The closing years

"The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped." Arthur Schopenhauer

The first forty

"The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it." Arthur Schopenhauer,

Charlie Callas

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Charlie Callas, a versatile comedian and sidekick whose zany faces and antics made him a regular for more than four decades on television, in films and on casino stages, has died in Las Vegas. He was 83.A son, Mark Callas, tells The Associated Press that Callas died Thursday in a hospice. Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy says the death was from natural causes. Callas toured with Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones, and had a screen part with Jerry Lewis in "The Big Mouth" in 1967.His facial expressions and rapid-fire comedy also made Callas a favorite on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. He also worked with Mel Brooks and was the voice of Elliot in Disney's "Pete's Dragon."

Turned 56 last week, and, yeah, still got a crush on Petual Clark

Hayley Mills, wasn't she just a knock out?

Charlie Brown

"Most cartoon drawing is about distraction: popular masters like Walt Kelly and Al Capp crowded their panels with characters and activity; Pogo and Li'l Abner are dense with what actors call 'business.' Peanuts, full of empty spaces, didn't depend on action or a particular context to attract the reader; it was about people working out the interior problems of their daily lives without ever actually solving them. The absence of a solution was the center of the story. ...
"The American assumption was that children were happy and childhood was a golden time; it was adults who had problems with which they wrestled and pains that they sought to smooth. Schulz reversed the natural order of things ... by showing that a child's pain is more intensely felt than an adult's - a child's defeats the more acutely experienced and remembered. Charlie Brown takes repeated insults from Violet and Patty about the size of his head, which they compare with a beach ball, a globe, a pie tin, the moon, a balloon; and though Charlie Brown may feel sorry for himself he gets over it fast. But he does not get visibly angry.
" 'Would you like to have been Abraham Lincoln?' Patty asks Charlie Brown. 'I doubt it,' he answers. 'I have a hard enough time being just plain Charlie Brown.'
"Children are not supposed to be radically dissatisfied. When they are unhappy, children protest - they wail, they whine, they scream, they cry - then they move on. Schulz gave these children lifelong dissatisfactions, the stuff of which adulthood is made.
"Readers recognized themselves in 'poor moon- faced, unloved, misunderstood' Charlie Brown - in his dignity in the face of whole seasons of doomed baseball games, his endurance and stoicism in the face of insults. He ... reminded people as no other cartoon character had of what it was to be vulnerable, to be small and alone in the universe, to be human - both little and big at the same time."

David Michaelis, Schulz and Peanuts, Harper Collins

Gene Roddenberry

"His one idea, done six or seven times in the series and again in the feature film, is that the crew of the Enterprise goes into deepest space, finds God, and God turns out to be insane, or a child, or both." Harlan Ellison, legendary scifi author, on Gene  Roddenberry

Aron Kincaid, actor in 1960s 'beach' movies, dies at 70

Aron Kincaid, an actor who appeared in 1960s "beach" movies such as "The Girls on the Beach" and "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" and later had careers as a model and an artist, has died. He was 70.Kincaid, who lived in Beverly Hills, died of heart-related complications Thursday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said his longtime friend Rodney Kemerer.The tall and handsome Kincaid was a UCLA student when he was spotted in a Los Angeles stage production by a casting agent and signed to a contract with Universal.That led to a regular role in the final season of the sitcom "Bachelor Father" in 1962 - as Warren Dawson, the junior partner of John Forsythe's Hollywood attorney Bentley Gregg. Dawson becomes engaged to Gregg's niece, Kelly, played by Noreen Corcoran.Kincaid later appeared with Corcoran in the 1965 comedy "The Girls on the Beach" and had roles in "Beach Ball" and "Ski Party," and made what was billed as a "guest appearance" in "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" - as well as appearing in "The Happiest Millionaire, "The Proud and the Damned" and other movies.Kincaid, who also made guest appearances on series such as "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Get Smart," moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and launched a successful career as a model.
He also had a 20-year voice-over career in hundreds of commercials and did voice work on animated TV series such as "Smurfs," "Jonny Quest" and "The Transformers."
He was born Norman Neale Williams II in Los Angeles on June 15, 1940. His father, a second lieutenant in the Army Air Forces, died during World War II. His mother remarried and moved to Oakland, where Kincaid graduated from high school.After graduating from UCLA in 1962, he enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve.As an artist, Kincaid used the name N.N. Williams II. He sold his landscapes and seascapes through galleries in Laguna Beach, Calif.

He had no immediate survivors.

Gen. Vang Pao, key U.S. ally in Vietnam War, dies at 81

McClatchy Newspapers

Gen. Vang Pao, an iconic figure in the Hmong community and a key U.S. ally during the Vietnam War, died Thursday afternoon in nearby Clovis after spending days in the hospital with pneumonia and a heart problem.

Over 100 people crowded into the outpatient care center at Clovis Community Medical Center to grieve the loss of a beloved leader, who some saw as the George Washington of the Hmong.
"He was a larger-than-life figure for this community," Fresno City Council member Blong Xiong said. "It will take time to mourn this tragic news."
Vang, 81, had been admitted to Clovis Community on Dec. 26. He apparently was admitted shortly after making his annual appearance at the Hmong International New Year event at the Fresno Fairgrounds. He had lived in Southern California.
Charlie Waters, a friend and veterans advocate in Fresno, said Vang was suffering from pneumonia and an ongoing heart problem. Vang also had battled diabetes and had developed cataracts in the past few years.
Vang "was a great man and a true warrior," Waters said. "His two dreams were to get his people out of the jungle and to have his warriors buried at Arlington."
News of the death spread quickly Thursday evening.
"The Fresno community is deeply saddened by the loss of Gen. Vang Pao, who was a hero to the Hmong community here in Fresno and all across the country," Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said in a statement. "Gen. Vang Pao was courageous in times of war and a giant in the advocacy of citizenship within the Hmong-American community in times of peace. He displayed the American flag proudly at every community event he held. He was an American patriot of the highest order."
Funeral arrangements are being made with the hopes that Vang can be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., family spokesman Chai Vang said.
Vang Pao is revered by many as a father figure and leader who helped bring and settle the Hmong community into American life.
But he also has been controversial. Federal authorities in 2007 charged him and 10 others with conspiring to violently overthrow communist Laos. Charges against Vang were dropped in 2009.
Yet the arrest galvanized Hmong Americans who saw Vang as a symbol in the fight for public acknowledgment of the Hmong role in the war, and for liberation of those still living in Laotian jungle.
The central San Joaquin Valley has one of the largest Hmong populations in the country. Many Hmong - some of whom fought beside American soldiers during the Vietnam War - came here after fleeing Laos.
Conflict paved a path to prominence for Vang, viewed by some as a king and others as the George Washington of the Hmong.
Born in December 1929 to farmers in a Laotian village, he became a teenage translator for French paratroopers fighting the Japanese in Laos during World War II.
Vang was selected to train at a French officers' school in Vietnam and became a commissioned officer in the French army. Laotian leaders made Vang a general, even though the Hmong were a small ethnic minority in the country.
In 1961, Vang was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to lead a secret army of Hmong soldiers against Laotian communists and their North Vietnamese counterparts using routes through Laos to supply their troops.
When the war ended and U.S. forces pulled out of Vietnam, communists in Laos persecuted the Hmong. More than 300,000 Laotian refugees - most of them Hmong - sought safety, and many began a treacherous journey to reach Thai refugee camps.
Under CIA orders, Vang was flown from his mountaintop headquarters in May 1975. He lived in Montana before moving to Orange County, Calif. - which had a growing Southeast Asian population - and took a leadership role in the resettlement of his people.
In 1977, Vang established the Lao Family Community organization to provide social services nationwide. The nonprofit helps refugees learn English and basic life skills.
That, and wartime memories, helped build a foundation for Vang's influence here.
Tony Vang, a Fresno Unified School District trustee, remembers Vang Pao visiting his village when he was a boy. The general built his school and sent teachers, he said. Vang Pao also helped pay for Tony Vang - whose father and three brothers fought and died in the war - to attend a high school in Hawaii in the early 1970s.
He lost a great leader, a person who cared deeply about his people and dedicated his entire life to serving them," Vang said.
Over time, however, Vang lost some credibility for failing to deliver on a promise to return to Laos as a liberator. His reputation also was tarnished by controversy that dogged some organizations related to Vang or family members.
A few years ago, for example, the nonprofit Vang Pao Foundation in Minnesota agreed to go out of business and pay restitution. That move settled charges that included operating without a board of directors and soliciting money to buy land for low-income housing without using the funds for that purpose.
 2007, federal authorities charged Vang and others with planning to overthrow the communist government of Laos. He spent six weeks in jail before being released on bail.
His arrest sparked rallies around the country among Hmong who saw it as a betrayal by the U.S. government. It also underscored Vang's standing in that community.
In late 2009, Vang said he planned to return to Laos - saying it was time for reconciliation so that thousands of Hmong trapped in the jungle or stuck in refugee camps could be liberated.
But that trip was quickly canceled after the communist regime announced that Vang would be executed as a Vietnam War criminal if he returned to Laos.
Vang reportedly had several wives in Laos, where polygamy was practiced by some Hmong. Family members have said that he has about 20 children.

Posted on Fri, Jan. 07, 2011 07:14 AM

David Nelson, last surviving member of the TV sitcom family, dies at 74

When I grow up, I wanna be Steve McQueen

As a result, Mr. Yates was invited to work(as a director)  in Hollywood on "Bullitt," which featured McQueen as a rebellious detective who shows complete disregard for San Francisco traffic laws in the film's most celebrated sequence.  In an otherwise conventional police story, the centerpiece of the film was the 10-minute car chase between Bullitt, driving a 1968 Ford Mustang GT, and henchmen in a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T.  Mr. Yates spent more than two weeks orchestrating the action with cinematographer William Fraker on what has often been called the greatest car chase ever filmed.
Mr. Yates said he wanted the scene to be "a real car chase, unlike so many other movies where the chases just become demolition jobs." McQueen did much of the driving and relied on stuntman Bud Elkins for some of the trickiest scenes, in which the cars sped 100 mph through the streets of San Francisco - screeching around serpentine roadways, practically achieving liftoff against the city's terraced avenues.

Mr. Yates once said he was filming in the back of the Mustang when McQueen was nearing 120 mph.
"We came to the last downhill section and when we got to the top of the hill Steve was still going pretty fast," he told the Associated Press. "I tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'We can slow down now, we're almost out of film.' Steve said very calmly, 'We can't. There aren't any brakes.' " Mr. Yates said McQueen assuredly drove the car past the film crew and along a main road before taking the vehicle up an embankment to slow it down. "If it was anyone else, we might not have made it," Mr. Yates said. "Steve was a great driver."

Goodbye Honey West

Actor Anne Francis who portrayed  female private detective Honey West in the television series by the same name, died in January of this year.  She was 80 years old.  The series ran from 1965 through 1966 and was created as the American answer to the British import The Avengers.  

..and thats the way we became the Brady Bunch

"One morning in 1966, I was reading the Los Angeles Times and I came across something that changed my life forever. It wasn't a headline, it was just an item you sometimes see at the end of a column that's not quite long enough to fill a space.

"The item stated that, 'In the year 1965, more than 29 percent of all marriages included a child or children from a previous marriage.'

"I knew instinctively that statistic was the key to a new and unusual TV series. It was a revelation! The first blended family! His kids and her kids! Together!

"I knew I had to get my idea to the Writers Guild in a hurry to register this concept as soon as possible. I was spurred on by the sound of hoof beats in my head - other writers galloping along the same trail, trying to get to the Guild and stake a claim before I did.

"At the time, in the mid-60s, most TV families were fairly predictable with a father, a mother, their children, and sometimes a housekeeper. Shows like My Three Sons, Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show, and Father Knows Best had all portrayed the daily life of the traditional American family with conventional plots and resolutions. There was always a major story about the children and a subplot about the parents. But times were changing, and that one little newspaper item was all it took to provide that 'Eureka!' moment that inspired me to create a new kind of TV family - a family that America was not only ready for, but maybe even needed. And I hoped that I would be the first to get the idea out there.

"So I went to the Guild and filled out the paperwork with Blanche Baker, the charming woman there who always greeted each submission with a smiling, 'Good luck.'

"I registered the idea before I even figured out any of the key details of the series, like how many children were in each of the families, or what the father did for a living, or where the families lived, or anything else about the characters or their situation. I don't think I wrote more than seven or eight pages, including several sample storylines, for my submission to the Guild. ...

"Because it wasn't about his kids and her kids, I called it 'Yours & Mine.' Eventually, it became The Brady Bunch."

Sherwood Schwartz and Lloyd J. Schwartz, Brady Brady Brady, Running Press
Date: Copyright 2010 by Sherwood Schwartz and Lloyd J. Schwartz
ages: 20-21