JANE CUSUMANO Died June 1, 2001
Writer/director Jane Cusumano died of breast cancer at age 46. Ms. Cusumano wrote and directed the film "What Matters Most," a love story that starred her daughter Polly. Ms. Cusumano battled breast cancer for a number of years. She died four weeks after completing the film.
HANK KETCHAM Died June 1, 2001
Animator/cartoonist and father of "Dennis the Menace" Hank Ketcham died of heart disease and cancer at age 81. Mr. Ketcham was an animator and artist for both Walt Disney and Walter Lantz. Though Ketcham worked on the classic Disney film "Bambi," he is best known for creating the ultimate little boy, "Dennis the Menace." The cartoon has run in newspapers for over 50 years. While the rest of us have to age and work for a living, Dennis is perpetually young. The comic strip character has been the subject of a number of TV series, specials and feature films. Jay North is probably the most famous actor associated with the role having played Dennis in the TV series that ran from 1959 to 1963. Mason Gamble played the role opposite Walter Matthau as Mr. Wilson in the 1993 feature film version.
PETER RONILD Died June 2, 2001
Danish actor/writer Peter Ronild died at age 72. Mr. Ronild appeared in over 20 films during his career. While most of his work was known only in Denmark, he appeared in the internationally known sci-fi thriller "Z.P.G." which starred Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin. Mr. Ronild wrote or co-wrote a number of films. His tough police drama "Cop" was nominated for several Bodil Awards in his native land.
IMOGENE COCA Died June 2, 2001
Sid Ceasar and Imogene Coca were two of the comedic visionaries and pioneers in the early days of TV. Their landmark series "Your Show of Shows" ran from 1950 to 1954. The series set a standard for comedy/variety shows that many shows since fall short of. Not only did "Your Show of Shows" feature performers like Sid Ceasar, Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner, but it boasted a writing staff that any show would envy: Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart among others. The 1973 documentary "10 From Your Show of Shows" is worth tracking down to see just ho0w brilliant this TV series was. The Emmy Award winning actress died at age 92. Ms. Coca had a lengthy career on TV, stage and the big screen.
ANTHONY QUINN Died June 3, 2001
Oscar winning actor Anthony Quinn died of respiratory problems related to his battle with throat cancer at age 86. Mr. Quinn was nominated for four Oscars during his lengthy and colorful career, winning twice. Both of his wins, for "Viva Zapata!" and "Lust for Life" were in the Best Supporting Actor category. Mr. Quinn had been nominated Twice for Best Actor for his work in "Zorba the Greek" and "Wild is the Wind." Anthony Quinn made a powerful onscreen impression during a career that includes over 150 films. Mr. Quinn’s mixed parentage (Irish/Mexican) allowed him to play a wide range of ethnic characters. Mr. Quinn had a true zest for living and his off screen life was more exciting than most of his movies.
Anthony Quinn appeared a number of certifiable classics: William Wellman’s "The Ox-Bow Incident," Raoul Walsh’s "They Died With Their Boots On," "Guadalcanal Diary," Elia Kazan’s "Viva Zapata!," Federico Fellini’s "La Strada," Vincent Minelli and George Cuckor’s "Lust for Life," J. Lee Thompson’s "The Guns of Navarone," David Lean’s "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Zorba the Greek."
Not all his films were classics, however many of his other movies were still fun to watch. "High Risk" is one of my all time favorite B Movies. Mr. Quinn also appeared in "Across 110th Street," "The Don is Dead," "Flap" and "The Secret of Santa Vittoria" are also very entertaining. Mr. Quinn’s 1977 film "Mohammed, Messenger of God" drew protests from many Arabs for its portrayal of the origins of Islam.
JOAN VOHS Died June 4, 2001
Sexy blonde actress Joan Vohs died of heart failure at age 73. Ms. Vohs was usually typecast as a bimbo, though she fought to change her image. Ms. Vohs film credits include the original version of "Sabrina," "Lure of the Swamp," "Fort Yuma" and "Fort Ti." Ms. Vohs had a recurring role as a guest on the TV series "Family Affair." Following the end of that show, Ms. Vohs retired to raise her children.
ALFONSO BRESCIA Died June 6, 2001
Italian cult director Alfonso Brescia died at age 71. The son of producer Eduardo Brescia, Alfonso Brescia began working with such directors as Sergio Leone and Federico Fellini before becoming a director himself. Mr. Brescia directed over 50 films ranging from Sword and Sandal films to Spaghetti Westerns to Giallo and Sexploitation. His credits include "The Magnificent Gladiator," "Winchester Bill," "Kill Rommell!," "Naked Girl Killed in the Park," "Battle of the Amazons" and "War of the Robots."
JOHN DUNBAR Died June 8, 2001
British character actor John Dunbar died at age 86. Mr. Dunbar appeared in the classic British horror film "Peeping Tom." Other credits include "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and "I Was Monty’s Double."
ALEX DE RENZY Died June 8, 2001
Alex De Renzy was one of the best porn directors of the 1970s. He came from the era that inspired the movie "Boogie Nights." De Renzy was a searcher. He was a survival trainer in the US Air Force. He dealt craps in Reno. He made documentary films in San Francisco. Then he discovered his real calling. Mr. De Renzy’s films include two classics from the 70s: "Babyface" and "Pretty Peaches." De Renzy not only knew how to film hot sex scenes, he took pride in telling a story and having good production values. He discovered 70s porn star Desiree Cousteau. Mr. De Renzy died of liver failure at age 65.
LOU FANT Died June 11, 2001
Actor Lou Fant died at age 69 of pulmonary fibrosis. Mr. Fant founded the National Theater for the Deaf. Like Lon Chaney Sr., Mr. Fant was born to deaf parents. In "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," Mr. Fant played a teacher to deaf children. Other credits include the impressive "Resurrection," "The Pom Pom Girls" with Rainbeaux Smith and "Tuff Turf."
WENDY BOTT Died June 12, 2001
Writer/director Wendy Bott apparently committed suicide at age 38. Ms. Bott wrote and directed Comedy Central’s "Short Attention Span Theater" and the film "Robbie’s Brother." Ms. Bott disappeared on June 12, 2001 in Los Angeles. Her body was discovered on June 21 with a gunshot wound to the head. A gun, box of ammunition and black bag were next to the body. The coroner’s office ruled out foul play. It was reported that Ms. Bott had been taking Paxil to treat depression. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
OWEN BUSH Died June 12, 2001
Actor Owen Bush died at age 79. Among Mr. Bush’s credits is the 1971 cult classic "Vanishing Point" with Barry Newman. Other credits include "Ma Barker’s Killer Brood," "The Reivers," "Skateboard" and "The Last Starfighter." His lengthy TV credits include the soap opera "Passions," "Murder She Wrote," "Weird Science," "Highway to Heaven," "Barnaby Jones," "Gunsmoke," "Baretta," "Get Smart," "The Andy Griffith Show," "Gomer Pyle," "Shane," "Bonanza" and "Wanted: Dead or Alive."
PEGGY CARTWRIGHT Died June 13, 2001
Peggy Cartwright was the last surviving member of the original "Our Gang" cast. After a short career in silent films, Ms. Cartwright married actor William Walker. They were married until his death in 1992.
HENRI ALEKAN Died June 15, 2001
Oscar nominated cinematographer Henri Alekan died of leukemia at age 92. Mr. Alekan was nominated for an Oscar for his work on "Roman Holiday." Mr. Alekan photographed Jean Cocteau’s classic "La Belle et la Bete (Beauty and the Beast)." Wim Wenders called on Mr. Alekan to photograph "Wings of Desire," his magical tale of angels in Berlin. "La Belle et la Bete" contains some of the most beautiful images ever preserved on film. Among his nearly 100 credits are "Austerlitz," "Topkapi," "Mayerling" and Charles Bronson’s "Red Sun."
JOE DARION Died June 16, 2001
Tony winning songwriter Joe Darion died at age 84. Mr. Darion wrote numerous songs including "The Impossible Dream." He won a Tony for his lyrics for the play "The Man of La Mancha." That play was later made into a film with Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren. Mr. Darion also wrote the script and songs for the cartoon feature "Shinbone Alley."
BERT KRAMER Died June 20, 2001
Actor Bert Kramer died of cancer at age 66. Mr. Kramer acted on stage, in film and on TV. He appeared in over 50 films and TV series. His credits include voice work for the animated TV series "Transformers." Film credits include "Lady Sings the Blues," "Thunder Alley" and "Volcano." He appeared in episodes of "The F.B.I.," "Mission Impossible," "Mannix," "Kojak," "The Rockford Files," "Little House on the Prairie," "Dynasty" and "Matlock." Mr. Kramer was a regular on the TV series "Texas," "The Young and the Restless" and "Another World."
JOHN LEE HOOKER Died June 21, 2001
Blues legend John Lee Hooker died at age 83. Mr. Hooker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His music has influenced several generation of younger blues and rock musicians. His work has been covered by a who’s who of the recording industry. Songs like "Boogie Chillen" and "Boom, Boom" are as powerful today as when first recorded. Mr. Hooker appeared in John Landis' classic "The Blues Brothers." He appeared as himself in a number of documentaries. His music was used on the soundtracks of "G.I. Jane," "City of Angels" and "Play it to the Bone" among others. His star on the Hollywood walk of fame is right next to that of actor Carroll O’Connor. Both men died on the same day.
CARROLL O’CONNOR Died June 21, 2001
Carroll O’Connor was blessed with the role of a lifetime. His interpretation of the bigoted Archie Bunker was the stuff of legend. Archie Bunker of "All in the Family" broke down taboos on network TV during the early 1970s. The CBS series produced by Norman Lear opened discussion on such relevant social issues as race relations, homosexuality, political corruption and War. At the center of the tempest was Archie Bunker, the blue-collar factory worker who let his mouth run without engaging his brain. Despite his horrible prejudices, Archie was lovable. This was due to the fact that we saw him through the eyes of his family, who held views in opposition to Archie. Carroll O’Connor was nominated for 8 Emmy Awards for his work on "All in the Family." He won four times. He also won another Emmy for his work on the TV series "In the Heat of the Night."
Despite all of his professional success, Mr. O’Conner was plagued by personal tragedy. His son, actor Hugh O’Connor committed suicide after a lengthy battle with drug addiction. Carroll O’Connor spent the rest of his life working to raise awareness about drug addiction. He was instrumental in the passage of California’s Drug Dealers Civil Liability Act.
Mr. O’Connor’s lengthy film and TV career includes roles in "Cleopatra" with Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, "In Harm’s Way" with John Wayne, "What Did You Do in the War Daddy?," "Waterhole #3," John Borman’s gritty crime drama "Point Blank" and "Kelly’s Heroes" with Clint Eastwood. Mr. O’Connor composed the closing theme for the TV series "All in the Family." Carroll O’Conner died of a heart attack at age 75.
JOHN HERBERT Died June 22, 2001
Writer John Herbert died at age 74. Mr. Herbert wrote the play and later screenplay "Fortune and Men’s Eyes." The gritty drama dealt with homosexuality in prison and starred Michael Greer and Wendell Burton. The play enjoyed several lengthy runs. Actor Sal Mineo directed an off-Broadway version of the play in 1969, which in which he co-starred with Michael Greer and a young unknown named Don Johnson.
KENT HOLADAY Died June 22, 2001
Animator and lip expert Kent Holaday died at age 49 of a thyroid condition. Mr. Holaday worked on a number of Disney films including "Tarzan," "Mulan," "Fantasia (re-release) and "The Lion King." His TV work included "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" "The Rugrats," "Daria" and "Futurama." Mr. Holaday was the sound editor and composer on the TV series "Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures."
CORINNE CALVET Died June 23, 2001
French actress Corinne Calvet died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 76. Ms. Calvet’s credits include My Friend Irma Goes West," "What Price Glory?" with James Cagney, "Hemingway’s Adventures as a Young Man," "The Sword and the Sorcerer" and the TV series "General Hospital."
MATTHEW ANSARA Died June 25, 2001
Actor Matthew Ansara died of an accidental heroin overdose at age 35. Mr. Ansara was the only child of actors Barbara Eden and Michael Ansara. The actor had suffered from clinical depression. His credits include "You’re Mother Wears Combat Boots," "To Protect and to Serve" and "Con Games." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
PAUL BERRY Died June 26, 2001
Oscar nominated animator Paul Berry died way too young of a brain tumor. The talented artist worked on Tim Burton’s dazzling "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Other credits include "James and the Giant Peach" and "Monkeybone." Mr. Berry’s short film "Sandman" was nominated for the Best Short Film Animated Oscar in 1991.
WILLIAM BRYANT Died June 26, 2001
Toughguy character actor William Bryant died of cancer at age 77. Mr. Bryant appeared in nearly 200 films and TV shows. His credits include "Amazon Women on the Moon," "Corvette Summer," "Gray Lady Down," "Two Minute Warning," "Dolemite," "Walking Tall Part II," "McQ," "Chisum," "The Great Race" and "King Dinosaur." Mr. Bryant was a regular on the TV series "Combat," "General Hospital," "Switch" and "Hondo."
JACK LEMMON Died June 27, 2001
Oscar winning actor Jack Lemon died of cancer at age 76. Jack Lemon was one of the last stars to emerge from the old studio system. Jack Lemmon was an everyman in the vein of Jimmy Stewart. Equally adept at both comedy and drama, Jack Lemmon appeared in over 100 films and TV shows. Mr. Lemmon was nominated for eight Oscars, winning twice. He won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrait of a businessman on the verge of economic and moral collapse in "Save the Tiger." He won a Best Supporting Oscar for his role as Ensign Pulver in the classic "Mr. Roberts." Mr. Lemmon was also awarded the AFI lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to being a consummate actor, Jack Lemmon was a Movie Star. He was married to actress Felicia Farr and his son is actor Chris Lemmon.
Mr. Lemmon worked with many of the greatest directors in film history. He appeared in seven films by director Billy Wilder. Those films were "Some Like it Hot," "Irma La Douce," "The Apartment," "The Fortune Cookie," "Avanti," "The Front Page" and "The Buddy System." He was a frequent co-star of Walter Matthau. The pair appeared in 13 films together. Their most famous pairings were "The Odd Couple" and "Grumpy Old Men."
Jack Lemmon appeared in a staggering number of outstanding films. His credits include "Mr. Roberts," "Bell, Book and Candle," "The Days of Wine and Roses," "How to Murder Your Wife," "The Great Race," "The Out-of-Towners," "Kotch" which he also directed, "The China Syndrome," "Missing," "JFK," "Glen Garry Glenross," "The Player" and "Tuesdays with Morrie."
HAL GOLDMAN Died June 27, 2001
Emmy nominated writer Hal Goldman died of cancer at age 81. Mr. Goldman was nominated for Emmy Awards for his work on "The Jack Benny Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show." Other credits include "F Troop," "Oh God: Book II," the TV series "The Odd Couple" and "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson."
AL DEMPSTER Died June 28, 2001
Disney background artist Al Dempster died at age 89. Mr. Dempster provided background artwork for many of Disney’s classic films. His credits include "Fantasia," "Dumbo," "The Three Caballeros," "Song of the South," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty," "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," "Mary Poppins," "Sword in the Stone," "The Jungle Book," "Robin Hood" and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh."
JOAN SIMS Died June 28, 2001
British character actress Joan Sims died at age 71. Ms. Sims is best known for the British "Carry On…" comedy movie series. Ms. Sims appeared in an astounding 24 movies in the series between 1957 and 1978. In addition to her numerous "Carry On…" films, Ms. Sims appeared in "The Sea Shall Not Have Them," "The Naked Truth," "A Christmas Carol," "Love Among the Ruins" and "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells."
KAREN LAMM Died June 29, 2001
Actress Karen Lamm died of heart failure. She was around 50 years old. Ms. Lamm was married to Beach Boys Drummer Dennis Wilson. The couple actually married, divorced and remarried. Ms. Lamm had a bit part in Michael Cimino’s "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot." She played the girl on a motorcycle who takes a hammer to Jeff Bridges’ delivery van when he tries to pick her up. Other credits include the TV series "Starsky and Hutch" and "Columbo."
CHET ATKINS Died June 30, 2001
Mr. Guitar, Chet Atkins died two days short of his 77th birthday. Mr. Atkins was considered to be one of the finest guitar players in the work. Though he primarily recorded in the Country and Western genre, Mr. Atkins’ distinct style appealed the fans of all kinds of music. Mr. Atkins appeared in the film "That’s Country." His music has accented a number of films including "Michael."