"Neither highbrows nor lowbrows nor midbrows, but elastic-brows.” — George Orwell

For a guy with no sense of humor, he sure is funny.

Photo of Paul WesterbergPhoto of Paul Westerberg

An underrated, under-appreciated, undercover overachiever.

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An almost aboriginal, somewhat psychedelic, particularly populist style.

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She has avoided media scandal like Harry avoids the dementors.


He was alt-country before alt-country was cool.

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He emerged from the UK like a silly uncle.


A high school dropout who learned his trade on the Borscht Belt summer circuit, DANNY KAYE’s (1913-87) first taste of Broadway fame came with the 1941 Gershwin-Weill tongue-twister “Tchaikovsky (and other Russians),” in which he spat out, scat-style, the names of 54 Russian composers in under 40 seconds. During World War II, he entertained the […]


Contrary to rumor, MAMA CASS ELLIOT (1941-74) did not choke to death on a sandwich. Officially, she died from “heart failure due to fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity.” Mama Cass wasn’t merely obese, though: she was a planet, around which The Mamas and the Papas orbited like so much space junk. Originally excluded from […]


“I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay/Watching the tide roll away/Oooh, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay/Wastin’ time….” Time was one thing that OTIS REDDING (1941–67) didn’t have to waste. Posthumously dubbed the King of Soul for his ability to convey intense emotion in spirit-thrashing song, he died in a plane […]


Though often cast as a lovable father in middlebrow comedies like The Shaggy Dog and the long-running TV show My Three Sons, FRED MACMURRAY (1908-91) was more convincing in noir films. In Double Indemnity (1944), for example, he played an affable but cold-blooded insurance salesman who, upon confessing to the murder of his lover’s husband, […]