By: Timm Carney

My friend Jean Mandel lives in Paris.  I don't know what she does there other than live but she lives in Paris.  We correspond via email as I am rarely in Paris.  We correspond around the deaths of celebrities.  Today she sent me an email regarding the death of Suzanne Pleshette.  I was saddened by her death.  Who didn't like Suzanne Pleshette? Years ago my friend Anna and I used to give people in nightclubs names.  We named an old queen Suzanne Pleshette, he looked just like her. I was then reading the NYT on-line as I do and found out that Actor Allan Melvin has died.  I had to email Jean toute suite as the French say.  Who was Actor Allan Melvin you maybe asking.  He was the actor known best for playing Sam the Butcher, love interest of Alice on the Brady Bunch. I knew Jean would want to be informed. This is the kind of information that she and I thrive on.  We were  broken up recently over the deaths of both Brett Sommers and Charles Nelson Reilly.  These deaths are part of our 70's suburban middle class childhoods dying.  TV personalities were our windows on the world.  Merv showed us the bigger picture, Gene Rayburn taught us the double entendre, Richard Dawson the art of witty repartee. These are not mere b-listers but genuine icons.  They were our pop culture. Years ago I worked on a movie called "Spirit of '76" it is a parody of 1970's America.  It is filled with pop icons and fad culture from the time.  I personally find it to be hysterically funny and recommend it to anyone who enjoys that kind of thing.  My favorite joke in the movie was cut from the final version as it just didn't work right the way it was shot.  It involved on of the characters, played by Geoff Hoyle, running with a chocolate bar and crashing into another character holding a jar of peanut butter. I sat next to Suzy Landau the producer one night watching the dailies. She was so excited.  David Cassidy was in the film and this was the first time we had seen him in dailies. Suzy turned and said, "Oh my God he is just so Keith!" And he was. Through that movie I ended up becoming rather friendly with Leif Garrett.  He is a really nice guy and a lot of fun to hang out with. He and I are the exact same age. I didn't know who he was as when he was famous I wasn't interested in the kind of stuff he was doing.  His fan base was preteen girls and I was 15 at the time and had my mind on other things.  We got along I think because I didn't care who he had been as he was an unknown to me.  I did however have some girl friends who were thrilled to meet him.  They fulfilled some sort of preteen girl fantasy by meeting him.

Celebrity deaths do fascinate me. I read their obits and mourn the death of another piece of my past.  I wonder who will be next. Will it be Dr Bombay or Mrs Ziffle?  I was working on some other non memorable film years ago and was able to meet Mrs. Ziffle.  We rode in the back of a production van together and I found her to be completely charming but couldn't get over the fact I was sitting next to Mrs. Ziffle.  Sadly I don't even know her real name but does it really matter.  I have a friend named Paris Themin.  He is a nice guy and I haven't seen him in years.  He and I met while working on a utterly horrible TV show for Fox.  He and I hit it off and would hang out together seeing bands and junk. When we first met I thought I had knew him from somewhere but just couldn't place it.  One evening I was telling him this and started quizzing him on where it could have been.  He finally broke down and told me that he had been Mike TV in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  I was so relieved.  I did know him from somewhere, I wasn't crazy.  He was a child star who made it through and didn't hold up liquor stores or OD on oxycontin. 

The deaths of Suzanne Pleshette and Actor Allan Melvin have made me reflect and remember the old days of sitting on the shag rug in front of the Curtis Mathis. Part of me misses the past and truly morns the passing of my icons. We all move on and hopefully mature. I would love to go back for an afternoon of pure viewing pleasure but can't. That's life. I 'll take George Goble to block Peter.