Dear Ken: When did western character actor Slim Pickens die and what were some of his best movies?
Pickens, who was born Louis Burton Lindley Jr. in Kingsburg, Calif., died after surgery for a brain tumor in 1983 at age 64. A horseman from childhood, he quit school at 12 to join the rodeo where he later gained fame as a rodeo clown. He was a guest on lots of TV shows but is best remembered for his roles as B-52 pilot Major T.J. King Kong in Dr. Strangelove and as Taggart in Blazing Saddles. Pickens rode as a sidekick to Rex Allen, among other cowboy stars. Other movie credits include Major Dundee, Will Penny, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, The Cowboys, The Getaway, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Sacketts and The Howling.
Dear Ken: What has happened to Helen Wagner, who played Nancy Hughes on As the World Turns?
Wagner, who held the Guinness World Record for playing the same role in a TV series for the longest period of time (54 years), died of cancer in May 2010, at 91. Her last appearance (taped) on the legendary soap opera aired June 1, 2010, a month after her death. The native of Lubbock, Texas, studied music and drama at Monmouth College in Illinois. She was wed to producer Robert Willey from 1954 until his death in 2009. She played Kate in Oklahoma! on Broadway in the 1940s and was a guest on such TV shows as Guiding Light, Valiant Lady and Inner Sanctum.
Dear Ken: Who sang Kung Fu Fighting, a hit from my childhood in the 1970s?
That was Carl Douglas, 70, who grew up in Jamaica and California before moving to England. The 1974 single was the B side to the song I Want To Give You My Everything and took but 10 minutes to record. Turning into a smash hit in the U.S. and Great Britain, the disco tune sold 11 million copies. At last report, Douglas was operating a company that produces music for commercials and movies in Hamburg, Germany.
If you have a trivia question about actors, singers, movies, TV shows or pop culture, e-mail your query to Ken Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org