“Richard S. Prather, Author of Naked Mysteries, Dies at 85.”That headline tops a very funny obituary in today’s New York Times (registration required). In what must be its most entertaining obituary of the year so far, the Times describes Prather as a “hugely popular mystery writer of the 1950s and ’60s whose novels were known for their swift violence, loopy humor and astonishing number of characters with no clothes on.”
The Who2 Blog
We’ve been sweating the birth date of S.E. Hinton, the celebrated author of the 1967 novel The Outsiders and other books for what used to be called “young adults” and now are often called “tweens.”Hinton is not a public person by any means, but she’s particularly coy about her birthdate. Many sources say 1950 or 1948; others say 1949 or even 1951. A letter from reader Sebastian Collins (a 1948 proponent) prompted us to dig into the matter somewhat deeper.
The U.S. Mint has released designs for the first four presidential dollar coins.
Punxsutawney Phil has made his annual Groundhog Day prediction, and it’s a shocker: spring is almost here. The ageless groundhog failed to see his shadow (according to his official site) for only the 14th time since 1886.
A short gem, from Who2 user H.S.:To: email@example.comWhy not have a few not-so-famous people on Who2.com? I am not so famous, but I have a colorful background of accidents and incidents. H.S.
With Groundhog Day looming, we have received a delightful letter from Mr. Ben Hughes of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Mr. Hughes is one of the official handlers for America’s top-dog groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.Here is what Mr. Hughes had to say:”A correction on your Punxsutawney Phil information.
In December we reported the death of Joseph Barbera, of the Hanna-Barbera animation studios. Now comes the sad news of the demise of Iwao Takamoto, the Hanna-Barbera animator who designed Scooby-Doo. Takamoto was 81 when he died on Monday of heart failure.
Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen noodles, has died of a heart attack in Japan. Ando was 96. Plucky to the last, he made a new year’s speech at the corporate offices of his company on Wednesday before returning home and falling ill.
January 1st marked the 523rd birthday of Ulrich Zwingli, Who2’s unofficial mascot. Zwingli, you’ll recall, was the Protestant Reformer who survived bubonic plague, had a secret marriage at age 38, and still ended up playing Avis to Martin Luther’s Hertz. Plucky to the last, Zwingli was wounded in a Catholic-vs.-Protestant wrangle and then put to the sword when he refused a Catholic confessor.
Rocky Balboa opens tomorrow — the sixth film in Sylvester Stallone’s series about the rugged Philadelphia boxer with the broken nose. Thirty (count ’em) years have passed since the original Rocky won the Academy Award for best picture and best director of 1976. A few random Rocky notes:
Joseph Barbera, creator of Scooby-Doo and Fred Flintstone, has died at age 95. His partner Joseph Hanna died in 2001, and Hanna-Barbera is now part of Time-Warner.
Google Earth has just announced a new gadget that “tracks” the travels of Santa Claus over the days leading up to Christmas Eve. The downer is that you must download both Google Earth and the Santa-tracking program (though they’re free), but on the upside, you get a flyby of Santa’s workshop at the North Pole and a peek at whimsical presents hidden around the world. It’s a nice gesture.
Strange but true (and wonderful): the world’s tallest man, a 54-year-old Mongolian herdsman, saved two dolphins at a Chinese aquarium by reaching into their stomachs and pulling out wayward chunks of plastic. The BBC reports that Bao Xishun is 2.36 meters, or 7 feet 8.95 inches, tall. Here’s a further story (with a fine photo) from CBS News.
Milton Bradley, creator of The Game of Life and founder of the Milton Bradley Company, maker of Yahtzee and Chutes and Ladders. Who knew he was born way back in 1836? Or that Abraham Lincoln nearly broke his heart?
Jeane Kirkpatrick, a conservative bulldog for Ronald Reagan at the United Nations, has died at age 80.
December 6th is a special day at Who2.com: it’s the only day of the year on which nobody in our database was born. That’s 2843 famous people (and counting) and none of them born on December 6th.The 6th has been the lone holdout for a couple of years now. Even February 29 is well represented by rapper Ja Rule and Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers, among others.
Animation pioneer Walt Disney died 40 years ago, but were he still living he’d be 105 today. Disney was born the same year as jazz great Louis Armstrong and chemist Linus Pauling. They both outlived him, but they were all outlasted by romance novelist Barbara Cartland, also of the class of ’01, who lived to the ripe old age of 100.Happy birthday, Walt!
Daniel Craig, the latest actor to play superspy James Bond, seems to be getting rave reviews for Casino Royale — even in China.
Among the results of last night’s American general elections: Ted Kennedy was elected to an eighth term as a senator from Massachusetts, and West Virginia’s Senator Robert Byrd was elected to a ninth term. (It’s a bittersweet year for Byrd: his wife, Erma Ora Byrd, passed away this spring after 68 years of marriage.)
We’ve recently added profiles of Broadway star Mary Martin and her son, Dallas star Larry Hagman. Research on both profiles showed confusing factoids: Martin’s birthdate was variously reported as December 1, 10, or 11, and Hagman’s birth name was widely reported to be “Hageman.”Religion and Broadway Editor Hans Holznagel went on the case. His report: