Two people I wanted to mention. First, John Ritter. That makes me very angry. Its just so sad and frustrating. He's someone we should have gotten to enjoy for so much longer. He is just such a brilliant comedian. The best physical comedian since the silent film era. Hands down. And even when just playing small roles, he made you want to watch. He had such charm, such effortless grace and flair with comedy. Its not like he was in the best shows ever made, but he was just so damn good in them. To lose him so young feels like an awful shame. I wanted to see more of him. I wanted to keep laughing. It reminds me of how I felt when Jim Henson died. More than the kind of respect and admiration I feel when more elderly performers passed on, I felt angry. I felt upset. I wanted more. I couldn't just be glad for what we had. It bothered me that there wouldn't be more. Its not like either of them lived fast. It was just stuff that happened.
The other person I wanted to talk about is Cass Elliot. Specifically the magnificant A&E biography that debuted today. It is such an incredibly show. I love it. It has none of the usual sensationalism of her story. It treats her life and her work with respect. It didn't regard her death as the inevitability of her weight and it actually agressively responds to that stupid myth about her choking to death. Indeed, it also had the guts to deal with her chronic dieting not as a failure to achieve a goal. It pointed out that it destroyed her health, which has been quietly known for a long time, but always inconvenient for many.
It acknowledges her fame as unlikely, but not as if it was some bizarre thing. They respected the fans she had, rather than treat them like freaks. It allowed that she was a sex symbol, and though it didn't examine whether this was in part *because* she was fat, it certainly didn't bog itself down obsessing over it being "inspite of" her size. Also, I guess because of John Phillips death, they felt they could dispense with some of the myths of her inclusion with the Mama's and the Papa's. Her band-mates reversed the prior story that John didn't think her voice fit with the group, and bluntly said that they felt John didn't want her because she was fat and that two never liked each other.
It didn't romantize her. It was honest about her lonliness and her long habit of getting crushes on men who weren't interested. It also had Denny Doherty admitting (as he has in other documentaries on the band) that he completely regrets not returning her affections and that he felt he had it dead wrong. It did talk about her great popularity and her many close friendships. It also honestly treated her career to a proper perspective and context. I think I've seen all the specials on Cass and the band, and I never got the understanding of her life I did from this show. Even on basic stuff, like her post Mama's career. It was very informing.
And two final things it reminded me of. She has an incredible voice. Really amazing stuff in everything she did. I'm wishing we had a good file-sharing network so I could download all her stuff right now. (I know enough to know much of her output is likely unavailable on CD)
Also, she was really, really, really hot. Great to see a bit more of her than those awful dresses she wore for the Mama's and the Papa's TV appearances. She was an incredibly beautiful woman, and it does give me some hope that she was able to make it so big. I think American would really take to another Cass Elliot, if only Hollywood would give one a chance.