• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Beam them up, by threes

It is said that the deaths of famous people come in threes. And it happens just often enough to make it a good ghoulish game. Bob Hope dies, or the pope, or a former movie star you thought was dead already, and the death watch starts: Who will be next? It especially adds to the believability of the Myth of Threes when there are themed deaths -- three musicians, three politicians, three people who made sex tapes with Paris Hilton.

This week, we've had three TV-related deaths:

William Westmoreland, the unfortunate general who oversaw the buildup in Vietnam from 16,000 troops to more than 500,000. Lord, if you think the press is really screwing up its coverage of the war in Iraq, Westy really had his hands full.

James Doohan, the actor who,as Scotty, kept saying "The engines canna' take it" on the original "Star Trek." It's one of those roles the actor could never get over or get beyond. You probably already knew that "Beam me up, Scotty" was never actually said on the show, just one of the famous lines that were never actually uttered.

Gerry Thomas, who probably did more to turn us into couch potatoes (an interesting phrase, considering) than just about anybody by inventing the TV dinner. He was a salesman for Swanson and Sons in 1954 when he got the idea of packaging frozen meals in a foil tray, divided into compartments to keep the foods from mixing.

What's Westmoreland doing on the list? Because Vietnam was the first TV war. No longer did people wait for dispatches from the front, filtered through layers of military officials and civilian bureaucrats. The war came right into our living rooms, every night, and that fact alone has changed the course of the world more than most people want to admit.

Posted in: Television