Sunday, January 25, 2015

To Absent Friends - Catching Up

While we were on vacation, the passing of three significant persons occurred, and they merit Absent Friends recognition from The Grandstander.

The first of Rod Taylor's 92 acting credits listed in IMDB was for something called "Inland with Sturt" from 1951.  His most recent one was from 2009's "Inglourious Basterds" in which he played Winston Churchill.  It was a long and solid career that included many, many roles in both television and movies.  His most famous role, however, will always no doubt be that of Mitch Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963).

Rod Taylor was just a few days short of his 85th birthday when he died earlier this month.

Swedish born actress Anita Ekberg was 83 years old when she died last week.  IMDB shows 63 acting credits for Miss Ekberg, mostly foreign films, probably the most famous one being 1960's  "La Dolce Vita". 

I can't tell you that I ever saw an Anita Ekberg movie, but I do know that back in her glory days, she had what Mad Magazine used to call the "VaVa Voom" factor, and for that alone, she gets recognized in this spot today.

TV director and producer Tony Verna passed away last week at the age of 81.  Who was Tony Verna, you may ask?  Well, something that Tony Verna did in a telecast of an Army-Navy football game in 1963 has had a profound effect on sports, sports fans, and the watching of sports ever since.  Allow me to quote from an online column form a gent named David Young from

In December of that year, Verna unleashed his literal game-changer during the fourth quarter of the Army-Navy football game, a somber affair as it was played a couple of weeks after JFK’s assassination. Verna and his team had been trying all game long to make the technology work, but didn’t get it going until late in the game. They replayed an Army rushing TD, which was so unexpected that the announcer had to tell the home audience that Army had not scored again; they were watching a tape of it. The term “Instant Replay” wouldn’t be coined until the next time the technology was used – a month later – by Pat Summerall.

Now, of course we take it for granted, and some sports actually incorporate it into their officiating, but over fifty years ago, it was a huge step out of the box for sports broadcasts. Verna had other noteworthy accomplishments, such as directing 1985′s multi-continent Live Aid and 1987′s world-wide “Prayer for World Peace,” but it’s his creation of instant replay that he will always be remembered for. 
So thank you, Tony Verna. May you rest in peace. 
So thank you, Tony Verna. May you rest in peace.
RIP Rod Taylor, Anita Ekberg, and Tony Verna.

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