Katherine Johnson, John Sonny Franzese, Diana Serra Cary, and Hosni Mubarek!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2020 by joecetta

Whoa! It has been a stunning 24 hours here in Death Pool land. Yesterday saw a trio of our oldest list names call it a career, and today one of the longest tenured single-team members decided to join them! Legendary NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson finally garnered some elusive recognition in 2016 upon the release of eventual Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures, a biopic about her work on Project Mercury. Portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, Johnson and her team’s contribution to space exploration history getting the big screen treatment had credit doled out where due, after decades and decades of silence.

John “Sonny” Franzese was famously the oldest inmate in the American prison system at the time of his release in 2017, at the ripe old age of 100! The former Colombo crime family associate was in and out of jail stemming from a 1967 bank robbery conviction through various parole violations for most of his later life, with his final stretch coming from an extortion conviction in 2011. He is reputed to have murdered multiple dozens of gangland figures, but managed to avoid jail time on those. Hey, he also helped finance two of the most successful independent movies of the 1970s – the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and reputedly the most lucrative adult film (and maybe film of any sort) of all time, Deep Throat! If only his Colombo obligations didn’t eat up so much of his time and freedom, Franzese could’ve been another Coppola!

Diana Serra Cary is credited as being the last surviving film star of the silent era, having shot well over a hundred short films in the early 1920s as Baby Peggy. She earned over a million dollars in 1924, when she was all of six, having been in the business since she was three. Wild success story! Sure, she didn’t continue on with this career forever – that’s a tough transition to make, silent toddler film star to the later industry – but she managed to do some minor background work and later wrote novels and chronicles of the early movie years.

Longtime Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek was ousted during the widespread protests and uprisings of 2011, after thirty years in the big chair. He would later go on trial for not preventing the murder of protesters during this time, as well as for embezzlement and damaging the country’s economy when he ordered the country’s telephone and internet services turned off during the protests. He’d spend the rest of his life in and out of house arrest and hospitals. He had taken office upon Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981, and had a fairly spotty run of it as the country’s leader, both supporting and fighting his allies in the region, sometimes in the same year.

Kevin, both individually and later with Dondos, had Diana Serra Cary for the past seven years; Bats has kept 14 people since his first year in the pool eight drafts ago, including John Sonny Franzese; Sarah brought Katherine Johnson in four years back, after her big film was released, while also having kept Hosni Mubarek basically since he left office in 2011! Mubarek was tied with Carl Yastrzemski for the second longest continuous member of Sarah’s team, at a full decade, only trailing OdH’s 14 years. There are only thirteen people who are currently residing on any one team longer than ten years (which is information for another post!).

This bundle of low scoring does little to the standings – besides bump Dondos up a spot in the Delver and extend Sarah’s early lead – but they have driven us four deaths ahead of any previous year at this point. Exciting early start to the big contest! Well done, all!

Ja’Net DuBois and Sy Sperling!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2020 by joecetta

Actress/singer Ja’Net DuBois and pitchman/businessman Sy Sperling are movin’ on up to that deluxe hair club in the sky this week, at ages 87 and 78, respectively! DuBois is probably best remembered for her role as Willona on Good Times in the late ’70s, but had a sturdy theater and film career prior to this, popping up on the big and small screens well into the 2010s. She had roles in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Roots: The Next Generation, Sanford and Son, The Wayans Brothers, and won a few voiceover Emmys for The PJs. Also, totally under my radar until this week, she wrote and performed the theme song to The Jeffersons – obviously her lasting impact on society at large! There is also mad speculation as to when she was born – which I’ll get to in a minute.

Sy Sperling wasn’t just the pitchman for the Hair Club for Men – he was also a client. And those famous ads – that apparently aired every thirty seconds for like ten years – cement his place in the annals of advertising lore. Look, I don’t know anything else about Sy Sperling. I can’t really find all that much information on the guy. I only have his word in those commercials that he was actually involved in the business side of the hair restoration game in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s kind of like trusting Keebler cookies are actually made by elves. But it’s all I have to go on! Thanks, Sy!

Now, Ja’Net Dubois – the going line this week was that she died at age 74, being born in 1945. However, any bit of digging produces articles that claims she was married and divorced by 1959 – making her all of fourteen, and pretty unlikely to have gotten in and out of matrimony so quickly. But okay, it was the 50s, who knows? I guess it’s possible. Except that marriage also produced four children, one of whom died in 1987 at the age of 36. So – even if you want to stretch reality to include her whirlwind 14-year-old romance, I highly doubt you want to back this up with her child’s birth certificate when she herself was all of six. So no – I’m accepting her birth date as the only one bandied about that makes any real sense – 1932.

And Capone jumps up to second overall on DuBois, his third death of the year! And fellow Crystal division member Nick becomes the 13th team to get on board here in the relative early going, snapping up 32 points for Sperling and moving to sixth overall. Well done, folks!

Lynn Cohen and Charles Portis!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2020 by joecetta

Actress Lynn Cohen and author Charles Portis finally usher us into the post-draft portion of the pool, coming off the board this week both at age 86! After some decades of theater work and very brief, glorified extra roles, Cohen got her first significant film part at the age of 60 in Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery. It’s never too late, folks! She went on to pop up in dozens of movies and TV shows, most notably as Miranda’s housekeeper Magda on Sex and the City and as Finnick’s District 4 pal Mags in the second Hunger Games film. She also had roles in such significant projects as Deconstructing Harry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Synecdoche, New York, Damages, Cradle Will Rock, Across the Universe, Law & Order, and what I would always recognize her from when she’d pop up somewhere – as Golda Meir in Spielberg’s Munich.

Author Portis was an acclaimed writer of pseudo-comic western novels, and is certainly best remembered for his pair of yarns adapted into Glen Campbell/Kim Darby motion pictures – True Grit (1969) and Norwood (1970). True Grit’s two film versions (along with the 2010 Coen brothers version) were nominated for a combined 12 Oscars, including both Jeff Bridges and John Wayne as the lead character, Rooster Cogburn (for which Wayne won). Portis’s other novels include Gringos, The Dog of the South, and Masters of Atlantis.

And Wright division and household team members Sam and Sean both score 24 points today on Cohen and Portis, respectively! Sean’s becomes the twelfth team scoring points already this year, while Sam jumps up to fifth overall with her second death! Well done!

Draft finally finished! Will post the teams here today!

Orson Bean and Robert Conrad!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2020 by joecetta

“Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich?”

Actors and TV staples Orson Bean and Robert Conrad both said farewell to Tiffany Network audiences for the last time this week, at ages 91 and 84, respectively! Bean’s lengthy, varied career included stints on stage (including getting nominated for a Tony for Subways are for Sleeping in 1962), doing voice over work (Bilbo and Frodo in the Rankin/Bass Hobbit/Lord of the Rings cartoons), stand-up comedy and stage magic, film appearances (most notably Anatomy of a Murder, Being John Malkovich, Innerspace, and The Equalizer 2), talk show/game show guest (200 estimated Johnny Carson appearances!), and loads and loads of television guest spots and semi-regular roles (including the “Slapsgiving” episode of How I Met Your Mother!). His longest gig is probably his six years on the CBS drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Women in the ’90s.

Conrad’s two-fisted TV career is highlighted by his CBS sci-fi western Wild, Wild West, playing lawman James West across the late ’60s. Fun fact – I was in a movie theater watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Saturday when I got the notification that Robert Conrad died (because that’s the way my notifications tend to lean) – a movie where he is name dropped for kicking guest stars asses as the lead of his program. Fun, right? He had a few other multi-season series – Hawaiian Eye, Baa Baa Black Sheep – and popped up in a few films – Jingle All the Way, Sudden Death – but he is likely best remembered for his work starring in the inspiration for the least beloved Will Smith film of the late ’90s.

The Gardons and Capone both leap into medal positions with their third and second deaths – 19 points on Bean put the Gardons halfway to their career best single-year tally, while Capone’s 26 for Conrad vault him all the way up to third overall. Well done, folks!

Draft continues, but we are getting close to finish, I promise.

Gene Reynolds and Kirk Douglas!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6, 2020 by joecetta

TV icon Gene Reynolds and film legend Kirk Douglas took their final bows in the limelight this week, at ages 96 and 103, respectively! Reynolds started out as a child actor all the way back in Our Gang shorts, and continued in front of the camera for the next few decades, appearing in the likes of Boys Town, Captains Courageous, The Country Girl, and In Old Chicago, before his very successful directing and producing career, co-creating the TV version of M*A*S*H, directing/writing/producing Lou Grant and Blossom, and helming episodes of everything from F Troop and Hogan’s Heroes to Life Goes On and Touched by an Angel.

One of the last giants of old Hollywood, 14-Year Death Pool man Douglas’ 60+ years in the business saw him star in such classics as Spartacus, Paths of Glory, Ace in the Hole, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Seven Days in May, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and his Oscar nominated turns in Lust for Life, The Bad and the Beautiful, and Champion. He also starred in and produced the original stage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which his son Michael later shepherded into the Oscar winning film starring Jack Nicholson. Coincidentally, one of Douglas’s final acting roles was on a very special episode of Touched by an Angel! Not directed by Gene, however. It was his third Emmy nomination, to go along with his three Oscar noms, and three Golden Globe nods (Lust For Life, Detective Story, and the TV movie Amos). Won zero! A lot of lifetime achievement type things, however.

And newcomer Kate already has a second death with Reynolds, moving her into the top five, while the Gardons score their second death on five-year team member Douglas (after his five years with Munchak, three with the Buonins, and one with Jason) holding them steady in third and atop the Holloway! Well done, folks!

Willie Wood and Daniel arap Moi!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2020 by joecetta

NFL great Willie Wood and former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi keep up our frenetic early pace here in ’20, taking the elevator to the top floor this week at ages 83 and 95, respectively! Wood was an eight-time Pro Bowl safety for the Green Bay Packers through the 1960s, winning five championships including the first two Super Bowls, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989. In college, he was the first black quarterback in Pac-10 history, intermittently suffering shoulder injuries at USC and subsequently going into the NFL undrafted, where he switched positions. Moi was the second man in the big seat in Kenya, following Jomo Kenyatta’s initial run following the country’s independence from British rule in 1964. Moi ascended to the presidency following Kenyatta’s death in 1978, and held the position for the next 24 years, winning infrequent elections whenever Kenya got their democracy together enough to have them.

And we’ve got two more folks on the board for the first time here in year fourteen – Bats picking up 27 points for Wood, moving to fifth overall this year, and becoming only the eleventh team to cross the 1,000 career points threshold, and Sam nabbing 15 points for Moi, giving us more than half the teams already scoring points, here still well before the draft is even complete. Soon, folks!

This also ties the fastest run to 14 total deaths we’ve had in pool history, equalling 2016’s fourteenth death by February 4th! After the relatively light year we had in 2019, this at least somewhat signals we might be back on track. Huzzah!

Mary Higgins Clark!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2020 by joecetta

Author Mary Higgins Clark stuffed her final corpse into an early chapter this week, at the age of 92! Clark wrote over 50 murder mysteries to the tune of 100 million domestic sales, beginning way back in 1975 with her nervous-nightly-news style title Where Are the Children? Many of her books were adapted for television, including such similarly/generically named fare as Try to Remember, We’ll Meet Again, Remember Me, and Before I’ll Say Goodbye.

And both of our new folks are already on the board in month #1, as Elle picks up her first career death, and 18 points for Clark! Well done! Nine teams with scores here in the very early going – draft still likely dragging on for a handful of weeks!