Sunday, May 29, 2016


Since it is Memorial Day weekend, lets look at some celebrities who died and then had comebacks several years after their death.

6.  JIM REEVES -  Reeves was a huge star in the 1950s and early 60s in both country and pop music. The crooner, dubbed Gentleman Jim, is best remembered for the song, "He'll Have To Go." What many people today don't realize is he hosted a radio show on the ABC Radio Network and was HUGE in Great Britain and South Africa. Then, he died in a plane crash in 1964. Interest in Reeves music dwindled as a new crop of country-pop performers came along. However, Chet Adkins convinced his widow to help him promote a compilation of hits sold via TV. It sold in huge numbers. Adkins also used technology to create "duets" with singer-songwriter Deborah Allen in the early 80s. All this brought Gentleman Jim's music back.

5. ERNIE KOVACS - Ernie Kovacs had was one of TV first stars. Kovacs used camera tricks to create elaborate sight gags. He hosted the weekend edition of The Tonight Show (which was quickly done away with) and was bounced on TV from network to network with little major success because his gags were expensive to produce. He appeared in some popular movies such as Bell, Book & Candle and North To Alaska. His longest gig was a game show called Take A Good Look. He was killed in a car accident in 1962. He seemed forgotten with the exception of mention in the first Joker episode of Batman. Then came a TV series called Laugh-In which revived many of his most famous gags and paid tribute to him during one of their early shows. In the late 70s, his last TV show, which aired on ABC, was rebroadcast on PBS. He was a star again after being forgotten. The alternative rock band The Loud Family's video for their song, "Don't Respond" was made to look like his show.

4. LON CHANEY - "Lon Chaney Must Not DIE!" is what the headline in Famous Monsters read. Chaney was sort of forgotten after his death in 1930, with the exception of his son using his name and a biopic starring James Cagney in the late 50s. Forry Akerman wrote several articles to get the monster kids reading his magazine interested in him. Chaney had suffered from being a silent star and the fact that many of his films were lost. Before long the face of the Phantom of the Opera and the vampire of London After Midnight were on posters and toys horded by monster kids of the 60s & 70s.

3. W. C. FIELD - Fields died in 1947. TV revived his old movies and the late 60s and early 70s nostalgia craze brought his radio appearances to LPs. A biography by his son and a film starring Rod Stieger helped bring him back. Firesign Theater frequently dropped his voice onto random characters and Fritos had a cartoon spokesman called W. C. Frito.

2. HUMPHREY BOGART - Bogart died in the mid 50s. French film historians began talking about his work and TV was showing his films. College students and hipsters began putting his face on posters and T-shirts. He was immortalized in songs by Roxy Music, Al Stewart and Bernie Higgins, as well as the Woody Allen film Play It Again, Sam. The Cult of Boggie was at its peak in the 70s.

1. JIM MORRISON -  The Rolling Stone cover sort of summed up this phenomenon. In the early 80s, Morrison and the Doors were suddenly big again. Many point to Elektras release of The Doors Greatest Hits LP and the book No One Here Gets Out Alive. Soon Jim Morrison posters were all over and radio stations were working in The Doors songs between Olivia Newton-John, Michael Jackson and REO Speedwagon. The Lizard King had risen from the flames to be a star again in the 80s.      

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