Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Tragic Day In History

Yes folks it is that time of year again when we remember our fallen greats. Tragedy strikes us in so many different ways, yet how it happens or when it happens, it always ends up acting as a sort of milestone in our lives. We remember where we were, what we were doing, and of course how we felt when we got the news.

Of course I'm talking about the death, 33 years ago today of the great John Banner. Banner lead an interesting life and ended up as a star on that greatest of shows, Hogan's Heros. Playing the baffoonish, but lovable Sergeant Schultz, Banner was the kind of Nazi you could learn to love; and let's face it, there weren't a whole lot of those guys around! The great irony of course is that Banner was himself a Jew, who spent time in a concentration camp earlier in his life. I love this part of his story, because Banner's merciless mocking of the Nazi's through his portrayal of Schultz proved that living well is truly the greatest revenge.

Irony seemed to be a bit of a recurring theme in Banner's life. A big man, who used his size to his advantage in winning roles, Banner died of an abdominal hemorrhage in 1973. Most tragic, I suppose, is that he died on his birthday at the age of 63. A life cut short.

So today the Pursuit of Happiness salutes one of our greats! If you've forgotten his catch phrase which to this day occupies it's own space in our culture, click on the link above for a refresher. Tell the truth, you couldn't help but crack a smile could you? Thank you John Banner for some of the best laughs of my youth. Wherever you are, I hope Lebeau is nearby and that he gives you a big ole slice of birthday strudel.

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