For decades a hard-driving impresario made it possible for many black musicians to find work and for the public to have access to that genre. Norman Granz is being remembered for his work in leveling the playing field for minority artists. During his years as head of several record labels -- including Pablo, Norgran, Clef and Verve -- Granz recorded all the major luminaries in black jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson and Charlie Parker. Published reports indicate that his Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts played a major role in fostering an acceptance of integrated ensembles. He is also credited with helping black musicians receive the same wages as whites. A constant fighter for the acceptance of jazz and jazz musicians, Granz died in Switzerland. He was 83.
DICKENS' DESCENDENT TAKES SHOW ON ROAD
Just as his great-great-grandfather had done, Gerald Charles Dickens is taking his predecessor's much-loved characters on a road tour of America, just in time for Christmas. The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that the younger Dickens voices 26 different characters in recalling the elder Dickens' tales of old London and Christmases past. His roadshow -- a one-man "A Christmas Carol" -- evolved over the years, partly due to a serendipitous accident. He once arrived at a theater to do a reading of the famous holiday work, only to find that he had forgotten to bring the book containing the story with him. Could he do it from memory? Yep. Dickens discovered that, freed from having to hold the text and not needing a podium, he was free to wander the stage, really getting into the characters. The 38-year-old British actor says that since 9/11 audiences have been even more receptive to the tale that entreats us to "keep Christmas in our hearts all the year 'round." For more information on the Dickens tour go to jackprises.com on the Internet.
MARGE SCHOTT STILL PACKS 'EM IN
The controversial former owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball franchise, Marge Schott -- much maligned for some of her statements and views -- remains "loud, extroverted and engaging." The Enquirer reports that huge numbers of her fans stood in long lines over the weekend to get her autograph at the 12th annual Moeller High School Sport Card and Memorabilia Show. The event marked the first time that Schott made such an appearance. She worked the crowd well, telling stories of everything from "the demise of the dollar hot dog at the ballpark to the disappearance of farms in Butler County." The publication says that she made no apologies for her years at the head of the Reds. "I'm not ashamed of the job I did, honey," she told one autograph-seeking fan of the team, "but it's a little boy's world." Schott was twice disciplined by Major League Baseball for her racial and ethnic remarks, and gave up ownership of the franchise in 1999. Many referred to her as Auntie Marge.
PROTÉGÉ OF EMERIL, BIG EASY CHEF DIES
Jamie Shannon was only 40. But during his brief career as one of New Orlean's premier chefs he gained an international reputation. Now, according to the Times-Picayune, Shannon has died following treatment for cancer. He grew up in rural New Jersey, finally migrating to New Orleans. TV chef Emeril Lagasse took him under his wing, eventually Shannon would succeed Lagasse as the executive chef at the famed Commander's Palace Restaurant. In 1999 he won the much-sought-after James Beard Award as best chef in his region of the country. He loved to use the recipes of the bayou and crusaded for the use of regional cooking and regional products. Shannon died at a cancer treatment center in Houston.
DANGERFIELD SUFFERS MILD HEART ATTACK
Venerable comedian Rodney Dangerfield reportedly suffered a mild heart attack on his 80th birthday. The guy famous for his "I don't get no respect" routines will remain hospitalized in Los Angeles while doctors work out a recuperation regimen. Just a day before being stricken, published reports indicate that "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno had paid tribute to Dangerfield and included taped clips with birthday wishes from many of the comedian's friends. Dangerfield's wife, Joan, has told reporters that she thinks it may be possible for doctors to send him home in a few days.
POPE RECOGNIZES FOUR MORE SAINTS
When the Catholic church canonizes a person it doesn't create saints, it just recognizes them. So, add four more saints to the church's calendar. During special services at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II elevated four Europeans to the select list; tapestries with pictures of the four were displayed. One of the new saints is a French nun -- Francois Sales Aviat -- who is credited with being responsible for a miracle that brought about a cure of a young American teenager who was nearly paralyzed with a spinal problem. The current pope, now 81, has elevated more people to the rank of saint than any of his predecessors. He once said that creating more saints is one way to make more role models.
ONE ADDITIONAL NOTE:
I didn't want to make today's column the "obituary column of the air," but did want to note that flamboyant former baseball pitcher Bo Belinsky had died. During his time with the Anaheim Angels he was in the headlines nearly as often as he was on the field. He was the first L.A. pitcher to ever pitch a no-hitter. He was a pioneer in grabbing the media spotlight with what the L.A. Times calls his "movie star looks, sharp clothes, flashy jewelry and expensive shades." Belinsky was 64.
UPI DAILY QUESTION NO. 211
Today we're looking back at Thanksgiving week, giving you a chance to report on what happened in your neck of the woods. "Any interesting travel or cooking or homecoming stories you want to share?" Put TURKEY in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 206 (BURMA)
Last week we recalled a time when many companies -- most notably the Burma Shave people -- used poetry on highway advertising signs; we asked if you had seen any neat slogans recently. Here is a sampling of the replies: MIKEE says he remembers one Burma Shave slogan: "Mugs and brushes/Adam had 'em/Is your husband/like Adam, Madam?" He also submitted: "Drinking drivers/nothing worse/they put the quart/before the hearse." DD remembers those Burma Shave signs, but says they are from her early days. She describes herself as being a "young baby boomer." But, she asks a question in return: "What ever happened to Burma Shave?" Well, DD, I had little luck on the Internet researching that. If any of you have the time and can fill both of us in on the demise of that much-loved shaving cream, use firstname.lastname@example.org as the address. Sandra says that about 40 years ago there was an advertising campaign in western Canada. The signs read: "Come home, Joe." It went on for months, she reports. Finally, new billboards sprang up with the completed phrase: "Come home, Joe, to Folger's Instant Coffee." She says everyone was talking about them. By the way, Sandra, thanks for using both commas in that sentence; today's kids would have left the first one out. Finally, TID remembers some signs from my native Indiana that are long gone. "Eat Honey Krust Bread." Lord, what memories. GBA.
Dennis Rodman pledges to end trips to North Korea
Scarlett Johansson steps out with fiance after pregnancy reveal