The Day the Fun Died?
Pop Culture Mourns Three Deaths
January 2, 2019.
“Mean Gene” Okurland
I woke up to the news that “Mean Gene” Okurland died. If you don’t know who that is, you never watched any WWF (now WWE) wrestling—and you definitely don’t remember the high-tension stakes that was WrestleMania III when the two titans of WWF, Hulk Hogan and André the Giant (formerly best friends), went toe to toe! It was truly an epic match for the ages.
So, how did Mean Gene fit in? He was the announcer for all of WWF matches, and if you didn’t watch a lot of WWF wrestling and had trouble buying in to some of the insane personalities of wrestling, Mean Gene was a way in. While the wrestlers would shout, scream, and spit on each other (not seriously—it was the spittle from their lips as they acted their part), Mean Gene would stand beside them (sometimes between them), mic in his hand, calmly listening, and every now and then offering his two cents. He was the everyman in this preposterous, but highly entertaining world. He was the way it made sense to the people like me who watched from a distance, yet enjoyed the amount of fun it brought to the people who watched WWF regularly.
He was born on December 19, 1942, and was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame by Hulk Hogan in 2006. He started with the WWF in 1984, and stayed with them until 1993, then he went to work for WCW. Although, he returned to WWF (now WWE) in 2001. He made his last appearance on TV on the 25th anniversary of Raw to interview wrestler AJ Styles.
Throughout the many personalities of wrestling, Mean Gene Okurland was the one that stayed constant. Many wrestlers came down the hatch, and then retired or went on to bigger and better things, but they all passed by Mean Gene first. His personality and his presence will truly be missed, even by distant fans like me.
Bob Einstein A.k.a: Super Dave, or A.k.a: Marty Funkhouser
The actor and comedian, who portrayed Super Dave and Marty Funkhouser, passed away yesterday.
Though described as an “accomplished” stuntman, Super Dave rarely succeeded at any sound he attempted. Indeed, it was the fun of watching him fail that we took delight in. Just as it was with Evel Knievel, however, we were awed and we cheered when he stuck the landing just right—mostly we tuned in or lined up for Evel ( when he performed in the days before PPV) to see if he would crash. Evel did crash a lot, and it is probably true that he broke every bone in his body through his performing career.
Luckily for Super Dave, nothing ever seemed to break, or at least not anything that was serious—or not anything that would stay broken for too long.
Super Dave first made us laugh in 1972 when he appeared on The John Byner Comedy Hour. In the 1980s, Super Dave would appear regularly on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and also Late Night with David Letterman. In 1987, he would get his own show called (aptly enough) Super Dave, and it would run until 1991. In 1994-95, he would cross paths with Mean Gene on WWE Monday Night Raw. In 2000, he got his own feature length movie titled The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave. His last appearance on TV was in 2013 in the Charlie Sheen TV series, Anger Management.
Bob Einstein was born in 1942 in LA, and is the older brother of actor and comedian, Albert Brooks. In addition to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Einstein also had a recurring role on Arrested Development.
Although Super Dave “failed” at his many attempts to impress us with his stunts, there is no doubt he stuck the landing in our hearts.
He will also be missed.
Daryl Dragon A.k.a “The Captain”
I was at work when I got this notification about his passing.
With his wife, Toni Tennille, Daryl Dragon completed the 1970s band called The Captain & Tennille. They gained popularity as a duo in the mid-70s in the LA area, and in 1975, they released their first single that would become number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song, a rendition of Neil Sedaka’s and Howard Greenfield’s, “Love Will Keep Us Together” and the record it was on sold over one million copies; as well as went on to win a Grammy for Record of the Year. They also married later that year.
Two other hit singles, also penned by Sedaka, were “Lonely Night (Angel Face)” and “You Never Done It Like That.” Furthermore, they had a later hit called “Do That To Me One More Time.”
In July 1976, they were invited by First Lady, Betty Ford, to perform for Queen Elizabeth II during the country’s Bicentennial Celebration.
From September 1976 to March 1977, the duo was so popular they even had their own variety show on ABC called The Captain and Tennille.
Though they divorced in 2014, they remained good friends, and Toni was at his side when he died in Prescott, AZ. He was born on August 27, 1942, and though their pop and soft rock music is easy to poke fun at today, there is no denying that they were a major hit in their day. Even now when their music comes on, you can’t help but get into the swing of it all.
Yeah, after today, the world seems a lot less fun.
So, I guess that means we have to turn the music up even louder now.
Lastly, if 2019 could chill out from now on, that would be great.
Until next time,