Jeff Chandler and other names
Funny how you can start out with all good intentions of going one way and then you find yourself somewhere else altogether and don’t have any idea where you are or how you got there. Hmmm.
Cruising the Internet recently I found myself brought up short by a face and name from my adolescent past. Jeff Chandler. There he was, in all his studly glory, pondering the future, which for him was not going to be very long.
When you look around today and realize how easily a young girl could find herself influenced by unwholesome pop stars, it’s a wonder more of them don’t embarrass themselves or their parents. As a teen, I felt torn like every other teen in the world does sooner or later, between being just like them, yet being a unique person.
“Just be yourself ,” was the mantra of parents and guidance counselors alike, and that was the whole problem: How can I be “myself” when I don’t know what “myself” is? You have to remember this was before television, and we relied pretty much on magazines, newspapers, and radio to learn what a “typical” teenager is supposed to do and be.
I should add to the list movies. My dad liked movies and took us rather often, at least once a month, although it was hard to find a film that he would enjoy, that was not too grown-up for me and my younger brother.
We saw most of the Disney animated films in the theater, of course, and adolescent tearjerkers like “Lassie Come Home,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but a movie like “The Third Man” or “The Best Years of Our Life” left me bored. Give Daddy points for trying.
(He took me to “The Thing,” one of the earlier horror shows, and to this day I can feel the tightness in my chest just by thinking of that severed hand moving on its own. I discovered a way to take the scare out of a scary movie. Turn your head and look at the screen from a 90-degree angle and it’s suddenly just a movie screen with shadows on it.)
Jeff Chandler was born Ira Grossel (“sounds too Jewish”) in Brooklyn, and died too soon at the age of 42, in Los Angeles, apparently from botched surgery for a spinal injury. The notes I took from an online search say he died of “vascular injury and exsanguination.” In other words, he bled out, despite the infusion of more than 75 units of blood during a seven-hour emergency surgery.
I mourned his death appropriately, i.e., I wore dark clothes for about a week and looked mournful, but when questioned by my peers, I was always puzzled by their rejoinder: “Who’s Jeff Chandler?”
He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Cochise in “Broken Arrow,” and played opposite leading ladies like Joan Crawford and Jane Russell.
And since I needed a baseball player to admire, I chose Phil Rizzuto. Why? I haven’t a clue. I barely knew first base from a base on balls, although I did learn that Rizzuto was a solid infielder whose entire Major League career was with the New York Yankees. Plus he was the American League MVP in 1950.
Actually, I learned that from Wikipedia this evening, while I was writing this. I guess my dad and Phil Rizzuto got me started as a baseball fan, although not a rabid one.
(I also learned during this late-night wandering research that Katharine Hepburn’s late-in-life tremor and tremulous voice were caused by Parkinson’s Disease. I was comforted to read that she died of complications at the age of 96.)
I should add that Phil Rizzuto’s career in baseball included calling baseball games on the radio. At one time he “played alongside Bobby Brown and announced alongside Bill White,” who later served as presidents of the American and National Leagues, respectively. Brown and White.
Not long ago I made note of similar name pairings. The AJC carried an announcement of the engagement of an Alice Green and William Brown. In the same edition came news of a Shiver and Hunt engagement, as well as the Wells and Meadows upcoming nuptials. Also, a couple comprised of Cheatham and Dunn were celebrating an anniversary.
See what I mean? I’m sorry – I mean well, honestly.