Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More thoughts on Robin and Lauren Bacall

I hate writing tributes. And this year it seems I’ve had to write more than ever. Some are more personal, some are bigger stars than others, but they all chip away at the soul. Some reflect the loss of an era or our childhood. Others are shocking because they’re so unexpected.

But very few have the shattering impact that Robin Williams’ death has had on the entire world. 

Every conversation I had yesterday at some point turned to Robin Williams. I’ll bet it was that way for you too. Did you find yourself discussing him with people you didn’t even know (waiters, cashiers, etc.)? I did.

I was trying to think of how many other times in my life there has been this level of overwhelming grief for a celebrity. Aside from political assassinations, in my lifetime I would have to say John Lennon, Princess Diana, and Marilyn Monroe. You remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. You walk around in a daze for days.

It’s as if our shared love for this person unites us all and for one brief moment Red States and Blue States all blend and become Purple States. Differences are set aside and we find a common ground in humanity. I tweeted yesterday alerting my followers to my tribute, and among the people who favored my tweet was -- I kid you not -- Roseanne Barr.  I have to tell you, I was very touched. 

If you went on Facebook yesterday, practically every update was about Robin Williams. I was struck by how eloquent and heartfelt they all were. Many shared personal anecdotes and photos. I must be the only person Robin knew (or even met) who didn’t get his picture taken with him. Facebook suddenly became… relevant. There was an outpouring of genuine emotion, which took the place of cat pictures and taco recipes. Thank you all for sharing. A collective “Like” to you all.

And then, almost 24 hours after the news of Robin Williams came word that Lauren Bacall had passed away at 89.  Jesus Christ!  Ordinarily, I would write a tribute. But two back-to-back is too much. I don’t want to become the Georgie Jessel of the internet (Yes, old reference. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t get it. I would have used someone more contemporary if there was someone more contemporary.) Just know she was one of my favorite people and maybe the sexiest Jewish movie star ever.

May Robin and Lauren both rest in peace, and may we not get any more bad news today so I can write a humorous post for tomorrow.  Thank you. 

39 comments:

solidisme said...

The obit reel at this year's Oscars is going to be a doozy and it's only August. Please, no more great talents leaving us.

LouOCNY said...

I'll be the first" it's BAcall...

But seriously, she was maybe the last link to the Old Hollywood which was 'classy' - the days of the original Holmbly Hills Rat Pack, which got co-opted by Sinatra.

A REAL star - and she always let everyone know it!

Mike Barer said...

Michael Jackson sits squarely on the list, dying on the same day when beautiful Hollywood star Farrah Faucett passed on.

FV3 said...

Elvis.

Rockgolf said...

@Mike Barer: Another similar situation, authors Aldous Huxley and CS Lewis died on the same day as JFK.

Rebecca said...

Sadly, it's not over. Arlene Martel who played T'Pring on the original Star Trek died yesterday at 78.

August, you can stop now. We get it.

VP81955 said...

While they'll always be linked, and deservedly so, let's not forget that Bacall had a significant career beyond Bogart, with a cool, genuine talent in movies, on Broadway and on TV (she appeared on a two-part "Rockford Files" with the recently departed James Garner). She will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

First, you don't "have to write" anything. It's just a blog.

However, you may have seen "Tropic Thunder." If so, you may remember a characters warning to never, during a performance, go "full retard."

When it comes to self-appointed eulogies, Ken, you never want to go "full jew."

You know what I mean, because you brought up your concern about mimicking George Jessel. A man who turned going "full jew" into a career.

I say this not only for your benefit, Ken, but for all the eulogists who are just warming up.

Heed my warning:

Never go "full jew." You will undermine the import of your heartfelt bucket of pain.

Canda said...

I think we're all waiting and hoping for the eulogy for Anonymous.

If he would just help us by passing on.

McAlvie said...

Robin Williams had a career that spanned generations. He made us laugh and touched our hearts with his brilliant acting. That a human being with the ability to lighten our load would be suffering so much himself is ... poignant. And who do we have to replace him? We have a load of pretty boys and foul mouths who think they are funny.

Bacall was such a class act! And yes, it is the passing of an era, an era when showing class mattered. Today we make celebrities of people willing to show @$$.

We are much poorer for their passing.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you can't wish the entire Anonymous family dead just because a few members are jackasses. I would bet you have at least one relative that we would all eye suspiciously. I certainly don't wish you dead for their ignorance, stupidity, etc.

I just wish that Anonymous would stop trying to teach Ken how to do what he does.

Julia Littleton said...

I'd like to read your thoughts on Lauren Bacall, nonetheless ... perhaps next week, when we (as a collective consciousness) have had time to process all this.

Last week's "Screen on the Green" movie in Washington, D.C., was "Key Largo," Bogey and Bacall's last film. Damn, were they hot. That scene toward the beginning where he's throwing ropes from a boat and she's catching and fastening them ... I've never seen anything so graceful and nonchalant and yet so undeniably sexy.

Covarr said...

Sadly, I don't think Bacall will get the attention she deserves, because she died so close to Williams. In spite of having a much longer career, including some of the greatest films of all time like The Big Sleep and Key Largo, her death is being overshadowed because she didn't do Mrs. Doubtfire or Aladdin.

Julia Littleton said...

That's "last film together." Oy!

Mike Botula said...

First of all, "Anonymous" needs to come out from behind that nom de plume and "un-anonymous" himself. He will have no credibility with me until I can see a real name. Ken's blog is Ken's bully pulpit, not some right wing mosh pit.
PS: My name is Mike Botula

Kate said...

Robin Williams was foul-mouthed. And fucking hilarious.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I think most of us can recall where we were when we heard Elvis died in '77. I was still in grade school.

kent said...

The celebrity deaths that hit us hardest and resonate longest are, sadly, the ones that were not from natural causes. Consider Ken's list, Lennon, Marilyn, Princess Diana. We find it easier to say goodbye to those who die peacefully.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Usually when someone famous dies the nasty tales come out.

Not with Robin Williams. The tales of generosity come out instead.

http://pagesix.com/2014/08/13/6-tales-of-robin-williams-legendary-generosity/

Pat Reeder said...

I saw the chief sleaze from TMZ.com on a news channel yesterday, saying they'd had never had such a massive response to news of a celebrity's death as there was to Robin Williams. The traffic actually crashed their website, something that didn't even happen when Michael Jackson died.

BTW, to all the eulogists who keep calling Lauren Bacall the last of the elegant stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, I'd point out that Olivia DeHaviland is alive and well in Paris at 98.

Johnny Walker said...

At least Bacall lived a long, full life.

D. McEwan said...

"Every conversation I had yesterday at some point turned to Robin Williams. I’ll bet it was that way for you too. Did you find yourself discussing him with people you didn’t even know (waiters, cashiers, etc.)? I did."

Oh yes. Very much yes. I teared up talking to my landlady in the elevator, showed my photos with him to the mailman, and my voice wobbled and cracked when talking about him with the dental x-ray technician who was taking my x-rays.

Back on Monday afternoon, shortly after news broke, I had to call a friend who is a stand-up comic, about other matters. The conversation began thusly:

[Phone rings]
Joey: "I already heard."
Me: "I'm not calling about Robin."

D. McEwan said...

I do NOT remember where I was when I heard Elvis had died. That was the week I was prostrate with grief over the death of Groucho Marx. (I remember where I was and the exact time I heard that Groucho was about to die, which he did four hours later.) I do remember being amazed and annoyed at all the attention over this hillbilly junkie's inevitable overdose when Groucho Marx, aka God, had just died, and taken the sun from the sky.

RANDY COLEMAN said...

Hi Ken....Have you even written an eulogy and if so will you share?

Bryan from Seattle said...

I have thought a lot over the past two days why Robin Williams' death has made me much more sad than the death of, say, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Similar in the sense that both were immensely talented, and I didn't know either of them except for their professional work. I guess it is because many of us, including myself, have felt despair. We can empathize with the pain, and understand the comedy as a way of coping. And it scares us.

john symes said...

I had the incredible treat to fly across the country next to Ms. Bacall about 15 years ago. I think the word they used to describe someone like her was a "dame". She was a total knockout. She was willing to talk about old Hollywood and didn't pull any punches. She absolutely loved Bogart and said she was drawn to complicated men like him and Jason Robards, though she didn't wax on about Robards. By that time I think she had had her fill of drinkers. What a thrill to get to know her.

sanford said...

Well almost every one felt bad except for the dickish Rush Limbaugh. Stephanie Miller played a clip this morning. And by the way Doris Day is still alive and as friend pointed out so is Carol Channing.

Hamid said...

We've lost too many good people recently. I just wish Dick Cheney, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh would croak in order to balance things out a bit.

emily said...

Anonymous has gone "Full Asshat."

Austin said...

Rainbow suspenders are being flown at half mast today. R.I.P Mr. Williams.

H Johnson said...

Elvis' passing would be hard to beat in terms of surprise and outpouring of public grief.

I can appreciate your feeling overwhelmed and a bit burnt out on the eulogies but being compared to George Jessel wouldn't be an insult in my book. Your postings seem to speak for a lot of us and I appreciate them very much. Thank you.

Miss Bacall was a few generations before my time but man, what a sexy woman.

Michael Khan said...

That was very touching, Ken. Thank you.

Starr said...

Lauren Bacall was the last of the Glamour girls. A few ladies of that era are still alive, but weren't really classified as glamorous.Robin Williams was the heir apparent to Jonathan Winters whom I watched growing up and loved as well. Both shared clinical depression unfortunately. Williams is a huge loss just as Phillip Seymour Hoffman was.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Robin Williams was originally offered the part of Bobby on Taxi?

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, two excellent tributes to people who made us laugh and cry, and amazed us with their work. Both unique in their talents and personalities and both deserving of the outpouring of praise and affection they've been shown in the past four days.

I sent a text to a comedian friend after I heard the news about Robin Williams and she replied curtly (which kind of surprised me), but afterward wrote me a much more heartfelt email. I realized then how deeply the often cold, cynical Hollywood community was also affected by Robin's death.

Oh, and to "Anonymous": No one's forcing you to read what Ken writes. Either grow up or get yourself some help!

Brendan D. said...

And there's still one or two Old Hollywood dames still kicking around... Maureen O'Hara comes to mind.

D. McEwa said...

And today we learned that Robin was in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. that would depress anyoine, especially someone given to deep fits of depression. Poor Robin. Poor, poor Robin.

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Wayne said...

I think Olive De Haviland is still with us, living in Paris.