They say celebrities and prominent people go in threes. Well, 2014 was no different than any other year. Here’s proof.
All The President’s Men: Howard Baker (“What did the president know, and when did he know it?”), Ben Bradlee (Washington Post editor), Jeb Stuart Magruder (Nixon aide indicted and convicted in the Watergate scandal).
Arrangers: Johnny Allen (“Shaft”), Frankie Knuckles, Johnny Mann.
Badasses: Marvin Barnes (basketball), Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (boxing), Richard Kiel (Bond, James Bond).
Bass players: Jack Bruce, Ed Gagliardi (Foreigner), Lou Whitney (Morells).
Behind the camera: Paul Mazursky (developed “The Monkees,” then some great films), Andrew V. McLaglen (five John Wayne films), Harold Ramis (“Caddyshack,” for starters).
Civil rights voices: Ruby Dee, John Doar (assistant attorney general for civil rights in the ’60s), Franklin McCain (one of the Greensboro Four).
Comedy legends: Sid Caesar, Mike Nichols, Joan Rivers.
Creative types: Harry Richard Black (Mr. Clean, Smokey the Bear), Stanley Marsh 3 (Cadillac Ranch), Bunny Yeager (pinup photographer).
Distinctive voices: Geoffrey Holder (“These are uncola nuts”), Herb Jeffries (jazz singer who became the first black singing cowboy), Larry D. Mann (Yukon Cornelius in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”).
Drummers: Scott Asheton, Idris Muhammad, Tommy Ramone.
From “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book”: Sy Berger, Whammy Douglas, Herb Plews.
Globetrotters vs. Generals: Robert “Showboat” Hall, Charles “Tex” Harrison, Red Klotz.
Great Escapees: Richard Attenborough (“Big X”), James Garner (“The Scrounger”), Angus Lennie (“The Mole”).
Guitarists: Teenie Hodges, Dick Wagner (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Kiss), Johnny Winter.
Hollywood icons: Lauren Bacall, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple Black.
In 1969, I had their baseball cards: Jim Fregosi, Bill McCool, Ray Sadecki.
Keyboard players: Ian McLagan, Paul Revere, Joe Sample.
Milwaukee voices: Ted Moore (’60s Packers play-by-play man), Ernie von Schledorn (“Who do you know wants to buy a car?”), Carl Zimmerman (Channel 6 news anchor).
Real-life heroes: James Brady (White House press secretary who was shot and disabled, then became gun-control activist), Bill Dana (’60s test pilot and astronaut), Louis Zamperini (Olympic distance runner, then World War II prisoner-of-war).
Sax players: Mike Burney (Wizzard), Bobby Keys, Raphael Ravenscroft (“Baker Street”).
’60s comic book heroes: Denny Miller (the first blond Tarzan), Lorenzo Semple Jr. (created TV’s “Batman”), Eli Wallach (played Mr. Freeze on “Batman”).
’60s sitcom actresses: Mary Grace Canfield (“Green Acres”), Ann B. Davis (“The Brady Bunch”), Cynthia Lynn (“Hogan’s Heroes”).
’60s sitcom sidekicks: Bob Hastings (“McHale’s Navy”), Russell Johnson (“Gilligan’s Island”), Ken Weatherwax (“The Addams Family”).
’70s sitcom stars: Dave Madden (“The Partridge Family”), Marcia Strassman (“Welcome Back Kotter”), Robin Williams (“Mork and Mindy”).
Songwriters: Bob Crewe, Gerry Goffin, Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith.
Soulful voices: The Mighty Hannibal, Jimmy Ruffin, Bobby Womack.
Surf legends: Hobie Alter (surfboard maker), Ricky Grigg (big-wave surfer turned oceanographer), Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz (doctor turned surf guru).
Television voices: Richard C. Hottelet (CBS News), Don Pardo (“Jeopardy,” then “Saturday Night Live”), Pete Van Wieren (Atlanta Braves).
The doctors are in: Frank Jobe (pioneered Tommy John elbow surgery), Jack Ramsay (basketball genius), Jesse Steinfeld (surgeon general forced out by Nixon for anti-smoking views).
The record business: Don Davis, Anna Gordy Gaye, Cosimo Matassa.
They started as DJs: Geoff Edwards (“Jackpot”), Jim Lange (“The Dating Game”), Casey Kasem (“American Top 40″). Here’s a rather remarkable clip from 1967. Jim Lange hosts and Casey Kasem is one of the bachelors, along with comedian Bill Dana.
Unforgettable voices: Joe Cocker, Phil Everly, Pete Seeger.
Wisconsin’s finest: Patrick Lucey (governor), Fuzzy Thurston (’60s Packers great), Charles M. Young (Rolling Stone writer).
World War II’s last men standing: Chester Nez (last original Navajo code talker), Hiroo Onoda (Japanese intelligence officer who didn’t surrender until 1974), Theodore Van Kirk (last surviving Enola Gay crew member).
Wrestling legends: Ox Baker (also in “Escape From New York,” one of my faves), Rodger Kent (voice of All-Star Wrestling out of Minneapolis), Mae Young.
Writers: Maya Angelou, Al Feldstein (Mad magazine), Bob Thomas (AP Hollywood reporter).
Bonus round: Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Ed Nelson, who also died in 2014, were in “Airport 1975″ with two other actors already mentioned. Can you name them?
The shocker: There always is one death that takes your breath away. For us, last year, that was Jan Hooks. She was about our age. We came to know her long before the rest of America did.
In the early ’80s, we saw her on “Tush,” a late-night comedy sketch program on WTBS, the forerunner to the TBS cable network. She was tremendous on it. Few others saw that show, but when she became a star on “Saturday Night Live” in the late ’80s, it came as no surprise to us. After that, we rarely saw her on TV. Still gone too soon.
This is not intended to be an inclusive list of all who passed in 2014. Rather, this is my highly subjective list. Yours will be different.
Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.