Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Gruesome Murder of Hello Dolly Actor / Singer Danny Lockin

Danny Lockin 
July 13, 1943 - August 21,1977

Daniel Joseph Lockin was an actor, singer and dancer who appeared on Broadway and most famously as Barnaby Tucker in the 1969 film, Hello, Dolly! with Barbra Streisand. Because of (and despite of) his savage murder in 1977 at age 34, he is almost completely forgotten.  Since so much of television now is about celebrity and death or true crime, it's shocking that Lockin is still barely a footnote.

In private he left a life and talent extinguished much too soon, and left his family, friends and dance pupils shocked by the weak sentence given to his killer.

 But we'll always have reruns of The Gong Show.  More on that in a bit.

Born in Lanai, Hawaii, but raised in Omaha Nebraska, Danny was the only child of Joseph and Jean Lockin. His father Joe had met and married his mother Jean upon her return to the midwest after her post-high school stint as a Manhattan dancer in the last days of vaudeville. Joe accepted a job as operations manager at Dole Pineapple and the couple married and settled in Hawaii where their son Danny was born. After the War years, the family settled back in the States where Jean opened a successful dance studio in Omaha. Danny spent much of his childhood at the studio and danced so well that his mother wasted no time in creating a professional act for her son. Young Danny (white) and Neal Reynolds (black) were paired as “The Two Checkers” and performed their song & dance and pantomime act on the summer state fair circuit and in hotels of Omaha. Eventually 1950s racism and segregated venues put an end to the duo’s act - but Danny had the showbiz bug and was not stopping his pursuit of stardom. 

In 1959, the Lockins moved to their new home in Anaheim California in Orange County (35 miles south of Hollywood) where Danny excelled in academics, theater arts and gymnastics at Rancho Alamitos High School in Garden Grove. After Joe died in Summer of ’61, Jean worked at her busy dance studio in Anaheim and Danny landed a few small parts on Dr. Kildare, Father of the Bride and My Three Sons, and did a Head & Shoulders TV commercial. He also unsuccessfully auditioned for the Hitler-youth role of Rolf in Fox’s The Sound of Music.

The 17-year-old Danny, with his 5’6” small frame, red hair & freckles, could (and usually did) play roles younger than his own age. After high school graduation, like his mother before him, he went to try his luck in New York City. In 1966, he got the role of Barnaby in the traveling production of Hello, Dolly! where he played opposite several Dolly’s including Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, Dorothy Lamour and Eve Arden.

In 1967, it was announced that 25-year-old Barbra "left side only" Streisand would play 1890’s widowed matchmaker Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!  Broadway’s original acclaimed musical Dolly: Carol Channing recalled hearing this news, “ I was doing the stage musical at Expo ’67 at the time…and I had the feeling that I was Mark Twain and had just died and become an observer at my funeral.” 

Danny Lockin was offered the role of Barnaby in the film version of Hello, Dolly!, after 13 tests (MASHED POTATO!  FASTER!  FASTER!) for MGM legend-turned-film-director, Gene Kelly. Danny was on top of the world and that year married chorus line dancer, Cathy Haas. The couple moved from NYC to L.A. for Danny’s 6-month rehearsal/shooting schedule and Cathy became pregnant during the 1968 film shoot which began April 15th 1968 on Stage 16 at Fox Studios on Pico Blvd.

The budget for the film rose to $25 million, with $2 million spent to recreate 1890s Manhattan on the Fox Lot. Barbra’s gold beaded gown which weighed 40 lbs cost $8,000 and the Harmonia Gardens set cost $375,000. 

Trivia: You can see a fountain from the film at Knott’s Berry Farm as this scenery piece was moved there shortly after shooting wrapped.

Besides budget woes, and Barbra’s insecurity that she was miscast (as everybody kept writing in the press), the production chugged along despite the gloom of:  1. Gene Kelly acting frustrated most of the time 2. Walter Matthau hating Barbra the diva ("I have more talent in my smallest fart than she does in her entire body." 3. Barbra complaining about her “tap dancer for a director” 4. Future Phantom Michael Crawford insulting Barbara the diva 5. Danny Lockin trying to revel in his first big Hollywood role but souring when the press only wanted to talk about... herrrrr

By the time Hello, Dolly! finally premiered in December 1969, some things had changed: Barbra’s film Funny Girl had made her a superstar and earned her an Oscar.  Danny Lockin’s marriage was over  - with his wife having left him that previous summer, filing for divorce, and taking their 6-month old son, Jeremy Daniel with her. Danny was reportedly devastated but had to keep smiling and performing on Broadway, where he was back playing Barnaby Tucker opposite the final stage Dollys : Phyllis Diller (wut) and Ethel Merman. In the Merman production, his stage partner ‘Minnie Day’ was played by future Mary Tyler Moore Show costar Georgia Engel.

When the Broadway show closed, he once again took the role for roadshow productions into the early 1970s. With a monotonous touring life on the road and no other career prospects appearing, Danny began drinking more and doing cocaine. His drug use began affecting his showbiz reputation. 

Danny was age 31 in 1974 when he moved back California and into his mother’s Anaheim home and began working as assistant manager and teacher at The Jean Lockin Dance Studio.

While Danny had been living his life in New York in 1960s, his alma mater’s city of Garden Grove CA had sprouted many gay bars, including The Happy Hour, Rumour Hazzit, the Mug, the Iron Spur, the Knotty Keg, the Saddle Club and DOK West. During these years, the gay bars in Garden Grove actually outnumbered West Hollywood’s. That wouldn’t last, and Orange County eventually settled back into its ongoing role as “conservative cousin” to progressive Los Angeles.

 By 1977, his mother’s dance studio was closed and Danny was working at another O.C. studio. Danny was now an out “bisexual” and was no longer the twinkly-eyed twink dancer with a hot career. He had become a heavy drinker with DUI arrests and needed rides from friends and his mother. 

Sunday August 21, 1977 began as an exciting and happy day for Danny Lockin. He and his gal-pal (and fellow dance instructor) Billie Jo Conway were booked to appear on TV’s The Gong Show. Their song and dance act was fun and visually quirky (as Billie Jo weighed 230 pounds.) but they were planning to pull out all their best tap moves. His mother Jean drove him up to Burbank for the taping, which was to be aired in primetime on September 14

His mother told reporters, “It was a good night for him. He had the old light in his eyes.”  The pair performed well and owned the stage with their “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” song and dance routine. 

They were given 10s across the board from celeb judges, including one from that “rascule” Jaye P. Morgan who cattily joked that Billie Jo looked like current male singer Paul Williams. As they left the stage, host Chuck Barris thanked them for “doing their little stuff.”  Danny and Billie Jo tied with another act for first place and danced amongst the confetti.

Jean said that afterwards they celebrated with dinner and a martini, then her son asked her to drop him off at The Mug (gay bar) in Garden Grove so he could unwind and “play the pinball machine.” Danny was wearing his skin-tight dance pants (with no pockets to carry ID) when she dropped him at 11pm and he told her he had $5 for a taxi to get home.

That was the last she saw him alive. Jean later told the press that she’d heard he had called a taxi around midnight from The Mug but that “he didn’t take it. Someone had offered him a ride.  It doesn't make much sense to me that he would leave with someone he didn't know."  Ah, the 70's.

The Mug as it looks today.

Of note:  Danny had earned the reputation of being quite difficult and was described as a live-wire and unruly when drinking.  Regulars at the bar said he was quick to take offense at everything.  He could be polite one minute and belligerent the next.  Tedious.

The man who offered the ride was another regular at The Mug named Charles “Chuck” Leslie Hopkins, a 34-year-old Air Force veteran, medical dispatcher for UCI Medical Center and a "known homosexual" according to detectives. The pair ended up back at Hopkins’ place at the Kona Palms Apartments in Anaheim.  Inside the place there was S&M gear, porn, poetry books, a portrait of Sophia Loren on the wall and a Judy Collins album ready to spin.

The Kona Palms today.

The apartment building was managed by "admitted homosexual" Dennis Reeves who would rent to "other gays."  I love these quotes.  If you think this place looks great, the sun is playing tricks with you.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.  Troy still to this day threatens to throw my ashes here after I die.  Obviously the pool has been filled in.

The Shit Hole today

Newspapers surmised that if there was noise coming from his apartment #10 overlooking the pool.  There was no one in the immediate vicinity to hear it. Apartment #9 directly across from Hopkins’ door was vacant and tenants alongside his rooms in apartment #11 were gone. There was no one under Hopkins’ place as it was over a garage.

Apartment #10
God, If I lived here, I would weep every time I had to ascend these stairs.

The street side windows of apartment #10.

Chuck Hopkins called police several hours later and told police an intruder had tried to rob him. Danny Lockin was found stabbed to death.  But not just that.  He had been stabbed more than 100 times.  A majority of the wounds were 3 inches deep and 9 of the wounds were the potentially fatal one.  12 on the left side of his back, 2 postmortem, the right side of his back shows 16 stab wounds, 7 are postmortem.  12 to his right side, 5 postmortem, 17 wounds on his left buttock, all postmortem, 26 to the right buttock, all postmortem.  There are several more, some defense wounds...  you get the idea.

Hopkins was arrested immediately. While they were in the apartment, police found a porno book of pictures of male sex torture. This “evidence” which prosecution planned to use to show Hopkin’s pre-meditation and “playbook” of intent was later ruled out as police hadn’t obtained it under proper search warrants. Hopkins pleaded innocent to his charge of First Degree Murder By Torture and after a delayed 1978 trial was eventually given a 4-year sentence for Voluntary Manslaughter - which Danny’s family and friends called a travesty of justice. 

But back on that Monday evening, a night after she dropped him off, Danny’s mother was very worried and calling hospitals to find her son.  It took investigators two days to identify the body.  On Tuesday, August 23, Mrs. Lockin finally received the news from police after they’d identified her son using fingerprints on file from his drunk driving arrests.

The official cause of death:  Exsanguination.  Multiple stab wounds to heart & lungs.

Danny Lockin was buried in Westminster Memorial Park cemetery in Orange County. His grave is in Block 29, Section 219, Grave 4 with a simple stone that calls him “Beloved Son”.

In a September 7, 1977 OC Register article titled ‘Barnaby’ Sings His Last Song, Danny’s family friend and his mother’s former dance partner Vivian Nehemias summed up her beloved surrogate child Danny: “The police came to the house and went over his room looking for (S&M instruments/adult toys) but there was no evidence of that. He wasn’t into anything kinky. He was just a good old fashioned American bisexual. He had worked hard since he was 8 playing clubs, fairs, television shows, the stage. But he became very temperamental. His temper, his demand for perfection, and drink did him in as far as show business is concerned. He fought hard and maybe he would have made it again if he had lived. Danny was many people. He was very complex and very talented. He tried to go his own way. That’s showbiz.“

Mrs. Jean Lockin continued to teach dance until she suffered a series of strokes in the late 1980s. She passed away of pneumonia on May 23, 1990 in Fountain Valley, Orange County, CA.

The murderer reportedly died in 2006 of a heart attack and lung cancer.

Prior to his death, Danny Lockin was considering a career in choreography and starting to  record an album of original songs. The working title of the record was obviously not called: “What Was Barbra Streisand Like To Work With?”

This contract is for his appearance in a 1961 local ‘Polka Parade’ tv show 

The Lockin home in Anaheim is now a recovery home for women overcoming addiction problems.

Trivia: On Danny's death certificate, Chuck Barris Productions is listed as his last employer.

Wanna see the murderer's mailbox?

I think Hello Dolly is probably one of the most cannibalized movie sets in history.

Here is a bar from the set of the film that has been reassembled in the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

By Mark Langlois and Scott Michaels

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Findadeath Update: Mystery Corpse

Before my friend The Godfather of Graving, Roger Sinclair passed away, he gave me a few things.  One was this little booklet of pictures of a funeral and a corpse.  Now I don't remember who it was.  
I'm pretty sure it was a criminal.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Findadeath Update: For the Love of Dick

Fact:  In 1991 Dick Sargent who portrayed Darren #2 on Bewitched came out as a gay man. 
Actually a tabloid snitched that he was part of the Gays and Sargent took it by the horns and went with it.

Fact:   Elizabeth Montgomery aka Samantha on Bewitched was down with the gays.  Here's a quote from an interview Lizzie did with The Advocate:

“We talked about it on the set that this was about people not being allowed to be what they really are. If you think about it, Bewitched is about repression in general and all the frustration and trouble it can cause. It was a neat message to get across to people at that time in a subtle way.”

Being an all around groovy gal who supports her pals, Elizabeth sat alongside Mr. Sargent in a convertible to co-Grand Marshall the 1992 West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade.

May not be Fact, but I want it to be:

When asked to comment about the day and their being in the parade, Lizzie allegedly said she was doing it,

"For the love of Dick."

Photo by Andrew Whitenack

Please let this be true.

In 2016 Dearly Departed Tours was in the Gay Pride Parade. 

Look!  We have Lizzie's wicker settee in Dearly Departed Tours.

Thanks Andrew Whitenack and Mark Langlois

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Findadeath Update: The Death of Anton Yelchin from Star Trek

Anton Yelchin
March 11, 1989 – June 19, 2016

“I prefer when movies target my heart instead of my mind.”

Anton Yelchin was born in Leningrad.  His parents were professional figure skaters and they came to the US as refugees when he was young.  His parents worked by teaching ice-skating to Americans.  On the suggestion of friends, Anton went into acting.  He earned parts in TV shows and movies like Fright Night and Alpha Dog.  He won several acting awards and his career was going just swell.  

His mega-break happened when he was cast in the latest Star Trek reboot as the Russian character Chekov.  Honestly, couldn’t they get a transgender person?  How racist.

In his free time Anton played guitar.  He was in a band called the Hammerheads for a bit.  

Anton made enough money to purchase a house in the hills of Studio City, CA.  It was built in 1940 and is 1500 square feet with 2 bed 2 baths and a pool.  1.14 mil was the price tag.

You can’t see much of the house from the street, but there is this curiously sandbagged garage.  

The house is high up in the hills so it's secluded and I'm sure the view is spectacular.
Of course Anton was very well liked.  No one is going to say, “He died tragically and he was a dick.” Unless we're talking about Jerry Lewis.  But by most accounts, Anton was not a dick.
He was not known to use drugs.

Yelchin bought a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In the evening of Saturday June 19, 2016, Anton left his home to attend an 11pm rehearsal.  He started his Jeep and drove up his driveway to the road.

Hey, here’s what you don’t do!: Anton left the Cherokee running, on a steep incline, got out and walked behind it.  

Yeeeaaah… noooooo… 

I don’t know why he got out of the car, but when he did, he did not put the parking brake on. He may have thought he did, but he didn't.
While he was behind it, the 2.5 ton vehicle rolled backward and pinned Yelchin against the brick post attached to the gate to his property.  He was trapped.

When Anton didn’t show up to the rehearsal, which was unusual, friends decided to drive to his house and check on him.  This would have been around 1am

No one knows how long Anton was pinned there, but he was.  For several hours.  Dead.  The Jeep’s engine was still running.  There is supposedly security camera footage of the incident.

Cause of death:  Traumatic asphyxia.  He could not breathe with the weight of the Jeep pressing against him.  He was pinned to the gate. 

He then became a member of the 27 Club.

Fans came to the gates and left flowers at the scene and on social media, the emotional statements spewed.  (When you care enough to hit “send”).  His parents took out an ad in the a paper, thanking people for the support.

Three months prior to the incident, this particular model of Jeep Cherokee was recalled because the gearshift was so, that it could confuse the driver as to which gear it is in.  The driver could “think” that the car is in PARK when it actually was not.
His death was ruled accidental.

TMZ Published his Death Certificate.

Cue the lawsuit against Chrysler/Fiat filed by Anton’s parents.
Train-wreck Lohan queefed out a statement blaming Hollywood for his death.  “Surround your life with good people and know who your true friends are.”  Because your true friends will be there when your car rolls backwards and pins you to a fucking gate.  Asshole.   I hate people.

Anton had a private memorial service 5 days later and is now buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. 

 Prime real estate too.  15 years ago, a plot in that location would cost around 30 grand.  Who knows now?  It’s spitting distance to Mickey Rooney, which I often do.

As I understand it, this is a temporary marker and soon there will be a statue installed.  There are a lot of statues in that area now.  A pal commented that it's starting to look like a chess set.

 It's what he would have wanted.

Star Trek Beyond was released a month after Yelchin’s death, and the film was dedicated to him.

Now here’s the Ding Ding Bizarro WTF thing:  Anton was in a movie called Burying the Ex in 2013.  Some of it was shot in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  I watched the movie.  

Here is a screen capture of Anton.  His own future gravesite is in this shot.
3 years before he died, Anton Yelchin appeared onscreen with his own grave

In October 2016 there was a Star Trek Convention somewhere, to which I say 'of course there was'.
I'm not judging, just observing.  There was a tribute wall for fans to sign for Anton.  In November 2016 and exhibit of Anton’s photography went on display in Hollywood.

Trivia:  The actor Walter Koenig who created the role of Chekov in the original Star Trek series (which was produced by Lucy.  TRUE!) had a son Andrew (who played a creature named "Boner" on Growing Pains) who disappeared back in 2010.  It was big news here.  
Boner ended up topping himself and is buried near Anton at Hollywood Forever.
(Thanks, Chuck).  Sad Chekovs.

On Saturday October 8, 2017 a statue was unveiled at Anton's grave.  A lifesize statue of Anton.  Yes.

Brian Donnelly snagged this ultra spooky picture of it.

Yeah, that's not fucked up at all.

Here it is in all it's glory.

 Vote for Pedro!

Thanks Cathy Kimbrell, BS and Craig.

Wanna see his mailbox?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Findadeath Update: The Death of Dr. Bombay, Bernard Fox

Bernard Fox

1927- 2016

Bernard Fox, known to millions from his most famous TV roles on Hogan’s Heroes (as bumbling Col. Crittendon) and Bewitched (as warlock playboy Dr. Bombay), passed away from heart failure on December 14, 2016 at age 89. At the announcement of the esteemed character actor’s death, his obituary was published worldwide via the internet and his name trended on Twitter for hours.

Fox (born Bernard Lawson in Port Talbot, Wales UK  (so was Peg Entwistle who jumped off the Hollywood sign and Anthony Hopkins) was a 5th generation actor of a showbiz family of thespians who made his stage debut at 18 months and became a stage veteran by age 14.  Hello Clarice.  After his WWII service in the Royal Navy (doing mine sweeping), he resumed his acting career and joined the York Repertory Company and later, the London Whitehall Farce Players.  

Fox was acting in a play in Rome in 1959 when he met the love of his life, an American actress named Jacqueline Holt. Jackie was a California girl and after a few years of visiting each other, they married in 1962 and settled in Los Angeles.



Fox had another incentive to come to Hollywood – a BBC-TV writer-producer who had liked his work had promised to help him find work in U.S. television. Fox found work on The Danny Thomas Show, and soon after made a splash as Malcolm Merriweather, a British bicyclist who made several stops in Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show. Soon his career was off and running while he and Jackie raised their two daughters.

Again, Straight.

Fox worked steady in the 60s playing aristocratic Brit roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show; The Man from  U.N.C.L.E.; F Troop; Perry Mason; McHale’s Navy , Love American Style and dozens more. Fox became so well-known and popular that he told his agent the he’d no longer audition – if they wanted him, they should know what he could do. His schedule was tight and sometimes he would work two days (Tues & Wed) on Hogan’s Heroes and the next two days ( Thurs & Fri) on Bewitched.  Fox later reflected that he enjoyed days of the 60s television when he could return again and again as different characters. One gig that did not please him was working with The Monkees – he called them “rank amateurs” years later when asked about the experience. Their style of ad-libbed buffoonery was not his cup of tea.

Fox’s tenure on Bewitched started in 1966 where he first appeared as a defacto Witch Hunter. His British charms and professionalism appealed to Bill Asher and Elizabeth Montgomery who asked him back to play warlock womanizer Dr. Bombay. Fox said he based jolly, boisterous Dr. Bombay on his former Naval Officer that was hard of hearing and spoke loudly to everybody around him. Dr. Bombay appeared 18 times and wore 29 different costumes – as his character was often summoned while wearing odd garb ( 3 times he was summoned while wearing a football uniform having come from “tackling his nurse. Hah ha ha.” Bewitched producers did not mind a recycled joke.) Fox remembered his time on the Bewitched set as professional and friendly – with cocktail carts pushed out when Elizabeth won large horse bets, and enjoying the expletive-laden blooper reels at the annual Christmas parties. (Montgomery swore like a sailor when she flubbed lines.) Bewitched ceased production in December 1971.

Perspective:  There were a total of 254 Bewitched episodes made.  He was only in 18 of them.  Paul Lynde's Uncle Arthur was only in 9.  That's a testament to how good these people were.

Sometimes these characters were a presence without even being in the scene.

Bill Asher called Fox to reprise Dr. Bombay on the 1977 sitcom sequel Tabitha with Lisa Hartman as Samantha’s daughter (with the accelerated age of 21). The show was a 1-season flop and focused more on Tabitha’s jiggle than her nose wiggle. It should have been titled T&Abatha.  

Just say no.

Fox also appeared as Dr. Bombay on the soap Passions alongside Juliet Mills as witchy Tabitha Lennox – and he appeared on Pee Wee’s Playhouse as a Genie “Wish” doctor.

Fox continued to work in steal-the-show guest spots throughout the 70s and 80s on television and lent his voice talents in the Disney cartoons The Rescuers (1977) and its sequel, The Rescuers Down Under (1990).

In 1996, he found himself cast as Colonel Archibald Gracie in James Cameron’s epic Titanic. Coincidentally, one of Fox’s earliest (uncredited) film roles was playing the iceberg spotter in A Night to Remember (1958). 

During his 6-month shoot in Rosarito Beach – Baja Mexico for Titanic, Fox worked night after cold night from 7pm to dawn. One scene (eventually cut from the film) required him to stand in the ice cold water tank on an overturned lifeboat. Fox told an interviewer that the set had hot tubs on the ready for actors with hypothermia.

who's that ghhhurl

Fox retired from acting in 2001, and became a regular attendee at Autograph Collector’s Shows. He was always gracious to his fans at the Celebrity shows and TV Land events – as well at Mayberry and Bewitched Fan Conventions.   

Perhaps he drove to those conventions in this car.  It clearly had a space reserved on the side lawn of his home.

In 2004, Nora Ephron was given the task to write/direct Nicole Kidman’s Bewitched abortion... I mean film. Nora’s concept was to have a new witch be inexplicably visited by characters from the TV show.  This show had several ingredients to make it a success.  How they fucked that up, I'll never know.  It was a mess and barely earned back its costs at box-office. 

Ephron called in Bernard Fox to discuss him possibly returning to the role that he created. Later it was announced that Fred Willard was doing the part of Dr. Bombay – but as fate would have it: his effect-laden scene involving an entrance on a CGI elephant proved to be too challenging for Ephron, and the scene was cut from the film. Bernard Fox was spared having to see a pale imitation of his beloved Dr. Bombay.

Fox's longtime home

Fun facts:  Fox was a lifelong magic trick fan – and a longtime member of Magic Castle in Hollywood. Fox was gifted a yearly subscription to Gourmet Magazine by the Ashers during his time on Bewitched. Fox was an avid gardener at his San Fernando Valley home.  

Perhaps he wasn't up to snuff in recent months.

Bernard Fox died of heart failure at age 89 on the morning of Wednesday December 14, 2016 at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys. 

The hospital is only about 2 blocks from his home.  

He was survived by his wife Jacqueline, daughter Amanda and 2 grandchildren.

He was cremated, location unknown.

RIP Dr. Bombay.

Ha HA!  Ha HA!

That makes the only surviving significant cast members are the kids.  Tony Curtis's bastard boys and lovely Erin Murphy, Tabitha.  Hey! I know her!


Bernard Fox.  Straight.