Morbid Curiosity: The Month in Notable Deaths
Tura Satana in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
People just won't stop dying. It's a never-ending line of death in this world, sometimes tragic, sometimes expected, but always worth a bit of reflection. Here's a look back (in no particular order) at some notable people who passed away in February.
Tura Satana Grindhouse film star Tura Satana (above) died on February 4th. Satana was best known for her starring role in Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in 1965. The cult film led to a string of others for Satana, including The Astro-Zombies and The Doll Squad. In addition to her film career, Satana has the distinction of not only dating Elvis Presley, but also turning down a marriage proposal from The King.
Frank Buckles On February 27th, Frank Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, passed away. Only two other veterans remain from the Great War. Buckles lied about his age to numerous recruiters, claiming to be 18 when in fact he was only 16, and was turned away several times. Figuring that he may as well make the lie bigger, Frank told the Army recruiter who finally enlisted him that he was 21 years old. A documentary about Buckles, entitled Pershing's Last Patriot, was in production at the time of his death, and will likely be released before the end of the year.
Roch "Moïse" Thériault February saw some noted criminals pass as well. Roch "Moïse" Thériault, a Canadian cult leader, was found dead at Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, believed to be the victim of an attack by fellow inmates. As a cult leader, Thériault held sway over a few dozen people from 1977 to 1989, including nine women as concubines and 26 children, many of whom he fathered. In 1993, Thériault was convicted of murder and had been serving out a life sentence without parole at the time of his death. He was also the owner of one of the most impressive beards we've ever laid eyes upon - perhaps that's what captivated his followers.
Awal Gul Awal Gul, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, died on February 2nd. Gul had spent nine years in the prison without charge, with the U.S. maintaining the claim that he was a Taliban commander. However, Awal insisted that he had left the Taliban in 2000 - and documents from Afghanistan, including official papers on Taliban letterhead uphold this statement.
Jane Russell Yesterday, the world lost actress Jane Russell, one of the leading sex symbols from the 1940s and 1950s. Russell's debut, The Outlaw, was produced by Howard Hughes, and in 1953 she starred opposite Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The two actresses put their hands and feet in the cement of Grauman's Chinese Theater together that same year.
LeRoy Grannis LeRoy "Granny" Grannis left this world on February 3rd. Grannis was a noted surfer dubbed "the grandfather of surf photography" by the New York Times. In 1966, LeRoy was inducted into the International Surfing Hall Of Fame, and in 2006 Taschen published a limited edition collection of his photographs, which sold out almost immediately, and has since been republished.
Bill Foster On February 2nd, Bill Foster died of cancer. Foster was a television director, without whom the world wouldn't have seen countless episodes of Full House, Sanford And Son, and the pilot of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Perhaps most famous among Foster's credits, though, is the 1986 special The Mystery Of Al Capone's Vaults, which forever made Geraldo Rivera a goof in the eyes of many.
Edwin Snider Another Hall of Famer left us recently, when slugger Edwin "Duke" Snider died on February 27th. Snider was an eight time All-Star in his 17-year major league career, narrowly losing the MVP to Dodger teammate Roy Campanella in 1955, and leading the Dodgers to a pair of World Series championships. Duke sported a career .295 batting average, 407 home runs, 1,333 RBIs, and was nice enough to sign our baseball card when we mailed it to him back in 1991. Thanks, Duke.
Emory Bellard Snider wasn't the only sports legend to pass, although people are far more apt to know his name over Emory Bellard's. Bellard, who died on February 10th, was a native Texan and a noted college football coach, leading Texas A&M from 1972 through 1978 and Mississippi State from 1979 through 1985. Bellard is credited with creating the "wishbone offense," a revolutionary system designed to get the slower fullback out in front of the running back as a lead blocker.
The bassist for The Electric Prunes,Mark Tulin
passed away on February 26th. The Prunes were best known for their song "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night," which was one of the defining tracks of the psychedelic garage sound, and is featured inEasy Rider
. Tulin had also been working with Billy Corgan over the past few years, writing bass parts for the first installment of The Smashing Pumpkins'Teargarden By Kaliedyscope
, and playing with Corgan in several other bands.
Gary Moore Guitarist Gary Moore died of a heart attack on February 6th. Moore was most prominently known for his work with Phil Lynott in Thin Lizzy, and he had a long-running solo career as well. Moore started his career with Skid Row - a Dublin blues-rock band that predates the heavy metal band fronted by Sebastian Bach.
Neal Admundson Neal Admundson, noted chemical engineering researcher and professor, expired on February 16th. In addition to being one of the most prominent American researchers and professors in the field, Admundson was also the Cullen Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Mathematics at our very own University of Houston.
Edwin Kilbourne Researcher Edwin Kilbourne also passed on February 25th. Kilbourne is responsible for developing the first genetically engineered vaccine--the reason you can obtain a flu shot. His method became the standard for optimization of the virus used to produce the influenza vaccines, so maybe throw a "thanks Ed" out there next time you get one.
Brian Jacques Brian Jacques, author of the long-spanning Redwall series - whose 22nd (and final) book will be published on May 3rd, died on February 5th at the age of 71. Jacques originally wrote the first novel in the series after befriending children at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind, leading to a richly descriptive writing style.
Kenneth Mars Finishing up our list, actor Kenneth Mars passed on February 12th. Perhaps best known for his work in Mel Brooks' films, Mars' lengthy acting credits include a litany of film, television, and voice-over work. His film debut was 1968's The Producers, Brooks' first movie that saw Mars starring as Nazi soldier/playwright Franz Liebkind, alongside Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.
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