Photo: New, horse-drawn hearse for sale on EBay, $9,500. Credit: Justin Carriage Works
Queen of the Dead—dateline July 18, 2011
• All the silent movie stars are long-gone, now we are down to memorializing their children. Rex Bell, Jr., son of Clara Bow and Rex Bell, died on July 9, at 76. Like his dad, Rex, Jr., appeared in westerns (Young Fury, Stage to Thunder Rock), then went into politics. Junior became a district attorney and justice of the peace in his home state of Nevada, and in his obits everyone agrees that he was just about the nicest fellow ever (then again, they wouldn’t be quoting his blood enemies in his obits, would they?).
• I will not name the gentleman in question, but one of the most arresting headlines this past week was “Owner of Killer Bear Chokes to Death on Sex Toy.” Beats “Man Bites Dog” by a mile, I’d say. It seems the fellow owned a black bear which killed one of its handlers last summer. In what one assumes was an unrelated mishap, the fellow was found last week “face down on a water bed . . . bound to the bed with handcuffs, chains and padlocks . . . a sex toy in his throat, which apparently obstructed his breathing . . . wearing a leather mask with the eyes and mouth zipped shut and a two-piece metal sphere covering his head.” “Well,” as my grandmother would have said, “these things happen.”
• Two men responsible for some very enjoyable 1960s-70s fluff died last week: Sam Denoff (who died on July 8, at 82), wrote numerous scripts for The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl, Good Morning World (remember that one?) and other sitcoms. And Sherwood Schwartz (who died on July 12, at 94) wrote for Ozzie and Harriet, I Married Joan and My Favorite Martian—but more famously, he was the brains behind the pop classics It’s About Time, Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch—for all of which he also wrote the “impossible to get out of your head” theme songs.
• And we all loved Betty Ford (who died on July 8, at 93), one of the coolest First Ladies. She talked about premarital (and marital) sex, drugs, women’s rights, breast cancer, addiction, in a way that would have made Pat Nixon or Jackie Kennedy swoon dead away (though from what I hear, I’ll bet Abigail Adams and Mary Lincoln would have raised quite a few eyebrows mouthing off to CNN, too). One of my favorite quotes from her, and one that gives me great relief, is, “Being ladylike does not require silence.”