Saturday, June 19, 2010


MARIE TRINTIGNANT Died August 1, 2003

French actress Marie Trintignant died at age 41 after allegedly being beaten into a deep coma over the weekend by her boyfriend, French rock star Bertrand Cantat. She underwent two separate emergency surgeries but did not recover. Doctors were trying to relieve the pressure on Ms. Trintignant’s brain due to a cerebral hemorrhage she suffered after the severe beating on Sunday. Mr. Cantat is being questioned by the police in Vilnius, Lithuania where the attack happened. Ms. Trintignant was on location filming the movie "Colette," which she co-wrote with her mother, director Nadine Trintignant. Ms. Trintignant was the daughter of French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, A Man and a Woman) and writer/director Nadine Trintignant. Ms. Trintignant was flow back to France from Lithuania where she died early this morning. Ms. Trintignant appeared in nearly 70 feature and TV films and during a career that began in 1967. She was nominated five times for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Cesar Awards in her native France. Ms. Trintignant had just completed the film "Janis and John" in which she played Janis Joplin to Christopher Lambert’s John Lennon. Among Ms. Trintignant’s film credits are the stylishly erotic horror film "Deep in the Woods," "Harrison’s Flowers," Claude Charbrol’s "Betty," "Ponette," "Wings of Fame" and "The Story of Women." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends during this difficult time.

UPDATE: On March 31, 2004, Bertrand Cantat was convicted of killing Ms. Trintignant. He recieved 8 years.

THOMAS J. MCCARTHY Died August 1, 2003

Film editor Thomas McCarthy died of respiratory failure at age 76. Mr. McCarthy was nominated for an Eddie Award by the American Cinema Editors society for his work on the TV series "Gunsmoke." Mr. McCarthy’s credits include "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze," "Sandcastles," "The Power" and "Joy in the Morning." His additional TV credits include "High Chaparral" and "Combat." Mt. McCarthy was Executive Vice President World Wide Post Production with Columbia Pictures. He was also a past president of the American Cinema Editors and the Editor’s Guild.

LESLEY WOODS Died August 2, 2003

Broadway, film and TV actress Lesley Woods died at age 90. Ms. Woods appeared in several soap operas including "The Edge of Night," "Search for Tomorrow," "General Hospital," "Days of Our Lives" and "The Nurses." Her film credits include "Nurse Betty" and "Testament." Ms. Woods appeared in several excellent Made for TV movies from the 1970s and 80s. She appeared in "Bad Ronald" with Scott Jacoby and Kim Hunter, "Cry Rape," "World War III" with David Soul, "Ruby and Oswald" and the excellent "Murder in Texas" with Katherine Ross and Andy Griffith. Ms. Woods played Amanda Ewing on "Dallas."

HENRY ‘REDD’ STEWART Died August 3, 2003

Country and Western composer Redd Stewart died at age 82. Mr. Stewart’s best known song is probably "The Tennessee Waltz." Mr. Stewart also wrote "You Belong to Me." "You Belong to Me" was featured on the soundtracks of the films "How to Make an American Quilt" and "Forbidden." Mr. Stewart appeared in the film "The Rough, Tough West" as part of the band "Golden West Cowboys." Mr. Stewart’s wife died last week.


Composer C. Curet Alonzo died of respiratory failure at age 77. Mr. Alonzo wrote over 2000 songs and ballads including the songs "Rosa" and "By All Means." His songs were used in the films "The Godfather: Part II," "Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Bad Habits."

JOHN HUNTLEY Died August 7, 2003

Movie soundman and British film historian John Huntley died of cancer at age 82. Mr. Huntley wrote eight books on cinema including "British Technicolor Films" and "British Film Music." He was a member of the British Film Institute. Mr. Huntley worked on the films "The Red Shoes," Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet," "Oliver Twist" and "A Matter of Life and Death." Mr. Huntley and his daughter Amanda established the "Huntley Film Archives" which is one of the largest film archives in Europe with over 80,000 titles.

ROBERT DONOVAN Died August 8, 2003

Writer Robert Donovan died of a stroke at age 90. Of his 13 books, "PT-109," the story of President Kennedy’s WWII exploits was the most famous. The book was turned into a 1963 film, which starred Cliff Robertson as the late president.

IRENE WYMAN Died August 8, 2003

Animator Irene Wyman died at age 98. Ms. Wyman worked for MGM and William Hanna during her long career. She worked on the animated credits of Stanley Kramer’s comedy "It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." Ms. Wyman also contributed to a number of TV documentaries and the book "The Story of Hollywoodland."

GREGORY HINES Died August 9, 2003

Award-winning actor/dancer/director Gregory Hines died of cancer at age 57. Gregory Hines was a star in the sense that Gary Cooper and John Wayne were stars: he was able to just be himself in anything and it was more than enough to carry his scenes. He was a star in the sense that Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were in that he was the best tap dancer of his generation. Gregory Hines had a friendly warm persona that made you want to watch to see what he would do next. It didn’t matter if he was involved in a film involving dancing or not. Go rent Michael Wadleigh’s intelligent horror film "Wolfen." Hines plays one of Albert Finney’s fellow cops investigating a series of murders. Hines captures your attention and wins you over. Gregory Hines helped the audience suspend disbelief. He was a hell of a dancer though! I don’t care what anyone says; I like "The Cotton Club." Hines both entertained you with his dancing and involved you in his character’s dilemmas.

Gregory Hines received a Daytime Emmy Award for his work on Bill Cosby’s animated show "Little Bill." Mr. Hines was nominated for a number of other awards including Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries by the Screen Actor’s Guild for his performance in "Bojangles." Hines also produced the TV biography about dancing great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

Other film and TV credits include "The Gregory Hines Show," "Will and Grace," "Waiting to Exhale," "Rage in Harlem," "Eve of Destruction," "White Nights," "Running Scared," "History of the World: Part I," "Muppets Take Manhattan" and "Deal of the Century."

JACQUES DERAY Died August 9, 2003

Famed French director Jacques Deray died at age 74. Deray was best known for his tough crime films. My first exposure to Mr. Deray’s work was the great gangster epic "Borsalino." Deray cast top French stars Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo as two small time hoods that link up and begin to move up the crime ladder. "Borsalino" is fun and exciting. Deray uses the star power of the two leads for maximum effect. Deray worked with Mr. Belmondo in "Crime on a Summer Morning." Mr. Delon was Mr. Deray’s frequent star, appearing in nine films with the director. Mr. Deray’s other credits include "The Gang," "The Swimming Pool," "Cop Story" and "Symphony for a Massacre."

TAMAKI SAWA Died August 9, 2003

Japanese actress turned politician Tamaki Sawa died of heart failure at age 66. Ms. Sawa was one of the stars of "Play Girl," a Japanese TV that was a precursor to the American series "Charlie’s Angels." The series played in Japan from 1969 to 74. Ms Sawa turned to politics in 1996. She was a member of the Komeito House of Councilors.

CARL PITTI Died August 9, 2003

Actor/stuntman Carl Pitti died at age 86. Mr. Pitti was inducted in the the Hollywood Stuntman’s Hall of Fame in 1984. Mr. Pitti’s film credits include the original "Of Mice and Men" with Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr., "Billy the Kid" with Robert Taylor, "Tribute to a Bad Man" with James Cagney, "The Hallelujah Trail" with Burt Lancaster" and "High Plains Drifter" with Clint Eastwood. Mr. Pitti also worked on several TV series, most notably "Bonanza" and "Little House on the Prairie."

CONSTANCE CHAPMAN Died August 10, 2003

British Actress Constance Chapman died at age 91. Though Ms. Chapman was best known for her work on the British stage, she did appear in a number of films. Ms. Chapman appeared in two films by director Lindsey Anderson. She appeared in "Oh, Lucky Man!" and "In Celebration." Other credits include "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg," "The Patricia Neal Story," "Doomwatch," "Hedda," "Rumpole of the Bailey" and "All Creatures Great and Small."

HERB BROOKS Died August 11, 2003

Hockey legend Herb Brooks was killed in an automobile accident at age 66. Mr. Brooks was thrown from the minivan he was driving when it rolled over. Herb Brooks led a group of young men to one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Mr. Brooks was the coach in the 1980 Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. Against all odds, the Brooks coached team won the Gold Metal at Lake Placid against the odds-on favorites Russia’s Men’s team. "The Miracle on Ice" united people across the United States like few sporting events before had. The event became the subject of a Made for TV film one year later. Karl Malden portrayed Herb Brooks in "Miracle on Ice." Andrew Robinson and Steve Guttenberg played two of his players. Another film, "Miracle" is currently in post-production. Kurt Russell plays Brooks in the film set for 2004 release. Mr. Brooks appeared as himself in the 2001 documentary "Do You Believe in Miracles? The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

IRJA LLOYD Died August 12, 2003

Irja Lloyd, radical, social crusader and free thinker died of natural causes at the age of 83. Ms. Lloyd, along with Lucille Alpert, was the subject of director/producer Laura Gabbert’s feature length documentary film "Sunset Hall." Sunset Hall is a retirement home for radicals in Los Angeles. "Sunset Hall" won the Audience Award at this year’s IFP/Los Angeles Film Festival and a Special Jury Award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

PAUL DOUGLAS JOHNSON Died August 12, 2003

Oscar winning special effects master Paul Johnson died of colon cancer at age 54. Mr. Johnson and his partner Al Miller at Lynx Robotics received three Science and Technology Academy Awards for defining and controlling motion in film, developing the C-50 camera motor system and for development of a data capture system. Mr. Johnson’s credits include "Titanic," "Fight Club," "Panic Room," "Face Off," "Broken Arrow," "Star Trek: Insurrection," "The X-Files," "Space Balls" and "Lifeforce."

ED TOWNSEND Died August 13, 2003

R&B composer Ed Townsend died of heart failure at age 74. Mr. Townsend wrote over 200 songs including the hits "For Your Love," Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get It On" and "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm A Changed Man)" which was recorded by The Impressions. "For Your Love" was originally recorded by Mr. Townsend himself. A number of bands and singers have had success with this great song. I remember trying to impress a couple of girls in my third grade class by singing the song after hearing The Yardbirds version. It still rocks. Mr. Townsend’s music was used on the soundtracks of the Blaxploitation film "Black Fist" and the cheesy thriller "The Ultimate Chase." Mr. Townsend appeared as himself in "Marvin Gaye: The E! True Hollywood Story."

AARON SLOAN Died Aug. 15, 2003

Producer, distributor and journalist Aaron Sloan died at age 77. Mr. Sloan was editor of the "Independent Film Journal." His company, Magick Seal Films distributed the Mexican films of Luis Bunuel in America. He also distributed and produced several of the films of Andy Warhol. Mr. Sloan co-produced and appeared in the Andy Warhol documentary "Andy Makes a Movie."Mr. Sloan served his country in WW II.

IDI AMIN Died August 16, 2003

Ugandan despot, murder and cannibal Idi Amin died at age 78. Idi Amin Dada, dictator for life of Uganda only ruled for eight years. During that time, he was responsible for the slaughter of over 100,000 people. Amin was also alledged to have experimented with cannibalism, Amin gained a world stage from which to flaunt when an Air France airliner with a large number of Israeli passengers was hijacked by the PLO and flown to Entebee Airport in Uganda. The terrorists held the passengers hostage in hopes of gaining release of a number of imprisoned PLO members. Idi Amin acted as the ‘impartial mediator’ for the terrorists. Israeli commandos flew into Uganda and freed all of the hostages except for an elderly woman who had been taken to a hospital. The Israeli commandos only suffered one casualty! This incident became the subject of two US Made for TV movies and an Israeli theatrical feature. Amin was portrayed by Julius Harris in ABC’s inferior "Victory at Entebbe." NBC did a better job with "Raid on Entebbe" which featured Yaphet Kotto as Amin and Peter Finch in his final role as Yitzahk Rabin. Both US TV films featured all-star casts. By far the best film version of this historical event is the Israeli film "Operation Thunderbolt." Menahem Golan directed this amazing film which tells the many tales of bravery and sacrifice in a straightforward and realistic manner. The movie was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1978. This movie is proof that you don’t need an all-star cast to make a classic movie. Mark Heath portrayed Amin in "Operation Thunderbolt." Amin was the subject of and appeared as himself in the documentary "Idi Amin Dada" directed by Barbet Schroder. The documentary was made before the Entebbe incident. Amin was also portrayed by Themba Gasa in Michael Mann’s "Ali," Prince Hughes in "The Naked Gun," Joseph Olita in both "Mississippi Masala" and "The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin" and Makalo Mofokeng in "Dr. Lucille." After Amin was deposed, he fled first to Libya and then to Saudi Arabia where he lived in splendor without having to pay for his crimes. Hopefully his passing will bring some comfort to his thousands of victims who survived. Hopefully he made peace with his maker.

ANTONIO VELASCO Died August 16, 2003

42-year-old actor Antonio Velasco was shot by a fellow actor while filming the Mexican action film "Juana the Scorpion." Actor Flavio Peniche was handed a prop gun loaded with live ammunition rather than blanks before the scene began. He fired the gun, striking Mr. Velasco in the chest. Mr. Peniche has been arrested on suspicion of homicde. The film’s director and prop master have disappeared. Mr. Velasco was the co-star of this film. Previously, Mr. Velasco wrote and starred in the 2000 comedy "Carmelo y Yo."

MARGARET RAIA Died August 17, 2003

Margie Raia was one of the 124 ‘little people’ cast as Munchkins in the classic 1939 version of "The Wizard of Oz." Ms. Raia died of a brain seizure at age 75. Ms. Raia had no lines in the film. Her brother Matthew played the City Father who welcomed Dorothy to Oz.

KEVIN OAKLEY Died August 18, 2003

Animator/special effects artist Kevin Oakley drowned trying to save his son from strong currents in Hawaii. The 41 year-old animator was on vacation with his family when his son was swept away by the current in a stream that led to the ocean. Mr. Oakley got to his son but they were pulled to the ocean. Dean Miller, a vacationing EMT from California was able to rescue Mr. Oakley’s son, but not the father. Mr. Oakley’s film credits include "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," "Eight Crazy Nights," "Osmosis Jones," "The Iron Giant," "Space Jam," "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" and as CGI animator on Brian DePalma’s "Mission to Mars." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

ANDREW RAY Died August 20, 2003

British stage and screen actor Andrew Ray died 64. Mr. Ray was a child actor who made a successful transition into an adult actor. He is best known for his portrayal of King George VI in the British TV mini-series "Edward and Mrs. Simpson." Among Mr. Ray’s credits are "Rough Cut" with Burt Reynolds and Lesley-Anne Down, "The System," "The Young and the Guilty" and "The Mudlark."

BRIANNE MURPHY Died August 20, 2003

Academy-Award winning cinematographer and Jacqueline-of-all-trades Brianne Murphy died of a brain tumor and lung cancer at age 70. Ms. Murphy was nominated for an Emmy for Cinematography on the TV series "Breaking Away" and "Highway to Heaven." She was the recepient of the Crystal Award in 1984 from the Women in Film Crystal Awards. Ms. Murphy was the cinematographer on nearly 30 films and TV series. Her credits include "Little House on the Prairie," "Highway to Heaven," Cheech and Chong’s "Nice Dreams" and "Fatso" with Dom Deluise. Ms. Murphy also directed, produced, edited, acted and was a script girl on a number of different films from the 1950 on. Ms. Murphy was the first woman to become a member of the American Cinematographer’s Society. She was also awarded, along with Donald Schisler, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Plaque in 1982 for the Design and Manufacture of the Mitchell Camera Car.

GEORGE HENSHAW Died August 20, 2003

Set decorator George "Buck" Henshaw died at age 85. Mr. Henshaw’s credits include the TV series "The Twilight Zone," "Playhouse 90," "Hawaii 5-0," "Magnum P.I." and "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show." Mr. Henshaw was nominated for two Emmy awards for his work.

MARION HARGROVE Died August 22, 2003

Writer Marion Hargrove died of complications from pneumonia at age 83. The WWII vet turned his basic trained experiences into the classic comedy novel "See Here, Private Hargrove." The book was turned into a movie in which Robert Walker portrayed the author. The film spawned a sequel. Mr. Hargrove became a Hollywood screenwriter working in both film and TV. His credits include the screen adaptation of "The Music Man." Mr. Hargrove won the Writer’s Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical for "The Music Man." Mr. Hargrove’s TV credits include "Maverick," "I Spy," "My World and Welcome to It," "The Waltons," "Nichols" (great show), "Eight is Enough" and "Fantasy Island."

GEORGE SWINK Died August 22, 2003

Producer/post production supervisor George Swink died heart failure at age 81. Mr. Swink worked with producer Irwin Allan on many of his TV shows and films. Credits include three of my childhood favorites: "The Time Tunnel," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "Lost in Space." Mr. Swink also worked on "The Towering Inferno," "City Beneath the Sea," "The Swarm," "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" and the horrendous "When Time Ran Out." Mr. Swink served his country in the Navy during WWII and was wounded twice.

HY ANZELL Died August 23, 2003

Character actor Hy Anzell died of natural causes at age 79. Mr. Anzell may be best known for his performance as Mushnik in the original Broadway cast of "Little Shop of Horrors." In addition to his stage work, Mr. Anzell appeared in several memorable films. He played Woody Allen’s uncle ‘Joey Nichols’ during the childhood scenes in "Annie Hall." He also worked with Woody Allen in "Bananas," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Radio Days" and "Deconstructing Harry." Other film credits include the original "Taking of Pelham One Two Three," "Ironweed," "Pacific Heights" and the brutal Charles Bronson crime drama "The Stone Killer."

CHARLES STUBBS Died August 23, 2003

Child actor Charles Stubbs died at age 77. Mr. Stubbs appeared in several films during the 1930s and 40s. He appeared in one of my favorite Jimmy Cagney films, "Angels With Dirty Faces" which also starred the Dead End Kids. He did voice work in the Disney classic "Dumbo." Mr. Stubbs also appeared in the Lon Chaney Jr. version of "One Million Years B.C." which was produced by "Our Gang" producer Hal Roach! Other film appearances include "Boys Town" with Bing Crosby and John Wayne’s breakthrough film "Stagecoach." Mr. Stubbs served his country in WWII and went on to a successful life as a businessman and civic leader in the Los Angeles area.

PETER SCOPPA Died Aug. 24, 2003

Assistant director Peter Scoppa died from complications following a heart attack at age 79. Mr. Scoppa received two DGA Awards as assistant director on "Love Story" and Martin Scorsese’s "Taxi Driver." Mr. Scoppa worked on some of the best films of the 1970s including "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three," "The Hospital," "The Brotherhood," "Three Days of the Condor," "The Front," "Winter Kills," "The Stepford Wives" and the original version of "The Out of Towners."

AMINA RIZK Died August 24, 2003

Egyptian actress Amina Rizk died at age 90. Ms. Rizk was one of the pioneers in Egyptian cinema and theater. She began acting on the stage in the 1920s and made her film debut in 1932. Ms. Rizk appeared in a number of films including the title role in "Cleopatra," "Heart of a Woman," "Who is the Criminal?" and "The Water Carrier is Dead." Ms. Rizk performed until the last months of her life. The photo on the right is from the play "Unhappily Ever After" which tells the tale of Scheherazade. Ms. Rizk starred in the play last December! Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak appointed Ms. Rizk to Egypt’s Upper House of Parliament in 1997.

JINX FALKENBERG Died August 27, 2003

Actress Jinx Falkenberg died at age 84. Ms. Falkenberg was married to radio personality Tex McCrary who died last month. Ms. Falkenberg parlayed a modeling career into a film and TV career. She and her husband hosted several TV shows during the 1950s. She appeared in over 20 films. Ms. Falkenberg has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Author/actress Margaret Hill Ritter died at age 81. Ms. Ritter wrote six novels during her life. Ms. Ritter was primarily a stage actress. Her film credits include "Bachelor Man," "Valerie Flake" and "The Walter Ego." Ms. Ritter appeared in nearly 200 plays.

MICHAEL CONSTANTIN Died August 29, 2003

French tough-guy Michael Constantin died at age 79 in a French hospital. Mr. Constantin was known primarily in Europe, however he did appear in several films well-known in America. Mr. Constantin appeared with Charles Bronson in "Cold Sweat" and "The Family." Mr. Constantin appeared in over 50 films during his lengthy career. Mr. Constantin appeared in "The Outside Man," which co-starred Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret. The film was directed by French tough-guy director Jacques Deray who died earlier this month.

CHARLES BRONSON Died August 30, 2003

Charles Bronson brought so much wonderful enjoyment into my life. The 81-year-old international film superstar died from pneumonia, organ failure and Alzheimer’s Disease. Charles Bronson was more than just a tough guy, more than a macho film hero. Charles Bronson was a dedicated actor who always delivered a good performance, even when the material he appeared in was beneath him. Mr. Bronson appeared in nearly 100 films during his 50-year career. He also made a number of guest appearances on TV series. Charles Bronson was an Icon during the 1960s and 70s. Several classic films were made all the better by his presence. Mr. Bronson was married three times. His second wife actress Jill Ireland died of breast cancer. The couple was married 22 years and appeared in 16 films together.

I didn’t have a good father figure growing up. A lot of what I learned about what it is to be a man came from the movies. I guess I’m saddened by Mr. Bronson’s passing because he was an actor whose work had a profound influence on me as a young child. I learned about overcoming fear and internal courage from his performance as Danny the Tunnel King in "The Great Escape." The claustrophobic POW overcame his fears to help free his fellow soldiers. I learned about compassion from his performance as Bernardo in "The Magnificent Seven." Unlike the other hired guns, Bernardo came to love the villagers who hired him. His death became a sacrifice rather than the act of a mercenary. I learned about having the courage to do the right thing even if it cost you your freedom from his performance as Wladislaw in "The Dirty Dozen." I learned about what it is to be ‘cool’ from numerous performances. These are just thoughts that are flooding from my subconscious. I guess, rather than be sad at his passing, I should feel thankful for his work. I didn’t know the man other than the image he portrayed on film.

Charles Bronson appeared in his early films under his real name Charles Buchinsky. He appeared in a couple of Spencer Tracy films early in his career: "The People Against O’Hara" and "Pat and Mike." Bronson always received good review even during the early days. I remember seeing a re-release of the 1953 film "House of Wax" in 3D on the big screen back in the early 70s. Mr. Bronson played Vincent Price’s assistant Igor. The scene where Bronson hides behind a shelf of wax heads still makes audiences jump. Bronson later co-starred with Vincent Price in the sci-fi fantasy "Master of the World." This time around Bronson was the hero, fighting the megalomaniac Price. Mr. Bronson starred in his first TV series in the late 50s. "Man with a Camera" ran from 1958-60.

Though Charles Bronson was a strong actor, he didn’t achieve superstar status until the late 1960s. Sergio Leone’s "Once Upon a Time in the West" is my all-time favorite film. Bronson co-starred with Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale. The epic masterpiece is a Western of mythical proportions. Bronson plays Harmonica, a steely-eyed man of mystery who stalks Henry Fonda’s cold-blooded character Frank throughout the film. Sam Raimi paid homage to this subplot in his film "The Quick and the Dead."

Another film worth finding is Rene Clement’s "Rider on the Rain." The stylistic film concerns an Army officer tracking a sexual serial killer through France. Bronson plays the officer. This was also the second film Bronson made with wife Jill Ireland. When I was in the Air Force, I saw the over-looked romantic comedy "From Noon Till Three" with Bronson and Ireland. This funny sweet film tells the tale of a fleeing bank-robber that hides out from a posse with a schoolmarm. They fall in love and become intimate. It would ruin the movie to tell you more, so I won’t except to say if you get the chance to see this one, do so.

In addition to his work in Westerns, Charles Bronson made an impact in crime films, playing both the goodguy and the badguy. "The Valachi Papers" was based on the non-fiction book by Peter Maas. Bronson played Joe Valachi, a Mafioso who testified before Congress in 1962. Valachi provided law enforcement with the first inside look at the Mafia. Another personal favorite is "The Mechanic." Bronson plays a methodical hitman who trains a protégé played by Jan Michael Vincent. In Michael Winner’s "The Stone Killer," Bronson is a tough cop out to battle modern day Mafioso in Los Angeles. Bronson teamed up with Michael Winner again in one of the most controversial films of the 1970s.

If you didn’t witness the furor caused by Michael Winner’s "Death Wish," you wouldn’t believe the amount of debate the film stirred up. The movie was the subject of numerous newspaper editorials, TV commentaries and major magazine articles. Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a mild-mannered businessman whose wife and daughter are brutally rapes. The wife played by Hope Lange dies and the daughter is reduced to a coma. Through a gradual process, Kersey becomes a vigilante. This film outraged the liberal majority at the time. Few films have stirred up such debate over law and order. Even Clint Eastwood’s "Dirty Harry" didn’t cause as much controversy. The controversy was good for the box-office. Bronson went on to make a number of highly inferior sequels.

One of my favorite Westerns is the Western/Mystery "Breakheart Pass." "Breakheart Pass" is also memorable in my life as I had the bad luck of being arrested and taken to juvenile hall the night I saw it. As I pulled out of the parking lot, some redneck in a pickup cut me off. Being a typical Southern teenager, I tried returning the favor. I ended up blowing out a tire on the curb. While I was changing the tire, one of my less than intelligent buddies decided to urinate in the middle of the street as a cop was driving by. Oh well! At least I got to see the movie first.

The hits continued to come. Bronson starred in "Chato’s Land," Red Sun," "Mr. Majestyk," "Breakheart Pass," "Breakout" and Walter Hill’s "Hard Times." Things slowed down in the 80s. Bronson still drew crowds to the theaters, but not to the degree he did in the 1970s. He made a series of TV movies about a "Family of Cops." They run frequently on cable TV and are worth seeing. Mr. Bronson finally found a role worthy of his talents in 1991. Sean Penn cast him as the father of the film’s two main characters in "The Indian Runner." Though it wasn’t his last film, it could be considered his very worthy swan song. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, and thanks for enriching my life through your work. Thanks also for his service to our country as a tail-gunner during WWII!


BARBARA WEEKS Died July 2, 2003

Actress Barbara Weeks died on July 2, 2003 at age 89. No one realized who she was at the time and her passing was not announced for four months! Ms. Weeks was one of the up-and-coming actresses of the 1930s. She was one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. The WAMPAS Baby Stars were promising actresses who were given tons of publicity from the studios in hopes of grooming them into major stars. Ginger Rodgers had been one of the Wampas Baby Stars. She was a protégé of Florenz Ziegfield and Samuel Golden. After a very promising start in the movies, Ziegfield died and Goldwyn relegated her to less prominent roles. Ms. Weeks retired from film in the late 1930s and disappeared. Variety magazine reported that she had died in 1954! Among Ms. Weeks film credits are "Man to Man," "Illicit," "Two Fisted Justice," "The Greeks had a Word for Them," "White Eagle" and "Rusty Rides Alone."

BARRY WHITE Died July 4, 2003

Grammy winning composer singer Barry White died at age 58. Mr. White suffered a stroke last year and also suffered from high blood pressure and kidney failure. Barry White produced the best make-out music since Frank Sinatra. There’s an old joke by somebody: "I wonder what Frank Sinatra listens too when he makes love?" I guess the same thing could be asked of Barry White. There must be millions of couples who turned the lights low and got real comfortable to Mr. White’s smooth, lusty music.

Mr. White’s music was used on the soundtracks of a number of films and TV shows. His music was used to set the sexy mood in a number of "Ally McBeal" episodes. Mr. White also appeared on an episode of that TV series. Other film credits as a composer include "Dead Presidents," "Beautiful Girls," "Dick" and "The Bachelor."

SKIP WARD Died July 4, 2003

Actor/producer Skip Ward died at age 69 after a long illness. Mr. Ward appeared in a number of films and TV shows during the 1950s and 60s. He later turned to producing, most notably as the associate producer of the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard." Mr. Ward’s acting credits include John Huston’s "The Night of the Iguana" and Martin Ritt’s classic Western "Hombre"
with Paul Newman and an all-star cast. Other acting credits include "The Nutty Professor" with Jerry Lewis, "Easy Come, Easy Go" with Elvis, "Is Paris Burning?" and "Myra Breckinridge." Mr. Ward also produced "Kung Fu: The Movie" and Playboy's "Erotic Fantasies II." Mr. Ward was set to be the 20th actor to audition for the part of James West in the TV series "The Wild, Wild West." Robert Conrad was the 19th actor to audition. Ward didn’t get the part.

TYLER MCVEY Died July 4, 2001

Veteran character actor Tyler McVey died of leukemia at age 91. I fell in love with bad monster movies when I was very small. Mr. McVey appeared in several of my favorites from way back when. I hate to say that the films I loved when I was six don’t hold up well today. McVey appeared in Roger and Gene Corman’s horrible "Night of the Blood Beast." The movie features a male astronaut impregnated by a survival-minded alien. McVey also appeared in "Attack of the Giant Leeches." I must admit that "Attack of the Giant Leeches" aroused me when I was a child, and still does! Yvette Vickers plays a blond white-trash hottie who leads several men to their doom with her feminine wiles! The scene when the giant leech finally sucks Miss Vickers to death is strangely erotic.

Mr. McVey also appeared in a number of classic films. He was a member of the court-martial board in "The Caine Mutiny." McVey also appeared in Robert Wise’s sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still," Fred Zinneman’s "From Here to Eternity," "Seven Days in May," "The Killers" with Lee Marvin, John Cassavettes and Ronald Regan in his one bad-guy role. He also appeared in "Hello Dolly!," "That Touch of Mink" and "Young Jesse James."

Mr. McVey appeared in nearly 100 TV shows including "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Rawhide," "I Love Lucy," "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Sea Hunt," "Wagon Train," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "The Wild, Wild West," "Ironside," "Mayberry RFD," "All in the Family" and "Highway to Heaven." Mr. McVey also had a long and distinguished career as a dramatic radio actor. He appeared in over 1,000 radio programs! Mr. McVey stayed busy in later years appearing at Old Radio Show conventions and took part in many, many Radio Show reenactments.

N!XAU Death announced July 5, 2003

Kalahari Bushman turned international movie star turned Kalahari bushman N!xau was found dead. His age and date of death are uncertain, but it is believed that he was 59 years old. N!xau was cast as the lead in Jamie Uys’s cult classic "The Gods Must Be Crazy." The truly original film became an international hit in mid 1980s. N!xau played a bushman who find a Coke bottle thrown from an airplane. He believes it to be a gift from the Gods. When the Coke bottle brings trouble to his tribe, he sets off on a journey to give it back to the Gods. The hit film was followed by an official sequel, and several unofficial Hong Kong sequels.

BUDDY EBSEN Died July 6, 2003

Song-and-dance man/character actor Buddy Ebsen died at age 95. The beloved actor has been a favorite of audiences for over 70 years. Mr. Ebsen had success on stage, film and TV. He is best known for his role as Jed Clampett on the hit 1960s TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies." "The Beverly Hillbillies" was the highest rated shows on television for most of its eight-year run. Ebsen’s line "Well Doggies" is one of the most often imitated lines of dialogue from any TV show in history. Back in 1962 and 63, bedtime for my brothers and sisters and me was 7PM, except on Thursday nights when we got to stay up to 7:30 to watch Jed and all his kin.

Mr. Ebsen was cast as the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz." He recorded a number of musical tracks and posed for publicity photos. The part was recast after Mr. Ebsen nearly died from an allergic reaction to the silver paint used in the Tin Ma’s makeup. Jack Haley took over the role. Like James Cagney, the lanky actor’s first love was song and dance. Ebsen turned in a memorable performance in the Shirley Temple film "Captain January." His dance routine with Miss Temple rivals her dance routine with the legendary Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson in "The Littlest Rebel."

Buddy Ebsen made his film debut in "The Broadway Melody of 1935." He had been a dancer on the stage before his move to film. Mr. Ebsen’s first film roles featured his song and dance abilities. During the 1950s, Mr. Ebsen began to get more dramatic roles in action films. He played George Russel in Disney’s "Davy Crockett" films culled from their TV series. The phenomenal popularity of the "Davy Crockett" TV series and movies pushed Ebsen’s career forward.

Ebsen played Doc Golightly in Blake Edwards’ "Breakfast at Tiffany’s." His performance in that film lead to his being cast as Uncle Jed in "The Beverly Hillbillies." Following the cancellation of "Hillbillies," Mr. Ebsen scored another TV success as the private detective "Barnaby Jones." Ebsen made a cameo appearance as Barnaby Jones in the movie version of "The Beverly Hillbillies."

MILTON ALTMAN Died July 6, 2003

Visual effects expert Milton Altman died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 83. Mr. Altman served his country in WWII in the Army Air-Corp. Mr. Altman was nominated for an Emmy Award for his part in the development of the Chroma Key. Mr. Altman was responsible for the device, which allows ‘blue screen’ special effects. Mr. Altman was also one of the prime developers of color television. The well-respected artisan worked for NBC for nearly 40 years.

MARJORIE FOWLER Died July 8, 2003

Oscar nominated film editor Marjorie Fowler died at age 83. Ms. Fowler was the daughter of multi-Oscar nominated screenwriter Nunnally Johnson. Ms. Fowler was nominated for an Oscar for her work on the big-budget bomb "Dr. Dolittle." Ms. Fowler was nominated for six ACE Eddie Awards from the American Cinema Editors. She won for the TV movie "The Marva Collins Story." Ms. Fowler was also awarded a Life Achievement Award from the American Cinema Editors. She worked on nearly 40 films in 40 years. Other film credits include "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" starring William Powell, "Three Faces of Eve" starring Joanne Woodward, "Elmer Gantry" with Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones, "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes," the TV series "The Blue Knight" and "Eight is Enough."

WINSTON GRAHAM Died July 10, 2003

Novelist/screenwriter Winston Graham has died at 93. Mr. Graham wrote the novel "Marnie," which was made into a movie starring Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren by director Alfred Hitchcock. Mr. Graham was best known for his "Poldark" series of novels. The period novels were turned into a 1975 TV series and was followed by a mini-series. His novel "The Walking Stick" was made into a movie starring David Hemmings and Samantha Eggar. Other credits include "Fortune is a Woman," "Night Without Stars" and "Take My Life."

HOSEI KOMATSU Died July 11, 2003

Japanese heavy Hosei Komatsu died at age 76. Mr. Komatsu was known in Japan for portraying the badguy in numerous films. Mr. Komatsu appeared in nearly 50 films during his 40 year career. His credits include "Double Suicide," "Guys Who Never Learn II" and "City of Beasts."

BENNY CARTER Died July 12, 2003

Jazz saxophone legend Benny Carter died in his sleep at age 95. Mr. Carter’s music was played one over 100 movie soundtracks. In addition to playing music for film, Mr. Carter was an arranger and musical director for many movies and TV shows. Mr. Carter’s film credits include "The Guns of Navarone," "Flower Drum Song," the TV series "Night Gallery," "Fame is the Name of the Game," "Ironside" and "The Manhunter."

ELIOT WALD Died July 12, 2003

Writer Eliot Wald died of liver cancer at age 57. Mr. Wald was a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and several films including "See No Evil, Hear No Evil," "Down Periscope" and "Camp Nowhere." Mr. Wald was also the creator of "Sneak Previews" with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Mr. Wald came up with the idea and hired the two critics when he worked for a PBS TV station in Chicago. Mr. Wald left the show before it went national.

RAMOLAO MAKHENE Died July 13, 2003

South African actor Romolao Makhene died of liver cancer. Mr. Makhene appeared in the international hit "Cry, the Beloved Country." Other credits include "The Air Up There," "Cyborg Cop" and "Place of Weeping." Mr. Makhene was a respected stage and TV actor in his home country.

COMPAY SEGUNDO Died July 13, 2003

Cuban guitarist Compay Segundo died of kidney failure at age 95. Mr. Segundo created a seven string guitar he called an ‘armonica.’ Mr. Segundo appeared as himself in Wim Wenders’ Oscar nominated documentary "Buena Vista Social Club." The movie chronicled musician Ry Cooder as he gathered a group of Cuban musicians to record a CD of their music. The movie was nominated for or won awards from over 20 film festivals and nations. It is a great documentary for anyone who loves music.

WILLIAM COPELAND Died July 14, 2003

Writer/producer William Copeland died at age 92. Mr. Copeland was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He was a novelist, scr4eenwriter and producer. He served his country in the Pacific during WWII. I think that gave him the right to espouse whatever beliefs he may have held! Mr. Copeland wrote/produced and wrote the songs for the 1970 film "The Secret of the Sacred Forrest." He was also the lyricist for "The Naked Dawn." He also wrote "Lonnie" and "The Prince of Pirates." Mr. Copeland’s TV credits include the series "Brave Eagle." He also wrote a musical stage version of "The Wind in the Willows."

JAMES MITCHELL LEAR Died July 14, 2003

Actor/writer James Mitchell Lear was best known for his one-man play "Hemingway Reminisces." Mr. Lear died at age 80. He wrote the play at the urging of Hemingway’s granddaughter, the late Margeux Hemingway. Mr. Lear served his country in North Africa and Europe during WWII. Mr. Lear appeared in nearly 40 films including "Reflections in a Golden Eye" with Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Forster, "Splendor in the Grass" with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood and "The Blue Dahlia" with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. Mr. Lear had a long stage career both on and off-Broadway. He performed his one-man show in many parts of the world. Bruce Damer, virtual world guru and computer whiz told me he had the pleasure of Mr. Lear’s company during his stay in Prague. Mr. Damer funded Mr. Lear’s performance of "Hemingway Reminisces" in Sarajevo during the Yugoslav war. Thanks to Bruce Damer for use of his personal photo of Mr. Lear. Thanks for being a patron of Mr. Lear’s work. Check out Mr. Damer’s website for a look into his very interesting world.

ELIZABETH WELCH Died July 15, 2003

American born singer Elizabeth Welch has died at age 99. Ms. Welch achieved success on Broadway before moving to England in the 1930s. She remained there and became a star of stage, screen and radio. Ms. Welch’s film credits include the classic British horror film "Dead of Night," "Our Man in Havana," "Revenge of the Pink Panther" and "The Tempest." Ms. Welch introduced the dance the Charleston to Broadway. She appeared in the Broadway productions of "Stormy Weather" and Cole Porter’s "Love for Sale."

JOSEF BURZMINSKI (Born Max Diamant) Died July 15, 2003

Dentist Josef Burzminski was a Polish Jew who escaped from a cattle car headed for Auschwitz. During his escape, he came upon a farm house. There he met Stefania, the woman he would be married to for nearly 60 years. Dr. Burzminski was one of the witness who testified against Adolph Eichmann during his 1962 trial in Israel. The story of this remarkable life was turned into the Made for TV movie "Hidden in Silence."

KAY ROSE Died July 15, 2003

Dancer and vaudevillian Kay Rose died at age 91. Ms. Rose was a Warner Brothers contract dancer during the 1930s and 40s. She actually began her career at age 7 on the stage. Ms. Rose appeared in "A Star is Born" and "Three Girls in Blue" among other films.

BUDDY DEANE Died July 16, 2003

Popular Baltimore TV personality Buddy Deane died from complications from a stroke at age 78. Mr. Deane had a popular dance-party TV show from 1957-64. "The Buddy Deane Show" inspired Baltimore filmmaker John Waters to write and direct the movie "Hairspray." Mr. Deane had a cameo as the Governor in "Hairspray."

CAROL SHIELDS Died July 16, 2003

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Carol Shields died at age 68 after a five-year-battle with breast cancer. Ms. Shields won the Pulitzer for her 1993 novel "The Stone Diaries." Ms. Shields’ novel "Swann" was filmed in 1996 and starred Brenda Fricker, Miranda Richardson and Michael Ontkean. "Swann" was nominated for 5 Genie Awards. The Genie is Canada’s equivalent of the Oscar.

GORDON KIBBEE Died July 16, 2003

Organist Gordon Kibbee died at age 89 of natural causes. Mr. Kibbee recorded organ music for numerous Hollywood films as well as for radio and TV. He was a founding member of the American Association of Theater Organ Enthusiasts. Mr. Kibbee served his country during WWII.

LEONARD DOSS Died July 17, 2003

Veteran color consultant Leonard Doss has died at age 88. Mr. Doss worked on nearly 120 films during his 18-year career. His credits include "Cleopatra" (his final film), "Elmer Gantry," "Can-Can," "Bus Stop," "The Fly," "South Pacific," "Peyton Place," "An Affair to Remember," "The King and I," "The Left Hand of God," "The Seven Year Itch," "Daddy Long Legs," "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Demetreus and the Gladiators," "The Robe," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Halls of Montezuma." Forgive the pun, but he had a colorful career.

DAVID HAMPTON Death reported July 19, 2003

The man who conned his way into New York high society when he claimed to be the son of Sidney Poitier and who's exploits inspired the play "Six Degrees of Separation" has died of AIDS at age 39. Mr. Hampton pulled his con back in 1983. His exploits served as the basis for the play and movie. Mr. Hampton unsuccessfully sued to get a piece of the profits. Mr. Hampton was arrested numerous times for fraud related charges. He died sometime in June 2003.

JOHN C. HARRIS Died July 20, 2003

Independent film producer John C. Harris died at age 85. Mr. Harris is best known for producing John Carr’s "The Starmaker" with Wendell Cory and German sex kitten Barbara Valentin. Mr. Harris also was involved in "Christmas Around the World" and "Blue Hawaii." Mr. Harris served his country as a merchant marine in WWII.

NICOLAS FREELING Died July 20, 2003

Famed British novelist Nicolas Freeling died at age 76. Mr. Freeling was best known for his crime novels. His character Detective Van der Valk was the subject of a series of books, which were later turned into films, and TV series. Actors Frank Finlay and Barry Foster both played the Dutch detective. Mr. Freeling's books were the basis for the films "The Amsterdam Affair," "Van der Valk und das Madchen," "Because of the Cats" and the TV series "Van der Valk." Mr. Freeling won numerous book awards including the Edgar Allan Poe Award.

RENEE GADD Died July 20, 2003

British actress Renee Gadd died at age 97. Ms. Gadd was one of the leading British actresses during the early years of sound film. She is the second cast member of the classic British horror movie "Dead of Night" to died this month. Elisabeth Welch was the other. Ms. Gadd appeared in nearly 30 films including "Tomorrow We Live," "Murder in Soho" and "Man in the Mirror."

MARC CAMOLETTI Died July 20, 2003

French writer Marc Camoletti died at age 79. Mr. Camoletti wrote the play "Boeing Boeing," which was turned into a Jerry Lewis movie. You know how those French love Mr. Lewis! The movie co-starred Tony Curtis.

CAROL GRACE MATTHAU Died July 20, 2003

Actress Carol Matthau is better known for her acerbic wit and memorable autobiography than for her acting. As Carol Grace, she appeared in "Gangster Story" and "Micky and Nicky." "Gangster Story" was directed by and starred her husband, Walter Matthau. She married Matthau in 1959 and stayed with him until his death. She had another famous husband, author William Saroyan. She married him twice. She said she had to marry him again because she couldn’t believe how bad the first marriage had been. The second time around wasn’t much better. He biography, "Among the Porcupines: A Memoir" is a funny and tragic tale. A must read for anyone interested in the truth behind the façade of Hollywood. Ms. Matthau was the mother of actress Lucy Saroyan. Her daughter predeceased her by three months.

WALTER M. JEFFERIES Died July 21, 2003

The man you designed the original Starship Enterprise for the TV series "Star Trek" has died at age 82. Mr. Jefferies was a test pilot with combat experience. He was hired to design the Enterprise in part due to his aeronautical background. In addition to the starship, Mr. Jefferies had a hand in the design of the Phaser and ‘planet’ sets. Other credits include "Little House on the Prairie," "Love American Style," "Weekend of Terror" and "Killing Stone."

SERGE SILBERMAN Died July 22, 2003

Award winning French producer Serge Silberman died in Paris at age 86. Mr. Silberman produced films for such directorial masters as Akira Kurosawa and Luis Bunuel. Mr. Silberman produced my favorite Bunuel film, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie." This dark comedy is a must see from a master in the twilight of his career. Silberman also produced Bunuel’s "That Obscure Object of Desire," "Diary of a Chambermaid," "The Milky Way," and Bunuel’s final surrealist film "Phantom of Liberty." Silberman produced a documentary about his long time collaborator: "The Paradoxes of Bunuel."

Mr. Silberman produced another classic by a legendary director in the last years of his life. Akira Kurosawa’s "Ran" is an exciting epic film of feudal Japan. Mr. Silberman won the British Academy’s award for Best Foreign film for "Ran." As he did about Bunuel, Mr. Silberman also produced the documentary "A.K." about Kurosawa, the greatest of all directors.

Mr. Silberman was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the French Cesar Awards. Another personal favorite of mine is the moody Charles Bronson thriller "Rider on the Rain." Silberman produced that for director Rene Clement. He also produced Clement’s caper "And Hope to Died."

YVONNE SANSON Died July 22, 2003

Greek actress Yvonne Sanson died at age 77 of an aneurysm. Ms. Sanson appeared in Bernardo Bertoluci’s powerful film about Fascist Italy, "The Conformist." She also appeared in "Mr. Kinky" with Ann-Margret and "The Biggest Bundle of Them All" with Raquel Welch." Ms. Sanson appeared in nearly 50 films during her 36-year career.

ROBERT BLUMOFE Died July 22, 2003

Oscar nominated producer Robert Blumofe died at age 94. Mr. Blumofe shared a Best Picture Oscar nomination for producing the Woody Guthrie bio-pic "Bound for Glory." David Carradine starred in the Hal Ashby directed film. Mr. Blumofe was also the executive producer of the Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda comedy "Yours, Mine and Ours." He also produced the Robert Forster film "Pieces of Dreams." He began his entertainment career as a lawyer for Paramount. Mr. Blumofe was a longtime studio executive working for United Artists, and the company that became Universal Television. Mr. Blumofe moved into independent film production and was also active with the American Film Institute.

SHEILA BROMLEY Died July 23, 2003

Actress Sheila Bromley died at either age 92 or 96. The LA Times reports she was born in 1907 while IMDB states 1911. Ms. Bromley appeared in nearly 80 films and over 30 TV shows during her 43-year career. She acted under the names Sheila Bromley Sheila Mannors and Sheila Manners. During the 1930s she appeared in many B-Westerns and serials, as well as the occasional A-List film. She appeared in "Daddy Long Legs" with Janet Gaynor, "The Prescott Kid," "Horse Feathers" with the Marx Brothers, Ernst Lubitsch’s "The Merry Widow," the Oscar winning "The House on 92nd Street," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "Hotel" and "Nightmare Circus." Ms. Bromley appeared in a number of TV shows including "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Adam-12," "Rawhide," "Perry Mason" and "My Favorite Martian."

JOHN SCHLESINGER Died July 25, 2003

Multi-award winning director/producer/writer/actor John Schlesinger died at age 77 after being taken off life support. Mr. Schlesinger suffered a massive stroke in December of 2000. Mr. Schlesinger was one of several directors responsible for the ‘British Invasion.’ Schlesinger’s work along with that of Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz and others invigorated the British film industry in the early 1960s. This renaissance came on the heels of the French ‘New Wave.’

John Schlesinger won the Oscar for Best Direction for his landmark film "Midnight Cowboy." The film also won the Best Picture Oscar, the only X-Rated film to do so. "Midnight Cowboy" was considered daring for its time as it openly explored homosexuality. This was at the same time as the Stonewall riot in which patrons at a gay bar in New York fought back against harassment by the NYPD. Schlesinger, who was gay took what was essentially an old-fashioned ‘buddy movie’ and set it in the seamy world of New York street hustlers. Both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight delivered some of their best work in the film.

Mr. Schlesinger was nominated two other times for the Best Director Oscar for "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" and "Darling." Mr. Schlesinger was nominated for seven BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscar and Emmy combined) for his work in film and TV. He won five times for Best Short Film: "Terminus", Best British Film "Darling" twice for Best Direction: "Midnight Cowboy" and "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" and twice for his work in British TV. In addition to those prestigious awards, Mr. Schlesinger’s work has been honored by a number of major film festivals and critic’s societies.

John Schlesinger’s contributions to the ‘British Invasion’ were the films "A Kind of Loving" with Alan Bates, "Billy Liar" with Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie and "Darling" with Julie Christie. All stars received BAFTA nominations for the performances under Schlesinger’s direction. Julie Christie also was nominated for and won an Oscar for her performance as the promiscuous model in "Darling." Ms. Christie teamed up with Schlesinger a third time for the visually stunning, but slow period piece "Far From the Madding Crowd." Mr. Schlesinger’s next two films dealt with homosexuality in a frank manner. First was "Midnight Cowboy," followed by "Sunday, Bloody Sunday."

"Sunday, Bloody Sunday" starred Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson and Murry Head (Judas from the album "Jesus Christ Superstar"). "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" told the tale of a gay man (Finch) and a straight woman (Jackson) who share the sexual favors of a bisexual man (Head). Though the two main characters are aware of each other, they don’t push the man in the middle for fear of losing his affection. The film was nominated for numerous awards. As groundbreaking as the film was concerning its subject matter, it seems dated when viewed today.

Schlesinger looked at the rotten under-belly of fame and Hollywood in his spectacular adaptation of Nathaniel West’s "Day of the Locust." Donald Sutherland and Karen Black delivered powerhouse performances in this bleak look at life on the fringe in 1930s Hollywood. Schlesinger followed "Locust" with his most successful box-office hit.

"Marathon Man" still delivers a punch today. Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider and William Devane are all in top form in Schlesinger’s taut thriller. Olivier is outstanding as a Nazi dentist who wants to know "Is it safe?" You will never look at a trip to the dentist the same way again. If at all possible, skip this one on network TV. It deserves to be seen in widescreen and uncut.

After a few duds link "Yanks" and "Honky Tonk Freeway," Schlesinger returned to top form in the true-life thriller "The Falcon and the Snowman." Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton prove once again that Schlesinger is a director who delivered tight, exciting drama and suspense, but also was able to elicit wonderful performances from his cast. Penn and Hutton play spoiled American spies Daulton Lee and Christopher Boyce. Schlesinger deals with many of his familiar themes in "Falcon." He examines human failures without judging them. Schlesinger followed "Falcon" with one of my favorite horror films: "The Believers." Schlesinger produced both "Falcon" and "The Believers."

The opening scene of "The Believers" has Janet Laine-Green electrocuted in front of Harley Cross who plays her son, in a freak breakfast cereal accident. Martin Sheen plays the dad, a New York cop. He too watches as his wife dies a horrifying death. This shocking scene is followed by a creepy tale of Voodoo in the big city. Again, Schlesinger delivered taut action and pulled great performances from his players. For me, this was Schlesinger’s last good film. I know that many folks like the tenant from hell movie "Pacific Heights," but I found the premise preposterous, even though Michael Keaton was incredibly good as every landlord’s worst nightmare.

John Schlesinger is not the first name that comes to mind when you use the word ‘auteur,’ but an overview of his career reveals a director with a steady vision, a tight directing style and a proven record of both critical and popular successes. Maybe John Schlesinger wasn’t an auteur, but he was a superb director who will be missed. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

PHIL HALPIN Died July 25, 2003

Former LA Deputy District Attorney Phil Halpin died at age 65 of cancer. For 37 years, Mr. Halpin was one of LA’s top prosecutors. The more complex and tough the case, the more you wanted Mr. Halpin going after the badguys. Mr. Halpin prosecuted several high profile cases including that of Richard Ramirez AKA ‘The Night Stalker’ and that of cop-killer Jimmie Lee Smith. The second case became the subject of Joseph Wambaugh’s non-fiction book "The Onion Field." Wambaugh later produced the movie version in which the names were not changed to protect the innocent. Actor David Huffman portrayed Deputy DA Halpin in the powerful film. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, and a special salute from a lowly public defender in Memphis.

ERIC KEITH BRAUNN Died July 25, 2003

Composer Eric Keith Braunn died of cardiac arrest at age 52. Mr. Braunn was the lead guitarist of the band "Iron Butterfly." He played on their most famous album "Ina-Gadda-Da-Vida." "Ina-Gadda-Da-Vida." was the very first album to ever go ‘Platinum.’ In fact the award was created to recognize that particular album’s sales. Iron Butterfly appeared in concert on numerous TV shows including "The Steve Allen Show, " The David Frost Show," "American Bandstand," "Playboy After Dark" and "The Red Skelton Comedy Hour." Their music has been used on the soundtracks of a number of films including the climactic scene of Michael Mann’s "Manhunter," "The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

BOB HOPE Died July 27, 2003

British born, American treasure Bob Hope died at age 100. Mr. Hope may be best remembered for his tireless dedication to entertaining troops during times of conflict. Whether the war was popular with the public or not, Mr. Hope could be counted on to set politics aside and help the men and women on the battlefield forget their troubles for a while. Mr. Hope was honored five times by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was given four Honorary Oscars and one Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. In 1998, Mr. Hope was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth thus becoming Sir. Bob Hope.

My first memory of Mr. Hope was my father showing me a photograph of him and Mr. Hope in England during the Korean War. My dad was stationed in Manchester and Hope made a call on the troops. As a small child, whenever a Bob Hope movie was on TV I’d turn to my dad and say "You met him." If my friends happened to be over, I’d enjoy bragging that my dad had met the guy on TV. If I ever figure how to turn the photo into a jpeg, I’ll post it here.

Bob Hope performed in all mediums. He was on stage during the days of vaudeville, radio, nightclubs, TV, film and especially overseas wherever the bullets were flying. In order to keep this obituary within my bandwidth I’ll just stick to his films.

Without a doubt, Mr. Hopes most famous films were the seven "Road" pictures he made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hope and Crosby usually played con-men getting in and out of trouble in exotic locales while fighting over the woman. The plots were goofy, but the wisecracks never stopped. You could always count on the heroes fooling some ignorant badguy with their "paddy-cake" routine.

Though Mr. Hope was a predominantly comic actor he did a nice dramatic turn in the biography of vaudeville star Eddie Foy in "The Seven Little Foys." Of course, the reason you went to see Bob Hope was to laugh, so fortunately he concentrated on the laughs. Some of Mr. Hopes better vehicles were "The Paleface," "Son of Paleface," "Sorrowful Jones" and "Monsieur Beaucaire."

His quick wit was one of the reasons he hosted the "Academy Awards" twenty times! Mr. Hope was a fixture on TV during the 60s, 70s and 80s as he hosted a number of "Bob Hope Specials." I guess I’ll have to use the line that every obit writer in the country is going to use. I can’t help it as the line is so appropriate: "Thanks for the memories!"

TRUE BOARDMAN Died July 28, 2003

Actor writer True Boardman died at age 93. Mr. Boardman was the son of silent film stars. He first appeared in films in 1911. Mr. Boardman had his biggest success as a screenwriter. His writing credits include the Abbott and Costello films "Keep Em Flying," Ride Em Cowboy," "Hit the Ice" and "Pardon My Sarong." Other credits include "Arabian Nights" with Sabu and "The Painted Hills" with Lassie. Mr. Boardman also wrote for several TV series including "The Virginian," "Bonanza," "Perry Mason" and "Gunsmoke." The Writer’s Guild of America awarded Mr. Boardman the Valentine Davies Award in 1993. The Valentine Davies Award honors those who have contributed to the entertainment industry and the community-at-large and who have brought dignity and honor to writers everywhere.

LUTHER HENDERSON Died July 29, 2003

Broadway and film conductor and music arranger Luther Henderson died of cancer at age 84. In addition to his 50 Broadway musical credits, Mr. Henderson orchestrated and arranger the music for the TV specials and films "Ain’t Misbehavin’," "Play On!" and "Quartet." Mr. Henderson composed the scores for the feature films "Recess" and "The Slams." He appeared as himself in several documentaries.

PHILIP PARSLOW Died July 29, 2003

Producer Philip Parslow died of a heart attack at age 65. Mr. Parslow produced a number of feature films and TV series. He produced one of Steve McQueen last and least seen films, Henrik Isben’s "An Enemy of the People." In 1981 I was heading from Las Vegas to Disneyland when my care broke down in Bakersfield. We had to spend a couple of nights in the worst motel you can imagine. "An Enemy of the People" was showing on the motel’s movie channel. The movie is more of a filmed play than a movie adaptation. I’m probably one of the few folks who saw the film. I went to another movie produced by Mr. Parslow because I’m a big fan of Tom Laughlin. Parslow produced Mr. Laughlin’s terrible Western "The Master Gunfighter." Stick with "Billy Jack." Mr. Parslow did produce some good films. He was the associate producer on the classic law school film "The Paper Chase." Other credits include the TV series "Falcon Crest" and "Dynasty."

SAM PHILLIPS Died July 30, 2003

I worked my way through Memphis State University waiting tables at Jim’s Place East in Memphis. About once a month an unassuming guy with a beard came in to eat. Sometimes he came alone, other times he was with his sons and others. He was easy to wait on, always had something funny to say about whatever was happening at the time. He was a good tipper. He also took an interest in the person who was waiting on him. The staff at Jim’s Place East were predominantly college students. I had worked there over a year before I found out the guy who had to be the most considerate customer I had waited on in 20 years of restaurant work was the legendary Sam Phillips. The man who discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. The man many claim was the person who invented Rock and Roll.

Sam Phillips died of undisclosed causes at age 80. Mr. Phillips said way back when that he wanted to find a White man who could sing like a Black man. He found him in the person of Elvis Presley. In his small recording studio on Union Avenue in Memphis, Mr. Phillips first recorded the King of Rock and Roll.

Mr. Phillips appeared in the documentaries "Elvis 85," "Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The Early Years" and "Sounds of Memphis." Mr. Phillips was portrayed by several actors in dramatic films about the life and career of Elvis. Charles Cyphers portrayed Sam Phillips in John Carpenter’s "Elvis" with Kurt Russell in the title role. "Elvis" was the highest rated TV movie of all time when originally broadcast. Sam’s son Knox (who is also a pleasant guy to wait on) played his father in the pseudo-documentary "This is Elvis." Jordon Williams played Mr. Phillips in the 1990 mini-series "Elvis." My personal favorite was Trey Wilson’s take on Sam in the campy Jerry Lee Lewis bio-pic "Great Balls of Fire."

FREDERICK COFFIN Died July 31, 2003

Highly recognizable character actor Frederick Coffin died of lung cancer at age 60. If you have been to the movies or watched TV during the last 25 years, chances are you have seen Mr. Coffin’s work. Mr. Coffin appeared in this years creepy horror thriller "Identity." Other film credits include "Hard to Kill," "V.I. Warshawski," "Wayne’s World," "Shoot to Kill," "The Bedroom Window" and "Jo Jo Dancer: Your Life is Calling." Mr. Coffin’s TV credits include the classic mini series "Lonesome Dove," "Andersonville," "The Edge of Night," "Family Law," "Providence," "The X-Files," "Walker: Texas Ranger," "L.A. Law" and "McGyver."