Photo: 1/43 model Studebaker hearse for sale on EBay. It’s listed as Buy It Now for $49.99.
Queen of the Dead – dateline October 3, 2011
• One way I knew I had become my mother was when I started watching—and enjoying—reruns of Are You Being Served? David Croft, who died at 89 on September 27, wrote, produced and directed numerous episodes of that low-comedy classic, along with other such Britcoms as Dad’s Army, Hugh and I, Up Pompeii!, Oh Happy Band, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, ‘Allo ‘Allo!, You Rang, M’Lord? and Oh Doctor Beeching! Croft also produced stage and movie versions of many of his shows and, in a sentence which means absolutely nothing to us Yanks, “spent some time working for Billy Butlin putting on shows in his holiday camps around the UK.”
• You know how I love obscure starlets, so my radar picked up the death (on September 11, at 98) of Shirley Chambers, a blonde chorine of the 1930s. She was in the chorus line in Dancing Lady and The Kid From Spain, and numerous other big films. But her character billing tells the story: The Roadhouse Murder (“blonde in bath”), Diplomaniacs (“ship’s passenger”), Morning Glory (“woman at party”), Viva Villa! (“blonde manicurist”), The Women (“girl in a bath,” again!), Gone With the Wind “(Belle’s girl”), and my favorite: Fit For a King (“blonde girl in dive”). She was an eye-catching Lady Godiva in the Carole Lombard comedy Nothing Sacred, and had larger roles in some Bs (and a Clark and McCullough short, The Iceman’s Ball). But Shirley vanished from the screen decades ago, and her death was never announced in the press—my obsessive obits checking turned her up on the westernboothill site.
• When the Telegraph covered the death (on August 10, at 95) of Lieutenant-Colonel Barbara Ridler, it dubbed her The Dragon of Old Queen Street—oddly enough, my nickname, too! Ridler was the den mother at the “raffish” Conservative Research Department on Old Queen Street, overseeing the secretaries, many of them girls from Good Families trying out this whole “working” thing while looking for a titled husband. She was, says the Telegraph, “valiant in her defence of her ‘girls,’ lending a sympathetic ear to tales of broken romances and taking their part against unreasonable demands for late dictation or excessive photocopying.” The Dragon had a happy home life: she is survived by her companion of 48 years, Colonel Rachel Green.
• Esotropic marsupial fans everywhere are mourning the passing on September 28 of Heidi the Cross-Eyed Possum, who was “put down” at the age of three due to severe arthritis. Known in her Leipzig Zoo home as “Heidi das Schielende Opossum,” she became quite a star online (though, really, she was no Dramatic Chipmunk or Trololo Cat). One obit noted that “Heidi’s Facebook page is ‘liked’ by 332,963 people, compared to around 107,139 for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”