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