By Kathy Megyeri
Memorial Day isn’t just a time to remember our fallen soldiers – this year, take time to visit the monuments of some other special people laid to rest here in Florida.
Bo Diddley (1928-2008, Rosemary Hill Cemetery, Bronson) combined blues and church music and was considered a pioneer of rock ‘n roll. He played his rectangular guitar called his “ax” with his teeth or behind his head while gyrating and shaking, and his use of reverb and distortions was a breakthrough in amped-up electronic effects. Frustrated by others who borrowed his sound without sharing royalties, he said, “I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob,” but his last words were, “Wow, I’m going to heaven.”
Rocky Marciano (1923-1969, Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens, Ft. Lauderdale) was the world’s heavyweight boxing champion with a record of 49-0, including 43 by knock out. His talent was discovered when he served in the Army, and when he retired from the ring, he was active in charitable causes. He died at age 45 in an airplane crash in Iowa on the way to a birthday party.
Perry Como (1912-2001, Riverside Memorial Park, Tequesta) was an Italian-American barber who started singing on radio in 1942 and his rendition of “Till The End of Time” from the film “A Song to Remember” made it the biggest hit of 1945. Humbly, he said, “I was a barber and after that, I’ve been a singer. That’s all.”
Jackie Gleason (1916-1987, Miami) became an orphan at 16 during the Depression but went on to become master of ceremonies at a vaudeville house because of his verbal wit and sharp dress. He worked as an emcee, disc jockey, carnival barker, and bouncer, but in his mid-thirties, he became host of the TV show “Cavalcade of Stars” and in two years, he had his own show, “The Jackie Gleason Show,” which led to the pairing of his Ralph Kramden character with Ed Norton. In 1961, he acted with Paul Newman in “The Hustler” and performed his own pool table shots which earned him an Academy Award nomination. In the 1970s, he starred as a lawman in “Smokey and the Bandit.” He said, “Everything I’ve wanted to do, I had a chance to do.” He died of colon and liver cancer at 71 and the side of his marble mausoleum has his famous tagline etched in stone: “And away we go.”