Tuesday, June 23, 2015


A few obituaries to note:

Actor Dick van Patten, 86 (!), best remembered for his starring in the 1970s television series Eight Is Enough, has died. The series was based on the writings of journalist Tom Braden (Braden could be seen on television programs like 60 Minutes giving his take on world events), who had more kids than most people could afford. People didn't bitch about it back then the way they would bitch about the Duggars when they had more than twice as many. Of course, Braden and his wife weren't involved in any scandals, either. Van Patton's character was named "Tom Bradford," I guess to avoid confusion as Braden was still very much active.

Neither was van Patten. He started out as a juvenile actor, and for some people who were of his generation (and even the few still around who are older), he was also remembered for his part as Nels in the live television drama I Remember Mama. Not many episodes of the series survive.

Interesting to note van Patten, who was married for more than 60 years, had a son named Nels. He was also involved in selling premium dog food. He co-founded the company Natural Balance and could be seen in advertisements about it.

Van Patten died of diabetic complications.

He appeared in this episode of Mama, not the best print quality in the world:


Don Featherstone isn't actually a household name, but his invention, the pink flamingo lawn decorations, were ubiquitous in the 1950s and still can be seen today. He was 79 when he passed away after batting dementia for many years. He created the lawn decorations in 1957.


Movie composer James Horner, 61, was killed in a plane crash yesterday. He composed scores for the hit films Braveheart and Titanic, among his many works.

Horner was piloting the small aircraft when it crashed into a remote area about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara, officials said. An earlier report noted that the plane, which was registered to the composer, had gone down, but the pilot had not been identified.

Horner's agency, Gorfaine/Schwartz, released the following statement: "Although we are all awaiting official confirmation that our dear friend and client James Horner was in fact the pilot, we are shocked and deeply saddened to learn that his single-engine aircraft was involved in a fatal crash yesterday morning in northern Ventura County. Our thoughts and prayers remain with James’ family at this difficult time. We can offer no further comment for the time being, except to ask that the family’s privacy be respected in the days ahead."

Composer Gunther Schuller, 89, noted for winning a Pulitzer Prize and for fusing jazz with classical music, died Sunday:

Schuller's newfound passion led him to frequent New York jazz clubs, where he became involved in the burgeoning bebop scene in the late 1940s. Although French horn was rarely used in jazz ensembles, Schuller began his jazz career as part of trumpeter Miles Davis' group that recorded the seminal 1949-50 "Birth of the Cool" sessions, which fused jazz and classical techniques. He would go on to perform and record with such jazz greats as J.J. Johnson, Eric Dolphy, Dizzy Gillespie, Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus. In the mid-1950s, he teamed up with the classically trained jazz pianist John Lewis, musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, to form the Modern Jazz Society in an effort to bring jazz and classical music together. Schuller felt musicians from both genres could learn from each other.


1 comment:

Bob said...

I have one of Gunther Schuller's books on American Jazz.