Tag Archive | "Paul Harvey"

Gone But Not Forgotten

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2009 was one heck of a year.  Tiger Woods got caught with his pants down, we elected our first Black (okay, half Black) President, and the unemployment rate rose to its highest in nearly three decades.  This year, we also lost a number of celebrities, some of whom passed quietly and some of whom passed not so quietly into that good night.  In remembrance, here is but a partial list, along with opinions that are purely my own.

 

Michael Jackson (born 1958).  As much as I hate to admit this, I remember Michael as the tiny dynamo with the great big voice, belting out hit after hit that had the whole world rockin’ out on a natural high.  In his later years, the things I remember most are his interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which the talk show queen tiptoed on eggs, and his incisive Man in the Mirror, a song that had us all looking hard into our own mirrors. 

Michael Jackson Waving

The aptly named King of Pop was an inventive performer, an undeniable talent, and undoubtedly controversial.  I believe that God broke the mold when He/She made Michael Jackson.

 

Farrah Fawcett (born 1947). Rising to fame as a bouncy, brainless con on Charlie’s Angel’s, the actress evolved into victim-turned-victor against an abusive husband and a violent rapist in, respectively, The Burning Bed and Extremities

Farah Fawcett Poster

I recall an interview with Farrah and her then-husband, Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man).  Lee had taken his bride through every room of their new house, advising, “This is the kitchen; I want you to be a superb cook.  This is the living room; I want you to be a wonderful hostess.  This is the bedroom; I want you to be a consummate lover.”  To this, Farrah had quipped, “Pick one,” thereby cluing us all into the fact that she was nobody’s dimwitted Angel.

 

Dom DeLuise (born 1943).  A warm and genuinely funny comic who never failed to crack up my entire family every time he graced the small screen.  Dom was also an actor, a film producer, and a dear, demonstrative friend to fellow actor Burt Reynolds. 

Dom Deluise

Years ago, I walked into Fortunoff’s in the Woodbridge Mall and did a double take.  There was Dom DeLuise, cooking up a dish for the store’s patrons in the cookware department, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him.

 

Socks the Cat (born 1989) and Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua (born 1994).   I admit to mourning Socks more than little Gidget. 

Socks the cat

Gidget Taco Bell Dog

In addition to not being a fan of fast food, I associate Socks with better economic times (the famous kitty was White House mate to former President Bill Clinton).

 

Les Paul (born 1915).  As a music lover, I am supremely grateful to Les.  Contrary to popular belief, the musician-songwriter did not invent the electric guitar.  Rather, he brought it to the forefront of modern music, thereby giving rock n’ roll its kick-start. 

Les Paul

Les also pioneered the practice of overdubbing in the recording studio, and the first voice he overdubbed was that of his wife.  I had the privilege of hearing a live interview with Les, when music was still good, through the best rock station New York City has ever boasted: WNEW-FM.

 

Ted Kennedy (born 1932).  It must be difficult to follow in your family’s footsteps when your brother is the President of the United States and your other brother, the U.S. Attorney General.  But I believe that Ted Kennedy tried, particularly later in life. 

Ted Kennedy

Memory is what it is, and I vividly recall news coverage of the tragic incident at Chappaquiddick.  I also remember Ted’s face, deeply pained and steeled in courage, as he prepared to identify the body of his nephew “John-John,” in order to spare John’s sister Caroline that ordeal.

 

Patrick Swayze (born 1952).  I only caught one of Patrick’s films, Ghost (yes, I never saw Dirty Dancing).  Now that he is gone, I wish I had followed the actor-dancer more closely. 

Patrick Swayze

Recently, I’d read an excerpt from his autobiography and his words smacked of truth.  He seemed like a decent, humble, hard-working man and a loving husband and son: the kind of guy the world could use a lot more of.

 

Walter Cronkite (born 1916). The iconographic anchorman of the CBS Evening News who came into our living rooms for 19 years earned the oft-quoted title of “the most trusted man in America” via an opinion poll. 

Walter Cronkite

He was also a good friend to comic and actor Robin Williams, who closed a live performance earlier this year with a joke dedicated to Walter’s sense of humor.  And no, I cannot repeat that joke here.

 

Paul Harvey Aurandt (born 1918).  Best known as Paul Harvey, the ABC radio broadcaster brought us news and commentary as well as his famous monologue, The Rest of the Story

Paul Harvey

If you were not among Paul’s 24 million listeners, his latter program kept audiences on the edge of their seats with true tales. Only at the very end of the stories would he reveal names of the renowned heroes, heroines, and villains.

 

Mary Travers (born 1936).  As one third of Peter, Paul, and Mary, Ms. Travers was a singer-songwriter prominent, in the early ’60’s, in New York City’s Greenwich Village. 

Mary Travers

With her band mates, she crafted and performed timeless hits such as Puff, the Magic Dragon, and covered fellow Villager Bob Dylan’s It’s All Right, Don’t Think Twice and Blowin’ in the Wind.  It was the latter cover that put Dylan on the musical map and served as Sam Cook’s impetus to write the haunting and heartbreaking A Change is Gonna Come.

The Secret of Mount Rushmore Revealed!

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Mount Rushmore

Each monument and every large project of any type has its stories to tell.  In the case of Mount Rushmore, a mammoth undertaking 14 years in the making, there are many stories.  One little known story, however, is how the project brought together a renowned, French-trained, American sculptor and an unknown, but very talented Italian immigrant whose hand refined and nuanced the image we see today.


Mount Rushmore, along with the many works of art that depict America, stands out as a symbol of the first 150 years of a new nation.  Carved by (John) Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, the massive likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln look down on the visitor’s center of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, South Dakota.


Born in St. Charles, Idaho on March 25, 1867 to an immigrant Danish woodcarver, Borglum later in life studied art and sculpture in Paris, France.  During his sojourn in France, he met Auguste Rodin, the creator of works such as The Thinker, and was influenced by Rodin’s genius.   Returning to New York City, Borglum began his career as an artist and sculpter.  In 1901, he became the first living American sculpter whose work was accepted by the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.   He was also honored with the Logan Medal of Arts for some of his portraits.  Borglum’s passion was to create art depicting American achievements.


From a six-ton block of marble, he carved the head of Abraham Lincoln, which can be seen today in the Capitol Rotonda in Washington DC.  In 1908, Borglum created a sculpture of Civil War General Philip Sheridan to be placed in Sheridan Circle, also in our nation’s capital.  Upon it’s unveiling, President Teddy Roosevelt affirmed the artist’s talent with the quip, “First rate!”


Across the Atlantic Ocean, Vincenzo and Osvalda Del Bianco, on their return cruise from the United States to Italy, welcomed son Luigi on May 18, 1882, as the ship sailed into the port of Le Havre, France.  As a small boy at home in Meduno, Pordenone, Italy, Luigi watched his father carve wooden figures; fascinated, he took up the art himself.  Vincenzo noticed the boy’s talents and encouraged him.  At the age of 11, Luigi accompanied his father to Austria, to learn the art of stone carving from master craftsmen.  After two years in Vienna, Luigi returned to Italy, where he completed his studies in Venice.


When Luigi turned 17, he received a letter from his American cousins in Barre, Vermont, telling him of the need for stone carvers in America.  Boarding a ship in Naples, Italy, he sailed to America for a new life in a new land.  In 1913, World War l erupted and Luigi returned to Italy to fight for his country.  After the war ended, he returned to Vermont and in 1920, settled in Port Chester, New York, where he met and married Nicoletta Cardarelli.  This would prove to be pivotal point in his life.  Nicoletta’s brother, Alfonso Scafa, introduced Luigi to Gutzon Borglum, and thus began a friendship that lasted until Borglum’s death in 1941.


Borglum quickly recognized Luigi’s talent and affectionately nicknamed him “Bianco.” In 1920, Borglum enlisted Bianco’s help in carving the Governor Hancock Memorial on Stone Mountain, Georgia and the Wars of America Memorial in Newark, New Jersey.


In 1933, Borglum hired Bianco as chief carver to supervise the Mount Rushmore project, a major undertaking that would last fourteen years.  Bianco’s specialty was refining the President’s facial features in the granite after they had been shaped crudely by dynamite. During the construction, Borglum often praised Bianco for his expertise and dedication to making Mount Rushmore a work of art.  One of the problems that arose during the sculpting was Jefferson’s nose, which revealed a large crack in the stone. But with Bianco’s expertise, the face was shifted, placing the crack on Jefferson’s lip.  The lip was then filled in with granite and pinned in place, thus making the repair barely noticable. Bianco also put his deft touch on Lincoln’s eyes.


Although Borglum wanted to craft monuments made by Americans with American themes, he realized that the Mount Rushmore Memorial would never have been completed in accordance with his vision without the aid of an Italian immigrant.


As the late Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.” 

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