Welcome back to the giant CJS Obituary, which, I’ll admit, was depressing as hell to compile. We had planned to do a follow-up to this Confessional, but no one that either we or you picked actually died last year. So, if you want to look at some boring list of a bunch of living people, there you go.
But you’re here for the death. So, here’s a list of notable folks who kicked the bucket this year. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but should give you a fairly extensive cross-section of people either playing backgammon with Hitler or having a beer chugging contest with Hemingway.
Let’s get to it.
January 8 – Tony Halme
Tony Halme has the distinction of being one of many evil foreign wrestlers employed by Vince McMahon in the late-80s and early-90s WWF. Halme played a character named Ludvig Borga who was from the EVIL country of Finland. I heard a rumor that Ludvig Borga was penciled in to win the WWF title and lose it to Lex Luger at WrestleMania X, but ol’ Tony’s ankle couldn’t hold up and plans were changed. It’s also possible that everyone collectively realized they don’t give a crap about Finland, thus pointing out how inherently ridiculous this character was.
January 27 – J.D. Salinger
By pretty much every account, J.D. Salinger was a reclusive weirdo who mistreated virtually everyone in his life. But he also happened to write one of my favorite books of all-time and a bunch of strange short stories that I read over and over again trying to understand. Also, I’m gonna break my crazy neck on this obituary!
January 27 – Howard Zinn
From Happy Friday #79: “On a quasi-related note, quasi-historian and left wing nutjob Howard Zinn also died this week. Since he’s dead, we’re sure that left wing intellectual impostors everywhere will feel even more liberated to cite his work in making ill-conceived attacks against the United States government.”
February 10 – Charlie Wilson
I never saw Charlie Wilson’s War, and to be honest, I don’t even know what it’s about. Is it good? Is it a fitting tribute to this man? Is Tom Hanks charming like always? Now that I think about it… what the hell is Charlie Wilson even famous for? And why did I just waste a paragraph asking all these questions?
February 25 – Andrew Koenig
By pretty much every measure, the story of Andrew Koenig’s suicide was an incredibly tragic one that not even we’d be classless enough to make a joke about. The only thing we will say was that hearing super-serious and self-important news anchors utter the word “Boner” over and over again when discussing this story at least provided some moments of levity in an otherwise sad tale.
March 10 – Corey Haim
Think back 10 years ago. Which one of the two Coreys did you think would die first? If you had Corey Haim, you’re a fucking liar. Congratulations to Corey Feldman for getting his life on track, even if he’s still clinging to the corpse of a dead-ass Lost Boys direct-to-DVD franchise. Still, that’s better than being straight-up dead like poor Corey Haim. Poor bastard.
April 2 – Chris Kanyon
Who better than Kanyon?! In terms of entertaining midcard-level professional wrestlers? Very few. My two favorite Kanyon memories: 1) His skits with Raven in WCW where he referred pronounced Versace the way it’s spelled causing Raven to look at him in disbelief and say, “It’s ver-satch-ee. What a maroon.” 2) Kanyon dressing up as Diamond Dallas Page, doing a spot-on impression of him and interrupting everyone’s promo with a Diamond Cutter and a huge “BANG!”
April 8 – Malcolm McLaren
The London boutique owner who assembled the Sex Pistols, gave them that ridiculously offensive name, taught them how to dress, how to act, and how to shittily play their instruments. In short, he basically created the punk aesthetic, or, depending on your viewpoint, assembled the first punk boy band. I hate the fucking Sex Pistols, but I’ll never deny the genius of creating them.
April 20 – Keli McGregor
Former CSU Ram, worked for the Broncos, President of the Colorado Rockies, and from everything I’ve ever read about him, just a terrific all-around guy. CJS offers a bowed head at his passing.
May 23 – Jose Lima
It’s Lima Time! A total goofball I would have never wanted on either of my favorite teams. He was a guy you were happy was in the league because he offered so many hilariously weird quotes and bizarre acts, but was wildly erratic on the mound. Like Rickey Henderson, who has never officially retired, Lima always threatened to make a comeback, even joining the Golden Baseball League with the Long Beach Armada. To the shock of no one, fans in the league loved him.
May 26 – Art Linkletter
Host of the original “Kids Say The Darnedest Things” a show so innocently cute, I want to hate it with all my guts, but can’t. The show is just flat-out wholesome because the original was way less calculating than the later incarnation with Bill Cosby. The reason for that Linkletter’s impeccable rapport with the kids. However, my first interaction with him happened when I saw him shilling insurance on television and thought his name was hilarious. And at 5, that name is hilarious. Although now I can’t quite pinpoint why.
May 28 – Gary Coleman
I was watching an old rerun of SNL this weekend and it was during that crazy California Governor recall where approximately 8 zillion people ran for the job. One of them was Gary Coleman, who, in the sketch I say, was played by Kenan Thompson appearing on “Hardball.” When they flashed his name at the bottom of the screen it said, “Gary Coleman: Actor/Punchline.” Now that he’s dead, I found that joke sad. He was just way too earnest a person trapped in that strange body not to attract the daggers of a general populace that just can’t help itself. Although, that crazy episode of Diff’rent Strokes where he almost gets molested by the Maytag repairman sure opened that door because that episode is simultaneously cringe-inducing and awkwardly hilarious.
May 29 – Dennis Hopper
As a kid, Dennis Hopper scared the shit out of me. His eyes had unmatched intensity and he looked like he could kill you while smiling about it at any moment. Awesome actor. Speed doesn’t work half as well without him. He even made those Nike commercials in the mid-90s appointment viewing.
May 31 – Uzra Butt
A successful Indian-born actor and dancer who traveled throughout Europe and the United States during World War II, then continued her career in India and Pakistan. I had no idea who this was until I went through Wikipedia to create this list. As a comedy writer, I can’t in good conscience just let that name escape without comment. Uzra Butt. Are you fucking kidding me?!
June 3 – Rue McClanahan
Congratulations to Betty White for claiming the Flying Hellfish Bonanza as the last surviving Golden Girl. I always figured McClanahan would take it, but Betty White has gotten a life-saving injection of pop culture relevancy again that McClanahan never did. I’ll bet the repartee between her, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty in the afterlife is hilarious.
June 4 – John Wooden
The. Coach. The best of all-time. A pure winner on the court, and an absolute gentleman and inspiration off it. He’s won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive, and that probably falls well short of the accolades deserved to him for his cultural impact. An amazing, amazing man
June 12 – Grizzly Smith
A former professional wrestler, the father of Sam Houston, Rockin’ Robin, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. According to Jake the Snake, his father raped a 12 year-old girl, which produced Jake himself. That’s just one of the many lovely stories Jake tells during one of my favorite documentaries, Beyond the Mat. For as unsavory as the thought of that is, there’s no denying the offspring it produced was phenomenal. So, thanks for Jake the Snake, Grizzly. And I hope you’re burning in hell now.
June 13 – Jimmy Dean
The only singer I can think of to cross over successfully from country music to breakfast. His sausages are awesome, and those little frozen breakfast sandwiches you can buy at the supermarket are damn near just as good as getting one at McDonald’s or Burger King.
June 19 – Manute Bol
I can’t believe Manute Bol is dead. Whenever you were groping for a super tall person to crack a joke about someone’s height, Manute Bol was the go-to guy because not only was he super tall, he was absurdly skinny and always smiling too. People didn’t so much make fun of him as they celebrated his pleasant disposition and willingness to look occasionally ridiculous. Hopefully, all the dead SNL players are re-enacting the Manute Bol Cruise somewhere right now.
July 13 – George Steinbrenner
I don’t have much to say about George Steinbrenner that hasn’t already been drunkenly shouted in pure obscenities by Boston Red Sox fans. He created the Yankee juggernaut we all despise, which indirectly resulted in its bastard offspring as well: the Boston Red Sox. Thanks to him, we can all enjoy watching players from our teams defect there for more money, and playoffs with these two teams until the end of time. Yippee.
July 23 – Daniel Schorr
A highly-acclaimed journalist primarily for NPR who worked extensively covering Watergate. What I remember him for is kicking off Michael Douglas’s game in The Game, a movie I feel doesn’t get enough love. Daniel Schorr’s deadpan delivery of some ridiculous lines like “Are you going to spend all night prying at that clown’s mouth” perfectly sets up the bizarreness of the rest of the movie.
August 9 – Ted Stevens
A possibly crooked Alaskan senator (convicted, then dismissed due to gross prosecutorial misconduct) who accomplished an absolute shitload during his behemoth 40-year public service career. He is the longest serving senator of all-time, and accused of enriching himself from laws he passed in the Senate. The perfect embodiment of the mixed blessing that is our democratic process.
August 13 – Lance Cade
Yet another dead professional wrestler who bit it before 40 (in his case, before 30). I don’t regularly watch professional wrestling anymore, but I still care about it. Until there’s a real drug testing program, an offseason, and some actual direct competition, this will happen more and more and I will only be able to take solace in not financially supporting the WWE.
September 3 – Robert Schimmel
Hilarious, ribald, incisive, and fearless. That was Schimmel’s comedy. He’s notable in my life because I received free tickets to his show from the Comedy Works the same day I told Lady E’s mother I wanted to marry her daughter. Schimmel beat cancer, contracted liver cirrhosis, waited for a donor liver, and then fucking died in a car crash. God did not want this dude to live, apparently.
September 7 – Glenn Shadix
You probably remember him best as “Otho” from Beetlejuice. I remember him for his podcasts with Rob Rector at Natsukashi where Rob told me Glenn was one of the most delightful, helpful, and enthusiastic guests he’s ever had. Thanks not only for appearing in these movies, but for your great stories from both Beetlejuice and Demolition Man.
September 24 – Olga C. Nardone
One of the last living munchkins from The Wizard of Oz and a member of The Lullaby League. This is your requisite mention of The Wizard of Oz from me.
September 26 – Gloria Stuart
The old lady from Titanic died for real. She was 100 goddamn years old. That’s old as shit. Now quit hiding that Heart of the Ocean diamond from us, dammit. And what’s the story with all those framed pictures? Do you cart those around with you everywhere? And why didn’t you and Jack take turns on that door? Gah! So many questions about that movie. No use in berating a dead woman, I guess.
September 29 – Tony Curtis
Star of the best comedy ever made, lust object for gay dudes everywhere, fabulous giver of advice. Always sad when a true American icon dies.
September 29 – Greg Giraldo
A few years ago Comedy Central counted down the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time. The hosts were the unspeakably unfunny Dom Irrera, a serviceable Judy Gold, a rotation of guests who appeared on the list, and Giraldo. Giraldo consistently had the keenest insights, the sharpest analysis of why someone is funny, and generally the most interesting things to say. He was one of the only watchable things about this last season of “Last Comic Standing.” And he absolutely OWNS Denis Leary in this clip.
October 18 – Barbara Billingsley
1. “Ward, don’t be so hard on the Beaver.”
Those two quotes by themselves are enough to endear us to Barbara Billingsley forever.
October 20 – Bob Guccione
Remember the first time you saw a Playboy? It was innocent and scandalous and quaint and precious. A terrific experience. A step toward manhood. Remember the first time you saw a Penthouse? It was raw and unnerving and terrifying and exhilarating. It was a giant leap toward manhood. Thanks, Bob!
October 26 – Paul the Octopus
This was a damn octopus – just an octopus, people! – that earned worldwide attention for correctly predicting the winner of 8 matches out 8 during this year’s World Cup. The statistical odds against this are steep indeed, but does this really warrant 4,000 words dedicated to it? If Gidget the Sea Lion from 9News goes on a long streak of correct Bronco game predictions, will she get her own Wikipedia page? More importantly, will our bizarre cultural anthropomorphizing of dumb animals never cease?
November 1 – Charlie O’Donnell
The omnipresent voice on “Wheel of Fortune.” You never really think about how much you need voices like his until they’re gone. “The Price Is Right” without Rod Roddy still sounds off. I fear the day Don Pardo no longer announces SNL. That’ll be one horrible shock to the system.
November 4 – Sparky Anderson
Three-time World Series winning manager. Much appreciated for beating up the hated San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series after another of the Cubs’ spectacular gag jobs.
November 28 – Leslie Nielsen
One of the funniest people on earth, without question. Everyone’s talked about that. Something no one’s mentioned: His decidedly freaky turn in Creepshow II. In his little segment he buries Ted Danson up to his neck in sand, waits for the tide to roll in, and makes him watch his wife suffer a similar fate. It’s pretty terrifying until the story’s conclusion when cheesy-looking zombies come into play, but Nielsen has quiet menace in the story’s beginning. You didn’t get to see that a lot from him, and that’s really too bad.
December 2 – Ron Santo
A great player unjustly left out of the Hall of Fame. A miserable announcer, an unapologetic homer, and an all-around great guy. He was a great Cub ambassador. Wrigley won’t be the same without him.
December 7 – Elizabeth Edwards
Man, we felt for Elizabeth Edwards. She was married to that self-aggrandizing, $500 haircut having choad, and then got terminal cancer. Through the entirety of her ordeal – cancer, her lying scumbag husband, etc. – she handled herself with grace, class, and quiet dignity. We hope she is in peace, and we can only hope someone throws a rock at John Edwards the next time they see him. He has it coming.
December 11 – Mark Madoff
Son of noted villain Bernie Madoff, Mark Madoff faced a slew of lawsuits from bilked investors trying to recover their money. So he did what any spineless cocksucker would do. He hung himself leaving his wife and two kids behind. What a guy. But given who his father is, what did you expect?
And on that downer of a note, we wrap up this year’s obituaries. We can almost add 2010 itself to the list of things on their way out, and we’ll gratefully bid it adieu soon. We’ll see you next week for the Bigass Christmas Post. Stay safe this holiday. We don’t want to have to add you to this list.
Until next year…
15 Dec 2010 E Dagger