1955 U.S. Open champ Jack Fleck passes away at 92

Scogin Mayo

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) -- Jack Fleck, who produced one of golf's greatest upsets by beating Ben Hogan in a playoff to win the 1955 U.S. Open, died Friday. He was 92.
He had been the oldest living U.S. Open champion.
The Edwards Funeral Home said Fleck died after a brief illness. Jim Edwards, the general manager, said he saw Fleck hitting golf balls as recently as six weeks ago.
Fleck returned to The Olympic Club two years ago when the U.S. Open celebrated its champions at the San Francisco course.
"I was fortunate to do the playing at that time and I've read a lot about it, that I out-Hoganed Hogan," Fleck said in June 2012. "There was no time at all that I felt scared or under pressure coming down to the wire."
Hogan appeared to be on his way to a record fifth U.S. Open title in 1955, closing with a 70 to finish at 7-over 287. He already was being congratulated by players who figured no one could catch him. But Fleck, an Iowa club pro in his first year on the PGA Tour, made two birdies over the final four holes for a 67 to force a playoff.
Fleck shot 69 in the playoff to beat Hogan by three shots.
"It was like someone who had never won a tour tournament beating Tiger Woods today," Fleck said in a 2002 interview with The Associated Press.
Fleck won only two other events on the PGA Tour. He also won the Senior PGA Championship in 1979.
"Jack was a great player who will always be remembered for winning in legendary fashion, capturing one of the most memorable tournaments in the history of our game," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "He embodied the ideals of a U.S. Open Champion for the remainder of his career. He also played a major role in the early years of the Champions Tour for which we are all indebted."
But it was that U.S. Open title over Hogan that made him famous. Fleck said he was advised to save his energy when he arrived in San Francisco, but he loved Olympic so much that he wound up playing 45 holes of practice on Monday and Tuesday, and 36 holes on Wednesday.
He said in the 2002 interview that he knew he would win the U.S. Open after hearing a voice in his head while shaving Saturday morning before the 36-hole final. He was listening to a record of Mario Lanza singing, "I'll Walk With God."
"I heard a voice that said, `You are going to win the Open,"' Fleck said.
Born on Nov. 7, 1921, in Bettendorf, Iowa, Fleck learned the game as a caddie in Davenport, Iowa, where his father was a farmer. With borrowed clubs, he did well in caddie tournaments and, when he graduated from high school in 1939, decided to head south to Texas to play golf and escape Iowa's harsh winters. He served in the Navy during World War II and saw action during the Normandy invasion on British rocket ship off Utah Beach.
"Floating and circulating mines were sinking all kinds of American ships, crafts, gun boats, destroyers, etc., a real mess, with men in the water just trying to stay afloat in a sea of blood," he wrote in his book, "The Jack Fleck Story."
Fleck resumed his golf career in 1946 and scored his breakthrough victory in the 1955 U.S. Open. Fleck won only $6,000 for that major title - last year's U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose, earned $1.44 million - and made money by doing exhibitions.
"There wasn't as much money back then," Fleck said in 2005. "Golf wasn't quite that big yet. But I made two or three times more than Ed Furgol, who was the winner before. And I pushed it for two years. But it affected my golf. I should have won more."
Fleck won his first senior title a year before the 50-and-over Champions Tour began. He later won the senior division of the Legends of Golf. He played the senior circuit regularly until 1991, when he devoted his time to teaching and running Li'l Bit of Heaven, a golf course he designed in Magazine, Ark.
Fleck is survived by his wife, Carmen; his son, Craig; a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.

Services are Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith.

Ernest Hemingway’s 1955 letter to Marlene Dietrich up for auction

Lifelong friends, but never lovers, Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich in 1938. Photos: SCMP Pictures
A surreal, graphic letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, in which the author addresses the film star as "Dearest Kraut" and imagines her "drunk and naked", is up for auction.
The pair met on the New York-bound liner Ile de France in 1934 and went on to enjoy a lifelong friendship.
Although their letters were full of feeling, they were not lovers, with Hemingway once calling them "victims of un-synchronised passion".
"Those times when I was out of love, the Kraut was deep in some romantic tribulation, and those occasions when Dietrich was on the surface and swimming about with those marvellously seeking eyes, I was submerged," he said.
In his 1955 letter to Dietrich, signed Papa, the Nobel prize-winning writer responds to her complaints about her Las Vegas show, saying, if he were to stage it, "it would probably have something novel like having you shot onto the stage, drunk, from a self-propelled minenwerfer".
"As you landed on the stage drunk and naked I would advance from the rear, or your rear, wearing evening clothes ... and announce that we were sorry that we did not know the lady was loaded," Hemingway wrote.
The letter will be included in an online auction next Monday, and is expected to fetch up to US$50,000. It was written six years before Hemingway's suicide, during the filming of The Old Man and the Sea.
The 1955 letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich.Although the bulk of Hemingway's papers - including 30 letters to Dietrich - are housed at the John F Kennedy library in Boston, a few letters were kept by Dietrich's grandchildren, who are auctioning hundreds of her possessions online this month.
The August 28, 1955, "Dearest Kraut" letter, said auctioneer Auction My Stuff, was the first Hemingway letter to Dietrich to come to auction since 1997

Crime History, March 3, 1955: Death row inmate’s killings paled in comparison to son’s — even though they didn’t know each other

On this day, March 3, in 1955, Gerald Albert Gallego Sr., convicted of killing two police officers, became the first person to die in the gas chamber in Mississippi.
Gallego’s son would grow up to be a lot meaner, killing at least 10 women with the help of his wife.
The elder Gallego’s execution didn’t go smoothly. Gallego at first only coughed and wheezed on a cloud of cyanide poisoning. After 45 minutes, prison officials fixed the problem, and Gallego finally died.

Gerald Gallego Jr. never met his father. He and his wife were credited with killing 10 women, mostly teenagers, whom they kept as sex slaves. Like his father, Gallego Jr. was sentenced to death, but he died of rectal cancer in 2002 at a Nevada prison. - Scott McCabe

Man Tracks Down Abandoned Baby He Saved—in 1955


By Polly Davis Doig
(NEWSER) – Every time you read about an abandoned newborn and think, "what kind of depraved human being would do that?", you're having exactly the same thought 14-year-old Dave Hickman did on Sept. 22, 1955, when he found a days-old baby girl left to die in the Indiana field where he was squirrel hunting. After hearing a cooing noise, he stumbled upon the infant, cold, wet, and "laying in the brush and sticks ... looking up me," says Hickman, who now lives in Tennessee. But unlike anyone who casually read the headline, Hickman says he thought about that little girl every day for the last 58 years, and as the Palladium-Item reports, he finally got serious about tracking her down in December.
The infant was dubbed Roseann Wayne by nurses, her surname coming from Wayne County, where Hickman found her. She was adopted by a couple, and was even brought to say goodbye to Hickman, but then disappeared. Eventually Hickman hooked up with a retired Wayne County sheriff, who says he talked to some 75 people aged "80 or better" before he hit pay dirt and found Baby Roseann in California. She is 58-year-old Mary Ellen Suey—mom to two, grandmother to four—and, as Hickman says, "a very lovely lady." The two have talked by phone and plan to meet in May. "There was an instant bond between Ellen and me," says Hickman. "It's almost as if she was my baby." Says Suey: "He's my hero." (Click for the story of a police department that has honored an abandoned baby every year—for the past 26 years.)

Japan blocked presentations on nuclear effects at 1955 U.N. confab

The Japanese government, facing U.S. pressure, moved to block presentations by Japanese scientists about the effects of radioactivity at a U.N. conference on atomic energy in 1955 in Geneva, according to declassified U.S. documents.
The documents highlight the U.S. readiness to promote the "peaceful use" of nuclear power and Japan's stance to toe the U.S. line on the matter despite mounting concern in Japan about radioactivity's possible impact on humans.
Calls were growing in Japan at that time for a ban on atomic and hydrogen bombs following the exposure of a Japanese trawler, the Fukuryu Maru No. 5, to radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in 1954. One crew member died later that year.
"The United States was fearful that presentations on nuclear damage would develop into a debate on banning nuclear tests and nuclear weapons use," said Toshihiro Higuchi, an associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who found the documents at the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States.
The case concerned the first meeting of the U.N.-sponsored International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva in August 1955, which became the catalyst for Japan in introducing nuclear reactors from the United States and Britain in subsequent years.
In a cable to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo dated May 17, 1955, about three months before the U.N. meeting, then U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said the "Department (of State) understands Japan intends to submit...papers re effects of bombings Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Bikini incident."
"Department and AEC (the Atomic Energy Commission) strongly opposed presentation papers (on) this subject at Conference and also even acceptance for inclusion (in) Conference proceedings," Dulles added.
In a separate cable dated the same day, Dulles asked the embassy to contact Japanese officials on the matter, stressing that information presented to the conference "should deal only with peaceful uses (of) atomic energy."
In a letter to the U.S. mission to the United Nations dated July 14 the same year, a Japanese diplomat to the United Nations said "after thorough study of the situation concerning the problem of injurious effects caused by radioactivity, my Government has decided to withdraw some of the papers."
The seven papers included "Bio-medical Effects of Nuclear Energy," "Embryological Obstruction in Fishes and Crustacea by Fission Products," "Early Effects of Radiation Injury" and "The Effect of Radioactive Rainfalls on the Fresh-water Systems in Tokyo."
In the end four papers, including the ones on the biomedical effects of nuclear energy and on the effects of radiation injury, were published as part of the conference proceedings. But none were orally presented during the conference, including the papers whose submission had been withdrawn.
The main purpose of the conference was to promote the civilian use of atomic energy, such as in nuclear reactors, at a time when atomic energy was still used primarily for military objectives.
Some Japanese lawmakers, including Yasuhiro Nakasone who later became prime minister, attended the meeting along with Japanese government representatives. After the meeting, lawmakers proceeded to enact a fundamental law on atomic energy to pave the way for nuclear power generation in the country.

Lead guitarist for Bill Haley and the Comets dies

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - Franny Beecher, lead guitarist for Bill Haley and the Comets, which helped kick off the rock 'n' roll era with the hit Rock Around the Clock in 1955, has died. He was 92.
Beecher died in his sleep Monday night at a nursing home near Philadelphia, daughter Pauline Grinstead said Tuesday.
The Comets, whose hits also included See You Later, Alligator, are credited by some music historians with having recorded the first rock and roll song in 1953 with Crazy Man, Crazy, according to the group's biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website.
Beecher, born Francis Beecher in 1921 in Norristown, started playing guitar before crowds when he was 17 and continued until he was 90; before the Comets, he performed with Buddy Greco and Benny Goodman, Grinstead said.
"My dad didn't play music for money. He was no businessman," she said. "He played music for music."
Although Philadelphia session musician Danny Cedrone played on the original recording of Rock Around the Clock before his death in 1954, Beecher played the signature song for the first time on national television in 1955 and also played with the group in films.
Rock Around the Clock became a hit again nearly 20 years after its release when it was included on the soundtrack of American Graffiti.
The Comets broke up in 1962, but in the 1980s, Beecher and some of the original members reunited and played tour dates around the USA and internationally for years.
Grinstead said her father also is survived by two sons and six grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.

Boy meets girl from Mars 1955

Oscars: 1955 best picture 'Marty' conquered love, TV and film


Oscar Archives: 'Marty,' a 1955 film starring Ernest Borgnine, is the only movie based on a TV production to win the best picture Oscar.

"Ma, sooner or later, there comes a point in a man's life where he's gotta face some facts. And one fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain't got it." — Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine) in the 1955 Oscar winner "Marty"
On May 24, 1953, NBC's "Goodyear Television Playhouse" aired Paddy Chayefsky's transcendent drama "Marty," starring Rod Steiger as a lonely Bronx butcher who finds love with a shy, plain woman (Nancy Marchand). Running just 51 minutes, the live telecast directed by Delbert Mann became one of the triumphs of the Golden Age of television in the 1950s.
The 1955 film version did even better, even though it was intended to be a failure. Not only did "Marty" become the second American film to win Cannes Film Festival's key Palme d'Or, the low-budget, black-and-white movie also won four Academy Awards: best picture, actor for Borgnine, director for Mann (the first to win for a feature film directorial debut) and screenplay for Chayefsky. "Marty" is the only film based on a television production to win the top Oscar.
So how did this little film get produced, let alone beat out such high-profile contenders as "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," "Picnic" and "The Rose Tattoo" for the best picture honors?
Harold Hecht, who had been Burt Lancaster's agent and then became his producing partner, had loved the TV drama and approached Chayefsky, whom he had known since the young writer had come to Hollywood after World War II. Chayefsky, though, had many demands before he would allow "Marty" to be made into a feature film, including consultation on casting and rewrites and insisting that Mann direct again. Hecht agreed to it all.
But Steiger turned down the offer to reprise his role. In 1991, he told The Times he regretted not doing the film, but he hadn't wanted to be tied down to a contract.
"I got a call from Hecht-Lancaster about doing the film version," he recalled. "They said to me, 'We want to sign you to a seven-year contract.' I said, 'I don't think I want to sign for seven years with anybody, but the thing that will decide that is who chooses my parts.' They said, 'We will.' I said, 'No, I have a right to sleep with whom I please. You must not take my choices away from me. I have the right to my own mistakes.'"
Enter Borgnine, who was best known at the time for his memorable performance in 1953's "From Here to Eternity" as vicious Army Sgt. Fatso Judson, who beat Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) to death.
Borgnine told The Times in 1996 that Robert Aldrich, who had just directed him in 1954's "Vera Cruz," was asked at a party if he knew anybody who could play Marty. Aldrich recommended Borgnine after watching him on the set of the western.
"When I go away on location, not only to keep my own spirits up, but everybody else's, I become a clown," said Borgnine, who died in 2012. "I love to keep other people happy because when I go behind my door at night, I want to remember that happiness instead of being glum and gloomy at the end of the day. Bob Aldrich evidently saw the difference between the two — I could play a bad guy and I could play that crazy fellow — and he put two and two together."
Borgnine recalled his meeting with Hecht. "We want you for a picture called 'Marty.' I looked at him and said, 'Do you have faith in me, sir?' And he said, 'Of course I do. Otherwise I wouldn't ask you.' I said, 'That's all I wanted to know. I will give you 110%.'"
Budgeted at less than $350,000, "Marty" began production in the Bronx in early fall 1954. Esther Minciotti, who played his nagging mother, and Joe Mantell, who played his friend, reprised their roles from the TV program. Gene Kelly's then-wife, Betsy Blair, took over the role of Clara from Marchand.
"We made the picture in 18 shooting days, and I got nothing for it except $5,000 and a promise to put me under contract if everything was all right," recalled Borgnine. "As it turned out, everything came out like gangbusters."
But in a 2008 Times interview, Borgnine said that there had been a tax issue with the production of "Marty."
"Hecht-Lancaster wanted to lose money because they were making so much money from their other pictures," said Borgnine. "They wanted to shoot half of it and then put it on the shelf and take a tax loss. Their tax man said, 'You can't do that. You have to finish it and show it one time and then take your tax loss.' Then, bam! Everything happened. They never expected it to be a hit."
Apparently, United Artists wanted to release "Marty" as a second feature on double bills. But Chayefsky insisted that the studio give it an art-house theater release in New York. UA did, and the film received rave reviews.
And just as Marty found love, so did the film. Not only did "Marty" win Oscar gold, it became a box-office hit, earning $3 million domestically.

Las Vegas 1955