2018 Obit Column Will Be Up Soon

If you’re anxiously waiting for my annual, lengthy column of 2018 Obituaries, trust me when I say I am working on it.

For the past two years, I’ve given access of my column to my employer for use in not one, but possibly two of their magazines. They’ve never acknowledged my contribution.

This year I’ve asked them to print the Suicide Prevention Hotline on the bottom of the pages. I’m not sure they are going to do that either.

This morning I came across this article that was published Tuesday, Oct. 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled … Suicide Is Twice as Common as Homicide in the U.S. – and More Often Involves Guns – New Study Says


I wonder how mass shootings fit in?



Deaths on August 31

1968: Dennis O’Keefe, Actor (Suspicion) dies of lung cancer at 60
1973: John Ford, American director (Stagecoach, The Searchers) dies at 78
diana1997: Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, age 36. Died in a car crash in Paris. Global attention and mourning was extensive and 2 billion people tuned in to her funeral on September 6. Diana Spencer is buried at Althorp, the Spencer-family estate in Northhampshire, England. Her final resting place is said to be on an island in the center of a lake called Round Oval. From the lake’s edge you can see an urn but not a headstone or a grave site. Once a year, between July and early September, visitors are allowed to visit the shrine near the island, but no visitors are allowed to set foot on the island itself.
1999: Marguerite Chapman, American actress (The Seven Year Itch, Spy Smasher, Flight to Mars) dies at 81
2002: Lionel Hampton, American Jazz vibraphone player and actor, dies at 94
2008: Jerry Reed, American country music singer and actor (b. 1937)
2013: David Frost, British broadcaster, dies from a heart attack at 74
2017: Richard Anderson, American actor (Oscar Goldman-the 6 Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman television series), dies at 91

Charles Bronson (1921-2003)

August 30, 2003 – Charles Bronson (Buchinsky), 81

Born in Ehrenfeld, Penn., one of fifteen children, born to Lithuanian parents, in a Pennsylvania coal-mining town, Bronson knew what poverty was at a very young age. By the age of 15 he was working fourteen hour days in the coal mines, earning $1 for a ton of coal.

World War II gave him a chance to become a B-29 tailgunner while based in Guam. When the war was over he found himself in California as an out-of-work actor. He lined-up day-after-day with the rest of the hopefuls at Paramount Studios at the Bronson front gate. It was there that he got the idea to change his family name to Bronson and his career soared.

He was the quintessential tough guy with weather beaten features and was often cast in the role of police officer, gunfighter or vigilante in revenge-oriented plot lines. In 1967 he got a part in The Dirty Dozen (1967), directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine.

Once Upon a Time_West_BW

Harmonica from Once Upon A Time in the West

My favorite Bronson part was “Harmonica” in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), directed by Sergio Leone, a 2-1/2+ hour film with a haunting musical score by Ennio Morricone. He was 47 when he made that movie and looked 25.

Other movies he made “famous” included The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven and five Death Wish films. The franchise began in 1974 and ended twenty years later in 1994. He was 73 at the time. He would die nine years later of pneumonia.

He married Jill Ireland in 1968, after her 1967 divorce from David McCallum (McCallum introduced her to Bronson on the set of The Great Escape). They had two children, one born to them and one adopted. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984 and underwent surgery. She died on May 18, 1990. She was only 54.

Though some of his films had a more violet tone, and he was cast as an avenging angel eradicating crime, he surprised critics with his forceful work as murdered United Mine Workers leader Jock Yablonski in the TV movie Act of Vengeance and gave an interesting performance in The Indian Runner directed by Sean Penn.
His final roles in several crime/drama TV movies were well-received, but his bad health began to take its toll. He suffered from Alzheimers disease and finally passed away from pneumonia in August of 2003.
Critics not always loved his films, but he was a true fan favorite in the United States and abroad for over 50 years. There aren’t a lot of actors who can claim that.
Charles BronsonCharles Bronson was buried in Brownsville Cemetery, West Windsor, Vermont.

Streaming – It’s Not Rocket Science

I know you’ve heard the word and some of you have probably cringed on more than one occasion, when you heard it. Streaming, now what the hell is that? I just barely mastered my cell phone!

Coming from a baby boomer, yes, streaming is new and it does require a few skills, but it’s not rocket science and you can’t screw up anything someone is going to hate you for.

If you have Netflix and a cable or satellite service, you are more than half way there. I have DISH and I can get to my Netflix account in a couple of clicks. I actually set-up my Netflix account via my DISH Satellite. Though it was a little clumsy filling in the forms since I’m a whiz at typing. It is very convenient accessing it when I want to watch something at Netflix, all I need to do is use my remote.

I also have Amazon Prime and I recently bought a Smart TV which allows me to access a ton of streaming services, including Amazon Prime which is a portal of streaming services in addition to all else it has to offer.

NCIS Box from AmazonHere’s an example. My DISH DVR automatically records 3 hours of prime time television every night. I’ve started to enjoy NCIS: New Orleans and began watching Season 1 via CBS All Access through Amazon Prime (that what CBS calls it’s “streaming feature”). I also recorded Season 2 and 3 on TNT and Season 4 on CBS with my DVR.

Unfortunately, it missed some of the Season 3 episodes, but I’ve watched those via the OnDemand feature on DISH, or CBS All Access via Amazon Prime. See how easy Streaming is?

But I’ve only scratched the surface. The reason I went down this road in the first place was because I was reading this article about the 50 Box Office Bombs That are Actually Good and I noticed many of them are on streaming services (I already made my list). So here’s the link to the article and perhaps now is the time to get over your fear of streaming.


John Carter is based on the story “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs and is a Walt Disney movie. It barely surpassed its budget, but I really enjoyed this movie. © 2011 Disney. JOHN CARTER™ ERB, Inc.


BTW (By the Way) the David Fincher 1999 movie Fight Club is listed. That made well over $100 million dollars at the box office. Plus how many times have you heard the phrase “you never talk about ….(Fight Club)” in every day life? Fight Club was one of those movies that influenced the fabric of America.


Casey Kasem April 27, 1932-June 15, 2014

Casey Kasem created the music radio program “American Top 40.” He was the voice of Shaggy on my favorite cartoon show, Scooby-Doo.

Jean and Casey Kasem. Chad Buchanan/Getty ImagesKasem never really cared for one type of music over another. But he knew his subject and he knew his audience and kept up with it like a top selling salesman. Hit singles in various genres came and went, but it was Kasem’s delivery and regular-guy appeal that brought listeners back to their radios time and time again.

“What really matters,” he said, “it what I say between the songs,” he said. Many likened his comfortable, on-air ways to that of soft slippers; his relentless upbeat outlook to life, the close of every show: “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars,” a little bit corny.

In 1988 his relationship with American Top 40 ended due to a contract dispute. The next year, he started Casey’s Top 40 on another network and brought a good portion of his old audience with him. Ten years later he had secured the rights to the name and again hosted American Top 40.

In 2004 he handed hosting duties over to Ryan Seacrest, but remained in the background, writing and producing. In 2009, Kasem quietly retired on the 39th anniversary of his first Top 40 program.

Kasem had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2007. Lewy body dementia is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system similar to Parkinson’s disease. In 2013, when his health had deteriorated to the point he was unable to care for himself, a bizarre feud erupted between his second wife (Jean) and the children of his first marriage. It began when Jean refused visitation to his children, to see their father.

Casey & KidsIn May of 2014, a court granted Casey’s daughter Kerri (42) conservatorship over her father, which included the right to make all medical decisions on his behalf. The  problem with that was that nobody knew where he was. Jean had moved him from a nursing home several days earlier and was hiding him. “He was no longer in the United States,” she told the court.

Several days later, however, he was found in Washington state, unresponsive. Kasem died two week later. Jean had the rights to Kasem’s body, and she collected his remains from a hospital in Tacoma, Wash. But a month after his death, he still remained unburied in a nearby funeral home. A few days after that, his body went missing from the funeral home.

A representative for the family became involved and stated that Jean “is hiding him from authorities and is hiding the body away from family and friends.” His daughter Kerri lobbied through the Kasem Cares Foundation for legislation in the California state senate that would grant visitation rights to adult children with an ailing parent.

The rep stated, “they just want their dad to be buried where he wanted to be buried – Forest Lawn [in Glendale, Calif.]. They’d like to be able to visit him.”

Jean had Kasem buried in an unmarked grave at Oslo Western Civil Cemetery in Norway, a country where Kasem had no relatives, ties, heritage and had never visited. He lies there alone, and where he will most likely spend eternity.


Hereditary is in theaters …

It’s one of the newest films to join a list of big-screen chillers. When the family matriarch passes away, those left behind are haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences which reveal dark secrets. Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro round out the cast of Hereditary.

Toni Collette stars in Hereditary


Prepare yourself for even more scares to come out of Hollywood in the upcoming months.

Before there was The Conjuring, there was The Nun. That’s what the trailer says for this movie starring Taissa Farmiga, the younger sister of Vera Farmiga who starred in The Conjuring 1 & 2. You got more than a glimpse of her in The Conjuring 2. Well she’s back and you’ll see her whole story in The Nun, coming in early September.

And guess who’s back just in time for Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis is coming back to do another Halloween movie. I recently took a look at the 2+ minute trailer and it looks pretty good (and so does Jamie Lee Curtis). Look for Halloween around October 19.

If you’re interested in what Peter Bradshaw picks as the 25 most terrifying horror films, here’s a link. He has a trailer for Hereditary you can check out as well.


Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867-April 9, 1959)

Wright and Wife

Wright and Olgivanna

Married three times, divorced twice, no stranger to tragedy; Frank Lloyd Wright, without question, was the greatest American architect of all time. In his lifetime he designed more than one thousand structures and completed over 500 of them.

Living in Milwaukee, there are three duplexes not far from me that are Wright designed homes. They have those organic lines, low-pitched roof lines and deep overhangs. You can’t drive by them without doing a double-take.

Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867 and after a few years of apprenticeship he started his own Chicago firm and immediately preached his philosophy of “organic architecture.” Its central principle demanded that a structure be developed out of its natural surrounding.

He was a bold revolutionary in industrial designs and introduced innovations such as steel-reinforced concrete, all-glass revolving doors, indirect lighting, air conditioning and metal furniture. New York City’s Guggenheim Museum is an example of a Frank Lloyd Wright work that mimics a design found in nature.

Taliesin SG

Taliesin in Spring Green today

Wright converted his Taliesin home in Wisconsin into a school and workshop, but in 1914 tragedy struck one night when Wright was away on business. An employee of the school set fire to Taliesin, burning it to the ground. Before setting the fire he nailed the exterior doors shut except for the lower half of a Dutch door. By the time the fire was put out, seven people lost their lives, including five who had been bludgeoned with an ax by the employee as they tried to escape through the bottom of the Dutch door. Wright’s wife and two stepchildren were among those who were dead.

Wright rebuilt Taliesin in Wisconsin and later remarried. In 1938 he built Taliesin West atop a central Arizona mesa, as a winter home and school. This 37,000-square-foot estate includes living quarters, offices and farm buildings that are subtly distinguished from the environment.

Taliesin West

Taliesin West today

Wright died at 91 in Arizona at Taliesin West from complications after surgery for an intestinal blockage. Per his wishes, he was buried at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisc. alongside the confessed love of his life, his mistress Mameh. She had been killed that night in 1914.

Wright’s second wife, Olgivanna, had her own idea about where he would spend eternity. Upon her death in 1985, her will stipulated that he be exhumed and cremated. His cremains mixed with her own and the combined remains kept in an urn at Taliesin West.

Her wishes were fulfilled and the urn holding the ashes is kept in Scottsdale. It is NOT available for public viewing and is currently tucked away “in storage.”


Elizabeth Taylor

Liz Taylor graveBorn in London, England on February 27, 1932, Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of a movie star. She had beauty, glamour, a celebrity lifestyle and an enormous talent.

She was a child actress, performing in National Velvet at the age of 12 before moving on to adult roles such as A Place in the Sun at age 20 and winning an Oscar for BUtterfield 8 at age 28. Considering she was never professionally trained in acting, her skills were exceptional. Though many critics wondered if anyone as beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor could also be talented, she could play a vixen, a wounded victim or a melodramatic heroine. It seemed she had to prove her abilities all her life.

Her next film, Cleopatra, would change her life. She received $1 million for that film (the first actress to do so), and she met Richard Burton, who played Mark Anthony. They began a tempestuous relationship, causing them to marry and divorce twice and their lives would be forever bound together, some would say.

Of her seven husbands, Burton was “the love of her life.” She even said that had he not died, she probably would have married him a third time.

Taylor was dogged by the paparazzi, but she existed for her fans. Her private life played out in the magazines and scandal pages. But behind all that press was a star with a sense of morality, even though she habitually married her lovers. People remarked that she became “Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky.”

cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof_babed93bShe said once, “I’ve been lucky all my life. Everything was handed to me. Looks, fame, wealth, honors, love. I rarely had to fight for anything.”

But she did have her share of misfortune. Richard Burton died before his time and Michael Todd (her third husband), died in a plane crash at 48.

She struggled with alcohol and an overeating problem. Juggling five doctors, she managed hundreds of antidepressant and painkiller prescriptions which sent her to Betty Ford. Plus she suffered at least 70 incidents requiring hospitalization.

But she didn’t need to make movies to make money and influence the public. She marketed her own perfume and made millions. She raised nearly $300 million for AIDS and was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth II honored her with a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (an honor on the level of knighthood).

Taylor was also known for her love of jewels and her remarkable collection was the most valuable jewelry collection ever. When it was sold at Christie’s it brought in $156,756,576 and every single item sold. It generated intense interest from bidders throughout the world.

On March 23, 2011 she died of congestive heart failure. At her request, the funeral began 15 fashionable minutes late because she stated she wanted to be late for her own funeral. She’s buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif. In the Hall of Memory you’ll see a 12-foot-high, Michelangelo-like carved statue of an angel with arms outstretched, beneath which is the crypt of Elizabeth Taylor.




Ever wonder why people (or friends and acquaintances) want to visit cemeteries when they’re on vacation? Well there’s a word for those kind of people. It’s Taphophile and I’m a self-confessed one and have been since I lived across the street from a rather large cemetery when I was growing up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

It was a short cut and I never hesitated to take it. I found the graves, the headstones and the larger mausoleums extremely interesting and the peace and quiet of the property welcoming.

The interest has never stopped. If I’m driving and I pass a cemetery that looks interesting, I stop and wander in. If I’m on vacation I’ll look up where some of the cemeteries are and if some celebrities are buried there.

I have a Pinterest page entitled “Unique Cemeteries and Gravestones” with over 2,000 pins and over 300 followers. During some weeks, it garners me over 100 pins or more. Cemeteries and gravestones are a very popular subject.

My father always told me that there are two things you could always make money doing: being an undertaker or a grocer, because people have to eat and people are going to die.

But I digress, because the reason I’m writing this is to introduce my new column about Taphophile. I’ve accumulated several books on the subject and I’m going to post a regular column about someone “famous” who’s died, how they died, perhaps something ironic about their death, where their grave is located and, other interesting tidbits about their death.

I sincerely hope you enjoy it and if you have questions or comments, please post them.