In the midst of the deaths of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson there was a new obituary added this week. Fred Travalena, famed impersonator, passed away on Sunday after years of struggling with cancer. Fred never became a television icon and he certainly never rose to the monumental career heights of Michael Jackson, but he had a huge talent, a quick wit and a clever take on impersonations. He could do anyone and do them all better than anyone else. More importantly, he was a good man.
I had the opportunity to work with him some 21 years ago on a promotional campaign touting the ten best vacation destinations in America. I had the big cheap thrill of selecting the destinations and I travelled around the U.S. with Fred and a superbly gifted production crew. We bounced around Williamsburg and Boston, snorkeled in Florida, got history lessons in San Antonio, fished in San Diego, admired the beauty of Pike's Peak, the Grand Canyon and the city of Chicago. We walked under the arch in St. Louis and rafted down the Snake River outside of the Tetons. Fred was a joy to work with and I do mean a joy. We basically stayed in dumpy motels to save on costs and he never complained.
He will not be remembered culturally like Michael Jackson will, but he will live on in the hearts of his family and friends. I certainly wasn't a friend, but I did run into him a few years back at the Italian festival in Los Angeles and he remembered me - for real, by the way. We chatted and then went our separate ways, although I did ask him to do Sinatra. He loved it and so did I!
Fred is now in his Father's arms on the golden streets of heaven. May you rest in peace Fred!