Gary Collins, actor and host of the Miss America Pageant, has died

Gary Collins, TV and movie actor and longtime host of the Miss America Pageant, died October 13th in Biloxi, MS.

While serving in the Army, Collins was hit with the acting bug with performances on the Armed Forces Network.

During his long acting career, he had roles in such popular TV shows as The Virginian, Charlie's Angels, Perry Mason, The Love Boat and JAG. He a role in the nail-biting plane disaster movie, Airport (1970), starring Burt Lancaster and Jean Seberg.

From 1982 to 1990, Collins hosted the Miss America Pageant.

Mr. Collins, who is survived by his wife of 45 years, actress Mary Ann Mobley, was 74 years old.

Alex Karras, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and Hollywood actor, has died

Alex Karras, a Detroit Lion for twelve seasons and an actor for many years, died today in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Karras was a first round draft pick for the Lions. He was a member of the Lions' Fearsome Foursome (a term used in pro football to describe the frontline defense. The other Lions players were Roger Brown, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams. Karras was suspended in 1963 for one year when he was caught placing bets on NFL teams. He returned to the team in 1964 and played for seven more years.

In the mid-1970s, he called the plays, with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

His most memorable Hollywood role was in the the 1974 hit western satire, Blazing Saddles in which he played the Mondo.

He and his real-life wife, Susan Clark, who survives, starred in the TV sitcom, Webster (1983-1987) (the first season is on order), along with Emmanuel Lewis. Karras and Clark played the adoptive parents of the orphaned son of a pro football player.

Karras, who was 77, died from complications due to cancer and dementia.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

In my attempt to find a sitcom that appeals to me and to my 7 year old daughter I revisited The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Remember that show? Mary was the woman who could turn the world on with her smile, she could take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile, as her theme show song so whimsically tells us. The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS in September 1970, and during its seven-year run became one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced. In the 1970s it stepped away from how woman were traditionally portrayed on television. Mary was a woman who was striking it on her own after a failed two year relationship. In the first episode we find out that Mary is a 30 year old woman who has been living with her boyfriend while putting him through medical school. Shortly after her boyfriend completes medical school Mary leaves the relationship because he refuses to marry her. However, Mary Richards doesn't let this rain on her parade. She packs it up and moves to Minneapolis, Minnesota where she gets a job as an associate producer of a second-rate news show. In addition to touching on the subject of a single woman working for a living, it also touched on controversial subjects like homosexuality, marital problems, divorce and equal pay for women. This show is funny, touching and a whole lot of other things. I find myself laughing out loud with my daughter over some of the great material creators and writers James. L. Brooks and Allan Burns pumped out. I remember as a child looking up to Mary and being in awe of her fantastic hair, studio apartment and Evan-Picone wardrobe. I'm still in awe of Mary, and now some 30+ years later so is my daughter.

Hollywood shocked by actor Johnny Lewis's violent death

Johnny Lewis, best known for his role as Kip "Half-Sack" Epps in the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, the FX Network motorcycle series that premiered in 2008, died last night at the scene of a shocking crime in Los Feliz, CA.

A spokesman for the LAPD said it appears that Lewis murdered his landlady, Katherine Davis, 81, and her cat on Wednesday. Witnesses say he then attacked a couple of neighbors before heading back to the house and jumping or falling off the roof, landing in her driveway which killed him.

Those close to Lewis, who once dated Katy Perry, were not surprised by his violent end. He had been released from jail six days ago, after pleading no contest in August to burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

The troubled actor, who also acted in several TV series, including Criminal Minds and The O.C., was 28.

The "Ypsi Flea" is happening this Sunday, Sept 23rd

With television shows such as American Pickers becoming increasingly popular, people across the country are realizing that the old saying is still true, "one man's junk is another man's treasure!" From flea markets to garage sales, thrifting culture is now more popular than ever, and America is on the hunt!

Once every blue moon, it is known that some folks over in Ann Arbor's neighboring city of Ypsilanti throw together a community event - "The Ypsi Flea" - that combines local vendors featuring everything from used clothing and records to crafty things and live music.

The Ypsi Flea will be happening this Sunday, September 23rd from 12pm-8pm, and will be held at Woodruff's at 36 East Cross Street in Ypsilanti.

Come out and hunt for some treasures of your own, or just to enjoy some live local music; either way, the event is free, all ages and held in the name of fun and community expansion!

Stephen Dunham, TV and movie actor, has died

Stephen Dunham, who has starred in several limited-run TV series, and had supporting roles in several movies, died last Friday in Burbank, California.

Dunham, born Stephen Dunham Bowers, had roles in such TV series as Hot Properties (ABC), Oh, Grow Up and DAG (both on NBC), The Bill Engvall Show (TBS) and What I Like About You (WB).

Some of his movie roles included Catch Me if You Can (2002), Traffic (2000) and Monster-in-Law (2005).

In October, he will appear posthumously in Paranormal Activity 4, as husband to his real-life wife, actress Alexondra Lee, who survives.

Dunham, who was just 48, died several days after suffering a heart attack.

It's A Fact...

Wasn't The Kids in the Hall fantastic? Even thinking about some of their skits is enough to make me laugh. The Headcrusher, Cabbage Head, the Chicken Lady and all the rest are sure to put a smile on anyone's face. Not every act was was great and many people found their show off-putting, but hey, the same can be said of Monty Python's Flying Circus or Saturday Night Live. Being comic geniuses means taking risks, and take risks they did. If you missed out on the first run of The Kids in the Hall, do yourself a favor and put Season One on hold this very instant. Or indulge in some nostalgia and request this for a second viewing. Also, be sure to check out their movie debut Brain Candy.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #353

In Benjamin Wood's The Bellwether Revivals *, bright, bookish Oscar Lowe escapes his squalid upbringing and finds new life amid the colleges and spires of Cambridge as a care assistant at a local nursing home. Lured into the chapel at Kings College by the otherworldly organ music, he meets and falls in love with Iris Bellwether, a beautiful and enigmatic medical student, and her brother Eden's exclusive circle of the very wealthy and privileged.

Eden, a charismatic but troubled musical prodigy, believes that music can cure, and convinces their close-knit circle to participate in a series of disturbing experiments, thus putting in motion the devastation foretold in the gripping opener, "two people lie dead, and a third sits nearby, barely breathing".

"A sophisticated debut novel about the hypnotic influence of love, the beguiling allure of money and the haunting power of music".

For fans of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis series created by Colin Dexter, many of which are based on his novels, set in Oxford.

Another great academic mystery set in Cambridge is the second in the Detective Constable Lacey Flint series Dead Scared * * (2012) by S. J. Bolton, a brilliant psychological thriller, and a follow-up to Now You See Me (2011).

British-born Benjamin Wood was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend the MFA Creative Writing Programme at the University of British Columbia, Canada, where he was also the fiction editor of the literary journal PRISM international. Wood is now a lecturer in creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London.

* = Starred review

* * = Starred reviews

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.

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