Eddie Carroll 1933-2010
How do you write an obituary for someone who was such a close friend for over 20 years? You're feeling the loss, you're feeling the hole they've left in your life, and wondering how you'll ever be quite the same again. As someone said to me when my mother died: it's not something you get over...it's something you get used to.
I'll probably save the full-on obit for the next issue of the Times that will be dedicated to him. But for now, here are some immediate personal thoughts.
Eddie seemed born to play Jack Benny. He had the look, he had the inflection...he even had the blue eyes. And lots and lots of members can tell you how he "channeled" Jack in his many performances. From the director's chair on two of our recreations, I can tell you that he was a consummate professional. No diva, no star airs...he was there to do a job and have fun doing it. If I asked him to do something differently, he did it and perfectly. Plus, he coached our other performers to help bring the best out of them. And I have a tremendously fond memory of a completely unplanned blooper during our recreation at the Waukegan dedication of the Jack Benny statue, where he dealt with it exactly as Jack might have done. So much so that a lot of audience members thought we had actually planned it!
The parallels between Eddie and Jack are remarkable, and not just in performance style and ability. I have had so many people compare their reaction to Eddie's passing to their feelings at Jack's passing--feeling like we had lost a truly warm, generous, wonderful, and rare performer. And the IJBFC has lost someone who was a tireless booster of Jack's legacy, introducing his work to so many new fans.
On his last night, I was reading your E-mails of well-wishes to Eddie and Carolyn over speaker phone. I am privileged to have been able to provide Eddie with his "last reviews", which were all glowing. We love you, Eddie. And I'm glad you went knowing that.
Eddie Carroll CNN video
Eddie on YouTube
Eddie as Jiminy Cricket
Eddie at REPS
Photos from 2003 IJBFC convention
Photos and material from 2002 Waukegan statue dedication
Eddie Carroll IJBFC page