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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I Note More Dead People

Both Mark Evanier and Fred Hembeck (him, again?) have noted the passing of Nipsey Russell, The Poet Laureate of Television, who I knew best from his appearances on Match Game, where he'd say things like:

The kids are saying, 'Make love, not war.'
And I'm beginning to think they're right.
For war costs millions of dollars a day,
And love, just a few bucks a night!

(Check out Einstein's 30 Minutes of Unmatched Fame for some of that Match Game wackiness.)

I found a reference to Nipsey as poetry editor of some online poetry thing, a gig about which he had this to say:
Of this job, I don't think so highly,
But hey -- it beats hangin' out with
Charles Nelson Reilly.

But what really caught my interest is something in Mark's posting:
they don't seem to be noting all the decades he spent working dives and clubs, many in the so-called "Negro Circuit," before joining the thin ranks of performers who broke out of that show business ghetto.

As I wrote to Mark, in all my life (and I'm 52, and black), I'd never heard the term "Negro circuit" used in the context that he had it. "Chitlin circuit," yes. Here's a definition of that term from Bartlesby-
NOUN: Informal. A circuit of nightclubs and theaters that feature African-American performers and cater especially to African-American audiences: "I was traveling up and down . . . with these little groups on what they call the chitlin' circuit."
(And if you don't know what chitlins are, look here.)
Whereas, "Negro circuit" seemed to be tied primarily to sporting events, as Google suggests, such as the barnstorming baseball teams.

Hey, I'm a librarian. This kind of thing always catches my attention.
And speaking of same, Michael Wittenberg died last week. Who is that? Why, the (considerably younger) "husband of Broadway musical-theater star Bernadette a helicopter crash in Montenegro [along with three other people]. He was 43."

I know she's the big Broadway star and he was "an investment adviser." But the fourth paragraph in every story was all about HER. "Peters most recently appeared on Broadway in the 2003 revival of 'Gypsy.' Her other Broadway shows include 'Sunday in the Park With George' and 'Into the Woods.' She won Tonys for her performances in 'Song & Dance' and the 1999 revival of 'Annie Get Your Gun.'" Looks like they took the info for HIS obituary from HER probably pre-written obit.

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