Archive for December, 2016

Bert Lahr

Posted in Union Field Cemetery with tags , on December 27, 2016 by Cade

lahr1August 13, 1895 – December 4, 1967

Tony Award-winning comedian/actor, Bert Lahr, dropped out of school to join a vaudeville troupe. It was on the stage that he spent most of his career. But it was on film – one film, in particular – where he found his greatest and most notable success. Lahr brought his humor and bravado to the role of the Cowardly Lion in the classic The Wizard of Oz and generations have loved him for it.

Irving Lahrheim was New York through and through. He was born there. He died there. And he performed practically the entire time in between. He had a long, successful career on Broadway working alongside such greats as Flo Ziegfeld and Ethel Merman and notably originated the role of Estragon in the first American production of Waiting for Godot. He dabbled in film and television, but it was Oz that would be his biggest hit. Warned about Hollywood’s penchant for type-casting, Lahr famously responded, “Yeah, but how many parts are there for lions?”

Lahr died of cancer – which he didn’t know he had – at the age of 72, while filming his last movie, The Night They Raided Minksy’s.

Burial

Union Field Cemetery – Queens, NY

 

Specific Location

Follow the Main Road all the way to the back of the cemetery until it turns left (Central Ave.). Past the residential area, there will eventually be a series of numbered paths on your right. Take Path 5 and Bert’s family plot will be the fourth one on your right.

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Betty Comden

Posted in Mount Carmel Cemetery (NY) with tags , on December 19, 2016 by Cade

comden1May 3, 1917 – November 23, 2006

Dubbed “Miss Words” by her writing partner of more than 60 years, Adolph Green, Betty Comden contributed wit and brilliance to popular songs on the stage and screen for most of the 20th Century. The lyricist team of Comden and Green got their start as part of the Greenwich Village troupe The Revuers where they collaborated with other young artists like Judy Holliday and Leonard Bernstein. Along with Bernstein (whom they would work with many times), Comden and Green created their first Broadway musical, On The Town, in 1944. Betty would go on to work with Green in Hollywood, mostly for MGM Studios where they contributed songs to classic film musicals like The Band Wagon and Singin’ in the Rain. Back in New York, they worked with all the major Broadway composers to create – over the course of more than 40 years – quintessential shows like Wonderful Town, On The Twentieth Century and The Will Rogers Follies. The duo would frequently perform their own work in clubs and on stage and continued to write together the rest of their lives. Betty died in a New York hospital at the age of 89.

Burial

Mount Carmel Cemetery – Queens, NY

 

Specific Location

Section 1 (Old), Block D, Section 17, Lot 308, Grave 11; From the main road, locate Block D and Betty’s family plot (SADVORANSKY – COHEN – ALEXANDER) is just behind a large tree at the curb.

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Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Posted in The Evergreens with tags , on December 12, 2016 by Cade

bojangles1May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson began his life as Luther Robinson in Richmond, VA where he learned to dance for pennies on the street. Busking led to bit parts and “picknaninny” roles in local minstrel shows. This led to predominantly-white vaudeville shows…and then he went to work.

Widely regarded for his tap dancing prowess and innovation, he busted through the racial barriers of his day at every level, eventually becoming one of the first black solo performers in vaudeville and, ultimately, making a name for himself on Broadway. Robinson became the first black headliner in Broadway history with 1940’s All In Fun. He jumped to Hollywood, famously appearing alongside Shirley Temple in four 20th Century Fox musicals. He became a de facto “ambassador” to the white community, a fact that led to quite a bit of controversy among both white and black communities. But, he continued on. An avid baseball fan, he co-founded the New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League.

Despite all of his success – he was the highest paid black performer of his time – Bojangles died broke in New York of heart failure at the age of 71. His legacy, however, was far richer. Entertainers like Ann Miller, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. all credit Robinson with directly influencing their careers.

Burial

The Evergreens Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

Specific Location

Redemption 1; Prominently visible at the Southeast corner of the intersection of the Redemption, Ascension and Siloam sections.

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Leonard Bernstein

Posted in Green-Wood Cemetery with tags , on December 5, 2016 by Cade

bernstein1August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990

“The other night I bippy nigh, blabba habba dooby die, mowt say hiddy lie, LEO-NARD BERN-STEIN!” – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M. (paraphrased)

Louis “Leonard” Bernstein was and is an American musical treasure. Reaching international acclaim, Bernstein is most widely known as the long-time musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and for his many stage and screen compositions. Bernstein grew up in Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard and, by way of grad school in Philadelphia, made his way to New York. It was in New York where he joined The Revuers and began his composing and conducting career. In 1943, he filled in as the main conductor for the NYPO and became an instant success. He began composing in all styles, from ballet with Jerome Robbins to Broadway musicals with Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The successes of Fancy Free, On the Town and Wonderful Town foreshadowed what would become his crowning achievement (in popular music, anyway)…1957’s West Side Story, which he wrote with Robbins, Arthur Laurents and and young Stephen Sondheim. The story of star-crossed lovers set in 1950’s New York was a colossal hit and has gone on to be one of the most produced and beloved musicals of all time.

In addition to his stage work, Bernstein wrote for film (On The Waterfront), ballet, pop, orchestral and just about any other genre he felt compelled to. He won a Tony, 16 Grammys and a couple of philanthropic awards. After holding the baton for 47 years, he retired in October of 1990 and died five days later.

Burial

Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, NY

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Specific Location

Section H; Enter the cemetery’s main gate and stay to the left. Follow Battle Avenue up to the monument at the top of Battle Hill. Take Battle Path up past the monument and turn right onto Liberty Path and the Bernstein plot will be on your right a little ways down behind two evergreen shrubs.

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