They say celebrities and prominent people go in threes. Here’s proof.
Gone in 2010 …
“Airplane!” stars: Peter Graves (“You ever seen a grown man naked?”), Barbara Billingsley (“Oh, stewardess. I speak jive.”), Leslie Nielsen (“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”).
Badasses: Dennis Hopper (actor and artist), Daniel Schorr (journalist), Howard Zinn (historian).
Baseball voices: Ernie Harwell (Tigers), Lorn Brown (Brewers), Ron Santo (Cubs).
Basketball was better then: Maurice Lucas (Marquette, ABA and NBA), Hank Raymonds (Marquette), Manute Bol (NBA).
Comic geniuses: Alex Anderson (“Rocky and Bullwinkle”), Harvey Pekar (“American Splendor”), Blake Edwards (“S.O.B.”).
Heard but not seen: Fred Foy (“The Lone Ranger”), John Forsythe (“Charlie’s Angels”), Jan C. Gabriel (“Sunday, Sunday, SunDAYYYYYYY!”).
Mystery men: J.D. Salinger (author), Dwight Armstrong (’70s antiwar bomber from Wisconsin), Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart).
Rough-hewn charm: Don Meredith (NFL), James Gammon (“Major League”), Leonard Skinner (future Southern rock stars’ gym teacher).
World War II’s iconic women: Geraldine Hoff Doyle (inspired the “We Can Do It” poster, 1942), Lena Horne (“Stormy Weather,” 1943), Edith Shain (the nurse kissed in the famous V-J Day photo from Times Square, 1945).
They rocked: Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow), Doug Fieger (the Knack), Alex Chilton (the Box Tops, Big Star).
They had soul: Solomon Burke (the King of Rock and Soul), Robert “Squirrel” Lester (the Chi-Lites), Al Goodman (the Moments).
They were country: Dale Hawkins (“Suzie Q”), Carl Smith (Mr. Country), Fred Carter Jr. (session guitarist).
They played the music: Robert Wilson (Gap Band bassist), Marvin Isley (Isley Brothers bassist), Mike Edwards (Electric Light Orchestra cellist).
They shaped the music: Willie Mitchell (Hi), Harvey Fuqua (Chess, Motown), General Norman Johnson (Invictus).
They sold the music: Bill Aucoin (KISS manager), Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols manager), George Richey (Tammy Wynette’s husband and manager).
They wrote the music: George David Weiss (“Can’t Help Falling In Love”), Bobby Charles (“Time Will Tell”), Hank Cochran (“I Fall To Pieces”).
You never heard of them, but they matter: Albertina Walker (Chicago gospel singer), William Foster (Florida A&M Marching 100 director), Claude Dorsey (Milwaukee jazz pianist).
The end of an era: Amazing Records (Green Bay, Wisconsin), Smart Studios (Madison, Wisconsin), Nancy Faust (still with us but retired as White Sox organist).
“The Letter,” Al Green, from “Green Is Blues,” 1969.
Produced by Willie Mitchell, who we lost this year. A cover of a song done by the Box Tops and Alex Chilton, who we lost this year. Record dug up at Amazing Records in Green Bay, which we lost this year.
In which the Rev. Al Green reminds us that we go forward with hope.