Obit of the Day: “The Prince of the Air”
Jay Cochrane ran away from home at the age of 14 with one goal in mind: to become a tightrope walker. He would eventually own six world records for his high wire feats and earn the nickname, “The Prince of the Air.”
Mr. Cochrane career almost ended before it began when he fell 70 feet off a wire in 1965. He broke his pelvis and both legs. Doctors told him he would never walk again. In 1970 he was back on the wire.
During his career Mr. Cochrane became famous for his long-distance wire walking. In 1972 at the Canadian National Exposition he traversed a 300 foot wire 41 times for a total distance of 2.1 miles of walking. He would break that record 30 years later when he walked 11.81 miles - at the age of 68.
Mr. Cochrane’s other records include the longest time spent on a high wire (21 days, 1981), longest blindfolded walk (800 feet, 1998), and the longest and highest combined skywalk (1995). The last record took place in China where he crossed the Yangtze River on a wire nearly 2,100 feet long and 1,340 feet high. For his accomplishment he was honored in China with his own postage stamp and school in his name.
In 2002, Mr. Cochrane completed the first skywalk over Niagara Falls since 1897.
Jay Cochrane died on October 30, 2013 at the age of 69.
(Image of Mr. Cochrane’s 2012 Skywalk which set a record for distance, 11.81 miles, is courtesy of asiatown.net and copyright of the Europeanpress Photo Agency)
Obit of the Day: One Day at Time Star Bonnie Franklin
When One Day at a Time premiered on December 16, 1975 producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, Good Times, Maude) once again found a way to deal with a socially difficult issue in a comedic way. This time the series focused on the trials and tribulations faced by newly divorced mother raising two teenaged daughters*. (For perspective, just five years earlier Mary Richard on The Mary Tyler Moore Show wasn’t even allowed to be divorced, let along be a single mother.)
Ms. Franklin, who died at the age of 69 on March 1, 2013, played Ann Romano, who moved to Indianapolis with her daughters Julie (MacKenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) to an apartment where they befriended the super, Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington). The show would have a 206 episode run, lasting nine years.
A child star, who was a protege of film star Donald O’Connor, Ms. Franklin would appear on television for the first time when she was ten. She would have guest roles on various shows until One Day at Time but found her greatest success on stage prior to that. In 1970 she earned a Tony nomination for her role in Applause.
During her nine seasons as Ann Romano, Ms. Franklin earned an Emmy nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1982) and two Golden Globe nominations, also for lead actress (1982 an 1983). Seven of the nine seasons on the air One Day at a Time was a top twenty hit.
After One Day at a Time went off the air, Ms. Franklin would find guest spots on several different shows including Hot in Cleveland, which starred her television daughter Valerie Bertinelliand her last television appearance as a nun on The Young and the Restless (2012).
Ms. Franklin, who was the daughter of immigrants, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2012.
(Video of the opening credits from season one of One Day at a Time is copyright of Sony Pictures Television and courtesy of JhomasE on YouTube.com)
* The series was based on the life of co-creator Whitney Blake, an actress who was a single mother raising a daughter. Her daughter was Meredith Baxter who would later star as Elyse Keaton on Family Ties.
Pat Derby, trainer of Lassie and Flipper Dies at 69
(Reuters) - Pat Derby, a show business animal trainer who worked on the television programs “Flipper” and “Lassie” before becoming an animal rights activist, has died of throat cancer, her organization said.
Derby, 69, worked on other television shows, including “Gunsmoke” and “Daktari”, according to the Performing Animal Welfare Society or PAWS. She was the trainer and spokesperson for the Lincoln Mercury “Sign of the Cat” cougars Chauncey and Christopher, featured in ads.
Those were among the memorable TV shows and ads of the 1960s and ’70s, along with “Flipper”, starring a bottlenose dolphin from 1964 to 1967, and “Lassie”, starring a series of collie dogs from 1954 to 1974.
Derby became shocked at the neglect and abuse she found in the performing animals business. Her autobiography, “The Lady and Her Tiger” in 1976, was an expose on the harsh treatment of animals in the entertainment industry, according to PAWS.
Along with her longtime partner Ed Stewart, Derby founded PAWS in 1984 to rescue and provide humane sanctuary for animals from the exotic and performing animal trades.
With Stewart by her side, Derby died on Friday at her home in San Andreas, California, outside Sacramento, PAWS said in a statement dated Saturday and made available to Reuters on Monday.
“She was the first to champion the cause of performing animals, and today, because of her tireless work, and fierce determination, most animal protection organizations now have captive wildlife programs that address the issues of performing animals,” PAWS said.
Derby testified before Congress twice and served on several state committees setting standards for the care and handling of elephants and other exotic species, PAWS said.
PAWS said it maintains three sanctuaries for captive wildlife in northern California, providing refuge for more than 100 animals, including elephants, lions, tigers, bears, bobcats, coyotes, leopards, mountain lions, deer and monkeys.