Saturday, January 3, 2015

To Absent Friends - Edward Herrmann, Donna Douglass, Mario Cuomo

The New Year of 2015 is barely out of the gate, and I am already backed up with three "Absent Friends" to honor.


Actor Edward Herrmann died on New Year's Eve at the age of 71.  If you were not familiar with his  name, you surely recognize this versatile actor from over 130 acting credits (per IMDB) on television and motion pictures.  Herrmann was a five time Emmy Award nominee, one time winner.  I remember him best for playing Franklin Roosevelt in two TV mini-series in 1976 and 1977.  He also played FDR in the 1995 movie, "Annie".  Interestingly enough, he also played such historical figures as Nelson Rockefeller, George Bernard Shaw, and Branch Rickey.


New Year's Day saw the passing of actress Donna Douglass at the age of 81, a victim of pancreatic cancer.  Miss Douglass, a native of Louisiana, began her acting career in such TV shows as "Bachelor Father", "77 Sunset Strip",  "Route 66", and other shows of that ilk, but she will forever be known for playing Elly May Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies" from 1962-71.  Her second most famous role was in a 1960 episode of "The Twilight Zone" called "The Eye of the Beholder".  Chilling episode, I might add.

She co-starred with Elvis Presley in 1966's "Frankie and Johnny", and then did some guest spots on shows like "Love: American Style", but the acting gigs pretty much dried up for her once the Hillbillies left the air.  IMDB lists only 38 acting credits for her.  She spent the rest of her life dabbling real estate, writing children's books, answering fan mail, and doing the celebrity nostalgia show circuit.


Former outfielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system Mario Cuomo died on New Year's Day due to heart failure at the age of 82.  When Cuomo washed out as a baseball player, he enrolled St. John's University, received a law degree, had a successful legal career and went on to a distinguished political career, culminating in serving three terms as Governor of New York from 1983-94.  An unapologetic voice of liberal politics in America, Cuomo is remembered for a rousing keynote speech that he gave at the 1984 Democratic Convention that thrust him into national prominence.  Considered a front runner for the Democratic Presidential nominations in both 1988 and 1992, he declined to fully seek the office in both of those years.

All kidding aside about his minor league career, Cuomo appeared at length in the Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball" and he tells how he ended up using his $2,000 signing bonus from the Pirates in 1952 to buy an engagement ring for his wife (their marriage would last 61 years) and begin college.  "It all worked out okay",  he said.

RIP Edward Herrmann, Donna Douglass, and Mario Cuomo.

No comments:

Post a Comment