RIP – BRIDIE GALLAGHER


EXPIRED: 01/09/12 – Bridie Gallagher, 87,  was Ireland’s 1st international pop star.

In Belfast she shot to fame in 1956 with a recording of “A Mother’s Love’s A Blessing” and found global adulation with her rendition of “The Boys From County Armagh” and “The Homes of Donegal.”

While her career lasted over 60 years, there were some low moments. In 1976 her 21-year old son was killed in a motorcycle accident. That same year she released her last single, “Just Like Your Daddy.” Still, she kept on performing.

Known as “The Girl from Donegal,” Gallagher holds the record for the largest number of people in attendance in London’s Royal Albert Hall, a record that can never be topped now that it’s an all-seating venue.

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RIP – ANDREW GELLER


EXPIRED: 12/25/11 – Andrew Geller, 86, knew what American’s wanted: easy to build and easy to maintain versions of the American Dream.

As an post-World-War-Two architect, Geller planned and developed uninhibited, sculptural beach houses in the coastal regions of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut during the 1950s and 60s. He is credited as the inventor of the A-frame, a weekend getaway house that was marketed towards bachelors, and  for designing a series of off-the-shelf homes, sold for between $12,000 and $18,000 at Macy’s.

On the flip side, he was highly sought after as an architect for his one-of-a-kind houses whose distinctive shapes earned them nicknames like the Box Kite, the Milk Carton and the Grasshopper.

But his biggest claim to fame is the residential development he built on Long Island. He called it Leisurama.

The New York Times said Geller “helped bring modernism to the masses.”

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RIP – PUSUKE THE DOG


EXPIRED: 12/05/11 –  Pusuke, 26, lived his life in Japan and was a Shiba mix who last year was recognized by Guinness World Records as the planet’s oldest dog. He seemed to be fine on the morning before he died, getting up, eating, sniffing, but then, well….

Pusuke, was actually a little older. He was 26 years, eight months old. Or, about 125 in “human years,” according to his owner Yumiko Shinohara.  A few years ago he was hit by a car. A vet told Shinohara it would be difficult to save Pusuke’s life, but the dog underwent successful surgery.”

But sometimes, the years catch up. RIP Pusuke!

For those of you doing the math, calculating a dog’s age in human years isn’t as simple as multiplying by 7 (the common equation). Among the factors that come into play are breed and size (smaller dogs often live longer than larger ones). Pedigree has a “dog age calculator” posted here

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RIP – SALVATORE LICITRA


EXPIRED: 09/05/11 –  Salvatore Licitra, 43, was to be the “new Pavarotti.”  Born in Bern, Switzerland, he grew up in Milan and started working as a graphic artist for Italian Vogue. When he was 19 he started singing classes and eventually enrolled at Carlo Bergonzi’s voice academy in Busseto, Italy.

He made his debut in Un ballo in maschera in Parma in 1998, and buoyed by positive audience reception, he auditioned for Riccardo Muti at La Scala. A year later he debuted at La Scala in La forza del destino as Alvaro, followed by roles in Tosca and Madama Butterfly and Forza. Milan honoured him with the Honorary Citizenship Medal, and Sony offered him an exclusive recording contract.

In 2002, he appeared at NYC’s Metropolitan Opera substituting for Luciano Pavarotti, then 66, who had cancelled his performance in Tosca just two hours before curtain time. There Licitra was dubbed the New Pavarotti.

On August 27th, 2011, Licitra was riding his Vespa through Modica, the famed “chocolate” city in the hills of Ragusa,Sicily. His girlfriend was on the back of the seat holding tight. Looking for parking space, he slammed into a wall. His girlfriend was wearing a helmet and was unharmed. He was not. Licitra went into a coma for nine days and was pronounced clinically dead on September 5th. His body lies in state in the Catania’s opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini.

By the way, although most Italians ignore the law, it’s illegal to ride without a helmet. This is a good reason to obey the law.

 

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RIP – ESTHER GORDY


EXPIRED: 08/24/11 – Esther Gordy, 91, loaned her brother, Berry, $800 to start the Motown record label during in 1959. Often described as “the pillar of Motown”, she took an active role in management and booking tours, and acted as “mom” to some of the label’s younger acts. After Motown shut down she created a museum in the label’s Detroit studio, called Hitsville USA.

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RIP – MICHAEL SHOWERS


EXPIRED: 08/24/11 –  Michael Showers, 45, played New Orleans cop, Capt. John Guidry, in the TV show Treme, about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his role he was investigating the murder of the real-life Helen Hill, who was killed in 2007. He died nearby, pulled from the Mississippi River near the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, after being spotted by a steamboat captain. Police speculate he’d been dead for at least 2 days. His girlfriend reported him missing after he failed to return home after a night drinking on Bourbon Street. 

Showers was suffering from depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just a few months ago.

Showers was a struggling actor for several decades but racked up an impressive resume of extra and walk-on work over the last decade, including the movies TrafficMad MoneyI Love You Phillip MorrisThe ResidentThe Tree of Life and the soon to be released Colombiana.

He also was getting more work on the small screen and recently appeared in The Vampire Diaries and Breaking Bad.

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RIP – JACK LAYTON


 

EXPIRED: 08/22/11 – Jack Layton, 61, got married – and entered politics – at the age of 19. Although he lost a bid for Toronto’s mayor back in ’91, he was one of Canada’s most prominent – and controversial – left-wing politicians. He biked to work but slammed into a letter box while riding illegally on a sidewalk. He authored a book on homelessness but lived in federally subsidized housing, despite having an income of $120k. He opposed the popular  SkyDome project, advocated for AIDS patients rights, and argued that Toronto’s bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics was stupid.

In ‘04, he recommended getting rid of the Clarity Act, the very thing that keeps Quebec in Canada. He promised, in French, to recognize any declaration of independence by Quebec. The Quebecois loved him.

A champion of universal health care, the Clean Air Act, native Indian rights and the rights of conscientious objectors to the Iraq war, Layton even busked on a busy street corner to raise awareness for the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Battling prostate cancer since 2010, he took time off in July hoping to return to work in September. It didn’t happen. Canada’s loss.

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