RIP, Ben Bradlee

The legendary editor of the Washington Post has died.

Our condolances go out to his family, and to Sally Quinn who is a sometimes target here. When she writes her story—and you know she will—it will be a worthy read.

Fashion Week Continues!

With fashionably cut black clothes, we regret to report that Oscar De La Renta has died at the age of 82. Fashionistas will miss him.

“America has lost a brilliant, enduring talent and a true gentleman,” [Nancy] Reagan, one of the first ladies the designer dressed, said in a statement. “Oscar was a fashion legend but he was also my friend for nearly 50 years.”

Reagan called de la Renta a “kind, gracious individual with a generous spirit who brought beauty and elegance to everything he touched.”

Yes, De La Renta was one of the designers who “loaned” Nancy Reagan his clothes at $0 cost, and she took ‘em:

“Press secretary Sheila Tate says that Nancy Reagan “has derived no personal benefit” from her acceptance of thousands of dollars worth of clothing from American designers, explaining that the First Lady’s sole motive is to help the national fashion industry. So, getting fabulous clothes for free should not be considered a “personal benefit.”


Excerpt From: Paul Slansky. “The Clothes Have No Emperor.” (Buy it, you’ll love it!)

And who knows how much of a benefit De La Renta got when Nancy wore that little Wilma Flintstone number to the inaugural ball?

nancy-reagan-just-say-no

The uproar over Gowngate and the White House china service is believed to have created the need to rehab the former first lady and ultimately gave birth to The War on Drugs.

Mr. De La Renta was a talented designer, and will be missed.

RIP, Jan Hooks

Jan Hooks was one of the really great comics of our time.

It’s not just that she was funny, but she was funny in a collaborative way; there was a generosity to her work (as there usually is from people who come from improv: you have to give the next comic something to work with) and I think she always loved her characters, which I am convinced is what separates artists from the rest of us.

The New Yorker has a tribute up with some highlights linked, including what I think is the definitive Hooks:

It would be easy to overplay that scene and make the tour guide seem demented or worse. And by the end of it when she thanks the tourists, you almost suspect that the guide means it. It’s that kind of sweetness that Jan Hooks always brings to her characters that takes a throw-away, one-joke setup and makes it art.

Hooks will be missed.

RIP, Joan Rivers

Another comedy legend has gone to the two-drink minimum in the sky following a surgery. And yeah, her last years were not her finest, but she remained true to herself until the very end.

It is not an overstatement to say that if there had been no Joan Rivers, there would be nowhere near the number of fearless female comics as there are today. Rivers busted that glass ceiling in such a way that it could never, ever be put back together again.

I hope when she arrived at the Pearly Gates, God said to her, “Can we talk?”

RIP, Lauren Bacall

Giants used to walk amongst us.

Lauren Bacall, one of the all-time legendary sirens, has gone to the silver screen in the sky following a stroke at her home. She was 89.

I saw Ms. Bacall in Company! as a wee tot, and I remember remarking to my mother that she was pretty. Mom arched an eyebrow at my father and said something along the lines of, “He’s your son after all,” so you see I come by it honestly.

She will be missed.

(There’s a nice write-up at Entertainment Weekly — and hey! they used the same picture!)

RIP, Robin Williams – UPDATED

Very sad:

At 11:55 a.m., the Marin County Communications department received a 9-1-1 call reporting a male adult was found in his residence unconscious and not breathing.

“Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late,” said spokeswoman Mara Buxbaum. “This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

His wife, Susan Schneider, added: ”This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beingsI am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

For those of us of a certain age who grew up in SF Bay Area, Williams was (and is) an institution. Whether you loved him, hated him, you couldn’t ignore him. And when he went big, the whole Bay Area rooted for him, and eventually the whole nation.

He will be missed. But the two-drink minimum Open Mic in Heaven will be epic tonight.

Na-Nu, Na-Nu.

MPS will be going dark for the rest of the night out of respect. Everyone should go find something that makes you happy and laugh tonight, it would be the best tribute.

UPDATE: Laffy at Political Carnival worked with him in improv, and has a nice post up. Someday I’ll come clean about my conflicted feelings, too. But not today.

RIP, James Garner

OK, I can now say it: if I could have been any movie actor, I probably would have chosen James Garner.

From Garner’s comedies (Westerns et al and all the rom-coms) to his television shows, he gave his characters such depth and humanity, it was hard to see him as anything but the everyday man. Plus, he was so handsome he always got the girl, but usually through just being a great guy. What more could you want in a matinee hero? But he also had the real acting chops, which he displays so well in The Great Escape and The Americanization of Emily, his characters always seemed so authentic, like they were just reflections of the real man, and that’s no mean feat. He made everything look so easy.

Mr. Garner, thanks for the laughs and all the memories, you are already greatly missed.

RIP Elaine Stritch

One of the true Grande Dames has left the stage:

And now here’s Stritch doing the cast recording, with her own commentary:

She was harder on herself than she ever was on anyone else (and she was a ROYAL. PAIN. IN. THE. ASS), and maybe that’s why she is a Broadway Legend? I’ll go with yes.

There will be a curtain call in heaven tonight, and she will be missed.

(NYTimes covers her career so very well.)

RIP, Tommy Ramone

Oh, man, he was only 62. The Ramones are gonna have a re-union gig in heaven tonight.

I was lucky enough to see The Ramones live and the energy at those shows was just unlike anything I’ve ever experience before or since. The inestimable essayist and supreme stylist James Wolcott (of Vanity Fair) has a chapter in his book Lucking Out that is probably the best thing ever written about Punk in NYC in the ’70s. Highly recommended reading if you want to read about the influence of the Ramones. I assume Mr. Wolcott will blog about Tommy sometime soon, so keep an eye on him.

Anyway, I’m ordering good Scissorheads to bop about where’ere you happen to be today. Energy, people. It’s what the Ramones would want.

Variety has a run-down on Tommy Ramone’s career that’s pretty interesting reading.