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Belated goodbyes to 'The Old Man' Dan O'Herlihy, 'Gidget' Sandra Dee and one more for the good Dr. HST

Hey, folks. Quint here with a few late nods to some truly greatly loved people who have passed away recently. I'm sorry it's been late in coming, but I myself was put into a funk when I heard about Hunter S. Thompson's suicide. I discovered this gonzo genius with Terry Gilliam's adaptation of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. I have since read up on my Thompson and just love his style, his voice and his humor. I can't imagine what would drive him to suicide... he didn't seem the type to stop when there were still fights to be had, but no matter the circumstances the world has lost one of its best and most honest voices.

Herc did a bit on Hunter Thompson the day the news broke and we've had a lot of reader feedback. His death really struck a chord with the readers of this site. Before I post a reader's tribute to the man, I must talk about a couple other talented stars who died around the same time, but didn't get an obit.

I must confess being almost totally ignorant of the work of Sandra Dee, other than the image of the virginal blonde beauty that her name congers. That's why I was hoping Harry, Father Geek or Moriarty would write this one... While I'm not familiar with her work, it's clear from the mass of emails we've gotten a lot of you folks were. She was most famous for playing "Gidget", though I must give respect to anyone who'd be in a Lovecraft horror flick like THE DUNWICH HORROR. My best to her friends, family and fans.

Character actor Dan O'Herlihy also passed away last week. I remember him best as "The Old Man" in ROBOCOP 1 & 2, personally... ("Dick! You're fired!"), but most children of the '80s would probably either remember him as either Grig from THE LAST STARFIGHTER ("I've always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds!")... he rules in that flick... or as Andrew Packard in TWIN PEAKS, depending on your personality type. O'Herlihy goes back a long way, appearing in such classics as DEATHRACE 2000, 100 RIFLES (with the great Jim Brown and Burt Reynolds!!), FAIL-SAFE and THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1962) to name a few. You will be missed, sir.

And finally, we come back to Hunter. The day his death was made public, I had a viewing of his commentary on the Criterion FEAR AND LOATHING DVD in his honor. Already there's a hollow void where his voice was. I'll miss his work and his insight. Here's a submission we got from one reader on HST. It's not the sweet lullaby you'd want... it might even piss you off a little, but agree with it or not, I think Thompson himself would appreciate the below. Enjoy.

Mr. Knowles,

This piece may not be appropriote for your site, but you may enjoy it yourself. It is short, non-rambling, and honest.

Chad Nance

HST.OBIT 1: Death of the Ginger Man

“People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you they are primarily motivated by Fear, Stupidity, and Craziness. But I have spent enough time in jack rabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now & then…no wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenaline rush in crouching by the side of the road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making across to the other side just inches infront of the speeding front wheels.”

-Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Heroes don’t dot the landscape like they used to. The best of today’s breed often fail us in brutal and spectacular ways. One of my heroes lost his mother and in a grand moll freak-out of historical proportions threw it all away for a bad blow job from a fat chick with less self esteem than a high school girl watching “Dukes of Hazard” on a Friday night with her 10 year old brother and a half gallon of store brand Neapolitan. Another of my heroes decided to spend last Saturday night loafing around his house with the dogs, peacocks, and a shotgun.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson used that shotgun to take his own life. Sure, it was his to take…or was it? While all of his admirers and detractors out here in the world play the intellectual parlor game of trying to figure out how and why; a man named Juan Thompson is dancing the black routine of funeral arrangements, press releases, and crushing personal grief. On the phone to hundreds of people his father called friends and to hundreds more who call themselves his father’s friends, Juan Thompson must be trying to get that last horrible image out of his head. His mind’s eye is not seeing Raoul Duke, Gene Skinner, Dr. Thompson, or any other manufactured persona- he’s seeing his Daddy self mutilated in a terrible, twisted way.

I could sit down here to write this obit and go at it with fingers blazing on the keyboard relating some tale of past debauchery embarked upon with encouragement from Hunter Thompson’s literary output. I could even blather on about how I spent last night on the phone talking to friends about the cruel twist while chugging down a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label Uncle Casey gave me for Christmas. It wouldn’t be Gonzo, though…and it wouldn’t be honest. I didn’t get my drink on in morbid celebration of the good Doctor’s legacy. Jumping into the bottle was done for the same reason Hunter stuck his toe in that pool in 1950’s Louisville and held his head under till the bubbles stopped in next century Aspen- I wanted to block out the pain while gaining some sloppy distance. See fellow pilgrims, perspective is a motherfucker. It was cocksuckers like me who helped to pull the fucking trigger. Every time we bought a book or went to a lecture and laughed at some drunken buffoonery we hammered nails in that man’s coffin. Every time we bought the ticket and took the ride we joined the lie. Sure, it’s romantic as hell to imagine the wild rebel, never tamed; his life a series of free choices made right up to and including the time and manner of his death. We can admire that because we enabled the event for our own bloody entertainment.

What if we hadn’t shown up for the geek show one year? What if the lady’s wigs and the Wild Turkey were met with disappointment and scorn instead of laughter and encouragement? Would Hunter have disappeared into his cabin only to reappear later clutching the serious literary manuscript he was capable of instead of jerking off year after year while the crowd hooted and hollered like a collective jack ass? Ok. So his literary legacy is real, but it was all created before he was 36. The man lived 31 more years without once more creating a single work that equaled his early achievements. Occasionally Hunter blasted off with something strong and clean, but mostly he just coasted along on good will and complete bullshit.

Why do we eat our heroes? Why do we chew the fuckers up and spit them out bones powdered, flesh puréed, and sad faces bleached white with stomach acid? Sitting here with a mean little hangover making my skull feel like it’s full of Brillo pads I wonder if in the cold darkness of last Saturday night Hunter Thompson did not kill himself. I wonder if Hunter Stockton Thompson from Louisville, Kentucky finally gathered up the balls to pull the trigger on Raoul Duke. Perhaps it was us, friends and enemies, who blasted Hunter Thompson years ago by encouraging his behavior with our laughter. Maybe our fingerprints are to be found on the trigger right next to Hunter’s. Right next to the greed-head developers that have turned his hill billy dream into a Nascar Dad nightmare. Right next to George W. Bush, whose soul crushing squeaker against John Kerry couldn’t have helped the situation.

I don’t believe in God, life after death, or any of that other pseudo mystical bullshit, so I will spare you any romantic musings of an afterlife filled with Wild Turkey, Owlsey Acid, and wild parties with Kesey, Acosta, Fitzgerald, and Poppa Hemingway himself. Fuck no. Hunter S. Thompson is now only a rapidly decomposing pile of cold flesh and brittle bones while a good man named Juan Thompson is left dealing with the great sinner’s final abomination. So it goes, Jackrabbit. We all eat our father’s sins in the end do we not? The broken promises, the crushed egos, and the legacy we cannot hope to live up to. If we do, by some blessing, manage to live up to or exceed our father’s achievements there is always something lurking in the dark recesses of our own brain pans that keep us subjugated and tied to the tree that daddy has planted.

Juan, Hoss…perhaps our mission is to let the tree fell itself and plant our own sapling in another part of the woods far away from the shadows of the older oaks or the twisted hollow carcasses of the fallen. Perhaps it is time to let the old warriors go onto the pyre and quit living in their past. It is time to take up our own spears and charge into the fray. Maybe Hunter saw it coming. Maybe that wave did crest in 1971 and the poor bastard spent the next 33 years flopping on the beach and gasping for air while us cowards contented ourselves to live through his petty rebellions ignoring the anguished cries for someone to come along and push the beast back in the goddamn water. All have sinned and come short of the glory…the best of us most of all.

Chad Nance, February 22, 2005

Winston Salem, NC

The world is changing, my friends. I hope this generation's Hunter S. Thompson pops up soon. The system can always use a good kick in the slats, no matter what time, what President, what election, what war, what peace. I can only hope whoever takes the reigns is half as entertaining as the good Doctor.

Damn, these things suck to write. I hope a few of you guys throw in your copies of THE LAST STARFIGHTER or seek out some of the more obscure Sandra Dee material or pick up one of Hunter's books in the upcoming days and weeks ahead... a little tip of the hat to the departed. I plan on doing so when I am planted back in the states. My condolences to the families and friends of Dan O'Herlihy, Sandra Dee and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 24, 2005, 7:53 a.m. CST

    O'Herlihy has gone to the great Silver Shamrock factory in the s

    by Some Dude

    Conal Cochran, you Stonehenge stealing bastard, you will be missed.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 8:06 a.m. CST

    Of course!! I forgot he was in Halloween 3!!

    by Big_Bubbaloola

    Sir, you played the baddie and corporate slime like no other. You will be missed. RIP.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Twin Peaks scene

    by BarrelRider

    I always loved the bit when he reveals himself to Thomas Eckhart in the elevator: "I'm aliiiiiiive!" and when Andrew and Pete are tring to open the box Eckhart bequethed to him, after several frustrations, he whips out an enormous pistol and just shoots the thing! Great scenes, great actor. RIP

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 8:22 a.m. CST

    grig :(

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    As a young closeted homo in 1984, I had a crush on Grig. How fucking weird is that? Good bye old fucker!

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Crazy thing is...

    by moviemaniac-7

    ... that I became a fan of Hunter S. Thompson after reading the fax he wrote re: the production of The Rum Diary on this very site. I knew his works, but that fax made me a fan, an admirer. Have read and devoured everything he has written ever since. Sad thing, Monday morning I read about his dead on this site too.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 9:17 a.m. CST

    How about ARTHUR MILLER!?!?

    by Josef K

    Just one the 20th century's greatest writers...

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 9:30 a.m. CST


    by Ogre

    Poor Sandra, had a rough one point she was up to a quart of scotch a day. I Hope she's happy now. BTW Dan O'Herlihy was a friend of my neighbor...seemed like a very nice old man.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Dr. Thompson used a .45 pistol.

    by Gary Yogurt

    No shotgun, sir. He'd insist that you'd get the weapon information right. Abomination!

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 9:54 a.m. CST

    RIP Mr. O'Herlihy

    by DocPazuzu

    When will the long overdue reappraisal of Halloween 3 take effect? Honestly, that is one mean-spirited fucked-up little horror movie. Imagine it being pitched today: "There's this toy and mask making druid dude who steals one of the stones of Stonehenge in order to make magical microchips which he then installs in his halloween masks so he can melt the faces off the children of America while simultaneously making bugs and snakes burst out of their heads." As said man with the plan, O'Herlihy was terrific -- a weird and wonderful blend of ice-cold malevolence and playful whimsy. Like someone previously stated, he was perfection as slime-in-a-suit. He will be missed.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 10:01 a.m. CST

    What a perfect thing to say

    by shannasbs2003

    Wow. People never think about things in that way. No one (usually) takes the time to look at someone they admire's life in a real way. We only see what we want when it comes to our heroes, not the full reality. I admire Chad Nance for having the balls to speak the real truth of this sad sad situation. I always saw Hunter Thompson as a person who does things because he wants to, and in the end he took the reigns over his death, not leaving anything to chance, not letting it be out of his control. While it is sad for the rest of us, and may seem out of character for such a vibrant personality, it seems not completely out of left field to me. God rest his soul.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 11:22 a.m. CST

    The Pros and Cons

    by reni

    I've been reading The Great Shark Hunt again over the last few nights. Monday night I thought, Christ since he's died this isn't funny anymore. Thankfully that feeling went. Took a couple of days but it's gone now. The talkbacks on Monday went a little over the top with the mention of suicides. It's not something you can choose sides with. My uncle killed himself 12 years ago. I'd hate to give up like that but it doesn't mean I'm going to call him a coward because he did. It's a dark fucking journey making a decision like that. The people on Monday's Talkback who claimed that suicide is cowardly were wrong. Mind your own business ladies and gents. I'm glad the boards are open for a second dose of tributes for the man. Wish he was still around. Much love to + for the families of Hunter T, Ossie Davis, Sandra Dee and Dan O'Herlihy. Shit start to the year I must say...

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 11:29 a.m. CST


    by riskebiz

    I tried watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas the other night and it was hard. I kept watching and thinking ... "Yep. Yep. Yep. All that and you killed yourself." What a waste.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 11:52 a.m. CST

    That was horseshit

    by Krinkle

    Sorry to say it, but that obit was poorly-written Gen-X bullshit. And Dr. Thompson wouldn't have given it the time of day. The man was Raoul Duke, not the other way around. It wasn't a character. And this generation is fucked because of its lack of imagination, its ironic sarcasm, and its fat-assed resentment of anyone who ever held passion in their hearts. Fuck off, you awful bastards.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Mr Miller

    by reni

    You're right about Miller. But no regrets. The man had a good innings and a fucking top life. Salute, Arthur.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 12:24 p.m. CST

    It wasnt a SHOTGUN, it was a 45.

    by ripper t. jones

    Get the facts straight Goddamnit.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 12:32 p.m. CST


    by Mister Man

    She was only a 50s/60s ICON, folks. Granted, most of you know her only as a punch line in a song from "Grease," or a "character" in Spacey's ego-fest on Bobby Darin. But in her heyday, she sold a film - definite box-offiice receipts with her credit in the titles. Similar in tone to Drew Barrymore, whom many wanted to see portray Dee in "Beyond the Sea." It's a shame to rehash only her later addictions, and not her short but memorable career. (As an aside, when did this "nuff said" retard comment take flight?? No statement is EVER enough to cover. or end, discussion in a chat. It's just so meaningless and trite.)

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Goodbye'll be missed.

    by Monkey_King

    This old Monkey has been planning a 'Starfighter' sequel for the longest. Still pluggin' away.....

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 12:46 p.m. CST

    that obit did suck

    by Silver Shamrock

    self-conscious writing masquerading as profound. And the commentary track HST did was terrible. He'd let out a loud screech every few minutes just to be "unpredictable" but it just came across as predictably unpredictable. but none of us would be here pushing electrons around if not for his ability to write. And that fucker could write! Through endless work, he became what he dreamed of, a literary heir to Hemingway and Fitzgerald. You know those guys would have got a kick out of his writings. You know Hemingway would have bought him a drink and offered to go boating with him. Who knows, maybe if they'd been around in the same era, they could have saved each other from giving into the dark choice of suicide. HST lived in the wrong era and he knew it. Gun control and anti-smoking laws from the Left, he was being legislated out of existence. What a way to feel welcome. As long as Political Correctness reigns, in the boardrooms, in book editor's heads, classrooms, government, casual conversations, etc. there will never be another crazy voice, certainly not in this generation. Last year, ESPN rejected a piece he wrote. What hack knew better than HST? It wasn't THAT outrageous, but he pushed some pencil pusher's buttons. This was the life of HST: the eternal fight against Dumbness, and he got tired of fighting. A cowardly way out? No doubt in my mind, but no more cowardly than the legions of demonic oppponents he faced head on for decades. But I could have that completely wrong. Maybe the true cowards are the ones living those timid, just gettin' by lives, in quite desperation, too cowardly to punch their own ticket. I'm too muck of a fuckup to pretend I know it all, but I do know HST wrote with more style and wit than just about anyone else currently breathing. I'd say rest in peace, but that somehow wouldn't suit you.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 1:04 p.m. CST

    No mention of Dr. Gene Scott?

    by Crimson Dynamo

    My all-time favorite kook dies, and no mention? Not even on the Coaxial section?

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Nick Nolte in Gene Scott bio-pic

    by Krinkle

    How fucking amazing would that be? If anyone ever gets the chance, check out Werner Herzog's doc on Gene Scott, called "God's Angry Man" - It's terrific!

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 1:51 p.m. CST

    The Old Man and the Grig...

    by wraith777

    The Last Starfighter and Robocop helped make me the man I am today, I don't know why I never put together that both characters were played my the same man, but as soon as I read it I could hear both their voices and it hit me. "You're Fired!!" I used to tell my employess that all the time back when I managed a movie theatre...Good-bye old friend

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 2:21 p.m. CST


    by Jeditemple

    Chad Nance wrote: "I don

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 2:37 p.m. CST

    They say things come in threes...

    by Childe Roland

    ...but that isn't necessarily true. These three each touched the world in very different ways and during different periods of time. But they left us all at once. That's more the way of things... people who affect you come into your life at random intervals and then leave in groups. And, sadly, that's when we become most aware of them and appreciate them. I hadn't thought about Thompson in years, but his work had a huge impact on me as a yong journalist. Now he's gone... and that guy from Halloween 3, too! Weird to think of them riding the same bus into the afterlife.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 3:47 p.m. CST


    by VaderSabre

    Because he was a writer. Searching for meaning in a millenia void of anything anymore. Because George Bush is President, and the Karl Roves of the world will continue to thwart what voices still yearn to find a truth of their own, and not one imposed by the media. Because Junkie George of the Hells Angels kicked Thompson's ass and HT realized he was loathed for being a psuedo-rebel. Because at the end of the day, nothing sells more books better than posthumously. Because he ate, dropped, sniffed, or guzzled one too many something. If you can't imagine what would drive him to suicide, Quint... Maybe it's because he wasn't prowling the Net for info on spandex babes in another superhero saga. Maybe it's because he was a FUCKED UP WRITER, who could only survive on the page, and not amongst the horrible cretins that populate the world. I dunno. Ask that other guy...Hemingway.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 5:49 p.m. CST

    voicebox5 - Re: Gene Scott

    by Crimson Dynamo

    The 'net is saying he died of a stroke

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Thompson's suicide not a last minute decision made in haste

    by drakeavenue

    If you've read headlines during the past few days, you'd know that in fact, as his family has said, Thompson planned the act in advance after going through immense pain from, I think, hip surgery and some other medical procedure. Apparently he spent his last weekend with his son and grandchild to be closer with them. You, I, and all Thompson fans know he would not have gone this way if not for some underlying reason. It was also reported that he wants his cremains shot out from a cannon. RIP and let me know how bat country is.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 6:39 p.m. CST

    The last starfighter

    by Talos4

    This movie will always be remembered in my mind as one of the most disappointing Sci-Fi movies ever made. It had such great potential, but it fell way short of what it could/should have been. It seems that some of the more important points and scenes in the movie must have been cut out, or needlessly forgotten about in the script. Overall, though, most of the casting was o.k talent-wise. I would have placed a greater emphasis on the roles and parts of some of the lesser-known supporting actors in the film. Some of the lead characters' family just seemed to be window dressing for the most part. They just said their lines, and went off to do something else, it seems. Not alot of real interaction. A decent movie, but not in line with other great SCi-fi movies like SW, ST, and Dune.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 6:51 p.m. CST

    VB, um.........

    by Mister Man

    A) I had tried every other interesting moniker I could think of, but they were all taken, and B) My better name was banished by the web site for independent thinking. Comparing "'Nuff Said" to "retarded" is comparing an obnoxious geek term to a standard reference (across ethnic, educational, gender, blah, blah lines).....the old apples and oranges thing. In addition, comparing someone's screen name to an oft abused cutsie-pie slacker-assed term is also not really logical. However, I say this all in jest. I guess being in my early 40s alienates me from all those tweener-weiner phrases....."laterz" nearly sends me into orbit, too. I'll just end this with "groovy."

  • Feb. 25, 2005, 12:30 a.m. CST

    Good Lord, somebody who can converse

    by Mister Man

    AND, you're not screeching, or speaking of bodily functions. How long have you been on this quickly eroding site?? My sojourn began very early, when posters actually discussed films, rather than rabid politics or comic book Underroos......when industry folks enjoyed the experience, rather than manipulated its easily gullible visitors and creators. (Now sit back, and witness a wave of rage.) And if 43 is dated, well then, hell yeah, I'll accept the title. (A quick survey of the Hollywood grid will produce a lengthy list of fortysomethings. Paris Hilton is a gratuitous, lightweight morsel, tossed to the pack for a predictable feeding frenzy......good God, ANYBODY providing her with a private number deserves this week's hacker-mania.) It's quiet tonight - guess everyone's watching "Queer Swapped Aunt Surviving a Surreal Blind Date While Factoring How Her Idol Traded His Swan Without Make-Up." Actually, "ER" is back up to speed. And God help me, I watched "The Apprentice," just to loathe them all, and wonder why the Book Smarts call themselves "Magna" and not "Summa."

  • Feb. 25, 2005, 2:12 a.m. CST

    Aw, O'Herlihy is gone...

    by Durendal

    I thought he was great as Grig, although he looked less like a lizard to me and more like a giant talking turd. "Alex, what do you call all these little black buzzing things that are all over me?"

  • Feb. 25, 2005, 3:51 p.m. CST

    On top of his game!

    by vikingkitty

    I expressed condolences when I first heard of Thompson's suicided, but the more I hear, the less sympathy I can muster. He killed himself while his son and six year old grandson were in the house? What an asshole.

  • Feb. 26, 2005, 7:53 a.m. CST

    HST killed himself. He'd be pissed as all hell to read this BS a

    by Mahasamatman

    This piece was overwritten, anyway. Look, Hunter called his wife, asked her to come home, and then put the phone down and blew his head off while she listened. Even if she is the gold-digger people think, that's his final statement, and while it seems to me an act of real hate and aggression, it was HIS act. So who the fuck is this guy to take it away from him and claim we pushed him into it? Hunter'd piss all over that, pilgrim, and call you an egg-sucking dog in the bargain.

  • March 1, 2005, 8:18 p.m. CST

    For New HST Fans

    by Cigar2

    You should buy this dvd. Breakfast with Hunter it's a great dvd.