Friday, January 11, 2019

Cleaning out the inbox: Passings

2019 didn't get off to a great start with two passings already on January 2nd.

Goodbye to Bob Einstein, who passed at the age of 76.
The comic was known best in recent times for his character on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", but to me, Einstein, the older brother to actor Albert Brooks, will always be "Super Dave" Osborne, the stuntman that never found the stunt that he could pull off successfully on three different programs "Bizarre", "SuperDave" and most recently "SuperDave Spiketacular".
I loved Super Dave and I could never stop laughing at those shows.
They hold up well and I think it's because all of us know "that guy" that jabbers and jowls about what they are going to do and what they have done and yet are just too inept to do almost anything.
Einstein was also a writer for many programs in the 60s and 70s with an Emmy for best writer for the Smothers Brothers show in 1968 and a Cable Ace award for the SuperDave show on Showtime in the 80s, but he'll always be Super Dave in my memories.

Goodbye to Gene Okerlund also at the age of 76.
"Mean Gene" was the main interviewer for the Midwest-based AWA before moving to his greatest fame with the WWF before wrapping his full-time career up with WCW.
Okerlund would make occasional appearances with the WWE after their purchase of the WCW.
Okerlund was dubbed "Mean Gene" by either Hulk Hogan or Jesse Ventura, depending on the source you read or whom you talked to of Hogan or Ventura.
I never thought Okerlund was all that great at calling the action in the ring, but few were able to match his ability doing interviews and promos with the stars.
Okerlund had a manner of speech and body language that the viewer could snicker at as he played the straight man or the smart-lipped counterpuncher to the heels that almost slipped by them and you and as they would turn to confront Okerlund, he would smoothly change the subject.
Gene Okerlund might not have been the best wrestling announcer of his time, but with the possible exception of Jim Ross, he certainly was the most known by the mainstream fan and best remembered as well.

Goodbye to Ben Coleman at the age of 57.
Coleman was the starting center on the only ACC Tournament championship team that Lefty Driesell ever coached in 1984 and averaged 15 points and eight rebounds in his two seasons as a Terrapin.
Coleman arrived after two years with Minnesota and his transfer to College Park enabled the Terrapins to replace Buck Williams as the undersized (in height) yet burly center against the larger centers such as Ralph Sampson, Brad Daugherty etc that populated the league.
In the game below, Coleman scored 26 points in an upset over Daugherty, Michael Jordan, and North Carolina in 1983.
Coleman would play for four NBA teams and spent time playing in Europe in his pro career.

Goodbye to Jerry Buchek at the age of 76 as Lefty Koch sends word.
The light hitting second baseman spent time with the Mets and Cardinals from 1961-68, never hitting higher than .247, although he did hit 14 homers as a Met in 1967.
Buchek was a member of the 1964 world champion Cardinals, singling in his only plate appearance and scored the first run in Busch Memorial Stadium in 1966.

Goodbye to Kwamie Lassiter at the age of 49.
Lassiter spent time with the Chargers and Rams but was best remembered for his time with the Arizona Cardinals from 1995-2002.
In the 1998 season finale' and the Cardinals needing a win over the Chargers to clinch their first (non-strike) playoff spot in 22 years, Lassiter intercepted four passes in a 16-13 Cardinal win.

Goodbye to Alexis Smirnoff at the age of 71.
Smirnoff was never quite the level of "Russian" star as Ivan Koloff or Nikolai Volkoff during the same time period but was a solid middle to upper card wrestler that spent time in the WWF, AWA and many various NWA promotions.
My best Smirnoff memory was in the dying days of Verne Gagne's AWA, which was only kept alive by a contract with ESPN and resulted in the AWA being populated by recent graduates of their wrestling school, veterans who were winding down their careers and veterans who were on the blacklist with WWF and WCW.
Smirnoff was in the second of the three tiers and arrived in a tag team with a gentleman named Gordienko, who the promotion never bothered to give a first name and pushed them as the "best Russian team in the world", despite their matches taking place at the same speed as a slug in the sunshine.
The funniest part was their post-match interviews that featured Gordienko speaking the same answer to every question "You know why we're here".
Gordienko said this so much, that you had to think this was going to eventually mean something, although considering the AWA at the time, that something would have likely meant either nothing or nothing of importance.
Sadly, there are no clips of these on YouTube, so you'll have to settle for a match instead and for the record- We never were told just why they were there.

Finally, Goodbye to Verna Bloom at the age of 80.
Bloom was a character actress that appeared in High Plains Drifter, but will best be remembered as "Marion Wormer", the drunken wife of the dean of Faber College in Animal House that slept with Eric"Otter" Stratton.

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