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Polar Blair's Den Remembers: 2009

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Joan Alexander
Wayne Allwine
Bea Arthur
Ron Asheton
Susan Atkins

Barry Beckett
Bob Bogle
Dorothy Bridges

Gayle Caldwell
Ian Carr
David Carradine
Mickey Carroll
Carole Cole
Walter Cronkite

Linda Dangcil
John Dawson
Dom DeLuise

Harry Endo
Ric Estrada
Ean Evans

Farrah Fawcett

Don Galloway
Danny Gans
Larry Gelbart
Henry Gibson
Gidget
Steven Gilborn
Lucy Gordon
Jack Grimes

Jon Hager
John Hart
Pat Hingle
Cheryl Holdridge
John Hughes

Michael Jackson

Jack Kemp
Ted Kennedy (I)
Ted Kennedy (II)

Mark Landon
Dorothy Layton
Huey Long

Karl Malden
Bob May
Oscar G. Mayer, Jr.
Billy Mays
Danny McBride
Patrick McGoohan
Dallas "Dal" McKennon
Ed McMahon
Ricardo Montalban
Anna Karen Morrow

Les Paul
Billy Powell

Kenny Rankin
Reverend Ike
Beverly Roberts

Olga San Juan
Sky Saxon
Clive Scott
Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Socks
Gale Storm
Patrick Swayze
Clarence Swensen

Koko Taylor
Sam Taylor
Ed Thomas
Fred Travalena
Mary Travers

Gordon Waller
Dorothy Wellman
John "Bootsie" Wilson

Otha Young




Joan Alexander
May 21, 2009 (age )
Cause of Death: Intestinal blockage.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress, voice actress.
About Joan Alexander:  She was the voice of Lois Lane on the "Superman" radio show, and every Superman cartoon from the 1940s (Max Fleischer) and 1960s (Filmation).  Another Superman star we lost this year was Jack Grimes, voice of Jimmy Olsen in the Filmation "Superman" cartoons.  As you can see, Joan was a babe!  She could have played Lois Lane in the live-action films and television series of the time.

Joan Alexander

Joan Alexander



Wayne Allwine
May 18, 2009 (age 62)
Cause of Death: Diabetes.
Notable Accomplishments: Voice actor.
About Wayne Allwine:  He was the third voice of Mickey Mouse, from 1983-2009, and did it longer than anyone to date.  His first appearance as Mickey was in "Mickey's Christmas Carol".

Bea Arthur

Ron Asheton
(age )
Cause of Death: Heart attack.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Ron Asheton:  He was a guitarist and songwriter for the group, The Stooges, which was one of the premier punk rock acts and introduced the world to singer Iggy Pop (for better or worse).

Susan Atkins
(age 61)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Murderer.
About Susan Atkins:  She was one of Charles Manson's "family", and definitely thought of as the scariest of his female cohorts.  After the murder of actress Sharon Tate, among other people, Atkins spent her life in prison.  It makes no sense to me why she wasn't executed.  By all accounts, Tate was a very nice person who didn't do anything wrong.  I don't think it's fair Atkins was allowed to live 40 years after such a horrendous series of murders.

Barry Beckett
June 10, 2009 (age 66)
Cause of Death: Natural causes.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Barry Beckett:  I really liked this guy's work!  I don't pay much attention to who produces what music, but when I saw his name as a credit I knew it was going to be good!  He was a music producer, a keyboardist with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and renowned session musician for all kinds of excellent rock groups, especially Southern groups but also for guys like Bob Seger.

Bob Bogle
June 14, 2009 (age 75)
Cause of Death: Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
Notable Accomplishments: Musician
About Bob Bogle:  With Don Wilson, he co-founded the extremely popular instrumental group The Ventures.  Bogle was lead guitarist and later the band's bassist.  They had many, many hits such as "Walk, Don't Run", "Apache", "Let's Go", and too many others to mention.

Dorothy Bridges
February 16, 2009 (age 93)
Cause of Death: Age-related causes.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress, poet.
About Dorothy Bridges:  She was the wife of the late actor Lloyd Bridges and the mother of actor brothers Jeff and Beau.

Gayle Caldwell
April 14, 2009 (age 68)
Notable Accomplishments: Actress, Musician.
About Gayle Caldwell:  Unlike the rest of the people on this list, I KNEW Gayle Caldwell personally.  She was one of my best friends and the first "celebrity" friend I ever made.  Gayle was one of the New Christy Minstrels, the popular folk group, in its early years.  She then went on to become one-half of the girl pop duo, Jackie & Gayle.  Gayle later took on a solo career.  Although she recorded her own album, "Cycles", she became more popular as a songwriter.  The song, "Cycles", was first recorded by Frank Sinatra and became a huge hit.  It has been recorded by about 200 artists since that time.  "Rickie Lee Jones did a unique version of it that I really like," Gayle said.  She also wrote songs for artists like Astrud Gilberto, O.C. Smith, and Nancy Wilson to name a few.

    In 2008, Gayle released her long-awaited second album, "All is One".  I'm actually the one who got her to record again, and she told me this many times.  She had demos since 2004, but had a hard time getting things "off the ground".  It was indeed a fine work and something to be proud of.  I was helping her promote it.  "All is One" is definitely her life's work.  At the time of her death, she was planning a concert to promote her new CD.

    Besides music, Gayle had a great, but brief, acting career.  She was pretty funny in the movie, "Wild on the Beach".  A few years later, she played woman wrestler Rebecca on two episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies".  Although highly applauded as an actress, Gayle dropped out of that profession.  "I was more interested in music, but I was also intimidated by the acting scene," she admitted.

    I miss Gayle every day.  Her death hurt me deep.  I have since planted a flowering tree as a memorial, I've donated to the Best Friends Organization in her name, and I'll continue to host her feature on my website.

Ian Carr
February 25, 2009 (age 75)
Cause of Death: Long illness.
Notable Accomplishment: Musician.
About Ian Carr:  He was a member of the 1960s progressive rock group Nucleus.  I like Nucleus, but it's definitely an acquired taste, even for buffs of 1960s music like myself.  He was surprisingly older than most musicians of that time that played that kind of music, but he definitely fit the era like a glove.

David Carradine

Mickey Carroll
May 7, 2009 (age 89)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishment: Actor.
About Mickey Carroll:  He was one of the last surviving Munchkin actors from the legendary film, "The Wizard of Oz".

Carole Cole
May 18, 2009 (age 64)
Cause of Death: Lung cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress.
About Carole Cole:  One of singer Nat King Cole's daughters, albeit adopted.  Cookie, as she was nicknamed, was really one of the daughters of Nat King Cole's wife's sisters.  So she and Natalie were actual cousins.  She starred in a number of movies and TV shows, but is most popular for her roles in TVs "Sanford & Son" and especially its spin-off, "Grady".

Walter Cronkite
(age 92)

Linda Dangcil
May 7, 2009 (age 64)
Cause of Death: Throat cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress, voice actress.
About Linda Dangcil:  She is best known for her live-action role in TVs "The Flying Nun" as Sister Ana, and her voice role as Carmen "Raya" Alonso in the TV cartoon "Jem".

John Dawson
July 21, 2009 (age 64)
Cause of Death: Stomach cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About John Dawson:  He was a guitarist and one of the founding members of The New Riders of the Purple Sage, which was a country-rock spinoff group from The Grateful Dead.  One of their most popular songs is "Panama Red".

Dom DeLuise

Harry Endo
January 9, 2009 (age 87)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishment: Actor.
About Harry Endo:  He played Che Fong, the forensics scientist on TV's "Hawaii Five-O".

Ric Estrada
May 1, 2009 (age 81)
Cause of Death: Prostate cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Comic book artist, comic strip artist.
About Ric Estrada:  He was a comic book penciler for a number of publishers, but mainly DC.  Although superheroes were not his preference, his talent led him to work on all of DC's major superhero characters (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc.).  He was also co-creator of Power Girl with Joe Orlando.  Estrada also worked on the "Flash Gordon" comic strip, off and on, from the 1950s to 70s.

Ean Evans
May 6, 2009 (age 48)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Ean Evans:  He took over as bassist for Southern-rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd after the 2001 death of longtime bassist Leon Wilkeson.

Farrah Fawcett
(age 62)

Don Galloway
January 8, 2009 (age 71)
Cause of Death: Stroke.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Don Galloway:  He might be remembered best for his regular role on TV's "Ironside", as Ironside's protege Detective Sergeant Ed Brown.

Danny Gans
May 1, 2009 (age 52)
Cause of Death: Heart failure.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor, singer, vocal impressionist.
About Danny Gans:  He was a pretty awesome talent, and is best known for being a vocal impressionist, and one of the actors of the popular baseball movie "Bull Durham".

Larry Gelbart
(age 81)

Henry Gibson
(age 73)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Henry Gibson:  Everything this guy did was great!  He is most well-known for being a regular on the sketch-comedy series "Laugh-In".  His most popular characters were the priest at the party scenes, and himself reciting funny poetry.  He also had two great appearances as the jinx Leonard "Wrongo" Starr in the Western comedy series "F Troop".  Another notable appearance was in the "Beverly Hillbillies" episode A Man for Elly as the deceivingly tough Western movie star Quirt Manly.  Movies like "Innerspace" and "The Burbs" also helped solidify his reputation as a dependable, comical character actor.  He did many movies and TV shows, and towards the end of his life had a recurring character as Judge Clark Brown in the offbeat lawyer series "Boston Legal".

Gidget
July 21, 2009 (age 15)
Cause of Death: Stroke.
Notable Accomplishments: Mascot.
About Gidget:  She was Taco Bell's chihuahua spokesdog, famous for uttering the line "Yo Qiero Taco Bell".  Although extremely popular, Taco Bell canceled the campaign based on some BS, politically-correct notion that it was racially offensive, which it wasn't.  The dog didn't make fun of Mexicans, it just spoke with a Mexican accent.  In the commercials, Gidget was portrayed as a male.

Steven Gilborn
January 2, 2009 (age 72)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Steven Gilborn:  I always thought this guy was pretty cool as an actor, although he never received the full amount of recognition he deserved.  He is perhaps most famous for playing Harold Morgan, Ellen Degeneres' father on the hit sitcom "Ellen".  Another notable part is that of Kevin Arnold's algebra teacher, Mr. Collins, on an episode of "The Wonder Years".  Ironically, in that episode, he dies...just as Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) really starts to become friends with him.

Lucy Gordon
May 20, 2009 (age 28)
Cause of Death: Suicide by Hanging
Notable Accomplishments: Actress.
About Lucy Gordon:  She was a young actress pretty close to being a "name" actress when she played reporter Jennifer Dugan in the smash hit film "Spider-Man 3" (2007).

Jack Grimes
March 10, 2009 (age ?)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Voice actor.
About Jack Grimes:  He did a fair share of voice work, but his most popular role was that of Jimmy Olsen in Filmation's "Superman" cartoons of the 1960s.

Jon Hager
January 9, 2009 (age 67)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Comedian, musician.
About Jon Hager:  One of the Hager twins on TV's "Hee Haw".  He died not even a full year after his brother Jim.

John Hart
September 20, 2009 (age 91)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About John Hart:  He played TVs "The Lone Ranger" for one season when Clayton Moore left.  Although a good actor and fairly well-received, Hart was replaced when Moore decided to come back.

Pat Hingle
January 3, 2009 (age 84)
Cause of Death: Blood cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Pat Hingle:  If you don't know the name, you've still seen him in a ton of TV shows and movies.  He played Commissioner Gordon in all four of the 80s-90s era "Batman" films.  Hingle tended to play a lot of crochety old man parts whether they be funny or dramatic, and he almost always played someone who was in a position of authority (i.e. policemen).  I always liked him.  And even though he wasn't a natural choice to play Commissioner Gordon, he still gave good, likable performances.

Cheryl Holdridge
January 5, 2009 (age 64)
Cause of Death: Lung cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress.
About Cheryl Holdridge:  She was "Mouseketeer Cheryl", one of the original members of TVs "Mickey Mouse Club".

John Hughes
(age 59)

Michael Jackson
(age 50)

Jack Kemp
May 2, 2009 (age 73)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Football player, politician.
About Jack Kemp:  Unlike most American Vice Presidential candidates who lose, Jack Kemp still remained well-known and in the public eye.  He ran for VP in 1996 under Bob Dole.  Kemp got a lot of press coverage at the time, most of it favorable.

Ted Kennedy [I]
(age 77)

Ted Kennedy [II]
August 14, 2009 (age 83)
Cause of Death: Heart failure.
Notable Accomplishments: Hockey player.
About Ted Kennedy:  I would have thought somebody would have seen this as an interesting news item: The fact that TWO famous Ted Kennedys died in the same year.  This Ted Kennedy was a hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Mark Landon
May 11, 2009 (age 60)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Mark Landon:  He was the adopted son of popular actor Michael Landon.

Dorothy Layton
June 4, 2009 (age 96)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Actress.
About Dorothy Layton:  She was one of the Laurel & Hardy recurring actresses, appearing in their films from 1931-1932.  Layton didn't have much success outside of the Laurel & Hardy films, and retired from acting altogether in 1935.

Huey Long
June 10, 2009 (age 105)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Huey Long:  He was a member of the popular black singing group The Ink Spots.  Much later after their heyday, in the 1970s, they experienced a new popularity of sorts when their song "If I Didn't Care" became the anthem of Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) on TVs "Sanford & Son".

Karl Malden
(age 97)

Oscar G. Mayer, Jr.
July 13, 2009 (age 95)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Business executive.
About Oscar G. Mayer, Jr.:  He was the third person to lead the extremely successful Oscar Mayer company.  It was founded by his grandfather Oscar F. Mayer.  Then it was handed down to Oscar G. Mayer, Sr. before Jr. picked it up.

Bob May
January 18, 2009 (age 69)
Cause of Death: Congestive heart failure.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Bob May:  He was the man inside the Robot suit on TV's "Lost in Space".  I really thought this guy would have received more press than he did when he passed away, considering how huge of following that series still maintains.

Billy Mays
(age 50)

Danny McBride
July 23, 2009 (age 63)
Cause of Death: Natural causes.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Danny McBride: He is best known as the guitarist of Sha-Na-Na.

Patrick McGoohan
January 13, 2009 (age 80)
Cause of Death: Short illness.
Notable Accomplishment: Actor.
About Patrick McGoohan:  I liked this man as an actor.  One of my favorite parts of his was as The Phantom's ghost father in the film "The Phantom" (1996).

Dallas "Dal" McKennon
July 19, 1919-July 14, 2009 (age 89)
Cause of Death: Natural causes.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor, Voice Actor.
About Dal McKennon:  He was the voice of Buzz Buzzard in the classic "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons.  He also did the voices of beloved characters Archie (Filmation's series), Gumby, and Inspector Willoughby among scores of others!  His most popular live-action role is Cincinnatus, the innkeeper, on the TV series "Daniel Boone" with Fess Parker.

Ed McMahon
(age 86)

Ricardo Montalban
(age 88)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Ricardo Montalban:  He played Mr. Roarke in TVs "Fantasy Island" and the villain Khan in both the original TV series of "Star Trek", and the movie "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

Anna Karen Morrow
July 1, 2009 (age 94)
Cause of Death: Natural causes.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress.
About Anna Karen Morrow:  She played Mrs. Chernak the housekeeper on TVs "Peyton Place".

Les Paul
(age 94)

Billy Powell
January 28, 2009 (age 56)
Cause of Death: Heart attack.
Notable Accomplishment: Musician.
About Billy Powell:  He played piano/keyboards for the legendary Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd and had been with the band since its inception.  It's been a bad year for Lynyrd Skynyrd.  First Billy Powell died, then bassist Ean Evans in May.

Reverend Ike
July 28, 2009 (age 74)
Cause of Death: Stroke.
Notable Accomplishments: Evangelist.
About Reverend Ike:  Besides being a noted evangelist, he was frequently referenced by Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) on the TV series "Sanford & Son".  As a matter of fact, he's probably best known as a punchline from that hugely successful series.

Kenny Rankin
June 7, 2009 (age 69)
Cause of Death: Lung cancer
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Kenny Rankin:  He released many solo albums and frequently appeared on TV, especially Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show".

Beverly Roberts
July 13, 2009 (age 96)
Cause of Death: Natural causes.
Notable Accomplishment: Actress.
About Beverly Roberts:  She was in a lot of Western movies.

Olga San Juan
January 3, 2009 (age 81)
Cause of Death: Kidney failure.
Notable Accomplishments: Actress, dancer.
About Olga San Juan:  She was quite a babe in her day!  Often referred to as the "Puerto Rican Pepperpot".  Olga was the wife of legendary actor Edmond O'Brien from 1948-1976, ended by divorce.

Sky Saxon
June 25, 2009 (age 71)
Cause of Death: Heart failure.
Notable Accomplishment: Musician.
About Sky Saxon:  He was the leader of the group The Seeds, who had a pretty popular hit with "Pushin' Too Hard" among others.

Clive Scott
May 10, 2009 (age 64)
Cause of Death: Stroke.
Notable Accomplishment: Musician.
About Clive Scott:  He was the keyboardist of British group Jigsaw.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver
(age 88)

Socks
February 20, 2009 (age 19)
Cause of Death: Euthanized.
Notable Accomplishment: Cat of U.S. President Bill Clinton.
About Socks:  He was the famous cat of the Clinton family during Bill's administration.  Socks later had to live with someone else when the Clintons got Buddy the dog.  The two didn't gel.  Socks ultimately suffered the pains of old age and had to be put to sleep at the ripe old age of 19.  I'm surprised Socks wasn't given more of a mention on the news.

Gale Storm
(age 87)

Patrick Swayze
(age 57)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Actor, Dancer.
About Patrick Swayze:  He had some great movies in "Fatherhood", "Ghost", "Next of Kin", and "Road House" to name a few.  I really thought he was a pretty stand-up guy in interviews.  He didn't come off arrogant like so many "hunk" actors do.  I also liked it that he was married to the same woman for 30+ years.  That says a lot for his character.  I feel bad that he battled cancer for so long and passed away so young.  He certainly didn't deserve such an awful ailment.  My heartfelt condolences go out to all of Patrick Swayze's family.

Clarence Swensen
February 25, 2009 (age 91)
Cause of Death:
Notable Accomplishments: Actor.
About Clarence Swensen:  He was one of the last surviving Munchkin actors from the legendary film "The Wizard of Oz".

Koko Taylor
June 3, 2009 (age 80)
Cause of Death: Complications from surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Koko Taylor:  She was a very accomplished lady blues singer, ultimately referred to as "Queen of the Blues".

Sam Taylor
January 5, 2009 (age 74)
Cause of Death: Heart disease.
Notable Accomplishments: Boxer, musician, songwriter.
About Sam Taylor:  He boxed a little in his younger days, but he's primarily known for his musical contributions.  Sam was an original member of the group Joey Dee & the Starliters.  He also played with and/or wrote songs for legends like Big Joe Turner, Sam & Dave, Isley Brothers, Tracy Nelson, and Otis Redding.  In addition to all this, he was also a solo artist.  He had a very accomplished career.

Ed Thomas
June 24, 2009 (age 58)
Cause of Death: Murder by gunshot.
Notable Accomplishments: Football coach.
About Ed Thomas:  It's rare that tragedy happens in Iowa and makes national news.  He was a football coach at the Aplington-Parkersburg High School (Parkersburg, IA) who coached a number of players that went on to NFL.  After his death, "Sports Illustrated" featured him on the cover of what has become a pretty popular issue.  I have a copy, myself.  This is just one of those senseless things that you wish didn't happen.

Fred Travalena
(age 66)

Mary Travers
(age 72)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Mary Travers:  She was one-third of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.  The group was unique, especially for folk, because it appealed to people from ALL walks of life regardless of age, race, gender or usual music preferences.  People that normally listened to hard rock or straight country, whatever, could still enjoy their music and their friendly act.

Gordon Waller
(age 64)

Dorothy Wellman
September 16, 2009 (age 95)
Notable Accomplishments: Actress, dancer.
About Dorothy Wellman:  She was the wife of actor/filmmaker William Wellman, Sr.  Although I didn't know Dorothy personally, I've met her son, actor William Wellman, Jr.  I send him and the rest of the Wellman family my deepest condolences.

John "Bootsie" Wilson
September 21, 2009 (age 69)
Cause of Death: Cancer and kidney failure.
Notable Accomplishments: Minister, Musician.
About John "Bootsie" Wilson:  He was the last surviving member of the soul/doo-wop group, The Silhouettes, who struck gold with the hit, "Get a Job".  Years later he became a minister.

Otha Young
August 6, 2009 (age 66)
Cause of Death: Cancer.
Notable Accomplishments: Musician.
About Otha Young: He was the musical partner of country-rock great Juice Newton.  Otha Young was one-third of the group Silver Spur, alongside Newton, and became a big part of her solo career as a contributing songwriter and musician.  I've been a lifelong fan of his work and sent him a fan letter once around 2001.