The World’s Greatest Inventors

When you think of inventors, Thomas Edison immediately comes to mind. Edison invented the phonograph, motion picture camera, light bulb and fluoroscope, to name a few. It has been said that the persistent Edison had far more failures than successes.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, called the “harmonic telegraph.” Interestingly, Bell was a teacher for the deaf. Henry Ford invented the automobile and put the world on the road. Ford started as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. He introduced the Model T in 1908. Ten years later, the drivers behind the wheel of a Model T were one out of two. Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913, forever changing automobile manufacturing.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented the personal computer. No, it was not Bill Gates. The first PC was the Apple 1. It had great success until IBM made one of their own. Apple then invented the Macintosh. Mac lovers wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

Do you love peanut butter? Thank George Washington Carver, who found many uses for peanuts, including ink, milk, and soap. He was the first to show farmers the importance of peanuts.

Benjamin Franklin was a statesman and was instrumental in the emergence of the United States. He also discovered electricity, invented the Franklin stove and even bifocal glasses — in the 18th century! George Eastman invented photo film, Elisha Graves Otis invented the elevator brake, and the Wright Brothers invented the airplane.

So when you’ve made your travel plans online, there’s plenty of light for you to find an elevator to reach your plane, you put on your bifocals to see the departure times, you have your camera with you for the trip, you’re served peanuts on the plane, and you call on arrival, you know the people to thank.

The Short Romance of John and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

indexFairy Tale Interrupted is a memoir written by John F. Kennedy Jr.’s assistant and publicist, RoseMarie Terenzio, who became close friends with John and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

Working at a New York PR firm, “Rosie,” as John called her, arrived at her office one morning to see John and another man boxing up the contents of her office. John had been a frequent visitor to the office, but the rest of the starstruck staff never knew why. Now it seemed he was moving in.

RoseMarie was mad, and not afraid to let it be known. When John said, “We can figure this out,” she replied, “Figure this out? Clearly we’re not figuring out anything, because you have already packed everything up.” (Italics the author’s.) John later commented that he liked her tough Bronx way of handling things.

Rosie subsequently became John’s assistant – more like a chief of staff, as she saw it. Immediately upon arrival she would attack the mail and voicemails and separate the worthwhile from the crackpots, some of whom even arrived at reception.

A close relationship formed with both John and his girlfriend Carolyn. She took RoseMarie on shopping trips to upgrade her look. Carolyn had been a publicist at Calvin Klein, and was always dressed in a beautiful and sophisticated way. RoseMarie almost fainted at the price tags.

There are two stories about how John and Carolyn met. One was that they were introduced by a mutual friend, Kelly Klein (Calvin’s then wife). Another says that John couldn’t stop staring at Carolyn when they were both jogging in Central Park.

Not too much later they planned a private wedding on Cumberland Island, Georgia, in a rustic Baptist church without electricity, lit with candles and lanterns. Only forty guests attended. Even some members of the Kennedy extended family weren’t invited. Extraordinarily, they pulled it off. No cameras and no helicopters.

After their honeymoon in Turkey, followed by ten days on an Aegean cruise, they returned to their Tribeca loft to hundreds of paparazzi. John had grown up being followed by the press. He knew how to banter with them and move through the crowd. Carolyn was a private person who longed for a quiet life and practically never gave interviews. Privacy didn’t exist the moment she walked out the door. At one point John snapped, “Just ignore them. I do.”

Even before juggling wedding plans (preceded by a press statement that John and Carolyn were not engaged), John and his creative director, Matt Berman, created George magazine, named for our first president. Its tag line was “Not Just Politics As Usual.” Its theme was to combine politics with lifestyle. The first issue featured Cindy Crawford as George Washington. He never looked so sexy. Every month a different celebrity was morphed into a historical figure. (Well, there was the Happy Birthday, Mr. President issue, with Drew Barrymore as a spot-on Marilyn Monroe.)

John appeared on Oprah to publicize the magazine. The audience reacted as if the 1964 Beatles were there. Oprah gushed, as she often does, and used the word “hunk” in her introduction. No one advised her that he hated that? RoseMarie was called to the green room and was surrounded by Oprah’s staff. Told the surroundings were all Oprah’s vision, both John and RoseMarie were shocked by the group’s sycophancy. When John introduced her, Oprah’s snide how-do-you-do was “You must be the helper.”

George leaped off the shelves, partly because of Kennedy, but declined after his death, and early 2001 produced the last publication.

When Frank, RoseMarie’s best friend, suddenly died, John hugged her and shared kind words. One touching remark was, “Whenever there’s a tragedy, a tiny nub of green starts to grow inside you. It’s a regrowth. You have to hold on to that little nub until it grows into the tree that is the next part of your life.” He was a Kennedy. He knew tragedy. (I don’t usually cry when reading a book, but that did it.)

Carolyn didn’t want to go to Rory Kennedy’s wedding in July. John didn’t want to go without her and relied on RoseMarie to persuade Carolyn. She told Carolyn she was judged enough, and she shouldn’t want to be in that position. Carolyn agreed to go.

John and Carolyn had often spent weekends at his home in Martha’s Vineyard, and he was a confident and experienced pilot. On July 16, John and Carolyn met up with Carolyn’s sister Lauren, and they headed to Hyannis, intending to drop Lauren off in Martha’s Vineyard on the way. As the world knows, hours later the plane crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that John had lost control as a result of spatial disorientation. Pilots were interviewed later and described a feeling of losing the horizon and not knowing whether they were going up or down.

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy was 33. John Kennedy was 38. They had been married for three years. The romance was too short. The world cried.

“Partners” — Two Thumbs Medium

“Partners” is a new sitcom based in Chicago (as are about six other series) starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence.

Kelsey Grammer just can’t stay away from TV. Anyone remember “Back to You” with Patricia Heaton? It ran for 17 episodes. Seemed like a very long time.

Grammer is Executive Producer of Partners as well as one of two lead roles. The other belongs to Martin Lawrence, and it’s a real departure for him.

Allen Braddock (Grammer) is a highly unethical lawyer (Is that redundant? OK, sorry, lawyers) who has just been fired from his own father’s law firm. He hears Marcus Jackson (Lawrence) talking about his upcoming divorce, and how he’s going to be cleaned out. Braddock tells Jackson it doesn’t have to be that way. But he has to fight, stand up for himself and stop being, well, so nice.

They form an uneasy partnership with Braddock showing just how many rules can be bent. Really bent. Jackson, a by-the-book environmental activist, seems baffled.

Nobody does conceited and condescending like Grammer. It’s not the pomposity of Frasier, but not as funny either.

The pilot was weak. It was followed by another episode about a “gwedding.” That’s right, a gay wedding. This is where Michael (Rory O’Malley), Jackson’s assistant, really shines. Michael’s two gay-guy friends are getting married, but it seems they’re being shafted by an unscrupulous wedding planner (Missi Pyle, who else). Amazed that the lawyers saw through her fraudulent ways, Michael has the best line of the night: “Never in a billion years or Cher’s lifetime, did we think we’d win this.”

The second episode was far better than the pilot. Partners will continue with back-to-back episodes for the next five weeks. The show has been approved for ten episodes. Let’s see whether it’s successful.

Character Actors

Hey, it’s that guy? Where have I seen him before? Oh yes, he was what’s-his-name’s father on that show!

It seems character actors are always working. Sometimes they have specialties. John Randolph and Ronny Cox were always the CEO or the scary father-in-law. Clint Howard turns up in every movie directed by his brother, Ron. Clancy Brown scared me to death in The Shawshank Redemption as the evil Byron Hadley and shows up in several character roles. Bob Gunton was the warden in Shawshank, then showed up on Desperate Housewives and Royal Pains. Murray Hamilton was Anne Bancroft’s husband in The Graduate. You’ll know him when you see him.

Age doesn’t matter; being funny-looking doesn’t matter. They just keep on working and take “anonymity” right to the bank.

Jack Gilford, Roscoe Lee Browne and Richard Libertini were hilarious on Soap. Dick O’Neill and Paul Gleason always played detectives. So did Kevin Tighe. He did most of one season as a detective on Murder One. Saul Rubinek was Daphne’s fiance on Frasier. Sam Elliott (much more famous than the rest) has done a million westerns. Ray Wise was the father in Twin Peaks. Michael J. Pollard was in Bonnie and Clyde. Joe Viterelli was in Analyze This — and That. Edward Herrmann played F.D.R. Luis Guzman was in The Count of Monte Cristo. Christopher McDonald was in Harry’s Law. Isn’t this fun?

See them all, and more, at an aptly named page called “That Guy.”