This week we are asked to name those who have ‘gone too soon’, those who left the world before they could have contributed so much more.
I thought politically and John Fitzgerald Kennedy was on my list. Jeff named him yesterday. The more I hear of his speeches and many of his plans, the more impressed with I am with them.
Certainly the Reverend Marin Luther King, Jr. could have helped the country accomplish so much more in understanding and cooperation. I wish everyone would listen, actually listen, to the words he left behind and acted in their spirit.
I thought strongly about doing the entire post on Michael Collins, the man of author whom Tim Pat Coogan named his biography, “The Man Who Made Ireland”. Had he not been assassinated at the age of 31, I believe that Ireland would have been stronger through the latest decades, less apt to roller-coastering between boom and bust. He could have kept Eamon DeValera in check. Collins would not have amassed a personal fortune while the terrible poverty that caused so much physical suffering and demoralization for much of Ireland’s people continued.
But off my soapbox. There were great artists who died young left us with loss: Vincent Van Gogh, Rafael and Caravaggio, among several classical artists. (Unfamiliar with the name ‘Caravaggio”? You have probably seen his most famous religious paintings, “Thomas the Doubter” and “St.Jerome”.)
Looking at famous literary figures in the past, there were many who died young who come to mind: Jane Austen, Christopher Marlowe, Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats. (My mother told me that she would have named me “Keat” had I been a boy. She really had it out for me, didn’t she?)
Music lost many greats too soon: Wolfgang Mozart, Franz Shubert, Frederic Chopin and I have to add, Glenn Miller. Everyone has heard his music; all modern musicians lost a major influence. I’ll bet most young adults, even though they can’t tell you the names of the songs, who wrote or performed them, have heard “In the Mood”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcknIbp-A4Y, plus probably Miller’s “String of Pearls” and “Moonlight Serenade”.
So find his grandness debatable, but I will add Mario Lanza. Alfred Arnold Cocozza knew the sacrifices his mother, (nee Maria Lanza), made all of his life to cultivate his talent and of her work to afford voice coaches for him, so he chose a male version of her name to use professionally.
Mario not only sang in grand operas, but he recorded many arias and performed in operettas, which introduced many to the musical forms and classical works. The movies he made were highly watchable, if sometimes a little simple. (Why were they surprised when the deaf girl he loved got depressed when they took her to see him perform?) The movies were always full of romance and music. They were often filled with lovely locations and brilliant costuming, and not only when he was onstage. In one early post I mentioned the cluster of diamonds that Joan Fontaine wore on her hip in one of his films, “Serenade“. It was the only jewelry that adorned her solid black dress and the result was stunning! Although I saw the movie forty years ago, I will never forget the impact it had on me.(I actually found a picture! Too bad you can’t get the impact of it from this. And yes, that is Vincent Price to the left.)
You can still often hear Mario’s religious and Christmas song renditions played during the holiday season in stores and on the radio. Speaking of Franz Shubert, here is a link to Mario singing his “Ave Maria” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHZl1hpR5k0
He died after being pushed by his studios into a severe weight-loss program; his heart could not take the stress. It was tragic.
We lost very many who could have continued to mold the world for the better, politically or as they added to its joy and beauty.