Herb Trimpe (1939-2015)

Trimpe at the East Coast Comiccon,  April 11, 2015. © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

Trimpe at the East Coast Comiccon, April 11, 2015. © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

By James H. Burns: Comics artist Herb Trimpe, who drew The Incredible Hulk for Marvel and was the first artist to draw Wolverine, died April 13.

Herb was one of the Silver Age great artists at Marvel. This news makes me incredibly sad, because I grew up with his comics, and he was just the nicest of guys to talk with.

Trimpe’s comics work will long stand time’s test, but we should also not lose sight of the fact that he served our country as a soldier, and as a lay minister, after 9/11. For countless days, Herb was at Ground Zero, helping where he could, and listening to anyone who needed to be heard.

He wrote a book about it, The Power of Angels.

Herb also wrote a piece about being let go from Marvel, in 1996 or so, “Old Superheroes Never Die, They Join the Real World”, which ran in the New York Times.

Mark Evanier has a nice writeup about Herb at News From Me.

[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]

Richard L. Bare (1913-2015)

Richard Bare, director of hundreds of TV episodes including Twilight Zone’s “To Serve Man,” died March 28 at the age of 101.

While attending the University of Southern California in 1932 he made “The Oval Portrait,” an adaptation of a Poe story, that is considered the school’s first student film.

He launched his career with a series of short films for Warner Bros. – “So You Want To Give Up Smoking,” “So You Think You Need Glasses,” etc. — over a 10-year period, interrupted by his service in World War II.

In the 1950s he began working in television. Credited with discovering James Garner, he directed the actor in several installments of Maverick.

Bare’s genre work included 7 episodes of Twilight Zone, among them “Nick of Time” (1960), “The Prime Mover” (1961), “To Serve Man” (1962), “The Fugitive” (1962), and “What’s in the Box” (1964).

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Milton Delugg (1918-2015)

Milton Delugg, who died April 6 at the age of 96, may have been better known for accompanying Al Jolson on the accordion, co-writing Nat King Cole’s hit “Orange Colored Sky” and Perry Como’s polka “Hoop Dee Doo,” or serving for three decades as musical director of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but that’s not what got his obit printed here.

Delugg wrote “Hooray for Santy Claus,” the theme for Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, that 1964 production ranked among the all-time worst films. (Not that I blame his music.)

Delugg often worked with Chuck Barris, too, the musical director of The Gong Show from 1976-1980 (appearing with his “Band With a Thug”), where his venerable “Hoop Dee Doo” was used when the contest winner was chosen.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Stan Freberg (1926-2015)

Stan Freberg, in the days when he voiced puppet characters on "Time for Beany."

Stan Freberg, in the days when he voiced puppet characters on “Time for Beany.”

Revered satirist and actor Stan Freberg died April 7 at the age of 88. His body of work included more than 400 voiceovers for Warner Bros. animation, comedy albums, TV shows like Time for Beany and The Chun King Comedy Hour, and funny commercials for which he won 21 Clio Awards. Time magazine said his 1961 album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America may have been the “finest comedy album ever recorded.”

He extolled the power of radio advertising in this unforgettable bit —

PAUL FREES: Radio? Why should I advertise on radio? There’s nothing to look at, no pictures…

STAN FREBERG: Look, you can do things on radio you couldn’t possibly do on tv.

FREES: That’ll be the day.

FREBERG: All right, watch this…ahem, okay people, now when I give you the cue, I want the 700 foot mountain of whipped cream to roll into Lake Michigan, which has been drained and filled with hot chocolate. Then the Royal Canadian Air Force will fly overhead towing a 10-tom maraschino cherry, which will be dropped into the whipped cream to the cheering of 25,000 extras. All right – cue the mountain!

Freberg was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.

He also believed in humorous TV commercials and is remembered for taglines like “Today the pits; tomorrow the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on!,” and Contadina’s “Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?”

Freberg was close friends with Ray Bradbury. Ray served as best man when Stan married his first wife, Donna — Ray having introduced the newlyweds.

In the Sixties, Freberg put Ray in one of his Sunsweet Prunes commercials. Freberg ‘s narrator praises Ray’s power to predict the future as Ray repeatedly interrupts, “But I never mentioned prunes in any of my stories!”

The two friends had a reunion in the aisles at the 2009 Comic Con when Freberg was 82 and Bradbury was 88 — both made the rounds in wheelchairs. Just a few years later Freberg was among the speakers at Comic Con’s Bradbury memorial (2012).

Ray Bradbury and Stan Freberg at Comic Con 2009

Jerry Beck recalls, “He thanked me, often, for giving him credit in print for all the Warner Bros. cartoons he had a part in. He had been miffed that he was unable to get screen credit (Mel Blanc had an exclusive credit by contract) – save for one classic Friz Freleng short, Three Little Bops (1957).”

Mark Evanier’s tribute mentions —

Stan was the guy who’d been at it the longest. He recorded his first cartoon voice roles in 1945 for release in 1946. As far as I know, his last job was in an episode of The Garfield Show I voice-directed last year. It’s currently scheduled to run on Cartoon Network this October, giving Stan a career span of 69 years.

Once when Frank Sinatra toured Australia, he took along Freberg as his opening act.

Freberg’s first wife, the former Donna Andresen, died in 2000. In addition to his son, Donavan, he is survived by his wife, Hunter; his daughter, Donna Jean; and one granddaughter.

Update 04/11/2015: Corrected info about Bradbury introducing Freberg to his wife — it was Donna that Ray introduced to Stan.

Patrick H. Adkins (1948-2015)

By Guy H. Lillian III: Patrick H. Adkins, New Orleans author and lifelong Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, has passed away.  His books included Lord of the Crooked Paths (1987), Master of the Fearful Depths (1989), Sons of the Titans (1990), and The Third Beast (2011), plus a volume of previously uncollected Edgar Rice Burroughs short stories collected by himself and John H. Guidry and a booklet of David H. Keller stories, The Last Magician.  He was once editor of the New Orleans SF Association’s genzine, Nolazine.  He is survived by wife Dixie, a son, a daughter, and friends without number, including me, all of whom are devastated by this horrible, horrible news.

Rosy and I send our love and best hopes to Dixie, their kids, and John, who had been friends with his fellow Burroughs-o-phile since 1964.  Modern New Orleans fandom dates from two events in that year: John’s meeting with Justin Winston at a French Quarter bookstore, and his first phone encounter with Pat, a four-hour conversation that really, had no end until this past Tuesday.

Pat was a gentleman, a scholar, and a fast friend.

Richard Clear (1943-2015)

Richard Clear shows off an original Brundage Weird Tales cover painting at PULPcon (year unknown). Photo by Robert Weinberg.

Richard Clear shows off an original Brundage Weird Tales cover painting at PULPcon (year unknown). Photo by Robert Weinberg.

Book dealer and former Pulpcon committee member Richard Clear passed away March 21. He was 71 and had been ill for a number of years.

He began collecting magazines and in 1973 opened the Dragon’s Lair comic book store in Dayton, Ohio.

He became a valuation expert, compiling the Old Magazines Collector’s Price Guide (1974) and serving as an advisor to the magazine portion of Time-Life Encyclopedia of Collectibles (1979).

In 1983 he moved to Tampa and opened Merlin’s Books.

The 1988 Pulpcon gave him the Lamont Award, for outstanding effort in keeping alive the memory and spirit of the pulp magazine era.

He later moved back to Ohio and continued his book business online. Having been involved with Pulpcon in its early years, around 2008 he resumed participating on the con committee, however, the event soon became moribund. His historic role was acknowledged in a death notice posted by Pulpfest.

The family’s memorial is here. Clear is survived by his longtime companion Nancy McAnespie, grown children Richard Clear, Barbara Curry, Lisa Lawson, and Michael Clear, and many grandchildren.

Tom Loback Passes Away

Art by Tom Loback.

Art by Tom Loback.

Tom Loback, a widely appreciated creator of artwork and figures for gaming and Tolkien fans, died March 5 at the age of 66.

An accomplished Elvish linguist, he incorporated characters from Tolkien’s languages into illustrations for such magazines as Beyond Bree (he produced its logo), Vinyar Tengwar, Mythlore, Parma Eldalamberon, and Little Gwaihir.

Loback also created the fantasy line of Dragontooth Miniatures, and later Thomas’ Tin Soldiers, a popular line of Civil War miniatures. He was a partner in the Aulic Council board game company and co-designer for Mohawk, a game of the French and Indian War.

For a time Loback also worked anonymously erecting sculptures along the Hudson River made with driftwood and other found objects. Eventually his identity was discovered and the New York Times profiled him in 2007.

Who was creating the sculptures had been something of a mystery, even though he was not doing it on the sly. His identity remained a secret, at least to the world beyond the edge of the river.

In July 2005, parks department cleanup crews removed the sculptures as if they were trash. Mr. Loback, 57, simply made more.

He is survived by his wife Susan.

Peggy Rae Sapienza (1944-2015)

Peggy Rae Sapienza at Capclave in 2007. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Peggy Rae Sapienza at the 2007 Capclave. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Peggy Rae Sapienza, one of fandom’s most admired conrunners and fan guest of honor at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon, passed away March 22 from complications following heart valve replacement surgery. She was 70.

Her highest profile achievements were chairing the 1998 Worldcon, Bucconeer, and co-chairing the 2014 World Fantasy Con. She also served as Vice Chair and then Acting Chair of the 1993 Worldcon, ConFrancisco, helping stabilize the committee in the period after chair Terry Biffel died and before the appointment of Dave Clark as chair. In addition, she chaired two Smofcons (1992, 2004) and a Disclave (1991).

People liked to work for her — including some who thought they were done volunteering before she called. Peggy Rae’s unique leadership style combined playfulness, the appeal of being admitted to an inner circle, knowledgeability, and a frank demand for results.

She had an unlimited resume in many areas of convention organizing – press relations, program, registration, guest of honor book, and exhibits. She also felt it was her mission to pass on the skills and experiences she possessed. A number of the current generation of Worldcon organizers called her a mentor and today are mourning her loss in their own way. “I feel like a whole library just burnt down,” Glenn Glazer wrote on Facebook.

Peggy Rae was a second generation fan whose father, Jack McKnight, mother, Buddie McKnight Evans, and step-mother, Ann Newell McKnight, were involved in the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, while her step-father, Bill Evans, was active in the Washington Science Fiction Association. (Jack McKnight is specially remembered for making the first Hugo Awards in 1953.)

Growing up in Philadelphia fandom, in the late 1950s she served as Secretary and Vice President of PSFS and worked on and appeared in PSFS’ fan-made movie “Longer Than You Think.”

She began publishing Etwas in 1960. Ed Meskys recalls, “We traded fanzines at the time, her Etwas (German for something) for my Niekas (Lithuanian for nothing).”

Lou Tabakow, Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) and Bob Pavlat at NyCon III in 1967,

Lou Tabakow, Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) and Bob Pavlat at NyCon III in 1967,

Peggy Rae McKnight met Washington-area fanzine and convention fan Bob Pavlat at her first Worldcon, Pittcon, in 1960. They married in 1964 and had two children, Missy Koslosky and Eric Pavlat. In 1983, the couple received fandom’s Big Heart Award. That same year Bob passed away. In 1999, Peggy Rae married John T. Sapienza, Jr., a government attorney and longtime fan.

One of Peggy Rae’s enduring contributions to how Worldcons use facilties is the ConCourse, which she and Fred Isaacs invented for the 1989 Worldcon, Noreascon Three. The Sheraton had denied the use of its facilities to the con due to some problems, forcing the committee to create attractions in the Hynes Convention Center to compensate, or later, when they regained the Sheraton through litigation, to keep crowds in the Hynes for the sake of peace with the hotel. Their solution was the ConCourse which, with the Huckster Room and the convention program, gave members ample reason to hang out in the Hynes.

The ConCourse amalgamated fanhistory exhibits, convention information, the fanzine lounge, the daily newzine publishing area, convention bidding and Site Selection tables, and a Hynes-run snack bar in one place, and layed it out as an indoor park. Fans responded so positively the idea was used repeatedly by future Worldcons, and many of the exhibits Peggy Rae commissioned are still being presented.

This was also when the expression “I mowed Peggy Rae’s lawn” originated. Some of the planning for Noreascon 3 took place at her house, she explained during a 2012 interview. A friend arrived before a meeting while Peggy Rae was gardening and offered to help. In a kind of Tom Sawyeresque moment, others came by and joined in the gardening. Joe Mayhew was a witness, and years later warned people that if they voted for the Baltimore Worldcon bid they would end up having to mow Peggy Rae’s lawn….

The legend was celebrated by Chicon 7. Chris Garcia described how in a recent interview – and the way Peggy Rae used it to get some more work out of him…

At Chicon, there was a fake parcel of grass and a toy lawnmower with a sign marked ‘Mow Peggy Rae’s Lawn’ and the folks who pretended to mow got a Ribbon saying “I mowed Peggy Rae’s Lawn.” I did the mowing, but Peggy Rae refused me a ribbon until I did the [promised] Campbell [Award] exhibit…

For many years Peggy Rae was a key planner and motivator in the effort to preserve fanhistory. The Society for the Preservation of the History of Science Fiction Fandom, AKA the Timebinders, was formed at FanHistoriCon I in May 1994 in Hagerstown, Maryland, convened by Peggy Rae, Bruce Pelz, and Joe Siclari to gather fans of different fannish generations together to discuss the best ideas.

Bruce Pelz, Harry Warner, Jr. and Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) at FanHistoriCon in 1994. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Bruce Pelz, Harry Warner, Jr. and Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) at FanHistoriCon in 1994. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Peggy Rae worked 16 years as a contractor for the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. in UNIX systems support, retiring in 2000.

In her later years she was instrumental in supporting the 2007 Japanese Worldcon as their North American Agent. She chaired SFWA’s Nebula Awards Weekend in 2010, 2011 and 2012, earning a tribute from John Scalzi. She was part of the DC17 bid for the 2017 Worldcon.

Just this past fall, Peggy Rae helped me put together a couple of programs for Smofcon 32 and I find it especially hard to accept that someone so filled with ideas, imagination and energy can be taken away.

John Sapienza’s announcement said about her last day and burial arrangements: “[On Sunday] the hospital called us to come in, and Eric & Wendy Pavlat, Missy & Bryan Koslosky, and I were with her when she passed…. She will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her first husband, Bob Pavlat. (*)”

Peggy Rae is survived by John, her two children, and eight grandchildren.

Update 03/24/2015: (*) Eric Pavlat in a comment below says that Peggy Rae will not be interred at Arlington, but will be buried this Saturday at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Prince George’s County, MD. 

The Top 5 Leonard Nimoy Guest Spots

By Brandon Engel: The world is still mourning Leonard Nimoy. While he will be remembered by fans of the original “Star Trek” for his role as Mr. Spock, he was also a man who had established himself as a poet, photographer, and songwriter in his own right, and was also something of a “science communicator” along the lines of Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson. He will also be warmly remembered for his many guest appearances on various programs.

The Daily Show

Friends and family of Nimoy claim that the loved nothing more than a good laugh. Here, he parodies his In Search Of series, by using his deadpan narration skills to aid Jon Stewart in a mockumentary of the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He even croons a little, for good measure.

The segment, entitled “Mitt Romney: A Human Being Who Built That,” parodies the usual flag-waving, heart-warming biopics shown at national political conventions – Democrat or Republican. The four minute film lampoons Romney’s life and the 2012 election itself.

The Big Bang Theory

It was inevitable that a show about geeks, The Big Bang Theory, would nab Nimoy for a memorable cameo appearance as Sheldon’s conscience. After-all, the award-winning comedy had previously nabbed many other former Star Trek cast members.

However, only Nimoy’s distinctive voice would appear as a Mr. Spock action figure talking to Sheldon. The show paid tribute to Nimoy shortly after his passing, by showing a static image of Nimoy along with this caption: “The impact you had on our show and our lives is everlasting.”

Columbo

Just one more question, ma’am – when was Leonard Nimoy on the beloved detective series Columbo, starring Peter Falk? He starred as the baddie in a two-hour episode called “A Stitch in Time.” He played a dapper surgeon who is so narcissistic, that he thinks he can get away with murder. He attempts to kill a rival surgeon by mending his heart post-surgery with dissolving sutures.

Nimoy wasn’t the only Star Trek actor to appear in Columbo. Both William Shatner and Walter Koenig also appeared, but unfortunately not in this episode. Anyway, the point is that Nimoy could actually play a human being. Thankfully, you can stream both episodes through Netflix.

The Simpsons

Nimoy appeared twice on the seemingly eternal animated series The Simpsons. Nimoy’s voice was synched up to a Simpsonesque animated caricature. His first appearance was the 1993 episode “Marge Vs the Monorail” (penned by a young Conan O’Brien) where Nimoy rambles aimlessly like a parody of Spock.

Nimoy’s second appearance was the 1997 episode “The Springfield Files” a spoof on The X Files. Nimoy book-ends the episode with a faux In Search Of narration. The episode also featured guest appearances from X Files stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

“Marge Vs. The Monorail,” incidentally, is regarded by many fans as among the all-time best episodes of the Simpsons (click here to see where IGN ranked it), and both episodes are still shown regularly on the FXX Network (click for DirecTV listings).

Saturday Night Live

Although SNL has had many forgettable sketches in recent years, arguably one of the best was an appearance to tie into the 2009 Star Trek film featuring extremely young mutations of Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise gang. During the news segment, stars Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) try to allay the fears of older fans about Star Trek’s newest incarnation.

The pair clearly is clueless, until Nimoy appears behind them to steal the show – to the delight of the hard-core ST fans in the audience. It perhaps is the only time Nimoy says “d***heads” on tape. That makes this appearance priceless. SNL also paid tribute to Nimoy shortly after his passing.