Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In Remembrance of a Friend Long Gone

I'm almost afraid to read the entertainment news after this weekend. What TV icon of my youth will have died now? Barney Fife, McCloud, Kolchak...all gone. Who's next, Lord? Who's next?
The first death that I remember truly emotionally affecting me was that of Wally Cox. It was 1973 and I was seven.
By the early 70's, the former Mr. Peepers and voice of Underdog had gone where stars at the end of their careers went in those days; he'd become a regular on Hollywood Squares. Squares had developed by that time a more or less permanent roster of semi-retired actors which included center square Paul Lynde, Rose Marie, Charlie Weaver (a.k.a. Cliff Arquette) and Cox.
I watched Squares whenever I was home during the day (I did have school after all) and Cox and the others were almost always there. They entertained me, made me laugh, and their day in, day out presence in my life provided a certain sense of stability. I felt closer to Wally Cox than to many people with whom I actually interacted on a daily basis, including most of my family.
Then he was gone. I was shaken, stunned. It was the first time in my life I truly understood the nature and dread finality of death. He was the first person I ever mourned for. I eventually came to understand something else about death, that, despite it, life goes on, just as the original Hollywood Squares would go on for nine years after Cox died.
Sometimes, like right now, I still miss Wally Cox...and Paul Lynde and Charlie Weaver and the old Hollywood Squares.

1 comment:

Katsy said...

You think I would stoop to wasting my time arguing online with you? Good. Then we think alike.

You are, by definition, a square. A square who can play poker, so I've heard. Do you play as well as you drink, Spazz?

Give back the copy of Joe's novel, I want to read it before you set it on fire with your Marlboro 10,000s.