MARITTA WOLFF STEGMAN Died July 1, 2002
Ms. Stegman was a novelist who had two of her books turned into films. Her debut novel "Whistle Stop" and her second book "Night Shift" were both filmed in 1946.
JAMES LEE Died July 2, 2002
Mr. Lee was a writer who worked mainly in TV. His credits include the mini series "Roots" and "Scruples." He also wrote the 1967 TV version of "The Diary of Ann Frank." Mr. Lee wrote the terrible Elvis movie "A Change of Habit."
IVAN MOFFAT Died July 4, 2002
Writer/producer Ivan Moffat received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay
for George Stevens' film "Giant." Mr. Moffat also wrote the screenplay for John Frankenheimer's "Black Sunday" and the Alec Guiness film "Hitler: The Last Ten Days." Mr. Moffat was an associate producer on two of George Stevens' best films: "Shane" and "A Place in the Sun." Mr. Moffat appeared as himself in three documentaries about director Stevens. Mr. Moffat died of a stroke at age 84.
KATY JURADO Died July 5, 2002
My favorite scene in Sam Peckinpah's flawed "Pat Garret and Billy the Kid" involves Katy Jurado sitting by her husband, Slim Pickens as he dies following a gun battle. Slim Pickens was building a boat for him and his wife to sail away in. Peckinpah set his death scene beside a small river. Ms. Jurado cries and smiles at her husband as he holds his gunshot belly. Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" plays on the soundtrack. This is as close to sailing away as the couple will ever get. The scene is a shining example of the character development that set Peckinpah's films apart from countless imitators. Ms. Jurado is wonderful in this cameo. It is touching juxtaposition to the violent shootout, which preceded the scene. In the shootout, Ms. Jurado backed up her husband with a double-barrel shotgun. Ms. Jurado had what it took to pull off these extremes. She could be a strong pitbull and a feminine support.
Ms. Jurado won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in the classic Western "High Noon." She was nominated for the Best Supporting Oscar nomination "Broken Lance" in 1954. She was honored by the Mexican film industry four times between 1954 and 1999 with the Silver Ariel Award for her acting. Ms. Jurado was married to Ernest Borgnine at one time. Ms. Jurado appeared in 65 films including Marlon Brando's quirky Billy the Kid drama "One Eyed Jacks," and "Barabbas."
JOHN FRANKENHEIMER Died July 6, 2002
Mr. Frankenheimer directed some of the most original films of the 1960s. A dear friend of Robert Kennedy, Mr. Frankenheimer’s career faltered after his friend’s assassination. Director Frankenheimer sank into alcoholism, from which he recovered. While he never recaptured the glory of his early career, Mr. Frankenheimer continued to make some very interesting films.
He is best known as the director of the paranoid classic "The Manchurian Candidate." The film is as riveting today as it was when released in 1962. Mr. Frankenheimer started in TV. He directed countless episodes of the live TV show Playhouse 90. He turned to feature films in the late 1950s. In addition to "The Manchurian Candidate," he directed "The Birdman of Alcatraz" with Burt Lancaster and the psychological sci-fi classic "Seconds" with Rock Hudson.
Mr. Frankenheimer teamed up with Burt Lancaster on several films. They include the WWII psychological drama "The Train," the political thriller "Seven Days in May" and the under-rated "The Gypsy Moths" about a team of parachutists who put on shows in small southern towns.
One of my favorites was the Gregory Peck film "I Walk the Line." In that film, Mr. Frankenheimer visited Lolita territory. Peck plays a Southern sheriff who overlooks a moonshiner’s activities in exchange for the favors of the moonshiner’s daughter played by the sexy Tuesday Weld.
Mr. Frankenheimer directed the best of a group of films released in the early 1970s called "The American Film Theater." The movies were designed to bring stage plays to the screen for mass consumption. Frankenheimer director Eugene O’Neil’s "The Iceman Cometh" with Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and an all star cast.
Other credits include the highly under-rated "The French Connection II." His biggest hit of the 70s was the Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern thriller "Black Sunday." He also directed one of the worst horror films of all time in 1979: "The Prophecy" with Talia Shire.
Japanophiles and action fans should check out Frankenheimer’s 1982 film "The Challenge" with Scott Glenn and Toshiro Mifune. The movie has a tight script and is filled with some incredible fight scenes. Frankenheimer followed this with the quirky Elmore Leonard story "52 Pick-Up" starring Roy Scheider, Ann Margret and an insane John Glover!
Mr. Frankenheimer returned to TV in the 90s. He directed several Emmy winning TV movies including "Wallace" and "Andersonville." He directed the interesting misfire, "The Island of Dr. Moreau" on the big screen. His last great big screen movie was the complex and exciting "Ronin" with Robert DeNiro. For an interesting insight into the director check out his commentary track on the "Ronin" DVD.
Mr. Frankenheimer died of a stroke following surgery. Thanks for entertaining us.
PHYLLIS WHITE Died July 7, 2002
Ms. White was a long tome TV scriptwriter. She wrote for such shows as "Mission Impossible," "My Favorite Martian" and she was the head writer for the original "Tonight Show." Ms. White began the union TV Writers of America. That organization was later absorbed by the Writer's Guild of America. Ms. White died of a stroke at age 79.
WARD KIMBAL Died July 8, 2002
Mr. Kimball was one of the "Nine Old Men" who made up the core of animators for Walt Disney during the early days. Mr. Kimball created Jiminy Cricket for the film "Pinocchio." He also created the crows in "Dumbo." Mr. Kimball worked on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," "Alice in Wonderland," "Mary Poppins" and "The Three Caballeros." Two of his films won Oscars for best animated short subjects. Walt Disney said of him: "Ward in the one man who works for me that I'm willing to call a genius." High praise considering the source.
ROD STEIGER Died July 9, 2002
Oscar winning actor Rod Steiger died of a stroke at age 77. Mr. Steiger appeared in over 120 films during his 50-year career. Mr. Steiger gave more of himself on screen than just about any other actor who has lived. Steiger suffered from depression for most of his adult life. He turned his inner turmoil into some of the richest film performances ever delivered.
From the earliest days of his career he was a force to be reckoned with. He held his own against Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront." That was followed by his menacing performance as Jud Fry in the musical "Oklahoma." He elevated the 1959 b-movie "Al Capone" into a camp classic with his over-the-top portrayal of Scarface Al Capone.
I recently had the pleasure of rediscovering the 1961 film "The Mark" on DVD. This powerful film dealt with a child-molester trying to change his life. Steiger played the Irish psychologist who tried to help Stuart Whitman's character. Mr. Steiger's performance is both subtle and complex. Mr. Steiger's greatest role came 3 years later in Sidney Lumet's "The Pawnbroker."
Mr. Steiger is best known for his Oscar winning performance as Sheriff Bill Gillespie in Norman Jewison's "In the Heat of the Night." I first saw that movie when I was 12. I was moved to tears by Steiger's turn as the lonely sheriff forced to reexamine his values. Steiger's Gillispie is nothing like the TV character of the same name played by Carol O'Conner. There is a scene in which Sidney Poitier's Virgil Tibbs shares a drink in Gillispie's house. Gillispie tells him that no one ever comes to his house. When Tibbs responds with sympathy, Gillespie explodes in a tirade. For a second, Gillispie let down his guard and treated a Black man as a human. He recovers in an emotional rant, which reveals much about the character. The scene is powerful and sad. Fortunately, Steiger's character comes around to see the error of his ways. Steiger's Oscar was well deserved. If you have never seen this movie, you are missing one of the best films of the 1960s.
Steiger turned in several more great performances toward the end of the 1960s. He plays a highly theatrical psychopath in the very funny black comedy "No Way to Treat a Lady." Steiger dealt with homosexuality in the military in "The Sergeant." His performance beautifully conveys the angst felt by a closeted homosexual during WWII. Steiger played multiple roles (including the title character) in the flawed but interesting Sci-Fi film "The Illustrated Man."
If I could convince one to discover an over-looked Rod Steiger film it would be Sergio Leone's "Duck You Sucker" AKA "A Fistful of Dynamite." Steiger plays Juan Miranda, an ignorant Mexican bandit who leads his enormous family on a life of crime. Miranda meets John Mallory (James Coburn), an Irish ex-patriot, during one of his robberies. Juan and John become fast friends. John is a mercenary working for revolutionaries during the Mexican Civil War. John manipulates Juan into becoming a figurehead of the revolution. The movie is an epic film of nearly three hours. It is lesser known than Leone's other spaghetti westerns and that is unfortunate. Steiger's Juan is the best developed character in any of Sergio Leone's movies. Juan is a simple man whose appearance belies his intelligence. He is not educated except in the ways of the world. If you chose to check out a Rod Steiger film, please put this one on the top of your list.
One of my guilty pleasures is the hillbilly feud film "Lolly Madonna XXX." Steiger stars with Robert Ryan, Jeff Bridges, Scott Wilson, Randy Quaid and Season Hubley in this back-woods allegory about Vietnam. It is a bit preachy at times, but Steiger delivers another great over-the-top performance as one of the patriarchs of the feuding clans.
Mr. Steiger made a lot of bad movies also. That's what happens when you make as many films as he did. Of his later films, two performances stand out. Steiger played the gung-ho general in "Mars Attacks." It is a very funny performance. One of his most terrifying roles was as Gordon Caul, the real life white-supremacist who died in a shootout with the FBI. Steiger portrayed Caul in the excellent "In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas."
I know I'm leaving out many other great films Mr. Steiger left us. It is hard to encapsulate such a long, painful and giving life in so few words. All I can say is thanks for what you left us. Prayers for his loved ones would be appreciated.
QUINCY WONG Died July 9, 2002
Chicago based actor Quincy Wong appeared in "Novocaine," "Mo Money" and "March in the Windy City." Mr. Wong was known for efforts to dispel stereotypes about Asian Americans in film. Mr. Wong died of a heart attack.
ALVIN SAPINSLEY Died July 13, 2002
80 year old Alvin Saplinsley was an award-winning TV writer. He wrote scripts for the TV series "The Untouchables,' "Hawaii 5-O," "The Hitchhiker" and "Kojak" among others. Mr. Saplinsley won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best TV Feature or Mini-Series script for the 1977 film "Sherlock Holmes in New York" starring Roger Moore, John Huston and Patrick McNee. Mr. Saplinsley was blacklisted during the 1950s for attending Communist Party meetings. Mr. Saplinsley served his country in WWII and took part in D-Day as a cryptographer.
PHIL ROTH Died July 15, 2002
Mr. Roth was a character actor on TV and in film during the 60s, 70s and 80s. His TV credits include "The Monkees," "Get Smart" and "Tales From the Darkside." Mr. Roth appeared in Mike Nichols' "Catch-22," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Harry and Tonto." The 74 year old actor died of colon cancer.
GENE MOSS Died July 15, 2002
Mr. Moss was the creator on co-writer of the "Roger Ramjet" cartoon series. Mr. Moss wrote everyone of the cartoon's 156 episodes with his partner. Mr. Moss did an uncredited cameo in the Barry Newman spy thriller "The Salzberg Connection." Mr. Moss also provided the voice of Smokey Bear for a decade.
MONTY BERMAN Died July 15, 2002
Mr. Berman was the second generation owner of a London costume company. Mr. Berman's company provided costumes for such films as "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago," "The Guns of Navarone," "The African Queen" and the James Bond movie series. Mr. Berman was 90 years old.
PAULA MCCLURE Died July 17, 2002
Ms. McClure was an Emmy winning TV personality. She once worked for "Entertainment Tonight." Ms. McClure appeared in several films, usually as a reporter. Her credits include "Lady Boss," "A Talent for the Game," "Total Recall," "The First Power" and "The Preppie Murder."
HARRY GERSTAD Died July 17, 2002
Two-time Oscar winner Harry Gerstad died of natural causes at age 93. Mr. Gerstad was a film editor for over 40 years. He retired in 1975. Mr. Gerstad shared the Best Editing Oscar for Fred Zinnemann's classic Western "High Noon" with Elmo Williams. Mr. Gerstad's other Best Film Editing Oscar was for the Kirk Douglas film "The Champion." Mr. Gerstad was awarded the "Career Achievement Award" by the American Cinema Editors in 1997. Other credits include "Walking Tall," "Big Jake," "Batman: The Movie," "The Spiral Staircase" and Marlon Brando's debut film "The Men."
BARRY C. REED Died July 19, 2002
Mr. Reed was an attorney turned novelist. His book "The Verdict" was turned into a film starring Paul Newman and James Mason.
CHUCK TRAYNOR Died July 22, 2002
Three months to the day after ex-wife Linda Lovelace was killed in a car crash, porn producer Chuck Traynor died of a heart attack. Ex-wife Linda Lovelace said she was forced into porn at gun-point. Mr. Traynor always denied the charges.
LEO McKERN Died July 23, 2002
Leo McKern may not be a name you recognize, but his face will bring a smile to yours. Mr. McKern appeared in so many notable films and TV shows that it is hard to say what he will be best remembered for. His family can answer that question best, but I'll give you my answer as a movie fan.
The year is 1965 and The Beatles have transformed the face of pop-culture. I was 7 years old, but I had the benefit of having three teenage brothers and sisters. Richard Lester's movie "Help" was a worldwide box-office hit. Leo McKern played the role of "Clang." Clang was the leader of an Indian cult, which had to sacrifice a virgin to their God. The virgin had to be painted red and had to wear a sacred ring at the time of their sacrifice. In "Help" the virgin was deflowered by Ringo. Ringo was given the ring in gratitude. The rest of the film had cult members following the Fab 4 all over the world to recover the ring. Mr. McKern showed great comic timing in his role.
Before I ever saw "Help," I remember watching a British sci-fi film from the 50s called "X The Unknown." It is one of the better sci-fi films from that era. An overlooked gem which Mr. McKern had some small part in making better.
Another pre-"Help" credit was in the hilarious film "The Mouse That Roared" with Margaret Rutherford and Peter Sellers. Don't miss this satirical comic gem if you get the chance.
Mr. McKern played the stuffy Thomas Cromwell in the excellent "A Man For All Seasons" (1966) with Oscar winner Paul Scofield. He appeared as Thomas Ryan in David Lean's epic love story "Ryan's Daughter" (1970).
Most people will remember the crotchety Mr. McKern as Horace Rumpole in the BBC TV series "Rumpole of the Bailey." Leo McKern played Prof. Moriarty in the Gene Wilder Comedy "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother." He appeared in the Meryl Streep film "The French Lieutenant's Woman" as well as the great fantasy romance film "Ladyhawke."
I will always remember Mr. McKern for his role in the first two films of "The Omen" series. Mr. McKern played the archaeologist Bugenhagen in the both films. He led Gregory Peck to ancient proof that his son was destined to be the anti-Christ. Mr. McKern reprised his role as a cameo in "Damien: Omen II." Mr. McKern died in the opening scene. If you do not know who Mr. McKern was, I recommend that you rent or buy some of his films. I'm glad he had the opportunity to entertain me.
CHAIM POTOK Died July 23, 2002
Mr. Potok was a novelist who wrote "The Chosen." An excellent film version of the story of a friendship between two Jewish teenagers: one orthodox and the other liberal. The film starred Rod Steiger and Maximilian Schell. Robby Benson and Barry Miller are great as the friends from different worlds.
CLARK GESNER Died July 23, 2002
Mr. Gesner was a writer and composer. He created the Musical "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." The musical was turned in two TV films: a 1973 live action version and an animated version in 1985. Mr. Gesner also composed music for the "Captain Kangaroo" TV series. Mr. Gesner died of a heart attack at age 64.
MAURICE DENHAM Died July 24, 2002
Mr. Denham is the second, great British character actor to die in as many days. Mr. Denham had 120 feature film and TV movie credits. The bald actor appeared in many genre films. He can be spotted in many horror, sci-fi and war films. During the 1980s, Mr. Denham worked almost exclusively in TV movies. Mr. Denham did appear in many great films during his career. His credits include David Lean's "Oliver Twist" (1948), Denham provided all of the voices for the 1954 version of George Orwell's "Animal Farm."
His horror film credits include some of the best ever made. He was one of the main characters in Jacques Tourneur's classic "Night of the Demon" (1957). He appeared in the wonderful Ingrid Pitt film "Countess Dracula" (1970). Other horror films include "The Nanny" with Bette Davis, "The Night Caller" and "Torture Garden" with Peter Cushing and Jack Palance.
One of my favorite war films "Sink the Bismark" was made more colorful by Mr. Denham's presence. He appeared in several noted films in the early 70s. "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" was a groundbreaking and award winning film about a bi-sexual love triangle. Franklin Schaffner's "Nicholas and Alexandra" told the story of the last Czar of Russia. Mr. Denham also appeared in the Oscar winning film "Julia" with Jane Fonda and Jason Robards. He also appeared in the thriller "Day of the Jackal
Mr. Denham was nominated for a British Academy Award as Best British Actor for his role in the 1954 film "The Purple Plain." Mr. Denham lived a full 92 years. He was awarded an OBE by the Queen.
BUDDY BAKER Died July 26, 2002
Mr. Baker was an Oscar-nominated composer who was a longtime employee of Walt Disney Studios. Mr. Baker began working with Disney in 1954. He composed the music for the "Daniel Boone" TV series as well as some music for the original "Mickey Mouse Club" and "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day." Feature film credits include "The Fox and the Hound" "The Shaggy D.A." "$1,000,000.00 Duck" "Superdad" and "Napoleon and Samantha." Mr. Baker worked on over 40 feature film scores. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1972 for the film "Napoleon and Samantha" starring Johnny Whitaker and Jodie Foster.
AMBER SEXXXUM (LAURA BAILEY) Died July 26, 2002
Porn star Laura Bailey a.k.a. Amber Sexxxum, died at home in St. Petersburg Florida at age 31. No cause of death was listed. She is survived by her parents and a sister. Ms. Bailey appeared in about 13 adult films.
FRANK INN Died July 27, 2002
Mr. Inn was one of the top animal trainers working in film. His trained
animals for feature films such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Daring Doberman's" and Blake Edward's "S.O.B." Mr. Inn was best known as the trainer of Benji. The dog appeared in the TV series "Petticoat Junction" and then the first "Benji" movie. The dog's daughter played the role in the sequels. Mr. Inn also trained Arnold Ziffle on "Green Acres" and all of Elly May's critters on "The Beverly Hillbillies."
JOEL OLIANSKY Died July 29, 2002
Mr. Oliansky was a writer/director who worked in both TV and feature films. He won an Emmy in 1970 for an episode of "The Bold Ones." He was nominated for another Emmy in 1976 for the mini-series "The Law" with Judd Hirsch. Mr. Oliansky drafted the script "Bird" which Clint Eastwood later rewrote and filmed. "Bird" told the story of jazz great Charlie Parker. Mr. Oliansky directed several TV shows including "Kojak" and "Emergency." He directed the Richard Dreyfuss/Amy Irving love story "The Competition." Mr. Oliansky died at age 66.
PETER BAYLESS Died July 29, 2002
British character actor Peter Bayless died of cancer at age 80. Mr. Bayless's credits include "From Russian With Love," "The Magic Christian," "Lock Up Your Daughters" and "Old Dracula." In later years, Mr. Bayless appeared in several of Hallmark's fantasy films made for TV. Those credits include "Merlin," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Arabian Nights."
PAULINE CHAN Died July 31, 2002
Yet another adult film actress has committed suicide. Little girls beware! Fast money sometimes carries a big price tag. Pauline Chan was Chinese erotic film actress. Ms. Chan starred in "Category 3" films in Hong Kong. These movies were mainly softcore porn. Ms. Chan retired from adult films in 1992 and began pursuing a singing career. She did perform concerts in the US during the mid 1990s. However, Ms. Chan's largest fan-base came from her porn films.