'Maytag man' called

National | MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME: Farewell to "Ol' Lonely," the underutilized repairman of TV ads-and to other notables who passed away

Issue: "California's new governor," Oct. 4, 2003

Gordon Jump was a hard-working actor who hustled his way to Hollywood in the 1960s by first paying his dues in various jobs at radio and television stations in the Midwest. Perhaps it was this real-life work ethic that made him so believable as "Ol' Lonely," the Maytag repairman of TV commercials, who seemed genuinely downcast because the brand's legendary reliability left him with no productive work to do.

He portrayed the commercial character from 1989 until last July, when the illness from which he died last week at 71 pushed him into retirement. He also starred as radio station manager Arthur Carlson in the late 1970s-early '80s CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Television paid the bills for the actor, but his family said that enabled him financially to pursue the calling he loved most, theater.

Kenneth E. Hagin (Sept. 19), 86, faith-healing evangelist who popularized the controversial "word of faith" and "name it and claim it" positive-think teachings in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. Rev. Hagin started out as a Baptist preacher in Texas in his teens, migrated to the Assemblies of God, then launched out on his own in the 1950s. He grew his Tulsa-area congregation into a worldwide ministry, with Rhema Bible Training Centers in 14 nations and Rhema churches in more than 110 countries. He also conducted extensive publishing, radio, and television ministries while pastoring his 8,000-member Rhema Bible Church in suburban Tulsa.

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Willis Earl (Sept. 17), 103, one of the last 500 surviving World War I veterans. In reality too young to enlist (he lied about his age and served in the U.S. Army in France) and too old for World War II, Earl received a medal from the Veterans of Underage Military service two years ago.

Kathleen "Kit" Gingrich (Sept. 23), 77, mother of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. She became famous as the victim of a "gotcha" interview by CBS's Connie Chung; the TV personality coaxed ("whisper it to me, just between you and me") out of Mrs. Gingrich a nasty comment attributed to her son concerning then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton-and then aired it.

Mark Fineman (Sept. 23), 51, the 18th journalist working for a non-Iraqi news organization to die while on assignment in Iraq. The Los Angeles Times correspondent's story about Iraq's new foreign investment policy appeared on the front page of the paper the day he died of an apparent heart attack. Editor John Carroll said Fineman would pursue "the big story regardless of personal inconvenience or physical danger."

Robert H. Lochner (Sept. 22), 84, the U.S. language translator who coached John F. Kennedy in the use of the German phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" before JFK's 1963 speech challenging the communists on the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Bernard Manischewitz (Sept. 20), 89, the sweet wine and matzo magnate who started in the eponymous business as a production-line inspector whose job was to make sure the machine-made cracker-thin bread didn't break. He built such a well-known Kosher brand that he often had to travel under an assumed name. "If he was going to Alaska to buy gefilte fish, he would say he couldn't use his real name-the price would have been doubled," said his son, a New York physician. Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz founded the company in 1888 to make unleavened bread, based on a 5,000-year-old recipe, which Jews eat at Passover.

Sheb Wooley (Sept. 23), 82, whose 1958 hit record "Purple People Eater" captured the imagination of a public fascinated by the prospect of space travel and sold 3 million copies. He also wrote the theme song for the TV show Hee Haw and had roles in films like High Noon, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Giant, and Hoosiers. His funeral, at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., was held, at his request, at "high noon."


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