Spaceships, basketballs, microphones, and flying cars

“My head is sayin’, ‘Fool, forget him’
My heart is sayin’, ‘Don’t let go
Hold on to the end’, that’s what I intend to do.
I’m hopelessly devoted to you.”
“Hopelessly Devoted to You” — Olivia Newton-John

The above song, rated as Olivia Newton-John’s best known song by an online music piece, done in March of this year, ironically, was a song written specifically for her as part of the movie Grease, which is why you’ll not find it in the stage musical.

Of course, you’ll also never find the flying Ford De Luxe convertible that Newton-John and co-star John Travolta flew off in at the end of that movie either (the actual car is in a museum, but one that truly flies, well...).

Sadly, Newton-John was among a host of deaths of well-known “celebrities” over the past two weeks.

July 30 claimed groundbreaking actress Nichelle Nichols, the Black actress who had an iconic role on the original Star Trek. It was not rare for a black woman to be on a show at all that was on prime time in 1966, but Nichols’ was a prominent role on the show as well.

No less than Martin Luther King, Jr. praised her, calling her character of Lt. Nyota Uhura “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a Black woman in television history.”

Nichols really fell under the radar, however, as arguably the greatest winner in the history of professional basketball, Bill Russell, passed away on the same day.

Russell changed the way the game was played defensively when he chose to leave his player on defense and began rejecting shots from other players as they went toward the hoop.

Now, “help defense” is taught and preached by every basketball coach in the game. Russell also had the ability to not only block an opponent’s shot, but keep the ball in play, often deflecting it to a teammate.

Russell won 11 titles in 13 NBA seasons as a player. Two of those titles he won as a player-coach, which is even more remarkable. He was also someone very willing to speak up and speak out about racial equality for all races, not just his own.

The recent famous death that most caught my attention however was that of Vin Scully.

Scully was the voice of Dodger baseball so long that he started when the team was still in Brooklyn. His dulcet tones rang through on numerous World Series calls, All-Star games, and other famous moments in baseball. In all, Scully called Dodger baseball games for 67 years, a monumental broadcasting record.

His call of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run is one of the most iconic for what he didn’t say as much as what he did. From the time that the ball went over the left field wall until the time Aaron crossed home plate, Scully said nothing.

He got up from his microphone, walked across the radio booth, got himself a cup of coffee, stirred in some cream and sugar, and then returned to the microphone after letting anyone listening at home milk in the majesty of the crowd’s reaction to the moment.

So why do I mention all these folks moving on recently?

As sad as it is to say goodbye to these icons that shaped entertainment, sports, music, fashion, and other aspects of life for decades, no one that has been mentioned was under the age of 70.

Newton-John was the youngest by 15 years when she passed at age 73 on Monday. Russell was next at 88.

Life moves on, seasons pass, and we need to understand that things change — often quickly.

Apple was making the iPhone 4 in 2010. The iPhone 13 was launched last fall.

A vehicle purchased in 2012 would have required additional costs to get Bluetooth connectivity, backup camera, and separate temperature controls for driver, passenger, and rear in the vehicle. Now, on most family vehicles, those are all pretty standard.

When we try to live in the past and force others to live lives also based on the past, we miss the significant progress that the intervening time has brought.

Showing my kids my senior yearbook recently was a great example of that.

Beyond the first shock for my kids that their dad once (sort of) looked young, laughing quickly erupted over my forever side-parted hair in high school.

“Daddy, you HAVE hair...and it’s weird!!”

Would I like to go back to the waistline I had in 1998?


However, that hairstyle can stay in the ‘90s!

So, enjoy watching “Physical” or another showing of Xanadu or Grease, but also notice the outfits and hair on Olivia when you’re watching and realize sometimes time and change...bring progress.


More In Opinion