Yearly Archives: 2005


Thurl Ravenscroft


Categories: Actors

Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, the deep booming voice behind Tony the Tiger and various Disney characters, died on May 22 of prostate cancer. He was 91.

The Nebraska native was studying interior design at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles when a friend suggested he audition as a studio singer at Paramount. That audition led to several jobs, including commercial work on the radio and singing back-up for Bing Crosby.

During World War II, Ravenscroft served in the U.S. Air Transport Command. The six-foot-five navigator spent five years flying courier missions across the north and south Atlantic before returning to Hollywood to sing with the Mellomen, a quartet that performed with Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

In 1952, Ravenscroft became the voice behind Tony the Tiger, the animated feline pitchman for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal. He would continue to roar his trademark recommendation (“They’re Grrrrreeeeat!”) in television commercials for more than 50 years.

Ravenscroft did voices for the Disney films “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “101 Dalmatians,” “Sword in the Stone,” “The Aristocats,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Lady and the Tramp,” and lent his voice to characters on the Disneyland rides Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. He also sang the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the 1966 Christmas cartoon, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and provided voices for other Dr. Seuss cartoons (“Horton Hears a Who,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “The Lorax”).

As a singer, Ravenscroft backed Doris Day, the DeCastro Sisters, Arlo Guthrie, Mario Lanza and Jim Nabors. A member of the Johnny Mann Singers, he sang on 28 albums and performed for President Richard Nixon at the White House. Ravenscroft also recorded the “Book of Psalms” for the blind and the spoken word scripture album, “God’s Plan for You.” His favorite gig? Narrating the Pageant of the Masters, an annual art celebration in Laguna Beach, Calif., for 20 years.

Listen to a Tribute From NPR

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Joe Grant


Categories: Artists, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

jgrant.jpgJoe Grant, a pioneering Disney animator and writer, died on May 6 at the age of 96. He suffered a heart attack while working at his drawing board.
Grant was born in New York and raised in Los Angeles. He trained at the Chouinard Art Institute, then landed a job drawing caricatures for The Los Angeles Record. Walt Disney spotted Grant’s work in the newspaper and hired him to freelance on the animated short “Mickey’s Gala Premiere.”
Grant was brought on staff full-time a few years later. Over the next decade, he worked on “Alice in Wonderland” and designed the queen-witch character in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Disney eventually promoted Grant to head of the Character Model Department, which served as a think tank for future animated projects.
During World War II, Grant and animator Dick Huemer created gags and designs for many of Disney’s patriotic-themed cartoons, such as “Reason and Emotion,” “Education for Death” and the Academy Award-winning “Der Fuehrer’s Face.” Grant also co-wrote “Dumbo” with Huemer, and conceived “Lady and the Tramp” with his wife, Jennie. She died in 1991.
When the Character Model Department disbanded in 1949, Grant opened a ceramics studio (Opechee Designs) and a greeting card company (Castle Ltd.). He returned to Disney in 1989 to work on “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Pocahontas” and “Mulan.” The only Disney artist and story creator to work on the original “Fantasia” in 1940, and its sequel, “Fantasia 2000,” he also contributed to the 2004 Oscar-nominated short “Lorenzo.”
Grant was named an official Disney Legend in 1992. Four years later, his work was honored with a Ruben Award from the National Cartoonists Society. More than 70 of his caricatures appear in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institute.


Eddie Albert

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Categories: Actors

ealbert.jpgEdward Albert Heimberger, a veteran actor of stage and screen who achieved his greatest fame on the 1960s TV show “Green Acres,” died on May 26 of pneumonia. He was 99.
Born in Rock Island, Ill., and raised in Minneapolis, Edward attended the University of Minnesota for two years before launching his performing career as a singer and master of ceremonies in a magic show. After hearing his last name mispronounced over and over again, he adopted the stage name Eddie Albert.
In the 1930s, Albert moved to New York with dreams of becoming a working actor. He made his Broadway debut in “O Evening Star” before landing the lead role in the 1936 stage production of “Brother Rat.” An executive from Warner Bros. caught the show and offered Albert a studio contract. He signed a seven-year deal, moved to Hollywood and appeared in the film adaptation of “Brother Rat” and its sequel.
An avid sailor, Albert would often take long trips in a ketch down the California coast. On one of these excursions, he encountered Japanese “fishermen” making hydrographic surveys near Baja California. When Albert reported his findings to Army intelligence, the military agreed to use him as a spy. Albert then spent several years working as a clown and trapeze artist in a small, Mexican circus while he gathered intelligence about Nazi activities in the region. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and earned a Bronze Star for rescuing nearly 70 wounded soldiers that had been abandoned under heavy fire in the “Bloody Battle of Tarawa.”
After the war, Albert rehabilitated his film career by tackling minor roles in small movies and starting Eddie Albert Productions, a company that made 16mm industrial and educational films. He soon found steady work playing wisecracking sidekicks, cowardly villains and sympathetic father figures in more than 100 motion pictures, including “Smash-up,” “Attack,” “Carrie,” “Oklahoma!” “The Sun Also Rises,” “The Longest Yard” and “Escape to Witch Mountain.” Albert twice received Academy Award nominations for best supporting actor in “Roman Holiday” and “The Heartbreak Kid.”
Playing a straight man on television, however, turned Albert into a star. For six seasons, he portrayed Oliver Wendell Douglas, a New York lawyer who settles on a farm with his glamorous wife (Eva Gabor) in the CBS comedy “Green Acres.” Albert often joked that he was “the only actor to have worked with one of the Gabor sisters and not marry one.” He was, in fact, married to Mexican actress/singer Margo (n


Mitsuru Hanada

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Categories: Sports

Mitsuru Hanada, a famed sumo stablemaster who was once known as the “Prince of Sumo” in Japan, died on May 30 of oral cancer. He was 55.
Hanada’s family is one of the sport’s most powerful dynasties. He trained under his eldest brother, Katsuji, a grand champion who fought under the name Wakanohana, and fathered two sumo-wrestling champions, former yokozunas Takanohana and the second Wakanohana.
Hanada entered his brother’s stable and made his professional debut in 1965. He was only 18 when he reached the Makuuchi Division, sumo’s elite rank. An immensely popular fighter, Hanada attained the second-highest rank of ozeki despite weighing 243 pounds. Although he was considered a sumo lightweight, the handsome and stylish Hanada spent 16 years in the ring and fought a record 50 consecutive tournaments as ozeki under the name Takanohana.
Hanada won two Emperor’s Cups before retiring in 1981 with a career record of 726 wins, 490 losses and 58 withdrawals. He spent his later years running the Futagoyama stable and working as the director of the Japan Sumo Association. In 2004, Hanada handed over control of the stable to his eldest son, who changed its name to the Takanohana Stable.


Marking Memorial Day

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Categories: Site News

As of today, 1,836 coalition troops have died in the war in Iraq. That statistic breaks down into 1,656 Americans, 89 Britons, 10 Bulgarians, one Dane, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Hungarian, 21 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, one Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians.
The Blog of Death does not have the manpower to cover these losses on a daily basis. However, since this is Memorial Day, we take a moment to honor the sacrifices of all servicemen and women and send comforting thoughts to their families and friends.
Faces of the Fallen
Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Casualties
A Look at the First 1,000 Who Died
Search for War Casualties
Memorial Day Coverage From NPR

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