Phyllis Diller, extravagantly 'out there' comedic genius, has died

Phyllis Diller, one of America's most beloved, goofy comics, died today at her Los Angeles home.

Diller, who had ties to Washtenaw County (she lived in Ypsilanti during World War II), got her show biz start in radio in the 1950s. From there, she started doing stand-up at the famous Purple Onion Comedy Club in San Francisco. In the 1960s, she and Bob Hope teamed up for two dozen TV specials. In addition to her extensive television appearances on dozens of shows, Ms. Diller worked in Hollywood. In a rare out-of-character role, Diller had a walk-on part in Spendor in the Grass (1961).

In addition to her wild platinum blonde hair and her signature guffaw, a cross between fingers scraping a pitted blackboard and a hormonally-challenged cat, Diller's running riff on her unseen, imaginary husband, Fang, entertained her audiences for decades.

In 2005, she somehow found time to pen her autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy.

Ms. Diller, who had recently fallen and broken several bones, was 95.

William Windom, great character actor, has died

William Windom, whose television and silver screen acting career spanned decades, died August 16th at his California home.

Best known in more recent years as Dr. Seth Hazlitt in the popular Murder, She Wrote TV series (1984-1996), he also had roles in other hit TV shows, such as the original The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), The Farmer's Daughter (1963-1966), (in which he played a Minnesota congressman based loosely on his real life great-grandfather, William Windom, who was a Minnesota congressman and senator in the 19th century.)

Windom's first movie role was the prosecuting attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), starring Gregory Peck.

Mr. Windom, who was 88, died of congestive heart failure.

Scott McKenzie, Summer of Love singer, has died

Scott McKenzie, forever tied to the unofficial anthem for San Francisco's 1967 Summer of Love, San Francisco (Be Sure to Where Some Flowers in Your Hair, died Saturday at his Los Angeles home.

His iconic song, written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, was a big hit at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, which is the subject of Monterey Pop (1968), the first filmed rock festival.

McKenzie, who had been in fragile health for quite some time with Guillaine-Barre Syndrome and a possible heart attack, died at home at age 73.

Tony Scott, Hollywood director, has died

Tony Scott, the Hollywood director who brought such hits as Top Gun (1986) and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974), died yesterday in Los Angeles County.

Scott and his brother, fellow director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, 1992, and Alien, 1979, owned Scott Free Productions which has produced such hits as the 2010 runaway train flick, Unstoppable. Under their production company, they also produced several TV hits, including The Good Wife and Numb3rs.

Tragically, Tony Scott, who committed suicide when he jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in California, was only 68. For information about suicide prevention, this is a good place to start.

Ron Palillo, a.k.a. Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter, has died

Ron Palillo, who played Horshack on the 70s (1975-1979) hit sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter, (season 1 is on order), died unexpectedly today at his West Palm Beach, Florida home.

Palillo's goofy character, Arnold Horshack, whose snorty horse-laugh masked his academic incliniations, was one of The Sweathogs, four rambunctious, lovable students in a remedial Brooklyn High School class taught by the wry Mr. Kotter (himself a former Sweathog), played by Gabe Kaplan. The other three Sweathogs were:

Vincent "Vinnie" Barbarino, the requisite heartthrob, played by John Travolta whose career took off with this role.

Freddie "Boom Boom" Percy Washington, brought to life by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, was musical and athletic and somewhat of a peacemaker.

Rounding out the quartet was Epstein (Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein, the short, tough guy Puerto Rican Jew, forever immortalized by Robert Hegyes.

Palillo, who was 63, died of a massive heart attack.

Helen Gurley Brown, media giant, has died

Helen Gurley Brown who stunned, shocked, and delighted generations of women with her revolutionary 1962 book, Sex and the Single Girl, has died.

Ms. Brown had an enormous influence on American society with her way-before-her-time ideas about single women and their sexuality. She expounded on her ideas in several venues, none more prominent than her thirty years at the helm of Cosmopolitan magazine.

She and her husband, Hollywood powerhouse producer, David Brown (Jaws (1975) and The Sting (1973), to name two), worked as a team to promote Helen's columns, her books, a brief TV show, and multiple appearances on The Tonight Show.

In 1964, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda, and Tony Curtis starred in the movie Sex and the Single Girl, loosely based on the book.

Her memoir, I'm Wild Again: Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts (2000) and her 2009 autobiography, Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown, by Jennifer Scanlon were big hits among the curious who may have been surprise to learn the the Browns were happily married for 51 years.

In 1995, the Magazine Publishers of America bestowed upon Ms. Brown, their highest honor, the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, making her the first woman to be so awarded.

Ms. Brown, who was 90, died in New York City.

Joe Kubert, world-renowned cartoonist and graphic artists, has died

Joe Kubert, known throughout the world as a cartoonist and graphic artist extraordinaire, died yesterday.

Kubert was born to draw. By the time he was 12 in 1938, he was selling his work for $5 a page ($79.80 in 2012 dollars) and he was an informal apprentice for the MLJ Studio, the forerunner for Archie Comics.

In the fall of 1943, he began his lifelong association with DC Comics, serving as it's Director of Publications from 1967 to 1976.

Among his large body of work which built his fame are Yossel: April 19, 1943 in which he imagined what his family life would have been like if the Kuberts had stayed in Poland (now Ukraine). He also drew Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place, one entry in hissix-part series of the WW II adventures of Sgt. Frank Rock.

In 1973, he opened the The Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, now called The Kubert School. The grueling three-year program has aspiring artists glued to their drawing boards eight to ten hours a day.

In 2009 the National Cartoonist Society awarded him their Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.

Two of Kubert's sons, Andy and Adam, are popular graphic artists in their own right.

Kubert was just shy of his 86th birthday when he died.

David Rakoff, beloved NPR humorist and author, has died

David Rakoff, whose special, sweet gift for humor and sympathy, died last night at home in Manhattan.

A Canadian by birth, great friends with Amy and David Sedaris, Rakoff stole the hearts of This American Life fans on NPR / Public Radio International with his hilarious contributions, told with a calm charm that delighted.

Rakoff wrote just three collections of essays. In his first, Fraud (2001), he wrote of his first battle with cancer. His third book, Half Empty (2010), won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor.

When his cancer returned, Rakoff did not go gentle into that good night. In a powerful New York Times Magazine piece published in April of 2011, Rakoff wrote about the diagnosis that his cancer was terminal: "It leaves you exposed, like grabbing onto the trunk of a tree for support in a storm only to find the wood soaked through and punky and coming apart in your hands."

The announcement on Twitter today of Mr. Rakoff's passing, saw a flood of sorrowful tweets that brought him to the top of the Trending list. He was only 47.

Ann Arbor District Library is one of 5 Downtown establishments with the highest bus usage

The Ann Arbor District Library was cited by GetDowntown in this announcement as being one of the Top 5 Downtown establishments that use the AATA bus system the most.

GetDowntown was established in 1999. In cooperation with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, a.k.a. The Ride, the City of Ann Arbor, and the Downtown Development Authority, GetDowntown is a tireless promoter of thinking green when it comes to workers in the Downtown area.

Among the many activities GetDowntown promotes are the go!pass (downtown employees can ride the bus for free), the annual Commuter Challenge, a fun-filled competitive event that rewards the business with the most 'green' miles racked by a business's employees, and ZipCars.

This is just one more reason to love living in Ann Arbor.

Judith Crist, sharp-tongued, powerful movie critic, has died

Judith Crist, one of the most widely-read, feared movie critics for more than 30 years, died today at her home in Manhattan.

Ms. Crist's skewering of popular movies was legendary.She labeled The Sound of Music (1965) "Icky-sticky". According to Crist, Anne Bancroft, who starred in The Pumpkin Eater (1964), had "...no aspirations or intellect above her pelvis."

She had a stint on the Today Show. Among her impressive print credentials, she was a critic for the now-defunct New York Herald Tribune, and in TV Guide which hired her in 1966, fired her in 1983, and came crawling back three weeks later after a huge public outcry, offering her a raise and a job for five more years.

Her half-century career as a Professor at the Columbia Journalism School ended in February of this year.

Ms. Crist was 90.

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