“Mean” Gene Okerlund, who had been the voice of the American Wrestling Association, World Championship Wrestling, and most famously, World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) over the past 40 years, passed away today at the age of 76. Okerlund was a legend in the business, and was very visible during the modern era of pro wrestling, working for WWF/E from 1982-1991, becoming the dean of backstage interviewers and frequently getting the face of the era’s popular stars, including Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, and more. In 1992, he jumped to WCW, where he would remain until the companies demise in 2001, again becoming the backstage interviewer face everyone was most accustomed to and whom many fans loved. After WWE bought out WCW in 2001, Okerlund returned to his best known stomping grounds for special events and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by his good friend Hogan.
Bob Einstein, one of Hollywood’s top comedy writers and producers, and the star of his own hit television show under his stage name “Super” Dave Osborne in the mid-1980s, passed away today, also at the age of 76. The older brother of comedian and actor Albert Brooks, Einstein cut his teeth in the business as a comedy writer, getting his big break in the late 1960s on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and later The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour. He won two Emmys for his work as a writer, and later moved on to producing as well. His clueless stuntman character “Super” Dave Osborne was most closely related to the Showtime series “Bizarre” in the mid-1980s, and he also later had both a live action show and a cartoon show based on the character. More recently he appeared in a recurring role on the cable hit comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, and also appeared during season three of the Fox/Netflix cult comedy Arrested Development.
Finally, the Captain has been called into eternal duty…Daryl Dragon has passed away, again at the age of 76. Given his nautical nickname by the Beach Boys’ Mike Love when he was a member of their backing band due to the yachting cap he always wore, Dragon, along with then-wife Toni Tennille, became household names (as “Captain And Tennille“, naturally) in the 1970s, thanks to their Grammy-winning 1975 smash “Love Will Keep Us Together” and a string of follow up hits like “Lonely Night (Angel Face)”, “You Never Done It Like That“, and “Do That To Me One More Time“., and also starring in their own Emmy-nominated variety series during the 1976-77 television season for ABC; they ended their hit show after just one season due to Dragon being uncomfortable on television, although they followed it up with a series of high-rated specials for the same network over the next four years. The son of conductor Carmen Dragon and the godson of comedian Danny Thomas, Dragon was a keyboard impresario, and their music helped me get through a lot of my high school days. After the show ended, they exited the limelight for the most part, and the couple divorced in 2014 after 29 years of marriage. Despite a memoir where Toni said the reason for the divorce was his “inability to be affectionate”, they remained close friends afterward, and she was at his bedside when he passed away earlier today.
Let us all remember these three wonderful men, entertainers who brought joy to a very diverse selection of fans from many different walks of life. In tribute to Daryl, you will find a Spotify playlist with some of his spectacular solo keyboard work and some of the best known songs with wife Toni Tennille, over the years below. They will all always be remembered.
Also published on Medium.