Saturday, April 24, 2010


WOJCIECH HAS Died Oct. 3, 2000

Polish director Wojiech Has died of complications from diabetes and surgery at age 75. Mr. Has was an influential director in Poland and the head of the Lodz Film School during the 1990s. Mr. Has’s 1965 film "The Sargossa Manuscript" rivals Jean Cocteau’s "Beauty and the Beast" as one of the greatest fantasy films ever made. His film "The Hourglass Sanatorium" was nominated for the Golden Palm and tied as winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes. In 1999 he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Polish Film Awards. Mr. Has wrote eight of his twenty five films.

BENJAMIN ORR Died Oct. 3, 2000

The Cars co-founder Benjamin Orr died of pancreatic cancer at age 53. I was bummed out by this when it happened and it still depressed me while researching this column five years later. The Cars provided us with some of the best music of the 70s and 80s. I saw them perform at the Alladin in Las Vegas back in the day. Ben Orr was the cool one, the good-looking one. He shared lead vocal duties with Ric Ocasek. If you ask me, Ben Orr sang lead on their best songs. In reading about his last days, I was happy to find that he performed live a week before his death. Following the breakup of The Cars, Mr. Orr formed the band Big People. Big People played their last concert with Mr. Orr on September 27. Another thing that hit me while researching this obituary was the fact that Mr. Orr found out about his disease at Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital. Piemont is connected to The Shepherd Center where my daughter recuperated for so many months. I ate many a meal at the Piedmont Hospital cafeteria. A number of their songs have appeared on movie soundtracks. Orr sang lead on "Just What I Needed," which was used in the excellent "Over the Edge" and "Boys Don’t Cry." He sang backup to Rick Ocasek's lead on "My Best Friend’s Girlfriend," which was used in "Mr. Deeds" and "Where the Money Is." The Cars performed twice on "Saturday Night Live." They also appeared at the landmark concert "LiveAid." Orr gave one of his last interviews for "The Cars Live" DVD released by Rhino. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

NEELY PLUMB Died Oct. 4, 2000

Record producer Neely Plumb died of heart failure at age 88. Mr. Plumb was the father of Eve Plumb of "The Brady Bunch" fame. Mr. Plumb produced the platinum soundtrack albums "The Sound of Music," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "True Grit," "Bye Bye Birdie" and the 1968 version of "Romeo and Juliet." He also produced a couple of songs for his daughter during her stint as Jan Brady.

RUTH ELLIS Died Oct. 5, 2000

The world’s oldest openly lesbian woman died in her sleep at age 101! Ruth C. Ellis came out of the closet in 1919. Talk about a risk taker, Ms. Ellis was Black, a business owner and openly lesbian in 1920s America. Her life was the subject of the documentary film "Living in Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100." She also appeared in two episodes of the documentary TV series "In the Life."


When he was on screen, you felt drawn in by his humanity. His performances were never false. You believed that his honesty went down to the very core of his being. Richard Farnsworth was the real thing. A man’s man. He was a living version of many of the characters found in Sam Peckinpah’s best work. No matter the character he played, each was imbued with a decency and honesty that had to come from the actor’s own soul. Veteran stuntman turned twice Oscar-nominated actor Richard Farnsworth killed himself with a single gunshot after a lengthy and painful battle with bone cancer. He was 80 years old. Richard Farnsworth began his Hollywood career at age 16. He became one of the top stunt men in the industry. In 1961, Mr. Farnsworth co-founded The Stuntman’s Association. He spent 40 years performing stunts in over 100 films, many of them certified classics. He was a stunt double for such big stars ad Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Roy Rogers, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Steve McQueen and others. After 40 years of performing stunts, Richard Farnsworth turned to acting.

He became the oldest actor to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. In addition to his two Oscar nominations as Best Supporting actor in "Comes a Horseman" and Best Actor in "The Straight Story" Mr. Farnsworth received numerous accolades. He won the Canadian Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor, was nominated for one of his three Golden Globes, won the ALFS Award for "The Grey Fox." "The Straight Story" also garnered Mr. Farnsworth a CFCA nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a Golden Satellite nomination, a win from the Independent Spirit Awards and the New Film Critics Circle Awards. While he was nominated for an Oscar for "Comes a Horseman," Mr. Farnsworth won the National Board of Review and National Society of Film Critics Awards.

Mr. Farnsworth’s stuntman credits include the Marx Brother’s "A Day at the Races," "Gone With the Wind," "Gunga Din," Howard Hughes’s "The Outlaw," "The Caine Mutiny," "The Ten Commandments," "Spartacus," Sam Peckinpah’s "Major Dundee," "Cat Ballou," "The Great Race," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Omega Man" and "High Plains Drifter."

Mr. Farnsworth acting credits include "Red River," "The Wild One," "The Cowboy," "Papillon," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Roots," "The Natural," "Into the Night," "Anne of Green Gables," "The Two Jakes," "Misery" and the remake of "The Getaway."

PETER TURGEON Died Oct. 6, 2000

Actor Peter Turgeon died of natural causes at age 80. He was best known for his role as Dr. Dave Woodard in the gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows." Mr. Turgeon also had a successful stage career. Mr. Turgeon’s film and TV credits include "American Gigolo," "Muscle Beach Party," "The World of Henry Orient," "Airport," "The Possession of Joel Delaney," "L.A. Law," "Hot L Baltimore," "Naked City" and "Studio One."

ROBERT M. LEEDS Died Oct. 8, 2000

Film editor/director Robert M. Leeds died at age 79. Mr. Leeds began his career editing Westerns for Republic Studios. Jack Webb hired him to edit the 1954 film version of "Dragnet." He then remained in the employ of Jack Webb’s Mark VII Productions. He edited Webb’s films "Pete Kelly’s Blues" and "The D.I." as well as Mr. Webb’s TV series "Dragnet," "Adam 12," and "Project UFO." Mr. Leeds also directed episodes of "Adam-12," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "77 Sunset Strip" among others. Later in his career, Mr. Leeds edited the TV series "The Rockford Files" and "Kolchak: The Night Stalker."

DAVID DUKES Died Oct. 9, 2000

Actor David Dukes died of a heart attack while playing tennis at age 55. Mr. Dukes was taking a day off from filming the Stephen King TV mini-series "Rose Red." The Emmy-nominated actor appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his career. One of his more memorable performances was as the man who attempted to rape Edith Bunker in "All in the Family." He received an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for his work in "The Josephine Baker Story." He had a recurring role on the WB’s hit TV series "Dawson’s Creek." Mr. Dukes’s film credits include "The Strawberry Statement," "The Wild Party," George Roy Hill’s wonderful "A Little Romance," as the psycho killer in Frank Sinatra’s "The First Deadly Sin," "The Handmaid’s Tale" and "Gods and Monsters." He also appeared in a number of memorable TV movies including "And the Band Played On," "The Winds of War," as Arthur Miller in "Norma Jean & Marilyn" and "The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal."

EMILE KURI Died Oct. 10, 2000

Oscar-winning set designer Emile Kuri died at age 93. Mr. Kuri was nominated for eight Oscars. He won for Disney’s wonderful "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" as well as for William Wyler’s "The Heiress." Mr. Kuri also received nominations for his work on "Silver Queen," the 1952 film "Carrie," "Executive Suite," "The Absent Minded Professor," "Mary Poppins" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Mr. Kuri worked on nearly 140 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. Hew won an Emmy for his work on "The Wonderful World of Disney." In addition to the many Disney films Mr. Kuri worked on he also helped design the attractions at Disneyland and Disney World. Mr. Kuri’s many film credits include "Duel in the Sun," "It’s a Wonderful Life," "I Remember Mama," "State of the Union," "Shane," "A Place in the Sun," the original version of "The War of the Worlds" and Hitchcock’s films "The Paradine Case," "The Trouble With Harry" and "Rope." Mr. Kuri worked on most of the films produced by Walt Disney Studios during the 1960s and early 70s.

SAM O’STEEN Died Oct. 11, 2000

Multi-Oscar-nominated film editor Sam O’Steen died of a heart attack at age 76. Mr. O’Steen was nominated three times for Best Editing Oscars for his work on "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "Chinatown" and "Silkwood." He shared a DGA award for directing the TV movie "The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom." That film also garnered him an Emmy nomination. His work on "The Graduate" won him the BAFTA for Best Film Editing. He was also nominated for another BAFTA for "Chinatown." Mr. O’Steen’s peers in the American Cinema Editor’s Guild nominated him for an Eddie for "Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf." Mr. O’Steen had a long professional collaboration with director Mike Nichols. He edited 12 films by the director. In addition to those already mentioned, his work for Mike Nichols included "Carnal Knowledge," "Wolf," "Catch-22," "The Day of the Dolphin," "Working Girl" and "Postcards From the Edge." Other credits include "Robin and the 7 Hoods," "Cool Hand Luke," "Rosemary’s Baby" and "A Dry White Season."

GORDON STULBERG Died Oct. 12, 2000

Producer/studio exec Gordon Stulberg died of complications from diabetes at age 76. Mr. Stulberg was the executive producer of the film version of "A Chorus Line." Mr. Stulberg worked for a number of studios in executive positions including Columbia, CBS and FOX. Mr. Stulberg was the COE and President of FOX at one time.

JEAN PETERS Died Oct. 13, 2000

Actress Jean Peters died of leukemia at age 73. Ms. Peters gave up a promising film career in 1957 when she married billionaire Howard Hughes. She divorced him on 1970. Ms. Peters appeared in nearly 20 films during the 1940s and 50s. Ms. Peters appeared in several well-known films including "Viva Zapata!," "Niagra," "Pick Up on South Street," "A Man Called Peter," "Captain From Castile," "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Broken Lance." Ms. Peters returned to acting in the 70s appearing on TV in "Murder She Wrote" and several TV movies.

RICK JASON Died Oct. 17, 2000

Actor Rick Jason is the second actor this month to end his own life with a gunshot. Actor Richard Farnsworth committed suicide after a long battle with cancer. The 74-year-old Rick Jason was reportedly despondent over personal matters. Rick Jason was known to millions of baby boomers for his lead role in the hit TV series "Combat!" Mr. Jason co-starred with Vic Morrow in the weekly WWII TV series for five years. Mr. Jason appeared in over 50 films and TV shows. Other credits include "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Rawhide," "The Virginian," "The Young and the Restless," "Get Christie Love," "Who is the Black Dahlia?," "Police Woman," "Fantasy Island" and "Moonlighting."

WALTER SHENSON Died Oct.17, 2000

Publicist turned producer Walter Shenson died of complications from a stroke at age 81. Mr. Shenson produced the Beatles’ films "A Hard Day’s Night" and "Help!." Thanks for that! Mr. Shenson produced a hand full of movies including the classic British comedy "The Mouse that Roared" and its sequel "The Mouse on the Moon." Other credits include "Inner Sanctum," "Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River" and "Rueben, Rueben." He was also responsible for the truly terrible family-film "Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World." Mr. Shenson took a shot at directing with the 1971 film "Welcome to the Club." He began his career as a publicist and worked on such films as "The Caine Mutiny." Mr. Shenson served his country in the US Army during WWII.

FREDERICK CLARKE Died Oct. 17, 2000

Publisher Frederick Clarke committed suicide at age 51. Movie fans are familiar with Mr. Clarke’s magazines "Cinemafantasique" and "Femme Fatales." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

GWEN VERDON Died Oct. 18, 2000

Dancer Gwen Verdon died at age 75. Ms. Verdon was best known for playing the vamp Lola on Broadway in "Damn Yankees." She reprised the role in the 1958 film version. She was married for 27 years to director/choreographer Bob Fosse, though they were legally separated for the last 18 years of the marriage. Check out Fosse's "All That Jazz" to get an idea as to why! Though Ms. Verdon appeared in numerous films and TV shows, she is best known for her career as one of Broadway’s top dancers and actresses. Her film credits include "The Cotton Club," "Cocoon," "Nadine" and "Marvin’s Room."

SIDNEY SALKOW Died Oct. 18, 2000

Director Sidney Salkow died of natural causes at age 89. Sci-fi fans remember Mr. Salkow best for directing the Vincent Price film "The Last Man on Earth." The film was based on the Richard Mathesen book "I Am Legend." The movie was later remade with Charlton Heston as "The Omega Man." He created, produced and directed the TV series "This is Alice." Mr. Salkow directed over 100 films and TV episodes. His many credits include "The Zero Hour," several "Bulldog Drummond" films, "Maverick," "77 Sunset Strip," "The Addams Family" and "The Murder Game." Mr. Salkow served his country in the US Marines during WWII and was wounded in combat. After Mr. Salkow retired from filmmaking he taught his craft at Cal. State Northridge.

JULIE LONDON Died Oct. 18, 2000

I never knew Julie London because of her music. She had millions of fans who enjoyed her songs during the 1940s through the 60s. Ms. London’s biggest hit was the 1955 song "Cry Me a River." Like many people my age, I knew of Julie London as Nurse Dixie McCall on the Jack Webb produced hit TV series "Emergency!" To me, a nurse’s uniform never looked sexier. The show was produced by her first husband Jack Webb and she co-starred with her second husband Bobby Troup. Bobby Troup was a noted jazz musician. Ms. London was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1974 for her work on "Emergency!" As an actress, Julie London appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows. Her songs have been featured on a number of movie soundtracks. Mr. London’s acting credits include "The Great Man," "The George Raft Story," "Rawhide," "Adam 12, " The Big Valley" and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour." Her songs have been featured in such films as "The Girl Can’t Help It," "Boy on a Dolphin," "Sharkey’s Machine" and "V for Vendetta."

OTTO REICHOW Died Oct. 20, 2000

Character actor Otto Reichow died at age 96. Mr. Reichow appeared in over 100 films during his lengthy career. He often played Nazis on screen. His many credits include "To Be or Not to Be," "A Yank in the R.A.F.," "Lucky Jordon," "Tarzan Triumphs," "Five Graves to Cairo," "The Hitler Gang," "Wilson," "13 Rue Madeleine," "I Was a Male War Bride," "To Hell and Back," "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit," "Frankenstein-1970," "Operation Eichman," "Wagon Trail," "Combat!" and "Ulanza’s Raid."

ARTHUR TOVEY Died Oct. 20, 2000

Not everyone on screen is a star. Most aren’t in fact. But we couldn’t make films without the extras or the bit part players. Arthur Tovey was once such gentleman. He began his career in the silent days and worked through the 1980s. Not many people can claim that their career had them work with both Charlie Chaplin and Madonna. Arthur Tovey could. Mr. Tovey appeared, mostly uncredited in such films as the original version of "The Mummy," "A Man Called Peter," "Jailhouse Rock," "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers," the original version of "Around the World in Eighty Days," "Willard," Shampoo" and "Who’s That Girl?" Mr. Tovey was Leslie Howard’s double on "Gone With the Wind." Arthur Tovey served his country in the US Army during WWII.

MORT BRISKIN Died Oct. 21, 2000

Producer Mort Briskin died at age 87. Mr. Briskin wrote and produced the hit film "Walking Tall." Loosely based on the life of Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser, "Walking Tall" became a sleeper hit in 1973 and spawned two sequels, a TV series and a remake. Mr. Briskin also produced the hit horror film "Willard" and its sequel "Ben." When I was a preschooler, my friends Mark and David Hodges and I would sit on my pet’s doghouse and pretend we were flying helicopters just like the ones we watched on the TV series "Whirlybirds." Mr. Briskin was the executive producer of that childhood favorite of mine. Other credits include "The Jackie Robinson Story" and the creepy "You’ll Like My Mother."

LUKE WILLS Died Oct. 21, 2000

Actor/musician Luke Wills died at age 80. Mr. Wills was the last surviving brother of Bob Wills. He was a member of his brother’s band "Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys." He appeared in the documentary "Fiddlin Man: The Life and Times of Bob Wills." Mr. Wills appeared with the band is such films as "The Last Horseman" and "The Lone Prairie."

SILVIO NOTO Died Oct. 25, 2000

Italian actor Silvio Noto died at age 75. Mr. Noto appeared in one US production: "Super Fly TNT." He acted in a number of Italian films and TV shows. He also did voice double work on US films released in Italy. He dubbed such films as "Rocky" and "Tora! Tora! Tora!" for Italian audiences.

MURIEL EVANS Died Oct. 26, 2000

Actress Muriel Evans died of colon cancer at age 90. Ms. Evans appeared in over 50 films during her career. Many of her film roles were in B-Westerns. Ms. Evans received the Golden Boot Award for her contributions to the Western film genre. She co-starred with such Western stars as John Wayne, Tex Ritter, Willian Boyd (AKA Hopalong Cassidy) and others. Her career spanned other genres as well. She had a supporting role in the Clark Gable/William Powell crime drama "Manhattan Melodrama." "Manhattan Melodrama" was famous for being the movie that John Dillinger saw just before being killed by the F.B.I. Ms. Evans also appeared in such films as "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "Pack Up Your Troubles" with Laurel and Hardy, "Arabian Tights," "Dancing Lady," "The Woman in His Life" and "The Roaring West."

LARRY RHINE Died Oct. 27, 2000

Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe winning writer Larry Rhine died at age 90. Mr. Rhine won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Norman Lear’s landmark TV show "All in the Family." Mr. Rhine began his career writing for radio and films. He wrote almost exclusively for TV from the 1950s on/ His film and TV credits include "A Dangerous Game," "Top Sergeant," "The Red Skelton Show," "Mr. Ed," "Here’s Lucy" and "The Odd Couple." He also wrote for cartoons including "The Pebbles and Bam-Bam Show."

ANTHONY LEE Oct. 28, 2000

Yet another life has been cut short needlessly. 39-year-old actor Anthony Lee had worked more and more during the 1990s. Like many young hopefuls, his career will never reach fruition. Anthony Lee was shot to death by LAPD officer Tarriel Hooper while attending a Halloween costume party on Benedict Canyon. The officer fired his weapon nine times. The police officer was standing outside a bedroom window shining a flashlight into a room. He claimed that Mr. Lee pulled a gun on him. Mr. Lee was shot once in the back of the head and three times in the back according to the autopsy report. Mr. Lee had a rubber gun as part of his Halloween costume. I guess the lesson here is don’t make to much noise at a party in LA. The police officers were called to the residence because of a noise complaint. The LAPD settled the wrongful death suite out of court for $225,000. Prayers of comfort for the family and friend of Anthony Lee. Mr. Lee’s credits include "E.R.," "Liar, Liar," "NYPD Blue" and "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman."

RICHARD LIBERTY Died Oct. 30, 2000

Actor Richard Liberty died of a heart attack at age 68. Mr. Liberty was best know as the mad scientist running Zombie experiments in George Romero’s "Day of the Dead." This was the third film in Romero’s "Dead" trilogy, following "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead." Richard Liberty also appeared in Romero’s "The Crazies." His other credits include "The Final Countdown," "Porky’s 2," "The Mean Season," "Miami Vice" and "Just Cause."

STEVE ALLEN Died Oct. 30, 2000

Chances are, there will never be another one like Steve Allen. Writer (40 books), composer (4000 songs!), actor (on stage, screen and TV), comedian, TV pioneer, journalist, recording artist and one of the truly funnymen of the last century. Steve Allen died of a heart attack at age 78. Steve Allen was the first host of NBC’s landmark variety TV series "The Tonight Show." He was nominated for three Emmy Awards in writing, acting and producing categories! Mr. Allen had hundreds of TV and film credits. He often portrayed himself in feature films. His wife was actress Jayne Meadows, sister of actress Audrey Meadows. My personal favorite creation of Steve Allen’s was the TV show "Meeting of the Minds." Using humor and history, Mr. Allen would bring together historical figures to discuss philosophy and other subjects. It was a great showcase for his humor and intelligence. Among Mr. Allen’s many film and TV credits are "The Benny Goodman Story," "The Comic," "Warning Shot," The Sunshine Boys," "Great Balls of Fire!," "Casino," "Rich Man, Poor Man," "Hotel" and "The Simpsons."

RING LARDNER JR. Died Oct. 31, 2000

Oscar-winning screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. died of cancer at age 85. Mr. Lardner won two Oscars for his screenplays "Woman of the Year" and "M*A*SH." Ring Lardner Jr. was the last surviving member of the Hollywood Ten. Ring Lardner Jr. appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and refused to answer their question concerning his membership in the Communist Party. As a result, he was held in contempt of Congress and spent nine months in a federal prison. In order to continue working, Mr. Lardner moved to England and worked under a pseudonym for several years. Mr. Lardner had been represented by agent Ingo Preminger prior to the HUAC hearings. Mr. Preminger helped him get work by using fronts. When Mr. Lardner’s exile due to the blacklist ended he brought an anti-war novel to Mr. Preminger’s attention. "M*A*S*H" earned both me an Oscar nomination. Preminger for Best Picture as producer and Lardner for Best Screenplay. Lardner won, Preminger did not. Ring Lardner Jr. contributed or wrote some of the best films of the 1940s. He was a rising star prior to HUAC. His pre-HUAC credits or contributions include "Woman of the Year," "A Star is Born," "Laura," "The Cross of Loraine" and "Forever Amber." Once the blacklist was lifted, Mr. Lardner once again was credited in his own name for "The Cincinnati Kid," "M*A*SH" and "The Greatest."

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