Weekend open thread: Iowa icons

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. I’ve been thinking about Iowa icons. A separate post is in progress summing up "lowlights" from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s two-day visit.

On Friday my Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of tributes to Peggy Whitworth, who lost her battle with cancer at the age of 71. She was an influential activist and mentor to countless Democrats in Linn County and statewide. The Iowa Democratic Party gave Whitworth a Hall of Fame award two years ago, and she continued to take leadership volunteer roles for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and Brad Anderson’s bid to become Iowa’s secretary of state.

Former U.S. Representative Ed Mezvinsky recently donated his papers to Iowa State University. The collection looks extremely interesting, even if some of the House Judiciary Committee papers related to the Watergate investigation will be sealed until August 2024. A native of Ames, Mezvinsky narrowly lost his first Congressional campaign in 1970 but was elected to represent Iowa’s first district in 1972. (This Mezvinsky television commercial, playing on his difficult-to-pronounce name, is a classic.) He served two terms in the House before losing to Jim Leach in 1976. The boxes donated to Iowa State include material from Mezvinsky’s various political campaigns in Iowa and later in Pennsylvania, but not material related to fraud and other crimes for which he served five years in federal prison.

In all the years I watched “The Simpsons,” I never knew that Marcia Wallace, the voice of Mrs. Krabappel, was born and raised in Creston, Iowa. She died recently at the age of 70, and “The Simpsons” will retire her character. During the 1970s, Wallace played Bob receptionist on “The Bob Newhart Show”—an underrated sitcom in my opinion.

Johnny Carson grew up in Nebraska, but he was born in a small house in Corning, Iowa (Adams County). Locals recently completed a restoration of the house, where some mementos of the longtime “Tonight Show” host are on display.

I highly recommend a visit to the restored Orpheum Theater in Marshalltown, where you can find memorabilia from Marshalltown native Jean Seberg, a famous actress from the 1950s to the 1970s. A new documentary about Seberg’s life will premiere at the Third Annual Jean Seberg International Film Festival, which will take place at the Orpheum from November 15 to 17.  

  • Frawley

    I didn’t realize this until recently, but William Frawley was from Burlington.  He played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy.  The information that you can find when look up older television shows can be so interesting.  

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