Photo: 1997 Cadillac hearse for sale on EBay. Bidding starts at $3,800.
Queen of the Dead—dateline November 14, 2011
• Family Circus has long been one of those legacy comics you love to hate. But I was sad when creator Bil Keane, 89, died on November 8. Family Circus was created in 1960 and was a microcosm of the Great Society years (indeed, it still is 1960 in that strip). It’s since been taken over by son Jeffy (who, like his father, has a great sense of humor and sometimes does cross-strips with Pearls Before Swine, via Stephan Pastis) and is endlessly parodied (see if you can still find the hilarious Dysfunctional Family Circus or Nietzsche Family Circus online). The phrases “gentle humor” and “traditional family values” (both used in Keane’s obits) make me all stabby, but even I can’t help but have some affection for those melon-headed kids. I mean, their dog’s name is Barfy, how great is that?
• Socialite and fashion icon Loulou de la Falaise, 63, died on November 5 in France. In addition to having a fabulous name, Loulou was the daughter of a count and a Schiaparelli fashion model; she designed prints for Halston, was a fashion muse to Yves Saint Laurent, and designed hats and jewelry (for Saint Laurent and on her own). She and her husband—who possessed the equally fabulous name Thadée Klossowski de Rola—were the It Couple of the 1970s. “I’m consistent in my tastes,” Loulou once said. “I like bright, multihued fabrics and colors. Anything can inspire me, whether it’s a journey or a crack in a wall.”
• I had never heard of Lou Maletta (who died at 74 on November 2) till I read his obit, but a fascinating one it was: he founded what may have been the first gay cable network (called, appropriately, the Gay Cable Network) back at the dawn of cable, in 1982. In addition to some polite, mild porn, GCN had a wide variety of programming, appealing to gay and straight audiences alike. “Lou laid the groundwork,” said Larry Humm, who now hosts Gay U.S.A. “He developed news programming, entertainment, sports. He had a guy come on every week and talk about the gay bowling league.” The Gay Cable Network closed down in 2001, but laid the groundwork for today’s Logo channel.
• I am not much of a wrestling fan—oh, don’t act like you’re surprised!—but the death on November 10, at 80, of Killer Karl Kox (real name Herb Gerwig, which sound vaguely menacing, too) reminded me of the great 1950s era of the “sport.” Mostly the wrestling names, which were the tough-guy version of drag-queen names: Kox fought with or against (from the late 1960s through the early ’80s) such festively-named opponents as Abdullah the Butcher, Brute Bernard, Cyclone Negro, Junkyard Dog, and Skull Murphy. Which, really, are as great names as Lypsinka, Varla Jean Merman and The Lady Bunny.