THE CREW OF US SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA
Died Feb. 1, 2003
The thing I remember most about the loud sonic boom was the chorus of cheers that echoed up from the 15 to 20 thousand people gathered with me on the cool desert floor at Baker Air Force base. The sonic boom resulted from the space shuttle Columbia maneuvering to slow its rate of descent following a successful reentry. On Nov. 16, 1982, I had driven the couple of hundred miles from Las Vegas to the Baker Air Force base to see the space shuttle Columbia land after completing the first operational mission. STS-5 had deployed two commercial satellites into orbit. I still have the 8x10 photo of the graceful, oblong craft gliding toward touchdown hanging in my office.
Today hurts. It hurts a lot. Probably not as much for me as for those related to the seven men and women on board the Columbia. Maybe I’m just a sentimental sap. On January 27th I posted a tribute to the crew of Apollo 1. It was the 36th anniversary of the tragic fire that killed her brave crew. The next day was the 17th anniversary of the Challenger explosion, which claimed another brave crew. Now today. America isn’t alone. The Russians lost the crews of Soyuz 1 and 11 during in-flight accidents in 1967 and 1971. I grew up at a time when everyone knew the names the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts. I didn’t know the names of these seven before today. I imagine many people didn’t even know that Columbia was in orbit.
David Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool and Ilan Ramon had nothing to do with the movie industry. They were the type of people who provided the Muse for those in the industry. These seven were adventurers, explorers, risk takers and heroes. Maybe the word hero is thrown about freely these days. I believe that anyone who makes their living by sitting atop a machine with the potential to explode and destroy a small town, fully knowing the risk they are taking, to be heroic. These folks risked death in order to improve the human condition. They risked life to seek knowledge to advance our species. Tom Wolfe summed it up when he said they had "The Right Stuff." Hail Columbia! Prayers of comfort for the families of these seven. To read more about other astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice visit "The Astronauts Memorial Foundation."
APOLLO 1: 1/27/67 Edward White, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Roger Chaffe
SOYUZ 1: 4/24/67 Vladimir Komarov
SOYUZ 11: 6/30/71 Georgi T. Dolrovolsky, Vladislav N. Volkov, Viktor I. Patsayev
VOSTOK: 3/18/80 50 killed when rocket exploded on the pad
CHALLENGER: 1/28/86: Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judy Resnick, Ron McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Greg Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe
COLUMBIA: 2/1/03 David Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool, Ilan Ramon
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --
Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence, Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air,
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
-John Gillespie Magee
BODIL KJER Died Feb. 1, 2003
Danish actress Bodil Kjer died at age 85. Ms. Kjer appeared in films dating back to 1937. So well respected was she, that the Danish Film Awards are called the "Bodil Awards." Ms. Kjer was best known to international audiences for the film "Babette’s Feast."
ANN BURR Died Feb. 1, 2003
Stage and TV actress Ann Burr died of respiratory failure at age 84. Ms. Burr was a Broadway actress. She starred in several early TV series and shows. She was part of the original cast of the soap opera "As the World Turns." Other credits include a lead role on the series "City Hospital." She appeared in "The Philco Television Playhouse" and "Studio One." Ms. Burr’s films include "Night Unto Night" and "Born to be Bad."
JOHNNY SILVER Died Feb. 1, 2003
Actor/singer Johnny Silver died at age 84. Silver appeared in both the Broadway and Film versions of "Guys and Dolls." Mr. Silver’s other screen credits were mainly bit parts in comedies. Mr. Silver appeared in Blake Edward’s "The Great Race," Mel Brooks’ "Spaceballs" and "History of the World: Part I," the original version of "The Thomas Crown Affair," "How Sweet It Is" and Dick Van Dyke’s "Never a Dull Moment." Mr. Silver also appeared in the Fred Williamson Blaxploitation film "Hammer."
MILLE SCHMIDT Died Feb. 2, 2003
Swedish actor Mille Schmidt died at age 80. Mr. Schmidt appeared in over 25 films including Ingmar Bergman’s "Smiles of a Summer Night." Mr. Schmidt also directed two films.
RICHARD NELSON Died Feb. 2, 2003
Richard Nelson was the radio man on board the b-29 "Enola Gay" when it dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during WWII. Mr. Nelson appeared as himslef in archived footage in the documentary "Enola Gay and the Atomic Bombing of Japan." Mr. Nelson said he had no regrets participating in the mission which helped bring WWII to an end. Mr. Nelson said "War is a terrible thing. It takes, and it destroys. Anyone feels sorry for people who are killed. We are all human beings. But I don't feel sorry I participated in it. If I had known the results of the mission beforehand, I would have flown it anyway."
LANA CLARKSON Died Feb. 3, 2003
B-Movie actress Lana Clarkson was found shot to death at the home of legendary music producer Phil Spector Monday. Spector is being investigated by LAPD homicide detectives. Details about the shooting are still sketchy at this point. The Los Angeles Times reported that their sources said that the couple had just met the night before. The limo driver who dropped them of at Spector’s mansion reporting hearing shots. Spector has admitted mental problems and an obsession with guns in the past. Ms. Clarkson appeared in a number of films and TV series. She also did some work as a stunt woman. Fans of the sword and sorcery genre will remember Ms. Clarkson for her work in "The Barbarian Queen I & II." Ms. Clarkson appeared as one of the main space bimbos in John Landis’s comedy "Amazon Women on the Moon." She had bit parts in Brian De Palma’s "Scarface" as Steven Bauer’s dance partner at the Babylon Club and Amy Heckerling’s "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." In "Fast Times," Ms. Clarkson played the trophy wife of science teacher Vincent Schivelli during the prom scene. Other credits include "Blind Date," "Death Stalker," "Another 9 and ½ Weeks" and "Vice Girls." Ms. Clarkson also did stand-up comedy and volunteered to deliver meals to HIV patients. Prayers of comfort for her loved ones.
UPDATE: Phil Spector was convicted of the second degree murder of Ms. Clarkson on April 13, 2009.
JOAO CESAR MONTEIRODied Feb. 3, 2002
Portuguese director/actor/writer/producer Joao Cesar Monteiro died the day after his 64th birthday. Mr. Monteiro wrote/directed and starred in nearly 20 films. His work was honored at Cannes, the Venice Film Festival and the Mar del Plata Film Festival. His work includes "John Wayne’s Pelvis," "God’s Country," "Snow White" and "The Last Drive."
WILLIAM KELLEY Died Feb. 3, 2003
Oscar winning writer William Kelley died of cancer at the age of 73. William Kelley co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Peter Weir’s thriller "Witness" starring Harrison Ford. It was Mr. Kelley’s only produced feature-film screenplay! The idea for "Witness" came from an unproduced episode Kelley wrote for the TV series "Gunsmoke," where Matt Dillon helps an Amish girl and then falls in love with her. Mr. Kelley was a prolific TV writer with more than 150 TV episode credits. Mr. Kelley was also a published novelist, Air Force veteran and mentor to young writers.
JERRY MAYER died Feb. 3, 2003
Stage, TV and film actor Jerry Mayer was found dead at home on Feb. 3, 2003. Mr. Mayer was best known for his one-man stage shows. His TV and film credits include "Nobody’s Fool," "Brubaker" and "Single White Female."
JEAN KERCHBRON Died Feb. 3, 2003
French TV director Jean Kerchbron died at age 78. Mr. Kerchbron direced nearly 20 TV movies and series. His credits included "The Golem" which he also adapted for the screen, and the TV series based on the film "Grand Hotel."
CHARLES NIZET Died Feb. 4, 2003
Regional exploitation director Charles Nizet was murdered in Brazil according to IMDB. Mr. Nizet wrote, produced and directed several low budget films including the Vietnam POW rescue movie "Rescue Force" with real life Green Beret and POW activist Bo Gritz.
RENE CARDONA JR. Died Feb. 5, 2003
Mexican exploitation director/producer/writer/actor Rene Cardona Jr. died of cancer at age 63. Mr. Cardona directed over 80 films and wrote over 30 produced screenplays during his career. Many of his low-budget films became drive-in favorites during the 70s. Cardona Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father, Rene Cardona Sr. who directed the gruesome "Survive" which dealt with the cannibalistic aspects of the plane crash of a rugby team in the Andes. Cardona specialized in low-budget rip-offs of great films such as "Jaws" and "The Birds." Cardona’s "Jaws" movie was called "Tintorera" and starred blond hottie Susan George. He homage to "The Birds" was called "Birds of Prey" and starred that great 80s thespian talent Christopher Atkins. Surprisingly, neither of these movies were nominated for anything! (Is there a rule against levity in an obit?) Like most exploitation filmmakers, Cardona sacrificed quality for sex, violence and a fast buck. Mr. Cardona probably laughed all the way to the bank. I enjoyed his work. Cardona’s movies were usually so bad, that they were good for some great laughs. Other credits include "Guyana: Cult of the Damned," "The Bermuda Triangle," "Blood Feast" and the classic "Gomar: The Human Gorilla." Mr. Cardona was also the second unit director on one of my favorite films: Don Siegel’s "Two Mules For Sister Sara" with Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. Thanks for the laughs, even if they were unintentional!
STEPHEN WHITTAKER Died Feb. 7, 2003
British actor and director Stephen Whittaker has died at age 55. Mr. Whittaker made his film debut in the Sidney Poitier film "To Sir With Love," in which he played a trouble-making student. Mr. Whittaker also appeared in Yanks (he’s the guy who gets into a street fight with Richard Gere) and Michael Mann’s WWII horror film "The Keep." Mr. Whittaker turned to directing in 1985. Most of his work was for British TV. He directed TV versions of "The Life and Adventures Nicholas Nickleby" and D. H. Lawrence’s "Sons and Lovers." Mr. Whittaker won the Royal Television Society’s RTS Television Award for Best Drama for the TV film "Hearts and Minds."
VERA HRUBA RALSTON Died Feb. 9, 2003
Czech Olympic figure skater turned actress, Vera Hruba Ralston died of cancer at age 79. Ms. Ralston skated in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where she won the Silver medal. In Berlin, she also met and insulted Adolph Hitler! Way to go Vera! She fled Europe at the outbreak of WWII. As a member of the Ice-Capades, Ms. Ralston caught the eye of her future husband, Herbert Yates, the head of Republic Pictures. Ms Ralston appeared in 26 films between 1941 and 1958. Her credits include "The Lady and the Monster," "The Fighting Kentuckian," "I, Jane Doe" and "The Man Who Died Twice." Ms. Ralston has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
JOSE MARIA TASSO Died Feb. 9, 2003
Spanish actor Jose Maria Tasso died two days after his 69th birthday. Mr. Tasso appeared in Almodovar’s "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" Mr. Tasso also appeared in "Labios Rojos" and "La Muerte Silba un Blues" which were directed by the legendary master of exploitation Jesus Franco.
JOSE LEGOY Died Feb. 10, 2003
Brazilian actor Jose Legoy died of lung disease at age 82. Mr. Legoy appeared in over 120 films during his 50+ year career. Mr. Legoy was best known to American audiences for his appearances in the films "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Moon Over Parador" and "Blame It On Rio." Mr. Legoy appeared in Werner Herzog's amazing and heartwarming adventure epic "Fitzcaraldo." Mr. Legoy was awarded two Best Supporting Actor Awards at the Brazilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema, and a Best Acting Award at the Gramado Film Festival.
RON ZEIGLER Died Feb. 10, 2002
Ron Zeigler had the toughest job you can imagine. Mr. Zeigler was former President Richard Nixon’s press secretary during the Watergate scandal. Zeigler faced reporters night after night as more and more evidence piled up that the Constitution was being trampled on by the Nixon administration. Zeigler appeared as himself in archived footage in Sidney Pollack’s "All the President’s Men." Actor David Paymer played Zeigler in Oliver Stone’s "Nixon." Mr. Zeigler died of a heart attack at age 63.
CURT HENNIG Died Feb. 10, 2003
Pro wrestler Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig was found dead in his hotel room at age 44. The cause of death has yet to be disclosed. Mr. Hennig has suffered a debilitating back injury, which shortened his career. Hennig had worked to come back from his injury. Hennig was the son of famed wrestler Larry Hennig. Mr. Hennig appeared in nearly 50 Wrestling videos.
MAX PECAS Died Feb. 10, 2003
French director Max Pecas has died at age 77. Mr. Pecas specialized in low budget comedies. Mr. Pecas is also recognized as one of the trailblazers in European erotic cinema. He wrote, produced and directed numerous soft-core sex romps during the 60s and 70s. Because Mr. Pecas used his real name on those films, rather than a pseudonym, Mr. Pecas found it hard to work on TV in France or to do more mainstream films. Some of Mr. Pecas’s titles include "I Am a Nymphomaniac," "Her and She and Him" and "Sweet Taste of Honey."
DANIEL TOSCAN DU PLANTIER Died Feb. 11, 2003
French producer and spokesman for the French film industry Daniel Toscan du Plantier died of a heart attack at age 61. Mr. du Plantier was head of production at Gaumont films during the 70s and 80s. He oversaw production of many modern classics including Truffaut's "The Last Metro," Fellini’s "City of Women" and "Casanova" and Ingmar Bergman’s "Fanny and Alexander." Mr. du Plantier also produced or co-produced "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover," "Boris Gudonov," "Under Satan’s Sun," "Quadrille," "John Wayne’s Pelvis," "Tosca" and "Madame Butterfly." Mr. du Plantier’s first wife was murdered in Ireland in 1996. The Irish police recently reopened the case. Mr. du Plantier was the head of the Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars.
DONALD MOREA Died Feb. 11, 2003
TV and film cameraman Donald Morea died of cancer at age 61. Mr. Morea’s credits include "Puppetmaster" and "Fast Getaway." Prayers of comfort for his mother who survives him.
JOE CONNELLY Died Feb. 13, 2003
Oscar nominated screenwriter, TV writer and producer Joe Connelly died of complications from a stroke at age 85. Mr. Connelly was the co-writer and creator of the beloved TV series "Leave It To Beaver." Connelly was the creative partner of Bob Mosher. The two worked together professionally starting in 1942. The pair received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story for "The Private War of Major Benson." "The Private War of Major Benson" is a funny comedy about a hard-nosed Army officer played by Charlton Heston, who gets demoted to teaching kids at a military academy. Connelly and Mosher also produced the TV series "The Munsters" and its follow-up movie "Munsters Go Home." Mosher and Connelly ended their partnership in 1967. Connelly’s last film was Elvis Presley’s "Change of Habit." Connelly retired in the early 70s. Mr. Connelly had 8 children, 12 grandkids and 6 great-grandkids!
STACY KEACH SR. Died Feb. 13, 2003
Stacy Keach Sr., actor, drama coach and father of actors Stacy and James Keach has died of congestive heart failure at age 88. Mr. Keach was a drama teacher when he decided to movie to Hollywood in the 1940s. Mr. Keach was a dialogue director on several films in the 1940s including "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves." Mr. Keach appeared in hundreds of TV shows and nearly 30 films. Keach played Professor Carlson on the Mel Brooks TV spy spoof series, "Get Smart." Mr. Keach occasionally played bit parts in the films of his famous sons. He appeared with Stacy Keach Jr. in "Road Games" and the excellent TV movie "Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis." The elder Keach appeared in "Armed and Dangerous" which was written and produced by his son James. Mr. Keach was also a prolific actor in TV commercials. Other credits include "Pretty Woman" and "Cobb." Mr. Keach appeared in several of my personal favorites. Alan J. Pakula’s "The Parallax View" is one the greatest political thrillers of all time. Keach played one of the members of a Warren Commisionesque committee. The aforementioned "Road Games" with his son Stacy and Jamie Lee Curtis is another excellent thriller. Mr. Keach also appeared in John Milius’s great surfer movie "Big Wednesday" with Gary Busey, Jan-Michael Vincent and William Katt. I’m grateful to Mr. Keach for his sons. Stacy and James Keach are two of the more interesting actors to have worked in film during the last 30 years. Prayers of comfort for his family.
JAMES THOMAS FLEXNER Died Feb. 13, 2002
Renowned biographer James Thomas Flexner died at age 95. Flexner wrote 26 books in his lifetime. His four volume biography of George Washington was the basis for two TV mini-series: "George Washington" and "George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation." Barry Bostwick and Patty Duke portrayed George and Martha Washington in both mini-series. Ms. Duke was nominated for an Emmy for her work in the first mini-series. Mr. Flexner’s biography won the National Book Award.
ROBERT IVERS Died Feb. 13, 2003
Actor turned TV newsman, Robert Ivers died of throat cancer at age 68. Mr. Ivers’ acting career lasted a little over ten years, but he appeared in some well known movies and TV shows. After retiring from acting, Mr. Ivers turned to TV news where he worked several TV stations around the country. Mr. Ivers credits include "G.I. Blues" with Elvis, "Broken Lance" with Spencer Tracy and three Jerry Lewis films: "The Patsy," "The Errand Boy" and "The Delicate Delinquent" (killin’ and cuttin’, cuttin’ and killin’!). Mr. Ivers also appeared in the only film to be directed by James Cagney, "Shortcut to Hell." Mr. Ivers appeared in two of my favorite films of the 1950s. Richard Fleischer’s "Violent Saturday" is a great character study of the effect of a robbery on a small town. It stars Victor Mature, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and a bunch of other folks. Ivers also appeared in "I Married a Monster From Outer Space." (Who didn’t!) Kidding aside, the Tom Tyron movie is a classic of sci-fi. Mr. Ivers appeared in numerous TV series episodes also.
FRED HUDSON Died Feb. 13, 2003
Writer, director and mentor Fred Hudson died of heart failure at age 74. Along with Budd Schulberg, Mr. Hudson created the Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center in New York where he mentored Black actors and writers for nearly 30 years, Mr. Hudson wrote the screenplay for the movie "The Education of Sonny Carson." Mr. Hudson served his country in the USAF during the Korean War.
GEORGE IRVING QUIMBY Died Feb. 17, 2003
George Irving Quimby, archeologist and the director of the Burke Museum of Natural History (1968-1983) at the University of Washington died of pneumonia at age 89. Mr. Quimby worked at the renowned Field Museum in Chicago before moving to the University of Washington. Mr. Quimby helped produce the 1979 documentary film "The Image Maker and the Indians: Edward Curtis and His 1914 Documentary." The documentary was included on the DVD release of Curtis’ restored classic. Pioneer photographer Edward Curtis filmed the 1914 docudrama "In the Land of War Canoes." Originally titled " In the Land of the Headhunters," it was exhibited only briefly in Seattle and New York City before fading into obscurity. Curtis’ singular experiment with motion pictures is now considered one of the most important early documentary and ethnographic films, influencing Robert J. Flaherty’s better known "Nanook of the North" released in 1922. Mr. Quimby recognized the historical importance of Curtis’ forgotten film when a nitrate print was donated to the Field Museum in 1948 and soon had it copied to safety film. Mr. Quimby and art historian Bill Holm began work on its restoration at the Burke Museum, recruiting filmmaker David Gerth to record a soundtrack of native voices and music performed by descendent Kwakiutal Indians on Vancouver Island. Although credited as a producer of the 1973 restoration, George Quimby could have been listed as a "foley artist" in the screen credits. He later delighted in tales of banging paddles and other props when they recorded sound effects to match the action. Mr. Quimby also co-authored the book "Edward Curtis in the Land of the War Canoes: A Pioneer Cinematographer in the Pacific Northwest." SPECIAL THANKS: to Mr. Quimby's friend Vergil Noble for the historical background concerning Mr. Quimby's work.
ISSER HAREL Died Feb. 18, 2003
Isser Harel, the man who caught Adolph Eichmann has died at age 91. Mr. Harel founded the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security force. Mr. Harel was the head of the Mossad for 10 years. Harel became a national hero of Israel when he planned and supervised the kidnapping of Adolph Eichmann from Argentina in 1960. Commandos from Israel swooped down on Eichmann in 1960. He was returned to Israel for his huge role in the Holocaust. Mr. Harel wrote a book about the capture of the hated Nazi called "The House on Garabaldi Street." A TV movie was made of the book. I read the book years ago. It is a must read for history buffs. Martin Balsam portrayed Mr. Harel in the TV film. Shalom.
PETER SCHRUM Died Feb. 18, 2003
Character actor Peter Schrum died at age 68 of a heart attack. Mr. Schrum was known as the Coca-Cola Santa Clause. He portrayed Santa for the Atlanta based corporation for over 10 years. Mr. Schrum is a familiar face to moviegoers. He appeared in many films in small but memorable roles. Action fans know Schrum best as the shotgun wielding bar owner in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Schrum tries to stop Arnold from stealing a motorcycle. Schrum ends up losing his shotgun and glasses instead. Schrum played "Fat Daddy" in the sci-fi movie "Galaxina" which starred murdered Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten. Mr. Schrum also co-starred in "Hollywood Harry" directed by Robert Forster. Mr. Schrum will appear in this summer’s super hero film "The Hulk." Mr. Schrum also appeared in numerous TV shows. Mr. Schrum did charity work for the Mary Volpes Angel Foundation where he appeared as Santa at schools and other functions. A near fatal auto accident in 2001 made it impossible for Mr. Schrum to continue the charity work.
JACK BRODSKY Died Feb. 18, 2003
Producer/actor Jack Brodsky died in his sleep at age 69. Mr. Brodsky started out as a publicist on such films as "Cleopatra" and "Funny Girl." While Mr. Brodsky had bit parts in such films as "Two Minute Warning," "Scenes From the Mall" and "Harry and Walter Go to New York," Mr. Brodsky was primarily a movie producer. His biggest hits were "Romancing the Stone" and "Jewel of the Nile." His first film was the black comedy "Little Murders" which starred Elliot Gould and was directed by Alan Arkin. He was the executive producer of Woody Allen’s "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask." Other credits include "Rookie of the Year," "King Ralph" and "Black Knight." He also produced the upcoming Eddie Murphy film "Daddy Day Care."
JOHNNY PAYCHECK Died Feb. 19, 2003
Country singer Johnny PayCheck died at age 64 after suffering from asthma and emphysema for years. Best known for the song "Take This Job and Shove It," Johnny Paycheck released 70 albums during his lifetime. His most famous song was turned into a movie starring Robert Hays and Barbara Hershey. Mr. PayCheck appeared in several movies and TV shows including "Hells Angels Forever," "Paradise Park" and "The Dukes of Hazzard."
TANYA MOISEIWITSCH Died Feb. 19, 2003
Renowned stage and theatrical designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch died at age 88. Ms. Moiseiwitsch was best known for her influential career in theater. She was the rare female set and stage designer in a world of men. Ms. Moiseiwitsch designed the sets for the 1957 film version of "Oedipus Rex." She also designed the costumes for the TV version of "King Lear" with Laurence Olivier and "La Traviata" with Placido Domingo.
ARNOLD GALSSMAN Died Feb. 19, 2003
Award winning film editor and documentary filmmaker Arnold Glassman died at age 56. Glassman co-produced, co-directed and edited the amazing documentary "Visions of Light." Anyone interested in the art of cinematography has to see Glassman’s award winning film. "Visions of Light" examines the craft of motion picture photography from the earliest days of film history. Most of the greatest cinematographers in history appear in the film. "Visions of Light" is one of the greatest films ever made. Glassman’s powerful film proves that documentaries can be as exciting as the biggest budget action film. In addition to "Visions of Light," Glassman directed the documentary "Hitchcock: Shadow of a Genius."
Asrnold Glassman was also an accomplished film editor. His credits include an associate editor credit on "Raising Arizona." He edited the documentaries "The Celluloid Closet," "Sex, Censorship and the Silver Screen" and "Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer." Mr. Glassman also edited the Brent Hanley scripted thriller "Frailty."
PETER TEWKSBURY Died Feb. 20, 2003
Jack of all trades (including TV producer and director) Peter Tewksbury died at age 79. Mr. Tewksbury created the TV series "It’s a Man’s World" and "My Three Sons." Mr. Tewksbury won an Emmy award in 1959 for directing the TV series "Father Knows Best." He also directed episodes of one of my favorite TV series "Nichols" with James Garner. Mr. Tewksbury also directed several films including two Elvis films: "Stay Away Joe" and "The Trouble With Girls." Mr. Tewksbury retired from films in the 70s and became a farmer. He then became one of the world’s most respected experts on cheeses! Mr. Tewskbury served his country as a captain in the Pacific during WWII.
THOMAS PHIPPS Died Feb. 20, 2003
Tv and film screenwriter Thomas Phipps died at age 89. Phipps was a prolific TV writer in the 1950s. His credits include "Robert Montgomery Presents," the 1968 TV version of "Laura" co-written with Truman Capote and the film "A Yank at Eton" starring Mickey Rooney.
TOM GLAZER Died Feb. 21, 2003
"On top of spaghetti, All covered with cheese…I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed." Tom Glazer was a pioneering folk singer best known for the above-quoted novelty song. Mr. Glazer died at age 88. Mr. Glazer played a big part in one of the best American films of the 1950s. Elia Kazan’s "A Face in the Crowd" is a chilling portrait of a country bumpkin named Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith) who becomes a ruthless media star. Mr. Glazer wrote the songs that Andy Griffith’s character sand in the movie. If you have not seen "A Face in the Crowd" you are missing out on a wonderful movie experience. Thanks for the music.
DANIEL TARADASH Died Feb. 22, 2003
Oscar winning screenwriter Daniel Taradash died at age 90. Mr. Taradash won the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1953 for his adaptation of James Jones novel "From Here to Eternity." Mr. Taradash adapted William Inge's play "Picnic" for the screen. "Picnic" is one of my favorite films. William Holden and Kim Novak make one sexy couple. Taradash’s other credits include adapting Clifford Odetts’ play "Golden Boy" to the screen. He also wrote the screenplays for "Castle Keep," "Rancho Notorious," "Hawaii" and "The Other Side of Midnight." Mr. Taradash wrote the screenplay for the film noir classic "Knock on Any Door." That film contained one of the great lines of quotable dialogue in film history. John Derek played young thug Nick Romano. He uttered the line "Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse." Mr. Taradash wrote and directed one film: "Storm Center" with Bette Davis. Mr. Taradash was the president of the Writer’s Guild of America from 1977 to 1979.
LOUIS LARUSSO II Died Feb. 22, 2003
Playwright Louis LaRusso II died of bladder cancer at age 67. Mr. LaRusso was known in the entertainment world as a prolific playwright whose work focused on the working class. Mr. LaRusso’s play "Lamppost Reunion" received a Tony nomination as Best Play in 1976. Mr. LaRusso had a few screen credits. He did some re-write work on "Saturday Night Fever." His credits include "The Closer" with Danny Aiello, "The Hell Hunters" with Stewart Granger and "Beyond the Reef" with flash in the pan Dayton Kan’ne.
ESTHER RIDGEWAY Died Feb. 22, 2003
Detroit blues and soul background singer Esther Ridgeway died of a heart attack at age 43. Ms. Ridgeway performed along with her sisters in the vocal group "The Ridgeways." They have backed such stars as Dionne Warwick, Jerry Butler and Fontella Bass. Ms. Ridgeway appeared in the movie "Blue Brothers 2000."
TITOS VANDIS Died Feb. 23, 2003
Greek character actor Titos Vandis died of cancer at age 86. Mr. Vandis was familiar to movie goers world wide from numerous film and TV appearances. Mr. Vandis played the uncle of Father Karris (Jason Miller) in William Freidkin’s "The Exorcist." He appeared in Robert Altman’s excellent and overlooked romancer "A Perfect Couple." One of my favorite films of the 70s, Michael Ritchie’s "Smile" also featured Mr. Vandis. Other credits include "Fletch Lives," "National Lampoon’s Movie Madness," "Get Christie Love!," "The Betsy," Woody Allen’s "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask" and the Oscar nominated film "Never on Sunday" with Melina Mercouri. Mr. Vandis appeared in many TV shows. He had a recurring role on the Robert Blake cop series "Baretta."
PAVEL LEBESHEV Died Feb. 23, 2003
Award winning Russian cinematographer Pavel Lebeshev died at age 63. Cinematography was a family business as Pavel Lebeshev was the son of cinematographer Timofei Lebeshev. Mr. Lebeshev was nominated for a Best Cinemtographer Award at the Nika Awards (Russia’s highest film awards.) Mr. Lebeshev won in 1997 for the film"…Pervaya Lyubov."
ALBERTO SORDI Died Feb. 24, 2002
Italy has lost one of its greatest film treasures. Actor, writer, director, producer Alberto Sordi has died at age 82. Mr. Sordi appeared in over 150 films during his 61 year career. Mr. Sordi also wrote 39 films, directed another 18 and produced one! Worldwide, Mr. Sordi won 15 awards from his acting, including several Life Achievement Awards. Mr. Sordi began his career doing voice work. He provided the voice for Oliver Hardy in the Italian dubbed versions of "Laurel and Hardy." Mr. Sordi was one of the world’s great comedic actors. He also did drama, but what Mr. Sordi did best was make people laugh. That is a rare gift that will be missed. Mr. Sordi worked with some of the greats of world cinema including Frederico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Guy Hamilton, David Niven, Clint Eastwood and Vittorio Gassman. Mr. Sordi’s many credits include "The Best of Enemies," "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines," "Fellini’s Roma" and "The Witches."
WALTER SCHARF Died Feb. 24, 2003
Multi-Oscar nominated and Emmy award winning composer Walter Scharf died at age 92. Mr. Scharf was nominated for an Oscar an amazing 10 times, however ownership of the golden statue eluded Mr. Scharf. He composed scores for over 150 films and TV shows. He won the Emmy for his "National Geographic" and "Jacques Cousteau" TV scores. Mr. Scharf’s career in film spanned 55 years. His credits include all three "Walking Tall" films, "Ben" the sequel to "Willard," the TV series "Mission Impossible" and "The Wild, Wild West," several Jerry Lewis films including "The Nutty Professor," " Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol."
VINCENT LIFF Died Feb. 25, 2003
Theater and film casting director Vincent Liff died of brain cancer at age 52. Mr. Liff worked with Gregory Johnson to become one of Broadway’s most successful casting directors. His first credit was the casting on "The Wiz" in 1975. Mr. Liff cast the movies "The Swan Princess," the remake of "The King and I" and the soap opera "Another World."
EUGENE TROOBNICK Died Feb. 26, 2003
Comedic and character actor Eugene Troobnick died at age 75. Mr. Troobnick was one of the founder’s of Chicago’s famed comedy troop "Second City." (Mr. Troobnick is on the far left in the photo.) In addition to his years of live performances, Mr. Troobnick had a successful career as a character actor. As someone obsessed with obituaries, it is no surprise that one of my favorite films is Bob Fosse’s dark "All That Jazz." Mr. Troobnick had a funny cameo as the cigarette smoking insurance doctor who chokes his way trough a physical exam of Roy Scheider’s character. Other film credits include Robert Altman’s gambling comedy "California Split," Herbert Ross’s Fanny Brice sequel "Funny Lady," the Burt Reynold’s comedy "Paternity" and Woody Allen’s "Deconstructing Harry."
FRED ROGERS Died Feb. 27, 2003
It’s a sad day in the neighborhood. Fred Rogers died of stomach cancer at age 74. Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbytarian minister. Mr. Rogers taught young children about the wonders of the world for 32 years through his PBS TV series "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood." With characters like King Friday XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, Edgar Cooke, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, Daniel Striped Tiger, Cornflake S. Pecially, Grandpere and Donkey Hodie, Fred Rogers took children on a Trolley Ride to the Neighborhood of Make Believe. Roger’s style was soft and approachable, which made him beloved by his pre-school audience. I have watched "Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood with my oldest daughter and now my little one. The show is part of our morning routine. As a parent, I’ve always been grateful for Fred Roger’s devotion to the children of the world. Mr. Rogers won 4 Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for his show. Rest in peace Mr. Rogers. Thanks for caring about our children.
JEAN SULLIVAN Died Feb. 27, 2003
Actress/dancer Jean Sullivan died of cardiac arrest at age 79. Ms. Sullivan began as an actress, but changed careers and became the primary dancer for the American Ballet Theater. She appeared in three films during the 1940s before changing her focus to music and dance. She appeared with Errol Flynn in the WWII potboiler "Uncertain Glory." Ms. Sullivan returned to film in 1976 when she appeared in one of the worst horror films ever made: "Squirm." "Squirm" dealt with killer earthworms. Nuff said. Ms. Sullivan was married to actor comedian Tom Poston for 13 years.
JOHNNY CARPENTER Died Feb. 27, 2003
Actor/writer/producer and humanitarian Johnny Carpenter died of cancer at age 88. Mr. Carpenter acted in over 20 of b-movie westerns, several of which he wrote and produced. Mr. Carpenter’s biggest contribution to mankind was the Heaven on Earth Ranch. Mr. Carpenter’s ranch and western town was host to thousands of disabled children. Mr. Carpenter taught the blind to ride horses. He also worked with scores of children with cerebral palsy. Mr. Carpenter rode as a stuntman in the original "National Velvet." Among his western films were "Badman’s Gold," "I Killed Wild Bill Hickock" and "Lawless Rider."
JOHN LANCHBERY Died Feb. 28, 2003
British composer and musical director John Lanchbery died at age 79. Mr. Lanchbery composed mainly for the stage and ballet. He had several film credits also. They include "Tales of Beatrix Potter," "Nijinski" and "Blackout."