R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio – July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010

Heavy Metal legend Ronnie James Dio died peacefully yesterday after a battle with stomach cancer. Dio was known for replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath as well as being the founder of the group Dio. Not only is he legendary in the metal world for his music, but he also popularized the “devil horns” sign. He said that the sign had come from his grandmother who used it to ward off evil.
Dio was in the original lineup of the band Rainbow along with former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. In 1979, Dio left Rainbow to replace Ozzy in Black Sabbath, and released the album Heaven and Hell which revitalized the band. He was with the band on and off several times. After the first 2 years of his first stint with the band, he started up his own successful band – Dio.

On January 17, 2007, he was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame at Guitar Center on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard.

Dio revealed last summer that he was suffering from stomach cancer shortly after wrapping up a tour in Atlantic City, N.J., with the latest incarnation of Black Sabbath under the name Heaven And Hell.

He was married to Wendy Galaxiola, who also served as his manager.
On March 14, 2010, Wendy posted an online update on his condition:

“It has been Ronnie’s 7th chemo, another cat scan and another endoscopy, and the results are good – the main tumour has shrunk considerably, and our visits to Houston (cancer clinic in Texas) are now every three weeks instead of every two weeks.”

On May 4, Heaven and Hell announced they were cancelling all summer dates as a result of Dio’s ill health.

Dio died at 7:45 am (CDT) on May 16, 2010.

Here is my favorite Dio song, “Rainbow in the Dark”:

Ronald Reagan Quote of the Week – 5/17/10

* I have never given a litmus test to anyone that I have appointed to the bench…. I feel very strongly about those social issues, but I also place my confidence in the fact that the one thing that I do seek are judges that will interpret the law and not write the law. We’ve had too many examples in recent years of courts and judges legislating. They’re not interpreting what the law says and whether someone has violated it or not. In too many instances, they have been actually legislating by legal decree what they think the law should be, and that I don’t go for. And I think that the two men that we’re just talking about here, Rehnquist and Scalia, are interpreters of the Constitution and the law.
o Interview with LA Times (1986-06-23)

May 13, 1981: Pope John Paul II is Shot

29 years ago today, Pope John Paul II. The following is from the History Channel:

Pope John Paul II is shot and wounded at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Italy. Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca, an escaped fugitive already convicted of a previous murder, fired several shots at the religious leader, two of which wounded nearby tourists. Agca was immediately captured.

Agca claimed that he had planned to go to England to kill the king but couldn’t because it turned out there was only a queen and “Turks don’t shoot women.” He also claimed to have Palestinian connections, although the PLO quickly denied any involvement. Detectives believed that his confession had been coached in order to throw investigators offtrack.

When his trial began on July 20, 1981, Agca tried an unlikely legal gambit: He maintained that Italy did not have the right to prosecute him since the crime occurred at the Vatican. Although he threatened to go on a hunger strike if his trial wasn’t shifted to a Vatican court, his request was denied and he was found guilty two days later. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Many people argued that the very unusual and short trial must have been an effort to cover up evidence of a conspiracy. In fact, Italian authorities had their own suspicions but did not want to disclose them in a highly publicized trial. Instead, they conducted a relatively quiet investigation into the connection between Agca and Bulgaria’s KGB-connected intelligence agency.

The motive behind an alleged Soviet-inspired assassination must be viewed in the context of the Cold War in 1981. Pope John Paul II was Polish-born and openly supportive of the democratic movement in that country. His visit to Poland in 1979 worried the Kremlin, which saw its hold on Eastern Europe in danger.

Although the exact extent of the conspiracy remains unknown today, Agca reportedly met with Bulgarian spies Sergei Antonov, Zhelio Vassilev, Todor Aivazov, and Bekir Celenk in Rome about assassinating Lech Walesa, the Polish labor union leader. However, this plan was abandoned when Agca was offered $1.25 million to kill the pope.

Dana Plato’s Son Commits Suicide

Almost 11 years to the day that Dana Plato committed suicide by overdosing on painkillers at the age of 34, her son Tyler Lambert committed suicide. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in Kellyville, Oklahoma. Dana Plato died on May 9, 1999, and her son Tyler died on May 6, 2010. He was 25.

Lambert’s grandmother (Plato’s former mother-in-law) Joni Richardson said that “Tyler wanted to be with his mother,” according to the National Enquirer. “His father Lanny is devastated.” His body is to be cremated and no memorial is being planned. Tyler was a cameraman and aspiring songwriter. Richardson also told people.com “It’s a shame that such a talented human being would do this with his life,” and “He had all the opportunities in the world and we just can’t understand it,” she added. “Our lives have just been wrapped around him. … It’s just devastating.”

References: UPI.com

E! Online

Sitcom Theme Songs of the ’80s

Remember when television sitcom theme songs were more than a few seconds? They used to show the premise of the show and introduce the starring characters. Sure, some of them may have been corny, but the opening theme was just about as good as the show itself.

Here are some of my favorites from the ’80s:

10. Happy Days
The original song was Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”. Then from 1976 through 1984 the show had its own original song written by television theme writers Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, who also wrote the themes for Wonder Woman, Laverne and Shirley, and Love Boat. The song was sung by Jerry McClain and Truett Pratt, who were also known as Brother Love.

9. Golden Girls

This song was “Thank You for Being a Friend”, and was written by written by Andrew Gold. It was actually a #25 hit on the Billboard charts in 1978. You can see him perform it here.
The television theme version was recorded by Cynthia Fee (who is also known for her 1984 duet with Kenny Rogers, “I Don’t Want To Know Why”).

8. The Facts of Life

“The Facts of Life” theme was written by Growing Pains dad Alan Thicke, Days of Our Lives star Gloria Loring and Al Burton, and was sung by Gloria Loring.

7. Silver Spoons

The show’s theme song titled “Together” was written by Rik Howard and Bob Wirth. It was sung by The Archies’ alumni Ron Dante.

6. Punky Brewster

This theme song is “Every Time I Turn Around”, and was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo and sung by Portnoy. Here is the version from seasons 3 and 4. To see the first season version, check out the Punk Brewster article from May 6 .

5. Charles in Charge

There were 2 versions of this song, even though the lyrics were the same. They are both good.

Season 1:

The rest of the seasons:

4. The Jeffersons

This song is “Movin’ on Up” and was written by Jeff Barry and Ja’net Dubois, and performed by Dubois. I dare to not move your hands or feet to this song!

3. Diff’rent Strokes

Like it’s spin-off, The Facts of Life, this song was written by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton. This was sung by Alan Thicke.

2. Growing Pains

This song is “As Long As We Got Each Other,” sung by B.J. Thomas and Jennifer Warnes, and was written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis.
B.J. Thomas had hit songs such as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” and “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love”. Jennifer Warnes was a very successful duet singer as she had hits with “Up Where We Belong” (with Joe Cocker, from the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman) and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (with Bill Medley from the 1987 film Dirty Dancing).

1. Cheers

This is “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, and was written by Gary Portnoy (who also wrote and performed the Punky Brewster theme) and Judy Hart Angelo and performed by Portnoy. I like the long version. The short version usually gets played for the reruns now.

Does anybody else have any favorites? Three’s Company? Laverne and Shirley? Perfect Strangers? Family Ties?

[twitter-follow screen_name=’returntothe80s’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Betty White was great on Saturday Night Live

Even though Saturday Night Live is not as good as it used to be, I still have it on my TiVo’s Season Pass. This was the first episode in a very long time that I did not fast forward by a single skit. The “music”, on the other hand, was a different story. Here are the clips:

1. The opening skit: The Lawrence Welk Show.
It’s not too often that the host appears in the opening skit, but Betty White appears here. I’m not a big fan of Kristen Wiig. I like her Target lady, and her Kathie Lee. This is also a great character she plays.

2. Opening Monologue. Her opening monologue was better than most:

3. MacGruber skits. I can’t believe they are actually making a full length movie of this sketch. But these are really funny. These were played throughout the episode:

4. “The Delicious Dish”. This is an instant classic. Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon returned this week, and were just awesome in this skit. This sketch goes into great details about Betty White’s “muffin”.

5. The Manuel Ortiz Show. This would normally be a skit I would go by, but even this was pretty good. Check out Betty’s moves! Sorry for the bad video quality:

6. Gingey. All the ladies of Saturday Night Live were in this skit, where Betty White was trying to open everybody’s eyes and let them know that Amy Poelher is a lesbian. Amy Poelher is awesome in this sketch. I love that old fasioned voice she does:

7. Weekend Update. There are way too many skits during Weekend Update these days, and I end up scanning through most of them. But Molly Shannon and Betty White are hilarious here:

8. Scared Straight. This and “What Up With That” are two of my favorite Kenan Thompson sketches.

Click here to view the sketch.

9. Digital Short – Thank You for being a Friend. Awww, this starts off so sweet! Then your mind gets blown away!! If you thought the rapping granny in The Wedding Singer was cool, check out Betty White’s Death Metal!!

10. Census. The last sketch of the night is usually the worst sketch of the night, and the show is pretty much over by the time you get to this point. But this sketch could be one of the first sketches in any other SNL episode. Betty White is wacky and awesome with poor census taker Tina Fey.

Click here to view the clip.

Where Are They Now? – Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster)

Soleil Moon Frye is best known for playing Punky Brewster, which ran from 1984-1988. Penelope “Punky” Brewster was abandoned by her mother after her father walked out on the family. Punky and her dog and loyal companion, Brandon found a vacant apartment in a local building. The building was managed by photographer Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes, who was also in the movie Police Academy), an old and grumpy widower. Henry found Punky in the apartment, and took her in after he heard her story. She also became good friends with a girl named Cherie Johnson, who lived with her grandmother, Betty Johnson, in the apartment above Henry’s.
Punky was forced by the state to stay at Fenster Hall, a shelter for orphaned and abandoned children, which made her realize all the more how close she had grown to Henry. Finally, their day arrived, and the court approved Henry to become Punky’s foster father.
Punky’s other friends are geeky Allen and snobby rich girl Margaux.
One other note about the show: Gary Portnoy, who wrote and performed the theme song, also wrote and performed the theme from Cheers.

In 1999, Soleil appeared on an episode of Friends. She played a girl Joey was dating, and liked to punch him around.

From 2000 to 2003, Frye portrayed the character of Roxie King in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

She also did the voice of Zoey on the cartoon The Proud Family from 2001-2005.

After suffering from gigantomastia as a teen, Frye underwent a breast reduction three months before her 16th birthday.

Frye married Jason Goldberg, a television producer and actor, on October 25, 1998 in Los Angeles. Their first child, daughter Poet Sienna Rose Goldberg, was born on August 24, 2005, in Los Angeles. On March 17, 2008 she gave birth to her second daughter, Jagger Joseph Blue Goldberg.

Now, Frye, along with two friends, opened The Little Seed, an environmentally-conscious children’s specialty boutique in Los Angeles.

Bret Michaels released from hospital

Bret Michaels has been released from a Phoenix hospital and is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a brain hemorrhage last month, his doctor said Tuesday.

Dr. Joseph Zabramski, chief of cerebrovascular surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, said he recommended that Michaels wait at least four to six weeks before resuming normal activity. He declined to say when Michaels could resume touring. Doctors will examine Michaels every two weeks until he’s recovered.

“This produces a great deal of stress on the body,” he said. “This is like being involved in an accident from inside.”

Zabramski said Michaels is fully conscious and aware and talking fine, but he has back spasms and headaches when he tries to walk. He could continue getting back pain and headaches, but Zabramski doesn’t expect any other long-term effects. He wouldn’t say when Michaels was released or whether he was sent home or to a rehabilitation facility.

There were two tests that showed that Michaels did not suffer an aneurysm after all. A thrid test is being planned so they can check once again for an aneurysm. The doctors do not think the appendectomy, that Michaels had on April 12, is related. They also do not believe the accident where he got hit in the head at the Tony awards last year is related. Zabramski said that hard hits to the head can cause hemorrhages, but not almost a year after the incident.

Michaels is still one of the final 5 contestants on this season’s Celebrity Apprentice. If he avoids being fired by Trump in upcoming episodes, Michaels’ prognosis means he could possibly attend “The Celebrity Apprentice” finale May 23 at New York University’s Skirball Center. The finale features the last two contestants performing a final task, typically organizing a charity event, then debating each other live in front of Trump.

Corey Haim died of natural causes

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection
Corey Haim’s autopsy has been completed, and drug abuse was not the cause of death.
Haim’s death began as a “suspected prescription medication overdose,” but toxicology tests “revealed no significant contributing factors” from drugs, the coroner reported.
Corey died from pneumonia. There was an extremely large amount” of swelling in Haim’s lungs.

Toxicology tests showed that Haim’s blood did have “low levels” of a list of drugs, including an antidepressant (Prozac), an antipsychotic (Olanzapine), diazepam (Valium), a muscle relaxer (Carisoprodol), a tranquilizer (meprobamate) and THC (a chemical in marijuana).

Haim also was taking a cough suppressant, antihistamine and ibuprofen.

“These medications are present in low levels and are non-contributory to death,” the autopsy report said.