Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I put a spell on you

Jay Hawkins CD Jay Hawkins Death
Buy from Amazon.com: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins CD’s

Screamin' jay hawkinsJalacy Hawkins, best known as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (July 18, 1929 – February 12, 2000) was an African-American singer. Famed chiefly for his powerful, operatic vocal delivery & wildly theatrical performances of songs such as "I Put a Spell on You" and "Constipation Blues," Hawkins sometimes used macabre props onstage, making him perhaps the first shock rocker.

"I Put A Spell On You"
His most successful recording, "I Put a Spell on You" (1956), was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Death of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Hawkins died on February 12, 2000 after surgery to treat an aneurysm. He left behind many children by many women; about 55 were known (or suspected) upon his death, and upon investigation, that number "soon became perhaps 75 offspring", according to this website. News of Hawkins’ death was largely overshadowed by the deaths of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry, and pop singer Oliver on that same day.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I put a spell on you, Live

Jay Hawkins CD Jay Hawkins Death
Buy from Amazon.com: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins CD’s  

Early career
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Hawkins originally set out to become an opera singer, and has regularly cited Paul Robeson as his idol. When his initial ambitions failed, he began his career as a conventional blues singer and pianist.

He served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Ocean during World War II, primarily as an entertainer, although he claimed to have been a POW. Hawkins was an avid and formidable boxer: in 1949, he was the middleweight boxing champion of Alaska.

In 1951, he joined guitarist Tiny Grimes for a while, and recorded a few songs with him. When Hawkins became a solo performer, he often performed in a very stylish wardrobe, featuring leopard skins, red leather and wild hats.

Later career
Hawkins had several further hits, including "Constipation Blues", "Orange Colored Sky", and "Feast of the Mau Mau". Nothing he released, however, had the monumental success of "I Put a Spell on You".

He continued to tour and record through the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in Europe, where he was very popular, but his career was not advancing in America until filmmaker Jim Jarmusch featured "I Put a Spell on You" on the soundtrack – and deep in the plot – of his film Stranger Than Paradise (1983) and then Hawkins himself as a hotel night clerk in his Mystery Train. This led to a few other movie performances, such as Álex de la Iglesia’s Perdita Durango and Bill Duke’s adaptation of Chester Himes’ A Rage In Harlem.

His 1957 single "Frenzy" (found on the early 1980s compilation of the same name) was included in the compilation CD, "Songs in the Key of X: Music From And Inspired By The X-Files", in 1996. This song was featured in the show’s season 2 episode "Humbug". It was also covered by the band Batmobile

In July 1991, Hawkins released his album Black Music for White People. The record features covers of two Tom Waits compositions; "Heart Attack and Vine" (which, later that year, was used in a European Levi’s advertisement without Waits’ permission, resulting in a lawsuit), and "Ice Cream Man" (which, contrary to popular belief, is a Waits original, and not a cover of the John Brim classic. Incidentally, Hawkins also covered the Waits tune "Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard" for his album Somethin’ Funny Goin’ On.)

Hawkins also toured with The Clash and Nick Cave during this period, and not only became a fixture of blues festivals, but appeared at many film festivals as well.

His performance style earned him a loyal following — the use of a skull, a moving arm and, in his early days — a coffin added to his charisma.

Hawkins died on February 12, 2000 after surgery to treat an aneurysm. He left behind many children by many women; about 55 were known (or suspected) upon his death, and upon investigation, that number "soon became perhaps 75 offspring", according to this website. News of Hawkins’ death was largely overshadowed by the deaths of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry, and pop singer Oliver on that same day.

Discography

Selected Singles
1956 I Put a Spell On You/Little Demon
1957 You Made Me Love You/Darling, Please Forgive Me
1957 Frenzy/Person to Person
1958 Alligator Wine/There’s Something Wrong With You
1958 Armpit #6/The Past [Red Top 126]
1962 I Hear Voices/Just Don’t Care
1962 Ashes/Nitty Gritty – w/ Shoutin’ Pat
1966 Poor Folks / Your Kind of Love
1970 Do You Really Love Me/Constipation Blues
1973 Monkberry Moon Delight/Sweet Ginny

Albums
1958 At Home with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Okeh/Epic) – other editions entitled Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and I Put a Spell on You
1965 The Night and Day of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Planet) – also entitled In the Night and Day of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
1969 What That Is! (Philips)
1970 Because Is in Your Mind (Armpitrubber) (Philips)
1972 Portrait of a Man and His Woman (Hotline) – also entitled I Put a Spell on You and Blues Shouter
1977 I Put a Spell on You (Versatile–recordings from 1966-76)
1979 Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Koala)
1979 Screamin’ the Blues (Red Lightnin’) – also entitled She Put the Wammee on Me
1983 Real Life (Zeta)
1984 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and The Fuzztones Live (Midnight Records) – live
1988 At Home with Jay in The Wee Wee Hours (Midnight Records) – live
1988 Live & Crazy (Blue Phoenix) – live
1990 The Art of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Spivey)
1991 Black Music For White People (Bizarre/Straight Records/Planet Records)
1991 I Shake My Stick at You (Aim)
1993 Stone Crazy (Bizarre/Straight/Planet)
1994 Somethin’ Funny Goin’ On (Bizarre/Straight/Planet)
1993 Rated X (Sting S) – live
1998 At Last (Last Call)
1998 Live (Loudsprecher/Indigo) – live
1999 Live at the Olympia, Paris (Last Call) – live with one studio new song
2004 Live (Fremeaux & Associés) – live with two studio new songs

###

Jim Varney, James Varney – Ernest Goes to… movies

Jim Varney DVDJim Varney movieJim Varney Memory
Buy from Amazon.com: Jim Varney DVDs 

Jim Varney DeathJames Albert Varney Jr. (June 15, 1949 – February 10, 2000) was an American actor. He was best known for his character Ernest P. Worrell, originally created by Nashville advertising agency Carden and Cherry in the 1980s. The character was used in numerous television commercial campaigns and movies in the following years, giving him fame worldwide. He is best known for his slapstick style and his portrayal of "redneck" stereotypes in a friendly, approachable way.

Death of James Varney
James Varney died of lung cancer on February 10, 2000 at 4:45 a.m. in his White House, Tennessee home as the movie Ernest the Pirate neared completion and when Atlantis: The Lost Empire was still in production.He is interred at Lexington’s cemetery.
James Varney was 50 year old at the time of his death

Jim Varney’s TV commercial bloopers

Jim Varney DVDJim Varney movieJim Varney Memory
Buy from Amazon.com: Jim Varney DVDs  

Early life
Varney was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where he grew up. He began his interest in theater as a teenager, winning state titles in drama competitions while a student at Lafayette High School (which he graduated from with the class of 1968) in Lexington. At the age of 15, he portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in a local children’s theater production, and by 17, he was performing professionally in nightclubs and coffee houses. He listed a former teacher, Thelma Beeler, as being one of the main contributing factors in his becoming an actor.

Television commercial career
The first commercial as Ernest, filmed in 1980, was to advertise an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at Beech Bend Park, an amusement park located near Bowling Green, Kentucky. The character was franchised for use in markets all over the country, and was often used by dairies to advertise milk products. For example, the Midwestern dairy bar chain Braum’s ran several advertisements using Ernest’s catch phrase, "KnoWhutImean, Vern?" (as it was spelled in his registered trademark). Purity Dairies, based in Nashville, and Oakhurst Dairy in Maine ran commercials that were nearly identical, but with the dairy name changed.

For the same agency, Varney created a different character, "Sgt. Glory", a humorless drill instructor who harangued cows of the client’s dairy into producing better milk. In another spot, Glory’s home was shown as he had a date, and was so heavily decorated with the products of the sponsor and advertising specialty items for it that it was essentially devoid of any other decor. The Sgt. Glory character also appeared in an advertisement for a southern grocery chain, Pruitt’s Food Town, in which he’s drilling the checkout clerks on proper behavior. ("Bread on top. Repeat: Bread on top.") He approaches one of them at the end of the commercial with a look of menace and says, "You’re not smilin’." The checkout bagger gives a very nervous and forced smile.

Varney also starred as Ernest in a series of commercials that ran in the New Orleans area, and throughout the Gulf South, as a spokesman for natural gas utilities. In one, he is seen kneeling down in front of Vern’s desk under a lamp hanging from the ceiling, stating "Natural gas, Vern; it’s hot, fast and cheap. Hot, fast, cheap; kinda like your first wife, Vern, you know, the pretty one!?" Vern then knocked the lamp into Ernest’s head, knocking him down. Those same TV ads were also featured on TV channels in the St. Louis area for Laclede Gas, during the mid-1980s.

He was also noted for doing commercials for car dealerships across the country, most notably Cerritos Auto Square in Cerritos, California, Tyson’s Toyota in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and Audubon Chrysler in Henderson, Kentucky. Another favorite Ernest vehicle was promotions for various TV stations around the nation, including the news team and the weather departments.

Varney also portrayed another character, "Auntie Nelda", in numerous commercials long before he resurrected the character for the movies Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam, Ernest Goes to Jail and Ernest Goes to Camp. Dressed in drag and appearing to be a senior-citizen, the commercials gave off the tone of a motherly lady encouraging you to do what was right – in this case, buy whatever product was being promoted. This character, along with the "Ernest" character, ran a couple of years in Mississippi and Louisiana in commercials for Ledco Aluminum Siding, a company that would come out and give you an estimate for placing aluminum siding on your home. Ledco often bought 2 hour slots in local markets. During the 2 hour slot, a movie was televised and Varney, as one of his characters, and a Ledco representative, would be the only commercial breaks during the movie to promote Ledco.

During the 1990s, Jim reprised his role as Ernest for Blake’s Lotaburger, a fast food chain in New Mexico. During these commercials, Ernest would typically be trying to get in to Vern’s house to see what food Vern was eating. After a lengthy description of whatever tasty morsel Vern had, Ernest would get locked out, but continue to shout from outside.

An interesting fact about the commercials is how universal they were. For example, the dairy spots would be the same situation and script, changing only the name of the dairy. The same situations would be used (varying the script for the product, but resulting in the same punchline) for countless other products. The end result was that a finite number of commercials could sell a wide variety of products. However, all the commercials were not based on those cookie-cutter premises, and original commercials were shot for specific products/sponsors.

Ernest’s popularity
Varney’s character Ernest P. Worrell proved so popular that it was spun off into a TV series, Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! and a series of movies in the 1980s and 1990s. Ernest Goes to Camp earned Varney a nomination for "Worst New Star" at the 1987 Golden Raspberry Awards (he "lost"). The movie was a huge hit; however, grossing $25 million at the box office.

Other Ernest movies included Ernest Saves Christmas, Slam Dunk Ernest, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Goes to Africa, Ernest Goes to School, Ernest Scared Stupid, and Ernest in the Army. The Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot theme park featured Ernest. Epcot’s Cranium Command attraction used the Ernest character in its preshow as an example of a "lovable but not the brightest person on the planet" type of person. And in addition to his Ernest Goes to… series, he starred as Ernest in several smaller movies for Carden & Cherry such as Ernest P. Worrell’s Family Album, Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam, and Your World as I See It, all of which showcased his great facility with assuming a wide variety of characters and accents.

Non-"Ernest" work
Varney played a recurring guest on faux late-night-talk show Fernwood 2 Night

He also lent his voice to the character "Slinky Dog" in Disney’s Toy Story film series, and to the character "Cookie" Farnsworth, from Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which was released the year after his death.

Varney provided the guest voice for the carny character "Cooder" for "Bart Carny" episode of The Simpsons.

Varney played the character "Walt Evergreen" in the Duckman episode "You’ve Come a Wrong Way, Baby".

Varney played the prince that Roseanne’s sister Jackie started dating near the end of the 1990s television series Roseanne.

Varney played the villain Lothar Zogg in the 1998 film 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain.

Varney is in Hank Williams, Jr. ‘s video for "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," where he is briefly shown casually riding a bull.

Varney also played the part of Jed Clampett in the 1993 production of The Beverly Hillbillies.

Varney also played the entertainer/watch guard Rudy James in the movie Snowboard Academy.

He also has a small part in an independent production 100 Proof. Just prior to his stint as Ernest P. Worrell, Varney was a cast member on the notorious television flop Pink Lady and Jeff.

Varney was a special guest, appearing as himself, in the Bibleman Genesis Series Bibleman Jr..

Varney starred in three videos The Misadventures of Bubba, The Misadventures of Bubba II, and Bubba goes Hunting in which he played himself and taught young kids important safety rules about hunting and guns. He illustrated the rules with the help of his bumbling and accident prone cousin Bubba (also played by varney) and Bubba’s imaginary hunting pal Billy Bob. The videos were distributed as part of a membership pack from Buckmasters’ Young Bucks Club.

Personal life
Varney was married twice, to Jacqueline Drew (1977-1983), and Jane Varney (1988-1991). Both marriages ended in divorce, though he remained friends with Jane until his death.

He would visit hospitals, and entertain sick children in his "Ernest" persona.

Death
Varney died of lung cancer on February 10, 2000 at 4:45 a.m. in his White House, Tennessee home as the movie Ernest the Pirate neared completion and when Atlantis: The Lost Empire was still in production. He is interred at Lexington’s cemetery.

Filmography

Cinema-Actor

  • Daddy and Them (2001) Hazel Montgomery
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) Jedidiah Allardyce "Cookie" Farnsworth (voice)
  • Toy Story 2 (1999) Slinky Dog (voice)
  • Treehouse Hostage (1999) Carl Banks
  • Existo (1999) Marcel HRowitz
  • 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998) Lothar Zogg
  • Ernest in the Army (1998) Pvt. Ernest P. Worrell/Captain Ernest P. Worrell/Operation Sandtrap Arab
  • Annabelle´s Wish (1997) Mr. Gus Holder (voice)(video)
  • Ernest Goes to Africa (1997) Ernest P. Worrell/Hey You, the Hindu/Auntie Nelda/African woman dancer
  • 100 Proof (1997) Rae’s Father
  • Blood, Friends and Money (1997) The Older Mariner
  • Snowboard Academy (1996) Rudy James
  • Toy Story (1995) Slinky Dog (voice)
  • The Expert (1995) Snake
  • Slam Dunk Ernest (1995) Ernest P.Worrell (video)
  • Your World as I See It (1994) Ernest P.Worrell/Aster Clement/Baby Ernest/Auntie Nelda/Bonnie/Coy
  • Ernest Goes to School (1994) Ernest P. Worrell
  • Ernest Rides Again (1993) Ernest P. Worrell
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) Jed Clampett
  • Wilder Napalm (1993) Rex
  • Ernest´s Greatest Hits Volume 2 (1992) Ernest P.Worrell (video)
  • Ernest Scared Stupid (1991) Ernest P. Worrell
  • Ernest Goes to Jail (1990) Ernest P. Worrell/Mr. Felix Nash/Auntie Nelda
  • Fast Food (1989) Wrangler Bob
  • Ernest Saves Christmas (1988) Ernest P. Worrell/Aster Clement/Auntie Nelda/The Snake Guy
  • Ernest Goes to Camp (1987) Ernest P. Worrell
  • Hey, Vern, Win $10,000 (1987) Ernest P. Worrell (voice)
  • Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam (1986) Dr. Otto/Rudd Hardtact/Laughin’ Jack/Guy Dandy/Auntie Nelda/Ernest P. Worrell
  • The Ernest Film Festival (1986) Ernest P. Worrell (video)
  • Knowhutimean? Hey Vern, It’s My Family Album (1983) Ernest P. Worrell/Davy Worrell & Company/Ace Worrell/Lloyd Worrell/Billy Boogie Worrell/Rhetch
  • Worrell/Pop Worrell (video)
  • Spittin’ Image (1982) Sheriff

Television-Actor

  • The Simpsons episode – Bart Carny (1998) Cooder (voice)
  • Roseanne (1996) Prince Carlos of Moldavia
  • Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! (1988) Ernest, Dr. Otto, Auntie Nelda, Sergeant Glory, Baby Ernest
  • The Rousters (1983) Evan Earp
  • Operation Petticoat (1977-1979) Seaman Broom

###

###

Clayton Moore – The Lone Ranger

Lone RangerClayton Moore
Buy from Amazon.com: Lone Ranger DVDs

Lone Ranger DeathClayton Moore (September 14, 1914 – December 28, 1999) was an American actor best known for playing the fictional western character The Lone Ranger.

Clayton Moore’s Death
Clayton Moore died December 28, 1999, from a heart attack.
Clayton Moore was 85 years old at the time of his death. He is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Clayton Moore Biography
Born as Jack Carlton Moore in Chicago, Illinois, Moore was a circus acrobat as a boy, then later enjoyed a successful career as a John Robert Powers model. Moving to Hollywood in the late 1930s, he began working as a stunt man and bit player between modeling jobs. According to his autobiography, around 1940 Hollywood producer Edward Small convinced him to adopt the stage name "Clayton" Moore. He was an occasional player in B westerns and Republic Studio cliffhangers, ultimately starring in more such films than serial hero Buster Crabbe. His big break came in 1949, when George Trendle spotted him in "The Ghost of Zorro." As producer of the radio show and creator of "The Lone Ranger" character along with writer Fran Striker, Trendle was about to launch the masked man in the new medium of television. Moore was cast on sight.

Lone Ranger Opening

Clayton Moore’s Biography continues

Lone RangerClayton Moore
Buy from Amazon.com: Lone Ranger DVDs  

Moore then faced the challenge of training his voice to sound like the radio version of The Lone Ranger, which had then been on the air since 1933, and succeeded in lowering his already distinctive baritone even further. With the first notes of Rossini’s stirring "William Tell Overture" and announcer Fred Foy’s, "Return with us now, to those thrilling days of yesteryear…", Moore and co-star Jay Silverheels in the role of Tonto made television history as the first western written specifically for that medium. The Lone Ranger soon became the highest-rated program to that point on the fledgling ABC network and its first true "hit", earning an Emmy nomination in 1950.

After two successful years, which presented a new episode every week, 52 weeks a year, Moore had a pay dispute and left the series. As "Clay Moore," he made a few more westerns and serials, sometimes playing the villain. The public didn’t really accept the new Lone Ranger, actor John Hart, so the owners of the program relented and rehired Moore at his requested salary. He stayed with the program until it ended first-run production in 1957. He and Jay Silverheels also starred in two feature-length "Lone Ranger" motion pictures.

After completion of the second feature, "The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold" in 1956, Moore embarked on what eventually became 40 years of personal appearances, TV guest spots, and classic commercials as the legendary masked man. Silverheels joined him for occasional appearances during the early 1960s, and throughout his career Moore always expressed his tremendous respect and love for Silverheels.

In 1979, the owner of the Ranger character, Jack Wrather, obtained a court order prohibiting Moore from making future appearances as The Lone Ranger. Wrather anticipated making a new film version of the story, and did not want the value of the character being undercut by Moore’s appearances, nor anyone to think that the 65-year-old Moore would be playing the role in the new picture. This move proved to be a public relations disaster of the first order. Moore responded by changing his costume slightly and replacing the mask with similar-looking wraparound sunglasses, and then counter-sued Wrather. He eventually won the suit, and was able to resume his appearances in costume, which he continued to do until shortly before his death. For a time he worked in publicity tie-ins with the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Some have attributed the incredible failure of Wrather’s picture, finally released in 1981 as The Legend of the Lone Ranger, to this move. In reality, it was only one of the picture’s many problems (including Klinton Spilsbury’s performance in the title role, reportedly so inept that his dialogue was re-recorded by James Keach). However, none of the subsequent remakes of the fictional western hero caught the public’s imagination nor earned their respect as did the original.

Moore often was quoted as saying he had "fallen in love with the Lone Ranger character" and strove in his personal life to take The Lone Ranger Creed to heart. This, coupled with his public fight to retain the right to wear the mask, ultimately elevated him in the public’s eyes to an American folk icon. In this regard, he was much like another cowboy star, William Boyd, who nurtured the Hopalong Cassidy character. Moore was so identified with the masked man that he is the only person on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as of 2006, to have his character’s name along with his on the star, which reads, "Clayton Moore — The Lone Ranger". He was inducted into the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame in 1982 and in 1990 was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In keeping with the nature of the Ranger character, Moore chose to protect the Ranger’s identity at all times and is perhaps the only actor whose full face is largely unknown to the public. It was never shown in the TV series, although occasionally he would don a disguise and affect an accent, revealing the upper half of his face in the process. However, there is no shortage of photos of Moore unmasked, including many in his autobiography. His many fans, however, could easily recognize him by his distinctive voice.

Curtis Mayfield – Soul Musician “Superfly”

Curtis Mayfield CD Curtis Mayfield Music Superfly R&B Music
Buy from Amazon.com: Curtis Mayfield CD’s

Curtis Mayfield DeathCurtis Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Superfly. From these works and others, he was highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

Later years
In February, 1998, he had to have his right leg amputated due to diabetes. Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999. Unfortunately, health reasons prevented him from attending the ceremony.

Death of Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield died on December 26, 1999 in Roswell, Georgia from Diabetes
Curtis Mayfield was 57 years old at the time of his death

Curtis Mayfield – Superfly

Curtis Mayfield CD Curtis Mayfield Music Superfly R&B Music
Buy from Amazon.com: Curtis Mayfield CD’s  

Discography

Studio Albums
Curtis (1970)
Roots (1971)
Superfly (1972)
Back to the World (1973)
Got to Find a Way (1974)
Claudine (Gladys Knight and the Pips) (1974)
Sweet Exorcist (1974)
Let’s Do It Again (The Staple Singers) (1975)
There’s No Place Like America Today (1975)
Sparkle (Aretha Franklin) (1976)
Give, Get, Take and Have (1976)
A Piece of the Action (Mavis Staples) (1977)
Short Eyes (1977)
Never Say You Can’t Survive (1977)
Do It All Night (1978)
Heartbeat (1979)
Something to Believe In (1980)
The Right Combination (with Linda Clifford) (1980)
Love is the Place (1982)
Honesty (1983)
We Come in Peace with a Message of Love (1985)
Take It to the Streets (1990)
New World Order (1997)

Live albums
Curtis/Live! (1971)
Curtis in Chicago (1973)
Live in Europe (1988)
People Get Ready: Live at Ronnie Scott’s (1988)

Compilations
The Anthology 1961-1977 (1992)
People Get Ready: The Curtis Mayfield Story (1996)
The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield (1997)
Soul Legacy (2001)
Greatest Hits (2006)

Early years and The Impressions
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mayfield attended Wells High School. He dropped out of high school early to become lead singer and songwriter for The Impressions, then went on to a successful solo career. Perhaps most notably, Mayfield was among the first of a new wave of mainstream African-American R&B performing artists and composers who injected social commentary into their work. This "message music" became extremely popular during the period of political ferment and social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.

Mayfield had several distinctions to his style of playing and singing, adding to the uniqueness of his music. When he taught himself how to play guitar, he tuned the guitar to the black keys of the piano, giving him an open F-sharp tuning — F#, A#, C#, F#, A#, F# — that he used throughout his career. Also, he sang most of his lines in falsetto, adding another flavor to his music.

Mayfield’s career began in 1956 when he joined The Roosters with Arthur and Richard Brooks and Jerry Butler. Two years later The Roosters, now including also Sam Gooden, became The Impressions. The band had one big hit with "For Your Precious Love". After Butler left the group and was replaced with Fred Cash, Mayfield became lead singer, frequently composing for the band, as well, starting with "Gypsy Woman". Their hit "Amen," an updated version of an old gospel tune, was included in the soundtrack of the 1963 MGM film Lilies of the Field, which starred Sidney Poitier. The Impressions reached the height of their popularity in the mid to late 1960s, with a string of Mayfield compositions that included "Keep On Pushin’," "People Get Ready," "Choice of Colors," "Fool For You," "This is My Country" and "Check Out Your Mind." Mayfield had written much of the soundtrack of the civil rights movement alongside Bob Dylan and others in the early 1960s, but by the end of the decade he was a pioneering voice in the black pride movement, in the company of James Brown and Sly Stone. Mayfield’s "We’re a Winner" became an anthem of the black power and black pride movements when it was released in late 1967, much as his earlier "Keep on Pushing" (whose title is quoted in the lyrics of "We’re a Winner") had been an anthem for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

Independent from his work with The Impressions, Mayfield became a songwriting powerhouse in Chicago, writing and producing scores of hits for other artists, including:

"Mama Didn’t Lie"/Jan Bradley
"We Girls"/Jan Bradley
"The Monkey Time"/Major Lance
"Um, Um, Um, Um, Um"/Major Lance
"Gypsy Woman"/Brian Hyland
"Just Be True"/(and numerous other hits) by Gene Chandler,
Walter Jackson, and The Five Stairsteps, among others. He also owned the Mayfield and Windy C labels, distributed by Cameo-Parkway, and was partners in the Curtom label (first independent, then distributed by Atlantic, then Buddah and finally Warner Bros.)

Solo career
In 1970, Mayfield left The Impressions and began a solo career, founding the independent record label Curtom Records. Curtom would go on to release most of Mayfield’s landmark 1970s records, as well as records by the Impressions, Leroy Hutson, The Staple Singers, and Mavis Staples, and Baby Huey and the Babysitters, a group which at the time included Chaka Khan. Many of these records were also produced by Mayfield.

The commercial and critical peak of his solo career came with his 1972 album Superfly, the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film of the same name, and one of the most influential albums in history. Unlike the soundtracks to other blaxploitation films (most notably Isaac Hayes’ score for Shaft), which glorified the excesses of the characters, Mayfield’s lyrics consisted of hard-hitting commentary on the state of affairs in black, urban ghettos at the time, as well as direct criticisms of several characters in the film. Bob Donat wrote in Rolling Stone Magazine in 1972 that while the film’s message "was diluted by schizoid cross-purposes" because it "glamorizes machismo-cocaine consciousness… the anti-drug message on [Mayfield’s soundtrack] is far stronger and more definite than in the film." Along with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, this album ushered in a new socially conscious, funky style of popular soul music. He was dubbed ‘The Gentle Genius’ to reflect his outstanding and innovative musical output with the constant presence of his soft yet insistent vocals.

Superfly’s success resulted in Mayfield being tapped for additional soundtracks, some of which he wrote and produced while having others perform the vocals. Gladys Knight & the Pips recorded Mayfield’s soundtrack for Claudine in 1974, while Aretha Franklin recorded the soundtrack for Sparkle in 1976. Mayfield worked with Mavis Staples on the 1977 soundtrack for the film A Piece of the Action. He was in danger of overreaching himself being writer, producer, performer, arranger and businessman but seemed to cope and still produce a remarkable output.

One of Mayfield’s most successful funk-disco meldings was the 1977 hit "Do Do Wap is Strong in Here" from his soundtrack to the Robert M. Young film of Miguel Piñero’s play Short Eyes.

Later years
Mayfield was active throughout the 1970s and 1980s, though he had a somewhat lower public profile. On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. This tragedy set him back, but Mayfield forged ahead. He was unable to play guitar, but he wrote, sang and directed the recording of his last album, New World Order. Mayfield’s vocals were painstakingly recorded, usually line-by-line whilst lying on his back.

Mayfield received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

In February, 1998, he had to have his right leg amputated due to diabetes. Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999. Unfortunately, health reasons prevented him from attending the ceremony, which included fellow inductees Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Dusty Springfield, George Martin, and 1970s Curtom signee and labelmate The Staples Singers. Mayfield died on December 26, 1999 in Roswell, Georgia surrounded by his family. His last work came to be the song "Astounded", with the group Bran Van 3000, recorded just before his death and released in 2000. As a member of The Impressions, Mayfield was posthumously inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.

Legacy
Mayfield is remembered for his introduction of social consciousness into R&B and for pioneering the funk style in the 1970s. Many of his recordings with the Impressions became anthems of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and his most famous album, Superfly, is regarded as an all-time great that influenced many and truly invented a new style of modern black music (#69 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums). His distinctive, hard guitar riffs influenced the development of funk, and was highly influential on a young Jimi Hendrix who cited Mayfield as his biggest influence. He is also regarded as influencing other landmark albums, like Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters. One magazine notes, "eulogies…have treated him…as a sort of secular saint–rather like an American Bob Marley". That noted, he is not as well-known as contemporaries like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, or James Brown, perhaps because of their more consistent streams of hits or more mainstream style of music. Nevertheless, he is still highly regarded for his numerous innovations in the 1960s and 1970s and for his unique style of music, perhaps best described as "black psychedelia…remarkable for the scope of its social awareness". In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Mayfield #99 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time

###

Hank Snow – Hall of Fame Country singer

hank Snow CD CD Hank Snow Country Dead country Singer
Buy from Amazon.com: Hank Snow CD’s

hank snowClarence Eugene Snow (May 9, 1914 – December 20, 1999), better known as Hank Snow, was a Hall of Fame country music singer and songwriter.

Death of Hank Snow
Hank Snow was 85 years old at the time of his death.
The cause of death is unspecified

Recording Achievements
Total Singles Charted – 85
Top 40 Chart Hits – 65
Top 10 Chart Hits – 43
No.1 Chart Hits – 7
Total Number of Weeks on Charts – 876
Total Number of Weeks at #1 – 56
Total Albums Released – 120 (Est.)

Hank Snow – I’ve Been Everywhere

Hank Snow’s Biography continues next page

hank Snow CD CD Hank Snow Country Dead country Singer
Buy from Amazon.com: Hank Snow CD’s  

Hank Snow’s Biography
Snow was born in Brooklyn, Queens County, Nova Scotia, Canada. When he was 14, he ordered his first guitar from Eaton’s catalogue for $5.95, and played his first show in a church basement in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia at the age of 16. He then travelled to the nearest big city, Halifax, where he sang in local clubs and bars. A successful appearance on a local radio station led to his being given a chance to audition for RCA Victor in Montreal, Quebec. In 1936, he signed with RCA Victor, staying with them for more than 45 years.

A weekly Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio show brought him national recognition and he began touring Canada until the late 1940s when American country music stations began playing his records. He headed to the "Country Music Capital of the World," Nashville, Tennessee, and Hank Snow, the "Singing Ranger" (modified from the nickname "Yodelling Ranger" given him before his high voice changed to the baritone that graced his hit records), would be invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. That same year he released his mega-hit, "I’m Movin’ On." The first of seven Number 1 hits on the country charts, "I’m Movin’ On" stayed at Number 1 for nearly half a year. While performing in Renfro Valley, Snow was walking with a young unknown performer by the name of Hank Williams when someone yelled out, "Hey, Hank," at which Williams turned around and Snow tapped Williams on the shoulder and said, "No, Hank, he means me."

Along with this hit, his other "signature song" was "I’ve Been Everywhere," in which he portrayed himself as a hitchhiker bragging about all the towns he’d been through. This song was originally written and performed in Australia by Geoff Mack, and its re-write incorporating North American place names was brilliantly accomplished. Rattling off a well-rhymed series of city names at an auctioneer’s pace has long made the song a challenge for any country-music singer to attempt. Johnny Cash’s version of it was used in recent years as the soundtrack to an American motel chain’s television commercials.

A regular at the Grand Ole Opry, in 1954 Hank Snow persuaded the directors to allow a new singer by the name of Elvis Presley to appear on stage. Snow used Elvis as his opening act, before introducing him to Colonel Tom Parker. In August of 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team Hank Snow Attractions. This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer’s career.

In 1958, Snow became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Performing in lavish and colourful sequin-studded suits, Snow had a career covering six decades during which he sold more than 80 million albums. Although he became a proud American citizen, he still maintained his friendships in Canada and remembered his roots with the 1968 Album, "My Nova Scotia Home". That same year he performed at campaign stops on behalf of segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace.

In Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville, Henry Gibson played a self-obsessed country star loosely based on Hank Snow.

Despite his lack of schooling, Snow was a gifted songwriter and in 1978 was elected to Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Canada, he was ten times voted that country’s top country music performer. In 1979, Hank Snow was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

In 1994 his autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story," was published, and later The Hank Snow Country Music Centre would open in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

The victim of an abusive childhood, he set up the Hank Snow International Foundation For Prevention Of Child Abuse.

Snow died in Madison, Tennessee in the United States and was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.

Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Ashley MacIsaac, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, among others, have covered his music. One of his last top hits, "Hello Love," was, for several seasons, sung by Garrison Keillor to open each broadcast of his Prairie Home Companion radio show. The song became Snow’s seventh and final No. 1 hit on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in April 1974. At 59 years and 11 months, he became the oldest (to that time) artist to have a No. 1 song on the chart. It was an accomplishment he held for more than 26 years, until Kenny Rogers surpassed the age record in May 2000 (at 61 years and nine months) with "Buy Me a Rose." Snow currently ranks as the fourth-oldest artist to have a No. 1 song, behind Dolly Parton, Rogers and Willie Nelson.

Shirley Hemphill – Waitress from Whats Happening!!

Shirley Ann Hemphill (July 1, 1947 – December 10, 1999) was an American stand-up comedian and actress who was born in Asheville, North Carolina. She was best known for her role on the popular television situation comedy What’s Happening!!, which ran from 1976 to 1979.

Throughout her career Shirley performed her stand-up routine on a number of popular TV shows including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, A&E’s An Evening at the Improv, BET’s Black Comedy Showcase and Black Comedy Tonight. She was also a regular at The Laugh Factory comedy club in Los Angeles.

On December 10, 1999, Shirley died of kidney failure at her home in suburban Los Angeles, California. She was reportedly found dead by her gardener.

Shirley died nearly a month after her What’s Happening!! co-star Mabel King

Rick Danko – Singer from The Band

The Band Rick Danko CD
Buy from Amazon.com: Rick Danko CD’s
Buy from Amazon.com: The Band CD’s

rick dankoRichard Clare "Rick" Danko (December 29, 1942 – December 10, 1999) was a Canadian musician and singer, best known as a member of The Band.

Death of Richard Danko
Richard Danko was died of Heart Failure on December 10, 1999.
Richare Danko was almost 57 years old at the time of his death.

Discography
1977: Rick Danko
1991: Danko/Fjeld/Andersen (with Jonas Fjeld and Eric Andersen)
1994: Ridin’ on the Blinds (with Jonas Fjeld and Eric Andersen)
1997: Rick Danko in Concert
1999: Live on Breeze Hill
2000: Times Like These
2002: One More Shot (with Jonas Fjeld and Eric Andersen)
2005: Cryin’ Heart Blues

Rick Danko – It Makes No Difference

Madeline Kahn – Actress, Comedian – Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles

Movies Madeline KahnMadeline Kahn DVDMadeline Kahn Young Frankenstein

Buy from Amazon.com: Madeline Kahn DVDs

Madeline KahnMadeline Kahn (September 29, 1942 – December 3, 1999) was a two-time Academy Award-nominated, four-time Golden Globe-nominated, Tony Award-winning and Emmy Award-winning American actress, known primarily for her comedic roles. Director Mel Brooks — who directed her in four films — said of her: "She is one of the most talented people that ever lived. I mean, either in stand-up comedy, or acting, or whatever you want, you can’t beat Madeline Kahn".

Death of Madeline Kahn:
Kahn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 1999. She underwent treatment and continued to work, even continuing her role on Cosby. However, the disease progressed rapidly, and on December 3, 1999, Kahn died.
Madeline Kahn was 57 years old at the time of her death

Madeline Kahn: High Anxiety

Biography & filmography on Page 2

Movies Madeline KahnMadeline Kahn DVDMadeline Kahn Young Frankenstein

Buy from Amazon.com: Madeline Kahn DVDs  

Early life
Madeline Kahn was born in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., as Madeline Gail Wolfson to Paula and Bernard Wolfson. Her mother was just 17 when Kahn was born. Although Kahn’s parents were high school sweethearts, they divorced after her father’s return from World War II (Kahn was only two years old at the time). After the divorce was finalized, Kahn and her mother moved to New York City. A few years later, her mother remarried and gave Kahn two half-siblings (Jeffrey and Robyn).

In 1948, Kahn was sent to a progressive boarding school in Pennsylvania and stayed there until 1952. During that time, her mother pursued her acting dream. Kahn soon began acting herself and performed in a number of school productions. In 1960, she graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, where she earned a drama scholarship to Hofstra University. At Hofstra, she studied drama, music, and speech therapy. After changing her major a number of times, Kahn graduated from Hofstra in 1964 with a degree in speech therapy.

Career
Kahn began auditioning for professional acting roles shortly after her graduation from Hofstra; on the side, she briefly taught public school in Levittown, New York. Just before adopting the professional name Madeline Kahn (Kahn was her stepfather’s last name), she made her stage debut as a chorus girl in a revival of Kiss Me, Kate, which led her to join the Actors’ Equity. Her part in the flop How Now, Dow Jones was written out before the 1967 show reached Broadway, as was her role as Miss Whipple in the original production of Promises, Promises. She earned her first break on Broadway with New Faces of 1968. That same year, she performed her first professional lead in a special concert performance of the operetta Candide in honor of Leonard Bernstein’s 50th birthday. In 1969, she appeared off-Broadway in the revue Promenade.

She appeared in two Broadway musicals in the 1970s: a featured role in Richard Rodgers’ 1970 Noah’s Ark-themed show Two by Two (her silly waltz "The Golden Ram," capped by a high C, can be heard on the show’s cast album) and a leading lady turn as Lily Garland in 1978’s On the Twentieth Century. She left (or was fired from) the latter show early in its run, yielding the role to her understudy, Judy Kaye, whose career it launched. She also starred in a 1977 Town Hall revival of She Loves Me (opposite Barry Bostwick and original London cast member Rita Moreno).

Kahn’s film debut was in the 1968 short De Düva: The Dove. Her feature debut was as Ryan O’Neal’s hysterical fiancé in Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc? (1972) starring Barbra Streisand. Her film career continued with Paper Moon (1973), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Kahn was cast in the role of Agnes Gooch in the 1974 film Mame, but star Lucille Ball fired Kahn due to artistic differences. (Note: several of Ball’s biographies note that Kahn was eager to be released from the role so that she could join the cast of Blazing Saddles, a film about to go into production; whether Kahn was fired or left Mame under mutual agreement is undetermined).

A close succession of Kahn comedies — Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), and High Anxiety (1977) — were all directed by Mel Brooks, who many Hollywood observers claimed was able to bring out the best of Kahn’s comic talents. Their last collaboration would be 1981’s History of the World, Part I. For Blazing Saddles, she was again nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In the April 2006 issue of Premiere magazine, her performance as Lili von Shtupp in Saddles was selected as #31 on its list of the 100 greatest performances of all time. In 1978, Kahn’s comic screen persona reached another peak with Neil Simon’s The Cheap Detective, a spoof of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon directed by Robert Moore. In the film she befuddles Peter Falk’s gumshoe with an array of fake identities.

Kahn’s roles were primarily comedic rather than dramatic, though the 1970s found her originating roles in two plays that had both elements: 1974’s In the Boom Boom Room and 1977’s Marco Polo Sings a Solo. After her success in Brooks’ films, she played in a number of less successful films in the 1980s (perhaps most memorably as Mrs. White in the 1985 film Clue). She also performed in the movie The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother opposite Gene Wilder.

In 1983, she starred in her own short-lived TV sitcom, Oh Madeline, which ended after only one season due to poor ratings. In 1987, Kahn won a Daytime Emmy award for her performance in the ABC After school special, ‘Wanted: The Perfect Guy’.

Late in her career, Kahn returned to the stage, first in Judy Holliday’s role in a 1989 revival of Born Yesterday, then as Dr. Gorgeous in Wendy Wasserstein’s 1993 play The Sisters Rosensweig, a role that gained her a Tony Award. She played the corrupt mayoress (Angela Lansbury’s role) in a concert performance of Anyone Can Whistle that was released on CD. She also continued to appear in movies, including the holiday farce Mixed Nuts and a cameo in the 1978 "The Muppet Movie".

In the early 1990s, Kahn recorded a voice for the animated movie The Magic 7. Her most notable role at that time was her recurring role on the sitcom Cosby as Pauline, the eccentric neighbor. She also voiced Gypsy the moth in A Bug’s Life. Kahn received some of the best reviews of her career for her Chekhovian turn in the 1999 independent movie Judy Berlin, her final film.

Theater
Leonard Sillman’s New Faces of 1968 (1968)
Two by Two (1970)
Boom Boom Room (1973)
On the Twentieth Century (1978)
Born Yesterday (1989)
The Sisters Rosensweig (1993)

Movies
De Düva: The Dove (1968) (short subject)
What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
Paper Moon (1973)
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
At Long Last Love (1975)
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
High Anxiety (1977)
The Cheap Detective (1978)
The Muppet Movie (1979) (cameo)
Happy Birthday, Gemini (1980)
Simon (1980)
Wholly Moses (1980)
First Family (1980)
History of the World: Part I (1981)
Slapstick of Another Kind (1982)
Scrambled Feet (1983)
Group Madness (1983) (documentary)
Yellowbeard (1983)
City Heat (1984)
Clue (1985)
My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) (voice)
An American Tail (1986) (voice)
Betsy’s Wedding (1990)
For Richer, for Poorer (1992)
Mixed Nuts (1994)
Nixon (1995)
The Volunteers (1997)
A Bug’s Life (1998) (voice)
Judy Berlin (1999)
The Magic 7 (projected for release in 2007) (voice)

Television
Comedy Tonight (1970)
Harvey (1972)
NBC’s Saturday Night (1976) [Host]
Sesame Street (1976) [Guest]
NBC’s Saturday Night (1977) [Host]
The Muppet Show (1977) [Guest]
Oh Madeline (1983)
Wanted: The Perfect Guy (1986)
Mr. President (1987)
Welcome to the Monkey House (1991)
Lucky Luke (1991)
New York News (1995)
Saturday Night Live (1995) [Host]
Saturday Night Live (1996) [60-minute syndicated version ONLY]
London Suite (1996)
Cosby (1996)

Jean Shepherd – narrator of “A Christmas Story”, Writer, Actor

Voice of A Christmas StoryJean Parker Shepherd (July 26, 1921 – October 16, 1999) was an American raconteur, radio and TV personality, writer and actor who was often referred to by the nickname Shep.

With a career that spanned decades, Shepherd is best-known to modern audiences for narrating the film A Christmas Story (1983), which he co-wrote, based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.

Death of Jean Shepherd
Jean Shepherd died on Sanibel Island in 1999 of "natural causes." at Lee Memorial Hospital near his home on Sanibel Island, Fla. Jean Shepherd was 78 years old at the time of his death.

* Share your memory, leave your comment.
* Jean Shepherd’s filmography, biography continues next page

Jean Shepherd – "Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss"

Early life
Born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, Shepherd was raised in Hammond, Indiana, where he graduated from Hammond High School in 1939. As a youth he worked briefly as a mail carrier in a steel mill and earned his Amateur radio license when he was 16. He later attended several universities.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Shepherd then had an extensive career in a variety of media:

Filmography
America, Inc. NET Playhouse (1970) (TV)
Jean Shepherd’s America (1971) (TV)
The Phantom of the Open Hearth (1976) (TV)
The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters (1982) (TV)
The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski (1983) (TV)
A Christmas Story (1983)
The Great American Road-Racing Festival (1985) (TV)
Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss (1988) (TV)
My Summer Story (aka It Runs in the Family) (1994)

Radio career
Shepherd began his broadcast radio career on WSAI-AM in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948. From 1951 to 1953 he had a late-night broadcast on KYW-AM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after which he returned to Cincinnati for a show on WLW. After a stint on television (see below), he returned to radio. "Shep," as he was known, settled in at WOR radio New York City, New York on an overnight slot in 1956, where he delighted his fans by telling stories, reading poetry (especially the works of Robert W. Service), and organizing comedic listener stunts. The most famous of the last involved creating a hoax about a non-existent book, I, Libertine, by the equally non-existent author "Frederick R. Ewing", in 1956. Later co-written by Shepherd, Theodore Sturgeon and Betty Ballantine, this Ballantine Book is now a collector’s item. Among his close friends in the late 1950s were Shel Silverstein and Herb Gardner. With them and actress Lois Nettleton, Shepherd performed in the revue he created, Look, Charlie. Later he was married to Nettleton for about six years.

Print
Shepherd wrote a series of humorous short stories about growing up in northwest Indiana and its steel towns, many of which were first told by him on his programs and then published in "Playboy." The stories were later assembled into books titled "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," "Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories," and "A Fistful of Fig Newtons." Some of those situations were incorporated into his movies and television fictional stories. He also wrote a column for the early "Village Voice," a column for "Car and Driver" and numerous individual articles for diverse publications, including "Mad Magazine."

Television and films
Early in his career, Shepherd had a television program in Cincinnati called "Rear Bumper." Reportedly he was eventually recommended to replace the resigning Steve Allen on NBC’s "The Tonight Show." NBC executives sent Shepherd to New York City to prepare for the position, but they were contractually bound to first offer it to Jack Paar. The network was certain Paar would hold out for a role in prime time, but he accepted the late-night assignment. However, he did not assume the position permanently until Shepherd and Ernest Kovacs had co-hosted the show.

In the early 1960s he did a weekly television show on WOR in New York. Between 1971 and 1994, Shepherd became a screenwriter of note, writing and producing numerous works for both television and cinema. He was the writer and narrator for the show "Jean Shepherd’s America," produced by Boston Public Television station WGBH in which he told his famous narratives, visited unusual locales, and interviewed local people of interest. He used a similar format for the New Jersey Network TV show "Shepherd’s Pie." On many of the Public TV shows he wrote, directed and edited entire shows.

He also wrote and narrated many works, the most famous being the feature film "A Christmas Story," which is now considered a holiday classic. In the film, Shepherd provides the voice of the adult Ralph Parker. (This narrative style was later appropriated, without acknowledgment, in the popular television sitcom "The Wonder Years.") He also has a cameo role playing a man overseeing the line at the department store waiting for Santa Claus. Much to Ralphie’s chagrin, he points out to him that the end of the line is much further away.

A 1994 movie sequel, "My Summer Story," was narrated by Shepherd but featured an almost entirely different cast from the previous film. The PBS series "American Playhouse" aired a series of television movies based on Shepherd stories, also featuring the Parker family. These included "Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss," "The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters," and "The Phantom of the Open Hearth."

Live performances and recordings
Shepherd also performed for several years at The Limelight Cafe in New York City’s Greenwich Village, and at many colleges nationwide. His live shows were a perennial favorite at Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson Universities. He performed at Princeton University annually for 30 years, until 1996. The Limelight shows were broadcast live on WOR radio.

He also performed before sold-out audiences at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall. He was also emcee for several important jazz concerts in the late 1950s. Shepherd improvised spoken word lyrics for the title track on jazz great Charles Mingus’s 1957 album The Clown. Eight record albums of live and studio performances of Shepherd were released between 1955 and 1975. Shepherd also recorded the opening narration and the voice of the Audio-Animatronics "Father" character for the updated Carousel of Progress attraction at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.

Music
Many of his broadcasts were accompanied by novelty songs such as "The Bear Missed the Train" (a parody of the Yiddish ballad "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen") and "The Sheik of Araby", or by Shepherd himself, playing the Jew’s harp, nose flute and kazoo.

On radio as well as on his WOR-TV show, he frequently used his own head as a musical instrument, knocking the top of his skull with his knuckles while changing the size of his open mouth to produce different notes. Shep facetiously claimed that his "Head Thumping" (as he called it) spanned about an octave.

Ham Radio
Jean held the Ham Radio call K2ORS. He was very active on ham radio until his death. Jean is also credited as the voice for the ARRL’s tape series ‘Tune in the world with Ham Radio’. This series of tapes helped many young people become ham radio operators.

John F. Kennedy, Jr – Biography, Cause of Death

John F Kennedy Jr book
Buy from Amazon.com: John F. Kennedy Jr Books and Memorabilia  

John F Kennedy JrJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. (November 25, 1960 – July 16, 1999), often referred to as John F. Kennedy, Jr., JFK Jr., John Jr. or John-John, was an American lawyer, journalist, socialite and publisher. He was the son of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the younger brother of Caroline Kennedy (as well as of the deceased Arabella Kennedy and older brother of the deceased Patrick Bouvier Kennedy).

Early life
Born 17 days after his father was elected to the presidency, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was in the public spotlight from infancy. He had lived for most of the first three years of his life in the White House and under the eye of the media who adored his antics. The nickname "John-John" came from a reporter mishearing his father calling him ("John" spoken twice in quick succession), and the name stuck. His father was assassinated on November 22, 1963, three days before Kennedy, Jr.’s third birthday.

The funeral procession actually took place on his birthday, November 25, 1963. While his father’s flag-draped casket was being carried out from St. Matthew’s Cathedral, young JFK, Jr. stepped forward, and in one of the most heartbreaking and iconic images of the 1960s gave his father a final salute.

John, Jr. grew up primarily on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. Even as a boy, he was often photographed and still referred to publicly as "John-John", although Kennedy family members themselves did not use the nickname. After his father’s death, his mother was married to Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis from 1968 until the latter’s death in 1975, when John was 14 years old.

Education
John F Kennedy JrJohn F. Kennedy, Jr. attended The Collegiate School in New York City for the first through tenth grades, and later graduated from the Phillips Academy. Despite a less-than-average academic record, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was accepted into Harvard University, where his father and sister graduated; however, John Jr. turned down the offer, wanting to avoid that degree of special treatment, especially because it would have been regarded as undeserved by the public and his peers. Subsequently, Kennedy matriculated at Brown University, graduating in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in history. At Brown, Kennedy was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. In 1989, he earned a J.D. degree from the New York University School of Law. He failed the New York bar exam twice before passing on the third try.

Career
He spoke at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. He was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1989 to 1993. In 1995, he founded George, a glossy politics-as-lifestyle monthly which sometimes took editorial aim even at members of his own family. The magazine ceased publication shortly after Kennedy’s death.

Marriage
Through the 1980s until his death, Kennedy was an often-seen and much-photographed personality in Manhattan. He married Carolyn Bessette on September 21, 1996 on Cumberland Island in Georgia, and had dated Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cindy Crawford and Daryl Hannah prior to his marriage.

Death
On July 16, 1999, at the age of 38, John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed along with his wife and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, when the aircraft he was piloting, N9253N, a Piper Saratoga II HP, crashed on a hazy night into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Essex County Airport in Fairfield Township, Essex County, New Jersey, to Martha’s Vineyard, where the Kennedy family has a vacation house. Kennedy and his wife were traveling to the wedding of cousin Rory Kennedy, which was then postponed. Lauren was to have been dropped off at Martha’s Vineyard.

John F. Kennedy Jr.Kennedy was a relatively inexperienced pilot, with 310 hours of flight experience, including 55 hours of night flying and 36 hours in the high-performance Piper Saratoga, but some conspiracy style doubts exist over pilot error being the cause of the crash. He had completed about half of an instrument training course, but was not yet rated for flying in low-visibility conditions. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found no evidence of mechanical malfunction and determined that the probable cause was "the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation. Factors in the accident were haze, and the dark night." The report noted that spatial disorientation as a result of continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions is a common cause of fatal airplane accidents. (To prevent spatial disorientation, instrument-training courses use a mask that allows the pilot to see only the instruments and not the sky.) According to literature found in most FAA-approved flight training books, a pilot’s inability to see the horizon leads to spatial disorientation. The inner ear may give the pilot the impression that the plane is turning when it isn’t. It takes many hours of instrument training for a pilot to be able to fly in IFR conditions, conditions that most likely existed when Kennedy was flying on his route to Martha’s Vineyard. Over the water at night there are few lights, and those lights that existed were most likely obscured by the haze, resulting in the boundary between sky and water on the horizon becoming difficult to determine.

Kyle Bailey, 25 and a pilot believed to have been the last person to see Kennedy alive at Essex County Airport, subsequently stated that he had cancelled his own flight to Martha’s Vineyard because the enroute weather was "a little too hazy." It also emerged that while Kennedy had flown from Essex County Airport to the Vineyard several times before, he had never done it without an instructor pilot aboard or at night — factors which can make a night flight challenging, especially for a relatively inexperienced, non-instrument-rated pilot.

During the memorial service on July 23, 1999, Kennedy’s uncle, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, said that, "We dared to think that this John Kennedy would live to comb grey hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But, like his father, he had every gift but length of years." And of his nephew’s marriage, he invoked what had been said of his brother’s Presidency: both lasted 1,000 days. Then U.S. President Bill Clinton attended the service and ordered that the flag at the White House be lowered to half-staff in honor of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

At President Clinton’s orders, warships of the United States Navy earlier assisted in the search for the downed plane. With the permission of Secretary of Defense William Cohen, a memorial service for the three victims was held aboard the Navy ship USS Briscoe. The cremated remains of Kennedy, his wife and sister-in-law were then scattered from the ship off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. A wrongful death lawsuit by the Bessette family against the Kennedy estate concluded with an out of court settlement. This avoided the publicity of a public trial, as the accident was ultimately caused by pilot error.