Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: The six degrees of separation -- Ed McElroy style

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions


The Six Degrees of Separation game started gaining steam when people figured out that busy actor Kevin Bacon could be linked with tons of other great actors or actresses.

So, in one example, Bacon appeared with Edward Asner in the film “JFK.” Asner was once in “Change of Habit” with Elvis Presley. You can go on four more times with the connections, but I’ve given a little too much space to Kevin Bacon.

In the real world, this game could be played based on people that we have either met or shook hands with. Even if you haven’t met anyone famous, if you met or shook hands with someone who did, you are golden.

Even if you just met me and I am your first degree, you are in good shape. I’ve met a bunch of folks who will ratchet up your list.

For instance, I’ve met Sammy Sosa. He met Billy Williams. Billy met Leo Durocher, who met Babe Ruth who met a young college kid named George H.W. Bush, who met Dwight Eisenhower.

See, if you shake my hand, I can get you to the best baseball player ever and a president.

I’ve also met Jesse Jackson, who met Martin Luther King, who met India’s Prime Minister Nehru, who met Mahatma Gandhi, who met Charlie Chaplin who met Helen Keller.

So there you go.

Me and Helen. Who would have guessed that?

And if you want a president for your second degree, meet our reporter, Dermot Connolly. He met Barack Obama back in the day.

That brings me to Oak Lawn’s Ed McElroy.

The longtime radio and TV personality/public relations guru just turned 90 on Monday. There was a big bash celebrating the birthday on Sunday at the Beverly Country Club and some of the folks who were there included Alderman Ed Burke, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley, former Illinois Attorney General and former Lieutenant Governor Neil Hartigan, Jesse White and other local big shots.

I haven’t known McElroy for decades like many have, but I’ve known him since late 2012, when he was a young pup in his late 80s.

The most impressive thing about the guy, in my warped opinion, is that he had wrestler Yukon Moose Cholak over at his house.

But that might not impress the masses as much as it does me.

What should impress the masses is that his first degree of separation is about as majestic as other people’s fourth, fifth or sixth.

McElroy has been photographed with nine presidents -- Harry Truman, Eisenhower, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Just so you know, McElroy called Truman a “helluva guy.’’

Edward also met Pope John XXIII in the 1960s.

McElroy, a military veteran, never said that the pontiff was a “helluva guy’’ but said the Pope told him “Have your veterans pray that there will be no new veterans.’’

The Oak Lawn legend has hobnobbed with tons of sports figures over his career with the most famous being Ted Williams. Not many may agree with this because of Williams’ sour reputation, but McElroy insists Williams is also a “helluva guy.’’

When I asked Ed on Sunday if he met any famous people in movies or famous singers, he said he couldn’t think of too many. But when pressed a little more, he remembered meeting Frank Sinatra. This dude knows so many people that it took him some prodding to come up with Sinatra. Somewhere Sinatra is weeping in his grave.

He also met Red Skelton, Ed Sullivan, Pat O’Brien and danced with Rosemary Clooney.

E-Mac also met bandleader Tommy Dorsey and said Dorsey would call his mother every night. Wikipedia claims Dorsey’s married life was “lurid” at times and he had a trio of marriages and some alleged affairs, possibly living up to his hits  “You Can’t Cheat a Cheater” and “Fluid Jive.’’

 But he called his mother every night, by gosh.

I don’t have time to research it, but I’m wondering that if you could trace McElroy’s sixth degree all the way to Jesus Christ. Naaah…maybe a ninth or 10th degree, though.

Anyway, a lot was said Sunday about how McElroy has made a lot of people’s lives better during his 90 years on this side of the soil. And even if he didn’t make their lives better, he certainly improved the quality of their Sixth-Degree game.