Amoeblog

George Putnam 1914 – 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 16, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment

If I haven’t mentioned it before at least a dozen times or so, I’m a third generation native Angelino, and obviously a product of the television generation whose earliest childhood memories inevitably revolve around three primary sounds: Earl Shreib commercials - "I'll paint any car, any color, for only twenty-nine ninety-five! Riiiiiiight!”, the legendary voice of Dodger baseball sportscaster Vin Scully and the booming, theatrically stentorian voice of George Putnam, the pioneering  television news anchorman and right wing commentator who was a mainstay of Los Angeles news broadcasting for many a decade. Putnam died last Friday morning at Chino Valley Medical Center. He was 94.

When I was kid my grandfather had his television on constantly and his nightly vigil was Putnam’s newscast. My grandfather ate it all up, every right wing paranoid dramatic declaration; he absolutely trusted everything Putnam said. And of course, Putnam was one of the most influential commentators of the era.
 
In pop-cultural history he is most fondly remembered as the inspiration for fictional newscaster Ted Baxter, Ted Knight's windbag of a character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Putnam was also famous for his annual Rose Parade ride on his silver-saddled palomino for almost 50 years. In fact I believe it never rained when he rode in the parade … talk about a man with connections!

Putnam began his broadcast career on a Minneapolis radio station in 1934, moved to New York in the 1940’s. In late 1951 he was hired at KTTV, the independent station then owned by Times-Mirror Co., which also owned the Los Angeles Times.  Putnam quickly became a dominant force in Los Angeles TV news. The winner of three Emmy Awards, six California Associated Press Television and Radio Assn. awards and more than 300 other honors, at one point he was reportedly the highest-rated and highest-paid TV news anchor on the Los Angeles’ airwaves. In the mid 1960s, Putnam moved to KTLA Channel 5. Also, Putnam was briefly a co-host on the political news talk show Both Sides Now with comedian Mort Sahl.

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David Foster Wallace 1962 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 14, 2008 11:06am | Post a Comment

The novelist, essayist, humorist, and educator, David Foster Wallace, best known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, was found dead Friday night at his home in Claremont. His wife, Karen Green, discovered that Wallace had hanged himself when she returned home on Friday, September 12. He was 46.

Wallace won a cult following from the very start of his literary career with his darkly humorous and ironic wit. His first novel was published in 1987, The Broom of the System, but it was his 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, which shot him to the top of the literary world with its sprawling, complex and ambitious nonlinear plot that ran 1,079 pages.  

Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, Feb. 21, 1962, but was raised in Illinois, where his father taught philosophy at the University of Illinois and his mother taught English at the local community college.

He attended Amherst College, majoring in philosophy before switching his attention to creative writing. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1985, turning his senior thesis into the basis for The Broom of the System.

Since 2002, when he was named the first Roy E. Disney professor of creative writing, he had taught at Pomona College.

Donald LaFontaine 1940 – 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 2, 2008 10:32am | Post a Comment

don lafontaine
On Monday, September 1, legendary voice actor Donald LaFontaine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles following complications from pneumothorax. LaFontaine was 68 years old.

You may not recognize his name but you would surely recognize his iconic baritone voice used in over 5000 movie trailers, video game trailers, and something like 750,000 television spots and commercials. For the past 25 years he has been the "King of Voiceovers." Based on the number of contracts signed, LaFontaine has the distinction of being the single busiest actor in the history of the Screen Actors Guild.

He became identified with the ubiquitous trailer-opening phrase "In a world...” something he parodied recently in a commercial for GEICO insurance, using his most ominous and melodramatic voice.

Donald LaFontaine is survived by his actress-singer wife, Nita Whitaker, and three children.


 

 

Don Helms 1927 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, August 14, 2008 08:47am | Post a Comment


Don Helms
, steel guitarist and the last surviving member of Hank Williams' band, the Drifting Cowboys, died Monday in Nashville of a heart attack. He was 81. Helms played with Williams on and off for about decade, from 1943 until 1953 when Hank Williams died from just living too fast at the age of 29 on New Year's Day, in Canton, Ohio. Helms is featured on over a hundred Hank Williams recordings -- actually 104 to be exact. His steel guitar sound added a heart breaking mournfulness to many of Williams' ballads, songs like “Your Cheatin' Heart,” “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Cold, Cold Heart,” but Helms could also add a touch of playfulness on up-tempo tracks such as “Jambalaya” and "Hey, Good Lookin'."

Donald Hugh Helms was born Feb. 28, 1927, in New Brockton, Ala. He got his first steel guitar when he was 15, and by 18 he was playing with Williams in juke joints around the south. After serving in the army during World War II, Helms re-joined the Drifting Cowboys when Williams became a star on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949.

After Williams' death, Helms stayed in demand as a session player and went onto play on dozens of classic recordings such as Patsy Cline's “Walkin' After Midnight,” Lefty Frizzell's “Long Black Veil,” Ernest Tubb's “Letters Have No Arms,” and Stonewall Jackson's "Waterloo." Helms recorded with most every great Country-Western star of the day, including Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Webb Pierce, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Cal Smith, the Wilburn Brothers, and Jim Reeves. According to legend, Helms wrote Brenda Lee's first number one hit “Fool Number One” in exchange for getting Loretta Lynn a recording contract with Decca Records.

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Mr. Bubble

Posted by Whitmore, August 7, 2008 11:26am | Post a Comment
Sad news from the world of high finance and squeaky clean kids: Yesterday, it was announced that Mr. Bubble has passed away. The happy, pink faced bubble bath icon became yet another victim of these changing times, and perhaps a victim of modern kids who just don’t know how to roll around in the muck anymore -- except in chat rooms on the internet. Mr. Bubble, who always refused to give his actual age, was believed to be in his mid fifties.

Born in North Dakota, Mr Bubble was created by the entrepreneur Harold Schafer (1912 - 2001), who founded the Gold Seal Company during The Second World War. Schafer also invented Glass Wax and Snowy Bleach; each of these brands became the number one selling products in the world in their respective categories by 1960. In 1986, Schafer retired and sold his Gold Seal Company.

Ascendia Brands, the Hamilton, New Jersey based present day owners of Mr Bubble and makers of health and beauty products such as Baby Magic and Calgon, said they have filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and are seeking a buyer for the business. Reports say Ascendia and five affiliates listed debt of $279 million and assets of $194.8 million as of July 5 in Chapter 11 documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

So tonight, when you slip into your bath with your glass of sherry or a cup of chamomile tea, think of what Mr Bubble used to sing to filthy and grubby kids everywhere, “I’m Mr. Bubble and you can watch me pop!”



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