CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

RECREATING THE CELEBRITY OBIT

 by Katharine Blossom Lowrie

One long, curly strip of dialogue

sleepless02.jpgWho can forget Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin, the grieving widower in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) as he struggles to find the precise words to describe his late wife to son Jonah (Ross Malinger, shown left with Hanks), who fears his mom is fading from his memory. “She could peel an apple…in one long, curly strip,” Sam finally tells his son, a note of awe in his voice. “The whole apple.”

Obituaries, my stock and trade, rarely make a lasting impression on the living – not in comparison to that “one long, curly strip” of dialogue (thanks to screenwriter Nora Ephron) that resurrects the mother Jonah so longs to remember. Which brings me to a pet peeve: the sameness with which deceased celebrities are paraded past us at year’s end, not to mention the reels of film clips that spool in the midst of every Oscar-type telecast.

Familiarity has bred contempt. And I write this stuff!

Dean of Dirty Words

Continue reading “CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN”

Sgt. William P. Rudd

WILLIAM PATRICK RUDD
1981 to October 5, 2008

Eight tours in service to his country

better-photo.jpg Sgt. William Patrick Rudd, 27, an Army Ranger who planned to go hunting with his father when he flew home to Madisonville, Kentucky for Thanksgiving, died Oct. 5th from wounds sustained while on combat patrol in northern Iraq. It was Patrick’s eighth deployment in support of the War on Terror – his sixth in Iraq. Two previous tours were spent in Afghanistan.

The one thing that sustains his father, William E. Rudd, a Madisonville real estate broker, is that his son loved his job. “When someone loves something so much and something bad happens, we’re at peace with it,” said Bill Rudd, who has been buoyed by “the love and prayers” of his community. “Through God’s strength, we’re able to celebrate his life.”

A lanky young man with the sunny disposition

Continue reading “Sgt. William P. Rudd”

Butch Cassidy

newman.jpg

PAUL L. NEWMAN
January 26, 1925 to September 25, 2008

“There’s a point where feelings go beyond words,” Robert Redford said of the passing of his dear friend and favorite co-star, Paul Newman.  “My life – and this country – is better for his having been in it.”  (The two are shown above in their signature roles as Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) in a still from the 1969 20th Century Fox film.)

paul-smaller.jpg

 An Uncommon Actor

Continue reading “Butch Cassidy”

Cyd Charisse

charisse-and-astaire.jpg

CYD CHARISSE
1921 to 2008


Pure glamour and romantic escapism

If you once sat enthralled by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals, the name Cyd Charisse evokes Technicolor images of pure glamour and romantic escapism, images that have long since passed into film history.  Shown above with Fred Astaire in MGM’s The Band Wagon (1953), Charisse – who was to movie dance partners as rhythm is to blues – died of complications from a heart attack in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 17. She was 86.

You won’t see her like today.

In contemporary musicals like Mamma Mia (2008) and Hairspray (2007), actors still break into song and dance, but it’s not the same as watching icons of the genre like Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and The Band Wagon. Not that Charisse ever broke into song – unless her voice was dubbed. She could not sing a note, and her acting was at best “on cue,” according to one critic.

The epitome of dance

Continue reading “Cyd Charisse”

Timothy John Russert Jr.

tim-russert-cropped.jpg

TIMOTHY JOHN RUSSERT JR.
May 7, 1950 to June 13, 2008

by Katharine Blossom Lowrie 

Meet the Best

My sister called from Arizona that fatal Friday afternoon. “Tim Russert died,” she exclaimed, the shock in her voice reverberating through the phone. “I’m in my car and just heard it on NPR. You were the only one I could think of to call.”  (Photo: Reuters)

My sister is an educator, and I am a journalist, professions that have something in common, mainly the ability to communicate. Other than that, our lives couldn’t have taken more divergent paths – except for one overwhelming passion: politics. Fortunately, we are on the identical side of the political fence. But even if we were not paired up in terms of party affiliation, watching Meet The Press would have been de-rigueur on Sunday mornings for both of us. That was one of the splendors of Russert’s talent: to serve as an impartial witness to the facts and let us judge for ourselves. Whether Democrat or Republican, you got an unbiased view of the day’s hottest issues – from the host, at any rate.  (Oh, maybe a hint of a lean toward the Dems at times.)

Never mean, petty or disparaging

Continue reading “Timothy John Russert Jr.”