Saturday, November 9, 2013

The obituaries haven't been...

...all that interesting lately but here's a few to catch you up.

Colonel Robert Rheault, a green beret commander, died on October 16 at age 87:

John Milius, who wrote the screenplay for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War film, “Apocalypse Now,” told The Times in 1977 that he had based the Marlon Brando character of Walter Kurtz, the mysterious Green Beret colonel who conducts an unauthorized secret war in Cambodia, on both the fictional Kurtz of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and the real-life Colonel Rheault. 

Meanwhile, Dan Lurie, a famous bodybuilder, died at age 90 (my emphasis):

In the 1960s, Mr. Lurie started a magazine to promote bodybuilding, and some years later he wrote to President Reagan, informing him that as the publisher of Muscle Training Illustrated he was naming him the fittest president in history. Mr. Reagan invited Mr. Lurie, then 60, to the White House, where in February 1984 they arm-wrestled in the Oval Office.

The president, who had just turned 73, won, raising some eyebrows about the legitimacy of the contest.

A White House spokesman told The Times that it was a true test of the president’s strength, though he also admitted that a videotape of the event would not be released to the news media.

Mr. Lurie was silent on the matter, but years later, on his website, he confessed that he had thrown the match. “I wasn’t going to beat the president,” he wrote.

Honestly, isn't that just like the Republicans? "We can't have St. Reagan losing a feat of strength to some nobody! What would the base think? They might lose all faith in America!"

Mr. Lurie was not just strong but freakishly strong. He once did 1,665 push-ups in 90 minutes, and in a photo he can be seen at age 17 holding a 150-pound barbell above his head with one arm.

Doctors determined he was born with a heart defect, and they told his parents he was not likely to live beyond his fifth birthday. Yet by the time he was 19 he had finished second over all in the 1942 Amateur Athletic Union Mr. America contest, a competition in which he was judged to have the best arms, the best legs and the second-best back and was voted most muscular for the first of three times. When, in February 1943, he was rejected by the Army because of a heart murmur, the irony was reported in Time magazine and The New York Times. 

Lurie was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Tilden High School, where, though his academic record was spotty, he became the state high school checkers champion

Finally, there's Walter Stern, a writer for the New York Times. His obit is unremarkable, except for his picture, above. Can you imagine having your picture taken, probably for a column in the Times, with a pipe in your mouth? 

"Okay, Wally, we're here to take your picture for the paper now."

"Hang on; let me take off my glasses."

"How about that pipe? Wanna take that outta yer mouth?"

"No thanks, I think I'll leave it in."

"Whatever you say, Wally."

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