A melancholy happy trails to a whole bunch of folks in the last several days.....
Hootie Johnson, a former Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club died last week at the age of 86. A southerner who could certainly be considered a progressive, Johnson will probably be most remembered for the intransigent stand he took when women's groups demanded that Augusta National admit women as full time members. Fairly or not, the idea that Johnson wanted to keep his Club rooted in 1930's sensibilities will be what most will remember about him. When I attended a practice round of The Masters "Toon-a-mint" (that's how Hootie pronounced it) in 2002, Hootie Johnson, clad in his green jacket, walked right past me. I could have reached out and touched him. Had I done so, I am sure that an army of Augusta National security forces would have been all over me.
Rochester, PA native Vito "Babe" Parilli died over the weekend at the age of 87. Parilli was an All-American quarterback at the University of Kentucky and a Heisman Trophy contender in the early 1950's. He couldn't quite make it in the NFL, and he was kicking around the Canadian Football League when he was given new life when the American Football League was formed in 1960. He had a great career in the AFL, made the all-time AFL team (pre-merger), and was considered the greatest quarterback in the history of the Boston/New England Patriots. Up until that Brady kid joined the team, that is. Parilli served as Joe Namath's back-up on the Jets team that won Super Bowl III, and served a stint as quarterbacks coach for the Steelers under Chuck Noll during that height of the Bradshaw vs. Hanratty vs. Gilliam Steelers Quarterbacks Debate.
Oscar winning actor Martin Landau died at the age of 89. He will probably best be remembered for his role on 1960's TV show "Mission Impossible". Interesting story from his obit in this morning's paper. Landau was offered the part of Spock on the original "Star Trek" series. He turned it down, thus missing out on a certain measure of pop culture immortality, and the part was given, as everyone knows, to Leonard Nimoy. When Landau quit "Mission Impossible" after a couple of seasons in a contract dispute, he was replaced on the show by...Leonard Nimoy! I will most remember Landau for his roles in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest", Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors", and, of course, his Oscar winning turn as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood".
Finally, filmmaker George Romero died on Sunday at the age of 77. He was most famous for his filmed-in-Pittsburgh zombie movie classic, "Night of the Living Dead" (a clip of which can be seen in the current hit movie, "The Big Sick"). Zombie movies are not my cup of tea, but Romero was a Pittsburgh guy (sort of) and a giant in his chosen field, and, as such, his passing deserves to be noted.
RIP Hootie Johnson, Babe Parilli, Martin Landau, and George Romero.