RIP – ROBERT DICKEY


EXPIRED: 12/29/11 – Robert Dickey, 72, was half of the singing duo James & Bobby Purify, along with cousin James. Once signed to a record label in 1966, they immediately had a hit with “I’m Your Puppet”, which spent 14 weeks in the U.S. chart and sold an over a million copies.

Although “I’m Your Puppet” was their biggest hit, they had hit the Hot 100 throughout the decade with “Shake a Tail Feather” and “Let Love Come Between Us.”

Dickey quit the music business in 1971 and moved to his hometown of Tallahassee, where he worked as a city maintenance supervisor.

He HATED “I’m Your Puppet.”

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RIP – CHEETAH


EXPIRED: 12/24/11  – Cheetah, 80, was “discovered” by an animal trainer on a trip to Liberia in 1932. The chimpanzee ended up in Hollywood with a 30 year film career, mostly in Tarzan movies, playing himself, stealing scenes from Olympic-medal-winner-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller, who played the Apeman.

Cheetah died of kidney failure on Christmas Eve at The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbour, Florida, where he lived for over 60 years. In his final days he enjoyed spending time finger painting – his art has sold at auction for upwards of $2,000 apiece.

Despite his fondness for booze and cigars, vices he had to give up upon retirement, Cheetah was not a temperamental actor. Still, he wasn’t above hurling poop (his own) at anyone who caused him grief.

Captive chimps typically live about 35 years. Cheetah, at 80, holds the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest non-human primate. He even outlived both Tarzan co-stars, Weissmuller and actress Maureen O’Sullivan, who played Jane. O’Sullivan referred to Cheetah as ‘that bastard.” Despite his fondness for booze and cigars, vices he had to give up upon retirement, Cheetah was not a temperamental actor. Still, he wasn’t above hurling poop (his own) at anyone who caused him grief. Supposedly, his aim was pretty good. I’m assuming O’Sullivan was probably a regular target.

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RIP – ISABELL MASTERS


 

EXPIRED: 09/11/11 – Isabell Masters, 98, was a school teacher, got a PHD and ran for President of the United States, unsuccessfully, five times. That’s more times than any other woman in U.S. history.

Hailing from Topeka, Kansas, Masters was a  third-party candidate with the Looking Back Party, whatever that is.

She ran in  1984 with negligible impact. But in  1992 she got  339 votes. Four years later, in 1996, she was only on the ballot in Arkansas but also received a votes in California and Maryland for a total of 1052 votes. By the 2000 election she got 752 votes. Her last run was in 2004.

Also she liked to keep it in the family.  Her 1992 running mate was her son, Walter Ray. In  1996 she tried her luck with her daughter, Shirley Jean, as Vice Presidential candidate. Not to play favorites, she chose to run with her other daughter, Alfreda Dean, in 2000.

Her other three children, including a daughter, Cora, the ex-wife of the former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, and a son Thomas Masters, mayor of Riviera Beach, Florida, never ran for office with thier mom.

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RIP – BILL HAAST


EXPIRED: 06/15/11 – Bill Haast, 100, started playing with snakes as a kid and eventually became a snake expert known as a pioneer in extracting venom for research. For years at the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories, a facility near Punta Gorda, Florida, he injected himself with cobra venom to develop an immunity to bites.

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RIP – LEONARD SKINNER


EXPIRED: 09/20/10 – Formby Leonard Skinner, 77, was a no-nonsense, flattopped basketball coach who hated rock and roll and long hair and will be forever associated with it.

Skinner was a jock and a gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the same school he graduated from. The same school he met his future wife at. The same school he was working at when, in the late 1960s, he sent some kids to the principal’s office because their hair was too long.

One of those kids was Gary Rossington, who was learning to play guitar and trying to put together a band in the area.

The incident was soon forgotten by Skinner, but not by Rossington, whose band used a contorted version of the coach’s name  as their own: Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their 1973 debut was called  “Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd.”

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RIP – JAMES WINNER


EXPIRED: 09/14/10 – James Winner Jr., 81, invented The Club® after his Cadillac was stolen, despite it having a factory-installed alarm. Too bad the Club didn’t keep him from crossing into oncoming traffic and plowing into another vehicle.

Winner, was born and raised on a farm in Transfer, Pennsylvania, proud of the fact that he was dirt poor. At the age of 5, he was up at 5 a.m. to milk the cows. He attended a one-room schoolhouse and graduated in a class of 8.
At age 13, after watching his parents work so hard for nothing, Winner decided that farming was not for him.

So at 17, he entered the Army and six months later found himself across the ocean in the middle of the Korean War.

Thinking back on his time in the Army, Winner remembered how he once secured his Jeep’s steering wheel with a chain to prevent anyone from stealing it. That memory led him to invent the No. 1 selling mechanical anti-theft device for cars and trucks.

The Club®

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RIP – KING COLEMAN


EXPIRED: 09/11/10 – Carlton “King” Coleman, 78, was, in the late 1950’s, a radio DJ at Miami station WMBM who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

And that place was near James Brown.

The year was 1959. James Brown wanted to capitalize on the success of the recent dance craze songs sweeping the nation – especially a bunch of songs about the new dance called the Mash Potato. For his stage show, Brown wanted to record a mashed potatoes-themed instrumental. However, his record company balked at the idea and wouldn’t allow it.

So Brown went behind his record companies back and recorded the track  – with Brown on piano – at a smaller studio. The song was called “(Do The) Mashed Potatoes” and Brown played piano and shouted the song’s title. To prevent Brown’s voice from being recognized, the engineer overdubbed the shouted vocals with Coleman’s voice. They released the song under the name Nat Kendrick & the Swans to prevent anyone finding out it was James Brown on the track (Kendrick was Brown’s drummer).

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