Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tennessee Tuxedo RIP

Been swamped of late, but didn't want to overlook the passing of Tennessee Tuxedo, the cartoon penguin who entertained me through much of my early youth.

He died Sunday after choking on cod paste in his retirement pen at Megalopolis Zoo. He was 82 (197 in penguin years).

"Tennessee drove my father nuts," said Sylvester Livingston, son of the late zoo keeper Stanley Livingston, who endured much of Tuxedo's schemes and antics. "But I think deep down Dad loved him. I mean, Tennessee was a talking penguin who could've gone to a bigger zoo, like Bronx or San Diego. But he stayed here. Plus, he wore a hat and bow tie, which none of the animals do any more. He was special."

Tuxedo was the last of his generation. He survived Underdog, the Go-Go Gophers, Commander McBragg, Klondike Kat, Tooter Turtle & Mr. Wizard, and Phineas J. Whoopee. But friends say that Tuxedo never got over the death of his close companion Chumley, who succumbed to a massive coronary in 1987. While the two fell out over Chumley's decision to have a solo career, the duo reconciled in the early 1980s, performing in dinner theaters and appearing at county fairs before Chumley's health began to fail in 1985. After his partner's passing two years later, Tuxedo went into retirement, and graciously received fans who visited him.

Tuxedo will be erased, his shavings scattered to the wind at an undisclosed location in a private ceremony.