A model of the Jaguar XKE hearse from “Harold and Maude” has been listed on EBay with bids starting at 125 GBP.
Queen of the Dead – dateline July 16, 2012
• I’m a real bear on architectural preservation, so I was interested in the obit of John Papa, who died at 87 on June 24 (and who was no relation to Papas John of Pizza or rock group fame). He was something of a hero in San Francisco, where the clothing-store and real-estate businessman bought up the six Selfridge houses, designed by the Reid brothers in 1894. He was also one of the great hosts of the town (what is male for “socialite, anyway?), throwing bashes for everyone from ballet stars to Olympic athletes to Tāufa’āhau Tupou IV, King of Tonga. “Abroad for six months each year,” notes his obit, “he spent many winters in Puerto Vallarta, and summers in Europe. He will be most fondly remembered for the many amusing postcards sent and anecdotes brought back.” Sounds like quite a fellow.
• Ernest Borgnine (who died at 95 on July 8) was proof positive that you don’t need to look like a movie star to be one—Ernie looked like a fire hydrant had a baby with . . . well, another fire hydrant. In fact, he got his break being ugly, as the lonely Marty. I never liked McHale’s Navy and did not watch his many westerns, but adored him in movies and TV series as varied as From Here to Eternity (terrifying!), The Catered Affair, the high-camp The Oscar and The Legend of Lylah Clare, and SpongeBob SquarePants (as Mermaid Man—an Ethel Merman joke, ya think?). I swear, the first time I heard about his marriage to Ethel Merman (“Biggest mistake of my life. I thought I was marrying Rosemary Clooney”), I thought it was a joke. Though at least it did result in the “birth” of the great Varla Jean Merman. Ernie had a great, tough, wise-ass New York cabbie persona; just YouTube his “secret for a long life” if you don’t believe me.
• The 11-year-old Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art in New York closed its doors this month, and I am embarrassed and chagrined to admit that I had never heard of it up till now (I guess promotion and advertising were not in their budget). Sounds just the sort of place I’d have loved, though I never get down to SoHo (my dears, I get the bends below Washington Square). Its website stated, “While the physical space is closing, plans are afoot to continue MoCCA in a new and exciting incarnation.” Which sounds depressingly like, “We sent Fido off to a farm, Timmy, where he will romp and play with other dogs!”
• Just about all the American silent-movie stars are gone, but talkies did not really hit Japan till the mid-1930s. So 95-year-old Isuzu Yamada, who died on July 9, appeared in a good half-dozen silents in the early ’30s. Her star continued to rise, onscreen, onstage and on TV, through her retirement in the 1980s. She and frequent costar Kazuo Hasegawa formed a theater troupe, Shin Engi-za, in the 1940s; on film, she worked with such top directors as Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse and Akira Kurosawa (for whom she made Yojimbo, Throne of Blood and The Lower Depths). Like any good silent movie star, Yamada married four times: three actors (Ichirō Tsukita, Yoshi Katō, Tsutomu Shimomoto) and a producer (Kazuo Takimura).