Category Archives: R.I.P

Airplane! released 30 years ago today. Surely you can’t be serious!

I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley. Airplane!, one of the funniest movies of all time was released on July 2, 1980. The movie was directed and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, and influenced many other satires including the Naked Gun, as well as the Scary Movie franchises. It was a satire of disaster movies, and was basically a remake of a 1957 movie called Zero Hour. Airplane! starred Robert Hays as Ted Striker – an ex-fighter pilot who was traumatized after an incident during the war, leading to his fear of flying and his “drinking problem”. Of course his “drinking problem” was not alcoholism, but the problem was that he always missed his mouth whenever he tried to drink something. Striker attempts to regain the love of his life from the war, Elaine (Julie Hagerty), now a stewardess. In order to win her love, Striker overcomes his fear and buys a ticket on a flight she is serving on, from Los Angeles to Chicago. During the flight a major case of food poisoning breaks out, and knocks the pilot, co-pilot, and navigator out of commission. Ted needs to overcome his fear, and take over as pilot, and landing the plane safely.
Airplane! also starred several actors playing against the type of roles they were used to playing.
This movie changed Leslie Nielsen’s career. Before Airplane!, Nielsen had leading roles in the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and as the ship’s captain in The Poseidon Adventure. His last role before Airplane! was in the 1977 action movie Project: Kill. In Airplane!, he played Dr. Rumack:

Rumack: What was it we had for dinner tonight?
Elaine: Well, we had a choice of steak or fish.
Rumack: Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna.

Sadly, Leslie Nielsen passed away November 28, 2010 from complications of pneumonia.
Peter Graves, who died on March 14 this year, was better known as Jim Phelps from the Mission: Impossible television show. But, he was great as Captain Oveur. The things that he said to little Joey probably would not appear in any movies today without causing an outrage:
“Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?”
“Joey, have you ever been to a Turkish prison?”
“Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?”

Robert Stack was also known for serious roles, such as Eliot Ness in the television drama The Untouchables (1959–63). Most of us also know him from hosting Unsolved Mysteries from 1987-2002. In Airplane!, Stack played Captain Rex Kramer, Ted’s former commander, who is called in to air control to talk Ted down.
[continuing to talk into the radio after Striker lands the plane] “Ted, have you ever been face down in the mud, and been kicked in the head with an iron boot? Of course you haven’t! No one has! It’s a stupid question! Forget I even asked!”

And who could forget Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey, the tower supervisor!? He sure picked the wrong week to quit his many vices:

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking.”
“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.”
“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.”
“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.”

There are so many comedic moments in this movie that you can not possibly catch everything the first time you watch the movie. 30 years later, there are still things I see in the movie that I had missed or had forgotten about.

And here is my favorite scene of the movie. Talk about playing against type! Check out Barbara Billingsley (aka Mrs. June Cleaver) as the Jive Lady:

Randy: Can I get you something?
Second Jive Dude: ‘S’mofo butter layin’ me to da’ BONE! Jackin’ me up… tight me!
Randy: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.
First Jive Dude: Cutty say ‘e can’t HANG!
Jive Lady: Oh stewardess! I speak jive.
Randy: Oh, good.
Jive Lady: He said that he’s in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.
Randy: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I’ll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?
Jive Lady: Jus’ hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da’ rebound on da’ med side.
Second Jive Dude: What it is, big mama? My mama no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!
Jive Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don’ want no help, chump don’t GET da’ help!
First Jive Dude: Say ‘e can’t hang, say seven up!
Jive Lady: Jive ass dude don’t got no brains anyhow! Hmmph!

There are so many great moments in the movie. What are your favorite scenes or quotes?

R.I.P. Gary Coleman: February 8, 1968 – May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman died today of a brain hemorrhage at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Utah. He was 42.

The following was reported by CNN:

“We are very sad to have to report Mr. Gary Coleman has passed away,” his spokesman, John Alcantar, said in a statement Friday afternoon. “He was removed from life support; soon thereafter, he passed quickly and peacefully. By Gary’s bedside were his wife and other close family members.”

Coleman was born on February 8, 1968, and raised in Zion, Illinois, near Chicago. He was adopted as an infant by Willie Coleman, a representative for a pharmaceutical company, and Sue Coleman, a nurse. By age 5, Coleman was modeling for retailer Montgomery Ward, a job that was followed by appearances in commercials for McDonald’s and Hallmark, according to a 1979 profile in People magazine.

Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes from 1978 to 1986, portraying a child adopted by a wealthy widower.

Coleman became the icon of the show, most known by his character’s catchphrase “What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” At the height of his fame on Diff’rent Strokes, he earned as much as $100,000 per episode. It is estimated he was left with a quarter of the original amount after paying his parents, advisers, lawyers, and taxes. He later successfully sued his parents and his ex-advisers for misappropriation of his finances and was awarded $1.3 million. But then he had to file for bankruptcy six years later.

Coleman lives 55 miles south of Salt Lake City in Santaquin, and has lived in Utah since 2005. He went there to star in the movie Church Ball. He met Shannon Price on the movie set and married her in 2007.

Coleman has had a lot of financial and legal issues, as well as ill health. Most of his health issues stem from a kidney disease he suffered as a child, and has had at least 2 kidney transplants and has ongoing dialysis. Last fall, Coleman had heart surgery that was complicated by pneumonia.

In February, Coleman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge related to an April 2009 domestic violence incident at his home.

I will do a tribute for Gary within the next week. But in the meantime, this is how I prefer to remember him:

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”:

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

R.I.P. Dixie Carter – (May 25, 1939 – April 10, 2010)

Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards
Dixie Carter, best known for her role as Julia Sugarbaker on the TV show Designing Women, from 1986–1993 has died. According to CNN, Carter, who was 70, died from complications arising from cancer. Dixie Carter had been married to actor Hal Holbrook since 1984. Carter is also Carter is survived by two daughters from a previous marriage, Mary Dixie and Ginna. Carter suffered from endometrial cancer, which forms in the the tissue lining the uterus.

In addition to playing Julia on Designing Women, Dixie Carter also played Margaret “Maggie” McKinney on Diff’rent Strokes. She first appeared in the series in February 1984, during a three-part story arc that took the cast to California. Maggie and Philip Drummond fell in love, so in a “jump the shark” moment, Maggie and her son Sam came home with the Drummonds. Due to bad ratings, NBC dropped the show, which was then picked up by ABC for one last season. Dixie Carter was replaced by Mary Ann Mobley as Maggie.

But Carter went on to further success by playing Julia Sugarbaker in Designing Women alongside Delta Burke, who played her sister Suzanne Sugarbaker. Together they launched an interior design firm called Sugarbaker Designs.

More recently, Carter earned an Emmy nomination for playing the very disturbed Gloria Hodge on Desperate Housewives during the 2006-2007 season.

R.I.P. John Forsythe – January 29, 1918 – April 1, 2010

John Forsythe, best known as Blake Carrington on the 80’s night time soap Dynasty, has died at the age of 92 after a year long battle with cancer. He died at his home in Santa Ynez from complications of pneumonia, publicist Harlan Boll said Friday.

Before he was in Dynasty, Forsythe was on Charlie’s Angels as Charles Townsend. He was the voice on the speaker phone who gave the Angels their mission for the episode.

After that series ended in 1981, Forsythe was cast as Blake Carrington. The A-Team‘s George Peppard was originally cast as Carrington, but Forsythe was selected as a last minute replacement. I think that worked out well for both of them.

Dynasty also starred Linda Evans as Krystle Carrington, Joan Collins as Alexis Colby, as well as Heather Locklear, and Heroes’ Jack Coleman.
I never watched the show, but I do remember the catfight between Krystle and Alexis. The show ended its run in 1989.

R.I.P. Robert Culp (August 16, 1930 – March 24, 2010)

According to the Associated Press, Robert Culp, who played FBI Agent Bill Maxwell on The Greatest American Hero, died yesterday falling on a sidewalk near the lower entrance to Runyon Canyon Park, a popular hiking area in Hollywood. According to his manager Hillard Elkins, Culp was on a walk when he fell, and was pronounced dead before noon. Culp’s son was told that he died of a heart attack, and police were not sure if the fall was medically related.

Robert Culp is also known for playing Kelly Robinson in the television show I Spy, which ran 1965-168. For all three seasons, he was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama, but lost to costar Bill Cosby (who played Alexander Scott) all three times. They remained friends after the series ended. Then they had a mini reunion in 1987 for an episode on The Cosby Show. Culp played Cliff Huxtable’s old navy buddy, Scotty Kelly, which was a combination of their I Spy characters’ names.

R.I.P. Peter Graves: 1926-2010

“Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?”
“Joey, have you ever been to a Turkish prison?”
“Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?”

Those are a few of the classic questions that Peter Graves, as Captain Oveur, asked cockpit visitor Joey in 1980’s Airplane!.

Although Peter Graves is best known for his role as Jim Phelps in the Mission: Impossible television show, 80’s fans fondly remember Graves as Capt. Oveur.

According to the report on Reuters, Graves died of an apparent heart attack at his house in the coastal suburb of Pacific Palisades. He had returned home after attending a family brunch to celebrate his upcoming birthday on Thursday.

R.I.P Merlin Olsen (September 15, 1940 – March 10, 2010)


Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen has passed away today at the age of 69. According to the USA Today, Olsen, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009, filed a lawsuit in December against numerous companies, including NBC, who he alleged exposed him negligently to asbestos.

Olsen played on the defensive line for the Los Angeles Rams from 1962 to 1976. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1962, and was elected to the All-Pro team 14 times. He was part of one of the best defensive lines in history alongside Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier, and Lamar Lundy. They were known as the Fearsome Foursome.
After he retired, he went on to be an NFL commentator alongside Dick Enberg on NBC throughout the 80’s. I thought he was an outstanding announcer.

He also became a successful actor. He played Michael Landon’s best friend, Jonathan Garvey on Little House on the Prairie. Then he starred in the television drama Father Murphy, which ran from 1981 to 1983.

Teddy Pendergrass: 1950-2010


R&B Singer Teddy Pendergrass passed away January 13, 2010.
Pendergrass was a very successful recording artist until he was slowed down by spinal cord injury, from a car accident in 1982, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Pendergrass was the lead singer of the group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes who, in 1972, released the song “If You Don’t Know Me By Now“. The song became a number 1 hit in 1989 by Simply Red.
Another great song he performed was “Hold Me“, which was a duet with Whitney Houston on her debut album.

570]