This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Simone Simon, 1910-2005, R.I.P.

Another day, another f**king death.

Oh, wait, I already began my David'Z RantZ tribute to Jack Paar with those words, shortly over one year ago. Oops. (Sorry for the oh-so-mild attempt at sardonic humor, there. I'm just in that kind of rotten mood.)

Simone Simon would have been 95 years old, had she lived to see her next birthday in April. Or, possibly, she would have turned 94, depending on whether you believe her birth year was 1910, as I wrote above, or 1911, as other sources state. Simone was the hauntingly beautiful French actress who appeared in several films made in both the USA and in her native France before she more-or-less retired in 1956.

Upon her arrival in Hollywood in 1936, Ms. Simon was heralded as another Greta Garbo or Hedy Lamarr, in terms of (hopefully) being the next "big star" to have come to our shores from Europe. Such grand success was not to be, unfortunately, but she nevertheless accumulated quite an impressive array of films made on both sides of the Atlantic during her career. Personally, I'll always remember her sultry presence as Irena Dubrovna in the original 1942 thriller, "Cat People," and its kinda/sorta sequel, 1944's "Curse of the Cat People," as well as her portrayal of the temptress Belle in "The Devil and Daniel Webster." In light of those roles, I suppose it's only appropriate that I learned of her death so close to the so-called "witching hour."

I must admit that the three movies I mentioned are the only films of hers which I myself have seen (and own). But her performances therein were obviously enough to merit her a relatively brief tribute column. I also should add that her passing is indicative of the very reason why I do these types of entries: Until this evening, I had thought she was already dead, although I'd be hard-pressed at this time to state exactly why I thought so.

I can name far too many actors, comedians, musicians, etc. who have done something relatively newsworthy during the last few years which prompted me to say "I thought he (or she) was dead!" On a related note, I have occasionally learned of a recent death which prompted me to say "I thought he (or she) was already dead!" In the latter category, I'd have to place such people as Donald O'Connor, Peter Ustinov, and John Raitt (whose February 20th death I just heard about yesterday).

Unlike many, I never assume that someone is dead simply because I haven't heard anything "new" about the person in a while. I certainly don't know everything, nor even claim to, although you might not know that from listening to me at times... But I can't count the celebrities whom I thought had died because I could swear that someone had told me... or because I could swear that I'd read it in a newspaper or magazine... or because I could swear that I'd heard it on TV.

I can throw a bunch of names at you, here... Dick Van Patten, Blake Edwards, George Kennedy, Jack Elam, John Mills, Sheb Wooley, Gene Rayburn, Harry Reasoner, Alistair Cooke, Shecky Greene, Elmer Bernstein... These are all people who fit either the former or the latter of my two categories, "I thought he was dead!" or "I thought he was already dead!" (And no, I'm not going to make it easier for you by telling you which names fit which category!) And again, it's not just because of a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" mentality that I thought these people were deceased. In George Kennedy's case, for example, I just know I'd read an obituary somewhere... months before I read that he'd just been signed for a brief stint on a soap opera! Hell, I can even recall how I felt when I learned of his death.

So. That's my poorly-kept secret, the main reason why I list people as they die... so I (hopefully) "won't get fooled again," as Peter Townshend would say.

Y'know, I originally planned "David'Z RantZ" as a mildly humorous weblog, but more and more, it's becoming a listing of deaths, at least when said deaths happen to those celebrities near and dear to me in their own way.

Oh, hell... Maybe I should just change the title of "David'Z RantZ" to "Bring Out Your Dead!"

Thanks for your time.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005, R.I.P.

As a writer, I'll readily admit that I've had days like this, too.

Writer Hunter Thompson has, from all evidence, shot himself to death. I find this to be quite sad, of course, but (considering that I never met the man) not altogether surprising. Anyone who's read at least one of his books or articles should have gleaned something innately self-destructive about him. If you saw the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," you know what I mean.

Much of his work seemed to glorify illicit drug use. His own drug use, primarily. He was nobody's role model, at least not purposely.

By the way, he was also the inspiration for Doonesbury's "Uncle Duke." (And HST reportedly wasn't too thrilled that Trudeau was "profiting from his image.") I had to mention this somewhere, because the obituaries I've read so far (and I know I've missed many of them!) haven't mentioned it, surprisingly! (Update, 2/27/05: As expected, there have been several mentions of the Thompson/Duke connection since my original posting, but I wrote this paragraph very soon after the news of HST's death hit the internet.)

He was a man whose influence as the father of "gonzo journalism" was far-reaching. There's no telling how many writers and/or journalists were inspired by him (I'm speaking stylistically, rather than talking about the above-mentioned drug use!), although there were also many "serious" journalists who disdained Thompson's approach.

That approach was the aforementioned "gonzo journalism." A simplistic definition of that would be that gonzo journalism is the result of the writer's injecting himself into the story, to the point of becoming a major character in said story! Often, the line between "truth in reporting" and fiction will be subtly -- or not so subtly -- blurred. The results can be incredibly entertaining... or somewhat self-indulgent. Or both. And as a writer who's often based much of my own fiction on the most basic autobiographical elements, I can identify with that.

In fact, if I can be allowed an uncharacteristically brief aside, I should mention that the closest I ever got to the "gonzo" approach was about ten years ago, when I plunked myself down in the middle of some sleazy and somewhat dangerous people in order to research material for a proposed series of stories. Remind me to tell you about it sometime... but not now.

For now, let me just say that the best tribute one writer can give another is to suggest that when you leave my page, you begin searching for links to Thompson's many works, either to familiarize yourself with his unique talents, or re-familiarize yourself with his writings. In other words, I'm not trying to impress you with my writing this go-round. Instead, look for Thompson's; his writing will probably give you a kick in the pants.

And for those who think that the picture I chose is in bad taste, considering the details of Thompson's unfortunate demise... Well, in this case, that's kinda the point. And I hope he's watching. I think he'd approve.

Thanks for your time.

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