Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jane Russell (1921-2011) & Duke Snider (1926-2011)

One is a beloved New York City baseball icon, the other one of Hollywood's earliest sex symbols. We are mourning both this week.

Most of us will recall Jane Russell not for her film career, but rather for commercials she made for Playtex in the 70's. Russell, though, earned iconic status in the controversial Western, "The Outlaw". Legend has it that the film was delayed three years because the censors had issues with Russell showing so much cleavage, unheard of at the time. Russell passed away at 89, 4 months shy of her 90th birthday.

Duke Snider was the last of the Brooklyn Dodgers' fabled "Boys of Summer" of the 50's, and immortalized in song by Terry Cashman in his 1985 classic, "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey, & the Duke)". Snider's Hall of Fame credentials speak for themselves, and the three way debate among baseball fans, especially in New York, over who was the city's best center fielder, Snider, Willie Mays, or Mickey Mantle, during that golden period, will rage on and on into eternity. Willie's still with us, while Duke has joined Mickey in that ballpark in the sky, having passed on over the weekend at 84. In all probability, when the Los Angeles Dodgers take the field this season, they'll have the black armbands on their uniforms to honor Snider, but Brooklyn's current pro team , the NY-Penn League's Cyclones (affiliated with the Mets) will likely pay tribute in some form as well. Expect some sort of memorial when the Dodgers, now managed by ex-Yankee Don Mattingly, visit Citi Field during the season.

Rest in peace, Jane & Duke.

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