News of the Week: 5 Rockwell Paintings, 1 Howard Johnson’s, and 11 Herbs and Spices

This week, Bob Sassone says goodbye to Gene Wilder, Jeanne Martin, Marvin Kaplan, and the next-to-last Howard Johnson’s; gets a peek at (possibly) KFC’s ultra-secret recipe; and starts pulling together his fall reading list.

Plate of fried chicken

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Norman Rockwell on Tour

The Four Freedoms
The Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech (February 20, 1943), Freedom of Worship (February 27, 1943), Freedom from Want (March 6, 1943), Freedom from Fear (March 13, 1943). A traveling exhibition of these paintings raised over $132 million for the war effort.

They’re not the originals, but it’s great to see that quality copies of five classic Norman Rockwell works will be on display at several federal courthouses in Massachusetts this fall.

Copies of “Four Freedoms” and “Golden Rule” will be on display at federal courthouses in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester. The paintings will first be displayed in Boston on September 23, and then in Springfield on October 6 and in Worcester on October 11.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech, which inspired Rockwell to create that series of paintings. In the speech, FDR talked about the freedoms everyone should have: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

We should update that list with a fifth: Freedom from the Kardashians.

The Solo Hojo

Back in July of 2015, I told you about the last two remaining Howard Johnson’s. Come next week, there will only be one left.

The Howard Johnson’s in Bangor, Maine, is closing forever next Tuesday. That means that there’s only one Hojo’s left, in Lake George, New York. Let’s hope that somehow, some way, that location is able to stay open forever. I’m sick of iconic things closing or going away or changing.

RIP Gene Wilder, Jeanne Martin, and Marvin Kaplan

To put it bluntly, Gene Wilder was one of the funniest men in the movies. He was in a bunch of classic comedies, including Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Producers, and Silver Streak. He also gave one of the all-time great performances in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which I think I’ve seen approximately 40 times.

Wilder passed away at the age of 83 of complications from Alzheimer’s. Mel Brooks paid tribute to his friend on Twitter:

Wilder passed away with his family holding his hand, listening to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

Just a few weeks after her son Ricci died, Jeanne Martin has passed away at the age of 89. She was the ex-wife of Dean Martin (Jerry Lewis was the best man at their 1949 wedding) and had a career as a model.

Marvin Kaplan did a lot of TV shows and movies, and I guess a lot of us will remember him as one of the gas station attendants (along with Arnold Stang) who gets into a big fight with Jonathan Winters in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He was also the voice of Choo-Choo on Top Cat and was a regular on the TV series Alice. Other movies he appeared in include Adam’s Rib, The Nutty Professor, and Freaky Friday, and he appeared in TV shows like I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, ER, Becker, and MacGyver.

Kaplan passed away late last week at the age of 89.

11 Herbs and Spices

Was the secret “11 herbs and spices” recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken just published in The Chicago Tribune?

That’s what people are asking after reporter Jay Jones met with Sanders’ nephew Joe Ledington during a trip to the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky. Ledington showed Jones a family scrapbook that had a piece of paper inside that seems to have the complete recipe.

Ledington later told Jones that he now felt bad about showing the recipe. It’s not in his uncle’s handwriting, but he swears the recipe is authentic because he used to help his uncle mix the spices when he was a kid.

Of course, officials at KFC say the recipe is not authentic. The Chicago Tribune did a taste test with KFC they bought, and here are the results.

Here’s Colonel Sanders on a 1963 episode of What’s My Line? It’s rather confusing because by this time there were already 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken locations. Wasn’t his name and/or appearance known by people in 1963?

Maybe that fame came a few years later.

New Books

In addition to the nonfiction and fiction picks in the new issue of The Saturday Evening Post, here are a few other new books that might be worth your time:

Whistlestop, by John Dickerson

The host of CBS’s Face the Nation has a ridiculously entertaining look at important moments from election years past. The perfect thing to read during this crazy 2016 election, because you’ll learn that some rather interesting things happened in past elections, too.

Best. State. Ever. A Florida Man Defends His Homeland, by Dave Barry

Florida gets a bad rap — often from Dave Barry himself — but in his book he attempts to defend the Sunshine State. (Available September 6.)

She Made Me Laugh: My Friend Nora Ephron, by Richard Cohen

The Washington Post columnist writes a love letter to his close friend. He calls it a “third-person memoir,” and it includes interviews with Tom Hanks, Mike Nichols, Meryl Streep, and many others. (Available September 6.)

The French Chef in America, by Alex Prud’homme

The co-author of the Julia Child biography My Life in France follows up with a sort-of part 2, where he talks about Child’s success on television and how she changed the world of cooking. (Available October 4.)

Young Frankenstein: The Story of the Making of the Film, by Mel Brooks

It’s odd timing, but to celebrate the life of Gene Wilder, you could pick up this book that goes behind the scenes. (Available October 18.)

This Week in History: VJ (Victory Over Japan) Day, 1945

It’s celebrated on August 15 in the United Kingdom, because that was the day of the official surrender by Japan, but it’s officially celebrated in the United States on September 2, the day the surrender agreement was signed.

This Week In History: The Death of Princess Diana, August 31, 1997

The night Princess Diana died I was watching MSNBC. I went to bed but woke up a couple of hours later and decided to turn on the TV again for some reason. That’s when I saw anchor Brian Williams announce her death to viewers.

September is National Rice Month

Like a lot of people, I make a lot of rice in the fall and winter. So I guess it’s good that September kicks things off as National Rice Month.

Here’s a recipe for Chicken Rice Roger, one of the great recipes in my favorite cookbook, Peg Bracken’s The I Hate To Cook Book. And here’s one for Red Rice Stuffing with Dried Fruit. We should include a recipe for classic arancini (or rice balls), and here’s a video where Martha Stewart shows you how to make the perfect white rice. That’s right, PERFECT! Because it’s Martha Stewart.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Newspaper Carrier Day (September 4)

It’s celebrated on a Sunday this year, but even if you don’t get a paper on Sunday, make sure you give your carrier a little something extra this week. It will surprise him or her, and you’ll also be supporting print!

Labor Day (September 5)

Was it McGuire or Maguire who came up with the idea for the holiday?

NFL season starts (September 8)

The Carolina Panthers play the Denver Broncos in the first game of the season, which airs on NBC at 8:30 p.m. Here’s the full schedule.

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  1. It’s wonderful ‘The Four Freedoms’ and ‘Golden Rule’ will be on display at the federal courthouses in the cities mentioned this fall. Even better would be having them on display at different intervals nationwide.

    I’m glad the Howard Johnson’s in upper state New York will remain open, hopefully forever. It is sad that like sand through the hourglass, so have most of the the best things from the 20th century.

    The fact Colonel Sanders was on What’s My Line? as late as 1963 is rather astounding. I would have thought he would have been a mystery guest, but apparently not. Beautiful handwriting like Paula Murphy’s and Alan King’s can also be added to the list of things that are going or gone, even though it’s not a ‘thing’ but an ability.

    It was a trip to hear Paula was from Granada Hills. I wasn’t familiar with her previously, and want to learn more about her. I NEVER would have guessed her profession! She also reminds me very much of how Nancy Reagan looked in the ’60s; very classy, smart and state-of-the-art.


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