This Years Deaths- Final Taxi Riders of 2007

Final Taxi LogoWe lost many a person who touched our lives in 2007. They made their marks in all walks of life: from politics to pop culture, fashion to music, movies and TV. There were big names and small names but the world lost many friends this year. I know I could never list them all but among the Final Taxi riders in 2007 are:

Tige Andrews, 86, a character actor who earned an Emmy nomination for portraying Captain Adam Greer, the officer who recruited the undercover police officers of television’s The Mod Squad, died of cardiac arrest Jan. 27.

Michelangelo Antonioni, 94, one of Italy’s most famous and influential filmmakers, died July 30. Considered the cinematic father of modern angst and alienation, Antonioni had a career spanning six decades that included the Oscar-nominated Blowup and the internationally acclaimed L’Avventura.

Warren Batchelder, animator of well over 200 Warner Bros. and Pink Panther cartoons. He was an animator for the main titles of the 1963 feature film The Pink Panther — which led to doing the cartoons. He also worked on G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons.

Jeanne Bates, 89 was best known as Nurse Wills on the 1950s medical series Ben Casey. She appeared on hundreds of TV shows over the years, but will be known by cult film fans as the mother in David Lynch’s Eraserhead. We lost her in November.

Maurice Bejart, 80, the French choreographer whose flamboyant and populist ballets made him the equivalent of a pop star in Europe, died Nov. 22 of heart and kidney problems.

Ingmar Bergman, 89, the iconoclastic filmmaker widely regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema, died July 30. Through more than 50 films, Bergman’s vision encompassed the extremes of his beloved Sweden: the claustrophobic gloom on unending winter nights, the merriment of glowing summer evenings and the bleak magnificence of the island where he spent his last years.

Joey Bishop, 89, the stone-faced comedian who found success in nightclubs, television and movies but became most famous as a member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, died of multiple causes on Oct. 17. He was the group’s last surviving member. The Rat Pack became a show business sensation in the early 1960s, appearing at the Sands Hotel, in Las Vegas, in shows that combined music and comedy in a seemingly chaotic manner.

Janet Blair, 85, the actress who appeared in several 1940s musicals and comedies, then turned to television, died Feb. 19 of complications from pneumonia.

Michael Brecker, 57, a versatile tenor saxophonist who won 11 Grammy Awards and whose work, as a studio and backup musician and leader, appears on thousands of recordings, died Jan. 13 of leukemia.

Teresa Brewer, 76, a bold-voiced singer whose novelty hit “Music! Music! Music!” established her as a jukebox favorite in the 1950s and secured her four-decade career performing in nightclubs and on Las Vegas stages, died Oct. 17 of progressive supra- nuclear palsy, a brain disorder.

Roscoe Lee Browne, 81, an actor whose rich voice and dignified bearing brought him an Emmy Award and a Tony nomination, died April 11 of cancer.

Carol Bruce, 87, regularly played Mrs. Carlson the owner of the radio station on the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati and made guest appearances on more than 25 television shows. She died in October.

James T. “Jimmy” Callahan, an actor best known for playing the cranky grandfather on the show Charles in Charge. He became a final taxi rider at 76 in August.

Ron Carey, 71, the short comedic actor who played Officer Carl Levitt on Barney Miller and who was a member of Mel Brooks’ troupe in films such as High Anxiety and Silent Movie, died of a stroke on Jan. 16.

Bob Carroll Jr., 88, a founding writer of I Love Lucy who helped introduce millions of viewers to the joys of frenzied grape stomping, warp-speed chocolate stuffing and the 46-proof patent medicine Vitameatavegamin, died Jan. 27 after a short illness.

Jim Carlson,a long-time TV writer for Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, Adam-12, Emergency!, CHiPs, The Bionic Woman and the original Battlestar Galactica. He took his Final Taxi at 75 in August.

Jean-Pierre Cassel, 74, the French actor who shot to fame as the star of film comedies by director Philippe de Broca in the 1960s, died April 19 after a long illness.

Henry Cele, an actor famous for his role as Shaka Zulu, died in November at 58.

Bob Clarke, 65, director of Porky’s and A Christmas Story was killed in a traffic accident in California on April 4. You watched A Christmas Story how many times this Christmas?

Liz Claiborne made her name designing affordable clothes for women. She died of cancer at age 78 on June 26.

Alice Coltrane, 69, the jazz performer/composer who was inextricably linked with the musical improvisations of her late husband, saxophonist John Coltrane, died Jan. 12 of respiratory failure.

Darlene Conley, 72, a longtime stage and television actress who entertained soap-opera audiences for nearly two decades as the feisty fashion mogul Sally Spectra on The Bold and the Beautiful, died Jan. 14 of stomach cancer.

Regine Crespin, 80, the French operatic soprano and later mezzo-soprano, one of the most important vocal artists to emerge from France in the decades after World War II, died July 4 of liver cancer.

Laraine Day, 87, the actress best remembered on screen as Lew Ayres’s fiancEe in a series of 1940s Dr. Kildare movies, died Nov. 10.

Yvonne De Carlo, 84, who played Moses’ wife in The Ten Commandments but achieved her greatest popularity on TV’s The Munsters, died of natural causes on Jan. 8.

Calvert DeForest, 85, the actor who visited David Letterman as Larry “Bud” Melman, died March 19. He made his debut on NBC’s Late Night in 1982 and appeared many times on that show and on CBS’s Late Show.

Denny Doherty, 66, a founding member of the 1960s folk-pop band the Mamas and the Papas, died Jan. 19 after a short illness.

Kevin DuBrow, 52, a gravelly voiced singer for Quiet Riot, a heavy-metal band that peaked in the 1980s, died Nov. 25 of a cocaine overdose.

Jerry Falwell, who took his Final Taxi at 73, was a fundamentalist preacher who made evangelical Christianity a political force as never before in American history.

Howard Field was an advertising creator for such characters as Rosie the waitress, Josephine the plumber and the Ajax White Knight. We lost him in April.

Dan Fogelberg, 56, the singer and songwriter whose hits “Leader of the Band” and “Same Old Lang Syne” helped define the soft-rock era, died Dec. 16 after battling prostate cancer.

Ed Friendly, 85, co-producer of hit television shows including Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and Little House on the Prairie, died June 17 of cancer.

Alice Ghostley, 81, the Tony Award-winning actress known on television for playing Esmeralda on Bewitched and Bernice on Designing Women, died Sept. 21 of colon cancer and a series of strokes.

Robert Goulet, 73, the handsome, big-voiced baritone whose Broadway debut in Camelot launched an award-winning stage and recording career, died Oct. 30 of a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis.

Dabbs Greer, 90, who played the Rev. Robert Alden on Little House on the Prairie and who appeared in nearly 100 movies and hundreds of TV episodes, died April 28 of kidney and heart disease. He was great as the older version of Tom Hanks in “The Green Mile.”

Merv Griffin, 82, a big-band singer who became one of television’s longest- running talk-show hosts and formidable innovators, creating some of the medium’s most popular game shows before becoming a major figure in the hotel and gambling businesses, died Aug. 12 of prostate cancer.

George Grizzard, 79, a versatile actor who achieved his greatest renown on the stage, playing everything from Shakespeare to Shaw, from Neil Simon to Edward Albee, died Oct. 2 of complications of lung cancer.

David Halberstam, 73, a Pultizer Prize-winning journalist and author of books on topics such as America’s military failings in Vietnam and the high-pressured world of basketball, was killed April 23 in a car crash.

Johnny Hart, 76, one of the most popular cartoonists of his era and creator of the B.C. and Wizard of Id strips, died April 7 of a stroke.

Kitty Carlisle Hart, 96, whose long career spanned Broadway, opera, television and film, including the classic Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera, died April 17 of pneumonia. I will remember her as a long time panelist on “To Tell The Truth.”

Lee Hazlewood, 78, best known for writing and producing Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit “These Boots are Made for Walkin’ ,” died Aug. 4 of complications from renal cancer. As a recording artist, Hazlewood made several solo albums, in addition to a series of duets with Nancy Sinatra.

Don Herbert, 89, who as television’s Mr. Wizard introduced generations of young viewers to the joys of science, died June 12 of bone cancer.

Don Ho, 76, the Hawaiian entertainer whose signature song Tiny Bubbles and laid-back, aloha style made him as much an island tourist attraction as Diamond Head and hula dancers for more than four decades, died April 14 of heart failure.

Betty Hutton, 86, the actress and singer who brought a brassy vitality to Hollywood musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun, died March 11 of complications of color cancer. Hutton was at the top of the heap when she walked out on her Paramount contract in 1952, reportedly in a dispute over her demand that her then-husband direct her films. She made only one movie after that but had a TV series for a year and worked occasionally on the stage and in nightclubs.

Luther Ingram, 69, the soul singer who was known for “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right,” died of a heart attack on March 19.

John Inman, 71, the actor best known for his role in the British TV series Are You Being Served? died March 8 after a long illness. (Are you free Mr. Humphries?)

Richard Jeni, 45, a standup comedian who played to sold-out crowds, was a regular on the Tonight Show and appeared in movies, died of a gunshot wound in an apparent suicide on March 10.

Deborah Kerr, 86, who shared one of Hollywood’s most famous kisses while portraying an Army officer’s unhappy wife in From Here to Eternity and danced with the Siamese monarch in The King and I, died Oct. 16 of Parkinson’s disease.

Michael Kidd, 92, the choreographer whose joyously athletic dances for ballet, Broadway and Hollywood delighted audiences for half a century and won him five Tonys and an Oscar, died of cancer Dec. 23.

“Sneaky” Pete Kleinow, 72, a steel guitar prodigy who rose to fame as one of the original members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, died Jan. 6 of Alzheimer’s disease.

Robert Craig “Evel”Knievel, 69, an American motorcycle daredevil, took the jump over the River Styx in the last days of November.

Laszlo Kovacs, 74, a Hungarian cinematographer who used light, shadow and imagination to give visual shape to seminal films such as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and Paper Moon, died July 22 of cancer.

Hilly Kristal, 75, owner of the New York nightclub that became ground zero for the American punk rock movement, died Aug. 28 of lung cancer.

Frankie Laine, 93, the pop singer who became the unofficial troubadour of TV and movie Westerns, died Feb. 6 of heart failure. He is perhaps best known for singing the theme to the TV series Rawhide, which ran from 1959 to 1966.

Charles Lane, the prolific character actor whose name was little known but whose crotchety persona and roles in hundreds of films made him recognizable to generations of moviegoers took his Final Taxi at 102 on July 9. His career spanned more than 60 years, appeared in such film classics as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Primrose Path.” He also had a recurring role as the scheming railroad man Homer Bedloe on the 1960s TV sitcom “Petticoat Junction” and appeared often on “I Love Lucy.”102,

Madeleine L’Engle, 88, the author whose novel A Wrinkle in Time has been enjoyed by generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, died Sept. 6 of natural causes. The Newbery Medal winner wrote more than 60 books, often highlighting spiritual themes and her Christian faith.

Ira Levin, 78, the best-selling writer whose genre-hopping novels such as the horror classic Rosemary’s Baby and the Nazi thriller The Boys from Brazil provided meaty movie roles for Mia Farrow and Laurence Olivier, died of a heart attack on Nov. 12. Norman Mailer, 84, the pugnacious prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country’s literary conscience and provocateur with such books as The Naked and Dead and The Executioner’s Song, died Nov. 10 of acute renal failure.

Tommy Makem, 74, an internationally celebrated Irish folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers in the late 1950s and 1960s, died of lung cancer on Aug. 1. Edward Mallory, 76, an actor who portrayed Dr. Bill Horton on Days of Our Lives for 14 years, died April 4 after a long illness.

Delbert Mann, 87, a director from the heyday of live television who won an Oscar for his first big-screen effort, Marty, in 1955, died Nov. 11 of pneumonia.

Marcel Marceau, 84, the master of mime who transformed silence into poetry with lithe gestures and pliant facial expressions that spoke to generations of young and old, died Sept. 22. He played out the human comedy through his alter-ego Bip, without ever uttering a word.

Janis Martin, 67, a rockabilly pioneer billed as the Female Elvis, died of cancer on Sept. 3. Her first record and biggest hit, “Will You Willyum,” was released in 1956, when she was just 15.

Kerwin Mathews, who earned a niche in film history as the handsome hero who battled a Cyclops, a dragon and a sword-wielding skeleton in the 1958 fantasy classic “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” took his Final Taxi in July. Mathews was also in “The Devil at 4 O’clock” with Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra and in b-movies “Octoman” and “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf.” He was 81.

Bruno Mattei director of such sleaze and gratuitous violence movies as Hell of the Living Dead, Women’s Camp 119, and several Emmanuelle films died after falling into a coma at the age of 75 in May.

Lois Maxwell, 80, an actress who starred as Miss Moneypenny in 14 James Bond movies, died Sept. 29 of cancer.

Barbara McNair, 72, a cabaret singer, actress and television personality of the 1960s who was noted as much for her stunning appearance as for her versatile voice, died of throat cancer on Feb. 4.

Gian Carlo Menotti, 95, who wrote his first opera before he was 11 and went on to become perhaps the most popular and prolific opera composer of his time, winning two Pulitzer Prizes, died Feb. 1. His works include Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Medium and The Saint of Bleecker Street.

Igor Moiseyev, 101, the master choreographer who created a new form of theatrical folk dance in Russia and whose troupe was one of the most popular dance companies of the 20th century, died Nov. 2.

Tommy Newsom, 78, a jazz saxophonist and the substitute bandleader on The Tonight Show nicknamed “Mr. Excitement” by Johnny Carson, died of bladder and liver cancer April 28.

Paul Norris, 93, creator of the legendary superhero Aquaman, died in November.

George Osmond, 90, father of Donny and Marie Osmond and patriarch to the family’s singing group, The Osmond Brothers, died Nov. 6.

Luciano Pavarotti, 71, the Italian tenor whose clarion lyric voice and performances from concert houses to outdoor stadiums made him a pop icon and the most famous opera singer since Enrico Caruso, died Sept. 6 of pancreatic cancer. He popularized opera more than any other singer through recordings that made him the best-selling classical artist ever and concerts in parks and stadiums around the world that were televised to millions.

Oscar Peterson, 82, whose dazzling piano playing made him one of the most popular jazz artists in history, died Dec. 23 of kidney failure.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett, 69, whose dead-on Boris Karloff impression propelled “Monster Mash” to the top of the charts in 1962, making him one of pop music’s most enduring one-hit wonders, died of leukemia April 25.

Pimp C, 33, the rapper who helped define Southern hip-hop with his group, UGK, was found dead on Dec. 4.

Anne Pitoniak, 85, an actress who began her stage career in late middle age, but received a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut, in ‘night, Mother, died April 22 of complications of cancer.

Carlo Ponti, 94, the Italian producer who discovered a teenage Sophia Loren, launched her film career and later married her despite threats of bigamy charges and excommunication, died Jan. 9 of pulmonary complications. He produced more than 100 films, including Doctor Zhivago, The Firemen’s Ball and The Great Day, which were nominated for Oscars.

Tom Poston, 85, an Emmy-winning comic actor whose television characters ranged from the slow-witted Everyman on The Steve Allen Show to George Utley, the slow-witted handyman on Newhart, died April 30 after a short illness.

Mala Powers, 76, an actress who played Roxanne to Jose Ferrer’s Cyrano de Bergerac and starred in other films of the 1940s and 1950s, died June 11 of complications of leukemia.

Boots Randolph, 80, a saxophonist who recorded more than 40 albums and who had his biggest solo hit, “Yakety Sax,” in 1963, died July 3 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Del Reeves, 74, the Grand Ole Opry star who delighted audiences for decades with his full-throated vocals and comic impressions of fellow artists, died Jan. 1 after a long illness.

Charles Nelson Reilly, 76, the Tony-winning actor who appeared on numerous TV talk and game shows ( most noteable Match Game) in the 1970s and ’80s. Was also in the TV’s like the X-files and Lidsville. He died May 25 of complications from pneumonia.

Ian Richardson, 72, the Scottish actor of film, television and stage who was a major figure at the Royal Shakespeare Company before gaining international fame for his TV portrayal of a deliciously villainous politician in House of Cards, died Feb. 16. He was also the man in the commercial who asked, from the window of a Rolls-Royce, for Grey Poupon mustard.

Max Roach, 83, a founder of modern jazz who rewrote the rules of drumming in the 1940s and spent the rest of his career breaking musical barriers and defying listeners’ expectations, died Aug. 16.

Gary Rosen, 60, the musician who created the classic children’s album Teddy Bear’s Picnic, died April 14 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Mstislav Rostropovich, 80, the master cellist who fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents and later triumphantly played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall, died April 27 of intestinal cancer.

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., 89, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian with a panoramic vision of American culture and politics, died Feb. 28 of a heart attack.

Gordon Scott, 80, an actor who portrayed Tarzan in the 1950s, died April 30 of complications after heart surgery. He also appeared in Westerns and gladiator films.

Tony Scott, 85, a jazz clarinetist who in the 1950s helped steer his instrument out of the swing era and into the sax-infested waters of bebop, died March 28 of complications from prostate cancer.

Michel Serrault, 79, a French film star known internationally for his role as the temperamental drag queen Zaza in the original film version of La Cage aux Folles, died of cancer on July 29.

Sidney Sheldon, 89, who at age 50 turned to writing popular novels, such as Rage of Angels and Master of the Game, after winning awards in Broadway theater, movies and television, died Jan. 30 of complications from pneumonia. Sheldon was the world’s most translated author, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Joel Siegel, 63, the longtime film critic for ABC News, died June 29 of colon cancer.

Beverly Sills, 78, the acclaimed Brooklyn, N.Y.-born coloratura soprano who was more popular with the American public than any opera singer since Enrico Caruso, died July 2 of lung cancer.

Anna Nicole Smith was a 39-year-old model/centrefold/wealthy widow/celebrity that died of an overdose of prescription medications in a hotel room in Florida Feb. 8. One of the biggest news stories of 2007.

Tom Snyder, 71, who pioneered the late-late network TV talk show with a personal yet abrasive style and his robust, trademark laugh, died July 29 from complications of leukemia.

Brett Somers, 83, an actress and comedian who was a regular on Match Game in the 1970s, died of stomach and colon cancer on Sept. 15.

Dakota Staton, 76, a jazz and blues singer known from the 1950s for her bright, trumpetlike sound and tough, sassy style died April 10.

Camilla Gamelle Stull, a voice actress who was in one episode of Family Guy. She left us April 16, 2007, in her home, after a 3 year battle with leukemia at eight years old.

Iwao Takamoto, 81, the animator who created Scooby-Doo and directed the cartoon classic Charlotte’s Web, died Jan. 8 of heart failure. In a career that spanned more than six decades, Takamoto assisted in the designs of some of the biggest animated features and television shows for Disney and the Hanna-Barbera animation team.

Glen Tetley, 80, an acclaimed dancer and internationally celebrated choreographer who bridged the worlds of ballet and modern dance, died of melanoma Jan. 26.

Hank Thompson, 82, died Nov. 6 of lung cancer. Fans loved the singer’s distinctive gravelly voice and his musical style, a mix of honky-tonk and Western swing. He was named to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

Jim Thurman was an Emmy-award winning children’s television writer. He was one of a team of writers for Children’s Television Workshop creating “Sesame Street,” & “The Electric Company. We lost him in April.

Ike Turner, 76, whose role as one of rock’s critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife Tina Turner, died Dec. 12.

Miyoshi Umeki, 78, a Japanese-born singer and actress who became the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award, for Sayonara in 1957, distinguished herself on stage in Flower Drum Song, and played a housekeeper on the TV series The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, died Aug. 28 of cancer.

Jack Valenti, 85, a former White House aide who became Hollywood’s top lobbyist in Washington for four decades and created the modern movie rating system, died April 26 of complications from a stroke.

Werner von Trapp, 91, a member of the musical family made famous by the 1965 movie The Sound of Music, died Oct. 11.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 84, whose blend of absurdist humor, science fiction and antiestablishment politics made his novels, including Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, campus classics in the ’60s and ’70s, died April 11. He had suffered brain injuries in a fall at his home weeks before.

Porter Wagoner, 80, the rhinestone-clad Grand Ole Opry star who helped launch the career of Dolly Parton by hiring her as his duet partner, died Oct. 28 of lung cancer. His illness came after a comeback that saw him recording again and gaining new fans even as he reached his 80s.

Dick Wilson, 91, the actor who made the phrase “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” a part of pop culture history, died Nov. 19.

Kathleen Woodiwiss, 68, a pioneer of the modern historical romance novel, marked by strong heroines, detailed period settings, and steamy sex scenes, died July 6 of cancer.

Nicholas Worth was a B-movie actor in such films as Swamp Thing and Darkman. He took his Final Taxi in May.

Gretchen Wyler, 75, an actress in Broadway musicals in the 1950s and ’60s who became known in her later years as an animal-rights advocate, died May 27 of complications of breast cancer.

Jane Wyman, 93, who won an Academy Award as best actress for Johnny Belinda, in which she did not speak a word, died Sept. 10. She also starred in the soap opera Falcon Crest while her former husband, Ronald Reagan, was in the White House. Classy to the end, she never said a bad word about her ex.

Legendary Jazz Pianist – Oscar Peterson

For Christmas this year my wife bought me a season of the Simpson’s TV show. In one show the Simpson family visited Toronto for the 2002 episode The Bart Wants What It Wants, Ontario Premier Mike Harris welcomed the family to the city in advance and suggested in an official news release, “Lisa can jam with Oscar Peterson on her saxophone.”

Oscar Peterson is a legendary Canadian jazz pianist, whose 50-year career took him from 1950s Montreal jazz club to New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has taken his Final TFinal Taxi Logoaxi this week.

Recording almost 200 albums (and such works as 1962’s Night Train and 1964’s Canadiana Suite), Peterson played alongside such other jazz giants as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Roy Eldridge, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

He received eight Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award in 1997, as well as the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement.

Nicknamed “The Brown Bomber of Boogie-Woogie” or simply “O.P.,” the African-Canadian was born Oscar Emmanuel Peterson on August 15, 1925 in Montreal’s St. Henri neighborhood. He was the son of a Canadian National railroad porter.

He began his recording career in the mid-1940s with records for RCA. He toured from the 1950s until the late 190s, he toured as a member of the group “Jazz at the Philharmonic.”

The co-founder of the Advanced School of Contemporary Music,” he was honored with the IMC-UNESCO Music Award in November 2000.

In 1993, he and Warren “Slim” Williams shared the Gemini — Canada’s equivalent of the Emmy — for Best Original Music Score for a Program or Mini-Series for In the Key of Oscar. That year, he had a stroke in 1993 that restricted the use of his left hand.
He composed film and TV scores, winning a Genie award for best film score in 1978 for The Silent Partner.

Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995, Peterson was the recipient of hundreds of prizes from the jazz community.

Canada Post honored his contribution to music with a 50-cent stamp issued on his 80th birthday in 2005.

He was awarded the Officer of the Order of Canada on June 23, 1972 and the Companion of the Order of Canada on June 25, 1984 for his services to music.

The Leader of the Band – Dan Fogelberg

In Christmas of 1978 I needed to find my older brother a gift. On most occasions I got him a LP that he had wanted or that was popular at the time.  That year I went to a OZ records store and bought him Twin Sons of Different Mothers an album by Dan Fogelberg who collaborated with jazz flutist Tim Weisberg on the production. It was the  fifth album by American singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg..

Dan Fogelberg has taken his Final Taxi at age 56.

Daniel Grayling Fogelberg was born  in Peoria, Illinois, in 1951
to musical parents, he learnt the piano and guitar as a boy.Much influenced by the Beatles, he formed his first band, the Clan, at the age of 14 and recorded his first records with the Coachmen in 1967, when he was still at school.

While attending the University of Illinois, he began performing solo in local
coffeehouses. Singers such as James Taylor, Carole King and Joni Mitchell were ushering in the era of the gentle, sensitive singer-songwriter, and Fogelberg slotted readily into this mode.

After being discovered by Irving Azoff, who became his manager, he was persuaded to move to California. Azoff’s priority at the time was the launch of an unknown group called the Eagles, but he secured Fogelberg a support slot on a tour with Van Morrison and by 1972 had landed him a recording deal with Columbia.

The Eagles’ association was beneficial in more ways than one, and the band’s guitarist, Joe Walsh, came to produce Fogelberg’s second album, Souvenirs, in 1974. The song Part
of the Plan gave him his first hit.

The following year Azoff put him on the bill as the support act on the Eagles’ “One of These Nights” tour, which further enhanced his visibility.

His third album, Nether Lands (1977), was regard by long-term Fogelberg fans as his finest album.

On his next release, Twin Sons of Different Mothers (1979), he teamed up with the flautist Tim Weisberg, mixing instrumental tracks with potent ballads such as The Power of Gold. But it was the album Phoenix in 1980 that took him to the peak of commercial success, particularly with the sentimental ballad Longer, which made No 2 in the American charts and has become a wedding standard.

He followed it in 1981 with The Innocent Age, an ambitious double album song cycle that chronicled highly personal events in his own life – the subject of Leader of the Band
was his father, Lawrence, who had directed a high-school band; Same Old Lang Syne was about an accidental meeting with an old girlfriend. Both gave him American Top 20 hits. That song is still played today as many radio stations turn to a Christmas playlist during December.

An early champion of environmental causes, as a founding member in 1979 of Musicians United for Safe Energy, he participated in several high-profile “No Nukes” concerts
alongside Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt and in 1982 he left Los Angeles for the solitude of the wilderness when he bought a 600-acre ranch in Colorado.

Portrait, a four-disc career retrospective released in 1997, served as a reminder of what a versatile, as well as prolific, songwriter he was, and his final album, Full Circle, appeared in 2003.

Dan Fogelberg’s music can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as “FM,” “About Scmidt” and “Urban Cowboy.”

A Rock & Soul Legend or a Villain? – Ike Turner

When you think of early rock and roll who do you think of?

Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly or even Bill Haley and his Comets might be a few names you come up. The shame is that the name of Ike Turner does not pop up for most people. But Ike Turner is credited by many music historians for making the first rock ‘n’ roll record with his 1951 recording of “Rocket 88.”

Ike Turner has taken his Final Taxi at age 76.

Most people will remember Turner when he rose to iconic status with his wife/ singing partner, Tina Turner. The pair produced a string of hits, including A Fool In Love, It’s Gonna Work Out Fine, and River Deep Mountain High. Between 1961 and 1976 they produced more than 30 albums. The musical duo ended with Tina Turner claiming he abused her.

Ike Turner’s actual music career began in earnest in the late-1940s where he formed a group whom he christened The Kings of Rhythm.

In 1951, the band recorded the legendary “Rocket 88.” The song was one of the first examples of guitar distortion, which happened by accident when one of the amplifiers dropped before the recording.

Turner became a recording scout and A&R man for independent record companies including Sun Records – where “Rocket 88” was recorded, helping the likes of BB King, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James and Otis Rush get signed. He also became a sideman playing guitar for these blues acts and more. Musically, Turner was known for his hard-hitting guitar style. He also put the whammy bar of his Fender Stratocaster to frequent use.

Turner’s music career changed drastically after meeting a teenage singer named Anna Mae Bullock, who demandingly grabbed a microphone during a singing session at regular nightspot and sang a BB King song in her now-trademark throated raspy vocals. The performance impressed Ike so much he recorded a song with her and changed her name to Tina Turner and the name of the band to the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. That song, “A Fool in Love”, became a national hit in early 1960, reaching the top three in the R&B charts and becoming a top thirty pop hit in the process. From then until 1976, Ike and Tina Turner became one of the most explosive duos in rock & soul music.

Turner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was a prolific songwriter, session guitarist and piano player but he will unfortunately be forever remembered for his turbulent relationship with Tina Turner. In her 1987 autobiography, “I, Tina,” she narrated a harrowing tale of abuse, including suffering a broken nose and having cigarettes put out on her. She also claimed he was a cocaine addict and adulterer.

But while he would readily admit to drug abuse, Turner always denied abusing his ex-wife.

After years out of the spotlight his career finally began to revive in 2001 when he released the album “Here and Now.” The recording won rave reviews and a Grammy nomination and finally helped shift some of the public’s attention away from his troubled past and onto his musical legacy. The once-broke Turner managed to garner a comfortable income as his songs were sampled by a variety of rap acts.

To music critics and fans, Ike Turner will be known as a great founder, unfortunately to the general public he will always be known as a brutal man. His songs can be heard on the soundtracks of such movies as Kill Bill Vol. 1, Blue Collar, the original Hairspray, The Sopranos and Bull Durham.

A Hotel People Are Dying To Get Into

For my wedding anniversary I took my wife to a quaint little place in North Alabama called the Secret. It has four cottages that are themed based. They had a tree house, a Western jail, a log cabin and a nautical theme cottage. We choice the naval one.

Themed cabins and hotels are popping up all over the place. Most are built and decorated around a unifying theme. These hotels are great fun for families and for those travelers seeking a unique, action-packed vacation. A large number of the larger theme hotels are located in resort cities such as Orlando, Florida and Atlantic City, New Jersey, but they can also be found elsewhere in the United States and all over the world.

Many popular theme hotels are built around casinos. Las Vegas, Nevada has hotels that has themes ranging in motif from Egyptian tomb to New York skyline to pirates’ cove. For many Vegas tourists, theme hotels are a necessary part of the experience.

Mausoleum InnNow a Chinese woman is getting into the theme lodging business in and unusual way. Jiao Meige has opened a mausoleum-themed inn to let people experience the feeling of death.

She set up the Mausoleum Inn in a house in Lishui town of the Jiangsu province.

The building is shaped like a Chinese mausoleum, and the beds are in the shapes of coffins.

“I rented this piece of land to put a farm there, but because there are many old graves in the field, no one wants to work here,” she said.
Jiao says the idea for the Mausoleum Inn came to her in a flash.

“Since there are so many graves, why don’t I give people a chance to experience death?” she asked.

“There are no services at night, and the guest can go nowhere, since outside is just a vast graveyard.”
Jiao says no residents with heart problems will be accepted at the Mausoleum Inn, and mental patients must be accompanied by healthy people.

I wonder if there is a Final Taxi there for you to take for a ride into the town?

PODCAST: Phantom Character Actress – Jeanne Bates

Direct Download the MP3

Jeanne Bates was best known as Nurse Wills on the 1950s medical series Ben Casey. She appeared on hundreds of TV shows over the years, including That 70’s Show, Wings, The Young and the Restless, Dallas, Three’s Company, Quincy, M.E., Charlie’s Angels, The Rockford Files, Cannon, The Saint, Wonder Woman, Hawaii Five-O, The Twilight Zone, and many, many others.
Bates also appeared in several movies such as Die Hard 2, Grand Canyon, Eraserhead, Silent Night Deadly Night 4, and the 1943 The Phantom serial.
She took her Final Taxi at age 89.

Podcast Junky Spotlights the Final Taxi!

One of my favorite podcast to listen to is the Podcast Junky  show. Megan, the host, asks the question “what are you listening to?”  She talks to people who will tell her about their podcasts and of those they are listening to as well.

This week she review The Final Taxi podcast.

Give her a listen and subscribe on iTunes or go to her website :

PODCAST: Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel Direct Download the MP3

Listen to this week’s Final Taxi podcast as I talk about one of my childhood heroes. I interview several fans about how he touched their lives.

Read Full Blog on Evel:
Evel Knievel Jumps The River Styx

Sex and lingerie models selling coffins?

Over the past two decades, the use of increasingly explicit sexual appeals in consumer-oriented print advertising has become almost commonplace. Sexuality is considered one of the most powerful tools of marketing and particularly advertising. Post-advertising sales response studies have shown it can be very effective for attracting immediate interest, holding that interest, and, in the context of that interest, introducing a product that somehow correlates with that interest.

So what is the correlation between lingerie models and caskets?

Half naked women and their coffins

“Coffins are consumer goods like any other things, so I sell in the same way as any other consumer goods are sold.” says  Maurizio Matteucci, owner of the Cofanifunebri undertakers in Rome, Italy.

What Matteucci has done is to produce a calendar that shows women in sexy underwear posing with his coffins. Pictures of 12 pouting women showing off the caskets are on the firm’s website.

He said: “The calendar is very popular. It is good marketing but it is also but also a way to play down such a serious subject and to smile.”

On the other side of the scale the new 2008 Men of Mortuaries calendar is out now. This is a spin-off of the traditional “hunks” calendars, it features funeral directors and morticians from across the country. I had wrote about them in an earlier blog.

Favorite Christmas Movies – Thank You Very Much, Anton Rodgers !

There are thousands of Christmas movies out there and everyone seems to have a favorite.
It’s one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit by dusting off your favorite Christmas films and watching Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Ralphie, Clark Griswold, Ebenezer Scrooge, and other classic characters as they celebrate the yuletide season.

Among the top holiday classics includes that one that we see every year on TV for 24 hours straight. It does not have Jack Bauer, but it does have Ralphie and his family along with at leg lamp. “A Christmas Story” had been around since 1983 and has become a must see every year for many families. The director of that movie Bob Clark took his Final Taxi earlier this year. ( Look for the Bob Clark podcast on “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

Another favorite is the James Stewart and Donna Reed movie, It’s A Wonderful Life. This is my wife’s favorite Christmas movie but I can watch it anytime of the year. It tells that each of our lives are important and without one of us the whole world can change.

Other Christmas favorites include Miracle On 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Bells Of St. Marys , Ill Be Home For Christmas , Scrooged, Earnest Saves Christmas , White Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to name just a few.

TV shows get into the season as well. What is Christmas without a few Rankin-Bass animagic cartoons? Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer is a must see classic every year as well as Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I love the Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. How many TV series have done Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol? I remember the Flintstones, The Simpsons, Mr. Magoo and even BlackAdder meeting the three spirits of Christmas.

All this talk about Christmas movies is to tell you that my all time favorite Christmas movie is called Scrooge.

Scrooge was a 1970 musical film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 story, A Christmas Carol. It was filmed in London, directed by Ronald Neame, and starred Albert Finney in the title role. The film’s musical score was composed by Leslie Bricusse and Ian Fraser. With eleven musical arrangements interspersed throughout, the award-winning motion picture is a faithful musical retelling of the original, with one exception. That one departure from the novel takes place during the visit of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. In a nightmarish scene, Scrooge falls, screaming, through his own open grave, through a seemingly bottomless shaft, and into the very bowels of hell, where Marley tells him of his appointment as Lucifer’s personal clerk. The frightened Scrooge’s massive chain arrives on the backs of several burly, hooded “demons” who wrap it around him, fairly crushing him to the floor, amid his futile cries to Marley for help. This scene is so intense that it is often edited or censored from television airings. I was a very small child when I saw it and it scared me silly.

One musical number received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. The piece was called Thank You Very Much. During it Scrooge is unaware that he is seeing his own funeral in the future. He finds everyone singing and dancing on his coffin. The ring leader and main singer is Tom Jenkins, played by actor Anton Rodgers .

Anton Rodgers has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 74 on December 1 2007.

Anton was known for his television performances, specifically his long-running roles in the television sitcoms Fresh Fields and May to December. However, he has also had a long career as an actor on both stage and film. Onstage he ranged from contemporary comedy and satirical farce to Restoration comedy, Ibsen, Shaw and Wilde, and Peter Nichols. He appeared in films such as The Fourth Protocol (1987), The Day of the Jackal (1973), and Son of the Pink Panther (1993). He was also in the Frank Oz film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) where he played Inspector Andre along side Steve Martin and Michael Cane.
He was married to the actress Elizabeth Garvie, whom he met while filming the 1982 drama series, Something in Disguise.

Thank you very much, Anton Rodgers.

I am sure there are several other Christmas movies or TV shows that I have missed. What is you favorite holiday film? What movie or show gets you in the Christmas mood?