Friday, March 19, 2010

Stayin' Alive... Stayin' Alive

I seldom type anything serious (and this won't be one of those times) but I note with sincere sadness the passing of two kidhood TV icons.

Peter Graves, "Mission Impossible" guy. Every show started with him showing for the scoop on the next caper in some public place, where I sure wouldn't hide Top Secret info. Really visionary show, quite ahead of its time. In the 1960's the tape self-destructed. In 2010 it's the appliances that do it. RIP Mr. Graves.

And Davy Crockett/Daniel Boone/Fess Parker passed away this week. Symbolic and demonstrative of good ol' fashioned American values all the way around. At a time when America most needed its bold pioneer faces, Parker portrayed them. And after acting he became a very successful real estate developer. Godspeed Mr. Parker.

Seems like I'm 53 and the recognizable faces from my childhood are dropping like flies, at an increasingly alarming rate... but it's not like that at all. Lots of folk are still around; you'd be surprised really.

Don Rickles and Jonathan Winters are both still alive, and I remember them from way back. Both innately funny, hard working comedians.

June Lockhart is still around, and I can't say enough good about that lady. First she was the mom in "Lassie." So every week it was 'Arf' and "What's that Lassie? Timmy's trapped in the abandoned mine?" then 'Arf Grr' followed by "Oh, the abandoned mine field? Why didn't you say that in the first place?" Sounds like a really dangerous farm to me AND a really dumb kid; a smart dog comes in handy. Then she was the mom on "Lost in Space" and that was even tougher. Your husband will NEVER just stop and ask for directions, but now he's driving a space ship! Well, that's just great!

Olivia de Havilland, last surviving adult lead from "Gone With the Wind" is living in Paris. That's a really amazing thing there. Placing in context, the uproar about that film was Rhett Butler saying "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Readers of this blog who are in their 20's might find this confusing, I know... "So, he was like naked and decapitating a zombie with a chainsaw when he said it?" Nope, he was fully clothed, no zombies. It's simple use of the word 'damn' that got people upset. That's how much times have changed, and a lady from that movie is still around.

Alan Young of "Mr. Ed" fame is still with us. He's 94 now I think, which is like 685 in horse years probably. I never thought that show was funny really. You've got a talking horse there man! Utilize the resource, think outside the box? Think Ed the interpreter. Take him to the racetrack, let him discuss with other equines who feels like running today.

Hmmm, who else identifiable is still around? Well how about Meinhardt Raabe? Yeah, he's still with us. OK, that name might not ring a bell, but bear with me here. "GWTW" is a masterful work of film making, and wraps neatly all the myths white Southerners would like to believe about a horrible, bloody era, but that's the extent of its influence on me. There was another movie came out in 1939 though that has worked itself into my DNA. I actually remember cutting short a fishing trip in the 1970's to get home because "Wizard of Oz" was coming on that evening. No, I'm not gay! For you readers in your 20's there was a time when one couldn't purchase a personal copy of a movie for viewing at their leisure. No, I'm not kidding! It was really like that once.

Meinhardt Raabe played a crucial role in "Wizard of Oz" as the munchkin coroner. Was he pronounced wicked witch of the East 'sincerely dead.' He's somewhere back East now (ironically enough) with loving caregivers and lots of fan mail.

So while some have gone on to the next step in the journey, others are still with us. And even those that have passed, we still bear the memories like a torch. Was the ancient Greeks who believed none are ever really dead, long as somebody remembers them. Get right down to it, life is a force, a force. And none can resist a life force of course. That is unless the force of course is whatever keeps you from stopping at that planet over there and asking for directions.

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