
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity hoppin', Easter's on its way
Bringin' ev'ry girl and boy
A basketful of Easter joy
Things to make your Easter Bright and gay
He's got jelly beans for Tommy
Colored eggs for sister Sue
There's an orchid for your mommy
And an Easter bonnet too.
Oh! Here' comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity Happy Easter Day
Look at him hop and listen to him say,
"Try to do the things you should"
Maybe if you're extra good
He'll roll lots of Easter eggs your way
You'll wake up on Easter morning
And you'll know that he was there
When you find those choc'late bunnies
That he's hiding ev´rywhere,
Oh! Here' comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity Happy Easter Day.
And, lest we forget, there's this wonderful little song from the Gene Autry archives: Bunny Round-up Time.
Jacob and I hope you enjoy your 2012 Easter with family and friends.
Meeting the Easter Bunny
A Poem by Rowena Bennett
On Easter morn at early dawn
before the cocks were crowing
I met a bob-tail bunnykin
and asked where he was going.
"But what is that of every hue
you carry in your basket?"
"Tis eggs of gold and eggs of blue;
I wonder that you ask it.
"Tis chocolate eggs and bonbon eggs
and eggs of red and gray,
For every child in every house
on bonny Easter day."
He perked his ears and winked his eye
and twitched his little nose;
He shook his tail -- what tail he had --
and stood up on his toes.
"I must be gone before the sun;
the east is growing gray;
Tis almost time for bells to chime."
And, he hippety-hopped away.
My little walk down memory lane is on the New Yorker Hotel's blog. Thanks, New Yorker! For the 1960s hospitality and for the fun. This one's for you:
It was a good time, it was the best time
It was a party, just to be with you
It was a good time, it was the best time
And I believed that I would stay forever
I would stay with you and share the laughter
With never ever a good-bye after
It was a good time, it was the best time
It was a short time, but such a good time
such a good time —
Ok, New Yorker, save me a tower room with a Empire State Building view.
Here's the link the the story, my Q&A with the New Yorker.
And, here's a bit of history:
The New Yorker hotel opened in 1930 and was the hospitality marvel of the day. It was the largest hotel NYC with 2,500 rooms. In addition to the many ballrooms, the Art Deco structure had ten private dining "salons," and five large restaurants employing 35 master cooks.
The barber shop was one of the largest in the world with 42 chairs and twenty manicurists.
At any given time at the New Yorker Hotel there were 92 telephone operators on duty and 150 laundry staff washing as many as 350,000 pieces daily.
When initially built the New Yorker Hotel had coal-fired steam boilers and generators sufficient to produce more than 2200 kilowatts of direct current electric power. At the time this was the largest private power plant in the United States. The hotel's own direct current generators were still in use during the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
[I have no affiliation with the hotel. I am, tho, a fan of good people, and great service, and The New Yorker. And, Nikola Tesla lived there for years. Is there any better recommendation?]
It's a Brockelmap!
The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904:
From the song, Baltimore Fire:
Fire fire I heard the cry
From every breeze that passes by
All the world was one sad cry of pity
Strong men in anguish prayed
Calling out to the heavens for aid
While the fire in ruins was laid
Fair Baltimore the beautiful city
In 1906, after two years of intense rebuilding, Jones & Groeninger published Groeninger's New Baltimore to celebrate Baltimore's rebirth. You may download a free copy here.
Etta James' passing reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Associate Press is reporting that Threlkeld, a former news anchor and reporter for ABC and CBS, has been killed.
ABC News is reporting veteran news correspondent Richard Threlkeld has been killed in a car accident.
The 74-year-old Threlkeld died Friday morning in Amagansett, N.Y., and was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital. He lived nearby in East Hampton.
Threlkeld, who worked for ABC News from 1982-89, spent the majority of his career at CBS News, retiring in 1998. He was a reporter, anchor and bureau chief for CBS for more than 25 years. He covered the Persian Gulf War and the Vietnam War, the Patty Hearst kidnapping and trial, and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
His final assignment at CBS was as Moscow correspondent.
Here's a toast to four of our favorite words.
Health, Happiness, Prosperity... and Good Friends:
And this little tune is in honor of my friend, Nancy Greco Cohen. I have stories about Nancy, but they will hold for another time.
Spike Jones & His City Slickers, Happy New Year
The Annual TCM Tribute to the performers we lost over the past 12 months is out and it's as beautifully produced as usual.
It's 5 minutes that's worth watching. Remember and reflect.
Channing Kullijian photo courtesy Deanne Fitzmaurice
Carolyne Zinko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, provides a wonderful story of their meeting and marriage:
Carol Channing married her junior high school sweetheart, Harry Kullijian, on Saturday, seven decades after they broke up.
Channing, best known for her role in Broadway's "Hello, Dolly," and Kullijian, a land developer from Modesto, were raised in San Francisco, where they attended Aptos Junior High School together. Her mother eventually put an end to their relationship because she thought her daughter was too forward, friends said.
The two went on to different high schools and separate lives, but never forgot each other.
Channing's memories of Kullijian were so fond that she included them in her recent autobiography, "Just Lucky, I Guess." Apparently, it was fortunate that she did.
A mutual friend, Mervin Morris of Atherton, founder of Mervyn's department stores, happened to be reading the book on an airplane on Jan. 29. He and his wife, Roz, had become acquainted with Channing because they both own homes near Palm Springs.
Harry Kullijian died Monday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA the day before what would have been his 92nd birthday.
Channing and Kullijian married in a matter of months after their reunion.... Channing was 82 and Kullijian 83.
One of my favorite—and lesser known—Carol Channing songs is this sweet little gem from the movie, Thoroughly Modern Mille:
We love you Miss Channing. You are in our thoughts and prayers. We are sorry for your loss.
The definitive answer came from Desi's son, Desi Arnaz, Jr and the answer surprised me. I suspect that the origins of Babalu just might surprise you, as well.
I knew Desi Arnaz, Sr and I spent time with him in Los Angeles and at his home in Del Mar. As a DGA member, I directed Desi Arnaz, Sr in his final appearances on television, in a series of commercials for a record album, Musical Moments from I Love Lucy, Celebrating the 30th Anniversary. After we finished taping the spots, Desi and I had a brief photo shoot and then we headed back to his hotel, L'Ermitage Beverly Hills.
I hadn't a clue as to the origins of the song, Babalu, until this month. I hadn't a clue until Desi Jr and Lucie explained the song. I was in awe listening to them speak and thankful for the insight. You will be, also.
Here's the album that Desi and I are holding:
Roll forward. December 9th 2011. The Paley Center for Media hosted an event, Tropicana Nights: A Salute to the Music of 'I Love Lucy.' The event featured Desi Arnaz, Jr, his sister, Lucie Arnaz, composer, arranger, Ron Abel, and others. Here's a fun clip from the event. You'll enjoy seeing Desi Jr, Lucie, and learning what, I suspect, you many not know about the song, Babalu! It's a fascinating story.
After learning about Babalu, I thought back to the night before we taped the TV spots for Desi's Musical Moments album. We made last minute script changes in Desi's hotel room at L'Ermitage. (I wrote the scripts, Desi had final approval, I had the teleprompter people on call for edits). In the room with me were Donald MacIntosh Havens (my life and business partner, and for the shoot, my AD) and Peter Witt (Continuity).
We all worked well past midnight while Desi, oddly, kept his eye on the clock. At around 11:00 Desi said, "We need a break, besides my son is going to be on Saturday Night Live. Come on over and sit on the bed."
We did and, more than Desi Jr, we watched a father who had an extraordinary level of pride in his son. A clip of Desi Sr and Desi Jr follows. The episode we watched was a rerun from SNL Season 1, Episode 14. Desi Sr nodded, smiled, and beamed like it was the first time he'd ever seen the show.
I learned more about Desi Arnaz that night than I could ever had imagined. The next day, Desi and i had a couple of arguments on the set. At one point he cursed and threatened to walk.
I held my ground. Desi was going long on every take and he knew it. At the end of the long, long shoot (we shot one :60 spot and two :30 spots in English and the entire run again in Spanish) Desi put his arm around my shoulder, lit an extraordinary cigar, offered me one, and said, "You're one hell of a director, son." He invited me to dinner.
I've never received higher praise.
[There's a whole lot more to my friendship with Desi Arnaz. For that you'll have to wait for my book, The Wrong Coast. Stay tuned.]
A video note from Johns Hopkins on behalf of Baltimore Heritage:
I renewed my membership today. Please join me in supporting the good work and educational programs of Baltimore Heritage.
Baltimore Heritage is Baltimore’s only city-wide preservation organization. By becoming a member of Baltimore Heritage, you are helping to preserve our city’s charm and distinctive character for current and future generations.We invite you to join now and become involved in our important and fulfilling work,
Baltimore Heritage members participate in the following:
Another bit of vintage Christmas Joy for you.
Your Hit Parade. Guest Starring ice skater, Andra McLaughlin with the Your Hit Parade regulars - Gisele MacKenzie, Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms, Dorothy Collins, and band leader, Raymond Scott. This episode was directed by Norman Jewison. Dance numbers choreographed by Peter Gennaro. The production was filmed at the NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center and at the Ice Rink at Rockefeller Plaza. Check out the Rockefeller Christmas Tree at the end. Also notice that Prometheus hasn't aged one iota.
It's fascinating to see the beginnings of Norman Jewison's stellar directorial career on this early television show. (Jewison has directed 12 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Alan Arkin, Rod Steiger, Topol, Leonard Frey, Al Pacino, Adolph Caesar, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly, Cher, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, and Denzel Washington.)
The choreographer for the show was Peter Gennaro. Gennaro went on to become one of Broadway's most acclaimed choreographers. (West Side Story, Bells Are Ringing, Guys and Dolls, Annie...)
No less interesting is seeing a Christmas Special sponsored by Lucky Strike Cigarettes.
At least it was simple on TV.
Television audiences could vicariously spend Christmas in Mayberry, Beverly Hills, Virginia City, Dodge City, Bryant Park, Los Angeles, or Hilldale.
Some of the popular shows on television in 1963 were: Bonanza, The Donna Reed Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Andy Griffith Show, Gunsmoke, Ben Casey, The Patty Duke Show, and My Three Sons.
Number 1 in the Nielsen Ratings, as it entered its second season, was The Beverly Hillbillies. Here's the 1963 Christmas episode, Christmas with the Clampetts. It's now in public domain.
Oh sure, it's silly and simple comedy. But here's what I find wonderfully refreshing: It's scripted entertainment, there's not a hint of reality TV, and there's not a Kardashian anywhere in sight.
When you get all crazy with your Holiday chores and guest lists, pour a glass of eggnog and take a look back at a simpler time. Merry Christmas, all.
Our troops give us the gift of freedom and security. It's important that we remember our troops every day. It's even more important that we remember them during the Holidays.
You won't see a photo of our troops celebrating Christmas captured on a Currier and Ives print. Christmas for soldiers serving in faraway places is not pretty, it's not an image to put on a greeting card.
I wasn't really aware of what Christmas might be like for our troops until a couple of years before I turned 18. Draft age.
Our family watched Bob Hope, on his 1967 USO tour, visiting the troops at Christmastime. During the broadcast my father, who had returned home from WWII with some massive scars and a Purple Heart, reminded us that what were seeing on television was the prettiest face that could ever be put on an ugly situation, a situation that he called "that tragic mess in Indochina." Watching the broadcast was an eye-opener for me.
1967 was a bloody year in Vietnam. Over 11,000 Americans died in the military conflict that year. Enjoyable moments for our troops serving in 1967 were few and far between. There may have been none at all.
Here's the show our family watched from our living room in Kansas.
Bob Hope was the first big star to entertain American troops under the USO banner. He entertained at March Field in May of 1941, just 3 months after the USO was founded.
Comedian Joe E Brown was the first top-shelf name to entertain our troops on frontline bases. Brown's USO tour began in March of 1942. (Brown's own son was killed in a military plane crash in California in 1942.)
There are dozens of ways to support and remember our service members and I hope that you'll find one that touches you. There is a perfect way to support our troops through the USO. Follow this link to the USO Wishbook, and take a look around, read, and please do what you can.
Our troops are doing everything they can possibly do—including giving their lives—every single day to help us have a safe Christmas. It's our turn to give a little something. It's the least we can do.
The USO's financials are online for you to review.