HILDEGARD KNEF Died Feb. 1, 2002
Actress Hildegard Knef died of a lung infection at age 76. Hildegard Knef was a German actress who enjoyed limited success in America. She appeared in Billy Wilder’s interesting misfire "Fedora." She also starred in the 1952 remake of the erotic silent film "Alurane." Ms. Knef caused a stir in Germany when she appeared nude in the film "The Story of a Sinner." She was condemned by the Catholic Church for her actions. She pointed her own finger back at the church’s inaction when she said: "I can't understand all that tumult - five years after Auschwitz!"
EARL ROWE Died Feb. 1, 2002
"Beware of the Blob, it creeps and leaps, and glides and slides!" I believe that’s how the Burt Bacharach theme song to the classic 1950s Sci-Fi film "The Blob" went. Mr. Rowe played the town’s sheriff. Mr. Rowe also appeared in the excellent made for TV film "Attica" about the uprising in the New York prison which resulted in numerous guards and prisoners being killed by New York national guardsmen. Mr. Rowe also appeared in several TV series such as "Kojak."
JERRY SULLIVAN Died Feb. 1, 2002
Mr. Sullivan’s one film credit was in one of the most infamous films in American history: Michael Cimino’s "Heaven’s Gate."
IRISH McCALLA Died Feb. 1, 2002
B-Movie actress Irish McCalla starred in the cult film "She Demons." I say it when I was six and hated it. My opinion of the film hasn’t changed. She also appeared in the horror film "Hands of a Stranger" about a pianist who loses his hands in an auto accident. His hands are replaced by the hands of a murdered criminal. The poor guy turns homicidal. Ms. McCalla was one of his sexy victims. Ms. McCalla was best known for her role on the TV series "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle."
RAYMOND GEROME Died Feb. 2, 2002
French actor Raymond Gerome appeared in nearly 50 films. His credits include "Night of the Generals" with Peter O’Toole, "Tropic of Cancer" and "Day of the Jackal."
MENDE BROWN Died Feb. 2, 2002
Writer/producer Mende Brown made several films in the late 1960s and early 70s. My favorite of his films is "…And Millions Will Die!" The film dealt with a crazed former Nazi who is developing a biological weapon. Mr. Brown died of a heart attack at age 81.
AL LEWIS Died Feb 3, 2002
No, not Grandpa Munster! This Al Lewis was a screenwriter. He wrote "Our Miss. Brooks" and "Ma and Pa Kettle" among others. He also wrote the ground breaking 1960s TV series "Julia" in which a black actress was in the lead role. Diahann Carrol starred as the single-mom/nurse.
HANS PAESTCH Died Feb. 3, 2002
French actor Hans Paestch appeared in over 30 films during a 60-year career. One of his last films was ">Run, Lola, Run."
GEORGE NADER Died Feb. 4, 2002
Michael Medved’s book "The Golden Turkey Awards" voted "Robot Monster" as in one of the worst films ever made. The film dealt with a monster (a man in an ape suit with a fish bowl on his head), which is controlled by a TV that sends messages with bubbles! Beefcake actor George Nader ‘s career never really recovered from that film. After a promising start as a leading man, Nader was relegated to lessor roles. He moved to Europe and had some success under the name Jerry Cotton.
BAXTER WARD Died Feb. 4, 2002
Mr. Ward was a TV newsman in Los Angeles. His one film credit was as a reporter in the 1957 Sci-Fi film "Kronos."
ANNALEE WHITMORE Died Feb. 5, 2002
Writer Annalee Whitmore committed suicide after a long illness. Ms. Whitmore wrote "Andy Hardy Meets the Debutante" and "Babes in Arms" among others.
CLIFF ROQUEMORE Died Feb. 5, 2002
Mr. Roquemore produced two of Rudy Ray Moore’s blaxploitation films" "Petey
Wheatstraw" and "The Human Tornado." Mr. Roquemore died of cancer.
GUY STOCKWELL Died Feb. 6, 2002
Guy was the brother of actor Dean Stockwell. His credits include Alejandro Jodorowski’s horror film "Santa Sangre," "Tobruk," "The War Lord" and the cult classic "It’s Alive."
BERT CONWAY Died Feb. 7, 2002
Mr. Conway served during WWII. He was another actor who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He turned to the stage. His film credits include "Little Big Man" and "The Best Years of Our Lives." He was also in the great modern western "Rancho Deluxe" with Jeff Bridges. He played Judge Keene in the TV film "Helter Skelter." Mr. Conway also appeared in a couple of cool gangster films" "Capone" and "The Spikes Gang."
ELLEN DEMMING Died Feb. 7, 2002
Ms. Demming was a regular on the soap opera "The Guiding Light" for 21 years! Talk about a steady gig.
BOB WOOLER Died Feb. 8, 2002
Mr. Wooler was the DJ at the Cavern Club in Liverpool England. He witnessed the birth of the Beatles. Mr. Wooler appeared as himself in the documentary "The Complete Beatles."
ELISA BRIDGES Died Feb. 8, 2002
Ms. Bridges was Playmate of the Month in December 1994. The popular pin-up appeared in several direct to video "Playmate Videos." Despite repeated claims by Playboy magazine that Ms. Bridges died of natural causes, it was finally revealed that Ms. Bridges died of a drug overdose. Hey folks, Drugs will kill you! Prayers for her family and friends.
JAMES HAGER Died Feb. 8, 2002
James Hager won the Best Documentary Oscar for his film "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." The film chronicled Japanese Yuichiro Miura’s attempt to ski Mt. Everest. Anyone who has seen the film knows that he fell most of the way.
TRACEY ROBERTS Died Feb. 8, 2002
Ms. Roberts’ influence in the film world went beyond the 13 films she acted in. Ms. Roberts was a highly respected acting teacher whose clientele included many of today’s best actors.
ISABELLE HOLLAND Died Feb. 9, 2002
Ms. Holland wrote the book "The Man Without a Face." Mel Gibson directed and starred in the film version of Ms. Holland’s book.
BARRY FOSTER Died Feb. 11, 2002
Mr. Foster appeared in over 50 films during his long career. Credits include "The Battle of Britain" and "The Wild Geese." Mr. Foster’s most famous role was as the psycho killer in Alfred Hitchcock’s "Frenzy." Two of Mr., Foster’s children are actresses.
PAULINE TRIGERE Died Feb. 13, 2002
Ms. Trigere was a world-renowned fashion designer. Her one film credit was for "Breakfast at Tiffanys."
DICK KLEINER Died Feb. 13, 2002
Dick Kleiner was an author and long time Hollywood columnist. He wrote, "Please Don’t Shoot My Dog" with "Our Gang" actor Jackie Cooper. The title refers to an incident that happened to Mr. Cooper as a child. He was unable to cry on cue while filming an "Our Gang" episode. The director took Mr. Coopers dog around the corner and fired a gun. The little boy began crying and the director got his shot. Try pulling that one today!
WAYLON JENNINGS Died Feb. 13, 2002
Country music legend Waylon Jennings died of diabetes related illness at age 64. On Feb. 3, 1959, Waylon Jennings drew straws with "The Big Bopper" for a seat on the plane rented by Buddy Holly. Waylon lost and lived to tell about it. Mr. Jennings went on to become one of the biggest stars in the country music field. Mr. Jennings appeared in and/or composed music for over 20 films and TV shows. He sang the theme song for "The Dukes of Hazard." Say hi to Buddy.
HOWARD K. SMITH Died 15, 2002
Newsman Howard K. Smith witnessed most of the great events of the last half century. He was a voice of unbiased reason and morality in an industry filled with political syncopates. Mr. Smith came ion America’s living room and reported the news. Mr. Smith appeared in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" "The Man," "The Best Man" and "The Candidate." Mr. Smith appeared in 9 episodes of the TV Sci-Fi series "V." Mr. Smith’s calm and reasoned presence will be missed.
KEVIN (TOD) SMITH Died Feb. 15, 2002
Kevin Smith was best know for his role as Ares on "Xena Warrior Princess" and "Hercules." Mr. Smith had some success in Australia and New Zealand for his "John Lawless" movies. Mr. Smith died of a skull fracture suffered in a fall on a movie set in China. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
LUCILLE LUND Died Feb. 15, 2002
I defy you to find a film as kinky and twisted as Edgar Ulmer’s horror classic "The Black Cat." Along with Tod Browning’s "Freaks," "The Black Cat" is about the only universal horror film from the 1930s that still packs a punch. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff do battle with each other in a satanic power struggle. Lucille Lund plays Lugosi’s wife and daughter. Karloff stole the wife and married the daughter. Lugosi wants revenge. He is also sexually drawn to his daughter because she looks just like his wife. Karloff has the wife in suspended animation in the dungeon. If you get the chance, catch this one on video.
BYRNE PIVEN Died Feb. 18, 2002
Byrne Piven was the second actor/acting coach to pass on this month. Mr. Piven’s list of students read like a who’s who of young Hollywood actors. Mr. Piven appeared in "Being John Malkovich," "Madison" and "E=mc2." He appeared in "Very Bad Things" with his son Jeremy Piven (Black Hawk Down).
LEV KULIDZHANOV Died Feb. 18, 2002
Russian director/producer/writer/actor Lev Kulidzhanov was responsible for many films from the 1950s through the 90s. His 1972 film "Starlit Minute" was about one of my favorite subjects: space exploration.
GIUSTANO DURANO Died Feb. 18, 2002
Italian actor Giustano Durano appeared in numerous films over a 45-year career. He won the Silver Ribbon as Best Supporting Actor for "Life is Beautiful" in his home country.
FREDRIC STEINKAMP Died Feb. 20, 2002
Film editor Fredric Steinkamp helped several great directors achieve their vision. Steinkamp edited seven films for Sydney Pollack. Three of Steinkamp’s four Oscar nominations were for Pollack’s films. Steinkamp won the Best Editing Oscar for the 1967 racing film "Grand Prix." Steinkamp’s credits are amazing. He edited "They Shoot Horse, Don’t They?," "Charly," Billy Wilder’s "Fedora," "Three Days of the Condor," "The Yakuza," "The Firm," "Scrooged," "Out of Africa," "Tootsie," "Hide in Plain Sight," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and "Against All Odds." In addition to his Oscar, Mr. Steinkamp was nominated for four "Eddies" by the "America Cinema Editors." That organization gave Mr. Steinkamp the lifetime achievement award in 2001.
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM Died Feb. 20, 2002
Six-year-old Australian actress Sophie Cunningham was killed in a car accident. Ms. Cunningham appeared in two films including "The Season." She appeared in numerous print ads. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
DALE EUNSON Died Feb. 20, 2002
Writer Dale Eunson was the father of actress Joan Evans. Mr. Eunson wrote the script for "Saber Jet" and the play "How to Marry a Millionaire." He later wrote for the TV series "Leave it to Beaver" and "Little House on the Prairie."
STEPHEN LONGSTREET Died Feb. 20, 2002
Writer Stephen Longstreet was primarily a novelist. He did write numerous screenplays though. His scripts include "The Helen Morgan Story" and one of the earliest films in Clint Eastwood’s career: "The First Traveling Saleslady." Mr. Longstreet was 94.
JOHN THAW Died Feb. 21, 2002
British actor John Thaw appeared in "The Bofurs Gun," the Vincent price horror film "Dr. Phibes Rises Again," "Cry Freedom" and Richard Attenbourough’s biopic "Chaplin." Mr. Thaw is most closely identified to his TV role "Inspector Morse." Mr. Thaw was nominated for several British Oscars (BAFTA) for his work on the "Inspector Morse" series and the film "Cry Freedom." Mr. Thaw won three times.
HAROLD PRUETT Died Feb. 21, 2002
Harold Pruett died young. The actor worked in Hollywood from his early teen years. He had a recurring role on the TV series "Party of Five." Other credits include "Sybil," "Parker Lewis Can’t Lose" and "Embrace of the Vampire."
BARBARA VALENTIN Died Feb. 22, 2002
German sex kitten Barbara Valentin was billed as the German Jayne Mansfield. Ms. Valentin was also the lover of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in the mid 1980s. While Ms. Valentin appeared in such classics as "Love, Vampire Style" and "Prison Camp Girls," she also appeared in some good films such as Fasbinder’s "Berlin-Alexanderplatz."
CHUCK JONES Died Feb. 22, 2002
Master animator Chuck Jones died of congestive heart failure at age 89. Mr. Jones creates such characters as Road Runner, Wile E.Coyote, Marvin Martian, Pep Le Pew, and Sam Sheepdog. While Mr. Jones didn’t create Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig he did keep them alive and well for millions of kids of all ages to enjoy. Mr. Jones received an Honorary Oscar in 1996, and won an Oscar for Best Short Subject: Cartoon for "Dot and the Line" in 1966. He shared that Oscar with Les Goldman.
ALICE WALLACE Died Feb. 23, 2002
Ms. Wallace was a model turned Goldwyn Girl. She appeared as beautiful scenery in several films during the 1940s including "The Girl From Jones Beach" with Ronald Reagan and Gary Gray.
MEL STEWART Died Feb. 24, 2002
I first noticed Mel Stewert in the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy "Lets Do it Again" when I was an usher at the Memphian Theater in Memphis. Mr. Stewert played the trainer of ‘boxer’ J.J. Walker. The movie still makes me laugh. Mr. Stewert was a jazz musician in addition to being an excellent actor. He played Henry Jefferson on "All in the Family." Mr. Stewert appeared in "Turn On" the shortest running TV series of the 1960s. The show was pulled after one episode because of humor that was ahead of its time. In one scene, a buxom young woman is about to be executed by a firing squad. The captain of the guard says to the woman, "This may be unusual, but the firing squad has a last request!" Mr. Stewart made his film debut in the gritty crime drama "Odds Against Tomorrow" with Henry Belafonte and Ed Begley Sr.. The movie was ahead of its time in that a black man was portrayed as the leader of a gang of white criminals. I enjoyed Mr. Stewart’s work. Mr. Stewart died of Alzheimer’s disease.
OSKAR SALA Died Feb. 26, 2002
Mr. Sala was a physicist and musician. He invented an electronic instrument called the trautonium. Alfred Hitchcock hired Mr. Sala to use the trautonium to create the bird sounds for his classic horror film "The Birds."
LAWRENCE TIERNEY Died Feb. 26, 2002
Tough-guy actor Lawrence Tierney died of pneumonia just shy of his 83rd birthday. Mr. Tierney played Joe Cabot in Tarantino’s debut film "Reservoir Dogs." The
Hollywood tough guy lived his life off screen much like he did on. He was a strange bird according to most that knew and worked with him. Mr. Tierney became a major star in 1945 when he played the title role in "Dillinger." He played a small role in a 1991 TV version of "Dillinger." Other credits include "Back to Bataan," "Born to Kill," "Kill or be Killed," "Such Good Friends," "Andy Warhol’s Bad," "Gloria," "Prizzi’s Honor," and Jimmy Cagney’s final film "Terrible Joe Moran." "OK ramblers! Lets get rambling."
TONY YOUNG Died Feb. 26, 2002
Tony Young was a good looking tough guy who acted in films and o TV during the 60s, 70s and 80s. His credits include "Chrome and Hot Leather," "Tuff Turf" with the late Catya Sassoon, "Play it as it Lays" with Tuesday Weld and "Black Gunn." Mr. Young appeared as a guest star on numerous TV series. He died of lung cancer. I need to quit smoking.
SPIKE MILLIGAN Died Feb. 27, 2002
British comedian Spike Milligan was an irreverent funnyman. He starred in "The Goon Show" with Peter Sellers and Henry Seacombe. I enjoyed Mr. Milligan’s performance in Richard Lester’s "The Three Musketeers." Milligan played M. Bonancieux, the husband of Raquel Welch. The scene in which he anticipates her return from the palace is a hoot. Mr. Milligan appeared in over 60 films. Mr. Milligan once called Prince Charles a "little groveling bastard" on live TV. My favorite quote from Mr. Milligan was the politically incorrect statement that… "World peace could be a possibility...if it weren't for all those damned foreigners!"
HELMUT ZACHARIAS Died Feb. 28, 2002
Mr. Zacharias was a German composer and actor. He received the German "Bambi" Lifetime Achievement award in 1995. He was one of the best violinists in the world. His son Stephen is also a noted film composer. Mr. Zacharias died of a lung infection at age 82.
MARY STUART Died Feb. 28, 2002
Multi-Emmy nominated actress Mary Stuart died of complications from a stroke at age 75. Ms. Stuart was nominated for three Daytime Emmys and a regular Emmy for her work on "Search for Tomorrow." Though she appeared in a number of feature films Ms. Stuart was best known as an actress on soap operas. She appeared on "The Guiding Light," "One Life to Live" and amazingly, the entire 35-year-run of "Search for Tomorrow."