RICHARD AVEDON Died Oct. 1, 2004
Famed photographer Richard Avedon died at age 81, one week after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Mr. Avedon was declared one of the ten greatest photographers of all time by "Photography Today" magazine. During WWII, Mr. Avedon was part of the Merchant Marine’s photographic section. Upon his return to civilian life, he moved quickly from a store photographer to one of the world'’ top fashion photographers. He may be best known for his insightful portraits of humanity, ranging from celebrities (think Nastassja Kinski and that boa constrictor) to his own father during his dying battle with cancer. Mr. Avedon designed the title sequence for the Audrey Hepburn film "Funny Face." He appeared as himself in the documentary "Scratch the Surface." He was also the subject of Helen Whitney’s TV documentary "Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light."
JONATHAN GILI Died Oct. 1, 2004
Documentary filmmaker Jonathan Gili died of leukemia at age 61. Mr. Gili began his career as an experimental filmmaker. His first film, "Incident" starred Stephen Frears. He was an assistant editor on Frears’s film "Gumshoe." He edited the D-Day documentary "Overlord" and was then hired by the BBC. He made a large number of documentaries for the BBC. His film "Timewatch: The Oklahoma Outlaw" was nominated for several awards. Mr. Gili had battled leukemia since 1984. He was made an OBE in 2003 for his services to broadcasting.
JOYCE JILLSON Died Oct. 1, 2004
Actress/astrologer Joyce Jillson died of kidney failure at age 58. Though Ms. Jillson acted on stage, TV and in film, she was best known for her syndicated astrology column. She was also allegedly Nancy Reagan’s astrologer. I guess Ms. Jillson now knows for sure whether she was hitched to the right star. Ms. Jillson was a regular on the soap opera "Peyton Place." Her film credits include "Slumber Party ’57," "The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington" and "Superchick."
RICHARD ELLISON Died Oct. 1, 2004
Emmy-winning producer Richard Ellison died of diffuse Lewy syndrome at age 80. Mr. Ellison won two Emmy awards for his landmark documentary mini-series "Vietnam: A Television History." The 1983 series looked back at the most controversial military expedition in the history of the US. Mr. Ellison also produced the Emmy-nominated documentary "Choosing Suicide" among other films.
BRUCE PALMER Died Oct. 1, 2004
Former Buffalo Springfield bassist Bruce Palmer died of a heart attack at age 58. Bruce Crawford, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Jim Messina, Rich Furay and Dewey Martin made up the highly influential 60s band Buffalo Springfield. In two short years, Buffalo Springfield changes the face of rock music. They combined elements of folk, rock and beach music to product a sound that was both unique and politically aware. Six excellent bands came into being from the former members of Buffalo Springfield. Bruce Palmer left the band due to immigration problems, which prevented him from entering the US. He was replaced by Jim Messina. The Buffalo Springfield appeared in an episode of the detective TV series "Mannix" in 1967. Mr. Palmer also played with The Mynah Birds with Neil Young and the late funkmeister Rick James. One of my favorite DVDs is the excellent concert film "Neil Young in Berlin." Neil Young was joined by Bruce Palmer, Nils Lofgren, Ralph Molina, Joe Lala and Ben Keith in a 90-minute powerhouse performance.
BURT MILLER Died Oct. 1, 2004
Stage actor Burt Miller died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 92. Mr. Miller worked primarily on stage, but he did appear in a few films and TV shows. Mr. Miller appeared in the over-rated cult-classic "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." Other credits include a guest role on the TV series "The Untouchables" and the films "Police Dog" and "Break of Dawn." Mr. Miller served with the Red Cross during WWII.
RON HAYES Died Oct. 1, 2004
Actor Ron Hayes died at age 75. Mr. Hayes starred as wildlife officer Licoln Vail on the TV series "Everglades." He also played Wyatt Earp in the TV series "Bat Masterson." Mr. Hayes appeared in over 65 TV shows and films during his career. Other credits include "Around the World Under the Sea," "Death Wish 3" and "Dead Solid Perfect."
JOHN STIX Died Oct. 2, 2004
Director John Stix following a heart attack at age 83. Mr. Stix was primarily a stage director, working both on and off Braodway. He was also a respected acting teacher with a number of well known students including Kevin Spacey. Mr. Stix co-directed a few TV movies and the feature film "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery." The film was one of Steve McQueen’s earliest films. Mr. Stix served his country in Europe during WWII.
MAX GELDRAY Died Oct. 2, 2004
Dutch harmonica player Max Geldray died at age 88. Mr. Geldray was an associate performer with The Goons on their radio show. He was known as ‘Conks’ to Goons Fans. "The Goon Show" was a landmark comedy show that featured Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Harry Seacombe and Michael Bentine. Mr. Geldray’s TV credits include "The Last Goon Show of All," "A Show Called Fred," "Son of Fred" and "The Idiot Weekly, Price 2nd." Mr. Geldray also made a guest appearance on 1957 Christmas special of the legendary BBC comedy series "Hancocks Half Hour."
JANET LEIGH Died Oct. 3, 2004
Thanks to my Dad, I have a sick appreciation for practical jokes. One of the best he ever played on me involved my first viewing of Alfred Hitchcock’s "Psycho." I was 11-years old. My Dad and I stayed up to watch the classic thriller in the Channel 3 Late Movie in Memphis. About 10-minutes before the movie ended, Dad said he was tired and headed upstairs. Our house was built just after the Civil War. It had 15-foot ceilings. The stairway was a three-tiered monster. After Tony Perkins’ twisted mother grinned at me and swore "She wouldn’t hurt a fly" I turned off the TV and began my walk up the long staircase in the dark. As I reached the step just below the landing, My Dad stepped out. He had a bathrobe and my step-mom’s wig on. In one hand was a butcher knife. The only light was provided by the flashlight he held a under his chin with his other hand. He grinned and imitated the "reak, reak, reak" chorus from Bernard Herrmann’s score as he held the knife over his head. I turned and took two steps. The second step was over the banister, which led to a 12-foot drop. It took him and my stepmother about 20 minutes to calm me down. It was my first and only bout with hysterics. One minute I was crying, the next I was laughing my ass off at the brilliance of his prank. I can’t wait to watch "Psycho" with my kids!
For a split-second that night, I knew how Marion Crane must have felt when Norman Bates pulled back that shower curtain. Actually Dad had reenacted the Arbogast scene, but that doesn’t fit an obit for actress Janet Leigh. Janet Leigh was a scream queen who also happened to be an A-list actress. She was one of the last products of the old studio system. She was Hollywood royalty at one time. She was Queen and then husband Tony Curtis was King. They produced two daughters Jamie Leigh and Kelly Curtis, both of whom followed their parent’s footsteps as actors. Actress Janet Leigh died at age 77.
Janet Leigh was a radiant beauty who also possessed great talent as an actress. She starred in three masterpieces: "Psycho," Orson Welles’ "Touch of Evil" and John Frankenheimer’s "The Manchurian Candidate." She was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her work in "Psycho." Ms. Leigh co-starred with Charlton Heston in Welles’ noir classic "Touch of Evil." "Touch of Evil" begins with a famous tracking shot that lasts several minutes. Ms. Leigh broke her arm before filming began. In many scenes, the cast was hidden from the camera. During some scenes, Ms. Leigh allowed the cast to be removed and reapplied after the take was over. Talk about dedication to your craft. Ms. Leigh’s train scene with Frank Sinatra in "The Manchurian Candidate" is one of the most debated scenes in cinema history. The pair’s conversation is so cryptic that film historians have spent the last 40 years discussing just what the scene meant.
I spoke to film historian Bruce Crawford about his experience with Ms. Leigh during the "Omaha Film Event" screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s "Psycho." Mr. Crawford had nothing but warm memories of the classy actress: "Janet Leigh was not only an incredibly beautiful woman, but a wonderful actress. I had the pleasure of befriending her when she attended my Hitchcock salute and we screened "Psycho." She was so vivacious and warm and kind to everyone. A true class act. When I was taking her and her daughter Kelly back to the hotel after the show, she looked up at me and said "Bruce, we aren't causing you any inconvenience are we?" I responded with,"Of course Not!" It was such an honor to have her with us, but she was about as grounded to reality as anyone I know, let alone someone who once worked for the Dream Factory of Hollywood."
Ms. Leigh appeared in over 140 films and TV shows. She began her film career in 1947. During the 1950s, she was one of the biggest female draws in the industry. Her later work was primarily in TV. I first saw her with her then husband Tony Curtis in the biopic: "Houdini." She and Curtis co-starred or appeared together in in eleven feature films, TV specials and documentaries including "Who Was That Lady?," "The Perfect Furlough," "Pepe," "The Fantasy Film World of George Pal," "The Rat Pack," "How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border," "The Black Shield of Falworth" and "The Vikings." Other memorable film credits include "Pete Kelly’s Blues," "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Harper." She appeared in one of my favorite Made for TV films, the murder mystery "The House on Greenapple Road." Ms. Leigh worked with her daughter in John Carpenter’s eerie "The Fog" and the Michael Myers sequel "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later."
Thanks for the lasting images. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
BRAM ROOS Died Oct. 3, 2004
Producer Bram Roos died at age 55. Mr. Roos was the head of FilmRoos. His company produced many documentary TV series. His work usually dealt with the Bible and ancient civilizations. His credits include "Mysteries of the Bible," "Cleopatra’s Palace," "Top Secret," "The Good Book of Love," "The Road to Rapture," 28 episodes of "A&E’s Biography" and "Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years." Mr. Roos was active in a number of charitable organizations.
GEOFFREY LANCASHIRE Died Oct. 3, 2004
Award-winning British TV writer Geoffrey Lancashire died at age 71. Mr. Lancashire was one of the original writers for the long-running Granada TV series "Coronation Street." He wrote over 200 scripts for the series. Mr. Lancashire also created the British TV comedies "The Cuckoo Waltz" and "The Lovers." He won a Writer’s Guild Award for his work on "The Lovers." Other writing credits include work on the TV series "Pardon the Expression," "Foxy Lady" and "United!" He was the father of actress Sarah Lancashire.
COL. LEROY GORDON ‘GORDO’ COOPER JR. Died Oct. 4, 2004
In this political year there is a lot of talk about so-called ‘heroes.’ I learned early on what a real hero was. As a child in the 1960s my heroes were the test pilots that strapped themselves into tiny capsules, atop rockets fueled with enough explosives to destroy a city block. These guys waited for the candle to be lit. Some died trying. Others, like Gordon Cooper lived to a ripe old age. Gordon ‘Gordo’ Cooper died today at age 77. He was one of the Original Seven Mercury astronauts. Culled from hundreds of applicants, Cooper, Alan Shepherd, Gus Grisson, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter and Deke Slayton were the first American astronauts. Only Schirra, Glenn and Carpenter survive. Author Tom Wolfe said it best when he wrote about these men who had "The Right Stuff." Gordo Cooper flew the sixth and final Mercury flight. His ship "Faith 7" set a space endurance record. Cooper set a new record two years later when he commanded the second Gemini flight, Gemini 5. He and Pete Conrad stayed aloft for eight days in order to prove that men could survive in space long enough to go to the moon. Gordo never flew again. Cooper claimed that he was edged out of a chance to go to the moon by the return of Alan Shepherd to the flight rotation following surgery that cured the Meniere’s Syndrome that had grounded him. Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton was the Director of Flight Crew Operations and chose the crews. Slayton claimed his choice was due to Cooper’s laid back approach to training rather than favoritism toward Shepherd. Cooper was the most relaxed of all the astronauts. He fell asleep atop the Atlas rocket waiting for the launch of his Mercury flight! Gordo Cooper was portrayed by Dennis Quiad in Phil Kaufman’s film version of Tom Wolfe’s "The Right Stuff." Quaid played Cooper as a devil-may-care, overly cocky hot shot. Anyone who read Wolfe’s book realized that the filmmakers attributed the actions and personality of fellow Gemini 5 astronaut Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad to Gordo Cooper. In fact, it was the behavior portrayed in the film that prevented Conrad from being chosen as one of the Original Seven. Cooper appeared as himself in the documentaries "Houston, We’ve Got a Problem," "Spaceflight" and "Real Men With ‘The Right Stuff’." He played himself in the Made for TV film "Rocket’s Red Glare" and on an episode of "ChiPs." As a pioneer of the US Manned Space Program, it is fitting that Col. Cooper passed away on the day that the private space craft "Space Ship One" claimed the coveted X Prize for successful repeat trips into space by a private team. Look how far we have come from the pioneering days of Gordo and the Original Seven. God’s speed Gordon Cooper. Thanks for your service to your country.
GRACIELA SIMPSON Died Oct. 4, 2004
Actress Graciela Simpson died of lung cancer at age 53. Ms. Simpson appeared in a number of Broadway plays including "Dreamgirls" and "The Wiz." Her film credits include "The Blues Brothers" and Sidney Lumet’s "Daniel."
RODNEY DANGERFIELD Died Oct. 5, 2004
Contrary to his most famous line, Rodney Dangerfield got respect wherever he went. He worked for it, he earned it and we were the wealthier for it. Rodney Dangerfield brought laughter to generations since the early 1960s. Rodney Dangerfield was an Everyman. If you had a wife that rode your back, you identified with Rodney. If your boss was a jerk who took advantage of you, you identified with Rodney. If you didn’t look like Brad Pitt, you identified with Rodney. He was a master of self-deprecating humor. Rodney Dangerfield’s attitude and wit was good-spirited. His appeal universal. Life is full of unfair crap, Rodney Dangerfield knew how to laugh through the tears. Just looking at his jovial face was usually enough to cheer you up. If laughter is the best medicine, then Rodney Dangerfield was a one-man pharmacy. Whether performing stand-up in Las Vegas, on TV or in his film career, Rodney Dangerfield made you feel better about whatever was ailing you.
Comedian/actor/writer/producer Rodney Dangerfield died at age 82. He underwent heart-valve replacement surgery in August and lapsed into a coma. He emerged from the coma last week, but passed away from complications following his surgery. Rodney Dangerfield came up the hard way. At 19, he first tried his hand at stand-up. After a period of struggle, he retired and settled down to the married life. At age 42, he took another stab at showbiz. During the 1960s, he built a huge fan base through his numerous appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." He made 70 appearances on "The Tonight Show" alone! The TV exposure boosted the demand for his nightclub shows. He began his film career in 1971. It wasn’t until 1980, that his film career took off.
Rodney Dangerfield reached a new generation of fans and began one of the best third acts in showbiz with his scene-stealing performance in Harold Ramis’s comedy classic "Caddyshack." Rodney played the unashamedly boorish party animal Al Czervik. As a kid, I used to laugh when my Dad would imitate Rodney Dangerfield’s stand-up. If was OK, but a bit over my head. I first realized the hilarious genius of Rodney Dangerfield while sitting in the Parkway Theater in Las Vegas. Rodney walked into the snotty Country Club and began to tear down icons right and left. His physical comedy was on wonderful display when he turned the gold course into a dance party, boogying to Journey’s party anthem "Any Way You Want It." Rodney Dangerfield eclipsed co-stars Chevy Chase, Ted Knight and Bill Murray. Following "Caddyshack," Rodney Dangerfield was The Man.
Rodney Dangerfield starred in string of hit films. None were as good as "Caddyshack," but they pleased his fans. He wrote and produced a number of them. His film credits include "Easy Money," "Back to School," "Lady Bugs" and "Meet Wally Sparks." Like Henry Fonda in "Once Upon a Time in the West," Rodney Dangerfield played against type in Oliver Stone’s "Natural Born Killers" to create one of the most terrifying screen villains in film history. Rodney Dangerfield played the sexually abusive father of Juliette Lewis. His scenes are difficult to watch, especially when you realize that the world is populated by real monsters like his character. Considering the quality of that performance, it is ironic that Mr. Dangerfield was denied membership into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for not demonstrating mastery of his craft. I guess in that instance, Rodney Dangerfield didn’t get no respect. Prayers of comfort to his family and friends. Thanks for the countless laughs and aching sides!
PETE MCCARTHY Died Oct. 6, 2004
Actor/author Pete McCarthy died of cancer at age 52. Mr. McCarthy was the host of the British TV series "Travelog." Mr. McCarthy’s humorous and off-beat outlook on life made his various TV series and books quite popular in the UK. He hosted the series "Desperately Seeking Something," which he met folks on alternative spiritual quests. He wrote the book "McCarthy’s Bar," which chronicled his journey through most of the pubs in Ireland. He also wrote for the TV series "Mornin’ Sarge," "Alas Smith & Jones" and "They Came From Somewhere Else."
ROY POINTER Died Oct. 6, 2004
On occasion I’ve had guest writers for the Hollywood Obituary column. It’s not that I don’t like writing them, it’s that an obituary written by someone who knew the person is more personal and informative. I want to thank production designer and London Film School professor John Roberts for allowing me to post his tribute to his friend, cinematographer Roy Pointer.
Cinematographer Roy Pointer died suddenly on Wednesday 6th. October after a short illness aged 81.
Roy had a distinguished career lasting nearly 60 years, the last 15 of which he spent passing on his knowledge to film students from around the world in his capacity as Senior Cinematography Lecturer at the London Film School.
After wartime service in the RAF as pilot, navigator, air bomber etc. in both Spitfires and Lancasters, Roy was demobbed in January 1947 and joined NATKE in July of that year, with the aim of becoming a film cameraman.
Throughout the years, Roy’s cinematic knowledge and talent were nurtured by the likes of John Houston on "The African Queen" and Charlie Chaplin on "A King In New York." Eventually in 1963 he was made an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Many films followed and amongst those he worked with can be included Alfred Hitchcock; Roman Polanski; Stanley Kubrick and on a somewhat smaller scale, the famous commercial for Hovis, which he lit for Ridley Scott.
Many television series and films also owe a debt to Roy’s talents, including "Callan"; "Man At The Top"; "Van der Valk" and the famous duo of "The Sweeney" and "Minder" (of which he lit 14 episodes of the former and a staggering 37 of the latter).
Others throughout the years include, "Rumpole of the Bailey"; "Special Branch"; "Public Eye" and even the likes of "Benny Hill Show" and "Wish You Were Here". The list is seemingly endless.
Directors such as Roy Boulting; Martin Cambell; Ted Childs; Desmond Davis; Jack Gold; Douglas Hickox; Seth Holt; Wolf Rilla and Peter Sasdy can be listed together with over a hundred more whose work benefited from Roy’s talent and experience. (Oh and by the way, he worked on a little over 2,700 commercials!)
His work at the London Film School was greatly appreciated by both students and staff and he passed on his knowledge to so many future filmmakers who particularly benefited from Roy’s "hands on" approach to teaching both in lighting and camerawork.
Roy leaves Sue his wife of 53 years, two daughters Janice and Deborah, 10 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.
An endless font of knowledge and with a wry sense of humour mixed with a considerable talent to "paint with light" kept Roy doing the job he loved right up to the end. Retirement was never an issue.
A true professional and a gentleman of the old school, he was a great friend. He will be sorely missed.
Get a pint in ready for me mate, it’s your round. Cheers!
MILES HALLIWELL Died Oct. 6, 2004
Teacher turned actor Miles Halliwell died at age 73. Mr. Halliwell played the lead in the film "Winstanley." The independent film was directed by his friend Kevin Brownlow. He also played a bit parts in Brownlow’s "It Happened Here" and Herbert Wise’s TV movie "Churchill: The Gathering Storm"
GERTRUDE ROSENSTEIN Died Oct. 6, 2004
TV director Gertrude Rosenstein died at age 77. Ms. Rosenstein was the first woman to direct a network TV series. Ms. Rosenstein directed NBC’s game show "Concentration" from 1967 through 1970. Ms. Rosenstein had been an assistant to famed director George Ballanchine at the New York City Ballet.
JOEY ROURKE Died Oct. 6, 2004
Actor Joey Rourke died of lung cancer at age 50. Mr. Rourke was the younger brother of actor Mickey Rourke. The younger Rourke appeared in a number of his brother’s films including "Johnny Handsome," "Wild Orchid," "The Last Outlaw" and "Bullet." Mr. Rourke had battled several forms of cancer during his lifetime. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
HILDY PARKS Died Oct. 7, 2004
Writer/actress/Emmy-winning producer Hildy Parks died from complications following a stroke at age 78. Ms. Parks and her husband wrote and produced a number of TV specials and award shows. The pair wrote and produced the Tony Awards Show for nearly 20 years. They won Emmys for producing the TV specials "Night of 100 Stars" and the 1980 "Tony Awards." Ms. Parks began her career as an actress. He feature film credits include the all-star lesbian soap opera "The Group," "Fail-Safe," "Seven Days in May" and "The Night Holds Terror." She appeared in a number of TV shows during the 1940s and 50s. She was a regular on the soap opera "Love of Life" from 1951 through 1955.
CONSUELO VIDAL Died Oct. 7, 2004
Award-winning Cuban actress Consuelo Vidal died of heart problems at age 74. Ms. Vidal was a staple on Cuban TV since the 1950s. She won the Best Actress Award at the 2nd annual Bogota Film Festival for her work in "Los Parajoes Tirandole a la Escopeta." The comedy dealt with a young couple coming to terms with their parents having an affair. Ms. Vidal also won the Best Actress Award at the French Amiens Festival for the film "Queen and King."
BILL BENNETT Died Oct. 7, 2004
Hang Glider and Ultralight pioneer Bill Bennett was killed in the crash of a powered-trike ultralight in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Mr. Bennett was being recertified to fly the craft which lost power during takeoff and crashed. He was 73 years old. Mr. Bennett developed the Delta Wing kite. The Australian born Bennett was largely responsible for the popularity of Hang Gliding during the late 60s and early 1970s. He performed Roger Moore’s hang gliding stunts in the James Bond film "Live and Let Die."
AUDREY BROWN FRASER Died Oct. 8, 2004
Hollywood copywriter and PR person Audrey Brown Fraser died of pneumonia at age 101! During the 1930s and 40s she wrote press books for feature film releases. She worked in production on several radio shows including "Queen For a Day." She helped bring that radio show to TV. She was married to Western film director Harry L. Fraser until his death in 1974. In 1990 she edited and published her late husband’s Hollywood memoirs, the book "I Went That-A-Way."
JOE MCCRACKIN Died Oct. 9, 2004
Actor Joe McCrackin died of undisclosed causes at age 45. Mr. McCrackin was the assistant to Billy Bob Thorton on the films "Sling Blade," "The Winner" and "Primary Colors." He acted in several films including Thorton’s "Daddy and Them," "Deterrence," "Biloxi Blues," "Home Grown" and "Don’t Look Back." Mr. McCrackin also produced writer/actress Christy McBrayer’s one-woman-show "Southern Fried Chickie." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE Died Oct. 10, 2004
Award-winning actor Christopher Reeve died of heart failure at age 52. Mr. Reeve developed a bedsore which cause a severe infection. This caused him to lapse into a coma during which his heart failed. Christopher Reeve gained world fame for playing "Superman" in four films. The actor bulked up his skinny frame and won the star-making role. A horse-riding accident nine years ago left Reeve paralyzed. He had become a strong advocate for spinal cord research following his debilitating accident. He also became an inspiration for thousands suffering from spinal cord injuries. His grit, determination and hard work gave hope to those bound to their wheelchairs. Mr. Reeve continued to act and direct, proving that paralysis is not a death sentence. Tragically, Mr. Reeve did not live to see whether a cure will be discovered.
Christopher Reeve played lanky Ben Harper on the soap opera "Love of Life." I remember seeing a photo of the shirtless actor weighing in at around 175 pounds. The picture was released after Reeve was cast in "Superman." He underwent a rigorous weight-training regime and bulked up to win the role. He already had the all-American good looks and rock jaw needed for the part. "Superman" was a huge box-office hit in 1978 and spawned three sequels. "Superman" was a loving adaptation of the comic book. It told the origin of Kal-el/Clark Kent/Superman. Reeve brought depth to the dual role. His Clark Kent showed off Reeve’s comedic talents. His Lent was a good natured klutz who had no chance with Lois Lane. His Superman was, well Super! He was able to show the conflict in each of the character’s alter-egos. "Superman II" surpassed the original film. Like "Spiderman 2," "Superman II" took off on a grand adventure that pitted our hero against terrorists, Lex Luthor and three evil Super Villains led by Terrence Stamp’s General Zod. The third and fourth films in the series failed to capture the magic of the first two and the series ended.
Christopher Reeve won the BAFTA for Best Newcomer for his second feature film "Superman." He was nominated for four Emmy Awards, winning for Outstanding Informational Special "Without Pity: A Film About Abilities." He was nominated for a Golden Globe and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in "Rear Window."
Even though Reeve was best known for "Superman" he did appear in several other memorable films. The fantasy film "Somewhere in Time" has a large cult following. It ranks high in the chick-flick hall of fame. The film was beautifully shot on Mackinaw Island. Reeve and costar Jane Seymour had great chemistry together. Reeve’s follow-up film was the movie version of Ira Levin’s play "Deathtrap." The movie fell flat, but it showed that Reeve was willing to take risks as an actor as he shared a big wet kiss with costar Michael Caine. In James Ivory’s "The Bostonians," Reeve held his own against a number of veteran actresses.
With the failure of the last two "Superman" films, Mr. Reeve found himself working more and more in TV. He appeared in the fact-based "Great Escape II: The Untold Story." The film dealt with the escape and the hunt for those Germans who ordered the execution of 50 allied airmen who escaped. One of his last feature films before his accident was John Carpenter’s remake of "Village of the Damned."
Mr. Reeve spent a great deal of the last nine years working to raise awareness and money for spinal cord injury research. He did return to acting and directing though. He starred in an interesting TV remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic "Rear Window." He directed two Made for TV films: "In the Gloaming" and "The Brooke Ellison Story." "The Brook Ellison Story" tells the true story of an 11-year-old girl who was hit by a car and paralyzed and how she fought back with her family’s love to graduate from Harvard. The film premieres on the A&E channel later this month. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends. Thanks for an inspirational third act.
SUSAN SHAH Died Oct. 10, 2004
Yet another cautionary tale from the world of Porn. Transexual porn actress Susan Shah apparently committed suicide at age 36. Ms. Shah fell 20 stories from a New York apartment building. She had suffered from AIDS for 10 years. Ms. Shah was born a man and underwent sexual reassignment surgery. She appeared in several porn films under the name Princess Shah. She recently directed the PG-13 short film "A Step Ahead," which dealt with her sex change. She recently enrolled in film school at NYU. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
JACQUES DERRIDA Died Oct. 10, 2004
Philosopher Jacques Derrida died of pancreatic cancer at age 74. Mr. Derrida was the father of the controversial school of philosophy known as Deconstruction. I didn’t get it in college and won’t suppose to try and explain it here. Mr. Derrida appeared as himself in the films "Ghost Dance," "Derrida" and "D’ailleurs, Derrida."
STAN SELLS Died Oct. 10, 2004
Actor Stan Sells died of pancreatic cancer at age 59. Mr. Sells was a semi-regular on Season 9 of the prime time soap opera "Dynasty." He played the character Gibson. Other credits include "Cagney & Lacey," "Jake and the Fatman," "The Love Boat," "Remington Steele" and the films "Judge and Jury," "Her Life as a Man" and "Blue Bayou." Mr. Sells served his country in Vietnam.
LILLIAN ZUCKERMAN Died Oct. 11, 2004
Background actress Lillian Zuckerman died of cancer at age 88. Ms. Zuckerman and her husband Morris appeared as extras and in bit parts in a number of films and TV shows filmed in South Florida. Ms. Zuckerman appeared in "Miami Vice," "Making Mr. Right," "Limbo," "Go For It!," "The Mean Season," "Nobody’ Perfekt" and "Deadbeat."
MARY ANITA LOOS VON SALTZA Died Oct. 11, 2004
Actress/writer/producer Mary Anita Loos von Saltza died from complications following a stroke at age 94. Ms. Loos was the niece of famed screenwriter Anita Loos. Ms. Von Saltza acted under the name Mary Loos during the 1930s. She had small roles in a few films including the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald movies "Rose Marie" and "Naughty Marietta." She wrote a number of films with her first husband Richard Sale. The pair was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award for the comedy Western "A Ticket to Tomahawk." Mr. Sale also directed the film. Ms. Von Saltza’a writing credits include "Gentlemen Mary Brunettes," the sequel to one of her Aunt’s hit film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." She also co-produced "Brunettes." Other writing credits include "Mr. Belvedere Goes to College," "Father was a Fullback" and "The French Line." Ms. Von Saltza, with Cari Beauchamp also edited and annotated the book "Anita Loos Rediscovered: Film Treatments and Fiction."
MICHAEL WEISBARTH Death announced Oct. 12, 2004
Emmy-winning producer Michael Weisbarth has died. His age, date and cause of death have not been released. Mr. Weisbarth won an Emmy for producing the special "Motown Returns to the Apollo." He also produced the classic mini-series "Lonesome Dove." Mr. Weisbarth was an exec with several media companies including Alliance Television, Fireworks Television, A&E, Coastline Productions, Embassy Productions, Columbia/Tristar, Norman Lear Productions and Motown. His credits include "All in the Family," "Maude," "Sanford and Son," "Palmerstown, U.S.A.," "Eleanor: First Lady of the World," "Grace Kelly" and "The Lost Battalion."
AFREEN BAIG Died Oct. 13, 2004
Pakastani actress/producer/director Afreen Baig was found murdered. Ms. Baig had been bound hand and foot, strangled and placed in the bathtub of her home. Ms. Baig’s autistic minor son was sound in the house in a state of shock. Ms. Baig’s age was reported as in her mid-30s. Ms. Baig began her career as an actress, but her greatest success was as the producer of the highly-popular Pakastani drama serials including "Anarkali." Ms. Baig won two Lux Style Awards for her drama serials. Ms. Baig was married to director Farooq Mengal. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
IVOR WOOD Died Oct. 13, 2004
Animator Ivor Wood died at age 72. Mr. Wood was know worldwide for a number of British children’s shows. His "Postman Pat," "Paddington Bear" and "The Wombles" have been loved by children in the UK and the rest of the world. Mr. Wood was a stop motion animator who worked with models and also 2-D cutouts as he did in the "Paddington Bear" episodes. Thanks for making our childhood bright!
CORDELL JACKSON Died Oct. 14, 2004
In 1968, I went to a birthday party. I was 9-years-old. Sitting in the corner of a cozy den was, what I then thought was a very old lady jamming on a red guitar. She destroyed a youthful illusion of mine. I’d watched "Shindig," "American Bandstand" and "The Ed Sullivan Show." Every Rock and Roll star I had seen looked no older than my teenage siblings. I embarrassed my mom when I asked her who the "old lady playing Rock and Roll was?" "She’s not old" my mother replied with much chagrin. "Yes she is! She’s as old as a grandma." Needless to say, I was yanked out of earshot. Later the guitar player asked me if I liked her playing. I was too shy to say anything. The lady grinned and said "You’re as young as you feel." She went back to pickin’ and grinnin’. At the time, Cordell Jackson was in her 40s. She looked old to me at the time, but the woman could make a guitar sing better than most people a third her age. Cordell Jackson, "The Rockin’ Granny" died at age 81 after a lengthy illness. Ms. Jackson recorded rockabilly records for RCA. She was a longtime staple on the Memphis Music scene. Ms. Jackson was rediscovered by younger audiences in the 1980s. While some may have considered her a novelty act, Ms. Jackson was a gifted musician and a mentor to many guitarists worldwide. She was the first female to write, perform, produce, record and distribute her own music. Ms. Jackson appeared in the film "The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag." She also gained worldwide notice when she appeared in the 1991 "Busweiser Sound Check" TV commercial with Brian Setzer.
SHELIA KEITH Died Oct. 14, 2004
British actress Sheila Keith died at age 84. Though Ms. Keith had a lengthy career on the stage, she was best known for a series of horror films she made with director Pete Walker. It is unfortunate that her talents were wasted by the pedestrian director Walker. Walker’s films were for the most part, sadistic gorefests of the basest kind. Ms. Keith played a sadistic prison warden in Walker’s "House of Whipcord." He best known role was as part of a cannibalistic farm couple in Walker’s "Frightmare." She also appeared in Walker’s tedious "Comeback," which starred Jack Jones as a rockstar who serenades the corpse of his late wife. Again, Keith played the villain. She also appeared in Walker’s "House of Long Shadows" opposite Desi Arnez, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, as well as in Walker's "House of Mortal Sin." Ms. Keith appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows during her career.
FRED LANDESMAN Died Oct. 15, 2004
Author Fred Landesman died just shy of his 55th birthday. Mr. Landesman was the author of the excellent, definitive book about the Duke: "The John Wayne Filmography." Mr. Landesman also co-wrote the book "Ronald Reagan: The Hollywood Years."
PIERRE SALINGER Died Oct. 16, 2004
Pierre Salinger, former press secretary to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson died of a heart attack at age 79. Mr. Salinger was a reporter of much repute when he became the press secretary for JFK. Following his stints at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Salinger worked for ABC, served in the Senate and wrote a number of books. His credibility as a reporter suffered greatly in the 1990s when he proposed conspiracy theorist scenarios for the crashes of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbee, Scotland and the TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, New York. Mr. Salinger played bit parts in the Doris Day comedy "Do Not Disturb" and the so-so thriller "The Destructors." He was a guest panalist on the TV quiz show "What’s My Line?" He played the aptly named character ‘Lucky Pierre’ in the 60s camp-classic TV series "Batman." Mr. Salinger has also appeared in a number of documentaries about the Kennedy presidency.
SUSANA CAMPOS Died Oct. 16, 2004
Argentinean actress Susana Campos died of complications from a brain tumor at age 70. Ms. Campos underwent surgery for her tumor in 1999. She was left with vision and movement problems. Ms. Campos acted on stage, in film and TV. In addition to working in her native land, she also made a number of films in Spain. Ms. Campos in nearly 100 films and TV shows in a career that dates back to 1947.
BETTY HILL Died Oct. 17, 2004
Betty Hill died after a long battle with cancer at age 85. In 1961, Betty and Barney Hill gained worldwide notoriety when they claimed to have been abducted by a UFO. Unlike a number of so-called UFO abductees, Betty and Barney Hill were not backwoods, beer-guzzling rednecks. The couple was educated, thoughtful and had good jobs. Of all the people who have claimed to be abducted by UFOs, the Hills were the one whose story was hardest to discredit. Ms. Hill appeared in the documentary "UFOs Are Real." The Hill’s story was made into the excellent 1975 Made for TV movie "The UFO Incident." Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde) played Betty and James Earl Jones portrayed Barney. Barney Hill died in 1976.
JULIUS HARRIS Died Oct. 17, 2004
Actor Julius Harris died of heart failure at age 81. Mr. Harris became a familiar face in film during the 1970s. While he appeared in many of the best known Blaxploitation films of that decade, he is probably best remembered as Tee Hee, the hitman with the deadly prosthetic hand in the Roger Moore’s first outing as James Bond: "Live and Let Die." Mr. Harris appeared one of my all time favorite comedies "Let’s Do It Again." In the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy, Mr. Harris played Bubbletop Woodson, one of the gangsters that Cosby and Poitier hoodwink. Harris also delivered a fine supporting performance in the excellent original version of "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three." If you have never seen "Pelham," you owe yourself a treat. Besides being a taut thriller, it contains some of the most memorable, if off-color dialogue in any film of the 1970s.
As I said before, Mr. Harris was a familiar face in the Blaxploitation films of the 70s. He appeared in "Shaft’s Big Score," "Superfly," "Hell Up In Harlem," "Blade," "Trouble Man," "Friday Foster" and "Black Caesar." Mr. Harris started his career on stage. He joined the Negro Ensemble Co. in New York. Mr. Harris was among the group of Black actors during the 1960s who helped break away from the stereotypical portrayal of Black characters so familiar during the days of the studio system. He was recently honored by the Director’s Guild for his part in that process.
Julius Harris appeared in over 70 films and TV shows. His other credits include the remake of "King Kong," "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," the landmark mini series "Rich Man, Poor Man," "Islands in the Stream," the lame comedy with one great joke "First Family," "The Blue and the Gray," "Darkman," "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man" and "Maniac Cop 3." Thanks for leaving us such a memorable screen villain.
WENDY CHARLES ACEY Died Oct. 20, 2004
Award-winning TV director and associate director Wendy Acey died of undisclosed causes. Ms. Acey shared two DGA awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical/Variety for her associate director contributions to the specials "America: A Tribute to Heroes" and "The 65th Annual Academy Awards." She was also nominated three other times in the same category for her work on "The 66th Annual Academy Awards," "The 68th Annual Academy Awards" and "The 75th Annual Academy Awards." Ms. Acey was the associate director on Stephen Frear’s live TV version remake of "Failsafe." That film too received a DGA nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for Movies for Television. Other credits include "Sparks," "Greg the Bunny," "Blossom," "Kathy & Mo: Parallel Lives" and "Motown 45."
PETER SABISTON Died Oct. 20, 2004
Film Literary agent/producer Peter Sabiston died of heart failure at age 83. Mr. Sabiston represented a number of writers including Lorenzo Semple Jr., Larry Cohen and Stuart Raffill. Mr. Sabiston produced several films of his client, writer/director Larry Cohen. Cohen is one of my favoite B-Movie director. Sabiston produced his great monster movie "Q: The Winged Serpent." Other producer credits include Cohen’s classic bad baby film "It’s Alive" and "Bone." "It’s Alive" has one of the best taglines of all time! "There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis’s baby: It’s Alive!" He was also a production assistant on the first sequel "It Lives Again." Mr. Sabiston was also the executive producer on several Blaxploitation films including "Hell Up in Harlem" and "Black Caesar." Mr. Sabiston served his country in the Marines during WWII.
BILL REED Died Oct. 22, 2004
Bill Reed, an original member of the 1950s group "The Diamonds" died at age 68. "The Diamonds" hit the charts with the songs "The Stroll," a cover of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," and "Little Darlin." Mr. Reed sang bass in the vocal quartet. The Diamonds sang the theme song of the film "Kathy-O." They appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "American Bandstand." They also made a cameo in the Rock and Roll movie "The Big Beat." Their original song "The Stroll" was the centerpiece in the sock hop scene of George Lucas’s "American Graffiti."
KATHRINE VICTOR Died Oct. 22, 2004
Actress/animation checker Katherine Victor died of a stroke at age 81. She was known to B-Movie fans for her six films by director Jerry Warren. She was best known for playing the title role in "The Wild World of Batwoman." She also starred in Warren’s "Teenage Zombies," "Creature of the Walking Dead" and "House of Black Death." Other acting credits include "The Cape Canaveral Monsters" and the TV series "Ben Casey." In addition to her acting background, Ms. Victor was an animation checker for a number of animation houses including Disney TV, Don Bluth, Filmation and Hanna-Barbera.
DIANA SINDEN Died Oct. 22, 2004
Lady Diana Sinden died at age 77. Lady Sinden acted under the name Diana Mahony. She was the wife of actor Sir Donald Sinden. Ms. Sinden began her career as a stage actress. After her 1948 marriage to Mr. Sinden, she retreated from the stage, taking fewer and fewer roles. She appeared in the 1978 mini-series "The Lost Boys" as well as in an episode of her husband’s hit TV series "Two’s Company."
ROBERT MERRILL Died Oct. 23, 2004
Opera singer Robert Merrill died at home at age 85. Mr. Merrill was a mainstay at the Met for 30 years. The baritone also sang for New York Yankee fans, having sung "The Star Spangle Banner" on opening day every year since 1969. Mr. Merrill had a hilarious cameo in "Anger Management" during which he decked Adam Sandler. I don’t know why old men kicking Adam Sandler’s backside is funny, but it is a gag that has worked for Mr. Sandler in a couple of films so far. Mr. Merrill co-starred with Alan Young and Dinah Shore in "Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick." He appeared as himself in a number of TV shows.
BURT BURNAM Died Oct. 25, 2004
Assistant director/production manager Burt Burnam died in his sleep at age 60. Mr. Burnam served as assistant director on several feature films and TV series. His AD credits include "Star Trek V: The Fianl Frontier," "Courage Under Fire," "Up the Creek," "Out Cold," "Northern Exposure" and "Magnum P.I." His production manager credits include many TV series and TV films such as "The Gilmore Girls," "Underworld," "The Lone Ranger" and "Rush."
JOHN PEEL Died Oct. 25, 2004
British DJ John Peel died of a heart attack at age 65 while on vacation in Peru. Mr. Peel was perhaps England’s most influential DJ for nearly four decades. He worked in the US several years before returning home and joining the BBC’s Radio 1 at its inception. He worked for Radio 1 until his death. To my fellow ignorant Yanks whose only exposure to Radio 1 is through Mike Myers singing "BBC1, BBC2, BBC 3…" in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" the task becomes: how to describe Mr. Peel’s influence on our more well-spoken Baby-Boomer cousins across the pond? Think Dick Clark during his "American Bandstand" heyday, think Alan Freed during the late 1950s, think Murray the K during the early 1960s. John Peel was the man that exposed the Brits to everything from Rock and Roll to Punk to Reggae and beyond. He was a friend of the musician. Mr. Peel received demos tapes from bands all over the world. He played what he liked. He played what he thought should be exposed to the world. John Peel broke a number of bands and music genres long before they hit the mainstream. Mr. Peel appeared as himself in a number of films, music documentaries and TV shows during his career. He was a presenter on the British TV series "Top of the Pops" at one time. One note of trivia, when Mr. Peel was a DJ in Dallas Texas, he was present at the press conference where Lee Harvey Oswald was presented to the world. Those with sharp eyes can spot Mr. Peel in the archived footage of the event.
DALE JOHNSTON Died Oct. 26, 2004
Sound editor Dale Johnston died at age 71. Mr. Johnson was a multi-Emmy nominated sound editor. He won an Emmy for his work on Steven Spielberg’s debut TV movie "Duel." He was nominated for two Emmys for his work on the series "The Six Million Dollar Man" and yet another for his work on the series "Lou Grant." Mr. Johnston worked on feature films also. His film credits include "The Shawshank Redemption," "Return of the Living Dead," "Cannery Row," "Carny," "What’s Love Got to Do With It," "Point of No Return" and "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit."
GIL MELLE Died Oct. 28, 2004
Composer Gil Melle died of a heart attack at age 73. Mr. Melle scored over 70 films and TV shows. A noted jazz musician, Mr. Melle became a poineer of electronic instruments. He built some of the earliest synthesizers and drum machines. Mr. Melle was also a noted painter. He painted the covers of albums by Miles Davies and Thelonious Monk among others. Mr. Melle’s film and TV credits include "The Andromeda Strain," "Rod Serling’s Night Gallery," "The Organization," "Bone," "That Certain Summer," "You’ll Like My Mother," "Tenafly," "The President’s Plane is Missing," "Frankenstein: The True Story," "The Night Stalker," "Embryo," "The Sentinel," "Starship Invasions," "Attica," "Borderline," "Blood Beach," "World War III," "Fatal Vision," "The Deliberate Stranger" and "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers."
JOHN ROBERT WILLIAMS Died Oct. 28, 2004
Pioneer Welsh film director and journalist John Robert Williams died at age 90. Mr. Williams directed the 1949 film "The Heritage." The film was one of the first movies with a Welsh soundtrack. It looked at small town life in Wales before WWII. In addition to "The Heritage," Mr. Williams also directed several short films and feature-length documentaries. Mr. Williams was the editor of the weekly mewspaper "The Welshman" for 17 years.
CHARLES F. WHEELER Died Oct. 28, 2004
Oscar-nominated cinematographer Charles F. Wheeler died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 88. Mr. Wheeler was nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar for his work on "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Wheeler directed five camera crews through the American scenes of the US/Japanese co-production about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Wheeler was nominated for an Emmy for shooting the biopic "Babe" about female golfer Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Mr. Wheeler was given two special awards. He received the 2001 President’s Award by the American Society of Cinematographers. Mr. Wheeler was a combat photographer in the Navy during WWII. He was part of the crew that filmed the Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri. He began his career as a camera operator. He worked on three films with director Stanley Kramer: "Inherit the Wind," "Judgment at Nuremberg" and "It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." Mr. Wheeler was the cinematographer on over 50 films and TV shows. His credits include "Yours, Mine and Ours," "Che!," "Cold Turkey," "Silent Running," "Slaughter’s Big Score," "Truck Turner," "The Cat From Outer Space," the original version of "Freaky Friday" and "The Lindberg Kidnapping Case."
VAUGHN MEADER Died Oct. 29, 2004
Comedian Vaughn Meader died of chronic pulmonary disease at age 68. Mr. Meader became an overnight sensation during the Kennedy administration. The stand-up comic did an excellent impression of JFK. His routine became the centerpiece of the Grammy winning album "The First Family." During his heyday, Mr. Meader appeared on a number of TV shows including "The Jack Paar Show" and "What’s My Line?" Mr. Meader’s comedy career died when JFK was assassinated in 1963. Mr. Meader had a cameo in the sex comedy "Linda Lovelace for President." He turned in a great supporting performance as radio columnist Walter Winchell in the Tony Curtis gangster biopic "Lepke."
NATALIE COOPER Died Oct. 29, 2004
Writer/teacher Natalie Cooper died of ovarian cancer at age 65. Ms. Cooper adapted Jane Rule’s novel "Desert of the Heart" for the screen. The film "Desert Hearts" was one of the first mainstream films to deal with lesbian love in a straightforward, honest and non-exploitative way. The film starred Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau and was directed by Donna Dietch. Ms. Cooper was also a respected screenwriting teacher. In addition, she was the vice-president of Pelican Media in San Francisco. Pelican Media is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in environmental films. Ms. Cooper was the editorial consultant on Pelican Media’s upcoming film "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill."
JOHN PARR MILLER Died Oct. 29, 2004
Disney animator and children’s book illustrator John Parr Miller died at age 91. Mr. Miller started work for Disney in the story department. He was one of the artists asked to start the character model department for Disney. Mr. Miller created characters for the films "Pinocchio," "Fantasia" and "Dumbo." Mr. Miller was best known for his children’s book illustrations. He worked on many of the Little Golden Books including "The Little Red Hen." Mr. Miller served his country in the US Navy during WWII.
PEGGY RYAN Died Oct. 30, 2004
Actress/dancer Peggy Ryan died of complications following two strokes at age 80. Ms. Ryan was paired with Donald O’Connor in thirteen films. The pair tap-danced through such films as "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Follow the Boys" and "Bowery to Broadway." TV fans knew Ms. Ryan as Jenny Sherman, secretary to Jack Lord’s McGarrett in the long-running TV series "Hawaii 5-0." Ms. Ryan began dancing as a child. She appeared in a number of films while still a child including "The Grapes of Wrath." Ms. Ryan also appeared on the first episodes of both Ed Sullivan and Milton Bearle’s TV shows!
DONALD BRISCOE Died Oct. 31, 2004
Actor Donald Briscoe died at age 64. Ironically, the actor known best for playing a vampire on the TV series "Dark Shadows" passed away on Halloween. Briscoe acted on both stage and screen. He was a regular on the soap operas "The Guiding Light" and "Days of Our Lives" but is best remembered for the various roles he played on the gothic horror show "Dark Shadows." Mr. Briscoe also appeared in one of the theatrical spin-offs "House of Dark Shadows." Mr. Briscoe retired from acting in the 1970s and went into the real estate business in Memphis Tennessee.
HAL SITOWITZ Died Oct. 31, 2004
Writer/producer/director Hal Sitowitz died of lung cancer at age 71. Mr. Sitowitz was nominated for a WGA for his teleplay "In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan." Anyone around in the 1970s remembers the case of a young lady who slipped into a coma leaving her parents with the tough decision of removing her from life support when it became apparent she was brain dead. Mr. Sitowitz was known for tackling such serious subjects. He wrote the scripts for such groundbreaking TV movies as "Little Ladies of the Night," "A Last Cry For Help," "The Face of Rage," "Stranger in the Family" and "In the Best Interest of the Child." Mr. Sitowitz also directed the teen-suicide film "A Last Cry For Help." Mr. Sitowitz also wrote scripts for the TV series "Gunsmoke," "Cannon," "The Rookies," "The Cimarron Strip" and "The Streets of San Francisco."
MARK LEDFORD Died Oct. 31, 2004
Musician Mark Ledford died at age 44. Heart failure is suspected. Mr. Ledford leant his guitar talents to a number of musicians including Pat Metheny, Joe Locke’s Storytelling Band, Branford Marsalis, Prince, Mary K. Bilge and Jennifer Lopez. He also sang with Bobby McFerrin. Mr. Ledford appeared in the concert video "Pat Metheny Group: Imaginary Day Live."