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Sahl, Mort

Busted in Winslow

(Morton Lyon Sahl, 1927.05.11-    )  Satirist.

Mort Sahl rose to the top of the comic-satirist pool in the 1950's and 60's.  But by 1970's the one-time million-a-year performer's career had sunk so far that shows which had called on him frequently, like The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971) and The Tonight Show (1954-    ), no longer sought his appearances.  About the only venue available to him was the college campus.

At a reception after an appearance at Niagara Falls Community College, guests including Mort were served, according to his 1976 book Hartland,  coffee and cookies spiked with LSD.  Mort got a call telling him that his mother in L.A. had suffered multiple strokes.

Mort took off driving across country to L.A.  After 3 days, he was in Albuquerque.  He remembers waking up as his car went over the side into a New Mexico canyon at fifty-five m.p.h..  He drove out of the hole and made his way to Winslow, Arizona, where he stopped around 2:00 AM because he thought he saw Marines on a landing rope over the side of a ship.  The ship turned out to be a freight car, and the figures that he took for Marines may have been the two cops who took him into custody for drugs.

The police took Mort to a hospital where the doctors told the police that they could not verify that Mort was under the influence of narcotics.  Their diagnosis was "extreme fatigue"--and LSD in his system.  Mort was released, but his car was impounded.  He slept the night either at the hospital or at the Travelodge across the street (his description is unclear).  The next day he took a cab 150 miles to Phoenix.

Later in an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show (1969-1972), he accused the Arizona police of stealing his clothes.  He says that the police commander wrote him saying that the Arizona police were "as honest as any other."

Schilling, Curt

Grew up in Phoenix

Graduate of Shadow Mountain High School, Phoenix

Attended Yavapai Jr College, Prescott

(Curtis Montague Schilling, 1966.11.14-    )  Pitcher, MLB.

Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling, 2007.

Curt Schilling was on the winning side in two remarkable World Series.  In 2001, just weeks after the 9-11 terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center, he was the upstart Diamondback's MVP, along with Randy Johnson, when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees for the title.  Three years later, he pitched for the Red Sox when they won their first World Series title since 1918.

Born in Anchorage, AK, Curt grew up in Phoenix where he graduated from Shadow Mountain High School in 1985.  He went to the Junior College World Series in 1985 when he pitched for Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, AZ.  He signed with the Red Sox in 1986, but didn't make his big league start until September 1988, with the Baltimore Orioles.  He was traded to the Philadelphia in 1992 where he would earn the MVP award in 1993 National League Championship Series.  In July 2000, he joined the Diamondbacks expansion team just in time for their race for the pennant.  He would stay with the Diamondbacks through their 2003 season.

Schroder, Rick

Lives in Scottsdale

(Richard Schroder, 1970.04.13-    )  Actor.

The former child movie star who made a successful transition to television actor bowed out of the final season of NYPD Blue (1993-2005) because he wanted to spend more time with his growing family.  His fourth child, a daughter, was born in Arizona on August 8, 2001.

Seagal, Steven

Assisted in cockfighting arrest

(Steven Frederic Seagal, 1952.04.10-    )  Actor, martial artist, film producer, musician, writer, reserve deputy sheriff.

Steven Segal
Steven Seagal, 2006.  Photo by Samantha Murphy .

Martial arts film actor Steven Segal was Sheriff Joe Arpaio's special guest star in a raid on March 21, 2011.

Seagal arrived at a Laveen home atop Sheriff Joe Arpaio's tank, along with dozens of officers in full SWAT gear, a bomb robot, and a film crew.  In executing a search warrant, the tank pushed over a wall to reveal 115 chickens.  They also found one unarmed man in the home.

The man was Jesus Llovera, 42, who was on probation for a misdemeanor conviction the previous year for attending a cockfight.  He had no history of weapons possession and no weapons were found in the home.

A neighbor was so alarmed by the armed invasion in the formerly quiet community that she called 911.

Seagal became a reserve deputy sheriff in Louisiana, not Arizona, when he began taping Steven Segal: Lawman, for the A&E cable network in 2008.  For the chicken raid, Seagal had a contract with Arpaio allowing him and his film crew to accompany the department on arrests.  115 chickens were killed in the making of this episode.

Severinsen, Doc

Lived in Phoenix

Doc Severinsen
Doc everinsen in 2009.  Photo by TriviaKing .

(Carl H. Severinsen, 1927.07.07-    )  Band leader, musician, conductor.

In 1952 when Steve Alan hosted the Tonight show on NBC, Doc played the trumpet in the band which was then directed by Skitch Henderson.  Doc persevered to become the director of the Tonight Show's NBC Orchestra, a position which he held until Johnny Carson retired in 1992.

Doc Severinsen was the the principal pops conductor for The Phoenix Symphony starting in 1983 and continuing for a number of years.

Shandling, Garry

Born in Tucson (or maybe not)

Grew up in Tucson

Graduate of University of Arizona

(1949.11.29-    )  Comedian.

Garry Shandling at the 39th Emmy Awards (1987).  Photo by Alan Light .

Although the Internet Movie Database lists Gary as being born in Chicago, Illinois, celebrity booking sites say he was born in Tucson.  There is no dispute that he grew up in Tucson where he attended Palo Verde High School.  He went on to earn a degree in marketing at the University of Arizona, but stayed there for a year of postgraduate studies in creative writing.

It was the writing that paid off.  He moved to Los Angeles in 1973 and began writing for shows like Sanford and Son, Welcome Back, Kotter, and Three's Company--and for himself as a stand-up comic.

In 1998, he won an Emmy as a writer for his The Larry Sanders Show in which he played Larry Sanders.

Shane, Bob

Lives in Phoenix (Ahwatukee)

(Robert C. Shane, 1934.02.01-    )  Singer.

The lead singer for the Kingston Trio lives with his wife, Barbara Childress, in a condo on 46th Street at the Pointe South Mountain. 

Sheffield, Johnny

Lived in Yuma

Married in Yuma

Tarzan Finds a Son
Weismuller & Sheffield in Tarzan Finds a Son (1939).
(John Matthew Sheffield Cassan, 1931.04.11-2010.10.14)  Actor.

Johnny was a child star on Broadway when he became the adopted son of Tarzan (Johnny Weismuller) and Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) in the MGM movie, Tarzan Finds a Son.  He was Weismuller's "Boy" for eight movies, getting a new mom in the last three when Jane was recast.

He and his younger brother were both cast as younger versions of the lead character in Knute Rockne All American (1940)—who urged his team to win one for Ronald Reagan 's "Gipper."

Sheffield got a real name when he was cast in the title role in Bomba, the Jungle Boy.  He reprieved this character to star in eleven more jungle movies between 1949 and 1955.

Sheffield left the Hollywood jungle, ending up in the Arizona.desert in 1959.  He was married in Yuma that year, and continued to reside there until the mid 1980's.  In 2008 he returned to Yuma for several months to renovate a home which he bought about 25 years earlier.

Sheffield died from a heart attack in Chula Vista, California after falling from a palm tree which he was pruning.

Shields, Robert

Lives in Sedona and Scottsdale

(1951.03.26-    )  Mime, artist.

Robert Shields was the quintessential street performer in 1970's San Francisco where he became the city's top tourist attraction while performing on his corner of Union Square.  Teaming up with Lorene Yarnell, their mime act became a feature on The Sonny & Cher Show (1976-1977), followed by their own Shields & Yarnell show (1977-1978). 

Shoen, Sam

Lived in Paradise Valley

(Leonard Samuel Shoen, 1916-1999.10.04)  Founder of U-Haul.

Sam Shoen created the self moving industry in 1945 when he began making and renting trailers to help people move themselves.  In 1964 he bought the Price home created by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and moved his company headquarters and his family to Phoenix.  In spite of purchasing Legend City to be run as a family project, his 12 were destined to become corporate America's most dysfunctional family.

Simmons, Richard

Arrested for assault in Phoenix

(Milton Teagle Simmons, 1948.07.12-    )  Exercise guru and empathetic friend of the overweight.

Richard Simmons in 2007, unaffected by his Phoenix experience.  Photo by Del Far .

On Wednesday, March 24, 2004, flamboyant exercise guru Richard Simmons was about to leave for Los Angeles from Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor International Airport.  As he waited for his flight at America West's Gate A-9, he signed autographs and posed for pictures for fellow passengers.

23 year old Chris Farney, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle salesman and sometimes competitor in the mixed martial arts sport of cage fighting, was standing in the gate area listening to music on earphones as he waited for his flight.  He looked up to see Simmons and his fans.  Farney pulled off his earphones and called out, "Look!  Richard Simmons!  Drop your bags, let's rock to the 50's."  His 50's reference, he later told police, was to an old Simmons workout tape.  The tape in question, Sweatin' to the Oldies, was released in 1988 and became one of a series of Simmons' exuberant but less than strenuous exercise videos.

The 54 year old, 5 foot 4 inch Simmons sauntered over to the 6 foot 2 inch, 255 pound Farney.  Simmons chastised him saying, "You shouldn't make fun of people who have issues."  Simmons then slapped Farney on the right side of his face.  All witnesses described the slap as being light, one saying it was almost playful, and Farney told police that he had not been injured.  One described Farney as acting inappropriately and making fun of Simmons.

Farney had the police called.  When they arrived, he told them that he wanted to press charges because he did not think anyone should be allowed to slap another person and get away with it.  When Simmons approached Farney and began to apologize, Farney asked Simmons to move away.

Although the arresting Phoenix Police officer told Simmons that he was not going to be placed in handcuffs or taken to jail, Simmons became very emotional and excited.  As he calmed down, Simmons repeatedly said that he was sorry for what had occurred.  He also expressed concern that people would be upset at him if the flight was late.

Simmons was cited for misdemeanor assault by touching and allowed to board his flight.

Smith, Hulett C.

Died in Arizona

Governor Hulett C. Smith
Governor Hulett C. Smith, circa 1964.

(Hulett Carson Smith, 1918.10.21-2012.01.15)  Politician, insurance agency CEO.

Hulett Smith, the son of a West Virginia Congressman, was elected as that state's 27th governor in 1964.  He signed into law bills abolishing the state's death penalty, and adopting its first strip mining laws.

He moved to an assisted living facility in Arizona in 2011.

Smith, Jimmy

Lived in Phoenix

Died in Phoenix

Jimmy Smith, 1984. Photo by Hammondite .

(1925.12.08-2005.02.08)  Jazz organist.

In the early 1950's Jimmy Smith learned to play the organ, and proceeded to make it an important jazz instrument.  With the Hammond B-3 organ he influenced nearly every notable organist in jazz and rock.  He made many popular records on the Blue Note and Verve labels including "Groovin' at Small's Paradise," "The Cat," and "Got My Mojo Workin',"  He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1970's and opened Jimmy Smith's Jazz Supper Club.

Jimmy Smith moved to east Phoenix in January 2004.

Smith, Roger

Attended University of Arizona

(1932.12.18-    )  Actor, singer, husband of Ann Margaret.

Roger Smith is best known for marrying Ann Margaret, which he did at the Las Vegas' Riviera Hotel in May of 1967.  Before he was force to retire from acting by the muscle disorder myasthenia gravis, he had significant roles in a number of films and on television.  He played Lon Chaney, Jr. at 21 in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957).  The next year he was the college age nephew of Auntie Mame (1958).  From 1958 until 1963 when a blood clot was discovered in his brain, he was one of the two heroic wisecracking, womanizing private detectives who officed at 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964).

Although Roger attended the University of Arizona on a full football scholarship, football was not his only interest.  He sang and played guitar, winning several amateur-show prizes while at the University.  He and a friend won a school talent show, and then appeared the Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour (1948-1970).

During 30 months of active service in the Naval Reserve, Roger was sent to Hawaii where he met the future lead singer of the Kingston Trio, Bob Shane.  At a party one night the boys met vacationing James Cagney who was so taken by their talent that he told them that they ought to be in pictures, and to look him up if they made it to Hollywood.  Apparently Roger did look Cagney up and was recommended by Cagney to play the younger version of Cagney's character, Lon Chaney, Jr.

Spade, David

Lived in Scottsdale and Casa Grande

Graduate of Saguaro High School and Arizona State University

(David Wayne Spade, 1964.07.22-    )  Actor, writer.

David Spade, 2008.  Photo by dodge challenger1 .

David was a writer on NBC's Saturday Night Live from 1989 to 1993, which led to his shot in the spotlight on the show in 1991.  He was a cast member through 1996.  In 1997, he moved on to Just Shoot Me.

David was born in Birmingham, Michigan, but grew up in Casa Grand until age 4, and then Scottsdale.  He graduated from Scottsdale's Saguaro High School in 1982, and from Arizona State University in 1986.

Still a kid on Lake Pleasant, he was cited for reckless jet-skiing in 2001.  After he failed to appear in court, his mother saw a report about a warrant being issued.  David fessed up and paid the $171 fine.  Remarking on the positive effects of arrests on Hollywood careers, he said, "I'm starting small.  I want to cram in as much jail time this year as I can so I can get an Emmy."

Sperling, John

Lives in Phoenix

(1921-    )  Entrepreneur, founder of the University of Phoenix.

John founded the University of Phoenix in 1973.  Unlike most universities at the time, it was aimed at providing educational services for adults and making a profit.  He took the company public in 1994.  In 2002 when Forbes magazine placed his net worth at $1.1 billion, it had 148,100 students at 63 campuses and 109 learning centers.  That year, David tied for the 185th richest person in American with two other Arizonans, his son, Peter, and Campbell Soup heir Bennett Dorrance.

In 2006, the 78,600 seat, $455 million University of Phoenix Stadium opened in Glendale, Arizona. This might have been quite an extravagance for a university without any intercollegiate athletics program if Sperling's school weren't merely paying for naming rights.  It is the home of the Arizona Cardinals, not the non-existent U of P team.

Sperling, Peter

Lives in Scottsdale

(1960-    )  Heir.

Peter's father, David, founded the University of Phoenix in 1973.  He tied with his father and Campbell Soup heir Bennett Dorrance David as the 185th richest American in Forbes 2002 list of the 400 wealthiest people in America.  In the 2003 list, he had moved up to 154th.

Spielberg, Steven

Lived in Phoenix

Attended Ingleside Elementary and Arcadia High

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg, 1999.

(1946.12.18S1-    )  Director.

Steven stepped out of the shiny limousine amid the flurry of flashing cameras and the glow of search lights on Tuesday night, March 24, 1964.  He made his way through the paparazzi and into the packed theater where his science fiction thriller, Firelight, would be shown for the first time.  This was not your typical Hollywood premier.  It wasn't even in Hollywood. 

Springsteen, Bruce

Motorcycled through Prescott

Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springeen, 1988.  Photo by Laura Bland .

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen "The Boss" (1949.09.23-    )  Singer, songwriter.

On the afternoon of October 1, 1989, Springsteen was motorcycling across Arizona when he took time out to stop at a nearly empty saloon on Prescott's famous "whisky row."    In short order, word spread that the hot rocker was in town and the bar quickly filled.

Springsteen borrowed a guitar and put on a free show for the growing crowd.  When he took a break the crowd got overly enthusiastic and "Bubbles," the lady barkeep, pulled him over the bar to safety.

According to newspaper accounts hanging in Matt's Bar, Springsteen thanked Bubbles by paying off her $160,000 hospital bill.

Stewart, Rod

Lives in Ahwatukee, Phoenix

Rod Stewart, 1981. Photo by Eddie Mallin .

(Roderick Stewart, 1945.01.10-    )  Musician, ex-professional soccer player.

Long after he asked "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," Rod Steward reportedly took up residence in a house on the hill above Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway in Ahwatukee.

Stone, Sharon

Summered in Phoenix, Lived in Tucson

Sharon Stone in 2005. Photo by Georges Biard .

(1958.03.10-    )  Actor.

The actress that showed her dark side and a bit more in Basic Instinct (1992) summered in Phoenix in 1994.  At the Phoenix Ritz Carlton she explained to a reporter what attracted her to the state, "I love Arizona. People are really strange and kind."

Sometime prior to her Ritz Carlton interview she had taken up house keeping with producer Bill MacDonald in Tucson.  That arrangement did not last through the summer.

Strauss, Joseph

Died in Arizona

(Joseph Baermann Strauss, 1870-1938)  "The Man Who Built the Bridge" -- builder of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge opening
The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Strauss, a prolific engineer who constructed some 400 drawbridges across the country, had a dream of creating "the biggest thing of its kind that a man could build."  San Francisco voters brought fruition to his decade long mission in 1930 when they approved a bond issue for the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge opened on May 27, 1937.  An exhausted Strauss moved to Arizona to recover. In a year he would suffer a stroke and die.

Strug, Kerri

Born in Tucson

(1977.11.00-    )  Olympics athlete, elementary school teacher.

Kerri was the plucky gymnast who helped the US gymnastic team earn its first ever gold medal by vaulting at the 1996 Olympics with an injured ankle.  She was also a member of the 1992 Olympics gymnastics team where she earned a bronze medal.

Kerri was born in Tucson where here father, Burt Strug, was a heart surgeon.

Swanson, Gloria

Married in Yuma

Publicity photo of Gloria Swanson by Clarence Sinclair Bull, c. 1930.

(Gloria May Josephine Svensson, 1897.03.27-1983.04.03)  Actor.

In November, 1931, as Gloria Swanson's movie Indiscreet (1931) was having its run on the nations' screens, its star crossed over the Colorado River into Yuma where she discretely married Michael Farmer (1902-1975), the forth of her six husbands.

At the time, Miss Swanson was a huge movie star with more than 60 pictures under her belt.  Michael was not destined to have much of an acting career.  He appeared in just one picture, Perfect Understanding (1933), starring his wife.  Nor was he destined for a long running role as Miss Swanson's leading man in life.  They were divorced in 1934.

Swayze, Patrick

Crashed outside Prescott Valley

Treated in Tucson

(Patrick Wayne Swayze, 1952.08.18-2009.09.14)  Actor, pilot.
Patrick Swayze on the red carpet at the 1989 Academy Awards.  Photo by Alan Light .

Patrick Swayze is probably best known for his starring roles in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Ghost (1990), except in the community of Prescott Valley where he is as likely to be know as that pilot.

On June 1, 2000 Swayze, a private pilot with an instrument rating, was flying his twin engine Cessna 414A from Van Nuys, California, to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he intended to check on his ranch. Just after 10 AM the plane dropped off radar at the Albuquerque traffic control center.  When the pilot could not be reached police were notified.  Hours later, police found the plane on Buckshot Road off Arizona 89A, in the Mingus West subdivision outside Prescott Valley.  It was later determined that the plane struck a streetlight, losing the right wing section from the engine outward, bounced, crossed an intersection, then struck a stop sign, another streetlight, and an electrical utility box.  The actor was nowhere to be found.

Swayze is said to be a recovering alcoholic.  In 1993, he checked himself in for treatment at Tucson's Sierra Tucson.  His father died of complications from alcoholism.  No alcohol was found on the plane, but three construction workers said that they helped the visiting celebrity hide the remnants of a 30-pack of Miller Lite--by drinking the 20 remaining bottles--and an almost-empty bottle of wine from the wreckage.

Swayze later reported that he was cruising at 13,000 feet when he heard a loud sound.  His ears popped and his two dogs began to bark.  Suspecting a loss in cabin pressure, he began looking for a landing site.  He landed at what appeared to be an airport but turned out to be road.  He says that he then hitched a ride with a local resident and called authorities.  Reports indicate that he called his lawyer, his publicist and his wife.  The police called him on his cell phone.

The Safety Board investigator reported a missing clamp and a disconnected hose which could have caused the loss in cabin pressure.

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