DIANA CHESNEY Died May 2004
British actress Diana Chesney died of cancer at age 87. She was living at the Motion Picture Home at the time of her death. Ms. Chesney began acting in her native country after WWII. She came to the US in 1961 and continued here career in the former colonies. Ms. Chesney's many credits include "The King and I" (with Yul Brynner at right), "Quatermass II," "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," "Fair Exchange," "The Six-Million Dollar Man," "The Monkees," "Fantasy Island," "McMillan and Wife," "Bewitched," "Munster Go Home," "The Great Mouse Detective," "The Doris Day Show" and "Hogan's Heroes."
DUNCAN CARSE Died May 2, 2004
Explorer, sailor and actor Duncan Carse died at age 90. Mr. Carse was a renowned British explorer. He was responsible for mapping the polar island of South Georgia. The four expeditions to map South Georgia were not Mr. Carse’s only excursions into the unknown. During the 1930s Carse served on the royal research ship Discovery. Mr. Carse played the lead in the successful BBC radio drama "Dick Barton, Secret Agent." He appeared in the movie "Penny and the Pownall Case." Mr. Carse directed and filmed the documentary "Gateway to the Antarctic." He wrote the script and dialogue for the documentary "The White Continent."
NELSON GIDDING Died May 2, 2004
Screenwriter Nelson Gidding died of congestive heart failure at age 84. Mr. Gidding was nominated, along with Don Mankiewicz for the Best Screenplay Adapted Oscar for the true crime drama "I Want to Live!" The movie was directed by Robert Wise. Mr. Wise and Mr. Gidding made five films together including two personal favorites of mine: the original version of "The Haunting" and "Odds Against Tomorrow." Nelson Gidding’s many credits include the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s "The Andromeda Strain," "Nine Hours to Rama" which dealt with the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the cheesy Burt Reynolds’ missing-link film "Skullduggery," "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" and "Onionhead." Mr. Gidding served his country in the Army Air Corp during WWII. His B-26 was shot down in Italy and Mr. Gidding spent 18 months in a German POW camp. He taught screenwriting at USC’s film school.
PAUL GUIMARD Died May 2, 2004
French writer Paul Guimard died of heart problems at age 83. Mr. Guimard’s most famous novel "Les Choses de la Vie" was filmed with Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. The 1970 film was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes. It was remade in the US in 1994 as "Intersection." The remake starred Richard Gere, Sharon Stone and Lolita Davidovich.
ZULU Died May 3, 2004
Hawaiian actor Zulu (real name Gilbert Lani Kauhi) died of complications from diabetes at age 66. Zulu was best known for his supporting role as Detective Kono Kalakaua on the CBS TV series "Hawaii 5-0." Zulu was part of the original cast. He stayed with the show for four years. Other credits include "The Brian Keith Show," "Magnum P.I." and "Charlie’s Angels."
BETTY MILLER Died May 3, 2004
Actress Betty Miller died at age 79. Ms. Miller worked on stage and in film and TV. Her film credits include a personal favorite of mine: "The Pope of Greenwich Village." She played Betty Spaghetti as an older woman in "A League of Their Own." Other film credits include "Leon: The Professional," "Bringing Out the Dead," "Angie," "Antigone" and "Law & Order."
VOLUS JONES Died May 3, 2004
Veteran animator Volus Jones died at age 90. Mr. Jones worked for almost every major animation company in the business during his 48-year career. Mr. Jones received the "Golden Award" during the 1985 Motion Picture Screen Cartoonist Awards. Mr. Jones numerous credits include "Chip ‘an Dale," "Pluto’s Christmas Tree," "Chili Con Corny," "Scooby and Scrappy Doo," "The New Adventures of Tom and Jerry" and "Santa and the Three Bears." Four cartoons animated by Mr. Jones were nominated for Best Short Subject Cartoons Oscars.
MICHELLE SKALNIK Died May 3, 2004
Actress Michelle Skalnik died at age 27. Ms. Skalnik appeared in several films and TV shows. She was one of the Blue Ribbon Society members in the horror film "Disturbing Behavior." Other credits include "The Linda McCartney Story," "The Perfect Body," "Atomic Train" and "Poltergeist: The Legacy."
ANTHONY AINLEY Died May 3, 2004
British actor Anthony Ainley died at age 71. Mr. Ainley was know to millions of "Dr. Who" fans as "The Master." Ainley played Dr. Who’s arch enemy from 1981 through 1989. Mr. Ainley appeared a number of films including "Inspector Clouseau" and the James Bond entry "You Only Live Twice." He was the son of silent film star Henry Ainley and the brother of actor Richard Ainley.
JOHN DINGWALL Died May 3, 2004
Australian director John Dingwall died of cancer at age 63. Mr. Dingwall was one of the directors to emerge from the period known as the Australian New Wave. While Mr. Dingwall wasn’t as well known internationally as fellow directors Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford and both George Millers, he won numerous awards in his native land. Mr. Dingwall’s credits include "Sunday Too Far Away," the 1970 TV series "Homicide," "Phobia" and "The Custodian."
HUGH GILLIN Died May 4, 2004
Character actor Hugh Gillin died at age 78. Mr. Gillian was best known for his portrayal of Sheriff Hunt in "Psycho 2" and "Psycho 3." Mr. Gillin appeared in one of my favorite B-movies, "Fast Walking." The photo at right is courtesy of Bob Hoffman Video Productions. Mr. Hoffman said that Mr. Gillin was "Always a real gentleman. Very nice top work with and professional." Among Mr. Gillin’s many credits are "Back to the Future Part III," "Elvis and Me" in which he played Col. Tom Parker, "The Winds of War," "Airplane II," "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" and "Paper Moon."
DAVID J. PIEL Died May 6, 2004
One of my favorite lines from "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" is "What are you going to do with those pies, boys?" The hapless security guard who delivers the line is then bombarded with highly acidic pies which dissolve him in short order. Actor David Piel delivered the memorable line. Mr. Piel has died at age 80. Mr. Piel served his country as a US Marine in the Pacific theater of operation during WWII.
VIRGINIA CAPERS Died May 6, 2004
Tony Award winning actress Virginia Capers died of complications from pneumonia at age 78. Ms. Capers had over 100 film and TV credits. She appeared in a number of great films during her lengthy career. I remember her best as the Nurse in the 80s classic "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off." She won a Tony Award for her performance in "Raisin" a musical adaptation of "A Raisin in the Sun." Ms. Capers’ many film credits include "The Great White Hope," "Lady Sings the Blues," "Support Your Local Gunfighter," "Trouble Man," "Five on the Black Hand Side," "White Mama," "The Toy," "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling" and "What’s Love Got to Do With It?" Among her many TV credits was a recurring role on the TV series "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
VALENTIN YEZHOV Died May 8, 2004
Oscar nominated writer Valentin Yezhov died of natural causes at age 83. The Russian screenwriter penned over 30 films during his career. Mr. Yezhov is best known to international audiences for the 1959 film "Ballad of a Soldier." Yezhov shared a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination with Grigori Chukhraj. "Ballad of a Soldier" is a very moving film about a young soldier who falls in love while on leave from the front.
OLIVE OSMOND Died May 9, 2004
The matriarch of the famed Osmond family died of complications from a massive stroke. Mrs. Osmond was the mother of Donny, Marie and the rest of the singing clan. She made cameo appearances in two TV movies devoted to the family of Mormon entertainers. Her daughter Marie portrayed her in the TV film "Side by Side: The True Story of the Osmond Family." The movie was based on a book written by Mrs. Osmond. Actress Veronica Cartwright portrayed her in the TV film "Inside the Osmonds." Mrs. Osmond appeared with her family on several episodes of "The Andy Williams Show." Mrs. Osmond is pictured with her husband George. This December would have been their 60th wedding anniversary! Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
TOMMY FARRELL Died May 9, 2004
Actor/comedian Tommy Farrell died of natural causes at age 82. Mr. Farrell was the son of Warner Brothers’ actress Glenda Farrell (Little Caesar). He was also the father of producer/writer/director Mark Farrell. Tommy Farrell has success in a number of different showbiz arenas. He was a well-known actor in Western films and TV shows. Mr. Farrell was described as the last living B-movie Western sidekick. Mr. Farrell also performed as a nightclub comedian. Mr. Farrell’s film credits include "Kissin’ Cousins" and "Girl Happy" with Elvis Presley, uncredited cameos in Hitchcock’s "Strangers on a Train" and "North by Northwest" and Blake Edwards’ "Breakfast at Tiffany’s." He also appeared in a number of Westerns. His TV credits include roles as regular characters on "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," "This is Alice" and "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." Mr. Farrell was honored with a Golden Boot Award in 2003 for his lifetime of work in the Western film genre.
ALAN KING Died May 9, 2004
The King of Comedy Alan King died of lung cancer at age 76. King’s quick wit and sharp quips entertained audiences for nearly 60 years. He appeared on TV’s "The Ed Sullivan Show" over 50 times. Part of my social conscience came from growing up watching King’s humorous commentary on "Ed Sullivan" and "The Tonight Show." King and Johnny Carson had many memorable exchanges. I always liked the way Alan King would wait for the audience to catch up with him. If the joke was a bit subtle, King would pause, puffing on his cigar until the joke hit pay dirt. His wit rarely missed its mark. King was a member of the Friar’s Club. Everyone who was anyone in show business during the last half of the 20th century was slow roasted by Alan King at the Friar’s Club.
Alan King also had a successful acting career. Her appeared in a number of films and TV shows. While he was typecast to a certain extent, King was able to bring depth to his characters. King often played gangsters. One of my favorite films of the 70s is Sidney Lumet’s smart crime caper "The Anderson Tapes." King shines in a small but important role as Sean Connery’s Mafia backer. King starred opposite Ali McGraw in Sidney Lumet’s "Just Tell Me What You Want." The film gave King a rare romantic-leading role. Of course, the character was a bit gruff, but it was nice to see King given headliner exposure in a film. While the movie received lukewarm reviews, it has some great moments. The film also boasts the great Myrna Loy in her final feature film. King made a total of four films with director Sidney Lumet. He played the Rabbi in "Bye, Bye Braverman." King appeared as himself in Lumet’s true-life crime drama "Prince of the City."
King was also a film producer. He produced the intelligent if somewhat disappointing horror film "Wolfen." Albert Finney and Gregory Hines starred in the thinking man’s werewolf movie. That same year, King produced the great star studded Western "Cattle Annie and Little Britches." Being a die hard Diane Lane fan, I probably rate this one a bit higher than non-fans. King produced "Memories of Me," in which he also starred. He played Billy Crystal’s dying father. The film is average but King is responsible for what heart the movie does have. He produced a number of TV series and films including "How to Pick Up Girls!"
King was married to his wife Jeanette for 57 years! Thanks for the many laughs!
PHIL GERSH Died May 10, 2004
Hollywood super agent Phil Gersh died at age 92. Mr. Gersh was an agent for a multitude of Hollywood stars for over 70 years. He started his own agency in 1949. Among Mr. Gersh’s many clients were Humphrey Bogart, William Fraker, Jim Brown, Richard Benjamin, Robert Wise, Richard Fleischer, William Holden, David Niven, Karl Malden and countless others. Mr. Gersh served his country in the US Army during WWII. He saw action in North Africa and Italy. Mr. Gersh appeared as himself in the documentary "Jim Brown All American."
DOROTHY VAN ENGLE Died May, 10, 2004
Black actress Dorothy Van Engle died at age 87. Ms. Engle was one of the leading Black actresses in America during the late 1930s and 40s. While White Americans would probably associate the names Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen with the 1930s and 40s, Black Americans of the era will remember Ms. Engle. She appeared in the films of Black film pioneer Oscar Micheaux and others. His films were made for Black audiences, with Black casts and crews. Ms. Engle’s credits include "Murder in Harlem," "Swing," "Girl from Chicago" and "Lying Lips."
PORTLAND MASON Died May 10, 2004
Actress Portland Mason died at age 55 of undisclosed causes. Ms. Mason was the daughter of actors James and Pamela Mason. Ms. Mason acted as a child. She appeared as Gregory Peck’s daughter in the film "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit." She appeared with her parents and brother in an episode of the anthology TV series "Panic!" Other film and TV credits include "The Shirley Temple Storybook," "Cry Terror!," "The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery" and "Sebastian." Ms. Mason and her brother Morgan fought their stepmother for 16 years to have their father’s ashes interred. The children finally won the legal battle in 2000. Ms. Mason was named for the wife of comedian Fred Allen.
HARVEY LEHMAN JR. Died May 10, 2004
Former Columbia executive Harvey Lehman Jr. died at age 62. Mr. Lehman worked for Columbia and Sony for 20 years.
JOHN WYLIE Died May 11, 2004
Actor John Wylie died at age 79. Mr. Wylie was a well-known Texas stage actor who also had success on Broadway. His biggest role was the Doctor in the musical version of "Grand Hotel." In addition to his extensive stage work, Mr. Wylie appeared in several films and TV shows. His credits include the Coen Brother’s "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Fletch Lives," "Hanky Panky" and the TV series "Law & Order."
JOHN WHITEHEAD Died May 11, 2004
Composer and producer John Whitehead was shot and killed in front of his Philadelphia home while working on his car. Mr. Whitehead was 55 years old. A family friend, who police suspect was the target of the attack by two men, was injured slightly. John Whitehead and writing partner Gene McFadden had a number 1 hit with the song "Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now." Mr. Whitehead is on the left and Gene McFadden is on the right of the picture. The pair also wrote a number of songs for other artists. They wrote over 400 songs for other artists. Their work appears on the soundtracks of a number of films including "Carlito’s Way" (Back Stabbers), "Brown Sugar" (Never Been) and "Radio." Prayers of comfort to his family and friends.
LEE ORGEL Died May 12, 2004
Producer/writer Lee Orgel died of emphysema at age 78. Mr. Orgel produced the famous cartoons "The Abbott and Costello Show," "Gay Puree" and "Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol." He also wrote for the TV series "Batman," "The Scooby Doo/Dynomutt Hour" and "The New Three Stooges."
SYD HOFF Died May 12, 2004
Prolific children’s book author, illustrator and cartoonist Syd Hoff died at age 91. Mr. Hoff’s books "Danny and the Dinosaur" and "Sammy the Seal" entertained millions of baby boomer toddlers, myself included. My late grandmother promised she would buy me a book of my choice if I learned to tie my shoes. I was four at the time! I chose Hoff’s "Danny and the Dinosaur." My love for the book has been passed on to my children and hopefully they will pass it on to theirs. Mr. Hoff’s funny book "Stanley and the Dinosaurs" was turned into a great 26-minute claymation short by John Clarke Matthews. The funny little film tells the tale of a caveman named Stanley who may be a little more evolved than his friends. The dinosaurs are funny and personable. Mr. Hoff was also a panelist on the TV game show "Draw to Win."
FLOYD KALBER Died May 13, 2004
Emmy winning newsman Floyd Kalber died of emphysema at age 79. The Chicago newsman made the jump to the national stage when he was tapped to co-anchor the "Today" show. Mr. Kalber also anchored the "NBC Sunday News." His assignments included covering the first two Apollo moon landings.
TERRY CRUMMITT Died May 13, 2004
Actor and Internet Icon Terry Crummitt was killed in an automobile accident in Laurel Maryland. As Terry McCrea, Mr. Crummitt appeared in a number of films and TV shows including "Gods and Generals," "Cecil B. Demented," "America’s Most Wanted" and "The West Wing." The 27-year-old actor was probably best known for his Internet incarnation: "Snack Boy." "Snack Boy" helped ease the workday load for millions with his five-minute story breaks via live internet broadcast. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
SHAUN SUTTON Died May 14, 2004
BBC producer Shaun Sutton died at age 84. Mr. Sutton was the head of the BBC TV drama group between 1969 and 84. Mr. Sutton produced some of the most famed BBC TV series and movies. He co-produced "The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare" between 1978 and 85. During Mr. Sutton’s tenure, the BBC produced such classic shows as "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," "I, Claudius," "The Forsythe Saga" and "The Browning Version." It is unlikely that Mr. Sutton would be able to work for US media giant Clear Channel as Mr. Sutton fought for the BBC’s right to air controversial material such as the series "Brimstone and Treacle" and "Scum." Mr. Sutton served his country in the Royal Navy during WWII. Mr. Sutton was made OBE.
ANNA LEE Died May 14, 2004
Veteran actress Anna Lee died of pneumonia at age 91. Ms. Lee had over 120 film and TV credits during her 70 plus year career. Ms Lee portrayed Lila Quartermaine on "General Hospital" from 1978 through 2003 and on "General Hospital" spin-off "Port Charles" from 1997 through 2003. Ms. Lee performed the role in a wheelchair for most of the series run. She was paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident in 1979. The British actress moved to the US in the early 1930s. She appeared in a number of great films. Ms. Lee was one of the John Ford regulars. She appeared in eight of Ford’s films including "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "Fort Apache" and "How Green Was My Valley." Ms. Lee played Sister Margaretta in "The Sound of Music." She costarred with Boris Karloff in Mark Robson’s "Bedlam." Other memorable credits include "In Like Flint," "7 Women," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "Flying Tigers," "King Solomon’s Mines," "Gunsmoke," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Mannix," "My Three Sons," "Perry Mason," "77 Sunset Strip," "Wagon Train" and "Combat!" Ms. Lee’s first husband was her "King Solomon’s Mines" director Robert Stevenson. Her last husband was writer Robert Nathan (Portrait of Jennie.) She was the mother of actors Jeffery Byron and Venitia Stevenson. Ms. Lee was made MBE in 1982.
PHILIP JONES Died May 14, 2004
Thames TV producer Philip Jones died of cancer at age 76. Mr. Jones was the producer who lured Benny Hill away from the BBC and into the happy arms of ITV, Thames parent company. Mr. Jones was nominated for an Emmy award for producing "The Benny Hill Show." His relationship with Benny Hill lasted 20 years. Mr. Jones oversaw Thames during the 1970s and 80s. Mr. Jones produced the pop music series "Thank Your Lucky Stars" in the early 1960s. The show was notable for the first televised appearance of The Beatles on January 19, 1963 and the first UK TV appearance by The Rolling Stones on July 7, 1963! Mr. Jones was made an OBE in 1978.
LU LEONARD Died May 14, 2004
Rotund comedic actress Lu Leonard died of heart failure at age 77. Ms. Leonard appeared in a number of films and TV shows during the past 20 years. She first drew major notices in the movie "Micki + Maude." Ms. Leonard’s credits include "Annie," "Starman," "Circuitry Man," "Made in America," "Jake and the Fatman," "Married With Children" and "The Rosanne Barr Show."
NARCISO IBANEZ MENTA Died May 15, 2004
Spanish actor Narciso Ibanex Menta died after a lengthy illness at age 91. Mr. Menta was well known in Spain and Argentina as an actor in the horror genre. Mr. Menta appeared in cult director Jacinto Molina’s "Return of the Wolfman." Mr. Menta’s best known film is director Enrique Carreras’ Edgar Allan Poe anthology film "Masterworks of Terror." Mr. Menta joined the ranks of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee when he portrayed Count Dracula in "The Saga of Dracula." Mr. Menta appeared in over 50 films during his 55-year career.
COLONEL ROBERT K. MORGAN Died May 15, 2004
WWII hero Robert Morgan died of complication from a fall at age 85. Morgan was the pilot of the famed B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle." The "Memphis Belle" was the first B-17 to complete 25 missions over Germany during WWII. Morgan was quoted as saying "25 missions doesn’t sound like much until you start flying them!" Director William Wyler shot the documentary "The Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress," which chronicled the famed aircraft’s last combat mission. Col. Morgan appeared as himself in the taut documentary. The exploits of the famed B-17 were turned into the 1990 feature film "Memphis Belle." Unfortunately, the move was a factual fiasco. The names of the famous crew were changed for Hollywood. I guess that way, they didn’t have to pay the brave men who actually risked their lives to defend freedom. Matthew Modine played the plane’s commander. He wasn’t named Robert K. Morgan! I remember growing up in the shadow of the Memphis Belle. As a child, I accompanied my older sister when she took her pet Great Dame to obedience school at the National Guard Armory at Central and Hollywood in Memphis. It was 1966. My sister and her fellow dog owners trained their pups under the Memphis Belle’s wingspan. Fast forward 20 years: I was working at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Memphis in 1988. As I was waiting on a table, I heard the roar of Pratt and Whitney Engines overhead. This particular day, the Memphis Belle Exhibit at Mud Island in Memphis was being opened. Four B-17 Bombers were flying in formation over the Mississippi River at Memphis. The sound of the Pratt and Whitney engine is unique. If you have seen the movie "12 O'Clock High" you know the sound. I told my customers to hold one that day. I ran outside of the restaurant and looked up in time to see the squadron of B-17s flying overhead. The B-17 is such a beautiful aircraft. I can't think of a sexier aircraft. The Memphis Belle was a prominent part of my childhood. Col. Robert Morgan was a big part of so many people in Memphis. Thanks for the years of service to your country Col. Morgan! Thanks for a life well lived.
TATSUYA MIHASHI Died May 15, 2004
Award-winning Japanese actor Tatsuya Mihashi died of a heart attack at age 80. Mr. Mihashi appeared in nearly 70 films during his 50 plus year career. Mr. Mihashi’s last film was the recently released "Casshern," a live action version of a 1973 sci-fi anime movie. Mr. Mihashi is best known to US audiences for his portrayal of Commander Minoru Genda in the 1970 Pearl Harbor film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Commander Genda was the mastermind who planned the attack. Mr. Mihashi appeared in two films by the master director Akira Kurosawa. "The Bad Sleep Well" was Kurosawa’s 1960 take on "Hamlet." "High – Low" is one of Kurosawa’s more introspective films. As with everything Kurosawa did, these films are well worth seeing. Mr. Mihashi also appeared in Woody Allen’s spy spoof "What’s Up Tiger Lilly?" Mr. Mihashi won two Best Actor Awards at the Mainichi Film Concours in 1966 for "The Thin Line" and in 2000 for "Not Forgotten."
SUSAN SILKISS Died May 15, 2004
TV producer Susan Silkiss died of Breast cancer at age 48. Ms. Silkiss was the coordinating producer on a number of TV shows including "Sunset Beach," "Wheel of Fortune" and "Generations." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
JACK BRADBURY Died May 15, 2004
Animator Jack Bradbury died of renal failure at age 89. Mr. Bradbury worked for Disney and Warner Brothers before moving to the world of print illustrations. While at Disney, Mr. Bradbury worked on such films as "Bambi," "Fantasia" and "Pinocchio." He drew the stag fight in "Bambi," the scene set to Beethoven’s 6th Symphony in "Fantasia" and Figaro the cat walking on Gepetto’s bed in "Pinocchio." Mr. Bradbury then went to work for Fritz Freleng at Warner Brothers. Mr. Bradbury’s longest association was with Western Publishing where he illustrated scores of Dell and Gold Key Comics (most notably the "Beanie and Cecil" comics) and Little Golden Books. Mr. Bradbury retired in 1970 due to failing eyesight.
MARIUS CONSTANT Died May 15, 2004
Romanian composer Marius Constant died at age 79. Mr. Constant was best known to American audiences for composing the theme music for Rod Serling’s "The Twilight Zone." He was a graduate of the Academy of Bucharest and was the first Musical Director of France Music. He was a professor at the Academy of France from 1978 through 1988.
JUNE CARROLL Died May 16, 2004
Composer, singer, actress June Carroll died at age 91. Ms. Carroll wrote a number of songs for a dozen Broadway plays. She sang her songs in the play and film "New Faces of 1952." Her best known songs were "Penny Candy," "Monotonous" and "Love is a Simple Thing." She was the wife of Oscar nominated writer Sidney Carroll. Mr. Carroll was nominated for an Oscar for "The Hustler."
BURTON KAISER Died May 16, 2004
Producer, writer, actor Burton Kaiser died at age 77. Mr. Kaiser wrote, produced and starred in the film "The Female Jungle." The movie was famous for giving sex symbol Jayne Mansfield her start. Mr. Kaiser won a Tony Award the play "Borstal Boy." He also produced theatrical versions of "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Glengarry Glen Ross."
LE MANH THICH Died May 16, 2004
Award winning documentary filmmaker Le Manh Thich died at age 66. Mr. Thich was one of Vietnam’s most influential filmmakers. His films won awards at the Leipzig, Hosu Runka and Asia-Pacific Film Festivals. He also won four first prizes from the Vietnam Cinema Association.
MARY DRESSELHUYS Died May 16, 2004
Dutch actress Mary Dresselhuys died in her sleep at age 97. Ms. Dresselhuys was best known in her native land for her many stage performances. She was known as the Grand Lady of Comedy. She appeared in several films over a 60-year career.
MARIKA ROEKK Died May 16, 2004
Hungarian actress Marika Roekk died of heart failure at age 90. Ms. Roekk began her film career in England. She appeared in two British films: "Kiss me Sergeant" and "Why Sailors Leave Home." Ms Roekk was discovered by a talent scout from Germany. She became one of the leading movie stars in the country. Ms. Roek was a triple threat; she sand and danced as well as acted. Ms. Roekk retired from film in the 1960s and concentrated on her stage career. Ms. Roekk won the very first Bambi Award in 1948 as well as the Jubilee Award at the 1998 Bambi’s. Ms. Roekk was also honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 1981 German Film Awards for her contribution to the German Film Industry.
HARRY ELTON Died May 16, 2004
Canadian TV producer Harry Elton died in Tibet at age 74. Mr. Elton was responsible for bringing "Coronation Street" to the air. "Coronation Street" is the longest running English language TV drama. Mr. Henry was an executive with Granada Television in the early 1960s. He fought to have writer Tony Warren’s stories produced. After a lengthy battle, the working class drama "Coronation Street" was aired on a temporary basis. 44 years later, it is still on the air! Mr. Elton also had a successful career as a TV anchor and voice actor. He had a number of TV, radio, documentary and industrial film credits in Canada. Catherine Mensour of the L'Agence Mensour Agency said "Harry was the morning anchor man for CBC radio here in Ottawa and has worked for the CBC, as well as a voice artist and actor for various productions. Needless to say he will be greatly missed."
JUNE TAYLOR Died May 16, 2004
Emmy winning choreographer June Taylor died in her beloved Miami at age 86. Ms. Taylor won an Emmy for her work on "The Jackie Gleason Show." The June Taylor dancers opened Mr. Gleason’s show each week with complex numbers that featured lots of legs. When I was a small child, watching Diana Rigg on "The Avengers" and the leggy June Taylor Dancers on "The Jackie Gleason Show" helped me to realize that older girls were more interesting than the ones I went to elementary school with! Ms. Taylor was the sister in law of the Great One. Ms. Taylor worked on both of Mr. Gleason’s TV series. She also worked on "Cavalcade of Stars" and Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town." Following her work on TV, Ms. Taylor was hired by the Miami Dolphins to work with their cheerleaders. Ms. Taylor worked with the Dolphin organization from 1978 through 1990.
TONY RANDALL Died May 17, 2004
Two-time Emmy-award winning Tony Randall has died after a long illness at age 84. Though Mr. Randall had a long and successful career in feature films and on stage, he was best known for his role as Felix Unger on the TV series version of Neil Simon’s play "The Odd Couple." Mr. Randall flayed neat-freak Felix Unger opposite Jack Klugman’s slob Oscar Madison. The weekly TV series pitted the unlikely roommates against each other, with Felix usually screwing up Oscar’s chances of getting lucky with the opposite sex and vice versa.
My fondest memories of Mr. Randall were from his many appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. You never knew what Mr. Randall would do. He had a very bizarre sense of humor on the talk show circuit. It revealed a subversive streak that didn’t come through from his sitcom and film performances. Whether Mr. Randall was talking about his Flea Circus or fathering children while in his late 70s he made you laugh. One thing that always led me to believe that he was a ‘real’ person was the fact that he would react to others in such an unguarded manner. Mr. Randall would fall down with laughter if Mr. Carson or some other guest on the show nailed a joke or gag. He appeared to be in ecstatic love with life.
My favorite Tony Randall film has to be "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao." Regular readers know I love horror/fantasy films, especially those with stop-motion animation. In "Dr. Lao," Mr. Randall played the mysterious owner of a traveling circus. The circus-goers darkest secrets and desires were revealed to them through Dr. Lao’s strange exhibits. Tony Randall played eight different roles in the 1964. Animator Jim Danforth livened things up with a giant dragon at the end of the film.
Tony Randall had a string of successful films during the late 1950s and early 60s. He starred with Jayne Mansfield in the hilarious "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" In the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedy "Pillow Talk," Mr. Randall provided comic relief as the second banana. He turned in a dramatic performance in the soap opera feature "No Down Payment," which also starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Other credits from this period include "Let’s Make Love," "The Mating Game," "Send Me No Flowers" and "Robin and the Seven Hoods."
Mr. Randall founded the National Actor’s Theater in 1991. The company has produced 16 Broadway productions. Mr. Randall’s last stage performance was for his company’s production of "Right You Are," which opened last December. Thanks for the many laughs.
DR. MARJORIE COURTENAY-LATIMER Died May 17, 2004
The following obituary was written by world renowned cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. I thank him for the work and for enlightening me about his fascinating field of study. Amateur ichthyologist and museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer died at age 97. This gentle woman gained international renowned as an amateur ichthyologist, but she more correctly described herself as merely a modest museum curator. She was the first museum curator at the East London (South Africa) Museum, and was famed for her chance discovery in 1938, in a catch of Captain Hendrick Goosen's at a East London fish market, of the coelacanth. The oft-called by the media, "fossil fish" or "missing link," the coelacanth was previously thought to have been extinct for 65 million years. Indeed, the coelacanth is viewed as the darling of cryptozoology, the study of as yet-to-be discovered animals. The species, first located in the ocean off South Africa, was given the scientific name ‘Latimeria chalumnae’ in her honor by famed South African ichthyologist J. L. B. Smith. Ms. Courtenay-Latimer also is known to have secured what is possibly the only Dodo egg in the world. She died of pneumonia in East London, South Africa. Ms. Courtenay-Latimer appeared as herself in the UK documentary series "Horizon."
LINCOLN KILPATRICK Died May 18, 2004
Actor Lincoln Kilpatrick died of lung cancer at age 72. Mr. Kilpatrick delivered memorable performances in a number of my favorite films. He played the everyday good guy Charlie Gray in the messianic Sidney Poitier film "Brother John." In the sci-fi classic "The Omega Man," Mr. Kilpatrick played the zombie leader Zachery intent on defeating Charlton Heston. He teamed up with Mr. Heston again as the creepy Father Paul in "Soylent Green." Mr. Kilpatrick appeared in Tom Laughlin’s Western misfire "The Master Gunfighter." He fared better in the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy "Uptown Saturday Night." I first noticed Mr. Kilpatrick’s work in the cop drama "Madigan." He was also a familiar face on TV shows from the 1950s through the 90s. Thanks for the memorable performances. Mr. Kilpatrick also had an influential and successful stage career.
PATRICIA RUSSELL Died Mar. 18, 2004
British stage and screen actress Patricia Russell died at age 95. During the 1920s, Ms. Russell and her sister, actress Hilda Campbell-Russell were likened to Clara Bow as "It" girls. Whatever "It" was, they had "It." Ms. Russell was also one of the first female polo players in the UK. Ms. Russell appeared in several films during the 1930s including "Queen of Hearts" and "Look Up and Laugh." She married a doctor in 1939 and retired. Ms. Russell appeared as herself in the 2000 documentary "I Used to Be in Pictures." Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse interviewed a multitude of actresses from the 1920s and 30s for the 2000 documentary directed by Peter Turner.
JOHN CUTTS Died May 19, 2004
Producer John Cutts died of pneumonia at age 75. Mr. Cutts produced a number of feature films and TV shows during his career. His first film, and in my opinion, best film was "Hard Driver," which starred Jeff Bridges. The bio-pic was based on the life of moonshiner turned NASCAR driver Junior Jackson. Valerie Perrine turned in one of her sexiest performances as a race track secretary with a soft spot for the dangerous Junior Jackson. The movie was reissued with the pretentious title "The Last American Hero." No matter what the title, the movie is well worth seeing. Make sure to catch the unedited version. Mr. Cutts’ other credits include the lame "Goin’ Coconuts" and "Queenie."
CARL RADDATZ Died May 19, 2004
German actor Carl Raddatz died at age 92. He is the second German actor from the UFA era to die this month. Mr. Raddatz appeared in nearly 50 films dating back to 1938. He also had a successful stage career. Mr. Raddetz appeared in a few WWII propaganda films despite the fact that he was an avowed anti-Nazi. In 1979 he was given an Honorary Award by the German Film Awards for his contribution to the German film industry. He was compared to Humphrey Bogart in Germany.
GENE WOOD Died May 21, 2004
TV announcer Gene Wood died of cancer five days after his 70th birthday. Mr. Wood’s voice was well known to generations of TV game show fans. His many TV credits include "Card Sharks," "Concentration," "Beat the Clock," "Match Game" and most notably "Family Feud." Mr. Wood also acted occasionally with guest roles on "M*A*S*H" and "Mama’s Family."
JEAN PIERRE BLANC Died May 21, 2004
French writer/director Jean-Pierre Blanc died of cancer at age 62. Mr. Blanc’s debut film "The Old Maid" won awards at the Berlin and Chicago Film Festivals. Blanc’s other films include "The Family Spirit" and "Love and Cool Water." Mr. Blanc directed the TV mini series "Joseph Conrad."
MADDALENA FELLINI Died May 21, 2004
Actress Maddalena Fellini died at age 74. Ms. Fellini was the younger sister of master director Frederico Fellini. She appeared in several European films. Ms. Fellini was one of the founders of The Fellini Foundation.
JOHN BRADEN Died May 22, 2004
Producer/director John Braden died of pneumonia at age 55. Mr. Braden’s credits include such TV shows as "The A-Team," "The Fall Guy" and the mini-series "The Blue and the Gray." Mr. Braden was partners with producer Harry Thomason for a number of years. The two produced such classic schlock as "The Day It Came to Earth" and "Revenge of Bigfoot."
RICHARD BIGGS Died May 22, 2004
Actor Richard Biggs died of an apparent stroke at age 43. Mr. Biggs was best known for his role as Dr. Stephen Franklin on the TV series "Babylon 5." He also played a recurring role on the soap opera "The Guiding Light." He was a regular on "Days of Our Lives" from 1987 through 1992. Other credits include the TV series "Tremors" and "Any Day Now." A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing director Angie Alexander concerning her documentary "Invasion: Anime." Mr. Biggs appeared as himself in that film. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Biggs at Dragon.con, though I did not have the chance to interview him due to the large number of fans present. He seemed to be a genuinely nice man. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ADELE LEIGH Died May 23, 2004
British opera star Adele Leigh died at age 78. Although Ms. Leigh was best known for her work on stage as opera soprano, she also worked in popular entertainments. Ms. Leigh worked with Goon Harry Secombe in a number of variety shows and the 1957 movie "Davy."
ROD HALL Died May 23, 2004
British agent Rod Hall was stabbed to death in his apartment. He was 53. Mr. Hall represented a number of directors and writers including Oscar nominee Lee Hall, author of "Billy Elliot." Other clients wrote such films as "Calendar Girls," "The Full Monty" and the play "The Pillowman."
TRUDY MARSHALL Died May 23, 2004
I recently reviewed the movie "Big Fish" and stated that it, along with a few others were movies during which it was OK for guys to cry. I left one important film off that list. I was reminded of the movie when I heard of the passing of actress Trudy Marshall. Ms. Marshall played Genevieve Sullivan in the WWII film "The Fighting Sullivans." Ms. Marshall played the sister of the five Sullivan brothers who died when their ship the USS Juneau was sunk during WWII. Even though the film is a bit corny by today’s standards, it still draws tears to my eyes. Trudy Marshall was a model who began a promising film career in the early 40s. She was the mother of 70s hottie, actress Deborah Raffin. (Boy did I have a crush on her!) Ms. Marshall’s numerous credits include the hilarious "The Fuller Brush Man," "Sentimental Journey," the fictionalized biography of "Roger Toughy, Gangster," "Dragonwyck," "Mark of the Gorilla," "Barbary Pirate" and a cameo in her daughter’s first major film "Once in Not Enough."
DAVID DELLINGER Died May 25, 2004
Peace advocate David Dellinger died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 88. Mr. Dellinger was a member of the Chicago Seven. The Chicago Seven were prosecuted for conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago. Dellinger, along with Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis, John Froines and Lee Weiner were tried for their actions in Chicago. All but Froines and Weiner were convicted. Federal judge Julius Hoffman later overturned the convictions. Black Panther Bobby Seale was also tried at the same time. He was the eighth member of the Chicago Seven. At 54, Dellinger was the oldest member of the group. His anti-war protests dated back to WWII. Mr. Dellinger appeared as himself in the Vietnam documentary series "The Ten Thousand Day War." The former seminary student played a funeral minister in the 1993 version of "Ethan Frome."
NADIA KHAN Died May 25, 2004
Nadia Khan, assistant to Bollywood director Kaizad Gustad was killed in a mysterious accident in India. Police have received conflicting reports concerning the death of the 27-year-old woman. Ms. Khan was either hit by a train while filming a scene or run over by a car while crossing the street. Director Gustad has directed a number of films including "Boom" with an appearance by Bo Derek.
HERCULES Death Reported May 26, 2004
Canine star Hercules died at age 12. The Huntawy cross breed was 12 years old. Though Hercules was best known as the dog in the Toyota TV ads, he appeared in over 30 feature films including the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Hercules began his career on the TV series "Xena: Warrior Princess."
GERALD ANTHONY Died May 28, 2004
Emmy-winning actor Gerald Anthony dies of undisclosed causes at age 52. Mr. Anthony was nominated for two daytime Emmy awards for his work on the soap operas "General Hospital" and "One Life to Live." He won an Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for "General Hospital." Mr. Anthony also worked on the soap "Another World." He played Father Terranova on the excellent crime drama "Wiseguy" opposite Ken Wahl. Other credits include "To Die Standing," "The Force" and "Stag."
IRENE MANNING Died May 28, 2004
Actress Irene Manning died at home at age 91 of respiratory complications. The light opera singer appeared in several films during the 19302 and 40s. She played Fay Templeton in the bio-pic "Yankee Doodle Dandy" singing opposite James Cagney. She costarred with Gene Autry in her debut film "The Old Corral." Ms. Manning starred with Humphrey Bogart in "The Big Shout." Other credits include "Hollywood Canteen," "Shine On Harvest Moon" and "The Desert Song."
JOSIE CAREY Died May 28, 2004
Children’s TV producer Josie Carey died from complications following a fall in her home. She was 73. Ms. Carey was an early creative partner of Fred Rogers of "Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood" fame. Ms. Carey and Mr. Roger’s created the early children’s TV show "The Children’s Corner" in the 1950s. The prototypes of several of the characters from "Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood" originated on "The Children’s Corner." Ms. Carey continued to work in children’s TV, working on such shows as "Josie’s Storyland," "Funsville" and "Wheee!"
NINO MANFREDI Died May 28, 2004
Italian movie star Nino Manfredi died of complications following a stroke at age 83. Mr. Manfredi also wrote, produced and directed films. His debut directorial effort, "Between Miracles" was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes and won the prize for Best First Feature. Mr. Manfredi appeared in over 100 films during his lengthy career. Mr. Manfredi was one of Italy’s best known comic actors. His many credits include "The Treasure of San Gennaro," "Situation Normal, All Fouled Up," "Bread and Chocolate," "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose," "Portrait of a Nude Woman" and "We All Loved Each Other So Much."
ROBERT WRIGHT Died May 28, 2004
ABC TV publicist Bob Wright died of a pulmonary embolism at age 67. Mr. Wright worked in PR for ABC TV for 28 years. He was an exec with the network for much of that time.
ROBERT CAMPBELL Died May 28, 2004
Set designer, scenic artist and poet Robert Campbell died of diabetic ketoacidosis at age 53. Mr. Campbell was a protégé of art director Bernt Capra. His film credits include "Baghdad Café," "Echo Park," "Separate Lives," "Criminal" and "Best of the Best 2." Mr. Campbell was co-founder of Brass Tacks Press.
ARCHIBALD COX Died May 29, 2004
Former Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox died of natural causes at age 92. Mr. Cox helped bring down the corrupt administration of former President Richard Nixon. Cox sought the release of Nixon’s taped conversations. The tenacious lawyer refused to back down. Nixon ordered him fired. In what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out the obstructive act. Solicitor General Robert Bork finally fired Cox. Cox appeared as himself in Oliver Stone’s "Nixon" and the TV miniseries "Watergate." As an attorney, I had nothing but admiration for his sense of duty and ethical standards. He was truly a great American.
SAM DASH Died May 29, 2004
May 29, 2004 also marks the passing of another prominent Watergate figure. Sam Dash was the chief counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Watergate. I remember watching the nightly telecasts of the hearings. Mr. Dash was a relentless interrogator. Mr. Dash is another attorney who commanded the respect of those who practice law. He was a standard bearer for ethics and dedication to duty. Mr. Dash appeared as himself in the TV mini series "Watergate" and the documentary "Watergate Plus Thirty: Shadow of History."
JACK ROSENTHAL Died May 29, 2004
Award-winning British writer Jack Rosenthal died of cancer at age 72. Mr. Rosenthal wrote the Barbara Streisand hit "Yentl." Mr. Rosenthal was best known for his work in TV. He wrote 150 episodes of the British hit series "Coronation Street." Mr. Rosenthal had over 200 writing credits. He also wrote the feature film "Captain Jack," which starred Bob Hoskins. He was a producer on the John Belushi romantic comedy "Continental Divide." Mr. Rosenthal won Golden Globe, British Writer’s Guild and a BAFTA awards. He was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1994.
MAURICE JACQUEMONT Died May 31, 2004
French actor/director Maurice Jacquemont died at age 94. Mr. Jacquemont was a successful stage director. He was the director of the Elysees Fields Studio for over 30 years. Mr. Jacquemont appeared in over 50 films during his career. His film credits include "The Return of Martin Guerre," "Stavinsky" and "The Confession."
ROBERT A. BURNS Died May 31, 2004
Production designer/Art Director Robert A. Burns committed suicide at age 60. Mr. Burns had been suffering from terminal kidney cancer. Millions of genre fans know Mr. Burns influential design on Tobe Hooper’s classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The lifelong Texan brought his talents to a number of great horror films. He worked with Wes Craven on the chilling "The Hills Have Eyes." Joe Dante brought Burns on board for his werewolf classic "The Howling." Director Stuart Gordon added Burns’ keen eye to his gonzo sci-fi cult classic "Re-Animator." Mr. Burns occasionally acted. He played the lead role in the Henry Lee Lucas based film "Confessions of a Serial Killer."