BASIL CLARKE Died Dec. 2004
Actor Basil Clarke died at age 91. Mr. Clarke was born in England but raised in New Zealand. Mr. Clarke was primarily a stage actor. He toured with the Royal Shakespeare Theater. Mr. Clarke began his career writing radio documentaries in New Zealand. He then turned to the stage and eventually film and TV. His best known TV role was as Young Mr. Bone in the Australian version of "Are You Being Served?" Mr. Clarke appeared in over 40 films and TV shows. He played Charles Darwin in the Australian comedy "Young Einstein." Other credits include "Babe: Pig in the City," "My Brilliant Career," "The Secret Garden" and "Time Trax."
WILLIAM SACKHEIM Died Dec. 1, 2004
Award-winning writer/producer William Sackheim died of Pick’s Disease, a degenerative brain disease at age 84. Mr. Sackhein co-wrote "First Blood." The hit film kicked off the successful "Rambo" film series. He was nominated for two Emmy awards for producing the TV series "The Law" and an episode of "The Alcoa/Goodyear Theater." He won for both. Mr. Sackheim produced a number of notable films. The original version of "The In-Laws" is hands down one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. Alan Arkin and Peter Falk co-starred in the sleeper comedy. Forget the remake, if you want to laugh, rent Mr. Sackheim’s version. He also produced the chilling "Pacific Heights," "The Competition" and "White Sands." Mr. Sackheim produced many TV series including "Night Gallery," "Delvecchio," "Gidget," "The Flying Nun" and "Deadlock." Speaking of "Night Gallery," Mr. Sackheim produced the pilot film as well as several episodes of the series. As the producer of the pilot film, Mr. Sackheim hired the three directors, the late Boris Sagal, Barry Shear and the then unknown Stephen Speilberg!
BHETTY WALDRON Died Dec. 1, 2004
Actress/drama coach Bhetty Waldron died of lung cancer at age 63. Ms. Waldron appeared in a number of Films and TV shows. Her credits include "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," "Good Times," "Sanford and Son," "B.L. Stryker," "C.S.I.: Miami" and the films "Hit Man" and "The Suitor." Ms. Waldron founded the Quest Theater & Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida to promote the production of Black plays. She later taught drama to elementary-school children.
KEVIN COYNE Died Dec. 2, 2004
Rock/blues singer/writer/painter/poet Kevin Coyne died of lung fibrosis at age 60. Mr. Coyne was offered the job of being the front man for The Doors following the death of Jim Morrison. He turned the job down because he didn’t like the idea of wearing tight leather pants! His career was the subject of the documentary "One Room Man: Kevin Coyne." He composed the music for Peter Sempel’s documentary "Jonas in the Desert."
ALICIA MARKOVA Died Dec. 2, 2004
Prima ballerina Alicia Markova died of natural causes one day after her 94th birthday. Ms. Markova co-founded the English National Ballet in 1950. She was the director of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet from 1963 to 1969. She also performed many times at the American Ballet Theater. Ms. Markova played the title role in the film "Giselle." She appeared as herself in the films "A Song for Miss Julie" and "Celebration: The Story of the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet."
LARRY BUCHANAN Died Dec. 2, 2004
Pioneer indie film director/producer/writer/editor Larry Buchanan died of complications from a colapsed lung at age 81. Mr. Buchanan was cut from the same cloth as such filmmakers as Russ Meyer, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Doris Wishman. He directed a multitude of low budget and exploitation films during his lengthy career. Mr. Buchanan was from the school of movie makers who did everything. He wrote, produced, directed edited and sometimes scored his own films. His early work included everything from lurid nudies to grade-Z horror films. He later turned to bio-pics and docu-dramas. He spent the last 30 years trying to finish his religious epic "The Copper Scroll of Mary Magdalene." He finished post-production on the film shortly before his death. Mr. Buchanan’s long list of credits include "Mars Need Women" (who doesn’t!). He also was the force behind "Zontar: The Thing From Venus," "The Eye Creatures" and "Curse of the Swamp Creature." Some news outlets have mistakenly reported that Mr. Buchanan directed the cult classic "It’s Alive." While Mr. Buchanan did direct a low-budget horror film by that name, it was not the Larry Cohen film that is beloved by legions of horror fans. Mr. Buchanan’s film starred former child actor Tommy Kirk as one of a trio kidnapped by a crazy farmer in order to feed the monster that lives in a cave on his farm. The Cohen film concerned a carnivorous newborn baby with fangs and claws. Larry Buchanan also directed the nudie film "Naked Dallas." The movie was shot in Jack Ruby’s club and featured many of Jack’s strippers. One of the strippers in the film, Jada became one of the mysterious deaths that JFK conspiracy theorists point to prove that Oswald was a patsy. Jada was killed in 1981 when her motorcycle was run over by a school bus. Mr. Buchanan directed the Marilyn Monroe bio-pic "Goodbye, Norma Jean." The movie starred Playboy playmate Misty Rowe and featured ample nudity.
MARIA PERSCHY Died Dec. 3, 2004
Austrian actress Maria Perschy died of cancer at age 66. Ms. Perschy worked on both sides of the Atlantic. She appeared in the films of master directors as well as in low-budget horror films. Of course I prefer her work in the horror genre. She co-starred with Jason Robards in Gordon Hessler’s excellent "Murders in the Rue Morgue." Ms. Perschy worked several times with Spanish horror icon Jacinto Molina. She also had a strong supporting role in Jacinto Molina’s "Hunchback of the Rue Morgue." She also worked with Molina on "Exorcismo," "House of Psychotic Women," "Ultimo Deseo" and "Kilma Queen of the Jungle." She appeared with Christopher Lee in cult director Jesus Franco’s "The Castle of Fu Manchu." Other horror film credits include one of Amando de Ossorio’s Templar Knight zombie films "Ship of Zombies" and "The Spector of Terror." Ms. Perschy also found a number of roles in war films. She was the lone female in the WWII film "633 Squadron" with Cliff Robertson. Ms. Perschy also appeared in "The Last Day of the War," "The Password is Courage" and "Battle Flag." Mainstream American audiences may know her best for such films as John Huston’s bio-pic "Freud" and Howard Hawks’ sex comedy "Man’s Favorite Sport?" with Rock Hudson.
CARL ESMOND Died Dec. 4, 2004
Actor Carl Esmond died of natural causes at age 96. Mr. Esmond became a matinee idol in pre-WWII Germany. Before the war began, he moved first to Great Britain and then the US. He appeared in 90 films and TV shows during his career. In the US, Esmond was a character actor specializing is sophisticated yet oily roles. His US film debut came in Errol Flynn’s "The Dawn Patrol." He had a bit part in the Ronald Coleman version of "The Prisoner of Zenda." He provided nice supporting work as a German Major in "Sergeant York." One of his better roles came in Cecil B. DeMille’s WWII drama "The Story of Dr. Wassell." Likewise, Mr. Esmond was excellent in Fritz Lang’s classic Film Noir "Ministry of Fear." On the lighter side, he appeared with Hedy Lamar and Robert Walker in the comedy "Her Highness and the Bellboy." Mr. Esmond also carved out a nice career for himself on TV during the 1950s and 60s. He played Victor Lazlo in the live TV version of "Casablanca" on the "Lux Video Theater." Actor Paul Henreid played the role in the more famous film version.
KYLE HEALEY Died Dec. 4, 2004
Special visual effects whiz Kyle Healey died of undisclosed causes at age 37. Mr. Healey worked on over 50 films during his 11-year career. He was nominated by the Visual Effects Society for the Outstanding Visual Effects in a TV series Award for his work on "ER." In addition to his many F/X credits, Mr. Healey wrote, produced and directed the short comedy film "Blown Chance." Mr. Healey’s film and TV credits include "White Noise," "Jungle 2 Jungle," "Con Air," "Flubber," "Armageddon," the remake of "Mighty Joe Young," "Mission to Mars," the remake of "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Pearl Harbor," "Reign of Fire" and "Seed of Chucky."
ROBERT DHERY Died Dec. 5, 2004
French actor/director Robert Dhery died of heart disease at age 83. Mr. Dhery was known as one of France’s top comedians during the post-WWII era. Though he appeared in a number of films including many dramas, he is best known for the few comedic films he wrote, directed and acted in. Mr. Dhery was adept at visual gags as well as sophisticated verbal humor. Among his many film credits is a cameo in the classic "Children of Paradise." The films he wrote and directed include "The American Beauty," "Bernard and the Lion" and "The Mad Adventures of the Bouncing Beauty."
RICHARD DUNLAP Died Dec. 6, 2004
Emmy-winning producer/director Richard Dunlap died of heart disease at age 81. Mr. Dunlap produced or directed over 1000 TV shows and specials. He directed the annual Oscar telecast every year between 1960 and 1972. He won 4 Emmy Awards for his work in the medium. After a lengthy career in TV, Mr. Dunlap retired and became the artistic director of the Berkshire Theater Festival. Mr. Dunlap served his country as a commander in the US Navy during WWII.
CHRISTINE WODETZKY Died Dec. 6, 2004
Award-winning German actress Christine Wodetzky died of undisclosed causes at age 61. Ms. Wodetzky won both the BAMBI Award and the Golden Camera Award for her work in film and TV. She appeared in the Jon Voight thriller "The Odessa File" and the 1970 Israeli remake of "Dybuk." Ms. Wodetzky was a classically trained actress who appeared on the German stage. She escaped from East Germany in 1962 and continued her career in the West. She appeared in over 50 films and TV series in Germany.
JERRY SCOGGINS Died Dec. 7, 2004
Singer Jerry Scoggins died of natural causes at age 93. Mr. Scoggins was the lead singer of The Cass County Boys. He was best known for the song "The Ballad of Jed Clampett." The memorable ballad was the theme song of the hit CBS TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies." Mr. Scoggins was backed on the song by the distinctive banjo and guitar playing of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. The TV series ran from 1962 through 1971. Mr. Scoggins rerecorded the song for Penelope Spheeris’s feature film version of the series. Mr. Scoggins also appeared in a number of B-Westerns in the 1940s and 50s as a member of The Cass County Boys. His acting credits include "Barbed Wire," "Sioux City Sue" and "Last Days of Boot Hill" among others. Mr. Scoggins formed the Cass County Kids in the 1930s. Singer/actor Gene Autry hired them as his backup band and changed their name. Mr. Scoggins’s band also backed up crooner Bing Crosby.
JIMMY BANGLEY Died Dec. 8, 2004
Actor/film historian Jimmy Bangley died of a heart attack at age 48. Mr. Bangley was one of the back ground Sweathogs on the 1970s TV series "Welcome Back Kotter." Though he appeared in a few films including Faye Dunaway’s directorial debut "Yellow Bird," he was best know as a film historian. Mr. Bangley was the author of numerous articles on actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Mr. Bangley appeared in dozens of TV documentaries dealing with the stars of yesteryear. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
SONDRA BERCHIN Died Dec. 8, 2004
Former studio exec Sondra Berchin died at age 52. Ms. Berchin was a former executive vice-president of MCA Universal. She was also a well-respected attorney who clerked for the late US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
WILLIE METCALF Died Dec. 9, 2004
New Orleans jazz musician Willie Metcalf died of throat cancer at age 74. Mr. Metcalf was also a noted music teacher. In this year’s film "Ray" he played a teacher of Ray Charles as a child. Other film credits include Nicolas Cage’s directorial debut "Sonny" and the up-coming football film "Glory Road." His life and career was examined in the documentary film "Getting It Together: The Willie Metcalf Story."
DARRELL ABBOT Died Dec. 8, 2004
Heavy metal guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbot was murdered on stage in Columbus Ohio. A man ran on stage and shot Mr. Abbot several times at point blank range. Three others were shot and killed trying to subdue the gunman before a local police officer shot and killed the mad man. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends. The 38 year-old musician had just begun the first song. The former Pantera guitarist was performing with his new band Damageplan. Mr. Abbot and his brother Vinnie Paul had left the popular band Pantera in 2003 and formed the new band. Mr. Abbot contributed music to a number of films and TV shows. His credits include one of the best modern vampire films "Dracula 2000," "Detroit Rock City," "Heavy Metal 2000," "The Crow" and "Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle." He was the son of country music songwriter Jerry Abbot.
ANDREA ABSOLONOVA Died Dec. 9, 2004
Adult film actress Andrea Absolonova died of brain cancer at age 27. The Czech born actress performed in adult films under the name Lea DeMae. I was struck by her death because of the situation of my own daughter. Both suffered from an illness of the same part of the brain. Ms. Absolonova had a tumor located near her Basil Ganglias. My daughter suffered a hemorrhage to the same area of the brain after an ATV accident. Both are attractive young women. Both had families who reached out to strangers for support during their time of need. Unlike my then comatose daughter, Ms. Absolonova was fully aware of the life and death struggle she was in. Ms. Absolonova, for whatever reasons, chose to make her living performing sex acts on film and video. While I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit the sin of viewing pornography, I would never wish either of my daughters or son to take part in the industry. That realization hit me hard, because Ms. Absolonova was someone’s sister and daughter. In researching her life I discovered that she was supported with love throughout her illness by a sister, Lucie who disapproved of her lifestyle. Even though her sister disapproved, she still supported her sister with love and patience. That hit me hard also. Ms. Absolonova’s sister showed her the kind of love and support that Christians are supposed to show to others. Non-judgmental, self-sacrificing love. Comfort those who are sick. Comfort those who are lost. Overlook what many will see as irredeemable features and get your hands dirty with care and support. I know nothing about why Ms. Absolonova chose the path she did. She began performing in adult films in the year 2000. She broke her back while training to be part of the Czech Olympic swimming team in 1996. She lived in a poor nation that suppressed the freedom of religion. She was attractive. She may have traded on the only commodity she knew how. I pray that she found peace before her death. I pray that her sister finds peace through her sacrifice and giving. I don’t like to go on rants in this column, but the bottom line is that our wives, sisters, mothers and daughters are valuable human beings. Let’s try to stop viewing them as less than human. I feel some complicity in her situation as I have been one who supported pornography. It is something I pray about and daily. Sex is wonderful and fun when kept in its proper perspective. Prayers of comfort for the family and friends of Ms. Absolonova.
HENNY BACKUS Died Dec. 9, 2004
Henny Backus, actress and widow of comedic actor Jim Backus died after a series of strokes at age 93. The couple was married for 46 years. Her late husband died in 1989. Mrs. Backus appeared in a number of films. She co-starred with her husband in the 1968 TV series "Blondie." They played Mr. and Mrs. Dithers opposite Will Hutchins and Patricia Harty as Dagwood and Blondie. She also appeared with her husband in a second season episode of "Gilligan’s Island." The pair appeared in several films together including "Don’t Make Waves," "Hello Down There," "Meet Me In Las Vegas" and "The Great Man." Mrs. Backus made her Broadway debut under the name of Henrietta Kaye in the 1920s. She appeared uncredited as a teacher in the classic 1950s teen movie "The Blackboard Jungle." She and her husband wrote several books about their successful marriage. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Backus wrote a book aimed at helping those who care for seriously ill people.
MORGAN CAVETT Died Dec. 9, 2004
Composer/music producer Morgan Cavett died of cancer at age 60. Mr. Cavett’s various credits include the films "Melvin and Howard," "Swing Shift," Overboard" and "The Fourth Wise Man."
JOHN MONKS JR. Died Dec 10, 2004
"Live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse." Actor John Derek playing troubled teen Nick Romano in "Knock on Any Door" delivered that famous movie line. Writers John Monks Jr. and Daniel Taradash adapted the novel by Willard Motley for the screen. Writer John Monks Jr. died of natural causes at age 91. Mr. Monks wrote or co-wrote several great films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Among his credits are the Jimmy Cagney movies "West Point Story" and "13 Rue Madeline." He also co-wrote the play "Brother Rat" which ran on Broadway before being adapted to the screen. Ronald Reagan met his first wife Jane Wyman when they starred in the film version. Mr. Monks also penned the sequel "Brother Rat and a Baby." "The House on 92nd Street" is one of the best Film Noir movies of all time. Lloyd Nolan starred as an FBI agent busting up a Nazi spy Ring. Other writing credits include "Wild Harvest," "Where’s Charley?," "So This is Love" and "Strike Up the Band." Mr. Monks served his country as a Marine during WWII. He wrote the documentary "We Are the Marines." Mr. Monk co-wrote and co-directed with Richard Goldstone the true life WWII adventure "No Man is an Island," which starred Jeffery Hunter. He made several cameo appearances later in life in such films as "Paradise Alley" and "Early Warning."
DENNIS ALBAUGH Died Dec. 10, 2004
Dennis Albaugh, the vice-president of the charity Comic Relief, died of pancreatic cancer at age 63. Mr. Albaugh spent his life trying to make the world a better place for his fellow man. One of his most notable and high-profile charities was "Comic Relief." The funny fund-raise first aired on HBO in 1986. In that and subsequent telecasts, "Comic Relief" has raised nearly $50 million dollars. Thanks for the good work.
CHARLET OBERLEY Died Dec. 11, 2004
Actress Charlet Oberley died of Parkinson’s Disease. No age was given. Ms. Oberley appeared on stage in the original production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Other stage performances include "I Am a Camera," "Crossing Delancy" and "Flirting With Disaster." She also appeared in the film version of "Flirting With Disaster." Other film credits include "Nunzio" and "Grandma Didn’t Wave Back."
CHRISTOPHER BLAKE Died Dec. 11, 2004
British actor Christopher Blake died of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 55. Mr. Blake proved himself adept at light comedy, serious drama and playing the heavy. In addition to his stage work, Mr. Blake appeared as a regular in several British TV series. His TV series credits include "That’s My Boy," "Mixed Blessings," "The Mill on the Floss," "The Lost Boys" "Love for Lydia." Mr. Blake appeared in the excellent IRA thriller "Hennesy."
FRITS HELMUTH Died Dec. 12, 2004
Award-winning Danish actor Frits Helmuth died of liver failure at age 73. Mr. Helmuth acted on both stage and screen. He won the Danish Bodil Award as Best Actor four times during his career. Mr. Helmuth appeared in over 60 films and TV shows during his career. He starred in Kaspar Rostrup’s 1988 film "Memories of a Marriage." The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. He began his career as a child actor appearing with his father, actor Osvald Helmuth in the film "Blaavand Melder Storm."
KATHERINE EAMES Died Dec. 12, 2004
Actress Katherine Eames died of natural causes at age 96. Ms. Eames appeared on stage, TV and in film. Ms. Eames appeared on Broadway in several plays. She made her Braodway debut in November of 1943 in Moss Hart’s "Winged Victory." Her film credits include "The Big Heat," "Diary of a Mad Housewife" and "Starlight-The Musical." Her TV credits include the soap operas "The Secret Storm," "Love of Life," "Another World" and "Loving." She also appeared on the TV series "Sgt. Bilko," "The Bob Hope Chrysler Theater" and "The Armstrong Theater."
ELIZABETH MARTIN Died Dec. 12, 2004
Longtime TV exec Elizabeth Martin died of pneumonia at age 75. Ms. Martin was an executive for Goodson-Todman Productions. She worked for the Games Show mavens for nearly 35 years. She worked on such TV staples as "What's My Line?," "To Tell The Truth," "I've Got a Secret," "Beat the Clock," "Password," "The Price Is Right," Family Feud," "Match Game" and "Tattletales."
PERRY GRANT Died Dec. 12, 2004
Writer/producer Perry Grant died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 80. Mr. Grant wrote for a number of popular TV series during the past 50 years. His writing credits include "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "Happy Days," "Love American Style," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Odd Couple." Mr. Grant also produced and wrote for the TV series "227" and "Hello Larry."
BENJAMIN SLACK Died Dec. 13, 2004
Actor Ben Slack died at age 67. Mr. Slack appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during his career. He may be best known for his recurring role as Mr. Ermin in the TV series "The Wonder Years." He played Ariel Sharon in the Made for TV bio-pic "Sadat" with Lou Gossett Jr. Mr. Salck also had a recurring role on both "All in the Family" and "Archie Bumker’s Place." He played Floyd Mills. Other film and TV credits include "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "N.Y.P.D. Blue," "The Seduction of Joe Tynan," "Piranha," "Times Square," "Bachelor Party" and "The Practice."
FERNANDO POE JR. Died Dec 14, 2004
Filipino actor turned presidential hopeful Fernando Poe Jr. died of a stroke at age 65. Mr. Poe appeared in over 200 films in his native land. He also wrote. Directed and produced films. Mr. Poe won seven FAMAS awards for Best Actor and was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2000 FAMAS Awards. Mr. Poe lost his bid to become the president of the Philippines in May of this year.
RENE CLEITMAN Died Dec. 14, 2004
Producer Rene Cleitman died of undisclosed causes at age 64. Mr. Cleitman produced over 20 films including the Gerard Depardieu version of "Cyrano de Bergerac." He also worked with Depardieu in the cross-dressing crime film "Menage." In 1995, Mr. Cleitman producer Bernard Tavernier’s award-winning true crime film "The Bait." He appeared as himself in the documentary "Lost in La Mancha." The film chronicles director Terry Gilliam’s attempt to make the movie "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."
JIM HOLIDAY Died Dec. 15, 2004
Adult film director and critic Jim Holiday died of complications from Type II diabetes. Mr. Holiday was considered by many to be the Pauline Kael of porn. He began his career acting in adult films during the 1970s. During that period of ‘porn chic’ he was one of the few film journalists covering the adult industry with a serious critical eye. He was a founding member of the X-Rated Critic’s Society. Mr. Holiday broke the rule that ‘those you can do, those you can become film critics.’ He turned to directing and made over 50 adult films. Holiday’s movies were a cut above the thousands of other films that were nothing more than crap. In addition to using beautiful men and women, he added cultural references and humor that showed a depth of knowledge not usually found in the industry. He was a mentor to a number of directors and actresses. He helped a number of women take charge of their own careers and move into industry positions of power normally held by men. Mr. Holiday delivered the eulogy at John Holmes funeral. In typical Jim Holiday honesty, the first line he spoke was "John was a liar."
FERNANDO BAULUZ Died Dec. 15, 2004
Spanish director Fernando Bauluz died at age 53 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Bauluz is best known for the award-winning film "Black Tears." Mr. Bauluz was a production manager and second unit director. Three weeks in the shooting of "Black Tears," the film’s director Ricardo Franco died. Mr. Bauluz stepped into his shoes and finished the film. He and Franco had been close collaborators on the film so Bauluz was able to complete the film in the spirit intended by original director Franco. The pair was nominated for the Golden Spike Award for the film at the Valladolid International Film Festival. The film’s lead actress, Ariadna Gil received a Best Actress Nomination at the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars: The Goya Awards.
PRATHAPACHANDRAN Died Dec. 16, 2004
This has not been a good day for the film community in India. Two leading actors of India died this day. Noted Malayalam film villain Prathapachandran died at age 63 after a period of declining health. He appeared in over 300 films in his 44-year career! Prathapachandran was a character actor and most notably a great screen villain. He won numerous awards in India for his work.
LAXMIKANT BERDE Died Dec. 16, 2004
Noted Bollywood and Hindi actor Laxmikant Berde died of kidney disease at age 50. Mr. Berde was a noted comedian in his native land. He was one of the leading Marathi actors before he began to make Hindi films. He appeared in over 50 films.
HALELOKE KAHUAOLAPUA Died Dec. 16, 2004
TV star Haleloke died at age 82. The Hawaiian dancer and singer appeared on the hit TV series "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends" drom 1950 through 1955. Before TV, she was on the radio show "Hawaii Calls."Haleloke also performed on Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town."
WILLIAM BERRY Died Dec. 19, 2004
Jack of all trades William Berry died 10 days after his 95th birthday. Mr. Berry was a sound engineer for Warner Brothers Studios during the 1930s. He later went to work for Howard Hughes as a project manager on the Spruce Goose cargo plane. He was on board the plane when Howard Hughes took it for its only flight in the Los Angeles Harbor in 1947. Mr. Berry was also the father of Rock and Roll singer Jan Berry. Jan Berry was half of the rock duo Jan and Dean. Mr. Berry’s famous son died in March of this year.
RICHARD BEST Died Dec. 19, 2004
British film editor Richard Best died at age 88. Mr. Best’s career started in the mid 1930s as an assistant editor with the Rank Organization. At this time her worked on several of David Lean’s early films. During WWII he worked on training films and documentaries for the British Army Film Unit. He was the lead editor on nearly 40 films and 13 episodes of the great TV series "The Avengers." Mr. Best worked on a number of excellent films. "The Dam Busters" is his best known work. The WWII actioner benefits greatly from his climatic ariel bomb attack sequence. "The Magic Box" is an old-fashioned gem of a bio-pic. The all-star movie starred Robert Donat as William Friese-Greene, the inventor of the movie camera. Mr. Best’s other credits include Tony Richardson’s "Look Back in Anger," "Otley," "The Chairman" and "The Blood on Satan’s Claw."
JACK NEWFIELD Died Dec. 20, 2004
Journalist and writer Jack Newfield died of kidney and lung cancer at age 66. Mr. New field wrote biographies of Robert Kennedy and Don King. Both books were turned into TV films. "Robert F. Kennedy: A Memoir" was a documentary, while "Don King: Only in America" was a bio-pic starring Ving Rhames. He also produced the PBS documentary "Don King: Unauthorized" for which he won an Emmy. Mr. Newfield was an associate producer on the documentary "Sugar Ray Robinson: The Bright Lights and Dark Shadows of a Champion."
IB MOSSEN Died Dec. 20, 2004
Danish actor and director Ib Mossin died of a heart attack at age 71. My first exposure to Mr. Mossin was in the movie "Without a Stitch." My buddy (who will remain unnamed) and I snuck into our first porn movie when we were 15 years old. "Without a Stitch" and the Marilyn Chamber’s film "Together" were playing at the Capri Art in Memphis. I don’t remember a thing about Mr. Mossin’s performance. He acted in a number of films, both mainstream and adult. He appeared in the hardcore spy-spoof "Agent 69" series of movies which also featured the nude Anna Bergman, daughter of director Ingmar Bergman! Ironically, Ib Mossin was also the director of a number of family films popular in his native land.
TONY VAN BRIDGE Died Dec. 20, 2004
British born actor Tony Van Bridge died in his adopted country of Canada at age 87. Mr. van Bridge appeared for 35 years combined at the renowned Stratford and Shaw Theater festivals in Canada. In addition to his prolific stage work in Canada, he also was a familiar face to Canadian and international TV viewers. He starred in the CBC TV series "Judge." Mr. van Bridge appeared in the great little film "If You Could See What I Hear," which starred Marc Singer as a blind man who doesn’t let his disability stop him from living life to the fullest. Mr. van Bridge also appeared in one of Shelley Duvall’s "Faerie Tale Theater" episodes: "The Pied Piper of Hamilin." Other TV roles include guest roles on "Mission Impossible" and "The Quartermass Experiment."
ARLON OBER Died Dec. 20, 2004
Composer, orchestrator and music editor Arlon Ober died at age 61. Mr. Ober worked on some of my favorite B-movies. He was the music editor on Larry Cohen’s great monster movie "Q: The Winged Serpent." He composed the score for Paul Bartel’s cult classic "Eating Raoul." Other credits include "Hospital Massacre," "Child’s Play," "Deep Star Six," "Nightbeast" and "Robotech."
HOWARD FEUER Died Dec. 20, 2004
Award-winning casting director Howard Feuer died of colon cancer at age 56. Mr. Feuer was nominated for the Casting Society of America’s Artios Award eleven times. He won four awards. Mr. Feuer cast some of the best films of the last three decades. Among his nearly 80 credits are "The Warriors," "Hair," "All That Jazz," "Altered States," "Bad Boys," "Places in the Heart," "Moonstruck," "Married to the Mob," "Mississippi Burning," "Dead Poets Society," "The Abyss," "Miami Blues," "Billy Bathgate," "Basic Instinct," "Philadelphia," "That Thing You Do!" and "The Dreamers." Mr. Feuer also cast nearly 30 Broadway plays.
LUCILE LAYTON Died Dec. 21, 2004
Former Ziegfeld girl Lucile Layton died at age 101. Ms. Layton appeared in several silent films directed by D.W. Griffith. She also appeared in a silent version of "The Sign of the Cross." She moved to Broadway in the 1920s as one of Flo Ziegfeld’s girls. She appeared in his Follies from 1921 through 1924.
PAUL LOPEZ Died Dec. 22, 2004
Costume supervisor Paul Lopez died at age 56. Mr. Lopez helped make the stars look great, or not so great if that was what was called for, in a number hit films. Among his many credits are "The Woman in Red," "Big Trouble in Little China," "I Heart Huckabees," "The Patriot," "The Wild Wild West," "Rush Hour," "X-Men 2," "Unlawful Entry," "Planes Trains and Automobiles" and "Maverick." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
CATHERINE WINTER Died Dec. 22, 2004
French producer Catherine Winter died of cancer at age 79. Ms. Winter produced Alain Resnais’s Oscar nominated classic "La Guerre est Finie." As a teenager, Ms. Winter fought against Hilter’s army as a member of he French Resistance. She was awarded the Legion of Honor for her courage.
FRANK ORSATTI Died Dec. 23, 2004
Actor/stuntman/director Frank Orsatti died of respiratory failure at age 62. Mr. Orsatti worked on over 100 films and TV shows. Mr. Orsatti was the stunt double for such stars as Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Bixby. He worked with Mr Bixby on the TV series "The Incredible Hulk." He also directed a couple of episodes of the series. He worked with Burt Reynolds on "Fuzz," "The Longest Yard" and "Cop and a Half." Mr. Orsatti was Arnold’s stunt double on "The Terminator." Frank and his brother, stunt coordinator Ernie Orsatti worked together in Irwin Allen’s classic disaster film "The Poseidon Adventure." His numerous film credits include such films as "Planet of the Apes," "Bullitt," "Rosmary’s Baby," Charles Bronson’s excellent "The Mechanic," one of my personal favorites "Freebie and the Bean," "Lenny," "Paint Your Wagon," "Soylent Green," "The Towering Inferno," "Rancho Deluxe," "Marathon Man," "The Gumball Rally," "Blue Collar," "The Beastmaster," "First Blood," "Point Break," "Lethal Weapon 2" and "Con Air."
FREDDIE PERREN Died Dec. 23, 2004
Composer and record producer Freddie Perren died at age 61 after a long period of ill health. Mr. Perren won a Grammy for his work on the soundtrack album of "Saturday Night Fever." He wrote a number of hit songs that have appeared on the soundtracks to many a movie. His songs have accented such films as "Starsky and Hutch," "Men in Black II," "Charlie’s Angels," "The Replacements," "In & Out," "Crooklin," "Billy Madison," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Running Scared," "Meatballs," "Cooley High" and "Hell Up in Harlem." Mr. Perren’s hit songs include "A.B.C.," "Makin; It," "Boogie Fever" and "I Will Survive."
REGGIE WHITE Died Dec. 26, 2004
NFL great and evangelical minister Reggie White died of a heart attack at age 43. Reggie White was a star defensive lineman at UT Knoxville before turning pro. He was the scourge of quarterbacks everywhere during his NFL career. He played on the Green Bay Packers and played in two Super Bowls, winning in Super Bowl XXXI. Mr. White also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers. Between college and the NFL, he spent two years playing in the USFL in my hometown team the Memphis Showboats. Mr. White’s nickname was "The Minister of Defense." He gave God the glory for his talent. Mr. White was an ordained minister who devoted his life to the ministry following his retirement from football. Mr. White and his wife Sara co-starred in the inspirational film "Reggie’s Prayer." Mr. White appeared on the TV series "Touched By an Angel," "ESPN Sport Century" and "Praise the Lord." Mr. White also appeared in Spike Lee’s documentary "4 Little Girls," which dealt with the 1963 bombing of a Black Birmingham Church. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
MANUELA BRANDENSTEIN Died Dec. 26, 2004
German screenwriter/actress Manuela Brandenstein was killed by the tsunami during a vacation in Khao Lak, Thailand. The 47-year-old Ms. Brandenstein was on vacation with her longtime partner and co-writer Helmut Schweiker. The pair was separated during the tsunami. Ms. Brandenstein’s body was recovered and identified three days later. Ms. Brandenstein and Mr. Schweiker co-wrote the German TV series "Sport is Murder" and "Sitte, Die." They also wrote the Made for TV film "Am Ende die Wharheit." That film starred the beautiful actress Jennifer Nitsch who committed suicide in June of last year. Ms. Brandenstein also did voice work. She dubbed the voice of character Lieutenant Alyssa Ogawa of the TV series and film "Star Trek: The Next Generation" into German for broadcast in her native land.
LUKE SCULLY Died Dec. 26, 2004
Assistant director and special effects tech Luke Scully and his girlfriend Angela Foust were vacationing in Thailand when the tsunami that devastated the South Pacific struck. After several months, the worst can be assumed. I have waited until May 2005 to add Mr. Scully’s obituary to this page. I guess with my daughter’s situation, I wanted to respect any hope the families may have been holding out. Mr. Skully was first AD on a number of films including "The Day After Tomorrow," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "Panic" and "Wonderland." He did special effects work on "Babe: Pig in the City," the remake of "The Time Machine" and "Star Trek: Nemesis." His girlfriend, Angela Foust was a real estate agent who also taught yoga and pilates. Prayers of comfort for their families and friends.
PEGGY PHILLIPS Died Dec. 27, 2004
Actress/screenwriter/novelist/theatrical press agent Peggy Phillips died of complications from a stroke at age 88. Peggy Phillips was one of the pioneer female press agents. She was the representative for a number of famous Broadway plays starting in the 1950s. Ms. Phillips wrote for a number of TV series. Her credits include "Lassie," "National Velvet," "The Donna Reed Show" and "Days of Our Lives." Ms. Phillips was an avid scuba diver. She once saw a woman in trouble and saved her from drowning. It turned out that the woman Ms. Phillips saved was director Leni Riefenstahl. The irony of the situation was that Ms. Phillips was Jewish. She wrote a novel based on the incident.
FERENC BEDDENYEI Died Dec. 27, 2004
Hungarian stage and film actor Ferenc Bessenyei died at age 85. Mr. Bessenyei was considered to be one of Hungary's greatest stage actors. He was declared "The Nation's Actor" by the Communist party. Mr. Bessenyei was best known for his stage work but he also appeared in over 60 films and TV shows. Most of his work was not released internationally. He did voice work in the animated film "Hugo the Hippo."
HANK GARLAND Died Dec. 27, 2004
Innovative guitarist Hank Garland died of a staph infection at age 74. Mr. Garland appeared on recordings with many of the greats of American music history. His guitar playing was much sought after by artists from many genres. He played Rock with Elvis, jazz with Charley Parker and C&W with just about everybody in Nashville during the 1950s and early 60s. Mr. Garland was injured in a 1961 car crash that left him comatose for many months. Though he eventually learned to walk and talk again, the accident put an end to his brilliant career. Mr. Garland played in the soundtrack of Elvis’s movie "Follow That Dream." His played the great guitar lick on the Elvis version of "Little Sister." Mr. Garland’s trademark song was his 1949 hit "Sugarfoot Rag." He played on the hit song "Jingle Bell Rock" which was used in the film "Jingle All the Way." Mr. Garland’s family members have always contended that the career-ending car crash was in fact a murder attempt. The family tried to produce a film version of their side of the story with Jerry Reed in the title role. The movie never got off the ground.
SUSAN SONTAG Died Dec. 28, 2004
Writer Susan Sontag died of leukemia at age 71. In America we have freedom of speech. Our men and women have and are dying for that right. I must admit that I was outraged when Ms. Sontag stated that the terrorists who pulled off the 9/11 attacks were not "cowards." However, the fact that she could make that remark and not be imprisoned by the government gives testimony to the freedoms enjoyed in the USA. I hope that Ms. Sontag appreciated the sacrifice of the soldiers who protected her right to compliment the courage of those who want to bring death to America. Ms. Sontag appeared in a number of Andy Warhol's short films. She also appeared as herself in Woody Allen's "Zelig." Ms. Sontag wrote and directed several short films. She was best known for her novels and articles for such publications as "The Partisan Review."
JERRY ORBACH Died Dec. 28, 2004
Tony-Award-winning actor Jerry Orbach died at age 69 after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. Mr. Orbach has success on stage, in film and on TV. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor. He may have gained his widest recognition during the twelve years he played Detective Lennie Briscoe on the TV series "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Trial By Jury." Mr. Orbach's small screen work was recognized with three Emmy and seven SAG nominations. My favorite performance by Mr. Orbach was as the unrepentant cop Gus Levy in Sidney Lumet's "Prince of the City." Mr. Orbach provided the voice of candlestick Lumiere in Disney's hit animated film "Beauty and the Beast." He reprised the role in two video sequels and a couple of Disney TV series. Mr. Orbach appeared in the original Broadway productions of several famous plays including "The Fantastiks," "Promises, Promises," "42nd Street" and "Chicago." Mr. Orbach won a Tony Award in 1969 for his work in "Promises, Promises." Among Mr. Orbach's film credits are "Dirty Dancing," "F/X," "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "The Flamingo Kid," "Last Exit to Brooklyn," "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "The Sentinel."
WILLIAM BOYETT Died Dec, 29, 2004
Actor William Boyett died of pneumonia and kidney failure at age 77. Most people knew actor William Boyett from such TV shows as "Adam 12" and "Highway Patrol." In fact, I remember him well as Sgt. ‘Mac’ MacDonald on "Adam 12." My fondest memory of William Boyett is as one of the great incarnations of the alien monster in the twisted sci-fi classic "The Hidden." If you have never seen "The Hidden" I recommend it highly. It concerns an alien with a taste for fast cars, large breasted women, heavy metal music and armed robbery. The beast moves from human to human. Whenever a human body gets worn out (usually during a shootout with dozens of cops) the slimy bugger jumps to another human. Mr. Boyett played one of the human hosts in that great film. His gravelly voice is put to great use as he suffers from digestive tract problems due to the invasion of his body by the alien. "The Hidden" was just one of nearly 200 films and TV shows in which Mr. Boyett appeared. Soap opera fans may remember him as the father of Luke, as in Luke and Laura on "General Hospital." Mr. Boyett’s film and TV credits include "The Rocketeer," "Knot’s Landing," "Perry Mason," "Emergency!," "Dragnet," "The Deliberate Stranger," "Vanished," "Sam Whisky," "Francis in the Haunted House" and "Forbidden Planet." Mr. Boyett served his country in the US Navy during WWII.
CHARLES BRADSTREET Died Dec. 29, 2004
Former actor Charles Bradstreet died of heart failure at age 86. Mr. Bradstreet appeared in several films during the 1940s. He was best known for his supporting role in the horror/comedy classic "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein." Mr. Bradstreet also appeared in the films "Till Clouds Roll By," "Undercover Maise," "Parole Inc.," "Gallant Bess" and "The Beginning or the End." Mr. Bradstreet turned to real estate after his film career.
RICHARD LEGRAND Died Dec. 29, 2004
Emmy-winning sound editor died at age 84. Mr. LeGrand won Emmy Awards for his sound editing on "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "The Amazing Howard Hughes." He was also nominated for his work on the TV series "Batman." Mr. LeGrand’s many credits include the TV series "The Andy Griffith Show," "Charlie’s Angels," "I Love Lucy," "Bonanza," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Green Hornet," "Starsky and Hutch," "The Love Boat," "Vegas," "Dynasty" and "Fantasy Island." His feature film credits include "J.W. Coop," "The Philadelphia Experiment," "Moscow on the Hudson," "Avalanche," "Iron Eagle" and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights."
LIDDY HOLLOWAY Died Dec. 30, 2004
New Zealand writer/actress Liddy Holloway died at age 59. Ms. Holloway was a regular, along with her son, on the soap opera "Shortland Street." She appeared on the New Zealand series for six years. I remember her best for her haunting performance as the mother of murder victim Martha Moxley in the excellent Made for TV movie "Murder in Greenwich." Ms. Holloway also wrote for and appeared in one of my guilty pleasures: "Prisoner: Cellblock H." Ms. Holloway had two recurring roles in the Australian women's prison soap opera. She also had a recurring role, playing Alcmene on the TV series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." Ms. Holloway was recently embroiled in a fight over her credit on the Oscar-nominated film "The Whale Rider." She claimed to be one of the film's original screenwriters and was fighting to receive a credit on the movie.
ARTIE SHAW Died Dec. 30, 2004
Oscar nominated composer and Big Band leader Artie Shaw died of natural causes at age 94. Mr. Shaw hit the big time at age 28 with his recording of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." Mr. Shaw was on of the top Big Band leaders of the era. During the 1930s and 40s, he had a string of hits including "Moonglow" and "Stardust." Mr. Shaw also had a string on notable Hollywood wives. Among his eight wives were Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Evelyn Keyes. Mr. Shaw was nominated for Best Original Song and Best Musical Score Oscars in 1940 for his work on the film "Second Chorus." Mr. Shaw also composed the songs for the Marx Brothers' comedy "The Big Store." He appeared with his orchestra in the Lana Turner film "The Dancing Co-ed." During the 1970s Mr. Shaw made cameo appearances in several films and TV shows including "Across 110th Street" and "Police Woman."
DOLLY DYER Died Dec. 30, 2004
Australian TV pioneer Dolly Dyer died of a stroke. Ms. Dyer was a showgirl when she met US comedian Bob Dyer during WWII. The pair co-hosted the hit Australian TV game show "Pick-a-Box" from 1957 until 1971.
META ROSENBERG Died Dec. 30, 2004
Emmy-winning producer Meta Rosenberg died at age 89. Ms. Rosenberg was nominated for three Emmy Awards. She won for producing "The Rockford Files." Ms. Rosenberg was also a respected agent in Hollywood for nearly seven decades. She produced several series and shows for client James Garner. In addition to "The Rockford Files," Ms. Rosenberg produced one of my all-time favorite TV shows "Nichols." The overlooked gem starred Garner as a motorcycle-riding sheriff at the turn of the century. She also produced the great western comedy "Skin Game." The film starred James Garner and Lou Gossitt Jr. Ms. Rosenberg also played a part in one of the darkest chapters of Hollywood’s history. Like Elia Kazan, Ms. Rosenberg named names to HUAC. She was one of several individuals who named Oscar nominated writer/director Abraham Polonsky as being a member of the communist party.
JOHNNY FARROW Died Dec. 30, 2004
Songwriter Johnny Farrow died at age 92. Mr. Farrow compsed over 200 songs in his lifetime. His standard "I Have But One Heart." That was the song that actor Al Martino serenaded Talia Shire with during the wedding scene of "The Godfather." Mr. Farrow’s song "Monkey See, Monkey Do" was used in the Connie Francis film "When the Boys Meet the Girls."
GERALD ROBERTS Died Dec. 31, 2004
Legendary rodeo champion and Hollywood stunt double Gerald Roberts died at age 85. Mr. Roberts won 67 Rodeo Championships during his many years of competition. He won two World Champion All-Around Cowboy titles in 1942 and 1948. Mr. Roberts worked as a stunt double for a number of years, doing the hard work for such actors as Glenn Ford, Arthur Kennedy and Jack Lemmon. Mr. Roberts worked on such films and TV shows as "The Lusty Men," "Cowboy," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Gunsmoke," "Maverick," "Boston Blackie" and "Rin Tin Tin." He was offered a role in the pilot episode of the hit series "Rawhide" but turned it down to return to the world of Rodeo. Mr. Roberts came from a family of cowboys. The Roberts family started the longest-running rodeo in Kansas: the Flint Hills Rodeo. Gerald Roberts had a full and active life both in and out of the movie business. CLICK HERE to visit the wonderful website run by his grand daughter Shannan Hauser.
WERNER POSSARDT Died Dec. 31, 2004
German producer/director/actor Werner Possardt died at age 53 during surgery to repair injuries sustained in the December 26th tsunami in Thailand. Mr. Possardt was found alive after being buried in debris for two days. Mr. Possardt produced such films as the horror movie "The Pool" and the comedy "Fandango." He also produced numerous shows for German TV. Mr. Possardt also wrote and directed the sci-fi comedy "Xaver." Mr. Possardt was on his honeymoon when the tsunami hit. His wife survived. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.