This 1939 Packard Hearse has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $16,000, but there is a reserve.
Queen of the Dead—dateline August 8, 2011
• Milly del Rubio, the last of the amusingly camp del Rubio Triplets, died on July 21. She was 89. The del Rubios seemed to “get the joke,” which I always admire in any celeb. Edith, Elena and Mildred were born in 1921, and “even though we knew we didn’t have any talent, we wanted to be in show business,” as Milly told People in 1988. With their showgirl looks, honking voices, and sense of sheer fun, the triplets played cruises, clubs and cut the occasional record from the 1950s through the early ‘80s—by which time they were reduced to playing old-folks’ homes. But with the ’80s came retro camp, and the del Rubios were discovered by booker and songwriter Allee Willis, who turned them into New Wave stars: they appeared on Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special and The Golden Girls, cut new albums (covering hits by the Beatles, Devo and the Doors). They continued performing till Eadie’s death in 1996; Elena died in 2001.
• It wasn’t till the 1980s that the Nazis’ persecution of gays really got any press. On August 3, the last-known “pink triangle” survivor of Buchenwald, Rudolf Brazda, died, at the age of 98. Brazda enjoyed an openly gay life in Weimar Berlin, then tried to stay under the radar in Czechoslovakia, till being rounded up and sent to Buchenwald, from 1942-45. In later years he worked as a roofer, and he recently appeared at several tributes to gay Holocaust victims. “We gays were like hunted animals. Wherever I went with my companion the Nazis were always already there,” he said in 2009. “After everything I have been through I have no more fears. No one can escape his fate.”
• Not long after the death of Jeff “Kenickie” Conaway comes the passing (at 63, on August 3) of Annette “Cha Cha DiGregorio” Charles, also from the movie version of Grease. Sometimes billed as Annette Cardona, she turned up on The Flying Nun, The Mod Squad, Magnum P.I. and other such enjoyable fluff—but she’ll be remembered as “the best dancer with the worst reputation” at Rydell High. After leaving show business (or vice versa, as the case may be) Charles became a speech professor at California State University
• And it’s been 49 years (Aug. 4/5) since Marilyn Monroe died! Excellent career move on her part. Now, I love Marilyn—am a big ol’ Marilyn Queen—but we all know that had she lived out her life like Shelley Winters or Jane Russell or Brigitte Bardot or even Elizabeth Taylor, she would not be the ubiquitous presence she is today (hello, Chicago, and your huge outdoor Marilyn statue!). James Dean, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, George Gershwin, Heath Ledger, all had decades of good career left in them when they died. But Marilyn would not have been well-treated by the 1960s, just as talkies would have reduced Rudolph Valentino to a balding character actor. Go YouTube Marilyn in her last, uncompleted film, Something’s Got to Give, and gasp at her flawless, cotton-candy, early 1960s gorgeousness.
— Eve Golden