Monday, March 05, 2012

RIP, Steve Bridges

I read today that Steve Bridges died. I hadn't thought about him in years, probably because I haven't watched The Tonight Show regularly in many years (since an entertainer named Carson appeared on it a lot). I would never have heard of Bridges, in fact, except that I happened to be at the right place at the right time to see him live. The man had talent.

"Impressionist Steve Bridges, who used prosthetics and wigs to turn into presidents and laughs to make a living, was found dead at his home, his manager said Monday," an AP article by Sue Manning reported late this afternoon. "He was 48. Bridges returned from China on Feb. 23 and complained to friends of 'super jet lag,' manager Randy Nolen said. Bridges' maid found the comic dead about 9:30 a.m. Saturday in his Los Angeles home, Nolen said."

In early 2004, I visited the Boca Raton Resort & Club, which was hosting a national convention of a prominent real estate trade association. We conventioneers were promised a headliner as entertainment one evening, but not told who it would be. As I later wrote, "everyone was waiting for the unspecified 'entertainment' mentioned in the program. Rumor was that Jerry Seinfield was going to show up -- plausible, since the apartment landlords of the nation could come up with whatever his astronomical fee would be.

"He was mentioned because people had sighted Larry David, Seinfield’s long-time writer, at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. In fact, my associate Anthony saw David as we walked through the lobby earlier that day. I wouldn't have recognized him, but Anthony was sure it was him.

"The entertainment turned out to be presidential impersonator Steve Bridges, and it was a spot-on impersonation of Bush the Younger, one of the best I've ever seen of any politician, and outrageously funny."

I was glad to read that Bridges had a larger career than just doing George W. Bush, since there's only so much mileage a comic's going to get out of any one politician (though he milked it well). "Sometimes, Bridges would do shows without makeup that were titled 'Steve As Steve' and showcased his 200 voices — from Bill O'Reilly to Rush Limbaugh to Tom Brokaw and all the presidents from Kennedy to Obama," the AP article noted. Bridges might have died young, but at least he had more professional luck than Vaughn Meader.

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