The next time anyone tries to put me down by calling me a pinhead I'm going to smile and say "thank you very much for the compliment!"
Any of us should consider ourselves quite fortunate to be described as such. It puts us in the company of the most famous and beloved "pinhead" of all time, Schlitze Surtees, a special human being who died in 1971 yet is still remembered today for bringing unadulterated joy, laughter and love to the world around him.
Schlitze ~ Our Fearless Leader
In Freaks, Schlitze was one of the good guys. Or rather, he was a good guy in real life who was cast in the role of a good girl, but that's a whole other story. The point is, I have loved this film for many years and Schlitze's exuberant featured-role performance is the main reason why it's so special to me.
Back in October 2007, a discussion began among fellow Death Hags on Scott's message board regarding the fact that Schlitze's grave had remained unmarked for nearly 40 years. In fact, for many years, the whereabouts of his remains was a mystery until research conducted by dedicated fans confirmed that he had been buried in a pauper's grave along with two other souls, courtesy of Los Angeles County, at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Rowland Heights, Calif.
I was honored to be included in the events that sunny day, celebrating Schlitze's life with a group of wonderful people, most of whom I did not know beforehand, but felt fast friends with from first hellos.
Friends of Schlitze gather at his newly-marked grave
Placed in late 2008, it was already in need of some upkeep
Scott does the honors
Cleaned up and ready to be decorated!
Bill Paredes Jr. sticks a penny in the ground ~ Schlitze loved to spit-shine pennies
Verne Langdon and Reverend Bryan Moore each spoke with
heartfelt eloquence about The Importance of Schlitze
Verne Langdon also spoke, from experience. He had known Schlitze over the course of many years and recalled their first meeting at a carnival, when Verne was 9-years-old and Schlitze was a veteran featured attraction. He felt an immediate and everlasting bond with the star, and that their meeting was fate.
Like most children, Verne loved cartoons. When he asked his mother to take him backstage to meet Schlitze he discovered that Schlitze "was a living cartoon, alive on the inside" and remarked how Schlitze had a natural way of "making a child out of each and every one of us."
Verne also recalled how over the years when their paths would cross, Schlitze always seemed to remember their bond and be happy to see him again, despite not having much in the way of conversation between them. Schlitze communicated with his eyes, his smile and his laugh.
For a personal recollection of the day written by Verne, and to see videos of the speakers, please be sure to visit Scott's site, Findadeath.com.
Three friends I actually did know prior to Schlitze's Day: Scott,CC and Steve
Scott's Schlitze tattoo
Scott and CiCi made beautiful grave rubbings of Schlitze's new marker
Schlitze and Me
More photos from the day may be viewed at the Schlitze's Day Flickr Photo Album.
For additional information about Schlitze, please be sure to visit Scott Michaels' Findadeath additional tribute page; There's Something About Schlitze, a comprehensive site by Tom Hernandez; and a Findagrave.com memorial page where you can leave messages and virtual flowers in his honor.
Rest in peace, dear Schlitze. Thank you for being uniquely you.