Sunday, August 19, 2007

Groucho and Lenny are Buried in Eden

Eden Memorial Park,
Mission Hills,
the San Fernando Valley,
Los Angeles, California

My wife's grandmother and grandfather are buried here along with my two most favorite dead comedians Groucho Marx (October 2, 1890 - August 19, 1977)and Lenny Bruce (October 13, 1925 - August 3, 1966). Hmm, they were both born in October and both died in August. The astrologers and numerologists could have fun with that fact. As for me, I call it a coincidence.

Groucho Marx When I discovered Lenny in high school circa 72-73 thanks to his records and books, my whole life changed. Here was someone who spoke the truth to bullshit. When I re-discovered Groucho in the 80s thanks to home video, I learned how to speak bullshit to the phony myths we call truth.
Lenny Bruce Among the other graves at Eden, you'll find the always hysterical comic actor Harvey Lembeck (April 15, 1923 - January 5, 1982). While I loved him as 'Rocco Barbella' on "The Phil Silvers Show" aka "Sgt. Bilko" and as 'Erich Von Zipper' in the "Beach Party" movies, his performance as 'Sgt. Harry Shapiro' in Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17" approaches the sublime. He originated this role on Broadway. His son is Michael Lembeck, not only a veteran actor, but director as well.

Howard Caine (January 2, 1926 - December 28, 1993) played Gestapo Major 'Wolfgang Hochstetter' on "Hogan's Heroes." My father (he served in the Army in Europe during WWII) and me watched "Hogan's Heroes" religiously. We'd howl deeply, knowing the tragic truth beneath the humor.

Sam Jaffe (March 10, 1891 - March 24, 1984) is buried at Eden. I saw him in reruns of "Ben Casey" and as "Gunga Din," but when I think of Sam Jaffe, I think of that lecherous crook 'Doc Erwin Riedenschneider' in John Huston's "The Asphalt Jungle."

Funny guy Milton Kamen (March 5, 1921 - February 24, 1977) wrote for Sid Caesar and discovered Woody Allen.

Actor Julius Harris (August 17, 1923 - October 17, 2004) began his career in blaxploitation movies and played the memorable Bond villain 'Tee Hee Henderson' in "Live and Let Die."

Playing 'Frank De Fazio' in "Laverne and Shirley," Phil Foster was consistently the funniest element of that series.

Composer George Wyle wrote "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island."

While best known for playing 'Cpl. Chuck Boyle' in "Gomer Pyle, USMC," character actor Roy Stuart worked steadily from the 60s through the 80s.

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