EDWARD L. BEACH Died Dec. 1, 2002
Edward "Ned " Beach was the commander of the USS Triton, the first nuclear submarine to circumnavigate the earth submerged. Mr. Beach wrote the navel thriller "Run Silent, Run Deep." The novel was made into a movie starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. Mr. Beach appeared in two documentaries as himself: "The Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor" and "Submarine: Steel Boats, Iron Men." Mr. Beach also appeared in the A&E "Biography" episode about General Omar Bradley. Captain Beach died of cancer at age 84.
BRUNO WINTZELL Died Dec. 1, 2002
Swedish opera singer and actor Bruno Wintzell died at age 58 of cancer. Mr. Wintzell’s film credits include "The Girl From Petrovka" with Goldie Hawn and Hal Holbrook and the TV movie "Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident." Mr. Wentzell was married to Goldie Hawn for a short time during and after the time they starred in "The Girl From Petrovka." Other credits include "The Animal Protector" with David Carradine" and "Mr. and Mrs. Sweden." Mr. Wintzell was successful on the stage as an opera singer. He appeared in "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." His production of the latter led to his financial ruin.
EDGAR J. SCHERICK Died Dec. 2, 2002
Oscar and Emmy winning TV and film producer Ed Scherick died of leukemia and complications from a stroke at age 78. Mr. Scherick’s work was marked by a strong social conscience. While Mr. Scherick produced many entertaining films and TV shows, he also specialized in dramatizing real life events which examined the human condition. One of my favorite films was the Albert Finney/Diane Keaton divorce drama "Shoot the Moon" which was directed by Alan Parker. Mr. Scherick was the executive producer. Mr. Scherick’s other feature film credits include the groundbreaking lesbian drama "The Killing of Sister George" with Suzanna York and Beryl Ried, William Friedkin’s "The Birthday Party," Woody Allen’s "Take the Money and Run," "Sleuth" with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, the very exciting thriller "The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three," Neil Simon’s "The Heartbreak Kid," Ira Levin’s "The Stepford Wives," Sam Fuller’s study of prejudice "White Dog" and "Mrs. Soffel" with Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson. Mr. Scherick won both an Oscar and Emmt for the 1983 documentary "He Makes Me Feel Like Dancing."
Mr. Scherick produced more Made for TV movies than feature films. He was responsible for some of the best films of that type. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award for work in Television from the PGA Golden Laurel’s in 1997. Mr. Scherick was nominated for several Emmy Awards for his work. His TV movie credits include "Raid on Entebbe" about the Israeli Army’s rescue of hostages from Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, "Thou Shall Not Kill," "Hitler’s S.S.: A Portrait in Evil," "Stranger in My Bed," "The Kennedys of Massachusetts," "Phantom of the Opera," "Tyson," "The Siege at Ruby Ridge," "The Wall" and HBO’s "The Path to War." Mr. Scherick was responsible for bringing the TV series "Peyton Place" to TV in the 1960s. Mr. Scherick also acted in a few films. He appeared in Martin Scorsese’s "The King of Comedy."
WILLIAM HENSON Died 2, 2002
William Henson died at age 78 after being hit by a car. Mr. Henson was a long-time Disney animator. He was part of the team, which suggested that the characters Chip and Dale become feature characters at Disney. He worked on "Song of the South," "Peter and the Wolf" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk." Mr. Henson left Disney and went to work for American Television where he was a supervising animator on such shows as "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and "Tennessee Tuxedo."
MAL WALDRON Died Dec. 3, 2002
Jazz great Mal Waldron died at age 77. Mr. Waldron’s best-known composition was "Soul Eyes." He was the last accompanist of Billie Holiday. Mr. Waldron was the subject of the documentary film "Mal, A Portrait of Mal Waldron." Mr. Waldron composed scores for the films "The Cool World," "Three Rooms in Manhattan" and "Sweet Love, Bitter."
KLAUS LOWITSCH Died Dec. 3, 2002
German actor Klaus Lowitsch died in Berlin at age 66. Mr. Lowitsch played the villain in the current release "Extreme Ops." Mr. Lowitsch was a highly respected actor in his homeland, and had received several nominations for his work. American audiences will recognize Mr. Lowitsch from several international films. His credits include Clint Eastwood’s "Firefox," Sam Peckinpah’s brutal WWII film "Cross of Iron" and the non-Peckinpah sequel "Sergeant Steiner." Mr. Lowitsch’s other credits include the cheesy teen sex comedy "Gotcha!" Mr. Lowitsch worked with famed German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder on seven films including "The Marriage of Maria Braun," "Despair" and "Jail Bait."
GLENN QUINN Died Dec. 3, 2002
I really enjoyed the first season of the WB’s TV series "Angel." I was sad that the half-human/half-demon character called "Doyle" was killed off after nine-episodes. I’m saddened even more that the 32 year old actor who played Doyle has died. Glenn Quinn died of a drug overdose. In addition to his role on "Angel," Mr. Quinn also played a recurring role on the TV series "Roseanne." His feature film credits include "R.S.V.P.," "Live Nude Girls" and "Dr. Giggles."
ROONE ARLEDGE Died Nov. 5, 2002
ABC TV executive Roone Arledge died at age 71. Mr. Arledge was best known for producing "Monday Night Football" and "Nightline with Ted Koppel." Mr. Arledge appeared in the documentary film "One Day in September" which dealt with the Massacre of the Israeli Olympic team during the Munich Olympics. Mr. Arledge also appeared as himself in the documentary "Howard Cosell: Telling It Like It Is." Mr. Arledge also produced the "Battle of the Network Stars" TV show.
PHILIP BERRIGAN Died Dec. 6, 2002
Former Priest and staunch anti-war protestor Philip Berrigan died of cancer at age 79. Berrigan, a WWII combat veteran, gained national attention as the leader of the "Catonsville (" during the Vietnam War. Father Berrigan led protests against the Vietnam War by pouring both blood and homemade napalm on draft cards. Mr. Berrigan was a pacifist who had the strength of his convictions. He was willing to go to jail for his beliefs, rather than hide in Canada. Father Berrigan spent over 11 years in jail. Father Berrigan portrayed himself, along with his brother Daniel Berrigan in the movie "In the King of Prussia." "In the King of Prussia" was a dramatization of the Catonsville Nine trial. Mr, Berrigan also appeared in the documentary concerning Catonsville: "Investigation of a Flame."
PETER TANNER Died Dec. 10, 2002
Acclaimed British film editor Peter Tanner died at age 88. Mr. Tanner edited both British and American films. Tanner’s sense of cinematic pacing was impeccable. He helped mold some of the best movies ever made. "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is one of my favorite dark comedies. Alec Guiness plays multiple roles as multiple murder victims in this twisted gem. Mr. Tanner edited independent director John Cassavetes 1970 masterpiece "Husbands" with Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk. Mr. Tanner edited several British horror films from the early 1970s. Those films include "And Now the Screaming Starts" and "Asylum" both starring Herbert Lom, Peter Cushing and Patrick Magee, "I, Monster" with Christopher Lee and the underrated "The Monster Club." Mr. Tanner was the supervising editor for the TV series "The Avengers." Other films from Mr. Tanner’s 60+ film career include "Nasty Habits," "Scott of the Antarctic," "The Cruel Sea," "Sodom and Gomorrah" and John Irvin’s Vietnam war film "Hamburger Hill."
KURT HEINTEL Died Dec. 10, 2002
Austrian actor Kurt Heintel died at age 78. Mr. Heintel appeared in nearly 30 films including the 1971 comedy "War is Hell." Mr. Heintel made his stage debut in 1948. He had suffered heart problems and underwent surgery in 1997.
IAN MACNAUGHTON Died Dec. 10, 2002
British actor/director Ian MacNaughton died just shy of his 77th birthday. Mr. MacNaughton is best known for his work with the Monty Python comedy troop. Mr. MacNaughton directed segments of the film "Monty Python: Live at the Hollywood Bowl." He also directed most of the episodes of "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" and "And Now, For Something Completely Different." Mr. MacNaughton acted in films and TV during the 1950s. He appeared in the intelligent and creepy sci-fi film "X-The Unknown" with Dean Jagger.
ILA SCHULTZ Died Dec. 11, 2002
57-year-old Hungarian actress Ila Schultz died. Ms. Schultz appeared in almost 30 films and TV shows during her 30+ year career. Her best known international credits were the films "Sunshine" with Ralph Fiennes and Rosemary Harris and the thriller "Viadukt" (The Train Killer) with Michael Sarrazin.
LUIS CIGES Died Dec. 11, 2002
Award winning Spanish actor Luis Ciges has died at age 82. Mr. Ciges appeared in over 100 films during his 44-year career. Mr. Ciges won the Best Supporting Actor Award at the 1996 Goya Awards for the film "Así en el Cielo Como en la Tierra." Mr. Ciges other credits include "The Ugliest Woman in the World," "Flight of the Dove," "The Beehive," "Valentina," "House of Psychotic Women," "Orgy of the Vampires," "Mark of the Devil 4" and prolific director Jesus Franco’s S&M classic "Justine." Mr. Ciges appeared in two films by famed director Pedro Almodóvar: "Labyrinth of Passion" and "The Bullfighter." Mr. Ciges father was famed writer Manuel Ciges Aparicio who was shot by pro Franco troops.
MARY MARVIN BRECKINRIDGE PATTERSON Died Dec. 11, 2002
Pioneering filmmaker, broadcaster and photographer Mary M.B. Patterson died of pneumonia and cerebral vascular disease at age 97. Ms. Patterson rode on horseback into the mountains of Kentucky to make the silent documentary "The Forgotten Frontier." The film dealt with the Frontier Nursing Service, which was founded by the filmmaker’s cousin Mary Breckinridge (see photo). Ms. Patterson’s silent film is included in the Library of Congress’s National Film Archive. Ms. Patterson was one of the first female radio correspondents. She was a world traveler, adventurer, photographer,pilot, archeologist and philanthropist. Kudos on a life well lived.
KAY ROSE Died Dec. 11, 2002
Oscar winning sound editor Kay Rose died at age 80 of multiple organ failure. Ms. Rose began her career in the US Army during WWII. She worked on several army films including director John Huston’s "Report from the Aleutians." Her career spanned over 50 years. The Cinema Audio Society recognized Ms. Rose’s work with a Lifetime Achievement Award this year. She was also recognized by the Motion Picture Sound Editors in 1993 with another Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ms. Rose won the Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for the Mel Gibson/Sissy Spacek movie "The River." Ms. Rose worked on Oscar winning films as well as b-movies and cult classics. Her credits for sound editing include the US version of Mario Bava’s horror classic "Black Sunday" with Boris Karloff. She also worked on Roger Corman’s "The Pit and the Pendulum." Ms. Rose oversaw the sound effects for the cheesy "Blood of Dracula" about a tight-sweatered girl who becomes a vampire through hypnosis!
Richard Brooks used Ms. Rose for the sound effects on his rousing Western "The Professionals," which starred Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinal and Jack Palance. Famed photographer Haskell Wexler also hired Ms. Rose as sound editor for his directorial debut "Medium Cool." "Medium Cool" is one of the quintessential independent films of the 60s. Serious film buffs should not miss that film.
Ms. Rose worked on some of the best films of the 70s, with some of the best directors of any era! Ms. Rose worked with Peter Bogdonovich on "Paper Moon" and "Nickelodeon." She reteamed with Richard Brooks for "Bite the Bullet" and "Looking for Mr. Goodbar." Martin Scorsese used her talents on his musical misfire "New York, New York." She worked with Mark Rydell on nine films including the John Wayne film "The Cowboys," "Cinderella Liberty" with James Caan, "On Golden Pond" and her Oscar winning film "The River."
Ms. Rose mentored and trained her daughter Victoria Rose Sampson. Ms. Sampson worked with her mother on several films during the 70s and has turned into a filmmaker and sound editor of high regard on her own merits. Ms. Rose’s legacy will live on in the films she left behind, but more importantly through those she taught and nurtured.
CHARLES GUNNING Died Dec. 11, 2002
Actor Charles Gunning died at age 51 due to injuries sustained in a traffic accident in November. Mr. Gunning appeared as a hitman at Verna’s place in "Miller’s Crossing." Mr. Gunning was a regular cast member in the films of Richard Linklater. He appeared in "Slackers," "The Newton Boys" and "Waking Life." Mr. Gunning also appeared in Walter Hill’s highly underrated "Will Bill." Other film credits include "The Haunting," "Horror Hayride" with the great Webb Wilder and "Attack of the 5 Foot 2 Woman." Mr. Gunning appeared on several TV shows including "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Lois and Clark."
BRAD DEXTER Died Dec. 12, 2002
Hollywood tough guy Brad Dexter died after a long battle with emphysema. The 85 year-old actor/producer was best known as one of "The Magnificent Seven." In his 50 plus year career, Mr. Dexter played some of the screens most memorable villains. John Huston cast him in "The Asphalt Jungle" with Sterling Hayden. He appeared uncredited in one of my favorite films of the 50s "Fouteen Hours" with Richard Basehart. Mr. Dexter also appeared in Richard Fleischer’s "Violent Saturday" which dealt with the effect on a small town by the arrival of a gang of thugs. It’s a great film which stars Victor Mature, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and many others. Catch it if you get the chance. Mr. Dexter also starred in "Run Silent, Run Deep," the submarine thriller written by Captain Edward Beach, who died earlier this month. Mr. Dexter played Anthony Quinn’s trusted foreman in the great Western "Last Train From Gun Hill." Mr. Dexter gets to beat the crap out of a whiny Earl Holliman.
Mr. Dexter made two films with Frank Sinatra: "None But the Brave" and a personal favorite of mine "Von Ryan’s Express." Mr. Dexter began his producing career with another Sinatra film, "The Naked Runner." "The Naked Runner" was directed by Sidney J. Furie. Mr. Dexter would produce three more films, all directed by Furie. Dexter produced "Big Fauss and Little Halsey" with Robert Redford, Michael J. Pollard and a naked Lauren Hutton! He also produced "The Lawyer" which became the basis for the TV series "Petrocelli" with Barry Newman. Mr. Dexter’s biggest hit as a producer was the Billie Holiday bio-pic "Lady Sings the Blues." That film received five Oscar nominations.
Mr. Dexter slowed down in the 70s. He did quite a bit of TV work and some feature films. He appeared in one of my favorite 70s b-movies, George Armitage’s "Vigilante Force" with Kris Kristofferson and Jan-Michael Vincent. Mr. Dexter also had a small part in Warren Beatty’s "Shampoo" and John Huston’s "Winter Kills." Mr. Dexter liked playing the bad guy. "It's the best-written character. The hero is always bland."
DEE BROWN Died Dec. 12, 2002
Western author Dee Brown died at age 94. Mr. Brown’s work focused on the history of Native Americans, and the decline of their culture. He is best known for the book "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West." Mr. Brown was a consultant on several documentaries. He appeared as himself in Rick Burns 6-hour TV documentary "The Way West."
KAZUO KASAHARA Died Dec. 12, 2002
Japanese author and editor Kasuo Kasahara has died. Mr. Kasahara wrote screenplays for nearly 30 films during his 32-year film career. His credits include "Ronin-gai," "Tokyo Bordello," "The Yakuza Papers" and "Yakuza Burial: Jasmine Flower."
ZAL YANOVSKY Died Dec. 13, 2002
Zal Yanovsky was a co-founder of the 60s rock band "The Lovin Spoonful." Mr. Yanovsky lent his vocal talents to the adult animated film "Heavy Metal." As a member of "The Lovin Spoonful," Mr. Yanovsky appeared in the concert film "The Big T.N.T. Show," Woody Allen’s "What’s Up, Tiger Lily?" and Paul Simon’s "One Trick Pony." Mr. Yanovsky retired from music and opened a restaurant in Canada. Mr. Yanovsky died of a heart attack at age 57.
MARIA BJORNSON Died Dec. 13, 2002
Tony Award winning set and costume designer Maria Bjornson died at age 53. Ms. Bjornson won two Tony Awards for her set and costume designs for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "Phantom of the Opera. Ms. Bjornson’s film credits include costume designs for the BBC TV movies "Tales of Hoffman" and "Der Rosenkavalier." She was also the production designer for the BBC production of "Sleeping Beauty."
TONY MONTANARO Died Dec. 13, 2002
Tony Montanaro, one of the world’s most respected mimes died of stomach cancer at age 75. Mr. Montanaro studied in France under Marcel Marceau. Mr. Montanaro put his non-verbal talents to use in the prehistoric drama "Clan of the Cave Bear" with Daryl Hannah.
CHARLES ISSACS Died Dec. 13, 2002
Comedy writer Charles Isaacs provided the story for one of the worst films ever made. "Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World" was also one of the biggest clunkers in the world. Oh well, Mr. Isaacs made enough people laugh that he can be forgiven one stinker. Mr. Isaacs began his career in radio. He worked for folks like Bob Hope, Red Skelton and Jack Benny. Mr. Isaacs moved to TV writing in the 2950s. His credits include the TV series "The Real McCoys," "Harper Valley P.T.A." and "Alice." Mr. Isaacs died of cancer at age 88.
SIDNEY GLAZIER Died Dec. 14, 2002
Because Sidney Glazier took a chance on a relative newcomer, Mel Brooks has been able to entertain millions. Producer Sidney Glazier produced "The Producers." Sidney Glazier brought Mel Brooks up to fellow producer Joseph E. Levine, and the rest is history. Glazier died at age 86. Mr. Glazier won a Best Documentary Feature Oscar for "The Eleanor Roosevelt Story." He had been an executive with the Eleanor Roosevelt Cancer Foundation. When Mrs. Roosevelt died, Mr. Glazier raised funds to produce a documentary about her. He won an Oscar for his first film! Mr. Glazier didn’t produce that many films, but what films! Mel Brooks "The Producers" and "The 12 Chairs.’ Woody Allen’s "Take the Money and Run." Mr. Glazier also produced the controversial TV film "Catholics." Mr. Glazier was the Uncle of screenwriter Mitch Glazier. MGM’s DVD "The Producers: Special Edition" contains some nice stories about Mr. Glazier told by Mel Brooks.
RUTH KOBART Dec. 14, 2002
I only remember seeing Ruth Kobart in one film. She only had a small part in that movie, but what she did with that one part was so memorable. Ruth Kobart played the school bus driver kidnapped by Andy Robinson in the 1971 classic "Dirty Harry." Ms. Kobart was appropriately protective of the kids on the bus and personally scared out her mind during the film’s climatic sequence. Watch as she grimaces in the foreground as Andy Robinson makes the kids sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Ms. Kobart died of pancreatic cancer at age 78. Ms. Kobart was a renowned stage actress. Her other film credits include the great 1960s romance/character study "Petulia" with Julie Christie and George C. Scott and "Sister Act."
JAMES HAZELDINE Died Dec. 17, 2002
British actor James Hazeldine died at age 55 of undisclosed causes. Mr. Hazeldine was a popular stage actor who also had many credits on TV and in feature films. He played Stalin in Franklin J. Schaffner’s "Nicholas and Alexandra." Mr. Hazeldine appeared in the great rock and roll film "Stardust" with David Essex. Other credits include "Pink Floyd: The Wall," "The Ruling Class" with Peter O’Toole and nearly 20 TV movies and series. Mr. Hazeldine was the father of actor Sam Hazeldine, the uncle of actress Robyn Moore. His cousin is the father of actress Angela Hazeldine.
FREDERICK KNOTT Died Dec. 17, 2002
86 year-old playwright Frederick Knott has died. Mr. Knott only wrote a few plays during his life however two of them were successfully translated to stage and screen. Alfred Hitchcock brought Knott’s first play to the screen. "Dial 'M' For Murder" starred Grace Kelly and Ray Milland. Knott’s third play was one of the most popular thrillers of the 1960s. "Wait Until Dark" starred Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman stalked by drug dealers Richard Crenna, Alan Arkin and Jack Weston. Mr. Knott reportedly hated writing, which accounts for his small output of work. He did it for the money! "A Perfect Murder" with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow was based on "Dial 'M' For Murder." Knott’s play "Mr. Fox of Venice" was the basis for the 1967 film "The Honey Pot."
TONY BARR Died Dec. 19, 2002
Actor, TV Executive and teacher Tony Barr died at age 81. Mt. Barr acted in film and TV during the 1940s and 50s. Mr. Barr became an executive with ABC and CBS and oversaw the creation of movies, mini series and TV series. He oversaw the production of "Magnum PI." Mr. Barr passed his knowledge on to others through The Film Actor’s Workshop, which he founded. Mr. Barr was a well respected acting teacher. His book, "Acting For the Camera" is considered one of the best books on the art and craft of film acting. His students included Jon Lovitz, David Paymer, Kim Darby, Diedre Hall, Mike Farrell, and Lorenzo Lamas. Mr. Barr’s acting credits include "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "Cuban Fireball," "Scared Stiff," "The People Against O’Hara" and the TV series "The Untouchables."
SONNY CARSON Died Dec. 20, 2002
Street activist Sonny Carson has died at age 66 of a heart attack. Mr. Carson was a street gang member in his youth. Prison and first hand exposure to the evils of drug addiction lead Mr. Carson to turn his life around. He devoted the rest of his life toward causes he felt would help the African-American community. He wrote about his early years in the autobiography "The Education of Sonny Carson." The powerful book, was turned into one of the best, but unfortunately overlooked films of the 1970s. Mr. Carson was considered a savior by some and a dangerous rabble rouser by others. Either way, Mr. Carson did not just sit back and let life pass him by. One of his sons is the hip-hop artist Professor X.
GEORGE ROY HILL Died Dec. 20, 2002
The Oscar winning director of "The Sting," George Roy Hill died at age 81 from complications due to Parkinson’s Disease. George Roy Hill directed some of the most popular films of the 1960s and 70s. I considered him to be, along with Richard Brooks, the most literate director of his time. Mr. Hill began as a television director. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on "The Kraft Television Theater." Mr. Hill directed a number of films in the early 1960s including "The World of Henry Orient" with Peter Seller’s. Lillian Hellman’s "Toys in the Attic," James Michener’s "Hawaii" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie" both with Julie Andrews.
In 1969, George Roy Hill created the best buddy film of all time, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Hill received his first Oscar nomination as best director. Hill’s next film was the successful adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s unfilmable novel, "Slaughterhouse-Five." "Slaughterhouse-Five" was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes as was Hill for Best Director. Hill reteamed with Newman and Redford for his next film, "The Sting." Lightning struck twice for the trio as "The Sting" took home the Best Picture and Director Oscars. Hill was to work with Redford and Newman again, but in solo projects. Hill and Redford made the barnstorming adventure "The Great Waldo Pepper." Hill had a lifelong love of planes. He was a USMC pilot in WWII and Korea! Hill and Newman reteamed to make the hilariously profane hockey comedy "Slap Shot."
Hill wrote and directed the great pre-teen love story "A Little Romance" with Diane Lane and Laurence Olivier. "A Little Romance" was Diane Lane’s debut film. Hill’s last great movie was yet another literary adaptation of a popular novel. "The World According to Garp" was one of the most successful films of 1982 and resulted in Oscar nominations for Glenn Close and John Lithgow. Hill’s next film was the interesting misfire based on John Le Carre’s spy novel "The Little Drummer Girl" with Diane Keaton. Hill’s final film was the Chevy Chase bomb "Funny Farm." He retired from movies and became a teacher at Yale University. Thanks for the great films. Prayers of comfort for his family and loved ones.
JOE STRUMMER Died Dec. 22, 2002
The frontman for the greatest band to emerge in the 1970s has died at age 50 of undisclosed causes. Joe Strummer of The Clash gave a voice to the rowdy, disaffected Punk movement. Along with Dee Dee Ramone, Joe Strummer was the greatest influence to emerge from Punk Rock. For my money, The Clash stood head and shoulders above any other band including The Ramones. Mr. Strummer contributed to the movies as an actor, composer, song and soundtrack producer. Strummer appeared with The Clash in "The Punk Rock Movie," "Punk in London" and "D.O.A." among others. He appeared in Martin Scorsese’s "The King of Comedy" playing a character called ‘Street Scum.’ Mr. Strummer appeared in two films of Alex Cox: "Straight to Hell" and "Walker." Mr. Strummer played Elvis (sort of) in Jim Jarmusch’s cult classic "Mystery Train." Mr. Strummer voiced himself on TV’s "South Park." As a composer, Joe Strummer contributed songs to "The Royal Tanebaums," "Grosse Point Blank," "Billy Elliot," "Sid and Nancy" and "Wired." The Clash is scheduled to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. Why do the brightest stars burn out so quickly?
SUSAN FLEMING MARX Died Dec. 22, 2002
Susan Fleming Marx was a chorus girl who appeared in 19 movies including "Million Dollar Legs" with W.C. Fields, "Charlie Chan’s Courage" and "Gold Diggers of 1937." Mrs. Marx was the widow of the great Harpo Marx. Strangely enough, Mary de Vithas, the widow of Chico Marx died the same day.
KENNETH TOBEY Died Dec. 22, 2002
Character actor Kenneth Tobey died at age 85. Mr. Tobey played the second villain in my favorite film "Billy Jack." Mr. Tobey appeared in 100 films and nearly as many TV shows. When I was a pre-schooler, I used to sit on my doghouse with my buddy Mark and pretend to be the helicopter pilot from my favorite TV show "Whirlybirds." Ken Tobey played that pilot. When I was 5, I watched "Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier" on "The Wonderful World of Disney." Ken Tobey played Col. Jim Bowie during the final episode. When I was 7, I was scarred out of my wits by Christian Nybe’s "The Thing From Another World." Ken Tobey played the hero who fried the carrot from space. Around that same time, I saw my first Ray Harryhausen movie; "It Came From Beneath the Sea." Ken Tobey again played the hero. When I was 9, I watched "12 O’clock High" with my dad. Ken Tobey played the guard that Gregory Peck chewed out when he first arrived at the airbase.
When I was 12, I saw a movie that changed the way I viewed the world. Tom Laughlin’s "Billy Jack" came along at the time that I was beginning to put away childhood things and think for myself. The year was 1971. The world was in chaos. Mr. Laughlin’s film hit me in ways that I would need much more space to describe. Ken Tobey played the corrupt deputy sheriff Mike. When Billy delivered his famous line "I’m Itching to kill somebody, it may as well be you," he was talking to Ken Tobey’s character Mike. Billy ended up shooting Mike.
Despite all of his memorable heroic roles, Ken Tobey will always be the bad guy from "Billy Jack" to me. To others, Ken Tobey may have struck a similar response from these films: "Rage" with George C. Scott, "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" with Peter Fonda and Susan George, "Gremlins," "The Candidate" with Robert Redford, "Walking Tall" with Joe Don Baker, "Airplane," "The Howling," "Strange Invaders," Inner Space," "Big Top Pee Wee," "Single White Female," "Marlowe" with James Garner and Bruce Lee, or Ray Harryhausen’s "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms." Film Noir fans may remember Mr. Tobey's early role as Robert Mitchum's buddy in Otto Preminger's kinky "Angel Face." I wish I could have thanked Mr. Tobey in person for the joy his work brought me. Prayers for comfort for his friends and loved ones.
LAURENCE EVANS Died Dec. 24, 2002
Laurence Evans was the chairman of International Creative Management. The 90 year old theatrical agent represented the some of the biggest British stage and screen stars. His clients included Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Anthony Quayle, Alec Guinness, Ingrid Bergman and Rex Harrison.
DAVINIA WHITEHOUSE Died Dec. 25, 2002
Actress Davinia Whitehouse died at age 90 after a series of strokes. Ms. Whitehouse was British by birth, but she chose New Zealand as her home. Ms.Whitehouse moved to New Zealand with her husband in 1952. She served on the New Zealand Film Commision for years. Ms. Whitehouse won the Feltex award for "The Awful Silence" and Australia's Sammy Award for her role in the horror film "The Night Nurse." When I lived in Las Vegas, I got hooked on the cheesy Australian women’s prison soap opera "Prisoner Cell Block H." Ms. Whitehouse appeared in the series as Maggie Kennedy. She also appeared in Peter Jackson’s "Brain Dead."
WILLIAM ORR Died Dec. 25, 2002
Actor/producer Warner Brothers executive William T. Orr died at age 85 of natural causes. Mr. Orr acted in nearly 20 films during the early 1940s. His credits include the Andy Hardy film "The Hardys Ride High" and "Meet the Fleet." Mr. Orr was Jack Warner’s son-in-law. As an executive for Warner Brothers TV, Mr. Orr produced over 25 TV series including "Maverick," "77 Sunset Strip," "F Troop," "King’s Row," "Casablanca" and "Surfside 6."
REGGIE RYMAL Died Dec. 25, 2002
Fans of the 3-D horror film "House of Wax" remember the most effective 3-D scene had nothing to do with Vincent Price and everything to do with a guy hitting a paddle ball directly at the camera. Reggie Rymal was that man. The actor, comedian died of a heart attack at age 89.
HERB RITTS Died Dec. 26, 2002
Celebrity photographer Herb Ritts died at age 50 from complications from pneumonia. Ritts was best known for his glamorous and candid not-so-glamorous photos of many of the biggest celebrities in the world. Mr. Ritt directed numerous music videos, and won two MTV video awards in 1991. Mr. Ritts appeared in the film "Murder in the First" with Kevin Bacon and Christian Slater.
RICHARD HORNER Died Dec. 28, 2002
Broadway producer Richard Horner died at age 82. Mr. Horner produced dozens of plays during the 1960s and 70s. He produced TV versions of two of his plays. Those TV films were "The Crucifer of Blood" and "Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure." Mr. Horner’s better known plays included "Butley" and "Moon for the Misbegotten" for which he won a Tony Award.
EARL WIGGINS Died Dec. 28, 2002
World famous rock climber Earl Wiggins committed suicide at age 45. Mr. Wiggins founded "Wiggins’ Riggins," a company that specialized in aeriel riggins for motion picture photography. Mr. Wiggins work behind the camera was almost as spectacular as his 1976 one-day ascent/descent of Utah’s Supercrack of the Desert. Mr. Wiggins film credits included "Cliffhanger," "AI: Artificial Intelligence," "Mission Impossible 2," "Minority Report," "Catch Me If You Can," "Stuart Little 2," "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Terminator 3."
MARY BRIAN Died Dec. 30, 2002
Mary Brian was an actress whose career spanned both the silent film and early talkie era. Ms. Brian’s debut was as Wendy Darling in the 1924 version of "Peter Pan." Ms. Brian made 82 movies between 1924 and 1947. Her credits include "Dragnet," "The Virginian" with Gary Cooper and the original version of Ben Hecht’s "The Front Page." Ms. Brian appeared with W.C. Fields in four films including "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" and "Top Flaming Youths."
MARY WESLEY Died Dec. 30, 2002
British writer Mary Wesley died at age 90. Ms. Wesley published her first novel at age 70! He books focused on the British middle-class. Ms. Wesley was known for her sensuous and darkly humorous style of writing. Three of her books were made into TV films or mini series. They were "The Vacillations of Poppy Carew," "The Camomile Lawn" and "The Harnessing Peacocks."
KENNETH RIVE Died Dec. 30, 2002
Kenneth Rive owned Gala Films, one of the largest film distributors in the UK. Mr. Rive was responsible for bringing foreign films to British audiences for nearly 50 years. In addition to distributing films, Mr. Rive produced three films directed by Sidney Furie: "Devil Doll," "The Boys" and "During One Night."
DESMOND TESTOR Died Dec. 31, 2002
British actor Desmond Tester died at age 83. Mr. Testor played one of the lead roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s "Sabotage." He appeared in three films directed by Carol Reed, including "The Stars Look Down" and "Men of the Sea." Mr. Tester also appeared in Bruce Beresford’s second film as a director "Barry McKenzie Holds His Own."