Surely to goodness, there’ll never be a more tragic day for us baby boomers than Feb. 22, 2019.
That day, 19-20 characters (final count pending) on “Gunsmoke,”11 from “Wagon Train” died on the same day an actor with recurring “Dallas” and “Star Trek” roles passed.
Unbelievably, only one funeral was held for ’em all.
February’s death of Texas-born Morgan Woodward (93), whose portrayal of “The Man with No Eyes” (“Boss Godfrey”) in “Cool Hand Luke” was a highlight of our my class’ senior year, didn’t diminish memories of the actor who portrayed more than 250 unforgettable characters from 1956-97.
Woodward, typically grizzled, tough, almost always purely mean, is among more than 125 entertainers who’ve died since January.
The year’s also seen “James Bond” actors Tania Mallet (77), Nadja Regin (87) and Shane Rimmer (89) die.
Jim Fowler (89) of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” died several years after we visited in Prattville’s Bass Pro Shop, where he appreciated a spot-on impersonation of the late Marlin Perkins.
At the risk of repetition, a disturbing number of music-makers who made baby boomers sit up and listen died by June 30.
Even if they’re familiar, “Google” these artistes for their contributions to our lives:
* Memphis DJ George Klein (83);
* Guitar pickers Harold Bradley (93) (Elvis, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Slim Whitman, etc.), Reggie Young (82) (Elvis, Waylon, Willie and the boys) and Dick Dale (81), surf rock inventor;
* Drummer Hal Blaine (90), one member of Los Angeles studio musicians’ group, “The Wrecking Crew,” who played on more Ventures’ and Beach Boys’ recordings than they did; and
* Darryl Dragon (76), Danny Thomas’ godson, Beach Boys’ keyboardist (1967-72) and half of “The Captain & Tennille.”
Still kicking, Toni Tennille (79) appeared on her mother’s TV show on Montgomery’s WSFA as a lass and attended Sidney Lanier High School with David Earl Carter, long-time EHS principal, before fame found her.
We also lost:
* Composer Andre Previn (89); Andre Williams (82), who wrote bona-fide baby boomer classic, “Shake a Tail Feather”; The Letterman’s Jim Pike (82); Joe Terry (78) of Danny & The Juniors; and Peter Tork of the Monkees, Earl Thomas Conley “Holding Her and Loving You” and Malcom John Rebennack Jr. (aka Dr. John “The Night Tripper”), all 77;
* Doris Day (97), a woman Oscar Levant said he knew before she was a virgin
* Lew Klein (91), co-creator of “American Bandstand”; Leon Redbone (69) “Diddy Wah Diddie,” and
James Ingram (66) “Just Once”; and
* Shirley Boone (84), Red Foley’s daughter, Debby Boone’s mother and for 65 years, wife of Pat Boone who’s 85 and currently appearing nekkid from the waist up in walk-in tub ads on TV.
Wrote about Pat once, mentioning he recorded for Randy Wood’s Dot Records; affirming how, on TV, Pat made some boomers fidgety while Pat finger-snappingly covered Fats Domino, Joe Turner, Little Richard and other black artists’ songs.
Heard from Randy’s son, John Wood, an especially nice guy, who explained black artists truly liked Pat for bringing their music to white audiences.
To be sure, though, Pat didn’t warble “Tutti’ Frutti” (“all fruits” in Italian), once selected No. 1 in the “Top 100 Records That Changed the World,” with Little Richard’s original lyrics.