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Forty Years Ago

Wars have ways of dictating headlines big and small. So it was in the summer of 1967 when more than the weather was warming up in Vietnam. Captain Walter R. Kohnke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter G. Kohnke, 1110 Marengo Ave., was decorated with the USAF Combat Readiness Medal for four years of professional performance as a combat crew member with the Strategic Air Command.

And … fireman Richard Habel, USN, son or Mr. and Mrs. Frank Habel of 315 Burkhardt Court returned to Long Beach, Calif., from Vietnam as a crewman aboard the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall.

From the June 22, 1967, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

One of the biggest names in show business got front page bulletin coverage here and across the nation–though the subject had been dead nearly two decades. Half those alive today are probably too young to remember the name, Mike Todd. The other half recalls it well. He was virtually the Master of his Universe in Hollywood. A flamboyant producer and showman, he was the husband of the glamorous movie star, Elizabeth Taylor. Todd had been killed at age 49 in the crash of a private jet on March 22, 1958.

For 19 years his body lay buried in the Congregation Beth Aaron section of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery here in Forest Park, where his widow had visited several times. Sometime between 4 p.m. Friday, June 24, 1977 and Sunday the 26th, Todd’s grave was broken into, the casket unearthed and his remains stolen. Local police and other investigators found the grave dug out, exposing Todd’s bronze coffin with the top open, a glass case damaged and his body missing. Within a week police, acting on a tip, located the remains hidden about 150 yards from the grave. The body had been incinerated on impact when the plane crashed. Only bones and fragments had been retrieved and placed in a plastic bag.

It was suspected that Todd’s grave was violated in the hope of recovering valuables, such as a large diamond ring he was known to wear. Within days, the damage to the entrepreneur’s gravesite was repaired by cemetery workers, the body returned to its resting place and the burial ground restored.

Some details: Elizabeth Taylor was to have flown with her husband, but came down with a viral infection the day before … the plane was named “Lucky Liz” … it went down in an electrical thunderstorm over the Zuni Mountains in western New Mexico not more than an hour after take off … when Taylor occasionally visited his grave here, word often got out and gawkers would look on … Michael Todd grew up in Chicago as Avram Goldbogen … an agent, impresario and movie producer who produced the film, “Around the World in 80 Days” and tossed large showbiz parties on a lavish scale … he owned two Loop theaters, the Cinestage and the Michael Todd … and helped perfect the ToddAO cinematic technique.

From the June 29, 1977, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Forest Park’s elusive but generous Mystery Man was sighted again; this time outside of the savings and loan at Madison and Desplaines streets. Opportunists spotted him handing out $10 bills, wearing his usual dark colored long coat, checkered fedora and white mask, all in the company of two costumed bunnies. He rewarded people seemingly at random with his sawbucks–just for being in downtown Forest Park on a Saturday? Could it be that this was a precursor for Main Street; the promotional fore runner of today’s rejuvenated Madison Street?

From the April 22, 1987, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

Every year around here nature puts on a big show featuring dark skies, fierce winds and sheets of windblown water. Ten years ago on May 19 it blew pretty well. Six tornadoes were sighted in Chicagoland, the nearest touched down at Desplaines and 31st streets. Police Lt. Joe Byrnes, reporting on damage, could have borrowed Snoopy’s line, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

From the May 21, 1997, Forest Park Review