Monday, June 27, 2011

One After One Their Souls Took Flight, Part 2 of 2

This is a continuation. To read this entry from its beginning, click here

One after one, by the star-dogged moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sign nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly,
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul, it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my crossbow!

-Excerpt from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

12-Mar, Joe Morello, age 82: legendary jazz drummer best known for his 12½-year stint with The Dave Brubeck Quartet. He’s noted for his unusual time signatures employed by the group in such pieces as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo à la Turk".

Morello suffered from partial vision from birth and devoted himself to indoor activities. At six years old he began studying the violin. Three years later he was a featured soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, playing "Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto," a performance he repeated three years after that.

At the age of 15, Morello met the violinist Jascha Heifetz and decided that he would never be able to equal Heifetz's "sound", so he switched to drumming, first studying with a show drummer named Joe Sefcik and then George Lawrence Stone, author of the noted drum textbook Stick Control for the Snare Drummer. Stone was so impressed with Morello's ideas that he incorporated them into his next book, Accents & Rebounds, which is dedicated to Morello. Later, Morello studied with Radio City Music Hall percussionist Billy Gladstone. After moving to New York City, Morello worked with numerous notable jazz musicians.

In June 1959, Morello participated in a recording session with the quartet that yielded “Kathy’s Waltz” and “Three to Get Ready,” both of which intermingled 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures.

Another example of soloing in odd time signatures can be heard on "Unsquare Dance", in which he solos using only sticks without drums in 7/4 time. At the end of the track, he can be heard laughing about the "trick" ending.

During his career, Morello appeared on over 120 albums, 60 of which were with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He authored several drum books, the first being New Directions In Rhythm: Studies In 3/4 And 5/4 Time.

Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine's best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine's best drummer award five years in a row. He was elected to the Modern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame in 1988; the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993; and was the recipient of Hudson Music's first TIP (Teacher Integration Program) Lifetime Achievement award in June, 2010.

His discography as a leader includes: "Joe Morello," "It’s About Time,""Another Step Forward," "Going Places," and "Morello Standard Time." As a sideman with Dave Brubeck, he’s contributed to: "Time Out," "Time Further Out," "Time in Outer Space," and "At Carnegie Hall."

12-Mar, Mitchell Page, age 59: professional baseball player. In 1977, upon joining the Oakland Athletics, Page assumed the job of everyday left fielder and performed like he had a promising career ahead of him. His Rookie year, he batted .307 with 21 home runs and 75 runs batted in. Collecting nine first place votes to now Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray's twelve, he finished second in voting for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Page had a respectable season in 1978 but got into a contract dispute with the A’s owner during Spring training in 1979 and ended up getting suspended. By 1981 he was spending most of his time with the triple A Tacoma Tigers and was kept off the A’s roster; in 1983 he was on the disabled list.

He repeated the trend of major league to minor league player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, slipping to their affiliate team in Hawaii. When he was no longer playing, he accepted a job with the St. Louis Cardinals as a coach for the Memphis Redbirds in 1998. He became the minor league hitting coordinator in 1999 and was promoted to the St. Louis Cardinals as hitting coach midway through the 2001 season. After their 2004 World Series appearance he immediately entered an alcohol treatment facility. Page returned as a minor league hitting instructor for the Washington Nationals in 2005 and became the major league hitting coach in 2006. He rejoined the Cardinals’ organization and began 2010 as a coach with the Quad Cities River Bandits, but left in May due to “personal reasons.”

Page appeared in the 1994 Disney movie Angels in the Outfield, playing the role of Abascal, an outfielder for the California Angels.

Gemstone Connection: We've already touched upon the character Fritz Messing in the movie Catch and Release as well as Ben Stone in The Family Stone, who together reveal unwritten history belonging to Paul of the New Testament.

More recently, a portrait of Capetian scholars studying an astrolabe led us to the Psalter of St. Louis and Blanche of Castille (grandson of Louis VII and granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine.) Then we came upon a woman known as Christina of Markyate and raised the possibility that she was the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene, born at the start of the 12th century.

While considering this portion of the story we should keep biblical Paul in mind, along with all the details we've attached to him, as we skim through the details of Mitchell Page's life: he repeated a trend, twice going from a major league player and slipping to an affiliate team, eventually playing in Hawaii. After a while he changed roles, coming back to the game as a coach and had a brief stint with the majors before leaving the sport for good.

In the television series Glee, Rachel Berry captures the persona of Mary Magdalene in modern times working through the emotions of passing the baton forward. Paul will also be "leaving" once the new Sacred Story takes root.

13-Mar, Richard “Rick” Lionel Martin, age 59: NHL player for the Buffalo Sabres. Martin was selected fifth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1971 draft and immediately made an impact on the team the following season when he scored what was then an NHL rookie record 44 goals. Martin, who was from LaSalle, Quebec, played left wing on a line centered by Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert; the threesome was dubbed “The French Connection.”

Rick Martin was killed in a one-car accident.

Gemstone Connection: Martin's name carries a close resemblance to Richard the Lionheart, the third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who became King of England on July 6th, 1189. Like the albatross, he died after being shot by a crossbow, in what was basically a "one-car" accident.

14-Mar, Todd Cerney, age 57: American songwriter who co-wrote a number of country hits for other performers: “Good Morning Beautiful” for Steve Holy, “I’ll Still be Loving You,” for Restless Heart, and “The Blues Is My Business,” which was part of Etta James’ 2003 Grammy Award winning album “Let’s Roll.”

Cerney was born in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from Zanesville High School in Zanesville, Ohio in 1971. He began song-writing after moving to Nashville. Some of the earliest artists to record his songs were Brush Arbor, “Don’t Play That Song Again,” Steve Carlisle, “I’ll Fall in Love Again,” and Levon Helm, “Blue House of Broken Hearts.” He played multiple instruments and sang lead, as well as provided backing vocals for various artists.

In the mid 1990’s he collaborated with three former members of the soft-rock band Bread. They named their band "Toast" and recorded a number of songs for an album that remained unfinished.

Cerney died from melanoma which was diagnosed in November 2010, following a brain seizure.

Gemstone Connection: On September 11th, 2001 a different Todd (Beamer) was on United flight 93 and recited The Lord's Prayer with GTE supervisor, Lisa Jefferson, before uttering his last audible words, "Are you guys ready? Let's Roll." Beamer was an account manager for Oracle. His widow gave birth to a daughter on January 9th, 2002 . . . a little girl who was given her father's middle name "Morgan."

Once again, the idea is to make connections at every opportunity. The name Morgan was Paige's surname in The Prince and Me. Paige arranged for a ride home at Thanksgiving with someone named Paul V., reminiscent of Paul Varjak in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Mitchell Page, noted above, is woven into biblical Paul's life and Angels in the Outfield.

Todd Beamer's daughter celebrated her 9th birthday the day after the shooting in Tucson, where 9 year-old Christina Taylor Green was "plucked from the stage." The shooting January 8th occurred outside a Safeway store on Oracle Rd. at the same Eastern "local time" on 9/11/2001 that  the NEADS Mission Crew Commander explicitly instructed the Langley Air Force Base fighters that they did not have clearance to shoot AND the western side of the Pentagon collapsed. When the shooting occurred at 10:10 a.m. on January 8th, the Moon was in 8 Pisces, "A Girl Blowing a Bugle."

The bugle not only announced the coming of a New Day, the 8th Day arrives with the turning of a page in history.

15-Mar, Nate Dogg, age 41: hip-hop rapper and musician. Born Nathaniel Dwayne Hale in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he began singing as a child in the Baptist church where his father was the pastor. At age 14, following his parents divorce, he moved to Long Beach, California. He dropped out of high school and joined the Marine Corps, serving for three years.

Upon returning to California he formed the rap trio 213 with Snoop Dogg and Warren G. The three of them recorded their first song in the back of V.I.P. record store and the demo was heard by Dr. Dre at a house party; he was hooked on it. Nate went on to sign with Death Row Records in 1993 and was also featured on Mista Grimm’s “Indosmoke” with Warren G. The following year he produced his first single, “Regulate,” with Warren G.

He went on to be featured on several Tupac Shakur records, including “All Eyez on Me.”

Nate and Isaiah Mendez appeared on a celebrity episode of the reality show Weakest Link, making it to the last three players before being eliminated.

According to Rolling Stone, his high ranking collaborative singles in the 2000’s include Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode,” Mos Def’s “Oh No”, Fabulous’ “Can’t Deny It,” Ludacris’ “Area Codes,” 50 Cent’s “21 Questions,” Mark Ronson’s “Ooh Wee,” Houston’s “I Like That,” Eminem’s “Shake That,” and Mobb Deep’s “Have a Party.”

He was arrested multiple times for various offenses ranging from possession of drugs, assault, stalking, and illegal possession of a firearm.

He had just formed a gospel choir called Innate Praise when he suffered a stroke in 2007, followed by a second stroke nine months later. Both ultimately led to his death.

16-Mar, Sion Milosky, age 35: big wave surfer. Milosky drowned near Half Moon Bay after experiencing a two-wave hold down at Mavericks—the legendary California surf spot that took the life of another Hawaiian surf star, Mark Foo, 16 years ago.

Milosky caught at least six waves before he fell, when the lip of the wave he was riding collapsed on top of him. The water pushed him toward the bottom and his board tombstoned. His friend, Nathan Fletcher, took a Jet Ski to search for him, and found his body at the mouth of Pillar Point Harbor, a mile away.

Recently named North Shore Underground Surfer of the Year, Milosky had been featured in magazines and was known among surfers for paddling into what many believe is the biggest wave ever seen, at Phantoms, Oahu. (

Gemstone Connection: The name Maverick connects to Noah via Glee's thread to Top Gun and the championship game. Mavericks is now a place . . . and is plural. Pillar like columns, ocean waves, and the detail of a Phantom are reminiscent of Chapter VI, "A Visit to Box Five," in Gaston Leroux's novel, The Phantom of the Opera:

In the orchestra stalls, the drugget covering them looked like an angry sea, whose glaucous waves had been suddenly rendered stationary by a secret order from the storm phantom, who, as everybody knows, is called Adamastor. MM. Moncharmin and Richard were the shipwrecked mariners amid this motionless turmoil of a calico sea. They made for the left boxes, plowing their way like sailors who leave their ship and try to struggle to the shore. The eight great polished columns stood up in the dusk like so many huge piles supporting the threatening, crumbling, big-bellied cliffs whose layers were represented by the circular, parallel, waving lines of the balconies of the grand, first and second tiers of boxes. At the top, right on top of the cliff, lost in M. Lenepveu's copper ceiling, figures grinned and grimaced, laughed and jeered at MM. Richard and Moncharmin's distress. And yet these figures were usually very serious. Their names were Isis, Amphitrite, Hebe, Pandora, Psyche, Thetis, Pomona, Daphne, Clytie, Galatea and Arethusa. Yes, Arethusa herself and Pandora, whom we all know by her box, looked down upon the two new managers of the Opera, who ended by clutching at some piece of wreckage and from there stared silently at Box Five on the grand tier."

17-Mar, Ferlin Husky, age 85: born in 1925 in Cantwell, MO, the pioneering country music entertainer is known for the hits, “Wings of a Dove” and “Gone.”

His mother named him Furland, but his name was misspelled on his birth certificate. He grew up on a farm near Flat River and attended school in Irondale. After dropping out of high school, he moved to St. Louis where he worked as a truck driver and steel mill worker while performing in honky tonks at night. He would walk into a place and if they didn’t make music he would ask the bartender if he could play. Then he’d pass a hat around and could always count on getting 50 or 75 cents.

During World War II, he served as a United States Merchant Marine for five years, entertaining troops on transport ships. His "Crum" character evolved from stories he told during his stage time and were based on a real person, a one-time neighbor named Simon Crump.

Husky participated in the D-Day invasion of Cherbourg.

After the war he continued to develop the Crum character while working as a disc jockey in Missouri and then Bakersfield, California. He also began using the moniker Terry Preston at the suggestion of Smiley Burnette, who claimed Ferlin Husky would never work on a marquee. He went back to his given name when he signed with Capitol Records.

His first No.1 hit came with Jean Shepard and “A Dear John Letter,” followed by “Forgive Me John.” In 1955, Husky had a solo hit with “I Feel Better All Over (More Than Anywheres Else).” As Simon Crum he signed a separate contract with Capitol Records and began recording. The biggest release was “Country Music is Here to Stay.”

Back in 1957, “Gone” was a crossover success, merging strings with backup singers of the newly emerging Nashville sound. It was the same year he began an acting career, appearing on Kraft Television Theatre, and portraying himself in the film Mr. Rock & Roll.

Bob Ferguson’s “Wings of a Dove,” became his biggest hit. He was also known for his ability to mimic other popular country singers, including Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kitty Wells. Between 1961 and 1972 he charted three dozen hits, the biggest being “Once,” and “Just for You.” In 1972, after 20 years with Capitol, Husky signed with ABC Records and several Top 40 hits followed, including “Rosie Cries a Lot.”

He briefly retired in 1977 following heart surgery. Husky suffered from cardiopathy for many years and was hospitalized several times for surgery and blood clots in his legs. In 2009 he suffered congestive heart failure and pneumonia but managed to return home to recuperate. For a period of time he lived in Vienna, Missouri.

On February 23, 2010, the"Country Music Association" announced his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was heralded for his vocal and comic prowess—and "all around showmanship"—that left a legacy as "one of the best entertainers country music has ever produced".

On January 16, 2011, Husky was honored at West St. Francois County High School in Leadwood, Missouri where local singers and the high school choir sang some of his hits. Husky also donated several items of memorabilia, including his Country Music Hall of Fame award, to the city of Leadwood.

18-Mar, Drew Hill, age 54: former NFL wide receiver and two-time Pro Bowler, a key part of the Houston Oilers famed “Run and Shoot” offense of the 1980s. His agent, Jay Mathis of Next Level Management, reported that Hill fell ill on a golf course on Thursday and died late Friday.

In 1979, Hill was a 12th round pick from Georgia Tech, playing for the Los Angeles Rams (1979 – 1984), followed by the Oilers (1985 – 1991), and lastly the Atlanta Falcons (1992 -1993).

“I’m shocked,” Warren Moon, the former Oilers quarterback told the Houston Chronicle. “I can’t believe it. Drew meant so much to us as a player and as a person. I counted on him so much. He was the consummate professional. It’s just so sad.” Drew was always in the right spot; Moon always knew exactly where he could find him . . .

More recently, the Newman, Georgia native was working as an artist and businessman, but kept active with the Atlanta chapter of the NFL Players Association. “Atlanta has always been home for him.” (Associated Press/

18-Mar, Terence “Jet” Harris, age 71: British musician who played bass guitar in Cliff Richard’s band The Shadows. Harris was given the nickname “Jet” because he was one of the fastest runners in his school; he credits himself for coming up with the name The Shadows.

A statement released by Richard said, “Jet was exactly what The Shadows and I needed—a backbone holding our sound together.” “Losing him is sad—but the great memories will stay with me. Rock on, Jet!”

19-Mar, Paul Richard Ledbetter Jr., age 39: Amory, Mississippi truck driver was killed when the tractor-trailer he was driving on Interstate 22 burst into flames after it struck a bridge pylon in the median at the Moon Road overpass. Ledbetter died at the scene of the wreck according to Walker County Coroner, J.C. Poe.

Gemstone Connection: If we gather all the details we're familiar with leading into Ledbetter's contribution, we have a single player who moved from the Rams to the Oilers (Middle East) and on to the Falcons, or from the Age of Aries to the falcon that swooped in and felled a goose just prior to Gawain's arrival in the Story of the Grail. Further details suggest someone who holds the story together . . . I'll insert "like the backbone of a fish" from head to tail or from beginning to end.

The city name, Amory, is like a mash-up of the words "amor," synonymous with cupid, the god of love, and "armory" which can be tied to weapons of war or heraldry.

One of the real-life identities behind the character Gawain in The Story of the Grail is Richard the Lionheart, who was known as a great warrior. Lionheart was a description befitting Richard in the 12th century just as the last name "Ledbetter" can also be understood as a description for our purposes, and perhaps for the purposes of "Paul Richard." While Paul Richard appears to describe two names for one person, the use of Jr. reveals their are two people with the same name, each given to separate generations.

The designation of Junior is the only one forever tied to a location in time bearing the details of the bridge pylon, like the columns in the Phantom's Opera House and Pillar Point Bay, while Moon Road is a detail that connects with Half Moon Bay.

19-Mar, Warren Christopher, age 85: former Secretary of State in the Clinton administration. When he took the job he said he didn’t expect to travel much. He ended his term setting a four-year mark for miles traveled by America’s top diplomat. He made more than two dozen trips to Syria in a futile effort to reach a settlement with Israel. He was more successful in brokering peace for Bosnia, ending a war among Muslims, Serbs, and Croats that had claimed 260,000 lives and drove 1.8 million from their homes. Some critics said the administration moved too slowly.

“As he prepared to step down in 1996 as secretary, ‘for someone else to pick up the baton,’ he said he was pleased to have played a role in making the United States safer.”

In accepting the Secretary of State’s resignation, President Bill Clinton said Christopher “left the mark of his hand on history.” (Barry Schweid, Associated Press/

Gemstone Connection: Christina Taylor Green's role, assuming she was the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene/Christina of Markyate, was to lead us into the transition from one Sacred Story to another, including the passing forward of the baton. The name "Christopher" is the male counterpart that comes on the heels of "Paul Richard" and confirms that the male lead is changing. This time the transition will be led better.

20-Mar, Dorothy Young, age 103: magician’s assistant, she was the last surviving stage assistant for Harry Houdini, the great escape artist. She joined Houdini’s company when she was 17 after attending an open casting call during a family trip to New York. Being that she was shy, she sat in the back of the room, but Houdini and his manager noticed her and asked her to dance the Charleston. They signed her and she eventually persuaded her parents to let her join the show.

In the 1920s, she gained recognition for playing the role of "Radio Girl of 1950," (then 30 years in the future) and would emerge from a large mock-up of a radio and perform a dance routine.

Young married Robert Perkins. The couple had a son; Perkins died 13 years after they wed. Her second marriage was to Gilbert Kiamie, the son of a wealthy silk lingerie magnate, with whom she formed a dance act. The pair gained international prominence for a Latin dance they created.

She performed in several movies and published a novel inspired by her career, eventually becoming a benefactor of Drew University, endowing it with a $13 million arts center that bears her name. Her paintings hang in various buildings on the school's campus.

Over the years, Young has attended numerous events at the school. One of her last appearances was in October 2008, for a commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of Houdini’s death that featured an inner circle of his enthusiasts and historians. (

21-Mar, Pinetop Perkins, age 97: Mississippi Delta-born piano blues legend, Perkins started a solo career in his 70’s after performing with fellow bluesman Muddy Waters for more than a decade.

“Perkins got his nickname from “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie,” a song by another pianist that he recorded for Sun Records. The title described his style of playing rhythm patterns with his left hand and melodies and improvisation with his right.

Waters, who was known as the father of Chicago blues, hired Perkins and featured him on four albums that were made during a 1970s comeback. Perkins first U.S. solo album wasn’t released until 1988, but he made up for lost time by recording 15 albums in 15 years.

In February, he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for “Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith.” The win made him the oldest Grammy winner, edging out late comedian George Burns, who was 95 when he won in Spoken Word category for “Gracie: A Love Story” in 1990.

Joe Willie Perkins was born in Honey Island, near the Delta town of Belzoni, Mississippi on July 7, 1913. His father, Sandy Perkins, was a Baptist preacher and his mother, Hattie, was American Indian. Elmore James, a blues guitarist was his cousin. He quit school after third grade to work on a cotton plantation and never learned to read.

As a teenager, he left home and moved to Tutwiler, Mississippi where he performed with the church choir and then he moved to Clarksdale where he played house parties and juke joints. At on point, he helped run a moonshine still.

In 1943, Perkins began playing on Robert Nighthawk’s radio show for station KFFA in Helena Arkansas. Harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson had a rival program on KFFA that was called "King Biscuit Time." Perkins joined Williamson’s band, the King Biscuit Entertainers and stayed for most of the decade.

He was forced to give up playing guitar after being stabbed in a Helena hotel room. The injury severed the tendons in his left arm. His attacker was a chorus girl whose ex-husband had locked her in the bathroom as a practical joke and he happened to be the first man she saw after escaping. (David Wilson,

21-Mar, Loleatta Holloway, age 64: American singer known mainly for her disco songs like “Hit and Run,” and “Love Sensation,” Holloway began singing gospel with her mother in the Holloway Community Singers and recorded with Albertina Walker in the Caravans gospel group.

Her first number one single came when Mark Wahlberg’s group, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, featured her voice on 1991’s “Good Vibrations.”

Eighteen songs charted on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, including four that made #1. The ballad, “Only You,” written and produced by Bunny Sigler, who also sang with Holloway on the track, became another big R&B hit.

Her singles include: "Cry to Me," ”Worn-out Broken Heart," "Only You," "Dreamin,'" "Love Sensation," "Vertigo/Relight My Fire, "Hit and Run," "Catch Me on the Rebound," "Crash Goes Love," "Runaway," "All About the Paper," "The Greatest Performance of My Life," "Seconds," "I May Not be There When You Want Me (But I'm Right on Time)," "Ride On Time," "Good Vibrations," "Gotta Be #1," "Take Me Away," "I Survived," "Shout it to The Top," "(You Got Me) Burning Up," "What Goes Around Comes Around," “A Better World," "Don't Leave Me this Way," “I-N-S-I-D-E"

23-Mar, Jean Jennings Bartik, age 86: one of the women who made up what is now known as the “Top Secret Rosies.” She was selected as one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.

Born Betty Jean Jennings in Gentry County, Missouri, in 1924, she attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in mathematics. In 1945, she was hoping to get a job serving the armed forces and when the telegram arrived, she took a late night train to Philadelphia.

Bartik was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to work for Army Ordnance at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The ENIAC computer was developed for the purpose of calculating ballistic trajectories. The weapons trajectories that were calculated were passed out to soldiers in the field and bombardiers in the air. Bartik later became part of a group charged with converting the ENIAC into a stored program computer.

Bartik was a friend of over 60 years with John Mauchly's widow, Kathleen "Kay" Antonelli. Mauchly was co-inventor of the ENIAC. He walked Jean down the aisle when she married and it was at Jean's wedding reception that he had the courage to approach Kay about dating. Kay was also one of the six original women programmers of the ENIAC.

Bartik became an editor for Auerbach Publishers, an early publisher of information on high technology. She left Auerbach to join Data Decisions, a competitor to Datapro Research (now part of the Gartner Group) and Auerbach. Data Decisions was founded in 1980 by Elizabeth McKeown Sussman (formerly of Datapro) and Sandra Eisenberg, also of Datapro. Data Decisions was funded by Ziff-Davis Publishing in 1980. Jean joined Data Decisions in 1981 where she was a Senior Editor for the Communications Services research publication. Data Decisions was acquired by McGraw-Hill (then owners of Datapro) in 1985 and promptly shut down. With the demise of Data Decisions Jean left the IT industry, becoming a real estate agent.

In 1997 she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, along with the other original ENIAC programmers. In 2008 she was one of three Fellow Award honorees of the Computer History Museum.

Gemstone Connection: In Glee's "Original Song" episode, Quinn Fabray tells Rachel how "the story is going to end." She's going to marry Finn and become a successful real estate agent. However, by the time New Directions arrives in New York City, the ending Quinn thought would happen takes a different path.

23-Mar, Elizabeth "Liz" Taylor, DBE, age 79: the “Last Star.” "Nobody can replace her and nobody should." Born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, the British-American actress transformed from a child star with MGM, to became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. As one of the world's most famous film stars, Taylor was recognized for her acting ability and for her glamorous lifestyle, beauty and distinctive violet eyes.

National Velvet (1944) was Taylor's first success. She is also well known for her performances in Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for BUtterfield 8 (1960), played the title role in Cleopatra (1963), and married her co-star Richard Burton. They appeared together in 11 films, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), for which Taylor won a second Academy Award. From the mid-1970s, she appeared less frequently in film, and made occasional appearances in television and theatre.

A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, she was born a British subject through her birth on British soil and an American citizen through her parents.

Shortly before the beginning of World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States to avoid hostilities. Her mother took the children first, arriving in New York in April 1939. The family then moved to California.

Taylor appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine in There's One Born Every Minute.

Taylor remembered when she was a child in England, adults used to describe her as having an "old soul," because, as she says, "I was totally direct." She also recognized similar traits in her baby daughter: "I saw my daughter as a baby, before she was a year old, look at people, steadily, with those eyes of hers, and see people start to fidget, and drop things out of their pockets and finally, unable to stand the heat, get out of the room."

Taylor's father served as an air raid warden with MGM producer Sam Marx, and learned that the studio was searching for an English actress for a Lassie film. Taylor received the role and was offered a long-term contract at the beginning of 1943. She chose MGM because "the people there had been nicer to her when she went to audition."

MGM was considered a "glamorous studio," boasting that it had "more stars than there are in heavens." Before Taylor's mother would sign the contract, however, she sought certainty that Taylor had a "God-given talent" to become an actress.

Walker describes how they came to a decision: "Mrs. Taylor wanted a final sign of revelation . . . Was there a divine plan for her? Mrs. Taylor took her old script for The Fool, in which she had played the scene of the girl whose faith is answered by a miracle cure. Now she asked Elizabeth to read her own part, while she read the lines of the leading man. She confessed to weeping openly. She said, 'There sat my daughter playing perfectly the part of the child as I, a grown woman, had tried to do it. It seemed that she must have been in my head all those years I was acting'."

The teenage Taylor was reluctant to continue making films. Her mother forced Taylor to relentlessly practice until she could cry on cue and watched her during filming, signaling to change her delivery or point out a mistake. Taylor met few others her age on movie sets, and was so poorly educated that she needed to use her fingers to do basic arithmetic. At age 16 Taylor told her parents that she wanted to quit acting for a normal childhood; her mother told her she was ungrateful: "You have a responsibility, Elizabeth. Not just to this family, but to the country now, the whole world".

In late 1949, Taylor had begun filming A Place in the Sun. Upon its release in 1951, Taylor was hailed for her performance as Angela Vickers, a spoiled socialite who comes between George Eastman (Clift) and his poor, pregnant factory-working girlfriend Alice Tripp. The film, based on Theodore Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy, was an indictment of "the American dream" and its corrupting influences.

Although Taylor, then only 17, was unaware of the psychological implications of the story and its powerful nuances, it became the pivotal performance of her career. Biographer Kitty Kelley wrote that Stevens, its director, knew that with Elizabeth Taylor as the young and beautiful star, the "audience would understand why George Eastman would kill for a place in the sun with her." Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper, who was allowed on the set to watch the filming, became "wide-eyed watching the little girl from National Velvet seduce Montgomery Clift in front of the camera." When the scene was over, Hopper went to her and asked outright, "Elizabeth, where on earth did you ever learn how to make love like that?" Film historian Andrew Sarris describes her love scenes in the film with Montgomery Clift as "unnerving—sybaritic—like gorging on chocolate sundaes."

In March 2003, Taylor declined to attend the 75th Annual Academy Awards, due to her opposition to the Iraq War. She publicly condemned then President George W. Bush for calling on Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq, and said she feared the conflict would lead to “World War III.”

In real life, she was considered "a star without airs," noted biographer William J. Mann. Writer Gloria Steinem likewise described her as a "movie queen with no ego . . . expert at what she does, uncatty in her work relationships with other actresses." Mike Nichols, who directed her in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?(1966), said that of all the actors he’s worked with, Taylor had the "most democratic soul." Mann adds that she treated electricians and members of the studio crew the "same way she would a Rothschild at a charity gala." Director George Cukor told Taylor that she possessed "that rarest of virtues—simple kindness."

Biographer Randy Taraborrelli wrote that after studying the philosophy of Judaism for nine months, "she felt an immediate connection to the faith." Although Taylor rarely attended synagogue, she stated, "I'm one of those people who think you can be close to God anywhere, not just in a place designed for worship . . . "

At the conversion ceremony, with her parents present as witnesses and in full support of her decision, Taylor repeated the words of Ruth: For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.

During an interview when she was 55, Taylor described how her inner sense of identity, when a child actress, kept her from giving in to many of the studio's demands, especially with regard to altering her appearance to fit in: "God forbid you do anything individual or go against the fad. But I did. I figured this looks absurd. And I agreed with my dad: God must have had some reason for giving me bushy eyebrows and black hair. I guess I must have been pretty sure of my sense of identity. It was me. I accepted it all my life and I can't explain it. Because I've always been very aware of the inner me that has nothing to do with the physical me."

She adds that she began to recognize her "inner being" during her adulthood: “Eventually the inner you shapes the outer you, especially when you reach a certain age, and you have been given the same features as everybody else, God has arranged them in a certain way. But around 40 the inner you actually chisels your features. Life is to be embraced and enveloped. Surgeons and knives have nothing to do with it. It has to do with a connection with nature, God, your inner being—whatever you want to call it—it's being in contact with yourself and allowing yourself, allowing God, to mold you.”

On the Friday following her death, Broadway dimmed its lights at exactly 8pm for 1 minute.

24-Mar, Lanford Wilson, age 73: American playwright, considered one of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway theatre movement. He received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980 for Talley’s Folly, was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2001, and to the America Academy of Arts and Letters 2004.

Wilson began his career as a playwright in the 1960s at the Caffé Cino in Greenwich Village, writing one-act plays. His debut in 1964 came with Home Free!

The Madness of Lady Bright premiered in May, and was the venue’s first significant success. It was considered a landmark play in the representation of male homosexuality and went on to provide over two hundred performances.

Wilson was subsequently invited to present his work Off-Broadway, including his plays Balm in Gilead and The Rimers of Eldrich produced at Café LaMama.

Wilson’s style and approach evolved over the years, sometimes resulting in drastically different effects. Some of his works are extremely radical and experimental in nature while others are more mainstream, creative and sensible. The issue of gay identity and struggle is a major theme in his work as captured in his autobiographical Lemon Sky, which tells the story of a young man’s struggle with his uneducated father when he tries to come out of the closet. Fifth of July portrays a gay couple living in a small town, one of whom is a disabled Vietnam veteran. In Burn This the central character is a gay man who writes advertising for a living and is involved with a group of both gay and straight friends, one of whom committed suicide before the play begins. The entire group struggles to deal with their collective grief. The Rimers of Eldrich tells the chilling story of a small town’s revenge against an outsider. It's told in a disruptive style which jumps back and forth in time, with actors playing multiple roles who portray the entire population of the town.

His best plays feature strong, sympathetic central characters, truly repulsive and evil villains, agonizing plot twists, and tragic or semi-tragic endings. And then there’s Talley’s Folley, which offers a passionate, heterosexual romance.

His other major works include: Wandering, The Gingham Dog, Serenading Louie, The Hot l Baltimore (named for the Hotel Baltimore and its neon sign with a perpetually burned out letter 'e'), The Mound Builders, A Tale Told, Angels Fall, Redwood Curtain, Sympathetic Magic, Book of Days, and Rain Dance.

Off-Broadway theaters dimmed their lights at curtain time, Friday, March 25th, in tribute to Wilson.

Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic, provided his own tribute. He began by naming two playwrights most often invoked to describe Wilson’s style. Those persons were Anton Chekhov, from whom “Wilson learned the compositional possibilities of ensemble pieces and the way the inner life is thrown into relief when the outer life slows down, and Tennessee Williams, from whom Wilson learned the power of the poetry of longing and the importance of fleshing out a world on stage.”

In the tribute, McNulty says Wilson “first came into my consciousness” in 1975 when he watched the TV series “Hot l Baltimore” which was based on the Off Broadway play. The story centered on a cast of eccentrics with half-hidden secrets who lived in a dilapidated residential hotel. They were outcasts, shunned by the world, but they kept on living, “consoling themselves with wit and exploring the freedom of their often painful nonconformity. He was only 10-years-old when the show premiered, too young to have shameful secrets of his own. And yet "the characters spoke to me from some distant land and gave me faith that life could be dealt with even when it left you in the lurch. That new circles can be formed when old ones give you up. That being ostracized didn’t have to mean the loss of dignity. And that the best protection for one’s sanity was a to-hell-with-it humor.”

McNulty said Wilson changed his life. Read more

Gemstone Connection: Glee's season two closing episode, "New York," has Rachel and Kurt singing "For Good," the closing song from Act Two of the Broadway show Wicked, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz:

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them, and we help them in return.
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true,
But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun;
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood—
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you I have been changed for good.

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime
So let me say before we part:
So much of me is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.

And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea;
Like a seed dropped by a skybird in a distant wood—
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you, because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

And just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness for the thing I’ve done you blame me for.

But then, I guess we know there’s blame to share.

And none of it seems to matter anymore.

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun;
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood—

Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea;
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood—

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better.
And because I knew you…
Because I knew you…
Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good.

24-Mar, Richard Leacock, age 89: documentary filmmaker and pioneer of the unobtrusive camera technique who followed John F. Kennedy on his presidential campaign and was seen by some as the grandfather of reality television.

In the post World War II period, filmmakers were looking to escape the film set and capture real life as it was happening. “Leacock’s technical acumen supplied the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut with the tools of their trade. His insightful direction laid the groundwork for generations of filmmakers seeking to use their camera to capture real life as it happened.”

Taking the camera out of the studio, however, made it extremely difficult to capture high-quality sound. Speech and video had to be captured independently without allowing them to slip out-of-sync. Leacock came up with the idea of using American-made Bulova watches to keep the two in accordance.

Colleague Albert Maysles shared his insight on Leacock,"He had a poetic eye behind the camera, which gave him access to anybody because they sensed they could trust him.” Maysles said when he thought of Leacock, he had two images, “a wonderful, loving face and his hands.” “I could see his hands on the camera, cradling it in such a way that he could take care of the people he was filming.”

26-Mar, Geraldine Ferraro, age 75: former congresswoman, widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice.

News media described her as the first woman on a major party presidential ticket. Her family described her as the first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket.

The Mondale-Ferraro ticket lost by a landslide to Republican incumbents President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush. The Reagan-Bush ticket won the popular vote 58.8% to 40% and nearly swept the electoral votes, 525 to 13.

Geraldine Ferraro was born on August 26, 1935, Women’s Equality Day, in Newburgh, New York to restaurant owners Dominick and Antonetta Ferraro. In 1974, she became an assistant district attorney in Queens, New York. Between 1996 and 1998 she was a co-host on CNN’s Crossfire.

In March 2008, she became the center of controversy when she remarked that then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for presidency was successful because he was black. At the time, she served in a fundraising capacity for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign effort, and resigned over the political controversy. She later said that she was “absolutely not” sorry for her comments.

“I am who I am and I will continue to speak up,” she said. She criticized the Obama campaign for efforts she characterized as trying to block her First Amendment rights.

26-Mar, Harry Coover, age 94: the inventor of Super Glue died in Kingsport, Tennessee. According to his grandson, Adam Paul, Coover was working for Tennessee Eastman Company, a division of Eastman Kodak, when an accident helped lead to the discovery of the popular adhesive.

Coover later appeared on television with Garry Moore in a segment for I've Got A Secret. Moore, the show’s host, and Coover were hung in the air on bars that were stuck to metal supports with a single drop of his glue during a live television broadcast.

Coover was honored with a gold medal by The Industrial Research Institute and the U.S. Patent Office inducted him into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio in 2004.

27-Mar, DJ Megatron, age 32: Staten Island deejay and rising hip-hop star, shot to death while walking to a local bodega to buy a cigar early Sunday. It was 2 a.m. when someone approached him, just down the street from his home and fired a single shot. He “died on the street—his eyes facing the sky and a baseball cap on his side.”

The urban radio and TV personality, whose real name is Corey McGriff, built a career at hip-hop and R&B radio stations from Philadelphia to Boston. In recent years, he appeared on BET’s 106 & Park, where his “What’s Good” segments took him onto the streets to ask people about topics ranging from sports to “The Five Elements of Hop-Hop.”

“It’s earth shattering,” his mom, Louvenia McGriff told the Daily News by phone from her Georgia home.

27-Mar, Farley Granger, age 85: 1950s screen idol. Granger was an overnight Hollywood success story. He was a 16-year old kid at North Hollywood High School when he got the notion that he wanted to act. He joined a small theater group where talent scouts for movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn saw him and signed him to a contract. His first movie, in 1943, was The North Star. Afterward, he starred in the Alfred Hitchcock classics Rope and Strangers on a Train.

Producer Samuel Goldwyn made The North Star at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was intended to be World War II propaganda, hoping to boost support of America’s alliance with Russia against Germany. The story focuses on the hard-working but happy members of the farming collective in the Ukraine, known as the North Star. Their way of life is shattered when Germany storms the nation and begins a brutal occupation. A doctor begins gathering the children to be used for blood transfusions and medical experiments. The outraged farmers take to the hills to fight with the anti-Nazi regime while others stay behind and bravely destroy precious crops and possessions rather than turn them over to the Nazi war machine.

Ironically, members of the film’s creative team found their motivation for the film questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee, who declared it Communist propaganda.

In Rope, Granger plays the role of Philip Morgan, one of two students who kill a classmate as a purely intellectual exercise to prove their superiority by committing the “perfect murder.” The movie is based on a play by the same name, which itself was inspired by the real-life murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924.

Rope begins as Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan murder a former classmate, David Kentley, in their apartment and hide his body in a large wooden chest. They then host a dinner part, inviting the victim’s father, aunt, fiancée, and his close friend—who happens to be a former lover of the fiancée. Also invited is a publisher named Rupert Cadell, who inspired the idea for the murder years earlier when he was the young men’s prep-school housemaster.

The chest containing the body is used as a buffet for the food. Brandon feels that Rupert would very likely approve of their “work of art” and makes subtle hints about David’s absence that lead to a discussion on the art of murder. While Brandon appears calm and in control, Phillip is visibly upset and morose and begins to drink heavily as the evening goes on.

David’s aunt, Mrs. Atwater, fancies herself as a fortune-teller and tells Phillip that his hands will bring him fame. She's talking about his skill at the piano, but he appears to think it will be notoriety for the crime. Rupert becomes suspicious as inconsistencies arise in the conversation. Phillip vehemently denies ever strangling a chicken at the Shaw’s farm, but Rupert has personally seen him strangle several.

Emotions run high. David’s father and fiancée are disturbed and wonder why he has neither arrived nor phoned. Brandon tries to play matchmaker between David’s fiancée and his buddy, and both resent his suggestions. As the guests begin to depart, they’re unknowingly given pieces of evidence to take with them. The murder weapon is used to tie books together which are sent home with David's father. Rupert is given David’s hat, which contains the monogram “D.K.” inside.

When Rupert notices this, he decides to return to the apartment that same night, pretending he has left his cigarette case behind. He plants the case in the apartment and then stays to theorize about David’s disappearance, a conversation encouraged by Brandon who seems eager to have Rupert discover the crime.

Drunk Phillip can’t take it any longer and throws his glass saying, “Cat and mouse, cat and mouse. But which is the cat and which is the mouse?”

Rupert lifts the lid of the chest and finds the body inside. He’s horrified but also deeply ashamed, realizing that they used his own rhetoric to rationalize murder. He seizes Brandon’s gun and fires shots into the night in order to attract the police.

Gemstone Connection: While we have encountered multiple publishers, the one that best corresponds to the character Rupert and advances our understanding of the meaning The Rope brings to the gemstone, is the character once played by Kenneth Mars in Car 54 Where Are You? and the details that come with him.

As an aside, on September 11th, 2001, the moment that Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (8:46am EDT/12:46pm UT), the position of Moon's true Node was 4 Cancer, whose Sabian Symbol is "A Cat Arguing With a Mouse."

With respect to the movie Strangers on a Train, getting to the synopsis of the finished film is half the story. Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to Patricia Highsmith’s novel for $7,500, a low amount because it was her “first novel.” He kept his own name out of the negotiations in order to keep the purchase price low.

Securing the rights to the novel was the least of the hurdles Hitchcock would have to vault in order to get the property from printed page to screen. The second treatment he was given pleased him, but when he took it and went shopping for a screenwriter—someone with a “name” that would bring prestige to the screenplay—he was turned down by eight writers. They were all put off by Highsmith’s first-time status.

Raymond Chandler, who had earned an Oscar nomination for his first screenplay, Double Indemnity, took the job despite his opinion that it was “a silly little story.” He was a notoriously difficult collaborator and he and Hitchcock couldn’t have had more different meeting styles. Hitchcock enjoyed long rambling off-topic meetings in which the film sometimes wouldn't even be mentioned for hours, while Chandler was strictly business and wanted to get out and get writing. He called the meetings "god-awful jabber sessions" which seem to be an inevitable although painful part of the picture business.

Interpersonal relations deteriorated rapidly until finally Chandler became openly combative. At one point, upon viewing Hitchcock struggling to exit his limousine, Chandler remarked within earshot, "Look at the fat bastard trying to get out of his car!"

This marked the end of their discussions. Chandler completed the first draft and wrote a second draft without hearing a single word back from Hitchcock. When he finally did get a communication it was his dismissal from the project.

Hitchcock then tried to hire Ben Hecht only to find he was unavailable. Hecht suggested his assistant, Czenzi Ormonde, to write the screenplay. Although Ormonde was without a formal screen credit, she did have two things in her favor: her recently published collection of short stories, Laughter From Downstairs, was attracting good notices from critics, and she was "a fair-haired beauty with long shimmering hair." With his new writer, he wanted to start from square one.

At their first conference, Hitchcock made a show of pinching his nose, then holding up Chandler's draft with his thumb and forefinger and dropping it into a wastebasket. He told the obscure writer that the famous one hadn't written a solitary line he intended to use, and they would have to start all over on page one, using Cook's treatment as a guide.

The director told Ormonde to forget all about the book, then told her the story of the film himself, from beginning to end. There wasn't much time though with less than three weeks until location shooting was scheduled to start in the east. Ormonde hunkered down with Hitchcock's associate producer Barbara Keon—disparagingly called "Hitchcock's factotum" by Chandler and Alma (Mrs. Alfred) Hitchcock; together the three women, working under the boss's guidance and late into most nights finished enough of the script in time to send the company east. The rest was complete by early November.

Three notable additions the trio had made were the runaway merry-go-round, the cigarette lighter, and the thick eyeglasses. There was one point of agreement between Chandler and Hitchcock, although it would come only much later, near the release of the film: they both acknowledged that since virtually none of Chandler's work remained in the final script, his name should be removed from the credits.

Hitchcock preferred the writing credit of Whitfield Cook and Czenzi Ormonde, but Warner Bros. wanted the cachet of the Chandler name and insisted it stay on. Even while the tortuous writing stage was plodding its course, the director's excitement about the project was boundless.

"Hitchcock raced ahead of everyone: the script, the cast, the studio . . . pieces of the film were dancing like electrical charges in his brain."

The more the film resolved in his mind's eye, the more he knew his director of photography would play a critical role in the scenes' execution. He found exactly what he needed on the Warners lot, in the person of a staff cameraman who would go on to shoot every Hitchcock picture through Psycho.

"Low-keyed, mild mannered", Burks was "a versatile risk-taker with a penchant for moody atmosphere. Burks was an exceptionally apt choice for what would prove to be Hitchcock's most Germanic film in years: the compositions dense, the lighting almost surreal, the optical effects demanding."

None was more demanding than Bruno's strangulation of Miriam, shown in her eyeglass lens: "It was the kind of shot Hitchcock had been tinkering with for twenty years—and Robert Burks captured it magnificently."

Burks considered his fourteen years with Hitchcock the best of his career: "You never have any trouble with him as long as you know your job and do it. Hitchcock insists on perfection. He has no patience with mediocrity on the set or at a dinner table. There can be no compromise in his work, his food or his wines."

29-Mar, Walter King, age 90: the grandfather of Final Four-bound Shaka Smart, coach of Virginia Commonwealth University’s basketball team.

While the 11th seeded team held its last day of practice before heading to the Final Four where they would face off against Butler, Smart was tending to family matters. At a news conference later in the day, the coach discussed King’s influence on his life: “He was probably the second-biggest influence in my life. He taught me humility, appreciation. He taught me how to interact with people. I was raised by my mom, and lot of time when kids are raised only by a woman you need a male influence that can teach you certain things that only a man can teach you.”

02-Apr, Larry Finch, age 60: Finch rose from the playgrounds of the Orange Mound section of Memphis to become a player and then coach for the University of Memphis men’s basketball team. He is perhaps most famous for leading the Memphis State Tigers to the NCAA men's basketball championship game in 1973 in a heroic loss to the UCLA Bruins, led by Bill Walton.

Born in Memphis, Finch played basketball for Melrose High School. He then entered Memphis State and played basketball under famed basketball coach Gene Bartow. This decision was somewhat controversial for both Memphis' black and white communities, given the recent assassination of Martin Luther King and the heightened strain on race relations in Memphis, not to mention that so few local African-American prep stars had been able to wear a Tiger uniform to that point in time. Some had advised Finch not to go. Whether or not he saw it as an opportunity to do something even more meaningful than playing for his local university, Finch loved his hometown team. As he led the Tigers to new heights of success, at least during basketball games, the people in the community had a chance to see things less in black and white and more in Tiger blue and gray.

In his senior year, 1972–1973, he and Larry Kenon led the basketball team to the Final Four. In the championship game, Finch scored 29 points, but lost to John Wooden's UCLA Bruins, a game where Bill Walton went 21 of 22 from the floor. Finch graduated the all-time leading scorer in Memphis history, and is currently the second all-time leading scorer for the University of Memphis.

In the 1980s, Finch was an assistant coach for Dana Kirk at Memphis State. Kirk was forced to leave Memphis State after violating NCAA regulations and becoming the subject of a criminal investigation. Finch was made head coach in 1986 in order to restore order to the program. He would remain at the school (renamed the University of Memphis in 1994) until 1997.

Finch posted 10 out of 11 winning seasons, seven 20+ win seasons, and six NCAA tournaments. He recruited and developed such players as Elliot Perry, Penny Hardaway, and Lorenzen Wright. His 1991-92 team led by Hardaway and David Vaughn III went to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. During his tenure, the basketball players began to graduate in high numbers. As a player, Finch was known for his shooting prowess, and his skills remained intact throughout his coaching days; he would routinely win games of "H-O-R-S-E" against his players and against assistant coaches in long distance shooting contests after road game practices. Even while head coach, he maintained connections to his roots; he often visited Orange Mound barbershops, often delivering Memphis State posters and other team paraphernalia.

Despite Finch's overall success, during the mid-90's more and more local blue chip recruits began leaving for other schools, specifically Todd Day to the University of Arkansas and others to the University of Tennessee. This ultimately led to fan dissatisfaction for a program that was renowned for achieving national prominence on primarily Memphis-area talent. And while there was the Elite Eight team of 91-92, there were also teams considered under-achievers, such as the highly touted 1995-96 squad which lost to 12th seeded Drexel University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. At the same time, Finch's speech seemed to deteriorate and it was said the players ignored him.

He was fired at the end of the 1996-97 season. The firing was a public relations fiasco for the university, as he was told of the decision immediately following his final game, in one of the concession areas of the Pyramid Arena. Although much of the fan base had become disenchanted with Finch, even some of his detractors were critical of the way school officials handled it. He left as the school's all-time winningest coach, a standing he recovered in 2009 after the John Calipari led (2007-08) unit had its entire season vacated due to an academic fraud scandal.

In 2002, Finch suffered a debilitating stroke. People close to him created the Friends of Larry Finch Foundation to help offset his medical expenses. In December 2006, the Foundation released a Larry Finch tribute CD called "Eye of the Tiger", featuring performers from Memphis' diverse musical community such as Al Green, The Bar-Kays, Gary Johns, John Kilzer, and Al Kapone.

03-Apr, Calvin Russell, age 62: an American roots rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

Born Calvert Russell Kosler, at the age of twelve he started to learn guitar and at thirteen joined a band called 'The Cavemen'. In 1989 he met Patrick Mathe of the French record label New Rose. After his first album was released, Russell started touring in Europe in 1990, and became quite popular there while remaining fairly unknown at home.

Russell died from cancer on April 3, 2011 in Garfield, Texas.

Additional releases include: "Crack in Time," "Sounds from the Fourth World," "Soldier, Le Voyageur – Live," "Dream of the Dog," "Calvin Russell," "The Story of Calvin Russell - This Is My life," "Sam," "Crossroad," "Rebel Radio," "A Man in Full," "In Spite of It All," "Unrepentant," "Dawg Eat Dawg," and "Contrabendo."

04-Apr, Ned McWherter, age 80: onetime factory worker who became a millionaire businessman and two-time Democratic governor of Tennessee, 20 years in the Legislature, 14 as House speaker. He was also a political advisor to Bill Clinton during his presidency.

The Palmersville native grew up on a small farm on which his parents were sharecroppers. By the time he began his 1986 gubernatorial campaign he listed a net worth of $5 million, yet he had a folksy theme and told his supporters, “I’m one of you, I’m one of you.” “Just give me a cup of coffee and four vanilla wafers and I’ll be ready to go to work.”

McWherter, who was a hefty 6-foot-4, resembled actor Dan Blocker who played “Hoss” on the old Bonanza TV show. He once said, “I know every hog path in Tennessee.”

His business career began with a job working in a shoe factory. He then borrowed money to start a children’s shoe factory of his own. After that he started a truck line, bought a beer distributorship, and bought and sold an oil distributorship. His interests also included a nursing home and he held stock in several West Tennessee banks.

His campaign promise was to protect the past’s values while meeting the future’s economic demands: “In government, there are always those who claim that things should be done differently. But no one can stand here today and dispute the economic growth we have enjoyed over the last 40 months.”

McWherter emphasized his management of the economy and construction of prisons, aggressive road-building programs that connected distant counties with interstate highways with four-lane roads, and education, providing the children with what he dubbed the 21st Century Classroom.

In 2002 he had a cancerous tumor removed from his right lung, describing it as “half a box of cigars.” At the time all the cancer had been removed and a full recovery was expected. (

05-Apr, Dr. Baruch Blumberg, age 85: Nobel Prize winner and first director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. In 1976 he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for identifying the Hepatitis B virus. He shared the prize with D. Carleton Gajdusek for their work on the origins and spread of infectious viral diseases.

A native of New York, NY, Blumberg had been a member of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia since 1964 and held the rank of University Professor of Medicine and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania since 1977. He was also president of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learning society in the United States, dating to 1743.

Former NASA Administrator, Daniel Goldin stated, “The world has lost a great man. Barry saved lives through his research on the Hepatitis B virus. He also inspired a whole generation of people worldwide through his work in building the NASA Astrobiology Institute. On a personal level, he improved my life through his friendship. Our planet is an improved place as a result of Barry’s few short days in residence.”

Dr. Blumberg died of a heart attack while appearing at the International Lunar Research Park Exploratory Workshop. (

05-Apr, Gil Robbins, age 80: folk singer, guitarist, and member of the early 1960s group the Highwaymen. Before Robbins joined the Highwaymen, the group had a major hit with “Michael,” its own version of “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” When Robbins joined in 1962, he took the group in a more political direction.

His son, Tim Robbins, star of The Shawshank Redemption and director of Dead Man Walking, described his father in a statement to the AP: Gil Robbins was “a fantastic father,” “a great musician,” and “a man of unshakeable integrity.” “His commitment to social justice was evident to us from an early age as was his infectious mischievous sense of humor.” “His passing has created great sadness for all of us and our mother but we take comfort in knowing that the angels will soon be soothed by the songs coming from his beautiful baritone voice.”

06-Apr, Gene Shefrin, age 90: former Hollywood publicist who represented Don Rickles, Guy Lombardo, and Dick Clark during a career spanning 42 years. He died in his sleep, according to his son, Paul, who followed in his father’s footsteps.

Shefrin started out in public relations in 1945 after a stint in World War II as ground support for U.S. bombers based in England.

In 1952, he hired a high school kid to come in for two hours a day, after class, and write pithy comments that would be sent to gossip columnists for attribution to Shefrin’s clients. That boy’s name was Allen Koningsberg, better known these days as Woody Allen. Forty years later, the filmmaker returned the favor by casting Shefin as an extra in his movie Bullets Over Broadway. (Dean Goodman and Jill Serjeant)

06-Apr, Bernard Francis “Skip” O’Brien, age 60: American actor best known for his recurring role as Detective Ray O’Riley in the TV show CSI, he also appeared in Liar Liar and the 2007 version of The Hitcher.

The synopsis of the 1986 version of the The Hitcher follows:

Jim Halsey is a young man tasked with delivering a car from Chicago to San Diego. While on the road, he spots a man hitchhiking and gives him a ride. The man, John Ryder, is a brooding, soft-spoken man. When Jim passes a stranded car, however, Ryder's personality suddenly shifts. Ryder calmly states that the reason the car is stranded is because he murdered and mutilated the driver, and he intends to do the same to Jim. Terrified, Jim asks what Ryder wants. He replies, "I want you to stop me."

Ryder produces a switchblade knife and taunts Jim for several moments before Jim realizes Ryder had never put on his seat belt and that the car door was left ajar, so he knocks him out of the car's passenger door.

Feeling relieved, Jim continues on his journey but sees Ryder with a family on vacation. He tries to warn them but loses control of his car and spins off the road. He continues driving and after a while comes across the family's car, with blood oozing out of its doors. He continues on and pulls into an abandoned gas station to use a phone. While there, Ryder corners him in the garage, but simply throws the keys he took from Jim's car and leaves. Jim chases after him, rushing outside into a rising sandstorm, only to find that Ryder has already hitched a ride with a man in a truck.

Jim continues driving and eventually sees another gas station. While filling up his tank, Ryder attempts to run him over, crashing into the pumps and causing gas to flood onto the concrete. As Jim attempts to flee, Ryder drops a match, igniting the spilled gas. The ensuing explosion destroys the gas station. Jim's car bursts from out of the flames and speeds away. He travels to a roadside diner where he meets a pretty young waitress named Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and calls the police. She brings him the cheeseburger and french fries that he ordered. He starts to relax until he discovers a severed finger among the fries and realizes Ryder is there.

As he attempts to flee, two police officers arrive and find Ryder's bloody switchblade in Jim's pocket. They arrest him and take him to the jail. He later wakes up in his cell and finds the door to it is unlocked. When he leaves he discovers all the officers at the station have had their throats cut. He steals a gun and runs.

Jim makes his way to yet another gas station and while at the payphone, he sees a police car driving up. He takes the two officers hostage and orders them to drive while he rides in the back. As they're driving, Jim speaks via radio to the officer in charge of his alleged escape. The captain on the radio and the two officers in the car convince Jim to trust them and surrender, but Ryder pulls up alongside the police car and kills the two officers. The car crashes by the side of the road and Ryder disappears once again. Jim contemplates suicide but resolves to keep going.

Soon seeing a stopped bus, he sneaks on and hides in the bathroom. When Nash gets on and knocks on the door, he grabs her and tries to explain his situation. They sit down at the back of the bus and Jim tells his story. A police car then pulls the bus over. Knowing the police know he's on board, Jim gives himself up. The two officers are furious, believing Jim just killed two of their friends.

One officer tells Jim to wipe his wrist. Believing it's a setup, Jim refuses, figuring as soon as he makes a move, he'll be shot in what will look like an act of self-defense. This infuriates the officer further and he threatens to shoot Jim anyway. Suddenly Nash appears and holds the two officers hostage. Once they drop their weapons Nash and Jim make a run for it. Ryder has been watching the entire event nearby. While the two flee, Ryder helps them by shooting down a police helicopter, which crashes and wrecks several police cruisers that had been coming after them.

Jim and Nash make-out in a roadside motel. Just as things seem to be getting better, Nash is kidnapped by Ryder. When Jim begins looking for Nash, he's grabbed by two police officers who, instead of arresting him, say they "Have a situation". Jim sees a large trailer and a truck with Nash tied between them. The police tell Jim that Ryder asked for him specifically and that they can't shoot him as his foot will slip off the clutch and any sudden movement of the vehicles will kill Nash. Once Jim gets in the truck, Ryder gives him a gun and tells him to shoot. Jim refuses as Nash would die anyway. Disappointed, Ryder presses down on the accelerator and rips Nash in half.

Ryder is arrested, but the police are unsure of what to do with him, as they cannot find any information on him in public records. As Ryder is being transferred to another facility, Jim cannot contain the urge to kill Ryder in revenge for the death of Nash and steals a weapon and a police car, then goes after him. As he's driving behind the police bus, the door swings open to reveal all officers inside have been killed.

Ryder jumps onto the hood of Jim's car but gets shot off. When he stands up Jim runs him over. Ryder slowly gets up behind him and smiles and begins firing a shotgun at the vehicle. Jim fires back and finally kills him. The film ends with Jim in a similar silhouette to Ryder, cast against a blood red sky as he lights a cigarette.


In the 2007 remake, Jim Halsey and his girlfriend Grace Andrews hit the road at the start of spring break and soon encounter Ryder. Towards the end of movie, Grace and Jim walk to a motel after the stolen cruiser breaks down. They shower and then Jim steps out of the room to make a phone call but is gone for several hours. Grace falls asleep watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. She wakes up as she’s being fondled, only to discover Ryder in bed next to her. He attempts to rape her and she hides in the bathroom with a revolver. Ryder disappears as Grace goes in search of Jim.

The new version has Jim tied between a truck and a trailer. And it's Grace who finally puts an end to Ryder’s murderous rampage.

07-Apr, Edward Edwards, age 77: convicted American serial killer.

Journalist Naimah Jabali-Nash wrote, “It isn’t often that a child aspires to be a criminal, but for native Ohioan Edward Edwards, it was his goal.” Full article

Edwards wrote an autobiography, Metamorphosis of a Criminal, in which he recounted a time when he was a boy and a nun asked him what he wanted to be when he was older. He said, “Sister, I’m gonna be a crook, and I’m gonna be a good one.”

In 1955, Edwards escaped from a jail in Akron, Ohio and traveled across the country making a living by robbing gas stations. He claimed he never wore a mask because he wanted to be famous. In 1961, he was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitive List, and in 1962 he was captured in Atlanta.

Supposedly, in 1967, a federal prison guard convinced him to turn his life around. He became a motivational speaker with the hope of guiding others to the "straight and narrow path."

Eight years after his memoir was published, Edwards found honest work as a handyman. In 1977, 18-year-old Judith Straub and 21-year-old Bill Lavaco were shot at point-blank range and killed in Ohio. In 1980, two 19-year-old high school sweethearts went missing following a wedding reception. Tim Hack was a farmer who drove a tractor named “The Lonesome Loser.” Kelly Drew had recently graduated from beauty school. Everyone assumed they would marry. No one remembered seeing them past 11 p.m. on that August night. Tim's vehicle was found locked with his wallet inside. Kelly's clothes were found alongside a road. Two months later, their decomposed bodies were discovered in a wooded area about nine miles from the reception hall. Tim had been stabbed to death and Kelly was raped and strangled. For almost three decades their town was haunted by unanswered questions.

In 2009, investigators in Wisconsin were finally given a DNA match connecting Edwards to semen found on Drew's clothing. He was arrested and in April of 2010 he confessed. Two months later, Edwards confessed to the Ohio killings. He was given two life sentences.

By the time 2011 came around, he had confessed to yet another murder that happened in 1996. A three judge panel in Geauga County sentenced him to be executed for the murder of his last victim, Dannie Boy Edwards, age 25. The young man was Edward's foster child who regarded the man as family. As proof of his love, the boy had legally changed his name from Dannie Law Gloeckner to the nickname "Dannie Boy" and adopted Edwards' last name as his own.

As Danny Boys' foster father, Edwards persuaded him to go AWOL from the Army in May 1996 and to return home to Troy Township. Under the ruse of arranging a way to elude the Army, Edwards took Dannie Boy to the woods near the house, where he fired two gunshots at the boy's face. His motive was to collect Dannie Boy's $250,000 insurance.

Skeletal remains, identified as Danny Boy's, were found in a shallow grave by a hunter just behind Troy Cemetery, less than a mile from Edwards' Troy Township home. At the time, Edwards was questioned about Dannie Boy's murder, but no charges were filed.

When he appeared in court, Edwards seemed content, even bored with the proceedings. He repeatedly said he welcomed the death penalty and would not appeal the sentence to die by lethal injection on Aug. 31.

Edwards died of natural causes months sooner than his scheduled execution.

Additional sources: Michael Sangiacomo and

07-Apr, Edward John “E.J.” McGuire, born in 1952: ice hockey coach and director of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. McGuire began as an assistant coach in the National Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984 . . . and that’s exactly where he finished.

In the years between, he worked with the Chicago Blackhawks, took a head coaching job with the Maine Mariners, and spent some time with the Ottawa Senators. After three years in Ottawa, McGuire took his second head coaching position, with the Canadian major juniors and Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm. He led the Storm to the Hamilton Spectacular Trophy, as the team with the highest point total in regular season. He moved back to professional hockey in 1997 with AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and after two playoff appearances, stepped back from coaching to focus on scouting. His last coaching position was an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers, 2001-02.

McGuire was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in December and waged a brave, five-month battle with it before passing in the early morning of April 7th.

On a Tuesday afternoon in Oakville, Ontario, the “entire hockey universe” mourned the loss and celebrated his life as he was laid to rest following a mass at Mary Mother of God Catholic Church. The McGuire family also invited 400-plus guests to a follow-up reception at Le Dome Banquet Hall where a video tribute played and special words were shared.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said: “I think E.J. had four important things in his life—his wife Terry, the girls, and hockey. But as important as hockey was, I know his family always came first.” “People always talk about the game of hockey and how different people are. Well, I think E.J. was emblematic of how good hockey people really are.”

Former coach Mike Keenan: “When I was 1 ½, I lost my young brother…and then the Lord brought a guy around…named E.J.” “I’m honored to have had the opportunity in my life to have had a friend like E.J. He loved his family.” “He’s in good company now. I’m sure he’s up there, with our good friend Roger Neilson and some of the other gang. Peter Zezel is probably asking, ‘Why did you bench me,’ and Pelle Lindbergh is saying, ‘Do you realize the number of times you pulled me?’ But he impacted my career… He was a young brother that I really relied on. I’ll be indebted to him for the rest of my life and I’ll cherish my moments and memories with him.”

Brother-in-law and Buffalo Sabres equipment manager Rip Simonick: “The last thing he said to me was, “Rip, I’ll see you in the OT.”

09-Apr, Orrin Tucker, age 100: bandleader whose orchestra had the 1939 hit, “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” After appearing in the 1975 TV movie, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, he turned a local skating rink into the real thing, offering ballroom dancing and renting it out for other functions. He died in San Gabriel Valley.

09-Apr, Sidney Lumet, age 86: American film director. Lumet preferred the streets of New York to the back lots of Hollywood. And he went after stories of conscience. He once wrote, “While the goal of all movies is to entertain, the kind of film in which I believe, goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.”

His best films not only probed the consequences of prejudice, corruption, and betrayal but also celebrated individual acts of courage: 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, The Verdict, and Network have become American film classics.

09-Apr, Gerald Lawson, age 70: largely self-taught engineer who became a pioneer in electronic video entertainment, creating the first home video game system with interchangeable game cartridges. Lawson lived in Santa Clara and died in Mountain View, California.

In the 1970s, he was director of engineering and marketing for the newly formed video game division of Fairchild Semiconductor. They brought to market a home console that allowed users to play different games contained on removable cartridges. Until then, home video systems could only play games that were built into the machines themselves.

Allan Alcorn, a creator of the granddaddy of video games, Pong, said, “He’s absolutely a pioneer. When you do something for the first time, there is nothing to copy.”

Gerald Anderson Lawson was born in Brooklyn on December 1, 1940 and grew up mostly in Queens. As he stated in an interview in 2009, his first grade teacher changed his life: “I had a picture of George Washington Carver on the wall next to my desk. And she said, ‘This could be you.’”

He felt she influenced the way he thought and he started thinking, “I want to be a scientist. I want to be something.”

“I don’t play video games that often; I really don’t. First of all, most of the games that are out now—I’m appalled by them. Most are concerned with shooting somebody or killing somebody.”

“To me, a game should be something like a skill you develop—if you play this game, you walk away with something of value.”

10-Apr, Bill Brill, age 79: sports editor who lifted the Roanoke Times’ sports section to state and national prominence. Brill was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in late January. Although the prognosis was encouraging, he suffered a series of setbacks. He went into the hospital on March 26th and never returned home. A service took place at Duke’s Scharf Hall, which adjoins Cameron Indoor Stadium, where Brill was a fixture.

Brill had his 1,500 word obituary written, in third person, weeks in advance: After his 1952 graduation from Duke, he was hired “sight-unseen” as sports editor of the Covington Virginian. “The entire paper had four writers. Bill rode a bike and lived with the chief of police. After two weeks, his salary almost doubled, [so] he could afford an apartment with a roommate and a Chevy without a radio.”

He worked in Covington until late 1959, when he went to work for The Roanoke Times, where he stayed until his retirement on his 60th birthday in 1991.

Bill Millsaps, former executive editor and sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, stated “Some sports columnists pass themselves off as experts. When it came to college athletics, especially college basketball, Bill Brill was a real expert.”

He covered the NCAA men’s basketball championship for the first time in 1962 and was at the Final Four for 35 of the next 39 years, when Duke won its third national championship.

He had to deal with how to handle a run-in between then-Indian coach Bobby Knight and a Louisiana State University fan, who Knight reportedly had dumped in a trash can. He had to tell reporters at the Final Four that President Reagan had been shot. He watched as an airplane did a flyover at Lane Stadium in 1989, carrying the banner “Tech Fans - Brill, Must Go.”

Former Roanoke Times reporter Dave Scarangella described Brill as a “cross between Ben Bradlee and Groucho Marx.” Bradlee was the longtime Washington Post editor played by Jason Robards in the movie All the President’s Men. “Brill was a very serious journalist, and yet he enjoyed a laugh even at his own expense, with all points being made with a cigar in his hand or mouth.”

He wrote three books about Duke Basketball after retiring from the newspaper. He’s a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Duke Sports Hall of Fame, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame, and the Christchurch School Hall of Fame.

In Brill's own "third person" words, “Bill kept his readers on the edge of their seats because some days they loved what he wrote and some days they hated what he wrote, but he always wrote what he thought was right at the time.”

12-Apr, Sidney Harman, age 92: philanthropist, polymath and pioneer in high-fidelity sound for homes and cars, and icon of American journalism with his purchase of Newsweek and its merger with the Daily Beast.

Harman’s career took him from the electronics industry to government, to academia, and finally to the Fourth Estate. “An indefatigable reader and thinker who was fascinated by creative geniuses, Harmon founded the Academy for Polymathic Studies at USC. He could recite long passages from Shakespeare, or Abraham Lincoln or Maxwell Anderson, and would often embroider a thought or regale dinner-party guests with an apt quote.”

In November 2010 when he was under siege by critics skeptical of his idea to merge Newsweek with Barry Diller’s Daily Beast, he made use of words that Lincoln used in a speech before Congress in 1862: “The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.”

Harmon wrote his memoir in 2003, titled, Mind Your Own Business.

“During World War II, he joined the Army and put his sound-engineering expertise to work at a top-secret installation in Watertown, N.Y. He helped develop a “sonic deception” project that was used at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and in the Pacific. Various military activities were recorded, then played on powerful PA systems. ‘The object was to persuade sentries at enemy listening posts that a significant activity was underway, coming at them from the direction of the broadcast, while in fact the real action was developing from a different direction.”
(Robin Abcarian /

14-Apr, Walter Breuning, age 114 years and 205 days: an American super centenarian. He was the last known surviving man who was born in 1896. The retired railroader died in Great Falls, Montana, where he lived at the Rainbow Retirement and Assisted Living Center. Breuning was a lifelong cigar smoker, but quit in 1995 when he was 99-years-old, because they’d become too expensive. However, at age 108 he briefly started smoking again, encouraged by gifts of cigars that came as far away as London.

On his 112th birthday he said the secret to a long life is being active. “If you keep your mind busy and keep your body busy, you’re going to be around a long time.”

When he turned 113 he had this to say: “Remember that life’s length is not measured by its hour and days, but by that which we have done therein. A useless life is short if it lasts a century. There are greater and better things in us all, if we would find them out. There will always be in this world—wrongs. No wrong is really successful. The day will come when light and truth and the just and the good shall be victorious and wrong as evil, will be no more forever.”

16-Apr, Harold Volkmer, age 80: American politician from Missouri’s 9th district, Democrat who served 20 years in the House of Representatives. He lived in Hannibal. In the words of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Volkmer was an “energetic blunt-talking lawyer” and “a maverick.” He led the way on a major reorganization of the executive branch of the state government. As the Republican minority leader later recalled, ‘Volkmer was the brains for all of us. He understood the issue of reorganization better than anybody in the Legislature. We all looked to him for leadership, including me. I don’t like to say that, darn it, because he’s a Democrat. But it’s true.”

16-Apr, Trevor Bannister, age 76: British actor best known for his playing the womanizing junior salesman, Mr. Lucas, in the sitcom Are You Being Served? Additional titles include The Dustbinmen, Wyatt’s Watchdogs, Keeping Up Appearances, Gideon’s Way, The Saint, The Tomorrow People, Only on Sundays, and The Avengers. He played a recurring character, the Golf Captain, in Last of the Summer Wine.

Bannister worked mostly in theatre, performing Shakespeare and was a regular in pantomime. His stage credits include Billy Liar and the farce Move Over, Mrs. Markham.

16-Apr, William A. Rusher, age 87: American lawyer, author, activist, speaker, debater, and conservative syndicated columnist. Born in Chicago in 1923, his family had not been especially political; his parents were moderate Republicans and his paternal grandfather had been a socialist. He entered Princeton University at 16. After graduation in 1943 and wartime service with the Army Air Corps, he attended Harvard Law School, where he founded and led the Harvard Young Republicans. In 1955, he came to the attention of William F. Buckley, Jr., editor of the fledgling National Review, when he wrote an essay titled, “Cult of Doubt.”

Books titles by or about Rusher include: If Not Us, Who?, The Rise of the Right, How to Win Arguments More Often Than Not, and The Coming Battle for the Media.

16-Apr, Sol Saks, age 100: Screenwriter who created the iconic TV show Bewitched. Saks came up with the idea of a nose-twitching witch who marries a mortal for the pilot episode titled, “I Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha.” He also wrote a series of radio comedies and TV shows, including I Married Joan and My Favorite Husband. In 1966 he wrote the screenplay for the comedy, Walk Don’t Run.

17-Apr, Mary Robbins, age 78: musician, mother of Tim Robbins, wife of Gil Robbins. She died of a heart arrhythmia 12 days after her husband died. Robbins had successfully battled colon cancer through nutrition and alternative medicine, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in holistic nutrition. She volunteered her services at a clinic near their home.

17-Apr, Michael Sarrazin, age 70: Canadian film and television actor who found fame opposite Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? His filmography includes: Gunfight in Abilene, Journey to Shiloh, The Sweet Ride, Sometimes a Great Notion, Believe in Me, The Pursuit of Happiness, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Groundstar Conspiracy, Harry in Your Pocket, Frankenstein: The True Story, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, Caravans, Deadly Companion, The Seduction, Joshua Then and Now, Captive Hearts, Midnight in Saint Petersburg, The Peacekeeper, The Second Arrival, and The Christmas Choir.

Sarrazin missed an opportunity for a part in Midnight Cowboy.

18-Apr, Mason Rudolph, age 76: American golfer who won five times on the PGA tour. He died in Tuscaloosa. Rudolph won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1950, the Western Amateur and Tennessee State Open in 1956, and played on the 1957 Walker Cup team. He went pro in 1958 and joined the PGA Tour in 1959 and was Rookie of the Year.

In December 1960, Rudolph took part in a controversial match against Sam Snead. Snead decided to deliberately lose the televised match during its final holes after he discovered he had too many golf clubs in his bag on the 12th hole of the match. Too many clubs in his bag would have caused him to be immediately disqualified. After the match was over, Snead said he did not disqualify himself in order to not spoil the show.

18-Apr, William Donald Schaefer, age 89: four term mayor of Baltimore and two term governor of Maryland, his “do-it-now” career changed the face of Baltimore while bringing a new burst of energy to the city he loved.

19-Apr, Elisabeth Sladen, age 63: Liverpool-born star, played Sarah Jane Smith, the Doctor’s assistant in Doctor Who since the 1970s. She joined the cast of Doctor Who in 1973 playing the assistant to Jon Pertwee’s incarnation as the Time Lord. Sladen remained on the BBC show for three and a half seasons, continuing to assist the Doctor in his next incarnation as Tom Baker. She left the show in 1976, but because of her popularity, the character of Sarah Jane was brought back for the new series appearing alongside David Tennant.

19-Apr, Grete Waitz, age 57: Norwegian runner, she won the New York City Marathon in 1978, setting a world best in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds in her first attempt at running the distance. Waitz had never run a marathon; her husband had talked her into trying. After about 18 miles she regretted it. “I was hurting. I was mad. I was angry. I told Jack: ‘Never again.’” She broke the world record three more times: New York in 1979 and 1980, and in London in 1983. She also won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

19-Apr, Pietro Ferrero, age 47: Heir to Nutella fortune, CEO of the Ferrero group. Ferrero died while bicycling on a coastal road during a break from a company meeting in South Africa. A passerby saw him fall off the bike and he was declared dead of a suspected heart attack shortly after an ambulance arrived.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini issued an email statement: “Italy has lost a businessman who embodied the best qualities of our industrial history—the continual search for excellence, creativity, the determination to compete even in difficult moments to defend a brand and make it a symbol.

The Ferroro group includes Kinder Chocolate. “Kinder” is German for children.

Gemstone Connection: In the movie Forrest Gump, Mama always said "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." The chocolate going forward will be "Kinder." Whatever happens in the near-term is intended to create a better world for all the children in the long-term.

19-Apr, Lynn Chandnois, age 86: former Michigan State player and special teams star for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1950s whose average kickoff returns ranks second only to Gale Sayers in NFL history.

20-Apr, Gerard Smith, age 36: bassist with TV on the Radio died of lung cancer. The group had just released its latest album, Nine Types of Light. The band had posted a message on their website in March, “Gerard is fortunate enough to have health insurance and is receiving excellent medical care. Already we have seen dramatic results. Combine that with Gerard’s legendarily willful disposition and it might just be cancer that has a problem.”

20-Apr, Tim Hetherington, age 40: British photojournalist whose documentary, Restrepo, provided an agonizing close-up of the war in Afghanistan. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.

Hetherington attended St. Patrick’s Primary School in Southport, Sefton and went on to attend the Jesuit Stonyhurst College and read Classics and English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Shortly after graduation he received £5,000 from his grandmother’s will and used the money to travel for two years in India, China, and Tibet. The trip made him realize he “wanted to make images,” so he enrolled in a night time photography school and eventually went back to college to study photojournalism.

His first job was that of a trainee at The Big Issue, in London, where he was the sole staff photographer. He spent much of the next decade in West Africa documenting political upheaval and its effects on daily life. In the Second Liberian Civil War he and his colleague James Brabazon were the only foreign journalists living behind rebel lines, which earned them an execution order from then-Liberian President Charles Taylor. He was the photographer for Liberia: An Uncivil War and The Devil Came on Horseback.

Hetherington was killed in the embattled city of Misrata, along with fellow photographer Chris Hondros, in the midst of what has been called “The Arab Spring.”

20-Apr, Tul Bahadur Pun, age 88: recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He later achieved the rank of Honorary Lieutenant. In addition to the Victoria Cross, Pun was awarded 10 other medals, including the Burma Star.

He was refused entrance to the UK by British officials in Nepal as it was claimed he “doesn’t have strong enough ties with the UK” for him to be allowed to settle there. On June 1, 2007, this decision was overturned by Liam Byrne, the British Asylum & Immigration Minister, due to the “exceptional” nature of the case.

Pun was 21 years old and a Rifleman in the 3rd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II. On June 23, 1944 at Mogaung, Burma, they came under attack on the railway bridge. A section of one of the platoons was wiped out with the exception of Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun, his section commander, and one other. The section commander immediately led a charge on the enemy position, but was badly wounded, as was the third man. Rifleman Pun, continued the charge alone in the face of shattering fire. Reaching the enemy position, he killed three of the occupants and put five more to flight, capturing two light machine-guns and much ammunition. He then gave accurate supporting fire, enabling the rest of his platoon to reach their objective.

20-Apr, Madelyn Pugh Davis, age 90: prolific television writer who helped create the sitcom I Love Lucy and was one of the first successful women working in the medium.

“Along with a skeleton staff, including her long-time professional partner, Bob Carroll Jr., she churned out nearly 200 scripts for the series, and helped set a new bar for small-screen hilarity that still resonates today.”

She was the brains behind classic sketches such as "Vitameatavegamin," "the candy factory," and "grape wrestling," that are frequently cited as being among the best moments in television history.

Davis got her start writing scripts for CBS radio, where she met Carroll. The pair created the hit, “My Favorite Husband,” a radio comedy about a whacky housewife and her frequently bewildered husband. Lucille Ball played the wife.

Along with fellow writer Jess Oppenheimer, they were given the task of converting the radio program into a show for CBS television, and for adapting the husband role for Ball’s real-life spouse, Desi Arnez. The show debuted on Oct 15, 1951 and was an immediate sensation.

In 2005, Davis wrote a memoir called Laughing with Lucy.

21-Apr, Jess Stonestreet Jackson Jr, age 81: California vintner and prominent thoroughbred owner. Jackson built a multi-million-dollar empire on chardonnay with his popular Kendall Jackson brand before moving into the racehorse business with his Stonestreet Stable.

22-Apr, Hazel Dickens, age 75: American bluegrass singer, songwriter, double bassist, and guitarist. She was the eighth child of an eleven child mining family in West Virginia. Her music is characterized not only by her high, lonesome singing style, but also by her provocative pro-union, feminist songs.

Dickens was born in Mercer County, West Virginia. She met Mike Seeger, younger half-brother of Pete Seeger and founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers and became active in the folk music scene during the 1960s. She also established a collaborative relationship with Mike Seeger’s wife, Alice Gerrard, and as “Hazel & Alice” recorded two albums: "Who’s That Knocking," "Strange Creek Singers," and "Won’t You Come and Sing for Me." Dickens and Gerrard were bluegrass bandleaders at a time when the vast majority of bluegrass bands were led by men.

Going solo, Dickens recorded the albums "Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People," "By the Sweat of My Brow," "It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song," and "A Few Old Memories."

Additional Compilations: "Rounder Old-Time Music," "Mountain Music Played on the Autoharp," "American Banjo: Three-Finger and Scruggs Style," "Don't Mourn—Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill," "Blue Ribbon Bluegrass," "The Old Home Place: Bluegrass," and "Old-Time Mountain Music."

Live Recordings 1956–1969: "Off the Record Volume 1," and "Old-Time Music on the Air, V. 1," "Hills of Home: 25 Years of Folk Music," "Hand-Picked: 25 Years of Bluegrass," "Songs of the Louvin Brothers," "They'll Never Keep Us Down: Women's Coal Mining Songs" – Re-issued under the title: "Coal Mining Women," "Blue Trail of Sorrow," "There Is No Eye: Music for Photographs," "Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways," "Bluegrass Mountain Style: Over 60 Minutes of Classic Bluegrass," "Mama's Hand: Bluegrass and Mountain Songs about Mother," "Classic Bluegrass from Smithsonian Folkways," "Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time Music," " Classic Bluegrass Vol. 2," "Harlan County USA: Songs of the Coal Miner's Struggle,"
"Classic Labor Songs," and "Masters of Old-time Country Autoharp."

23-Apr, Norio Ohga, age 81: former chairman of Sony Corp. His experience as a vocalist in college fueled an interest in compact disc technology. Ohga met Sony founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita while he was a student at Tokyo University. He began as an advisor, helping to test audio equipment and joined the company full-time in 1959. He pushed for a format that allowed 75 minutes of uninterrupted playing time, establishing a CD format that is still in use today. Sony sold the world’s first CD in 1982, the same year Ohga became the company’s president. With his promotion to CEO, he was instrumental in the development of PlayStation in 1994 and also expanded the company’s portfolio, putting Sony in both the record and motion-picture businesses. He led the purchase of CBS Records Group from Columbia Broadcasting Group and Columbia Pictures Entertainment from the Coca-Cola Company the following year. In 1994 he succeeded co-founder Akio Morita as chairman. In 2000 he semi-retired, though remained Chairman of the Board until 2003, at which time he retired from the board and became Honorary Chairman. In his final years, he developed a driving ambition to conduct great orchestras.

24-Apr, Marie-France Pisier, age 66: French actress who shot to fame and became recognizable as a star of the New Wave era. She received two best supporting actress honors at the prestigious Cesar awards for her work in Cousin, Cousine and Barocco. Her other notable films include the 1982 comedy L’as des as and the romantic thriller The Other Side of Midnight.

Pisier was found dead in the swimming pool at her home in the south of France.

25-Apr, Poly Styrene, age 53: Poly Styrene was the stage name for Marianne Joan Elliot-Said, a British musician, songwriter, and singer most notably in the pioneering punk rock band X-Ray Spex.

Born in 1957 in the London suburb of Bromley, her "quiet corner with a rock ‘n’ roll streak" was also the childhood home of David Bowie, Billy Idol, and Siouxsie Sioux. As a teenager, Marianne was a "barefoot hippie." At age 15, she ran away from home with £3 in her pocket, and hitchhiked from one music festival to another, staying at hippie squatting crash pads. She thought of this as a challenge to survive. The adventure ended when she stepped on a rusty nail while bathing in a stream and had to be treated for Septicemia.

After watching a very early gig by the Sex Pistols in an empty hall on Hastings Pier, playing a set of cover songs, she was so inspired that she put an ad in the paper for ‘young punx who want to stick it together’ to form a band. X-Ray Spex released just one album in 1978, called “Germ Free Adolescents.” But its catchy phrase, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!’ became an enduring punk anthem.

Styrene released several solo albums, the most recent, “Generation Indigo,” a month before her death. In an interview with the BBC, she said she would like to be remembered for something spiritual.

25-Apr, Joe Perry, age 84: Hall of Fame fullback for the San-Francisco-49ers. Perry was the first player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He was nicknamed “The Jet” for his sensational speed.

He was also a World War II veteran.

John York, 49ers owner issued the following statement: “He was a dear friend to my family and me and to the entire 49ers organization. He was also an intricate part of our rich history. A truly remarkable man both on and off the field, Joe has a lasting impact on the game of football and was an inspirational man to the generations of players that followed him.”

Perry was a member of “The Million Dollar Backfield,” featuring four future Hall of Famers—Perry, Hugh McElhenny, John Henry Johnson, and Y.A. Tittle. For three seasons they formed the fearsome foursome.

26-Apr, Madame Nhu, age 87: named Tran Le Xuan, or “Beautiful Spring” by her parents at birth. She became the official hostess to the unmarried president of South Vietnam—her brother-in-law—and was formally known as Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu.

To American journalists, diplomats, and soldiers caught up in the intrigues of Saigon in the early 1960s, she was “the Dragon Lady,” a symbol of everything that was wrong with the American effort to save her country from Communism.

26-Apr, Phoebe Snow, age 60: described by The New York Times as a “contralto grounded in a bluesy growl and capable of sweeping over four octaves.” In 1975 she had a chart-topping hit with “Poetry Man” and then largely dropped out of the spotlight to care for her disabled daughter. Valerie was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain cavity that inhibits brain development. She was not expected to live more than a few years, but died in 2007 at the age of 31.

Snow was born Phoebe Ann Laub to white Jewish parents in New York City in 1950. Her father, Merrill, was an exterminator by trade but had encyclopedic knowledge of American film and theatre and was an avid collector and restorer of antiques. Her mother, Lili, was a dance teacher who had performed with the Martha Graham group.

She took her stage name from a fictional advertising character created in the early 1900s for the Delaware, Lakawanna, and Western Railroad. Like the name "August Rush" appeared on the side of a truck, "Phoebe Snow" was a young woman who appeared on the side of boxcars.

She was discovered in a club called The Bitter End by Denny Cordell, a promotions executive for Shelter Records. Following a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, she made the cover of Rolling Stone and began performing as the opening act for tours by Jackson Browne and Paul Simon. With Simon she recorded the gospel-tinged duet and hit single, “Gone at Last” which appeared on his album "Still Crazy After All These Years."

After legal battles with Shelter Records, Snow moved to Columbia Records and recorded her second album, "Second Childhood" in 1976, followed by "Never Letting Go" in 1977, and "Against the Grain" in 1978.

In 1981, now with Mirage Records, she released "Rock Away."

In 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide summed up Snow’s career by saying, “One of the most gifted voices of her generation, Phoebe Snow can do just about anything stylistically as well as technically. The question that’s still unanswered is how best to channel such talent.”

During the 1980s she also battled her own life-threatening illness. Snow returned to recording with "Something Real" in 1989 and gathered a few more hits on the Adult Contemporary charts. She also composed Detroit's WDIV-TV "Go 4 It!" campaign in 1980. She sang "Ancient Places, Sacred Lands," composed by Steve Horelick, on Reading Rainbow's tenth episode called "The Gift of the Sacred Dog." Based on the book by Paul Goble and narrated by actor Michael Ansara, the show was shot at Crow Agency, Montana, in 1983.

Snow performed in 1989 on stage at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City as part of "Our Common Future," a five hour live television broadcast originating from several countries.

On January 19, 2010, she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and slipped into a coma, enduring bouts of blood clots, pneumonia, and congestive heart failure.

Snow died in Edison, New Jersey.

26-Apr, Alice Ward, age 79: the real-life mom of boxing champ Micky Ward, captured in one of the main characters in this year’s Oscar-winning film, The Fighter. In January, she suffered a heart attack and stroke and was pronounced dead for 45 minutes, only to regain consciousness and start breathing again on her own.

Ward was played by Melissa Leo, who won an Oscar for her performance. In preparation of the movie, Leo met with Ward multiple times. She said, “It was mystical meeting Alice. My grandmother had passed just a couple years before, and there were echoes of her in the room suddenly.” (

27-Apr, Rev David Wilkerson, age 79: founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and author of the best-selling book, The Cross and the Switchblade. He also founded Teen Challenge, which uses a biblically based recovery program for alcohol and drug addition.

Wilkerson’s car smashed head-on into a tractor-trailer rig after veering into another lane.

27-Apr, Marian Mercer, age 75: American stage and television actress. Mercer won a Tony Award for her performance in Promises, Promises and won praise for the 1978 revival of Stop the World I Want to Get Off.

She made numerous television appearances in a career spanning five decades, including the ABC comedy It’s a Living, St. Elsewhere, Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, Love American Style, and The Sandy Duncan Show.

She died of Alzheimer’s disease in the Newbury Park area of Thousand Oaks.

28–Apr, William Campbell, age 84: American actor who appeared in supporting roles in major films and also starred in several low-budget B-movies, including two cult horror films.

Campbell’s movie career began in 1950 with a small part in John Garfield’s film, The Breaking Point. He later appeared in William Wellman’s The High and the Mighty, and won his first starring role in Cell 2455 Death Row, loosely based on the true story of Caryl Chessman who staunchly proclaimed his innocence and obtained numerous reprieves, but was finally executed. His powerful performance was noticed by critics, but did little for his career. He returned to support roles to lead actors and was the first person to sing onscreen with Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender. In 1958 he was in the film version of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead as well as the short-lived television series Cannonball.

His additional credits include: Man in the Vault, The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw, Dementia 13, The Secret Invasion, Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte, Blood Bath, and Pretty Maids All in a Row.

01-May, Henry Cooper, age 76: British heavyweight boxer best known for flooring Muhammad Ali, then named Cassius Clay, in a fight in 1963 at Wembley Stadium. Ali ultimately won the bout and another fight against Cooper for the heavyweight belt in 1966. Known in Britain as “Our ‘Enry,’” Cooper was knighted in 2000. He died at his son’s house in Surrey, two days before his 77th birthday.

WBA heavyweight champion David Haye tweeted, “A true warrior & great human being!!!! RIP Sir Henry!!!!”

03-May, Jackie Cooper, age 88: American actor, television director, producer, and executive; he was a child actor who managed to make the transition to an adult career. And sandwiched in between, he served in the United States Navy in the South Pacific toward the end of World War II. Then “quietly and without publicity or fanfare, he compiled one of the most distinguished peacetime military careers of anyone in his profession. Cooper was nicknamed “America’s Boy”.

Cooper had two bit parts in feature films when his director, David Butler, recommended him to Leo McCarey, who then arranged an audition for the Our Gang comedy series. He joined the series in the short “Boxing Gloves,” as a supporting character but had done so well in the transition to sound films that he became one of the Gang’s major characters. He was the main character in the episodes "The First Seven Years" and "When the Wind Blows." His most notable appearances explored his crush on Miss Crabtree—the school teacher played by June Marlow—in the trilogy of shorts "Teacher’s Pet," "School’s Out," and "Love Business."

The movie Skippy—for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor—catapulted him to stardom. His contract was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1931 and he began a long on-screen relationship with actor Wallace Beery in such films as The Champ, The Bowery, Choices of Andy Purcell, Treasure Island, and O’Shaughnessy’s Boy.

Cooper served in World War II. In 1961, as his weekly TV series Hennesey was enhancing naval recruiting efforts, he accepted a commission as a line officer in the Naval Reserve with duties in recruitment, training films and public relations. Holder of a multi-engine pilot license, he later co-piloted jet planes for the Navy, which made him an Honorary Aviator authorized to wear wings of gold. At the time, only a third was similarly honored in naval aviation history.

By 1976, he had attained the rank of Captain, and was in uniform aboard the carrier USS Constellation for the Bicentennial celebration on July 4th. In 1980, the Navy proposed a period of active duty at the Pentagon which would have resulted in a promotion to Rear Admiral, bringing him even with Air Force Reserve Brigadier General.

Fresh on the heels of a second directing Emmy, he felt his absence would impact achieving a long-held goal of directing motion pictures, and reluctantly declined. (The opportunity in films never materialized.) Cooper holds Letters of Commendation from six Secretaries of the Navy, was honorary chairman of the US Navy Memorial Foundation, and a charter member of VIVA—the effort to return POW-MIAs from Vietnam.

Upon retirement in 1982, he was decorated with the Legion of Merit by Navy Secretary John F. Lehman Jr. Other than Stewart, no performer in his industry has achieved a higher uniformed rank in the US military.

Cooper found renewed fame in the 1970s and 1980s as "Daily Planet" editor Perry White in the Superman film series starring Christopher Reeve. In the commentary track for Superman, director Richard Donner reveals that Cooper got the role because he had a passport, and thus was able to be on set in a few hours, after Keenan Wynn, who was originally cast, suffered a heart attack.

Cooper's final film role was as Ace Morgan in the 1987 film Surrender.

In 1976, he shared, "Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I'll hear a voice that sounds familiar . . . my wife has fallen asleep with the tube on, and I'll finally start recognizing the dialogue, look up, and Jesus Christ, it's me at 14, or 12, or 9, or whatever. Sometimes I'll sit there and watch it and I can tell myself what's coming next . . . . I remember the dialogue, the scene and the set very well, and then there'll be a part of the picture I never remembered at all. Because there were times as a kid, as a teenager especially, when I'd be terribly occupied with what I was doing—with my boat, or on a circuit of rodeos and horseshoes, or with my car—very often on some of this stuff when I'd have to go to work. I'd just give the script a cursory glance. I had no training, and I was a quick study, so nobody knew how involved or not involved I was. But I look at that stuff now and I can see I wasn't involved, and I wasn't very good."

3-May, Yvette Vickers, age 82: American actress, pin-up model, and singer. While a student at UCLA she was discovered by the advertising industry and began making commercials. She moved to New York City to become the White Rain Girl but decided to return to California in order to enter the film industry. Her first movie appearance was as Yvette Vedder (her birth name) in Sunset Boulevard in 1950. The role was uncredited. She made her first movie appearance under her own name in Short Cut to Hell in 1957 before appearing in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman as Honey Parker. The next year she played the role of Liz Walker in Attack of the Giant Leeches, a movie she later watched from a seat in the audience with her Broadway cast-mates in The Gang’s All Here.

From 1962 onward, she had small parts in films, including a small role in Hud, the version in which the old cattle farmer does decide to destroy his herd. Her last role was in Evil Spirits, a 1991 horror film.

Vicker’s death had gone undetected. Her neighbors became concerned after noticing a large pile of yellowing mail in her mailbox as well as spider webs across her front door. Her body was found inside her Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, home on April 27, 2011. The exact date of her death is unknown. Authorities indicated, however, that the mummified state of her body suggested Vickers could have been dead for nearly a year The Los Angeles County coroner's department confirmed that Vickers had died from heart failure.

04-May, Mary Murphy, age 80: American actress best known as the innocent girl in a town terrorized by a biker gang.

Murphy was a package wrapper at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills when she was discovered in a nearby coffee shop by a Paramount Pictures talent scout that landed her opposite Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

She had several roles in 1950s movies, including The Desperate Hours, Beachhead, A Man Alone, Sitting Bull, and The Mad Magician.

04-May, Claude Stanley Choules, age 110: last known combat veteran from World War I was defiant of the tolls of time, a centenarian who swam in the sea, twirled across dance floors, and published his first book, The Last of the Last, at age 108.

Choules was born March 3, 1901, in the small British town of Pershore, Worcestershire, one of seven children. As a child, he was told his mother had died, but it was a lie meant to cover a more painful truth. She had left when he was 5 to pursue an acting career.

In a March 2010 interview with the AP, his daughter, Anne Pow, spoke of how the abandonment affected him profoundly. He grew up determined to create a happy home for his own children. “His family was the most important thing in his life. It was a good way to grow up, you know. Very reassuring."

World War I was raging when Choules began training with the British Royal Navy, just one month after he turned 14. In 1917, he joined the battleship HMS Revenge, from which he watched the 1918 surrender of the German High Seas Fleet, the main battle fleet of the German Navy during the war.

"There was no sign of fight left in the Germans as they came out of the mist at about 10 a.m.," Choules wrote in his autobiography. The German flag, he recalled, was hauled down at sunset.

"So ended the most momentous day in the annals of naval warfare," he wrote. "A fleet of ships surrendered without firing a shot."

Choules and another Briton, Florence Green, became the war's last known surviving service members after the death of American Frank Buckles in February, according to the Order of the First World War, a U.S.-based group that tracks veterans. Choules was the last known surviving combatant of the war. Green, who turned 110 in February, was a waitress in the Women's Royal Air Force.

Choules met his wife, Ethel Wildgoose, in 1926 on the first day of a six-week boat trip from England to Australia, where he had been dispatched to serve as a naval instructor at Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria state. Ten months later, they were married.

"His career has spanned some of the most significant events in maritime history," Royal Australian Navy Captain Brett Wolski said in a statement Thursday.

But despite the fame his military service (and longevity) brought him, Choules later in life became a pacifist who was uncomfortable with anything that glorified war. "He didn't believe in war," Edinger said.

After his retirement, he and Ethel bought a beach house south of Perth and spent the next 10 years catching crayfish, relishing the peaceful moments at the end of their days when they would have tea aboard their boat.

He usually told the curious that the secret to a long life was simply to "keep breathing." Sometimes, he chalked up his longevity to cod liver oil. But his children say in his heart, he believed it was the love of his family that kept him going for so many years.

Still, aging took its toll, and in recent years, he grew blind and nearly deaf. Despite that, his children say he retained his cheerful spirit and positive outlook on life.

"I had a pretty poor start," he told ABC in November 2009. "But I had a good finish."

05-May, Dana Wynter, age 79: German born British actress best known for her role as Becky Driscoll in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Born in Berlin, Germany, to a noted British surgeon, Dr. Peter Winter, and a Hungarian mother, Jutta Oarda, Wynter was named Dagmar Winter at birth. She grew up in England, but moved to Southern Rhodesia at age 16 with her father who'd fallen in love with the land upon visiting it following a trip to operate on a woman in Morocco. Wynter enrolled in South Africa’s Rhodes University, becoming the only female student in a class of 50. While there, she dabbled in theatre, playing the blind girl in Through the Glass Darkly. Once hoping to follow her father's footsteps and become a doctor, she changed her path and pursued acting intead.

Her film name, Dana, is pronounced “Donna.”

Wynter's career began with uncredited roles in British films such as Lady Godiva Rides Again. She was appearing in the play Hammersmith when an American agent told her he wanted to represent her. She was again uncredited as Morgan Le Fay’s servant in the MGM film, Knights of the Round Table.

On November 5, 1953, she left London for New York. It was Guy Fawkes Day, a day commemorating a failed attempt in 1605 to blow up the Parliament building. She later told an interviewer, “There were all sorts of fireworks going off and I couldn’t help thinking it was a fitting send-off for my departure to the New World.”

Among her film credits are The Man Who Never Was, Cannon, Suspense, Shake Hands with the Devil, and Sink the Bismarck.

Wynter divided her time between her homes in California and Glendalough County, Wicklow Ireland. In the late 1980s, she authored the column "Grassroots" for the newspaper The Guardian in London. Writing in both California and Ireland, her works concentrated mainly on life in both locations leading her to use the titles "Irish Eyes" and "California Eyes" for a number of her publications.

05-May, Arthur Laurents, age 93: award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director. Born in Brooklyn, Laurents wrote training films during World War II, as well as scripts for such radio programs as “Army Service Forces Present” and “Assignment Home.” He transitioned to playwriting after the war, finding his first success with 1945’s Home of the Brave. His first major hits were West Side Story (1957) which transformed Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet into musical theatre and Gypsy (1959), based on the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her domineering stage mother Rose.

Gypsy has been successfully revived four times on Broadway. Laurents directed Angela Lansbury as Rose in 1974 and Tyne Daly in 1989. Bernadette Peters starred in the 2003 production. In 2008, Laurents returned as director with Patti LuPone as Rose, for which she won a Tony.

In 2009, he directed a revised version of West Side Story, giving it a new dose of realism by having much of the dialogue in Spanish.

His credits as a stage director also include I Can Get It For You Wholesale, which introduced 19-year-old Barbra Streisand to Broadway in 1962, and La Cage Aux Folles for which he won the Tony for Best Direction in 1983.

In film, Laurents wrote the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rope, which starred his then-lover Farley Granger, as well as the films Anastasia, Bonjour tristesse, The Way We Were, and The Turning Point, which was nominated for Best Picture in 1977.

07-May, John Walker, age 67: American born singer, front man for The Walker Brothers, one of the most successful bands of Britain's Golden Age of rock 'n' roll, that produced 1960s hits, "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," "Love Her," "Make it Easy on Yourself," and "My Ship is Comin' In."

While the Beatles and other British groups were part of the so-called British invasion of America, Walker moved from the United States to England instead.

John Maus was born in New York City and moved to California with his family as a child. By the age of 11, he had begun acting and appearing in talent shows. He had a role in the sitcom Hello Mom and small uncredited parts in the movies The Eddy Duncan Story and The Missouri Traveler.

At age 17, he began using the name John Walker so he could get a fake ID, allowing him to perform in nightclubs as he was otherwise too young to gain entry. His band mates also adopted Walker as their surname, hence the name The Walker Brothers, though in reality they weren't brothers.

The band appeared on several British television shows, including Ready, Steady, Go.

Walker began playing the guitar at age 14 and was playing professionally in the 1950s. By the 1960s he was a regular at popular Hollywood clubs like Pandora's Box on the Sunset Strip. His first solo record, “What a Thrill” / “Beginning of the End,” included The Blossoms as backing singers.

In the 1980s, he returned home to the United States.

07-May, Sada Thompson, age 83: Tony and Emmy winning actress known for her portrayal of archetypal mothers. Thompson has been seen as the loving family caretaker, the world-weary mother, the had-it-with-the-kids older woman, the brutalizing harridan, and the mythical adulteress and murderess.

She became a star in New York because of her work in Off Broadway productions in the 1950s.

When she did perform on Broadway, she made an impression. In 1972 she won a Tony for playing four separate parts—three daughters and their aged mother—in four vignettes of George Furth’s Twigs. She returned to Broadway twice. In Edward Albee’s American Dream she played the character known as Mommy and in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days she was Winnie, a woman facing inevitable doom who spends her first act buried up to her waist and the second act buried up to her neck.

After Twigs Thompson worked mostly in movies and television, playing Mrs. Gibb in Our Town and Kate Lawrence, the matriarch in Family which dealt with issues like marital problems, gay friends, and mothers who are overheard saying sometimes they wish they hadn’t had a particular child in straightforward manner.

Thompson discovered the power of storytelling when her mother took her to the movie, The Man Who Played God. She turned toward acting when her parents took her to the Cole Porter musical, Red, Hot, and Blue.

“That was it. To me it was total enchantment. I had to be part of it,” she recalled in 1971.

“I’d miss not being able to tell a story every night. That really thrills me, that is the greatest! Thousands of years ago, when some caveman told his family about the fight he had that day with a dinosaur, and in the telling, became the dinosaur, and became himself in the fight—well, there’s your first actor.”

07-May, Ross Hagen, age 72: American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. Hagen portrayed a safari photographer in the television series, Daktari. He also had roles in The Virginian, and The Big Valley.

His film credits include The Sidehackers, The Hellcats, Reel Horror, The Media Madman, Time Wars, and The Road West. His last film was Red Dead Redemption.

07-May, Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros, age 54: Spanish golf legend, two-time Masters champion, three-time winner of the British Open. Ballesteros is described as a handsome figure who feared no shot and often played where no golfer had ever been.

George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour left a message on their website: “This is such a very sad day for all who love golf. Seve’s unique legacy must be the inspiration he has given to so many to watch, support, and play golf, and finally to fight a cruel illness with equal flair, passion, and fierce determination. We have all been so blessed to live in his era. He was the inspiration behind the European tour.”

“He did for European golf what Tiger Woods did for worldwide golf. The European Tour would not be where it is today if not for Seve Ballesteros,” said Nick Price from Champions Tour event in Alabama.

Seve was a genius with imagination, who made others believe.
(Madrid AP/

08-May, Gabriel Ben-Meir, age 30: MTV music coordinator for such shows as Parental Control and Dudesons in America. He had also worked as a production coordinator for Punk’d and The Hard Times of RJ Berger.

Ben-Meir was shot in the back of his head, execution style, walking from his car to his apartment sometime after midnight. His body wasn’t discovered until 6:30 the following morning.

09-May, Wouter Weylandt, age 26: Belgian cyclist died in a high-speed downhill crash at the Giro d’Italia after his pedal got stuck in a wall on the side of the road and sent him tumbling 66 feet to the ground below.

Wouter Weylandt (pronounced WOW-tehrk WAY-lahnt) rode for Leopard-Trek.

09-May, Frank Kolinsky, age 76: former Tennessee Vols tackle on the 1955-57 football team, the Pennsylvania native died suddenly Monday morning at St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville.

Kolinsky, who grew up in McKees-Rocks, signed a football scholarship in 1953 without ever seeing the campus. His main drive was to get his bachelor's degree, which he did in the College of Education.

A three-year letterman, Kolinsky was the starting right tackle on the 1957 squad that defeated Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl. He also saw considerable action as a member of the 1956 SEC Championship team that finished 10-1 and was ranked second in the final Associated Press poll.

Drafted in 1958 by the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers in the 22nd round with the 329th overall pick, Kolinsky instead coached high school football for two years in Lebanon, Tennessee. He then began a career in industrial sales, working nearly 17 years for the General Telephone & Electronics Corp. (GTE).

For the last 30 years, while serving as executive director of the E.M. Jellinek Center in Knoxville, Kolinsky devoted a large portion of his life to helping others with substance abuse problems. An active community leader, Kolinsky was given a 2001 service award by the UT Lettermen's T-Club.

Kolinsky maintained a residence in Knoxville but took great pride and spent considerable time on his farm near Lebanon.

Funeral mass was held at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 414 W. Vine Ave., Knoxville, beginning at 2 p.m.

09-May, Dolores Fuller, age 88: American actress and songwriter best known as the one-time girlfriend of low-budget film director Ed Wood. She played the protagonist’s girlfriend in Glen or Glenda and co-starred in Wood’s Jail Bait. She had a minor role in Bride of the Monster after her lead was given to another actress.

Fuller’s first screen appearance was at age 10, in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night. Other movies include Body Beautiful, The Blue Gardenia, Count the Hours, Mesa of Lost Women, College Capers, The Raid, This is My Love, The Opposite Sex, The Ironbound Vampire, and Dimensions in Fear.

Fuller had already had earlier experience on television in Queen for a Day and The Dinah Shore Show. As Fuller remembered, she was the one "putting bread on the table." She lost her job on The Dinah Shore Show when, as she said, "We were shooting all night, and into the next day, and time just got away from me, and I didn't realize that I was supposed to be on the set working as Dinah's double on her show, Chevy Theatre. I completely messed up my job, I was what they called a no show."

Her ability as a songwriter manifested itself through the intervention of her friend, Hal Wallis. She wanted to get a role in the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii, which Wallis was producing. He instead put her in touch with the publisher that provided Presley with songs. She entered a collaborative partnership with Ben Weisman, co-writing Rock-A-Hula Baby for the film.

It was the beginning of a new path. Fuller transitioned into songwriting, contributing multiple tunes for Elvis Presley movies: “Barefoot Ballad" (from the film Kissin' Cousins, 1964),"Beyond the Bend" (from the film It Happened at the World's Fair, 1963), "Big Love, Big Heartache" (from the film Roustabout, 1964),"Cindy, Cindy" (Love Letters from Elvis, 1971 studio album), "Do the Clam" (from the film Girl Happy, 1965),"Have A Happy" (from the film Change of Habit, 1969), "I Got Lucky" (from the film Kid Galahad, 1962), "I'll Take Love" (from the film Easy Come, Easy Go, 1967), "Rock-a-Hula, Baby" (from the film Blue Hawaii, 1961), "Spinout" (from the film Spinout, 1966), "Steppin' Out of Line" (unused track from the Blue Hawaii sessions, first released on 1962 album Pot Luck), "You Can't Say No In Acapulco" (from the film Fun in Acapulco, 1963)

Other songs co-written by her include “I'll Touch a Star” performed by Terry Stafford, "Lost Summer Love" recorded by Shelley Fabares and, "Someone to Tell It To" by Nat King Cole.

When asked about her life before she became successful, she said “I bettered myself. I had to uplift myself.”

10-May, Mia Amber Davis, age 36: model/actress, rose to fame as one of the first black full-figured models and branched out into acting in the year 2000. She appeared in Road Trip and went on to appear as the uncredited stand-in for Queen Latifah in the TV movie Life Support and the romantic comedy The Perfect Holiday.

10-May, Burt Reinhardt, age 91: former president of CNN; a pioneer who led the evolution of 24 hour news reporting.

Cable New Network founder, Ted Turner said: “We both wanted to run a great news organization. He just did a masterful job. He got the stories covered, but he did it within the budget.” “I’m not sure CNN would be here without him. He was an integral part of getting the whole operation going and keeping it going. He ran it close to 20 years.”

Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, who Reinhardt hired as a producer-reporter in New York after she pleaded her case: “He was a leader who made the trains run on time. He had a steely demeanor, but had a heart of gold. “

Nephew, Harlan Reinhardt: “I tell people that in my opinion, he’s probably the most important and powerful news executive you’ve never heard of.”

President of CNN Worldwide, Jim Walton: “And behind the scenes, this man has integrity and he’s very competitive, but he wants to do things the right way. He’s fair, but firm and he treated everyone with respect.”

Burton Reinhardt filmed U.S. Army Signal Corps combat footage during World War II, including Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s historic return to the Philippines. He later served as news editor for Fox Movietone News and was vice president for United Press International Television News and executive vice president at Paramount Picture, where he nurtured the development of home video. (

11-May, Robert “Tractor” Traylor, age 34: American professional basketball player. Traylor was named a McDonald’s All-American and helped lead the University of Michigan Wolverines to the 1997 National Invitation Tournament where he was named MVP. During his freshman year he was involved in a car accident with a recruiting prospect that triggered a six-year investigation into the Wolverine’s program, revealing major violations.

Because of it, Michigan withdrew from consideration for the 2003 NCAA tournament, lost scholarships and was placed on probation. The school also vacated the records of every game in which Traylor played from its record book. Traylor had to surrender his MVP award for the 1997 NIT, as well as his MVP award from the 1998 Big Ten Tournament. The high school where he played basketball, voluntarily forfeited its entire 1994-95 season—Traylor’s senior year.

At the time of his death, he was allegedly talking to his wife on the phone and the connection was suddenly lost. He died of an apparent heart attack.

12-May, Aaron Douglas, age 21: Alabama offensive lineman, junior college transfer and onetime Tennessee starter. Douglas transferred to play for the Crimson Tide in January. Coach Nick Saban issued a statement, “It’s a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family. Aaron was a part of our family and always will be a part of our family at Alabama. He was an outstanding young man and we were excited about what he had accomplished as a player and a person in the short time he was with us.”

Alabama lineman Barrett Jones, who had known Douglas since the recruiting process in high school, said “He was a really hard worker that was having a positive impact on our football team.”

In December, before he arrived at Alabama, Douglas was charged with a DUI over the holiday break and pleaded guilty to the charges and served a 48-hour jail sentence.

His Arizona coach, Tom Minnick, said Douglas’ parents came to the games and remarked on their son’s maturation. “They praised us and said, ‘Coach, he wasn’t like this when he was down there (in Tennessee). He’s grown up. He’s going to school and doing what he’s supposed to do.”

Derek Dooley, Tennessee Vol’s coach: “No one can understand the pain that a family must endure after the loss of a child.”

12-May, Daryl Hawks, age 38: TV sports anchor for WMAQ-TV in Chicago. Hawks was in Atlanta to cover the Chicago Bulls – Atlanta Hawks NBA playoff series and was staying at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center, which is next to Philips Arena where the teams were scheduled to play Game 6 on Thursday night.

Hotel employees found him in his room at 9:30am – he had missed a wakeup call.

13-May, Ron Springs, age 54: former Dallas Cowboys running back. Springs spent the past four years in a coma after losing oxygen during a 2007 operation; he died without ever regaining consciousness.

Springs had suffered from diabetes for 20 years. The disease not only caused kidney failure, it also led to the amputation of his right foot and the big and middle toes on his left foot. His hands had curled into knots. He was forced into a wheelchair and needed dialysis three times a week before receiving a kidney transplant. Seven months after the transplant, he returned to the hospital to have a cyst removed from his forearm and it was during this surgery that he lapsed into the coma.

Despite the lengthy coma, his death came as a surprise. Former teammate, Everson Walls, who had donated the kidney said, “We are people of faith, and we never gave up [hope] that he would regain consciousness. He seemed to be holding his own. They say he just took a breath and he flat-lined. He was such a worldly person who touched so many lives in every area code.”

In 2008, Spring’s wife filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against two doctors she says caused brain damage to her husband during the cyst surgery. (

13-May, Derek Leendert Boogaard, age28: Canadian professional ice hockey left winger, played for the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers. Known primarily as a fighter and enforcer, his nicknames include “Boogeyman” and “Mountie.” He was voted the second most intimidating player in the NHL.

On December 9, 2010, in a game against the Ottawa Senators, he suffered a concussion in a fight and never recovered sufficiently to play. His was found dead in his apartment on May 13th from an apparent accidental overdose after mixing alcohol and oxycodone.

A few years ago, Boogaard’s knockout of a fellow enforcer in a fight during a game with the Anaheim Ducks helped spark debate over punishment for fighting in the NHL. Boogaard had delivered a brutal punch to the cheek sending Todd Fedoruk to the ice; Fedoruk had to undergo reconstructive surgery using titanium plates to repair his shattered face bones. The two players became teammates in Minnesota during the 2007-08 season. In another ice encounter, Boogaard knocked out the Mighty Ducks’ enforcer with an uppercut to the jaw.

Boogaard supported the Defending the Blue Line Foundation, a nonprofit that ensures children of military personnel get the opportunity to play hockey. While with the Rangers, he also created “Boogaard’s Booguardians” which hosted military families at home games.

He and his brother, also a hockey player, held a Fighting Camp in Regina, Saskatchewan, for children aged 12 to 18. The Boogaard brothers stated they were teaching the youngsters how NOT to get hurt in a fight. Others vocally opposed the camp, saying it encouraged the young players TO fight.

15-May, Murray Handwerker, age 89: the man who helped turn his father’s Coney Island, N.Y. hot dog stand into a nationally recognized chain, died in his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Handwerker, “who was just a child when his father Nathan, opened his frankfurter business, went to work on all aspects of the business and eventually led its transformation into a hot dog powerhouse. He opened new locations, offered franchises, put products in supermarkets, and took the company public.” (Matt Sedensky / AP)

15-May, Barbara Stuart (née McNeese), age 81: American actress born in Paris, Illinois. Stuart’s first television role was in I Led Three Lives. She played “Miss Bunny,” the girlfriend of Sergeant Vincent Carter in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and also had roles in The Queen and I, Our Family Honor, The Lawless Years, and Pete and Gladys.

In 1967 she appeared in the episode “Sister Death” of the series The Iron Horse.

Her film work includes Airplane!, Dreamer, Marine’s Let’s Go, and Hellfighters.

16-May, Edward Hardwicke, age 78: English actor, British TV’s Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes. Born in London, he was the son of actors Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Helena Pickard. He began his film career in Hollywood at age 10 in Victor Fleming’s film A Guy Named Joe. Upon his return to England, he attended Stow School and did military service as a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

In 1964 he joined Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre, appearing in Shakespeare’s Othello, Ibsen’s The Master Builder, and Peter Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun. Additional performances include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Way of the World, The Crucible, The Rules of the Game, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

He also appeared in various films: The Day of the Jackal, The Black Windmill, Richard III, The Scarlet Letter, Shadowlands, Elizabeth, Enigma, The Gathering Storm, and Oliver Twist.

He had a small part in Love Actually as the father attending the funeral of his daughter.

Hardwicke also played the brother of C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands and did voice work for video games, including “Napoleon Total War.”

16-May, Montae "M-Bone" Talbert, age 22: the Cali Swag District rapper was shot while sitting in his vehicle by someone in a red Mustang.

Johnny Firecloud wrote, “The Hip-Hop culture is in a state of disrepair. Every week the river of misfortune stories continues to flow, featuring arrests, murders, and ego wars that contribute to the damnation of the genre and endlessly distract from the art itself."

16-May, Sammy Wanjiru, age 24: Kenyan Olympic marathon champion, died in a fall from a balcony after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman. Stories vary as to whether he committed suicide or was hoping to catch up with his wife who allegedly locked him and the other woman in the bedroom and ran from the property.

Wanjiru has a history of domestic problems. Last December, he was charged with wounding his security guard with a rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid. He denied all charges and was released on bail.

16-May, Douglas Blubaugh, age 76: American wrestler and Olympic champion. Born in Ponco City, Oklahoma, he was a two-time AAU Champion at Oklahoma State University before he made the 1960 Olympic team.

At the games in Rome, he received the gold medal in freestyle welterweight, defeating the five-time world champion Emam-Ali-Habibi. Named World’s Outstanding Wrestler in 1960, he later became the wrestling coach at Indiana University. His son followed in his footsteps as a top high school wrestler.

Blubaugh is described as a tough farm kid who overcame adversity to become the best wrestler in the world. He was riding a motorcycle, heading west on a city street when he was struck by a northbound pickup truck.

17-May, Harmon Killebrew, age 74: MLB Hall of Famer, Minnesota Twins slugger known for his tape-measure home runs. His eight seasons with 40 or more homers is still tied for second in league history to Babe Ruth.

Killebrew announced last December that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. In early May he announced that doctors deemed his cancer incurable and he would no longer fight it. He died peacefully with his family by his side.

19-May, Guantanamo detainee former courier for al Qaeda commits suicide. He once served the same role as the courier's who were killed with Osama bin Laden.

20-May, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, age 58: American professional wrestler and actor known for his time with the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. Savage held twenty championships during his professional wrestling career and is a six-time world champion. WWE named Savage the greatest champion of all time and credited him for bringing “a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances.

Aside from the championships, Savage was the 1987 WWF King of the Ring and the 1995 WCW World War 3 winner.

He was recognizable for his distinctly deep and raspy voice, his ring attire (often comprising sunglasses, a bandanna or head band, flashy robes, and a cowboy hat), intensity exhibited in and out of the ring, and his signature catch phrase, “Ooo yeah!” His style, perfectly punctuated by his entrance music, “Pomp and Circumstance,” was only outshined by his performance in the ring.

Named Randy Mario Poffo at birth, he was born in Columbus, in 1952, to an Italian American father named Angelo and a Jewish mother named Judy. His father was a well-known wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s, who was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for his ability to do sit-ups for hours on end. His younger brother was also a professional wrestler, better known by his ring names “The Genius” and “Leaping Lanny Poffo.” During his middle school years, the family lived in Zanesville.

Savage was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a catcher out of high school and was placed in the minor leagues to develop. He typically played outfielder in the Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox farm systems. He came up with a training exercise whereby he would swing a bat at a hanging car tire in order to strengthen his hands as well as make sure he was using his legs.

He broke into the wrestling business in 1973 during baseball's fall and winter off season. His first wresting character, “The Spider,” was similar to Spider-Man. He took the ring name Randy Savage when he was told that the name Poffo didn’t fit someone who “wrestled like a savage.”

After a while, his father felt that his sons were not getting the pushes they deserved so he started the "outlaw" International Championship Wrestling (ICW) promotion in the mid-American states. Eventually, ICW disbanded and Randy and Lanny entered the Memphis scene, joining Jerry Lawler's Continental Wrestling Association (their former competitors). While there, Savage feuded with Lawler over the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. He also teamed with Lanny to battle The Rock 'n' Roll Express; this feud included a match on June 25, 1984 in Memphis. In the storyline, Savage injured Ricky Morton by pile-driving him through the timekeeper's table, leading to the Express winning by disqualification.

Later in 1984, Savage turned babyface and allied with Lawler against Jimmy Hart's First Family alliance, only to turn heel on Lawler again in early 1985 and resume the feud with him over the title. This ended when Lawler beat Savage in a "Loser Leaves Town" match on June 8 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Savage was cast in the 2002 film Spider-Man as the wrestler Bonesaw McGraw, based on the comics character Crusher Hogan. He also made an appearance as himself in the movie Ready to Rumble and played character Jim Davies in Velcro Revolver. In Disney's 2008 animated film Bolt, he provided the voice of The Thug. It was his last film appearance.

Among his many promotional efforts, he made and distributed a DVD called "Macho Madness – The Randy Savage Ultimate Collection."

Savage died in a one car accident. His 2009 Jeep Wrangler veered across the center median and struck a tree.

Savage had a sardonic side to his personality, which was recalled by former WCW television commentator Mark Madden after Savage's death: "Once, with WCW's entire roster on a charter plane experiencing EXTREME turbulence - a few girls were CRYING, a few guys were SHAKING - Randy broke the tension by saying, 'Just think of the rating the memorial show's gonna draw, boys - OOOH, YEAH!' "

22-May, Joseph Brooks, age 73: American screenwriter, director, producer, and composer. He wrote the song “You Light Up My Life” for the film of the same name, which he also wrote, directed, and produced. His other films include If I Ever See You Again, and Invitation to a Wedding.

In the 1960s he composed advertising jingles for clients including Pepsi “You’ve Got a Lot to Live” and Maxwell House “Good to the Last Drop.”

Brooks committed suicide. He had been charged with raping or sexually assaulting 11 women between 2005 and 2008, but had not yet gone to trial. His female assistant was also charged and pleaded guilty to 10 counts of felony and misdemeanor criminal facilitation. At the time of his death, his son was in jail, awaiting trial on murder charges for killing his girlfriend in a hotel room.

23-May, Bill Hunter, age 71: Australian actor. Hunter appeared in Muriel’s Wedding, Queen of the Desert, Finding Nemo, Crackerjack, and SeaChange.

His manager, Mark Morrissey, described him as a true storyteller and a great friend. He said Hunter recently summed up his approach to his craft in an interview for the film The Cup: “As long as the director told me where to stand and what to say, I was happy. Anyone who says there’s more to it than that, is full of bullshit. It’s a job. It is a craft, but there’s no art involved. What you need is common sense and a reasonably rough head. You put on the make-up and the wardrobe and that is half the performance. This upsets the purists but never mind, they don’t work as much as I do.”

23-May, Xavier Tondo, age 32: Spanish cyclist, winner of this year’s Castilla y Leon tour, Tondo was planning to compete in the Tour de France for his new Movistar Team. He was killed in a freak accident in southern Spain when he got out of his car to open the garage door, and the car rolled forward, pinning him against it.

24-May, Huguette Clark, age 104: reclusive heiress who inherited one of the great mining fortunes of the 19th century. Clark lived secluded in a hospital room for more than two decades despite being in relatively good health. The last known photograph of her was taken in 1930.

A criminal investigation into the handling of her money continues with forensic accountants examining many years of her financial records. A district attorney was able to visit her in the hospital more than once to converse with her, in both French and English.

25-May, Mark Haines, age 65: founding anchor of CNBC’s morning show “Squawk Box,” co-anchor of the network’s “Sqawk on the Street” program providing insight and commentary sometimes humorous and occasionally acerbic.

CNBC president, Mark Hoffman said in a statement, “From the dot-com bubble to the tragic events of 9/11 to the depths of the financial crisis, Mark was always the unflappable pro.”

Haines was well-known around the newsroom for giving his colleagues on-air nicknames: “The Brain,” “The Kahuna,” and “The Professor.” If anyone complained, he responded, “What’s worth more, your name or the nickname?”

Word quickly spread on Twitter and condolences poured in. Dan Davison tweeted, “If Mark Haines is interviewing God this morning, he’s giving him the Devil.”

25-May, Paul Splittorff, age 64: “winningest” pitcher in Kansas City Royals history and popular broadcaster for the team.

Denny Matthews, the Royals’ hall-of-fame radio broadcaster who called every major league game Splittorff pitched, made light of the moments when he was teased by former teammates for holding the informal record of giving up the longest home run in Kauffman Stadium history—a shot by Chicago White Sox slugger Dick Allen that carried almost to the top of the hill behind left field.

Frank White, the Royals’ eight-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman chimed in, “Some people say Bo Jackson hit one farther. Bo’s was higher, but Dick Allen’s was all the way to the back of the hill. Paul got to where he could laugh about it, too.”

In 1987, Splittorff himself gave a moving eulogy for the Royal’s former manager. To his own legion of friends and fans, his closing comment may seem especially poignant. Paul said, “He has completed his journey. Our skipper is safe at home.”

26-May, Leonora Carrington, age 94: British born painter, writer, and sculptor, considered one of the last original surrealists. Carrington was known for her haunting, dreamlike works that often focused on strange ritual-like scenes with birds, cats, unicorn-like creatures and other animals as onlookers or seeming participants.

In the mid 1930s, Carrington was living in Paris with German artist Max Ernst and making friends with members of the surrealist inner circle the likes of Andre Breton and Pablo Picasso. In 1939, after war broke out with Nazi Germany, her companion Ernst was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Largentiere as an enemy alien by the French authorities. Carrington eventually fled to Spain and caused a scandal at the British Embassy in Madrid by loudly threatening to plot to kill Adolph Hitler. She was committed to an insane asylum, from which she eventually escaped, making her way to Lisbon. She was saved by writer Renato Leduc who helped her out of Europe and get to New York and later to Mexico City.

The National Arts Council described her work: “She created mythical worlds in which magical beings and animals occupy the main stage, in which cobras merge with goats and blind crows become trees. These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen.”

26-May, Robert Seamans, age 27: Colorado Rockies fan attempted to slide down a staircase rail during the 7th inning at Coors Field. The stairs would have delivered him to center field seats; instead he lost his balance and fell 20 feet, striking his head on the concrete floor.

27-May, Jeffrey “Jeff” Charles William Michael Conaway, age 60: American actor, best known for his roles in the movie Grease, as well as the TV series Taxi and Babylon 5. He also directed the 1992 film Bikini Summer 2. In Taxi, Conaway played the role of Bobby Wheeler.

He began acting on Broadway at age 2. In 1960, at age 10, he had a featured role in Arthur Penn’s Pulitzer Prize winning play All the Way Home. The play was nominated for a Tony Award and ran for 333 performances. Conaway remained for the entire run and then toured with the national company of the play Critic’s Choice.

27-May, Margo Dydek, age 37: Polish international basketball player, who at 7'2" was famous for being the tallest active professional female basketball player in the world. She played center for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA and was coach for the Northside Wizards in the Queensland Basketball League.

Dydek was awarded the Polish Gold Cross of Merit in 1999.

She made her first trip to the United States for the WNBA pre-draft camp and was drafted 1st overall by the Utah Starzz (which subsequently became the San Antonio Silver Stars.) In 2005 she was traded to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for Katie Feenstra from Liberty University. Dydek held the record for most blocks in a WNBA career.

She was pregnant with her third child when she suffered a heart attack and was placed in a medically induced coma. She never regained consciousness and died eight days later. Prior to her death, she was the last surviving prominent Polish women’s basketball player.

28-May, Gil Scott-Heron, age 62: Musician who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs . . . something he called bluesology or Third World music. He was sometimes called the "Godfather of Rap."

“If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for, it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating ‘hooks,’ which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,” he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, “Now and Then.”

His early albums, “Pieces of a Man” and “Winter in America,” have been credited with influencing other genres, such as hip hop. But it was the song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which examined the African American condition in America that put him on the musical map.

At the time it was released, the song was banned from some radio stations. During the Arab Spring, protestors were shown on TV with signs saying, “This Revolution Will be Televised.”

29-May, Will “Da Real One” Bell, age 47: owner of the Literary Café and Poetry Lounge in North Miami, Bell was gunned down in front of his business as he was closing up for the night. Two men in dark clothes were spotted leaving the scene.

In 2005, the alternative weekly New Times named him as the city’s best poet, saying he “splits words like high-caliber machine–gun fire and his booming voice sets ears ablaze."

30-May, Clarice Taylor, age 93: American stage, film, and television actress known for her recurring role as Anna Huxtable, Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxatable’s mother, on The Cosby Show. She also played Grady’s cousin Emma on Sanford and Son.

Raised in New York City, Taylor started working with the American Negro Theatre at a time when there were few opportunities for African American actors. To support herself, she followed in her father’s (Leon B. Taylor Sr.) footsteps and went to work for the U.S. Post Office. In the 1960s she got her big break allowing her to act full time. She was one of the founding members of the Negro Ensemble Company, headquartered in the East Village on St. Marks Place. Her first offer for a movie role was for Change of Mind. Her next film role was as Minnie in Otto Preminger’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon. In 1971 she played Birdie in Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me.

Onstage, Taylor appeared in the hit musical The Wiz, as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. Her most recent performance was in a touring production of her own one-woman show, Moms, for which she won an Obie.

Five on the Black Hand Side allowed her to bring the role of Gladys Brooks, which she had pioneered Off-Broadway, to life in film.

Gemstone Connection: The storyline location for Play Misty for Me is Carmel-by-the-Sea, with filming in the city of Monterey, California. The scenes include real places, among them a restaurant and bar called The Sardine Factory located at Prescott and Wave Streets, one block up from Cannery Row.

The canning of sardines was a key point in the details that came with the mass bird and fish deaths and are the very details that enabled us to give new meaning to the sunken Macaw at Midway Atoll.

As an aside, Glee's imaginary Carmel High School is home to Vocal Adrenaline and is where glee club members don't need to do their homework, other people do it for them.

Taylor's last name connects her to the details that come with Elizabeth Taylor, while Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon associates her contribution to June's Full Moon, which like December's Full Moon was accompanied by a powerful Lunar Eclipse.

June's Full Moon and eclipse occurred days before the Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere) with the Moon in 25 Sagittarius, "A Chubby Little Rich Boy Rides Upon a Hobby Horse," and the Sun in 25 Gemini, "A Gardener Trimming Large Palm Trees." For our purposes and using what we've gathered about "horses," the "Hobby Horse" may refer to tsunami waves which are making repeated appearances as the story is carved out and could well be used to cut "Palm Trees" down to size.

The way to understand the meaning behind each Sabian Symbol is to explore all of the possible symbolism that comes with the given words.

According to the erect, towering trunk of the palm tree symbolizes the phallus – male power rising into action – followed by a flowering, expansive fireworks display of long supple leaves nestling an offspring of rich, nutritious fruits. The palm tree is an icon for fertility and unification.

In alchemical traditions, the palm tree is a symbol of androgyny as it possesses the perfect integration of both male and female attributes. This is an alchemical achievement – to be wholly, pristinely balanced – equally united with polarity.

This androgynous concept plays out in the esoteric archetype of the High Priestess found in the Tarot. The palm tree is depicted on this card, demonstrating the intent of the Priestess to amalgamate the realms of seen and unseen – mixing them into a whole vision with a goal to dispense for the betterment of humanity.
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The image provided by the Sabian Symbol of trimming large palm trees in order to establish a wholly, pristinely balanced world is another way of addressing the need to destroy portions of the "herd" that God has determined don't belong in the story going forward.

Despite the grim image that's being projected, the unique and enduring detail that Taylor brings to the unfolding story are the lyrics in a song that arrives with Play Misty For Me, specifically, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” written by Ewan MacColl and sung by Roberta Flack.

In a prior blog I associated the Golden Age of Islam with the introduction of the astrolabe to the Western World, enhancing our ability to use the planets and stars in the heavens as a means of navigation. Just as the emerald ring was taken from the maiden in the tent in The Story of the Grail as a symbolic gesture of taking back the ring Pope Adrian IV gave to Henry II when he granted the king authority over Ireland, the lyrics of this song suggest the gift of the heavens is being taken back and assigned to its proper benefactor.

We might also imagine the Phantom's mask has been removed and the scene played out much differently than the way it's portrayed in film and on stage.

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies, my love,

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
And felt your heart beat close to mine
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love.

The first time ever I saw your face, your face,
your face, your face

31-May, Andy Robustelli, age 85: NFL Hall-of-Famer, played defensive end for Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants.

Robustelli excelled in both football and baseball while he was in high school. At age 18, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS William C. Cole in the Pacific Theater. After the war he attended Arnold College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the nineteenth round of the 1951 NLF Draft. Once considered a long shot to make the team, he not only accomplished the feat, he was All-Pro in 1953 and 1955. In 1956 he was traded to the New York Giants, with whom he was All-Pro from 1956 through 1960.

He received the 1962 Bert Bell Award as best player in the NFL, one of the few defensive players to be distinguished as such. He missed only one game in his career. At its end, he had recovered 22 fumbles—the NFL record when he retired—and intercepted two passes, both going for touchdowns.

In 1988 Robustelli was named Walter Camp Man of the Year, which honors an individual who has been closely associated with the game of American football as a player, coach, or close attendant to the game. The criteria for this honor state: he must have attained a measure of success and been a leader in his chosen profession; he must have contributed to the public service for the benefit of his community, country and his fellow man; he must have an impeccable reputation for integrity and must be dedicated to our American Heritage and the philosophy of Walter Camp.

31-May, Jonas Bevacqua, age 34: Clothing designer who co-founded the popular street clothing brand LRG (Lifted Research Group) and presided over its rapid rise as a major fashion force among young people.

Deeply influenced by Southern California’s skateboard, surfing, and hip hop culture, he and his business partner began making clothes that reflected their interests but that no one else seemed to be providing.

In a 2009 interview with the Orange County Register, Bevacqua explained, “I grew up in a pretty unique environment and was exposed to a lot of different things. I didn’t feel there was a clothing company to bridge the gap between all these different things we were into—that spoke to the melting pot of what was going on. That’s what LRG was all about.”

02-Jun, Jack Kervorkian, age 83: Michigan pathologist dubbed Dr. Death for his role in assisting suicides of terminally ill people for which he was convicted and sentenced to prison.

02-Jun, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, age 63: former Black Panther who was wrongly imprisoned for 27 years on a murder conviction.

Stuart Hanlon, the lawyer who helped overturn the conviction said, “He could have been a great leader. He was very charismatic. His legacy is that he never gave up. He never got despondent or angry."

Of the time he spent in prison, eight of the years were in solitary confinement. Pratt said his spirituality and love of music helped him through. “My mantra was the blues. It would go through my head when I was going through meditations.” He held no bitterness. “I’m more understanding. Understanding doesn’t leave any room for bitterness or anger."

03-Jun, James Arness, age 88: American actor famous for playing U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon in the TV series Gunsmoke, which ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975. It was the longest running dramatic series in network history until NBC’s Law & Order tied it.

Arness was the brother of Peter Graves, who played Jim Phelps, leader of the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) in the TV series Mission: Impossible.

03-Jun, Julian and Adrian Riester, age 92: Identical twins, brothers who were also brothers in the Order of Friars Minor at St. Bonaventure in New York. One died of heart failure in the morning and the other died of heart failure the same day, in the evening.

Spokesman Tom Missel stated, “It really is almost a poetic ending to the remarkable story of their lives. Stunning when you hear it, but hardly surprising given that they did almost everything together.”

03-Jun, Wally Boag, age 90, Betty Taylor, age 91: Disney stage legends. For nearly thirty years they shared a stage at Disneyland five days a week.

In 1955 Wally Boag signed a two-week contract with Walt Disney. He originated the role of Pecos Bill in the revue. Ms. Taylor arrived on the scene the following year. The pair logged 40,000 and 45,000 performances respectively.

George Kalogridis, the president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement: “Wally was instrumental in the development of live entertainment during the years of both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World Resort. His characters will continue to live in the hearts of our guests, while his larger-than-life personality will forever make him the true Clown Prince of Disneyland.”

Mr. Boag appeared in several films during the 1940s, among them Without Love, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and The Thrill of Romance, with Esther Williams. He also appeared in The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, and The Love Bug.

Ms. Taylor, who played Slue Foot Sue in Disney’s "Golden Horseshoe Revue", passed away Saturday, one day after the death of Wally Boag, who played her character’s sweetheart, Pecos Bill. Taylor began singing and dancing in nightclubs at age 14 and by 18 had her own band called Betty and Her Beaus. Her job with Disney led to an appearance with a USO tour of Greenland and Newfoundland as well as a show at the White House for President Nixon and his family. (Christopher Weber - AP/ The Boston Globe)

3-Jun, John Henry Johnson, age 81: American football fullback. He played for the San Francisco 49ers, the Detroit Lions, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Calgary Stampeders, and the Houston Oilers. He’s best known for being a member of the 49ers famed “Million Dollar Backfield.”

In 1987 he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 49ers Million Dollar Backfield is currently the only full-house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Joe Perry, one of the four, died in April.

03-Jun, Miriam Karlin, OBE, age 85: British actress. Born Miriam Samuels in Hampstead, North London, she was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family; members of her extended family were among those who later died at Auschwitz. She was the daughter of Céline and Harry Samuels, a Jewish barrister, who specialized in industrial and trade union law. Her brother was Michael Samuels a historical linguist, responsible for the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.

She based some of the zany characters she invented and played while doing one of her first radio shows on people who had appeared before the rent tribunal chaired by her father.

Karlin made her stage debut for ENSA–a group formed to provide entertainment for British armed forces during World War II—and subsequently appeared in repertory theatre and cabaret. She appeared in productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, The Bad Seed, The Egg, Fiddler on the Roof and Bus Stop, among others.

Her film debut came in 1952's Down Among the Z Men. She was featured in Room at the Top, Heavens Above!, and Ladies Who Do.

In 1960, she appeared opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in the film version of John Osborne's play The Entertainer. Karlin also had parts in A Clockwork Orange and The Millionairess. She appeared in the stage version of Fiddler on the Roof at Her Majesty's Theatre, along with Israeli actor Topol, who performed in a starring role.

On television, Karlin became known for playing the belligerent shop steward Paddy in The Rag Trade, a British sitcom set in a textile factory. Paddy would use the slightest opportunity to cause a strike; her trademark was blowing a whistle and shouting "Everybody out!" She played the role to great success between 1961 and 1963. The show was resurrected by the BBC's rival channel, ITV, in 1977, but did not meet with the same success as the original. She later played Yetta Feldman, the Jewish ghost, in the BBC sitcom, So Haunt Me and appeared in the 1989 television film The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Karlin appeared on stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, the Aldwych Theatre, and The Barbican Centre. She appeared in a national tour of 84 Charing Cross Road. In 1990 she became the first woman to play the title role in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter in a production at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff.

In 2008 she appeared in Stewart Permutt’s play Many Roads to Paradise at the Finborough Theatre, London.

Karlin was a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a patron of the Burma Campaign UK, the London-based group campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma.

A self-proclaimed atheist, she was a lifelong campaigner for Jewish and left-wing causes and an anti-fascist activist. A member of the Anti-Nazi League she was prominent in protests against Holocaust denier David Irving and campaigned to expose the Nazi sympathies of Austrian politician Jörg Haider. She had been an active member of the actors' union, Equity, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1975 for her union and welfare work. She had been a patron of Dignity in Dying, a body that campaigns for a change to the laws on assisted dying.

04-Jun, Lawrence Eagleburger, age 80: U.S. Statesman, “a tireless and dedicated patriot” per former President George H.W. Bush.

Eagleburger was an executive assistant to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration and helped set up the National Security Council staff. During the Carter administration, he was ambassador to Yugoslavia. In Reagan’s administration, he was an undersecretary of state for political affairs. While working in Bush’s administration, he was deputy under Secretary of State James Baker and succeeded him when Baker stepped down in 1992.

The elder Bush issued a statement on hearing of Eagleburger's death: “During one of the tensest moments of the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein began attacking Israel with scud missiles, trying to cynically and cruelly bait them into the conflict, we sent Larry to Israel to preserve our coalition. It was an inordinately complex and sensitive task, and his performance was nothing short of heroic."

06-Jun, John R. “Johnny” Alison, age 98: highly decorated American combat ace of World War II and veteran of the Korean War. He is often cited as the father of Air Force Special Operations.

Born in Micanopy, Florida, near Gainesville in 1912, Alison graduated from the University of Florida, School of Engineering and joined the United States Army Air Corps in 1936. He earned his wings and was commissioned at Kelly Field in 1937.

After ten months and repeated requests for reassignment to combat, Alison got his wish. In June 1942, he reported to the China-Burma-India Theater to serve as Deputy Squadron Commander under Major David Lee "Tex" Hill in the 75th Fighter Squadron, part of Colonel Robert Lee Scott, Jr.'s 23rd Fighter Group, the USAAF successor of the AVG's famed Flying Tigers.

Alison was called into theater by the previous commander of the AVG, Brigadier General Claire Lee Chennault, who was currently serving as Commander of the Fourteenth Air Force. On July 30th, 1942, Alison was credited with the first night kills in the theater. For his experimental night interception, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In early 1943, Alison demonstrated his aggressiveness when he took off during an attack on his own airfield. He engaged three Mitsubishi A6M Zeros and scored one probable kill. He then vectored arriving reinforcements to the battle, after which he made a stern attack on another enemy fighter at close range, shooting it down. His gallantry and fighting spirit earned him the Silver Star.

Ending his tour as commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, Alison left as an ace with seven confirmed victories and several probable kills.

From his biography, Gathering of Eagles:
After returning home in May 1943, Alison was recalled to the CBI theater by Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold to co-command—along with Lt. Col. Philip G. Cochran—the newly formed 1st Air Commando Group, also known as Project 9. As leader of this secret and highly innovative flying unit, Alison led a composite wing of fighters, bombers, transports, gliders, and helicopters in the dramatic "aerial invasion of Burma," dubbed Operation THURSDAY. The 1st Air Commandos supported the British “Chindit” Special Forces' infiltration of Japanese rear supply areas. In March 1944, Alison's men flew more than 200 miles behind enemy lines, transporting, re-supplying, and providing fire support for over 9,000 Allied forces. Alison's innovative leadership and combat daring as co-commander of the 1st Air Commandos helped to turn the tide of the Allied war effort in the CBI theater.

In 1985, 2004, and 2009, Alison was honored at the Air University's Gathering of Eagles program. In 1994, he was an inductee into the Air Commando Hall of Fame and in 2005 was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

06-Jun, Andrew Gold, age 59: American singer, musician, and composer of the 1977 hit “Lonely Boy,” died in his sleep. His other popular songs include, “Thank You for Being a Friend” and “Never Let Her Slip Away.”

While working with Linda Ronstadt’s band, he arranged and performed with her on several albums, including “Heart Like a Wheel.”

Gold’s mother was movie star Mami Nixon, and his father was Ernest Gold, composer of the Oscar-winning score for Exodus.

07-Jun, Thomas Emma, age 49: former basketball captain for the Duke Blue Devils. Emma played for Duke University beginning in 1980. In 1983 he was a tenth-round pick for the Chicago Bulls, but he never played a regular season game.

Emma jumped to his death from the top of the New York Athletic on Central Park South and plunged from the 12th floor, crashing onto a second floor landing of the Essex House Hotel. No suicide note could be found.

07-Jun, Leonard Stern, age 87: writer, producer, and director of shows such as The Honeymooners, Get Smart, Missing Pieces, Run Buddy Run, and Just You and Me, Kid.

Mr. Stern co-created the word game Mad-Libs with Roger Price.

Mad-Libs are word games in which pre-written “stories” are provided, with blanked out spaces in each of its sentences. The gist is for players to provide their own words that fill in the blanks, thereby giving a new and more personal meaning to the story, in a fun way.

Funeral services were scheduled in Los Angeles for Friday at Mt Sinai.

07-Jun, Edgar Tekere, age 74: Zimbabwe Liberator. Tekere, who was imprisoned for a decade with Robert Mugabe during the struggle to end white minority rule in Rhodesia, and later unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Mugabe’s political domination of what had become an independent Zimbabwe.

In a memoir published in 2007, Mr. Tekere largely blamed Mr. Mugabe for building a nation whose people “live mostly in fear of their own government, of a state machinery, born out of the forces of liberation, but now, regrettably, more associated with ruthlessness and naked force.” Mr. Tekere said he accepted his “share of responsibility” for the failure of his generation to establish institutions that would have safeguarded democracy.

Mr. Mugabe was quoted by the state-controlled newspaper on Thursday as saying that Mr. Tekere’s death had brought back memories “of our escape from Rhodesia to join thousands upon thousands of young Zimbabwean fighters housed in various rear bases in Mozambique.”

Despite years of bad blood between them, Mr. Mugabe, 87, who is still in power 31 years after independence, described Mr. Tekere as “fearless and highly temperamental.”

07-Jun, Jose Pagan, age 76: American professional baseball player. Pagan broke into the majors with the Giants in 1959 and was traded to Pittsburgh in 1965, helping them win the World Series six years later by driving in the eventual winning run. His double in the eighth inning of Game 7 gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead over Baltimore, and the Pirates hung on to win 2-1.

When news of his death broke, the Pirates were scheduled to play the Arizona Diamondbacks. A moment of silence was given before the night’s game got started.

07-Jun, Genaro “Chicanito” Hernández, age 45: Mexican-American boxer from South Central Los Angeles, former WBA and WBC Super Featherweight Champion. He racked up a record of 13-0 with 6 knockouts and a solid reputation as a future champion around Southern California, when he met former Julio César Chávez world title challenger Refugio Rojas on November 22, 1988.

In 1992, he defended his crown twice, knocking out Omar Catari in six rounds and, traveling to Japan, defeating challengers Masuaki Takeda and Yuji Watanabe, Takeda by decision and Watanabe by knockout in six.

On April 26, 1993, against former World Featherweight Champion Raúl Pérez, Hernández had to settle for a first round technical draw. This was the first, and so far only, world title fight in which no punches were landed. Right after the initial bell, Perez headbutted Hernández, and Perez bled profusely from an arteric vein on his forehead. The referee summoned the ring doctor, who decided the fight should be stopped as Perez required immediate surgery.

By the end of 1994, Hernández was clamoring for a world title fight against crosstown rival and WBO World Lightweight Champion Oscar De La Hoya. After eight successful title defenses, Hernández vacated his WBA Super Featherweight title in order to face De La Hoya in the upcoming year. Hernández began 1995 by beating another Mexican boxing legend, Jorge Maromero Páez, by a knockout in eight rounds at Inglewood. The Hernández-Páez fight was overshadowed by the death by murder of famed Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla.

In 1997, Hernández fought what almost turned into another controversial fight when he challenged Azumah Nelson for the WBC World Junior Lightweight title, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Ahead on all scorecards at the end of round seven, he was hit in his throat by a Nelson punch after the bell. He needed some time to recuperate from the illegal late hit, and WBC President José Sulaiman came to his corner and informed him that if he could not continue he would be declared winner by disqualification. Hernández told Sulaiman something along the lines of "I want to win it like real champions do," and he went back to the fight at the beginning of round eight. The fight ended after twelve rounds and Hernández finally won the title for a second time by defeating Nelson with a split decision victory.

In what would turn out to be his last fight on October 3rd, 1998, he lost the crown to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

In December of that year, he announced his retirement with a record of 38 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw, with 17 of those wins coming by knockout.

Hernández was diagnosed with fourth-stage cancer of the head and neck, a very rare form of cancer, and one which his insurance would not cover for treatment. Although he'd collected several large purses in his career, including $600,000 for his final fight against Mayweather, he wasn't able to afford the expensive treatments and benefits were held to assist in paying what insurance wouldn't cover. In mid 2009 it was reported that the disease was in remission, but in early 2010 cancer had returned and Hernández was undergoing treatment. On June 3rd, 2011, it was announced that Hernández would stop chemotherapy treatment.

Gemstone Connection: the key detail for us is that the World Junior Lightweight title and crown was lost in the last fight with Mayweather.

May 29th, Will Bell brought with him the ability to split words like high-caliber machine–gun fire.

Our passage on April roads through May weather delivered 1,245 tornados, including a touch-down in Tuscaloosa where Forrest Gump played football, and a particularly deadly storm that descended on Joplin, Missouri, May 22nd, one day after the "grim vote" was tallied. If "May weather" marked the end of the world lightweight fights, it can only mean one thing: the boys have gone off to bulk up for a heavyweight competition in order to take back the crown.

The alternative is we'll be left to surrender to the cancer that's eating away at our livelihood, leaving us burdened with debt we can never get out from under.

On this one, we're either with God or against God. Either way, He wins.

07-Jun, Clara Luper, age 88: icon for civil rights in Oklahoma who staged a sit-in at a Katz Drug Store in 1958, a full year and a half before the February 1st, 1960 sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina.

She also participated with Martin Luther Kings’ March on Washington where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1965, during the Selma to Montgomery march she received a deep gash on her leg on “Bloody Sunday.” In her own words, while “we may hail from many cultures, we are one people.”

08-Jun, Jim Northrup, age 71: hero of the 1968 World Series for the Detroit Tigers with the game winning triple in Game 7. He was the first professional baseball player to hit 3 grand slams in a single week.

In an interview, Northrup once chafed at playing under Billy Martin: “We got sick and tired of reading Martin say in the papers, ‘I manage good, and they play bad.’ ‘I’d like to bunt, but my players can’t do it.’ . . . It was all, ‘I, I, I,’ and ‘Me, me, me.’ I did not respect him in any way.”

09-Jun, Trouble, age 12 in people years: Trouble was Leona Helmsley’s dog, who inherited millions.

Gemstone Connection: The Story of the Grail alludes to Jews in the 12th century being slaughtered like dogs, something that was still occurring en masse during World War II. The song "The Dog Days Are Over," by Florence and the Machine was performed on Glee. The lyrics inform us that the dog days are over, the horses are coming.

The image of horses takes on dual meaning when we consider Neptune is credited with creating the horse by striking his trident into the ground. Crests of waves are called ‘white horses’. White horses have been connected to death, dreams (nightmares), the concept of a saviour (a knight on a white horse coming to your rescue) or sacrifice. Read in Full Neptune has been resting on 1 Pisces, a mutable water sign ruled by Neptune, since early April. The corresponding Sabian Symbol is, "A Crowded Public Marketplace."

Happiness hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with her drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
Because here they come

And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had and what was left after that too, oh
Happiness hit her like a bullet in the head
Struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
Because here they come

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your loving, your loving behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
Because here they come

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run

10-Jun, Jeanne Bice, age 71: the woman behind Quacker Factory. The company website displayed a photo of Jeanne holding a pillow embroidered with the words, “Believe in Miracles.”

10-Jun, Godfrey Myles, age 42: former Dallas-Cowboys linebacker who played in Super Bowl XXX.

Gemstone Connection: If we separate his name by syllables, "God" is in the process of being defined, but the name "Frey," according to Scandinavian myth is the god of peace, prosperity and marriage. "Myles" is a male name meaning merciful.

The Super Bowl is a championship game and the three X's are reminiscent of Fra Angelico's painting on the wall of cell #1 at the San Marco Convent in Florence called “Noli Me Tangere,” or “Do Not Touch Me.” In the mural, three X's were hidden in the garden. Within the gemstone the X's could represent the children of Mary and Paul, the revelation of which was intended to trigger a turning point in the biblical story. Alternately the X's represent the pairs of hands that come together while guiding the Sacred Story to its proper destination.

12-Jun, Carl Gardner, age 83: Gardner passed away in Port Lucie. He was the lead singer and co-founder of The Coasters, famous for their song “Yakety-Yak.”

Gemstone Connection: In Glee's "Rumours" episode, Lauren Zizes discovers Quinn Fabray's real first name is Lucy. When confronted, Quinn confesses that she changed it because the kids at her old school called her "Lucy Caboosey." We can anticipate the "Gardner" is coming into the final port and the end of the train is in sight. After it passes, we should be able to coast right along.

13-Jun, Laura Ziskin, age 61: Hollywood producer who started out writing for game shows. First feature film work was with the 1976 remake of A Star is Born with Barbra Streisand. Ziskin had a daughter named Julia Barry. As a producer and executive producer, her filmography includes Murphy’s Romance, No Way Out, D.O.A., The Rescue, Everybody’s All-American, Pretty Woman, What About Bob?, The Doctor, Hero, To Die For, As Good as It Gets, Stealth, and the Spider Man trilogy.

14-Jun, Ashlyn Horry, age 17: daughter of NBA star Robert “Big Shot Bob” Horry. Shortly after Ashlyn was born, she was diagnosed with 1p36 Deletion Syndrome, a rare chromosome disease characterized by intellectual disability, delayed growth, delayed size, seizures, and respiratory problems. The disease produces distinct facial features which aid its diagnosis.

Gemstone Connection: Sometimes the person who appears insignificant among the masses, actually provides us with what it is we're missing. In this case, a very significant someone exists whose intended role in history suffered a different form of deletion.

The "Funeral" episode of Glee mourned the death of Jean, Sue Sylvester's sister, who had Down Syndrome, a condition also identifiable by facial features. By connecting the detail of facial features it would appear that the person whose role in life suffered deletion has also come "down." You may not recognize the face, but with a little imagination, you should be able to connect the role with the human being.

In celebration of Jean's life, the members of New Direction sang "Pure Imagination" by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:

Make a wish
Hold your breath
Count to three.

Come with me,
and you'll be
in a world of pure imagination.

Take a look
and you'll see
into your imagination.

We'll begin,
with a spin
traveling in a world of my creation.

What we'll see
will defy explanation.

If you want to view paradise
simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it.

There is no life I know
to compare with your imagination.

Living there
you'll be free
if you truly wish to be.

If you want to view paradise
simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it.

There is no
life I know
to compare with pure imagination.
Living there, you'll be free.

If you truly wish to be.

15-Jun, Robert James “Bob” Banner, age 89: American producer, writer, and director. Bob was a native of Ennis, Texas, and credited his hometown with providing him the opportunity to prepare for his career. In high school he accompanied every singer in town, played in the high school band and was part-time organist in the Presbyterian Church. He credited band director Thomas Granger as the mentor who gave the biggest push to send him on his way. While a junior in high school he assisted Mr. Granger in writing and arranging the school Alma Mater “Maroon and White” that has lasted since 1937.

He attended Southern Methodist University where he arranged for the Mustang Band and the Pigskin Revue, directed Script and Score, and organized his dance band that toured with Interstate Theaters Production of College Capers, where he met his wife, Alice.

After college, he served three years on a destroyer in the United States Navy.

Bob began his career in television in 1948, in Chicago, working evenings at a local television station, WMAQ, while he pursued his Ph.D. He worked as a production assistant on the children’s show Kukla, Fran and Ollie. He soon became director of Garroway at Large, a local show that was picked up by NBC.

Banner joined CBS as producer/director of the new Fred Waring Show. Television, as a new experimental medium proved great enough to lure Bob away from academia. With only eleven hours needed to obtain his doctorate degree, he opted to pursue a television career in New York City.

While in New York, Bob also directed Omnibus, hosted by Alistair Cooke. The weekly series on CBS is often credited as the forerunner to television's cultural PBS network. In the early 1950s, he moved to Los Angeles.

During the Golden Age of Television, Bob was one of the prime movers of variety programming. The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, which he produced and directed, garnered myriad awards including three Emmy Awards, two Christopher Awards, and two Peabody Awards.

In 1958, he formed Bob Banner Associates (BBA). BBA's first production was The Garry Moore Show with regulars Durward Kirby, Carol Burnett, and Marion Lorne. The program ran for 218 episodes and won several Emmys, including one for Carol Burnett.

In the early 1960s, Carnegie Hall was targeted for demolition and Bob was asked by Isaac Stern to produce a special to save the cultural landmark. Salute to Jack Benny at Carnegie Hall starred Isaac Stern, Eugene Ormandy, and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Van Cliburn, Benny Goodman, and Roberta Peters.

This was quickly followed by another special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, starring Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett which garnered three Emmys and the International Golden Rose Award.

16-Jun, Larry “Wild Man” Fischer, age 67: cult singer and songwriter. Fischer was a busker on Sunset Boulevard when he grabbed the attention of Frank Zappa, who came to know the schizophrenic and manic depressive as "Larry the dangerous one."

In their early days together, Zappa produced Fischer’s double album “An Evening With Wild Man Fischer,” and released it on his Bizarre Records label. Fischer’s “Go to Rhino Records” was the first album released by the Rhino label, which issued three Fischer albums.

Despite his success, Larry preferred the life of a vagabond, living in cheap hotels and begging for food money on the streets; it was the lifestyle he’d embraced since the 1960s hippie scene.

18-Jun, Yelena Bonner, age 88: human rights activist in the former Soviet Union and wife of the noted physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Bonner was born in Merv, Turkmen SSR, USSR, a town that now goes by the name Mary, Turkmenistan. Her father was a prominent Communist and a secretary of the Comintern; her mother, Ruf, was a Jewish Communist activist. She had a younger brother, Igor, who became a career naval officer.

Her parents were both arrested in 1937 during Stalin's Great Purge; her father was executed and her mother served eight years at a forced labor camp near Karaganda, Kazakhstan, followed by internal exile. Bonner's 41-year-old maternal uncle, Matvei Bonner, was also executed during the Purge, and his wife internally exiled. All four were exonerated (rehabilitated) following Stalin's death in 1953.

Serving as a nurse during World War II, Bonner was wounded twice, and in 1946 was honorably discharged as a disabled veteran. After the war she earned a degree in pediatrics from the First Leningrad Medical Institute. In 1965 she joined Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In medical school she met her first husband Ivan Semyonov. They had two children who emigrated to the United States in 1977 and 1978, respectively. In 1965, Bonner and Semyonov separated, and eventually divorced.

In October 1970 while attending the trial of human rights activists Revol't (Ivanovich) Pimenov and Boris Vail in Kaluga, Bonner met Andrei Sakharov, nuclear physicist and human rights activist. The previous year 1969, Sakharov had been widowed from his wife Klavdia Alekseyevna Vikhireva with whom he raised two daughters and a son.

Beginning in the 1940s, Bonner helped political prisoners and their families. In the late 1960s, she became active in the Soviet human rights movement. At the Kaluga trial in 1970, Bonner and Sakharov met Natan Sharansky and began working together to defend Jews sentenced to death for attempting an escape from the USSR in a hijacked plane. Under pressure from Sakharov, the Soviet regime permitted Yelena Bonner to travel to the West in 1975, 1977 and 1979 for treatment of her wartime eye injury. When Sakharov, awarded the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, was barred from travel by the Soviet authorities, Bonner, in Italy for treatment, represented him at the ceremony in Oslo.

Bonner became a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976. When in January 1980 Sakharov was exiled to Gorky, a city closed to foreigners, the harassed and publicly denounced Bonner became his lifeline traveling between Gorky and Moscow to bring out his writings. Her arrest in April 1984 for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" and sentence to five years of exile in Gorky disrupted their lives again. Sakharov’s several long and painful hunger strikes forced the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev to let her travel to the U.S. in 1985 for sextuple bypass heart surgery. Prior to that, in 1981, Bonner and Sakharov went on a dangerous but ultimately successful hunger strike together to get Soviet officials to allow their daughter-in-law, Yelizaveta Konstantinovna ("Lisa") Alexeyeva, an exit visa to join her husband, Bonner's son Alexei Semyonov, in the United States.

In December 1986, Gorbachev allowed Sakharov and Bonner to return to Moscow. Following Sakharov's death on 14 December 1989, she established the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, and the Sakharov Archives in Moscow. In 1993, she donated Sakharov papers in the West to Brandeis University in the U.S.; in 2004 they were turned over to Harvard University. Bonner remained outspoken on democracy and human rights in Russia and worldwide. She joined the defenders of the Russian parliament during the August Coup and supported Boris Yeltsin during the constitutional crisis in early 1993.

In 1994, outraged by what she called “genocide of the Chechen people”, Bonner resigned from Yeltsin's Human Rights Commission and was an outspoken opponent to Russian armed involvement in Chechnya and critical of the Kremlin for allegedly returning to KGB-style authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin. She was also critical of the international "quartet" two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and has expressed fears about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Bonner was the first to sign the online anti-Putin manifesto "Putin must go", published 10 March 2010.

She divided her time between Moscow and the United States, home to her two children, five grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and two great-grandsons.

18-Jun, Clarence Clemons, age 69: American musician, saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Clemens was a former college football player, nicknamed "Big Man" for his 6 feet 4 inch height and 250 pounds.

Born on January 11th, 1942 in Norfolk, Virginia, his father owned a fish market and his grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher. Despite being surrounded by gospel music, he was captivated by rock ‘n’ roll.

For Christmas, on his 9th birthday, he was given an alto saxophone. Influenced by the sounds of King Curtis, whose credits include the 1958 hit, “Yakety Yak,” he switched to tenor.

The New York Times said, “Clemens played a central part in Mr. Springsteen’s music, complementing the electric guitar and driving rhythms in songs like, “Born to Run” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” with muscular, melodic saxophone hooks that echoed doo-wop soul and earthy rock ‘n’ roll.” “Few E Street Band shows were complete without a shaggy-dog story about the stormy night the two men met at a bar in Asbury Park, N.J. or a long bear hug between them at the end of the night.”

He found his own fame with “You’re a Friend of Mine. ” And took on acting in Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, and also appeared on TV shows, Diff’rent Strokes. He even jammed with President Clinton at the 1993 inaugural ball. More recently he was featured on Lady Gaga’s album “Born This Way.”

His memoir, which tells a more complete story is called, Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales.

Clemons died in Palm Beach, Florida, due to complications following a stroke suffered six days prior. (Ben Sisario)

20-Jun, Ryan Dunn, age 34: American reality TV personality and daredevil best known for being a member of the Jackass crew and cast member of Viva La Bam. Dunn hosted the shows Homewrecker and Proving Group. A member of the CKY Crew (Camp Kill Yourself), Dunn played the main character in Bam Margera’s film Haggard, which was based on a failed relationship Dunn had experienced.

Dunn was killed in a fiery car crash which also killed his passenger, Zachary Hartwell. Investigators have determined that his Porsche 911 GT3 was traveling between 132 and 140 mph when he lost control of the vehicle and it went barreling through a guardrail and into a line of trees before bursting into flames. The collision was so violent the coroner was unable to determine whether the occupants died from blunt force trauma or from the fire that engulfed them in the moments afterward.

Articles that followed their death included comments about Dunn and his driving that appeared on the Jackass season-five DVD:

In the taping of the reality show Bam Magera said, “He’s gonna eat it one of these times [in a car accident].” His mother remarked, “He’ll never learn his lesson.” And a third person commented, “I have [Ryan] in the death pool. . . for death by vehicle.”

In the hours leading up to the accident, Dunn and Hartwell were drinking at a local watering hole called Barnaby’s of America. Preliminary toxicology tests revealed Dunn’s blood-alcohol level was 0.196, more than twice the state’s legal limit.

Friends and co-stars who came to Dunn’s memorial service were joined by actors from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. According to MTV, members of Kings of Leon remembered Dunn during their concert in London’s Hyde Park. They asked the audience to raise a glass to a friend who passed away, saying, “This is for Ryan.” The band then launched into the song “McFearless.”

Gemstone Connection: In The Story of the Grail, Perceval was told on three occasions and by three different people how his failure to fulfill his destiny brought suffering upon people. It was a situation that had to be remedied in order to heal the wasteland. Actually anything that was repeated three times in the story that pertained to something a person should have done differently, could have done, or promised to do and did not, had to be remedied. Once upon a time, the story wouldn't end before the "bucket list" was complete.

Going forward the rules are changing. We can expect that if a person is called out three times for the same thing, the fourth offense may well be the last. They'll be "done for."

We've encountered the name Zachary before; it means God remembers.

23-Jun, Peter Falk, age 83: American actor, best known for his portrayal of the trench coat wearing detective on the long running TV series Columbo.

Falk was a key member of John Cassavetes regular ensemble, starring in independent film classics, A Woman Under the Influence and Husbands. He often portrayed "hard-drinking, blue-collar figures, whose brutish exteriors mask bruised egos and surprisingly tender sides."

Hollywood frequently failed to provide Falk with the kind of meaty roles he enjoyed with Cassevetes. However, he was frequently in demand, usually appearing as the heavy in gangster films such as Murder Inc. and Murder by Death.

Falk's career began to wane toward the end of the 1970s, but "he did get two more high-profile roles that helped cement his legacy. He portrayed the storytelling grandfather in The Princess Bride which helped re-introduce him to the mainstream crowd, while his role playing himself in the fantasy drama Wings of Desire re-established his art house bona fides."

He received two Oscar nominations for his work in Murder Inc and Pocketful of Miracles. Falk appeared in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World, Robin and the 7 Hoods, and The In-Laws. In the latter, "he plays a risk-taking CIA agent who drags a mild mannered dentist into various misadventures before their children get married. Falk's gruff persona was paired brilliantly with an extremely neurotic Alan Arkin"—a chemistry between which was lacking in the remake which starred Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks.

On stage, he appeared on and off Broadway in plays such as Saint Joan and The Iceman Cometh, winning a Tony for his work in The Prisoner's of Second Avenue. (Brent Lang/The Wrap)

23-Jun, Gene Colan, age 84: American comic book artist best known for his work for Marvel Comics where his signature titles include the superhero series, Daredevil, the cult-hit satiric series Howard the Duck, and The Tomb of Dracula, considered one of comics' classic horror series. He co-created Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics.

Colan was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005.

Born in The Bronx, he began drawing at age three."The first thing I ever drew was a lion. I must've absolutely copied it or something. But that's what my folks tell me. And from then on, I just drew everything in sight. My grandfather was my favorite subject."

Influenced by Syd Shores, Coulton Waugh, and Milton Caniff, he began working in comics in 1944, at age 18, doing illustrations for publisher Fiction House's aviation adventure series Wings Comics. "It was just a summertime job before I went into the service." But it gave Colan his first published work, the one-page "Wing Tips" non-fiction filler "P-51B Mustang."

He attempted to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, but was pulled out by his father because he was "underage." Instead, Colan enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was scheduled for gunnery school in Boulder, Colorado, but plans changed with the war's sudden end. After training at a camp near Biloxi, Mississippi, he joined forces in the Philippines. There he rose to the rank of corporal, drew for the Manila Times, and won an art contest. On his return to civilian life in 1946, he went to work for Marvel Comics' 1940 precursor, Timely Comics.

"I was living with my parents. I worked very hard on a war story, about seven or eight pages long, and I did all the lettering myself, I inked it myself, I even had a wash effect over it. I did everything I could do, and I brought it over to Timely. What you had to do in those days was go to the candy store, pick up a comic book, and look in the back to see where it was published. Most of them were published in Manhattan, they would tell you the address, and you'd simply go down and make an appointment to go down and see the art director." I went to Timely Comics and Al Sulman, an editorial associate, came out and met me in the waiting room, looked at my work, and said, "'Sit here for a minute.' And he brought the work in, and disappeared for about 10 minutes or so . . . then came back out and said, 'Come with me'. That's how I met [editor-in-chief] Stan [Lee]. Just like that. I had a job."

Comics historian Michael J. Vassallo identifies that first story as "Adam and Eve — Crime Incorporated" in Lawbreakers Always Lose #1 (cover date Spring 1948) on which is written the internal job number 2401. He notes another story, "The Cop They Couldn't Stop" in All-True Crime #27 (April 1948), job number 2505, which may have been published first, citing the differing cover-date nomenclature ("Spring" v. "April") for the uncertainty.

Hired as a "staff-penciler," in the manner of the times, Colan's work went uncredited. Comprehensive credits for this era are difficult if not impossible to ascertain. In 2010, he recalled his first cover art being for an issue of Captain America Comics. Colan drew the 12-page lead story in issue #72, the cover-artist of which is undetermined. He definitively drew the cover of the final issue, the horror comic Captain America's Weird Tales #75 (Feb. 1950), which did not include the titular superhero on either the cover nor inside.

After virtually all the Timely staff was let go in 1948 during an industry downturn, Colan began freelancing for National Comics, the future DC Comics. A stickler for accuracy, he meticulously researched his countless war stories for DC's All-American Men at War, Captain Storm, and Our Army at War. Colan's earliest confirmed credit during this time is penciling and inking the six-page crime fiction story "Dream Of Doom", by an uncredited writer, in Atlas' Lawbreakers Always Lose #6 (Feb. 1949).

He would rent 16 mm movies of Hopalong Cassidy Westerns in order to trace likenesses for the DC licensed series, which he drew from 1954 to 1957.

While freelancing for DC romance comics in the 1960s, Colan did his first superhero work for Marvel under the pseudonym Adam Austin. Taking to the form immediately, he introduced the "Sub-Mariner" feature in Tales to Astonish, and succeeded Don Heck on "Iron Man" in Tales of Suspense.

Daily News staff writer, Christina Boyle, provided industry condolences: Comics historian Mark Evanier, said, "Gene worked on almost every major Marvel book at one point." "His characters were more than costumes, they had credibility." "Readers would connect with a Gene Colan character instantly."

"His ability to create dramatic, multi-valued tonal illustrations using straight India ink and board was unparalleled," said DC Comics publisher Jim Lee.

"The comics industry has lost one of its true visionaries today."

25-Jun, Nick Charles, age 64: CNN sports broadcaster. Charles began working at CNN on the network's first day, on June 1, 1980. He was paired with Fred Hickman. In their prime, the duo had chemistry, charisma, and dynamism. They were revolutionary for their time, a white and black man sitting side-by-side every night in studios located in the once segregated south.

Born Nicholas Charles Nickeas, the son of a taxi driver who was mostly absent from his life, he grew up poor in inner-city Chicago. In high school, he had no mentors. He worked late night jobs at the produce docks.

"Once, his boss pointed to mounds of rat feces, threw lye all over the floor and handed the 17-year old Charles a pair of gloves, rubber boots, and a hoe."

As he scrubbed, he thought to himself, "I'll never be trapped again in life. Never. Never."

He enrolled in college and drove a taxi like his father to pay for it. His first television job was at WICS in Springfield, Illinois. He took a 35% pay cut to leave his taxi and become a sports anchor. And he was told that his Greek name was too ethnic and needed to change it to something more "vanilla." At the age of 24, Nick Charles was born.

He covered nearly every sporting event over the years. But boxing was his passion. Nick "would cry when he talked about the strength of boxers, because when he looked at the ring, he saw young men like him from the inner city who had to rely on themselves to reach success."

"You have to walk down that alleyway to the ring. You're going to get hit. You have to take pain to get it. You have to fight through fear."

Hickman's favorite line out of Charles' mouth followed a Mike Tyson match. He said, "Tyson tore his meat house down." To this day, Hickman will tell you, "I still don't know what it means."

When an undefeated Tyson was knocked out by Buster Douglas, it was "epic." Charles described the night as magical, "It speaks to the uncertainty, that anybody's cloak of invincibility can be ripped away."

His message, he said, is to "never give up on life." "It's an imperfect world, but, boy, it's still beautiful."

"What is life?" he said. "It's 20 percent what happens to you and 80 percent how you react to it." "Find that kernel every day that brings you pleasure and joy—and fasten onto that. That's what's going to make life worth living. Always look for the best."

"People won't remember who you are or what you said. It's really about: Are you going to be remembered as a good person?"

"That's victory to me. That's success." (Wayne Drash,

Gemstone Connection: A new kind of Never, Never Land is on the horizon. The novel The Phantom of the Opera included a rat collector as did the cleanup of Midway Atoll in the details that followed on March 11th. There's a story in the making that should sound the bells of recognition even though the details are slightly changed and ordered differently. The Angel of Death is within the details gathered. On February 11th, Hosni Mubarak exited Egypt and made camp at a resort on the shores of the Red Sea. Instead of sweeping yeast out of the home as is the tradition before Passover, rat feces is being scrubbed and scraped from the dock. It marks the third time the rats have had to be dealt with. We've been provided the music for the movie Exodus and made note of a gathering at a place called Mt. Sinai. A [former Chicago] Bull who never got real playing time met death with a very real multi-storied fall. The largest wave on record has been taken on in Phantoms, Oahu; the wave not only connects to other details gathered in the Hawaiian islands, it's been associated with an incident that repeats history and is tied to the motionless turmoil of the sea. The "horses" are coming, can you hear them? 

25-Jun, George Ballas, age 85: American entrepreneur best known for inventing the Weed Eater. Ballas got the idea for "a weed whacker" while he was sitting in a car wash watching the spinning bristles clean his car.

His intent was to come up with something that could trim grass and weeds in areas a lawnmower couldn't reach. He experimented with fishing wire that poked through holes in a tin can attached to the rotary of a lawn edger. In 1993, Ballas told the Chronicle, "A Weed Eater comes along once in a lifetime."

"He changed the way we cut grass," his son, Corky Ballas said.

Gemstone Connection: As in prior postings, the details take us back to the beginning. The New Moon on December 5th, 2010 found Sun and Moon in 14 Sagittarius, whose Sabian Symbol is "A Vast Panorama of Sand and Time is Unfolding; The Pyramids and Sphinx in Their Glory Rise Before the Eye." Mars was on 29 Sagittarius, "A Fat Boy Mowing the Lawn." Uranus was on 27 Pisces, "A Harvest Moon Illuminates the Sky," and Saturn was positioned in 15 Libra, "Circular Paths."

December's New Moon marked the start of a lunar cycle whose Full Moon on December 21st found the Moon in 30 Gemini, “A Parade of Bathing Beauties on the Beach before a Large Crowd.” It was accompanied by an exceptionally long Lunar Eclipse which seemingly ushered in the series of mass bird and fish deaths that revealed "the War" begun Christmas Day. On New Year's Eve, "the War" engaged the tale of an ancient Mariner who has seemingly crossed the boundary that separates make-believe from reality.

The karmic condition (degree before) of December's Full Moon was 29 Gemini, "The First Mockingbird of Spring Sings From the Treetop." This is precisely where the Moon was on September 11th, 2001 when Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center.

As noted by the details gathered, a time and place for negotiations has been eliminated. Not a single detail of a person's life escapes the Master Storyteller. In addition to bank account balances, God knows the intentions behind every person's actions. In the sequence of events, the "weed whacker" follows "the horses," bringing with it the ability to tidy up and maintain areas that have been beyond our knowledge or reach. Again, whatever happens is to create the best possible world for the children of today and tomorrow.

27-Jun, Lorenzo “Zo” Charles, age 47: American college basketball player, North Carolina State. In the final minute of the 1983 National Championship game, Charles grabbed an errant 30 foot shot by Dereck Whittenburg, then “slammed down the most important dunk in basketball history, and millions of us were blessed and thrilled to see it.”

Lorenzo Charles brought people together.

After a one-year stint in the NBA and a few years playing overseas, he put the basketball aside and went on to live life smiling and with optimism.

“He never ran from a moment in time at age 20 that will stand as long as Americans are playing hoops. Charles embraced it because he recognized it was his fortune to have been at the right place at the right time.”

He was a bus driver for 10 years; content in his role transporting people to where they needed to be delivered. On Sunday, Charles dropped off his grandson at a North Carolina State basketball camp. On Monday, he was on his way to Durham to pick up a group of people. But this time, he didn't arrive to greet them. The bus he was driving veered off Interstate 40, ran up an embankment and careened back down through heavy brush and small trees. (Andrew Jones,

Gemstone Connection: Lorenzo Charles seized Fortune when he met her, and he knew it.

27-Jun, Elaine Stewart, age 81: American actress from the golden age of Hollywood who was able to capture the audience’s attention with small roles and her voluptuous assets. Stewart got her start playing a nurse in Sailor Beware.

“It was a one minute scene in The Bad and the Beautiful when a barefoot stunner came down the stairs carrying a drink in a tight evening gown that many remember." She also appeared in The Adventures of Hajji Baba, Young Bess, Night Passage, The Tattered Dress, and Brigadoon.

In Brigadoon, brokenhearted Tommy leaves New York and returns to the Scottish woodlands in search of Fiona, the woman he loves. When he arrives, the place where they met, which only appears one day every hundred years, is nowhere to be seen. Just as hope fades and he's about to give up, Brigadoon rises out of the mist before its appointed time and he's able to cross the bridge into the enchanted village that's blessed by a covenant with God.

Stewart arrived at MGM Studios when they were making a shift from a glamour-filled studio to one using more sex-appeal. “The nation was in transition and needed more on-screen stimulation to bring moviegoers back to the theaters.” “She embraced the role as femme fatale like few other stars could.” However, “her often provocative on screen image fell short in public. She never bought into the Hollywood hype that PR flaks at MGM tried to convey to fans."

She never forgot her humble roots in Montclair, N.J.
Source: Tommy Garrett/

Gemstone Connection: It should be noted that Stewart doesn't play the leading lady in Brigadoon; she's the one who gets left behind in New York. And gender of a character doesn't necessarily establish gender of their counterpart in reality.

Stewart's connection to the film serves by delivering us to a story that suggests even when an opportunity seems lost forever, tremendous love for a person is capable of bringing about a miracle that breaks all the rules.

Brigadoon is similar to The Prince and Me with respect to individuals who follow the tugging on their heart strings from one world to another. In The Prince and Me, Paige becomes enamored with an exchange student called "Eddie," but ends their relationship when she discovers he's actually a prince. Edvard is called back to Denmark because his father's health is failing. In the midst of a Shakespeare exam, Paige realizes what they had was love and one should never pass true love up when it's presented. She travels to Denmark hoping to salvage what they had. It doesn't take long for Edvard to surprise Paige with a marriage proposal. All is well until his coronation ball, during which she's left alone long enough to remember that she still has dreams of her own that beckon her. She says good-bye and returns to Wisconsin to finish her college education with hopes of becoming a doctor. In true fairy-tale fashion, King Edvard appears at Paige's graduation and tells her he doesn't want to lose her; she can do all the things she wants in life. The people will just have to be ready for someone like her, because he's ready for someone like her.

One of Eleanor of Aquitaine's defining characteristics is love that transcends time. Details from Brigadoon and The Prince and Me work together to reveal a portion of her soul, which she gave with her heart to the King of kings a long, long, time ago.

We can assume Eleanor was privy to the knowledge that "Louis" had reincarnated in 1952 and the seed of a story she'd planted in the 12th century was about to flourish.

Eleanor had one desire that would make her life complete: to give "Louis" the two sons she so desperately wanted to give him 866 years ago. So she returned to this enchanted place where dreams are meant to be brought to life. When she was all grown up, despite having leaped at the first man who made her heart flutter (like so many of the leading ladies in the stories we've encountered), the ways of the universe made sure her path crossed that of "Louis" and they fell madly in love all over again. By the close of the 20th century her desire had at last been fulfilled.

But their story is bittersweet and comes with a reminder that even if we do live forever, the time we have with those we love in any given span of moments should always be considered precious. After the world crossed into the 21st century and the length of their marriage equaled the fifteen years Eleanor and Louis were married to each other in the 12th century, the Angel of Death came calling. In another realm she's known as the Gold Haired Goddess of Opportunity.

In this ever-changing world with its never-ending story, the stage has been set for the premiere of a show the likes of which the world has never witnessed.

(*06/11/12: Nearly a year has passed since this entry was posted. New, yet unpublished details have led me to edit the above paragraph which originally stated "God came calling to retrieve his Bride" replacing it with "the Angel of Death came calling." The woman who married the modern times "Louis" in 1994 has been called "a goddess" (in a movie) but the relationship she shared with Louis in a prior life may or may not have been as his wife. In reality there are two distinct stories and two not so different women who have traded details from their lives as a way to historically intertwine and establish the transition in the roles each now serves. The woman known in history as Eleanor of Aquitaine is "the Bride" and chosen Queen of God's kingdom.)

In The Story of the Grail, the Ugly Maiden crashed the party at King Arthur's castle in Carlion. After scolding Perceval for not seizing Fortune when he met her, she shared some information with the others:

The knight who seeks the greatest fame
the world around, for him I'll name
the place, the strip of land within it,
where such a warrior could win it,
if there is anyone who'd dare.
Upon a hill in Montesclaire
is a besieged, beleaguered maid,
and were a knight to bring her aid
and save her, when the siege is raised,
he would be honored, highly praised,
and could, in safety, gird the Sword
with the Strange Hangings, if the Lord
allowed and showed him such compliance.
At that, the maid resumed her silence,
for she had said all that she pleased.
She left the court, when her words had ceased,
and did not tell them any more.

This is where The Story of the Grail officially passes the legend to a place in time for it to be brought to closure. Only one ending is possible and it has already been sketched out. There is, however, plenty more to be said when the right moment arrives. And reality's side of make-believe comes with numerous twists and turns.

Now, if anyone would dare rescue the beleaguered maid when the siege is raised, he must heed these four words of wisdom: "The shoe must fit."

Photo credit: Albatross from HMS Albatross, by billynom, Use of photo does not come with endorsement of this blog. entries have been reproduced extensively; the first task is to gather details/words from life that have already been recorded.

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