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Remembering a few late greats

rows of lit candles

By A. Jade Munsie

As the first month of 2022 comes to a close, we’ve already seen several cultural icons cross the rainbow bridge. Each of these people impacted society in their own way, leaving a lasting impression on those of us left behind.

  1. Betty White, Actress/Comedienne
    (January 17 1922- December 31 2021)

Best known for: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls

Betty White was and will remain a pioneer of women in comedy. Whether she was homemaker Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  or cute, naive Rose Nyland on The Golden Girls, White was fearless, cheeky, and a joy to watch. 

She had a zest for life that was undeniable and influential everywhere she went.

Interesting Fact: White was awarded the Guinness World Record for Longest TV Career as a female entertainer in 2014.

“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find humour in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”— Betty White, Chicago Tribune, 2011

  1. Sir Sidney Poitier, Actor/Director/Diplomat
    (February 20, 1927 – January 6, 2022)

Best known for: A Patch Of Blue (1965), To Sir, with Love (1967), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970)

Sidney Poitier paved the way for black actors in Hollywood, starring in the 1958 film “Blackboard Jungle.” With a vast repertoire of influential films, Poitier showed the audience how human we are, the potential we all have, and how important it is to accept ourselves.

Interesting Fact: Poitier was the first black actor to be nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award (The Defiant Ones, 1958) and the first to win (Lillies of the Field, 1964). It’d be 38 years before another black person won for Best Actor (Denzel Washington, Training Day, 2002), the same year the Academy presented Poitier with an Honourary Academy Award. 

photo of sidney poitier

“Our humanity is served back to us through the eyes of those who have diminished us. And they serve back to us a view of ourselves that is incomplete. If we don’t look to the bigger picture, our view will narrow to that which is constantly fed to us.” — Sidney Poitier, Oprah, 2002

  1. Peter Bogdanovich, Director/Actor
    (July 30, 1939 – January 6, 2022)

Best Known For: The Last Picture Show (1971), What’s Up, Doc? (1972), Paper Moon (1973), Mask (1985)

Peter Bogdanovich brought to life stories that said something about everyone. Whether it was folks from a small, dying Texas town in The Last Picture Show, highlighting situational comedy in What’s Up, Doc? or telling the story of a disfigured young man in Mask, Bogdanovich was excellent at recognizing our humanity. 

Interesting Fact: After the murder of Dorothy Stratten in 1980, Bogdanovich took a four-year hiatus from filmmaking to write the book The Killing of a Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980, which recants their relationship and cautions the traps that women can fall into.

“Filmmakers have a responsibility to the audience and to the work, I wish they felt that responsibility more, especially to what’s true in life.” — Peter Bogdanovich, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind, 1998

  1. Bob Saget, Comedian/Actor
    (May 17, 1956 – January 9, 2022)

Best known for: Full House, America’s Funniest Home Videos, stand-up comedy

Bob Saget had a natural charm and an inviting but subtle smirk that could make anyone smile. Audiences fell in love with Saget as America’s widowed father Danny Tanner in the 1987 sitcom Full House. They were equally fond of his adult-situated stand-up comedy bits that left viewers laughing and cringing all at once. 

Interesting Fact: Saget was nominated for a Grammy in 2014 for his comedy album, That’s What I’m Talking About.

“It is so healthy to laugh. And I’m out there doing it, and I know it’s healing for people.” — Bob Saget, CBS Mornings, 2021

  1. Meat Loaf, Musician/Actor
    (September 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022)

There’s no doubt about it; we were extra blessed by Michael Lee Aday, aka Meat Loaf. After his breakthrough role in the famous cult film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as reckless motorcyclist Eddie, Meat Loaf defined himself as a larger-than-life character rocker with his 1977 album, “Bat Out of Hell” and epic sensation, “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.” Every song was a performance, a total experience.

Interesting Fact: His music inspired the 2017 stage production, Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, which is on tour in the UK.

“Before I can sing the song, I’ve got to find the character. I don’t just walk in and sing a song. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no meaning or reason to sing it. You’re just another singer singing some song.” — Meat Loaf, Variety, 2016

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