Horse-drawn hearse for sale on EBay – listed as Buy It Now for $8,000.
Queen of the Dead—dateline October 24, 2011
• A 68-year-old literary scholar and media theorist died on Oct. 18, which is very sad, of course, but which is mostly notable for our column because the man was saddled with the remarkable and unfortunate name Friedrich Adolf Kittler. He was indeed born in Germany in 1943, which makes one raise an eyebrow, but he managed to overcome his name and work on numerous university media theory departments, write several books, and win several scholastic awards. Yet when you Google “Kittler,” you are directed to a fabulous website of Cats That Look Like Hitler. I like to think that a media theorist would be amused by this.
• When I read “lived to be 104,” I don’t think “good for her!,” I think “oh, that poor cow.” Such was the fate of 1920s/30s starlet Barbara Kent, who died on Oct. 13. Her career itself wasn’t remarkable, except that she was one of the last adults living who appeared with so many silent stars: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert (in the Flesh and the Devil, 1926), Richard Barthelmess (The Drop Kick, 1927), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., (Modern Mothers, 1928), Harold Lloyd (Welcome Danger and Feet First), and Gloria Swanson (Indiscreet, 1931)—as well as in the delightfully titled 1930 B-film Dumbbells in Ermine. Kent retired from films in 1935. “I was never crazy about the picture business and was not enthusiastic at all about being an actress,” she told writer Michael Ankerich in 1998. “When I started working, I was very unsophisticated and immature for my age. Maybe that was part if it. Also, being terribly shy, I didn’t have the right personality to be an actress. I’ve always thought one had to be an exhibitionist to be in pictures. That wasn’t me.”
• “Barmy” Bathurst (more formally known as the Eighth Earl of Bathurst) died on Oct. 16, aged 84. The always-wonderful Telegraph describes him as “a keen countryman who rode hard to hounds, as well as a just and jovial landlord,” which makes me want to put on a tweed suit and ride around on a bike, solving murders. The First Earl was . . . created? earled? in 1720, and “Barmy” held numerous offices (honorary secretary of the Agricultural Committee in the House of Lords, Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen, Chancellor of the Primrose League, etc.). Why “barmy?” Well, for one thing, he recently pinched Prince William for speeding on his estate, thinking him “some young yob in a beat-up car.”
• It’s been a bad year for female agents—first Ronni Chasen gets shot in Beverly Hills (and I don’t for a minute buy that “bicycling drive-by” story); now “super-agent” Sue Mengers (aged somewhere between 78 and 81) died on Oct. 15. “Her name became synonymous with women and what she helped us all to accomplish,” said the delightfully named ICM agent Boaty Boatwright. “But her legend is really the vitality with which she lived life, and her wit, which will be celebrated in stories throughout our community for years to come.” Mengers repped Barbra Streisand, Bob Fosse, Michael Caine, Ryan O’Neal, Faye Dunaway, and others, beginning her career—as did I!—in the “secretarial pool.” Mengers herself admitted that “I was tactless, contemptuous and made enemies needlessly. I rolled in there like a tank . . . but in any revolution you have to do something to get their attention. Women don’t have to act like that these days.”