In other news that you may have missed, two more old friends we grew up watching on classic TV sitcoms have left us.
Melvin was best known as Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, but, as Mark Evanier emphasizes in his tribute, Melvin appeared frequently on many of the landmark sitcoms from the 1950s through the '70s, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, USMC, and All in the Family, as well as its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place. I remember him very well from all those series, especially his turn as a bully who intimidates and torments poor Barney Fife on one of the early episodes of Andy, but I don't think I've ever seen the Sgt. Bilko show that Evanier mentions. It must not have been rerun in this area when I was a kid, or I'd surely remember it.
A few days after Melvin's passing, we also lost the beautiful Suzanne Pleshette, who co-starred with Bob Newhart on the '70s-vintage Bob Newhart Show and also made a memorable guest appearance in the finale of Newhart's '80s-vintage series (surely the best -- or at least funniest -- use of the "it was just a horrible dream" trope in all of television history!). Suzanne was one of the first women I recall being aware of as something other than just a person on TV; I knew she was sexy before I even knew the word "sex." I think it was her fabulous voice, husky and wise, smooth like twelve-year-old whiskey. I've always been a sucker for those rough blues-singer voices. Of course, that voice probably resulted from the cigarettes that ultimately killed her. Don't smoke, kids.
Screenwriter Ken Levine eulogizes Suzanne as "a gifted comedienne, a first class beauty, and one helluva broad." I don't think I can do any better than that. Go read what he has to say about her.
Evanier didn't have much to say about her, surprisingly, but he did note one sad factoid:
A week from Thursday, on what would have been her 71st birthday, she was to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. No word yet on whether the unveiling ceremony will be postponed...
It's a shame she couldn't have hung on long enough for that. Sentimental old fool that I am, I feel bad when you hear about people dying on the eve of important days...