Obit of the Day: Married 70 Years, Died 15 Hours Apart
Kenny and Helen Felumlee were introduced when they were teenagers - by Kenny’s ex-girlfried. After dating for two years, the couple decided to get married. Immediately. Even though Kenny was only two days shy of his 21st birthday - the legal age for men in Ohio at the time - the pair drove to Kentucky to elope. They married on February 20, 1944, and spent the next 70 years together.
The couple raised eight children with Helen staying at home while Kenny worked for the railroad as a car inspector, ran a automobile repair place, and even carried mail for the town of Nashport. Helen was known for sending personalized greeting cards for any and every event, causing her family to joke that she “kept Hallmark in business.”
Once all their children had left the house, the Felumlees travelled. They visited all fifty United States by bus. They preferred that mode of transportation so they could see everything along the way.
According to their children Kenny and Helen never spent a night apart even preferring to share a bunk bed rather than sleeping in separate beds on a trip. When Kenny became too ill to sleep in the bedroom, Helen slept on the floor nearby so they could stay together.
Helen Felumlee died on April 12, 2014 at the age of 92. Kenny Felumlee died 15 hours later on April 13, 2014 at the age of 93.
(Image Helen and Kenny Felumlee, in the 1940s, is a family photo and courtesy of the Zanesville Times Recorder)
More marriage-related posts on Obit of the Day:
The DeCaros - Married 81 years
The Pawlaks - Died holding hands
The Direnzos - Married 78 years
The Wrubels - Married 83 years, 129 days
Obit of the Day: Mickey Rooney, 88 Years in Movies
The first time Mickey Rooney performed in front of a theater audience he was only 18 months old and dressed in a tuxedo. The son of vaudevillians, he moved with his newly-divorced mother to Hollywood when he was four years old. He made his first movie appearance in 1926 when he was only six.
By the time he was seven, Mr. Rooney had earned his first starring role in a series of movie shorts that began with Mickey’s Circus (1927). By the time he career ended he appeared in more than 200 films and television shows over parts of ten decades. Peers like Cary Grant and Anthony Quinn called him the greatest actor in Hollywood
Mr. Rooney’s stardom peaked when he was only 19 and theater owners named him the most popular film star in America of 1939. He was earning rave reviews for his performances as “Andy Hardy,” considered a version of the “All-American boy.” He also co-starred in several musicals with fellow teenager Judy Garland. (The Rooney-Garland films were formulaic hits that often ended with the couple putting together a musical to raise money for a fictional cause.) Mr. Rooney would earn his first of four Academy Award nominations for his performance with Ms. Garland in Babes in Arms (1939).
It was also at this time that Mr. Rooney’s long-term romantic woes began. In 1942, he married Ava Gardner, then a 19-year-old starlet which ended in divorce a year later. Ms. Gardner dissolved the marriage because of Mr. Rooney’s extramarital affairs, drinking, and gambling. It was the first of eight marriages for the actor. (Mr. Rooney would claim, years later, that his gambling and alimony payments cost him $12 million.)
Earning a second Oscar nod in 1943 for The Human Comedy and his third in 1956 for The Bold and the Brave, Mr. Rooney’s career was gliding along smoothly as he starred in two to three films as year, including 1944’s hit National Velvet which co-starred a 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor. But like most child actors, age was his greatest enemy.
Decades later, while receiving an honorary Oscar in 1982, Mr. Rooney summed up his career: “When I was 19 years old, I was the number one star of the world for two years. When I was 40, nobody wanted me. I couldn’t get a job.”
Although he was using a bit of hyperbole, Mr. Rooney found himself no longer cast as the lead in most films. He transitioned to television and earned three Emmy nominations in the late 1950s and early ’60s for Best Single Performance by an actor. He had also found a place as a character actor in Hollywood earning rave reviews for his appearances in Breakfast at Tiffany’s(1961)*, Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).
His star began to rise once again in 1979 when he earned his fourth, and final, Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in The Black Stallion. A year later he made a triumphal return to Broadway, co-starring in the tribute to vaudeville Sugar Babies.
In 1981 he won his lone Emmy for his performance as “Bill” in the television movie of the same name. He portrayed a mentally disabled man who was living independently for the first time after release from a mental institution. Some critics considered it his best role, surpassing even his Oscar-nominated work.
Finally, it was in 1982 that he received his honorary Oscar for 60 years of work in film. Mr. Rooney, now in his 60s, was an icon once again.
Over the last thirty years of his career he embraced his role as Hollywood’s senior statesmen and satirized his own love life as well as his career longevity. He made guest appearances on Murder, She Wrote, The Simpsons, ER, and The Love Boat. He also did voiceover work for several animated films and shows including The Fox and the Hound, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and The Care Bears Movie. As late as 2014 Mr. Rooney filmed scenes for the upcoming production of Night at the Museum III.
Mickey Rooney died on April 6, 2014 at the age of 93.
(Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland singing “Our Love Affair” from the 1940 film Strike Up the Band when Rooney was 20 and Garland 18 years old. The film is copyright MGM and courtesy of TheManThatGetsAway on YouTube.com)
* Mr. Rooney’s portrayal of Mr. Yunioshiin Breakfast is obivously racist when watched 50 years later, but was considered high comedy at the time.
Also read Obit of the Day’s post on child star Shirley Temple who died on February 10, 2014
Obit of the Day: - —- .-. - ..- .-. .
Commander Jeremiah Denton was leading a squad of A-26 fighter jets in a combat mission over Vietnam on July 18, 1965. His twelfth mission, Cmdr. Denton was shot down near Thanh Hoa and captured.
As an naval officer, the Vietcong moved him to the infamous “Hanoi HIlton” POW camp where he underwent beatings and torture for eight years. His strength and courage never waned and the American public saw this first hand on May 16, 1966.
In a live interview broadcast by the Vietcong with Cmdr. Denton, the pilot turned the tables on his captors by refusing to denounce the U.S. military or the intervention in Vietnam. Even more boldly, during the filming Cmdr. Denton blinked out the word “torture” in Morse code with his eyelids. Army intelligence picked up the irregular pattern and understood the message*.
Following the invterview debacle, the Vietcong gave the commander his worst beating and he was never again allowed on camera.
As the war drew to a close in 1973, Commander Denton was released by the Vietcong. He returned home and was promoted to Rear Admiral by the U.S. Navy. In 1974 he was awarded the Navy Cross, the military branch’s second highest honor, for bravery during his intervew.
Admiral Denton retired from the Navy in 1976, the same year his memoir When Hell Was in Session was published. Three years later it was made into a television movie.
Drawn to politics after retirement from the Army, Adm. Denton ran for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Alabama. He won election in 1980 as a loyal follower of newly elected president Ronald Reagan. He became the state’s first Republican senator since 1879^.
He lost his re-election bid in 1986 to then-Democrat Richard Shelby, who is still the incumbent having switched to the GOP in 1994. Mr. Denton continued in public service founding the Christian-based Coalition for Decency, which he established in response to a “decline in morals” in the United States, and also the National Forum Foundation, which shipped donated goods to countries in need.
Jeremiah Denton died on March 28, 2014 at the age of 89.
(The video is a portion of the May 17, 1966 interview between then-Commander Jeremiah Denton and a member of the Vietcong. You can clearly see Mr. Denton blink in a distinct pattern that was Morse code. Courtesy of luck3148 on YouTube.com)
* The title of this post is the Morse code for “torture.”
^ Alabama’s first Republican senators were Willard Warner and George E. Spencer, who were both elected to the Senate in 1868 when the state was re-admitted to the Union following the Civil War. Mr. Warner lost re-election in 1871, while Spencer won his race in 1872 and left office in 1879.
Other POWs featured on Obit of the Day:
Jack Garrett - WWII POW who made a guitar plane wreckage
Lionel Greenberg - Captured by the Germans, he remained proud of his Jewish heritage
Kenneth Porwoll - Survivor of the Bataan Death March
Robbie Reisner - USAF pilot and POW leader inside the Hanoi Hilton
Louis Sachwald - WWII POW who weighed only 90 pounds when released