WHo Are They?

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Are you looking over your shoulder recently? Has there been a time in your life where so many celebrities all leave us within a week?

McMahon, Saxon, Fawcett, Jackson, Storm, Mays, Travalena, Presnell, Malden, McNair. In 7 days...since last Tuesday.

What? Can't place a couple of the names up there? Well, take a seat on The Couch and let me introduce you to those who might be unfamiliar. But guess what? I believe you will know each of these people also.

Sky "Sunlight" Saxon (1946 - June 25, 2009) was an American rock and roll musician who was best known as the leader and singer of the 1960s Los Angeles garage rock band The Seeds.

Born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah. Different sources suggest a birth year of 1937, 1945 or 1946. His widow has said that his birthday was August 20, but would not confirm the year because he believed age was irrelevant.

Saxon died on June 25, 2009, in an Austin, Texas hospital. He had been hospitalized with what doctors suspected was an infection of the internal organs, but the cause of death has not yet been released. He was reported to be 63 years old.

Still not sure who he is?

Well, The Seeds were a Southern California band in the early 60's and their biggest hit was released in 1966 and reached #36 on the US charts. This same song was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

"Pushin' Too Hard"

Josephine Owaissa Cottle (April 5, 1922 - June 27, 2009), better known as Gale Storm, was an American actress and singer, who starred in two popular television programs of the 1950s, My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show.

When she was a 17-year-old high school senior, two of her teachers urged her to enter the contest on Gateway to Hollywood, broadcast from the CBS Radio studios in Hollywood, California. The first prize was a one-year contract with a movie studio. She won and was immediately given the stage name Gale Storm, while her performing partner (and future husband), Lee Bonnell from South Bend, Indiana, became Terry Belmont.

After winning the contest in 1940, Storm made several films for the studio, RKO Radio Pictures; the first was Tom Brown's School Days, playing opposite Jimmy Lydon and Freddie Bartholomew. She worked steadily in a number of low-budget films released during this period. In 1941 she sang in several Soundies, three-minute musicals produced for "movie jukeboxes."

She acted and sang in Monogram Pictures' popular Frankie Darro series, and played ingénue roles in other Monogram features with the East Side Kids, Edgar Kennedy, and The Three Stooges.

She shared top billing in Monogram's Cosmo Jones in The Crime Smasher (1943), opposite Edgar Kennedy, Richard Cromwell, and Frank Graham in the role of Jones, a character derived from network radio.

Storm became an American icon of the 1950s, starring in two highly successful television series, and it was in this decade that her singing career took off.

Storm's first television hit was her starring role in My Little Margie from 1952 to 1955. The show, which co-starred former silent film actor Charles Farrell as her father, was originally a summer replacement for I Love Lucy on CBS. The popular show ran for 126 episodes on NBC and CBS. In an unusual move, the series was broadcast on CBS Radio from December 1952 to August 1955 with the same lead actors. Only 23 episodes of the radio show are known to survive.

Storm's popularity was capitalized upon when she briefly served as hostess of the NBC Comedy Hour in the winter of 1956. That fall, she again starred in another situation comedy, The Gale Storm Show (aka Oh! Susanna), featuring another silent movie star, ZaSu Pitts. This show ran for 143 episodes between 1956 and 1960.

Storm appeared regularly on other television programs in the 1950s and 1960s as well. She was a panelist and as a "mystery guest" on What's My Line?

Storm was living in a convalescent home in Danville, California. The cause of death is not known as of this time.

She also had three top ten hits during her recording career:
1956: "I Hear You Knocking" (#2) /"Never Leave Me"
1956: "I Ain't Gonna Worry" (#6) /"Ivory Tower"
1957: "Dark Moon" (#4) /"A Little Too Late"

From a live TV broadcast, this is her #2 hit "I Hear You Knocking"...and check out Jan Murray introducing her!

Fred Travalena (October 6, 1942 - June 28, 2009) was an American entertainer, specializing in comedy and impersonations.

His television credits began in the 1970s, as a regular performer on and the The ABC Comedy Hour and the Dean Martin Roasts. He had several voice credits on cartoons, as well as appearances on nationally-broadcast children's programs.

Mr. Travelena made many guest appearances on game shows and dramatic programs in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. In the mid-1980s he hosted the game show Anything For Money.

He appeared in the series premiere of the short-lived 1991 sitcom Good Sports with Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett.

He appeared at casino theaters in Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City, as well as performing arts theaters, cruise ships, and private "in-concert" performances. He took part in a USO tour to entertain troops overseas, and was honored in 2004 by Club Italia with a Merit Achievement Award for his contributions to society. In 2005 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Travalena was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2002 and prostate cancer in 2003. Following five years' remission, the lymphoma returned in 2008. Travelena died on June 28, 2009, aged 66, at his home in Encino, California

Harve Presnell (September 14, 1933 - June 30, 2009) was a Golden Globe-winning American film, stage and television actor.

Presnell was born as George Harvey Presnell in Modesto, California.

His height, booming voice, and operatic training landed him the role of Johnnie Brown in Meredith Willson's musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown on stage which premiered on Broadway in 1960. He later reprised the role in the 1964 film version. He appeared as a cavalry scout in The Glory Guys (1965) and sang the stirring "They Call the Wind Maria" in the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon.

His film career was revived when he played William H. Macy's father-in-law in Fargo (1996). Subsequent parts included General George C. Marshall in Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Parker on The Pretender, Dr. Sam Lane on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and A.I. Brooks on Dawson's Creek. He starred in NBC's Andy Barker, P.I.

Mr. Presnell passed from pancreatic cancer.

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This week on Dr. Blogstein’s
Radio Happy Hour

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12 Of Your Sparks

  1. JohnH985 Says:
  2. The only one I wasn't aware of was Mr. Presnell. Seems like we're losing a lot of talented people lately.

  3. DrillerAA09 Says:
  4. It has indeed been a tough week in celebrityville. I do remember Gayle Storm and My Little Margie as a kid. I had not heard of the passing of Mr. Travalena and Mr. Presnell, both talented men in their own right. And life goes on.

  5. It's sad all around. The fiasco of MJ's death is sad. Him having almost been a recluse the last few years, I really dont think he'd of wanted all this b.s. going on about him.

  6. Jay Says:
  7. The Summer of Death™ continues. We know that Patrick Swayzey and Walter Cronkite are both in bad shape too. My guess for who's next? John Goodman. ;-)

  8. Bond Says:
  9. JOHN: That we are Sir

    DRILLERAA: It does go on...but we are lessened as it does

    JUST ME: I agree - especially selling tickets to his memorial

    JAY: Good guess...my money is on Cronkite actually.

  10. I remember Fred Travalena; he was always a favorite of my mom and me.

    Harve Presnell was wonderfully creepy in The Pretender.

    Yup, quite a few gone in the last week. Very strange.

  11. Travis Says:
  12. I missed the news about Fred Travalena. He was always a favorite of mine. I always thought he was every bit as good as Rich Little.

    Thanks for remembering the lesser known celebrities who may have gotten a bit lost. They are as deserving of remembrance as the bigger names.

  13. Ralph Says:
  14. It is odd how the mind works: I remember 'Pushin Too Hard' from, say, sixth grade on WDRC-1360 in Hartford. I never would have remembered the band, but this song rocks! Garage is an apt description, two-track recording with lots of reverb?

    The Gale Storm video is great! Lots of style, and here she is really sultry, sexy, bluesy. This is not a mere lounge lizard singer, the superb brass highlighting the performance. Kinda risque for the 1950s, but great. 20 year old Daughter Allegra was impressed and said she was 'pretty'.


  15. Bond Says:
  16. SONGBIRD: I do remember him in The Pretender

    TRAVIS: He was excellent indeed. When I saw the list, I just felt like these needed a bit more notice

    RALPH: It is a fantastic song...always been a fav of mine
    I really remember her from My Little Margie...but LOVED that clip when I found it.

  17. Mimi Lenox Says:
  18. It has been an odd summer. Almost surreal. Thanks for honoring all of these.

  19. Tug Says:
  20. Insane, isn't it... Someone on twitter mentioned that if things keep going like they have been, the (don't remember what it's called) people who have passed away portion of the Academy Awards will be longer than the awards they give.

    As for the MJ memorial? Yeah...also insane. He was a musical genius, but there's no WAY I'd have gone to it, even if I lived there. Didn't watch it either, but I did check out a couple youtube clips I was interested in.

  21. Roger Says:
  22. Awesome post


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