Monkee

He wanted to ride horses but ended up as a Monkee

“For me, David was the Monkees. They were his band. We were just his side men.” – Michael Nesmith

Remembering Davy Jones who died on this day, February 29, 2012, at the age of 66.

Davy Jones, a 5-feet-three-inch high school dropout wanted to be a jockey. But a funny thing happened on the way to the racetrack. He got a part in the musical Oliver! 

After some early teenage roles in British TV shows, including the soap opera Coronation Street, it was the death of his mother when he was 14 that turned Davy away from acting and toward a career as a jockey.

THE ARTFUL DODGER

He was an apprentice with a renowned trainer when a friend encouraged him to try out for the role of the ‘Artful Dodger’ in a production of Oliver! in London’s West End. He got the part, received great reviews and went on to play the part on New York’s Broadway, where he was nominated for a Tony Award.

In ‘Oliver!’
Young Davy in ‘Oliver!’

His destiny was sealed in New York on February 9th, 1964, when he appeared on the iconic Ed Sullivan Show that also featured the Beatles in their first appearance.

“I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage,” 15-year-old Davy said of that night, “I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that.”

From 1966 until 1971, Davy Jones was in 58 television episodes of The Monkees. After the Monkees disbanded in 1971, he pursued a desultory career on stage and screen, producing nine albums, a television special, and a movie. He rejoined The Monkees in touring gigs from 1986-89 and again in 1996-97.

BACK TO HORSE RACING

In the end he went back to his first love — horses. He owned several horses and competed in amateur horse racing events.

Aged 66
Davy Jones, at 66, in Florida

On the morning of February 29, 2012, after riding one of his horses around his private track in Indiantown, Florida, he suffered chest pains and had difficulty breathing and was rushed to Martin Memorial South Hospital in Stuart, Florida, where he died of a severe heart attack.

Davy Jones was married three times and left behind four daughters and millions of grieving fans, most of all his fellow Monkees.

“He was the brother I never had,” said Micky Dolenz, “and this loss leaves a gigantic hole in my heart.”

 

ST ELSEWHERE

The tragic end of a great actor

Remembering Ed Flanders who died February 22, 1995.

One of my favorite TV series in the early 1980s was St. Elsewhere, the hospital drama that ran from 1982 to 1988. At the time I was a divorced writer living with my 17-year-old son in a weekly-rate motel in Topanga Beach, California. We never missed an episode.

The award-winning series was about the lives and dedication of the doctors and nurses at run-down, under-funded St. Eligius Hospital in the slums of South Boston that became “a sanctuary for the underdog and the downtrodden,” to quote a reviewer.

LEADER OF THE TEAM

One of the best actors among a marvelous cast that included Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon, Ed Begley Jr. and David Morse, was Ed Flanders, who played Dr. Westphall, the Director of Medicine who was regarded as the heart and soul of the hospital.

Flanders received eight Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a TV Series and won three times.

EMMY WINNER

RECLUSE IN A TINY TOWN

He left St. Elsewhere in 1988. After three divorces, a crippling back injury from a near fatal car accident in 1989, and a lifelong battle with depression (his mother was killed in a car crash when he was 14), he became a recluse on his 190-acre ranch in the tiny hamlet of Denny in northern California.

Ed Flanders was an alcoholic who had gone through rehab in the late 1980s, but went back to the bottle.

Denny, California, so small it doesn’t show up on a map.

BAR STOOL NEAR THE DOOR

On his daily 30-mile drive into Willow Creek, the closest town large enough to have a post office, he would pick up his mail and frequent the local bars.

“He came in by himself,” one bartender recalled, “and always sat in the same place, on the bar stool near the door. He was a very lonely man.”

Ed Flanders spent his final days in a depression “so deep he rarely left his sofa,” according to reporter Tom Gliatto.

.30-06 RIFLE

Then, on the morning of February 22, 1995, he took a .30-06 rifle from a closet, positioned the barrel against his right temple and pulled the trigger. He was 60 years old. There was no suicide note.

Ed Flanders had many other successes on screen and stage, including a Tony Award for Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten on Broadway. See bio HERE.