Thursday, June 12, 2008

April 2001 Film World Obituaries

LARRY TUCKER Died Apr. 1, 2001

Award-winning writer/producer/actor/composer Larry Tucker died of complications from cancer and multiple sclerosis at age 67. Mr. Tucker was nominated for an Oscar for his original screenplay for "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice." The wife swapping comedy also garnered Mr. Tucker a BAFTA,Golden Globe, Writer’s Guild and National Society of Screen Critic’s nominations. Mr. Tucker won the Writer’s Guild and the National Society of Screen Critic’s Awards. Mr. Tucker was a collaborator with writer/director Paul Mazursky. In addition to "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" the pair was responsible for the films "Alex in Wonderland" and "I Love You Alice B. Toklas," which starred Peter Sellers. Tucker and Mazursky developed the hit TV series "The Monkees." Tucker appeared in the pilot episode. Tucker also acted in several feature films. He had a supporting role in Samuel Fuller’s cult classic "Shock Corridor." Other film credits include "Advise and Consent," "Angels Hard as They Come" and "Blast of Silence." He produced a number of TV series including the "Mr. Merlin" and "Jennifer Slept Here."

JEAN ANDERSON Died Apr. 1, 2001

British actress Jean Anderson died of natural causes at age 93. Ms. Anderson appeared in nearly 80 films and TV shows during a 50-year career. She achieved her greatest fame in the BBC drama "The Brothers." The series became popular in Europe and Israel as well as the UK. Ms. Anderson’s other credits include "Diana: Her True Story," "The Night Digger" with Patricia Neal, Disney’s "The Three Lives of Thomasina," "The Railway Children," "A Town Like Alice," "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" and "The Kidnappers." Ms. Anderson appeared in "Solomon and Sheba." Actor Tyrone Power died on the set of "Solomon and Sheba" and was replaced by Yul Brynner.

JENNIFER SYME Died Apr. 2, 2001

Actress and assistant to director David Lynch Jennifer Syme died when she lost control of her Jeep and crashed into a row of parked cars. Ms. Syme was 28. Ms. Syme was the former girlfriend of actor Keanu Reeves. She was pregnant with his child but unfortunately the child was stillborn. Ms. Syme appeared in Lynch’s film "Lost Highway." She also appeared in the film "Ellie Parker." David Lynch dedicated his film "Mulholland Dr." to Ms. Syme.

RON PHIPPS Died Apr. 3, 2001

Show business is a business. What would a business be without an accountant? Nowhere my friend. Production accountant Ron Phipps died on his 70th birthday. He handled the business side of the business on such films as "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Phase IV," "Midnight Express," "Chariots of Fire," "The Empire Strikes Back," "Shoot the Moon," "Local Hero," "Angel Heart" and "Henry V."

BROTHER THEODORE Died Apr. 5, 2001

Theatrical antagonist Brother Theodore died of pneumonia at age 94. Born Theodore Gotlieb, Brother Theodore came from a wealthy publishing family in Germany. He was imprisoned in the Nazi death camp Dachau. He sold his family’s $80 million dollar publishing empire to the Nazis for one Mark. That bought his freedom. The rest of his family died at the hands of the Nazis. Brother Theodore became a much sought after TV talk show guest. His specialty was in attacking whoever came into his view. He was best known for his one-man show in which he would deliver monologues, rant and attack the audience. Brother Theodore appeared in live action films and did voice work in animated films. He provided the voice of Gollum in the animated versions of J.R.R. Tolkein’s "The Hobbit" and "The Return of the King." Other voice work includes "The Last Unicorn." Brother Theodore’s film credits include "The ‘burbs’," "Nocturna," "Horror of the Blood Monsters" and Orson Welles’ "The Stranger."

SONYA HEDENBRATT Died Apr. 5, 2001

Swedish Jazz singer/actress Sonya Hedenbratt died of diabetes at age 70. Among Ms. Hedenbratt’s several film credits was Ingmar Bergman’s "Fanny and Alexander." Ms. Hedenbratt appeared in a number of Swedish TV mini-series and a few feature films.

DAVID GRAF Died Apr. 7, 2001

Actor David Graf died of a heart attack at age 50. Mr. Graf was attending a family wedding when he died. Mr. Graf is probably best known for the role of Eugene Tackleberry in the "Police Academy" films. He played the part in seven films. Other credits include "Guarding Tess," "The Brady Bunch Movie," "Irreconcilable Differences, "Rules of Engagement," "Jet Li’s The Enforcer," and Arthur Penn’s overlooked "Four Friends." He also provided voice work for a number of "Star Trek" video games. Mr. Graf also had nearly 70 TV credits.


Oscar and Tony winning actress Beatrice Straight died of pneumonia at age 86. Ms. Straight won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Sidney Lumet’s acerbic "Network." Ms. Straight played the wife of philandering William Holden in the brilliant satire on the business of TV news. Ms. Straight also had a strong supporting role in Tobe Hooper’s "Poltergeist." She played the head of a team of paranormal researchers. Other credits include "The Nun’s Story," "The Young Lovers," "The Formula" with George C. Scott and Marlon Brando," "Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline," "Endless Love," "Two of a Kind" and "Power." Ms. Straight was primarily a stage actress having made her Broadway debut in the 1930s. She won a Best Supporting Actress Tony Award for her performance in Arthur Miller’s "The Crucible."

MARGUERITE VIBY Died Apr. 8, 2001

Danish actress Marguerite Viby died at age 91. Ms. Viby starred in nearly 50 films in a career that dates back to 1929. Ms. Viby starred in the first Danish produced combined sound film, the 1930 short "Woe to Him Who Lies." She also appeared in the first Danish combined-sound feature film "He, She and Hamlet." Combined sound was the process in which both the image and sound track shared the same piece of celluloid. Ms. Viby was a favorite with Danish audiences starring in a number of comedies and musical. Ms. Viby received lifetime achievement awards at the 2000 Bodil and Robert Awards ceremonies.

NYREE DAWN PORTER Died Apr. 10, 2001

New Zealand actress Nyree Dawn Porter died of complications after having surgery on her foot. Ms. Porter was 61. Ms. Porter was best known as the star of the 1967 BBC TV series "The Forsyte Saga." Ms. Porter played Irene Forsyte in the international hit series. Ms. Porter’s other credits include "The Martian Chronicles," the BBC TV series "Madam Bovery," "From Beyond the Grave," "The House That Dripped Blood" opposite Christopher Lee and guest spots on "The Saint" and "The Avengers."

HARRY SECOMBE Died Apr. 11, 2001

British comedian Harry Secombe died at age 79 after a long battle with cancer and a debilitating stroke. Mr. Secombe was a beloved fixture in England as part of "The Goon Show." Secombe, Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers were the Goons. Their radio and TV shows revolutionized comedy in 1950s England. The impact was not unlike that of the original "Saturday Night Live." Their influence was felt by a multitude of performers on the time. He played Mr. Bumble in the Oscar winning film "Oliver." Mr. Secombe was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the 1966 production of "Pickwick." According to Allen Dace "The pinnacle of Sir Harry's career was reached in 1981 when he was created a Knight Bachelor for his services to entertainment and charity in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. This followed the award in 1963 of the CBE for his services to the Army Benevolent Fund and the receipt of the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, a personal award from HM The Queen." Mr. Secombe’s final TV show was "Highway." Mr. Secombe was the host of the Christian faith program for 10 years. He credited his faith in God as what enabled him to endure the intense pain caused by his illnesses during the last part of his life.

NICOLAS CLERMONT Died Apr. 11, 2001

Canadian producer Nicolas Clermont died of cancer at age 59. Mr. Clermont’s many film credits include "The Art of War" with Wesley Snipes, Ted Demme’s "Snitch," "Free Money" with Marlon Brando and Donald Sutherland, "Eye of the Beholder" with Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd, the TV series "Higlander" and "The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne." Donald Sutherland appeared in 10 films for Mr. Clermont. His film "The Art of War" won the Golden Reel Award at the 2001 Genie Awards in Canada. That particular award is given to the Canadian film with the highest box-office gross during the qualifying period.

BY DUNHAM Died Apr. 12, 2001

Songwriter William "By" Dunham died at age 90. Mr. Dunham provided songs for such films as Bob Hope’s "Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!," "I’ll Take Sweden," "Seven Men From Now," "The New Adventures of Flipper" and "The Young Swingers." Mr. Dunham produced the movie "Wild on the Beach."

SEAN DEVER Died Apr. 13, 2001

Animator Sean Dever died at age 32. Mr. Dever worked on some of the biggest F/X films of the last 10 years. Mr. Dever was born is Israel. Mr. Dever’s film credits include "Armageddon," "The Fifth Element," "Flubber," "Sphere," "Batman and Robin," "Waterworld," "True Lies," "Angels in the Outfield" and "Beverly Hills Cop III." His parents established the Sean Dever Memorial Prize through the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research. Mr. Dever’s parents were former directors of the Institute.

KEN WESTON Died Apr. 13, 2001

Oscar winning sound mixer Ken Weston died of kidney cancer just short of his 54th birthday. Mr. Weston, along with Scott Millan and Bob Beemer won the Best Sound Oscar for "Gladiator." Mr. Weston died 20 days later. Mr. Weston had previously been nominated for an Oscar for his work on "Evita." He also received five BAFTA nominations for his work, winning for the TV mini series "Traffik." Among Mr. Weston’s many credits are "The Dogs of War," "The Shining," "Pink Floyd’s The Wall," "Flash Gordon," "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes," "Krull," "Amadeus," "Naked," "White Squall," "Seven Years in Tibet," "Angela’s Ashes" and "Pearl Harbor."

GENE THOMPSON Died Apr. 14, 2001

TV screenwriter and novelist Gene Thompson died of cancer at age 76. Mr. Thompson was the son-in-law of "Titanic" actress Gloria Stuart. Mr. Thompson’s credits include the TV series "My Three Sons," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Harry O," "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "The Bob Newhart Show" and "The Nanny and the Professor." Mr. Thompson’s novels include "Lupe" and "Murder Mystery." The photo at right is a 1949 portrait of Mr. Thompson by his good friend, famed photographer Ira H. Latour. I thank Mr. Latour for the use of his portrait. To view more of the wonderful photography by Mr. Latour CLICK HERE.


Oscar nominated director Hiroshi Teshigahara died of leukemia at age 74. Mr. Teshigahara was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for his philosophical and strangely erotic "Woman in the Dunes." This is a must see film for any serious student of the medium.

JOEY RAMONE Died Apr. 15, 2001

Punk rock legend Joey Ramone died of lymphatic cancer at age 49. Joey Ramone was the lead singer of the groundbreaking and influential bands The Ramones. It is impossible to sum up the impact The Ramones had on the music industry in a few short paragraphs. The bottom line is that The Ramones rocked. Their lyrics were hilarious. Poetry in frenetic motion. "Teenage Lobotomy" cracks me up every time I hear it. The music of The Ramones has graced a number of movie soundtracks. If you don’t know about The Ramones, I suggest you rent, or better yet buy the movie "Rock and Roll High School." In that movie P.J. Soles hires The Ramones to play a concert while the school burns to the ground. Anarchy and Rock n Roll. The Ramones also wrote and performed the theme song for the horror movie "Pet Semetary."

MONROE ASKINS Died Apr. 15, 2001

Cinematographer/director Monroe Askins died of cardiac arrest at age 85. Mr. Askins shot a number of B-movies during the 1950s and 60s. Some are considered classics of bad cinema. Mr. Askins was also a journeyman TV cinematographer. His many TV series credits include "Sea Hunt," "Highway Patrol," "Gunsmoke," "McHale’s Navy," "The Munsters" and "I Led Three Lives." Bad movie fans may be familiar with such Askin’s shot films as "The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent," "The Human Duplicators," "Blood of Dracula" and "Sorority Girl." Mr. Askins directed the movie "The World of Giants" and several episodic TV shows.

GIACOMO GENTILOMO Died Apr. 16, 2001

Director/writer Giacomo Gentilomo died at age 92. Though Mr. Gentilomo directed several high profile films he is best known for his Sword and Sandal epics. Mr. Gentilomo’s credits include "Hercules Against the Moon Men," "Slave Girls of Sheba," "Goliath and the Vampires," "The Young Caruso," "The Brothers Karamozov" and "Rome Symphonies." Mr. Gentilcomo retired from film in 1964 and became a painter.

KLAUS KINDER Died Apr. 16, 2001

German voice actor Klaus Kindler died at age 71. Mr. Kindler dubbed the voices of Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, Sean Connery and Jean Paul Belmondo in the German releases of a number of films including "Dr. No," "Papillon," "Bullitt" and "Carlito’s Way."

MICHAEL RITCHIE Died Apr. 16, 2001

Director Michael Ritchie died of complications from prostate cancer at age 62. Every film Michael Ritchie directed between 1969 and 1977 is worth seeing. He was one of my favorite filmmakers from that era. Ritchie began as a TV director. In 1969 he helmed the Robert Redford character study "Downhill Racer." Gene Hackman co-starred in this interesting tale of the Olympic ski team tryouts. The movie won Redford a Best Actor BAFTA. Ritchie followed this with the kinky crime film "Prime Cut." The movie featured and over the top performance by Hackman as Mary Ann, a Kansas City crime lord. Lee Marvin starred as the hitman sent to take out Hackman. The movie is also notable as Sissy Spacek’s breakout film. She appears (nude) as a captive prostitute. "The Candidate" is one of the best political satires ever made. Once again, Mr. Ritchie worked with Robert Redford. The film covers the Senate campaign of an idealistic young democrat. The movie’s final line is a classic. Peter Boyle delivers a standout performance as Redford’s manipulative campaign manager. "The Candidate" won the Best Screenplay Oscar. Ritchie’s next film is a personal favorite of mine. "Smile" is a quirky look at a California teen beauty pageant. Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon co-star in this warm episodic film. The movie has a John Sayles quality to it. Of course, this was before John Sayles was making films. Melanie Griffith did one of her famous underage topless scenes. Ritchie’s follow-up was probably his biggest popular hit. "The Bad News Bears" was a hilarious film that spawned a series of inferior sequels and a TV series. Walter Matthau is great as the drunken coach of a gang of misfit kids. Vic Morrow turned in one of his scariest performances as the coach of the best team in the league. "Semi Tough" starred Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh and Kris Kristofferson in an NFL love triangle. Like many of Ritchie’s best films, "Semi Tough" poked fun at the fads of the era. For some reason, Mr. Ritchie seemed to lose his focus after "Semi Tough." He directed a number of bombs and even resorted to using the Allan Smithee pseudonym for one. His two saving graces during the 1980s were "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" and "Fletch." Can’t win them all.

GEORGE SLAVIN Died Apr. 19, 2001

Writer George Slavin died at age 85. Mr. Slavin went from writing B-westerns to TV. He had a lengthy and successful TV career. His credits include "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Bonanza," "Star Trek," "Combat!," "Maverick," "The Untouchables," "Hawaii 5-0," "Mannix," "Barnaby Jones," "Happy Days" and "Charlie’s Angels."

MARIA KARNILOVA Died Apr. 20, 2001

Actress Maria Karnilova died at age 80. Ms. Karnilova was primarily a stage actress. She created the role of Goldie in the Broadway version of "Fiddler on the Roof." She also appeared in the Broadway version of "Gypsy" with Ethel Merman. Ms. Karnilova’s film credits include "Married to the Mob" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

JACK HALEY JR. Died Apr. 21, 2001

Emmy-winning producer Jack Haley Jr. died of respiratory failure at age 67. Mr. Haley was the son Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz." Mr. Haley produced a number of entertainment based TV specials including several Oscar telecasts. He won two Emmy Awards for his TV work.

KEN HUGHES Died Apr. 28, 2001

Writer/director Ken Hughes died at age 79. Mr. Hughes was nominated for three BAFTA’s for his film "The Trials of Oscar Wilde." Mr. Hughes had a long and successful career. Among his many credits are "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang," "Casino Royale," "Cromwell," the Rachel Ward slasher film "Night School" and Mae West’s final film "Sextette."

WALTER HANNEMANN Died Apr. 29, 2001

Oscar nominated film editor Walter Hannemann died at age 89. Mr. Hanneman received an Oscar nomination for Best Editing for his work on "Smokey and the Bandit." Who knew that movie was nominated! Among Mr. Hanneman’s nearly 50 film credits are "Al Capone," "Hitler," "The Guns of the Magnificent Seven," "Two Minute Warning" and "The Nude Bomb." Mr. Hanneman also worked in TV. His TV credits include "The Invaders," "The Fugitive" and "Twelve O’clock High."

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