Guffaws and Goodbyes.

Position:ENTERTAINMENT - Epitaphs

I am writing this on my birthday and, let me say, I am well past Jack Benny's age barometer being stuck on 39. As Robert Redford relates in "Havana" (1990): there comes a point when you realize you are not going to die young.

Be that as it may, I have been thinking about epitaphs. Oh, it is not just my age. What with today's world giving me a dodgy heart, it never is too early to ponder. Plus, loving dark comedy, I always have enjoyed this sort of exercise from my favorite writers and entertainers, as epitaphs can be just a flippant bit of bravado, or a poignant summing up.

The champion of the former was Algonquin Round Table wit and later screenwriter Dorothy Parker. She coined such gems as, "Excuse my dust," "This is on me," and "If you can read this, you're standing too close." In the spirit of Parker, Alfred Hitchcock later suggested his marker should state, "This is what they do to bad little boys." Along the more-philosophically humble was Clark Gable's line. When the man known in Hollywood as the "King" was asked what his epitaph should be, Gable responded, "He was lucky, and he knew it."

That being said, there have been some winners which did manage to make it to the actual tombstone. One of the best was writer/director Billy Wilder's sign-off. The man responsible for the movie the American Film Institute calls the country's greatest comedy, "Some Like It Hot" (1959), embellished that picture's last line for his final resting place: "I'm a writer, but then, nobody's perfect!"

Jack Lemmon, who co-starred in "Hot," assumed a more generically succinct exit line on his marker. He used it as his final marquee: "Jack Lemmon in:" In contrast, voice specialist Mel Blanc, who provided the Warner Bros. cartoon department with the voice of dozens of characters, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety Pie, Sylvester, and the Road Runner, used...

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