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Paul Walker

12.3.13 - PAUL WALKER

PAUL WILLIAM WALKER IV met a tragic and ironic death Saturday northwest of Los Angeles in Valencia, while riding as a passenger in his $400,000 Porsche. The car, driven by WALKER'S friend and assocxiate, ROGER RODAS, crashed into a pole and burst into flames before WALKER could get out. It happened in an area where street racing is common, though authoritites have ruled out drag racing as th cause of the accident. It could be the two were "drifting', a practrice where a driver spins out, burning as much rubber, and getting as much horizontal glide out of the road as possible. WALKER and RODAS were at a fundraising event for WALKER'S charity, Reach Out Woerldwide, which provided mediacl and other relief for tragedies around the globe. WALKER was a true car entusiast, and RODAS helped him found a business, Always Evolving, that specialized in "souped up" cars. WEe caught up with WALKER at the premiere of SKULLS in Westwood, back in 2000, where he spoke of becoming "somebody" all of a sudden, and previewed his upcoming film FAST & FURIOUS, titledSTREETRACER at the time.

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PUAL WALKER at "The Skulls" premiere in Hollywood California, March 27th, 2000.


Ohio Players

1.31.13 - Leroy Bonner, Frontman of Ohio Players, Dies at 69

Leroy Bonner, the frontman of the Ohio Players, a funk band whose influence lasted well beyond the string of hits it had in the mid-1970s, died on Saturday in Trotwood, Ohio, near Dayton. He was 69.

Ohio Players

His death was announced by his family on the Facebook page of Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players, a spinoff band that he had been leading. No cause was given.

Mr. Bonner, a singer and guitarist better known by his nickname, Sugarfoot, teamed in the 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players. The group became known for its brassy, bottom-heavy dance music — as well as its flamboyant outfits and provocative album covers — and reached both the pop and rhythm-and-blues charts with “Love Rollercoaster,” “Fire,” “Skin Tight,” “Funky Worm” and other songs.

From 1973 to 1976 the Ohio Players had seven singles in the Billboard Top 40. Both “Fire” and “Love Rollercoaster” reached No. 1.

Although the band’s heyday was four decades ago, its sound has been kept alive by others.

“Love Rollercoaster” gained new fans through a 1996 cover version by Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Funky Worm” has been sampled by many hip-hop artists.

Born in Hamilton, Ohio, about 20 miles north of Cincinnati, in 1943, Leroy Bonner grew up poor, the oldest child in a large family. Information about his survivors was not available.

After running away from home at 14, he wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the musicians who would form the Ohio Players. The band’s lineup changed over the years, but its instrumentation and sound remained basically the same: a solid, driving groove provided by guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, punctuated by staccato blasts from a horn section.

Vocals were a secondary consideration. “We were players,” Mr. Bonner told The Dayton Daily News in 2003. “We weren’t trying to be lead singers.” The core members of the band did not originally sing, he explained, but “we got so tired of having singers leave us that we decided we’d just do the singing ourselves.”

“I used to play with my back to the audience in the old days,” he added. “I didn’t want to see them because they were distracting. Then the first time I turned around and opened my mouth, we had a hit record with ‘Skin Tight.’ That’s amazing to me.”


Phyllis Diller

8.20.12 - Phyllis Diller (1917–2012)


PHYLLIS DILLER is gone at the grand old age of 95, but her comedy, her inconic image, her shrill voice all will live on. Her jokes, even when read in print, are hysterical. You can hear DILLER telling them, as if she were still here.

"I went into the lingerie department one day and I said to the lady, 'I'd like to see something in a bra.' She said, 'I'd bet you would!'"

"I once wore a peek-a-boo blouse. People would peek, and then they'd boo."

"I never made 'Who's Who', but i made 'What's That.'"

"I love to go to the doctor. Where else would a man look at me and say, 'Take off your clothes.'"

"I don't like to cook. I can make a TV dinner taste like radio."

"Would you believe I entered a beauty contest. I came in last, but I got 361 get-well cards."

BOB HOPE once described her as "An ANDY WARHOL mobile made up of spare parts you'd find along a freeway."
It was that beauty, or lack of it, that PHYLLIS DILLER played up, to great comic affect.

"When I realized I looked like Olive Oyl and wanted to look like Jean Harlow, I knew something had to be done," DILLER told an interviewer. "From 12 on, the only way to handle the terror of social situations was comedy-break the ice, make everybody laugh. I did it to make people feel more relaxed, including myself."

Listen to JOAN RIVERS describe PHYLLIS to the LA Times on Monday, "Looking back now, it suddenly hit me. She was the last of the women comediennes who had to make themselves ugly to be laughed at. It was a requirement. A woman walked onstage in those days and was pretty, she was a singer. Phyllis still had to put on the funny boots and stupid hats, and she was the last to do that."

I think JOAN, who is riding a career wave as strong as ever, and looks better than ever, is rewriting history a little bit. Surely JOAN came after PHYLLIS, and JOAN wasn't always the "sexpot" she is today.

In fact, both women played on their homliness, and the need for plastic surgery, as fodder for many of their jokes. JOAN, in the heady success of "Fashion Police" must struggle to remember.

PHYLLIS DILLER was also a classic pianist, performing professionally under a psyeudonym, DAME ILLYA DILLYA. Ans she did a stint on Broadway in "Hello Dolly." She starred in more that two dozne films, and painted late in life, when she curtailed her stand-up appearances.

She was in fine form in 2011 at the premiere of "Method to the Madness" on the life and career of JERRY LEWIS. Bedecked in polkadots and a bright red pantsuit, PHYLLIS walked the carpet under her own guidance, and even managed a joke with us. Long live the queen, PHYLLIS DILLER.

Phyllis Diller


Celeste Holm

7.16.12 - Celeste Holm (1917–2012)

Oscar-winning actress CELESTE HOLM died yesterday at her home on Central Park at the age of 95. She won for Best Supporting Actress in the 1947 film "Gentleman's Agreement", only her third film role, but also appeared in "All About Eve", and was known for her stage work in "Oklahoma."

HOLM, who was young and energetic to the end, appeared at the TCM Film Festival in 2010, and was happy to talk with the press.

She spent a season on the nighttime soap, "Falcon Crest", and was the Fairy Godmother in the classic 1965 Rogers and Hammerstein's televion production of "Cinderella" where LESLIE ANN WARREN got her start. It's fantastic, watch it if you can find it!

HOLM was not close with BETTE DAVIS despite playing her best friend in "All About Eve." She got another Oscar nomination for the part, but of DAVIS, HOLM was quoted, "On the first day of shooting I walked onto the set and said 'Good morning" (to BETTE) and do you know her reply? 'Oh shit, good manners.'" HOLM continued, "I never spoke to her again, ever."



Ernest Borgine

7.9.12 - Ernest Borgnine (1917–2012)

Oscar winner ERNEST BORGNINE died yesterday at the age of 95 at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles with his wife and children by his side. BORGNINE won the coveted Academy Award for his 1955 role in "Marty", about an unattractive man who fears he may never find romance with a woman after all the rejection.

In real life ERNEST was gruff and affable. He was always pleasant even years after his prime, when walking the red carpet or talking with the media. He was married 5 times, his most recent lasting nearly 40 years, with wife TOVA. "The Oscar made me a star, and I'm grateful. But I feel had I not won the Oscar, I wouldn't have gotten into the messes I did in my persoanl life."

Baby-boomers got to know BORGNINE from his television sitcom "McHales Navy" which ran from 1962 to 1966, or as the lovable lug of a husband/ex-cop in the original "Poseidon Adventure." He was the perfect burly bear, Rogo to his wife in the 1972 film, played by STELLA STEVENS. She screams, and belittles, and even beats up on him throughout the ordeal, but he actually turns out to be the hero, and a very lovable one at that, in the adventure classic.

BORGNINE is known to gays and lesbians, perhaps by reference from VARLA JEAN MERMAN, who starts nearly every performance with a nod to her being the illegitimate love child of ERNEST BORGNINE and ETHEL MERMAN. In fact, the two were married in 1964, though the marriage only lasted 5 weeks.

ERNEST BORGNINE was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Screen Actors Guild in 2011, and will be remembered in Hollywood as one of the original tough guys, though he was much more of a softie. On working so late in life, he was quoted, "You die on the vine if you just sit down in a chair and get old. The idea is to get up our of the chair and go out there and hustle." It certainly is ERNEST. It certainly is!

TCM Remembers Actor Ernest Borgnine with 24-Hour Marathon Thursday, July 26

Tribute Includes From Here to Eternity (1953), The Dirty Dozen (1967),
The Wild Bunch (1969) and Oscar®-Winning Performance in Marty (1955),
Plus Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine, TCM Special Hosted by Robert Osborne
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will remember the life and career of Academy Award®-winning actor Ernest Borgnine with a 24-hour marathon of his films on Thursday, July 26. Borgnine, who passed away Sunday at the age of 95, was a dear friend to the TCM community through his appearances at the TCM Classic Film Festival, on the TCM Classic Cruise and during TCM's annual Road to Hollywood tour.

TCM’s 10-film memorial tribute is set to begin at 6 a.m. (ET) with The Catered Affair (1956). The daytime lineup will include such films as Torpedo Run (1958), Ice Station Zebra (1968) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). Primetime will kick off with an encore presentation of TCM's 2009 special Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine, an hour-long, in-depth interview with the actor and TCM host Robert Osborne. It will be followed by Borgnine's Oscar®-winning performance in Marty (1955), as well as memorable roles in films like From Here to Eternity (1953), The Wild Bunch (1969) and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955).

"Ernest Borgnine was a great friend of ours here at TCM, an actor we all greatly admired because of his talent and ability to play everything from nasty tough guys to likeable fathers to comical sailors," said Osborne. "We saw firsthand how much he loved life, loved being an actor and enjoyed meeting his fans when he joined us at our TCM Classic Film Festival, TCM Classic Cruise and Road to Hollywood events. He was a joy to be around. Thank heavens for film. Ernie may have left us physically, but we'll have his talent and film image with us forever."

Ernest Borgine

The following is a complete schedule of TCM's Thursday, July 26, tribute to Ernest Borgnine (all times Eastern):

6 a.m. – The Catered Affair (1956) – with Bette Davis and Debbie Reynolds.

8 a.m. – The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) – with Kim Novak and Peter Finch.

10:30 a.m. – Pay or Die (1960) – with Zohra Lampert and Al Austin.

12:30 p.m. – Torpedo Run (1958) – with Glenn Ford and Diane Brewster.

2:30 p.m. – Ice Station Zebra (1968) – with Rock Hudson and Patrick McGoohan.

5:15 p.m. – The Dirty Dozen (1967) – with Lee Marvin, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Robert Ryan, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, George Kennedy and Telly Savalas.

8 p.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine (2009) – hosted by Robert Osborne.

9 p.m. – Marty (1955) – with Betsy Blair and Joe Mantell.

10:45 p.m. – From Here to Eternity (1953) – with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra.

1 a.m. – The Wild Bunch (1969) – with William Holden, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson.

3:30 a.m. – Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) – with Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan and Lee Marvin.

5:00 a.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine (2009) – hosted by Robert Osborne.


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