News of the Week: Festivus, Zsa Zsa, and Fa-La-La-La-La La-La La-La

For the Rest of Us

It’s funny how a December 23 holiday from Seinfeld is now actually celebrated by people. Festivus (“A Festivus for the Rest of Us”) was a real celebration created by the family of one of the show’s writers, Dan O’Keefe. It was created around 1966 by O’Keefe’s father, and his son added to or changed some of the traditions for the episode. If you’d like to celebrate it, you’ll need a large metal pole instead of a tree (tinsel is distracting), you’ll need to perform several “Feats of Strength” with your family, such as wrestling, and you’ll also participate in an “Airing of Grievances” during holiday dinner, where you basically tell everyone how they’ve disappointed you over the year.

Just don’t argue about politics with your family this holiday season. There’s plenty of time for that starting on January 2.

RIP Zsa Zsa Gabor, Henry Heimlich, Dick Latessa, Gordon Hunt, and Kevin O’Morrison

Zsa Zsa Gabor was one of those celebrities who seemed to be famous just for being famous. But she was in a lot movies, too, such as Moulin Rouge, Touch of Evil, Arrivederci, Baby!, and the camp classic Queen of Outer Space. She was also in many TV shows — no, not Green Acres, that was her sister Eva — often playing herself, spoofing her role in the entertainment world. She seemed to get it.

Gabor passed away earlier this week at the age of 99 after many years of health problems.
This remains one of my favorite segments from The Late Show with David Letterman. He and Zsa Zsa spent the day visiting various fast food establishments when the show was visiting California back in the ’90s.

If you or someone you know has been saved from choking by the Heimlich Maneuver, the man to thank passed away this week at the age of 96. Henry Heimlich’s maneuver has been credited with saving the lives of over 100,000 people since its first use in 1974.

Dick Latessa won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Play (Musical) for his role as Wilbur Turnblad in the original production of Hairspray. He also appeared in several TV shows, including Mission: Impossible, Get Smart, Law & Order, True Blue, The Black Donnellys, Edge of Night, The Sopranos, and The Good Wife. He died Monday at the age of 87.

Gordon Hunt was actress Helen Hunt’s father and a true “man who could do anything” in Hollywood. He directed several episodes of various shows, including his daughter’s Mad About You, Frasier, Caroline in the City, and Coach, and was the sound/recording director for hundreds of cartoons, including The Smurfs. He was also an actor and wrote and produced several shows. Hunt passed away last weekend at the age of 87.

Kevin O’Morrison (sometimes known as Kenny O’Morrison) was another man who had his hand in just about everything. He was an actor known for various movies, from 1949’s film noir classic The Set-Up to Sleepless in Seattle, where he played Meg Ryan’s dad, as well as films like The Friends of Eddie Coyle and Funny Farm and TV shows like Lonesome Dove and Law & Order. He also wrote and produced several plays and wrote many novels. O’Morrison was 100 years old.

Scientists Have Found the Most Relaxing Song in the World

Oddly enough, it’s that “Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks. ALVIN!

Okay, that’s not true. It’s actually “Weightless” by Marconi Union, an English ambient music band. Neuroscientists from Mindlab International studied the data and determined that the song dropped participants’ anxiety levels by 65 percent and helped with blood pressure levels, stress, and breathing.

You can judge for yourself. Here’s all 8 minutes of it:

And if that’s not enough, there’s actually a 10-hour version. You could put that on when you leave for work in the morning and it will still be playing when you get home at night.

Why? Why? No. No. None. Yup. Nope. 1947.

The Hollywood Reporter sat down with several veteran celebrities who are over the age of 90 and who have no plans to retire. Among the stars profiled are Betty White, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Cloris Leachman, Don Rickles, Norman Lear, Marcia Nasatir, Stan Lee, and Norman Lloyd, who has been in a million things in his nine decades of work (you’ll remember him as Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere and as the bad guy who falls from the Statue of Liberty in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur). He’s still acting at 102!

But the interview getting the most press this week is the one with Jerry Lewis. Lewis doesn’t seem to be happy with all of the Hollywood Reporter people and equipment in his home, nor is he happy with the questions from the off-camera interviewer. And I have to say I agree with him on the latter complaint. The questions are rather inane, rattled off in a conveyer-belt-like fashion, so I’m on Team Jerry for this one.

A Christmas Quote

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”
Shirley Temple

This Week in History

Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack Debuts (December 19, 1732)

The Almanack (or Almanac) was published yearly by Franklin (under the names Poor Richard or Richard Saunders) until 1758. The Internet Archive has the text from several editions of the publication.

On a related note, did you know that The Saturday Evening Post began as a weekly newspaper, printed on the same equipment that Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette was printed on?

General George Patton Dies (December 21, 1945)

The official cause of Patton’s death in Heidelberg, Germany, is pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure after a car accident paralyzed him from the neck down, but many authors and scholars think he may have been assassinated.

Howard Hughes Born (December 24, 1905)

The tycoon, film producer, aviation enthusiast, and ultimately reclusive Hughes is the subject of a movie in theaters right now, Rules Don’t Apply, in which he’s played by Warren Beatty.

Soon It Will Be Christmas Day

The few days before Christmas are always a mixture of excitement and craziness. You’re in the Christmas mood and the music is playing and there’s a chill in the air that makes it feel like the holidays and everyone is nicer to each other. But you’re also running around because you have to buy that one gift you really need, you have parties to get to and school events to attend, and you have this nagging feeling you’re forgetting something. The last thing you want to worry about is what food you’re going to serve on the big day and where you can get some good recipes for things you haven’t made before.

We can help. Here are some favorite holiday recipes from the editors of The Saturday Evening Post, including Minnesota Wild Rice Stuffing and Pancetta and Parm Brussels Sprouts. Or maybe you’d like some Stuffed Celery or Latkes. And for dessert, how about making these Pecan Snowballs or this ultimate Spiced Apple Pie from Curtis Stone?

I’ve been put in charge of the cheese and cracker tray again, so this year my cooking is going to consist of opening some boxes and slicing some cheddar.

* Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone here at The Saturday Evening Post! *

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Hanukkah begins (December 24)

The Jewish celebration runs from sunset on Christmas Eve until nightfall on January 1.

Christmas (December 25)

Here’s a gallery of terrific Saturday Evening Post covers featuring Santa. I think my favorite might be Scott Gustafson’s cover from 1982, with Santa and his elves trying to figure out their computer (not much has changed). I also love this December 23, 1944 cover from Norman Rockwell. You can see Santa in that one too if you look closely.

And if you’re wondering when your favorite holiday special or movie will be on, here’s a complete list from Patch.

Boxing Day (December 26)

What exactly is Boxing Day and why is it celebrated? No, it has nothing to do with two guys punching each other in a ring.

Lili (1953)

Movie poster for the film Lili.

Starring Mel Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jean-Pierre Aumont, and Leslie Caron as “Lili,” this admittedly strange musical—about a man who can only express himself through his puppets and a runaway French girl who sees nothing abnormal about talking to them as if they’re real people—was based on Paul Gallico’s short story “The Man Who Hated People,” published by the Post on October 28, 1950.

The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe, two BAFTAs, and six Oscars, including an Academy win for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. It earned a four-star rating from TCM’s Leonard Maltin, and in 2004 The New York Times included Lili in their Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.

Perhaps more accomplished is the fact that the first known appearance of the “smiley” emoticon occurred on March 10, 1953 in an ad for the movie that was placed in the New York Herald Tribune. It read: “Today You’ll laugh 🙂 You’ll cry 🙁 You’ll love <3 ‘Lili’.”