Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Obits and pieces

A double obituary for Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Roscoe Lee Browne.

While hundreds of actors die every year, I must admit that I'm truly sad to see only a few of them go. And that's because only a few make an impression on me. I make a habit of commemorating them with a short post -- click on the tag for "character actors" to see the others -- and I feel that Roscoe Lee Browne fits the bill.

His filmography is staggering, as he's appeared in almost every famous TV show made over a few decades. I "discovered" him as Dr. Barnabus Foster on The Cosby Show, a series that frequently made use of Broadway talent. (Browne won an Emmy for his guest appearance.) His rich voice was unforgettable, and my ears made the connection for the role that ironically gave him the most exposure: the unseen narrator in Babe. There are other actors with great voices -- James Earl Jones and Patrick Stewart come to mind -- but I can't think of one that could approach his warmth and whimsy. Roscoe Lee Browne was 81.

NARRATOR: And though every single human in the stands or in the commentary boxes was at a complete loss for words, the man who in his life had uttered fewer words than any of them knew exactly what to say.

FARMER HOGGETT: That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Kurt Vonnegut happens to be one of the few famous people I have ever met, and strangely, I've met him twice. While I've not been a faithful reader since high school, it's still a mild shock to hear of his passing because his writings and career were shaped by the notion of survival. No one's indestructible, but Vonnegut came close.

He never advised a college graduating class to wear sunscreen, but did appear as himself in Back to School:

JASON MELON: You got a major paper coming up on Kurt Vonnegut. You haven't even read any of the books.

THORNTON MELON: I tried. I don't understand a word of it.

JASON MELON: So, how you gonna write the paper, then?

KURT VONNEGUT: Hi, I'm Kurt Vonnegut. I'm looking for Thornton Melon.

Kurt Vonnegut was 84. According to Wikipedia, he has an asteroid named in his honor, and his literary alter ego, Kilgore Trout, also died at the age of 84.


Blue said...

I cannot believe that Kurt is dead.....GD! I heard about it on the news early morning here in Charlotte and had to call several ppl to make sure they knew. Awesome you met him once--and then once again. Vonnegut will live on through everything in all our little pre-pubescent minds....the, "Babe," guy dying is just as bad....almost.

THANK YOU NEEL, for mentioning all of this.

Love ya,

Julie said...

Wow, what sad news. I can hear Browne's voice so clearly. It had such a wonderful tone - deep yet friendly and inviting.
They will both be missed.