Sunday, June 16, 2024

AM News: RIP David Nelson, Margaret Whiting; Goodbye Jefferson Market


Two Hollywood deaths to report from yesterday.

David Nelson, Ricky Nelson‘s older brother and the eldest child of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, died at age 74.  Wow–just to think that Ricky Nelson would have turned 71 this spring is frightening.

David was the actor of the two Nelson brothers, not the rock star. He appeared in the family TV show–which may have been the first reality show with celebrities. But he also acted in several prime time shows of the era including “Peyton Place.” It’s sad to think all the original Nelsons are gone now. Rest in peace.

Margaret Whiting--I just mentioned her a couple of weeks ago. Her father, a famous composer, co-wrote “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Margaret became a pop singer superstar of the 1950s. She was the Celine Dion, let’s say, of her generation. Margaret Whiting worked in to the 1980s, and was married for a long time to porn star Jack Wrangler. (Yes,. it was icky.) She was 86, and beloved by her fans.


The Jefferson Market came to this part of Greenwich Village in 1929. Eighteen months ago, when it was about to close, I asked John Catsimatidis, who owns Gristede’s and Red Apple supermarkets, if he’d come and take a look at it. He did, and bought the lease. John did a valiant job, and I thank him. But time has marched on, and the new store never was able to compete with Citarella and Whole Foods. It’s going to close on Friday, I think, for good.

Until just three years ago, Jefferson Market was a bustling place. Their blue pedal bike carts were staples of our neighborhood, and a throw back to a simpler New York. In the old days–until the mid 80s–the market had no cash registers. They used little manual adding machines to ring up the charges. There were no credit cards, either. John Montuori owned the market for years until his untimely death in 1985 at age 56. His son, Louis, moved the market from the west side of Sixth Avenue to the east, at 10th St., in 1995. The space was too big, and things went downhill from there.

It’s a shame. The fear, of course, is that the large space will become something awful and commercial in a neighborhood that barely has restaurants that deliver food. Even worse: that like so many spaces here, it will remain open and lacking any tenant.

So goodbye, Jefferson Market: the famous butcher, the cooked chickens, exotic fruits always in season, to all the white haired guys who are long gone now. Another part of New York history sinks into memory.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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