LOS ANGELES, Kalifornia (PNN) - September 27, 2017 - Hugh Hefner, who created Playboy magazine and spun it into a media and entertainment-industry giant - all the while, as its very public avatar, squiring attractive young women (and sometimes marrying them) well into his 80s - died on Wednesday at his home, the Playboy Mansion, in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. He was 91.
His death was announced by Playboy Enterprises.
Hefner the man and Playboy the brand were inseparable. Both advertised themselves as emblems of the sexual revolution, an escape from American priggishness and wider social intolerance. Both were derided over the years - as vulgar, as adolescent, as exploitative, and finally as anachronistic. But Mr. Hefner was a stunning success from the moment he emerged in the early 1950s. His timing was perfect.
He was compared to Jay Gatsby, Citizen Kane and Walt Disney, but Mr. Hefner was his own production. He repeatedly likened his life to a romantic movie; it starred an ageless sophisticate in silk pajamas and smoking jacket hosting a never-ending party for famous and fascinating people.
The first issue of Playboy was published in 1953, when Mr. Hefner was 27; a new father married to, by his account, the first woman with whom he had slept.
He had only recently moved out of his parents’ house and left his job at Children’s Activities magazine. But in an editorial in Playboy’s inaugural issue, the young publisher purveyed another life.
“We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex,” he wrote.
This scene projected an era’s “premium boys’ style,” Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University and the author of The Sixties said in an interview. “It’s part of an ensemble with the James Bond movies, John F. Kennedy, swinging, the guy who is young, vigorous, indifferent to the bonds of social responsibility.”
Mr. Hefner was reviled, first by guardians of the 1950s social order - J. Edgar Hoover among them - and later by feminists. But
Playboy’s circulation reached one million by 1960 and peaked at about seven million in the 1970s.
Long after other publishers made the nude “Playmate” centerfold look more sugary than daring, Playboy remained the most successful men’s magazine in the world. Mr. Hefner’s company branched into movie, cable and digital production, sold its own line of clothing and jewelry, and opened clubs, resorts and casinos.
The brand faded over the years, its flagship magazine’s circulation declining to less than a million.
Mr. Hefner remained editor in chief even after agreeing to the magazine’s startling (and, as it turned out, short-lived) decision in 2015 to stop publishing nude photographs. In 2016, he handed over creative control of Playboy to his son, Cooper Hefner. Playboy Enterprises’ chief executive, Scott Flanders, acknowledged that the Internet had overrun the magazine’s province.
“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” he said, “so it’s just passé at this juncture.”
The magazine’s website, Playboy.com, had already been revamped as a “safe for work” site. Playboy was no longer illicit. (Early this year, the magazine brought back nudes.)
Mr. Hefner began excoriating American Puritanism at a time when doctors refused contraceptives to single women and the Hollywood production code dictated separate beds for married couples. As the cartoonist Jules Feiffer, an early Playboy contributor, saw the 1950s, “People wore tight little gray flannel suits and went to their tight little jobs.”
“You couldn’t talk politically,” Mr. Feiffer said in the 1992 documentary Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time. “You couldn’t use obscenities. What Playboy represented was the beginning of a break from all that.”
Playboy was born more in fun than in anger. Mr. Hefner’s first publisher’s message, written at his kitchen table in Chicago, announced, “We don’t expect to solve any world problems or prove any great moral truths.”
Still, Mr. Hefner wielded fierce resentment against his era’s sexual strictures, which he said had choked off his own youth. A virgin until he was 22, he married his longtime girlfriend. Her confession to an earlier affair, Mr. Hefner told an interviewer almost 50 years later, was “the single most devastating experience of my life.”
In The Playboy Philosophy, a mix of libertarian and libertine arguments that Mr. Hefner wrote in 25 installments starting in 1962, his message was simple: Society was to blame. His causes - abortion rights, decriminalization of marijuana, and most important, the repeal of 19th Century sex laws - were daring at the time. Ten years later, they would be unexceptional.
“Hefner won,” Mr. Gitlin said. “The prevailing values in the country now, for all the conservative backlash, are essentially libertarian, and that basically was what the Playboy Philosophy was.
“It’s laissez-faire,” he added. “It’s anti-censorship. It’s consumerist. Let the buyer rule. It’s hedonistic. In the longer run, Hugh Hefner’s significance is as a salesman of the libertarian ideal.”
The Playboy Philosophy advocated freedom of speech in all its aspects, for which Mr. Hefner won civil liberties awards. He supported progressive social causes and lost some sponsors by inviting black guests to his televised parties at a time when much of the nation still had Jim Crow laws.
The magazine was a forum for serious interviews, the subjects including Jimmy Carter (who famously confessed, “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times”), Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Malcolm X. In the early days Mr. Hefner published fiction by Ray Bradbury (Playboy bought his Fahrenheit 451 for $400), Herbert Gold, and Budd Schulberg. It later drew, among many others, Vladimir Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, James Baldwin, John Updike, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Hugh Marston Hefner was born on April 9, 1926, the son of Glenn and Grace Hefner, Nebraska-born Methodists who had moved to Chicago. Decades later, he continued to tell interviewers that he had grown up “with a lot of repression,” and he often noted that his father was a descendant of William Bradford, the Puritan governor of the Plymouth Colony.
Though father and son reached an accommodation - the elder Mr. Hefner became Playboy’s accountant and treasurer - neither changed moral compass points. Glenn Hefner, who died in 1976, said he had never looked at the pictures in the magazine.
As a child, Mr. Hefner spent hours writing horror stories and drawing cartoons. At Steinmetz High School in Chicago, he said, “I reinvented myself” as the suave, breezy Hef” - a newspaper cartoonist and party-loving leader of what he called “our gang”. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after serving in the army, he edited the campus humor magazine, Shaft, and started a photo feature called “Co-ed of the Month.”
He married a high school classmate, Millie Williams, and began what he described as a deadening slog into 1950s adulthood: He took a job in the personnel department of a cardboard-box manufacturer. (He said he quit when asked to discriminate against black applicants.) He wrote advertising copy for a department store and then for Esquire magazine. He became circulation promotion manager of another magazine, Children’s Activities.
He was meanwhile plotting his own magazine, which was to be, among other things, a vehicle for his slightly randy cartoons. The first issue of Playboy was financed with $600 of his own money and several thousand more in borrowed funds, including $1,000 from his mother. But his biggest asset was a nude calendar photograph of Marilyn Monroe. He had bought the rights for $500.
Plenty of other men’s magazines showed nude women, but most were unabashedly crude and forever dodging postal censors. Mr. Hefner aimed to be the first to claim a mainstream readership and mainstream distribution.
When Playboy reached newsstands in December 1953, its press run of 51,000 sold out. The publisher, instantly famous, would soon become a millionaire; after five years, the magazine’s annual profit was $4 million, and its rabbit-head logo was recognized around the world.
Mr. Hefner ran the magazine and then the business empire largely from his bedroom, working on a round bed that revolved and vibrated. At first he was reclusive and frenetic, powered past dawn by amphetamines and Pepsi-Cola. In later years, even after giving up Dexedrine, he was still frenetic, and still fiercely attentive to his magazine.
His own public playboy persona emerged after he left his wife and children, Christie and David, in 1959. That year his new syndicated television series, Playboy’s Penthouse, put the wiry, intense Mr. Hefner, pipe in hand, in the nation’s living rooms. The set recreated his mansion on North State Parkway, rich in sybaritic amusements, where he greeted entertainers like Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole, and intellectuals and writers like Max Lerner, Norman Mailer, and Alex Haley, while bunches of glamorous young women milled around. (A later TV show, Playboy After Dark, was syndicated in 1969 and 1970.)
In the Playboy offices, life imitated image. Mr. Hefner told a film interviewer that in the early days, yes, “everybody was coupling with everybody,” including him. He later estimated that he had slept with more than 1,000 women. Over and over, he would say, “I’m the boy who dreamed the dream.”
Friends described him as both charming and shy, even unassuming, and intensely loyal. “Hef was always big for the girls who got depressed or got in a jam of some sort,” the artist LeRoy Neiman, one of the magazine’s main illustrators for more than 50 years, said in an interview in 1999. “He’s a friend. He’s a good person. I couldn’t cite anything he ever did that was malicious to anybody.”
At the same time, Mr. Hefner adored celebrity, his and others’. Mr. Neiman, who sometimes lived at the Playboy Mansion, said, “It was nothing to breakfast there with comedians like Mort Sahl, professors, any kind of person who had something on his mind that was controversial or new. At the parties in the early days, Alex Haley used to hang around. Tony Curtis and Hugh O’Brian were always there. Mick Jagger stayed there.”
The glamour rubbed off on Mr. Hefner’s new enterprise, the Playboy Club, which was crushingly popular when it opened in Chicago in 1960. Dozens more followed. The waitresses, called bunnies, were trussed in brief satin suits with cotton fluffs fastened to their derrières.
One bunny briefly employed in the New York club would earn Mr. Hefner’s lasting enmity. She was an impostor, a 28-year-old named Gloria Steinem who was working undercover for Show magazine. Her article, published in 1963, described exhausting hours, painfully tight uniforms (in which half-exposed breasts floated on wadded-up dry cleaner bags), and vulgar customers.
Another feminist critic, Susan Brownmiller, debating Mr. Hefner on Dick Cavett’s television talk show, asserted, “The role that you have selected for women is degrading to women because you choose to see women as sex objects, not as full human beings.” She continued, “The day you’re willing to come out here with a cottontail attached to your rear end…”
Mr. Hefner responded in 1970 by ordering an article on the activists, then called “women’s libbers.” In an internal memo, he wrote, “These chicks are our natural enemy. What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart. They are unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that Playboy promotes.”
The commissioned article, by Morton Hunt, ran with the headline, Up Against the Wall, Male Chauvinist Pig. (The same issue featured an interview with William F. Buckley, Jr., fiction by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and an article by a prominent critic of the Vietnam War, Senator Vance Hartke of Indiana.)
Mr. Hefner said later that he was perplexed by feminists’ apparent rejection of the message he had set forth in the Playboy Philosophy. “We are in the process of acquiring a new moral maturity and honesty,” he wrote in one installment, “in which man’s body, mind and soul are in harmony rather than in conflict.” Of Americans’ fright over anything “unsuitable for children,” he said, “Instead of raising children in an adult world, with adult tastes, interests and opinions prevailing, we prefer to live much of our lives in a make-believe children’s world.”
Many questioned whether Playboy’s outlook could be described as adult; Harvey G. Cox, Jr., the Harvard theologian, called it “basically antisexual.” In 1961, in the journal Christianity and Crisis, Dr. Cox wrote, “Playboy and its less successful imitators are not ‘sex magazines’ at all. They dilute and dissipate authentic sexuality by reducing it to an accessory, by keeping it at a safe distance.”
In a 1955 television interview, a frowning Mike Wallace asked Mr. Hefner, “Isn’t that really what you’re selling? A high-class dirty book?”
Such scolding sounded quaint by the time crasser competitors like Penthouse and Hustler appeared in the 1960s and 1970s. Playboy began showing pubic hair on its models, while the others doubled the dare with features on kinkier sexual tastes and close-up photos that bordered on the gynecological. Mr. Hefner would decide, after furious debate among the staff, not to compete further.
Playboy Enterprises still prospered. In 1971 it went public to finance resorts in Jamaica, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Great Gorge, New Jersey; and gambling casinos in London and the Bahamas.
The heady mood broke in 1974, when Mr. Hefner’s longtime personal assistant, Bobbie Arnstein, committed suicide. Ms. Arnstein had just been convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and Mr. Hefner said bitterly that investigators had hounded her to set him up.
He left Chicago for his second home in Los Angeles, an enormous mock-Tudor house with a grotto and a zoo (Mr. Hefner loved animals), where he could orchestrate the company’s move into films.
The 1980s brought a huge retrenchment for Playboy. The company lost its London casinos in 1981 for gambling violations and was denied a gambling license in Atlantic City, partly because of reports that Mr. Hefner had been involved in bribing New York officials for a club license 20 years earlier.
The company shed its resorts and record division and sold Oui magazine, a more explicit but less successful version of Playboy, while the flagship’s circulation plunged. The Playboy Building in Chicago, its rabbit-head beacon illuminating Michigan Avenue, was also sold, as was the corporate jet with built-in discothèque. Bunnies were going the way of go-go dancers, and the Playboy Clubs closed.
Mr. Hefner relied more and more on his daughter, Christie Hefner, named company president in 1982 and then chief executive, a position she held until 2009. Mr. Hefner suffered a stroke in 1985, but he recovered and remained editor in chief of Playboy, choosing the centerfold models, writing captions, and tending to detail with an intensity that led his staff to call him “the world’s wealthiest copy editor.”
In 1989 Mr. Hefner married again, saying he had rethought Woody Allen’s line that “marriage is the death of hope.” His second wife was Kimberley Conrad, the 1989 Playmate of the Year, 38 years his junior. They had two sons: Marston Glenn, born in 1990, and Cooper Bradford, born in 1991.
The couple divorced in 2010, and Mr. Hefner plowed into his work, including the editing of The Century of Sex, a Playboy book. When a New York Times interviewer later prodded him about the rewards of marriage, he replied, “Unfortunately, they come from other women.” Meanwhile, to widespread snickering, he became a cheerleader for Viagra, telling a British journalist, “It is as close as anyone can imagine to the fountain of youth.”
The re-emerged Hef reveled in the new century. In 2005 he began appearing on television on the E! channel reality show The Girls Next Door, although his onscreen role consisted mostly of peering in while his three young, blond girlfriends planned adventures at the mansion. When the three original Girls Next Door went their separate ways after five seasons, he replaced them with three others, also young and blond - and shortly afterward asked one of them, Crystal Harris, to marry him.
Five days before the 85-year old Mr. Hefner was to marry the 25-year-old Ms. Harris in June 2011 - the wedding was to have been filmed by the Lifetime cable channel as a reality special - the bride called it off. Mr. Hefner, by this time a man of the 21st Century media, announced on Twitter, “Crystal has had a change of heart.”
But Ms. Harris had another change of heart, and the two married on New Year’s Eve 2012. On their first anniversary, Mr. Hefner tweeted to his 1.4 million followers, “It’s good to be in love.”
Mr. Hefner’s survivors include Ms. Harris and his four children.
Another of the Girls Next Door, Holly Madison, offered a much more depressing version of life in the mansion in a 2015 tell-all book. In the years when Mr. Hefner was calling her his “No.1 girlfriend,” she wrote in Down the Rabbit Hole, she endured a dysfunctional household of petty rules, allowances, quarrels and backstabbing, all directed by an emotionally manipulative old man.
Through those years, however, the Playboy brand marched forward. In 2011 Mr. Hefner took Playboy Enterprises private again. Scott Flanders, after taking over as chief executive in 2009, focused on the licensing business, shrinking the company and raising its profits. The website, cleansed of any whiff of pornography, enjoyed huge growth, while Mr. Hefner, who retained his title and about 30% of the company’s stock, cheerfully tweeted news and pictures of the many festivities at the mansion, along with hundreds of photographs from his past, in the glory decades of the ’60s and ’70s.
Last year the Playboy Mansion was sold for $100 million to Daren Metropoulos, an investor. As a condition of the sale, Mr. Hefner was allowed to continue living in the mansion for the rest of his life, with Playboy Enterprises paying Mr. Metropoulos $1 million a year to lease it.
Mr. Hefner was to be buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, in a mausoleum drawer he had bought next to Marilyn Monroe’s.
By Brent Johnson
Skrill (www.skrill.com, https://skrill.com) is an online financial institution that is one of the organizations that lets you transfer currency into a form for purchasing Bitcoins.
I used Skrill for that purpose and found, to my dismay, that the organization is engaged in fraud, misrepresentation, and outright theft.
I had no problems as long as I was sending money to my Skrill account or transferring funds from it to a website from which I purchased Bitcoins.
However, when I sold some Bitcoins and tried to withdraw the funds from my Skrill account, I had no end of trouble.
The first time I tried to withdraw funds, due to an error in the entered account my withdrawal was refused and the funds were returned to my account, but not before Skrill took 3.99% of the withdrawal.
When I re-entered the information - this time properly (at which point Skrill took another 3.99%) - and sought to withdraw the funds, Skrill refused to allow me to proceed unless I first went through an additional validation process, even though their own instructions said that a withdrawal in the amount I sought could be done without any additional validation.
Skrill sent me an email with the documents they required in order to complete the validation. I scanned and emailed them my U.S. passport, my driver’s license (front and back), an original statement from my bank (with an original bank stamp and officer’s signature affixed to it), and a photo of me holding my driver’s license. I received an email telling me it would take a few days for them to process the information.
Several days later, I called Skrill to find out the status of my validation. I was told that my identification documents were fakes, and then the Skrill agent hung up on me! I was livid! I called back and reached a competent and capable woman, who explained that nobody in their division was authorized to tell me such a thing, nor did they have that information at the call center. She said she would research the matter and send me an email within 24 hours. She actually helped me to calm down and I agreed to wait for her email.
The next day I received an email telling me that Skrill had determined that I was in violation of their terms and conditions and that they were taking (i.e. stealing) 150 euros from my account. I was instructed to withdraw the balance and close the account. The email said this determination was final.
I called back to find out who to contact to challenge this determination as was told that there was nobody I could call to do that.
All Skrill has to do to verify my identity was contact the U.S. Department of State to confirm my passport, the issuing agency to confirm my driver’s license, and the bank to confirm my account. Obviously they didn’t do that. For some reason they decided I was not who I said I was, and used that decision to justify stealing my money.
I did receive an email from the woman with whom I spoke who said she would email me within 24 hours, and she said that Skrill is investigating the matter. I then received a second email from another woman who essentially said the same thing and told me to reply to her email if I had anything else to say. I did so and explained that the only resolution I would accept is the return of the 150 euros that were stolen from me.
Subsequently, Skrill returned 150 US dollars to my account (they said they took 150 USD and not 150 euros like they originally said). I was then allowed to withdraw the entire 1373 USD from my account. However, when it finally arrived in my account, it was substantially less than expected (there were currency conversions and another 3.99% that Skrill took but that doesn’t account for the extensive discrepancy in what I should have received). Skrill told me that the various banks associated with the wire transfer each must have taken some but I am still very suspicious that more was taken than is legitimate, and nobody at Skrill would send me a written explanation of precisely how much was taken.
I did file a formal complaint with INTERPOL, accusing Skrill of cybercrime and money laundering; hopefully they will open an investigation into this criminal organization.
My recommendation is that you seek out alternatives to Skrill, should you wish to convert currencies into Bitcoin. Use Skrill at your own risk!
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (PNN) - August 23, 2017 - Entertainer Jerry Lewis, famous for his zany comedy and for raising millions to fight muscular dystrophy, died Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas.
He was 91. His family confirmed his death. “Famed comedian, actor and legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home in Las Vegas with his family by his side.” According to the family, Lewis died at 9:15 a.m.
Lewis, who performed in Las Vegas with Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and many others, also famously became national chairman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He hosted the association’s annual Labor Day telethons from 1966 to 2010; they raised some $2.6 billion, according to People magazine. The children suffering from the disease, whom Lewis aimed to help with the telethon, became known as “Jerry’s Kids”.
Lewis was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, New Jersey. He was the son of entertainers - Danny Levitch, a song-and-dance man, and Rae Levitch, a pianist; they performed with the surname Lewis during vaudeville acts. Rae lived in Las Vegas for eight years and is buried in Palm Valley View Cemetery.
In 1946, Lewis co-starred in a nightclub act with Dean Martin, rising to meteoric fame. In the act, Martin was calm, singing unflappably; Lewis was jittery, scampering manically. After frequent pratfalls, Lewis would utter his trademark line, “Hey, lay-dee!”
Martin and Lewis landed major gigs at New York’s Copacabana and Roxy Theater and Atlantic City’s 500 Club. In the 1940s and 1950s, the pair combined on movies including Pardners (1956), The Stooge (1951), My Friend Irma (1949), and The Caddy (1953). On television they co-hosted The Colgate Comedy Hour from 1950 to 1955 on NBC.
Lewis’ love for Martin, whom he called “my partner,” was undeniable. Lewis said he often dreamed of performing onstage with Martin, and named one of his dogs Paulie, after Martin, whose middle name was Paul.
“This is the end of an era for me personally, and for millions of people around the world,” said Deana Martin, Dean Martin’s daughter, who considered Lewis a family member, often calling him “Uncle Jerry”.
“The night I was born, he and my dad were performing at Slapsy Maxie’s in L.A., so I have known Jerry all my life,” she said. “He could be tough, but he was always so giving and sweet to me.”
Lewis broke with Martin in 1956 and wrote, directed and starred in many movies. Lewis’ acting credits include The Sad Sack (1957), The Ladies Man (1961), The Bellboy (1960), and The Nutty Professor (1963).
He was featured in Martin Scorsese’s King of Comedy (1982) and starred as himself in Billy Crystal’s Mr. Saturday Night (1992). On Broadway, Lewis starred in the 1995 revival of Damn Yankees, as Mr. Applegate, the Devil; he joined the production on an international tour.
Fascist Police States of Amerika Rep. Les Aspin (Wis.) nominated Lewis for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2009, Lewis received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his charitable work.
Lewis has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for movies, one for television. The Library of Congress acquired Lewis’ personal archives in 2015.
Lewis also became famous in Europe for his acting and philanthropy. The French government inducted Lewis into the French Legion of Honor (1984) and named him Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (2006).
During the 1976 MDA telethon, Frank Sinatra staged an on-air Lewis-Martin reunion. Lewis remembered the moment, which he watched on film of dozens of times and used in his multimedia stage show last year.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned,” Lewis said. “Frank had set it up, and everyone knew about it except me. When Dean finally got to me onstage, I was able to say, ‘So, are you working?’ That broke him up, it broke the ice and got our friendship back on track.”
Martin and Lewis wouldn’t perform together again until June 1989, when Lewis surprised Martin by bringing a birthday cake onstage at Bally’s for the singer’s 72nd birthday.
“Here’s to 72 years of joy you’ve given the world, and why we broke up I’ll never know,” Lewis told Martin.
Magician Penn Jillette, who has succeeded with a seemingly odd-fitting co-star, Teller, as Martin and Lewis did, said Lewis demonstrated the power of the right pairing.
“On the surface, they were two people who did not belong together, a handsome guy teeming with a comic outcast, but they absolutely belonged together,” Jillette said Sunday. “They had a powerful, powerful bond, and showed that art could be demonstrated between two people. Studying Martin and Lewis certainly changed my life.”
In the mid-1980s, longtime Las Vegas headliner Clint Holmes and his music director Bill Fayne joined Lewis and Tom Jones at a performance by Sammy Davis Jr. at the Diplomat Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Powerhouse producer Ben Segal arranged the reunion; Lewis and Davis hadn’t spoken for years.
“Jerry took photos of the show, from beginning to end,” said Holmes, as Lewis was an avid photographer. “Finally, Sammy brought him up on stage, where they had a very long hug, reunited, and sang ‘Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody’ (a top 10 Billboard hit for Lewis in 1956). That great night ended with Sammy cooking us all breakfast in his hotel suite.”
In 1988, Lewis and Davis co-headlined at Bally’s Celebrity Room, a clip of which Lewis played in his stage show at South Point.
“I saw him with Sammy at Bally’s,” said Brad Garrett, who opened for Davis and who now operates and headlines his own comedy club at MGM Grand. “It was unforgettable.”
Muscular Dystrophy Association board Chairman R. Rodney Howell expressed deep gratitude to Lewis and said the organization wouldn’t be the same without him.
“Jerry’s love, passion and brilliance are woven throughout this organization, which he helped build from the ground up,” Howell said in a statement. “Though we will miss him beyond measure, we suspect that somewhere in heaven he’s already urging the angels to give ‘just one dollar more for my kids.’ Thank you Jerry, you are our hero. God bless you.”
Beyond MDA, Lewis lent his name and star power to Criss Angel’s HELP charity event in September. Lewis was a fan of Angel’s show at the Luxor.
“Jerry Lewis was the true king of comedy, a creative genius and the champion of children’s causes, may he rest in peace,” Angel said. “He will forever be imitated, but never duplicated. I cherish the time we had together and he will forever be in my heart. The world will never forget him. My deepest condolences to his beautiful family.”
Lewis also visited Carrot Top’s show at the Luxor in March, and the headlining prop comic appeared several times on the MDA Labor Day Telethon.
Despite his long success, Lewis sometimes faced controversy. Over the years, some former MDA poster children claimed Lewis portrayed them as objects of pity.
In 2000, he famously told a comedy festival audience he didn’t like any female comedians, not even Lucille Ball; and in 2010, he told television’s Inside Edition what he thought of troubled young stars such as Lindsay Lohan, calling her “a fresh, dumb broad”.
“I would smack her in the mouth if I saw her,” he said, “and I would be arrested for abusing a woman.”
As Lewis shined on stage, he often struggled with health off stage. He suffered a spinal injury after a pratfall in 1965 and developed a dependency on painkillers as he coped with the resulting aches. He once smoked five packs of cigarettes a day and later had two heart attacks. He had double bypass surgery on Dec. 21, 1982, at Desert Springs Hospital. He also battled prostate cancer and pulmonary fibrosis.
More recently, he had been hospitalized from June 3 to Aug. 7, suffering from a urinary tract infection.
Lewis’ final stage performances were Sept. 30 and Oct. 1-2 at the South Point Showroom.
In memoriam, celebrities spoke glowingly of Lewis in person and online.
“What a sad day. We lost one of the greats,” Carrot Top, whose real name is Scott Thompson, said Sunday. “Jerry Lewis was truly a legend, icon, genius, and master of comedy. I was lucky to know and work with him through all the years on the telethon.”
Recording star Tony Orlando, who co-hosted the Lewis MDA Telethon for 33 years, said, “(Lewis) was my boyhood idol, and we ended up friends. He always reminded me he only had three people partner with him on stage for live performances: Dean, of course, and then Sammy Davis Jr., and myself.
“After Sam died, he asked me to finish the dates with him on the road, and then at the Riviera and the Las Vegas Hilton. Talk about one of my dreams come true, to partner with the great Jerry Lewis, my idol. The world lost a great one today, as did Jerry’s kids. May he rest in peace.”
Entertainer Wayne Newton expressed condolences for Lewis’ family and lauded his charitable work.
“Jerry spent his entire life making us laugh and working tirelessly for Jerry’s Kids with muscular dystrophy,” Newton said. “I shall miss his love and friendship, but I know he is joining true friends who have gone before him. As long is he is in our minds and hearts, he will be with us forever.”
Magician David Copperfield said Lewis inspired him.
“His film techniques and creations were very much what a magician would do, combining logic with technology and problem solving with art,” Copperfield said. “Spending time with him and his family was a blessing.”
Even the White House weighed in. In a statement, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Lewis lived the Amerikan dream.
“Jerry Lewis kept us all laughing for over half a century, and his incredible charity work touched the lives of millions,” she wrote. “He truly loved his country, and his country loved him back.”
On Twitter, a horde of celebrities remembered Lewis, including health columnist Dr. Mehmet Oz, former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, guitarist-actor Steve Van Zandt, rapper Chuck D, and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
Comedian Jim Carrey tweeted, “That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius and an unfathomable blessing, comedy’s absolute! I am because he was!”
Actor Neil Patrick Harris tweeted, “Watching Jerry Lewis onscreen makes me laugh harder than almost anyone. His great contribution to cinema is undeniable. #RIP.”
Closer to home, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval tweeted, “Jerry Lewis was a giant of entertainment. He brought laughter and awareness worldwide. He’ll always have a place in the hearts of Nevadans.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman tweeted, “Jerry Lewis was a neighbor and friend. He was such a laugh but also very wise, often sharing his insights for building a more meaningful life.”
Lewis is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, whom he married in 1983, his daughter, Danielle, his sons, Gary, Ron, Scott, Christopher and Anthony, and several grandchildren. Lewis’ first marriage, to Patti Palmer, lasted from 1945 to 1980 and ended in divorce.
LOS ANGELES, Kalifornia (PNN) - June 10, 2017 - Adam West - an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series Batman - died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.
“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.
West became known to a new generation of TV fans through his recurring voice role on Fox’s “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West, the horribly corrupt, inept and vain leader of Quahog, Rhode Island. West was a regular on the show from 2000 through its most recent season. West in recent years did a wide range of voice-over work, on such shows as Adult Swim’s R” and Disney Channel’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
But it was his role as the Caped Crusader in the 1966-68 ABC series Batman that defined West’s career.
With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, Batman became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. The half-hour action comedy was such a hit that it aired twice a week on ABC at its peak. But within two seasons, the show’s popularity slumped as quickly as it soared.
West’s portrayal of the super hero and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.
West also chafed against the darker versions of Bob Kane’s hero that emerged in more recent years, beginning with the Michael Keaton-starring, Tim Burton-directed adaptations that began in 1989, and followed by Christopher Nolan’s enormously successful Dark Knight trilogy.
In February 2016, the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which had hosted a number of geek favorites over the years, celebrated its 200th episode - and marked the 50th anniversary of Batman - with an appearance by West.
Asked by Variety what the character of Batman has come to mean to him over five decades, West said, “Money. Some years ago I made an agreement with Batman. There was a time when Batman really kept me from getting some pretty good roles, and I was asked to do what I figured were important features. However, Batman was there, and very few people would take a chance on me walking on to the screen. They’d be taking people away from the story. So I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to reengage myself with Batman; and I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it.”
West made his feature debut in 1959’s The Young Philadelphians, starring Paul Newman. Before he donned the mask and cape, West was a rising star in late 1950s and early 1960s TV series, notably westerns and cop shows. He logged roles on Lawman, Cheyenne, The FBI Story, Colt .45, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Hawaiian Eye, Bonanza, The Rifleman, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, The Real McCoys, Bewitched, The Outer Limits, and The Virginian, among other programs. He was a series regular on the 1959-62 drama series The Detectives (which aired on ABC and later NBC), playing a police sergeant.
His film roles in this period were few and far between but included a part in the 1965 Three Stooges vehicle The Outlaws Is Coming.
The origins of the Batman series are actually quite complex, but the project eventually landed at 20th Century Fox, which handed it to producer William Dozier, who devised the show’s camp comedy sensibility.
Both West and Lyle Waggoner were considered for the part of Batman before West was cast, playing alongside Burt Ward as his sidekick Robin.
In a PBS special that touched on the show, Ward noted that West’s slow, portentous delivery was occasionally designed to eat up screen time, thus cutting into his co-star’s dialogue.
With actors like Cesar Romero (Joker) and Burgess Meredith (Penguin) comprising Batman’s rogue’s gallery of villains, the show became an almost instant success, urging viewers to tune in for the next episode at the “Same Bat-time.” The series spawned a movie - pitting the Dynamic Duo against a team-up of villains - before being canceled after three seasons due, primarily, to its high production costs.
The show came to be viewed with some contempt in comic book circles, especially after the darker vision of Batman became dominant in the ’70s and ’80s.
West found serious film work scarce following the series, though he remained in demand for personal appearances as the character and voice work, including a recurring stint on F”, and animated versions of Batman. Other roles ranged from The Happy Hooker and Hooper to the Michael Tolkin-directed movies The Rapture and The New Age.
By many accounts, West maintained a good sense of humor about his fame and his caped alter-ego. He remained a favorite of many producers for comedy guest shots, logging roles in recent years on such shows as 30 Rock, George Lopez, The King of Queens, and this year’s short-lived NBC comedy Powerless.
West was also prolific as a voice actor. He worked on dozens of animated series during the past 40 years, from numerous incarnations of the Batman character to Kim Possible, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Oddparents, The Boondocks, and Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero.
West wrote two books, one titled Back to the Batcave and published in the mid-1990s, in which he said that he was “angry and disappointed” not to have been offered the chance to reprise the role in the Burton movies, despite being 60 at the time. The attendant publicity seemed to put West back on the cultural radar, at least as a source of nostalgia.
Born William West Anderson in 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington, the actor later adopted his stage name, and began his career in earnest when he moved to Hawaii in the 1950s to star in a local children’s program.
He is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
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BERN, Switzerland (PNN) - May 23, 2017 - Roger Moore, the suavely insouciant star of seven James Bond films, has died in Switzerland. He was 89.
The British actor died Tuesday after a short battle with cancer, according to a family statement posted on Moore’s official Twitter account.
“We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF, which he considered to be his greatest achievement,” the statement said.
Moore’s relaxed style and sense of whimsy, which relied heavily on the arched eyebrow, seemed a commentary on the essential ridiculousness of the Bond films, in which the handsome British secret agent was as adept at mixing martinis, bedding beautiful women, and ordering gourmet meals as he was at disposing of super-villains trying to take over the world.
“To me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous,” he once said. “I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet, everybody knows he’s a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It’s outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well.”
While he never eclipsed Sean Connery in the public’s eye as the definitive James Bond, Moore did play the role of secret agent 007 in just as many films as Connery did, and he managed to do so while “finding a joke in every situation,” according to film critic Rex Reed.
The actor, who came to the role in 1973 after Connery tired of it, had already enjoyed a long career in films and television, albeit with mixed success.
He was remembered warmly by fans of the popular U.S. 1950s-60s TV series Maverick as Beauregarde Maverick, the English cousin of the Wild West’s Maverick brothers, Bret and Bart. He also starred in the 1959 U.S. series The Alaskans.
In England, he had a long-running TV hit with The Saint, playing Simon Templar, the enigmatic action hero who helps put wealthy crooks in jail while absconding with their fortunes. By the time the series, which also aired in the United States, ended in 1969, his partnership with its producers had made him a wealthy man.
Such success followed a Time magazine review of one of his earliest films, 1956’s Diane, in which his performance opposite Lana Turner was dismissed as that of “a lump of English roast beef.”
In the 1970s, film critic Vincent Canby would dismiss Moore’s acting abilities as having “reduced all human emotions to a series of variations on one gesture, the raising of the right eyebrow.”
Born in London, the only child of a policeman, Moore had studied painting before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He played a few small roles in theater and films before his mandatory army duty, then moved to Hollywood in the 1950s. He appeared opposite Elizabeth Taylor in 1954’s The Last Time I Saw Paris and with Eleanor Parker in Interrupted Melody the following year.
In 1970, he became managing director for European production for Faberge’s Brut Productions. With the company, he co-starred with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders for British television and was involved in producing A Touch of Class, which won a best-actress Oscar for Glenda Jackson.
Three years later, he made his first James Bond film, Live and Let Die.
He would make six more, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, and A View to a Kill over the next 12 years; and while the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels that the films were based on was generally described as being in his 30s, Moore would stay with the role until he was 57.
He continued to work regularly in films after handing over Bond to Timothy Dalton, but never with the same success. His post-Bond films included such forgettable efforts as The Quest with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Spice World with the Spice Girls.
In 1991, Moore became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, having been introduced to the role by the late actress Audrey Hepburn. As Hepburn had, he threw much of his energy into the task.
“I felt small, insignificant and rather ashamed that I had traveled so much making films and ignored what was going on around me,” he said in describing how the work had affected him.
In 1996, when his UNICEF job took him to the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, he disclosed that he too had been a victim.
“I was molested when I was a child - not seriously - but I didn’t tell my mother until I was 16, because I felt that it was something to be ashamed of,” he told The Associated Press.
He gave no details, but said it was important to encourage young victims not to feel guilty.
“They’re being exploited. We have to tell them that,” Moore said.
Moore received the Dag Hammarskjold Inspiration Award for his work with UNICEF and was named a commander in France’s National Order of Arts and Letters in 2008, an award he said was worth “more than an Oscar.” That same year he published an autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, which included details about his work on the Bond films, his friendship with Hepburn, his encounters with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and other stars, and his health struggles -including a bout with prostate cancer, which he beat.
Moore was divorced three times, from skater Doorn Van Steyn in 1953, English singer Dorothy Squires in 1969,and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli, the mother of his children Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian, in 2000.
He married a fourth time, in 2002, to Swedish socialite Kristina Tholstrup.
BEVERLY HILLS, Kalifornia (PNN) - December 28, 2016 - Debbie Reynolds, who rose to stardom in Singin’ in the Rain and quickly became a staple among Hollywood royalty, died Wednesday as a result of a stroke, just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away.
Debbie was rushed to a hospital shortly after 1:00 p.m. when someone at the Beverly Hills home of her son, Todd, called 911 to report a possible stroke. We're told Debbie and Todd were making funeral plans for Carrie, who died Tuesday of cardiac arrest.
Debbie famously divorced Eddie Fisher in 1959 after his affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Debbie married 2 more times, in 1960 and 1984.
She played iconic roles in Tammy and the Bachelor and The Unsinkable Molly Brown - for which she earned an Oscar nomination.
Carrie's relationship with Debbie was the focus of Carrie's semi-autobiographical book, Postcards from the Edge, which was later adapted for the big screen, starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
Debbie is survived by her son Todd, who said, "She's with Carrie."
She was 84.
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