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By Jesse Utz 

Looking back to the stars we lost in 2017


Someone once told me, “The older you get, the more people you know die.” It is a true statement. Here are some of the stars from television, movies and music that passed in 2017 whom I will truly miss. I already know I am missing some important figures on this list, but these are the ones who influenced me.

Roger Moore, the James Bond I grew up knowing. His cool, calm and collected way of fighting spies and assassins became the calling card for kids trying to grow up cool. “A martini, shaken not stirred,” became a movie quote for me even before I even knew what a martini was. When compared with the Bond actors over the years, he is at the top. Well, tied with Sean Connery, of course.

Tom Petty. Oh, this one hurts me so. I never really put him as an all-time favorite, but after his death I found myself loving every song I heard of his. Then when I read his life story I was even more impressed by this artist that stuck to his guns and did what he wanted to do. His music will continue to be on my Favorites playlist. A unique sound that is timeless and a classic.

Adam West, the original Batman. BAM, POW, WHAM! I grew up watching the reruns of this TV series. Comparing today’s Batman to the one West portrayed is not even fair to do, but in the day, West was the man — and every child’s hero.

The Rockers: Chuck Berry, Chris Connell and Malcolm Young. Chuck Berry, whose original guitar riff on “Johnny B. Goode” will forever be considered one of the best guitar songs of all time, revolutionized the rock sound of his time and paved the way for guitar players everywhere. Chris Connell, of Sound Garden. One of my all-time favorite bands, and the song “Rusty Cage” is one of my theme songs I love. A one-of-a-kind sound out of the Seattle grunge scene, Sound Garden will remain one of my go-to bands. Malcolm Young, one of the founding members of AC/DC. Another one-of-a-kind band that has lasted the ages.

The ladies of TV — Della Reese, Mary Tyler Moore and Erin Moran. Della Reese in “Touched by an Angel” is still a lady who speaks to me from time to time. Her soothing voice and leading-lady charm made us all want to be visited by the heavenly realm. Mary Tyler Moore, although she was not on a show that I would consider my favorites, was influential in other ladies and shows putting a woman in a leading role. She broke the mold when she arrived with her own show and dominated the ratings. Her humor has been copied time and time again in shows. Erin Moran. Who? The youngest daughter of the Cunninghams in “Happy Days.” Joanie Cunningham was the feisty young lady who fell in love with Chachi and went on to have their own show.

David Cassidy. My wife would never let me forget it if I did not mention him. He was every young girl’s crush in her time. His pop sound and good looks broke hearts all over the world. He is as timeless as the songs we still sing and don’t even realize it. “I Think I Love You” lyrics roll in my head as I write this.

There were many others who passed in 2017 that had touched my life and yours. Like John Hurt, “Fats” Domino, Hugh Heffner, Powers Booth, Chuck Barris and Jerry Lee Lewis. We will never forget the entertainment you gave us and poured out into the world. So, like Chuck Barris on the Gong Show would do, GONG!!!!! See you next time.

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