O.W. FISCHER Died Feb. 1, 2004
German movie star Otto Wilhelm Fischer died of a kidney illness at age 88. Mr. Fischer was the son of a lawyer for the Austrian government. Fischer began his stage career in the 1930s. He was a student of famed theater director Max Rheinhart. He began appearing in film shortly thereafter. Mr. Fischer became one of the biggest stars in post-WWII Germany. His breakthrough role was the 1951 film "Heidelberger Romanze." During the 1950s he was able to have creative say and directed two of his own films. Fischer was frequently paired on screen with actress Maria Schell. They made seven films together including "Napolean." Fischer signed a two-picture contract with Universal but his US film career was not to be. Some say he lost his memory while others cite creative differences with director Henry Koster as the reason he was replaced by David Niven in the film "My Man Godfrey." Fischer retired from film in the 1970s. He moved to Switzerland where he took up the study of philosophy and metaphysics.
DINO VERDI Died Feb. 1, 2004
Italian screenwriter Dino Verdi died at age 81 after a long illness. Mr. Verdi wrote a number of action films during the 1960s. His work included Westerns, War films and knock-offs of the James Bond cycle.
BERNARD MCEVEETY JR. Died Feb. 2, 2004
Prolific director Bernard McEveety died at age 79. Mr. McEveety was the son of director/production manager Bernard McEveety Sr. and the brother of another prolific director Vincent McEveety. His nephew Stephen McEveety is the long time Mel Gibson collaborator and producer of such films as "Braveheart" and the upcoming "The Passion of the Christ." Bernard McEveety worked primarily in TV but he did directed a number of feature films. He directed the sharp cult horror film "The Brotherhood of Satan" which was co-written by actor L.Q. Jones. He also did second unit work on another cult horror film "The Return of Dracula." Mr. McEveety’s huge TV output included 31 episodes of the TV series "Combat." Mr. McEveety was the only director to work during all five seasons of that show’s run. He also directed Jodie Foster in her debut film Disney’s "Napoleon and Samantha." Mr. McEveety was a respected Western director. He produced the TV series "Cimmaron Strip." His Western directing credits include the TV series "Raw Hide," "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," "The Virginian," "The Big Valley," "Laredo," "Young Maverick" and the mini series "How the West Was Won." Other credits include the TV series "In the Heat of the Night," "Air Wolf," "Blue Thunder," "Knight Rider," "The Fall Guy," "Simon and Simon," "The Dukes of Hazzard," "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," "Petrocelli," "The Incredible Hulk," "Eight is Enough," "Charlie’s Angels." The list goes on!
JEFF HARRIS Died Feb. 2, 2004
Writer/producer/director/actor/composer Jeff Harris died of emphysema at age 68. Mr. Harris wrote the movie "Johnny Dangerously." He also wrote for the TV series "Diff’rent Strokes," "A Touch of Grace" and "Cadets." Mr. Harris also created the series "Diff’rent Strokes." He produced the TV series "Rosanne," "The Everly Brothers Show," "Detective School" and "Cadets." He also composed the theme song for the series "Cadets." Mr. Harris’ acting roles include the soap opera "The Edge of Night," "Appointment With Adventure" and "Star Tonight."
EVE BAKER Died Feb. 2, 2004
Filmmaker/attorney Eve Baker died of cancer. Ms. Baker produced and directed the film "Massacres: A New Poetry for Remembering." Ms. Baker was a civil rights attorney and also worked for the State Department.
KEVE HJELM Died Feb. 3, 2004
Award-winning Swedish actor/director Keve Hjelm died at age 81. Mr. Hjelm won the Guldbagge (Sweden’s equivilent to the US Academy Award) Best Actor Award for his performance in Bo Widerberg’s 1963 film "Kvarteret Korpen." He also won a Jury Specialbagge Award for his direction of the TV series "Godnatt, Jord." Mr. Hjelm portrayed famed director Ingmar Bergman’s grandfather in the film "The Best Intentions." Bille August’s film was written by Ingmar Bergman and was the story of his parent’s life. It is a fascinating film, especially for fans of the enigmatic director. Mr. Hjelm was a Shakespearean actor who had a successful stage career in addition to his 70 plus films. He also directed nearly 20 films. Mr. Hjelm was known primarialy in his native land. He did however act in the American TV series "Foreign Intrigue." The 1950s TV series was based on a hit movie inspired by the same Graham Greene novel that Orson Welles used as the basis for "The Third Man." The series was unique in that it was filmed in Europe and distributed in the US at a time when most TV series were shot in Hollywood studios.
PETER LUKOYE Died Feb. 3, 2004
Nairobi actor Peter Lukoye died of complications from a heart attack and
stroke at age 71. Mr. Lukoye was known to international audiences for the role of Nuru in the films "Born Free," "Living Free" and the TV series spin off "Born Free." In his native land, Mr. Lukoye was a respected stage actor, broadcaster and comedian. Mr. Lukoye was the director and PR person for the Afro-Media Christian Film Productions.
KITTY BUHLER BRADLEY Died Feb. 3, 2004
Esther ‘Kitty’ Buhler Bradley, writer and widow of 5-Star General Omar Bradley died of pneumonia at age 81. As Kitty Buhler she wrote for the TV series "My Three Sons," "The Untouchables"and the "Threat to a Happy Ending" episode of the "The 20th Century Fox Hour." That episode starred William Bendix and Gene Barry. She also wrote the feature film "China Doll," which starred Victor Mature and Li Li Hau. In the 1950s Ms. Buhler approached WWII General Omar Bradley about writing a film of his life. Ms. Buhler and the General were married following the death of the General’s first wife Mary Quayle in 1965. General Bradley was the technical advisor on the Oscar winning film "Patton." His wife helped him during that project. In 1981 President Reagan appointed her to the 11 member American Battle Monuments Commission. She will be buried alongside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. The photo at right is of General and Mrs. Bradley at Normandy on the 25th Anniversary of D-Day. Special thanks to the Armed Forces newspaper "Stars and Stripes" for permission to use this copywritten photo. You can read the "Stars and Stripes" archived interview with General Bradley on the 25th Anniversary of D-Day if you CLICK HERE.
MICHAEL EASTON Died Feb. 4, 2004
Composer Michael Easton died of a brain hemorrhage at age 49. Mr. Easton composed the scores for the Australian TV movie series "Halifax f.p." The movies center around Jane Halifax, a forensic psychologist played by actress Rebecca Gibney. Other credits include Whoopie Goldberg’s "The Mao Game," "The Moment of Accepting Life," "Snowy" and "Economy Class." Mr. Easton was born in England but spent the last 20 years in Australia. He was the only Australian composer who was a member of the Royal Academy of Music. His most famous composition was "A Voice Not Stilled." The concerto was based on a fragment of sheet music recovered from a victim of Nazi holocaust death camp.
MICHAEL P. MORAN Died Feb. 4, 2004
Character actor Michael Moran died after a brief illness at age 59. Fans of tough-guy movies will recognize Mr. Moran as one of those guys in the background. He appeared in a number of great movies including his role as Nick the Pig in "Scarface." Mr. Moran also played Det. Fain in "A Perfect Murder" with Michael Douglas and Gwtneth Paltrow. His other credits include "Carlito’s Way," "Lean on Me," "State of Grace," "Marie" and "Knightriders." Other credits include "Fletch Lives," "City By the Sea," "9 ½ Weeks," "The Paper," "Ghostbusters II" and "Physical Evidence." Mr. Moran was an off-Broadway stage actor and playwright.
JOHN HENCH Died Feb. 5, 2004
Oscar winning artist/special effects whiz/writer John Hench died of heart failure at age 95. John Hench was a longtime Disney employee. He worked for Disney in film and in their theme park division. Mr. Hench designed the Space Mountain ride and took over the supervision of the construction of Disney World after Walt Disney’s death in 1966. Mr. Hench was part of the special effects team that won the Oscar for "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." That was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. Mr. Hench was also the official portrait painter of Mickey Mouse! His other film credits include "Fantasia," "Peter Pan," "Make Mine Music," "Destino" which he wrote, "Donald in Mathmagic Land," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Dumbo" and "The Three Caballeros." Mr. Hench was scheduled to receive the Winsor McCay Award on February 7th at the "Annie Awards." The Annie Awards are guild awards given in the field of animation. Winsor McCay was the first great animator. He directed the first successful cartoon "Gertie the Dinosaur" in 1913. Born in 1871, Winsor McCay died in 1934 five years before Mr. Hench went to work for Walt Disney.
WILLIAM MACQUITTY Died Feb. 5, 2004
Producer William MacQuitty died at age 98. Mr. MacQuitty lead an adventurous life that included years spent in India. He was a noted writer and photographer. Mr. MacQuitty is best know for producing one of the best versions of the Titanic tragedy. He produced the film version of Sir. Walter Lord’s book "A Night to Remember." Other producer credits include "Above Us the Waves," "The Informers," "The Black Tent" and "The Beachcomber." Mr. MacQuitty appeared in several documentaries concerning the Titanic. He also wrote the book "The Making of A Night to Remember."
JASON RAIZE Died Feb. 6, 2004
Actor/singer Jason Raize died in Australia of an apparent suicide at age 28. Mr. Raize was the original Simba in the Broadway version of "The Lion King." In addition to his many stage roles and recording work, Mr. Raize worked in film and TV. His credits include voice work in Disney’s "Brother Bear." Other credits include the TV series "Keeping it Wild with Jason Raize," the TV movie "The Kitchen" and "Jessica Simpson and Jason Raize in Concert." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
PAT DEROSA Died Feb. 6, 2004
Film editor Pat DeRosa died at age 74 following spinal surgery. Mr. DeRosa edited a number of films including the Oscar winning "A Double Life," "The Naked Road" and "City Across the River." Mr. DeRosa later began to produce and direct TV commercials. He won three CLIO awards for his commercial work.
JULES SCHWERIN Died Feb. 8, 2004
Writer/producer/director Jules Schwerin died at age 85. Mr. Schwerin was also a record producer and was responsible for Mahalia Jackson’s 1976 Grammy-winning album. Mr. Schwerin was the original director of the prison drama "Fortune and Men’s Eyes." He was replaced on the shoot by Harvey Hart. Mr. Schwerin wrote, produced and directed the 1960 short film "Indian Summer." Mr. Schwerin was the assistant director on the excellent propaganda film "Salt of the Earth."
JON VINCENT RHINEHART Died Feb. 9, 2004
TV producer Jon Rhinehart died at age 70. Mr. Rhinehart was a producer for a number of TV series and game shows including "Wheel of Fortune," "Jeopardy," "The People’s Court" and "Name That Tune."
ROBERT COLESBERRY Died Feb. 9, 2004
Oscar nominated producer Robert Colesberry died of complications following heart surgery at age 57. Mr. Colesberry was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar for "Mississippi Burning." The controversial film told the tale of the hunt for the killers of three slain civil rights workers. The movie drew heat for the liberties it took with the FBI’s role in the case. Mr. Colesberry won an Emmy for the mini series "The Corner." He was nominated for two other Emmy Awards for the HBO movie "*61" and "Death of a Salesman" with Dustin Hoffman. Among Mr. Colesberry’s other credits are "The King of Comedy," "The Natural," "After Hours," "Billy Bathgate," "The Road to Wellville," "K-Pax" and the TV series "The Wire."
ADRIENNE LURASCHI Died Feb. 9, 2004
Award-winning associate producer/associate director Adrienne Luraschi died at age 80. Ms. Luraschi was a long time assistant to director George Schaefer. Ms. Luraschi’s film credits include "The People vs. Jean Harris," "First You Cry," "An Enemy of the People" which starred Steve McQueen, the TV versions of "MacBeth," "Pygmalion" and "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." Ms. Lurashi shared three Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television Awards with Mr. Schaffer from the Director’s Guild for "MacBeth," "Pygmalion" and "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." Ms. Luraschi directed the 1956 TV version of "The Taming of the Shrew."
J.C. QUINN Died Feb. 10, 2004
Actor J.C. Quiin was killed in a car crash in Mexico at age 63. Mr. Quinn had a lengthy stage career before moving into the world of film and TV. Among his many credits are James Cameron’s "The Abyss," John Cassavettes’ original version of "Gloria," Stuart Rosenberg’s excellent prison drama "Brubaker," Mike Nichols’ "Silkwood," James Foley’s underrated "At Close Range," Barbet Schroder’s "Barfly," Clint Eastwood’s "Heartbreak Ridge" and "Places in the Heart." Other credits include "C.H.U.D.," "Vision Quest," "Maximum Overdrive," "Turner & Hooch," "Days of Thunder," "The Preppy Murder" and "Primary Colors." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
LARRY ELIKANN Died Feb. 11, 2004
Veteran TV director Larry Elikann died at age 80. Mr. Elikann was nominated for an Emmy Award for his direction of the TV movie "I Know My Name is Steven." The movie told the true story is a victim of sexual abuse as a child. My favorite of Mr. Elikann's films was the true crime drama "Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills." Mr. Elikann worked on over 60 TV films and series during his career. Among his many credits are the TV series "Barnaby Jones, " "Falcon Crest," "The Paper Chase," "Knot’s Landing," "The Fall Guy," "T. J. Hooker," "Remington Steele" and "Matlock." Mr. Elikann served his country during WWII.
TONY POPE Died Feb. 11, 2004
Voice actor Tony Pope died from complications following leg surgery. Mr. Pope was 56. If you ever owned a Furby, you’ve heard Mr. Pope’s voice. That probably hasn’t been your only exposure to Mr. Pope. He was one of the most prolific voice actors working for the last 40 years. Among his hundreds of credits are "The Jetsons," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?," "Transformers," Teddy Ruxpin," "Spider Man," "Tail Spin," "Zorro," "Shrek," "Animaniacs," "Antz," "House of Mouse," "Scooby Doo," "Tom and Jerry" and the Christian series "Adventures in Oddesey."
PETER DRAPER Death announced Feb. 11, 2004
British writer Peter Draper died at age 78. Mr. Draper wrote one of my favorite films of the 1960s. "The System" is a funny comedy about the eternal quest for women. Oliver Reed shines in one of his best roles. The film still holds up 40 years later. Mr. Draper’s other credits include "I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname," "The Buttercup Chain" and the TV series "Poldark."
HUGH CECIL Died Feb. 11, 2004
Actor Hugh Cecil died at age 90. Mr. Cecil was one of the Transylvanians in the cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Other credits include a small part in "Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell," the hilarious BBC TV series "The Young Ones" and a number of music videos. He was the lucky bald guy who got to kiss Baby Spice in a Spice Girls video. Other credits include the TV series "Dad’s Army," "The Last Days of Pompeii" and the TV mini series "Anna Karenina." Mr. Cecil was also a puppeteer and children’s entertainer.
ROBERT E. THOMPSON Died Feb. 11, 2004
"They Shoot Horses Don’t They?" is one of the most powerful ‘microcosm’ movies ever made. Unlike countless other films that cram disparate parts of society in a small place to examine the human experience "They Shoot Horses Don’t They?" leaves the viewer stunned. It is a powerful movie that I highly recommend. Writer Robert E. Thompson was nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and Writer’s Guild Award for his great adaptation of Horace McCoy’s book. Mr. Thompson died of pneumonia at age 79. Mr. Thompson wrote about tough subjects. His scripts became the basis for some of the most insightful films and TV movies of the 1970s. Other credits include "A Case of Rape," which starred Elisabeth Montgomery. That film had social ramifications in that it caused a reexamination of the way rape victims were treated throughout the system. Other credits include the true life Hollywood crime drama "White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd." Mr. Thompson examined the cold war in the Lee Majors TV film "Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U2 Spy Incident." He also wrote the great what-fi movie "The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald." I hated the ending of that movie, but there was no other ending available. Mr. Thompson was also a TV and film producer. He produced the TV series "Rawhide" and Sondra Locke’s bizarre "Ratboy." Mr. Thompson served his country during WWII.
MARTIN JUROW Died Feb. 12, 2004
Producer Martin Jurow died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 92. Mr. Jurow wrote about his years as an agent and producer in the excellent book "Martin Jurow: Seeing Stars: A Showbiz Oddysey." Mr. Jurow producer or co-produced a number of great films during his career. Among his credits are "Breakfast at Tiffany’s," "Terms of Endearment" and "The Pink Panther." Mr. Jurow’s other credits include Blake Edwards’ "The Great Race," "Soldier in the Rain," "Love in a Goldfish Bowl" and "Waltz Across Texas." Mr. Jurow was a longtime actor’s agent. In real life it was Martin Jurow, not Don Corleone who got Frank Sinatra the role of Maggio in "From Here to Eternity." Mr. Jurow was a Harvard Law grad, Class of 35. He became an assistant prosecutor in 1976. A man of many interests! Mr. Jurow was also a very successful Broadway producer.
SARAH JACOBSON Died Feb. 13, 2004
Independent filmmaker Sarah Jacobson died of cancer at age 32. Ms. Jacobson personified all of the spunk and tenacity needed to make it in the film world. She was the leader of a "DIY" (Do It Yourself) movement in New York in the 1990s. I met some adherents of the DYI movement at the 4th Annual Memphis International Film Festival. Like Ms. Jacobson, they wrote, directed, edited, produced, distributed and hyped their own work. Their stamina and confidence was refreshing. Ms. Jacobson did this and also helped promote the works of other filmmakers. Ms. Jacobson wrote/directed/produced/edited and did almost everything else on her two films: the short "I Was a Teenage Serial Killer" and the feature "Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
CAROLE EASTMAN Died Feb. 13, 2004
Oscar nominated screenwriter Carole Eastman died one week shy of her 70th birthday. Ms. Eastman and director Bob Rafelson were nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for the film "Five Easy Pieces." The script included the famous scene in which Jack Nicholson has trouble ordering toast at a diner. Jack Nicholson starred in most of Ms. Eastman’s films. She the scripts for Monte Hellman’s Western "The Shooting," Mike Nichols’ "The Fortune" and Bob Rafelson’s "Man Trouble." All starred Mr. Nicholson. Ms. Eastman also wrote "Puzzle of a Downfall Child." Faye Dunaway was nominated for a Best Actress Golden Globe in that film. Ms. Eastman wrote Michael Lindsey-Hogg’s Made for TV movie "Running Mates" using a pseudonym.
JIM RUGG Died Feb. 13, 2004
Emmy nominated special effects whiz Jim Rugg died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 85. Mr. Rugg was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on the original "Star Trek" TV series. Mr. Rugg was with the series for its entire run. Mr. Rugg also worked on such films as "Mary Poppins," "Silent Running" and "Dragonslayer." His other TV credits include "Mannix," "Mission Impossible," "Perry Mason" and "Hawaii 5-0." Mr. Rugg served his country in Europe during WWII.
FRANK SWANN Death Announced Feb. 14, 2004
Actor turned lawyer Frank Swann died at age 91. Mr. Swann graduated law school and then turned to acting. He appeared on Broadway before signing with 20th Century Fox. His acting teacher was famed "The Wolf Man" gypsy Maria Ouspenskaya. Mr. Swann appeared in "Seven Sinners" and the Shirley Temple film "Young People." Mr. Swann was a Navy officer in the pacific during WWII. He returned to the practice of law following the war.
ELOIS JENSSEN Died Feb. 14, 2004
Oscar winning costume designer Elois Jenssen died at age 81. Ms. Jenssen suffering a stroke a decade ago. Ms. Jenssen was part of Edith Head’s team of designers who won the Oscar for "Samson and Delilah." She received a second Oscar nomination for Disney’s "Tron." She was the costume designer on the classic TV series "I Love Lucy." Ms. Jenssen’s also designed costumes for the films "Lured" and "Forever, Darling" both of which starred Lucille Ball. Other film credits include "Hit Parade of 1937," "Let’s Live a Little," "So This is New York," "Cry Danger," "We’re Not Married" and "Deadline – USA."
JAN MINER Died Feb. 15, 2004
There’s not a baby-boomer alive who doesn’t know Jan Miner’s face. Ms. Miner was Madge, the beautician who had her clients soak their hands in Palmolive dishwashing liquid. The commercials made Ms. Miner’s character a household name. Like Folger Coffee’s Mrs. Olsen, Madge seemed like a real person. Ms. Miner was happy with the TV gig because it allowed her to follow her first love, the theater. While Ms. Miner acted more on stage than screen, she did turn in some memorable film performances. She played Sally Marr, the mother of Lenny Bruce in Bob Fosse’s Oscar nominated film "Lenny." Ms. Miner also had a small but powerful scene in the Burt Lancaster vehicle "The Swimmer." Other film credits include "Mermaids" and "Endless Love." Ms. Miner had a lengthy TV career, appearing in a number of live TV dramas during the 1950s.
ANN SIENA SCHWARTZ Died Feb. 16, 2004
Actress Ann Siena Schwartz died just short of her 79th birthday. Ms. Schwartz was very active in the California theater scene for over 50 years. She entertained US Soldiers in the Pacific as part of the USO Camp Shows. Ms. Schwartz appeared in Andrew Stevens’ thriller "Scorned."
GANT GAITHER Died Feb. 16, 2004
Producer Gant Gaither died of natural causes at age 86. Mr. Gaither was a film and stage producer. He assisted Moss Hart on the WWII film "Winged Victory." He produced "My Six Loves," which starred Debbie Reynolds, James Garner and David Janssen. A friend of Grace Kelly, Mr. Gaither wrote the biography "Princess of Monaco: The Story of Grace Kelly." In 1971, Mr. Gaither and his lover Bradley Little, the editor of "Architectural Digest" were attacked by two men. Mr. Little was shot and died at the scene. Mr. Giather served his country during WWII.
DORIS TROY Died Feb. 16, 2004
Singer Doris Troy died of emphysema at age 64. Ms. Troy was known as "Mama Soul." Her most famous song was the 1963 hit "Just One Look." Ms. Troy appeared in the Harvey Keitel film "Shining Star." The musical play "Mama, I Want to Sing" was inspired by Ms. Troy’s life.
LEONTINE KLEM Died Feb. 17, 2004
Leontine Klem, the one of the first woman producer/director at a TV network died at age 76. Ms. Klem’s credits include "Your Show of Shows" and "Mrs. USA." She was also responsible for bringing Bob Keeshan to NBC for "The Howdy Doody Show."
SAMUEL MATLOVSKY Died Feb. 17, 2004
Composer Samuel Matlovsky died of natural causes at age 82. Mr. Matlovsky composed the score of director Curtis Harrington’s excellent thriller "Games." He is also known among "Star Trek" fans as the man who composed the score for the "I, Mudd" episode of the original TV series. Mr. Matlovsky’s other credits include "Namu, The Killer Whale," "The Fighting Men" and "Gentle Giant." Mr. Matlovsky served his country in the Pacific during WWII.
ETHEL KENYON Died Feb. 17, 2004
Actress Ethel Kenyon died at age 99. Ms. Kenyon had a brief brush with stardom in the early 1930s. The actress appeared in several short films directed by Fatty Arbuckle. She married "International House" director A. Edward Sutherland. Sutherland helped her land a contract at United Artists. One messy divorce later, Ms. Kenyon was on her own. She retired from film and left Los Angeles. Ms. Kenyon’s credits include the Buck Jones Western film "Branded," "June Moon" and Howard Hughes’ "Cock of the Air."
JEAN ROUCH Died Feb. 18, 2004
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jean Rouch was killed in a car crash in Niger at age 86. Mr. Rouch was attending a film festival at the time. The French director was a pioneer of the "cinema verite" style of documentary filmmaking. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association in 2001. Several of his films won awards in festivals around the world. His 1976 film "Babutu" was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes.
DAVE STONE Died Feb. 18, 2004
Radio station owner and DeeJay Dave Stone died at age 90. Mr. Stone founded the radio statio KDAV in San Angelo, Texas. He gave a young Lubbock musician by the name of Buddy Holly his first radio job. Mr. Stone also helped Holly get his first record contract with Decca records. Mr. Stone was the inspiration for William Jordon’s character Riley Randolph in Steve Rash’s outstanding biopic "The Buddy Holly Story."
GERALD WALKER Died Feb. 19, 2004
Novelist Gerald Walker died of complications from a stroke at age 75. The former New York Times Magazine articles editor wrote the 1970 novel "Cruising." The book looked at the homosexual cruising in New York. William Friedkin directed the film version, which starred Al Pacino as a cop going undercover to catch the killer of homosexuals. The film stirred great controversy upon release. The film version focused more on the S/M subculture than just plain cruising. Activists argued that the movie painted a sordid and stereotypical vision of homosexuals. (NOTE: IMDB has much erroneous information under Mr. Walker’s listing. They have two separate people confused with each other.)
RENATA VANNI Died Feb. 19, 2004
Italian singer/actress Renata Vanni died of natural causes at age 94. Ms. Vanni was a singer in her native land. She came to America in the late 1940s. Ms. Vanni had a long and successful career as a character actress in both film and TV. Ms. Vanni’s movie debut occurred in "Westward the Women." Ms. Vanni appeared in some of the best films of the 1950s and 60s. Her credits include "The Seven Little Foys," "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit," "Three Coins in a Fountain," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "Hell on Frisco Bay" and "A Patch of Blue." Ms. Vanni was a familiar face on TV during the 1960s and 70s. She had a recu8rring role as the landlady on Marlo Thomas’ series "That Girl." Other TV credits include "The Mod Squad," "The Rookies," "The Love Boat," "Harry O," "Barnaby Jones," "Cannon," "MacMillan and Wife," "My Three Sons," "Gunsmoke," "Wagon Train," "Perry Mason" and "The Flying Nun." Ms. Vanni donated much of her musical memorabilia from Italy to UCLA.
BART HOWARD Died Feb. 21, 2004
Composer Bart Howard died at age 89. Mr. Howard’s song "Fly Me to the Moon" became one of Frank Sinatra’s most popular songs. There have been over 300 versions of the song recorded. Howard wrote both the words and music. The song was originally written for the movie "Once Around" under a different title. The song became the theme song for NASA during the race to the moon. It was also the first song played on the moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11. The song has appeared on a number of movie soundtracks including "The Dish" and "The Out of Towners."
CARL ANDERSON Died Feb. 23, 2004
Actor/singer Carl Anderson died of leukemia at age 58. Anderson delivered a riveting performance in his film debut as Judas in Norman Jewison’s film version of "Jesus Christ Superstar." Mr. Anderson played Judas on Broadway prior to being cast in the film. Anderson’s powerful voice and emotional acting style overshadowed all of his co-stars including lead actor Ted Neeley who played Jesus. Mr. Anderson was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for "Jesus Christ Superstar" as Best Actor in a Musical and Most Promising Newcomer. He won the NAACP Theater Image Award for his performance in the Broadway version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical. Other credits include Steven Spielberg’s "The Color Purple," "The Black Pearl," "Mind Over Murder" and "Mello’s Kaleidoscope." Mr. Anderson also did guest spots on a number of TV series including "Starsky and Hutch," "Cop Rock," "Hotel," "Magnum P.I.," "The Rockford Files" and "The Incredible Hulk." He was a regular on the soap opera "Another World" during the 1997-98 season.
JOHN RANDOLPH Died Feb. 24, 2004
Tony-Award-winning actor John Randolph died at age 88. I first remember
seeing Mr. Randolph’s work in John Frankenheimer’s eerie
"Seconds." Randolph played the frustrated, middle aged man who gives up everything for another shot at youth. He is transformed through surgery into Rock Hudson. The psychological thriller is still powerful today. I didn’t know at the time, but that was John Randolph’s first role in many years. He was a victim of the McCarthy blacklist for his political activism. Randolph fought against the execution of Julius and Ethal Rosenberg. Ironically, Mr. Randolph appeared in the excellent Made for TV movie about his old nemesis "Tail Gunner Joe." Peter Boyle played Senator McCarthy in the film. John Randolph appeared in nearly 200 films and TV shows. He was one of the most widely recognized character actors working. Among Mr. Randolph’s many credits were "Prizzi’s Honor," "Pretty Poison," "Escape From the Planet of the Apes," "Pueblo," "Serpico," "Earthquake," "All the President’s Men," the remake of "King Kong," "Heaven Can Wait," "Christmas Vacation" and "Francis." Mr. Randolph won a Tony Award for his work in Neil Simon’s "Broadway Bound." Mr. Randolph served his country in WWII.
PAUL BERVAL Died Feb. 25, 2004
Beloved French-Canadian actor/singer/comedian Paul Berval died at age 80. Mr. Berval was well known in Quebec for his 60 year career as an entertainer. In addition to his stage and recording work, Mr. Berval was a well know TV performer. In addition to his many film and TV live performances, he also provided the voice of Fred Flintstone for French speaking viewers of "The Flintstones" in Canada. He also provided the voice of Alakazoo (pictured) in the popular children’s TV series "Passe-Partout."
RUSSELL HUNTER Died Feb. 26, 2004
British actor Russell Hunter died of cancer at age 78. Mr. Hunter was best known as the character Lonely in the TV series "Callan" and it’s movie spinoff. "Callan" starred Edward Woodward as a British spy/assassin. Other credits include the TV seties "Dr. Who," "Lovejoy" and "Sweeny Todd." Mr. Hunter had a long stage career. He was a performer at the first Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 1947. His final film was "American Cousins," a gangster comedy about a Mafia member hiding out in Scotland.
RALPH E. WINTERS Died Feb. 26, 2004
Multi-Oscar winning film editor Ralph E. Winters died at age 94. Mr. Winters won two Best Editing Oscars and was nominated four other times. He won for his work on "Ben-Hur" and "King Solomon’s Mines." I watched "Ben-Hur" last week. The chariot race is an amazing piece of work. Many filmmakers today would do well to study that sequence before shooting or cutting their own work. Mr. Winters worked on over 80 features films and a number of shorts during a career that started in 1928. He wanted to be a cameraman, but due to a Union stranglehold, he began working in the cutting department of MGM. Mr. Winters learned his craft cutting two-reelers. His first feature was the 1939 film "They All Came Out." Mr. Winters’ credits include 12 movies with this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Oscar Blake Edwards. He films with Blake Edwards include "The Pink Panther," "A Shot in the Dark," "Victor/Victoria" and "10." Among Mr. Winters’s film credits are such classics as "Gaslight," "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes," "Little Women," "On the Town," "Quo Vadis?," "Kiss Me Kate," "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers," "High Society," "Jailhouse Rock" and the original "The Thomas Crown Affair." Other credits include "Orca," the remake of "King Kong," "Butterfield 8" and "Soldier in the Rain." His final film was "Cutthroat Island."
ROGER MIRAMS Died Feb. 26, 2004
New Zealander TV producer Roger Mirams died of natural causes at age 86. Mr. Mirams’ TV series "Escape of the Artful Dodger" was nominated for Best Children’s TV Drama at the 2002 Australian Film Awards. Mr. Mirams created four TV series in Australian and produced fifteen! He also produced a number of TV and theatrical movies and a few feature films in his native land. Mr. Mirams co-founded the Pacific Film Unit to promote independent filmmaking in New Zealand in 1948. Mr. Mirams left Pacific Film in the 1950s to set up a similar company in Australia. There he became a TV pioneer and one of that country’s most prolific producers. His landmark 1952 film "Broken Barrier" dealt with the subject of interracial love. He was a documentary filmmaker during WWI covering Japanese war crimes. Mr. Mirams died three days short of seeing his fellow New Zealanders win every award they were nominated for at the 76th Annual Academy Awards.
HARRY BARTELL Died Feb. 26, 2004
Radio, TV and film actor Harry Bartell died at age 90. Mr. Bartell was a prolific radio actor before moving to TV and film. Mr. Bartell appeared in nearly 100 TV shows including "Dragnet," "Gunsmoke," "Get Smart," "I Love Lucy," "M Squad," "Perry Mason" and "The Wild, Wild West." Mr. Bartell was a semi regular on "Dragnet" in the 1950s and 60s. His film credits include "Jack the Ripper," "Monkey Business," the film version of "Dragnet" and "Dragnet 1967."
SHELIA DARCY Died Feb. 27, 2001
Actress Shelia Darcy died of heart failure at age 89. Ms. Darcy was the widow of tough-guy actor Preston Foster. Ms. Darcy appeared in nearly 50 films and movie serials during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. She was best known for her role as the Dragon Lady in the "Terry and the Pirates" serial. Ms. Darcy also appeared in the serial "Zorro’s Fighting Legion." Ms. Darcy’s other credits include Frank Lloyd’s "Wells Fargo," "The Big Broadcast of 1938," "Artists and Models Abroad," Cecile B. Demille’s "Union Pacific" and James Whale’s "The Man in the Iron Mask."
JEROME LAWRENCE Died Feb. 29, 2004
Award-winning playwright Jerome Lawrence died at age 88. With writing partner Robert E. Lee, Mr. Lawrence wrote two of the most popular Broadway plays of the last century. The pair wrote the plays "Auntie Mame" and "Inherit the Wind." Both had lengthy runs on Broadway and have been staples off Broadway ever since. "Auntie Mame" was filmed in 1958 with Rosaland Russell in the title role. Ms. Russell was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for the movie. It was remade in 1974 as "Mame." Lucille Ball played the title role in that less successful version. Cher is slated to play the part in the upcoming Made for TV version. "Inherit the Wind" dealt with the Scopes Monkey Trial. Stanley Kramer directed Spencer Tracey and Frederick March in the courtroom drama dealing with the origin on man. Spencer Tracy played Henry Drummond, the character based on Clarence Darrow while Mr. March played Matthew Harrison Brady, the William Jennings Bryant character. "Inherit the Wind" was also adapted for TV twice. Kirk Douglas and Jason Robards starred in the 1988 TV version. Robards delivered a great performance as Drummond. The 1998 TV version starred George C. Scott as Brady and Jack Lemmon as Drummond. Mr. Lawrence also wrote a biography of actor Paul Muni. The book "Actor: The Life and Times of Paul Muni" was adapted for TV as the musical drama "Actor." His play "The First Monday in October" dealt with the appointment of the first woman to the US Supreme Court. Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh starred in the film version. Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Lee received numerous awards for their work including two Peabody Awards, the Variety Critics Award in New York and London, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Theater Association, the Valentine Davies Award for the Writer’s Guild and an Emmy Nomination for the TV movie "Actor."
NAT TAYLOR Died Feb. 29, 2004
Producer and theater owner Nat Taylor died at age 98. The Canadian theater owner invented the multiplex theater. He built the first on in 1948! While Mr. Taylor was best known as one of Canada’s largest theater chain owners, he did have a hand in producing a few films. Among his credits was the bizarre 3-D film "The Mask." The 1961 movie was Canada’s first horror film. Other credits include "Explosion" and "The Reincarnate." Mr. Taylor appeared as himself in the documentary "Dreamland: A History of Early Canadian Movies." In 1984 Mr. Taylor received a special Genie Award for his Outstanding Contribution to the Canadian Film Industry.
DANA BROCCOLI Died Feb. 29, 2004
Dana Broccoli, widow of "James Bond" producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli died at age 82. Ms. Broccoli was a screenwriter and actress when she met and married movie producer Cubby Broccoli. Ms. Broccoli was instrumental in casting Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. Mr. Broccoli acted in several films including "Wild Woman" and "Moonraker." She appeared as herself in many "James Bond" documentaries. She wrote two novels: "Florinda" and "Scenario for Murder." She is the mother of producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, director Tony Broccoli and the step-mother of PR person Tina Banta.