Morton Downey, Jr. (born Sean Morton Downey; December 9, 1932 – March 12, 2001) was a controversial and influential American television talk show host of the 1980s who pioneered the "trash talk show" format.
Death of Morton Downey, Jr Morton Downey, Jr was died of lung cancer
Morton Downey, Jr was 67 years old at the time of his death.
Lung cancer of Morton Downey, Jr
In 1996, Downey was diagnosed with lung cancer and had one of his lungs removed. He did a complete about-face on tobacco use, going from a one-time member of the National Smokers Alliance to a staunch anti-smoking activist. He continued to speak against smoking until his death from lung cancer in 2001 at age 67. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, he said, "I had spawned a generation of kids to think it was cool to smoke a cigarette. Kids walked up to me until a matter of weeks ago, they’d have a cigarette in their hand and they’d say, ‘Hey, Mort,’ or, ‘Hey, Mouth, autograph my cigarette.’ And I’d do it." He also blamed tobacco companies for lying to consumers about cigarettes.
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Morton Downey Jr – Rock / Metal
Author Adrian Havill later said that Downey’s cancer and subsequent anti-smoking commercials, like other celebrity causes for certain diseases, served as a publicity tool
In the 1980s, Downey was working as a talk show host at KFBK-AM in Sacramento, California, where he established his abrasive and much imitated right wing, populist style, relentlessly deriding anyone who disagreed with him or had a liberal point of view. Downey’s success, coupled with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, laid the groundwork for more aggressive, opinion-based talk radio. His work led to the "trash talk" genre of Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Ricki Lake and many more. His fight with fellow radio talk show host Wally George (with each charging that the other was not conservative) on George’s talk show led to police tackling Downey to the ground.
Downey later headed to Secaucus, New Jersey where his highly controversial television program The Morton Downey Jr. Show was taped for two years before it was canceled for low ratings. (His replacement at KFBK was Rush Limbaugh). The program featured screaming matches among Downey, his guests, and his audience members. He would chainsmoke during the show and blow smoke in his guests’ faces. Downey’s signature phrases pabulum puker (referring to political liberals) and "zip it!" briefly enjoyed some popularity in the contemporary vernacular. He particularly enjoyed making his guests angry with each other. The Washington Post wrote about him, "Suppose a maniac got hold of a talk show. Or need we suppose?" David Letterman said, "I’m always amazed at what people will fall for. We see this every 10 or 12 years, an attempt at this, and I guess from that standpoint I don’t quite understand why everybody’s falling over backwards over the guy."
The success of the show made Downey a pop culture celebrity, leading to an appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1988 and later roles in movies such as Predator 2 and Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation. He was also cast in several TV roles, often playing tabloid TV hosts or other obnoxious media types.
Controversies In 1989, as fascination with Downey’s show began to wane, he was involved in an incident in a San Francisco International Airport restroom in which he claimed to have been attacked by neo-Nazis who painted a swastika on his face and attempted to shave his head. Some inconsistencies in Downey’s account (e.g., the swastika was painted in reverse, suggesting that Downey had drawn it himself in a mirror), and the failure of the police to find supportive evidence, led many to suspect that the incident was a hoax and a plea for attention. A few months later, the show was canceled.
Downey was sued for allegedly appropriating the words and music to his theme song from two songwriters. He was sued for $40 million after bringing a stripper onto the show and calling her a "slut," a "pig," a "hooker," and a "tramp," saying that she had diseases, and banging his pelvis against hers. At one point, he was arraigned on criminal charges for attacking a gay guest on his show, in a never-aired segment. In another lawsuit, he was accused of slandering a newscaster (a former colleague), and of indecently exposing himself to her and slapping her.
Downey infamously hit Stuttering John with a chair on The Howard Stern Show and punched him.
In interviews, he expressed regret for some of the extreme theatrics of his TV show, saying he had taken things too far. He added that he had been a "bastard." However, he also claimed that his show was of a higher quality and not as "sleazy" as Jerry Springer’s.
Attempted comeback In 1993, Downey attempted a comeback in talk radio on Dallas radio station KGBS, where he would scream insults at his callers. He was also hired as the station’s VP of Operations. The following year he had a short-lived television show, Downey, that was similar in theme to his earlier, more popular show. In one episode, Downey claimed to have had a psychic communication with OJ Simpson’s murdered ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.
Like his father, Downey pursued music as a career, recording in both pop and country styles. One song, "Green Eyed Girl" scraped the bottom reaches of the Billboard Magazine Country chart, peaking at #95 in 1981. After the success of his talk show, Downey returned to the recording studio to cut an album of songs based on his show, Morton Downey Jr. Sings. The album’s only single, "Zip It!" (a catch-phrase from the TV show, used to quiet an irate guest), became a surprise hit on some college radio stations. Following his death, news reports and obituaries incorrectly (according to the Orange County Register) credited him as the composer of "Wipe Out." As of 2007, Downey’s official website (and others) continue to make this claim.
Personal life His parents were also in show business; his father Morton Downey was a popular singer, and his mother Barbara Bennett was a singer and dancer. His aunts included Hollywood film stars Constance and Joan Bennett, from whom he was estranged, and his maternal grandfather was the celebrated matinée idol Richard Bennett. Born into a life of luxury, he was raised next door to the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
Downey was married four times and had four children from three of those marriages. With wife Helen he had Melissa, with Joan he had daughters Tracey and Kelli, and with fourth wife and widow Lori he had Seanna. He and Lori met when she appeared as a dancer in a show he attended in Atlantic City.
Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American race car driver, best known for his career driving stock cars in NASCAR’s top division. Earnhardt had four children, Kerry, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, Dale Jr., and Taylor Earnhardt. His widow, Teresa Earnhardt (whom he married in 1982) is the owner of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the race team and merchandising corporation Earnhardt founded with her in February of 1980.
Death of Dale Earnhardt Dale Earnhardt died in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt was 49 years old at the time of his death.
Earnhardt is known for his success in the Winston Cup Series, now known as the Sprint Cup Series. He won seventy-six races (including his only Daytona 500 victory in 1998), and his seven championships are tied for most all-time with Richard Petty. His highly aggressive driving style made him a fan favorite and earned him the nicknames "Ironhead", "Mr. Restrictor Plate", "The Man in Black" and most famously, "The Intimidator."
Les Brown, Sr. (March 14, 1912 – January 4, 2001) and the Band of Renown are a big band that began in the big band era of the late 1930s and now performs under the direction of his son Les Brown, Jr.
Death of Les Brown Les Brown’s cause of death was not specified to public. Les Brown was 91 years old at the time of his death. Les Brown Sr. is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
Biography "Les Brown and the Band of Renown" brought Doris Day into prominence with their recording of "Sentimental Journey" in 1945. The release of "Sentimental Journey" coincided with the end of WWII in Europe and was the homecoming theme for many veterans. They had nine other number-one hit songs, including "I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."
Julius J. Epstein (August 22, 1909 – December 30, 2000) was an American screenwriter, who had a long career, most noted for the adaptation – in partnership with his twin brother, Philip, and others —- of the unproduced play Everybody Comes to Rick’s that became the screenplay for the film Casablanca (1942), for which its team of writers won an Academy Award. Following his brother’s death in 1952, he continued writing, garnering two more Oscar nominations and, in 1998, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association career achievement award. His credits included Four Daughters (1938), The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), The Tender Trap (1955), Light in the Piazza (1962), Send Me No Flowers (1964), Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972), and Reuben, Reuben (1983).
Epstein graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 1931 with a BA in Arts and Letters. Both he and his brother wrestled for the varsity squad there.
Jack Warner, head of Warner Brothers, had a love-hate relationship with the writing duo of the Epstein brothers. He could not argue with their commercial success, but he deplored their pranks, their work habits and the hours they kept. He consistently butted heads with the two. In 1952, Warner gave the brothers’ names to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). They never testified before the committee, but on a HUAC questionnaire, when asked if they ever were members of a "subversive organization," they responded, "Yes. Warner Brothers."
Epstein was the uncle of Leslie Epstein, director of the creative writing program at Boston University and accomplished novelist and the great-uncle of Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein.
Roebuck "Pops" Staples (December 28, 1914 – December 19, 2000) was a Mississippi-born Gospel and R&B musician. He was an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and singer. He was the patriarch and member of singing group The Staple Singers, which included his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Yvonne, and Cleotha.
Biography Roebuck Staples was born on a cotton plantation near Winona, Mississippi, the youngest of 14 children. When growing up he heard, and began to play with, local blues guitarists such as Charlie Patton, who lived on the nearby Dockery Plantation, Robert Johnson, and Son House.. He dropped out of school after the eighth grade, and sang with a gospel group before marrying and moving to Chicago in 1935.
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There he sang with the Trumpet Jubilees, while working in the stockyards, in construction work, and later in a steel mill. In 1948 he formed The Staple Singers to sing as a gospel group in local churches, with him singing and playing guitar behind his children. They first recorded in the early 1950s for United and then the larger Vee-Jay Records, with songs including "This May Be The Last Time" (later covered by The Rolling Stones) and "Uncloudy Day".
In the 1960s the Staples Singers moved to Riverside Records and later Stax Records, and began recording protest, inspirational and contemporary music, reflecting the civil rights and anti-war movements of the time. They gained a large new audience with the 1972 US # 1 hit "I’ll Take You There", followed by "Respect Yourself", "If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)", and other hits. Pops Staples also recorded an instrumental blues album, Jammed Together, with fellow guitarists Albert King and Steve Croppe.
After Mavis left for a solo career in the 1980s, Pops Staples began a solo career, appearing at international "blues" festivals (though steadfastly refusing to sing the blues), and tried his hand at acting. His 1992 album Peace to the Neighborhood won a Grammy nomination, and in 1995 he won a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for Father, Father.
In 1986, Roebuck played the role of Mr. Tucker, a voodoo witch doctor, in the Talking Heads film True Stories.
In 1998 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1999 the Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was an American musician, comedian and writer. As the first host of The Tonight Show, Allen was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show, and is often called the father of television talk shows.
Death of Steve Allen On October 30, 2000, Allen was driving to his son’s home in Encino, California when his car was struck by another vehicle backing out of a driveway. Neither Allen nor the other driver believed they were injured, and damage to both vehicles was minimal; so the two exchanged insurance information and Allen continued on. Shortly after arriving at his son’s home, Allen did not feel quite right and decided to take a nap. While napping, Allen suffered a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead shortly after 8 p.m. Autopsy results concluded that the traffic accident earlier in the day had caused a blood vessel in Allen’s chest to rupture causing blood to leak into the sac surrounding the heart. This condition is known as hemopericardium. In addition, Allen also suffered four broken ribs as a result of the accident. Allen was 78 years old, and is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park-Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.
Early life Allen was born in New York City, the son of Isabelle (née Donohue), a vaudeville comedienne who performed under the name Belle Montrose, and Carroll Allen, a vaudeville performer who used the stage name Billy Allen. Allen was raised on the South side of Chicago by his mother’s Irish Catholic family. Milton Berle once called Allen’s mother "the funniest woman in vaudeville".
Allen’s first radio job was on station KOY in Phoenix, Arizona after he left Arizona State Teachers’ College (now Arizona State University) in Tempe, Arizona while still a sophomore. He enlisted in the US Army during World War II and was trained as an infantryman. He spent his service time at Camp Roberts, near Monterrey, California, and did not serve overseas. Allen returned to Phoenix before deciding to move back to California.
Career Allen became an announcer for KFAC in Los Angeles then moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1946, talking the station into airing a five night a week comedy show called "Smile Time", co-starring Wendell Noble. Allen had an opportunity to move to CBS Radio’s KNX in Los Angeles and did so. His music and talk format gradually changed to include more talk to his half hour show, boosting his popularity and creating standing room only studio audiences. During one episode of the show, reserved primarily for an interview with Doris Day, his guest star failed to appear. Instead Allen picked up a microphone and went into the audience to ad lib for the first time. In 1950 and for 13 weeks his show substituted for Our Miss Brooks, for the first time exposing Allen to a national audience. Allen next went to New York to work for TV station WCBS.
He achieved national attention when he was pressed into service at the last minute to host Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts when its host was unable to appear. Allen turned one of Godfrey’s live Lipton commercials upside down, preparing tea and instant soup on camera, then pouring both into Godfrey’s ukulele. With the audience (including Godfrey watching from Miami) uproariously and thoroughly entertained, Allen gained major recognition as a comedian and host. Leaving CBS, he created a late-night New York talk-variety TV program in 1953 for what is now WNBC-TV. The following year, on September 27, 1954, the show went on the full NBC network as The Tonight Show, with fellow radio personality Gene Rayburn (who later went on to host hit game shows such as Match Game) as the original announcer. The show ran from 11:15 pm to 1:00 am on the east coast.
While Today Show developer Pat Weaver is often credited as Tonight’s creator, Allen often pointed out that the show was previously "created" — by himself — as a local New York show. "This is Tonight, and I can’t think of too much to tell you about it except I want to give you the bad news first: this program is going to go on forever", Allen told his nationwide audience that first evening. "Boy, you think you’re tired now. Wait until you see one o’clock roll around."
It was as host of The Tonight Show that Allen pioneered the ‘man on the street’ interviews and audience-participation comedy breaks that have become commonplace on late-night TV. In 1956, while still hosting Tonight, Allen added a Sunday-evening variety show scheduled directly against The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS and Maverick on ABC. One of Allen’s guests was comedian Johnny Carson, a future successor to Allen as host of The Tonight Show; among Carson’s material during that appearance was a portrayal of how a poker game between Allen, Sullivan and Maverick star James Garner, all impersonated by Carson, would transpire. Allen’s programs helped the careers of singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, who were regulars on his early Tonight Show, and Sammy Davis, Jr..
In 1956 NBC offered Allen a new, prime-time Sunday night Steve Allen Show aimed at dethroning CBS’s top-rated Ed Sullivan Show. The show included a typical run of star performers including early TV appearances by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. However, Allen, a pianist whose love of jazz influenced all his TV shows and the music presented on them, had a strong personal distaste for Rock ‘n Roll music. He "came from the sheet music era, where songwriters crafted compositions that anyone could play around the piano at home." For him, the "nonsense lyrics" of rock ‘n’ roll "were expressions of the semi-coherent sexual frenzy barely contained within the recordings and live performances. Rock ‘n’ roll was about the excitement the artists pitched and the kids caught; it wasn’t supposed to hold up when lyrics were amputated from the big beat. But that comic bit was just one of Allen’s misdemeanors." He often presented skits ridiculing rock musicians. For instance, controversy surrounded his decision to present Elvis Presley wearing a white bow tie and black tails and singing Hound Dog to a live bassett hound for comedic effect. On the other hand, Allen was the first television show host to present many African American jazz musicians. Allen also provided a nationwide audience for his famous ‘man on the street’ comics, such as Pat Harrington, Jr., Don Knotts, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Dayton Allen and Tom Poston. All were relatively obscure performers prior to their stints with Allen, and went on to stardom.
Allen remained host of "Tonight" for three nights a week (Monday and Tuesday nights were taken over by Ernie Kovacs) until early 1957, when he left the "Tonight" show to devote his attention to the Sunday night program. It was his (and NBC’s) hope that the Steve Allen show could defeat Ed Sullivan in the ratings. While he did defeat Sullivan on a few occasions, Sullivan continued to dominate. But ironically, what the critics had called an epic battle of two talk giants ended up with both beaten handily by the western Maverick. In September 1959, Allen relocated to Los Angeles, and left Sunday night television. Back in LA, he continued to write songs, hosted other variety shows, and wrote books and articles about comedy.
The 1985 documentary film, Kerouac, the Movie, starts and ends with footage of Jack Kerouac reading from On The Road as Allen accompanies on soft jazz piano, from The Steve Allen Plymouth Show in 1959. "Are you nervous?" Allen asks him; Kerouac answers nervously, "Naw."
Allen helped the recently invented Polaroid camera become popular by demonstrating its use in live commercials, and amassed a huge windfall for his work because he had opted to be paid in Polaroid Corporation stock.
From 1962 to 1964, Allen re-created the Tonight Show on a new late-night Steve Allen Show syndicated by Westinghouse TV. The show, taped in Hollywood, was marked by the same wild and unpredictable stunts, comedy skits that often extended down the street to a supermarket known as the Hollywood Ranch Market. He also presented Southern California eccentrics, including health food advocate Gypsy Boots and an early musical performance by Frank Zappa. One notable program which Westinghouse refused to distribute featured Lenny Bruce, during the time the comic was repeatedly being arrested on obscenity charges; footage from this program was first telecast in 1998 in a Bruce documentary aired on HBO. Regis Philbin took over hosting the Westinghouse show in 1964, but only briefly.
The theater in Hollywood was billed as the "Steve Allen Playhouse" at the corner of La Mirada and Vine, and was an old vaudeville theater. It was built in 1906, and was the theater where Bob Hope did his first stand-up act, and was also the theater for filming the "You Bet Your Life" program with Groucho Marx. During a renovation, the entire interior of the building was burned out, and it is now a mental health clinic.
The show also featured plenty of jazz played by Allen and members of the show’s band, the Donn Trenner Orchestra, which included such virtuoso musicians as guitarist Herb Ellis and flamboyantly comedic hipster trombonist Frank Rosolino (whom Allen credited with originating the ‘Hiyo!’ chant later popularized by Ed McMahon). While the show was not an overwhelming success in its day, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Robin Williams and a number of other prominent comedians have cited Allen’s ‘Westinghouse show’, which they watched as teenagers, as highly influential on their own comedic visions.
Allen later produced a second half-hour show for Westinghouse titled Jazz Scene which featured West Coast jazz musicians such as Rosolino, Stan Kenton and Teddy Edwards. The short-lived show was hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr..
Allen hosted a number of television programs up until the 1980s, including the game show I’ve Got a Secret (replacing original host Garry Moore) in 1964 and The New Steve Allen Show in 1961. He was a regular on the popular panel game show What’s My Line? (where he coined the popular phrase, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?") from 1953 to 1954 and returned frequently as a panelist after Fred Allen died in March, 1956 until the series ended in 1967. In the summer of 1967, he brought most of the regulars from over the years back with "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour", featuring the debuts of Rob Reiner, Richard Dreyfuss, and John Byner, and featuring Ruth Buzzi, who would become famous soon after in "Laugh-In". In 1968-71 he returned to syndicated nightly variety-talk, with the same wacky stunts that would influence David Letterman in later years, including becoming a human hood ornament, jumping into vats of oatmeal and cottage cheese, and beinng lathered with dog food, allowing dogs backstage to feast on the free food. Allen in those two years also introduced Albert Brooks and Steve Martin for the first time to a national audience. A syndicated version of I’ve Got A Secret hosted by Allen and featuring panelists Pat Carroll and Richard Dawson premiered in local syndication in 1972, taped in Hollywood. In 1977 he produced Steve Allen’s Laugh-Back, a syndicated series combining vintage Allen film clips with new talk-show material reuniting his 1950s TV gang. From 1986 through 1988, Allen hosted a daily 3-hour comedy show that was heard nationally on the NBC Radio Network, featuring sketches and America’s best known comedians as regular guests. His co-host was radio personality Mark Simone, and they were joined frequently by comedy writers Larry Gelbart, Herb Sargent and Bob Einstein.
Allen was an accomplished composer who wrote over 10,000 songs. In one famous stunt, he made a bet with singer-songwriter Frankie Laine that he could write 50 songs a day for a week. Composing on public display in the window of a Hollywood music store, Allen met the quota, winning $1,000 from Laine. One of the songs, Let’s Go to Church Next Sunday, was recorded by both Perry Como and Margaret Whiting. Allen’s best-known songs are "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" and "The Gravy Waltz", which won a Grammy Award in 1963 for best jazz composition. He also wrote lyrics for the standards "Picnic" and "South Rampart Street Parade". Allen composed the score to the Paul Mantee imitation James Bond film A Man Called Dagger (1967) with the score orchestrated by Ronald Stein.
Allen was also an actor. He wrote and starred in his first film, the Mack Sennett comedy compilation Down Memory Lane, in 1949. His most famous film appearance is in 1955’s The Benny Goodman Story, in the title role. The film, while an average biopic of its day, was heralded for its music, featuring many alumni of the Goodman band. Allen later recalled his one contribution to the film’s music, used in the film’s early scenes: the accomplished Benny Goodman could no longer produce the sound of a clarinet beginner, and that was the only sound Allen could make on a clarinet!
Allen could also play a trumpet–sort of. He wrote and recorded a tune called "Impossible" in which he tries to play it straight, but continues to bust up laughing. (The recording has been played on the Dr. Demento radio show.)
From 1977 to 1981, Allen was the producer of the award-winning PBS series, Meeting of Minds — a "talk show" with actors playing the parts of notable historical figures, and Steve Allen as the host. This series pitted the likes of Socrates, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Paine, Sir Thomas More, Attila the Hun, Karl Marx, Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, and Galileo Galilei in dialogue and argument. This was the show Allen wanted to be remembered for, because he believed that the issues and characters were timeless, and would survive long after his passing. This may be more an indictment of the denigration of popular tastes, of which Allen himself wrote about in his last book, "Vulgarians at the Gates", than any obtuseness on the shows’ part.
Allen was a comedy writer, and author of more than 50 books, including Dumbth, a commentary on the American educational system, and Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality. He also wrote book-length commentaries on show-business personalities (‘Funny People,’ ‘More Funny People’). Perhaps influenced by his son’s involvement with a religious cult, he became an outspoken critic of organized religion and an active member of such humanist and skeptical organizations as the Council for Media Integrity, a group which debunked pseudo-scientific claims. (for more about Allen’s skepticism, see Paul Kurtz, "A Tribute to Steve Allen", Skeptical Inquirer magazine, January/February 2001.)
Allen was also notoriously contemptuous of rock ‘n’ roll music, although he was showman enough to scoop Ed Sullivan by being one of the first to present Elvis Presley on network television (after Presley had appeared on the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Stage Show and Milton Berle shows). "Allen found a way … to satisfy the puritans. He assured viewers that he would not allow Presley ‘to do anything that will offend anyone.’ NBC announced that a ‘revamped, purified and somewhat abridged Presley’ had agreed to sing while standing reasonably still, dressed in black tie." In fact, on this occasion Allen had Elvis wear a top hat and the white tie and tails of a ‘high-class’ musician while singing "Hound Dog" to an actual hound, who was similarly attired. According to Jake Austen, "the way Steve Allen treated Elvis Presley was his federal crime. Allen thought Presley was talentless and absurd, and so he decided to goof on him. Allen set things up so that Presley would show his contrition by appearing in a tuxedo and singing his new song ‘Hound Dog’ to an elderly basset hound…" Elaine Dundy says that Allen smirkingly presented Elvis "with a roll that looks exactly like a large roll of toilet paper with, says Allen, the ‘signatures of eight thousand fans.’ " Presley looked "at Steve as if to say: ‘It’s all right. I’ve been made a worse fool in my life,’ and after he patted the basset hound he is about to sing Hound Dog to, he wiped his hands on his trousers as if to wipe away Steve Allen, the dog and the whole show." Guitarist Scotty Moore later said Elvis and the members of his band were "all angry about their treatment the previous night". "The next day, as Elvis entered the RCA studios to record ‘Hound Dog,’ fans greeted him with signs that declared, ‘We Want the Real Elvis’ and ‘We Want the Gyrating Elvis.’ In the press, critics were no kinder with the singer than they had ever been, this time pronouncing him a ‘cowed kid’ who had demonstrated, once again, that he ‘couldn’t sing or act a lick.’ " In a column in Newsweek, John Lardner wrote, " ‘Like Huckleberry Finn, when the widow put him in a store suit and told him not to gap or scratch,’ [Elvis] had been ‘fouled’ by NBC’s attempt to ‘civilize him … for the good of mankind.’ " Presley often referred to the Allen show as the most ridiculous performance of his career. The singer "was later featured in a mediocre cowboy sketch with Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca. As ‘Tumbleweed Presley’ his big joke was ‘I’m warning you galoots, don’t step on my blue suede boots.’ " That apparent mockery was consistent with other situations in which Allen had singers in such comic scenarios on his show, in contrast to the simple "singing in front of a curtain" style of the Sullivan show. The house singers on the early Tonight show were subjected to many such stunts.
It must be remembered that Allen was in his late thirties at the time, and was brought up in his formative years with a big band/jazz perspective. Stan Freberg and others of his generation also comically mocked rock ‘n’ roll at the time, but credit must be given for simply having the artists on in the first place. Rock ‘n’ roll was just coming into its own, and the nation itself didn’t embrace it collectively at first, particularly folks like Allen who were brought up in the big band/crooner era. At the very least, he was an unintentional trailblazer of rock simply by breaking in new artists, per Sullivan. Jerry Lee Lewis was so touched by Allen’s booking of him for the first time to a national audience that he named his first son Steve Allen Lewis after him.
Allen also had many black jazz artists on his early Tonight show, all exposed to a national audience for the first time, including Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Bobby Short, Coleman Hawkins, Lionel Hampton, Sarah Vaughn, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie. Allen was honored with numerous awards from black organizations for that very same trailblazing.
Allen has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: a TV star at 1720 Vine St. and a radio star at 1537 Vine St.
Personal life Allen’s second wife was actress Jayne Meadows, daughter of Christian missionaries, and sister to actress Audrey Meadows. The marriage of Allen and Meadows produced one son. They were married from 1954 until his death in 2000. Allen had three children, Steve Allen Jr., Brian Allen, and David Allen, from an earlier marriage to Dorothy Goodman that ended in divorce.
Despite his Catholic upbringing, Allen was a secular humanist and Humanist Laureate for the Academy of Humanism, a member of CSICOP and the Council for Secular Humanism. He was a student and supporter of general semantics, recommending it in Dumbth and giving the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in 1992. Allen was a supporter of world government and served on the World Federalist Association Board of Advisers. In spite of his liberal position on free speech, his later concerns about the smuttiness he saw on radio and television, particularly the programs of Howard Stern, caused him to make proposals restricting the content of programs, allying himself with the Parents Television Council. Coincidentally, his full-page ad on the subject appeared in newspapers a day or two before his unexpected death. Allen had been making speeches in which he referred to himself as an "involved Presbyterian".
Allen made a last appearance on the Tonight show on September 27, 1994, for the show’s 40th anniversary broadcast. Jay Leno was effusive in praise, and actually knelt down and kissed his ring.
Shows Songs for Sale (1950–1952) The Steve Allen Show (1950) What’s My Line? (regular panelist, 1953–1954) Talent Patrol (1953–1955) The Tonight Show (1954–1957, NBC) The Steve Allen Westinghouse Show (1962-1968) I’ve Got a Secret (1964–1967) The Steve Allen Show (Filmways production, 1968-69) Match Game (panelist, 1974) Meeting of Minds (1977–1981, PBS) Steve Allen Comedy Hour (1980–1981) The Start of Something Big (1985–1986)
Songs "Theme from Picnic" "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" "The Gravy Waltz" "The Saturday Evening Post"
Books Bop Fables (1955) Fourteen for Tonight (1955) Short story collection The Funny Men (1956) Wry on the Rocks (1956) Poetry The Girls on the Tenth Floor and Other Stories (1958) 1970 printing: ISBN 0-8369-3608-6 The Question Man… (1959) Mark It and Strike It: An Autobiography (1960) Not All of Your Laughter, Not All of Your Tears (1962) Dialogues in Americanism (1964) with L. Brent Bozell, Jr., William F. Buckley, Jr., Robert M. Hutchins, James MacGregor Burns, and Willmoore Kendall Letter to a Conservative (1965) The Ground is Our Table (1966) Bigger Than A Breadbox (1967) The Flash of Swallows (1969) The Wake (1972) ISBN 0-385-07608-8 Princess Snip-Snip and the Puppy-Kittens (1973) Curses! or… How Never to Be Foiled Again (1973) ISBN 0-87477-008-4 What To Say When It Rains (1974) ISBN 0-8431-0357-4 Schmock-Schmock! (1975) ISBN 0-385-09664-X Meeting of Minds (1978) ISBN 0-517-53383-9 1989 printing: ISBN 0-87975-550-4 Chopped-Up Chinese (1978) Ripoff: A Look at Corruption in America (1979) With Roslyn Bernstein and Donald H. Dunn ISBN 0-8184-0249-0 Meeting of Minds, Second Series (1979) ISBN 0-517-53894-6 1989 printing: ISBN 0-87975-565-2 Explaining China (1980) ISBN 0-517-54062-2 Funny People (1981) ISBN 0-8128-2764-3 Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults (1982) ISBN 0-672-52678-6 More Funny People (1982) ISBN 0-8128-2884-4 How to Make a Speech (1986) ISBN 0-07-001164-8 How to Be Funny: Discovering the Comic You (1987) With Jane Wollman ISBN 0-07-001199-0 1992 printing: ISBN 0-87975-792-2 1998 revised edition: ISBN 1-57392-206-4 The Passionate Nonsmoker’s Bill of Rights: The First Guide to Enacting Nonsmoking Legislation (1989) With Bill Adler, Jr. ISBN 0-688-06295-4 "Dumbth": And 81 Ways to Make Americans Smarter (1989) ISBN 0-87975-539-3 1998 revised edition: ISBN 1-57392-237-4 Meeting of Minds, Vol. III (1989) ISBN 0-87975-566-0 Meeting of Minds, Vol. IV (1989) ISBN 0-87975-567-9 The Public Hating: A Collection of Short Stories (1990) ISBN 0-942637-22-4 Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality (1990) ISBN 0-87975-638-1 Hi-Ho, Steverino: The Story of My Adventures in the Wonderful Wacky World of Television (1992) ISBN 0-942637-55-0 large-print edition: ISBN 1-56054-521-6 More Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality (1993) ISBN 0-87975-736-1 Make ’em Laugh (1993) ISBN 0-87975-837-6 Reflections (1994) ISBN 0-87975-904-6 The Man Who Turned Back the Clock, and Other Short Stories (1995) ISBN 1-57392-002-9 The Bug and the Slug in the Rug (1995) ISBN 1-880851-17-2 But Seriously…: Steve Allen Speaks His Mind (1996) ISBN 1-57392-090-8 Steve Allen’s Songs: 100 Lyrics with Commentary (1999) ISBN 0-7864-0736-0 Steve Allen’s Private Joke File (2000) ISBN 0-609-80672-6 Vulgarians at the Gate: Trash TV and Raunch Radio—Raising the Standards of Popular Culture (2001) ISBN 1-57392-874-7 Allen’s series of mystery novels "starring" himself and wife Jayne Meadows were in part ghostwritten by Walter J. Sheldon, and later Robert Westbrook
The Talk Show Murders (1982) ISBN 0-440-08471-7 Murder on the Glitter Box (1989) ISBN 0-8217-2752-4 Murder in Manhattan (1990) ISBN 0-8217-3033-9 Murder in Vegas (1991) ISBN 0-8217-3462-8 The Murder Game (1993) ISBN 0-8217-4115-2 Murder on the Atlantic (1995) ISBN 0-8217-4647-2 Wake Up to Murder (1996) ISBN 1-57566-090-3 Die Laughing (1998) ISBN 1-57566-241-8 Murder in Hawaii (1999) ISBN 1-57566-375-9
Loretta Young (January 6, 1913 – August 12, 2000) was an Academy Award-winning American actress.
Early life She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah as Gretchen Young (she took the name Michaela at confirmation) she moved with her family to Hollywood when she was three years old. Loretta and her sisters Polly Ann Young and Elizabeth Jane Young (screen name Sally Blane) worked as child actresses, of whom Loretta was the most successful. Young’s first role was at age 3 in the silent film The Primrose Ring. The movie’s star Mae Murray so fell in love with little Gretchen that she wanted to adopt her. Although her mother declined, Gretchen was allowed to live with Murray for two years. Her half-sister Georgiana (daughter of her mother and stepfather George Belzer) eventually married actor Ricardo Montalban. During her high school years, she was educated at Ramona Convent Secondary School.
Death of Loretta young Loretta young died of ovarian cancer at the Santa Monica, California home of her half-sister, Georgiana Montalban, and was interred in the family plot in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Loretta young was 87 years old at the time of her death
Young has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — one for motion pictures, at 6104 Hollywood Blvd, and another for television, at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.
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Career She was billed as "Gretchen Young" in the 1917 film, Sirens of the Sea. It wasn’t until 1928 that she was first billed as "Loretta Young", in The Whip Woman. That same year she co-starred with Lon Chaney in the MGM film Laugh, Clown, Laugh.The next year, she was anointed one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars.
In 1930, Young, then 17, eloped with 26-year-old actor Grant Withers and married him in Yuma, Arizona. The marriage was annulled the next year, just as their second movie together (ironically titled Too Young to Marry) was released.
Young made as many as seven or eight movies a year and won an Oscar in 1947 for her performance in The Farmer’s Daughter. The same year she co-starred with Cary Grant and David Niven in The Bishop’s Wife, a perennial favorite that still airs on television during the Christmas season and was later remade as The Preacher’s Wife with Whitney Houston. In 1949, Young received another Academy Award nomination (for Come to the Stable) and in 1953 appeared in her last film, It Happens Every Thursday.
Moving to television, she hosted and starred in the well-received half hour anthology series The Loretta Young Show. Her "sweeping" trademark appearance at the beginning of each show was to appear dramatically in various high fashion evening gowns. She returned at the program’s conclusion to restate to the viewer the moral of the story just seen. (Young’s introductions and conclusions to her television shows, which were widely satirized at the time, are not rerun on television because she had it legally stipulated that they not be; the ever image-conscious Young didn’t want to be seen in "outdated" wardrobe and hairstyles.) Her program ran in prime time on NBC for eight years, the longest-running prime time network program ever hosted by a woman up to that time.
The program, which earned her three Emmys, began with the premise that each drama was an answer to a question asked in her fan mail; the program’s original title was Letter to Loretta. The title was changed to The Loretta Young Show during the first season, and the "letter" concept was dropped altogether at the end of the second season. At this time, Young’s health required that there be a number of guest hosts and guest stars; her first appearance in the 1955-56 season was for the Christmas show. From this point on, Young appeared in only about half of each season’s shows as an actress and merely functioned as the program host for the remainder. This program, minus Young’s introductions and summarized conclusions, was rerun in daytime by NBC from 1960 to 1964 and also appeared, again without the introductions and conclusions, in syndication.
Affair with Clark Gable In 1935, Young had an affair with Clark Gable, who was married at the time, while on location for The Call of the Wild. During their relationship, Young became pregnant. Due to the moral codes placed on the film industry Young covered up her pregnancy in order to avoid damaging her career (as well as Gable’s). Returning from a long "vacation" (during which she secretly gave birth to her daughter), Young announced that she had adopted the little girl. The child was raised as "Judy Lewis" after taking the name of Young’s second husband, producer Tom Lewis. According to Lewis’s autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, Lewis was made fun of because of the ears that she received from her father, Clark Gable. Over the years she had heard rumors and secretly knew that Clark Gable was her biological father, but it was not until 1958 when Judy’s future husband Joseph Tinney told her that "everybody" knew the rumors that she really began to suspect. It was not until a few years later, after becoming a mother herself, that she finally got the nerve to ask her mother, who, after promptly vomiting, admitted to her that Clark Gable was her father and the she was "a mortal sin."
Marriages and relationships Married to actor Grant Withers from 1930-1931. Married producer Tom Lewis in 1940 and they divorced very bitterly in the mid 1960s. Lewis died in 1988. They had two sons, Peter (Peter Lewis of the legendary San Francisco rock band Moby Grape) and Christopher, a film director. Married fashion designer Jean Louis in 1993. Louis died in 1997. Involved in affairs with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable; in 1935, she gave birth to Gable’s daughter, who was known as Judy Lewis.
Later life Loretta Young was the godmother of actress Marlo Thomas, whose parents (her father was Danny Thomas), were, like Young, devout Roman Catholics. From the time of Young’s retirement in the 1960s, until not long before her death, she devoted herself to volunteer work for charities and churches with her friend of many years, Jane Wyman. Young did, however, briefly come out of retirement to star in two television films, Christmas Eve (1986), and Lady in a Corner (1989). Young was the mother of Peter Lewis, guitarist and vocalist of seminal 60’s San Francisco underground rock band Moby Grape.
Young died at 87 from ovarian cancer at the Santa Monica, California home of her half-sister, Georgiana Montalban, and was interred in the family plot in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Young has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — one for motion pictures, at 6104 Hollywood Blvd, and another for television, at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.
The Primrose Ring
Sirens of the Sea
The Only Way
Child on the operating table
White and Unmarried
Naughty But Nice
Her Wild Oat
Bit by Ping Pong Table
The Whip Woman
Laugh, Clown, Laugh
The Magnificent Flirt
The Head Man
Seven Footprints to Satan
One of Satan’s victims
The Girl in the Glass Cage
Patricia Mason Stratton
The Careless Age
The Forward Pass
The Show of Shows
Ann Harper Berry
The Man from Blankley’s
Show Girl in Hollywood
Herself, Cameo Appearance at Premiere
The Second Floor Mystery
Road to Paradise
Mary Brennan/Margaret Waring
Warner Bros. Jubilee Dinner
The Truth About Youth
The Devil to Pay!
How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones No. 8: ‘The Brassie’
Walter John Matthau (October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was an Academy Award-winning American actor best known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent collaborations with fellow Odd Couple star Jack Lemmon.
Death of Walter Matthau Walter Matthau died of full cardiac arrest on July 1, 2000 in Santa Monica, California. Walter Matthau was 79 years old at the time of his death.
After heart surgery, doctors discovered that he had colon cancer, which had spread to his liver, lungs and brain. However, on his death certificate the causes of death are listed as cardiac arrest and atherosclerotic heart disease, with ESRD and atrial fibrillation added as "other significant conditions contributing to death but not related to [primary] cause…"
He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, next to fellow actor George C. Scott.
Almost exactly one year after Walter Matthau’s death, Jack Lemmon was also buried at the cemetery, after dying from cancer. After Matthau’s death, Lemmon as well as other friends and relatives appeared on Larry King Live in an hour of tribute and remembrance; poignantly, many of those same people appeared on the show one year later, reminiscing about Lemmon.
His widow, Carol, died of a brain aneurysm in 2003.
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Early life Walter Matthau was born in New York City’s Lower East Side on October 1, 1920, the son of Russian – Jewish immigrants. His original surname is often shown as Matuschanskayasky, but this is not true (see Original Name Rumor below for a detailed discussion).
Career During World War II Matthau served in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in England as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same bomb group as Jimmy Stewart. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and became interested in acting. He often joked that his best early review came in a play where he posed as a derelict. One reviewer said, "The others just looked like actors in make-up, Walter Matthau really looks like a skid row bum!" Matthau was a respected stage actor for years in such fare as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and A Shot in the Dark. He won the 1962 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a play. In 1952 Matthau appeared in the pilot of Mr. Peepers with Wally Cox. For reasons unknown he used the name Leonard Elliot. His role was of the gym teacher Mr. Wall. In 1955 he made his motion picture debut as a whip-wielding bad guy in The Kentuckian opposite Burt Lancaster. He appeared in many movies after this as a villain such as the 1958 King Creole (where he is beaten up by Elvis Presley). That same year, he made a western called Ride a Crooked Trail with Audie Murphy and the notorious flop Onionhead starring Andy Griffith and Erin O’Brien. Matthau also directed a low budget 1960 movie called The Gangster Story. In 1962, he won acclaim as a sympathetic sheriff in Lonely are the Brave. He also played a villainous war veteran in Charade, which starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
In addition to his busy movie and stage schedule, Matthau made many television appearances in live TV plays. Although he was constantly working, it seemed that the fact that he was not handsome in the traditional sense would keep him from being a top star.
Success came late for Matthau. In 1965, aged 44, Neil Simon cast him in the hit play The Odd Couple opposite Art Carney. In 1966, he again achieved success as a shady lawyer opposite future friend and frequent co-star, actor Jack Lemmon, in The Fortune Cookie. During filming, the film had to be placed on a five month hiatus after he suffered a heart attack.
He won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for that movie, and also made a memorable acceptance speech. He was visibly banged up, having been involved in a bicycle accident shortly before the awards show. He scolded nominated actors who were perfectly healthy and had not bothered to come to the ceremony, especially three of the other four major award winners: Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis and Paul Scofield.
Matthau and Lemmon became lifelong friends after making The Fortune Cookie and made a total of ten movies together (eleven if we count Kotch, in which Lemmon has a cameo as a sleeping bus passenger), including the movie version of The Odd Couple (with Lemmon playing the Art Carney role) and the popular 1993 hit Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men with Sophia Loren.
Matthau hummed the same tune in most of his movies, The Fortune Cookie, Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men etc.
Marriages Matthau was married twice; first to Grace Geraldine Johnson (1948 – 1958), from 1959 until his death in 2000 to Carol Marcus. He had two children, Jenny Matthau and David Matthau, with his first wife, and a son, Charlie Matthau, with his second. His grandchildren include William Matthau and Emily Roman. His son, Charlie, directed Matthau in the movie The Grass Harp (1995).
Original name rumor There is a persistent rumor that his birth name was Matuschanskayasky, which is false, as are the rumors that his name was Matashansky or Matansky, or any of the other reported names. In truth – as reported by the authors of Matthau: A Life by Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg (along with Walter’s son, Charlie Matthau), Walter was a teller of tall tales. In his youth, he found that the joy of embellishment lifted a story (and the listener) to such enjoyable heights that he could not resist trying to pass off the most bogus of information, just to see who was gullible enough to believe it. Matthau told many stories to many reputable people – including the Social Security Administration.
When he registered for a number, he was amazed that they only wanted him to write his name, and offer no proof of his identity. So, as another of his traditional goofs, he wrote that his true name was "Walter Foghorn Matthau".
The "Matuschanskayasky" name rumor culminated with the release of 1974’s Earthquake. The executive producer, Jennings Lang, had worked with Matthau the previous year on the film Charley Varrick, and convinced him to take a small cameo role in the film – the small part scripted only as a "drunk at the end of the bar." On a whim, Matthau agreed to take the part, without compensation, on the condition that he not be credited under his real name. After Matthau agreed, the part of the "drunk" was expanded to provide comic relief for the film, the character offering toasts to various people (Spiro Agnew, Bobby Riggs, and Peter Fonda), as well as delivering the punchline "Hey, who do you have to know to get a drink around here?" in the midst of a bar devastated by a major earthquake.
As requested, when it came time to insert the credits for Earthquake, the long name "Matuschanskayasky" was used, as agreed, by Jennings Lang and Matthau.
Despite the facts, this fake name continued to appear in the World Almanac section on "Original Names of Selected Entertainers" as recently as the 2007 edition (p.235).
Awards Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor 1966 for The Fortune Cookie
Filmography Atomic Attack (1950) (short subject) The Kentuckian (1955) The Indian Fighter (1955) Bigger Than Life (1956) A Face in the Crowd (1957) Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) King Creole (1958) Voice in the Mirror (1958) Ride a Crooked Trail (1958) Onionhead (1958) Gangster Story (1960) (also director) Strangers When We Meet (1960) Lonely are the Brave (1962) Who’s Got the Action? (1962) Island of Love (1963) Charade (1963) Ensign Pulver (1964) Fail-Safe (1964) Goodbye Charlie (1964) Mirage (1965) The Fortune Cookie (1966) A Guide for the Married Man (1967) The Odd Couple (1968) The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968) Candy (1968) Hello, Dolly! (1969) Cactus Flower (1969) A New Leaf (1971) Plaza Suite (1971) Kotch (1971) Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972) The Laughing Policeman (1973) Charley Varrick (1973) The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Earthquake (1974) (credited as "Walter Matuschanskayasky") The Front Page (1974) The Lion Roars Again (1975) (short subject) The Gentleman Tramp (1975) (documentary) The Sunshine Boys (1975) The Bad News Bears (1976) Casey’s Shadow (1978) House Calls (1978) California Suite (1978) Portrait of a 60% Perfect Man (1980) (documentary) Little Miss Marker (1980) Hopscotch (1980) First Monday in October (1981) Buddy Buddy (1981) I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982) The Survivors (1983) Movers & Shakers (1985) Pirates (1986) The Little Devil (1988) The Couch Trip (1988) JFK (1991) as Senator Russell B. Long Beyond ‘JFK’: The Question of Conspiracy (1992) (documentary) Dennis the Menace (1993) Grumpy Old Men (1993) I.Q. (1994) The Grass Harp (1995) Grumpier Old Men (1995) I’m Not Rappaport (1996) Out to Sea (1997) The Odd Couple II (1998) The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998) (documentary) Hanging Up (2000)
TV work Dry Run, episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents series (1959) Juno and the Paycock (1960) Tallahassee 7000 (cast member in 1961) Awake and Sing! (1972) Actor (1978) The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) (voice) The Incident (1990) Mrs Lambert Remembers Love (1991) Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) Incident in a Small Town (1994) The Marriage Fool (1998)
Stage appearances Anne of the Thousand Days (1948) (replacement) The Liar (1950) Twilight Walk (1951) Fancy Meeting You Again (1952) One Bright Day (1952) In Any Language (1952) The Grey-Eyed People (1952) The Ladies of the Corridor (1953) The Burning Glass (1953) Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1955) Once More, with Feeling! (1958) Once There Was a Russian (1961) A Shot in the Dark (1961) My Mother, My Father and Me (1963) The Odd Couple (1965)
Tito Puente, Sr., (April 20, 1923 – May 31, 2000 or June 1, 2000 according to IMDb), born Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr., was an influential Latin jazz and mambo musician. The son of native Puerto Ricans Ernest and Ercilia Puente, of Spanish Harlem in New York City, Puente is often credited as "El Rey" (the King) of the timbales and "The King of Latin Music". He is best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that helped keep his career going for 50 years. He and his music appear in many films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba’s Calle 54. He guest starred on several television shows including The Cosby Show and The Simpsons.
Death of Tito Puente Tito Puente Died of a heart attack Tito Puente was 77 years old at the time of his death.
Biography Tito Puente Sr. served in the Navy for three years during World War II after being drafted in 1942. He was discharged with a Presidential Commendation for serving in nine battles. The GI Bill allowed him to study music at Juilliard School of Music, where he completed a formal education in conducting, orchestration and theory. In 1969, he received the key to the City of New York from former Mayor John Lindsay. In 1992 he was inducted into the National Congressional Record, and in 1993 he received the Smithsonian Medal.
During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences (he was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban). Dance Mania, possibly Puente’s most well known album was released in 1958. Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as "salsa" (a term that he disliked). In 1979 Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums A Tribute to Benny Moré, On Broadway, Mambo Diablo, and Goza Mi Timbal. In 1990, Puente was awarded the "James Smithson Bicentennial Medal." He was also awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
After a heart attack following a show in Puerto Rico, Puente had heart surgery in New York City, from which he never recovered. He died on May 31, 2000, just a few months after shooting for the music video Calle 54, in which Puente was wearing all-white outfit with his band
Honors During the presidency of Sen. Roberto Rexach Benítez, Tito Puente received the unique honor of not only having a special session of the Senate of Puerto Rico dedicated to him, but being allowed to perform in his unique style on the floor of the Senate while it was in session.
On September 10, 2007, a United States Post Office in Harlem was named after him at a ceremony presided by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Rep. José Serrano (D-NY).
Discography – too long to list here, Tito Puente is a legend