Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Actor Irwin Keyes, 1952-2015. Barukh Dayan Emet.
[Photo from www.lukeford.net. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.]

I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Irwin Keyes, a gentleman of unusual countenance who made his living as a Hollywood actor.

You may or may not know Irwin unless you are a horror film aficionado: most of his work was in that genre, including a star turn in House of 1000 Corpses. But you may have seen him on The Jeffersons, where he appeared several times, or even on Police Squad!, where he was cast in one episode. The mainstream movie audience was also likely to see him in the two Flintstones films (The Flintstones (1994) and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)), in which he played Joe Rockhead. And then there was my personal favorite, Intolerable Cruelty, in which he played Wheezy Joe, a hapless hitman whose asthma proves fatal in an unexpected way.

Irwin’s death - from complications of acromegaly, the glandular condition that gave him his somewhat scary appearance - hit me a bit harder than most Hollywood fatalities. That’s mainly on account of Irwin being my age - just a few months older, to be exact... which makes perfect sense, because he was also my high school classmate.

Irwin’s photo from my
high school yearbook, 1970.
I’ll confess to not spending a whole lot of time with Irwin in high school. By that time he had become a brawny young man, someone who spent a lot of time involved in athletics. Football, which made perfect sense. But he and I spent a lot of time together back in our middle school days, mainly because we attended the same synagogue and were in the same Hebrew school class.

Alas, I never reconnected with Irwin on Facebook the way I did with so many of my old friends from as far back as elementary school. I would have liked to measure his recollections of our congregation’s clergy against mine.

Requiescat in pace, Irwin. May you be bound up in the bonds of life amidst the holy and the pure under the sheltering wings of the Eternal’s presence. Godspeed, buddy.

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