Who Can Ever Take the Place of Elvis, Toots, Groucho and Callas? Try These Names
More than most years, 1977 took its toll of household names—Stokowski, Crawford, Nabokov and the late greats on these pages. But when a monument falls, another is usually waiting. PEOPLE offers a gallery of heirs apparent and wishes them a long life up there on the pedestal.
Toots Shor is succeeded by Elaine Kaufman, 40ish and over 200 pounds, as New York’s brashest, brassiest saloonkeeper and restaurateur. But where Toots, dead at 73, was the favorite of two-fisted celeb drinkers, Elaine caters to the Upper East Side effete elite.
Though he was not the first rock’n’roll artist, Elvis Presley was one of the founding fathers and King when he died at 42. There is no obvious successor to the throne, but Chuck (Johnny B. Goode) Berry, 51, edging out stiff competition from men like Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis, qualifies as the leading survivor of the era that spawned R & R.
As a singing idol, Bing Crosby was long ago eclipsed by Frank Sinatra, now 62 to Bing’s 73 at death. But Crosby, who sold more records (over 400 million) than any other artist, remained the prerock senior statesman. Exit the Groaner. Ol’ Blue Eyes is onstage alone.
Guy Lombardo, dead at 75, made his name synonymous with New Year’s Eve but his boom-cha music consoled traditionalists the other 364 days too. As purveyor of schmaltz, nobody does it better now than Lawrence Welk, 74.
Groucho Marx’s death at 86 leaves Mel Brooks, 51, as monarch of madness on the big screen. To match the inspired absurdities of the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers and A Night at the Opera, Brooks offers such antic fare as Blazing Saddles, Frankenstein, Silent Movie and his newest, High Anxiety.
Alice Paul started her career as a fighter for women’s rights 25 years before Gloria Steinem was born. But Steinem, 43, a founding editor of Ms., is clearly qualified to lead the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment that Paul, who died at 92, authored in 1923.
Anaïs Nin was showered with literary acclaim when her diaries were published in the late 1960s. Yet her most successful work—still a best-seller—is the sexually explicit novel Delta of Venus. Carrying on after Nin’s death at 73 is Erica Jong, 35, the most interesting, literate chronicler of female erotica in the U.S. Her Fear of Flying was a minor masterpiece, her How to Save Your Own Life less so—but still racy.
Maria Callas was very little like Beverly Sills offstage. While Callas was temperamental and difficult, Sills, 48, remains a model of good-humored professionalism. Nevertheless, Sills is the logical choice to succeed Callas, prematurely stricken at 53, as opera’s leading actress-diva.