Posted by: lylescott89 | February 17, 2012

We’ve Lost More than Whitney Houston

Hey kids,

Today I want to take a few minutes to pay tribute to some of the celebrities that have passed thus far in 2012.  It’s still early in the year, but we have already lost icons.  It is always interesting to me how some deaths are met with a great outpouring of love and affection while others are met with a shrug.  Today, everyone gets their due as I talk about what I thought of each of these people.

Let’s start with Whitney Houston.  Now I was never a big fan of hers, but I will admit that she had a powerful and fantastic voice.  Her drug use and ridiculous reality show really did nothing but make me less interested in her than I already was.  Because of that I was not completely shocked when I heard that she had passed.  Her music was not the kind of music I would normally listen to and her best song was a remake of a Dolly Parton song.  For the uninformed “I will always Love You” was written by Dolly for her longtime professional partner, Porter Wagoner, at the time when she was leaving their partnership.  I know Whitney did a bang up job performing it, but to me hearing Dolly sing it and knowing the story behind it makes it much more powerful.  As far as Whitney’s movies go I was never able to sit through The Bodyguard as I found it to be absolutely horrid.  However, I actually prefer the song “I’m Every Woman” from that film, though that was a Chaka Khan song originally and written by Ashford & Simpson.

Now Etta James is a whole other story.  A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in 1993, Etta had a voice that could transcend generations.  And yes, I know she had her troubles with drug addiction as well, but thankfully she never did a reality show.  Listening to Etta perform “At Last” can be a religious experience.  Her death was not unexpected as she had been battling cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  To me, she was one of the greatest singers of all time and the tribute to her at the recent Grammy Awards was well done and moving.

Robert Hegyes is a another story entirely.  Robert was best known for portraying Juan Epstein on Welcome Back Kotter in the 70’s.  After that he…um…well he did some…wait I know he did something.  Yes, he was on Cagney & Lacey.  Okay, so now we understand why his death was met with shrugs by most people.  Unless you grew up in the 70’s & 80’s this guy was a complete mystery.  He died of a heart attack at the age of 60.

Does anyone out there remember Jill Kinmont?  She was a skier that was paralyzed in a skiing accident in 1955.  She is also often regarded as the first person to have the dishonor of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx as her accident happened the same week she appeared on the cover.  In the 1970’s the story of her fight for recovery was immortalized in the film “The Other Side of the Mountain”.  She passed away on February 9th from undisclosed causes.

The creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, committed suicide on February 1st.  When I was a kid I used to watch Soul Train and I loved listening to the smooth voice of Cornelius.  His voice was deep and soulful.  Reports were that he may have been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and he had been in declining health.  Nonetheless, I was still very sad to hear of his passing.  The man was an innovator.  I truly hope that his last words were “… and you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul.”

Ben Gazzara was probably one of the finest actors we have ever known, but I have a feeling most people don’t remember him at all.  He did a number of Broadway shows in the 50’s, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Anatomy of a Murder, but is probably best remembered for his many TV roles and for his collaborations with his friend, John Cassavetes.

Pretty much everyone knows Joe Paterno was the head coach at Penn State since the beginning of time.  He was fired last year during the Jerry Sandusky fiasco for what were very valid reasons and, at least to me, that will be his legacy.  He could have done more and he should have done more.  Joe had been ill for a while and probably should have retired 10 years ago.  If he had he would be remembered differently.  I remember on the night he was fired I told Donna that he would probably die within a month or two because football was all he had in life.  Sad, very sad.

Ian Abercrombie passed away on January 26th due to kidney failure and I’ll bet 99% of you have no idea who he was.  Ian is best known for playing Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld.  Though he had been acting since 1955 it was his role on Seinfeld that made him well known in America.  I also saw him in Wizards of Waverly Place playing some sort of wizard so apparently the role of Mr. Pitt led him into children’s programming.  How odd.  Anyway, the man was great as Justin Pitt, the guy who ate his Snickers with a fork and a knife.

But by far the celebrity death thus far this year that is the biggest loss for me is baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter.  Carter played catcher for the Expos and Mets in his long and illustrious career.  (Yes, I realize he also spent some time with both the Giants and the Dodgers, but no one remembers that)  Carter was nicknamed “The Kid” because that’s what he was like on the field.  He was always like a kid that just got called up from the minors for his first game.  I remember watching him play with the Mets in the 1986 World Series and I can still distinctly recall when he started the 10th inning rally in Game 6 and his reaction when he caught the ball on the third strike on the final out in Game 7.  I also recall that he was the first analyst for the Florida Marlins (now the Miami Marlins with hideous uniforms) and while he was not an accomplished broadcaster you could not deny his enthusiasm for the game.  He was teamed with Jay Randolph from 1993 – 1996 and each season he got better.  I always thought it was a shame that the Marlins got rid of them the year prior to winning their first World Series title.  At 57, Gary Carter was way too young to be taken from us and his smile and enthusiasm for the game will be sorely missed.

Namaste

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Responses

  1. It looks like a lot of legends will leave us this year 😦

  2. Well-said, Lyle.

  3. Good one, Lyle. I love Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You” so much.


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