Three iconic figures in entertainment passed away yesterday, all at the age of 76: Daryl Dragon, the “Captain” half of the 1970s pop duo the Captain and Tennille; Bob Einstein, a.k.a. the fictional daredevil Super Dave Osborne, among other comedic characters; and “Mean” Gene Okerlund, the WWE backstage announcer who played a role in some of the biggest moments in pro wrestling history.
The eerie coincidence of all three men dying on the same day at the same age, 76, brings to mind the so-called “27 club,” referring to the relatively large number of musicians, actors, artists, and athletes who died at that young age. Among its most notable “members:” musicians Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, and Jim Morrison, who all died between 1969 and 1971, and who were later “joined” by Kurt Cobain (1994) and Amy Winehouse (2011).
The Captain, as Dragon was nicknamed by the Beach Boys’ Mike Love for the captain’s hat he wore while performing, was a classically trained pianist who produced all 10 of the albums he made with his singing partner, Toni Tennille. The duo had their first No. 1 single, a cover of Neil Sedaka’s Love Will Keep Us Together, in 1975, and married not long after.
They went on to have seven Top 10 hits, including Muskrat Love and Do It to Me One More Time, and a Sonny-and-Cher-like TV variety show that lasted only one year. The marriage lasted a lot longer: 39 years, until their divorce in 2014—although they remained friends and Tennille was at his side when he died of renal failure.
“He was a brilliant musician,” Tennille said in a statement. “I was at my most creative in my life when I was with him.”
Bob Einstein, a.k.a. Super Dave Osborne
From a show business family that included his brother, writer-director-actober Albert Brooks, Einstein had a 50-year career as a comedy writer and performer. He came into the limelight in the late 1960s with a stint on The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour but was most famous for his role as Super Dave, a stuntman character of his own creation who appeared on the Johnny Carson and David Letterman late-night shows, and later got his own Showtime series.
Most recently, Einstein played the dour character Marty Funkhouser on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “It was an amazing, unforgettable experience knowing and working with him,” David said in a statement. “There was no one like him, as he told us again and again.”
“Mean” Gene Okerlund
Okerlund, meanwhile, was a wrestler, announcer, and interviewer who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Hulk Hogan. He came into prominence by interviewing wrestling stars such as Hogan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Andre the Giant, and the Ultimate Warrior. He also hosted the shows All-American Wrestling and Tuesday Night Titans.
As WWE executive vice president Paul “Triple H” Levesque noted on Twitter, Okerlund was “a voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry.”