By Abby K.
If I were to tell you Len Lesser died yesterday you would give me a blank stare. Then, if I told Uncle Leo died you would immediately open palm slap your forehead and say, “No! Uncle Leo? Say it ain’t so.” OK, maybe you wouldn’t say it exactly that way, but you know what I mean.
Len Less… ah screw it… Uncle Leo had a long and storied acting career. He was in Clint Eastwood flicks like, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Kelly’s Heroes. Remember? Come on! I can let Kelly’s Heroes slide, but if you never heard of The Outlaw Josey Wales , you’re either a particularly dainty woman or a castrated man.
Don’t feel bad. The majority of the Free World really only know Lesser as Uncle Leo. To tell you the truth, that’s good enough. No, he didn’t get Orson Wells spherical nor was he well known for his penchant for hookers and rock cocaine. He just, I don’t know, COMPLETELY BECAME ONE OF THE 20TH CENTURY’S BIGGEST PRIME TIME TELEVISION POP ICONS. Don’t agree? You’re lying. Quick, which one of these characters from Lesser’s career do you remember?
Or Uncle Friggin Leo?
That’s what I thought.
Uncle Leo was a character that stuck out in a sitcom that already had tons of quirky goofy ass one-dimensional circus clowns. That’s no small feat. Sure, he wasn’t in the main cast, having just appeared in 15 episodes. 15 out of 180 episodes. That’s nothing, it’s a speck of corn in the cow pie of life. But, those 15 episodes are among the ones we best remember. Why? Uncle Leo had it all; dashing good looks, a wardrobe to die for, and one of the best catch phrases of 90’s television. “Jerry! Hello!”
But, why did we take notice of our dear, precious Uncle Leo within the sea of Neumans, Kramers, Mickeys, and close-talkers? Was it talent? Gravitas? Yes. But, it was more than that. Only one word can sum it all up accurately. Genius. Uncle Leo was the Macbeth of our time. He was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern all wrapped up into one hunk of a thrift store sweater wearing man.
The real tragedy is that Uncle Leo never had his own spin-off series. Think about it. Episode after episode of “HELLO!” We would finally get to see Uncle Leo’s personal side. His sensitive side. His studly side. Hey, don’t be so quick to judge. That description was already more than Jersey Shore gives you and those hosers make millions for being stupid and VD ridden.
Look, all I’m saying is that growing up in Alberta didn’t exactly provide a girl with an ample supply of man candy. We had Eugene Levy while the US had David Hasselhoff (in his pre- cheeseburger/bathroom floor stage).
How was this fair? You tell me!
Maybe I was a traumatized child. I did see my father in a speedo once. I guess that pushed me into the strong, slightly mothball smelling arms of Uncle Leo. Look, don’t judge me. Funny is sexy.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my Uncle Leo worship.
That’s right, a tribute to Uncle Leo set to “Hello” by Lionel Ritcie. And you thought I had issues.
Safe home, Uncle Leo. Without you, life is meaningless and dark. We no longer have the bright light of your “hello” to warm ourselves by. I guess I’ll just nurse my crush on James Earl Jones.
Oh, yeah. That eases the pain.