ARNOLD PEYSER Died July 1, 2001
Writer Arnold Peyser died of cancer at age 80. Mr. Peyser co-wrote numerous TV shows with his wife Lois. Mr. Peyser’s credits include "My Three Sons," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "Mission Impossible," "Gilligan’s Island," "Love American Style" and "The Brady Bunch." Mr. Peyser wrote the Elvis vehicle "The Trouble With Girls." Mr. Peyser co-wrote and produced his last film, the TV movie "The Violation of Sarah McDavid" which starred Patty Duke and Ned Beatty.
JACK GWILLIM Died July 1, 2001
Classically trained character actor Jack Gwillim died at age 91. Mr. Gwillim appeared in two films of Ray Harryhausen. He played Poseidon in "Clash of the Titans" and King Aeetes in "Jason and the Argonauts." Mr. Gwillim was a respected stage actor who was a member of the Royal Shakespeare company. He appeared in several classic films including "Lawrence of Arabia," "Patton," "Sink the Bismarck" and "A Man For All Seasons." Other credits include the James Bond film "Thunderball," "Cromwell," "The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb," the cult classic horror movie "The Circus of Horrors" and "The Battle of Britain."
MORDECAI RICHLER Died July 1, 2001
Oscar nominated screenwriter Mordecai Richler died of cancer at age 70. Mr. Richler was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz." Richard Dreyfus starred in this little gem from Canada. Mr. Richler adapted his own novel. I highly recommend this movie. You can probably catch it on the AMC channel. Mr. Richler also scripted the hit comedy "Fun With Dick and Jane," which starred George Segal and Jane Fonda as a husband wife forced into a life of crime when Segal loses his high paying job. Other credits include "Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang," "The Young and the Willing" and "Life at the Top."
CHARLES NEIDER Died July 4, 2001
Writer Charles Neider died of prostate cancer at age 86. Mr. Neider was a well-known expert on the life of Mark Twain. He adapted the novel "One Eyed Jacks" for the screen. On of my guilty pleasures, "One Eyed Jacks" is an over-blown Western based on the story of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Marlon Brando and Karl Malden starred. The film was Marlon Brando’s one try at directing.
A.D. FLOWERS Died July 4, 2001
Oscar winning special effects wizard A.D. Flowers died of pneumonia at age 83. Mr. Flowers won an Oscar for Best Special Effects for his explosive work on the Pearl Harbor film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" He was given a Special Achievement Oscar for his work on Irwin Allen’s "The Poseidon Adventure." He also shared a Technical Achievement Oscar for his development of a device to control flight patterns of miniature airplanes during motion picture photography. Mr. Flowers was also nominated for an Oscar for his work on Steven Speilberg’s comedy "1941." Mr. Flowers’ credits include a couple of my personal favorites. He added the bang and blood to John Milius’s brutal "Dillinger" which starred Warren Oates. He was also responsible for the hilarious suicides perpetrated by Bud Cort to ward off the women his mother wanted to fix him up with in Hal Ashby’s "Harold and Maude." Mr. Flowers worked on the best movie ever made: "The Godfather, Part II." He was also the special effects coordinator on Francis Ford Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now!" Other credits include Irwin Allen’s "The Towering Inferno," Woody Allan’s "Take the Money and Run" and "Sleeper," John Wayne’s "Rio Lobo" and Brian DePalma’s "The Fury."
FRED NEIL Died July 7, 2001
Composer Fred Neil died of cancer at age 64. Mr. Neil wrote the song "Everybody’s Talkin," which became famous in John Schlesinger’s "Midnight Cowboy." The song was also used on the "Forest Gump" soundtrack.
MOLLY LAMONT Died July 7, 2001
British actress Molly Lamont died at age 91. Ms. Lamont appeared in a number of British films before coming to America. She appeared in over 50 films during her 20-year career. Her credits include "Murder at Monte Carlo" with Errol Flynn, "Another Face" with Wallace Ford, John Ford’s "Mary of Scotland" with Katherine Hepburn, the screwball comedy "The Awful Truth" with Cary Grant and Irene Dunn, "Somewhere I’ll Find You" with Clark Gable and "Mr. Skeffington" with Bette Davis.
STEVE PREVIN Died July 9, 2001
Producer/director Steve Previn died at age 75. Mr. Previn directed episodes of the TV series "Foreign Intrigue." Though he directed a couple of small films, Mr. Previn was the executive producer of one of the best horror films of all time. Previn produced Nicholas Roag’s eerie "Don’t Look Now" which starred Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. Previn also produced the sci-fi creature feature "The People that Time Forgot."
JAMES BERNARD Died July 12, 2001
Oscar winning composer/screenwriter James Bernard died at age 75. Mr. Bernard won an Oscar for Best Story for his only screenwriting foray "Seven Days to Noon." Mr. Bernard was a classmate of Christopher Lee. Both men went on to work for Hammer Studios. Mr. Bernard composed the scores for over 30 films. Many of Hammer Film’s all-time best were among his credits. His credits include the best version of Dracula ever filmed: "The Horror of Dracula" with Christopher Lee. Other credits include "X: The Unknown" with Dean Jagger, "The Curse of Frankenstein" with Lee and Peter Cushing, "The Stranglers of Bombay," "Terror of the Tongs," Terrence Fisher’s excellent "The Hound of the Baskervilles" with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, "Dracula: Prince of Darkness," "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave" and "Scars of Dracula" all with Christopher Lee.
ELEANOR SUMMERFIELD Died July 13, 2001
Actress Eleanor Summerfield died at age 79. Ms. Summerfield was the widow of actor Leonard Sachs and the mother of actor Robin Sachs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Ms. Summerfield appeared in nearly 50 films. Her credits include "The Watcher in the Woods," "Scrooge" with Alastair Sim, "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse," "No Way Back" and "Guns of Darkness."
TED BERMAN Died July 15, 2001
Disney animator/director Ted Berman died at age 81. Mr. Berman was a Disney animator for 45 years. He co-directed the films "The Fox and The Hound" and "The Black Cauldron." He designed ‘Michael’ and ‘John Darling’ for "Peter Pan" and the puppies in "101 Dalmations." Other credits include "The Rescuers," "Paul Bunyan," "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" and the Oscar winning "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."
SYLVIA KUUMBA WILLIAMS July 17, 2001
Actress Sylvia Williams died of cancer at age 59. Ms. Williams acted on stage, screen and TV. Her film credits include the Oscar nominated "Sounder" with Paul Winfield and Cycely Tyson, Brian DePalma’s "Obsession," "Fort Apache the Bronx" with Paul Newman and the TV film "Freedom Road" with Muhammad Ali.
JULES BUCK Died July 19, 2001
Producer Jules Buck died of Alzheimer’s Disease just short of his 84th birthday. Mr. Buck began his career as a cameraman and an assistant to producer Mark Hellinger. Hellinger produced "The Killers" which made Burt Lancaster a star. Mr. Buck became an associate producer on the films "The Naked City," "Brute Force" and "We Were Strangers." Mr. Bucks credits include "The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday" with Kay Lenz and Oliver Reed, "The Ruling Class" with Peter O’Toole in an Oscar nominated performance, "Great Catherine" and "Lord Jim" also with O’Toole and "The Day They Robbed the Bank of England."
JOEL CHERNOFF Died July 19, 2001
A talented life was cut short by heart disease. Producer, writer, assistant director, production manager Joel Chernoff died at age 50. Mr. Chernoff was involved in one capacity or another in some of my favorite films. His credits include the excellent John Milius surfing film "Big Wednesday" (writer), Hal Ashby’s "The Last Detail" with Jack Nicholson (co-producer), Martin Scorsese’s "The Last Waltz" (producer), "In the Line of Fire" (production manager), "They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?" (second-unit director) and "Stargate" (also second unit director). Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
NORMAN WRIGHT Died July 21, 2001
Writer Norman Hall Wright died at age 81. Mr. Wright was the son of novelist Harold Bell Wright (The Shepherd of the Hills). Mr. Write wrote of helped develop the stories for several Disney classics including "Bambi" and "Fantasia."
EUDORA WELTY Died July 23, 2001
No one ever captured the slightly skewed way people live in the south like Pulitzer Prize winning author Eudora Welty. I love her work and only wish there was more of it. Ms. Welty’s stories were the basis for the films "The Hitch-Hikers," "The Key," "The Wide Path" and "The Ponder Heart." Ms. Welty appeared in the documentary films "Tell About the South: Voices in Black and White," "Katherine Anne Porter: The Eye of Memory" and "Great Dives." Ms. Welty died at age 92 of pneumonia and cardiac arrest.
HIROSHI TSUBURAYA Died July 24, 2001
Actor Hiroshi Tsuburaya died of kidney failure at age 37. He was the grandson of legendary director Eiji Tsuburaya (Gojira/Godzilla). Mr. Tsuburaya appeared in the TV series "Ultraman," the character that was created by his grandfather.
RHONDA SINGH (BERTHA FAYE) Died July 27, 2001
Wrestler Rhonda Singh died at age 40. Ms. Singh wrestled under the name ‘Bertha Faye.’ She appeared in a number of WWF (now WWE) wrestling shows and videos during the mid-1990s.
LEON WILKESON Died July 27, 2001
Lynyrd Skynyrd bass-player Leon Wilkeson died at age 49. Mr. Wilkeson was on the plane that crashed killing fellow band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve and Cassie Gaines as well as the pilots and several crewmembers. Growing up in the 70s was all the better because of the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd. One of the best concerts I ever saw took place at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on July 4th, 1976. For $10.00 a ticket, over 70,000 folks were treated to day daylong concert with The Outlaws, Blue Oyster Cult, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top. The next year I was stationed at Kessler Air Force Base. Not far away, the plane carrying the Lynyrd Skynyrd band ran out of gas and crashed. I remember shedding a tear as many of the guys in our barracks cranked up their stereos playing ‘Free Bird.’ Mr. Wilkeson and the survivors reformed the band and carried on the Skynyrd tradition. It’s not uncommon to hear some drunken redneck yell "Play Freebird" in the clubs around Memphis. Mr. Wilkeson appeared in the excellent concert film "Freebird-The Movie."
ALEX NICOL Died July 29, 2001
I grew up loving cheesy horror films. Some of my best memories were of my dad turning out the lights and running through the room, jumping out of the shadows to scare me and my mom while we watched "Fantastic Features" every Friday night. "The Screaming Skull" was one of my favorites because my dad always pulled the same stunt. He would pull his baldhead into his shirt and button the collar button. After applying a little ketchup to his shiny pate, he would lurch through the room yelling for the person who had his skull. I haven’t seen "The Screaming Skull" in years, but I imagine that it wasn’t half as scary as my dad’s antics. Actor/director Alex Nicol was responsible in part for that happy memory. Mr. Nicol acted in nearly 50 films and directed another eight. He both directed and acted in "The Screaming Skull." Mr. Nicol played Dr. Robinson in the 1975 TV version of "Huckleberry Finn." He played gangster George Barker in Roger Corman’s cult-classic "Bloody Mama." Other credits include guest roles in the TV series "The Outer Limits," "The F.B.I." and "The Twilight Zone."
POUL ANDERSON Died July 31, 2001
Legendary sci-fi writer Poul Anderson died of prostate cancer at age 74. The film "The High Crusade" was based on one of Mr. Anderson’s nearly 70 novels.
FRED CARSON Died July 31, 2001
Actor/stuntman/double/stunt coordinator Fred Carson died at age 77. Mr. Carson worked in films for 40 years. Among his many credits are "F.I.S.T.," Tom Laughlin’s "The Master Gunfighter," "They Only Kill Their Masters," "The Bounty Killer," "The Egyptian," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "The Wild One" and "Viva Zapata!" Mr. Carson doubled for such actors as Marlon Brando, Victor Mature, Rock Hudson and Anthony Quinn.