A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday February 25, 2011.
Editor's note: Despite last week's column's promise to deliver all the celebrity news our readers would ever need to read, as you will see, we had to publish this story.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The body of actress and comedienne Shari Lewis has been exhumed, the Los Angeles Medical Examiner announced today, initiating a new investigation into of the circumstances surrounding to her death in 1998. The death which had originally been investigated as a suicide but ruled "death by natural causes" is being reopened as a probable homicide.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office denied that this move bore any relation to the posthumous publication this week of Ms. Lewis's autobiography, entitled "Socks, Lies and Videotape." The book details the rocky relationship between Ms. Lewis and her protégé, co-performer and longtime companion, Lamb Chop.
Observers have long noted that the witty on-air banter between Lewis and Lamb Chop became increasingly acrid over the years, paralleling the increasing warmth of relationship among Lewis, Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse.
According to his close associate Oscar, Lamb Chop always resented the "cute" Lamb Chop name, as well as getting second billing to Lewis. "They treat us like their little marionettes," said Oscar. "And who do you think wrote our best stuff? Henson? Lewis? Right." Adding, "Neither one of them could improv their way out of bag puppet. Just one time, I'd like to Punch and Judy them."
The interview with Oscar terminated quickly when the topic of Henson's untimely death was raised.
In her autobiography Lewis reveals that in late 1996 she began to develop an allergy to wool "which put a barrier between Lamb Chop and me." Lewis also said that Lamb Chop often complained of "being used." She quotes him as saying to her, "How would you like to try to perform comedy with someone's hand stuck up your . . ." just before throwing himself onto the middle of the bedroom floor in tears.
"Toward the end," Lewis wrote, "our friendship was just an act."
Attorney Levi Cohen, of the law firm of Cohen, Kohein, Cohn, Cahn, Cone, Kohn, Kahn and possibly Katz, which represents the Lewis family, said that regardless of how the investigation turns out, he is sure his firm will make lots of money.
Buzz Berkeley, of E. F. Mutton and Associates, the public relations firm representing the artist formerly known as Lamb Chop, said that "Chopper had moved on in his life" and that "this travesty would do nothing but unravel old wounds."
Chopper, who was a "sock of interest" in the original investigation into Ms. Lewis's death, parlayed that notoriety into a new career as part of the controversial rap duo Chops and the Ice Kween. According to figures from Amazon.com, sales of the latest C/IK CD, "Bust Yer Chops," spiked immediately following the exhumation announcement.
LAPD investigators said technology unavailable in 1998 may bring to light new information regarding the death of Lewis. "For example," said Detective Kram Manfuhr, "the previously unexplained rash on Lewis's neck may have been caused by contact dermatitis." Manfuhr was quick to note that while the investigation was "not focusing" on any one individual, "Mr. Chop was the only one in the room at the time of Ms. Lewis's death."
Gary D. Gaddy has been a fan of Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop for decades, beginning perhaps as early as one of their first guest appearances on Captain Kangaroo, but was certainly a regular viewer of the Shari Lewis Show.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday February 18, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy
READERS MAY WISH TO CLIP this special special-edition column and save it to read every week, or even every day if necessary, as it allows an individual to keep up with all the important celebrity news without maintaining a subscription to People magazine, buying the latest National Enquirer or even watching tonight's Entertainment Tonight.
HOLLYWOOD – Academy-Award®-winning actor was arrested again on substance abuse charges following a fray at a currently notable night club. Actor could not be contacted for comment. Celebrity attorney says that Oscar®-winning client has checked into well-known drug rehabilitation facility.
CHICAGO – Following persistent rumors of numerous affairs, Hall-of-Fame athlete has been slapped simultaneously with multiple paternity suits. Published pictures of the individuals filing suits indicate that all of the paramours are all natural or bleach blondes. Famous athlete is reported to have bought current wife one or more items of multi-carat diamond and gold jewelry.
LOS ANGELES – Person famous for no other reason except being famous was arrested again for driving under the influence. Latest mug shots make this person look even worse than usual. On-scene photos show famous person drives a notably expensive status symbol even when DUI.
MIAMI – Famous person is divorcing person famous for marrying famous person. In written statements, both famous person and soon-to-be ex-spouse of famous person say that they hope to remain friends. Other terms of divorce settlement are not disclosed. Unnamed sources say large sums of money will be involved. Follow-up stories indicate amicable breakup is not so amicable.
LOS CABOS – Formerly ordinary person made notorious by extended appearance on a popular reality television series has been arrested for: a) trashing hotel room, b) assaulting hotel staff and c) manhandling local celebrity who called in hotel staff to their shared room. Incident resolved as reality TV star is paid substantial sum for interview with entertainment news channel which money is used to a) reimburse hotel for damages to room, b) pay off hotel staff and c) buy back affection of local celebrity, who is now, it is announced, reality star’s significant other.
ANTIGUA – Person newsworthy for their inherited wealth was taken to the hospital for bizarre, psychotic behavior while on a large luxury yacht moored in an exclusive marina. Famous heir/heiress quickly released when psychiatrist recognizes person and realizes famous rich person is just eccentric.
NEW YORK – Notable politician specifically known for his very public views supporting family values was arrested after a not-very-well-known stripper and/or minor porn star accused him of stalking her. Politician's wife stood by him uncomfortably at his press conference while notable politician admitted to a generic addiction and asked prayers and/or forgiveness from the "great people of this state" and says he has been "humbled by the experience," not specifying whether the humbling came from the recognition of his moral failing or being caught in it.
AUSTIN – Once notable quasi-country musician, now famous for his multiple drug possession arrests, is arrested for drug possession. Charges dropped.
RALEIGH – Prominent politician charged with several crimes related to corrupting and/or being corrupt announces he has retained a celebrated attorney who always goes by first name, middle initial and last name, as well as the suffix of IIIrd, IVth or Vth. Said eminent attorney at law, who always looks distinguished in his dapper attire, informs the assembled press that his client has been a "faithful steward for and a tireless servant of the great people of this great state," but is being crucified in the media because he stood up "against powerful interests and for the common man," one of which, notable attorney notes, his client is.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If, when you have completed reading the above, your celebrity news craving is not stemmed, please return to top and begin again. Repeat as many times as necessary.
CAUTION: DO NOT COMBINE WITH PERUSING SUPERMARKET TABLIODS, WATCHING GOSSIP TV OR READING ANY NEWSPAPERS OR NEWS MAGAZINES. OVERDOSE MAY RESULT.
Gary D. Gaddy wishes, if he ever were to be charged with a generic crime, to be represented by an attorney with a prominent middle initial who goes by IVth, Vth or VIth.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday February 11, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy
THIS PAST WEEK'S SPORTS NEWS featuring the Tar Heel Nation illustrates several fundamental principles of the sporting life. The most prominent being: "It does not matter what you say about me, just make sure you spell my name right."
The Tar Heel Haters, of whom there are not a few, have enjoyed the last six months of bad news regarding the University of North Carolina's beleaguered football program. The NC State fan base of the Tar Heel Haters, of whom there are not a few, have particularly enjoyed watching the Tar Heel Nation squirm under the unforgiving light of multiple serial and simultaneous NCAA investigations.
But, and here comes, "It does not matter what you say about me, just make sure you spell my name right." It turns out "UNC" is hard to misspell. (And hardly anybody, it seems, confuses the University of North Carolina with the University of Northern Colorado.) All this negative press, and the prospect of NCAA probation and other sanctions, should have killed UNC's football recruiting, right? Wrong.
This week included the most important date of the football season: "Signing Day," the day in which football-playing high school seniors sign their binding letters of intent. And, in case you haven't noticed, players are what make up football teams. In the various national recruiting rankings, UNC, bad press and all, was listed as 19th, 15th and 13th in three different polls, while NC State, which had nothing but good press, what little there was of it, ended up 67th in one and unranked in the other two.
As for basketball, ESPN GameDay covered, on national television, for seven long minutes, more than a week after the fact, Roy Williams' televised press conference tirade against a "fan" who criticized his team and Williams' subsequent apology for his rant during his radio call-in show. This is, some would say, the kind of distraction that could knock a team off of its game. Some would be wrong.
The supposedly soft Heels proceeded to demolish a talented NC State team and obliterate a veteran Boston College squad. Former Duke player and Duke Law School graduate, Jay Bilas* said of Williams' rant, "I loved it because he was standing up for his players," adding, "I liked what Roy Williams said, and I'm sure his players did, too." I'm sure they did, too.
The Duke women and the Duke men let me down this week. The Duke men lost to St. John's, the eleventh place team in the Big East, by 15 points. Duke, as the only ranked team in the ACC, made the rest of the conference, including my Heels, look even more pathetic. Now we'll have to beat them to feel good about ourselves.
Likewise it goes for the Duke women’s team's loss to the University of Connecticut Huskies. As little a fan as I am of Joanne P. McCauley, I am even less a fan of the most undeserving coach in all of coachdom, Geno "I yell obscene things at teenagers because it makes them play better"** Auriemma. I pulled hard for the Devils until the game was over, that is, ten minutes into the game when the score was 23-2 Huskies. Now we'll have to beat them to feel good about ourselves.
* My lawyeresque wife once had an on-campus interview at a law school which shall remain unnamed with attorney Bilas for a summer internship at his law firm. She shocked some of her younger co-ed classmates with the frank evaluation she made of him afterwards: "He's cute!!"
** Auriemma’s player-directed obscenities are not a rumor or a second-hand report or even the transcript from a lip-reading friend of my wife who once interpreted Mike Krzyzewski's "comments" to an official during a televised game. It comes from an ear-tingling personal experience several years ago when I sat behind the UConn bench in the Smith Center. I won't tell you what Auriemma said because I don't repeat such things even in a whisper and certainly wouldn't put them in a family newspaper. One disgusting thing Auriemma once yelled at one of his players which I will repeat: "I don't even know why I recruited you!!!" Sweet guy, ain't he?
Gary D. Gaddy's wife, despite her Wahoo grad degree and her devilish legal credentials, is now and ever shall be, true Tar Heel blue.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday February 4, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy