Photo: 1998 Cadillac Eureka hearse, $14,990. Credit: Heritage Coach.
Queen of the Dead – dateline September 5, 2011
• Not all 1930s child actresses were sad and bitter, though recent obits of Marcia Mae Jones and Edith Fellows were pretty depressing. But the talented Sybil Jason (who died on August 23, at 83) had a brief but happy career. She appeared at Warner Brothers with Al Jolson, Kay Francis, Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan, and was promoted as a less sugary Shirley Temple (Time amusingly called her the Jean Harlow to Temple’s Ann Harding: “less wholesome but more refreshing”). She left films in 1940, but as recently as two years ago, was posting thanks to her fans on YouTube, noting that “I enjoyed every single second of my career,” and that she was still pals with her screen rival Shirley Temple.
• Starlet Fever: we have lost 1940s starlet Leslie Brooks (who died on July 1, at 88), and 1950s starlet Patricia Hardy (who died on August 20, at 80). Brooks was named Posture Queen of 1944 (I am something of a posture queen myself), was one of the Navy Blues Sextet, was a cover girl on the Police Gazette, and appeared in a handful of films in the 1940s. Hardy was a Copa Girl, Miss Brooklyn, Miss Coney Island and Miss New York Press Photographer, and appeared in a handful of films in the 1950s before retiring to marry Richard Egan. I love starlets.
• One of the last Delta Blues musicians to play with the legendary Robert Johnson is gone—David “Honeyboy” Edwards was 96 when he died on August 29. Johnson was the itinerant blues musician who died mysteriously in 1938, leading to decades of rumors (including a deal with Satan). Singer, songwriter and guitarist Edwards was recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942, and had been recording and performing ever since (most recently this past April). His songs include “Long Tall Woman Blues,” “Just Like Jesse James,” “Wind Howlin’ Blues” and “The Army Blues.”
• One of the reasons I enjoy reading British obits is sentences like, “When Ambrose Griffiths, who died on June 14 aged 82, was named Abbot of Ampleforth, the nomination so surprised him that he called Archbishop Worlock in Liverpool to check that the offer was not just a dream.”