Friday, May 30, 2008

Deaths in May

I usually don't point out deaths and post them - I've certainly had enough death in my life to deal with in my meager 45 years - but I thought these two deaths were notable.

Comic actor Harvey Korman died yesterday at 81, according to the UCLA Medical Center. Harvey Korman's death comes after complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Korman died at the center four months after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

"It was a miracle in itself that he survived the incident at all. Everyone in the hospital referred to him as 'miracle man' because of his strong will and ability to bounce right back after several major operations," said Korman's daughter, Kate Korman. "Tragically, after such a hard-fought battle, he passed away."

Korman was a regular on "The Carol Burnett Show" from 1967 through 1978, for which he won Emmy awards in 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1974. He also won a Golden Globe for his work on the series. The lanky Korman also appeared in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" (as the sneering Hedley Lamarr), "High Anxiety" and "History of the World, Part 1." He starred in his own short-lived situation comedy, "The Harvey Korman Show," in 1978, in which he portrayed Harvey Kavanaugh opposite Christine Lahti, who played his wife, Maggie.

He made dozens of appearances in other television shows and movies during his lengthy show-business career, including providing voices for several animated productions. Among those was The Great Gazoo, a helmeted space man who appeared in some episodes of "The Flintstones."

Angie Horejsi, an assistant to Burnett, told The Associated Press that Burnett was devastated by Korman's death: "She loved Harvey very much," Horejsi said. The AP also reported that Brooks described Korman as a "dazzling" comic talent.

"You could get rock-solid comedy out of him. He could lift the material. He always made it real, always made it work, always believed in characters he was doing," he said, according to AP.

Korman was born in Chicago, Illinois. His first marriage, to Donna Ehlert in 1960, ended in divorce in 1974. He married Deborah Fritze in 1982. Both marriages produced two children.

Korman landed some sketch work on "The Red Skelton Show" in 1961, followed by a four-year stint on "The Danny Kaye Show," which led to his joining Carol Burnett in 1967.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Korman is survived by three other adult children -- Laura, Maria and Chris -- and three grandchildren.

Paul Cole, the man pictured looking disapprovingly at the Beatles on the cover of their "Abbey Road" album, also passed:

"Cole, a longtime Barefoot Bay resident, died Wednesday in Pensacola at age 96. He is clearly seen in the famous shot of the Beatles walking across London's Abbey Road, used as the front cover of the group's classic 1969 album, "Abbey Road." Over the years, the picture has been reproduced in books, on posters, coffee mugs, T-shirts and hundreds of other places.

The retired salesman is standing on the sidewalk, just behind the Beatles. Gawking at them...

It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.

"I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks," Cole remembered. "A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn't walk around in London barefoot."

About a year later, Cole first noticed the "Abbey Road" album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison's love song "Something" on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan's photo."

Cole's views on the Fab Four were similar to those of the recently-departed William F. Buckley, who characteristically, was a bit more eloquent:

"The Beatles are not merely awful…. They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of antimusic."

In contrast to Cole, Buckley seems to keep Art and politics separate in his criticism. This dissociation is essential nowadays if one is to enjoy any music or film. I disagree with him, but in matters of taste, there is no dispute.

Golden, eternal slumbers, Mr. Cole.


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