Tag Archives: The Tonight Show

Six Degrees of Joe Walsh

7 May

I have been flipping through the television dial (yes, television used to have dials that you actually got out of the chair and turned) and hit upon Guitar Center Sessions on the Audience channel. Tonight’s episode features Joe Walsh, one of the all time greats. This guy isn’t just a great guitar player. He has lived one crazy life.Joe Walsh

Walsh has had a varied career as a solo artist and member of several bands, but he may be best known as one of The Eagles. That band was founded by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. When the band broke up, they both had successful solo careers. Frey even spent some time acting on Miami Vice.Glenn Frey

Miami Vice made Don Johnson famous for his white suits, pastel shirts and cool cars. He was the definition of the 1980s. Johnson tried to parlay his television fame to the movies, but, like many television stars, the transfer didn’t go so well. However, he just appeared as a plantation owner in Django Unchained, the controversial and Oscar-winning film by Quentin Tarantino.Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino came to the attention of most people when he made Pulp Fiction. Of course, that was a ground breaking film that revitalized the career of John Travolta. He danced. He killed. He got killed before showing back up at the end of the movie. It takes a heck of a writer to come up with something like that.

Welcome Back, Kotter introduced Travolta to television audiences as one of the Sweathogs. A vehicle for comedian Gabe Kaplan, the show ended up focusing on the misfits in an inner city high school. There was Vinnie Barbarino, Horshack, Boom Boom Washington, and Epstein. It stayed on for a couple of years and launched Travolta, unlike Don Johnson, to movie stardom. Kaplan went on to play poker and become a poker commentator.Gabe Kaplan

As a member of the professional poker community, Kaplan has played against many of the great players and won Amarillo Slim’s  Super Bowl of Poker in 1980. Slim was considered one of poker’s great players, but he was a better talker. After his win in the 1972 World Series of Poker, Slim appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.Amarillo Slim

Johnny Carson’s father was known as “Kit” Carson, whose nickname was derived from a famous figure in the history of the American West. He gained fame through many endeavors, including being a trapper in the Rocky Mountains.Kit Carson

One of Joe Walsh’s best songs is Rocky Mountain Way.

A Renaissance Man

2 Nov

A Renaissance Man is defined as a man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field, and it is the rare person who can reach this level of accomplishment. Leonardo da Vinci was probably the original Renaissance Man. An inventor, artist and scientist, his name is synonymous with a high level of expertise in many areas.

History has given the world many people who have qualified for such a distinction. Many, like Howard Hughes, are famous, but many more, like Tom Drake, are not. However, I believe that one man, who gained fame in the mid-decades of the 20th Century stands above them all. Who is this Renaissance Man?

Jimmy Dean – singer, actor and businessman.

Jimmy Dean – Renaissance Man

Dean’s singing career started in the 1950s, but he found more success as a radio host, where he discovered stars such as Patsy Cline. In the early 1960s, he found musical success of his own with “Big Bad John“, a country classic that tells the tale of a miner who sacrifices his life to save others during a mining collapse. The fame of this song led to guest hosting stints on The Tonight Show and to The Jimmy Dean Show.

From television, Dean moved into movies and played Willard Whyte, a reclusive billionaire modeled after Howard Hughes (previously mentioned as a Renaissance Man), in Diamonds Are Forever.

Willard Whyte – Fictional Renaissance Man

More memorable than Dean were his bodyguards, Bambi and Thumper.

Guarding a Fictional Renaissance Man

During this time of entertainment success, Dean co-founded the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company and became successful in the food industry. Although he sold the company, Dean’s commercials entertained television viewers for years and made the sausage a household name. It turns out that he was a talented product pitchman, as well.

Jimmy Dean, a true Renaissance Man, passed away in 2010.