To the best of my knowledge, the death, on Dec. 16, 2004 at the age of 82, of Haleloke went totally without notice in the major press. It came to my attention, instead, on a chat list.
Did I just hear you say, "Hale. . .who?"
To which I might respond with:
"How quickly we forget."
Here is a woman who figured prominently in one of the major news stories of 1953--and one that marked the beginning of the demystification of modern showbiz---dead in Union City, Indiana . . . a long way from her birthplace of Hilo, Hawaii. That's sort of like Bartok giving up the ghost on Central Park West. Totally WRONG thanatopsical context.And so I set about googling. Search words: "Haleloke" + "death". Here's the first hit I got:
Leave it to the tiny Winchester (Indiana) News Gazette to have scooped them all. And that, only because Haleloke happened to live in the immediate vicinity of the paper. Unfortunately, the News Gazette didn't just gloss over the part Haleloke played in Arthur Godfrey's famed October 19, 1953 on-the-air bloodbath, they failed to mention it at all. To all those of you who are either too arteriosclerotic or young to remember, here's what happened:
TV mega-star Godfrey famously fired a large chunk of his cast ("the Little Godfreys") in one terrible swift blow that morning on live simulast radio and TV. Most notably, singer Julius LaRosa was singled out for axing for having lost his "humility," a word that soon became a national catchphrase. Also tossed out in the bathwater that a.m. were several other members of Godfrey's TV and radio rep family, including the singing group The Mariners, bandleader Archie Bleyer, and. . . "Hale. . .who?"
Little did Godfrey realize that, with that act, he had just become the Marie Curie of shooting one's self in the foot bigtime and naked for the world to see. Almost overnight he went from being the most beloved entertainer in America to, if not the most despised, among the least considered. Even though I was prrrractically still in my Doctor Dentons at the time, I can recall people running into the street in our neighborhood shouting the unbelievable news: "Did you see what Arthur Godfrey just did?" etc.
Is it any coincidence that the man who still holds the record for the number of broadcast TV hours (or close enough) was also the undisputed champion when it came to possessing one of the most massively swollen egos in modern show biz history? Next to him, that other much-vaunted megalomaniac, Al Jolson, comes off a distant second, and it is generally assumed that Godfrey was the model for Andy Griffith’s loathsome "Lonesome Roads" in the TV production and movie A Face in the Crowd. Such a bastard in fact was Godfrey that his wife of 40-some-odd years divorced him on her deathbed. Talk about having the last word!
It's somehow comforting (as in what-goes-around-comes-around) to know that, according to singer Julius LaRosa, when 80-year-old Godfrey was on his 1983 deathbed and a nurse inquired, “Is there anything we can get you, sir?” “Yes,” he is said to have answered, “Get me some friends.”
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