Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sad Trifecta... 

Say what you will, but it's true that celebrity deaths travel in threes, and with Bob Denver, Don Adams and Nipsey Russell all going to that great syndication gig in the sky, the beloved 60s TV stars who will live for generations trifecta is complete.

Honestly, when Denver and Adams kicked off so close together, I wracked my brain to come up with a 60s-era (but lived on) star who would complete the trio, and Nipsey Russell couldn't have been a better (or worse) choice. Granted, my first thought on hearing of his death was, "He was still alive?" But my second thought was sadness. He truly lit up those bad 70s game shows that live on and on and on via cable TV, and I will forever remember Nipsey as the poet laureate of impromptu but perfect rhymes.

I can only imagine what he'd have said about the current administration. "Somehow we wound up with one more Bush; he's in the White House, but his brain's in his tush."

Or... "Gilligan, Get Smart, little ol' me. I'm truly flattered to be part of that three."

Well, Nipsey should be. I had no idea until the obits that he was the first African American to be a regular on a sitcom (Car 54, Where Are You?, 1961; as well as the movie version in 1994), and on a game show (Match Game 73, et al.). All I know is, from what my young impressionable eyes saw on Match Game (seventy-something), was that he was one cool and funny dude; a man who truly knew the meaning of joie d'vivre.

So... another chapter of my childhood slams shut. Gilligan, Maxwell Smart, and the original rappa/rhymin' dude are gone now -- the latter being the one black dude that my racist parents liked. But, of the three, I'm saddest to see Nipsey go. After all, Bob Denver and Don Adams will forever be known as other personae, but Nipsey Russell was forever and always himself. He would have turned 81 in less than two weeks. But, to many of us, he is eternal.

Nipsey, here's to you, dude. Keep on rhymin'. And thank you for kicking down the walls in your own way for all us Gen-X'rs who grew up loving you like crazy.

You funny, funny motherfucka...

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