Friday, April 23, 2010


JP MILLER Died Nov. 1, 2001

Emmy Award winning writer JP Miller died of pneumonia at age 81. Mr. Miller was nominated for four Emmy awards during his long career. He won for the 1969 TV movie "The People Next Door." Mr. Miller may be best known for his screenplay "The Days of Wine and Roses." "The Days of Wine and Roses" is a powerful portrait of an alcoholic, which still retains its power. Other credits include "Behold a Pale Horse" starring Gregory Peck, John Frankenheimer’s "The Young Savages" and the TV films "The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case" with Anthony Hopkins" and "Helter Skelter" about the Tate/Labianca murders.

ROY BOULTING Died Nov. 5, 2001

Before there were the Coen Brothers, or the Singleton Brothers or the Farrelley Brothers there were the Boulting Twins. Roy and John Boulting were powers in the British film industry from the 1930s through the 80s. The brothers alternated producing and directing the films they worked on together. They formed Charter Films in the 1930s. In the 1960s, they joined the board of directors of British Lion Films. The Boulting brothers are credited with bringing that studio back to life. Mr. Boulting was married six times. His most infamous marriage was to actress Hayley Mills, 33 years his junior. Mr. Boulting’s film credits include "There’s a Girl in My Soup!" with Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn, "The Family Way" with future wife Hayley Mills, "The Risk" and "Young Scarface." Mr. Boulting directed (uncredited) the Oscar winning Documentary Feature "Desert Victory."

JOAN MARION Died Nov. 5, 2001

Tasmanian born actress Joan Marion died at age 83. Ms. Marion appeared and starred in a number of British films during the 1930s and 40s. Ms. Marion’s best-known role was as the wife of suspected murderer Raymond Massey in "Black Limelight." Ms. Marion appeared as herself in the documentary "I Used to Be in Pictures."

ANTHONY SHAFFER Died Nov 6, 2001

Anthony Shaffer, author of "The Wicker Man," one of the greatest occult thrillers ever made, died on November 6. Mr. Shaffer also wrote the great thriller "Sleuth." The film version of "Sleuth" starred Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. "Sleuth" was one of only a few films in which the entire cast was nominated for an Oscar. Mr. Shaffer won a Tony Award for the stage version. Mr. Schaffer was the twin brother of playwright Peter Scheffer: "Equus" and "Amadeus."

NIDA BLANCA Died Nov. 7, 2001

Award winning Philippine actress Nida Blanca was found murdered in the trunk of her car in San Juan, the Philippines. Ms. Blanca was a highly respected actress with numerous film credits in her native land. Ms. Blanca won both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards from the Philippine FAMAS Awards. Ironically, there was a news flash as I was researching this obituary on May 14, 2003. Mr. Blanca’s husband Rod Lauren Strunk was just arrested by US Marshals as the prime suspect in his wife’s murder.

BOBBY BASS Died Nov. 7, 2001

Master stuntman Bobby Bass died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 65. If you saw an action film made in the 1980s or 90s, chances are Bobby Bass was responsible for the onscreen excitement. Among the 65 films he performed or coordinated stunts for were "To Live and Die in LA" for which he won the Stuntman of the Year Award for his automobile work, "Who’ll Stop the Rain," "Smokey and the Bandit," "The Blues Brothers," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Lethal Weapon," "Scarface," "Predator," "Thelma and Louise," "Patriot Games," "Falling Down" and "True Lies." Mr. Bass helped set up a safety commission to insure that movie stunts were performed as safely as possible. Mr. Bass was the stepfather of actress Bo Derek.

KEN KESEY Died Nov. 10, 2001

Writer Ken Kesey was one of the major iconoclastic figures of the 1960s. Ken Kesey wrote and was written about. Two of his novels were turned into great movies, although Mr. Kesey would disagree with that statement concerning the most famous film version of his work. Ken Kesey wrote "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" in 1962. Actor Kirk Douglas bought the rights and desired to play the lead in the movie. Time passed and it was Kirk Douglas’s son Michael who eventually made the movie. Mr. Kesey sued the filmmakers because they changed the focus of the movie from his main character, the schizophrenic Indian to Jack Nicholson’s character. Kesey also wrote the novel, which became one of my favorite films of the 1970s. "Sometimes a Great Notion" starred Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Michael Sarrazan and Richard Jaeckel as a family of loggers in the Northwest. The movie contains the finest (and Oscar nominated) performance the great character actor Richard Jaeckel ever gave. (Jaeckel was the head MP in The Dirty Dozen.) If you get the chance, this overlooked film is well worth finding and watching. Ken Kesey became a god to the hippie generation for his part in the Owsley Acid tests. Kesey joined the Merry Pranksters on their escapades to bring the good news about LSD to the world. Writer Tom Wolff wrote about this phase of Kesey’s life in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." Ken Kesey occasionally acted. He appeared in "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues." Mr. Kesey appeared as himself in a number of documentaries about the 1960s. He died following surgery for liver cancer at age 66.

PAUL KRASNY Died Nov. 12, 2001

Editor turned director Paul Krasny died at age 66. Mr. Krasny directed over 100 TV episodes and TV movies. Mr. Krasny also directed a few theatrical films. Krasny won an Emmy Award for his editing work on the TV series "Mission Impossible." After 18 years as an editor, Mr. Krasny turned to directing and never looked back. His credits as a director include the films "Christina" and "Joe Panther." Mr. Krasny directed episodes of just about every popular TV series from the 1960s through the 1980s including "Mannix," "Miami Vice," "The Equalizer," "Moonlighting," "ChiPs," "Hart to Hart" and "Police Story."

ALBERT HAGUE Died Nov. 12, 2001

Actor/composer Albert Hague was best known to children of the 80s for his role as Benjamin Shorofsky in the movie and TV series "Fame." What may not be aware of is that Mr. Hague composed the score for the perennial Christmas cartoon classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!." Mr. Hague also had success on Broadway during the 1950s with several musical hits. As a child, Mr. Hague escaped Germany before the outbreak of WWII. Mr. Hague appeared in "Space Jam" among other films.

PEGGY MOUNT Died Nov. 13, 2001

Saucy British comedic actress Peggy Mount died following a stroke at age 86. Ms. Mount was a well-respected stage actress who was famous for her loud film and TV performances. Ms. Mount’s credits include the 1968 Best Picture winner "Oliver!," "Hotel Paradiso," "The Naked Truth" and "Sailors Beware." Ms. Mount became a familiar fixture in 1950s Britain for her role in the TV series "The Larkins," in which she played a battle-axe named Ada Larkins

CHARLOTTE COLEMAN Died Nov. 14, 2001

British actress Charlotte Coleman died unexpectedly of a massive asthma attack at age 33. Ms. Coleman was nominated for a British Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the hit comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral." She was also nominated for a TV British Academy Award as Best Actress for her role in the BBC TV film "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit." Ms. Coleman’s other credits include "Map of the Human Heart" and "The Young Poisoner’s Handbook."

SHUICHI NAGAHARA Died Nov. 14, 2001

Japanese screenwriter Shuichi Nagahara died of heart failure at age 61. Mr. Nagahara’s credits include the 1984 version of "Gojira" (Godzilla), "Battle in Outer Space 2," "Sun Above, Death Below" and "The Resurrection of the Golden Wolf."

CARLOS ESTRADA Died Nov. 16, 2001

Argentinean leading man Carlos Estrada died at age 73. Mr. Estrada appeared in over 80 films during his lengthy career. Mr. Estrada romanced blond bomb-shell Mamie Van Doren (see picture) in the comedy "The Blonde from Buenos Aires." Among Mr. Estrada’s other credits are "Master of Horror," "The Cruel Ones" with Capucine, "A Bullet for Rommel" with Jack Palance and the Brazilian version of "Romeo and Juliet" in which he played Mercutio.

RALPH BURNS Died Nov. 21, 2001

Two-time Oscar winning composer Ralph Burns died from a stroke and pneumonia at age 79. Mr. Burns won Oscars for Best Music for the Bob Fosse films "Cabaret" and "All That Jazz." Mr. Burns was nominated for a third Oscar for his "Annie" score. Mr. Burns’s other movie credits include "Lenny" and "Star 80" also directed by Bob Fosse, "All Dogs Go To Heaven," "Urban Cowboy," "My Favorite Year," "The Muppets Take Manhattan" and "National Lampoon’s Vacation."

GARDNER MCCAY Died Nov. 21, 2001

If any producer out there wanted to make an old fashioned grand adventure movie, they wouldn’t have to look past the life of Gardner McCay for great source material. Actor/writer/director/sculptor/painter/world-traveler Gardner McCay died of prostate cancer at age 69. Mr. McCay wrote the plays "Untold Damage" and "Sea Marks" both which were turned into TV movies. Mr. McCay directed "Untold Damage." Mr. McCay’s acting credits include "The Pleasure Seekers" and "I Sailed to Tahiti With an All Girl Crew."

SEYMOUR REIT Died Nov. 21, 2001

Writer Seymour Reit was the creator of "Casper the Friendly Ghost." Mr. Reit died at age 83.

MICHAEL ST. CLAIR Died Nov. 22, 2001

77-year old Australian character actor Michael St. Clair died after suffering a stroke while on his way to an audition. Mr. St. Clair was a WWII combat veteran and Australian boxing champion. His film credits include "Von Ryan’s Express," "My Fair Lady," "Our Man Flint," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," TV’s "Mission Impossible" and "Hogan’s Heroes."


Writer photographer William Read Woodfield died of a heart attack at age 73. Mr. Woodfield wrote one of my favorite sci-fi TV movies: "Earth II." Mr. Woodfield was nominated for two Emmy Awards during his 40-year career. His TV credits include "The Time Tunnel," "Sea Hunt," "Mission Impossible," "Shaft," "Columbo" and "Lost in Space." Mr. Woodfield was more famous for his photography. Woodfield took the famous nude photos of Marilyn Monroe in the pool on the set of her last (unfinished) film "Something’s Got to Give."

RACHEL GURNEY Died Nov. 24, 2001

British actress Rachel Gurney died at age 81. Ms. Gurney was best known to American audiences for her work on the Masterpiece Theater series "Upstairs, Downstairs." Ms. Gurney also appeared in the 1960s thriller "Funeral in Berlin" among others.

GEORGE HARRISON Died Nov 29, 2001.

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, went downstairs and drank a cup, somebody spoke and I went into a dream....

The someone who spoke was a national newscaster letting me know that George Harrison lost his battle to cancer. Baby Boomers will feel his loss more deeply than those of GenX due to the fact that we witnessed the Beatles phenomena. The youngest and least pretentious of the Beatles, Mr., Harrison also contributed to the film world in several ways. In addition to his participation in "A Hard Days Night," "Help," "Yellow Submarine" and "Let It Be", Harrison was the force behind "Handmade Films." Handmade Films was responsible for "The Life of Brian" and "Time Bandits" among others.

Our sympathy goes out to his family. A good man of peace has gone home.

BUDD BOETTICHER Died Nov. 29, 2001

Oscar-nominated writer/director Budd Boetticher died of multiple organ failure at age 85. Budd Boetticher received an Oscar nomination for writing "The Bullfighter and the Lady." He also directed the film. Mr. Boetticher was the perfect man for the film as he had been a bullfighter himself. There are bullfighting references in many of Boetticher's films. He is best known for seven films he made with star Randolph Scott during the late 1950s. Five of the movies were co-written by friend and future director Burt Kennedy. Mr. Boetticher helped the careers of such up-and-coming actors like Sidney Portier and Lee Marvin.

My first exposure to director Budd Boetticher's work was the great gangster film "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond." That film and "Portrait of a Mobster" with Vic Morrow as 'Dutch' Schultz sparked in me an interest in depression era gangsters that flourishes to this day. Budd Boetticher directed films with a dark, rich vision that paralleled his own life. Boetticher directed mainly Westerns. Among his nearly 50 film credits are "The Tall T," "The Man From the Alamo," "City Beneath the Sea," "Seven Men From Now" and the documentary "Arruza."

CAROL GOODNER Died Nov. 29, 2001

American born stage and screen actress Carol Goodner’s career spanned the final days of silent films through the early days of TV. Ms. Goodner appeared in a number of British films during the 20s and 30s. Ms. Goodner’s credits include "Strange Evidence" with Leslie Banks, "Mimi" with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., "A Royal Divorce" with Ruth Chatterton and the TV version of Noel Coward’s "Blithe Spirit."

JOHN KNOWLES Died Nov. 29, 2001

Writer John Knowles died at age 75. Knowles wrote the classic young adult novel "A Separate Peace." Knowles novel took the monotony out of the 10th grade required reading list. Mr. Knowles novel was filmed twice. The 1972 theatrical version missed much of the novel’s magic. A TV version was directed by Peter Yates.

JOHN MITCHUM Died Nov. 29, 2001

Actor John Mitchum died of a stroke at age 82. You’ve seen John Mitchum in countless Clint Eastwood films. John Mitchum was the brother of Robert Mitchum and the uncle of actor Christopher Mitchum. Mr. Mitchum played Inspector Frank DiGiorgio in "Dirty Harry," "Magnum Force" and "The Enforcer." Mitchum had the famous line "Harry hates everybody…" Mitchum’s character was killed in the third "Dirty Harry Film." Mitchum also appeared in Eastwood’s "Paint Your Wagon," "High Plains Drifter" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Mitchum also appeared in my favorite Charles Bronson movie: "Breakheart Pass." Mr. Mitchum appeared in over 50 films including "Knock on Any Door," "The Flying Leather Necks," "Stalag 17," "Chisum" and " Telefon."

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