It almost seems as though my blog has turned into an obituary column. With each passing day either one of my childhood heroes or just a noteworthy public figure passes away. Some of them I didn’t even get a chance to mention.
Today the first news I heard when I awakened was that one of my favorite comedians, George Carlin, had died. He is an iconic figure who not only amused and delighted a generation with his sharp observations about life, politics, religion or just stupid behavior by average people, but he influenced a legion of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Carlin had a mastery of the English language despite being a high school dropout.
You can read all about his life in this NY Times obituary, but the best way to appreciate him is through his work.
Here is his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine that caused controversy all the way to the US Supreme Court.
CHICAGO — A Chicago jury has acquitted R. Kelly on all counts at his child pornography trial. The verdict came six years after the R&B superstar was first charged with videotaping himself having sex with a young girl. Prosecutors had said she was as young as 13 at the time.
Kelly had faced a maximum 15 years in prison.
Both Kelly and the now 23-year-old alleged victim had denied they were the ones appearing on the tape, which was played for the jury at the beginning and end of the trial.
The prosecution’s star witness was a woman who said she engaged in three-way sex with Kelly and the girl from the video. Defense attorneys argued the man on the tape didn’t have a large mole on his back, as Kelly does.
Another icon of the baby boomer generation, television comedian Harvey Korman, died Thursday. He was 81.
Perhaps best known for his outrageously funny contributions to The Carol Burnett Show, where he earned four Emmys, he also co-starred in Mel Brooks’ film Blazing Saddles.” Korman died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago. He had undergone several major operations.
In 1967, he joined the cast in the first season of The Carol Burnett Show and along with Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner, the ensemble built a solid audience with their regular send-ups of classic movies such as “Gone With the Wind” and soap operas like “As the World Turns” (their version was called “As the Stomach Turns”).
According to an assistant, Burnett was devastated by news of Korman’s death.
His most memorable film role was as the outlandish Hedley Lamarr (who was endlessly exasperated when people called him Hedy) in Brooks’ 1974 Western satire, Blazing Saddles.
“A world without Harvey Korman — it’s a more serious world,” Brooks told the AP on Thursday. “It was very dangerous for me to work with him because if our eyes met we’d crash to floor in comic ecstasy. It was comedy heaven to make Harvey Korman laugh.”
The ability to make Korman laugh was what made for some of the funniest and most memorable moments on the Burnett show. Co-star Tim Conway in particular always seemed to have a knack for getting him to break up, as in The Dentist sketch, seen here.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also note the passing this past week of other show business notables.
The first grandchild of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Yolanda Reneé King, was born Sunday morning in Atlanta. The daughter of Martin Luther King III and wife Arndrea Waters King, she weighed in at 7 pounds 5 ounces. Mother and daughter are reportedly doing fine.
Martin III and wife, Arndrea, didn’t announce the pregnancy, or their marriage, until this past winter. They were married two years ago in Santa Barbara, CA but live in Atlanta.
Baby Yolanda takes her name from her father’s older sister, Yolanda Denise King, who died in 2007.
Martin Luther King III described his new baby girl as a “precious gift from God.”
“It is truly the happiest day of our lives,” he said in a statement released Sunday. “I know my parents are smiling down from heaven.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Coretta Scott King died in 2006.