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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

February 4, 1983

Okay, I think I'm now starting to get over this nasty flu bug that I have had over the last couple of days, so hopefully this will be the last blog entry that I will be posting late for a while.  I tell you, if there is a flu shot available for the flu that makes you nauseous and vomit, do get it.  It's not fun.

Anyway, we have a Tuesday Timeline entry to get to.  It's February 4, and as you scroll down the list of notable events, you may notice that one of them is highlighted in link format.  If you click on it, you'll be taken back to an entry of the past that I did during "Black History Month" last year.  It would have been the entry that I would have liked to have done today, but since I already featured it, I very well couldn't do that, right?

Anyway, enough with the chit-chat.  Let's take a look at all the events that took place throughout history on this date.

1169 - A massive earthquake strikes the Sicilian coast, causing tens of thousands of injuries and deaths

1703 - In the city of Edo (now named Tokyo, Japan), as recompense for avenging their master's death, 46 of the 47 Ronin commit seppuku - ritual suicide

1789 - George Washington is unanimously elected the first President of the United States of America

1794 - French legislature abolishes slavery throughout all territories of the French Republic

1797 - The Riobamba earthquake causes 40,000 casualties in Ecuador

1825 - The Ohio Legislature authorizes the construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal and the Miami and Erie Canal

1846 - The first Mormon pioneers make their exodus from Illinois towards Salt Lake Valley

1936 - Radium becomes the first radioactive element to be made synthetically

1941 - The United Service Organization (USO) is founded as a way to entertain American troops stationed in combat

1945 - The Yalta Conference takes place at the Lividia Palace in the Crimea

1960 - "Rent" composer Jonathan Larson (d. 1996) is born in White Plains, New York

1967 - Lunar Orbiter 3 lifts off from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 13

1974 - Patty Hearst is kidnapped by The Symbionese Liberation Army

1976 - An earthquake kills more than 22,000 people in Honduras and Guatemala

1980 - Ayatollah Khomeini names Abolhassan Banisadr as the next Iranian president

1987 - Liberace dies of AIDS at the age of 67

1992 - A coup d'etat is lead by Hugo Chavez against Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez

1998 - 5,000 people are killed in an earthquake measuring 6.1 in Afghanistan

2004 - Mark Zuckerberg founds the social network site Facebook

2005 - Actor and playwright Ossie Davis passes away at the age of 87

So, basically, looking at all the statistics of the world, apparently February 4 is the date in which an earthquake is most likely to happen.  Good to know.

Now, let's have a look at celebrities blowing out candles on their cakes today.  A happy February 4 birthday to Porky Chedwick, Janet Waldo, David Brenner, Gary Conway, George A. Romero, John Schuck, Dan Quayle, Alice Cooper, Michael Beck, Lisa Eichhorn, Pamelyn Ferdin, Jenette Goldstein, Clint Black, Michael Riley, Gabrielle Anwar, Rob Corddry, Michael A. Goorjian, Oscar De La Hoya, Natalie Imbruglia, Cam'ron, Gavin DeGraw, Kimberly Wyatt, Bug Hall, and Carly Patterson.

So, what date will we be going back in time to this week?

Well, we'll be going back in time thirty-one years to February 4, 1983.  And in the world of music, it was a sad day as we said goodbye to a woman who had real talent.  And with her death, it brought forth a public service announcements of sorts regarding the dangers of eating disorders.

It was on this date thirty-one years ago that singer Karen Carpenter passed away at the age of 32 due to complications from battling anorexia nervosa.

Now, most of you probably know the early story of Karen Carpenter.  She was born in New Haven, Connecticut on March 2, 1950, and she and her brother Richard formed the 1970s pop duo known as "The Carpenters".  In fact, below, I've posted one of their biggest hits so you can get reacquainted with just how gifted a singer she was.

ARTIST:  The Carpenters
SONG:  (They Long To Be) Close To You
ALBUM:  Close To You
DATE RELEASED:  May 15, 1970

Yes, the Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition first recorded by Richard Chamberlain was covered by The Carpenters and reached number one during the summer of 1970...the first of several hit singles by the duo.  And, certainly Karen Carpenter had one of those voices that could make anybody take notice.  She had natural talent, and she had all the makings of having a career in show business that could have lasted her several decades.

So, what exactly happened that cut her career so tragically short?

Well, it all began when Karen was in high school.  During Karen's junior high school years, the family made the cross-country move from Connecticut to Los Angeles - specifically the suburb of Downey.  By the time she entered Downey High School as a freshman in 1964, Karen had already possessed incredible musical talent.  She was not only a great singer, but she was also a piano prodigy, having learned how to play when she was just a young child.  Therefore, when she was given the glockenspiel to play in the school's concert band, she was less than impressed.  In fact, when she saw friend Frankie Chavez on stage playing the drums, she managed to convince the band conductor to let her play the drums instead, which he agreed.  Right around this time, Karen and Richard Carpenter began making their own demo projects, hoping to make it big in the music world following graduation.

However, it was also right around this time that Karen Carpenter began doing something else that would ultimately halt her career permanently.  You see, Karen began dieting when she was in high school, and at first, she had consulted a doctor about losing weight the right way, so he recommended the Stillman Diet, which included a diet of lean meals, eight glasses of water a day, and no processed, fatty foods.

Now, here's the thing.  At her peak weight, Karen Carpenter was reportedly 145 pounds.  And, to me, that actually sounds like a really healthy weight - especially for someone who was five feet, four inches tall, as Carpenter was.  But after going on the diet, Karen managed to slim down to 120 pounds by the time The Carpenters were beginning to climb the charts.

Now, had Karen's weight stayed around the 120 pound mark, it likely would not have sparked much concern.  The only problem was that Karen simply didn't stop dieting.  By September 1975, she had plummeted down to 91 pounds...which was way too thin for her body type.

And by the time the 1980s had arrived, Karen's personal life had taken a turn for the worse.

Because of Richard's addiction to Quaaludes, Richard was forced to go into treatment in 1979, and Karen tried to make a departure from her soft rock career by teaming up with record producer Phil Ramone to create a solo dance/disco album...but the album was shelved in 1980, and the album would remain unheard until six years after Carpenter's death.  And, her marriage to Thomas James Burris in 1980 was in ruins after Karen had discovered that he had gotten a secret vasectomy - which had hurt her as she had always wanted children of her own - and the couple had split for good by the end of 1981.

Now, whether or not this added stress was a factor or not in regards to her developing anorexia nervosa is not known...but I suppose that it certainly could have been the final straw for her.  By the beginning of 1982, she underwent therapy and counselling for her health issues, and around this time, she recorded her final song, "Now".  After taking thyroid replacement medication and laxatives, Karen's weight continued to dwindle to dangerous levels, and after feeling dizzy and experiencing an irregular heartbeat, she was concerned enough to tell her psychotherapist and was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City as a patient in September 1982.  She was attached to an IV drip, which caused her to gain back thirty pounds in just eight weeks.  But by then, it was too late, as the sudden weight gain proved too much for her already weakened heart from years of crash dieting and skipping meals.

Karen had hoped to have another chance of re-igniting her career.  At the beginning of 1983, she had already made plans to record another album with her brother Richard, finalize her messy divorce, and move ahead with her life.  But sadly, on February 4, 1983, Karen collapsed at her parents home and was pronounced dead twenty minutes later.

The cause of death?  Heartbeat irregularities leading to heart failure caused by chemical imbalances linked to anorexia nervosa.

Karen Carpenter's funeral was held just four days later, and in addition to her family and estranged husband, more that one thousand people paid their respects including Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, and Dorothy Hamill.

But while Karen's death was absolutely tragic and should have never have happened, it did bring more awareness to the disease known as anorexia nervosa.  Celebrities such as "Growing Pains" actress Tracey Gold, and Diana, Princess of Wales came forward with their own admissions that they battled the disease themselves, and many television shows also featured storylines that featured a character struggling with eating disorders themselves.  Some examples that I can think of right off the bat are "Beverly Hills 90210", "Full House", and "Saved By The Bell: The New Class". matter how much awareness had been made since that very sad still won't bring Karen Carpenter back.

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