12 November 2006
Most of the time, old age seems very far away. My connections with children and grandchildren plus an excellent memory of the past, keep me feeling young current on new movies, recent music, personalities, and bulletins in the news. Then something happens that brings me up short.
Two of these events happened this week one silly and the other serious: First there is a current, amusing commercial running with people talking about things that they knew about as a child that no longer exist, and second Jack Palance passed away of venerable old age.
I was almost the age of the child star Brandon de Wilde when Shane debuted. As such the heroism of Ladd and the villany of Palance made an impression. To this day the cry "Shane Come Back" immediately brings back the images. De Wilde died at only 30 in a car crash and Palance at 87 just a few days ago, making him the last of the cast to pass away.
All except one of the movies that appeared the year I was born were in small screen black and white. By the time Shane was released in 1952, virtually every motion picture was in Technicolor, Cinemascope, and Stereophonic sound. It was almost as dramatic a change in motion pictures as the move from silent to sound. Cole Porter even wrote a song about it for Silk Stockings.
The customers don't like to see
The groom embrace the bride
Unless her lips are scarlet
And her bosom's five feet wide
Jack Palance will be sorely missed by those of us from my era even though he lived long enough to be well known by a new generation. Virtually all of the stars of that age are gone now, though Esther Williams and Cyd Charisse are still hanging in there, and I will probably measure by own mortality by Liz Taylor's health.
Now as to that commercial, just a few of the things of my childhood that either no longer exist or have faded from daily use: Washing machines with wringers; unhomogenized milk delivered to the door; toasters shaped like a tent; and party line telephones.
So goodbye Jack. You had a good long run and now you will be missed, particularly by all of us leading edge Boomers running only a generation behind.