Boomers Say a Fond Goodbye to More Icons of the Era

This past week two bright lights of boomer pop culture were extinguished. Both were women whose names were hardly household words in the lives of boomers, yet boomers definitely knew of their work: Janet Waldo, the voice of Judy Jetson; and Margaret Vinci Heldt, the creator of the Beehive hairdo.

Janet Waldo 1920-2016
Janet Waldo broke into acting as a teenager with bits parts in films like What a Life (1939) and on radio shows throughout the 1940s. In 1943 she became the star of the radio show, Meet Corliss Archer, playing the role of the title character, a 15 year old girl-next-door. Her teenage girl roles would follow her throughout her career. She went on to appear on radio shows including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and more than 100 animated and TV shows, including I Love Lucy (1952), The Phil Silvers Show (1955) and Get Smart (1966), to name only a few.

Janet Waldo became best-known to boomers as the voice of animated characters, most notably, Judy Jetson in the original The Jetsons TV show (1962). The animated show ran one season, but remained in syndication through 1983. In 1985 new episodes were created, then a TV movie, Rockin’ With Judy Jetson — with Janet as Judy — debuted in 1988. She reprised her role as Judy Jetson in Jetsons: The Movie (1990), but after her part was recorded, she was replaced by Tiffany when the studio decided the pop star would help the movie at the box office. She was quoted as saying she was hurt by the slight, and felt it was disloyal of Hanna-Barbera. Yet she expressed her gratitude for the relationship she had had with the studio and continued to work.

Throughout the the 1960s and ’70s and into the ’80s, Janet continued to lend her voice to cartoons. Among boomer favorite shows where she voiced a character were: The Atom Ant Show (1965); as mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople on The Flintstones; as Penelope Pitstop on Wacky Races (1968); and Josie McCoy in Josie and the Pussycats (1970).

Her last credit was a voice role on an episode of King of the Hill in 1998. At 96 years old, Janet was the last surviving cast member of the original Jetsons. For boomers everywhere, she will always be Judy Jetson to us.

Margaret Vinci Heldt 1918- 2016
The world will remember Margaret Vinci Heldt for giving us the Beehive hairdo. She broke into the hairdressing industry in the late 1930, and by the 1950s, had her own hair salon — Margaret Vinci Coiffures — on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. She won the National Coiffure Championship in 1954, and through her industry accolades, was asked to contribute to Modern Beauty Shop Magazine on many occasions. In 1960, the magazine wanted to talk about the new decade and what hairstyles might look like, so they asked Margaret to come up with something new and different. Popular hairstyles in the 1950s were dominated by the Pageboy, Flip and French twist, so Margaret wondered if it was time to try something on top of the head. She said she was inspired by a pillbox hat that she owned. She had always wanted to create a hairstyle that the hat could be worn with, so the Beehive was born.

The new ‘do caught on in a big way throughout the early-to-mid 1960s with young film stars and top music stars, including Brigitte Bardot, Priscila Presley, the Ronettes, Audrey Hepburn, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda and many more. After disappearing for a while, the hairdo is popular with celebrities once again. We have seen the B-52s (of course), Marge Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Penelope Cruz, Adele, Katy Perry, the late Amy Winehouse and many others, all sporting versions of the Beehive.

Mister Boomer enjoyed the Jetsons, but has to admit he wasn’t a great fan of the Judy Jetson character. George, Rosie and Astro were his favorite characters. Through the years, though, he certainly learned to admire the vocal greats of the era, especially the female greats like Janet Waldo and June Foray.

As to the Beehive, Mister Boomer has first-hand recollection. Not only did his mother don a Beehive in the 1960s, he had several cousins who also wore the ‘do in their high school pictures. Early boomers were teenagers when the Beehive appeared, so the timing was right for boomer girls to grab onto the latest hair fashions. As such, Mister B recalls the neighborhood girl who often babysat for Mister B and his siblings perpetually wore a Beehive; the hairdo just fit certain people or personalities. Though Mister B knew his cousins without their high school Beehives for decades after, the babysitter will forever be frozen in time with shellacked hair rising above her head.

What memories of Judy Jetson or Beehive hairdos do you have, boomers?

Qapla’! Boomers Were the First to See Klingons, Not Speak the Language

Klingons, aliens from the planet of the same name, appeared in the first season of the original Star Trek TV series in 1968. However, Klingon characters spoke only English in the TV series. Klingon, the language spoken by these aliens in the Star Trek universe (first referred to as Klingonese in the TV series), made its debut in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). In the movie, the actors improvised and wrote their own guttural sounds that were later “translated” into subtitles to let the movie audience in on the conversation.

In the third Star Trek movie (Star Trek: The Search for Spock, 1984), Paramount Pictures decided to make the language more formal, to add realism to the dialogue. The producers enlisted the services of Dr. Marc Okrand, a professional linguist, to create speech that sounded more like a real language. Okrand had assisted Paramount in the second Star Trek movie by coming up with a few lines lines of Vulcan dialogue for a scene between Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Saavik (Robin Curtis). The good doctor honed the sounds of Klingon to match mispronunciations by the actors, and in 1985, published The Klingon Dictionary. A second edition of The Klingon Dictionary was published in 1992. Okrand has remained active in updating grammar for fan groups that have adapted the language into Internet conversations. Aficionados of the language have gone so far as to translate classic literature into Klingon, including Hamlet, The Epic of Gilgamesh and a Klingon adaptation of A Christmas Carol. There have even been live performances of Hamlet in Klingon.

Now we see a lawsuit is making its way through the courts that may decide if Klingon can be classified as an official language — and as such cannot be copyrighted — or remains the intellectual property of Paramount Pictures. Paramount sued Axner Productions, Inc. in December of 2015 for “innumerable copyright violations” when the company produced a crowd-funded, unauthorized Star Trek-like movie. The suit was amended in March 2016 to specifically name people, places, planets, props and other copyrighted items, including the Klingon language. Axner’s attorneys have claimed that the language has taken on a life of its own, separate from the movies, and is therefore available for use by anyone.

Sure to appear in the upcoming court battles on the usefulness of the language in the real world is the fact that in May 2003, a hospital providing mental health services in Portland, Oregon, advertised for an interpreter fluent in Klingon. A hospital spokesperson remarked that the county had an obligation to provide services in all the languages spoken by the population they serve.

Also sure to appear is the fact that true users of the Klingon language rely on Marc Okrand to answer all questions of grammar and usage, and will only accept changes to the language by its creator. This is in direct conflict to the formation of real-world languages, which are constantly being shaped by its users over time.

At stake are the potential uses of other fictionally-created languages, including those of the Harry Potter series, Avatar and TV’s Game of Thrones.

Mister Boomer has been a Star Trek fan since the original series aired. He has enjoyed watching the evolution of Klingons from the TV series through the Paramount movies. Though Mister B has never spoken Klingon, he believes this ongoing court struggle is shaping up to be a battle worthy of a Klingon warrior.

How many words of Klingon do you speak, boomers?