An All-Star Team Suitable For Feb. 14

by Kevin Burton

    In an effort to get Valentine’s week started in a big way, Page 7 presents, coach Kev’s all-Valentine team. 

   This is my starting lineup, or the people in your valentine neighborhood, to paraphrase Sesame Street. Valentine is not one of the top 100 American surnames, but it’s common enough.

    We start with Karen Valentine, actress, star of ABC’s comedy “Room 222” which aired from 1969 to 1974.  I remember Karen Valentine as being an early-70’s heart throb but I could be wrong about that.

   Her Alice Johnson character, an idealistic young teacher, was sort of peripheral to the episode I watched on You Tube. (It was about a new boy in school who lied about everything.) In fact the Emmy award she won was for outstanding actress in a supporting role.

   She was everywhere in the mid to late 70s. She made several guest appearances on “Hollywood Squares,” The Dating Game,” “Love Boat” and “Love American Style.”

   Darnell Valentine was a star point guard at Wichita Heights high school and The University of Kansas. He was a three-time Academic all-American at KU.

   His last college game lives on in Sunflower State basketball lore.  He was on the Kansas team that lost to Wichita State in a sweet 16 match up in the 1981 NCAA tournament. They called it “the battle of New Orleans.” Kansas refused to play WSU, so a tournament pairing was the only way they could meet.

   There was no such thing as a three-point basket then. So when Shocker Mike Jones hit a shot from about 25 feet out with three seconds to go, he only got credit for two points.  But that’s all WSU needed for the 66-65 victory. Valentine played ten years in the NBA before finishing his career in Italy.  He just turned 62 on Feb. 3. 

    It was New Year’s Eve 1980 when Kathy Valentine played with the Go-Go’s for the first time. She had lead guitar skills but was asked to play bass guitar with the band as a substitute for the regular bass player who was sick. She became a full time member shortly thereafter.

   Right place right time. The Go-Go’s ruled the airwaves including MTV in the name of girl power from 1980 to 1985.  They were the first all-female band to have a number one record in the US. 

   Kathy Valentine brought the hit song “Vacation” with her from a previous band and co-wrote their number 11 hit “Head Over Heels.”

   If you want the whole Kathy Valentine story, check out her memoir “All I Ever Wanted,” published in March of last year. 

     In 1983 Eddie Murphy starred in the paramount Pictures comedy “Trading Places.” The film made $94 million and Murphy’s Billy Ray Valentine character got the big money too. 

   Two rich owners of a commodities brokerage firm make a $1 bet that if you reverse the financial and life circumstances of a common street hustler (Murphy as Valentine) and a respected well-mannered professional  (Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthorpe) that the two would live up, or down, to those expectations. 

   The star power of the co-stars blew away any doubts you may have had about the movie’s premise.  It was one of the best-received films of the 80s and spawned my favorite fictional Valentine.

   Needing just one more Valentine to complete my starting five, I have several candidates, including:

   James Valentine, lead guitarist and backup singer for Maroon 5.

   Ellis Valentine, strong-armed outfielder who played nine major league seasons with the Montreal Expos and four other teams.

   Jean Valentine, American poet, winner of the 2004 National Book Award for poetry, who died Dec. 29 in New York.

   Elmer Valentine, nightclub owner who was big in the music industry. (He owned the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, which was the site of Kathy Valentine’s debut with the Go-Go’s.) and

   William Orison Valentine, educator and missionary with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. 

   We finish with Bobby Valentine. He is a well-known former Major League Baseball player and manager. But his baseball contemporaries consider him a raging egomaniac, so he could never play for me. 

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