Photo: 1947 Cadillac hearse listed on EBay at $1.950.
Queen of the Dead — dateline February 20, 2012
- I am no longer eating candy (ten pounds to go!), but when I did, I was rather fond of Lemonheads. I learned that their inventor (you don’t think they just occurred naturally, did you?), 93-year-old Nello Ferrara, died on February 3. Ferrera was president and chief executive of the Ferrara Pan Candy Company, founded in 1908 by Salvatore Ferrara; among their other delicacies are Red Hots, Boston Baked Beans and various gummies, none of which ever passed my lips. As for their Jawbusters, why would anyone eat something called that? Terrifying, is what it is. Would you eat a Wristsnapper, or an Eyegouger? But I do have a fondness for Lemonheads, despite this hugely unappetizing quote from Ferrera’s son, the latest Salvatore: “He always claimed that when I was born, that I came out of my mother sideways, and my head was shaped like a lemon.” OK, eww.
- Did you ever hear of the Japanese Lucy Ricardo? Neither did I, till she died last month at the age of 86. The blonde, blue-eyed Bostonian Linda Beech starred in “Blue Eyes Tokyo Diary,” a late 1950s sitcom about a zany American gal and her husband in Tokyo. It included semi-slapstick scenes in which they rattle around a delicate Japanese-style house, bump their heads on too-low doorways, mistake a Japanese charcoal brazier for a flower pot and generally try to out-Japanese their Japanese friends, who in turn try to act like Americans to make them feel at home. Beech was living with her journalist husband, Keyes Beech, in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attacks; her fluency in the language got her the role (she was also a newspaper writer by trade). Beech became such a huge star in Japan that she was mobbed in the streets). A 1960 article recounted, “the crowds cheered as she passed and rushed forward to touch her outstretched hand. ‘Linda-san, Linda-san,’ they chanted, beaming.”
- Oh, Whitney, Whitney, Whitney. The sad and pathetic (not tragic, just pathetic) death of Whitney Houston (at 48, on February 11, as if you didn’t know) got me to thinking: there are worse ways to go than in a nice hot bath, full of drugs, turkey sandwich at your side, in a Beverly Hills hotel suite, getting ready for a fab party. Beats the hell out of the endless, horrific Martyrdom of St. Zsa Zsa, for instance.
- Speaking of great ways to die, let us all tip our cocktail hats to the late Zelda Kaplan, who elegantly keeled over dead during a runway show at New York Fashion Week on February 15, aged 95. The socialite (and subject of the 2004 documentary “Her Name Is Zelda”) was attending Joanna Mastroianni’s show at Lincoln Center when she took a header into the lap of Ruth Finley, publisher of The Fashion Calendar. The insanely chic Kaplan was interviewed last year by New York magazine, telling them that her bedtime was anytime between midnight and 7 a.m., and that “many people turn a certain age and check out, but that is not me . . . I read everything I can to remain aware of global change, which provides me great knowledge to empower people through daily conversations, and through my charitable efforts.”