Photo: A 1938 Packard hearse has been listed on EBay at $40,000.
Queen of the Dead – dateline June 11, 2012
• It’s an oddity of these YouTube days that you can become famous (or re-famous) not only for an old clip of yourself, but for parodies of it. Which leads us to the demise (at age 77, on June 4) of Russian crooner Eduard Khil, better known as “The Trololo Guy.” A pop star in the 1960s and ’70s, he was rediscovered in 2010 when his bizarre, camp, and totally endearing rendition of “I Am Glad, ’Cause I’m Finally Returning Back Home” (with its Soviet-censored lyrics “Trololololololololololo”) gained both genuine and ironic fans worldwide. Parodies sprung up, the best of which (YouTube them!) being “Trololo Cat” and Christoph Waltz’s version. Khil, bless his little cotton socks, had a sense of humor about it, and loved Waltz’s bawdy version: “It’s great,” he said. “Now I want to perform not under the name of Eduard Khil, but under the pseudonym ‘Trololoman.’” I must add how impressed I am that the same day Khil died, someone created a “Hitler Finds Out the Trololo Guy Died” video. That is being on top of your memes.
• Just a couple of weeks after her Desperate Housewives character, Karen McClusky, died of cancer, so did actress Kathryn Joosten (at age72, on June 2). Mrs. McClusky was my favorite character on that show, being somewhat of a cranky old bitch myself. From 1999-2001, Joosten also played a notable role as The West Wing‘s presidential secretary. She appeared in commercials, in numerous TV series (Murphy Brown, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Seinfeld, The Nanny, Dharma & Greg, Joan of Arcadia) and movies (Wasabi Tuna, Best Men, Wedding Crashers, and the upcoming comedy Escort Service). Joosten became an actress in her fifties, after her mother died and she was all at sixes and sevens. “I had it easier because there are literally thousands of beautiful, sexy young 20-somethings trying to get started,” she recently said. “I was 55 and able to do comedy. At the time sitcoms where all the rage and there were plenty of smaller roles for funny old ladies.” Hmmmm . . I still have my own face, and it moves (though I do sort of look like Margaret Hamilton and Diana Vreeland had a baby). Maybe I should get back into acting again, and become the Margaret Dumont of the New Millennium . . .
• The roguish Richard Dawson—the less-creepy Peter Lawford—died on June 2, at age 79. I’m kind of amazed I am so familiar with him, as I never watched game shows (he hosted Family Feud for centuries) and Hogan’s Heroes was not permitted in my house (the concept of “funny Nazis” was lost on my parents). The British-born actor appeared in a handful of movies (Promises! Promises!, The Devil’s Brigade, The Running Man) and numerous TV shows (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laugh-In, The Odd Couple, McMillan & Wife) and was a regular as well on talk and game shows. Dawson’s first wife (1959-66) was British sex bomb Diana Dors (omigod, can you imagine being a weekend guest at their house?!). “I’m a hustler. I’m a smartass, but I love people,” Dawson once said of himself, and of his public image.
• Any time you call someone the “first” or the “last” anything, you are bound to be proved wrong. So although the Mail says that Juanita Boisseau, who died at 100 on May 22, was “the last of the Cotton Club dancers,” I will just say she was one of the oldest (I mean, the Cotton Club closed in 1940, you’re going to tell me no teenaged dancers from 1940 are still alive?). The Mail adds the amusing typo (not yet fixed as of press time) that “Chorus girls at the club wore skimpy outfits and were expected to be at least 6 inches tall, light-skinned and under the age of 21.” Boisseau was the subject of the 2002 documentary Cotton Club Girl, which I must seek out, and also danced in Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1939, a show which also featured Lena Horne and an intriguing act billed as “Dr. Sausage and His Five Pork Chops.”