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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Whatever happened to Don Cornelius? 

If Ryan Seacrest would hang out with Don Cornelius, perhaps Mr. Soul Train would get the non-stop coverage that Mr. Bandstand is enjoying. Even the tangential coverage, such as this obituary (cited by Obituary Forum). Note that this dancer also had problems with speech:

Alan I. Levin, who died of brain cancer Dec. 25 at age 60, jitterbugged alongside other south Philadelphia teen idols on the early days of "American Bandstand" and never lost the kinetic animation that led one friend to characterize him as "a party on feet."...

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Levin was a natural performer whose magnetic personality only intensified when he went on stage to dance.

Though he deferred to Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and other South Philly teen dancers and singers whom Dick Clark cultivated into adolescent icons, Levin established himself firmly enough to attract his own fan club. He was quoted in Dig Magazine's "Bandstand Beat" and other publications breathlessly recounting the minutiae of "Bandstand" dancers' lives.

Levin retained that simmering stage presence throughout his life, enthusiastically diving into his role as one of United Airlines' first male flight attendants, leading airline training workshops and, later, workshops with the popular "Course in Miracles" program....

"He didn't believe in goodbyes," said his partner, Don Hughes. "He believed that we're all connected, and one."

That philosophy defined his life, and acquired structure when Levin discovered "A Course in Miracles," a theology popularized by New Age spiritualists in the 1980s and early '90s. Levin began teaching the course's workshops, and applied its philosophy to the dispute resolution seminars he conducted and to his negotiations as United Airlines union facilitator....

His final words to his partner were: "Look to the silver lining."

It took half an hour for him to complete that sentence....

The family suggests memorial donations to the Denver Dumb Friends League, the Colorado AIDS Project or Project Angel Heart.

Meanwhile, let's turn to a living beauty queen who a lot of people probably don't want to see any more:

Stroke survivors and their advocates said Tuesday they were cheered and inspired by Dick Clark's New Year's Eve appearance, ringing in 2006 a year after his debilitating stroke.

"I think it's awesome," said Leean Hendrix, who was 26 when she had a stroke three years ago. "It was a tremendously courageous thing to do."

Hendrix, a former Miss Arizona who lives in Phoenix, echoed a hope common among stroke survivors interviewed: that the public might begin to treat them with the respect and admiration given those who've overcome cancer or heart attacks.

"Survivors of those other diseases seem to wear a badge of honor," said Hendrix. But a stroke, with its obvious impairment, "maybe isn't a pretty thing to look at. It's definitely not a sexy disease."

"So for him to get up on national TV and say: "This is what I am now" - I have nothing but respect for him," she said.

Larry King interviewed Leean Hendrix early in 2005:

KING: Leean Hendrix, you were miss Arizona in 1998, that was five years ago, you were 26. You had a stroke.


KING: Where, how, what happened?

HENDRIX: I was at home just like Cindy, doing everyday things. Somebody had came over. Thankfully I wasn't by myself. It was a dizziness, there was no pain associated, no headache, just a very severe dizziness. I tried to shake it off.

It got worse. I proceeded to get up, make my way to the bathroom so I could actually see what was wrong with my eyes. And I started bumping into the walls. Got about two inches away from the mirror and saw the right side of my face was completely droopy. Turned around looked at the person that was with me and said, oh, my God, I'm having a stroke.

KING: You knew right away?

WOODS: How did you know that?

HENDRIX: I don't know. I must have either heard something somewhere along the way. I think people, if you really listen to your body, you know what's going on.

KING: Was there a panic?

HENDRIX: Oh, yes, there was a panic. I hyperventilated. I passed out for a couple seconds. Woke up and told myself to start talking, start talking out loud. I tried to talk, and it was coming out as gibberish.

The person took no an Urgent Care, because I didn't even know where a hospital was at in my neighborhood. I fell unconscious. The ambulance picked me up from the Urgent Care, they took me to the hospital where they left me lying in the hallway for 6 1/2 hours unconscious, unattended because I was young and they assumed that I was either crazy or on drugs.

KING: No kidding?

HENDRIX: No kidding....

KING: So everybody has different repercussions in a way. What do you live with the worst, Leean?

HENDRIX: Memory loss. Lack of confidence, the same confidence that I had before.

KING: Fear of getting it again?

HENDRIX: Of course. I mean, it gets less and less as time goes by since I've had the stroke, but I think it's only natural to fear having another stroke. And I think also all my dreams that I had before, they changed. I mean, the person I was the day before I had the stroke is non-existent. I'm a totally different person....

KING: Leean, how you knew you had one is amazing at 26. Who at 26 thinks they're having a stroke?

HENDRIX: I don't know...

KING: People didn't believe you.

HENDRIX: No, no. And as a matter of fact, I still get people to this day, I tell people, if I had a nickel for every time somebody said to me, I never would have known, there's no way somebody your age could have had a stroke, I'd be very rich living on an island somewhere....

KING: Leean, what post reaction do you have? Other than memory loss? Do you have any physical reactions?

HENDRIX: You know, energy. My energy level is definitely not the same. And there are moments where I can feel my brain shutting down and my thought processes much, much slower....

[OE 1/6/2006: Did God strike Dick Clark down for promoting dancing? Perhaps.]

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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