Saturday, April 24, 2010


JULIA PHILLIPS Died Jan. 1 2002

Julia Phillips, one of the most colorful and successful producers in Hollywood during the 70s died of cancer on Jan. 1, 2002. She had the balls to play with the big boys. She produced "Taxi Driver," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and the Best Picture Oscar Winner from 1973, "The Sting." After a while, the boys didn't like this girl playing on their playground. She sank into cocaine addiction from which she recovered. She wrote the autobiographical book "You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again." Apparently she won't. Her book is a great read for an inside look at the seamy 70s in Hollywood. We've lost a brassy lady.

CATYA SASSOON Died Jan. 1, 2002

Daughter of Vidal Sassoon. She began her career as a model. Rolling Stone Magazine once said she "defined the word nubile." Ms. Sassoon appeared in a number of B-movies including "Angelfist" "Tuff Turf" "Bloodfist: Die Trying" and "Bloodfist: Ground Zero." She died of a heart attack brought on by an overdose of hydromorphone and cocaine at age 33.

BENJAMIN LUM Died Jan. 1, 2002

Hawaiian born actor with numerous TV and film credits. Mr. Lum appeared in "Another 48 Hour." His TV credits include "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "NYPD Blue" and "Married With Children." Mr. Lum died of cancer at age 49.

MEG WYLLIE Died Jan. 1, 2002

Veteran actress Meg Wyllie died at age 84 of heart failure. She had nearly 100 TV and film credits. Ms. Wyllie appeared in "Dragnet" as Tom Hanks’ mother. She was also in "The Last Starfighter," "Lipstick" and Alfred Hitchcock’s "Marnie." Ms. Wyllie also appeared in the first (rejected) TV pilot of  "Star Trek" in 1965.

DAN FOSTER Died Jan. 2, 2002

Mr. Foster acted in bit parts during the late 1940s and early 50s. He appeared in Nicholas Ray’s excellent take on Bonnie and Clyde: "They Live By Night." He also appeared in "Singing in the Rain" and "The People Against O’Hara."

BIBI OSTERWALD Died Jan. 2, 2002

Actress who's film career spanned the years 1948 to 1997. Her credits include "As Good As It Gets" "The World of Henry Orient" "The Tiger Makes Out " (a very funny movie) and "Caddyshack II." She was a regular on the TV series "Bridget Loves Bernie" and "General Hospital."


The 73 year old composer died of a Stroke. Sr. Esquivel provided music for "Four Rooms" The Big Lebowski and "Bevis and Butt-Head Do America" among other films.

ALFRED HEINEKEN Died Jan. 3, 2002

Beer baron who designed the family’s famous beer bottle and label logo also produced one film: "The Spitting Image."

MICKEY DORA Died Jan. 3, 2002

Hungarian born Mickey Dora was a world famous surfer. He appeared in numerous "Beach" movies in the 60s. Credits include "Beach Party," "Muscle Beach Party," "Beach Blanket Bingo" and "How To Stuff a Wild Bikini" (I can think of several ways! ) Mr. Dora died of pancreatic cancer.

WARREN STEIBEL Died Jan. 3, 2002

The Beck-Fernandez murders shocked the nation in the 40s. The notorious Lonely Hearts killers were a strange pair, as any true crime buff knows. Their story became the subject of the 1969 film "The Honeymoon Killers" with Tony Lo Bianco (The French Connection) and Shirley Stoler. It is a minor b-movie classic. Warren Steibel produced the film. He was also the producer of the TV news discussion show "Firing Line."

BILL PARKER Died Jan. 4, 2002

Longtime film editor. Mr. Parker was nominated for an Emmy award in 1972 for his work on "Survival of Spaceship Earth." He worked on many of the "Columbo" TV movies and had a few feature film credits including "Once Upon a Time in Shanghai" with John Lone.

MARILYN PUTNAM Died Jan. 4, 2002

Hollywood wardrobe designer who helped cloth some of the best films of the 70s. Her credits include "The Godfather" "The Godfather Part II" "Alice's Restaurant" "Annie Hall" "Raging Bull" and "Kramer vs. Kramer."

RAMIRO PUERTA Died Jan. 4, 2002

Award winning director of the short films "Crucero/Crossroads" and "Two Feet, One Angel." Mr. Puerta died of cancer in Toronto where he had become a film festival programmer.

BOB VAUGHN Died Jan. 4, 2002

Mr. Vaughn was a cinema organist during the silent film era. He played the music for Lon Chaney Sr.'s "Phantom of the Opera" and played the world premiere of "Flesh and the Devil."

MARIO NASCIMBENE Died Jan. 6, 2002

Italian composer Mario Nascimbene died at age 88. Mr. Nascimbene scored several of my favorite fantasy animation films including "One Million Years B.C." and "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth." He was the musical director on Ray Harryhausen’s masterpiece "Jason and the Argonauts." He scored over 300 films and TV shows. In 1991 he was honored with a Career David Award at the David di Donatello Awards.


Like Shauna Grant and Savanna before her, apparently adult film actress Megan Serbian a.k.a. Naughtia Childs found life in porn unbearable. She allegedly committed suicide. Ms. Serbian went off a 4th floor apartment balcony in LA. Even though there is an official ruling of suicide, the LAPD has an open homicide investigation going in the case. Apparently Ms. Serbian's landing (feet first) and the distance from the ledge are a bit inconsistent with a jump. Prayers for her family and friends.

AVERY SCHREIBER Died Jan. 7, 2002

Crazy haired comedian Avery Schreiber died of a heart attack on January 7, 2002. He was half of the comedy of Burns and Schreiber whose greatest success took place during the 60s and 70s. They were famous for the "Huh?...Yeah...Huh?...Yeah..." routine. You'd know what I was talking about if you ever heard it. Schreiber was also the Doritos guy for a while.

My favorite cinematic vision of him was in Ringo Starr's over looked prehistoric comedy "Caveman." In one scene Schreiber is involved in a fight with a rival tribe. He falls in a fire and runs away from the camera screaming with his loin cloth on fire. Blue flames shoot out as he passes gas through the burning clothes. Great low brow comedy. He made me laugh.


Ms. Henning-Jensen was a Danish film director who began her career as an actress. She directed over 20 films. Her 1959 film "Paw" was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Her films dealt with women's and children's issues. Her debut film, "Palle Alene I Verden" (1949) won the special jury prize at Cannes.


Musician who composed the new score in 1998 for the 1914 version of "The Wizard of Oz."

PETER LEVATHES Died Jan. 9, 2002

20th Century Fox vice president in charge of world wide production during the 50s and 60s. Though uncredited, he was one of the executive producers of "The Sound of Music" "Cleopatra" "Something's Got To Give" (Marilyn Monroe's last unfinished film) and "Tender is the Night." Mr. Levathes was the executive producer of the excellent 1949 TV documentary series on WWII "Crusade in Europe."

BILL McCUTCHEON Died Jan. 10, 2002

Best known as "Uncle Wally" on Sesame Street from 1984 through 1992. He made his debut along side Pia Zadora in "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." His last notable performance was as Shirley MacLaine's husband in 1989's "Steal Magnolias."

HENRI VERNEUIL Died Jan. 11, 2002

French director of nearly 40 films. Mr. Verneuil also wrote most of his films. Credits include "Night Flight to Moscow" "The Night Caller" "The Lions Are Loose" and "Gangster Boss."

LESLIE EBERHARD Died Jan. 12, 2002

Mr. Eberhard was TV writer and producer. He wrote and produced "Saved By the Bell" and "USA High." He also wrote for "Frasier" and "The John Larroquette Show." He died of Cancer.

STANLEY UNWIN Died Jan. 12, 2002

British actor and comedian Stanley Unwin died at the age of 90 in London. He appeared in the children's film "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang."

MIKE MARMER Died Jan. 12, 2002

Emmy Award winning TV writer. According to IMDB he won an Emmy in 1972 for
"The Carol Burnett Show." He also wrote for "Get Smart" according to IMDB. Marmer, along with Stan Burns created one of my favorite shows from way back when, "Lance Lot Link" about secret agent chimps. The newspaper listed a ton of other shows that he wrote for, but I have yet to confirm it. The 76 year old Marmer died of cancer.

ERNEST PINTOFF Died Jan. 12, 2002

Pintoff won the Best Short Subject Cartoon Oscar in 1963 for his 3 minute film "The Critic." He went on to direct several feature films and numerous TV series. His feature films included "Who Killed Mary What's Her Name?" "Lunch Wagon Girls" "St. Helens" and the anti-war compilation film "Dynamite Chicken." His TV work includes just about every recognizable drama from the 70s and 80s.

TED DEMME Died Jan. 13, 2002

Film director Ted Demme, 37 year old nephew of Jonathan Demme died of a cocaine induced heart attack while playing basketball. Demme had directed feature films as well as TV movies and music videos. He last movie was last year's drug epic Blow. He also directed "The Ref," "Life," "Beautiful Girls" and "Snitch." He won an Emmy in 1999 for Outstanding Made For Television Movie: "A Lesson Before Dying." His widow is Amanda Scheer Demme, who was the musical supervisor on 20 films starting with "The Ref."

REGGIE MONTGOMERY Died Jan. 13, 2002

Known more as a stage actor and the first African-American clown for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, Mr. Montgomery also acted in four theatrical films and one TV movie. He appeared in "Joe the King," "Malcolm X," "Hanging With the Homeboys," "Weeds" and "The Colored Museum" for PBS. He also appeared in several TV series including HBO’s "OZ."

BUNNY ALLEN Died Jan. 14, 2002

One of the last "Great White Hunters," Bunny Allen's fame as an outdoors man led to a few movie jobs. He was Clark Gable's stunt double in "Mogambo." John Huston sought him out as a location manager for "The African Queen." Mr. Allen was also location manager for 1950s "King Solomon's Mines."

JEREMY HAWK Died Jan. 15, 2002

South African born actor appeared in many British films. His credits include a couple of the "Carry On.." series. He also appeared in "Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception" and "Panic."


Spanish writer, director and cinematographer. Mr. Silva had numerous European film credits. I’m afraid the only one I recognized was his camera operator credit on Sergio Leone’s "A Fist Full of Dollars."

ALFONSO DEL REAL Died Jan. 16, 2002

Spanish actor with over 80 credits in Spanish films during his 40 year career.

IVAN FOXWELL Died Jan. 16, 2002 

Mr. Foxwell was a British film producer. His credits include "The Quiller Memorandum" and "The Colditz Story."

RON TAYLOR Died Jan. 16, 2002

An actor on stage, screen and television, Taylor was also a noted musician whose play "It Ain’t Nothin But The Blues" garnered four Tony Nominations in 1999. Taylor’s feature film debut was as "Big Black Guy" in 1983's "Trading Places." Other big screen credits include "Who’s That Girl?" "Relentless" "A Rage in Harlem" and "Amos and Andrew." His small screen work includes providing the voice of blues singer ‘Bleeding Gums Murphy’ on "The Simpsons" and ‘Coach Wingate’ in David Lynch’s "Twin Peaks." He also had recurring roles in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "City of Angels." Taylor was only 49. He died of an apparent heart attack.

CAMILO JOSE CELA Died Jan. 17, 2002

Winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1989. Mr. Cela was a Spanish novelist who acted in about 10 movies from 1949 till 1998. He also wrote dialogue for several films and TV mini series based on his works. The best known film adaptation of his work was the Argentinean film "The Beehive" (1982) in which he also appeared. He was an outspoken critic of Generalissimo Francisco Franco during the dictator's life.

QUEENIE LEONARD Died Jan. 17, 2002

Born Pearl Walker, "Queenie Leonard" was a singer who appeared in nearly 50 films from 1931 to 1964. Her credits include "Moonlight Sonata" "The Lodger" "And Then There Were None" "The Notorious Landlady" and John Wayne's great safari film "Hatari." Ms. Leonard lent her vocal talents to Disney for two animated films: "Alice in Wonderland" and "101 Dalmatians." She also appeared without credit in numerous movies such as the great ghost story "The Uninvited" and her final film "My Fair Lady."

CARRIE HAMILTON Died Jan. 20, 2002

Carrie Hamilton, daughter of Carol Burnett died of cancer at age 38. She was a regular on the TV series fame during the 1986-87 season. She starred with her mother in the TV film "Hostage" in which she played the kidnapper. Her feature film credits include "Shag" with Bridget Fonda and Phoebe Cates. Folks like me who grew up watching her mother's variety show on TV remember watching Carrie grow up as her mother would occasionally bring her out at the end of the show to wave at the crowd. Prayers for her Mom and family at this time would be appreciated and helpful.

HAROLD KASKET Died Jan. 20, 2002

British actor who’s career spanned 5 decades. He appeared in 2 "Pink Panther" films. Other credits include "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," "Nine Hours to Rama" about the assassination of Gandhi, the hilarious "The Mouse That Roared" and Ray Harryhausen’s "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad." Mr. Kasket found his casket.

TOM VAN BEEK Died Jan. 20, 2002

Mr. Van Beek was a Dutch actor who’ career went back to 1969. His film credits include one of my favorite films, Paul Verhoven’s WWII epic Soldier of Orange. He also appeared in A Bridge Too Far.

ISSAC GRAND Died Jan. 21, 2002

Mr. Grand made cameo appearances in a couple of little films called "Star Wars" and "Return of the Jedi."

PEGGY LEE Died Jan. 21, 2002

One of the ballsiest women in show business. This platinum blond torch singer
was an all around talent. She sang, danced and acted. 1955 was especially good to Ms. Lee. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in the Jack Webb bio film "Pete Kelly's Blues." That same year she provided the voices for 'Darling,' 'Peg' and the Siamese cats in Disney's classic "Lady and the Tramp." She sang the show stopping number "He's a Tramp (But I Love Him)" in that movie. While Disney profited from her work, she didn't. In a classic case of David vs. Goliath, Ms. Lee took on Disney in court over royalties and won. You go girl. I still get goose-bumps when I hear he hit record "Fever." She lived a full 81 years which were full of triumph and tragedy. May she rest in peace. Plato said the unexamined life is not worth living. Ms. Lee lived a life worth living.

ADOLFO MARSILLACH Died Jan. 21, 2002

Spanish actor, writer and director who traded being a lawyer (that's an idea! ) for the lights of the stage. He acted in 45 films in Spain and won the Goya Award (the Spanish Oscar) as Best Supporting Actor in the 1988 film "Esquilache." He directed one film and wrote three screenplays. He true love was the stage though as he was one of the preeminent persons in the Spanish theater community.

PETER BARDENS Died Jan. 22, 2002

Rock/New Age Keyboardist Peter Bardens died of lung cancer. While he jammed with just about everybody dating back to the 60s, his connection to the movies was slight. A member of Van Morrison's band THEM, Bardens appeared as himself in the 1980 Rockumentary "Van Morrison in Ireland." Mr. Bardens also provided the music for Israeli filmmaker Doron Djerassi's 1998 short film "Hemshech Mas'otav Shel Antonius BlocK" (Continuing Adventures of Antonius Block) based on the main character in Ingmar Bergman's classic film "The Seventh Seal." Mr. Bardens was 57.

SHELDON ALLMAN Died Jan. 22, 2002

Near the end of Richard Brook's classic true-crime film "In Cold Blood," Robert Blake as killer Perry Smith talks to the prison pastor about how he both hated and loved his father. He will be executed in a matter of minutes. Blake is chilling as he talks in a matter-of-fact manner about this relationship. Raindrops are hitting the cell window. The shadow of the water rolling down the window washes across Blake's face giving the illusion of tears the killer can't shed. It is powerful filmmaking. Sharing the screen with Blake in the small but powerful role of Rev. Jim Post was actor and songwriter Sheldon Allman. Allman appeared in 12 movies including "Hud" with Paul Newman, "Nevada Smith" with Steve McQueen and "The Sons of Katie Elder" with John Wayne. All of these films are favorites of mine and were made all the better by Mr. Allman's presence. He also made appearances in numerous TV series during the 60s and 70s. However, Mr. Allman will be best remembered as the lyricist of one of the all-time great cartoon theme songs. "George, George, George of the Jungle, friend to you and me! Watch out for that tree!!" Mr. Allman also wrote the theme song for TV's talking horse "Mr. Ed." I thank him for entertaining me. Prayers to his family and friends.

JOHN MCGRATH Died Jan. 22, 2002

Mr. McGrath was a writer/producer and actor. He wrote "The Bofurs Gun" and "The Billion Dollar Brain."

HENRY ESCALANTE Died Jan. 23, 2002

Hollywood stuntman and bit actor. Mr. Escalante doubled for Johnny Weissmuller (my wife's object of lust! ) Escalante also appeared in "Creature From the Black Lagoon" (or the 'monster with the pretty nails' as my 4 year old daughter calls it.) According to IMDB, Mr. Escalante appeared in 11 movies. The newspaper listed many more in which he was an uncredited stuntman. I hope his last fall was a safe one.

STUART BURGE Died Jan. 24, 2002

British director best know for his stage work. My first exposure to Shakespeare was Burge's 1970 version of "Julius Caesar" with Charlton Heston, Jason Robards, John Gielgud and Roddy McDowell. His best film was the 1965 Laurence Olivier version of "Othello" which also starred Maggie Smith and Derek Jacobi. Both are worth seeing, though "Julius Caesar" isn't up to par with the Brando version.

T.M. YAKUTIS Died Jan. 25, 2002

Mr. Yakutis was a production designer on many animated shorts during the 60s. He was the production designer on "The Pink Panther" cartoon TV series. Mr. Yakutis died of lymphoma.


Ms. Prendes appeared in nearly 50 films during her lengthy career. She died of heart and respiratory failure.

ASTRID LINDGREN Died Jan. 28, 2002

Swedish author Astrid Lindgren died at age 94. She was a children's author who created numerous characters in series of books. Her best known creation was Pippi Longstocking. 56 movies and TV shows were made of her work from 1947 to the present. I was dragged to a couple of Pippi Longstocking movies with my kid sister back in the early 70s. The ones I saw were horrible, but by then I was already sneaking into R-rated movies and was not in the mood to baby-sit my bratty little sister. Ms. Lindgren worked for children's causes throughout her life. She outlived her husband and children.

HAROLD RUSSELL Died Jan. 29, 2002

One of my all time favorite movies is William Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives." The American classic follows three GIs from different stations in life re-adjusting to life after WWII. Harold Russell was a GI who lost both of his hands during the war. The vet was cast in a lead role in Wyler's film and won two Oscars that year. Russell won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and a special Oscar on behalf of all disabled vets. Russell only made a few films after "Lives." In fact his second movie was 1980s "Inside Moves" with John Savage, which dealt with Vietnam vets adjusting to life after traumatic war experiences. Russell got into a tussle with the Academy when he auctioned off his Oscar in the early 90s to help pay his ailing wife's medical bills. He died of a heart attack. May he rest in piece.

BARBARA TOWNSEND Died Jan. 29, 2002

Ms. Townsend began acting on TV in 1948. Her film credits include "The George McKenna Story," "Hard To Kill" and "One Good Cop." Ms. Townsend died of ovarian cancer.

STRATFORD JOHNS Died Jan. 29, 2002

Veteran British actor Stratford Johns appeared in nearly 50 films in 50 years. His credits include Ken Russell’s gonzo horror film "The Lair of the White Worm," "The Wild Geese II," "A Night to Remember," Peter Seller’s final film "The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu" and "Cromwell." Mr. Johns died of heart failure.

EDWARD JEWESBURY Died Jan. 30, 2002

Mr. Jewesbury was a member Of Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Players. He had numerous film and TV credits spanning a 50 year period. His credits include "Dungeons and Dragons," "Henry V," "Richard III," "Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein" and Sacco and Vanzetti.

EVELYN SCOTT Died Jan. 31, 2002

TV actress best known for her five year role on "Peyton Place" (1965-69). In addition to several other roles and guest appearances on various TV series, Ms. Scott acted in four films during the 50s. She had a lead role in "The Wicked Woman." She also appeared uncredited in Susan Hayward’s Oscar winner "I Want to Live" about the execution of Barbara Graham.

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