What the internet taught us this week… #7
A WEEK OF MOURNING →
The internet paid tribute to a number of pop culture icons this week, and didn’t know how to feel about a particular political figure (ruthless dictator or strong liberator?) who shaped half of the twentieth century!
In this special post, FRED the ALIEN pays tribute to actors Florence Henderson, Peter Sumner, and Ron Glass by looking at the roles that defined their careers. We also reflect on the incredible life of polarising Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
#1: FLORENCE HENDERSON (14/02/1934-24/11/2016)
Florence Henderson, immortalised as Carol Brady on the classic television series The Brady Bunch died of heart failure on Thursday. She was 82.
In The Brady Bunch, divorcee Carol Martin, mother of three golden-haired daughters⎯’the youngest one in curls’⎯marries widower Mike Brady (Robert Reed) who ‘was busy with three boys of his own’. Sherwood Schwartz came up with the idea of the show after reading an article that discussed the growing number of blended families in the United States (30% in 1966).
The Brady Bunch premiered in the U.S. on 26 September 1969 to underwhelming reviews, but maintained a steady and engaged audience for five seasons until patriarch Reed’s fight with producers saw a sudden end to the series on 8 March 1974. (As a result, Reed does not appear in the final episode. He remained on set and behind the camera so that his young co-stars would not be disturbed or distracted by his absence.) Henderson would reprise her role in a number of sequels and spin-offs, including The Brady Bunch Hour (1976-77), The Brady Girls Get Married (1981), The Brady Brides (1981), A Very Brady Christmas (1988), and The Bradys (1990). She also had a cameo in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) as Carol’s (Shelley Long) mother.
With her warm smile and positive outlook, Henderson became a surrogate mother to an entire generation and, thanks to endless reruns, a number of generations that followed.
And while Henderson will best be remembered for her role as Carol Brady, her career was as diverse as her talents. She worked on stage and in film, was a talented singer, dancer, and television presenter. One of her most memorable guest appearances was on The Muppet Show in 1976. In a rare instance in the series, Henderson performed a beautiful rendition of ‘Elusive Butterfly’ without being accompanied by a Muppet character. Watch Florence Henderson’s ‘Elusive Butterfly’ here.
Henderson’s passing marks the third Brady Bunch cast member to have died. Robert Reed, her on-screen husband, succumbed to colon cancer complicated by HIV in 1992, aged 59. Ann B. Davis, who had played the Bradys’ witty housekeeper Alice, sustained a subdural hematoma from a fall in 2014. She was 88.
Maureen McCormick, who portrayed the eldest daughter Marcia, paid tribute to her friend and former co-star on Twitter: ‘You are in my heart forever’.
#2: PETER SUMNER (29/01/1942-22/11/2016)
Star Wars fans mourned the loss of Australian writer, director, and actor Peter Sumner, who died after suffering from a long illness last week, aged 74.
As part of the first Star Wars cinematic experience⎯now referred to as A New Hope⎯in 1977, Stumner played Lieutenant Pol Treidum. Despite the character being killed by Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Sumner reprised the role in the 1999 fan film The Dark Redemption. He also had the uncredited responsibility of controlling garbage compactor monster Dianoga off stage.
‘TK-421, why aren’t you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?’
-Lieutenant Pol Treidum (Peter Sumer) in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Sumner had an extensive career on film and television. His filmography includes roles in Ned Kelly (1970), starring Mick Jagger, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), and Bush Christmas (1983), featuring a young Nicole Kidman. His memorable recurring television roles were that of Reverend Green in Cluedo (1992) and Les Bailey in Heartbreak High (1997-99).
#3: RON GLASS (10/07/1945-25/11/2016)
Ron Glass, best known to sci-fi nerds as the spiritual Shepherd Derrial Book in the televisions series Firefly (2002-03) and sequel film Serenity (2005), died of respiratory failure, aged 71.
The prolific actor made his mark as Detective Ron Harris in Barney Miller (1975-82), Felix Unger in The New Odd Couple (1982-83), and Ronald Felcher in Mr. Rhodes (1996–97). Notable films included It’s My Party (1996) and the remake of Death At a Funeral (2010). His final film role was in 2012’s Strange Frame, which was the world’s first animated lesbian-themed science fiction feature film.
#4: FIDEL CASTRO (13/08/1926-25/11/2016)
Responses to Fidel Castro‘s passing, believed to have been caused by diverticulitis, was met with mixed emotions. From mourning to celebrations, the polarising lawyer-turned-communist dictator was 90. Castro’s impact on world history is unrivaled by most world leaders, situating Communism at America’s doorstep and influencing global politics for a staggering five decades.
Here is a pictorial reflection of Castro’s life:
See Time’s pictorial essay on Castro’s life here.