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Have been meaning to post about the death of Celia Cruz since Wednesday - what a tremendous spirit!

Was so touched watching the footage of her body in Miami yesterday, where 75,000 turned out to pay their respects. She was reportedly wearing a blonde wig and a white gown..

Tomorrow (Monday) she returns to NY where 100,000 are expected, and Tuesday is her funeral mass at St. Patrick's and burial.

The Queen is Dead - Long Live The Queen!
I was also very touched watching her funeral ceremonies in Miami yesterday.

Whenever I saw her perform, it was like seeing this tremendous spirit, or Loa, celebrating life and living in all its passion. She was a Great Lady and a Great Spirit. I never failed to be moved by her and her performances.

Her Spirit Moves On and is with us still.
The great and sexy Gregory Hines has died of cancer at the young age of 57. Just goes to show you never know when your time is up. I loved him in "Waiting to Exhale".


By Tom Molloy
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 10) - Tony Award winner Gregory Hines, the tap-dancing actor who started on Broadway and in movies including ``White Nights'' and ``Running Scared,'' has died, his publicist says. He was 57.

Hines died Saturday in Los Angeles of cancer, publicist Allen Eichorn said.

The dancer, among the best in his generation, won a 1993 Tony for the musical ``Jelly's Last Jam.''

Hines became internationally known as part of a jazz tap due with his brother, Maurice, and the two danced together in the musical revue ``Eubie!'' in 1978. The brothers later performed together in Broadway's ``Sophisticated Ladies'' and on film in 1984's ``The Cotton Club.''
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>thought this needed to be added to the sector<

from the archival crypts @nytimes:

Edith Bouvier Beale, 84, 'Little Edie,' Dies

Edith Bouvier Beale, once a successful model and aspiring actress who later lived a gothic life in Grey Gardens, a dilapidated 28-room house in East Hampton, N.Y., with her mother and dozens of cats, raccoons and opossums, was found dead in her small apartment in Bal Harbour, Fla., on Jan. 14. She was 84.

Her nephew, Bouvier Beale, said the Dade County coroner attributed the death to a heart attack or stroke resulting from arteriosclerosis. Her cousin, John H. Davis, said she appeared to have been dead for five days.

The two Beale women, an aunt and a cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, became famous when their peculiar living situation was shown in the documentary film ''Grey Gardens,'' made by Albert and David Maysles in 1975. The once-elegant grounds were a tangled jungle; 25 rooms were unused, and the fleas were so thick that the filmmakers wore flea collars around their ankles during the filming.

At one point in the film, Ms. Beale's mother, who had the same name (they were publicly known as Big Edie and Little Edie), laughs when a cat relieves itself behind a youthful portrait of her propped against a bedroom wall.

But the loving but embittered relationship between the two women is perhaps the most compelling theme of the film. In it, the daughter has returned to care for her mother, and repeatedly suggests that life has passed her by as a result. The mother's manner is forcefully controlling.

''You've had enough fun in your life,'' she tells her daughter, who never stops protesting that she wants to move to New York or Paris.

As young Edie empties a box of cat biscuits for the raccoons in the attic, she says, ''I've been a subterranean prisoner here for 20 years.''

The film drew both rave reviews and hard questions about the invasion of privacy inherent in the Maysleses' trademark technique of using a hand-held camera to capture lives uncomfortably close up. It also provoked comparisons to the memory plays of Tennessee Williams.

''It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present, awfully difficult,'' Little Edie laments in the film.

A startling side effect of the movie has been the continuing interest of the fashion world in the costumes she is shown wearing, including a contrived skirt held over her ample thighs by a pin. She said the skirt could double as a cape.

Italian Vogue and Harper's Bazaar have done photographic layouts of fashions inspired by the movie. Calvin Klein was a fan of the film, and Greta Garbo was said to have been.

Edith Bouvier Beale was born in Manhattan on Nov. 7, 1917. She was the eldest of the 10 grandchildren of John Vernou Bouvier Jr., who spent summers at the family estate in East Hampton, Lasata. Another of the grandchildren was Jacqueline Bouvier, the future first lady.

Mr. Davis, another grandchild and author of ''Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family'' (Farrar, Straus, 1969), said Edie was the family beauty, ''surpassing even the dark charm of Jacqueline.''

Her father was Phelan Beale, a Wall Street lawyer, who raised three children at Grey Gardens on Lily Pond Lane. Her two brothers are dead, and she left no immediate survivors.

The parents' marriage ended in divorce, and Mr. Beale's second wife inherited his estate. Edith, the mother, also incurred the wrath of her father, Major Bouvier, by showing up at the wedding of her son dressed like an opera star, just as the ceremony ended. Two days later, her father cut her out of his will.

She eventually received a $65,000 trust fund, and retained the house her husband gave her in 1923.

Ms. Beale lived a gilded life as a youth. In 1936, The New York Times reported on her debut, at which she wore a gown of white net appliquéd in silver and a wreath of gardenias in her hair.

Starting at 17, she began a successful career as a model. She felt that she was on the verge of a big break into films in 1952, when she was 35. She said she had offers from MGM and Paramount, and that her dance career was set to take off. She also said that wealthy men like Howard Hughes and J. Paul Getty had asked her to marry them.

''She had a very, very fertile imagination,'' Mr. Davis cautioned.

Whether on the verge of success or not, she was called home to Grey Gardens by her mother, who said she was ill and needed her.

Over the years, things deteriorated. On Oct. 22, 1971, inspectors from the Suffolk County Health Department raided the house and discovered that it violated every known building regulation. In the dining room, they found a five-foot mountain of empty cans; in the upstairs bedrooms, they saw human waste.

The story became a national scandal. Health Department officials said they would evict the women unless the house was cleaned. Mrs. Onassis came to the rescue, paying for a cleanup that included 40 gallons of germicide.

Lee Radziwill, sister of Mrs. Onassis, introduced the Maysleses to her relatives as part of a project she had proposed to film the early years of her and her sister's lives. Though that idea was abandoned, the filmmakers returned to the Beales to suggest a film about them.

The elder Edith Beale died in 1977. Her daughter flirted briefly with a singing career and stayed in Grey Gardens for two years before selling it.

Ms. Beale spent more and more of her time in Florida, where she swam every day. She lived off her small savings.

She had not owned a cat in five years.

Definitely high on my list of genius American postwar songwriters, Warren Zevon succumbed to cancer on Sunday at age 56.
Primarily a pianist, he idolized Stravinsky and Aaron Copeland. His best known songs include "Poor, Pitiful Me," and "The Werewolves Of London." Hard living and hard drinking, and often ignored by the music industry, he was also incredibly prolific and left an enormous catalogue of work, including the amazing, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."
RIP, Warren.
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I am only familiar with Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy" album, which included "Werewolves of London," "Lawyers, Guns, and Money," and others. But today when I was thinking about him, I thought about another track from that album entitled "Veracruz." It is perhaps a testament to Zevon's adherance to truth and decency that he wrote and included this song about Woodrow Wilsons' naval bombardment, invasion and occupation of this Mexican city on the Gulf Coast, in which 200 Mexican civilians were killed. Another wretched chapter in American foreign policy.

I don't know why, but later these lyrics to Werewolves of London came to me:" 'Don't mess with him, he'll tear your lungs out Jim.' "Huh! I'd like to meet his taylor.' " Strange and ferociously humorous.
I'll miss him.
From our friends at the Clit Club, word of a memorial service for beloved MOTHER doorperson Don Boyle. Don passed away a few weeks ago after a long and courageous fight with The Crisis That Is Not Over.


From: Julie Tolentino

> Hello and greetings to all...
> Hope this finds everyone well.
> Judy/Global 33 and I are working out the logistics + overall organizing for Don's memorial.

Please save the date: SUNDAY SEPT 28th approx 5pm til++ at Global 33

> 1. will you attend?
> 2. please let us know if you want to speak, be involved in the planning,
> have any ideas etc
> 3. please let others know about the date and time - and let us know who you
> may be expecting.

John Ritter is dead at 55. As with the recent death of Gregory Hines, I was shocked to hear about this one. A versatile and funny talent.


TV Star John Ritter, 54, Dies of Heart Problem
By Ryan Pearson
The Associated Press
Friday, September 12, 2003; 8:47 AM

LOS ANGELES - John Ritter, whose portrayal of the bumbling but lovable Jack Tripper helped make the madcap comedy series "Three's Company" a smash hit in the 1970s, died of a heart problem after falling ill on the set of his new television sit-com. He was 54.

Ritter became ill Thursday while working on ABC's "8 Simple Rules ... For Dating My Teenage Daughter," the hit show that became the actor's big television comeback, said Susan Wilcox, his assistant of 22 years.

The cause of his death was a dissection of the aorta, the result of an unrecognized flaw in his heart, said his publicist, Lisa Kasteler. He died at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday.

Ritter, a Southern California native who would have turned 55 on Wednesday, came to prominence for his role in "Three's Company" and had appeared in more than 25 television movies, a number of films and on Broadway.

He made his successful return to sitcom acting last year with "8 Simple Rules." The show was scheduled to begin its second season Sept. 23.

At the Burbank hospital where he died, Ritter was accompanied by producers and co-workers, his wife, Amy Yasbeck, and 23-year-old son Jason, Wilcox said. He is survived by three other children.

"It's just stunning, unbelievable," said Wilcox. "Everybody loved John Ritter. Everybody loved working with him. ... Whatever set he was working on, he made it a very fun place."

ABC released a statement saying: "All of us at ABC, Touchstone Television and The Walt Disney Company are shocked and heartbroken at the terrible news of John's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children at this very difficult time."

Ritter was the youngest son of Western film star and country musician Tex Ritter and actress Dorothy Fay. He graduated from Hollywood High School and earned a degree in drama from the University of Southern California.

"I was the class clown, but I was also student body president in high school," he told The Associated Press in a 1992 interview. "I had my serious side - I idolized Bobby Kennedy, he was my role model. But so was Jerry Lewis."

Ritter's first steady job was his role as a minister in television's "The Waltons."

With "Three's Company," his career took off. His performances included 1996's Oscar-winning drama "Sling Blade" and a Broadway run in Neil Simon's "The Dinner Party." He received an Emmy and other awards for his "Three's Company" role and was honored by the Los Angeles Music Center in June with a lifetime achievement award.

"Three's Company," about a bachelor sharing an apartment with two attractive women, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt, was considered racy during its run from 1977 to 1984. And Ritter worried about falling into a typecasting trap after the show ended.

"I would get scripts about 'a young swinging bachelor on the make,' and I said 'No, I've done that,'" he told the AP in the 1992 interview. "Or they'd say, 'You're living alone and ...'

"What I was looking for in my time off was something a little bit different, a little serious, or funny in a different way."

Ritter described his time on the show as "an education" in quick-study acting.

"When the curtain went up, no matter how long you've studied or haven't studied at all, you had to answer to the audience. We didn't do retakes. If there was a (microphone) boom in the shot, so be it," he said.

Ritter later starred in the television series "Hooperman" and the early 1990s political comedy "Hearts Afire." He received two Emmy nominations for his PBS role as the voice of "Clifford the Big Red Dog" on the animated series.

His TV movie appearances included "Unnatural Causes," Stephen King's "It" and "Chance of a Lifetime."

Ritter won popularity among independent film directors in recent years and appeared in films including "Sling Blade" in 1996 and "Tadpole" in 2002, as well as the new feature "Manhood." He appears alongside Billy Bob Thornton in the scheduled November release from Miramax "Bad Santa."

He was married from 1977 to 1996 to Nancy Morgan, the mother of his three oldest children, Jason, Carly and Tyler. He married actress Yasbeck in 1999, the mother of Stella.


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Johnny Cash, one of country music's most iconic figures, has died at the age of 71.

Cash died at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, "due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in respiratory failure", said Lou Robin, his manager.

The announcement shocked fans, who had been relieved to hear that Cash had been released from hospital on Tuesday after three weeks of treatment for an inflammation of the pancreas.

Although Cash had been hospitalised frequently over the past several years with pneumonia and other respiratory ailments, Mr Robin had described his recent treatment as an "isolated incident".

Arkansas-born Cash was one of the most imposing and influential figures in post-World War II country music. With his deep resonant baritone and spare, percussive guitar, he had a basic, distinctive sound which blended country, folk and rock and roll.

Indeed, starting out in the 1950s following a spell in the US Air Force during the Korean War, Cash's career coincided with the birth of rock and roll and his rebellious attitude and direct self-taught approach to music shared a lot of similarities with that medium, winning him many admirers from the rock arena, ranging from Bob Dylan in the 1960s to U2 in the 1990s.

Cash stood out from his country peers. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1957, appearing all in black while other performers were decked out in flamboyant, rhinestone-studded outfits, earning him the nickname "The Man In Black".

During the 1950s and 1960s Cash became one of country music's biggest stars, scoring well over 100 hit singles, including "Walk the line" and "Don't take your guns to town".

But his success was frequently marred with excess as drinking bouts and an addiction to amphetamines encroached on his music-making. Following occasional brushes with the law, once for starting a forest fire, Cash was arrested in 1965 for attempting to smuggle amphetamines into the US in his guitar case.

Banned from the Opry and divorced by his first wife, Cash's salvation arrived in the guise of country singer June Carter, who had previously written one of his biggest hits "Ring of Fire".

With Carter's help he embraced fundamentalist christianity, shook his addictions and recorded some of his most popular records, including two sets recorded live in front of prisoners at Folsom and San Quentin and his only top ten pop hit, "A boy called Sue". Between 1969 and 1971 he hosted his own television show.

Meanwhile, Cash had married Carter after he proposed live on stage. Their marriage was to last until Carter's death at 73 in May this year.

Through the 1970s and 1980s Cash's frequency on the country charts gradually declined, although his enormous influence was reflected by becoming the youngest inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1980.

Cash became something of a cult figure in the 1990s and 2000s as influential rock artists such as Bono and Nick Cave cited him as a major inspiration. His recent series of "American" albums had drawn a strong critical reception. Cash was set to complete a new album, tentatively entitled "American V", next week.
while cleaning my kitties food bowls this morning I was listening to the BBC radio news when Johnny Cash's bio was being read, and I thought right away that this can only mean one thing. It wasn't until the end of the long bio that the reader said that Johnny had died this morning, at which point I cried like a baby.

Johnny was holding June Carter Cash's hands as she slipped away last May, and as he felt her leave this earth he cried out to God to "Take me with her." His plea has been heard just 3 months later.
Suave and debonair rocker Robert Palmer has died.

Robert Palmer, Rock Singer, Dies at Age 54
Published: September 26, 2003
Filed at 8:47 a.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- Rock singer Robert Palmer, known for his sharp suits and hits including ``Addicted to Love,'' died Friday in Paris of a heart attack, his manager said. He was 54.

Palmer was on a two-day break in Paris following a television recording session in Britain, his manager Mick Carter said from the French capital.

In the 1980s, Palmer became a superstar with singles which also included ``Simply Irresistible'' -- accompanied by slick videos featuring the smartly dressed Palmer with a back-up band of attractive women, all in black outfits and glossy makeup.

A side project, Power Station, formed in 1985 with John Taylor and Andy Taylor of '80s supergroup Duran Duran, scored three U.S. Top 10 hits, including ``Communication'' and ``Get it On.''

The son of a British naval officer, Palmer was a member of several British rock bands before he hit the big time as a solo artist. He had lived in Switzerland for the past 16 years.

Known for his GQ sense of style, Palmer was named best dressed male artist by Rolling Stone in 1990.
The ``Addicted to Love'' video, with its miniskirted models strumming guitars as Palmer sang, became one of MTV's most-played clips, and sparked protests from some feminists.

``I'm not going to attach inappropriate significance to it because at the time it meant nothing. It's just happened to become an iconic look,'' Palmer once said of the video.

He had his first hit album and single, ``Sneakin' Sally through the Alley,'' in 1974. In his 20s, Palmer worked with a number of small-time bands including Dada, Vinegar Joe, and the Alan Bown Band, occasionally appearing in opening acts for big draw including The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

Palmer once confessed that he was not attracted to the excesses of rock 'n' roll stardom.

``I loved the music, but the excesses of rock 'n' roll never really appealed to me at all,'' he said. ``I couldn't see the point of getting up in front of a lot of people when you weren't in control of your wits.''

He was noted for dressing up and being somewhat restrained. ``I don't want to be heavy,'' he said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

``I can't think of another attitude to have toward an audience than a hopeful and a positive one. And if that includes such unfashionable things as sentimentality, well, I can afford it.''


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I have a lil Robert Palmer tale.... nothing much but.... When i was the talent producer for this Brit Tv show (Sky Tv Jameson Tonight)... I booked him... it was just apres the big chart hits... he arrived on his own with no flunkies! He was early so i took him to a bar accross the street from the theatre in Londons' Soho where we filmed ... he was such a charmer ... had a major crush on him right away.. very funny in a dry self depreciating way... He was from Yorkshire and after a few drinks had a stronger accent and there was me with my Liverpool accent so that whole evening we camped up our regional accents "ee by gum our jane-lass" et al... that night he left me a cassette of the stuff he was doing with Duran Duran said I could take it home and listen as long as I promised not to share it... how cool that he was still trusting and open at that height of fame. A real nice bloke, a real talent.. sad that he has left this earth, so young. "Robert,yer were alright, our kid!" (to be read in yorkshire accent)
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I can't believe he's gone to his grave and I'm still owing him big time. Desperation never fails to iluminate.

George Plimpton, Urbane and Witty Writer, Dies at 76

Published: September 26, 2003
copy from NYTimes Web obit page

Associated Press
George Plimpton, the self-deprecating author of "Paper Lion" and a patron to Philip Roth and Jack Kerouac has died. He was 76.

George Plimpton, the New York aristocrat and literary journalist whose exploits in editing and writing seesawed between belles lettres and the witty accounts he wrote of his various madcap attempts to slip into other people's high-profile careers, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 76.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but Mr. Plimpton's agent, Timothy Seldes, said it was most likely a heart attack.

Mr. Plimpton, a lanky, urbane man possessed of boundless energy and perpetual bonhomie, became, in 1953, the first and only editor of The Paris Review. A ubiquitous presence at book parties and other gala social events, he was tireless in his commitment to the serious, contemporary fiction the magazine publishes.

Easily identifiable in later years by his thatch of silver hair and always by his cheery, lockjaw delivery, Mr. Plimpton was a familiar figure ranging above other guests at the restaurants, saloons and weekend destinations where blue-blood New York overlapped with the New York of the famous and the creative.

All of this contributed to the charm of reading about Mr. Plimpton's frequently hapless adventures "” as "professional" athlete, stand-up comedian, movie bad guy or circus performer "” which he chronicled in witty, elegant prose in nearly three dozen books.

As a boxer, he had his nose bloodied by Archie Moore at Stillman's Gym in 1959. As a pitcher he became utterly exhausted and couldn't finish an exhibition against 16 stars from the National and American Leagues (though he managed to get Willie Mays to pop up). And as a "professional" third-string quarterback, he lost roughly 30 yards during a scrimmage with the Detroit Lions in 1963.

He also tried his hand at tennis (Pancho Gonzalez beat him easily), bridge (Oswald Jacoby outmaneuvered him) and golf. With his handicap of 18, he lost badly to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

In a brief stint as a goaltender for the Boston Bruins, he made the mistake of catching a puck in his gloved hand, and it caused a nasty gash in his pinkie. He failed as an aerialist when he tried out for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. As a symphonist, he wangled a temporary percussionist's job with the New York Philharmonic. He was assigned to play sleigh bells, triangle, bass drum and gong, the latter of which he struck so hard during a Tchaikovsky chestnut that Leonard Bernstein, who was trying to conduct the piece, burst into applause.

That was Mr. Plimpton, the popular commercial writer. His alter ego was as the unpaid editor of The Paris Review, an enduring low-circulation journal, which was founded in 1952 by Peter Mathiesen and Harold L. Humes, who asked him to be the editor. He did that from 1953 onward, when publication began, and worked at it for the rest of his life. The magazine's fame was derived from its publication of quality fiction by initially little-known writers, among them the young Terry Southern and Philip Roth, and for its interviews with well-known writers, some of whom, like Ernest Hemingway, Mr. Plimpton interviewed personally.

As a "participatory journalist," Mr. Plimpton believed that it was not enough for writers of nonfiction to simply observe; they needed to immerse themselves in whatever they were covering to understand fully what was involved. For example, he believed that football huddles and conversations on the bench constituted a "secret world, and if you're a voyeur, you want to be down there, getting it firsthand."

And he didn't always fall on his face.

One night in 1997 (too old by then to engage in strenuous contact sports) he showed up at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, which was then having its amateur night and announced he was an amateur. When they asked him what he was going to play, he replied, "the piano." He only knew "Tea for Two" and a few other tunes but played his own composition, a rambling improvisation he called "Opus No. 1." The audience adored him and the charmed judges gave him second prize.

In 1983, he scored another success when he volunteered to help the Grucci family plan and execute a fireworks display to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. They accepted his offer and he did his job without destroying himself or any of the Gruccis. For a time, he was regarded as New York City's fireworks commissioner, a highly unofficial title with no connection to the city government. In 1984, he wrote a book on his love of the rocket's red glare, "Fireworks."

He was given to practical jokes. While he was a writer for Sports Illustrated, he invented a pitcher he called Sidd Finch, who was described as a Buddhist with a 168-mile-an-hour fastball. This unlikely individual became the centerpiece of his 1987 novel, "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch."

Mr. Plimpton was first married to Freddy Medora Espy, a photographer's assistant, in 1968. They had two children "” Medora Ames amd Taylor Ames. Their marriage ended in 1988. In 1991 he married Sarah Whitehead Dudley, 26 years his junior. They had twin girls, Laura and Olivia.

George Ames Plimpton was born in New York on March 18, 1927, the son of Francis T. Plimpton, a successful corporate lawyer who became the American ambassador to the United Nations. His mother was the former Pauline Ames. His grandfather, George A. Plimpton, had been a publisher. The family traced its roots in this country to the Mayflower.

He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard and Cambridge. At Harvard, where he studied literature, his education was interrupted in 1945, near the end of World War II. He spent two years in the Army, then returned and received his bachelor's degree in 1950, although he always regarded himself as a member of the class of 1948. He earned a second baccalaureate degree at Cambridge, where also earned a master's in English in 1952.

Mr. Plimpton's career included teaching at Barnard College from 1956 to 1958, editing and writing at Horizon magazine from 1959 to 1961, and at Harper's magazine, where he worked from 1972 to 1981. He also contributed material to Food and Wine magazine in the late 1970's. In the late 1960's, he was seen frequently as a host or guest on several television shows, and still later, he made some commercials for DeBeers diamonds.

He had been inspired as a youth by the exploits of Paul Gallico, an author and celebrated sportswriter for the New York Daily News who believed so much in participatory journalism that he once had a brief encounter with the heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. "What Gallico did was to climb down out of the press box," Mr. Plimpton said, creating "a wonderful description of what it feels like to be knocked about by a champion."

The only problem with Mr. Plimpton's similar match with Archie Moore, set up by Sports Illustrated, was that Mr. Plimpton wept after Mr. Moore bloodied his nose. He explained it was a "sympathetic response."

Many of Mr. Plimpton's books dealt with his adventures, most notably "Out of My League" (baseball, 1961); "Paper Lion" (football, 1966); and "The Bogey Man" (golf, 1968). Ernest Hemingway read "Out of My League" and declared it "beautifully observed and incredibly conceived, his account of a self-imposed ordeal that has the chilling quality of a true nightmare."

"It is the dark side of the moon of Walter Mitty," he added.

The Walter Mitty reference was picked up by several critics over the years, but Mr. Plimpton's exploits really were not analogous to those of Mitty, James Thurber's fictitious daydreamer. Mitty only imagined he was doing all manner of dashing and swashbuckling. Mr. Plimpton wasn't imagining anything; he was doing it.

Not all of Mr. Plimpton's writings dealt with his guises. Among the rest were a children's book in 1955, "The Rabbit's Umbrella." He also wrote "American Journey: The Times of Robert F. Kennedy." He was a friend of the Kennedy family and was with Mr. Kennedy the day he was shot to death in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan. Mr. Plimpton said the assassin "seemed composed and peaceful" after Mr. Kennedy died, "the peaceful eye of the storm."

In 1998, he also wrote an unconventional oral biography of Truman Capote, in which he meshed the techniques of oral history and traditional biography. And in 2002, joined by Terry Quinn, he created "Zelda, Scott and Ernest," a dramatization of the letters that went to and from F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife, Zelda, and Hemingway. It was produced in Paris.

Mr. Plimpton made it into the movies, too. He played a Bedouin extra in "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1961, and in "Rio Lobo" (1970) he played a crook who is shot dead by a heroic, indestructible John Wayne. When the movie version of "Paper Lion" was made in 1968, Mr. Plimpton's part was played by Alan Alda. Mr. Plimpton played a minor role. Of his participation in movies, he used to say that he had been pegged as the Prince of Cameos.

Perhaps Mr. Plimpton's career was best summarized by a cartoon that once appeared in The New Yorker. In it, a patient looks at the surgeon preparing to operate on him and demands, "How do I know you're not George Plimpton?"

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But for a few exceptions, I find the chronciling and passing of lessor knowns way more fascinating then the lives of generic stars of the day.

Harold von Braunhut, Seller of Sea Monkeys, Dies at 77

Published: December 21, 2003

Harold von Braunhut, who used comic book advertisements to sell whimsical mail-order inventions like Amazing Sea Monkeys, tiny shrimp that pop to life when water is added, died on Nov. 28 at his home in Indian Head, Md. He was 77.

His wife, Yolanda, said that he died after a fall but that the exact cause was not known.

Mr. von Braunhut was to quirky inventions what Barnum was to circuses. His X-Ray Specs, which advertisements said allowed wearers to see through flesh and clothing, are still selling after 50 years of guffaws. Hermit crabs as a pet? Thank Mr. von Braunhut for Crazy Crabs.

And yes, perhaps only this verbally snappy holder of 195 patents could have realized that what the world needed was Amazing Hair-Raising Monsters, which allow a child to add water to a card and watch hair grow on the previously bald pate of the monster depicted there.

But Mr. von Braunhut's pièce de résistance was Sea Monkeys "” which come from dried-up lake bottoms, not the sea, and are not monkeys but brine shrimp. His extravagant claims for the crustaceans "” for example, that they come back from the dead and that they can be trained and hypnotized "” are convincing because they are sort of true. (The shrimp do follow light.)

Billions of shrimp have been sold, not to mention a Sea Monkey aphrodisiac and a wrist watch filled with swimming shrimp. There are Web sites for sea monkey fans; CBS briefly had a Sea Monkeys series on Saturday mornings; 400 million of them went into space with John Glenn in 1998; and, for the lazy, a new Sea Monkey video game allows a player to "virtually" care for a shrimp colony, lest the animals "virtually" die.

Mr. von Braunhut gravitated toward life's crazier edge, racing motorcycles as the Green Hornet and managing the career of a man who dived from 40 feet into a kiddie pool filled with 12 inches of water. He sold invisible goldfish by guaranteeing that owners would never see them.

In a radically different sphere, Mr. von Braunhut's hard right-wing beliefs drew notice. According to a 1996 Anti-Defamation League report, he belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations.

The Washington Post in 1988 published an article on him and his affiliations, adding that his relatives said he was Jewish. He himself repeatedly refused to discuss his beliefs on race or his own religious background with journalists, and in an interview on Thursday his wife declined to comment on the subject.

Harold Nathan Braunhut was born in Memphis on March 31, 1926, and grew up in New York City, where he lived until the mid-1980's, when he moved to Maryland and set up a wildlife conservation area.

He may have first noticed brine shrimp being sold in a pet store as fish food, or perhaps in a fisherman's bucket of live bait. In either case, the event occurred in 1957, by which time he had changed his name.

He learned that brine shrimp were a quirk of nature, surviving for years in suspended animation. In this state, they are powderlike and easily packaged. In 1960, he began advertising "Instant Life" in comic books.

In 1964 the animals became Sea Monkeys, because of their long tails. There were breeding improvements, and an ABC News commentator suggested in 1968 that the larger shrimp, now guaranteed to live two years, might be called sea apes.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2000 that two distributors had canceled their licenses for Sea Monkeys because of discomfort about Mr. von Braunhut's views. The license is currently owned by Educational Insights of Rancho Dominguez, Calif.

George C. Artamian, president of the Sea Monkeys division of Educational Insights, said the earlier companies dropped the Sea Monkey license for business reasons, not the least being that Mr. von Braunhut was "not easy to work with." He said that when his company bought the license in 1995, Mr. von Braunhut promised to stop his public political activities, and that he believes Mr. von Braunhut did so.

Mr. von Braunhut was formerly married to Charlotte Braunhut of New York. He is survived by his wife, Yolanda Signorelli-von Braunhut; a son, Jonathan; a daughter, Jeanette LaMothe; and a brother, Gene.

The great fashion photographer, Francesco Scavullo died yesterday in his New York home. His companion of thirty years, Sean Byrnes was at his side. He was 81 years old and his heart gave out.
Francesco was an amazing person. So full of love and kindness and great humor. I knew him well in the seventies during the Studio 54 years and rarely saw him after. He worked in Manhattan all of his life. He shot every cover for thirty years of Cosmopolitan Magazine and used such great stylists as Make up artist Way Bandy and hairdresser Howard Fugler. He put tits on the cover of Cosmo and started a look that still lasts today. He will be missed by everyone who knew him
The timing of this is very strange - just saw that Helmut Newton died today. He was a huge influence on my late-Seventies and early Eighties look, and I have always adored his women.

Shocking... I guess Heaven will be very well lit from now on...


Photographer Helmut Newton Killed in Crash

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Acclaimed photographer Helmut Newton was killed in a car crash Friday, police said. He was 83.
Newton, a fashion photographer whose work appeared in magazines such as Playboy, Elle and Vogue, was best known for his stark, black-and-white nude photos.
Newton lost control of his Cadillac while leaving the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood and crashed into a wall across the street, said Officer April Harding, a police spokeswoman.
Before hitting the wall, the car brushed an Associated Press photographer who was arriving at the hotel on an unrelated assignment.

Newton was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died a short time later, Harding said.

Newton, who was Jewish, fled Germany for Singapore in December 1938, a month after Nazi-led pogroms. He eventually settled in Australia and became a citizen, then took up residence in Monte Carlo.

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