Friday, October 12, 2007

'The Gipper' back in the headlines

GEORGE GIPP was a legend in his day -- and he's even one today, some 86 years after his death.
He is part of the sporting lexicon and the line: "Win one for the Gipper," always brings a smile to my face. However, last Thursday, there was a desecration of sorts in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. That's when historian Michael Bynum, with the acquiescence of Gipp's great-nephew, Rick Frueh of Chicago, had the body exhumed.
The reason was apparently done for DNA testing so the results could be included in Bynum's upcoming book on Gipp.
However, there was fury that such a thing was done and as one relative told the Houghton, Mich. Mining Gazette, "it's a sacrilege against our community up here, the Gipp name, and the people."
In addition, the ESPN crew claimed they only were documenting it and didn't play a role in the exhumation.
While the Gipp's Notre Dame accomplishments have faded with time, his supposedly death-bed lines still resonate through most people's minds:
"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."
Although Gipp died from pneumonia on Dec. 14, 1920, it wasn't until a November 1928 game against Army that those inspiring words of "Win one for the Gipper" were apparently used. And they did win.
That famous line has been used throughout North America when teams faced tough odds. It became a political slogan for Ronald Reagan (he played Gipp in the 1940 movie classic, Knute Rockne, All American) as he ascended to the U.S. presidency and it was later even used by the Bushes.
Besides Gipp's prowess as a sensational runner, passer, defensive back, punter, kicker and kick returner on the football field, he had gone to Notre Dame on a baseball scholarship and had wanted to join the Chicago Cubs following graduation. However, death overtook him much too soon, at age 25.
While Gipp's name has been thrust into the news in the past few days, his legacy lives on, on the Internet because of CMC Worldwide chairman and CEO Mark Roesler. His 26-year-old marketing and management company has become the dominant force in "the evolving intellectual property arena" and one of his clients happens to be the estate of the late George Gipp.
Roesler launched his organization with this mission: "I believed it was possible to protect the rights of famous deceased people and to provide their families with control and money they deserved." And he's been a tiger in protecting those rights and has spread his "gospel" throughout the world with its headquarters in Indianapolis with additional offices in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro.
If you look up in the dictionary, you probably could find Roesler's name listed under Entrepreneur, for he first put himself through college -- DePauw and Indiana U -- by owning a roofing company and delving into real estate.
With this background, he joined Curtis Publishing, which supplied Saturday Evening Post and became licensing manager of the great Norman Rockwell's artwork.
Later he became an advocate for heirs of deceased celebrities, who had been denied any rights concerning names or likeness being used, according to his bio.
Today, Roesler and his team look after more than 200 clients and, indeed, the list is impressive to say the least:
In the entertainment field, there's Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Ingrid Bergman, Errol Flynn, Rock Hudson, Ginger Rogers, Alan Ladd, Telly Savalas, Dudley Moore, Natalie Wood, Marlon Brando. Some of his clientele are among the living and he makes he/she available for personal appearances such as Sophia Loren and Mickey Rooney.
The music list includes Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, Cass Elliott, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, Tammy Wynette, and the late Tiny Tim.
The sports list includes Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, Rocky Marciano, Thurman Munson, Vince Lombardi, Arthur Ashe, and, of course, George (The Gipper) Gipp.
There's a historical section and ecompasses such names as General George S. Patton, Jr., Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Frank Lloyd Wright and Amelia Earhart.
In summation, Roesler and the CMP team of lawyers "police" the Net against cyber squatters and assuring his lengthy roster of legends are fully protected. For further information, check out and and also his claim that "we've built our business on being very litigious." That means he's a fighter for the rights of mainly deceased stars and their surviving families in the celebrity-marketing business.

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