A folk art carving of a hearse has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $64.99.
Queen of the Dead – dateline August 13, 2012
• I hate it when someone fascinating dies and I first hear about them through their obit: thus, Florence Waren (who died at 95 on July 12). She would have been played by, I think, by Michèle Morgan or Simone Simon in her movie bio: a dancer at Paris’ Bal Tabarin Music Hall, she partnered (in more ways than one) with Frederic Apcar, and the two became one of the most popular ballroom teams of wartime-era France. The Nazis (and collaborators) in the audience did not know that Waren was Jewish—she simply did not register when ordered to (I always wondered, why did more people not do this?). She hid other Jews in her apartment, and smuggled guns to the Resistance. “I think she was very scared,” her son, Mark Waren, told the New York Times. “But I don’t think it was something she thought much about. It was simply what one did.” She moved to the U.S. after the war, danced at the Copa and on TV, married dancer and choreographer Stanley Waren and, says her son, “was really one of those natural-born performers who loved what she was doing.”
• I had actually never seen British actor Geoffrey Hughes (who died on July 27, at 68), but my friend Mel Neuhaus—a writer and film critic—was heartbroken at the news that “beloved ne’er-do-well Onslow on the long-running Britcom Keeping Up Appearances” had passed. So Guest Columnist Mel weighs in this week:
Although a respected veteran of stage and film, it was television that proved Hughes’ forte, memorably gracing such iconic shows as Coronation Street, Heartbeat and, most recently, The Royle Family. On the big screen, he appeared in Till Death Do Us Part (1968); Carry on at Your Convenience (1971); and the remarkably-christened Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (1974). His ultimate movie coup was as the voice of cartoon Paul McCartney in the 1968 animated feature Yellow Submarine. Unlike his slovenly Appearances alter ego, Hughes, the nemesis of star Patricia Routledge’s Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “Bouquet”), and his real-life wife Sue were quite successful playing the market. They additionally ran a wood supply company on the Isle of Wight, where, in 2009, he was appointed deputy lord lieutenant. Incredibly loyal to his fans on both sides of the pond, Hughes recently made the trek to America’s East Coast, where he helped out on a local PBS fund-raising drive (where Keeping Up Appearances remains a perennial favorite; in 2004, it was rated 12th in the countdown of Britain’s Best Sitcom).
• When Marvin Hamlisch (try not to say his name like Gilda Radner’s Lisa Loopner, I dare you) died on August 6, aged 68, I looked at his work and thought, he is kind of like Barry Manilow. Nerdy and goopy and all 1970s-y at first glance, but when you think about it, he composed a lot of really enjoyable tunes. We can’t blame him for the words of “The Way We Were,” but the tune is nice; same for “California Nights,” “They’re Playing Our Song,” “Nobody Does It Better.” And just the tunes from A Chorus Line! “Sing!,” “I Hope I Get It,” “What I Did For Love,” “One,” “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three”—it’s enough to make you forgive him for “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.”
• Delightfully batshit-crazy looking fashion icon Anna Piaggi, 81, died in Milan on August 7. She is what poor Isabella Blow would have become had she grown old: always seen decked out in insane clothes, hats, makeup, hairdos. Half Divine in Pink Flamingos, half Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City. An early mentor to Karl Lagerfeld, she worked for Italian Vogue and Vanity (not Fair, just Vanity), La Settimana Incom, Epoca, Linea Italiana, Annabella, Panorama, L’Espresso and Arianna. But mostly Piaggi was a Presence: “One of my last icons of beauty and fashion,” said Dita Von Teese. “She was the height of glamorous eccentricity.”