Monday, May 31, 2010

Jeffrey Dahmer

Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer (1960-1994) graduated from Revere High School in Bath, Ohio in 1978. On page 145 of the school's Minuteman yearbook, the following text appears on the right side: "JEFF DAHMER: Band 1; Lantern 3; Tennis Intramurals 2, 3, 4; Ohio State Univ. (Business)..."

In The Jeffrey Dahmer Story author Don Davis depicts Dahmer as a prankish drunk at Revere who was shy around girls. So well-known were the future murderer's gags that classmates referred to generally outrageous behavior as "Doing a Dahmer." During the senior class trip to Washington, D.C. Davis writes that Dahmer finessed a group invitation to Vice President Walter Mondale's office (Mondale was not present for the students' visit).

After promising 16-year-old Bridget Geiger that he would not act weird or get drunk, the young woman consented to be Dahmer's senior class prom date. Dahmer eschewed wearing a tuxedo for the event and instead wore dark pants, a vest and a western style bow tie. He wound up disappearing from the dance for about an hour and was not re-admitted by school staff because he was thought to have alchoholic beverages on his person. Dahmer and Bridget and two others finished off the evening at a nearby pub. Geiger had one more date with Dahmer after which she did not hear of him again until 1991 when he was arrested in Milwaukee.

Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted on 15 counts of murder in 1992 and sentenced to 15 life terms. In prison his favorite television show was NYPD Blue. On November 28, 1994 Dahmer was bludgeoned to death by a fellow inmate named Christopher Scarver. Dahmer's body was cremated thirteen months after his death and his ashes were shared between his parents. 

In 2002 the film Dahmer starring Jeremy Renner (later Oscar nominated for The Hurt Locker) in the lead role was released.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow is the daughter of the late director Bruce Paltrow and the actress Blythe Danner. She attended the Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California, and later, the Spence School in New York City. In college she studied art history at the University of California, Santa Barbara before leaving to pursue acting. Paltrow paid her dues by appearing in the 1991 John Travolta film Shout and has had a delightfully charmed career ever since. Ms. Paltrow's guide to a  fulfilling lifestyle (or something?) can be found on her website Goop (Oscar, rock star husband, fabulous friends and millions of dollars for the occasional movie role not included).

Phil Spector

Phil Spector graduated from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles in 1957. In Mark Ribowski's biography, He's a Rebel, the future "First Tycoon of Teen" is described as a "splendid student" who used his love of the guitar to "consolidate his intellectual and artistic impulses." Spector's high school sweetheart, Donna Kass, is quoted in Ribowski's book as saying that Spector was "...the town crier in high school, he danced, he was the cheerleader--but there was a genius about him that went beyond all that." Kass's mother thought her daughter's boyfriend was "vile looking," "crazy" and that "someday he would wind up committing suicide." Ribowski writes that, like Mrs. Kass, most neighborhood parents thought Spector was "weird,"  too.

He was a member of Fairfax High's music club, the Barons, but in the spring of 1957 he won the school's talent show contest with a solo performance of Rock Island Line. Shortly thereafter Spector and his friend Michael Lieb performed a winning rendition of In the Still of the Night on a local TV channel's (KTLA) late night music competition show, Rocket to Stardom. After graduation, but before he recorded his first hit single, Spector attended Los Angeles City College. He would practice his music at home and obsessively watch American Bandstand every afternoon. According to Ribowski, Spector would even transcribe the dialogue from the Dick Clark-hosted teen dance show onto his stenotype machine.

Decades after his chart-topping heyday, the music auteur's psychotic love affair with firearms caught up with him. On February 3, 2003, after a night of heavy drinking, he killed aspiring actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California mansion with a snub-nosed Colt Cobra revolver. Spector's sleazy defense in the matter--alleging that Clarkson had suddenly decided to commit suicide in his presence--was rejected by jurors in his second trial (jurors in the first trial deadlocked). He was convicted of second degree murder in 2009 and sentenced to nineteen years to life. He is currently serving his time at Corcoran State Prison with, among others, fellow Beatles fan, Charles Manson.

In addition to his music and the Clarkson murder, Phil Spector is known for his wigs - many of which he modeled during his trials. He also achieved something of a feat by scaring the Ramones with his bizarre behavior during the production of their 1980 "End of the Century" album. Spector's last credited music project was his fourth wife's CD, "Out of My Chelle" released in 2010.

Larry King

Larry King, Warrior, lower right
Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on November 19, 1933 and graduated from Lafayette High School in 1951. King co-writes (with Marty Appel) about his unremarkable secondary education in When You're From Brooklyn, Everything Else Is Tokyo, one of his many co-written memoirs. Among the things the reader learns about his school days is that Vic Damone also attended Lafayette, Larry had a friend named Hoo-ha, and Larry didn't really like to read books ("I didn't really read books, except for Frank Graham's biography of Lou Gehrig, A Quiet Hero and John R. Tunis's baseball novel The Kid From Tompkinsville."). Earlier, when Zeiger/King was 14, he and some friends, including the aforementioned Hoo-ha, formed a social club called The Warriors and they had special jackets made up costing $18 a piece ("a major purchase").

The broadcaster made his name as a talk show host in Miami, Florida and Washington, D.C. before eventually being recruited by CNN founder Ted Turner in 1983 for his current program, Larry King Live. While in Miami, on December 20, 1971, King was arrested for grand larceny for stealing money intended for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's Kennedy assassination investigation (King used the money to pay down his own tax debt). The charges were later dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. King spent the next several years trying to rehabilitate his career.

King is known for his habit of prodigious name dropping and for having an elastic relationship with the truth. In 1991 he was discovered by the Washington Post Magazine to have been lying about being a childhood friend of Brooklyn Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax. And in 2009, a fanciful race track story he liked to tell was debunked by Slate

The talk show host has been married and divorced many times. The latest Wikipedia accounting is as follows:

Freda Miller (1952-1953)
Annette Kaye (dates unknown)
Alene Akins (1961-1963; 1967-1972)
Mickey Sutphin (1963-1967)
Sharon Lepore (1976-1983)
Julie Alexander (1989-1992)
Shawn Southwick (1997-Present)

Larry King can be seen kissing Marlon Brando here. And he can be seen mistakenly accusing Roman Polanski of Sharon Tate's murder here. King's CNN contract is up in 2011 and according to recent press accounts, his status is uncertain.

In 2009 King denied to GQ that he used a fan in his CNN studio for a persistent flatulance problem.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck

The weepy View co-host and Sarah Palin booster graduated in 1995 from St. Mary Academy Bay-View in Riverside, Rhode Island (as Elisabeth Filarski). She enjoyed playing softball and favored extremely large glasses. In 2001 she was the last remaining member of the Kucha tribe on Survivor: The Australian Outback. She was voted off the show on day 39. In 2002 Elisabeth married former pro football quarterback, Tim Hasselbeck. Ms. Hasselbeck is perhaps best known for her conservative outbursts and crying jags on the ABC daytime talk show, The View.


The Iraq War as debated by Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck can be viewed here.

Whoopi Goldberg reducing Elisabeth Hasselbeck to tears can be viewed here.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck introducing Sarah Palin at a political rally in 2008 can be viewed here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh with his grandfather, Ed, 1986

Timothy McVeigh (1968-2001) graduated from Starpoint High School in Lockport, New York in 1986. The words that he chose to appear under his senior class picture in the yearbook were: "take it as it comes, buy a lamborghini, california girls." Less than ten years later he killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

When he wasn't flipping patties at his after-school job at Burger King, McVeigh was a computer nerd who liked to perform amateur hacks using his dial-up-connected Commodore 64. He had a high IQ, liked to read science fiction novels and enjoyed watching Star Trek. In his senior year, McVeigh was named by Starpoint High officials as the school's "Most Promising Computer Programmer." At Starpoint's 1986 graduation ceremony, the future terrorist was miffed that the honor for "perfect attendance" was awarded to another student. Everything pretty much went downhill from there...

On the fifteenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, MSNBC ran a documentary that featured excerpts from never-before-heard audio tapes of interviews with McVeigh. In 1999, biographers Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck spent more than 75 hours speaking on the record with the bomber about his deed for their definitive history, American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing. The authors shared their tapes with the cable news network for the anniversary special. McVeigh's triumphant account of delivering his bomb to its intended target can be heard here.   

The mass murderer was executed by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001 at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. His last meal was two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream. 

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly graduated from Chaminade, a Catholic high school for boys in Mineola, New York in 1967 -- just in time for the Summer of Love (which, of course, he hated). During his freshman year, the future tough guy host of Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor was bullied by the rich kids because they didn't like his clothes. In the biography The Man Who Would Not Shut Up by Marvin Kitman, O'Reilly claims he once punched out an elitist student who was hassling him about his limited wardrobe ("The guy dropped like a top. I mean, right to the floor, okay..."). He then briefly considered punching out the Catholic brother who grabbed him after the fisticuffs ("Oh, I want to tell you I was that close to decking the guy..."). But O'Reilly did not hit the teacher and instead channeled his anger onto the ice rink, playing hockey for the Chamindade Flyers (in Kittman's book, O'Reilly suggests that there was a conspiracy to keep him off the football team).

At Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, the young plaid-panted, Banlon-shirt-wearing "culture warrior" rebelled against the hippie lifestyle of the day by eschewing drugs and the music of the Doors and the Beatles. He also once threatened to turn his roommate in to the police for having "a little pot" in their dorm room (there was no "pot," just a small saucepan - a bad joke that, nevertheless, inspired campus-wide ridicule of O'Reilly). The awkward Dirty Harry-loving conservative played football, studied history and wrote for the college newspaper before graduating in 1971.

O'Reilly went on to a little-noticed career as a mainstream television journalist on local affiliates and, later at the networks, before his higher profile turn as host of the tabloid TV program Inside Edition in the early 1990s. A leaked tape from this period brilliantly captures the fabled O'Reilly temper in full blossom. In later years, Al Franken, Keith Olbermann and NPR's mild-mannered Terry Gross would all inspire the FOX News star's wrath to varying degrees, but nothing beats the Inside Edition clip for pure, unrestrained fury.

As the highest rated personality at FOX, O'Reilly has milked his fame for all it is worth in a series of best-selling books including, most ridiculously, The O'Reilly Factor for Kids. Only someone with the host's outsized ego would publish such a work within a year of settling a particularly seamy sexual harrassment suit. The infamous complaint that survives the otherwise sealed case memorably features the word "falafel." It is a document that is, no doubt, a lot more entertaining than any of O'Reilly's churned-out rants about the negative effects of liberalism.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Matt Drudge

Before he became the reclusive multimillionaire pope of the conservative echo chamber, Matt Drudge was a brooding loner at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Maryland (Class of '84). In his brief Arrowhead yearbook entry he notes his zodiac sign (Scorpo), his favorite color (Caribbean blue), his favorite food (Jalapeno bologna) and his personal motto ("Where there's a will, there's a way"). Stranger still is teen Drudge's melodramatically bitter Senior Class Last Will and Testament statement:

"I Matt Drudge, being of sound mind and body, do hereby leave the following: To my only true friend Ms. thing, Vicky B, I leave a night in Paris, a bottle of Chaps colongne and hope you find a school with original people--And to everyone else who has helped and hindred [sic] me whether it be Staff or students, I leave a penny for each day I've been here and cried here. A penny rich in worthless memories. For worthless memories is what I have endured. It reminds me of a song, "The Funeral Hyme [sic].'" 

The preceding details and more can be found in an excellent Washington City Paper expose of the Internet gossip columnist's school days.

William Kennedy Smith

Unfortunately, photographs from the 1978 Salisbury School yearbook are hard to come by, so instead, we offer this photo of William Kennedy Smith boogying down with actress Brooke Shields in 1980 (and it is hard to imagine anything from a Connecticut prep school annual beating this for sheer weirdness).

Smith, an acquitted rape defendant, physician and reputed serial masher, holds the remarkable distinction of being one of the Kennedy family's most prolific black sheep. In the years since the controversial 1991 not guilty verdict in Florida, Dr. Smith has done little to validate the alleged wisdom of the jurors who let him off the hook.

In 1993 the busy doctor set aside his Hippocratic Oath just long enough to punch out a Chicago area bouncer, an offense to which he pleaded no contest. In 2004 Smith resigned from his humanitarian organization after an employee charged him with sexual harassment in a case that has since been dismissed (he later quietly returned to his post). Lurid details from another harassment complaint against the boss from hell leaked to the media in 2005, but by then this case had already been settled out of court. Dr. Smith's official online biography makes no mention of any of the preceding unpleasantness, but does note that he is the recipient of the coveted Scholl Recognition Award in Rehabilitation Research.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme

Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme attended Redondo Union High School in Southern California, but according to the school's archivist (yes, they have an archivist), it is uncertain as to whether she actually graduated. Evidence presented in Jess Bravin's amazing biography, Squeaky: The Life and Times of Lynette Alice Fromme, indicates that she never wore the cap and gown. Indeed, the one and only high school yearbook appearance for the future Manson girl and would-be presidential assassin is found the 1965 edition of The Pilot. Specifically, her junior year portrait and a photo with the Theater Club. According to Bravin, she was also very active with the school's literary magazine, Opus (later re-branded as The Compass). In the 1966 edition of the publication, Ms. Fromme is favorably mentioned in the preface and two of her poems are featured therein.

From 1960 to 1963 Ms. Fromme attended Orville Wright Junior High School in Westchester, California where she befriended future Saturday Night Live star Phil Hartman (who was tragically murdered by his wife in 1998). Hartman and Fromme shared column space in the June 20, 1963 edition of the school's newspaper, The Skyliner. On page 3, under an article entitled "A9's Select Most Popular Seniors," Hartman, in a possible joke or typo, is named "Happy-go-lucky girl" and Fromme shared "Personality Plus" honors with someone named Lisa Wilhoyt.

Even earlier, the talented Ms. Fromme was a member of the Westchester Lariats, a popular dance troupe that performed in a variety of venues including on such national television programs as The Dinah Shore Show, The Lawrence Welk Show and on a program hosted by future Manson antagonist, Art Linkletter.

It was in 1967, on the Venice Beach boardwalk, that Fromme met the man who would soon dub her "Squeaky." Charles Manson's first words to the 18-year-old were "What's the problem?" Fromme has been at Manson's side--at least in spirit--ever since. She did not participate in the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders, but she did become Manson's main cheerleader during the ensuing trial. And, along with other members of The Family, she carved an 'X' in her forehead. After the guilty verdicts she and the other members of the cult shaved their heads.

By 1975 Fromme was sharing an apartment in Sacramento with another Manson girl, Sandra Good. They still worshipped their leader and had taken up his cause on the environment. They had also taken to wearing strange nun-like robes (Good wore the color blue and Fromme wore red). On September 5th of that year Fromme went to Capitol Park with a loaded .45 Colt pistol in a thigh holster under her robe (in the later Newsweek cover shot, she looked like a demented elf). But before she could fire at President Ford, she was restrained by Secret Service agent Larry Buendorf. Seventeen days after the assassination attempt, another woman (Sara Jane Moore) tried to kill the hapless Ford. Fromme was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

In 1987 Fromme made a brief escape from Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia (Sara Jane Moore did this, too) after hearing erroneous news that Manson had testicular cancer. She was recaptured two miles from the prison. She would not see freedom again until her parole from a Fort Worth, Texas prison on August 14, 2009. She had served 34 years.

Fromme, now in her sixties, currently lives with her boyfriend in Marcy, New York. She was portrayed (as a blonde!) by 24's Mary Lynn Rajskub in the 2004 version of Helter Skelter with Jeremy Davies playing a particularly menacing Charles Manson.

"Personality Plus"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sara Jane Moore

Sara Jane Moore (born Sara Jane Kahn in 1930), the second woman to attempt to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford (just 17 days after Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme in September of 1975), graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston, West Virginia in 1947. She was active in the Spanish Club and Thespians, the school's drama club. Sara acted in several plays including Why the Chimes Rang and The Late Christopher Bean (as Abby, see photo below at right). She also played the violin, studied ballet and was an expert seamstress.

In the excellent book Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford by Geri Spieler, the autor writes that "Neighbors...and her classmates...remember Sara Jane as 'aloof' but 'intense,' 'unfriendly,' 'but looking for the limelight'--and, always, 'a little odd.'"

On September 22, 1975 Moore, who looked more like a middle-aged housewife than a presidential assassin, shot at and missed President Ford's head by six inches. She fired from a crowd of people gathered across the street from the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco--about 40 feet from Ford. When Moore missed the president with her first shot, she raised her arm to shoot again, but Oliver Sipple (1941-1989), a decorated Vietnam veteran, lunged at her just as she was pulling the trigger of her .38 caliber pistol. The Marine had knocked her shot off course, almost certainly saving Ford's life. The bullet wounded a cab driver named John Ludwig who survived.

Moore pleaded guilty to attempted assassination and was sentenced, in 1976, to life in prison. In 1979 she briefly escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia with another inmate named Marlene Martino. The pair was re-captured approximately four hours later, just 20 miles away from the prison. In a 2009 Today Show interview, Moore told Matt Lauer: "If I knew that I was going to be captured several hours later, I would have stopped at the local bar to get a drink or at a burger place just to get a drink and a burger." In 1987 Squeaky Fromme would escape, briefly, from the same prison.

Amost exactly a year after the death of Gerald Ford, Sara Jane Moore was released on parole from the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin, California. She had served 32 years.

Sara Jane Moore, 1975

Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963), a perpetual truant and the future assassin of John F. Kennedy (yes, he did it, so let's move on), never graduated from high school. The above photo is of an apparently attention-starved Oswald at Beauregard Junior High School in New Orleans in 1955.

On November 24, 1963, two days after he murdered President Kennedy and a police officer named J.D. Tippit, Oswald himself was gunned down by an unstable strip club owner named Jack Ruby.

As a child Oswald was moved around from city to city and school to school by his insane mother, Marguerite. According to Robert Oswald, the older brother of Lee, Oswald's favorite television program was the over-the-top Red Scare classic I Led 3 Lives. An ironic choice of entertainment for a young man who would one day move to the Soviet Union and attempt to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Trivia: Lee Harvey Oswald has been portrayed by over twenty different actors in various television and film examinations of the assassination over the years. Thus far, Gary Oldman is the most accomplished actor to have essayed the assassin (or "patsy") -- in Oliver Stone's 1991 conspiracy opus, JFK. Other actors who have played Oswald include Tony Bill, Frederick Forrest and Frank Whaley.

Oswald, age 12, 1952

John W. Hinckley, Jr.

John W. Hinckley, Jr., future would-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan and the world's number one Jodie Foster fan, graduated from Highland Park High School in 1973. A photo of his senior year photo can be seen here. The above, undated photo, is of Hinckley from his Texas Tech University days.

On June 21, 1982 Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity of attempting to assassinate President Reagan (and related crimes) the previous year. The motivation offered for Hinkley's actions was that he was trying to impress a young actress named Jodie Foster who had co-starred in the 1976 film Taxi Driver. Hinckley had seen the film numerous times and had become obsessed with Foster.

Since 1982 Hinckley has resided at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. and, at least during the early years, has kept himself busy with writing to people like Ted Bundy (correspondence became difficult after Bundy's execution in 1989) and Squeaky Fromme. In 1988 the Secret Service was informed by a mail-order business that the lovelorn failed assassin was trying to obtain a nude drawing of Ms. Foster.

Despite objections from prosecutors, in recent years Hinckley has been awarded more freedom in overnight vists away from St. Elizabeth's. In 2009 family members and hospital staff lobbied for extending his visits to his mother's home from six nights in a row to nine. They are also trying to get Hinckley a driver's licence.

Court documents related to the hospital furloughs reveal that the once (and possibly still) Beatles obsessed mental patient has recently been recording music. One song, entitled Ballad of an Outlaw, was characterized by prosecutors as having lyrics "reflecting suicide and lawlessness." These same court documents offer a not entirely welcome window in Hinckley's sex life - which you can read about for yourself here if you are so inclined...

See a dramatization, hosted by President Gerald Ford's son, Steven, of John Hinckley seeing Taxi Driver for the fourteenth time here.

Jack Abramoff

Convicted felon and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1977. Not surprisingly, the future Republican star was active in student government, but lost a student council race to someone named David Hirsch (who, presumably, is leading a crime-free life).

Trivia: After graduating from Brandeis University in 1981, Abramoff spent $10,000 to win election as chairman of the College Republican National Committee. Grover Norquist was his campaign manager and Ralph Reed was later hired as an unpaid intern.

More about the Indian Casino lobbying scandal that sent Abramoff to a federal prison can be read here.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck graduated from Sehome High School in Bellingham, Washington in 1982. Before becoming a revered conservative radio and television talk show host, Beck logged many years of airtime as a shock jock. Even today, in between patriotic crying jags, the host occasionally deflects responsibility from some of his more outrageous statements by saying "I'm just a rodeo clown." Yeah.

Mr. Beck can be seen weeping here.

Glenn Beck in a better mood.

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter graduated from New Canaan High School in Connecticut in 1980. Here she is seen in a photo with the fencing team.

Coulter's incendiary comments--which usually ratchet up whenever she has a book to peddle--are too many to recount in one blog entry, but a lot of them can be accessed here.

To hear a delightful clip of comedian Adam Carolla summarily dismissing Ms. Coulter from his radio show, click here.

Erik Menendez

Erik Menendez graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1989 and excelled in tennis. On August 20, 1989 Erik, along with his older brother Lyle, shotgunned their parents to death. After two sensational trials, the brothers were sentenced in 1996 to life without the possibility of parole.

An awful TV-movie dramatization of the announcement of the mistrial in the first Menendez trial can be viewed here.

Robert Blake

Michael James Vijencio Gubitosi (Robert Blake) graduated from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles in 1951. His activities included Band, Rally Committee and Drama. At the time of his high school commencement, Blake was already an accomplished child actor having appeared in Our Gang shorts, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and many other movies.

In 1967 he had the haunting role of murderer Perry Smith in Richard Brooks' film adaptation of Truman Captote's In Cold Blood. Later he became a staple on television talk shows including The Tonight Show and Dinah! From 1975 to 1978 Blake achieved his greatest fame as a quirky police detective on ABC's Baretta (in a cosmic foreshadowing of later, real life events, Baretta's girlfriend is murdered in the pilot episode). He later starred as a streetwise priest in the short-lived show Hell Town.

On May 4, 2001 Blake's wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, was found murdered in a car down the street from the Studio City, California restuarant, Vitello's. Blake and Bakley had just dined there. The actor was acquitted in her death by a Los Angeles jury on March 16, 2005. He has since been found liable for the wrongful death of his wife in civil court.

Filmmaker David Lynch perfectly captured the reputed menace of Robert Blake in a truly disturbing and bizarre scene from the 1997 film Lost Highway. Four years earlier the actor won his third Emmy nomination for portraying family killer John List in the TV movie Judgment Day: The John List Story.

From the Vitello's Menu circa 2002

Woody Allen

Allen Stewart Konigsberg (Woody Allen) graduated from Midwood High School in Brooklyn, New York in 1953. His activities were Baseball, Golden Gloves Boxing and Band.

Allen is responsible for four or five of the funniest films ever made, but by 2010 it is fair to say that his awful films greatly outnumber his good ones. His stated preference for cranking out one movie a year has no doubt taken its toll on quality.

In 1992 the seaminess of Allen's betrayal of Mia Farrow (with one of her adopted daughters, Soon Yi Previn), became so publicly discussed that it even made first lady Barbara Bush's diary (as quoted on page 485 of her 2003 memoir): "...Woody Allen and Mia Farrow are having a disgusting public separation." Farrow's first husband, Frank Sinatra, allegedly offered to have Allen's legs broken when he heard about the scandal.

In the 1998 jazz tour documentary, Wild Man Blues, Allen is heard to remark about his future wife (he married Previn in 1997; the documentary was filmed in 1996) that she once "was eating out of garbage pails." The context of this detestable observation is that, in the film, Previn is frequently expressing awe at the size of their hotel room accomodations.

Traci Lords (Nora Kuzma)


Nora Kuzma attended Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California in 1983 and 1984. After an illegal, underage career in porn, Lords had a brief stint as an age-of-consent star in the medium. Since then she has appeared in many mainstream film and televsion vehicles including John Waters' Cry-Baby.


Janis Joplin

Janis Lyn Joplin (1943-1970) graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas in 1960. Her activities included Art Club and the Slide Rule Club. She was also given something called the "B Average Award." Presumably, it was sometime between this prestigious honor and her reinvention as a rock and roll icon that she dated future Drug Czar (and inveterate gambler) William Bennett.

Paul Lynde

Comedian Paul Lynde (1926-1982) graduated from Mount Vernon (Ohio) High School in 1944. His activities included Creative Writing, Speech and Drama (or as he might say, "Dra-haaamah").

In this clip from 1978, Lynde returns to Ohio to help a pair of local newscasters with the weather.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

John G. Roberts, Jr. graduated from the La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Indiana in 1973 where he excelled in athletics and academics. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and went on to clerk for then Associate Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist from 1980-1981. In 2005 he succeeded Rehnquist (who had passed away) as Chief Justice and promptly began fulfilling President George W. Bush's vision of moving the court even further to the right.

On January 20, 2009 Roberts improvised his issuance of the presidential oath of office to Barack Obama. This judicial ad-libbing necessitated an unprecedented "do-over" in the White House Map Room two days later. Roberts has since taken issue with the propriety of President Obama's 2010 State of the Union critique of the controversial Citizens United ruling that, in effect, allows unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns. He refrained, however, from publicly criticizing Justice Samuel Alito's more immediate rebuke of the President.

Mike Huckabee

The genial born again Christian dark horse candidate from the 2008 presidential primaries parlayed his surprising win in Iowa to a show on FOX News where he plays bass guitar in between interviews with people like Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

While governor of Arkansas, Huckabee had a tendency to intercede on behalf of allegedly born again Christian state convicts. This faith-based, logic-deprived leniency backfired in 2009 when one of the parolees murdered four police officers in Lakeland, Washington.

But, so far, Huckabee has resisted changing the awkward name of his rock band.

Rod "Blago" Blagojevich

Rod "Blago" Blagojevich and his hair graduated from Foreman High School in Chicago around 1974.

He became something of a celebrity for his potentially felonious handling of the Illinois senate seat vacancy left by Barack Obama when he won the presidency in 2008.

Highlights of the criminal complaint against Blago can be read here.

Sarah Palin

Decades before becoming a right-wing Republican superstar, Sarah Heath (she took husband Todd's surname after they eloped in 1988) attended Wasilla (Alaska) High School where she earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" for her aggressive moves as a point guard on the basketball court. She graduated high school in 1982 to stints at several different colleges, earning a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Idaho in 1987. Palin also had a short-lived sideline as a beauty pageant contestant (she was Miss Wasilla, 1983).

At a rally in Dayton, Ohio on August 29, 2008 Palin was elevated to the world stage by a desperate John McCain who announced her as his running mate in his quest for the presidency. Some television and radio reporters were caught off-guard by the "mavericky" pick and mispronounced Palin's last name. That would never happen again.

Palin almost immediately distinguished herself as someone unfit for high office with interviews with Charles Gibson of ABC News and Katie Couric of CBS News. But the Republican base did not seem to mind her poor performance in these forums and chalked it up to "gotcha" journalism and the liberal bias of mainstream media.

Less than a year after losing to the Obama-Biden ticket, Palin resigned as governor of Alaska in a rambling, incoherent speech remembered primarily for the phrase "Only dead fish go with the flow." She is now a bestselling author and a regular commentator for the FOX News Channel.

Here is Palin's yearbook portrait from the University of Idaho:

And here is a more informal shot of Palin in her dorm room at Idaho: