Tag Archives: obituaries

R.I.P. Tom Snyder

I’m still behind in the news and discovered during a meeting that I just attended that Tom Snyder has died. I used to watch his late, late night show and always thought he was terrific. I think that Harlan Ellison appeared as a guest on his show more times than anyone else.

Over at the Webderland message boards, Harlan Ellison had some nice words for his friend:

There was this one time, I’m pretty sure it was 1980, and I was in New York to promote the publication of SHATTERDAY, and I was in the makeup chair in preparation for going on-camera, and I was under a sheet so no pancake would get on my shirt collar, and all at once the makeup lady stepped aside, behind me, and I was looking in the wall-to-wall mirror, looking at myself in the chair, and suddenly there was Tom, standing behind me. (It was, and still is, the practice of most tv talk show hosts not to pre-greet the guests of the evening with anything more than a perfunctory hello and I’ll see you in a minute; they just don’t mingle much, I suppose on the show-biz theory “Don’t leave your best stuff in the Green Room.”) Seeing him there behind me was startling. He laid his hands on my shoulders, and I saw tears in his eyes. He was crying. “Geezus, Tom, what the hell’s wrong? Something happen?”

He said, “I just re-read ‘Jeffty is Five,’ and every time it just wipes me out,” and he leaned down and kissed the top of my head; and he left the room, and when we did the show he was my old friend again.

In all the years I’ve been doing television, radio, DVD extras, and internet interviews, from Larry King to Merv Griffin to Joe Pyne and all John Nebels, Jessica Savitches and Studs Terkels in-between, the ONLY interviewer who ever read the book of the interviewee–not the stooge-supplied precis–or the publisher blurb packet–but the BOOK, and usually ALL of the book … was

Tom Snyder.

What he said to me was, he had “re-read” Jeffty. Not JUST read it, but had re-read it from its magazine publication.

Thank you again. But oh how I miss him.

(There’s no direct link to the message so if you visit the boards, you may have to scroll around a bit.)

Ten years

Grandma died ten years ago today and I still remember the day as if it were yesterday. She died at 11:05 AM and I, having stayed up all night sitting with her in the hospital, had taken a short nap and woke up as people began to stir around me.

From my diary, April 21, 1997

William Kershner

I was sad to learn this morning that William Kershner died a few days ago. For those who don’t know, Kershner was a life-long pilot and flight instructor and is famous within aviation circles. When I was 8 or 9 years old, my dad was taking ground school and as part of that ground school, he had a text book called, A Student Pilot’s Flight Manual. The book was by William Kershner. Even at 8 or 9, I devoured that book, and I had it virtually memorized. I recall taking a practice written test in the back of the book and doing execeedingly well for a 9-year old. It was my first introduction to the fact that anyone who wanted to could learn to fly an airplane. Nearly 20 years later, I got my pilot’s license, and though I had other text books to work from, I would still pull out my old, tattered Student Pilot’s Flight Manual every now and then and study from that.

Gerald Ford

Of the 7 U.S. Presidents that have been in office since I was born, Gerald Ford is the one about which I know the least. He was the first President to come into office after my birth (Nixon was President when I was born.) I have read biographies of Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. I am familiar with both Bush’s as I have had the opportunity to vote against each of them. That leaves Gerald Ford as the one mystery. I don’t know if he was a good President, or if he was a less exaggerated version of how Chevy Chase portrayed him on Saturday Night Live. I know that he pardoned Nixon, something with which I have philosophical problems, but which I also am told helped to “heal” the nation and put Watergate into the past. If nothing else, he was a life-long public servant, and that has to count for something.

The one piece of trivia that sticks most in my mind with regards to Gerald Ford is that he is the answer to the following trivia question: “Who is the only person to serve as both Vice President and President, and yet was never elected by the people?”

Jack Williamson, 1908-2006

I awoke this morning to the sad news that the dean of science fiction, Jack Williamson, had passed away at his home in Portales, New Mexico. Jack Williamson had a remarkable career in science fiction. He published his first story, “The Metal Man”, in 1928 and has continued to publish stories and novels in every decade since then. His last novel, The Stonehenge Gate was serialized in ANALOG in 2005. He was already a well established writer when 18 year old Isaac Asimov published his first story. The last thing I read by Jack Williamson was his novel Terraforming Earth.

There are not very many old-timers remaining and it is always sad to see them go.

Sad news

I received word this morning that Tricia’s dad, Ed, passed away on August 19 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. I hadn’t heard from Rich or Tricia since they headed back to Southern California after Rich’s graduation from his surgery residency, but I had email from Tricia this morning with this sad news.