A 1984 Cadillac hearse, which the vendor says may be haunted, has been listed on EBay at $520 – with a reserve.
Queen of the Dead – dateline April 2, 2012
• This damn well better not be an obit, but I read this week that the 107-year-old show biz bible Variety has been put up for sale by the Dutch and British conglomerate Reed Elsevier. The Intranets done kil’t it, of course, and as far as I am concerned Peter Bart (editor from 1989-2009) did it no favors by decimating the obituary section. Variety’s obit section used to be the industry’s bulletin board: it covered not just the big stars—as it still does today—but bit players, behind-the-scenes people, and even their relatives. The best chunk of cash I ever spent was on a complete set of the bound Variety Obits, 1905-1988. My preferred bedside reading.
• Two men who made rushed 1970s kitchens what they were have died: Murray Lender (who died on March 21, at 81) helped popularize his family frozen Lender’s Bagels, and Samuel Glazer (who died on March 12, at 89) was the genius behind Mr. Coffee. My family certainly used both, and just last night I had a Lender’s Bagel (onion, with some fake “butter”). H. Lender & Sons was already an established business when the “& Sons” began really pushing the product: “The vision was to really get it out of the ethnic marketplace,” Murray said in 1996. Kraft bought the company in 1984, but as far as I am concerned the product is still quite edible. Mr. Coffee was the brainstorm of high-school pals Samuel Glazer and Vincent Marotta; from its introduction in 1972 it took off like wildfire, with help from those Joe DiMaggio commercials (I kept hoping he would add, “just like Marilyn used to make!”). In 1987, the sale of the company netted Messrs. Glazer and Marotta a cool $82 million.
• Warren Stevens, another one of those “oh, him!” journeyman actors, died on March 27, age 92. Stevens—a dead ringer for Barry Sullivan, which bothered me all day till I finally remembered, “Barry Sullivan! That’s who he looks like!”—was one of the Actors Studio alums who made a splash on Broadway and then went off to find steady work on TV, as early as 1948. His best-remembered films are The Barefoot Contessa (1954) and as Doc Ostrow in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956), but Stevens also appeared to good effect in Deadline USA, The I Don’t Care Girl, Gorilla at Large, Women’s Prison, No Name on the Bullet, 40 Pounds of Trouble, and numerous TV series (including continuing roles on Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, The Richard Boone Show and Bracken’s World).
• And I must report on the sad yet hilarious death of Til, the Bunny Born with No Ears, in a German zoo. The three-week-old Til, cute as all get-out, was being filmed for a news story when, in the words of the zoo director, “the cameraman took a step back and trod on the bunny . . . The other five bunnies are right as rain. It is regrettable that he was the one who got stepped on.” (If this were a Mr. Mike’s Least-Loved Bedtime Story, of course, the furious zoo director would have squashed the other bunnies, too.) Now, if I were a remotely nice person, I would not have laughed at this story till my mascara ran, but I think we all know that is pretty much what happened. I pictured the cameraman saying, “But I yelled ‘watch out,’ why didn’t it . . . oh, right.”