TROY DONAHUE Died Sept. 2, 2001
Teen heartthrob of the 1950s Troy Donahue died of a heart attack at 65. Mr. Donahue had appeared in bit parts in such films as "The Monolith Monsters" and "The Man of a Thousand Faces" before becoming one of the hottest stars of the late 50s and early 60s. Roles in "Imitation of Life," "A Summer Place" and "Palm Springs Weekend" vaulted Donahue to the top of the heap, for a short time. Donahue also enjoyed success on the popular TV series "Hawaiian Eye" and "Surfside 6." Following the British Invasion, tastes began to change. The clean cut Donahue couldn’t compete with more dangerous actors. Donahue continued to act, but he no longer got the A-list roles. With the exception of his role as Talia Shire’s boyfriend Merle in "The Godfather Part II," Mr. Donahue was pretty much relegated to b-movies and even soft-core porn. He starred in "The Pamela Principle" directed by hardcore veteran Paul Thomas.
THUY TRANG Died Sept. 3, 2001
Vietnamese born actress Thuy Trang was killed in an automobile accident in San Francisco at age 27. Ms. Trang played the Yellow Power Ranger in 1993 and 94 on "The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers." Ms. Trang was one of the few good things about the feature film "The Crow: City of Angels." In that film she played the leather clad Kali. Ms. Trang also appeared in the comedy "Spy Hard" with Leslie Nielson.
PAULINE KAEL Died Sep 3, 2001
If most, or even a few, filmmakers could make movies the way Pauline Kael wrote film criticism, then there wouldn't be one poor person in Hollywood. I envy the person who has yet to discover the beauty of Ms. Kael's writing. Compared to Pauline, all other film critics are blind illiterates who bang out so many words of gibberish. What set her apart was her passion for life and the movies. She retired from criticism back in 1991. I hoped that some film or filmmaker would come forth to rekindle her spark. I missed her words. I missed her love; her work was motivated by love. Each word pulsed with her passion, taste, and her electricity. Each phase of my life is marked by the movies I saw. Ms. Kael's work has always taken that same theme. I gave a friend a volume of Ms. Kael's criticism. It covered the late 50s and early 60s. As you read the book, you discover not only the wonder of seeing movies through Ms. Kael's eyes, but also, glimpses of her love life, her daily grind; the ups and downs. It worked because she was a great lady. She was one of those people you would have loved to know. She was the Kurosawa of criticism. I always admired her as a champion of Sam Peckinpah's. Any woman who loved "Bloody Sam" can drink out of my canteen any time she wants to. Do yourself a favor. Get one of her many books and enjoy. They are more than great film criticism, they are more than great reference books, they are great literature.
FERRUCCIO AMENDOLA Died Sept. 3, 2001
Italian actor Feruccio Amendola died of cancer at age 71. Mr. Amendola was known as the man who dubbed the voices of Robert DeNiro, Sylvester Stallone, Dustin Hoffman and others in the Italian versions of their movies. He was the dubbing director on Bob Guccioni’s all-star porn film "Caligula." Mr. Amendola was the father of actor Claudio Amendola.
RAY SELFE Died Sept. 3, 2001
British exploitation producer/director Ray Selfe died of cancer at age 69. Selfe began working in the British film industry in the 1940s. During the 1970s, Mr. Selfe began to produce such exploitation films as "White Cargo" and "Can I Come Too?" Mr. Self also produced hardcore versions of soft-core British films for export abroad. Mr. Selfe was said to have made over 1,000 films during his lifetime. He was the founder of Norwood Films. Mr. Selfe directed the horror film compilation "Don’t Scream, It’s Only a Movie" which was narrated by Vincent Price.
HANK THE ANGRY DWARF Died Sept. 4, 2001
Hank Nassiff was known to legions of Howard Stern fans as Hank the Angry Dwarf. Hank was almost constantly intoxicated when he appeared on Howard’s show. Stern provided a place for Hank and others that society as a whole would find unacceptable and gave them a home. Hank good-naturedly played pranks on unwary New Yorkers outside the studio. The funny thing was that the ornery guy was often to drunk to pull off the joke. Some may say that Stern exploited Hank, but those of us who listen to Stern and really known what Stern is about, know that Hank was a member of Stern’s family and will be missed by all. Hank was 39 when his hard living caught up with him. Hank’s credits include "Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part 4," "Bikini Bandits" and "The Howard Stern Show."
MERRILL CONNALLY Died Sept. 4, 2001
Merrill Connally, actor and brother of former Texas governor John Connelly died of lung cancer at age 80. Mr. Connelly portrayed Davy Crockett in "Alamo: The Price of Freedom." His other film credits include Steven Speilberg’s "Sugarland Express" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Mr. Connally also appeared in "Rush" and "Heaven and Hell: North & South: Book Three."
TERRY GILBERT Died Sept. 5, 2001
Choreographer Terry Gilbert died at age 68. Mr. Gilbert worked with director Ken Russell on his films "The Devils" and "Women in Love." His other credits include "The Bounty" and Roger Corman’s "The Masque of Red Death."
MEGAN CONNOLLY Died Sept. 6, 2001
Australian soap actress Megan Connolly died of a heroin overdose at age 27. Ms. Connolly had battled her addiction for some time. Ms. Connolly first gained notice in the film "The Crossing" with Russell Crowe. She was a regular on the TV series "Paradise Beach" and was a V-Jay on the Australian Foxtel’s music channel.
BILLIE LOU WATT Died Sept. 7, 2001
Actress Billy Lou Watt died of cancer at age 70. Ms. Watt provided the voice for Mrs. Bagg on the Cartoon Network’s twisted gem "Courage the Cowardly Dog." Ms. Watt was a regular on the soap opera "Search for Tomorrow" for 13 years. She also appeared on "The Edge of Night." Ms. Watt also provided voices for the TV series "Astro Boy" and "Gigantor."
BILLY GREENE Died Sept. 9, 2001
Animator and award-winning filmmaker Billy Green was shot to death outside his apartment at age 33. Mr. Greene was an animator on the TV series "The PJs." Mr. Greene’s stop-motion animation film "Though Bubble" won the Best Short Film Award at the Shorts International Film Festival in 2001.
THOMAS FRIES Died Sept. 10, 2001
Emmy nominated film editor Thomas Fries died of heart disease at age 47. Mr. Fries was nominated for his work on the TV movie "Bitter Harvest," which he also produced. Mr. Fries other credits include the Vietnam War TV movie ""Friendly Fire" and "The Amazing Spider Man" TV series.
A number of people from the film community lost their lives during the terrorist assault on America. Some rode in the planes. Others died when the World Trade Center collapsed. A number lost their lives while on duty as New York City firemen and policemen.
KEVIN MARLO was an extra in the movie "Celebrity." He appeared in an episode of "ElimiDate." Mr. Marlo worked as an investment banker in the WTC. He died when the building collapsed.
T.J. HARGRAVE was an actor who appeared in Otto Preminger’s "Such Good Friends." Mr. Hargrave was also a regular on "The Guiding Light" for two years. Mr. Hargrave was working for a financial institution in the World Trade Center. He died when the WTC collapsed.
CHUCK MCCRANN produced and acted in the 1980 low-budget horror film "Toxic Zombies." Mr. McCrann was a senior vice president for a large conglomerate. He died when the WTC collapsed.
KEITH GLASCOE was a New York City firefighter. He appeared in several films, most notably Luc Besson’s "The Professional." Mr. Glascoe died in the line of duty.
ANGEL JUARBE JR. was a New York City firefighter. He was the grand prizewinner on the reality TV series "Murder in Small Town X." He died in the line of duty.
MYCHAL JUDGE was the New York City fire department Chaplain killed by falling debris. Mr. Judge appeared as himself in archived footage in the documentary "9/11."
RICK RESCORLA was the head of security for Dean Whitter. He appeared as himself in the documentary "The Voice of the Prophet." Mr. Rescorla died while saving the lives of others.
CHUCK MARGIOTTA actor and stuntman Chuck Margiotta was also a New York City fireman. His film credits include "Frequency," "The King of New York," "Malcolm X" and "Kiss of Death." He died in the line of duty.
BERRY BERENSON was an actress, the widow of actor Anthony Perkins and the sister of actress Marisa Berenson. Ms. Berenson’s film credits include Paul Schrader’s "Cat People" and the Jeff Bridges/John Huston thriller "Winter Kills." Ms. Berenson was on board one of the planes that hit the WTC.
DAVID ANGELL was the creator of the TV series "Frasier." Mr. Angell wrote and produced the TV series "Cheers," "Wings" and "Frasier." Mr. Angell was nominated for 12 Emmy’s during his career. He won six. Mr. Angell and his wife Lynn were on board one of the planes that crashed into the WTC.
BARBARA OLSEN was a lawyer and author. She was on her way to L.A. to be a panelist on Bill Maher’s "Politically Incorrect." She was on board the plane that hit the Pentagon.
VICTOR WONG Died Sep 12, 2001
With the horror that over-took our nation on September 11th, the death of Victor Wong on September 12th was overshadowed. Victor Wong played strong supporting parts in a couple of my favorite films. In Michael Cimino's brutal and somewhat racist "Year of the Dragon," Mr. Wong played Harry Yung, an old time gangster, threatened by up-and-comer John Lone. He also appeared as the lovable but shifty general store owner in "Tremors." "Big Trouble in Little China" was another of his standout films. Mr. Wong led a full life of which acting was only one part. He retired from film due to poor health and began to create digital artwork. The world of cinema was made richer by his contribution.
DOROTHY McGUIRE Died Sep 13, 2001
Actress Dorothy McGuire died this week. Ms. McGuire starred in two of my favorite films, "Friendly Persuasion" and "Dark at the Top of the Stairs." In both films Ms. McGuire gave memorable performances against other heavyweight actors and actresses. The humorous chemistry between Gary Cooper and herself in "Friendly Persuasion" created an unlikely romantic duo in a pacifist Quaker Couple at the outbreak of the Civil War. In "Dark at the Top of the Stairs" she played Robert Preston's loveless wife. Anyone interested in great drama and great performances should check out both of these films.
CHARLES REGNIER Died Sept. 13, 2001
German actor/writer/director Charles Regnier appeared in nearly 120 films during his 87 years on earth. Mr. Regnier was given an Honorary Lifetime Award by the German Film Awards in 1989. Mr. Regnier’s credits include "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse," John Huston’s "Freud," "Lulu" a remake of "Pandora’s Box" in which Mr. Regnier played Jack the Ripper," "And So to Bed" and "Steppenwolf" with Max Von Sydow. He also appeared in Ingmar Bergman’s "The Serpent’s Egg."
SAM ARKOFF Died Sep 13, 2001
Sam Arkoff along with James Nicholson built American International Pictures into one of the great Independent and B-Movie production companies. From a series of cheesy classics in the 50s like "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein" to the Hell's Angel movies of the 60s, Mr. Arkoff filled drive-ins with kids out for a good time. The list of A-List actors and directors who owe in some part their success is lengthy. Mr. Arkoff produced over 130 films including Curtis Harrington's "Queen of Blood" and "Who Slew Auntie Roo?" Arkoff produced five of Bert I. Gordon's monster movies including "War of the Colossal Beast" and "Earth vs. the Spider." He produced Martin Scorsese's early film "Boxcar Bertha" with Barbara Hershey. Other credits include Larry Cohen's "Q: The Winged Serpent," "Cry of the Banshee," and the Blaxploitation films "Coffy" with Pam Grier and "Slaughter."
JOHNNY CRAIG Died Sept. 13, 2001
EC Comics illustrator Johnny Craig died at age 85. Mr. Craig was one of those gifted individuals hired by William Gaines to revolutionize the comic book industry in the 1950s. Puritans rose up and called on Congress to put an end to the originality shown by Gaines and company. Mr. Craig was a writer and illustrator for several of the EC Comics. He became the editor of "Vault of Horror." "Vault of Horror" became a movie in the early 1970s. Many of Mr. Craig’s stories were used in the TV series "Tales From the Crypt."
STEVEN FARGNOLI Died Sept. 14, 2001
Producer Steve Fargnoli died of cancer. Mr. Fargnoli produced three movies for the artist former known as Prince: "Purple Rain," "Under the Cherry Moon" and "Sign’o’ the Times."
FREDERICK DE CORDOVA Died Sept. 15, 2001
There’s not a baby boomer alive that doesn’t know who Frederick De Cordova was. Growing up watching the tonight show, you got to know Mr. De Cordova. He was the executive producer of "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson." Producer/director Freddy De Cordova died of natural causes at age 89. Johnny Carson often kidded Mr. De Cordova about his most famous film, "Bedtime for Bonzo" which starred Ronald Reagan and a chimpanzee. De Cordova directed over thirty films and TV shows. He acted in Martin Scorsese’s "The King of Comedy." Mr. De Cordova won five Emmy Awards for his work on "The Tonight Show."
GUUS HERMUS Died Sept. 18, 2001
Dutch actor Guus Hermus died at age 83. Mr. Hermus had a nice supporting role in one of my all-time favorite films: Paul Verhoven’s "Soldier of Orange."
DOUGIE MILLINGS Died Sept. 20, 2001
Dougie Millings was the tailor who designed the suits made famous by The Beatles during the early years of the British invasion. Mr. Milling’s work was on display most notably in the Richard Lester film "A Hard Days Night." Mr. Millings died at age 88.
GERALD MAYER Died Sept. 21, 2001
TV director Gerald Mayer died of pneumonia at age 82. The nephew of MGM head Louis B. Mayer, Mr. Mayer directed several features in the late 1940s and early 50s before working exclusively in TV. Among the nearly 40 TV series that Mr. Mayer worked on were "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason," "Bonanza," "Mannix," "The Nurses" (which he also produced), "Mission Impossible," "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "Airwolf."
ISSAC STERN Died Sep 22, 2001
Issac Stern, Russian born violinist. Probably the greatest violinists of the last century, Mr. Stern's best known contribution to Hollywood were his violin solos for Norman Jewison's 1971 film "Fiddler on the Roof." I'm sure he'll be able to trade his violin in for a harp.
ROBERT ABEL Died Sept. 23, 2001
Writer/ director Robert Abel died following a heart attack at age 64. Mr. Abel directed several excellent concert films during the early 1970. I sat through "Let the Good Times Roll" three times in a row when it first came out. The documentary, concert film chronicled a series of 1950s Rock and Roll reunion concerts held in Long Island, New York in the early 70s. Unfortunately, the film has been bogged down in the court system in recent years and is hard to find. "Let the Good Times Roll" contains some of the best live performances by such vintage Rock stars as Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bill Haley and the Comets. Abel used split screen and archived footage to produce an exciting two-hour feast for the eyes and ears. The film’s finale is an outstanding guitar duel between Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. If you get the chance, don’t miss this movie. Mr. Abel also directed the excellent documentary "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" chronicled Joe Cocker and friends on tour. In addition to Joe Cocker, the film features Leon Russell and Billy Preston. You’ll never see or hear a better version of Joe Cocker singing "Cry Me a River." Elvis fans are indebted to Mr. Abel for his excellent documentary "Elvis on Tour." "Elvis on Tour" won the Golden Globe for Best Documentary.
DOLORES MICHAELS Died Sept. 25, 2001
Contract player Dolores Michaels died of natural causes at age 68. Ms. Michaels appeared in a number of action/adventure films during the late 40s through 1961. Her credits include "The Battle of Bloody Beach" with Audie Murphy, "Warlock" with Henry Fonda and Richard Widmark, "Five Gates to Hell" and "The Fiend Who Walked the West."
EVAN LOTTMAN Died Sept. 25, 2001
Oscar nominated film editor Evan Lottman died of throat cancer at age 70. Mr. Lottman was nominated for an Oscar for his work on "The Exorcist." Mr. Lottman worked on the Al Pacino films "Scarecrow" and "Panic in Needle Park." Other film credits include "The Man From O.R.G.Y.," "Sophie’s Choice," "The Muppets Take Manhattan," "The Seduction of Joe Tynan," "Rollover" and "Presumed Innocent." Mr. Lottman appeared as a soldier in "Apocalypse Now" and did additional editing on the "Redux" version of that same film.
LANI O’GRADY Died Sep 25, 2001
On September 25th Lani O'Grady died of an overdose of painkillers. She played the oldest sister on the TV series "Eight is Enough." She also appeared in the Cult Classic "Massacre at Central High." What saddens me about her death is the familiarity I had with her even though I never met her. Ms. O'Grady was a big part of the lives of many people my age. She was everyone’s big sister on "Eight is Enough." She was the sister of "My Three Sons" actor and composer Don Grady.
HANNES NIKEL Died Sept. 26, 2001
The second Oscar nominated film editor has died in as many days. Hannes Nikel was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Wolfgang Peterson’s classic WWI film "Das Boot." Among Mr. Nikel’s other credits is the film "Stalingrad" for which he the Best Film Editing Awards at the Bavarian Film Awards. Mr. Hannes was 70 years old.
HELEN CHERRY Died Sept. 27, 2001
British stage and screen actress Helen Cherry died at age 86. Ms. Cherry was the widow of actor Trevor Howard. Ms. Cherry’s credits include the drama "Time After Time," "11 Harrowhouse," "Charge of the Light Brigade," "Conduct Unbecoming" and "Flipper’s New Adventures."
MARTIN GARNER Died Sept. 28, 2001
Character actor Martin Garner died at age 74. Mr. Garner played Mr. Weinstein in the Steven Spielberg directed segment of "Twilight Zone: The Movie." His other film credits include "Airplane II," "The Frisco Kid," "Hester Street" and "The Big Fix." Mr. Garner appeared in over 30 episodes of various TV series during the 1970s and 80s.
IRENE VON MEYENDORFF Died Sept 28, 2001
German actress Irene Von Meyendorff died at age 85. Ms. Meyendorff is all right in my book for the simple fact that she rebuffed advances by Nazi bastard Joseph Goebbels, hung a nasty nickname on him and lived to tell about it! Ms. Mayendorff appeared in nearly 50 films during her career. On of her last roles was in Terrence Young’s "Mayerling."
RISTO ORKO Died Sept. 29, 2001
Finish producer Risto Orko died at age 102! When I was five or six, I saw "The Day the Earth Froze" at the Lamar Theater in Memphis. All I remember of this movie was that the earth froze because a witch dragged the sun into her cave and wouldn’t let it out. The movie, called "Sampo" in Finland was full of some very strange images. Of the 115 movies produced by Mr. Orko, this is the only one I’ve ever heard of. Trivia note: The Lamar Theater in Memphis later became rundown and was turned into an adult theater. This is where "Deep Throat" played when it became the focus of a Federal Prosecution in Memphis during the early 1970s.
GLORIA FOSTER Died Sept. 29, 2001
Actress Gloria Foster died of diabetes at age 66. Ms. Foster gained her greatest fame as the Oracle in "The Matrix." Ms. Foster died during the filming of "The Matrix Reloaded." Ms. Foster’s other film credits include "The Comediennes" with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, "Leonard Part 6" with Bill Cosby (for which she won a Razzie as Worst Supporting Actress) and John Sayles’ excellent drama "City of Hope."