Thursday, June 12, 2008


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."


MABEL KARR Died May 1, 2001

Mabel Karr, actress and widow of actor Fernando Rey died at age 66. Ms. Karr appeared in Jesus Franco’s classic trash cult film "The Diabolical Dr. Z." Among her other films are "The Colossus of Rhodes," "Cover Girl" and "Operation Lady Chaplin."


Actress Gina Mastrogiacomo died of a rare bacterial infection of her heart at age 39. Ms. Mastrogiacomo was best remembered for her performance as Ray Liota's mistress Janice Rossi in Martin Scorsese's gangster masterpiece "Goodfellas." She showed great range with no dialogue in the standout scene in which Lorraine Bracco, as Henry Hill's wife, rings the buzzers of all of the apartments in the same building in which the Janice Rossi character lives. Ms. Mastrogiacomo can hear what is being said about her as she sits safe in her apartment. The actress conveyed anger, fear and humiliation without uttering a word. "Goodfellas" was the second time Ms. Mastrogiacomo worked with Martin Scorsese. She was hired to play Tom Cruise's girlfriend in "The Color of Money." At that point in time, Ms. Mastrogiacomo had not acted professionally. She earned a degree in Art Design and worked as a model in print ads. After working three weeks on "The Color of Money," her lack of training as an actress caused her to be replaced by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Gina Mastrogiacomo's father Leonard was upset and paid for his daughter's acting classes three days a week in New York City. The classes paid off. Ms. Mastrogiacomo was hired by Scorsese for "Goodfellas" and Spike Lee for "Jungle Fever." Other film and TV credits include "The Naked Gun 2 and ½," "NYPD Blue," "Seinfeld," "ER" and "The X Files." Ms. Mastrogiacomo was called back three times when she auditioned for the part of Tony Soprano's sister Janice in "The Sopranos." She lost the part as the series creators wanted a heavier actress for the role. Ms. Mastrogiacomo's illness baffled doctors until it was too late to do anything to save her. Her grieving father Leonard passed away six months later. Sister Naomi shared the pain that her family still feels over the death of Gina. There were four sisters born within four years of each other. Her sister Naomi said Gina was always "the news" of the family and that they always loved hearing of her latest adventures. I thank Naomi Mastogiacomo for sharing her memories with me.


Award winning assistant director and production manager Ephraim Schaffer died at age 75. Mr. Schaffer shared in the DGA Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials for his work on the TV mini series adaptation of Herman Wouk’s novel "War and Remembrance." Mr. Schaffer was also the assistant director on the excellent Made for TV movie "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers." He was the production manager on a number of other Made for TV films including "Baby M."

BONNIE LEE BAKLEY Died May 4, 2001

Bonnie Lee Bakley, wife of actor Robert Blake was found murdered by her husband outside a Los Angeles restaurant. Mr. Blake claimed that he left his wife in the car to return to the restaurant in order to retrieve a pistol he left inside. Ms. Bakley was shot to death. Mr. Blake has been arrested and charged with his wife’s murder. Ms. Bakley has a long history as a scam artist and also had several arrests. Ms. Bakley was an extra in the films "Turk 182" and "Radio Days." UPDATE: Robert Blake was tried and acquitted by a jury of murdering Ms. Bakley.

RON PURVIS Died May 4, 2001

Award winning Australian sound mixer Ron Purvis died. Mr. Purvis was nominated four times for Best Achievement in Sound by the Australian Film Institute. He won for the excellent "Phar Lap." Mr. Purvis also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Screen Guild. Mr. Purvis added aural excitement to a number of my favorite films. To those of you just discovering Peter Wier’s work through "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," I’d recommend you check out "Galipoli." The WWI film stars Mel Gibson. It is intimate and epic at the same time. Mr. Purvis helped capture the horror of trench warfare with his sound work on this classic. His other credits include "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Razorback," "Return to Snowy River," "Communion," "The Russia House" and "Quigley Down Under."

ARNE SUCKSDORFF Died May 4, 2001

Award winning Swedish director/writer/producer/ actor Arne Sucksdorff died of pneumonia at age 84. Mr. Sucksdorff’s film "The Great Adventure" won the International Prize and Special Mention for Direction at Cannes in 1954. That film also won the Grand Silver Plaque at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 1994, Mr. Sucksdorff was honored in his native land with a Creative Achievement Award at the Guldbagge Awards. He had previously won a Best Director Award in the 1960s for his film "My Home is Copacabana." Mr. Sucksdorff directed numerous films between 1941 and 1971.

TERRY RYAN Died May 5, 2001

Writer Terry Ryan died of heart failure at age 78. Mr. Ryan wrote for a number of hit TV series during the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Ryan won two Emmy Awards for his work on "The Phil Silvers Show." Other credits include "Car 54, Where are You?," "Love American Style" and "The Betty Hutton Show."

GARRY WISSNER Died May 6, 2001

Extremely talented art director and production designer Gary Wissner died at age 36 of Hodgkin’s Disease. Mr. Wissner collaborated with such directors as James Cameron, Walter Hill, Joel Schumacher, David Fincher, Lawrence Kasden and Danny De Vito to help them achieve their vision. Among Mr. Wissner’s many stylish credits are "The Abyss," "Hoffa," "Se7en," "Last Man Standing," "Wyatt Earp," "8mm," "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "De Tox."

VINCE SURVINSKI Died May 7, 2001

Vince Survinski was a collaborator of George Romero’s. Mr. Survinski helped build the sets on the classic original version of "Night of the Living Dead." He also played the member of the posse who shoots and kills Ben (Duane Jones) the film’s hero during the closing scene. Mr. Survinski was Romero’s business manager on the films "Dawn of the Dead" and "Creepshow." Other acting credits include "Martin," "Flesheater" and "The Crazies."


Award winning Swedish actress Margaretha Krook died of cancer at age 75. Ms. Krook won the Best Actress Award at the 1976 Guldbagge Awards for her performance in "Release the Prisoners to Spring." Ms. Krook appeared in three films by famed director Ingmar Bergman including "Persona." Ms. Krook appeared in nearly 100 films during her 50-year career.

PIERO NATOLI Died May 8, 2001

Italian actor/producer/writer/director Piero Natoli died of an aneurysm at age 53. Mr. Natoli appeared in over 20 films. Among the films he wrote, directed, produced and starred in are "The Film Thief" and "Killers Come to Paris." He appeared in the award-winning film "The Last Kiss."

SAUL ELKINS Died May 9, 2001

Writer/producer/director Saul Elkins died at age 93. Mr. Elkins produced a number of B-movies during the 1940s and 50s. Among his films were "Sugarfoot" and "Colt .45." Mr. Elkins also wrote a number of scripts including "Pride of the Navy" and "Hitler Lives." Mr. Elkins directed the short documentary "Calgary Stampede." That film received an Oscar nomination as Best Short Subject in 1949.

HARTZELL SPENCE Died May 9, 2001

Author Hartzell Spence coined the term ‘pinup’ when he was the editor of ‘Yank’ magazine during WWII. Mr. Spence founded the magazine, which was a favorite of soldiers fighting overseas. His book "One Foot in Heaven" was adapted to the screen and starred Frederick March. It told the tale of a country preacher and his family. Mr. Spence died at age 93.

JAMES E. MYERS Died May 9, 2001

Actor/composer/director/producer James E. Myers died of leukemia at age 80. Mr. Myers co-wrote the classic Bill Haley and the Comets’ rock and roll standard "Rock Around the Clock." The song was used on the soundtrack of Glenn Ford’s "The Blackboard Jungle," "Rock Around the Clock," the TV series "Happy Days," "American Graffiti" and about a million other films. Mr. Myers produced the film "The Block." He directed the adult film "Rendezvous in Hell" with As an actor he appeared in the best of the Shaft movies: "Shaft in Africa" and the Herman’s Hermits vehicle "Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter."

LESLIE SANDS Died May 9, 2001

British actor Leslie Sands died 11 days short of his 80th birthday. Mr. Sands appeared in a number of films and British TV shows including "The Avengers," "The Black Adder," "The Saint," "If There Weren’t Any Blacks, You’d Have to Invent Them," "One More Time," "The Ragman’s Daughter" and "Life for Ruth."

TURI FERRO Died May 10, 2001

Italian actor Turi Ferro died at age 80. Mr. Ferro’s film career spanned nearly 40 years. Mr. Ferro appeared in four films by famed director Lina Wertmueller: "The Seduction of Mimi," "Rita the Mosquito," "Don’t Sting the Mosquito" and "Blood Feud." Other credits include "Malicious" with Laura Antonelli, "The Barons" and "A Virgin Named Mary."

JENNIFER STAHL Died May 10, 2001

After a short career in film, Ms. Stahl retired. The NYPD claims that she turned to selling marijuana. Ms. Stahl and two others were shot to death in what was called "The Carnegie Massacre." Ms. Stahl lived in an apartment above the Carnegie Delicatessen in New York. Two men entered the apartment to rob Ms. Stahl’s stash. The trio was bound with duct tape and then shot in their heads. Killer Sean Salley was featured on "America’s Most Wanted" and captured. Jennifer Stahl’s best-known film was "Dirty Dancing." She also appeared in "Necropolis," "Firehouse," "I’m Your Man" and "Identity Crisis."

DEBORAH WALLEY Died May 10, 2001

Beach babe Deborah Walley died of throat cancer at age 57. Fans of 1960s beach movies remember the brunette Ms. Walley with great fondness. She was Gidget in "Gidget Goes Hawaiian." Other credits include "Ski Party," "Beach Blanket Bingo," "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine," "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini," "Spinout" with Elvis, "It’s a Bikini World" and the TV series "The Mother’s in Law." Ms. Walley also starred in the family classic "Benji."

DOUGLAS ADAMS Died May 11, 2001

Writer Douglas Adams was best know for his book "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy." The book was turned into a TV mini series and is currently being filmed as a feature film. Mr. Adams also wrote scripts, produced, directed and acted. He directed and filmed the short "Rockstar" which starred John Cleese. He was involved in pre-production on the feature film version of "Hitchhiker’s Guide" when he died of a heart attack. Douglas Adams also wrote scripts for the BBC sci-fi series "Dr. Who." He also wrote for the hilarious TV series "Monty Python’s Flying Circus."

RICHARD DAVISON Died May 12, 2001

Special effects artist Richard Davison died just short of his 41st birthday. Mr. Davison worked for the Stan Winston Studio on the films "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Batman Returns." Mr. Davison’s other credits include "Jurassic Park," "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World," "John Carpenter’s The Thing" and "Re-Animator."

PERRY COMO Died May 12, 2001

Crooner Perry Como died of Alzheimer’s Disease just shy of his 89th birthday. Mr. Como won Emmy Awards for two of his many TV specials. Mr. Como appeared more often on TV than in the movies. He sang the theme song for the Paul Newman film "Somebody Up There Likes Me." Mr. Como appeared in the films "Words and Music," "Something for the Boys," "Doll Face" and "If I’m Lucky." In addition to his numerous TV specials, Mr. Como made
several appearances on "Rowin and Martin’s Laugh In."

JOHN CLIFF Died May 12, 2001

Character actor John Cliff appeared in nearly 130 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. Mr. Cliff died at age 82. Among Mr. Cliff’s many credits are the classic crime film "The Asphalt Jungle," "River of No Return" with Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, "The Love Bug," "The Gnome Mobile," "Jessie James vs. The Daltons," "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein," "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" and "Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion."

SIMON RAVEN Died May 12, 2001

Novelist Simon Raven died at age 73. Mr. Raven provided additional dialogue to one of the best James Bond films: "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service." He was much in demand as a TV writer in England. He scripted the mini series "Edward and Mrs. Simpson," "Point Counter Point" and "The Blackheath Poisonings."

VLADAMIR VALENTA Died May 13, 2001

Actor/writer Vladamir Valenta died of cancer at age 77. Mr. Valenta appeared in the Oscar winning film "Closely Watched Trains." He also appeared in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." Mr. Valenta was a Czech who fled his communist homeland and began making movies in Canada. He was the subject of the documentary film "Closely Watched Freedaom." Other credits include the John Savage thriller "The Amateur" and the Kirk Douglas/James Coburn Western "Draw!"

GWEN BAGNI Died May 13, 2001

Emmy nominated writer Gwen Bagni died at age 78. Ms. Bagni shared the Emmy nomination with Paul Dubov for their work on the mini series "Backstairs at the White House." Other credits include "With Six You Get Eggroll," "Eight is Enough," "My Three Sons," "Honey West," "Gunsmoke," "Felony Squad" and "Playhouse 90."

GREGORY BEAUMONT Died May 13, 2001

Emmy nominated sound effects editor Gregory Beaumont died of colon cancer at age 37. Mr. Beaumont was nominated for his work on the animated series "Batman Beyond." Other credits include "Kid Cop," "Behind Enemy Lines" and "Beethoven’s 3rd."

EDDRA GALE Died May 13, 2001

Corpulent actress Eddra Gale appeared in a number of memorable films in the 1960s. She played Peter Seller’s long-suffering wife in the comedy "What’s New Pussycat." The pair exchanged some wonderfully funny insults. At one point Ms. Gale questions her husband about the woman he is fooling around with. "Is she prettier than me?" Ms. Gale asks. "Prettier than you? I’m prettier than you!" is Mr. Seller’s response. Yet another exchange has Ms. Gale yelling "Lascivious adulterer!" To which Peter Sellers replies "Don’t you dare call me that again until I’ve looked it up." Ms. Gale showed that heavy women can be sensuous in "Fellini’s 8 ½." Other credits include "The Graduate," "Curtis Harrington’s ""Games," "The Maltese Bippy," "The Strawberry Statement," "The Blue Knight," "Revenge of the Cheerleaders," "Farewell My Lovely" and "Alex and the Gypsy." Ms. Gale was 80.

BYRON MABE Died May 13, 2001

Actor and exploitation director Byron Mabe died age 69. Mabe acted in a number of mainstream movies and TV shows including "The Blue Knight," "Mrs. Sundance," "Police Story," "The Doberman Gang" and "The F.B.I. vs. Alvin Karpis." Under the names Ronnie Runningboard and Ron Elliot, Mr. Made directed a number of sexploitation films. These include "1000 Shapes of a Female," "The Big Snatch" and "Love Thy Neighbor and His Wife."

RALPH TABAKAN Died May 13, 2001

WWII hero turned FAA engineer turned actor Ralph Tabakan died of heart disease at age 79. Mr. Tabakan has the distinction of being Barry Levinson’s good luck charm. He had small roles in each of Mr. Levinson’s first 15 films! He had a recurring role as Dr. Scheiner, the medical examiner on the TV show "Homicide: Life on the Streets."

JASON MILLER Died May 13, 2001

I snuck out of school with friends Bruce Ingram and David Mah to see the first showing of "The Exorcist" in Memphis. Actor Jason Miller made a lasting impression on me with his performance as the conflicted Father Karras. I still feel that his performance is one of the best depictions of faith in crisis ever put on film. Actor and award winning writer Jason Miller died of a heart attack at age 62. Mr. Miller wrote the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play "That Championship Season." He later directed the film version. He is the father of actors Jason Patric and Joshua Miller (the creepy Homer in Near Dark). He was married to actresses Sue Bernard (Faster Pussy Cat! Kill! Kill!) and Linda Miller. Among Mr. Miller’s other acting credits are the under rated and chilling "Exorcist 3," "The Nickel Ride," "Monsignor," "Toy Soldiers" and "Rudy." Mr. Miller was also part of a great ensemble cast in William Peter Blatty’s "The Ninth Configuration." If ever a film cried out for restoration and a Special Edition DVD it is this. If you are fortunate enough to find an uncut version of the film, you are in for a treat.

PETER GRIFFITH Died May 14, 2001

Actor and father of actress Melanie Griffith died from complications from emphysema. Mr. Griffith played Jamie Lee Curtis’s father in John Carpenter’s "Halloween."

SACHA VIERNY Died May 15, 2001

Award winning French cinematographer Sacha Vierny died at age 81. Mr. Vierny captured the beautiful horror of Peter Greenaway’s disturbing "The Cook, the Thief His Wife and Her Lover." Mr. Vierny worked on twelve films with director Greenaway including "Prospero’s Books," "Rosa," "8 ½ Women," "Drowning By Numbers" and "A Zed & Two Noughts." Mr. Vierny was also the favored cinematographer of director Alain Resnais. The two worked on nine films together including "Mon Oncle d’Amerique," "Last Year at Marienbad," "Stavisky," "La
Guerre est Finie
," "Night and Fog" and the classic "Hiroshima, Mon Amour." Among his other credits are Luis Bunuel’s "Belle de Jour" and "The Man who Cried" starring Johnny Depp.

JOE BAKER Died May 16, 2001

British comedic actor Joe Baker died of a heart attack at age 72. In addition to his live action work, Mr. Baker provided voices for cartoons. His credits include "Dumb and Dumber," Disney’s "Pocahontas," "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "Waxwork," "Waxwork II," "Bugsy," "Dutch," "Highway to Heaven" and "Fantasy Island."

FRANK SLAUGHTER Died May 17, 2001

Novelist Frank Slaughter died at age 93. Four of Mr. Slaughter’s novels were adapted to film and TV: "Sangaree," "The Healer," "Doctor’s Wives" and "Women in White."

MAURICE NOBLE Died May 18, 2001

Cartoonist Maurice Noble died at age 91. Mr. Noble received the Golden Award at the 1992 Motion Picture Screen Cartoonist’s Awards. Mr. Noble was a background artist for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." He was a character designer on "Dumbo." He worked on over 50 "Bugs Bunny" cartoons. Among his 20 production designer credits is the animated feature "The Incredible Mr. Limpet." Mr. Noble also directed over 40 cartoons including many "Tom and Jerry" and "Bugs Bunny" shorts.

HERB BROWER Died May 19, 2001

TV producer Herb Brower died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 83. Among Mr. Brower’s production credits are the TV series "Mr. Ed," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "The Addams Family."

WHITMAN MAYO Died May 22, 2001

Whitman Mayo was best known for playing the character Grady on the TV series "Sanford and Son" and its spin-off "Grady." Mr. Mayo died of a heart attack at age 70. Other credits include "D.C. Cab," "Boyz N the Hood," "The Main Event" and "The Black Klansman." Mr. Mayo was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe for his work on "Sanford and Son."

LITA CHEVRET Died May 22, 2001

Bit player Lita Chevret died just shy of her 93rd birthday. Ms. Chevret had bit parts in some great films. She appeared in "The Philadelphia Story," W.C. Fields’ "My Little Chickadee," George Cukor’s "The Women," the Greta Garbo version of "Camille," "Romeo and Juliet" with Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard and "What Price Hollywood?"

JACK WATLING Died May 22, 2001

British actor Jack Watling died of cancer at age 78. Mr. Watling was the father of actors Deborah, Dilys and Giles Watling. Among his nearly 90 film and TV credits are "A Night to Remember," "Sink the Bismark," "The Admirable Crichton," "We Dive at Dawn," "The Sea Shall Not Have Them," Alfred Hitchcock’s lame "Under Capricorn," "Dr. Who" and "11 Harrowhouse."

HARRY TOWNES Died May 23, 2001

Character actor Harry Townes racked up 200 film and TV credits as an actor before entering the priesthood in old age. His credits include "Heaven With a Gun," "Fitzwilly," "BJ and the Bear," "The Hawaiians," "Destination Space," "Magnum P.I.," "Simon and Simon," "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," "Night Gallery," "Cade’s County," "Mannix," "The Invaders," "Star Trek," "The Wild, Wild West," "The F.B.I.," "Perry Mason," "Dr. Kildare" and just about every other show that ever aired on American TV!

JEAN CHAMPION Died May 23, 2001

French actor Jean Champion died at age 76. Among Mr. Champion’s 60+ credits are Francois Truffaut’s Oscar winning "Day for Night," Fred Zinnemann’s "Day of the Jackal" and Bertrand Tavernier’s Oscar nominated "Coup de Torchon."

ANNE HANEY Died May 26, 2001

Memphis born actress Anne Haney died of a heart attack at age 67. Ms. Haney found success as an actress late in life. She began her pursuit of celluloid fame in her 40s. Ms. Haney appeared in over 100 films and TV shows. Her credits include "Hopscotch" with Walter Matthau, "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Some Kind of Hero" with Richard Pryor, "Francis," Sam Peckinpah’s "The Osterman Weekend," "Elvis and Me," "Liar Liar," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and the remakes of "Psycho" and "The Out of Towners."

DEBORAH COUPLES Died May 26, 2001

Actress Deborah Couples, the ex-wife of golfer Fred Couples committed suicide after suffering a series of debilitating injuries. Ms. Couple appeared in the films "Venus on the Half Shell" and "Burning Heart."

RAMON BIERI Died May 27, 2001

Veteran character actor Ramon Bieri died of cancer at age 71. Mr. Bieri appeared in some of the best films of the 1970s. His TV credits go back to the 1950s. He was a frequent guest star on many TV series of the 50s and 60s. I first noticed him in Terrence Malick’s fictionalized, lyrical account of the Charles Starkweather murder spree "Badlands." Mr. Bieri played the simple minded Cato who ends up being killed by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Bieri also appeared in the mystical "Brother John" with Sidney Poitier. Other credits include Michael Crichton’s "The Andromeda Strain," "Sorcerer," "RPM," Michael Cimino’s under rated "The Sicilian" and "The Ghosts of Mississippi."

CAROL FRIEDMAN Died May 28, 2001

Carol Friedman, wife of exploitation director David F. Friedman died of cancer at age 76. Mrs. Freidman appeared as herself in the documentary "Mau Mau Sex Sex."

ROCKETS REDGLARE Died May 28, 2001

Michael Morra was born a heroin addict. His mother was murdered and his father was deported. Not a nice beginning for a young baby. Morra turned to comedy, acting and drugs in his search for self-discovery. He also changed his name to Rockets Redglare. Along with Steve Buscemi he performed in "The Rockets Redglare Taxi Caberet." Rockets was a bodyguard for The Sex Pistols at one time. He appeared in a number of films including Jim Jarmusch’s "Mystery Train" filmed in Memphis. Other credits include Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy "After Hours," "Big," "Desperately Seeking Susan," "Down By Law" and the HBO series "Oz." He died of complications of kidney failure, liver failure, cirrhosis and hepatitis C at age 52. Here’s hoping his pain is over.

BILL PRATT Died May 28, 2001

British animator Bill Pratt has died. Mr. Pratt served his country during WWII. After starting his career in England, Mr. Pratt moved to America. His credits include "The Man Called Flintstone," "Star Trek: The Animated Adventures" and "The Smurfs."

HEDI TEMESSY Died May 29, 2001

Award winning Hungarian actress Hedi Temessy died at age 76. Ms. Temessy won Best Actress Awards from Hungarian Film Week and the National Association of Hungarian Journalists for her performance in Andras Suranyi’s "Film." Ms. Temessy appeared in over 70 films during her 50-year career.

RUSSELL SAUNDERS Died May 29, 2001

Canadian born actor and stunt man Russell Saunders died at age 82. Mr. Saunders’ stunt credits include "Mississippi Burning," "The Goonies," "Drum," "Earthquake," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Spartacus," "Around the World in 80 Days," "The Greatest Show on Earth," "Shane," the original version of "The Thing" and Hitchcock’s "Saboteur." Mr. Saunders acted in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "The West Point Story" among others. He was a regular stunt double for Gene Kelly. Mr. Saunders became a naturalized US citizen. He served his country in the special forces during WWII.

ARLENE FRANCIS Died May 31, 2001

Actress turned TV hostess and game show panelist Arlene Francis died of cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease at age 93. I grew up watching Ms. Francis on the old TV show "What’s My Line?" She got her start in the horror film "Murders in the Rue Morgue" with Bela Lugosi. She also appeared in the powerful "All My Sons." During the 1950s and 60s Ms. Francis became a familiar face on TV. She had her own show during the 1950s. She was a regular guest on a number of game shows including "What’s My Line?," "The Price is Right" and "Prize Performance." She appeared in two films by the master director Billy Wilder: "One, Two, Three" and "Fedora." She also appeared in the excellent 1968 TV adaptation of the mystery "Laura." Ms. Francis was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the TV show "Home."