THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
10th December, 2020 0
Death is the great leveler that evens out the playing field. Death takes no bribes, pays all debts, and keeps no calendar. So once again as we close out this epic, difficult, and isolated year of 2020 we at The REVIEW find it incumbent to take inventory and honor many of the significant souls who passed over to what I like to call the ‘unseen world’.
Each of these individuals were special in their own way and sadly irreplaceable, although their legacies and contributions will resonate strongly, even though their mortal coils have ceased to exist.
Some of them were personal friends; other majors influences. May each of them live eternally in our collective memory and fortify us with the light, wisdom, and talent they brought to this often dark and unruly world.
Lou Furlo, Sr. • CEO & Philanthorpist. It is not length of life, but depth of life, said poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lou was immensely grateful to have had both. His work-ethic, charity, and gifts to the Saginaw community were immeasurable. Starting as a restauranteur, Lou began his career at Morley Brothers in 1957 and transformed this long-standing local entity into a world-class international corporation, while never losing sight of his humble beginnings. His philanthropic efforts for such cultural entities as The Temple Theatre, Saginaw Art Museum, and Field Neurosciences Institute were significant, pivotal, and legendary.
Sister Ardeth Platte • Dominican Nun & Activist. Anti-nuclear activist Sister Ardeth Platte, a Dominican nun who spent time in jail for her peaceful protests and served on the Saginaw City Council passed away in Washington, DC this year at the age of 84. In 2010, Platte was arrested for trespassing at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. At her sentencing, Platte said, “Nuclear weapons are the taproot of violence, and they must be abolished. So I refuse to be silent." She served a four-month sentence. It was one of several arrests over many years of anti-war protests, which began during the Vietnam War era. In October 2002, Platte poured her own blood on a Minuteman III missile loaded with a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb in Weld County, Colo. It was one of 49 high-trigger nuclear weapons stored in the state. She was convicted of sabotage and receivef a harsh sentence: 41 months in prison. Platte inspired the character of Sister Jane Ingalls on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”. Platte was a justice preacher, peace seeker, educator and activist with a strong social conscience who stood with people on the margins.
Jack Gridley • Musician & Entrepreneur. As a young man Jack attended Saginaw High School and was a proud member of the US Navy, where he served in the Korean war and played in the Navy band. He later went on to graduate from Central Michigan University where he received a Bachelor's degree in music. He was a leader of the "Jazz Exponents" and played the vibes, piano, and trombone. Throughout his life Jack held onto his passion for music. He owned and operated Gridley Music Studio in Saginaw for over 25 years. (I bought my first Vox Continental organ at Gridley’s and took out my first loan from my parents at the age of 15 to do so!) Jack also mentored many aspiring musicians. Rockers traveled long distances to buy Vox amplifiers and Rickenbacker guitars from Jack. Eventually, he moved to Naples Florida, where he played piano at Naples National Golf Club for 25 years.
Paul Vanston • Pianist Extraordinaire. Paul received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Michigan State University. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War Era, where he was a member of the Lowry Air Force Base Band. Paul had been employed by General Motors and EDS as a Computer Consultant retiring in 1996 after 33 years of service. He was a pianist his entire life and an incredible one at that. For years he played cocktail piano at Treasure Island Restaurant in Saginaw. His legacy, countenance, and talent will long be remembered.
Alex Trebek • Jeopardy Host. An unruffled voice of authority for quiz show fans for more than four decades, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek stood out from his game-show peers with brain power, poise – and, for many years, a mustache. "I was the first game show host since Groucho Marx to have a thick mustache, even though his was mostly makeup," he told "Sunday Morning" host Jane Pauley in 2019. Trebek grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and majored in philosophy at the University of Ottawa. He worked at the CBC and other broadcasting companies, until NBC called in 1973 about a game show job.
Ken Hensley • Musician. Hensley was keyboardist and guitarist of the British rock band Uriah Heep, and a prolific writer of many of the band's songs in the 1970s, including "Easy Livin'," "Free Me," "July Morning" "Lady in Black," "Look At Yourself," and "Stealin'. "The band was so great in those days; they would take my simple songs, and they would turn them into band songs," Hensley told Eon Music earlier this year. "And very often the songs were just simply ballads which I had written; verses, choruses, lyrics and the melody, and by the end of the day in the rehearsal room they'd turned them into Uriah Heep songs. It was such a great and productive relationship, at the time." His last project, "My Book of Answers," is scheduled to be released in February 2021.
Sean Connery • Actor. A debonair Scotsman who defined the role of Ian Fleming's secret agent James Bond, which he first played in the 1962 film "Dr. No." Suave, quick-witted, violent, and a smooth operator with the ladies as he repeatedly saved the world from Iron Curtain operatives and power-mad oligarchs, Connery set the shaken-not-stirred big-screen template for Bond. He was, indisputably, the best. He starred as Bond in seven films. Connery starred in innumerable films that captured his heroic glamour. Rarely playing a villain, Connery was featured as a defecting Soviet submarine captain in "The Hunt for Red October"; a sleuthing monk in "The Name of the Rose"; an aged Robin Hood in "Robin and Marion"; a wizened elder in the fantasy "Highlander"; and Indiana Jones' professorial dad in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." He played a folkloric Kipling figure in "The Man Who Would Be King," and a North African warlord in "The Wind and the Lion." His most memorable non-Bond role was as a veteran Chicago cop who teaches Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness a thing or two in "The Untouchables," an elegiac performance for which Connery earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Eddie Van Halen • Musician. Born in the Netherlands, Halen is cited among the top 20 bestselling artists of all time. After moving to California as a child he performed classical piano recitals before taking up the drums, then the guitar. He formed a group with his older brother Alex, and two members of rival high school bands, singer David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony, when they attended Pasadena City College together. Their original choice of band name, "Mammoth," was already taken, and they opted for Van Halen. The rest is history.
Helen Reddy • Musician. I am woman, hear me roar / In numbers too big to ignore. So begins the feminist anthem "I Am Woman," co-written by Australian singer Helen Reddy, which appeared on her debut album in 1971. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Pop Performance. The powerful tribute to female empowerment would become Reddy's biggest hit, but her Top 40 roster also included "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady," "Delta Dawn," "Peaceful," "Angie Baby," "You and Me Against the World," and "Somewhere in the Night."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg • Supreme Court Justice. Bader was diminutive, but she loomed large as a powerful liberal voice on the nation's highest court. The influence of her mother was enduring, she told "Sunday Morning" host Jane Pauley in 2016: "She said two things: Be a lady and be independent. 'Be a lady' meant don't give way to emotions that sap your energy, like anger. Take a deep breath and speak calmly." She graduated first in her class at Columbia Law School, but she didn't get a single offer from a New York law firm: "I had three strikes against me: One, I was Jewish; two, I was a woman. But the killer was that I was the mother of a four-year-old child." It was that kind of unequal treatment that drove her to become a law professor, at Rutgers University – groundbreaking in the 1960s. She eventually headed the women's rights project at the ACLU, where she argued six landmark gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five. Only the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court (appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993), she served for 27 years. Among her most notable opinions on the court: United States v. Virginia (1996), which required Virginia Military Institute to accept women; and Olmstead v. LC (1999), which protected the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Diana Rigg • Actress. At the age of 17 Rigg earned admission to drama school in London, followed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Then, suddenly, in 1965 she shocked her Shakespearean colleagues and left it all – for a TV show. It was the spy series "The Avengers," in which she played the iconic Emma Peel, sidekick to Patrick Macnee's suave secret agent John Steed. The show, in which Rigg dispatched bad guys using martial arts while wearing leather catsuits, made her an international sensation. Her character was embraced, she said, "because she was ahead of her time. Because she was highly intelligent, capable, witty, sexy, independent.”
Sir Alan Parker • Director. A filmmaker who came up with a generation of British directors and producers (like Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David Puttnam and Adrian Lyne) who'd gotten their starts in the advertising industry, Parker migrated from copywriting ads to directing commercials, and wrote his first screenplay, "Melody," in 1971. He went on to create many dynamic and memorable films, including the musical "Bugsy Malone," which parodied American gangster movies with its cast of children (including Jodie Foster), was a critical hit, and led to his directing "Midnight Express," "Fame," "Pink Floyd – The Wall," "Shoot the Moon," "Birdy," "Angel Heart," "Mississippi Burning," "The Commitments," "Evita," and "Angela's Ashes." He earned two Oscar nominations for Best Director, for "Midnight Express" and "Mississippi Burning."
Shere Hite • Author. In her 1976 book "The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality," Shere Hite upended many previously-held beliefs and taboos about marriage, sex, and female empowerment. A former model and Columbia University doctoral student who grew up in a conservative Midwestern home, Hite deigned to study the female orgasm (not a topic of much research), and used anecdotes she compiled from surveys of 3,500 women about their sex lives into a frank testimonial to female sexuality. Her finding that women were not generally satisfied sexually by men alone – that more than intercourse was required – raised her feminist standing, while also inviting tremendous controversy. Her work generated such criticism about her methodology, and backlash about her conclusions (even receiving death threats), that Hite would leave the U.S. for Germany, and renounce her American citizenship. She later moved to London with her second husband.
Pete Hamill • Newspaperman. Hamill’s work with The Village Voice inspired me to become a journalist. He applied his craft for storytelling, poetry, and knowledge of history to make sense of New York, which was the city he lived. A meeting with New York Post editor Jimmy Wechsler would usher him into the world of journalism. His crusading stories would touch on topics as varied as those close to the thrum of the city (murders, politics, riots, baseball) to those in distant lands (Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Ireland). He'd interview both celebrities, like John Lennon, and the dispossessed.
Olivia de Havilland • Actress. At the remarkable age of 104, Olivia de Havilland was perhaps the last remaining star of Hollywood's Golden Era – a two-time Academy Award-winner whose resume included such classics as "The Adventures of Robin Hood," "Gone With the Wind," "The Snake Pit," "Devotion," "Hold Back the Dawn," "My Cousin Rachel," and her Oscar-winning roles in "The Heiress" and "To Each His Own." She was teamed with Errol Flynn in "Captain Blood," and the two would be cast together in seven more pictures, including "Robin Hood," "Dodge City," "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Santa Fe Trail" and "They Died With Their Boots On."
Regis Philbin • Talk Show Host. The Guinness World Record holder for most hours on television (more than 15,000 in all), TV personality Regis Philbin won over generations of fans with his charm and genial repartee during a show business career lasting more than six decades. An easy-going companion for morning TV viewers, and a bracing, funny guest for late-night audiences, Philbin also performed stage shows and recorded music as well as hosting game shows like "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "America's Got Talent."
Christo • Avant Garde Environmental Artist. Born in Bulgaria, the artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known as Christo became internationally renowned for his monumental art projects that would redefine public spaces, landmarks and natural landscapes, by augmenting or concealing their natural appearance. He started small, wrapping objects like cars and furniture in fabric, but along with his wife Jeanne-Claude (who predeceased him, in 2009), their ideas grew more ambitious. Many never saw fruition, and those that did took years to design and actualize. But Christo and Jeanne-Claude financed their elaborate projects through the sale of drawings, models and lithographs; they never received public money. "Wrapped Coast," in 1969, covered a 1.5-mile-long stretch of coastline in Sydney, Australia, with 1 million square feet of fabric and 35 miles of rope. In the 1970s, "Valley Curtain" hung a curtain of bright orange across a valley in Rifle, Colorado, while 2,050 white fabric panels installed along 24.5 miles in Sonoma and Marin Counties in California made up "Running Fence."
Astrid Kirchherr • Photographer & Muse. In the formative years of The Beatles, when the rock group was beginning to make a name for itself while performing in Hamburg, German photographer Astrid Kirchherr shot some of the earliest and most striking images of the musicians, helping shape their public persona and trend-setting visual style. Kirchherr was a photographer's assistant and part of the local Hamburg art scene in 1960 when her then-boyfriend introduced her to the British rockers from Liverpool who were performing at the seedy Kaiserkeller. "It was like a merry-go-round in my head, they looked absolutely astonishing," Kirchherr told Beatles biographer Bob Spitz. "My whole life changed in a couple of minutes. All I wanted was to be with them and to know them." She began photographing them, and fell in love with the group's bassist at the time, Stuart Sutcliffe, despite the language barrier.
Little Richard • Rock ‘n Roll Pioneer. "I am the architect of rock 'n' roll!" said Little Richard at the 1988 Grammy Awards. The flamboyant singer-songwriter wasn't overselling, quite. An incomparable showman, Richard's pounding of the keys and howling voice defined not just the energy of rock 'n' roll, but also its ribald, uncontainable spirit.
Matty Simmons • National Lampoon Publisher. The contributions to 20th century culture made by Matty Simmons couldn't be more dissimilar, ranging from creating the first charge card for restaurants, to publishing a diet magazine, to producing a blockbuster movie featuring drunken college students wearing togas. A former reporter and press agent, in 1949 he co-founded Diners Club International, and edited its affiliated magazine. A decade later he left to form a magazine company, 21st Century Communications, which not only published Weight Watchers magazine and the sci-fi/fantasy comic Heavy Metal (from the French original Metal Hurlant), but also introduced National Lampoon (an offshoot of the Harvard Lampoon), which became the leading satirical magazine in the 1970s.
John Prine • Musician. Sometimes my ol' heart is like a washing machine / It bounces around 'til my soul comes clean / And when I'm clean and hung out to dry / I'm gonna make you laugh until you cry.
A songwriter revered by other songwriters, Prine grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, and after a stint in the Army, he became a mailman, writing songs as he delivered letters. He was just 23 when he performed at a local coffee house one night in 1970, and got really lucky. "Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun-Times stopped by," Prine told Anthony Mason for "Sunday Morning" in 2018. "And instead of writing about the movie that he walked out on, he wrote about me. 'Singing Mail Man Delivers The Message.' And from that day on I didn't have an empty seat!"
Al Kaline • Baseball Legend. Hall of Fame outfielder Al Kaline played his entire 22-season career for the Detroit Tigers. Having signed a bonus contract for $15,000, Kaline went straight from high school to the majors, making his debut on June 25, 1953 when he was 18 years old. He took over as Detroit's everyday right fielder in 1954, and quickly became a fan favorite.
Adam Schlesinger • Musician. Emmy- and Grammy-winning musician and songwriter Adam Schlesinger was known for his work with his band Fountains of Wayne, who blended sunny harmonies, pop, rock, and punk with tongue-in-cheek humor. (Even the band's name was a joke; he took it from a lawn ornament store in his native New Jersey.) Their hits included "Radiation Vibe," "Stacy's Mom," and "Bright Future in Sales." He also wrote songs for the TV series "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" (such as "Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal," which won him one of three career Emmys..
Kenny Rogers • Musician. The career of Kenny Rogers was one of constant reinvention. The Grammy-winning singer's repertoire ranged from bluegrass, jazz, folk and rock to country and R&B, selling more than 47 million records in the U.S. alone. And he even threw a little acting into the mix. He went from avant-garde jazz to singing folk songs touring with the New Christy Minstrels. The band, reconstituted as The First Edition, shifted to pop, psychedelic rock and country, scoring hits with "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," "But You Know I Love You," and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town." In 1974 the band dissolved, and Rogers started a solo career. "Lucille," a gold record, won Rogers his first of three Grammys.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)