... the Grand Rapids Press runs all the major obits of the week. For some reason the top three this Sunday got me to thinking.
The Controversial Celeb Death
Leading off was the death of David Carradine, 72. Nearly all the radio and TV pieces I ran across talked about Kung Fu. Only the out-of-town TV talked about Kill Bill. But this one will be in the tabloids for a while. Found in hotel room! Hanged! Suicide! In Bangkok! Then the details get murkier. Maybe not suicide. Maybe involving kinky behavior.
My first thought: Never, especially if you are any kind of a celebrity or role model, get yourself involved in any kind of behind closed doors activity that you would hate to be revealed in public as the first paragraph of your obituary. Just sayin'. After that, though, this is less than Earth shattering news, especially as we don't know what really was going on. Yet. Or ever.
The Interesting But...
Millvina Dean, 97, the last Titanic survivor. As much as I love the movie Titanic and the whole real story and technological issues of the RMS Titanic herself, this is but a historical footnote. Unlike the impending moment where the last two U.K. World War I vets die and Britain loses its eyewitnesses to history, Ms. Dean was a baby on 15 April 1912 -- hardly a participant or observer to disaster.
The Most Important Obit Of The Week
Paul Haney, 80. Who? Well Paul Haney went to work in 1958 as an information officer for a new government agency, NASA. By 1962 he was working at Houston's Manned Spaceflight Center and became known as "the voice of Mission Control." Yup, through many of the years of the U.S. space program, up until Apollo 9, the calm, reassuring and informative voice you heard was Paul Haney. And the style of reporting he gave the space program continued on.
This is the voice I grew up on, as I watched every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission. Ironically, as a "grown up", both the news media and my own work life have kept me from following every moment of the Shuttle program with as much dedication.
Mr. Haney not only witnessed history as it was being made, he announced it. Walter and all the other news commentators could report the news or write the poetry of how we felt about these amazing times, or even just weep on air with joy or sadness. But all of the networks used Mr. Haney's voice to give us the official NASA reports. It was all such a part of everything, I remember being struck twice by surprise -- once when I heard another voice announcing part of a space mission, as if there could never be but one voice of the space program, and again when one of the networks, ABC I think it was, actually captioned not as something authoritative like "The Voice of Mission Control" but someone's name followed by Mission Control.
As an interesting footnote, Googling "wikipedia paul haney" pulls up as the first Wikipedia entry, only one on The Ancient Order of Turtles.
Maybe you had to have been there...
NOTE: An unfortunate typo was fixed 6-15-09 Mon.