Saturday, July 23, 2011

This week in death, July 23

Amy Winehouse, God rest her weary soul.

Here are the other obituaries that particularly caught my eye this week, most of them related to the entertainment industry in one way or another, with the following exception.

First up: the Rev. Mary Michael Simpson, one of the first women ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, died on Wednesday.
"Canon Simpson did not begin her career with a zeal for ecumenical equality. It was more than 20 years before she began advocating for women in the priesthood.

“'My reading and thinking led me to the conclusion that there was no barrier to the ordination of women; it just had not been done,; she wrote."
Doesn't she look fabulous?

I was intrigued by this obituary for Alex Steinweiss who designed the first album cover art.

"His first cover, for a collection of Rodgers and Hart songs performed by an orchestra, showed a high-contrast photo of a theater marquee with the title in lights. The new packaging concept was a success: Newsweek reported that sales of Bruno Walter’s recording of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony increased ninefold when the album cover was illustrated."

There's a straight-up lesson in marketing for you. But what intrigues me is that there's always a first, someone who says, "hey, what if we put art on the album covers?" And that there are people willing to try it and find out.

Also intriguing is this mysteriously understated obituary for jazz singer Joe Lee Wilson.

"Mr. Wilson, a baritone with a resonant, seductive voice in the tradition of Billy Eckstine and a style rooted in the blues of his native Southwest, seemed destined for big things when he signed with Columbia Records in 1969. But for reasons that remain unclear, most of the recordings he made for Columbia were not released, and although he went on to record for various small labels, and to enjoy critical praise and some success — especially in Europe, where he spent the last three decades of his life — he stayed largely under the radar for most of his career."

It's a mystery. And now one of the people who knows has died. Hmmm...

Also in the world of entertainment, I enjoyed reading about the life of Marion Konyot who was a vaudevillian and remained so almost all of her life. The obituary ends with the nice touch, " Her nephew David Konyot is a star clown at Zippo's Circus." Runs in the family, I guess.

And finally, another one of those "Who knew there was a person behind that?" obituaries, for Ed Flesh who designed the wheel for "Wheel Of Fortune."

"In the pilot for “Wheel of Fortune,” the wheel stood upright and was rather small, making it difficult to see on screen. Mr. Flesh laid it flat and made it big enough so that home viewers could clearly discern its markings.

"The first wheel he created, in 1975, was a humble affair of cardboard, paint and light bulbs; the current incarnation is steel and Plexiglas and weighs more than 2,400 pounds."

So now you know.

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