It's funny how this goes in cycles. It's been over a month or so since any famous people passed away—most notably Dan Fogelberg and Ike Turner—yet there's been half a dozen notable passings in just the past three days...
SUZANNE PLESHETTE, 1937-2008
Actress Suzanne Pleshette died yesterday of respiratory failure less than two weeks shy of her 71st birthday. She'd also battled lung cancer over the past couple years. I can't think of anyone else who could've played the role of Emily Hartley on "The Bob Newhart Show" so perfectly—attractive, level-headed, and classy. Her death comes just a few months after that of her husband, actor Tom Poston. Pleshette was also briefly married to actor Troy Donahue in the mid-'60s.
ALLAN MELVIN, 1922-2008
He was probably best known as Sam The Butcher on "The Brady Bunch", but I prefer to remember him as Archie Bunker's neighbor Barney Hefner on "All In The Family". Allan Melvin died of cancer on Thursday at age 84, and he was also known as Cpl. Henshaw on "The Phil Silvers Show", Sgt. Hacker on "Gomer Pyle, USMC", as well as providing the voice for the "Magilla Gorilla" cartoon in the '60s. Melvin was born right here in Kansas City, too, but was raised in New York.
ERNIE HOLMES, 1948-2008
One of the more colorful NFL players of the '70s, Ernie Holmes was 1/4 of the Pittsburgh Steelers' famed "Steel Curtain" defensive line during their glory years. Holmes, a defensive tackle out of Texas Southern, might be best known for shaving his hair into the shape of an arrow on his head for a game here against the Chiefs, giving him the nickname "Arrowhead Ernie". The sad-sack Chiefs sure could've used him back then, too! Holmes was killed in a one-car accident on Thursday.
GEORGIA FRONTIERE, 1927-2008
Back in the '70s when the Chiefs totally sucked, the Los Angeles Rams were my adopted favorite NFL team, and Georgia Frontiere became their owner when her husband Carroll Rosenbloom died in 1979. The Rams left the famed LA Coliseum not long after that and moved in with the Angels in Anaheim (and ruined a perfectly good baseball stadium in the process, although it has been subsequently restored). Unhappy next to Disneyland, Frontiere eventually prostituted the team around and the city of St. Louis with its "Personal Seat Licenses" became her "john" in 1995, and LA has been without an NFL team since. It's great that St. Louis is back in the NFL, but the way it all went down has never felt right to me. I get the feeling that the character of the bitch owner in the film Major League was at least partially inspired by and modeled after Frontiere, who died of breast cancer on Friday. I have mixed feelings about her, at best.
Just as an aside, everyone forgets that St. Louis was so sure they'd get an NFL expansion team in 1993 when the late Walter Payton had an ownership group in place and the team was going to be called the St. Louis Stallions, but something went awry along the way and the NFL awarded the franchise to Jacksonville instead. The demise of the "Stallions" led to the parody sweatshirt I'm modeling in this photo!
BOBBY FISCHER, 1943-2008
I definitely don't have mixed feelings about this guy—he was a dick! Mr. Chess Champion became famous in America and later denounced America, especially after 9/11. He was an anti-semitic butt-munch too, and died the other day in Iceland of kidney failure. ESPN did a big feature on Fischer upon his death. Dare I say it? Chess is not a sport!!!
JOHN STEWART, 1939-2008
Not to be confused with the comedian of a similar name, you may not know this guy by name, but you probably know of his work. A former member of the Kingston Trio in the '60s, singer/songwriter John Stewart composed "Daydream Believer", which turned out to be a mega-hit for The Monkees (and later Anne Murray, as well). Stewart also had a #5 hit of his own in the summer of '79 with the song "Gold", which featured Stevie Nicks on backing vocals. His brother Mike was a member of the one-hit wonder folk group We Five of "You Were On My Mind" fame. John Stewart died yesterday of a brain anuerysm and possible stroke. He was also diagnosed to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Rest in peace, one and all (including the Geldings)...