MADELEINE ROBINSON Died Aug. 1, 2004
French actress Madeleine Robinson died at age 88. Ms. Robinson appeared in nearly 90 films and TV shows during her 60 year career. Ms. Robinson won the Best Actress Award at the 1959 Venice Film Festival for her work in Claude Chabrol’s "A Double Tour." Ms. Robinson’s other credits include Orson Welles’ adaptation for Franz Kafka’s "The Trial" and "Camille Claudel."
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON Died Aug. 2, 2004
Renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson died just shy of his 96th birthday. Mr. Cartier-Bresson chronicled many of the most important events of the last century including the Spanish Civil War and WWII. He also made several short films and the Communist propaganda film "The People of France." Mr. Cartier-Bresson was the still photographer on John Huston’s "The Misfits," which starred Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Mr. Cartier-Bresson was the assistant director on and appeared in the films "The Rules of the Game" and "A Day in the Country."
VIVIAN AUSTIN Died Aug. 2, 2004
Actress Vivian Austin died at age 84. Ms. Austin was a contract player at Universal in the 1940s. She appeared in nearly 25 films before her loss of eyesight forced her retirement. She underwent operations, which restored her sight. Ms. Austin ended up marrying her eye doctor! Her credits include "Stepchild," "T-Men," "Philo Vance Returns," "Destiny," "Cobra Woman," "Moon Over Las Vegas" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
LOU WALKER Died Aug. 2, 2004
Georgia politician and sometime actor Lou Walker died at age 66. Mr. Walker died of injuries he sustained in an automobile accident eight days earlier. Mr. Walker appeared in over 30 films and TV shows. His credits include "Brainstorm," "Mississippi Burning," "Cold Sassy Tree," "Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture," "Murder in Mississippi," the mini series "Chiefs," as the grits cook in the hilarious "My Cousin Vinny," "The Firm," "Remember the Titans" and "The Fighting Temptations."
BOB MURPHY Died Aug. 3, 2004
Bob Murphy, longtime voice of the New York Mets died of lung cancer one month shy of his 80th birthday. Mr. Waxwell received a special thanks credit in the movie "Mr. Wonderful." He appeared as himself in an episode of "Seinfeld." His most significant film contribution came in Abel Ferrara’s "Bad Lieutenant." Harvey Keitel’s character was a drug addicted gambling and thoroughly corrupt cop. His character bets progressively larger and larger amounts on a series of Mets games. Throughout the film, Keitel listens to Mr. Murphy call the games. Keitel bets against the Mets. The Mets win pushing Keitel closer to the gates of Hell. Never has simple sportscasting sounded so sinister.
GERALDINE PERONI Died Aug. 3, 2004
Oscar-nominated film editor Geraldine Peroni died at age 51. Though her family denies it, the NY City coroner ruled the death a suicide. Ms. Peroni was nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and the American Cinema Editor’s Eddie Award for her work on Robert Altman’s "The Player." Ms. Peroni began her long collaboration with director Robert Altman in 1990. They are pictured together at right. She worked on eight films with Mr. Altman. Her credits include "Vincent and Theo," "The Company," "Pret-a-Porter," "Dr. T & the Women," "The Gingerbread Man," "Short Cuts," "Jesus’ Son," "Thank God I’m a Lesbian" and "Michael." Mr. Peroni has several assistant editor credits including John Sayles’ "Matewan" and Martin Scorsese’s "The Last Temptation of Chirst."
JOE BONADUCE Died Aug. 3, 2004
Writer Joe Bonaduce died at age 77. Mr. Bonaduce may be better remembered for his stormy relationship with son Danny Bonaduce. Joe Bonaduce was a long time TV writer when son Danny hit the bigtime with the TV series "The Partridge Family." It was universally reported that the elder Bonaduce was jealous of his son’s fame and took to abusing the boy. Actor William Russ portrayed the elder Bonaduce in the TV biopic "Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story." Mr. Bonaduce’s writing credits include the TV series "Apple’s Way," "Bonanza," "Love, American Style," "The Waltons," "Nanny and the Professor," "One Day at a Time" and "Little House on the Prairie."
PAULA COBURN Death Announced Aug. 4, 2004
Actress Paula Coburn died of cancer at age 48. Ms. Coburn was the widow of actor James Coburn. She was by his side when he died. Ms. Coburn hosted a TV show in Washington DC before moving to California. She appeared with her husband in the films "American Gun" and "The Set Up." She also appeared in "I Surrender All" and an episode of "USA High."
FUMIO WANTANABE Died Aug. 4, 2004
Veteran Japanese actor Fumio Wantanabe died of respiratory failure at age 74. Wantanabe’s film career spanned more than 45 years. He co-starred in the 1972 Cult classic "Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance." Based on the Japanese Manga, "Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance" spawned a series of sequels. It is one of the bloodiest and most amazing films you will come across. Mr. Wantanabe also starred in Jesus Franco inspired the sexploitation film "The Joy of Torture." Fans of women in prison films may have seen Wantanabe as the warden in "Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion." He appeared uncredited in Sonny Chiba's "The Street Fighter," the first film to be Rated X for violence. Mr. Wantanabe is best known for his work with director Nagisa Oshima. The pair began their collaboration in 1959 and made 10 films together. "The Cruel Story of Youth" is their best-known work. Mr. Wantanabe also appeared in the porn film "Tokyo Deep Throat."
FRANK MAXWELL Died Aug. 4, 2004
Actor and former AFTRA president Frank Maxwell died of heart disease at age 87. Mr. Maxwell appeared in over 150 films and TV shows during his 50+ year career. Mr. Maxwell was the president of AFTRA from 1985 through 89. He was best known for the role of Dan Rooney in the soap opera "General Hospital." He played the hospital administrator from 1978 through 1989. Among Mr. Maxwell’s numerous credits are "The Chosen," the Charles Bronson crime thriller "Mr. Majestyk," "Who is the Black Dahlia?," "Cry Rape," "The Wild Angels," "Madame X," the Roger Corman horror comedy "The Haunted Palace," "The Bob Newhart Show," "All in the Family," "The Rockford Files," "Ironside," "Mission Impossible," "Mannix," "Gilligan’s Island," "Family Affair," "The FBI," "The Fugitive," "Rawhide" and "Perry Mason."
PABLO GONZALEZ DEL AMO Died Aug. 4, 2004
Award-winning editor Pablo Gonzalez del Amo died at age 77. The Spanish editor won three Goya Awards for best editing during his lengthy career. Mr. del Amo edited over 150 films during his lengthy career. Among his credits are the cult horror classic "The Blood Spattered Bride," "Banderas the Tyrant," "The Hunt," "Spirit of the Beehive," "Death on a Rainy Day," "Goya," "The Longest Night" and "A Woman in the Rain."
MARY DEES Died Aug. 4, 2004
British filmmaker Austin Mutti-Mewse (I Used to Be In Pictures) informed me that Golden Age of Hollywood actress Mary Dees died at age 93. Mary Dees was the stand-in and double for 1930s sex goddess Jean Harlow. When Jean Harlow died tragically at age 26, Ms. Dees was hired to finish Harlow’s scenes in the Clark Gable film "Saratoga." Ms. Dees was shot from the back for about four-minutes of footage. Another actress did Ms. Harlow’s remaining voice work. Ms. Dees appeared in a number of films including "Let’s Talk It Over," "The Women," "Dinner at Eight," "Two Fisted," "Kid Millions," "The Man With Two Faces," "The Shopworn Angel," "Bad Guy" and "The Last Gangster." She also worked with two of the greatest comedy teams in Hollywood’s history. She appeared with The Three Stooges in "Hoi Polloi" and, in her final film, with the Marx Brothers in "A Night in Casablanca." Ms. Dees retired from film following the 1946 Marx Brothers comedy, but did continue to act on stage.
PAUL SILVER Died Aug. 4, 2004
Noted music editor Paul Silver died of lymphoma at age 38. Mr. Silver was nominated twice by the Motion Picture Sound Editors for a Golden Reel Award for his work on "The Emperor’s New Groove" and "Bartok the Magnificent." Mr. Silver worked on over 30 films and TV shows during his short life. His life was an inspirational portrait of a person who continued to try and thrive despite great physical difficulties. Mr. Silver suffered complete kidney failure while still a teenager. He underwent transplants and still graduated from college. His film credits include the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Cats & Dogs," "The Scorpion King," my daughter Lauren’s favorite "The Cheetah Girls," "Eraser" and "So I Married an Ax Murderer." Mr. Silver’s wife is animation editor Lisa Linder. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
RICK JAMES Died Aug. 6, 2004
Funk composer Rick James died of as yet undisclosed causes at age 56. One of the last legends of Motown, the proud native of Buffalo, New York and nephew of the late Melvin Franklin of The Temptations was known as the "King of Punk Funk", bringing his unique blend of catchy rhythms with love and sexuality, marijuana references and otherwise often controversial topic matter to Motown for about a decade's stretch between the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, with hit songs such as "You And I", "Mary Jane", "Cold Blooded", "Glow", "Moonchild", "Standing On The Top" (with The Temptations), and "Ebony Eyes" (with Smokey Robinson)".
James, along with his collective--The Stone City Band, and their legendary associations with fellow Motown acts, The Temptations and protege Teena Marie would make the biggest waves during the early 1980s, resulting in the biggest hits of his career, particularly from his biggest and most famous album--1981's double-platinum "Street Songs" including "Fire And Desire (with Teena Marie)", and most especially "Give It To Me Baby" (which was recently utilized in a Burger King commercial ad), and "Super Freak", which was immortalized by M.C. Hammer with his biggest hit "U Can't Touch This" in 1990.
His two other biggest hits were performed by his protege studio group, The Mary Jane Girls, with "All Night Long" in 1983, and "In My House" in 1985. Most people don't know that Rick James was also responsible with launching the musical career of comedian/actor Eddie Murphy, writing and producing his pivotal 1985 hit, "Party All The Time".
Just as well, The Grammy award-winning musician (born James Johnson) enjoyed all the highs and lows the fast lane had to offer, and in recent years, controversy would seem to overshadow the musical aspect. He fought a long battle with drug use, and he was tried and convicted of two assaults on a women and served two years.
After leaving Motown in 1987, he attempted a comeback of sorts in 1988 with a new album on Reprise Records, and would not release another album until ten years later in 1998 with "Urban Rapsody", recorded after his, release from prison and released first through now-defunct indie distributor Raging Bull Records, and later through Mercury.
Rick James' music was sampled by many artists such as Mary J. Blige and Big Daddy Kane and used in the films and TV series "G-String Divas," "She’s All That" and "Critical Condition." He appeared in the films "Life" and the TV series "Holla."
UPDATE THANKS: Being more of a movie than music fan, I gave Mr. James short shrift in his obituary. Thanks to D.L. Chandell of DLC IndustryWatch for this updated and informative obituary!
FRED PINKARD Death Announced Aug. 6, 2004
Actor Fred Pinkard died at age 84. Mr. Pinkard was a successful stage and radio actor in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 1970. Mr. Pinkard wrote and starred on stage in several one-man shows including "Mr. Marshall-Justice." He appeared in over 50 films and TV shows. Mr. Pinkard’s credits include the horror film "J.D.’s Revenge," "Roots," "Rocky II," "Mad About You," "The Bill Cosby Show," "NYPD Blue," "Seinfeld," "Quincy," "The Mod Squad" and "The Brady Bunch." Mr. Pinkard served his country in the Navy during WWII.
PAUL "RED" ADAIR Died Aug. 7, 2004
Famed oil well firefighter Red Adair died of natural causes at age 89. Red Adair was generally recognized as the world’s best oil-rig firefighter. His company put out more than 2000 oil well fires. Mr. Adair was hired to clean up after Saddam Hussein’s retreat from Kuwait during the First Gulf War. He celebrated his 76th birthday in Kuwait as his company fought over 100 oil well fires left by the retreating Iraqi soldiers. Mr. Adair was the technical advisor on John Wayne’s film "Hellfighters." The movie was actually a thinly disguised bio of Adair.
ISMAEL RODRIGUEZ Died Aug. 7, 2004
Mexican director/writer/producer Ismael Rodriguez died of renal failure at age 83. Mr. Rodreguez is considered one of the most important directors from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Mr. Rodreguez was awarded a Golden Ariel Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. Mr. Rodreguez directed 80 films during his career. His 1962 film "Animas Trujano," which starred Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. That film won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language film as did his 1957 film "Tizoc." "Tizoc" starred Mexican actor Pedro Infante. Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Infante were frequent collaborators. The pair made nearly 20 films together. Mr. Infante won the Best Actor award at the Berlin Film Festival for "Tizoc." The award was given posthumously as "Tizoc" was Mr. Infante’s next to last film. Mr. Rodriguez was a lifelong friend with US director Frank Capra. The directors shared a common cinematic thread. No matter how complex the plot, Capra and Rodriguez focused on the humanity of their characters. I grew up loving monster movies, especially dinosaur films. One of the first monster movies I remember seeing was "The Beast of Hollow Mountain." Mr. Rodriguez directed the 1956 film. The movie was based on a story by "King Kong" F/X genius Willis O’Brien. The Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs theme foreshadowed Ray Harryhausen’s "The Valley of Gwangi." Guy Madison starred as the cowboy who defeats a T-Rex by luring it into quicksand. Co-director Edward Nassour was responsible for the stop-motion animation.
ARTHUR ALSBERG Died Aug. 7, 2004
Longtime radio and TV writer Arthur Alsberg died of natural causes at age 87. Mr. Alsberg moved from radio to TV in the 1950s. He wrote for numerous TV shows including "Our Miss Brooks," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Bachelor Father," "Julia," "The Doris Day Show," "Mona McClusky" and "Nanny and the Professor." Mr. Alsberg teamed up with writer Don Nelson in the early 1970s. The pair created the TV series "Bridget Loves Bernie." During their long period of collaboration, they co-wrote several Disney films including "Hot Lead and Cold Feet," "Gus," "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" and "No Deposit, No Return." The pair also wrote and produced the TV movie "The Munster’s Revenge." Alsberg also wrote episodes of "The Tom and Jerry Kids Show" and "The Jetsons" for Hanna Barbera. In addition to writing, Mr. Alsberg passed his craft along to students as a teacher.
THOMAS TUTTLE Died Aug. 7, 2004
Veteran film and TV make-up artist Thomas Tuttle died at age 85. He is survived by his brother William. Both Thomas and William Tuttle were famed Hollywood make-up artists. Thomas Tuttle worked on numerous films beginning in the late 1940s. His final film was Wim Wenders moody 1982 biopic "Hammett." Mr. Tuttle worked on such well-known films as "On Golden Pond" and the original versions "Cape Fear" and "Around the World in 80 Days." He also worked on the TV series "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." Other credits include "Call Northside 777," "A Letter to Three Wives," "Halls of Montezuma," "I Want to Live," "Solomon and Sheba," "Fitzwilly," "Cold Turkey," "Support Your Local Gunfighter," "The Greatest," Mel Brooks’ "High Anxiety," Robert Altman’s wonderful "A Perfect Couple" and Steve McQueen’s little seen (I’ve seen it!) adaptation of Isben’s "An Enemy of the People."
TONY SCARANO Died Aug. 7, 2004
Veteran costumer Tony Scarano died of cancer at age 79. Mr. Scarano worked on nearly 50 films during his lengthy career. He worked on some of the best films of the 1970s including "Stay Hungry," "Hardcore," "The King of Marvin Gardens" and "Day of the Locust." Other credits include "Avalon," "Misery," "Scarface," "The Hindenburg," "The Changeling," "Diner," "Broadcast News," "Twins," "Farewell My Lovely," "Ghostbusters II," "Silverado," "The War of the Roses," "Day of the Dolphin," "Midnight Run" and "F.I.S.T."
DIMITRIS PAPAMICHAIL Died Aug. 8, 2004
Greek actor Dimitris Papamichail died of a heart attack at age 70. Mr. Papamichail specialized in playing working class characters. He appeared in the 1960 Melina Mercouri film "Never on Sunday." Mr. Papamichail appeared in over 50 films.
FAY WRAY Died Aug. 8, 2004
She was one of the last greats from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Fay Wray died at age 96. Fay Wray appeared in over 120 films and TV shows during a career that stretches back to the days of silent films. Her defining role was as Ann Darrow in Willis O’Brien’s classic "King Kong." "T’was Beauty killed the Beast." Fay Wray was the beauty that led the love-struck giant ape to his doom atop the Empire State building. In "King Kong" Ms. Wray delivered the greatest scream in film history, she delivered it many times for that matter. What a scream! And what a body! Filmed before the Hayes code took effect, Ms. Wray appears in a flimsy see through gown during her "screen test" scene on board the ship heading to Skull Island. Robert Armstrong’s character, movie director Carl Denham tells the young actress to look up until she sees the beast. He directs her to show fear and then Ms. Wray lets out her legendary scream. I had one of my first movie crushes on Fay Wray. During her scream test, Ms. Wray pants and strains against her flimsy gown. It was too much for my eight-year-old mind to handle. I was in love. I know, this is bad form for an obituary, but I believe I speak for thousands of male movie fans who understand why Kong fell for Ann. "King Kong" was censored for sexual and violent content. The footage was found in the late 1960s. I remember asking my dad to buy me the "Esquire" magazine which featured stills from the newly discovered footage. "There’s nothing to it" my dad said. He never really understood what it was like to be a movie fan. If I was interested in seeing flesh, I would just sneak his "Playboy" magazines from under his mattress. This was different. This was before DVDs with extra features. This was before the film was restored. Thinking back, though, my dad was partially correct. I did want to see more of Fay Wray.
Fay Wray was born in Canada and moved to Los Angeles while still a teen. She began working in silent movies in 1923. She achieved stardom in dictatorial director Erich Von Stroheim’s "The Wedding March." It was the film Ms. Wray was most proud of. Her earliest silent films were comedy shorts directed by Stan Laurel, Hal Roach and Leo McCarey. She followed these with a series of Westerns and war films. Her directors included William Wellman and William Wyler. In 1928 she hit the big time in "The Wedding March." Von Stroheim cast Ms. Wray in the sequel "The Honeymoon." "King Kong" director Merian C. Cooper directed Ms. Wray for the first time in the silent adventure film "The Four Feathers."
Ms. Wray’s success in films reached new heights in the 1930s. Frank Capra directed her in "Dirigible." She began her horror movie career in Michael Curtiz’s "Doctor X." She followed this up with one of the best films of the 1930s: "The Most Dangerous Game." She costarred with Joel McCrea in the man vs. man, hunter vs. prey adventure film. The film inspired my high-school friend Bruce Ingram and myself to make a 30-minute 8mm version of the story back in the 70s. Ms. Wray’s next three films were horror and fantasy: "The Vampire Bat," "The Mystery of the Wax Museum" and "King Kong." Wray’s fame in "King Kong" overshadows her great work in Michael Curtiz’s "Mystery of the Wax Museum." None of Ms.Wray’s remaining film reached the stature of her early 1930’s output. She went into semi-retirement in the early 1940s. In the mid-1950s, Ms. Wray returtned to film and also began to work in TV. She retired once again as the 1960s began. In 1980 she came out of her long retirement to appear in the excellent, true-life TV film "Gideon’s Trumpet." She appeared in several historical Hollywood documentaries during the late 1990s.
Fay Wray was married three times. Twice to Hollywood screenwriters: "Wings" scribe John Monk Saunders and Oscar winner Robert Riskin (It Happened One Night). Ms. Wray’s final husband was Dr. Sanford Rothenberg. She divorced Saunders after claiming he drugged her while she slept among other assorted marital wrongs. He later committed suicide. Both Riskin and Dr. Rosenberg died while still married to Ms. Wray. Though Ms. Wray lived a long and full life, it is sad to see her pass on. She created a character which will live on as long as there are movies. She brought joy to many people. She was lucky. She had a role that transcended the medium and made her immortal on celluloid. Of course it helped that she had such a tall, dark, leading man!
PAUL GARNER Died Aug. 8, 2004
5 foot 4 inch actor Paul ‘Mousie’ Garner died at age 95. Mr. Garner was last surviving member of "The Three Stooges." Mr. Garner’s participation with the Stooges dates back to the early 1930s. He appeared on stage as a stand in for Shemp Howard. Mr. Garner appeared with nine different Stooge partners over the years. Mr. Garner was one of the eighteen men who appeared as a Stooge! Mr. Garner’s career stretched from the days of Vaudeville to the presnt day. He appears in the yet to be released film "The Onion Movie" by Jerry Zucker. Mr. Garner’s film credits include "Radioland Murders," "Stoogemania!," "Saturday the 14th," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and "Hit Parade of 1937."
ROD PETERSON Died Aug. 9, 2004
Writer/producer Rod Peterson died of encephalitis at age 83. Mr. Peterson wrote for such TV series as "The Waltons," "Bonanza," "Eight is Enough," "Combat!," "Emergency," "The Fitzpatricks" and "Broken Arrow." Mr. Peterson was also a producer on the TV series "Falcon Crest." Mr. Peterson served his country in the Army-Air Corp during WWII.
TONY MOTTOLA Died Aug. 9, 2004
Guitarist Tony Mottola died of pneumonia and complications from a stroke at age 86. Mr. Mottola played on "The Tonight Show" from 1958 through 1972. Mr. Mottola composed the score for Sidney Lumet's excellent film "Running on Empty." He was the musical director for the TV series "Danger." Mr. Mottola earned an Emmy for his score of the documentary "Two Childhoods." Mr. Mottola was best known for his work with Frank Sinatra. He also played on several recordings by The Jodimars in 1955 and 56. THe Jodimars was a group made up of former members of Bill Haley and the Comets.
DAVID RAKSIN Died Aug. 10, 2004
Oscar nominated composer David Raksin died of heart failure at age 92. Mr. Raksin was nominated for two Best Music Oscars for the films "Forever Amber" and "Separate Tables." Mr. Raksin composed music or complete scores for over 150 films. He may be best remembered for composing the theme to Otto Preminger’s Noir mystery "Laura." Raksin was a former member of the Communist Party. He was called upon by HUAC and he named names. Raksin named people who were either dead or had already been named. He regretted his choice and apologized later. Among Mr. Raksin’s many credits are Charlie Chaplin’s classic "Modern Times," "Stanley and Livingstone," "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "The Bad and the Beautiful," Abraham Polonsky’s taut "Force of Evil," "Pat and Mike," "Suddenly," the Ray Harryhausen films "Earth vs. The Flying Saucers" and "20 Million Miles to Earth," Curtis Harrington’s films "Night Tide" and "What’s the Matter With Helen?"
Omaha Film Event producer Bruce Crawford spoke to me about his friend David Raksin: "David Raksin was not only a gifted composer but also a most dedicated friend. His support of both of my radio documentaries on Bernard Herrmann and Miklos Rozsa and his contributions to them, were an enormous asset to their success. With David, you didn't have to wonder where he stood on an issue, he would let you know!"
JULIA CHILD Died Aug. 12, 2004
American born "French Chef" Julia Child died just shy of her 92nd birthday. Ms. Child became a household name through her long running cooking show "The French Chef." The PBS show ran for 11 years. Ms. Child’s high-pitched voice was familiar to nearly everyone in the 1960s and 70s whether they watched her show or not. Numerous comedians parodied Ms. Child over the years. In addition to her TV show, she made guest appearances on many TV talk shows over the years. She did voice work in animated feature "We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story."
PETER WOODTHORPE Died Aug. 12, 2004
Actor Peter Woodthorpe died at age 72. The veteran actor provided the voice of Gollum in both Ralph Bakshi’s animated version and the BBC radio production of "Lord of the Rings." Horror fans may remember Mr. Woodthorpe from "The Evil of Frankenstein," "The Skull" and "Hysteria." Other credits include the WWI flying epic "The Blue Max," "The Mirror Crack’d," "Eleni," "The Madness of King George," "Jane Eyre" and the TV mini-series "Merlin" and "The Odyssey."
SHANE BALLARD Died Aug. 13, 2004
Indie filmmaker Shane Ballard apparently committed suicide at age 23. The Mississippi actor/director died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He had stuffed a pillow under his bedroom door and started two charcoal burners. As there was no suicide note found, the coroner reached his verdict based on the mechanics of Mr. Ballard’s death. Mr. Ballard was the subject of director Ron Tibbett’s documentary "Citizen Shane." The film chronicled Ballard’s run for the office of Sheriff of Lowndes County in Mississippi. Ballard ran as a pro-porn Republican. Tibbett’s film also featured three songs by serial killer Charles Manson. Mr. Ballard was a friend of Manson. The two often spoke on the phone. Ballard’s friend and mentor Ron Tibbett was killed in a car crash on June 7th Mr. Ballard acted in the indie shorts "Cookie Jar" and "Terror Toons 2: The Sick and Silly Show." He co-directed with ‘Allen Smithee’ the 3 minute short "Here Comes Santa Claus." Prayers of comfort for his many friends and family.
MARTIN BECKER Died Aug. 13, 2004
F/X whiz Martin Becker died of pancreatic cancer at age 49. Mr. Becker was, with Jim Gill, the co-owner of the special effects company Reel Efx. The company produced the effects for a multitude of well known and innovative TV commercials. I recommend checking out their website. Mr. Becker’s company developed the Multicam. They also specialize in creating real tornados. Mr. Becker’s film credits include "Friday the 13th: Part 3: 3D" and parts 6, 7 and 8 of the series. Other film credits include "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn," "Go," "The Man Who Wasn’t There," "Mac and Me" and "How to Make an American Quilt." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, especially his young daughter.
PHYLLIS CLAVER Died Aug. 13, 2004
TV associate producer/agent Phyllis Claver died three weeks shy of her 73rd birthday. Ms. Claver worked in the industry for 20 years. She produced several TV specials and worked on Dinah Shore’s TV series "Dinah!" She was a researcher for the game show "Break the Bank." Ms. Claver was also a talent agent with both G.A.C. in New York and later with Ashley-Steiner in Los Angeles. She was married to producer Robert Claver for more than 20 years.
NEAL FREDERICKS Died Aug. 14, 2004
Cinematographer Neal Fredericks was killed in the crash of a small plane near the Dry Tortugas. Mr. Fredericks was 35. Fredericks was trapped in the plane as it sank in the ocean 70 miles west of Key West. Four others in the plane were rescued. Mr. Fredericks was filming Daniel Zirilli’s horror thriller "Cross Bones" when the crash occurred. Mr. Fredericks was the cinematographer on the sleeper hit "The Blair Witch Project." Mr. Fredericks teamed with his friends Daniel Myrick and Edward Sanchez to make the consummate film of the digital revolution. Shot on 16mm film and High-8 video "The Blair Witch Project" opened Hollywood's eyes to the financial rewards that could be reaped by young filmmakers armed with video cameras. The film also inspired a new generation of filmmakers who saw a film career as little more than a pipe dream. Mr. Fredericks had worked as the cinematographer or DP on nearly 50 films. His other credits include "Pauly Shore is Dead," "Robert Altman’s Gun," "Detour," the 2004 version of "The Hillside Strangler" and "Dreamers." Mr. Fredericks was also in production on a new movie based on the unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder mystery. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ACQUANETTA Died Aug. 17, 2004
1940s B-movie beauty Acquanetta died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 83. Acquanetta was promoted as the Venezuelan Volcano by Universal Studios. In fact Acquanetta was born in Wyoming! I first became enamoured with the sexy actress as a child reading Forrest J. Ackerman’s magazine "Famous Monsters of Filmland." Her movie "Captive Wild Woman" was featured in one issue. Her most famous film also featured her sensual side. She starred opposite Johnny Weissmuller in "Tarzan and the Leopard Woman" as Queen Lea, high priestess of the Leopard Cult. Acquanetta only appeared in a handful of films. Most accented her sex-bomb status. She starred in "Jungle Girl," the sequel to "Captive Wild Woman." Her other credits are "Arabian Nights," "Lost Continent," "Rhythm of the Islands," "Callaway Went Thataway," "Dead Man’s Eyes" and "The Sword of Monte Cristo." Acquanetta tired of the Hollywood game and retired. She married and retired to Arizona where she became a socialite and municipal benefactor.
KALMAN PHILLIPS Died Aug. 17, 2004
Writer Kalman Phillips died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 91. Mr. Phillips published over 100 short stories. He wrote for the 1959 CBS TV series "Men in Space." The series took a realistic look at the exploration of space. Angie Dickinson appeared in the pilot episode. He also wrote for the TV series "Veloz and Yolanda" which featured the ballroom dance team of Frank and Yolanda Veloz. Mr. Phillips served his country in the US Navy during WWII. Mr. Phillips also wrote for "The Lux Video Theater."
ELMER BERNSTEIN Died Aug. 18, 2004
What a devastating month in the world of Hollywood composers. In the last 30 days we have lost Jerry Goldsmith, David Raksin and now Elmer Bernstein. Oscar-winning composer Elmer Bernstein died in his sleep at age 82. Mr. Bernstein was nominated for 14 Oscars (1 win), 2 Emmys (1 win), 3 Golden Globes (2 wins), 2 Tonys and 5 Grammys. He won the Best Musical Score Oscar for George Roy Hill’s 1967 film "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Elmer Bernstein was a protégé of American treasure Aaron Copeland. Bernstein scored nearly 300 films and TV shows during his fifty-two year career. His most recognizable piece of music was his theme from the Western "The Magnificent Seven." The music was used by Marlboro cigarettes for their theme on TV ads that ran before such advertising was banned from TV. The score was used recently by propagandist Michael Moore in his political tract "Fahrenheit 9/11"
Elmer Bernstein’s Oscar nominations include ten for Best Score and four for Best Song. His Oscar credits include the films "The Man With the Golden Arm," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Hawaii," "The Magnificent Seven," "True Grit," "The Age of Innocence," "Trading Places" and "Far From Heaven." Lush is the best word I can think of to describe Mr. Bernstein’s music. I have no musical training whatsoever. Julliard graduates may think the word ‘Lush’ is a bit quaint when describing the massively impressive output of Mr. Bernstein. I mean it as high praise. Mr. Bernstein added such color to so many movie-going experiences. I can’t remember how many times his choices combined with the action on screen to produce goose bumps and shivers.
Mr. Bernstein’s early scores include two of the most infamous "Bad Movies" of the 1950s. He scored both "Robot Monster" and "Cat-Women of the Moon." Mr. Bernstein was not destined to remain in B-Movie limbo. Two years after "Cat-Women of the Moon," Mr. Bernstein was nominated for his first Oscar. His jazz score for Otto Preminger’s "The Man With the Golden Arm" put him on the Hollywood map. The then controversial film dealt with drug addiction. Frank Sinatra delivered on of his best performances. Bernstein’s score evoked visions of smoke filled back rooms in seedy bars and hotel rooms. You can almost choke on the decadent atmosphere. Over the next few years, Mr. Bernstein was to score some of the most memorable films of the 1950s. His credits from that decade include Cecile B. DeMille’s "The Ten Commandments," the gritty "The Sweet Smell of Success," the baseball biopic "Fear Strikes Out," "Desire Under the Elms," "The Tin Star," "Some Came Running" and "God’s Little Acre."
In my humble opinion, the 1960s represent the period of his best work. His simple and moving score for "To Kill a Mockingbird" still brings tears to my eyes. I think I can hum his entire score from John Sturges’ "The Great Escape." Of course there is "The Magnificent Seven." Other credits from the 1960s include "The Birdman of Alcatraz," "Hud," "Baby the Rain Must Fall," "Walk on the Wild Side," "Love With the Proper Stranger," "The World of Henry Orient," "The Sons of Katie Elder," "7 Women" and "The Gypsy Moths." He received nine of his Oscar nominations and his only win during the 1960s.
As good as the 60s were, he was no slouch in the 1970s. Though I knew his music, I first knew the name Elmer Bernstein when he scored Tom Laughlin’s "The Trial of Billy Jack." I was a complete "Billy Jack" fanatic in junior and senior high school. Mr. Bernstein score two of the "Billy Jack" films. Once I learned Mr. Bernstein’s name, I began to notice it everywhere! Among Mr. Bernstein’s credits from the 1970s are "Big Jake," "The Rookies," "Cahill: U.S. Marshall," "McQ," "The Shootist," "From Noon Till Three," "Animal House," "Zulu Dawn," "Meatballs," "Moonraker" and "The Great Santini." Mr. Bernstein’s sole Oscar nomination from the 1970s was for Best Song from the lame Roger Moore adventure/thriller "Gold."
The 1980s brought Mr. Bernstein one more Oscar nomination for his score of the Eddie Murphy comedy "Trading Places." He scored some of the biggest and most profitable films of the 1980s. His credits from the 80s include "Ghost Busters," "Airplane!," "Caddyshack," "The Blues Brothers," "Heavy Metal," "An American Werewolf in London," Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" and "My Left Foot." Of course he also scored "Leonard Part 6" so even the best can’t win them all!
I was thrilled when Martin Scorsese chose Mr. Bernstein to arrange and adapt Bernard Herrmann’s original score from the 1962 version of "Cape Fear" for his 1991 remake. Other memorable credits from the 1990s include "The Grifters," "The Field," "The Good Son," "Devil in a Blue Dress" and "Bringing Out the Dead," Once again, Mr. Bernstein received a single Oscar nomination during this decade. This time for his score of "The Age of Innocence."
His last great score was for the 2002 film "Far From Heaven." From the opening credit sequence "Far From Heaven" harkens back to the great soap operas of the 1950s. Think "Peyton Place." Mr. Bernstein’s set just the right mood. He received his final Oscar nomination for the film.
The music speaks for itself. His talent was without question. Why else would people like Martin Scoresese, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Peter Sellers, John Landis, John Sturges, Anthony Mann and others called on Mr. Bernstein repeatedly? Elmer Bernstein was one of the greats.
SUSAN PETERS Died Aug. 18, 2004
TV Producer Susan Peters died of breast cancer at age 53. Ms. Peters’ credits include "The New Tom Green Show," "I Hate My Job," "Surf Girls," "Livin’ Large," "House Calls" and "Beyond Tomorrow."
HUGH MANNING Died Aug. 18, 2004
British character actor Hugh Manning died of natural causes the day before his 84th birthday. He was best known in his native country for his role as a country priest in "Emmerdale Farm." Mr. Manning played small roles in a number of well known films such as David Lynch’s "The Elephant Man," John Huston’s "The Mackintosh Man" and "Our Man in Havana." He appeared in the Amicus horro anthology "The House That Dripped Blood" and the sci-fi classic "Quartermass and the Pit." Mr. Manning had a long and distinguished career on the London stage. He co-starred with such theatrical luminaries as Noel Coward and Laurence Naismith.
HARRY TYTLE Died Aug. 19, 2004
Harry Tytle died at age 95. Mr. Tytle worked for Walt Disney for 40 years. He wrote the book "One of Walt’s Boys" about his many years at Disney. Mr. Tytle produced a number of the films shown on "The Wonderful World of Disney." He also produced "Disneyland: From the Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow," "The Proud Bird from Shanghai" (also directed), "The Secret of Old Glory Mine" and "The Golden Dog." Mr. Tytle was also a member of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
GEZA BOSZORMENYA Died Aug. 21, 2004
Hungarian writer/director Geza Boszormenyi died of Parkenson’s Disease at age 80. Boszormenyi spent six years as a political prisoner during the last years of Stalin’s reign of terror. He began directing films in 1968. In 1988 he collaborated with his wife on the documentary "The Hungarian Gulag." The award-winning film dealt with the prison in which he was held captive by Stalin’s regime. Mr. Boszormenyi directed the films "Cars," "The Birds" and "Laura" among others. He battled Parkinson’s Disease for 15 years. During the latter part of his career, his illness prevented him from directing. He concentrated on writing. He wrote the critically acclaimed "Escape." He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 Hungarian Film Festival. This year he was declared a Master of Hungarian Motion Pictures by the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation.
DANIEL PETRIE SR. Died Aug. 22, 2004
Emmy/Cannes/DGA/Genie/Peabody-award winning director/writer/producer Daniel Petrie, Sr. died of cancer at age 83. The multi-talented filmmaker was nominated for 8 Emmys awards (Won 3), 10 DGA awards (Won 4), 2 Cannes Film Festival awards (Won 1) and a single Genie Award for his writing (he won!). He received the prestigious Peabody Award for the TV film "Sybil." Mr. Petrie directed both TV and feature films. His wife was producer Dorothea Petri. He was the father of writer/director Daniel Petrie Jr. (Turner and Hooch), director Donald Petrie (Grumpy Old Men), Producer June Petrie (The Joyriders) and actress Marie Petrie (The All Nighter)! The Canadian born Petrie served his country in the Army during WWII.
After a short stint as an actor on Broadway, Petrie turned to direction. Mr. Petrie began his career in the early days of live TV. He worked on episodes of "Stud’s Place," "The Billy Rose Show," "Robert Montgomery Presents," "Studio One" and "The Alcoa Hour" among others. He directed the live TV versions of "Bang the Drum Slowly" with Paul Newman and "Wuthering Heights" with Richard Burton. He won the Gary Cooper Award at Cannes for his second feature film "A Raisin in the Sun," which starred Sidney Portier. Mr. Petrie also received his first DGA nomination for the same film. Mr. Petrie directed several feature films during the 1960s including the offbeat Michael Parks film "The Idol." His TV work during that decade includes "Ironsides," "The Defenders" and "Marcus Welby M.D.."
In the 1970s Mr. Petrie’s matured greatly as a story teller. He won both Emmy and DGA awards for the TV mini series "Eleanor and Franklin" and its sequel "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years." He also helped put Sam Elliot on the map with the well-made feature "Lifeguard." The first of his films that I remember seeing was the undersea turkey "The Neptune Factor." Mr. Petrie co-directed "Buster and Billie" with pot-boiler writer Sidney Shelton. Petrie would later direct Shelton’s "The Betsy." Though Mr. Petrie wasn’t nominated for "Sybil," the highly rated psychological drama did garner 6 Emmy nominations. In fact, it tied with Petrie’s "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years" for Outstanding Special – Drama or Comedy.
The 1980s proved to be the period of Mr. Petrie’s greatest artistic achievement. Mr. Petrie directed two of my favorite films of the 1980s. He directed the Oscar nominated "Ressurection" and the Paul Newman cop-drama "Fort Apache, The Bronx." His film "The Bad Boy" is a powerful drama, which won the Best Screenplay award at Canada’s Genie Awards. "The Dollmaker" was one of the most heart-wrenching TV movies of the decade. Politics aside, Jane Fonda delivered one of her best performances as a poor woman struggling to keep her family’s bodies and spirits alive. Mr. Petrie won another DGA for his effort. His TV drama "My Name is Bill W." featured great performances by James Woods and James Garner in the story of the origin of Alcoholics Anonymous. He also directed Burt Lancaster in "Rocket Gibralter" in 1988. Mr. Petrie returned to Live TV in 1985 when he directed the drama "The Execution of Raymond Graham." He received yet another Emmy nomination for the rare live TV drama. The 80s weren’t all glory for Mr. Petrie. He also helmed the Kenny Rogers fiasco "Six Pack."
AL DVORIN Died Aug. 22, 2004
Al Dvorin, the man who coined the phrase "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night" was killed in an automobile accident near Ivanpah, California. Mr. Dvorin was 81 years old. Mr. Dvorin was a long time friend of Elvis Presley. In addition to working with Elvis early in the King’s career, he was present during Elvis’ final 1977 tour. The much used phrase was used by Mr. Dvorin and later other announcers to clear arenas following concerts. Fans knew that their chance of getting an extra glimpse of Elvis were over when Dvorin announced that "Elvis has left the building." Mr. Dvorin played himself in Chris Colombus’ film "Heartbreak Hotel."
CHARLES EATON Died Aug. 22, 2004
Silent film and stage child star Charles Eaton died at age 94. Mr. Eaton and his siblings were "The Seven Little Eatons." The Eatons appeared with the "Follies" each year between 1918 through 1923. Mr. Eaton appeared with comedy great W.C. Fields in the famous theatrical show. Mr. Eaton was one of the few child actors that Fields liked. Mr. Eaton also had success on Broadway in such plays as "The Blue Bird." Mr. Eaton began his film career in 1921. He successfully made the jump to ‘talkies.’ He appeared in the first ‘talkie’ produced by 20th Century Fox: "The Ghost Talks." Eaton appeared in several films through the 1930s. As Mr. Eaton matured, film roles dried up. He made his last film in 1939. Mr. Eaton joined the US Army Air Corp and rose to the rank of major during WWII. Following the war, Mr. Eaton taught dance and did occasional theatrical engagements. Mr. Eaton taught John Wayne how to Rhumba! This year he appeared with his 100-year-old sister Doris on stage at the Amsterdam Theater in New York.
MURIAL ANGELUS Died Aug. 22, 2004
English actress Murial Angelus died at age 95. Ms. Angelus began her career on the stage. She appeared in several silent films in England before moving to the US. Ms. Angelus was a longtime friend of President Reagan. She appeared in 20 films between 1928 and her retirement in 1940. In her final film, Ms. Angelus co-starred with Brian Donlevy in Preston Sturges’ hilarious "The Great McGinty." Other credits include "Safari," "The Way of All Flesh" and "The Light That Failed" with Ronald Coleman. Ms. Angelus returned to the stage following her retirement from film. After a short time treading the boards, she settled down to enjoy life with her family.
GEORGE KIRGO Died Aug. 22, 2004
Writer George Kirgo died at age 79 following a lengthy illness. Mr. Kirgo worked primarily in TV, though he scripted several feature films including the excellent horror/thriller "Voices." Mr. Kirgo was the former president of the West Coast chapter of the Writer’s Guild. He was awarded the Morgan Cox Award in 2001 for his service to the guild. Mr. Kirgo also worked on the Blacklist Credits committee since 1996. Mr. Kirgo’s credits include the Elvis Presley vehicle "Spinout," "Redline 7000" and the overlooked sex comedy "Don’t Make Waves" starring Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate. Mr. Kirgo wrote a number of Made for TV movies and wrote for several TV series. He wrote for one of my favorite TV series of the 70s: James Garner’s "Nichols." Other TV credits include "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Room 222," "My Mother the Car," the pilot for "Get Christy Love!" and "Love American Style." He was the father of writer producer Dinah Kirgo (Beverly Hills 90210).
ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS Died Aug. 24, 2004
Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross died of natural causes at age 78. Ms. Kublar-Ross wrote the groundbreaking book "On Death and Dying." In the 1969 book Ms. Kubler-Ross examined the process of dying by breaking it down into five stages: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Ms. Kubler-Ross was the subject of the 2003 Swiss/German documentary "Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: Dem Tod ins Gesicht Sehen." Director Bob Fosse paid tribute to Ms. Kubler-Ross in his semi-autobiographical "All That Jazz." Fosse worked Ms. Kubler-Ross theory into a comedic bit by the Lenny Bruce like character played by Cliff Gorman. Gorman’s character crows "This chick, man, without the sole benefit of dying herself, has broken down the process of dying into five stages: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Sounds like a Jewish law firm. ‘Good morning, Angerdenialbargainingdepressionacceptance!’" Fosse’s joking aside, Ms. Kubler-Ross’ work has aided thousands of people worldwide deal with the inevitability of death.
BILL PILKINGTON Died Aug. 24, 2004
Bill Pilkington, British war hero turned actor died at age 87. Bill Pilkington’s real life would make a much more exciting film than any he appeared in! Mr. Pilkington was a spy at the outset of the war. He parachuted into France and took part in the evacuation at Dunkirk. He also landed on Gold Beach on D-Day. There is a famous photo of Prime Minister Winston Churchill with a Thompson sub-machine gun. Pilkington was the man who taught him to use it. He guarded evidence at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. After the end of WWII, Pilkington served in Palestine. He was present when Zionist bombed the King David Hotel. Bill Pilkington appeared in the long running ITV TV series "Coronation Street." His film credits include Lindsay Anderson’s "O Lucky Man!" and the horror film "The Mind of Mr. Soames."
MARY DIVENY Died Aug. 24, 2004
Actress and homemaker Mary Diveny died of a brain tumor at age 81. Ms. Diveny worked in radio, TV, Broadway, movies and the home! Ms. Diveny’s credits include "Little Nicky," "In & Out," "The House on Carroll Street," "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye," "Bringing Out the Dead," "Last Rites" and the TV series "Law and Order."
DR. WILLIAM CAHILL Died Aug. 25, 2004
Though Dr. William Cahill contributed to this world as a teacher and medical practicioner, he does have a cinematic distinction. Born in 1911, Dr. Cahill appeared in several silent films when he was a toddler. The movies were filmed at the Selig Zoo in Los Angeles. Dr. Cahill passed away at age 93, nearly 90 years after he retired from showbiz!
KAREN DIOR Died Aug. 25, 2004
Transvestite actor/director Karen Dior (real name Geoffrey Gann), died of hepatitis at age 37. Dior tested positive for HIV in 1995. Dior directed a number bisexual and homosexual adult videos including "Genderella," "Bi-Love Lucy" and "Bi-Dazzeled." He also performed, in drag in such mainstream TV shows as "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Veronica’s Closet." Dior played himself in the recent indie film "The Fluffer." Dior wrote about his porn career in the book "Sleeping Under the Stars."
DON ASHTON Died Aug. 25, 2004
Oscar nominated and BAFTA-winning art director and production designer Don Ashton died at age 85. Mr. Ashton worked on such notable films as David Lean’s "The Bridge on the River Kwai," Sir. Richard Attenborough’s films "Young Winston" and "Oh! What a Lovely War," Peter Ustinov’s "Billy Budd," Charlie Chaplin’s "A Countess From Hong Kong," Otto Preminger’s "Bunny Lake is Missing" and Nicholas Ray’s "The Savage Innocents." Mr. Ashton was nominated for a Best Art Direction Oscar for the biopic "Young Winston," which dealt with the early years of Winston Churchill’s life. He received three BAFTA nominations for his work on "Young Winston," "Bunny Lake is Missing" and "Oh! What a Lovely War." He won the BAFTA for Richard Attenborough’s WWI musical comedy "Oh! What a Lovely War." Mr. Ashton was the man who designed and created the impressive bridge in David Lean’s "The Bridge on the River Kwai." He retired from film after the 1972 film "Young Winston" and started and equally successful second career as a hotel designer.
LYN THOMAS Died Aug. 26, 2004
B-Movie and TV actress Lyn Thomas died of lung cancer at age 74. Ms. Thomas starred in the little-seen but worthwhile sci-fi film "Space Master X-7." Ms. Thomas plays a woman hunted because she is infected with deadly spores from outer space. Stooge Moe Howard appeared in a rare straight role as the cab driver who can identify Ms. Thomas’ character. Ms. Thomas appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows during the 1950s. She retired in 1960. You can find a great interview with Ms. Thomas in noted film historian Tom Weaver’s invaluable book "Science Fiction Confidential." She appeared uncredited in one of my sentimental favorites "Kill the Umpire" with William Bendix. Ms. Thomas was a familiar face to Western B-movie fans. Her Western credits include "Covered Wagon Raid," "The Missourians," "Red River Shore," "Noose For a Gunman," the TV series "Death Valley Days," "The Cisco Kid," "Colt .45," "Wagon Train" and "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp."
LAURA BRANIGAN Died Aug. 26, 2004
Grammy-nominated singer Laura Branigan died at home of undisclosed causes. A brain aneurysm is suspected to be the cause of the 47-year-old singer’s passing. Ms. Branigan hits the charts in a major way with the release of her 1982 debut song "Gloria." She received the first of her two Grammy nominations for the song. She worked on the soundtrack of the hit film "Flashdance" the following year. A second Grammy nomination came that same year. Ms. Branigan’s music was also featured in the films "Ghostbusters," "Body Rock," "Coming to America" and "Salsa." The singer also did some acting. She appeared in the TV series "ChiPs," "Saturday Night Live" and "Monsters." She appeared in the films "Delta Pie" and "Back Stage." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
DAVID MYERS Died Aug. 26, 2004
Renowned cinematographer David Myers died at age 90. Mr. Myers was involved in shooting several of the best Rockumentaries ever made. Mr. Myers was the cinematographer of the Oscar-winning documentary "Woodstock." Mr. Myers joined Vilmos Zsigmond, Michael Chapman, Michael Watkins and Hiro Narita to shoot Martin Scorsese’s "The Last Waltz." "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," one of the best concert films of the early 1970s chronicled Joe Cocker’s 1970 American Tour. Myers shot it! The first Myers movie I saw was "Let the Good Times Roll." The film captured several reunion concerts in the Long Island area of the biggest stars of the 1950s. The movie makes great use of split screen during several great jams. The film’s climax is a freestyle guitar duel between Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. Again, Mr. Myers captured the images. That same year, Mr. Myers shot the wonderful concert/documentary "Wattstax." In 1972, Myers followed the King as he lumbered through his 1972 concert tour. "Elvis on Tour" contains a few magic moments, but it is really a foreshadowing of death waiting around the corner. Mr. Myers filmed "The Grateful Dead Movie," which captured their 1974 Winterland concert. It wasn’t as successful as some of his other works. The same goes for the Bob Dylan/Joan Baez feature "Renaldo and Clara." The four-hour film tells a muddled tale but is sprinkled with some excellent concert footage. The 1979 Neil Young concert film "Rust Never Sleeps" was a return to form for Myers. "Rust" is a high-energy rock classic. Other concert credits include Paul McCartney’s "Rockshow," Joni Mitchell’s "Shadows and Light," Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s "Journey Through the Past," "Cracked Actor: A Film About David Bowie," "Soul to Soul" and "Save the Children." "
Though "Marjoe" isn’t a concert film, the Best Documentary Oscar winner has all of the energy of a Rock film. "Marjoe" told the tale of evangelist turned actor Marjoe Gortner. It is a powerful piece of work. Other non-rock documentaries include "Black Panthers," "Up From the Ape," "The Mysterious Monsters" and the outstanding religious concert "Gospel" featuring James Cleveland.
David Myers was not just the go-to guy for concert films. He also directed a number of well-known feature films. He may be best known as the man who guided newcomer George Lucas through his debut film. Myers was most proud of his work on Lucas’ sci-fi debut "THX 1138." If you’ve seen the visually dazzling film, you will understand where the pride comes from. Other feature film credits include "FM," "The Rose," "Welcome to LA," "Die Laughing," "Roadie," "Deadly Force," "And Your name is Jonah" and Luis Valdez’s overlooked "Zoot Suit."
SUZANNE KAAREN Died Aug. 27, 2004
Actress and dancer Suzanne Kaaren died at age 92. Ms. Kaaren is best known as Bela Lugosi’s co-star in the low-budget horror film "The Devil Bat." Despite the film’s limitations, it is a favorite of "bad movie" fans. Ms. Kaaren is also familiar to fans of "The Three Stooges." She appeared in three short films including the classic "Disorder in the Court." Her other Stooge films were "Yes, We Have No Bonanza" and "What’s the Matador?" Though Ms. Kaaren appeared in a number of low profile films she did appear in such notable films as "The Great Zeigfeld," "The Big Broadcast of 1936," George Cukor’s "The Women" and "Idiot’s Delight" with Clark Gable. She married actor Sidney Blackmer (Ruth Gordon’s husband in Rosemary’s Baby) in 1943. They were married until his death in 1973. Ms. Kaaren came out of retirement to make a cameo in Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster musical "The Cotton Club."
LARRY MCCORMICK Died Aug. 27, 2004
TV newsman Larry McCormick died following a long illness at age 71. Mr. McCormick was one of the first Black news anchormen in the US. He worked for the ABC station in Los Angeles KTLA since 1971. Mr. McCormick’s face was familiar to people outside the Los Angeles area due to his many film and TV appearances. He played a newsman in such films as "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines," "Naked Gun 2 and ½," "Throw Mamma From the Train," "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" and the Watergate mini-series "Blind Ambition." He provided the voice of Mayor Gaunt in "The Scoobie-Doo/Dynomutt Hour." Mr. McCormick received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to celebrate his 43 years in broadcasting.
SUSAN PERETZ Died Aug. 27, 2004
Actress and drama teacher Susan Peretz died of breast cancer at age 59. Trained at the Actor’s Studio, Ms. Peretz began her career on stage. She appeared both on and off Broadway. I first saw her in Sidney Lumet’s excellent "Dog Day Afternoon." She played the frumpy wife of Al Pacino who had to deal with the fact that her husband was robbing a bank to finance his boyfriend’s sex change operation. Her one scene was a standout. She co-starred with Wendy Jo Sperber and Lesley Boone in the TV series "Babes." Other film and TV credits include Clint Eastwood’s "Honkey Tonk Man," the Jonathan Demme films "Swing Shift" and "Melvin and Howard," "Oh God: You Devil," "Poltergeist 2," "ER," "LA Law" and "Starsky and Hutch."
WILLIAM PIERSON Died Aug. 27, 2004
"At Ease! At Ease!" Actor William Pierson was best known for uttering those lines in his borderline annoying voice as Marko the Mailman in Billy Wilder’s classic POW film "Stalag 17." Actor William Pierson died or respiratory illness at age 78. Mr. Pierson recreated his Broadway role in Wilder’s film version of the Donald Bevin/Edmund Trzcinski play. Mr. Pierson’s other film credits include "Fun With Dick and Jane" and "Corvette Summer." Mr. Pierson also worked in television. He played the character Dean Travers in the TV series "Three’s Company." Other TV credits include "All in the Family," "Good Times," "Switch," "One Day at a Time" and "Diff’rent Strokes."
ROBERT LEWIN Died Aug. 28, 2004
Oscar-nominated writer Robert Lewin died at age 84. Mr. Lewin received a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for his debut film "The Bold and the Brave." The WWII film also garnered Mickey Rooney a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Mr. Lewin served his country for four years during WWII. Mr. Lewin worked primarily in in TV. He won Two WGA awards for his work on the Carl Betz TV series "Judd For the Defense." Mr. Lewin was also a TV producer. He received Emmy nominations for producing the TV series "Baretta" and "The Paper Chase." Star Trek fans know Mr. Lewin for writing and co-producing "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Among Mr. Lewin’s many TV writing credits are "Kung Fu," "Mannix," "Hawaii 5-0" and "The Fugative." Mr. Lewin directed one film: "Third of a Man." The psychological drama starred Whit Bissell and Simon Oakland.
MICHAEL MILGROM Died Aug. 28, 2004
Marlon Brando was known for using whatever props that were on hand and enhancing his portrayal of his characters. Brando and thousands of other actors and actress may get the glory for their use of props, but they wouldn’t have them if not for the many propmasters behind the scenes. One such man was Michael Milgrom. He worked in the industry for 30 years. Actor/propmaster Michael Milgrom died at age 56. He worked on such films as "Training Day," "Mystery Men," "Love Field," "Missing," "The Blues Brothers," "Animal House," "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Unlawful Entry." He also appeared in small parts in "Twilight Zone: The Movie," "Heart Like a Wheel," "E.R." and "The Postman."
MICHAEL O’MARA Died Aug. 29, 2004
Animation artist/teacher Michael O’Mara died of a heart attack at age one month shy of his 66th birthday. Mr. O’Mara worked as an animator for 30 years. His credits include Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast," "The Jetsons," "The Smurfs" and "The All-New Scooby and Scrappy Doo Show."
EDWARD FORSYTH Died Aug. 29, 2004
Exploitation filmmaker Edward Forsyth died at age 84. Mr. Forsyth wrote, produced, edited and directed a number of B-Movies in the 1960s and 70s. He may be best known for the film "Chesty Anderson, USN." The movie starred Shari Eubanks of "Super Vixens" fame. Mr. Forsyth’s film "The Ramrodder" co-starred Mason Family members Bobby Beausoleil and Catherine Share. Bobby Beausoleil was sentenced to death for the murder of Gary Hindman. The nudie Western was filmed at the Spahn movie ranch where Charlie Manson and his followers lived. Mr. Forsyth also directed the Joyce Jillson nudie comedy "Superchick." Mr. Forsyth’s talents were used by others. He was hired as a film editor on the TV remake of "Friendly Persuasion." Mr. Forsyth was the editorial supervisor on the camp horror classic "The Thing With Two Heads." Motorcross fans will best remember Mr. Forsyth as the director of the documentary "On Any Sunday II."
"INDIAN" LARRY DESMEDT Died Aug. 30, 2004
Motorcycle designer/stunt man/actor Indian Larry was killed while performing a motorcycle stunt at the Liquid Steel Classic and Custom Bike Series in Comcord North Carolina. He was 55 years old. Indian Larry was standing on a moving motor cycle when it wobbled out of control. He was not wearing a helmet. Indian Larry was best known as a master motorcycle designer. He was featured on the Discovery Channel’s "Great Biker Build Off." He also appeared in film, TV and numerous music videos. Indian Larry’s credits include "Quiz Show," "200 Cigarettes," "Oz," "Third Watch," "Blood Sport II" and "Rocket’s Red Glare." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends. Wear your helmets. If a pro like Indian Larry can die needlessly for not wearing a helmet, it can happen to you too.
CARL WAYNE Died Aug. 31, 2004
English rocker Carl Wayne died of cancer at age 61. Mr. Wayne was the lead singer of the 60s band The Move. While The Move did not enjoy the international success of other British Invasion bands it did evolved into the supergroup Electric Light Orchestra. ELO frontman Jeff Lynne replaced Wayne after he left The Move. Previously Mr. Wayne was a founding member of the band The M&B Five. After Wayne left that group, it became The Moody Blues! Mr. Wayne also served a stint with The Hollies. The Move had several hits. Their best known song was "Flowers in the Rain." "Flowers in the Rain" was the first song played on the BBC1 radio network. Mr. Wayne’s song "You’re a Star" was used as the theme song of the TV series "New Faces." He appeared on "The Benny Hill Show" and the TV series "Crossroads."