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Subject: Actor Billi Gordon

Dies at 63
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Date Posted: Saturday, March 10, 08:26:17am

September 2, 1954 - February 22, 2018

Dr. Billi Gordon - Entertainer, Model, Writer, and Neuroscientist - lived to be 63 years old. Dr. Gordon was known for his special combination of in-your-face humor and public demeanor, and for his enormous generosity of spirit and kindness that allowed him to reach a large audience in promoting his passion for social justice and personal acceptance. Dr. Gordon's physical presence was exceptionally powerful, and he mastered its use to position himself uniquely in many, if not most, of his professional endeavors. In his role as an entertainer, Dr. Gordon was cast frequently as a drag queen, a role well matched to his flamboyant sense of humor, and to his self-description as a diva. Beginning this work as a greeting card model, he later appeared in drag on the popular TV series, "Married with Children" and opposite Eddie Murphy in "Coming to America." A talented writer, he wrote sitcom episodes, and multiple humor books such as the cookbook, "You've Had Worse Things in Your Mouth." As a writer, Gordon authored the immensely popular "Obesely Speaking" column that appeared regularly in Psychology Today and his blogs were featured in the Huffington Post, and the LA Times. In this work, he touched on interpersonal issues, health, stereotyping, and prejudice, with compassion and a near boundless self-effacing humor. When he was profiled in the LA Times in 2009 ("A body larger than life"), at 701 pounds (down from nearly 1000), Gordon was preparing for surgery to remove a large mass on his thigh. He quipped characteristically to the reporter, "Other than that, I have beautiful legs." Dr. Gordon always spoke about his weight with a disarming directness that acknowledged both the severe impact that it had on his health, as well as the role that it played in his public persona. Gordon was born in Dowagiac, Michigan, where he attended Union High School. He was enrolled briefly in a Roman Catholic Seminary, and his religion was an important part of life. He graduated from the University of Michigan, and continued to be an ardent and vocal Wolverine fan for life. Intelligent, and curious to understand emotions, brain, and human behavior, Gordon obtained his Ph.D. in Integrative Behavioral Neuroscience at the Union Institute and University in 2004. He later pursued a post-doc and a research career in neuroscience at UCLA where he studied emotion, the pathophysiology of race, minority health disparities, as well as a variety of work in gastroenterology and obesity - all issues that impacted him personally, and for which he felt a sense of duty to help others. Dr. Gordon leveraged his Ph.D. and scientific contributions for his success in blogging, and for his writing on health issues. Dr. Gordon was beloved of his enormous circle of friends who lavished in his personal generosity, his humor, and his intelligence. Billi was preceded in death by his parents Geneva and Wilbert Gordon, a sister, Doris (Ewells) Hollingsworth, and a brother, James (Lois) McGinnis. He leaves to honor and cherish his memory, spouse Robert Schallert whom he married in 1988, his niece Cynthia Hollingsworth, and nephews Don (Sandra) Hollingsworth, Kenneth (Dianne) Hollingsworth, and Brian Hollingsworth, two brothers-in-law, John Schallert ll and Patrick Schallert, a special cousin, Gwen Reeves and many nieces and nephews. A 10:00 AM memorial mass will be held at St. Augustine Church, Culver City on Saturday, March 17th.

Published in the Los Angeles Times on Mar. 10, 2018.


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