Thursday, April 2, 2015

Learning a Little About Jane Dornacker

Back in the 1980s, I knew a person whose answering-machine message said something like this:

The best way to make sure the plane you're on isn't blown up by a bomb is to bring a bomb yourself, because the odds that there would be two bombs on the plane are perishingly small.
I thought about that last night when I learned about the sad ending to the life of Jane Dornacker. She was a rock musician and writer, actor, and comedian, who later became a traffic reporter at a New York radio station. Which involved helicopters, of course.

According to the Wikipedia,
In 1986, while working for WNBC 660 AM Radio in New York City (which became WFAN in 1988), Dornacker was aboard during two unrelated crashes of the helicopters leased to WNBC. She survived the first crash, but was killed in the second crash into the Hudson River, which occurred as she was in the middle of a live traffic report. Her death came shortly after that of her husband, Bob Knickerbocker, orphaning their 16-year-old daughter.
Two unrelated crashes... you survive the first one, but get killed six months later in a second crash. And both just after your husband had died.

Dornacker swam her way out of the first crash, and the second crash (which ended right along the shoreline) happened while she was on the air. Her final words were "Hit the water! Hit the water! Hit the water!"

I also found this:
Leila Jane Dornacker...was credited in 1968 as the nation's first female mail carrier; she was elected homecoming queen her freshman year at San Francisco State, campaigning on campus from inside a birdcage. Jane was a slim costume chameleon inside the six-foot frame of a dancer. When Jane performed, you got full-body. Dornacker won San Francisco's Golden Cabaret Award three consecutive years for best female comedian.
Her acting credits are mostly on stage, but she had a memorable role in the movie The Right Stuff. She sang lead on a song by R. Crumb, and wrote a song for The Tubes.

Her daughter, Naomi Knickerbocker Dornacker, received $325,000 from the company that leased (and badly maintained) the helicopter to the radio station. Not much in exchange for the life of your only parent.

Born around 1970, she's about 45 now and according to this site, lives in Lake Tahoe. I hope her life is fulfilling.

1 comment:

Ob Bop said...

Thank you for assisting in keeping memories alive and ensuring that these parts of an era receding into the past are not lost to forgotten history.