JOHN NATHAN-TURNER Died May 1, 2002
Mr. Nathan-Turner wrote, directed, acted in and produced the BBC Sci-Fi series "Dr. Who" for many years. Mr. Nathan-Turner died of liver failure.
BOB LARSON Died May 1, 2002
Mr. Larson was a child actor. He retired at age 20. He became a schoolteacher in LA for nearly 30 years. Mr. Larson appeared in "The Fighting Sullivans," "Here Comes Mr. Jordon" and W.C. Fields’ "The Bank Dick" among others. Mr. Larson died of Parkinson’s Disease.
RON SOBLE Died May 2, 2002
Tough guy character actor Ron Soble died of brain and lung cancer. He appeared in "True Grit," "Papillon," "Chisum," "Joe Kidd" and "The Beast Within." Mr. Soble appeared in nearly 50 TV episodes. His last film appearance was as the judge in "Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo."
ROY STORK Died May 2, 2002
WWII bomber pilot turned make-up artist! Mr. Stork did make-up for "Twelve O’Clock High," the TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies" and one of my favorites "Gargoyles."
JUDY TOLL Died May 2, 2002
44-year-old actress/writer/comedian died of cancer (melanoma). Ms. Toll wrote the play "Casual Sex" which was turned into a feature film. She appeared in "Skin Deep," "The Brave Little Toaster" (voice only), "Inside Out" and the HBO parody of Andrew Dice Clay: "Judy Toll: The Dice Woman--Lips Only." She wrote for HBO's "Sex and the City," "Boy Meets World," "The Genna Davis Show" and last years' TV pilot "Me and My Needs."
EDNA MAE ROBINSON Died May 2, 2002
Ms. Robinson was the ex-wife of boxer "Sugar Ray" Robinson. Francis Ford Coppola used Ms. Robinson as a technical advisor on his 1984 misfire, "The Cotton Club." Ms. Robinson had performed at the Harlem nightspot during its heyday. She also appeared on the very first cover of "Jet" magazine.
YEVGENI SVETLANOV Died May 3, 2002
Russian conductor who specialized in presenting the music of Russian composers. His film credits include musical director on "The Tsar's Bride" (1965), conductor for "The Queen of Spades" (1960) and as composer on "Za Mir I Druzhbu" (1953). The cause of death for the 78 year old musician in unknown.
WILLIAM HEYES JR. Died May 3, 2002
Mr. Heyes was a child actor in the silent film series "Penrod and Sam" based on the Booth Tarkington novel. He also appeared in Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's first talkie "Hey Pop" (1932). After serving in WWII, Mr. Heyes made his living in the aerospace industry.
SIHUNG LUNG Died May 3, 2002
Mr. Lung was best known to American audiences for his appearances in the films of Ang Lee. He played Mr. Gao in the very funny 1993 film "Hsi Yen" (The Wedding Banquet). He was the patriarch in Ang Lee's excellent "Yin Shi Nan Nu" (Eat, Drink, Man, Woman). His final film was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
MARTIN ARONSTEIN Died May 3, 2002
The five time Tony nominated Martin Aronstein died of heart failure at age 65. Mr. Aronstein was one of the most respected stage lighting directors in New York and Los Angeles. Esdtimates of his credits vary. Mr. Aronstein worked on somewhere between 90 and 150 Broadway plays. He was nominated for Tony Awards for his work on the productions "Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death," "In the Boom Boom Room," "Wild Honey" and revivals of "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Medea." "Mr. Aronstein's one film credit was as the stage lighting director for the filmed version of Luis Valdez's cool play "Zoot Suit." Mr. Aronstein shared his craft with others as an adjunct professor at several universities including USC.
BERNARD WILKIE Died May 3, 2002
Mr. Wilkie was a British special effects man. He worked on several BBC Sci-Fi- series such as "Dr. Who" and "The Quartermass Experiment." He also did visual effects for the "Monty Python" TV series.
MALCOLM BOSSE Died May 3, 2002
Mr. Bosse was a writer with 22 novels to his credit. Two of his books were made into the films "Agent Trouble" starring Catherine Deneuve and "Ordinary Magic."
ROBERT BERTRAND Died May 4, 2002
95 year old Robert Bertrand was a sound engineer. His credits include the Oscar winning film "The Sting." He worked on Curtis Harrington’s thriller "Games." Mr. Bertrand was nominated for an Oscar for his work on "The Sting."
ROY SCHATT Died May 4, 2002
Mr. Schatt was a renowned photographer who captured many Hollywood greats in their prime. He is best know for his shots of actor James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. He received screen credit for the use of his photographs in films about both actors: "The James Dean Story" (1957) and "Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days" (2001).
JACQUES MAPES Died May 4, 2002
Mr. Mapes was a set decorator who later became a producer. His set decoration credits include the Charles Laughton version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Singing in the Rain," "The Jackie Robinson Story" and "The People Against O'Hare." Along with Ross Hunter, Mr. Mapes produced the hit film "Airport" and the Julie Andrews musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
JOHN KOHN Died May 4, 2002
John Kohn started his lengthy career as the writer of such classic TV shows
as "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" "My Little Margie" and "Bachelor Father." He was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar (along with Stanley Mann) for his second feature film script "The Collector." Mr. Kohn turned to producing. He was responsible for the cult favorite "Theater of Blood" starring Vincent Price. Other production credits include "Fathom" starring Raquel Welch, "Goldengirl" with Susan Anton, "Racing With the Moon" and "Shanghai Surprise" both with Sean Penn.
ELIZABETH RUSSELL Died May 4, 2002
Actress Elizabeth Russell died at age 95. Ms. Russell’s film career was cut short by the demands of motherhood. Even though she appeared in few films, Ms. Russell is remembered by horror-movie fans for her work in the films of producer Val Lewton. In Lewton’s classic "Cat People," Ms. Russell had a very short scene with star Simone Simon. Ms. Russell was the Cat Woman who approached Simon and uttered the line "Moya Sestra?" meaning "My sister?" Ms. Russell appeared in the sequel "The Curse of the Cat People" playing a different role. Her role in the second film was larger and is considered her best film work. She also appeared in Lewton’s "Bedlam" and "The 7th Victim" with Kim Hunter. Ms. Russell’s other credits include "The Corpse Vanishes," "Weird Woman," "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" and "The Uninvited."
GEORGE SIDNEY Died May 5, 2002
Mr. Sidney directed over 50 films during the studio system days of Hollywood. He helmed many of MGM’s most lavish productions during the 40s and 50s. His credits include "The Three Musketeers" (1948), "Anchors Aweigh, " "Pal Joey" Jeanne Engles," "The Harvey Girls" "Kiss Me Kate," "Showboat" and "Viva Las Vegas" with Elvis. Mr. Sidney was the president of the Director's Guild for 16 years. The 85-year-old director died of lymphoma.
MICHAEL TODD JR. Died May 5, 2002
The son of producer Mike Todd inherited half of his father's business when the senior Todd was killed in a plane crash. The other half of the business went to Elizabeth Taylor, the widow. Junior had begun his film career working with his father. He directed the European sequences of the film "This is Cinerama." Mr. Todd never achieved the success his Oscar winning father did. He produced the 1960 film "The Scent of Mystery." That film has the distinction of being the only movie produced in "Smell-o-Vision." Odors were piped into the theater during the show to accent the action on screen. It didn't go over well. Director John Waters tried the same thing later in that he had a scratch and sniff card passed out to viewers who were to smell the card at pre-ordained moments of his movie. Mr. Todd's other producer credit was 1979's "The Bell Jar" based on the autobiographical novel by doomed poet Sylvia Plath.
BEVERLY ROBINSON Died May 5, 2002
Ms. Robinson was an authority on African American theater and folk art. She was a technical consultant on the films "The Color Purple" and "Coming to America" among others. The 56-year-old UCLA professor died of pancreatic cancer.
OTIS BLACKWELL Died May 6, 2002
One of the greatest rock and roll songwriters in history, Otis Blackwell, died of a heart attack at age 70. He provided hit songs for Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Who, Billy Joel and James Taylor among others. His songs "Breathless" and "Great Balls of Fire" are also the titles of movies highlighting his work. And don't forget all of the early Elvis films, which featured such Blackwell songs as "Don't Be Cruel" and "Return to Sender." Mr. Blackwell also wrote the song, which became Peggy Lee's (see Jan. 21, 2002) theme song: "Fever." According to IMDB, Mr. Blackwell only has 2 movie credits for providing music in "Nurse Betty" (2000) and "Jamboree" (1957). I have to believe that IMDB has left out numerous films featuring Mr. Blackwell's work. Long live rock.
ALAN P. HOROWITZ Died May 6, 2002
Mr. Horowitz was a producer of feature films and TV series. He was involved in the production of such 70s hits as "The Godfather" "Heaven Can Wait" and "The Longest Yard." He was also involved in the production of the TV series "CHiPs."
JOHN ROBERDEAU Died May 6, 2002
Producer John Roberdeau died of a heart attack. His film credits include "Streamers" and "The Thin Red Line."
KEVYN AUCOIN Died May 7, 2002
40-year-old makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin died of complications from a metabolic disorder. Mr. Aucoin appeared in "Zoolander" "The Intern" and HBO's "Sex and the City." Mr. Aucoin was also the makeup supervisor on several episodes of "Sex and the City." In addition to on screen work, Mr. Aucoin was in high-demand by actresses and models for off screen appearances and award shows.
JAMES "BUSTER" BROWN Died May 7, 2002
Buster Brown, renowned tap dancer died at age 88. Mr. Brown was a part of the dance team 'The Copasetics.' Mr. Brown appeared in the films "Something to Shout About," "The Cotton Club" and Taps.
YVES ROBERT Died May 10, 2002
Yves Robert was an actor turned director in France. He appeared in 70 films. He is best known for writing and directing the 1972-comedy caper "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe." Tom Hanks starred in the inferior American remake. Mr. Robert wrote, directed and produced over 20 films. He wrote the screenplay for "The Lady in Red." Mr. Robert was 81 when he died.
LINDA FRANCIS Died May 10, 2002
51-year-old actress Linda Francis died of congestive heart failure. Her credits include "Dead and Buried," "Two Moon Junction," "Whore" and "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist." Ironically, her final film was "Expired."
SUSANNE GERVAY Died May 10, 2002
Ms. Gervay was a negative cutter. She helped many a director put his vision into focus. Ms. Gervay worked on nearly 50 films. She died of multiple myeloma.
JOSEPH BONNANO Died May 11, 2002
Joseph Bonnano was one of the heads of the five Mafia families of New York. The 97-year-old Bonnano died in his sleep of old age. That was an accomplishment when you consider that he started his long career in crime working for Al Capone. Mr. Bonnano was known to be a diplomatic crime boss. He tried to talk before resorting to other methods. Mario Puzo based his character Don Vito "The Godfather" Corleone in large part on Joseph Bonnano. It was reported that Mr. Bonnano was very pleased with Marlon Brando's performance as Don Vito. He would have been one critic an actor wouldn't want to piss off! Gay Talese's true crime book "Honor Thy Father" about the Bonnano family was turned into a 1973 TV movie. Raf Vallone played Mr. Bonnano. John Chappoulis played Joe Bonnano is the forgettable 1991 feature film "Mobsters." He was also the subject of an episode of "A&E's Biography."
BILL PEET Died May 11, 2002
We've lost yet another master writer/animator this year. Mr. Peet was one of the "Nine Old Men" who made up the core animators who started Disney Studios. Mr. Peet wrote/animated and created many of Disney's most memorable characters and films. His credits include the original "Fantasia," "Dumbo," The Three Caballeros," "Song of the South," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Sleeping Beauty," "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" and "The Sword in the Stone." Mr. Peet broke of from Disney in 1964. He then turned to writing children's books. Mr. Peet was 87.
DEBBIE AUSTIN Died May 13, 2002
Ms. Austin was a gospel singer. She appeared in the 1992 Pauly Shore/Brendan Fraser comedy "Encino Man." The 50-year-old singer died of heart failure.
RUTH CRACKNELL Died May 13, 2002
Ms. Cracknell was a renowned stage actress from Australia. She appeared in TV series dating back to the 1950s. I recommend that if you ever get the chance to see the 1978 film "The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith" you don't pass it up. Ms. Cracknell appeared in this great little film about the trials and tribulations of a half-white/half aborigine man raised by Methodist missionaries. Ms. Cracknell was 76.
RAY STRICKLYN Died May 14, 2002
Mr. Stricklyn was a stage actor who turned to film acting and then became a powerful Hollywood agent. Mr. Stricklyn continued to act on stage and screen even while he was a publicist for such people as Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis. His film credits include "Somebody Up There Likes Me," "The Big Fisherman," "The Return of Dracula," "Ten North Frederick" and Irwin Allen's 1960 version of "The Lost World." Mr. Stricklyn's TV credits include "Wagon Trail" "Seinfeld" and many others in between!
DARWOOD KAYE Died May 15, 2002
Mr. Kaye portrayed Waldo in about 20 of the later "Our Gang" shorts. He retired from acting and became a minister and missionary to the Far East. He was killed by a hit and run driver.
BOBBY ASTYR Died May 15, 2002
Mr. Astyr was a porn actor with over 100 film credits. He died of lung cancer.
BRYAN PRINGLE Died May 15, 2002
British actor Bryan Pringle appeared in over 50 films. His credits include "Brazil," "Drowning By Numbers" and the classic "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" with Albert Finney.
CHARLES SIMON Died May 16, 2002
British actor Charles Simon died of pneumonia. His credits include "Shadowlands," "102 Dalmatians" and his final film "Final Curtain." (Ironically titled last film of the year number 2: See Linda Francis Died May 10.)
MARIE KENNEY Died May 17, 2002
Ms. Kenney was a script supervisor. Her credits include "Portnoy’s Complaint," "Winning," "Taps," "1941" and "Foul Play."
SHARON SHEELEY Died May 17, 2002
Ms. Sheeley wrote the song "Poor Little Fool" while she was still a teenager. The song was made popular by the late Ricky Nelson. Her hit appeared on the soundtrack of the hilariously dark "Nurse Betty." The 64 year-old composer died of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage.
NORMAN VAUGHAN Died May 17, 2002
Mr. Vaughan was a noted British TV personality, musician and comedian. He wrote and/or appeared in numerous TV shows and series in the UK. He appeared in the excellent Ned Beatty film "Hear My Song" and the 1969 film "Lola." His career in showbiz lasted over 50 years.
ZYPORA SPAISMAN Died May 18, 2002
One of the most influential members of the Yiddish theater scene in New York. Ms. Spaisman’s one film credit was "Enemies: A Love Story."
DAVEY BOY SMITH Died May 18, 2002
The former WWF wrestler "The British Bulldog" died of a heart attack. Mr. Smith appeared in over 60 WWF wrestling videos.
WALTER LORD Died May 19, 2002
Walter Lord wrote the definitive book on the sinking of the Titanic. "A Night to Remember" is a riveting account of the tragedy and heroism of that fateful April night. His book was first dramatized on TV in 1947 on the "Kraft Television Theater." All the spectacle of James Cameron's film aside, the 1958 film "A Night to Remember" is still the best dramatization of the tragedy. Mr. Lord appeared as himself in two 1994 documentaries about the sinking. Walter Lord died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 84.
STEPHEN JAY GOULD Died May 20, 2002
Mr. Gould was a world-renowned scientist and Harvard professor. He portrayed himself in the 1994 mini series "Baseball." He also portrayed himself (in cartoon form) in an episode of "The Simpsons." The 60-year-old Gould died of cancer.
JERRY DUNPHY Died May 20, 2002
Mr. Dunphy was a long-time, highly respected Los Angeles TV news anchorman. His news career lasted over 40 years. Mr. Dunphy appeared in numerous films as either himself or a TV Newsman. His credits include "Bullworth" "Independence Day" "The Jerky Boys" "Hard to Kill" "Helter Skelter" and "Kitten With a Whip." He also played "Fred the Broadcaster" on a couple of episodes of "Batman" in the 60s! Mr. Dunphy revolutionized local TV news broadcasts in the 1950s by creating the hour-long TV news show. His lead was soon followed by stations across the country. The 80-year-old Dunphy died of a heart attack.
SIDNEY FINE Died May 20, 2002
Mr. Fine was a composer whose credits included the TV series "The Virginian" and "Boris Karloff's Thriller." He worked as an orchestrator in such films as "Lady and the Tramp" and "Blue Skies." Mr. Fine was 98 at the time of his death.
JOE COBB Died May 21, 2002
Mr. Cobb appeared in nearly 100 "Our Gang/Little Rascals" comedy shorts during the 1920s and 30s. He played the character Joe, the chubby kid with the beanie hat. Mr. Cobb had an uncredited role in "Meet Me In St. Louis." He also appeared in a 1986 documentary "Classic Comedy Teams." Mr. Cobb was 85 years old when he died.
SAM SNEAD Died May 23, 2002
"Slammin" Sammy Snead won more golf tournaments than any man who ever lived. As a kid, I always got a kick out of my late dad imitating some forgotten sports caster saying the words "Slammin Sammy Snead." There was something about the way he accented the first word. That was the first thing I thought of when I read about Mr. Snead's passing at age 89. Mr. Snead appeared as himself in 3 movies. "Follow the Sun" was the Glenn Ford movie, which told the life story of golfer Ben Hogan. Mr. Snead also appeared in the Jerry Lewis comedy "The Caddy." He also appeared in the 1994 Snoop Dogg/Dr. Dre comedy "Murder Was the Case."
MARY LANIER Died May 23, 2002
Ms. Lanier was the mother of Diane Ladd and grandmother of Laura Dern. She appeared in the film "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me." Ms. Lanier was 89 years old.
WALLACE MARKFIELD Died May 24, 2002
Novelist Wallace Markfield wrote numerous satirical books. His novel "Bye, Bye Braverman" was filmed in 1968 by director Sidney Lumet. Mr. Markfield died of a heart attack.
ED CESAR Died May 24, 2002
Mr. Cesar was a renowned pilot and hang glider champion. He piloted the glider used to film the Academy Award winning, inspirational short film "Up" (1984).
PAT COOMBS Died May 25, 2002
British actress Pat Coombs portrayed Henrietta Salt in "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." She also appeared in several of the bawdy British "Carry On…" movies. Ms. Coombs died of emphysema.
MILDRED BENSON Died May 28, 2002
Ms. Benson was the creator of "Nancy Drew." She wrote over 130 of the books.Her books have been the subject of a TV series in the 1970s and a film series in the 1930s. Ms. Benson was 96 years old.
HERBERT FINN Died May 28, 2002
The 89-year-old Herbert Finn was a longtime radio and TV scriptwriter. He
wrote for TV shows such as "The Flintstones," "Gilligan's Island," "The Honeymooners," "The Brady Bunch" and the TV specials of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Mr. Finn died of respiratory failure.
VITALI SOLOMIN Died May 28, 2002
Mr. Solomin was the Russian Nigel Bruce. He portrayed Dr. Watson in 6 Russian Sherlock Holmes films! The 61-year-old actor/writer/director had over 30 credits during his career.
LOIS GOULD Died May 29, 2002
I fell in love with Dyan Cannon back in 1971 when I saw Otto Preminger's film "Such Good Friends." Based on the novel by Lois Gould, "Such Good Friends" tells the story of a young married woman who has to cope with the sudden and unexpected death of her husband followed by the discovery of his numerous extra-marital affairs. Ms. Cannon, Burgess Meredith, James Coco, Jennifer O'Neil and Ken Howard are all excellent in this darkly funny and sad film. Ms. Gould wrote the novel from personal experience. She found out about her husband's infidelities in his diary after he died suddenly.
JOHN B. KEANE Died May 30, 2002
Irish novelist and playwright, John B. Keane died of prostate cancer at age 72. He wrote 32 plays. His play "The Field" was brought to the screen in 1990. Richard Harris received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Bull McCabe. Mr. Keane's novel "Durango" was made into a TV movie in 1999.