Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Duke is Dead

No, I don't mean John Wayne, who died back in 1979. No, I don't mean Dan Duquette, who was once the Red Sox general manager back in the 1990s. (I believe he is still in good health, but back in the late '90s and early 200os, many Sox fans wish that statement did indeed applied to him.) And no, I don't mean Jonathan Mardukas, who Jack Walsh was famously taking across country in "Midnight Run."

But unfortunately, I mean Isaac Hayes, who was found dead today at the age of 65 in his home in Memphis. He will long be remembered as one of R&B's greatest performers, as "The Theme From Shaft," his signature tune, gained him immortality in 1971, as well as a Grammy and an Oscar. He also gained a following in later years as the voice of The Chef in "South Park."

But for me, he will always be "The Duke of New York," his role in the cult classic "Escape From New York," another of my favorite films. He plays the man who runs Manhattan Island, which has been turned into a prison colony in the future year of 1997. (The film, with Kurt Russell in his memorable role as Snake Plissken, was made in 1981. I still find it spooky to see Manhattan as a walled-off prison, with Snake landing on the roof of one of the World Trade Center's buildings to try to rescue the President.)

So in tribute to the late, great Mr. Hayes, here is a clip from YouTube of The Duke tormenting The President, played by Donald Pleasence. (But, of course, The Prez gets his revenge on The Duke at the end of the film.) It's short, just 18 seconds: "What did I teach you?"

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Hayes. You certainly were "A-Number One."

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