Politics, Entertainment & History: Can You Identify Them by Their Mugshots?

Can you identify these historic, political and entertainment figures by their arrested mugshots and photographs?

Answers at the bottom.

POLITICS & HISTORY

Politics, News and History: John Hinkley, Shepherd Smith, Bill Gates, John Edwards, Bernard Madoff, Lee Harvey Oswald, Rod Blagojevich, Rosa Parks, Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, James Earl Ray, Jack Ruby, Charles Manson

Entertainment: Harvey Weinstein, Jane Fonda, O.J. Simpson, Nick Nolte, Heather Locklear, Jussie Smollett, Paul Reubens

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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Are These the Most Evil and Notorious Serial Killers Who Were Ever Caught?

This article is part of CleverJourneys ongoing series exploring American history from a perspective that burrows deep into criminal profiles, the penal system, victim’s stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and our justice system.

Perhaps these evil individuals were the most sick serial killers of modern times.

David Berkowitz

Also known as the Son of Sam, David Berkowitz performed a series of shootings in 1976. Using a .44 Bulldog revolver, Berkowitz shot 6 people and wounded 7 more. During his spree, he sent numerous letters to the police and press taunting them.

Edmund Kemper

Kemper was known as “The Co-ed Killer” for the brutal murders he carried out in the 1970’s. After murdering his grandparents when he was 15, Kemper killed and dismembered 6 female hitchhikers. He then murdered his mother and a friend of hers before turning himself in.

Larry Bittaker and Roy Norris

These two men were known as ‘The Tool Box Killers’. Between the two of them, they murdered 5 young women in 1979 across California. The two killers would lure their victims to their van before raping and torturing them with tools.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley

Between 1963 and 1965, Northern England’s Ian Brady and Myra Hindley killed 5 children, aged between 10 and 17 years old. Their victims were sexually assaulted before being murdered. Three were discovered in graves on Saddleworth Moor, the last victims were discovered within their home.

Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Bueno

These two men, both cousins, were known as The Hillside Stranglers. Between late 1977 and early 1978, the two men kidnapped, raped, and killed 10 women, aged 12 to 28 years old. Each one was strangled in the hills above Los Angeles.

Arthur Shawcross

Shawcross was known as the Genesee River Killer. His first murder was in 1972, when he sexually assaulted and murdered a 10-year-old boy. He then raped and killed an eight-year-old girl. He was released from prison in 1988 after serving 14 years. He then killed 12 female prostitutes, aged 22 to 29 years old, before being captured once more.

Richard Ramirez

Between 1984 and 1985, Richard Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles. He became known as the Night Stalker, and broke into the homes of his victims to shoot, stab, and rape and mutilate them. His victims ranged from a 9-year-old girl to a married couple in their late sixties. He smeared pentagrams on the walls of each crime scene.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Dahmer is one of the most well-known serial killers of all time. In Milwaukee, Dahmer was convicted of raping, murdering, and dismembering 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Upon dismembering the bodies, Dahmer would then devour pieces of them. He was beaten to death by an inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution just two years into his sentence.

Gary Ridgway

Gary Ridgway was arrested in 2001 for 4 separate murders, but later confessed to killing at least 70 women in Washington within the 1980’s and 1990’s. He ultimately avoided the death sentence by leading police to his dumpsite for the bodies, five of which were within the Green River. He was convicted of 49 murders.

Dr. Harold Shipman

Dr. Harold Fredrick Shipman was an English doctor at one point in his life, then he became responsible for around 250 murders. He was respected within his community, but raised concerns when the death rate in the area became too high. He would inject fatal drugs into his patients, causing their deaths, then forge their wills to inherit massive amounts of money from his victims.

Ted Bundy

Bundy is one of the most prolific serial killers in the 20th century. He kidnapped and raped young women and girls in the 1970’s. He ended up decapitating at least 12 of his victims, keeping their heads in his apartment as a sort of trophy. He escaped from police and court houses on two separate occasions.

Charles Ng and Leonard Lake

Charles Ng and Leonard Lake together raped, tortured, and murdered anywhere between 11 and 25 victims in Calaveras County, California. The two were discovered when police searched Lake’s ranch, finding human remains within.

John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy sexually assaulted and killed 33 teenage boys and young men throughout Chicago between 1972 and 1978. He lured his victims to his own home with the promise of work or money before he strangled them with a tourniquet. He buried 26 of the bodies in the crawl space below his own house.

Tommy Lynn Sells

Sells claimed to have killed at least 70 people, and is considered one of the most dangerous men in Texas. ‘The Coast to Coast Killer” was convicted of numerous murders between 1985 and 1999, including the stabbing of a 13-year-old girl a total of sixteen times. He broke into the bedroom of a 10-year-old, stabbed her and left her for dead, and then was captured. The young girl survived, thankfully. He was executed at Huntsville prison in 2014.

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Are We in Jeopardy? Things Only Baby Boomers Understand

Here are the same guys with the exact same car 50 years later:

Only Baby Boomers understand.

In the 1970s, I changed the oil, set the timing, cleaned the carburetor and installed Jenssen speakers for the 8-track player (also self installed) in my car.

This was my first car.

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QUIZ–What Do These Photos Have in Common?

What began in 1893 became a huge tradition reflecting the hopes and wishes of many Americans.

Spanning the years 1910 through 1994, photos from this collection consisted of seasonal influence and tradition.

Baby Boomers will be more apt to guess what these pictures all have in common. Can you?

Long before there was an Amazon or Etsy or even a dot.com, America had a Sears catalogue…or “Wish Book.”

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Things My Policeman Father Taught Me

Some of our regular readers know, my father, Walter “Corky” Dennis was a policeman, homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department for decades.

He was in the motorcycle detail that traveled beside John F. Kennedy’s limousine in the Alamo City motorcade the day before the President’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. After SAPD retirement, he was employed as a U.S. Marshal and worked on the Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. assassination case in 1979 and early 1980s.

One proud moment was when we found out he and I made it in the world famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not cartoon together.

Although Dad taught me a good deal about investigation, forensics, criminal psychology and police work, like all good fathers, he provided immeasurable guidance on other important matters:


1. How to make a fire
2. How to grill meat
3. How to cook on a stove
4. How to create a budget
5. Basic knot tying 
6. Basic woodworking
7. Basic firearm safety
8. How to throw a punch
9. How to take a punch
10. Basic boxing strategy
11. How to change a tire
12. Basic gardening
13. How to change oil in a car


14. How to pray
15. How to play poker
16. Basic first aid
17. How to pitch a tent
18. How to read the Bible
19. How to summarize a book
20. How to map a family tree
21. Basic dining etiquette
22. How to iron clothes
23. How to mow the lawn


24. How to read a map
25. How to be a polite guest
26. How to talk to a girl
27. Where to go on a first date
28. What to do on a first date
29. How to speak to a girl’s parents
30. How to make small talk
31. How to make deep talk 


32. How to pump gas
33. How to rope a cow
34. How to use a credit card
35. How to dress for an occasion 
36. How to “read” a person (later we called it “profiling”)
37. How to milk a cow
38. How to wrap a gift
39. How to write a thank you note
40. How to think critically
41. How to reverse engineer concepts
42. How to look for signs of criminal activity
43. How to ride a horse


44. Basic photography concepts
45. How to be aware of con artists
46. How to tie a tie
47. How to put on cufflinks
48. How to shine shoes
49. How to roof a house
50. How to use a saw

These next ten, I suppose, are not typically taught to most children by their parents in everyday living.

51. How to rescue people from a raging flooded river or creek.

52. How to dedicate yourself to helping, protecting, and sacrifice for other’s wellbeing, safety and benefit.

53. How to respond responsibly to a crisis, strangers in an emergency, and/or communities in need (hurricanes, flooding, fires, etc.).

54. How police and emergency workers respond when one of their fellow men/women are killed.

55. The importance of visiting and helping those in hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, and with victims of disaster.

56. Why some people call the police names like “Pig.”

57. Why and how some people repeatedly live a life of crime, hate and anger.

58. How to work for the betterment of a community.

59. How to smile when you are angered, fearful or scared.

60.. How much he loved me and always would, even though there was a chance he might not make it home from work ever.

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The One Thing Most Americans May Not Be Considering is World Shocking

IF THIS EXPLANATION DOESNT FRIGHTEN PEOPLE ENOUGH TO WAKE UP, WHAT WILL?

Henry Kissinger-99, George Soros-91, Jacob Rothschild-86, Pope Francis-85, Nancy Pelosi-82, Joe Biden-79, Bill Clinton-75, Hillary Clinton-74, Bill Gates-66, Valerie Jarrett-65, Barack Obama-60, Susan Rice-57.

Here’s a reliable take on how and why Susan Rice and her Joe Biden puppet have been failing miserably. It is from Benjamin Fulford of benjaminfulford.net.


The fake US President Biden failed to get oil on his recent begging trip to the Middle East. This means the countdown for the implosion of the US and Western Europe has begun. Revolution is in the air and there will be no turning back, multiple sources agree.

Biden’s handlers’ hoped to use Iran as an “enemy” in order to justify massive arms sales in exchange for oil. Saudi ambassador to Washington Remma bint Bandar Al Saud summed up the region’s thinking when she dismissed the “oil-for-security paradigm” as “outdated and reductionist.”

🔹No weapons for oil means no oil for the US and its’ client states. No oil means no economic activity.

The Khazarian mafia meanwhile, like a dying beast, is spitting out fear porn, bio-weapons and threatening war in a desperate effort to stave off the inevitable. However, their medical mafia is being systematically hunted down and killed.

Fulford submits that, “the result was US industry lost its competitiveness and over 50 years of trade deficits turned the US into the most indebted country in world history.”

“Then finally the rest of the world decided to stop lending money to the US in 2008, leading to the ‘Lehman shock,’” he continued.

Note, in September 2008, the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a crisis that paralyzed financial markets around the world. 

“The Americans were able to buy time then by promising to put a black communist in as president,” he stated, indicating the public should realize that “communism was created by the Vatican or should I say the P2 freemasons who control the Vatican and that Obama was/is their house slave.”

“In any case, the Obama ruse convinced the Asians to hand over 700 tons of gold to the Federal Reserve Board under Alan Greenspan,” Fulford claims. “This was leveraged over a thousand-fold to create $23 trillion that kept the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CORPORATION going until 2020.”

“When the money ran out in January of 2020 the Khazarian Mafia-controlled West responded with a massive bio-weapons and vaccine attack,” he stated. “They hoped to murder enough people so that they could stay in power. This effort has failed.”

OBAMA’S FRONTMAN BIDEN

“They also managed to get some funding for the US CORPORATION by promising to bring back Barack Obama with Joe Biden acting as his front man,” Fulford indicates.

“Now, as a result of general disgust with the antics of the fake Biden regime, this money has been cut off,” he explains. “This is the background to the truly historic events that are unfolding before our eyes.”

In the news, this can be seen in the fall of multiple governments and the isolation of the G7 from the rest of the world economy.

Fulford offers insight to Biden’s recent failed Beg For Oil visit to the Middle East.


“His failure to get continued free oil in exchange for money printed out of nothing is going to have ramifications far beyond the United States,” he surmises. “It will mean the end of the BIS, the UN, the EU and perhaps even the Papacy.”


To understand why this is, Fulford offers a historical review:

🔹The BIS, or central bank of central banks, was founded in 1930 using Asian gold.

🔹This gold was lent to the Germans to help them pay their obligations under the Treaty of Versailles signed at the end of World War I.

🔹In exchange, the Asians were promised the United Nations would be set up as a world parliament with the ancient royal families of East and West (the dragon family) acting as background supervisors.

🔹However, at the end of World War II the victorious allies reneged on their promise to spend the gold that was lent to them to develop the entire planet, Instead, their Marshall Plan only developed the countries they controlled (now known as the G7).

🔹In retaliation, the Asians cut off any further access to their gold.

🔹When the US ran out of gold, we had the “Nixon shock” of 1971. That is when the dollar was decoupled from gold.

🔹Instead, the countries of the world had to use dollars to buy oil.

“This was a giant sugar high to the US,” Fulford makes clear. “The countries of the world had to have a trade surplus with the US in order to buy oil. This led to a strong dollar and free money for the Americans.”

“However, the result was US industry lost its competitiveness and over 50 years of trade deficits turned the US into the most indebted country in world history.”

BLEAK FUTURE?

Where do people like Bill Gates and George Soros fit into this?

Soros, like Biden, and Henry Kissinger, may not be around much longer due to age and health. Perhaps their hope is in Gates and his contemporaries, as they continue on buying up businesses, farms, ranches, land and technologies to move their odd like agendas forward.

Fulford sums it up:

“When we look at what has happened to us, especially in the West, over the past two years, we can see that a powerful group has been trying to alter our genes with vaccines designed to turn us into domesticated animals.

“As Henry Kissinger once famously boasted: ‘In the future it will be as impossible for the ordinary people to rebel against us as it is for a sheep to rebel against a farmer.’

“We are fighting against a tribal group that wants to monopolize the ability to become superhuman. They want the rest of us to have short, ignorant lives of inescapable and permanent slavery.

In other words, humanity is at a cross roads.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

What Happened to Elvis Presley’s Wedding Ring?

Elvis Presley unveiled his wedding band ring at The Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas on Monday, May 1, 1967, the day he wed Priscilla in a ceremony that celebrated one of the most famous marriages of the 20th century.

The band is decorated with eight baguette-cut diamonds within a border of sixteen fill-cut diamonds. It sold at an auction for $90,000 in 2006.

Note: At the same auction by Profiles in History, the original Cowardly Lion costume worn by actor Bert Lahr fetched $700,000. Presley’s band had an expected sale price of $100,000 – $150,000.

Here is some information about the wedding band from 2006:

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Remembering the First Men on the Moon

In 2006, Jack Dennis had the honor of interviewing the second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin.

It’s been over half of a century that earth celebrated one of the most historical milestones in history as United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the moon for 21 hours.  Many Baby Boomers and space enthusiasts today recall Armstrong’s first words as his boots touched the lunar surface: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Dr. Aldrin, (now 92 at this writing), was bestowed the nickname “Buzz” from his baby sister who could only say “Buzzer” instead of “brother” in their New Jersey home. 

Little did they know this would evolve into the recognizable inspiration for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear’s name decades later.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. stepped on the moon at 03:15:16 Coordinated Universal Time on July 21, 1969. “Beautiful view,” Aldrin simply uttered the first words to describe what he was experiencing. “Magnificent desolation.”

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin, 2006

New information previously not generally known by the public released by Aldrin recently, combined with the 2006 interview by Dennis, is revealed below: 

When probed about Armstrong and him sighting a UFO on their voyage to the moon, Aldrin beamed. “Yes, we saw something,” he clarified. “But you have to remember the times. We could not blare it out that we saw any UFO because everyone was listening and hanging on to every word we said.”

“Delicately, we asked Houston the location of the SIVB (booster rocket) and they told us something like it was 6,000 miles away,” Aldrin continued. “I remember we talked about it as being L-shaped.”

“Over the years, there have been many suppositions and misrepresentations, but we believe now it was a panel left over from the separation of the spacecraft,” winked Aldrin playfully.

The two were on the lunar surface for 21 hours and returned to earth with 46 pounds of moon rocks and specimens.

Did Aldrin feel any pressure to say or not say anything publicly while he was on the moon?

“Not censorship, if that is what you are implying,” he answered. “We knew what we were doing was unparalleled and extraordinary in human history so we took our choice of words into account as part of our responsibility.”

“Just a few minutes on the moon, I did make a statement of reflection asking everyone to give thanks for the moment,” Aldrin said. “And then, with the radio off, I read from the Scripture. Only Neil (Armstrong) heard me.”

Aldrin took a communion wafer and vial of wine from his minister to the surface of the moon.

“I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me,” wrote Aldrin years after the mission. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.”

“Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.. Apart from me you can do nothing,’” he wrote.

Aldrin continued, “It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin

It is also interesting to note that Aldrin was the first astronaut to earn a doctorate degree. His thesis was the foundation and idea for the docking procedures used in the Gemini and Apollo missions. He was the first astronaut to accomplish a successful spacewalk, while during the Gemini 12 mission of 1966, he was outside the capsule for 5 1/2 hours.

What are Aldrin’s ideas about climate change?

“I think the climate has been changing for billions of years. If it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I’m not necessarily of the school that we are causing it all, I think the world is causing it.”

Moon germ worries.

Amid concerns over what germs the astronauts might have brought back with them from the moon, they were kept in quarantine for three weeks after their return to Earth before they could be reunited with their families. The quarantine experience “quickly became oppressive” according to a NASA history of the mission.

The astronauts had to wear “biological isolation garments” before they went into quarantine, where they had to keep themselves entertained with an exercise room, a ping pong table, television, reading material and phone calls to their families. The suits were to ensure that “the lunar dust we brought back wouldn’t give people on earth our moon germs,” Aldrin said.

“I always found it funny that the rags used to wipe us down that were covered with moon dust were dropped in the ocean,” he tweeted. “So the poor underwater creatures got our moon germs instead.”

Aldrin then suggested that the moon dust in the ocean could be “fodder for a Godzilla movie.”

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Vintage Wisdom for Today’s Topsy-Turvey World

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. Neil Armstrong

The greatest wealth is to live content with little. Plato

Well done is better than well said. Benjamin Franklin

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. John F. Kennedy

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. Vince Lombardi

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy

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A Wise Message From Andy Griffith For the World Today

There is a reason that The Andy Griffith Show, of the 1960s, remains in the list of Top Ten Classic TV Shows of All Time.

Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), his son Opie (Ron Howard), Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and a host of others from Mayberry, North Carolina provided great life lessons with both humor and sometimes drama.

One notable episode focused in on the importance of parenting when outside influences come in to disrupt. It’s a wonderful lesson even today.

The episode, “Opies Hobo Friend,” aired on November 13, 1961:

🔹Deputy Barney remains determined to round up what he is convinced is a Chicago gang on the lam.

🔹A life lesson appears in learning how to tell good from bad.

🔹Andy makes certain that Opie learns that lesson.

🔹Earl Hagen’s evocative theme played on harmonica that captures the slowed-paced and seemingly innocence of small-town America just when the post-war 50s were giving way to the New Frontier of the 60s.

🔹Buddy Ebsen (the original Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” 1939 movie, before he became ill from the silver body paint), played the guest star role as hobo David Browne. He is dressed just a shade better here than he is when “The Beverly Hillbillies” television program starts its run the following year. 

Deputy Barney tells his boss, “Oh, Andy, everything’s breakin’ loose. First, Mrs. Tillman has an apple pie stolen from her window. Now, Jess Crawford just reported a chicken thief. It’s a regular reign of terror!”

David Browne, a hobo, appears in Mayberry and befriends Opie. It becomes obvious that Andy must put away the welcome mat when the likable drifter starts putting Artful Dodger-ish notions into Opie’s head.

David Browne: You know, I’ve grown awful fond of that young fellow. What’s wrong?

Andy Taylor: Well, there seems to be something wrong with his thinkin’. He’s gotten a little twisted on things lately, like bein’ able to tell the difference between right and wrong.

David Browne: Oh.

Andy Taylor: Not that that’s an easy thing. A lot of grownups still strugglin’ with that same problem, but ‘specially difficult for a youngster, ’cause things rub off on ’em so easy.

David Browne: Well, Sheriff, maybe I do look at things differently than other people. Is that wrong? I live by my wits. I’m not above bending the law now and then to keep clothes on my back or food in my stomach. I live the kind of life that other people would just love to live if they only had the courage. Who’s to say that the boy would be happier your way or mine? Why not let him decide?

Andy Taylor: Nah, I’m afraid it don’t work that way. You can’t let a young ‘un decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it, then when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. The wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter it’s hard to convince him that other things might be better in the long run, and all a parent can do is say, “Wait. Trust me,” and try to keep temptation away.

Somehow, along the way, we have lost this basic truth. As parents, we must protect our children from harmful indoctrination and propaganda. Too many people are more concerned about being their child’s friend, than in being a parent.

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The ‘Hello, My Name is Jose Jiminez’ Eye Opener

When William Szathmary died on June 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee, millions of fans who knew him, did not know him by his birth name.

Eleven years prior to his death, meeting American comedian Bill Dana was a complete surprise, because I had completely forgotten about the entertainer.

Like many baby boomers growing up in the 1960s, Dana would make America laugh with his signature, “Hello, my name is Jose Jiminez” astronaut routine. It was so popular, another celebrity, a country and western singing star, would adapt his own stage introductions with “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash!”

In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever) Clint Howard (Gentle Ben, Apollo 13), and Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet). It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with Bill Dana.

“Okay, José, you’re on your way!”


With those words, radioed to Alan Shepard as he lifted off to become the first American astronaut to fly into space on May 5, 1961, Bill Dana’s role in NASA history was sealed.

Because of his popularity portraying “José Jiménez,” Dana was bestowed the title of being the eighth of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

When he died on that June 15th in 2017, Dana was 92.

“He’ll be missed not only by the astronaut family, but many more around the world,” said Tammy Sudler, president and CEO of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “Bill Dana was lovingly known as our honorary Mercury 8 astronaut.”

First created in 1959 for “The Steve Allen Show” and later appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” José Jiménez held several positions, including an elevator operator, a bobsled racer, a Navy submariner and a lion tamer, but it was as the shiny-spacesuited, reluctant astronaut that the Bolivian character became famous (Dana was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry in reality).

“What do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?” asked Ed Sullivan, playing the straight man during one of Dana’s better-known skits.

“To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off,” said Dana.

“The blast-off…” repeated Sullivan.

“I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I would not go near that thing,” Dana quipped as Jiménez.

Dana’s José Jiménez routine was later released on record albums, rising to the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, which drew the attention of the real-life Mercury astronauts.

“The astronauts, especially Shepard, absolutely loved the record, and listened to it in the office after intense training sessions,” author Neal Thompson described in “Light This Candle” (Crown, 2004), his biography of the first astronaut. “Shepard even tape recorded the album and during lulls between training exercises or during test launches at the Cape would play the tapes at full volume near the Mission Control loudspeakers.”

The astronaut and comedian first met at a Cocoa Beach night club, where Shepard — from out in the audience and without the prior knowledge of Dana — took on the role of the straight man, setting up Jiménez’s replies. Soon, fellow astronauts Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton joined in.

Dana, 3rd from left with Mercury astronauts



“The club was roaring as the three astronauts took turns,” wrote Thompson. After the show, Dana hurried to a phone to call his producer in New York.

“‘They know us. They know every word. And they love us,” exclaimed Dana, as described by Thompson.

Shepard and the other astronauts’ fondness for Dana and his character led to José Jiménez becoming the unofficial mascot of the Mercury program.

In addition to inspiring the 1961 launch call between Slayton (in the blockhouse) and Shepard (on top of a Redstone rocket), Dana performed at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball with Shepard in attendance.

The comedian also inspired a “gotcha” – a practical joke – that Shepard arranged in secret for John Glenn to discover once aboard his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. Opening up a pouch while in orbit, Glenn was surprised by a small stuffed mouse floating free, a reference to the “leetle mice” Jiménez would cite as fellow test subjects in his routine.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Meets Archie Bunker

One of the most celebrated televised episodes of the classic and controversial All in the Family aired in 1972. It’s the tale about the time entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. stopped by to visit the Bunkers.

It begins with a briefcase he left in Archie’s cab and ends with the kiss of infamy. Very few people are aware that the writer of this episode was Bill Dana.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS



🔹Born William Szathmary in Quincy, Massachusetts on Oct. 5, 1924, Dana served as a gunner and mortarman in the U.S. Army during World War II.

🔹He began his career in comedy as a page and a writer for other comedians’ stand-up routines.

🔹Dana was also a screenwriter for television and movies, writing the Emmy-Award-winning “All in the Family” episode, “Sammy Davis Visits Archie Bunker” (1972), penning jokes for the “Donny and Marie” show (1977-1978), and co-writing the script for the “Get Smart” film “The Nude Bomb” (1980).

Dana also showed up as José Jiménez in a number of TV cameos, including as part of a 1966 episode of “Batman,” appearing alongside the late Adam West and Burt Ward.

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Interviewing Gentle Ben’s Owner and Ron Howard’s Brother

Or How to Tick Off My Teacher Without Really Trying…

Or Finding My Porpoise in Life

“This time find a book with porpoise, Jackie,” Ms. Nancy Lewis instructed me in 1965.

Purpose?

The previous time I checked out a book from the Harlandale School District Book Mobile, it was a brand new novel by Walt Morey entitled Gentle Ben.

Ben was a big brown bear in Alaska who befriended a boy named Mark. I imagined the boy looked similar to my fifth grade classmate, Mark Kuykendall, because he was somewhat adventurous.

Well, I supposed Ms. Lewis was upset about my book choices because she obviously didn’t think my Gentle Ben skit—performed in front of her fifth grade class in lieu of a book report— was as brilliant as the class did.

“GET MY PADDLE”

The week before, I had seen Ms. Lewis use her “discipline paddle” on Kenneth Andrews. Ken was upset because the recess bell rang– meaning we were to get back to class. It went off just as he had stepped up to bat during an exciting softball game.

I was playing second base when pitcher David Cardenas took the ball and walked back towards the second wing of Gillette Elementary School in south San Antonio that day.

The words that red-headed Kenneth screamed in anger, for not having the ball pitched to him, was dialect unfitting to a 5th grader, Ms. Lewis determined.

“Jackie, go get my paddle,” she directed me.

Why me? Kenneth is my friend. I don’t want to see his butt blistered by her spanking paddle.

I ran to our classroom and obediently brought out the paddle.

“What porpoise does that serve to cuss like that?” she asked Kenneth before the WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

His buttocks were seared. All I knew was I wanted to make certain I had a good porpoise for anything I did around Ms. Lewis.

The next time the Book Mobile came to our school I made sure my book had porpoises in it.

I wasn’t certain what she had against bears, but as long as I never was on the receiving end of the teacher’s paddle, I would learn as much about porpoises as required.

CLINT HOWARD

A couple of years later, Gentle Ben became a TV series and the boy in that show didn’t look anything like the adventurous Mark Kuykendall at all.

The actor was Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard, “Opie Taylor” of Mayberry and Andy Griffith fame at the time.

It was an okay show, but as long as Ms. Lewis wasn’t my teacher anymore it was all right by me.

Fast forward forty years later. It’s 2006, and I finally know the difference between Ms. Lewis’ pronunciation “porpoise” and the word “purpose.” That year I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever), comedian Bill Dana (Jose Jiminez), Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet) and more.

It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with the one and only Clint Howard. Although known to Baby Boomers for his role in Gentle Ben, he was at the Space conference for his part in the Ron Howard movie, Apollo 13.

The real life Apollo Mission control commander, Gene Krantz was nearby and in passing, called out to Howard: “Afternoon Sy!”

Clint Howard grinned and explained his role in Apollo 13 was the part of Sy Liebergot, a key member of the Mission Control crew under Krantz.

Howard loved the role acting with Ed Harris who played Krantz:

Sy LiebergotFlight… I recommend we shut down reactant valves to the fuel cells.

Gene Kranz: What the hell good is that gonna do?

Sy Liebergot: If that’s where the leak is, we can isolate it. We can save what’s left in the tanks and we can run on the good cell.

Gene Kranz: You close ’em, you can’t open ’em again! You can’t land on the moon with one healthy fuel cell!

Sy Liebergot: Gene, the Odyssey is “dying”. From my chair here, this is the last option.

INTERVIEW

Howard was kind enough to place his signature on a photo alongside his brother Ron Howard’s autograph and was willing to be interviewed for a few quick questions. Ready go:

Biggest influence?

My dad, Rance Howard is definitely my biggest influence. He has taught both Ron and I attributes of being a good man of the earth type solid human beings. We’ve learned to apply this to our work, the entertainment business.

The work can be hard enough in the morning but it is especially grueling by the end of a very long day on the  set. Through Dad, we learned to remain focused because all time counts.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this often, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t ask, how was it working with Gentle Ben?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really heard of that question before (He winked and grinned).

Gentle Ben was really Bruno the Bear and he actually was a gentle bear. I remember he smelled bad and enjoyed drinking Coca-Cola and eating candy, especially lemon drops and sometimes Tootsie Roll.

I was already accustomed to acting and wasn’t starstruck at that age, but co-starring with a bear was cool. My dad was always on set with me down on a ranch in the Everglades, so I was away from my mom for a bit. When we would come back for Christmas break, our house was decorated to the max for the holidays. Good memories.

I would describe you as a character actor, with a diverse set of many different roles. How do you describe your acting persona?

That’s right on. You know, my great brother Ron, five years my senior, basically played all similar roles. There is Opie (Mayberry), Ritchie (Happy Days), Chad (The Smith Family) and the character, Steve from American Graffiti, basically.

We both started very young. By the time Gentle Ben was around, I had years of experience. I’m in my fifth decade of acting and now find myself in the position in my career as a character actor with a lot of experience.

When I walk on set and I think people look towards me, somewhat for some of a bit of guidance and mentoring. Now, I don’t stick my nose somewhere where it doesn’t belong. I’m there to act, my job. Thats my thing. I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes and automatically mentor. It is not my responsibility. But I realize now that some people do look up to me, and respect my experience. So I keep that in mind when I work on any project. I will be a leader and positive influencer for the director, crew, the actors if and as needed.

Like I said, I grew up with wonderful parents. My Dad mentored and I remain grateful.

Note: At the time of this interview Rance Howard was alive. He passed away on November 25, 2017. Clint’s mother, Jean Frances Speegle Howard, died on September 2, 2000.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.