A 1968 Cadillac hearse attributed by the vendor to Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold has been listed on EBay.
Queen of the Dead – dateline May 7, 2012
• Two fashion models have left us. Lee Pepper Eliott, 86, died on April 26—she was a Miss New York runner-up in 1945, and modeled for the Richard Hudnut and Elizabeth Arden salons; she was also married to two radio comics: first Raymond Knight, then Bob Elliott (Chris Elliott is one of her children). “To the Queen!” reads her family’s obit for her. “Her warm smile and razor-sharp sense of humor will be dearly missed.” 1960s model Yvonne Presser (who died on April 20) is not telling us her age. But she modeled for Norman Norell, in “‘Boy Style’ haircut and ‘Von Dongen’ eye makeup,” and appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and other glossy mags, till she retired in 1970.
• Australian socialite Joan McGrath—who died last week, age 81—was, according to James Robertson in the Sydney Morning Herald, “a shining light of 1950s and ’60s Sydney high society. She was glamorous, wealthy and droll, kept famous lovers and threw famous parties for famous friends.” Six feet tall, she led an ocelot around on a leash, advocated for women’s rights and against the Vietnam War, and wore black cocktail dresses, pearls, and Joy perfume (my mother’s favorite). In later years, after one son died from a heroin overdose, McGrath went all hippie-dippie and lived in a tent in the Bellingen rain forest, “but still lined the tent with Persian rugs.”
• Starlet and World War II pin-up girl Margie Stewart, 92, died on April 26. Between 1942-45, Stewart appeared in perhaps 20 films, always in bit parts or as a chorine (The Falcon Strikes Back, Gildersleeve’s Bad Day, Mexican Spitfire’s Blessed Event, Show Business, Having Wonderful Crime, Wonder Man). More memorably, Stewart was the first and only Official Army Poster Girl, with an estimated 94 million photos of her circulating to the troops between 1943 and 1945 (Eleanor Roosevelt was not amused and tried—unsuccessfully—to get Stewart’s photos banned). The Telegraph writes that “On a visit to London in June 1945, ‘Uncle Sam’s Poster Girl’ caused gridlock at Hyde Park Corner, traffic backing up Park Lane and into Oxford Street as crowds tried to catch a glimpse of her. During her stay she became a regular with the bandleader Artie Shaw at Rainbow Corner, the American Red Cross Club near Piccadilly Circus, entertaining US servicemen.” After the war, Stewart became a musical producer at the Hollywood Bowl. “My agent in Hollywood once asked an RKO casting director why he wasn’t giving me better parts,” Stewart later said. “He was honest in his response: ‘Every time I look out she’s talking to a grip, an electrician or a group of extras. That doesn’t look like a star to me.’ The truth was I never wanted to be a star.”
• One of my cohorts, biographer Charles Higham, died on April 21, aged 81. Higham wrote zillions of books—I will never live long enough to outwrite him. He wrote on several subjects, but mostly the old-movie stuff I enjoy: I’ve read his bios of Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Merle Oberon—and they were good enough for me to forgive him his “Errol Flynn was a Nazi” piece of crap. He was born in England (to Sir Charles Higham, doncha know) but lived most of his life in Australia, where he got his start as a newspaperman and interviewer—I see doing some Googling that he also wrote his memoirs, In and Out of Hollywood, in 2009, which I must ask my library to find. His New York Times obit was scathing about his writing, briefly making me worry about what my Times obit would say about me—before I remembered, “oh, right, like the New York Times is ever going to give me an obit.”