"OK, Jose, you're on your way"Apollo 14 Lunar Module Flown Gold Medallion Presented to and From the Collection of Comedian Bill Dana (José Jiménez). A 38mm 14K gold medallion with diamonds set into a large "10" on the front. This was originally created by and gifted to Dana by Alan Shepard and his fellow astronauts in 1969 as a "tenth anniversary" present. It had been ten years since the original seven Mercury astronauts "adopted" Bill Dana and his hilarious José Jiménez character, "the Chief Astronaut for the United States Interplanetary Expeditionary Force," as the honorary eighth astronaut. The reverse is engraved: "To Jose/ From his Space Buddies/ Aloha/ 14" along with the initials "A.S., S.R., E.M, B.D., and M.E." Between 1969 and the January 1971 launch of Apollo 14, Dana had moved to Hawaii to star in his own show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. He was asked by the governor of Hawaii to officially represent the state at the Apollo 14 launch. Alan Shepard offered to carry this medal along on the flight, so Dana had the front engraved: "Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Honua I Ka Pono" [The life of the universe is perpetuated in righteousness], an adaptation of the Hawaii state motto. He also added: "61-71" signifying the tenth anniversary of Shepard's first flight. By the way, the first words spoken from earth (by Deke Slayton) to Shepard in space on May 5, 1961, were "OK, José, you're on your way".
After the successful completion of the Apollo 14 mission, Shepard returned the medal to Dana with a letter on NASA letterhead, dated March 16, 1971, as follows: "I am returning your tenth anniversary coin which was with me on the lunar surface at Fra Mauro. I am delighted that it was able to make the trip since your friendship over the ten years has meant a lot to the space program. Hope to have the chance to be with you soon after the banquet circuit collapses or after I collapse, whichever occurs first. In the meantime, my warmest regards." This letter and the next are included with the medal. A few years later, when the first letter was temporarily misplaced, Shepard wrote a second letter on his Seven Fourteen Enterprises letterhead, dated September 15, 1992, as follows: "To Whom It May Concern: This is to verify that the gold medallion accompanying this letter is a genuine space artifact. This beautiful special design of gold and diamonds was presented to comedian Bill Dana on November 9, 1969 by the Mercury Astronauts in recognition of his portrayal of Jose Jimenez, the reluctant astronaut. Subsequent to the presentation it was carried to the moon and returned aboard the lunar module Antares on Apollo XIV during the January 31, 1971 to February 9, 1971 mission." The medal is in excellent condition.
This is as unique a lunar surface-flown item as you could expect to find. The strong connection between Bill Dana and the extended astronaut family has existed for fifty-three years. Bill serves currently on the advisory board of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and is on the Nominations Committee of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. José is acknowledged in The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and enshrined at the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at Titusville, Florida. Alan Shepard, of course, was the first American to fly into space and later walked on the lunar surface, one of only twelve to do so. Any item that was on the surface of the moon is valuable and desirable to collectors. One of a precious metal like 14K gold raises it to a higher level. This connection between a beloved performer and his astronaut friends make it a "must bid" lot. Don't let this one pass you by.
If you're as old as this writer, you grew up with the comedy of Bill Dana. Many of you might not know how great a writer he was. Let me just mention two of his creations. While writing for Don Adams, Dana created the hilarious "Would you believe..." jokes that would become quite the national rage when used in the Get Smart series. Remember the Emmy-winning Sammy Davis Jr. episode of All in the Family? Well, Bill Dana was the genius who wrote that. Please visit this lot on our website to view a complete biography of this comic (and space) legend. Here is a link to one of his astronaut routines.
Bill Dana Biography
Many know Bill Dana as "Jose Jimenez", a classic character he created on the Steve Alien Show in the 1950's and continued to perform throughout his career, but Dana has also been a successful writer, author, cartoonist, producer, director, recording artist, inventor, and stand-up comedian.
After serving as a decorated combat infantryman in WW II, Bill graduated Emerson College in Boston and entered show business, beginning his career as an NEC page at 30 Rock. His career took a major turn when he began writing for Don Adams including the now famous "Would You Believe?" jokes. Hired by Steve Alien to write on the original Steve Alien Tonight Show, he eventually became head writer. His creation of the Jose Jimenez character in 1959 resulted in his own NEC show (1963-65).
His comedy albums, as both Jose and Bill Dana, were top-sellers. He helped launch the careers of comedic greats such as Don Adams, Jackie Mason, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors. A major career highlight for him was writing the "All In The Family" episode featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., consistently rated in TV Guide's "Top 100 Television Episodes of All Time".
Adopted by the original seven Mercury astronauts, Dana became part of US. space history on May 5,1961, when the first words from Planet Earth spoken to Alan Shepard, America's first man in space were....."OK, Jose, You're on your way." Bill and Jose are honored by inclusion in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Appearances in Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and The London Paladium are highlights on the way to an honored and show stopping appearance at the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Gala.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition endorsed the Jose Jimenez character and invited him to sit on their advisory board which he continues to this day.
Bill has recently founded The American Comedy Archives at Emerson College in Boston, and has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, The Boston Comedy Festival, The American Comedy Festival, and Emerson College, among others.
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