Monday, April 8, 2013

Three Departures


The airwaves have been filled all day long with news, commentaries and tributes to the Great Lady, the Iron Lady of British politics, the longest serving British prime minister of the 20th century, the indefatigable Margaret Thatcher who taught Ronald Reagan a thing or two about what it means to be conservative, who is credited with, at least temporarily, stopping the slide of the British Empire, or at least shoring up the pride behind the Union Jack. Thatcher died Monday. She was 87.

No less an iconic cultural figure passed away Monday, as well. Annette Funicello, one of the original Mousketeers of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club died. She was 70. For many of my age cohort, she was the embodiment (emphasis on body) of growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, first from her exposure on the Mickey Mouse Club and then from her recurring beach party films with Frankie Avalon. 

When the Mickey Mouse Club made its debut in October 1955, Funicello was but 13 years old. I always thought my sister Lee, four years younger than her, looked a lot like Funicello, though as Annette grew older and filled out her Mousketeer shirt, Lee’s resemblance appeared less prominent. 

Though it lasted for only three original seasons, when I was six through nine, I really loved the Mickey Mouse Club, especially the Spin and Marty dude ranch serial. Tim Considine played Spin, and later the eldest son of Fred MacMurray on My Three Sons

A departure of a different kind took place Monday at J.C. Penney. Ron Johnson, the CEO recruited from Apple, has been sacked, a little more than a year since taking the helm at Plano, Tex.-based Penney. He was replaced by the man he succeeded, Myron “Mike” Ullman, brought back from retirement (http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/johnson-out-ceo-jc-penney-ullman-back). 

Johnson’s fall from grace was swift but not unexpected. After scoring a success with the sleek Apple stores he helped create, it was not a surprise that transforming a dowdy department store with 100 years of tradition and arteriosclerosis would be difficult. 

Where will Johnson go from here? My guess is he will land at another specialty store, perhaps Best Buy which has been troubled of late and has the added benefit of being based near Minneapolis where Johnson worked as a key executive of Target.  

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