Sunday, December 12, 2010


CYRIL FLETCHER Died Jan. 1, 2005

British comedian/talent agent Cyril Fletcher died at age 91 after a short illness. Mr. Fletcher’s career began on stage in the British Variety houses, what we in the US called vaudeville. He appeared in films and on TV. Mr. Fletcher’s first TV appearance was in 1937 TV series "Tele-Ho!" He married actress Betty Astell. The co-starred in the film "A Piece of Cake," which Mr. Fletcher also wrote. He and his wife starred a talent agency. One of his contributions to the world of comedy came as a talent scout. He discovered Sir. Harry Secombe, later to gain fame and amuse millions as part of "The Goon Show" with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. Mr. Fletcher appeared in the 1947 film version of "Nicholas Nickleby." He also appeared on the popular 1970s and 80s TV show "That’s Life."

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM Died Jan. 1, 2005

Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the US House of Representatives died at age 80. Ms. Chisholm was elected to Congress in 1968 and served for 14 years. She sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1972. Her 1972 presidential bid was the subject of Shola Lynch’s critically praised 2004 documentary "Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed." The film’s title came in part from Ms. Chisholm’s autobiography "Unbought & Unbossed." Ms. Chisholm’s campaign was also the subject of the 1972 German documentary "Shirley Chisholm for President."

ROBERT R. FORTIER Died Jan. 1, 2005

Actor Robert R. Fortier died at age 78. Mr. Fortier appeared in nearly 40 films and TV shows. He had bit parts in five films by Robert Altman including "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "A Wedding." Mr. Fortier also appeared in the horror film "Incubus," which was the first film shot in the artificial language Esperanto. His other film and TV credits include "Heaven Can Wait," "Show Boat," several episodes of "The Outer Limits," "Star Trek," "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza."

PAUL MANNING Died Jan. 2, 2005

Emmy-winning producer Paul Manning died of colon cancer at age 45. Mr. Manning was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won once for co-producing the hit TV series "E.R." Mr. Manning also wrote several episodes. He also wrote 20 episodes for the TV series "LA Law." Mr. Manning also worked on the family TV series "Clubhouse." Mr. Manning wrote the pilot episode of the TV series "The Adversaries." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

BARBARA PILAVIN Died Jan. 2, 2005

In the great B-movie "Vice Squad," Wings Hauser created one of the greatest movie villains of all time. He played a killer pimp named Ramrod. Ramrod took pleasure out the smallest things. In one scene, a homeless woman passes him on the street. He pulls out a cigarette lighter and pushes it near the old woman. Hauser’s eyes light up and he tells the woman "I’m the devil baby!" The woman reacts as if Hauser truly is the Devil. The homeless woman was played by character actress Barbara Pilavin. Ms. Pilavin died of complications following a stroke at age 81. She appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during her career. Ms. Pilavin appeared in a number of Italian films including Vittorio de Sica’s Oscar winning Best Foreign Film "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis." In "A League of Their Own," Ms. Pilavin played the older version of Helen, the first base woman played by Anne Ramsey as a young woman. Other credits include the horror film "Frightmare," Charles Bronson’s "10 to Midnight," "Homer & Eddie," "NYPD Blue," "Just Shoot Me!," "Charmed," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Eerie, Indiana."

TERESA BLAKE Died Jan. 2, 2005

One of the pleasures I’ve had in writing this column is getting to know many people with an interest in the biographic history of film folk. Many people I’ve met only in cyber-space. One such person is Emmy-winning make-up artist and film historian Michael F. Blake. Anyone who purchased the great "Lon Chaney Collection" DVD set last year is familiar with Mr. Blake’s film expertise. I offer Michael and his family my deepest condolences on the loss of his mother. Teresa Blake died of heart failure at age 91. She was the widow of prolific film and TV actor Larry J. Blake. Ms. Blake appeared as herself in Kevin Brownlow’s excellent documentary "Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces."


British cinematographer/writer/producer/director C.M. Pennington-Richards died at age 93. Mr. Pennington-Richards was one of the foremost Black and White cinematographers in film history. The 1951 Alastair Sim version of "Scrooge" is by far the best film adaptation of Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol." In addition to the great lead performance, the film works because of Mr. Pennington-Richards’ moody, eerie photography. His other notable cinematographer credits include the original film version of "1984," Edward Dmytryk’s "Obsession" and "Tarzan and the Lost Safari." As a writer, Mr. Pennington-Richards was less prolific, but he did write the excellent "Guns at Batasi." Mr. Pennington-Richards was a busy film director also. His TV director credits include the series "Danger Man," "Ivanhoe" "A Challenge for Robin Hood," "The Invisible Man" and "The Buccaneers." He also directed the films "Mystery Submarine," "The Oracle" and "Hour of Decision" among others.

FRANK KELLY FREAS Died Jan. 2, 2005

Illustrator Frank Kelly Freas died of natural causes at age 82. Kelly Freas was the man behind Mad Magazine’s mascot Alfred E, Newman. Though he didn’t invent the character, Mr. Freas refined him and made him his own. Mr. Freas’s death brought back a flood of memories from my childhood. I thought of my long ago friend Dale Berryhill and his big brother Wayne. Wayne was the guy that introduced me to Mad Magazine. He also introduced me to the fact that all you needed was a camera to make movies. We spent hours filming army me and hot wheels car as we blew them up with firecrackers. Once Wayne tied a lawnmower body to the back of his bicycle and gave all the kids a thrill ride down a steep hill near our house. Being the klutz that I am, I was the kid that fell off and was skinned up from head to toe. Wayne came over to my house later with his camera. He wanted to film my cuts. The way he explained it to my mom was, that when I healed, he would film me being shot with a toy machine gun. My current wounds would fill in for the bullet holes later on. Needless to say, my Mom wasn’t to happy about his influence on me. Wayne was a lot like Alfred E. Newman. He didn’t worry about a thing. It’s funny how memories come back like that. I wanted to include Mr. Freas in this column when I first heard of his passing. His artwork has entertained me for most of my life. The problem was, I couldn’t find a single movie credit for Mr. Freas. Reader Tim Grover contacted me about Mr. Freas. Like me, he was a big fan. I explained my dilemma. This is the Hollywood Obituary column. I needed a movie connection. Mr. Grover and I decided to step up our research. I then remembered a terrible movie I saw back in 1980. "Up the Academy" was a comedy directed by Robert Downey Sr. The film was produced by Mad Magazine. Once they saw the final product, the disavowed the result and removed their name from the project. I went to see the film on the strength of a teaser trailer that included the image of Mr. Freas’s masterpiece: Alfred E. Newman. There were also movie posters that carried the "What, Me Worry" kid’s face. Of course those were all pulled. Menawhile, Mr. Grover responded with some research of his own. A picture of a werewolf drawn by Mr. Freas was featured in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Mr. Grover also pointed out a fact he found in a reference book which stated that Mr. Freas had drawn pre-production illustrations for the project that became "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." Next to Alfred E. Newman, Mr. Freas most widely circulated illustration is probably the cover of Queen’s album "News of the World." The illustration was a reprise of a cover Mr. Freas did for "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine in 1953. Thanks for the trip down memory lane Mr. Freas and thanks for adding color to our lives.

UPDATE: I was contacted by Mr. Feas's widow, illustrator and classical music broadcaster Laura Brodian. Ms. Brodian informed me that her late husband painted the lobby poster for the sci-fi film "The Wizard of Speed and Time." After the film's LA premiere it was released directly to video.

STANLEY WATT Died Jan. 2, 2005

Broadway actor Stanley Watt died of cancer at age 74. In addition to his work on Broadway, Mr. Watt did narration for documentary films for National Geographic, A&E and the Discovery Channel.

WILL EISNER Died Jan. 3, 2005

Comic book pioneer Will Eisner died of complications following heart by-pass surgery at age 87. Mr. Eisner’s career spanned seven decades. In the 1940s he created "The Spirit." In the 1970s he pioneered the graphic novel. His character "The Spirit" was translated to film in the 1963 film "Adventures of the Spirit" and the 1987 TV movie "The Spirit." Mr. Eisner appeared as himself in the documentaries "Comic Book Heroes Unmasked," "Comic Book Confidential" and "The Masters of Comic Book Art."


Character actor Warren Kemmerling died at age 76. Mr. Kemmerling appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. He was on the board of directors of the Screen Actor’s Guild for close to 40 years. Among Mr. Kemmerling’s many credits are the films "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," the American version of the 1984 Japanese remake of the original "Gojira" (Godzilla to the uninitiated), Alfred Hitchcock’s final film "Family Plot," Ron Howard’s first film "Eat My Dust," the excellent Sidney Potier religious allegory "Brother John," the hilarious black comedy "The Loved One" and "The Cheyenne Social Club." He also appeared in a number of great Made for TV movies and mini-series including "The Execution of Private Slovak," "How the West Was Won," "Raid on Entebbe" and "King." Mr. Kemmerling was a familiar face on the small screen for three decades. He appeared on some of TV’s most popular shows including "Gunsmoke," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Bonanza," "The Jack Benny Program," "LA Law," "The A-Team," "The Rockford Files," "The Waltons," "Route 66," "Mission Impossible" and many others. Mr. Kemmerling served his country as a US Marine during WWII. Thanks for your service to our country.


Robert Gottschall died of natural causes at age 89. To call Mr. Gotschall just an actor would be to short-change his long and rich life. He was an actor. Mr. Gottschall acted under the name Robert Shaw beginning in the 1930s. His film career included roles in several films by American master director John Ford. Mr. Gottschall appeared in Ford’s classic "The Grapes of Wrath," "Young Mr. Lincoln" and "Tobacco Road." He also appeared in the Ford directed military training film "Sex Hygiene"! Other credits include "The Great Profile," which starred John Barrymore, Henry King’s "Captain from Castile" and "Honeysuckle Rose." As a child, Mr. Gotschall was a batboy for a Texas League Baseball team. During an exhibition, the young boy played a game of catch with Babe Ruth. Ruth, Gehrig and the rest of the world champion Yankees signed the ball. You can still see the ball today in the Legends of the Game Museum in Arlington, Texas. Mr. Gotschall served his country in the US Army during WWII. He rose to the rank of Lietenuant Colonel and turned the military into a 26-year career. Mr. Gotschall outlived his wife of 62 years by almost two months. He leaves two sons, sculptor Robert Gottschall, Mark Gotschall and a daughter, musician/composer Nancy Brundrett.


British biographer Humphrey Carpenter died of heart failure at age 57. Mr. Carpenter had also been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Mr. Humphrey may be best know for his biography of J.R.R. Tolkien. His biography of the author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was just one of many books written by Mr. Humphrey. He appeared in several documentaries about J.R.R. Tolkien including "Tolkein Remembered" and "An Awfully Big Adventure: J.R.R. Tolkein."

DANNY SUGERMAN Died Jan. 5, 2005

Danny Sugerman, former manager of rock band The Doors and author of the great Jim Morrison biography "No One Here Gets Out Alive" died of lung cancer at age 50. Mr. Sugerman became friends with Jim Morrison and The Doors when he was still a young teen. His excellent book chronicals his amazing relationship with the band during their heydey. He was the technical advisor on Oliver Stone’s bio-pic "The Doors." Mr. Sugerman also wrote and produced the concert video "The Doors: Live in Europe 1968." His book "Wonderland Avenue" was also the source for a 2001 film. Mr. Sugerman’s widow is Fawn Hall of Iran-Contra fame.

RENE LE HANAFF Died Jan. 5, 2005

French editor/director René Le Hanaff died of natural causes. There is some dispute as to his age. It has been reported that he was either 102, 104 or 105! Mr. Le Hanaff was associated with two of France’s top directors in the 1930s: René Clair and Marcel Carne. He edited Mr. Clair’s first sound film "Under the Rooftops of Paris." His second film with Mr. Clair was the excellent comedy "Liberty for Us." The film pre-dated Charlie Chaplin’s classic "Modern Times." The producers of Mr. Clair’s film sued Chaplin for plagiarism. The case was settled out of court. He also edited René Clair’s romantic comedy "July 14." As he did with René Clair, Mr. Le Hanaff collaborated with director Marcel Carne. His credits with Ms. Carne include the excellent thriller "Daybreak." In addition to his work with other directors, Mr. Le Hanaff directed fourteen films himself.

GABRIELLE DAYE Died Jan. 5, 2005

British character actress Gabrielle Daye died at age 93. Ms. Daye was a regular on the long-running British TV series "Coronation Street" for eight years. She was a respected actress on stage, screen and TV. Her film career dates back to the 1940s. Among her many film and TV credits are the excellent rue-life crime drama "Ten Rillington Place," Lindsay Anderson’s dark comedy "O Lucky Man!," the Oscar winning "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "Z Cars." On stage, she acted with most of the greatest British performers of the past century.

ERNEST LENART Died Jan. 6, 2005

German actor Ernest Lenart died at age 92. Mr. Lenart was primarily a stage actor. He worked in his native land, but fled to the US after the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party. He had a supporting role in the excellent Made for TV movie "21 Hours at Munich" which dealt with the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by PLO terrorists. Other credits include the WWII film "Target Unknown," and episode of the great TV series "Millennium," "Walk on Water" and the TV mini-series bio-pic "Wagner."

SINDHU Died Jan. 6, 2005

Indian actress Sindhu died of cardiac arrest at age 32. The star of nearly 60 films and TV series in India was out raising money for the victims of last year’s tsunami. After walking for several miles, she collapsed and was rushed to a hospital where she died. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.

RICHARD CLARKE Died Jan. 7, 2005

British stage and screen actor Richard Clarke died of colon cancer at age 70. Mr. Clarke appeared on Broadway in nearly 20 plays. Although most of his work took place on stage, Mr. Clarke did appear in several films and TV shows. His credits include the great Titanic film "A Night to Remember," "Midnight Cowboy," "John and Mary," the TV version of "The Elephant Man," "Meet Joe Black" and the TV mini series "The Kennedys of Massachusetts."

WARREN SPEARS Died Jan. 8, 2005

Choreographer/dancer Warren Spears died of undisclosed causes at age 50. Though born in American, Mr. Spears transplanted himself to Denmark where he was the artistic director and choreographer of the New Danish Dance Theater for 12 years. Prior to moving to Denmark, Mr. Spears was part of the Alvin Ailey dance group. He appeared in director Lars von Triers innovative and highly original digital movie "Dancer in the Dark." The movie starred Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse and Peter Stormare.

EVERETT WILSON Died Jan. 8, 2005

17-year-old Everett Wilson was killed in an automobile. The driver of the car was arrested for DUI. Mr. Everett and his twin brother Ronald were one set of several twins who played Bill Cosby’s infant grandson Nelson Tibideaux on the hit TV series "The Cosby Show." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

BADJA D’JOLA Died Jan. 8, 2005

Actor Badja D’jola died of a heart attack at age 56. Mr. D’jola appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows during his career. His best role was as Leon Issac Kennedy’s boxing opponent in "Penitentiary." Mr. D’jola played the bad-ass character "Half Dead." It is a great performance in a so-so movie. He also had a nice supporting role in Wes Craven’s "The Serpent and the Rainbow." Mr. D’jola’s other film and TV credits include "Mississippi Burning," "A Rage in Harlem," "The Lonely Guy," "The Last Boy Scout," "NYPD Blue," "Rosewood," "The Hurricane," "Night Shift," "The Waterdance," "ER," "The X Files," "Millennium" and "Roc."

HASKELL GORDON Died Jan. 8, 2005

Actor Haskell Gordon died of respiratory failure at age 83. Mr. Gordon was primarily a stage actor, but he did appear on TV. His small screen credits include "Route 66" and the Soap Opera "One Life to Live." Mr. Gordon appeared in the original Broadway productions of "1776" and "Sugar Babies." I never met Mr. Gordon, but if he was anything like his brother, director Stuart Gordon he must have a very nice gentleman. Stuart Gordon directed the cult classic "Re-Animator." I had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Gordon several years ago in Chicago.

GONZALO GAVIRA Died Jan. 9, 2005

Sound effects editor Gonzalo Gavira died of circulatory problems at age 79. Mr. Gavira was part of the Oscar-winning team that created the demonic sounds for the blockbuster film "The Exorcist." Robert Knudson and Christopher Newman were awarded the Oscar for the team’s effort. Mr. Gavira created special sound effects for the movie such as for the scene in which Linda Blair’s head turned 360 degrees. Mr. Gavira was nominated for a BAFTA for the same film. He was given two special awards for his lifetime of work at Mexico’s Ariel Awards. Mr. Gavira worked on over 60 films around the world. His credits include Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cult classic "El Topo," Sergio Leone’s "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly," "The Towering Inferno," "Mark of the Devil 3" and "Deathstalker 3."

KOJI HASHIMOTO Died Jan. 9, 2005

Japanese director Koji Hashimoto died of from injuries sustained in a fall while mountain climbing at age 68. Mr. Hashimoto directed the 1984 remake of "Godzilla." He also directed the sci-fi film "Sayonara Jupiter." For most of his career, Mr. Hashimoto was an assistant director. He worked on many of Toho Studio’s monster movies. The second movie I ever saw in a theater was "King Kong vs. Godzilla." Mr. Hashimoto began his AD career working on that epic monster battle. Mr. Hashimoto’s other AD credits include "Gihidra: The Three-Headed Monster," "Frankenstein Conquers the World," "Monster Zero," "Atragon 2," "Godzilla’s Revenge" and "Tidal Wave." Mr. Hashimoto’s work wasn’t restricted to giant rubber monsters. He was Akira Kurosawa’s AD on "Dodes’ka-den."

ERWIN HILLIER Died Jan. 10, 2005

Austrian cinematographer Erwin Hillier died at age 93. Mr. Hillier was one of the most influential cinematographers in the history of British film. He was one of a group of artists working on the early films of Powell and Pressburger productions who invigorated British film. Along with Alfred Hitchcock’s early work, the Powell/Pressburger team produced films that showed that the British film industry could consistently produce films that rivaled or even surpassed those made by their American cousins. Erwin Hillier’s first job was an assistant camera operator of Fritz Lang’s macabre 1931 masterpiece "M." The chilling story of a child murderer played by Peter Lorre is as powerful today as when first released. "M" is a complete film in every respect. The cinematography, direction and acting fuse to terrify and rivet the audience. Mr. Hillier moved to England and worked on the Powell and Pressburger films "The Silver Fleet," "I Know Where I’m Going" and "A Canterbury Tale." Mr. Hillier’s early Black and White photography is among the best in motion picture history. He was also quite good when working in Color. Among his more memorable film credits are "The Dam Busters," "The Long and the Short and the Tall," "Operation Crossbow," "The Quiller Memorandum," Ray Harryhausen’s cowboy and dinosaurs fantasy "The Valley of Gwangi," "The Shoes of the Fisherman" and "A Boy Ten Feet Tall." Mr. Hillier was nominated for a BAFTA for his work on "A Boy Ten Feet Tall."

BUNTY WEBB Died Jan. 10, 2005

Canadian actress Bunty Webb died just shy of her 74th birthday after a lengthy illness. Ms. Webb was very active in regional theater in Canada. In addition to her work founding and encouraging regional theaters, she worked in numerous films and TV shows. Among her many credits are "A Simple Wish," "Double Jeopardy," "Tommy Boy," "Sing," "Higher Education," "Bedroom Eyes," "Maniac Mansion" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."

AMRISH PURI Died Jan. 11, 2005

Legendary India screen villain Amrish Puri died of a brain hemorrhage at age 72. Mr. Puri appeared in more than 200 Bollywood productions. In addition to his highly successful career in his native country, Mr. Puri appeared in two well-known international productions. He was the evil priest Mola Ram in Steven Speilberg’s "Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom." He was the guy who met a nasty end when he fell off the river gorge suspension bridge. His performance was one of the highlights of an otherwise disappointing sequel. He had a rare good-guy role in Sir Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning bio-pic "Ghandi." Mr. Puri won numerous acting awards for his deliciously evil performances.

JIMMY GRIFFIN Died Jan. 11, 2005

Oscar-winning composer and co-founder of the 1970’s soft-rock band "Bread" Jimmy Griffin died of cancer at age 61. Along with David Gates, Robb Royer and Jim Gordon, Mr. Griffin founded the band "Bread," which had a string of hits during the early 1970s that included "Baby, I’m-a Want You," "Make It With You" and "If." Mr. Griffin shared the Best Original Song Oscar with fellow "Bread" member Robb Royer and Fred Karlin for the song "For All We Know." The song, performed by "The Carpenters" was used in the film "Lovers and Other Strangers." Mr. Griffin was also a member of the country music band "The Remmingtons." Mr. Griffin appeared in two films in the early 1960s: Frank Sinatra’s lone directorial attempt "None But the Brave" and the teen comedy "For Those Who Think Young."

SPENCER DRYDEN Died Jan. 11, 2005

Spencer Dryden, former drummer for the psychedelic 60’s band "Jefferson Airplane" died of cancer at age 66. Mr. Dryden replaced the band’s original drummer in 1966 and left the band in 1970. "Jefferson Airplane" recorded such hits as "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love." He was a member of "The New Riders of the Purple Sage" after leaving the "Jefferson Airplane." Mr. Dryden was the nephew of screen legend Charlie Chaplin. Mr. Dryden appeared in a number of documentaries with "Jefferson Airplane." In fact he appeared in three of the best Rock films ever made: "Monterey Pop," "Woodstock" and "Gimme Shelter." He appeared with "The New Riders of the Purple Sage" on the TV series "Beat Club." Mr. Dryden had been in ill health for some time. He had also lost his home and possessions in a house fire in 2003.

THELMA WHITE Died Jan. 11, 2005

Actress Thelma White died of pneumonia at age 94. Ms. White starred in the 1936 cult-classic "Reefer Madness." Though the film was made as a serious warning against the dangers of marijuana, its naïve propaganda and ridiculous claims made the movie a favorite on the college midnight movie circuit in the 60s and 70s. I must admit laughing through the film several times back in the days that I inhaled. Ms. White came to film from the world of vaudeville and radio. She appeared in a number of B-movies during the 30s and 40s. After a crippling illness ended her acting career, Ms. White became an actor’s agent for such folks as James Coburn and Robert Blake.

SAL PACINO Died Jan. 12, 2005

Pacino family patriarch Sal Pacino died of a heart attack at age 82. Mr. Pacino was the father of Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino (Scarface) and filmmaker Roberta Pacino. If the old cliché that a man’s greatest legacy is his children is true, then Mr. Pacino has indeed left a rich legacy. However, in researching Mr. Pacino’s life it becomes clear that he had a full, rich life in his own right. Mr. Pacino was a theater actor and director in the 1950s. He then began a 30 year career in the insurance field. He was a night club owner and late in life returned to acting. An accomplished dancer, Mr. Pacino appeared as a swing dancer in the film "Younger and Younger." He appeared as himself as one of the fit senior citizens in the workout video "Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes: Fitness for Senior Citizens." Though Mr. Pacino usually appeared in smaller roles, he did have a leading role in the crime comedy "Soldati, I." Mr. Pacino’s widow, actress Katherin Kovin appeared with her husband in a number of films. Mr. Pacino’s daughter Roberta and her husband Mark Oliver Richman own the film production company "Quarter to Three Films." The company took its name from a Frank Sinatra song that was one of her father’s favorites. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

DANNY BENSON Died Jan. 12, 2005

Sound engineer Danny Benson died of esophageal cancer at age 65. Mr. Benson did sound work for film, TV and stage. He was the sound engineer for the legendary comedy improv group "The Committee" during the 1960s. "The Committee" featured Howard Hessman and Ed Greenberg among others. They were featured in the film "Billy Jack." Mr. Benson also worked on the classic Lenny Bruce animated short film "Thank You, Masked Man." Mr. Benson’s film credits include "The Right Stuff," "The Dead Pool," "Birdy," "Maxie" and "Die Laughing." Mr. Benson also worked on the PBS TV series "Sesame Street."

RUDOLPH MOSHAMMER Died Jan. 14, 2005

German fashion designer Rudolph Moshammer was murdered in his home at age 64. Mr. Moshammer was strangled with a phone cord by a man who claimed that Mr. Moshammer had paid him for sex. Mr. Moshammer’s clients included actor/governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Moshammer appeared in a number of German TV series and films, usually playing himself.

CARL MOHNER Died Jan. 14, 2005

German actor and respected painter Carl Mohner died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 88. Mr. Mohner appeared in over 60 films and TV series during his life. During the 1960s, he took up painting. His works are found in some of the best art collections in the world including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Mr. Mohner may be best known for his role in the WWII thriller "Sink the Bismark." He played Captain Lindemann, commander of the feared German battleship. He also starred in one of the best ‘perfect robbery goes wrong" films, the frech crime classic "Rififi." If you are a fan of Kubrick’s "The Killing" or Tarantino’s "Reservoir Dogs," you owe it to yourself to catch Jules Dassin’s "Rififi." Mr. Mohner also wrote and directed "The Istanbul Adventure." Among Mr. Mohner’s other credits are "The Fall of Rome," "Carmen, Baby," "Callan," "The Babysitter" and "Cave of the Living Dead."

CLINT PRENTICE Died Jan. 14, 2005

Actor and LA civil servant Clint Prentice died at age 77. Mr. Prentice acted in New York and LA. He appeared in the crime film "Angel’s Hill." Mr. Prentice worked as a Welfare Administrator for the County of Los Angeles for 27 years.

JACK KINE Died Jan. 14, 2005

British TV special effects pioneer Jack Kine died at age 83. Mr. Kine worked for BBC TV for 40 years. He co-founded the BBC’s Visual Effect’s Department. My love of more mature science fiction was sparked by the film "Quatermass and the Pit." The film dealt with the discovery of a ancient Martian spacecraft uncovered by a crew dig a subway tunnel in London. The taut thriller features some creepy Martians designed by Mr. Kine. He was particularly associated with the early years of the long-running TV series "Dr. Who." Mr. Kine and his co-worker Bernard Wilkie created hundreds of effects, quite often breaking new ground in their field. Thanks for making the ‘fantastic" a little more real. Mr. Kine also authored the book "Miniature Scenic Modelling."

DEEM BRISTOW Died Jan. 15, 2005

Actor Deem Bristow died of a heart attack at age 57. Mr. Bristow was best know to fans of the video game Sonic the Hedgehog. He provided the voice of the villains Dr. Eggman and Dr. Robotnik since the games inception. Mr. Bristow provided voices for a number of other video games. His film and TV credits include "Problem Child," "Terminal Exposure" and "Glitch!"

DAN LEE Died Jan. 15, 2005

Animator Dan Lee died of cancer at age 35. Mr. Lee designed the character Nemo for Pixar’s "Finding Nemo." Mr. Lee’s other credits include "A Bug’s Life," "Monsters Inc." and "Toy Story 2." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

RUTH WARRICK Died Jan. 15, 2005

Emmy-nominated actress Ruth Warrick died of pneumonia at age
88. She made her film debut in the ultimate indie film "Citizen Kane." Ms. Warrick played the put upon first wife of Orson Welles’s character Charles Foster Kane. Ms. Warrick was a member of the famed Mercury Theater. Ms. Warrick is probably best known for her work on several popular Soap Opera’s. She was one of the original cast members of "All My Children." She also worked regularly on "The Guiding Light," "Loving," "As the World Turns" and "Peyton Place." Ms. Warrick was nominated for several Emmy and Daytime Emmy Awards. In 2004 she received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Ms. Warrick starred in Walt Disney’s now politically incorrect "Song of the South." Other film credits include "Daisy Kenyon," "The Great Bank Robbery," "The Corsican Brothers," "Journey Into Fear," "China Sea" and "Three Husbands."

ELIZABETH JANEWAY Died Jan. 15, 2005

Author Elizabeth Janeway died at age 91. Ms. Janeway wrote seven novels during her career. Later in life, she wrote several books in support of the woman’s rights movement. Ms. Janeway’s book, "Daisy Kenyon" was turned into a film by director Otto Preminger. The film starred Joan Crawford and featured Ruth Warrick in a supporting role. Ms. Warrick died the same day as Ms. Janeway.

AGUSTAN GONZALEZ Died Jan. 16, 2005

Award-winning Spanish actor Augustan Gonzalez died of pneumonia at age 74. Mr. Gonzalex appeared in more than 180 films during his long and distinguished career. He was nominated four times for the Best Supporting Actor Goya. In 1982 the Cinema Writers Circle Awards presented him the Best Supporting Actor Award for his work in "El Poderoso Influjo de la Luna." His lengthy list of credits includes "Belle Epoque," "The Beehive," "Gary Cooper, Who Art in Heaven," "Chocolate," "The Nest" and "That Man in Istanbul."

ROGER IBANEZ Died Jan 16, 2005

Spanish actor Roger Ibanez died at age 71. Mr. Ibanez was born in France to Basque/Spanish parents. He was a staunch opponent of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Mr. Ibanez appeared in several weel-known European films. His credits include Bunuel’s "That Obscure Obect of Desire" and Pierre Granier-Deferre’s "Le Train."

VIRGINIA MAYO Died Jan.17, 2005

Screen star Virginia Mayo died of heart failure and pneumonia at age 84. Ms. Mayo was one of the biggest stars in the Warner Brother’s stable of actors during the 1940s and 50s. She appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during her lengthy career. Ms. Mayo starred opposite James Cagney in my all-time favorite film: Raoul Walsh’s "White Heat." The blond bombshell had much more than looks. She was also an accomplished actress who got better over time. In "White Heat," she played the wife of Cagney’s psychopathic Oedipus-conflicted gangster Cody Jarrett. Ms. Mayo turned in a great performance as a no-good moll. Of course, Cagney's performance overshadowed everyone else in the film, so you have to watch close to appreciate Ms. Mayo’s work. She rivialed Jane Greer as one of Film Noir’s all-time bad girls. Ms. Mayo also did a good turn as a bad girl in William Wyler’s 1946 classic "The Best Years of Our Lives." She played the two-timing wife of returning Army/Air Corp officer Dana Andrews. It is a small but vital role in Wyler’s three-hour ensemble piece. Ms. Mayo held her own against such stars as Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Hoagy Carmichael and Dana Andrews. The following year, Ms. Mayo made a big impression as Danny Kaye’s co-star in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." She co-stared with Danny Kaye in five films including "A Song is Born." Ms. Mayo married actor Emmy-nominated Micheal O’Shea in 1947. The couple met on Ms. Mayo’s second film, the bio-pic "Jack London." Her future husband played the title role. The couple was married until Mr. O’Shea’s death in 1973. She never remarried. Virginia Mayo’s other credits include "The Girl From Jones Beach" opposite Ronald Reagan, "The Princess and the Pirate" opposite Bob Hope, "The West Point Story" also with James Cagney, "Captain Horatio Hornblower" opposite Gregory Peck and "Along the Great Divide" opposite Kirk Douglas. Ms. Mayo slowed her career down in the early 1960s. She appeared more on TV than in the movies, although she continued to appear in films until 1997. Ms. Mayo was adept at song, dance and drama. She appeared in a number of Western films. In 1988, she was awarded the Golden Boot Award for her lengthy career. Ms. Mayo had a successful life both on and off screen. To quote her "White Heat" co-star, I guess you could say she "Made it Ma! Top of the World!"

BASIL HOSKINS Died Jan. 17, 2005

British stage actor Basil Hoskins died at age 75. Mr. Hoskins was a classically trained actor who spend decades trodding the boards in England and the US. He appeared with Lauren Bacall in her hit musical "Applause." Mr. Hoskins talents ranged from Shakespeare to musicals to Soap Opera doctors. His film and TV credits include "Cold Comfort Farm," the Tony Perkins horror film "Edge of Sanity," "The New Avengers," "The Avengers," "Flame Over India" and "Desert Attack." Mr. Hoskins was the life partner of the late actor Harry Andrews.

LAMONT BENTLEY Died Jan. 18, 2005

What a terrible month for young actors and automobile accidents. 31-year-old actor Lamont Bentley was killed in a one-car accident. He is the third young actor to die in a car crash this month! Mr. Bentley was thrown from his car after it went off of the freeway. Mr. Bentley was best known for his supporting role in the UPN TV series "Moesha." He played Moesha’s friend Hakeem. Mr. Bentley had a number of film and TV credits. He appeared in the excellent horror anthology "Tales From the Hood." Mr. Bentley also appeared in the so-so Dr. Dre/Snoop Dog comedy "The Wash." In the Made for TV bio-pic "Too Legit: The M.C. Hammer Story," Mr. Bentley played slain rap star Tupac Shakir. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

GABRIELLA BRUNE Died Jan. 18, 2005

British actress Gabriella Brune died at age 92. Ms. Brune’s film career dated back to the 1930s. Her film credits include "The Wife of General Ling," "The Titfield Thunderbolt," "A Run For Your Money," "Mandy," "The Green Pack" and "The Public Eye."

CAL BOLDER Died Jan. 19, 2005

Actor/body builder Cal Bolder died of cancer at age 74. Mr. Bolder appeared in several films and TV series during the 1960s. Fans of bad movies know Mr. Bolder as the muscular monster in "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter." Other credits include "Heller in Pink Tights," "One of Our Spies is Missing," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Bonanza" and the "Friday’s Child" episode of "Star Trek." Mr. Bolder also published a novel titled "Last Reunion" under his real name E.C. Craver. Mr. Bolder served his country in the US Marine Corp.

CHUCK OLIN Died Jan. 20, 2005

Chicago documentary filmmaker Chuck Olin died of a blood disease at age 68. Mr. Olin started his film career as an assistant to fellow Chicago filmmaker Philip Kaufman on the 1967 Jon Voight comedy "Fearless Frank." After this one venture into commercial movies, Mr. Olin set his sights on the world of documentary films. He produced and directed a number of films including "The Murder of Fred Hampton," "In Our Own Hands: The Hidden Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II," "Box of Treasures," and the Emmy-Award winning "Palette of Glass: The America Windows of Marc Chagall."

PARVEEN BABI Died Jan. 20, 2005

Indian actress Parveen Babi was found dead in her apartment. The 50-year-old former sex symbol suffered from schizophrenia and had been a recluse for a number of years. Ms. Babi was a major Bollywood star during the 1970s and 80s. She was one of the first Indian actresses to openly flaunt her sexuality. She broke many of the taboos of Hindi films. Unfortunately, Ms. Babi died alone, forgotten by those who worked with her during her heyday. She withdrew from the public light as her mental illness took over her life. She converted to Christianity toward the end of her life. Ms. Babi appeared in over 50 films during her short but extremely successful film career.

BEVERLY DENNIS Died Jan. 20, 2005

Actresses turned psychotherapist Beverly Dennis died of multiple myeloma at age 79. Ms. Dennis appeared in several films in the early 1950s including William Wellman’s "Westward the Women" and "Take Care of My Little Girl." Ms. Dennis was also a regular on the TV series "The Red Buttons Show." She replaced actress Dorothy Jolliffe in the role of Red Buttons’ wife. Ms. Dennis fell victim to the HUAC blacklist. She left the show after one season and was replaced by actress Betty Ann Grove. Ms. Dennis and her first husband, actor Russell Dennis, were both blacklisted and their careers ended before they really took off. Ms. Dennis went back to school and started a second successful career as a psychotherapist. She was the mother of the current Psychedelic Furs keyboardist Amanda Cramer.

ROBERT DWAN Died Jan. 21, 2005

Writer/director Robert Dwan died of pneumonia at age 89. Mr. Dwan directed Groucho Marx during the entire 14-year Radio and TV run of the quiz show "You Bet Your Life." Mr. Dwan was also a writer for Art Linkletter’s "People are Funny." Mr. Dwan also directed a TV version of "The Mikado." Grouch Marx also appeared in that production.

STEVE SUSSKIND Died Jan. 21, 2005

Yet another actor has been killed this month in an automobile accident. Actor/singer Steve Susskind was killed in Sunland California at age 62. Mr. Susskind was one of the founders of the Doo Wop group The Roomates. Along with Jack Carlson, Bob Minsky and Felix Alverez, Steve Susskind recorded several songs including "Band of Gold." Their biggest hit was "Please Love Me Forever" on which they backed 14-year-old singer Cathy Jean. The record producers released the song as being recorded by Cathy Jean and the Roomates. The fact is that their tracks were recorded separately. The Roomates disbanded in 1964. Jack Carlson shared the following with me:"We had a 40 year Roomate reunion at Steve's this past May and enjoyed reliving the fun we had singing back in the 60's in New York City. We hadn't all been together since 1964. It was a wonderful time." Mr. Susskind was a board member of AFTRA. Mr. Susskind had an additional and successful career as an actor doing both live action and voice acting. Horror fans will remember him as the pot smoking hippie Harold Hatcher in "Friday the 13th:3D." He also appeared in the lame horror film "House." Among Mr. Susskind’s many voice work credits are Disney’s "Monster’s Inc.," "Osmosis Jones" and "Challenge of the Gobots." Other film and TV credits include "Star Trek V: The Voyage Home," a priest on several episodes of "Friends," "Melrose Place," "Wings," "Married With…Children," "The Jeffersons" and "Archie Bunker’s Place." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

PATSY ROWLANDS Died Jan. 22, 2005

British actress Patsy Rowlands died at age 71. Ms. Rowlands was best known for her work in the British "Carry On" comedy film series. Ms. Rowlands appeared in nine films, a documentary, a TV special and an episode of the TV series version of the "Carry On" films. Her "Carry On" credits include "Carry On Again Doctor," "Carry On Loving," "Carry On Matron" and "Carry On at Your Convenience." She appeared in nearly 80 films and TV shows during her career. Other credits include Roman Polanski’s "Tess," "Tom Jones," "A Kind of Loving," "Z Cars," "Danger Man" and "The Avengers."


Composer Consuelo Velazquez died of heart failure at age 84. Ms. Velazquez wrote numerous songs, but was best known for the ballad "Besame Mucho." The song was recorded by numerous artists from Placido Domingo to The Beatles. The song was featured in several films including George Stevens classic "Giant." Ms. Velazques contributed songs to over 30 films and TV series.

JOHNNY CARSON Died Jan. 23, 2005

TV legend Johnny Carson died of emphysema at age 79. Next to Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson was the most influential performer in the history of entertainment TV. Hey folks, this is my column and that’s my opinion! Johnny Carson ruled the world of late night TV for 30 years as host of NBC’s "The Tonight Show." Johnny Carson was an everyman. He came into our homes, made us laugh and exposed us to more entertainers than ever before. He was a star maker. Johnny Carson had a quality that made you welcome him into your home. Though he was a very private man, he appeared on TV as someone who would be glad to have a beer with you. Maybe it was his self-deprecating humor. The secret to Johnny’s success is that he made his guests look good. Though David Letterman comes close to capturing Carson’s secret quality, those who followed Carson vie for the spotlight with their guests. He knew what made entertaining TV. Johnny spared no expense with The Tonight Show Band. Carson’s third band leader, Doc Severinsen was an amazing jazz and pop musician. I always envied the studio audience who got to hear the band play during commercial breaks. Then there was Johnny’s sidekick Ed McMahon. Say what you will about the man, he was a perfect foil for Johnny Carson’s subtle humor. Ed’s intro "Heeeeere’s Johnny" entered the vernacular. Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining" is proof. Johnny Carson exposed America to the big stars, the oddities, the wonders of nature (that includes Carol Wayne as well as the animals from the San Diego Zoo) and common folks with uncommon stories. Johnny Carson’s comedic timing was impeccable. He was also a pro at recovering from a joke that bombed. Mr. Carson’s death brings back memories of my father. I knew that I was growing up in the eyes of my dad when he began to let me stay up and watch Johnny Carson with him. Some of my earliest "Tonight Show" memories were of a young Joan Rivers joking about a padded bra that was so thick that she once fell over and bounced right back up, of Jimi Hendrix experiencing an equipment malfunction halfway through his song (Flip Wilson was the guest host that night), of the numerous and hilarious conversations with actors Burt Reynolds and Robert Blake. I remember being the class clown in fifth grade by doing my Art Fern imitation. We all have our memories. I grateful to him for mine.

PHILIP DEGUERE JR. Died Jan, 24, 2005

Writer/producer/director Philip DeGuere Jr. died of cancer at age 60. Mr. DeGuere created the TV series "Simon and Simon." He was nominated for and Edgar Allen Poe Award" for producing and episode of the series. Mr. DeGuere’s other producing credits include the TV series "Baa, Baa Black Sheep," "Max Headroom," the 1985 version of "The Twilight Zone," "Whiz Kids" and "Air America." He also directed episodes of "Baa, Baa Black Sheep," the Made for TV movie "Dr. Strange" and two episodes of the 19856 version of "The Twilight Zone." Mr. DeGuere also had many writing credits. In addition to writing for those shows he produced and directed, his other writing credits include the great Western TV series "Alias Smith and Jones," "Baretta," "Magnum P.I.," "JAG" and "The Dead Zone."

RAY PETERSON Died Jan. 25, 2005

Country music composer Ray Peterson died of cancer at age 69. Mr. Peterson score Top 10 hits singles for "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "Corrina, Corrina." He also had a hit single with "The Wonder of You," long before Elvis scored a hit with the same song. Mr. Peterson had a song featured in the comedy "One Way Wahini." The 1994 Whoopie Goldberg film "Corrina, Corrina" also featured Peterson’s song. He appeared in the documentary "At the Drive In." He also performed on Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town."

VICKKI LA MOTTA Died Jan. 25, 2005

The ex-wife of boxer Jake La Motta died at age 75. Ms. La Motta had undergone open-heart surgery six months prior to her death. The turbulent abusive relationship between Jake and Vikki La Motta was the subject of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece "Raging Bull." Robert De Niro and Cathy Moriarty portrayed the couple. Ms. La Motta landed on her feet after she left her once abusive husband. She posed for Playboy at age 51 and proved that she was still a beauty. Ms. La Motta began her own successful cosmetics company. Ms. La Motta appeared as herself in the documentary "Sports on the Silver Screen."

RUDI FALKENHAGEN Died Jan. 26, 2005

Popular Dutch actor Rudi Falkenhagen died of throat cancer at age 71. He may be best known to international audiences for his role as the father of one of the lead character’s in Paul Verhoven’s excellent 1980 film "Spetters." Mr. Falkenhagen did the voice of McQuack in the Dutch version of "Darkwing Duck." He also had a supporting role in the Klaus Kinski sci-fi thriller "Lifespan." Mr. Falkenhagen appeared in over 30 films and TV series during his career.

JOSIE MCAVIN Died Jan. 26, 2005

Oscar and Emmy winning set decorator Josie McAvin died at age 85. Ms. McAvin was the only person from Ireland to win both the Oscar and an Emmy. Ms. McAvin was nominated for three Best art Direction-Best Set Direction Oscars for her work on "Tom Jones," "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" and "Out of Africa." She won her Oscar for "Out of Africa." Ms. McAvin won the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Special Emmy for the mini-series "Scarlett." "Scarlett" was the sequel to "Gone With the Wind." Ms. McAvin’s other credits include "The Mark," "Sinful Davy," "Ryan’s Daughter," "Heaven’s Gate," "Educating Rita," "The Dresser," "The Dead" and "Michael Collins."

PAUL PARTAIN Died Jan. 27, 2005

Actor Paul Partain died of cancer at age 58. Mr. Partain played one of the most annoying, yet memorable characters in film history. The character Franklin Hardesty may not grate on movie-goers nerves the way Jar Jar Binks does, but he sure came close. Paul Partain played the doomed, wheelchair bound Franklin Hardesty in Tobe Hooper’s classic 1974 horror film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Despite the character’s whining, you still hate it when he finally meets the chainsaw-toting monster Leatherface in the woods. Mr. Partain was able to take this pathetic character and make him sympathetic. The claustrophobic film grows to a crescendo of terror that really gets going at the point that Partain’s character is killed. His death scene is terrifying as his character is the most vulnerable of all the victims. Tobe Hooper’s film traps the viewer in an unrelenting journey of terror. The movie builds slowly. Mr. Partain’s character is trapped in his chair from the outset. As things go wrong for Franklin, his sister and her friends, the movie-goer develops a kinship with Franklin. Suddenly our theater seat is as confining as Franklin’s wheelchair. We are trapped under Mr. Hooper’s masterful cinematic manipulation. Suddenly, we are thinking the thoughts Mr. Partain’s character has been voicing. We are not happy and wish we could leave. Too bad, too late. Paul Partain served his country in Vietnam. He made his film debut in Sidney Lumet’s "Loving Molly?" He worked with Peter Fonda twice. First in "Outlaw Blues" and then in the cult classic "Race With the Devil." Mr. Partain also had a supporting role in the William Devane/Tommie Lee Jones revenge thriller "Rolling Thunder." He returned in one of the "Chainsaw" sequels. Mr. Partain joined original "Chainsaw" actors Marilyn Burns and John Dugan in a cameo for "The Return of the Chainsaw Massacre." In numerous interviews, Paul Partain was revealed to be an intelligent, thoughtful and talented man. The world of horror films is sadder today for his passing.

JONATHAN WELSH Died Jan. 27, 2005

Award-winning Canadian actor Jonathan Welsh died at age 57 of an unspecified illness. Mr. Welsh won the Canadian Gemini Award as Best Supporting Actor for his work in the TV series "E.N.G." The Gemini Award is Canada’s award for outstanding work in English language TV. There is a separate award for the French language TV in Canada. Mr. Welsh’s other film and TV credits include "Starship Invasions," "Switching Channels," "Agency," "City on Fire," "Mafia Princess," "Total Recall 2070" and "Milgaard."

NICOLE DUFRESNE Died Jan. 27, 2005

Actress and playwright Nicole DuFresne was murdered during a robbery in New York. Ms. DuFresne, her fiance and another couple were approached by a group of men demanding money. Ms. Dufresne is reported to have asked the men "What are you going to do, Shoot us?" Not a question I’d recommend asking a person pointing a gun at you. Ms. DuFrensne was 28 years old. Ms. DuFresne gained recognition in the world of theater for co-writing the play "Burning Cage." She acted in numerous plays in the US and Canada. Ms. DuFresne appeared in several indie and student films. Her film credits include "The Prescribed Method," "7 Stories" and "Pretty." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends during this tragic time.

EMILY BERNSTEIN Died Jan. 27, 2005

Studio musician Emily Bernstein died of liver cancer at age 46. Mr. Bernstein was the principle clarinetist with the Pasadena Symphony. She also played with the Los Angeles Opera. She also played on the soundtracks of a number of films. She was not the daughter of the late composer Elmer Bernstein. While Mr. Bernstein’s daughter shares the same name and is also involved in movie music, the two women are different persons. Ms. Bernstein’s film credits include "The Terminal," "Seabiscuit," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Conspiracy Theory."

KAREN BACH Died Jan. 28, 2005

French adult film actress Karen Bach committed suicide at age 31. Ms. Bach took an overdose of pills after writing a suicide note for her parents. I used the word "actress" for a reason. Ms. Bach was the co-star of the controversial 2000 film "Baise Moi." The tale of two women who go on a murder spree is one of the most challenging films ever made. "Baise Moi" was either hailed as a masterpiece or condemned as an indulgent exercise of excess. The two lead actresses both came from the world of adult film. Ms. Bach delivered a stunning performance as Nadine, a woman whose soul had been eroded by degradation. Her character only felt alive when killing or screwing strangers. "Baise Moi" was Ms. Bach’s final film. I don’t know why she took her own life. Ms. Bach chose a tough profession. In one film, she showed that she had the potential to rise above the work she usually did. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.

JACQUES VILLERET Died Jan. 28, 2005

Award-winning French comedic actor Jacques Villeret died of internal bleeding just shy of his 54th birthday. Mr. Villeret was a popular actor in France for nearly 30 years. He appeared in nearly 90 films, TV series and documentaries during his career. Mr. Villeret acting was recognized with three nominations for Cesar Awards, the French equivilent of the Oscar. Mr. Villeret won the Best Actor Cesar for the hit comedy "The Dinner Game." He also won the Best Actor award at the Lumiere’s for "The Dinner Game." He also won the Best Supporting Actor Cesar for his work in Claude LeLouch’s "Robert and Robert." His third nomination was as Best Supporting Actor in the comedy "Waiter!"

JIM CAPALDI Died Jan. 28, 2005

Rock drummer Jim Capaldi died of stomach cancer at age 60. What a month for the world of rock. Mr. Capaldi makes the third major rock star from the 1960s to die so far this year. Mr. Capaldi was one of the founders of the great British band "Traffic." Traffic was created by Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Dave Mason and Chris Wood! The band was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame. Traffic appeared in the 60s teen comedy "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush." They were also the subject of the 1972 concert documentary "Traffic Live at Santa Monica." Though the band broke up in the early 70s, the reunited in 1994 to appear at "Woodstock 94." The band also reunited to appear at the tribute concert for George Harrison one year after the former Beatle’s death. The concert was filmed as the TV documentary "Concert for George."

ALAN JAMES Died Jan. 28, 2005

Railroad manufacturer turned movie producer Alan James died of heart failure at age 74. Mr. James turned to the film business late in life. He produced three films: "Without Evidence," "Morgan’s Ferry" and David Mamet’s "Lakeboat House."

EPHRAIM KISHON Died Jan. 29, 2005

Oscar nominated writer/director Ephraim Kishon died at age 80. Mr. Kishon was best known as Israel’s leading satirist. He wrote 700 books that have sold 43 million copies worldwide! Mr. Lishon was also a world class chess player, having created his own computer chess game. Mr. Kishon survived the horrors of the Nazi death camps, once because the camp commander wanted someone to play chess with. Mr. Kishon wrote and directed a number of films. The 1970 comedy "The Policeman," which Mr. Kishon wrote and directed was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar and won the Golden Globe in the same category. Mr. Kishon was competing with himself that same year at the Golden Globes. His film "The Big Dig" was also nominated for Best Foreign Film. Mr. Kishon also wrote and directed the 1964 film "Sallah," which featured "Fiddler on the Roof" star Topol. "Sallah" was also nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar and Golden Globe. It won the Golden Globe.

DARRYL ARMSTRONG Died Jan. 29, 2005

Canadian actor Darryl Armstrong died at age 23. His death is still under investigation by the Toronto police. Mr. Armstrong was found under a bridge in that city. Though some news reports stated that Mr. Armstrong jumped from the bridge, the police are investigating the possibility that he may have been the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Mr. Armstrong appeared in episodes of the TV series "Queer as Folk" and "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

TONI BERGER Died Jan. 29, 2005

German actor Toni Berger died of natural causes at age 83. Mr. Berger appeared in nearly 100 films and TV series during his lengthy career. He worked with director Ingmar Bergman in "The Serpent’s Egg" and "From the Life of the Marionettes." In addition to his many film roles, Mr. Berger was very active in the folk theater scene in Munich.

TRICIA GOKEN Died Jan. 29, 2005

29-year-old script supervisor Tricia Goken, along with her fiancée Denis Tri was killed in an automobile accident. Ms. Goken was the script supervisor on such films as "Felicity" and "Alias." Other credits include "The Keening," "All Over the Guy" and "The Road Home." Prayers of comfort for the family and friends of the couple.

RON TOMME Died Jan. 29, 2005

Soap opera actor Ron Tomme died at age 73. Mr. Tomme played Bruce Sterling on the long running soap opera "Love of Life." Mr. Tomme appeared on the show from 1958 through 1980! He also appeared on "The Guiding Light," "Ryan’s Hope" and several episodes of "Dallas."

JOAN TOMPKINS Died Jan. 29, 2005

Actress Joan Tompkins died of natural causes at age 89. Ms. Tompkins career spanned six decades. She worked on stage, radio, TV and in film. Ms. Tompkins was the widow of "Little House on the Prairie" actor Karl Swenson. Ms. Tompkins appeared in over 70 films and TV shows. She was a regular on the soap opera "General Hospital." Old-time radio fans may remember her as the lead in "This is Nora Drake." The daily 15-minute radio serial ran on both NBC and CBS radio in 1947 and 48. CBS then became the sole broadcaster of the show through the end of its run in 1959. Ms. Tompkins appeared on Broadway in "Fly Away Home" with Montgomery Cliff, "Pride and Prejudice" and "My Sister Eileen." Her film and TV credits include the nice little thriller "Zig-Zag," "Popi," "The Christine Jorgenson Story," "Perry Mason," "Mission Impossible," "Night Gallery" and "Bonanza." Mr. Tompkins retired from acting following the death of her husband in 1978.

RON FEINBERG Died Jan. 29, 2005

Prolific character and voice actor Ron Feinberg died at age 72. Mr. Feinberg provided voices for numerous animated characters during his lengthy career. He was also a familiar face to TV viewers through his live action work. Mr. Feinberg's voice credits include "Hong Kong Phooey," "The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour," "Spiderman," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Transformers." As a character actor Mr. Feinberg appeared as General De Gaulle in "The Missiles of October." He appeared in director L. Q. Jones cult classic "A Boy and His Dog." Other credits include the original version of "Brian's Song."

COLEY WALLACE Died Jan. 30, 2005

Boxer Coley Wallace died of heart failure at age 77. Mr. Wallace was the only boxer to ever defeat champion Rocky Marciano. He did it when both fighters were amateurs during a Golden Gloves tournament. Mr. Wallace appeared as heavyweight champion Joe Louis in the bio-pic "The Joe Louis Story" and Martin Scorsese’s "Raging Bull." Mr. Wallace’s other film credits include "Carib Gold" and "Rooftops." He also appeared on Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town." Mr. Wallace’s pro-boxing record was 20 wins and 7 defeats. He lost his biggest fight against Ezzard Charles in 1953.

MARTYN BENNETT Died Jan. 30, 2005

Composer/musician Martyn Bennett died of cancer at age 33. Mr. Bennett was a musical prodigy who began playing bagpipes at age 10. Mr. Bennett scored the short sci-fi short film "Im." Mr. Bennett also scored a number of plays. He had the honor of playing the bagpipes at the world premiere of Mel Gibson’s "Braveheart." He fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2000. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

ERICH KAESTNER Died Jan. 31, 2005

Camera designer Erich Kaestner died at age 93. Mr. Kaestner was co-designer of the Arriflex 35 and Arriflex 16 hand-held motion picture cameras. Mr. Kaestner was awarded two scientific and technical Oscars during his career. Sometimes, the artists need to pause and reflect on the artistry of the engineers that make movie magic possible. Thank you for your life’s work Mr. Kaestner.


Cameraman Warren Rothenberger died at age 82. Mr. Rothenberger was a combat photographer assigned to Patton’s Third Army during WWII. Mr. Rothenberger was awarded a Bronze Star for his work during some of WWII’s bloodiest battles. Mr. Rothenberger worked as a camera operator on a number of well known films. His credits include the James Bond film "Live and Let Die," "Aaron Loves Angela," "Popi" and "Trading Places.

MITZI LUUKKONEN Died Jan. 31, 2005

Painter Mitzi Luukkonen died at age 87. Ms. Luukkonen worked at several animation studios including Hanna-Barbera, Disney and for Ralph Bakshi. She was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 839.

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