RUSSELL FAITH Died Sept. 1, 2004
Composer Russell Faith died at age 75 following a stroke. Mr. Faith wrote songs for many of the great singers of the last century including Frank Sinatra. His songs were featured in such films as "Love in a Goldfish Bowl," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Beach Party," "Operation Bikini," "North to Alaska" and "Valley of the Swords."
CHUCO VIERA Died Sept. 1, 2004
Puerto Rican actor Chuco Viera died of respiratory failure following an August 21 auto accident that left him in a coma. Mr. Viero was 72. He was at one time married to actress Kate Garrity. The pair appeared in the dance film "Manhattan Merengue!" Mr. Viera’s other credits include "Fascination," "Weekend War" and "A Place Called Today." He also appeared in a number of Hispanic TV series.
DICK EVERITT Died Sept. 1, 2004
British TV producer Disk Everitt died at age 71. Mr. Everitt was a 30-year veteran of Granada TV in the UK. His credits include many of the most popular TV series in Great Britain. Mr. Everitt’s credits include "Coronation Street," "The Man in Room 17," "The Corridor People," "The Fell Sergeant," "Strangers," and "The XYY Man." Mr. Everitt left Granada TV for the BBC where he produced "Lovejoy."
ROBERT COTOIA Died Sept. 3, 2004
Robert Cotoia, keyboardist for John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band died at age 51. The band gained national recognition when they provided the songs and music for the fictional movie band "Eddie and the Cruisers." They provided music for the original film and its sequel "Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!" The Brown Beaver Band also provided music for the Sylverster Stallone films "Cobra" and "Rocky IV."
BILLY GRAF Died Sept. 3, 2004
Assistant director/production manager Billy Graf died after a lengthy illness. He was 59. Mr. Graf was the son of producer William Graf (A Man For All Seasons, Sinful Davey). Mr. Graf was the assistant director and production manager on the soft-core thriller "Pleasure in Paradise" and production manger on "A Sensuous Summer."
SERGE MARQUAND Died Sept. 4, 2004
French actor Serge Marquand died of acute leukemia at age 74. Mr. Marquand was the brother of actors Christian Marquand and Nadine Trintignant. His niece, actress Marie Trintignant was murdered by her rock-star boyfriend in 2003. Mr. Marquand appeared in over 100 films. He worked with such directors as Frederico Fellini and Roger Vadim. Mr. Marquand made his film debut in and was second unit director on Roger Vadim’s "Dangerous Liaisons 1960." He appeared in seven films by his friend Roger Vadim including "Barbarella" and "Blood and Roses." Mr. Marquand appeared in the Fellini directed episode of "Spirits of the Dead." He was part of the all-star cast in Otto Preminger’s terrorist thriller "Rosebud." He had a standout cameo in Sam Fuller’s WWII film "The Big Red One." He played a patient in an insane asylum who thinks himself cured when he takes up arms and begins to kill those around him. Mr. Marquand appeared in a number of lesser-known spaghetti Westerns during the 1960s.
MICHAEL LOUDEN Died Sept. 4, 2004
Actor Michael Louden died of undisclosed causes at age 40. Mr. Louden was best known for his starring role on the Soap Opera "As the World Turns." Mr. Louden was also active in the theater. His other film and TV credits include "Space Copwboys," "Arena," "The Langoliers," "Arli$$," "Rude Awakening," "Intermission," "Another World" and "One Life to Live."
JAMES PAGE Died Sept. 4, 2004
James Page died of cardiac arrest at age 68. Mr. Page founded the "Journal of Medical Emergency Services." He fought to promote the inclusion of EMTs in the nation’s various fire departments. He was an LA Fire Battalion Chief when he began is fight. Mr. Page was hired by producer Jack Webb as a technical advisor and writer for the hit 1970s TV series "Emergency!"
NANCY FOGARTY Died Sept. 4, 2004
Music editor Nancy Fogarty died at age 54 after a short illness. Ms. Fogarty was the wife of sound editor Jim Henrikson and sister of fellow music editor Kathy Bennett. She had over 30 film credits including "Urban Cowboy," "Footloose," the excellent Talking Heads concert film "Stop Making Sense," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Field of Dreams," "Young Guns," "Titanic," the remake of "Mighty Joe Young" and "Deep Impact." She was on the board of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.
STEVE WAYNE Died Sept. 5, 2004
Actor Steve Wayne died of cancer at age 84. Mr. Wayne appeared in bit parts in a number of films during the 1940s and 50s. He was usually appeared uncredited. Mr.Wayne worked in such films as "Since You Went Away," "Stalag 17," "Bedtime for Bonzo" and "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer." He later appeared on the TV shows "Dragnet" and "The Cisco Kid." He worked in commercials and hosted the local Los Angeles TV talent show "Rocket to Stardom." The band The Rumors were one of the prize winners on "Rocket to Stardom."
ELLY SCHNEIDER (TINY DOLL) Died Sept. 6, 2004
Actress Elly Schneider died at age 90. Along with her brother Harry Earles and sisters Daisy and Grace, she was part of The Doll Family. Elly was billed as Tiny Doll. The midget actors appeared in a number of films as well as the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. She appeared in "The Wizard of Oz." She was one of only 10 surviving Munchkins. Tiny Doll also appeared with brother Harry and sister Gracie in Tod Browning’s classic horror film "Freaks." Her brother Harry was the film’s co-star. Harry Earles was the best known of the Doll Family. He co-starred with Lon Chaney Sr. in Tod Browning’s silent film "The Unholy Three." Browning remade the film in 1930 as a sound movie. Again Earles c-starred with the Man of a Thousand Faces in what became Lon Chaney Sr’s only talkie. Elly was the last surviving member of The Doll Family.
CYNTHIA FRIEDLAND Died Sept. 6, 2004
TV producer Cynthia Friedland died of cancer. She produced the USA Network’s cult classic TV series "Night Flight." The 1980s program mixed music videos, B-movies, animation and short films in a hit and miss miss-mash that was usually very entertaining. I remember filling many hour of insomnia with "Night Flight." She also produced and appeared in the TV series "Dynaman."
HARVEY WHEELER Died Sept. 6, 2004
Writer Harvey Wheeler died of cancer at age 85. May I suggest a great double feature: "Dr. Strangelove" and "Fail Safe." Both films deal with the horrific possibility of thermo-nuclear war. One is a comedy, the other a drama and both are scary as Hell. Harvey Wheeler wrote the novel "Fail Safe." The fail safe line is a point at which US bombers would patrol and await orders to either return to base or attack the former Soviet Union. During the height of the Cold War, B-52s at their fail-safe point deterred Soviet nuclear aggression. What if a pilot got the wrong code and attacked the USSR? Both films deal with the question. Wheeler’s novel was made into a feature film directed by Sidney Lumet. The novel was also presented as a rare Live TV event in 2000. Stephen Frears directed the Live TV production. Both versions will send chills down your spines.
LAWRENCE BACHMANN Died Sept. 7, 2004
Writer/producer Lawrence Bachmann died at age 92. Mr. Bachmann was the son of producer/agent J.G. Bachmann. Mr. Bachman wrote screenplays during the 1930s through the 50s before becoming a producer. He produced such films as "Whose Life Is It Anyway?," the excellent horror films "Children of the Damned" and "Night Must Fall" and the Margaret Rutherford/Miss. Marple films "Murder at the Gallop," "Murder Ahoy" and "Murder Most Foul." Mr. Bachmann’s writing credits include several of the "Dr. Kildare" films, "Ten Seconds to Hell" and "Follow the Boys." He served his country in the US Army Air Corp during WWII.
JUDI ROSNER Died Sept. 7, 2004
Production coordinator Judi Rosner died of lung cancer at age 61. She worked on a number of films and TV shows during a career dating back to the 1970s. She worked on a several of my personal favorites. She was director Tom Gries secretary on the great Charles Bronson mystery/Western "Breakheart Pass." She did post-production work on the 1980s horror classic "The Hitcher." If you want to wash the bad taste of Rene Harlin’s "Exorcist: The Beginning" out of your psyche, rent the over-looked but terrifying "Exorcist III." Ms. Rosner was production coordinator on that one also. Among her other credits are "Man on the Moon," "Moon Over Parador," "Barton Fink," "The Last of the Mohicans" and "In Country."
MIRIAM PIRES Died Sept.7, 2004
Brazilian actress Miriam Pires died of toxoplasmosis at age 77. Ms. Pires acted in 49 Brazilian TV series during her 40 plus year career. International audiences saw Ms. Pires in the Sonia Braga films "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "Gabriela." Ms. Pires received the Best Supporting Actress award at the 1978 Brazilian Festival of Brazilian Cinema for her work in the "Chuvas de Verao."
HARRY DANIELS Died Sept. 7, 2004
Canadian actor and civil rights activist Harry Daniels died at age 63. Mr. Daniels worked on behalf of the Canadian aboriginal people the Metis. Mr. Daniels worked to gain constitutional recognition of the Metis Nation. Mr. Daniels appeared in the mini series "Big Bear" and the TV series "Renegadepress.com."
FRITHA GOODEY Died Sept. 8, 2004
Actress Fritha Goodey was found dead in her apartment by her father. Ms. Goodey died of stab wounds. A suicide note was found and the police do not believe her death was a homicide. She was 32 years old. Ms. Goodey played Hugh Grant’s bitter ex-girlfriend in the 2002 movie "About a Boy." Ms. Goodey appeared in several TV shows and also on stage.
FRANK THOMAS Died Sept. 8, 2004
Another of Walt Disney’s "Nine Old Men" has died. Frank Thomas died at the age of 92. He was one of Walt Disney’s top animators. He worked on Disney’s groundbreaking "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." It was the first feature length animated film. Mr. Thomas animated some of Disney’s most beloved characters. He drew the spaghetti scene from "Lady and the Tramp." Among his many other credits are Disney’s "Bambi," "Dumbo," "Fantasia," "The Three Caballeros," "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Sleeping Beauty," "One Hundred and One Dalmations," "The Sword in the Stone," "The Rescuers," "The Fox and the Hound," "Peter Pan," "Cinderella," "Mary Poppins," "Alice in Wonderland" and my personal favorite "Pinocchio." Mr. Thomas and fellow animator Ollie Johnson were the subjects of the documentary film "Frank and Ollie" which was directed by his son Theodore. He and Mr. Johnson co-wrote four books on Disney and animation. In addition, Mr. Thomas also co-wrote "The Aristocats" and "The Rescuers."
MATIAS PRATS Died Sept. 8, 2004
Famed Spanish radio announcer Matias Prats died of natural causes at age 90. Mr. Prats had one of the most familiar voices in Spanish media. He announced play-by-play for soccer matches and bullfights. His career began under Franco’s regime in 1939. He did voice work and appeared in a number of Spanish films and TV shows. Mr. Prats also directed several documentary films. He is the father of Spanish TV journalist Matias Prats Jr. The Spanish ATV Awards bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on Mr. Prats in 2001.
ROSE GAIOCH Died Sept. 9, 2004
Former All-American Girls Baseball player Rose Gaioch died at age 89. Ms. Gaioch played for the Rockford Peaches between 1944 and 1951. She started as an outfielder but eventually became the team’s pitcher. She won 20 games during her last year. The Rockford Peaches inspired the makers of the movie "A League of Their Own." Rosie O’Donnell’s character in the film was based on Rose Giaoch.
CAITLIN CLARKE Died Sept. 9, 2004
Actress Caitlin Clarke died at age 52 after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer. Ms. Clarke was best known as the star of Touchstone’s excellent fantasy film "Dragonslayer." Ms. Clarke played Valerian, a girl who pretends to be a boy in order to avoid being sacrificed to the fearsome dragon of the film’s title. As a footnote, Ms. Clarke was the first actress to appear nude in a Disney produced film! "Dragonslayer" was her first movie. Ms. Clarke only appeared in a handful of films. Her second screen appearance was a cameo as a prostitute in "Crocodile Dundee." Other credits include "Penn and Teller Get Killed," "The Stepford Husbands," "The Mayflower Madam" and "Blown Away." Ms. Clarke had a prolific stage career, appearing in 40 plays including a two year run on Broadway in "Titanic: The Musical." She was also a teacher. Ms. Clarke passed on her love of acting to students at The University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Musical Theater. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
O.L. DUKE Died Sept. 10, 2004
Actor O.L. Duke was killed in a car crash in New York. He was 51. Mr. Duke was cut-off by another driver and pushed into oncoming traffic where he had a head-on collision with another car. He had just finished a performance in the play "Waitin’ 2 End Hell" when the accident occurred. Mr. Duke was a successful stage actor who also appeared in several films and TV shows. He played Detective Bronze in the Denzel Washington thriller "Out of Time." He also appeared with Denzel Washington in "Antwone Fisher." Mr. Duke first gained critical praise when he replaced Mr. Washington in the original production of the play "A Soldier’s Story." Mr. Duke had a memorable guest role on the HBO prison drama "Oz." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
GLYN OWEN Died Sept. 10, 2004
English actor Glyn Owen died of a cancer related illness at age 76. Mr. Owen had over 600 TV appearances to his credit. Among his many British TV credits are "Howard’s Way," "The Rat Catchers," "Dr. Who," "Richard the Lionheart," "Doomwatch," "The Brothers," "The Trollenberg Terror," "All Creatures Great and Small," "Danger Man," "William Tell," "Emergency Ward-10," "Survivors" and "The Saint." "Emergency Ward-10" was one of the first Soap Operas in the UK. He was the father of two children including actor is son Lloyd Owen (Monarch of the Glen).
RICHARD KARLAN Died Sept. 10, 2004
Actor Richard Karlan died of pneumonia at age 85. Mr. Karlan appeared in nearly 90 films and TV shows. The supporting actor appeared in "The Missiles of October," "Star!," "Pocket Full of Miracles," "Simon and Simon," "The Blue Knight," "Kojak," "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy," "The Invaders," "Get Smart," the TV series "Mission Impossible," "Ben Casey," "It Takes a Thief," "The Twilight Zone" and many others. He also wrote two novels.
ANDREA WONFER Died Sept. 10, 2004
British TV producer Andrea Wonfer died of breast cancer at age 60, Ms. Wonfer was an executive with the ITV network. She was an executive for the network for ten years and oversaw international expansion to include movies and TV shows for export to the US. She created the TV series "Bykers Grove" and was executive producer of the series "The Tube." She left ITV in 2002 and set up her own independent production company.
JACK IVERSON Died Sept. 10, 2004
Animator/actor/stuntman and founding member of the philanthropist group Reel Cowboys Jack Iverson died at age 77. Mr. Iverson was an animator with Walt Disney Studios before WWII. Mr. Iverson served his country as a Marine during the war. He returned to Disney following the war and also did animation for Hanna Barbera. Mr. Iverson appeared in a number of feature and TV Westerns. In 1997 he co-founded Reel Cowboys with several other character actors including Jon Locke. Reel Cowboys raises money to help abused and underprivileged children. Mr. Iverson also was an illustrator for Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post. He also did the illustrations for his wife, actress Eleni Iverson’s book "Look Younger Without Plastic Surgery." Thanks for making a difference.
FRED EBB Died Sept. 11, 2004
Oscar-nominated lyricist Fred Ebb died of a heart attack at either age 76 or 77. He guarded his age. Mr. Ebb and writing partner John Kander were nominated for Best Song Oscars for their work on the films "Funny Lady" and "Chicago." Kander and Ebb wrote the scores for eleven Broadway shows. Ebb wrote the words and Kander wrote the music. Mr. Ebb’s film credits include Bob Fosse’s "Cabaret," Martin Scorsese’s "New York, New York," "Funny Lady" and "Lucky Lady." The pair won Tony Awards for "Cabaret," "Woman of the Year" and "Chicago."
HANK SCHLOSS Died Sep. 11, 2004
Director and editor Hank Schloss died of complications from diabetes at age 82. Mr. Schloss was a long-time director for Walt Disney Studios. He directed the first film for Disney’s TV series "The Wonderful World of Color." Mr. Schloss’s films for Disney include "Flash the Teenage Otter," "The Feather Farm" and "Rascal." Mr. Schloss left Disney and turned his focus to film editing. He was very active in the Editor’s Guild during the last 13 years of his career. Mr. Schloss served his country in the US Army Air Corp during WWII. He was a ball turret gunner who saw action over Germany.
JEROME CHODOROV Died Sept. 12, 2004
Writer Jerome Chodorov died at age 93. Mr. Chodorov was best known for co-writing the play "My Sister Eileen." The play was filmed in 1942 with Rosiland Russell and again in 1955 with Janet Leigh. Several other of his plays were later filmed. They include "Junior Miss," "A Talent for Murder," "Tunnel of Love" and "Happy Anniversary." In addition to his string of successful Broadway plays, Mr. Chodorov also wrote a number of original screenplays. Those film credits include "Conspiracy," "Dancing Feet," "Rich Man, Poor Girl" and "Lucky Luciano." Mr. Chodorov was blacklisted after being named as a communist before HUAC.
DEE DEE GLASS Died Sept. 13, 2004
Activist filmmaker/author Dee Dee Glass died of leukemia at age 55. The American born filmmaker moved to England where she worked extensively for the BBC. Ms. Glass wrote the book "All My Fault: Why Women Don’t Leave Abusive Men." She made documentaries that focused on those less fortunate in society. She produced the 1985 feature film "Sacred Hearts," which looked a life in a convent school during WWII. The comedy starred Anna Massey.
OVE SPROGUE Died Sept. 14, 2004
Danish actor Ove Sprogue died at age 84. Mr. Sprogue was one of Denmark’s most prolific actors, appearing in nearly 200 films and TV shows. He was best known for playing gangster Egon Olsen in a series of thirteen comedy films beginning with the 1968 film "The Olsen Gang." He appeared with 50s sci-fi Icon John Agar in Sidney Pink’s "Journey to the Seventh Planet." Sidney Pink was also responsible for the Danish monster movie "Reptilicus."
FRANK ATTARDI Died Sept. 15, 2004
Actor Frank Attardi died of lung cancer. He played Beau Wexler on the soap opera "Another World." Mr. Attardi was the husband of soap opera actress Linda Dano. The couple had been married for nearly 27 years.
JOHNNY RAMONE Died Sept. 15, 2004
Johnny Ramone (born John Cummings) is the third founding member of the punk rock band The Ramones to die in the last three years. Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer at age 55. Only founding member Tommy Ramone survives. Johnny Ramone was the band’s guitarist. The Ramones influenced countless bands from the British and American Punks to the grunge bands of the 90s. Their songs have appeared on the soundtracks of numerous films and TV shows. The band also appeared in a number of films and documentaries. The high point of their film career was and remains the 1979 cult classic "Rock and Roll High School," which starred 70s fantasy girl P.J. Soles. The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
GORDON PIPER Died Sept. 15, 2004
Australian actor Gordon Piper died of a heart attack at age 72. Mr. Piper appeared in the films "My Brilliant Career" and "The Dark Room." He was a regular on the Australian TV series "A Country Practice" for eleven years. Mr. Piper suffered from diabetes. He lost both of his legs in 1997. In 1999 Mr. Piper was charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl. He was found not guilty at trial.
BERNARD GRIBBLE Died Sep. 24, 2004
Renowned British film editor Bernard Gribble died at age 77. Mr. Gribble began his career at Ealing Studios. Hafter a long career in England, Mr. Gribble moved to the US and continued to work. His work was honored with many nominations including two Guild of British Film Editors Awards, an Emmy Award, an American Cinema Editors (ACE) Award and a CableAce Award. Mr. Gribble edited nearly 100 films and TV shows. His many credits include such notable films as "The Man in the White Suit," "The Green Man," "Steptoe and Son," "Tales That Witness Madness," "Death Wish," "The Sentinel," "Silver Bears," "Motel Hell," "The Winds of War," "White Dog," "The Patricia Neal Story" and "Cadyshack II."
JACK WEBB MINOR Died Sept. 16, 2004
Auto and TV executive Jack Webb Minor died of pulmonary fibrosis a few weeks shy of his 84th birthday. Mr. Minor was an executive with Chrysler when he discovered bandleader Lawrence Welk. Mr. Minor was instrumental in bringing Lawrence Welk to TV with Dodge Motors as sponsor. Mr. Minor had a lifelong association with "The Lawrence Welk Show." He appeared as himself in a 1957 episode of "This Is Your Life" honoring Mr. Welk. In the 1960s, Mr. Minor was VP of the Don Federson Television Production Company.
IZORA ARMSTEAD Died Sept. 16, 2004
Singer Izora Armstead died of heart failure at age 62. Ms. Armstead and Martha Walsh were "The Weather Girls." The pair is best known for their Grammy-winning disco anthem "It’s Raining Men." They broke the mold of typical girl groups. The pair were older, plus-sized women who showed they were sexy beings. "It’s Raining Men" was a song that empowered men. Ironically it became a Gay anthem. Their hit song appeared in the film "Bridget Jones’s Diary" as well as the TV series "In Living Color."
LESTER BERKE Died Sept. 17, 2004
Writer/director/producer Lester Berke died the day before his 70th birthday. Mr. Berke began his career as an assistant director on a number of TV series. He worked on over 60 episodes of "Rod Serling’s Night Gallery." Other AD credits include "The Munsters," "Thriller" and "The Challengers." He wrote a number of episodes of "The Rockford Files" as well as acting as unit production manager on the series. Mr. Berke produced such TV series as "Quincy M.D." and "Airwolf." He directed shows on "Quincy M.D." as well as the obscure 1950s sci-fi film "The Lost Missile" with Robert Loggia.
MARVIN MITCHELSON Died Sept. 18, 2004
Attorney Marvin Mitchelson died of cancer at age 76. Mr. Mitchelson made headlines from the 1960s through the 80s. He argued before the US Supreme Court and won the right for court appointed attorneys for the indigent during the appeals process. He was best known as an attorney for the stars of Hollywood. Mitchelson’s most famous case was the Lee Marvin/Michelle Triola ‘palimony’ case during the 1980s. He played himself in an episode of "The Golden Girls."
RUSS MEYER Died Sept. 18, 2004
Soft-core auteur Russ Meyer died of complications from pneumonia at age 82. Meyer’s nudie films of the 1950s were a precursor of the sexual revolution that swept the world during the 1960s. Meyer’s films were outrageous fantasies involving large breasted women who could break any man’s back through either love-making or a bar-room brawl. Meyer’s women were untamable goddesses. They chose their lovers and were never seduced. Meyer’s paradigm was pure redneck fantasy: lots of nudity, humor and a violent climax.
My high-school buddy Bruce Ingram and I snuck into our first Russ Meyer film in 1974. We were supposed to be at Sunday night youth group at church. Instead, we were at the Southbrook Four Theater in Memphis. "Super Vixens" was kind of a let down. As horny 15-year-olds, we were looking for something more explicit. Russ Meyer didn’t do hardcore. He didn’t like hardcore. He liked fantasy. While his films paved the way for XXX films, he rejected their clinical reduction of sex. There were no money shots in a Russ Meyer film. Meyer’s films recaptured the mystery of dirty jokes told by fourth graders with no understanding what lay before them. Meyer’s work was bawdy, ribald and fun. Like the characters in Sergio Lenone’s films, Russ Meyer’s women and men were part god, part human. His world was a mythical place where passions ran high and people would die to lay with one of Meyer’s Vixens. Meyer’s Vixens became sexual Icons of the 60s and 70s. His leading ladies include Edy Williams, Erica Gavin, Tura Satana, Haji, Kitten Natividad, Uschi Digard.
Russ Meyer made films as a teenager. When WWII exploded, he became a combat newsreel cinematographer. Following the war, Meyer turned to professional photography. He shot Playboy centerfolds in the 1950s and did still work on a number of Hollywood studio productions. Meyer began making nudie films in the 50s. "The Immoral Mr. Teas" put Meyer on the map. The 1959 film grossed over One Million dollars and allowed Meyer the freedom to make his independent T&A epics. His masterpiece came in 1965. "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" followed three strippers out for some good old sex and violence fun. The film’s heavy lesbian overtones were groundbreaking at the time. Tura Satana, Haji and Lori Williams starred in this over the top, machinegun rapid psycho fantasy. The film still works today. In 1968, Russ Meyer had the distinction of directing the first film to receive and X Rating from the MPAA. "Vixens" starred Erica Gavin as a married nymphomaniac. The tagline went: Is She Woman Or …Animal? The film was a huge box office success and lead to a contract with 20th Century Fox.
Russ Meyer made two studio films before retreating to the comfort of his own independence. "Beneath the Valley of the Dolls" was an in-name only sequel to the 1967 film. The screenplay was written by noted film critic Roger Ebert. A synopsis of this cult classic would require too much space. The film grossed more than "Vixen!" Meyer’s second studio film is his one unmitigated failure. Meyer was hired to direct "The Seven Minutes." Based on the Irving Wallace novel, "The Seven Minutes" dealt with censorship and rape among other topics. It is stilted and just down-right bad. Tom Selleck made one of his earliest film appearances in the movie. Meyer left Fox to return to his own foxes. The 1970s were not the best years for Meyer. He remained true to his vision and his films made money. Meyer had his following, but his view of sex had been overshadowed by the Porno Chic revolution. Married and unmarried couples were flocking to movie theaters to watch the hardcore films of the Mitchell Brothers and Gerard Damiano.
Russ Meyer was of another time. A time of sweaty passion in the back seat at the Drive-In. A time of curiosity and exploration. A time before herpes and AIDS. Sex was fun and mysterious. Sex done right was raunchy and exhausting. No matter what you think about his subject matter, Russ Meyer remains an example to young indie filmmakers. He wrote, produced, photographed, edited and directed almost all of his films. He was proof that if you have a cinematic vision and the determination to follow through on it, you can make movies.
MOWBRAY BERKELEY Died Sept. 18, 2004
Set decorator Mowbray Berkeley died at age 93. Mr. Berkleley was namesake of his father, who was a silent film actor. Mr. Berkeley worked in both film and TV. He began his career as a grip. His credits include "Double Indemnity," "Front Page Detective," "77 Sunset Strip," "Maverick," the TV series version of "Mr. Roberts," "Daughter of Dr. Jekyll," "Hell’s Crossroads," "Tales of Wells Fargo" and "Bronco."
SKEETER DAVIS Died Sept. 19, 2004
Grammy-nominated country singer Skeeter Davis died at age 73. The Grand Ole Opry veteran had a number of hit records including "The End of the World." She appeared in several films aimed at Country Music fans during the 1960s. Her credits include "The Gold Guitar," "Country Boy," "Forty Acre Feud" and "Country Music on Broadway."
EDDIE ADAMS Died Sept. 19, 2004
Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Eddie Adams died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease at age 71. Mr. Adams took one of the two most famous pictures from the Vietnam War. Two photographs portrayed the horror and brutality of war more than any others. One was of a naked girl running down a road, her cloths burned off by napalm. The other was Adams’ Pulitzer winning photo of the execution of a VC prisoner on the streets of Saigon during the Tet Offensive. Adams camera caught the instant of death as a single bullet entered the brain of a VC soldier. Adams was haunted by the photo. While the picture was used by anti-war factions to show the brutality of the war in Vietnam, Adams himself saw the executioner as a hero. The story behind the photo is not as well known as the picture itself. I used the story in my review of the horrific film "Irreversible" to pose the question: Does knowing the story, make the image any less terrible? As for Adams photo: The executioner was a Police Chief in Saigon. He and a South Vietnamese Army officer had been best friends. They both loved the same girl growing up. The girl picked the Army Officer as her husband. The Police Chief remained a close friend of the family. As the married couple had many children, the Police Chief became their Godfather. The Army Officer went off to war. The Police Chief promised to look out for the family he loved. The VC Guerilla was caught in the act of murdering the family of the Army Officer. The Police Chief went to the home of the family he loved so much and saw their raped and mutilated corpses. He went to the VC who was caught in the act committing the atrocious act and shot him in the head. The story behind the photo is rarely told. The story behind the photo tells a sad story of a grief stricken man taking his own vengeance. Does it make what he did right? No. Does it make the event more understandable? Yes.
Eddie Adams won over 500 awards for his work including the Robert Capa Award. Capa froze in time many indelible images from the Spanish Civil War including the moment of death in combat of several soldiers. Mr. Adams appeared as himself in the documentary film "First Kill." He was a special still photographer on the set of Robert Guccione’s all-star porn film "Caligula."
ICEAL HAMBLETON Died Sept. 19, 2004
Retired Air Force pilot Iceal Hambleton died of cancer at age 85. Lt. Col. Hambleton was shot down over North Vietnam on Easter, 1972. Navigator Hambleton and his pilot became the subject of the largest Air Force rescue mission in US history. His story was the inspiration for the Gene Hackman film "Bat 21." Hackman portrayed Hambleton in the film. Lt. Col. Hambleton served as technical advisor on the movie. Thanks for your service to your country.
ROBERT LAWRENCE Died Sept. 19, 2004
Oscar-nominated film editor Robert Lawrence died at age 90 in Madison Wisconsin. Mr. Lawrence was nominated for an Oscar for editing Stanley Kubrick’s epic "Spartacus." He was nominated for a BAFTA and for an Eddie from the American Cinema Editor Association for his work on Norman Jewison’s film version of "Fiddler on the Roof." Mr. Lawrence edited over 40 films during a long and distinguished career. He began his career in TV working on the series "Sky King." Mr. Lawrence’s film credits include "City of Fear," "El Cid," "55 Days at Peking," "Is Paris Burning?," "The Fall of the Roman Empire," "Loving," "Up the Sandbox," "Fingers" and "Eight Million Ways to Die."
WALTER SCHEUER Died Sept. 20, 2004
Oscar nominated documentary film producer Walter Scheuer died at age 82. Mr. Scheuer was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar for the 1995 film "Small Wonders." "Small Wonders" was the basis for Wes Craven’s feature film "Music of the Heart," which Mr. Scheuer also produced. He was the executive producer of "From Mao to Mozart: Issac Stern in China." That film won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for producer Murray Lerner. Mr. Scheuer’s films mostly dealt with the world of music. Other credits include "High Fidelity," "The Turnadot Project," "Dancemaker" and "November’s Children…Revolution in Prague." He began producing films after a successful career on Wall Street. Mr. Scheuer served his country in the Pacific during WWII. He was also a philanthropist who sponsored music students and documentary filmmakers.
BOB MASON Died Sept. 21, 2004
British actor/writer Bob Mason died of cancer of the esophagus at age 52. Mr. Mason had a successful career on both the stage and TV in his native land. He also appeared in a few feature films. Mr. Mason played the character Terry Bradshaw on the popular British TV series "Coronation Street." He then became the only regular cast member to write for the series. He wrote a total of 36 episodes between 1981 and 89. He appeared in 36 different TV series in addition to his work on "Coronation Street." Mr. Mason appeared in numerous plays as well as a few films. He had a small part in the gothic horror film "Mary Reilly."
PETE SCHOENING Died Sept. 22, 2004
Mopuntain climber Pete Schoening died of multiple myeloma at age 77. At age 26, Pete Schoening saved five fellow members of an expedition to the summit of K2 from falling to their deaths. Schoening used his body and an ax wedged behind a frozen rock to stop his fellow climbers from falling of a cliff near the 25,000-foot mark of K2. It is considered one of the greatest feats in mountain climbing history. Mr. Schoening appeared in documentary "Mountain Men."
ROY DRUSKY Died Sept. 23, 2004
C&W songwriter Roy Drusky died at age 74. Mr. Drusky wrote a couple of hits for singer Faron Young. He also had several popular songs which he recorded himself. His sole #1 song as a performer was the duet "Yes, Mr. Peters" from 1965. Mr. Drusky appeared in several films during the 1960s including "The Golden Guitar," "Country Music on Broadway," "The Las Vegas Hillbillies," "Forty Acre Feud" and "White Lightning Express."
LUCILLE LISLE Died Sept. 23, 2004
Australian actress Lucile Lisle died at age 96. She died in Burrswood Hospital (near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England), Ms. Lisle is one of the interviewees for Howard Mutti-Mewse’s upcoming book "100 Years of the Working Actor." Ms. Lisle was born in Australia. She appeared on stage in her homeland as well as in the US and UK. In fact, Ms. Lisle was best known for her work in the theater. She appeared in several films during the 1930s, but her film career never matched that of her life on stage. Among Ms. Lisle’s credits are "Midnight in the Wax Museum," "After Dark," "The Minstrel Boy" and "Twice Branded." She was the daughter of stage actress Carolyn Hunter. Thanks to Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse and Lucia Schultz for the information concerning Ms. Lisle’s passing.
FRANCOISE SAGAN Died Sept. 24, 2004
French author Francois Sagan died of heart and lung failure at age 69. Ms. Sagan gained international fame at age 18 with the publication of the novel "Bonjour Tristesse." She published the book while still a student at the Sorbonne. Ms. Sagan wrote 30 novels and 9 plays. Her work has been translated into film many times. She also directed a film version of one of her stories. "Bonjour Tristesse" was filmed as a feature in 1958 by Otto Preminger. It was remade as a French TV film in 1995. Her novel "A Certain Smile" was filmed with Rossano Brazzi and Joan Fontaine. The 1961 film "Goodbye Again" starred Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand and Tony Perkins. Ms. Sagan directed the 1977 film "Les Fougères Bleues," which was based on one of her short stories.
TIM CHOATE Died Sept. 24, 2004
Actor Tim Choate was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a car. Mr. Choate was 49. Tim Choate was best known to "Babylon 5" fans as Zathras. Mr. Choate appeared in nearly 50 films and TV episodes. His credits include "The Europeans," "Times Square," Brian De Palma’s "Blow Out," "Ghost Story," "Soapdish," "Jefferson in Paris," "Live Nude Girls" and "Pearl Harbor." Prayers of comfort for his wife and son.
JOHN HARDWICK Died Sept. 24, 2004
Animator John Hardwick died at age 67 while riding a bicycle. Mr. Hardwick was partner with Bob Bura. The pair created the classic British children’s programs "Camberwick Green," "Toytown," "Trumpton" and "Chigley." The 1960s TV series utilized stop-motion animation of puppets ALA George Pal’s "Puppettoons." They also made an animated feature version of the ballet "Petrouchka."
SUKMA AYU Died Sept. 25, 2004
Jakartan actress Sukma Ayu died of heart failure at age 25. Ms. Ayu was the star of a popular TV show in Indonesia. She has been comatose since April. Ms. Ayu underwent surgery in April after suffering a fall. She lapsed into a coma and never recovered. Doctors said that her heart and lungs were damaged during the coma and that caused her death. Ms. Ayu shaved her head to play a tomboy character in the hit TV series "Kecil Kecil Jadi Manten." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
MARVIN DAVIS Died Sept. 25, 2004
Oil tycoon and former studio owner Marvin Davis died of natural causes at age 79. Marvin Davis owned 20th Century Fox between 1981 and 1985. He sold the studio for a profit to the present owner Rupert Murdoch. In addition to his many profitable business deals, Mr. Davis was a generous philanthropist. He was Los Angeles’ wealthiest individual. He was the father of John Davis, president of Davis Entertainment Co. and Davis Entertainment Television.
GIORGIO MOSER Died Sept. 25, 2004
Award-winning Italian feature and documentary filmmaker Giogio Moser died at age 81 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Moser won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes and the Grand Silver Plaque at the Berlin international Film Festival for his 1955 documentary "Lost Continent." Mr. Moser wrote/produced and directed films. He directed "A Piece of Sky," which starred "Once Upon a Time in the West" star Gabrielle Ferzetti. His last films were 1990’s "Blue Dolphin: The Adventure Continues" and 1992’s "Clown in Kabul."
MARIANNA KOMLOS Dies Sept. 26, 2004
Bodybuilder/actress Marianna Komlos died of breast cancer at age 35. Ms. Kolmos was a Canadian Bodybuilding champion and a WWF (mow WWE) magazine cover girl. She was a member of the WWF in 1996 and 97. Ms. Kolmos played the mother of Beaver Cleavage in a short storyline and then played his boy friend! She appeared in the 1997 season of "Raw is War." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
KYLE MACDONNELL Died Sept. 28, 2004
Actress Kyle MacDonnell died at age 8s. Ms. MacDonnell appeared on Broadway and was a familiar face in the first years of TV. She was a co-host of the "Today Show" during its early days. She appeared with Ronald Reagan in the film "That Hagen Girl." She also appeared in the 1953 film "Taxi." She was in the Broadway show "Park Avenue." Her early TV credits include "For Your Pleasure," "Hold That Camera," "Celebrity Time" and "Around the Town." She appeared on the May 31, 1948 cover of "Life" magazine.
SHIMON WINCELBERG Died Sept. 29, 2004
Writer Shimon Wincelberg died at age 80 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Wincelberg wrote scripts for some of the best TV shows of 1940 through the 1990s. He also wrote several feature films and a Broadway play. Mr. Wincelberg served his country in WWII in combat intelligence. His Broadway play "Kataki" was based on his wartime experiences. Mr. Wincelberg wrote the Charles Bronson film "Cold Sweat" as well as the 1950s films "Fighter Attack" and "On the Threshold of Space." His numerous TV credits include "Lost in Space," "The Time Tunnel," "Nichols," "Police Woman," "Have Gun: Will Travel," "Gunsmoke," "Star Trek," "The Paper Chase" and "Law & Order."
CHRISTOPHER HANCOCK Died Sept. 29, 2004
British character actor Christopher Hancock died at age 76. Mr. Hancock had successful careers on both stage and screen. He was best known for playing shady characters such as Charlie Cotton, the mean-spirited truck driver in the BBC TV series "EastEnders." His character was killed off in 1991 after five seasons, but returned as a ghost in the 2000 TV movie "EastEnders: The Return of Nick Cotton."
RICHARD BERGER Died Sept. 29, 2004
Studio exec Richard Berger died of lung cancer at age 64. Mr. Berger was the president of Disney in 1983 and 1984. He is the man who started Disney’s subsidiary Touchstone. Mr. Berger also held executive positions with CBS, MGM and 20th Century Fox. While at CBS, he helped develop the TV series "Dallas" and "Lou Grant."
IGGIE WOLFINGTON Died Sept. 30, 2004
Award-winning actor Iggie Wolfington died of natural causes at age 84. Mr. Wolfington was in the original cast of the Broadway play "The Music Man." He was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Marcellus Washburn, sidekick to Robert Preston’s Professor Henry Hill. He sang the humorous number "Shipoopi!" Mr. Wolfington was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by SAG and also won the Clarence Derwent Award in 1952 for his work in the play "Mrs. McThing." The Clarence Derwent Awards are the oldest awards given on Braodway and recognize the work of promising supporting players.
Mr. Wolfington was a familiar face to TV and film fans also. He appeared in the Disney films including "Herbie Rides Again" and "The Strongest Man in the World." Steven Speilberg cast him as famed Hollywood agent Meyer Mishkin in his comedy "1941." He also appeared in the excellent Charles Bronson thriller "Telefon." Mr. Wolfington was a frequent guest on numerous TV series. He appeared on such hits as "The Andy Giffith Show," "The Waltons," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Get Smart," "Gunsmoke," "The Rockford Files," "Fantasy Island" and "Amazing Stories."
MICHAEL RELPH Died Sept. 30, 2004
Michael Relph was one of the most respected and successful filmmakers in British history. As an Art Director he received an Oscar nomination for the 1949 film "Saraband for Dead Lovers." He produced two BAFTA Best Picture winners. With Basil Dearden, he produced some of the most highly reguarded British films of the 1940s and 50s. Mr. Relph also wrote and directed films. During the 1970s, Mr. Relph was the head of the Film Production Association of Great Britain. His films entertained, and his films also dealt with controversial subjects. Michael Relph died at age 89. He was the father of producer Simon Relph. Mr. Relph’s father was actor Goerge Relph (The Titfield Thunderbolt).
Mr. Relph was an art director at Ealing Studios during their heyday in the 1940s. Mr. Relph’s credits as an art director include the classic horror film "Dead of Night." "Dead of Night" was one of the first films to utilized the celebrated ‘twist ending’ found in so many films today. Relph’s design is highlighted in the terrifying nightmare sequence that forms the film’s climax. Just don’t forget to sit through the closing credits! He also contributed greatly to the atmosphere of the 1938 film "They Drive By Night." The film has no relation to the 1940 Raoul Walsh film by the same name. Other art direction credits include "The Captive Heart," "Nicholas Nickleby" and the comedy "The Assasination Bureau," which he also wrote and produced.
As a producer, Mr. Relph helped crate some of the most noted films in British history. "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is a classic comedy highlighted by Alec Guiness playing eight roles. Mr. Relph tackled such then taboo subjects as racism and homosexuality in the films "Sapphire" and "Victim." "Sapphire" was the BAFTA Best Picture winner. Other prodcer credits include the police drama "The Blue Lamp." "The Blue Lamp" won the Best Picture BAFTA. He also produced the WWII P.O.W. film "The Captive Heart," "Rockets Galore," "The Smallest Show on Earth," "Life of Ruth," "Masquerade," "The Man Who Haunted Himself," Scum," "The League of Gentlemen," "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman" and "Heavenly Pursuits."
JACQUES LEVY Died Sept. 30, 2004
Theatrical director/write/composer Jacques Levy died of undisclosed causes at age 69. Mr. Levy directed the controversial Broadway smash "Oh! Calcutta!" The play ran for 17 years during both its original and revival runs. He wrote Mr. Levy directed the X-Rated film version also. In addition to his many theatrical works, Mr. Levy was a three-time Grammy nominated composer. He wrote songs for Bob Dylan, The Byrds and Roger McGuinn’s solo albums. Mr. Levy was an assistant director on Bob Dylan’s vanity/concert film "Renaldo and Clara." The film incorporated performances from the "Rolling Thunder Revue" concert tour, which Levy directed. He also directed the film "Doonesbury: A Braodway Musical." Mr. Levy was a clinical psychologist before becoming involved in musical theater. His song credits include The Byrds’ classic "Chesnut Mare" and Bob Dylan’s hit single "Hurricane."
LEONARD CORSO Died Sep. 30, 2004
Emmy-nominated sound editor Leonard Corso died at age 90. Mr. Corso was nominated for two Emmy Awards for his work on the mini-series "Ike" and "Shogun." Mr. Corso was a member of the Sound Editor’s Guild for 53 years. Mr. Corso was a past president of the Sound Editor’s Guild. He worked on such films as Roger Corman’s cult classic "A Bucket of Blood," Sam Fuller’s gritty "The Naked Kiss" and Cornel Wilde’s adventure story "Shark’s Treasure."