Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Pianist Shep Devereaux

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

Hollywood, Dec. 23, 1958. Singing cowboy Gene Autry‘s Challenge Records signed hard-drinking rockabilly singer/piano-player Shep Devereaux to produce four sides. Devereaux, originally from New Orleans, booked the Flores Trio (Danny Flores on saxophone and keyboards, Gene Alden on drums, and lead guitarist Buddy Bruce) to back him up. They recorded three rockabilly numbers and an up-tempo mostly-instrumental track composed by Flores, a song jokingly called “Chingate.” The song’s lyrics consisted of just that one cussword, repeated three times and featured a blistering sax solo by Flores.

When Autry, in the control room, heard “Chingate” he knew it was a hit, but realized the name had to change, so he asked for suggestions for three-syllable phrases from the band.

“Horchata!” “Tu madre!” “Pendejo!” The musicians were full of ideas.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Pianist Shep Devereaux

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: The Honorable Jed Bartlet

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

When a liberal Supreme Court justice retired in 1998, Pres. Jed Bartlet and his staff thought this was the perfect opportunity to increase approval ratings with a politically “safe” nominee, Judge Peyton Harrison.

The retiring justice, a liberal, was not impressed by Bartlet’s choice and urged him to consider another candidate. Bartlet asked his aide Toby Ziegler to review their decision. Ziegler, after walking and talking with other habitues of the West Wing, was uncomfortable with the prospect of losing the easy confirmation, but complied.

Zeigler learned that Harrison once argued against a guarantee of privacy, and told Bartlet a backup candidate should be vetted as a possible replacement nominee.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: The Honorable Jed Bartlet

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Berkowitz the tailor

yossiberkowitz They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

In 1978, a young Chicano actor from Montebello, CA went to tailor Yossi F. Berkowitz to try on a new suit custom-made for his starring role in a Los Angeles play. Right away, he noticed that the coat sleeves were too long.

“No problem,” said Berkowitz, a long-time shop owner in nearby Boyle Heights. “Just bend them at the elbow and hold them out in front of you. See, now it’s fine.”

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Berkowitz the tailor

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Shep E. Devereaux

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

(Hollywood, Dec. 23, 1958) Singing cowboy Gene Autry‘s Challenge Records signed hard-drinking rockabilly singer/piano-player Shep E. Devereaux to produce four sides. Devereaux, originally from New Orleans, booked the Flores Trio (Danny Flores on saxophone and keyboards, Gene Alden on drums, and lead guitarist Buddy Bruce) to back him up.

They recorded three rockabilly numbers and an up-tempo mostly-instrumental track composed by Flores, a song jokingly called “Chingate.”

The song’s lyrics consisted of just that one cussword, repeated three times and featured a blistering sax solo by Flores.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Shep E. Devereaux

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: President Jed Bartlet

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

When a liberal Supreme Court justice retired in 1998, Pres. Jed H. W. Bartlet and his staff thought this was the perfect opportunity to increase approval ratings with a politically “safe” nominee, Judge Peyton Harrison.

The retiring justice was not impressed by Bartlet’s choice and urged him to consider another candidate. Bartlet asked his aide Toby Ziegler to review their decision. Ziegler, after walking and talking with other habitues of the West Wing, was uncomfortable with the prospect of losing the easy confirmation, but complied.

Zeigler learned that Harrison once argued against a Constitutional right to privacy, and told Bartlet a backup candidate should be vetted as a possible replacement nominee.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: President Jed Bartlet

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Flight Officer Mel Krupke

captainkrupkeThey were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Commercial pilot Flight Officer Mel Krupke’s wings iced up on Feb. 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa, sending his light plane, carrying Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, crashing into the frozen earth.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Flight Officer Mel Krupke

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Yossi F. Berkowitz

yossiberkowitz They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

In 1978, a young Chicano actor from Montebello, CA went to tailor Yossi F. Berkowitz to try on a new suit custom-made for his starring role in a Los Angeles play. Right away, he noticed that the coat sleeves were too long.

“No problem,” said Berkowitz, a long-time shop owner on Whittier Boulevard in nearby Boyle Heights. “Just bend them at the elbow and hold them out in front of you. See, now it’s fine.”

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Yossi F. Berkowitz

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Sophie Wasserman, Ph.D.

They were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

Sophie Wasserman, Ph.D., (1923-2001) was a DuPont chemical engineer and the chief scientist behind the petroleum polymer extrusion technologies used to manufacture smooth sheets of soft and flexible plastic “fabrics.”

One of her innovative new materials was branded as Corinthian Leather, the  Chrysler Cordoba luxury feature that led to fame and fortune for Ricardo Mantalban, the Most Corinthian Man in the World:

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Sophie Wasserman, Ph.D.

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Lunsford Richardson

FINAL INSTALLMENT: They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

Mrs. Mary Smith Richardson was not a happy camper, if they even had camps in Selma, AL in 1884. New husband Lundsford Richardson had an honors degree in Latin from Davidson College but didn’t make enough to raise a family. After all, how many Latin-speakers lived in Alabama in the 19th Century, not to mention Latinos?

When Mary got pregnant while Lunsford was teaching at the Little River Academy, they knew things had to change quick.

With a loan from from Mary’s brother, a physician, Lunsford started a small pharmacy in Selma.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Lunsford Richardson

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Klaus Müller

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

Klaus Müller started out in the back row of the accordian section on Lawrence Welk’s pioneering 1950 TV show, next to the bubble machine. Before long his big eyes, stormy baritone voice and fast fingers led to featured solo spots on the Saturday night live telecast.

When the Welk show wasn’t on the air, squeeze box virtuoso Müller toured Southern California dance halls, billing himself as the Naughty King of Western Swing. At a packed date in Burbank, his version of Tampa Red‘s Let’s Get Drunk and Truck caught the ear of CBS-TV producer Mel “Pinky” Diamond, who needed a co-star for a wacky red-headed starlet in new comedy.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Klaus Müller

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Jed Bartlet

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

When a liberal Supreme Court justice retired in 1998, Pres. Jed Bartlet and his staff thought this was the perfect opportunity to increase approval ratings with a politically “safe” nominee, Judge Peyton Harrison.

The retiring justice, a liberal, was not impressed by Bartlet’s choice and urged him to consider another candidate. Bartlet asked his aide Toby Ziegler to review their decision. Ziegler, after walking and talking with other habitues of the West Wing, was uncomfortable with the prospect of losing the easy confirmation, but complied.

Zeigler learned that Harrison once argued against a guarantee of privacy, and told Bartlet a backup candidate should be vetted as a possible replacement nominee.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Jed Bartlet

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: George Romney

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

When Michigan Gov. George Romney‘s GOP presidential nomination campaign came to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 (photo, left, with son Mitt) an intense young wannabe TV reporter named Gerry Riviera was on the scene.

The nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn was confused after his college experience at the University of Arizona. He had been strangely at home in the desert Southwest, but was still a gefilte fish out of water. What to do with his life?

“I was born to American parents in Mexico,” Romney told reporters as he toured the crumbling, deeply-indebted Spanish Pavilion. “In some ways, it would be helpful to be Latino.” Son Mitt nodded his head in agreement.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: George Romney

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Shep Devereaux

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

Hollywood, Dec. 23, 1958. Singing cowboy Gene Autry‘s Challenge Records signed hard-drinking rockabilly singer/piano-player Shep Devereaux to produce four sides. Devereaux, originally from New Orleans, booked the Flores Trio (Danny Flores on saxophone and keyboards, Gene Alden on drums, and lead guitarist Buddy Bruce) to back him up. They recorded three rockabilly numbers and an up-tempo mostly-instrumental track composed by Flores, a song jokingly called “Chingate.” The song’s lyrics consisted of just that one cussword, repeated three times and featured a blistering sax solo by Flores.

When Autry, in the control room, heard “Chingate” he knew it was a hit, but realized the name had to change, so he asked for suggestions for three-syllable phrases from the band.

“Horchata!” “Tu madre!” “Rafalca!” The musicians were full of ideas.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Shep Devereaux

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Yossi Berkowitz

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

In 1978, a young Chicano actor from Montebello, CA went to tailor Yossi Berkowitz to try on a new suit custom-made for his starring role in a Los Angeles play. Right away, he noticed that the coat sleeves were too long.

“No problem,” said Berkowitz, a long-time shop owner on Whittier Boulevard in nearby Boyle Heights. “Just bend them at the elbow and hold them out in front of you. See, now it’s fine.”

“But the collar is up around my ears!” the actor complained.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Yossi Berkowitz

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Trevor Pecklehamm III

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Before the scandal surrounding his arrest for shoplifting and hoarding Hello Kitty backpacks ended his career, ace character creator and animator Trevor Pecklehamm III was Hollywood’s go-to guy if you needed help in perfecting your cartoon concept for the networks.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Trevor Pecklehamm III

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Ray Moss

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

The effort to organize African-American, Filipino-American and Mexican-American farmworkers in California’s Central Valley was an uphill battle in 1964. Fledgling union leader Cesar Chavez thought organizing a boycott of a particular crop might make a good focus for his efforts and he settled on rutabagas, which were just coming into season.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Ray Moss

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Mel Krupke

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Commercial pilot Mel Krupke’s wings iced up on Feb. 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa, sending his light plane, carrying Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, crashing into the frozen earth. The fatal crash was immortalized in song as The Day the Music Died.

With one crash, Flight Officer Krupke (1925-1959) catapulted Pacoima pocho Valens into eternal celebrity and helped launch the careers of Hispanic heart throbs Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Mel Krupke

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Sophie Wasserman

They were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Sophie Wasserman, Ph.D., (1923-2001) was a DuPont chemical engineer and the chief scientist behind the petroleum polymer extrusion technologies that formed the basis for smooth sheets of soft and flexible plastic “fabrics.”

One of her innovative new materials was branded as Corinthian Leather, the  Chrysler Cordoba luxury feature that led to fame and fortune for Ricardo Mantalban, the Most Corinthian Man in the World.

Mas…Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Sophie Wasserman

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Jonathan Norwen

[They were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH]

Jonathan Norwen was just your typical intern at Univision, working towards his communication degree from Florida International University, when he was assigned the all-important task of keeping Don Francisco sober enough to get through a taping of Sabado Gigante. Norwen immediately formed a bond with Francisco and continues to hide the Don’s stash of Chivas Regal to this
day.

Norwen photo by Armedgill.

Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Dikran Karabedian

They were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstances conspired with fate to make them

UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Dikran Karabedian (1904-1967) was a humble immigrant shoemaker from Armenia with a knack for invisible and indestructible leather stitchery when he caught the eye of famed Hollywood costume designer Aida Cabeza. Karabedian’s architectural acumen was the secret structural salsa that made the towering fruit hats of Carmen Miranda possible.

Karabedian photo by IntelGuy.