JOHN VERNON Died Feb. 1, 2005
Classically trained Canadian actor John Vernon died at age 72. Mr. Vernon underwent heart surgery last month and complications arose. Mr. Vernon appeared in or did voice work on over 200 films, TV shows and Video Games. He is probably best known for his performance as Dean Wormer in "National Lampoon’s Animal House." In that role, he delivered the immortal line "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Mr. Vernon reprised the role in the short lived TV spin-off "Delta House."
Though Mr. Vernon may be best remembered for his work in a comedy, he was first and foremost a dramatic actor. He spent five years with The Stratford Festival in Canada. In Canada, Mr. Vernon is best remembered for his lead role in the TV series "Wojeck." Long before "CSI" of "Quincy," John Vernon played a forensic pathologist who solved crimes. Mr. Vernon was nominated for a Best Actor Gemini for his work in the Canadian TV mini-series "Two Men." The Gemini is Canada’s version of the Emmy Award in the US.
My first memory of John Vernon was as the Mayor in Don Siegel’s classic "Dirty Harry." Clint Eastwood’s character Harry Callahan was first introduced in a tart conversation with Vernon’s Mayor. Mr. Vernon fed Clint Eastwood a straight line that led to one of the funniest, albeit dark lines in any film.
Mayor: Callahan, I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year in the Filmore district. Understand. That’s my policy.
Callahan: Yeah, well when an adult male is chasing a female with the intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That’s My policy.
Mayor: Intent? How did you establish thtat?
Callahan: When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn’t out collecting for the Red Cross.
Mayor: (After Callahan leaves his office) I think he’s got a point.
John Vernon would work with Clint Eastwood five years later in the outstanding Western "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Vernon played one of his many villains in the post-Civil War epic. Vernon would also reteam with "Dirty Harry" director Don Siegel in the over-looked Walter Mathau crime caper "Charley Varrick" and "The Black Windmill."
John Vernon was blessed with a deep baritone voice. His vocal talents were used behind the scenes in several films and TV series. John Vernon received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. While in school, he was given the voice role of Big Brother in the original film version of "1984." During the 1960s he provided the voices of such cartoon superheros as "Iron Man," "Dr. Strange," "Dr. Doom," "Sub-Mariner" and "The Hulk." He also did voice work on the adult cartoon "Heavy Metal." Most of his work during the last ten years was voice work for cartoons and video games.
In addition to Don Siegel, John Vernon worked with some of the best directors of his day. He appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s flawed thriller "Topaz." John Borman directed him in the superior original version of "Point Blank" opposite Lee Marvin. He also worked with George Cuckor (Justine), Abraham Polonsky (Tell Them Willie Boy is Here) and Andrew V. McLaglen (One More Train to Rob) among others.
Other notable film and TV credits include "Killer Klownes From Outer Space," "I’m Gonna Get You Sucka," "Airplane II," "The Blue and the Gray," "The Sacketts," "Brannigan," "Quincy," "Kung Fu," "ChiPs," "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza."
FRANCO MANNINO Died Feb. 1, 2005
Sicilian composer Franco Mannino died of complications following surgery at age 80. Mr. Mannino was a frequent collaborator with film director Luchino Visconti. Mr. Mannino published over 600 musical compositions. That does not include his over 100 film scores. He won the David di Donatello Award for Best Score for his work on Visconti’s 1976 film "L'Innocente." In addition to his long collaboration with Visconti, Mr. Mannino worked with such directors as John Huston, Antonio Margheriti and Ricardo Freda. Mr. Mannino scored John Huston’s off-beat adventure film "Beat the Devil." He scored a number of films for Ricardo Freda including the influential horror film "I, Vampiri." "I, Vampiri" is regarded as the first of the modern cycle of vampire films, coming out one year before Hammer’s better known "The Horror of Dracula." Master of horror Mario Bana was the cinematographer and directed a number of scenes. Among the many films of Visconti that Mr. Mannino either scored or orchestrated are "Death in Venice," "Ludwig," " Bellissima" and "Conversation Piece." He was also the music consultant for the documentary "Luchino Visconti." Mr. Mannino was the Principle Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Mational Arts Centre in Ottawa Canada for much of the 1980s. Mr. Mannino won the "Columbus" prize in the US in 1950.
DEBRA SUE GENOVESE Died Feb. 1, 2004
Booking agent and producer Debi Genovese died at home. Her age and cause of death were not disclosed. Ms. Genovese was a one-time assistant to "Billy Jack" actor/director/writer/producer Tom Laughlin. Ms. Genovese later worked for Burt Sugerman for whom she booked acts and then produced the concert TV series "The Midnight Special." Ms. Genovese also booked talent for the TV series "Solid Gold" and for Don Cornelius’s "Soul Awards."
FRANK J. FLYNN Died Feb. 1, 2005
Studio musician Frank Flynn died of natural causes at age 88. Mr. Flynn spent 40 years playing music for both TV and films. Mr. Flynn served his country in the US Army-Air Corp during WWII.
WOLFGANG BECKER Died Feb. 1, 2005
German TV director Wolfgang Becker died at age 94. Mr. Becker was best known for directing crime shows on TV. He worked on the popular series "Der Kommissar" and "Derrick." He also directed a number of the Made for TV "Tatort" movies. Mr. Becker was not the same Wolfgang Becker who directed the award winning film "Good Bye Lenin!"
CLAIRE GARTRELL DAVIS Died Feb. 2, 2005
Filmmaker Claire Gartrell Davis died at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Ms. Davis was the president of the New York Film and Video Counsel. She co-directed the documentary "The Cross and the Bodhi Tree: Two Christian Encounters with Buddhism." Her other film credits include the documentary "Rajmohan Gandhi: Encounters With Truth" as well as the animated short subjects "Enter Hamlet" and "New York Experimental." Ms. Davis was a former director of the Union Theological Seminary Film Department. Ms. Davis has sat on the juries of film festivals the world over as well as for the Emmy Awards and CINE. She was recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in the field of documentary filmmaking. Rev. Gary Ritner warmly remembered his good friend. He told me "Her enthusiasm for life and meaningful films as well as her love for a good story and good company placed her at the scene of hundreds of gatherings in the filmmaker world."
GOFFREDO LOMBARDO Died Feb. 2, 2005
Award-winning Italian producer Goffredo Lombardo died at age 84. Mr. Lombardo produced a number of important Italian films of the post WWII era. Mr. Lombardo is the man credited with discovering actress Sophia Loren. Mr. Lombardo won three David di Donatello Awards for Best Production. Those are the Italian equivalent of a Best Picture Oscar in the US. Mr. Lombardo’s greatest film was Visconti’s "The Leopard." In addition to the Donatello Award, the film won the Palm d’Or at Cannes. You owe yourself the pleasure of seeing this rich film. Criterion released a beautifully restored DVD of the four-hour film last year. Among Mr. Lombardo’s other credits are "The Naked Maja," "Sodom and Gomorrah," "The Angel Wore Red" and "The Four Days of Naples." Mr. Lombardo was the son of silent film actress Leda Gys and producer and studio founder Gustavo Lombardo.
MALCOLM HARDEE Death Confirmed Feb. 2, 2004
British wildman Malcolm Hardee drown in the Thames River. He was 55 years old. Mr. Hardee was reported missing the night of January 31. His body was recovered on February 2. No foul play is suspected. Mr. Hardee appeared in a number of British TV shows, but he was best known for his on and off stage antics. Mr. Hardee’s comedy bordered on Anarchy. He had a naked dance troop called "The Greatest Show on Legs." Mr. Hardee was known to end his shows by standing naked before audiences with fireworks shooting out of his backside. He also did a famous imitation of French president Charles De Gaulle by using his genitals! One of Mr. Hardee’s most famous antics involved stealing the birthday cake from Queen frontman Freddie Murcury’s 40th birthday party. Mr. hardee’s credits include appearances on "The Black Adder," "The Comic Strip Presents" and "The People vs. Jerry Sadowitz."
MAX SCHMELING Died Feb. 2, 2005
Famed German boxer Max Schmeling died at age 99. Mr. Schmeling was best known as the man who knocked out Joe Louis. Schmeling knocked out Louis in a 1936 fight. Two years later, Louis returned the favor during the first round of their rematch. Though Hitler tried to use Schmeling as a propaganda toll, Schmeling disavowed the Nazis. He actually risked his life hiding Jews from capture. Mr. Schmeling appeared in several films usually playing himself. He was married to actress Anny Ondra from 1933 until her death in 1987. Mr. Schmeling used his fight money to buy a Coca-Cola franchise in Germany. He remained a lifelong friend with Joe Louis and even paid for Mr. Louis’s funeral.
BIRGITTE FEDERSPIEL Died Feb. 2, 2005
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1955 film "The Word" in one of the most emotional moving films about faith ever made. The haunting film remains with you long after it ends. Danish actress Birgette Federspiel won the first of her two Bodil awards as Best Actress for her memorable work in "The Word." She won again four years later for "A Stranger Knocks." The Bodil Award is the Danish equivalent to the Oscar. Birgette Federspiel died at age 79. Ms. Federspiel appeared in over 50 films during her 60-year career. She was also an accomplished stage actress. She also starred in the Oscar winning Best Foreign Film "Babette’s Feast." Ms. Federspiel had a nice supporting role in the 1972 sci-fi film "Z.P.G.," which starred Oliver Reed.
MALOU HALLSTROM Died Feb. 3, 2005
Malou Hallstrom, TV producer and ex-wife of director Lasse Hallstrom was found dead by her male companion in a bathtub in Stockholm. The 63 year-old producer’s death is under investigation. No decision as to whether the drowning was accidental or the result of foul play will be announced until after an autopsy. Though it appears that Ms. Hallstrom fell asleep in the tub. Ms. Halstrom edited her ex-husband's feature film "ABBA: The Movie." The film dealt with a Brisbane disc jockey trying to con his way into an interview with the Swedish mega-Pop group during their 1977 tour of Australia. Ms. Hallstrom was very involved in producing shows for Sweden Television.
JEFFREY ROBBINS KANE Died Feb. 3, 2005
Renowned pastel and oils artist and former actor Jeffrey Robbins Kane died from AIDS at age 40. Mr. Kane’s artwork is found in the collections of a number of Hollywood celebrities as well as in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Metropolis in San Diego. Mr. Kane was a former actor. He appeared in the MJ McDonnell short film "The Big Bowling Ball," which costarred James Remar and the story’s author Anna Nicholas. Mr. Kane also appeared in HBO’s "Tales From the Crypt" and the Soap Opera "Another World." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
FRANK RIO Died Feb. 3, 2005
Vaudevillian turned talent agent Frank Rio died at age 80. Mr. Rio was part of the specialty act The Rio Brothers. He performed with his father Eddie Rio and Uncle Larry Rio. The trio appeared in several films during the 1930s and 40s. Their film credits include the short film "Will Bradley and his Orchestra Featuring Ray McKinley present Boardwalk Boogie" and the features "Paramount Headliner: The Star Reporter," "New Faces of 1937," "Casa Manana" and "Hollywood Varieties." Mr. Rio later worked with pwerhouse agency IFA, later to become ICM. He also worked for the William Morris Agency. His clients included Bob Hope, Henry Mancini and Whitney Houston.
OSSIE DAVIS Died Feb. 4, 2005
"The Client" was filmed in my home town. Actor Ossie Davis played a judge in the film. His courtroom scenes were filmed in Division 1 of Shelby County General Sessions Court. That was the courtroom my late father Jim White, presided over for 18 years. My father was touched by the generosity of spirit that Mr. Davis showed him. He also earned my father’s admiration for his valiant acts in the war for Civil Rights. Dad cherished the photo at right, taken during filming of "The Client." When my dad introduced me to Mr. Davis, I was struck by how tall he was. Mr. Davis towered over my dad and me and I’m not a short person. That’s the way Ossie Davis was on screen. He usually towered over the material and the other performers he worked with. Award-winning actor/writer/director Ossie Davis was found dead in his hotel room in Miami at age 87.
Ossie Davis appeared in nearly 200 films, TV shows and documentaries. He was a long-time activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Davis and his wife actress Ruby Dee also proved that a Hollywood marriage can last. The couple wed in 1948! They worked together countless times in film, on stage and the small screen.
Mr. Davis’s career started in the late 1930s. After a time out during which her served as a medical technician in WWII, Mr. Davis returned to the stage. He was one of the pioneers who paved the way for hundreds of Black actors and actresses to break free from the Hollywood half-wit stereotype of Black people.
Not only was Ossie Davis one of the most accomplished actors of his time, he also wrote and directed. Mr. Davis wrote the play "Purlie Victorious." He adapted his play to Broadway as the musical "Purlie." He received a Best Musical Tony nomination for his writing. Mr. Davis was also nominated for a Tony for his acting in the Musical "Jamaica." Mr. Davis was nominated for three regular Emmy Awards for his work in "King," "Teacher, Teacher" and "Miss Ever’s Boys." He won a Daytime Emmy for the children’s special "Finding Buck McHenry."
Among Mr. Davis’s credits as a film director are two of the best films to come out of the Blaxploitation era. Davis wrote and directed the groundbreaking "Cotton Comes to Harlem." The film introduced Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques as police detectives Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. The movie spawned one sequel. Mr. Davis also directed Paul Winfield in "Gordon’s War," a tale of a Vietnam vet who takes on drug dealers and pimps in his neighborhood. Both films were unjustly lumped under the Blackploitation umbrella. In fact, they were excellent movies that still hold up today.
One of Mr. Davis’s first films is a personal favorite of mine: "Fourteen Hours." He played a cab driver watching the drama unfold as Richard Basehart’s character threatens to jump to his death off of the ledge of a New York hotel. That movie was also Grace Kelly’s film debut. Mr. Davis worked with director Spike Lee on seven films including "Do the Right Thing," "Get on the Bus," "Jungle Fever" and "Malcolm X." Mr. Daivs also did fine work in several TV mini series including "Roots: The Next Generation" and "Stephen King’s The Stand."
Other film credits include "Bubba-Ho-Tep," "Grumpy Old Men," "Joe Versus the Volcano," "Harry and Son," "Let’s Do It Again," "The Hill" and "The Cardinal."
GERARD GLAISTER Died Feb. 5, 2005
Writer/director/producer Gerard Glaister died at age 89. Mr. Glaister produced a number of BBC TV series during a 50-year-career. Among the 23 TV series produced by Mr. Glaister are "Colditz," "The Brothers," "The Long Chase," "Skorion" and "Howard’s Way." Mr. Glaister also wrote and directed episodes for a number of the series he produced. Mr. Glaister served his country in the RAF during WWII.
MERLE KILGORE Died Feb. 6, 2005
Composer and actor Merle Kilgore died of complications from cancer at age 70. Mr. Kilgore co-wrote the classic Johnny Cash hit "Ring of Fire" as well as "Woverton Mountain" and "Johnny Reb." Johnny Cash’s future wife June Carter wrote "Ring of Fire" with Mr. Kilgore. The song "Ring of Fire" has been featured in a number of films including "U-Turn" and "Roadie." Mr. Kilgore appeared in several films. His credits include Robert Altman’s masterpiece "Nashville," "Nevada Smith" and "Coal Miner’s Daughter."
ARMAND KAPROFF Died Feb. 6, 2005
Master cellist Armand Kaproff died of old age at 85. Mr. Kaproff was one of the most in demand cellist in Hollywood. He was part of both the CBS and NBC orchestras. He also worked of Disney. Mr. Kaproff worked with such composers as Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Henry Mancini, Toscanini and Leopold Stokowski. Mr. Kaproff recorded for such varied pop and rock artists as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Barbara Streisand and The Rolling Stones.
JOAN WEIDMAN Died Feb. 6, 2005
Joan Weidman died of cancer. The former cinematographer/producer was the president if International Film Guarantors one of the leading completion bond corporations in the entertainment industry. Ms. Weidman produced the films "Crack House" and "Natural Causes." She was the cinematographer on several films including "Goldy" and "Goldy 2." Ms. Weidman also provided additional photography on the Making Of documentary "SPFX: The Empire Strikes Back."
JOHN PATTERSON Died Feb. 7, 2005
Award-winning director John Patterson died of prostate cancer at age 64. Mr. Patterson won a DGA award and was nominated for two Emmy awards for his work on HBO’s "The Sopranos." Mr. Patterson directed 13 episodes of the groundbreaking cable TV series. He also directed each of the series season finales. Though he directed three low budget features, Mr. Patterson worked primarily in TV. Among his many credits are "The Rockford Files," "Eight is Enough," "ChiPs," "Hart to Hart," "Knot’s Landing," "Magnum P.I.," "Hill Street Blues," "MacGyver," "LA Law," "Law & Order," "Profiler," "Early Edition," "C.S.I." and "Six Feet Under." Mr. Patterson served his country in the USAF as a B-52 bombardier.
KEITH KNUDSEN Died Feb. 8, 2005
I guess the trend of famous rock stars dying didn’t end with January. Keith Knudsen, the drummer for The Doobie Brothers died of pneumonia at age 56. Mr. Knudsen joined the band in 1974 and played on many of their biggest hits. Mr. Knudsen appeared with the band on a number of TV shows including "Saturday Night Live," "What’s Happening" and "The Grammy Awards." Mr. Knudsen later formed the band Southern Pacific with ex-Dobbie Brother guitarist John McFee. Prior to his time with "The Dobbie Brothers," Mr. Knudsen recorded with Lee Michaels of "Do Ya Know What I Mean" fame.
LADA BABICKA Died Feb. 8, 2005
Animator Lada Babicka died after a lengthy career as a cel artist. Mr. Babicka’s credits include "The Little Mermaid," "Batman: The Animated Series," "The Adventures of Batman and Robin," "Oliver & Company" and "The Pagemaster." He worked for Disney, Filmation, Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera. Mr. Babicka was a member of The Animation Guild, Local 839.
ARTHUR MILLER Died Feb. 10, 2005
"I’m not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman!" Playwright Arthur Miller captured the frustration of American life, the slow grind to the grave like no other American author. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright died of heart failure at age 89. Arthur Miller’s "Death of a Salesman" is probably the greatest American play of the past century. Elia Kazan directed the original Broadway production in 1949. That play, along with Miller’s "The Crucible" won the Tony Award for Best Play. Mr. Miller won the very first Best Author Tony in 1947 for his play "All My Sons." He won his second writng Tony for "Death of a Salesman." In 1999, Mr. Miller was given a Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award. On the personal side, Mr. Miller was the envy of every hot-blooded man in America during the 1950s when he had the pleasure of Marilyn Monroe in his matrimonial bed.
Miller’s play "All My Sons" was the first screen adaptation of his works. Edward G. Robinson starred as the industrialist with a deadly secret that is coming back to haunt him. Burt Lancaster starred as Robinson’s son who discovers his father’s tragic flaw. "All My Sons" was remade as a 1986 TV movie starring James Whitmore and Aiden Quinn as the father and son. There was also a Made for TV version of the play in Sweden in 1965. Swedish TV also remade the play in 1979.
"Death of a Salesman" has been translated to the big screen and TV thirteen times! The first film version in 1951 starred Fredrick March and Kevin McCarthy as Willy Lomen and his son Biff. The movie was nominated for five Oscars. There was an Argentine TV version in 1957. 1961 saw TV productions of the play in Swedish and Finland. Lee J. Cobb was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Willy Loman in the 1966 US TV version of Miller’s play. Miller Won an Emmy for this version. Actor Rod Steiger played the part in the UK’s 1966 TV version. Miller’s play was produced on West German TV three times: in 1963, 1968 and 2001. West Germany co-produced with the US the 1985 TV version starring Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich as Willy Loman and his son Biff. That version won three Emmy Awards and was nominated for a total of ten. A 1996 British TV version followed. In 2000, Brian Dennehy starred in yet another TV version. The year before, Mr. Dennehy won a Tony Award in the 50th anniversary Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman."
Miller’s other famous work was "The Crucible." The play was written at the height of the HUAC hearings. Miller’s tale of the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s also dealt with the witch hunts lead by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. The play was filmed four times. The first version was a German/French co-production starring Simone Signoret and Yves Montand. Ms. Signoret won a BAFTA for her work in the 1957 film. An American film version was not produced until 1967. George C.Scott and Colleen Dewhurst were both nominated for Emmy Award for their work. The TV movie also starred a bewitching Tuesday Weld. The Brits produced a TV version in 1980. The Oscar-nominated 1996 film version starred Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis and Joan Allen. Mr. Miller was nominated for both an Oscar and a BAFTA for his adaptation of his own play.
Mr. Miller’s most infamous film was "The Misfits." Written for wife Marilyn Monroe, the movie had a troubled production history. It was the final film of the King of Hollywood: Clark Gable. Gable died of a heart attack just a few weeks after shooting wrapped. Many contend that his death was brought on by the grueling stunts he performed as well as dealing with Ms. Monroe’s less than professional behavior on the set. Gossip and legend aside, "The Misfits" is still a good movie. Not a classic, but a very good movie. John Huston directed. The film also co-starred Montgomery Cliff, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach. Mr. Miller also did some uncredited work on his wife’s 1960 comedy "Let’s Make Love."
Miller and Monroe divorced in January 1961. In 1962, Mr. Miller wed photographer Inge Morath. They remained married until her death in 2002. The couple met on the set of "The Misfits." They had two children. One son was born with Down’s Syndrome. Miller put his son in an institution and never visited. His wife visited Daniel on a weekly basis. Their other child is actress Rebecca Miller, wife of actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
Mr. Miller adapted Kenrik Ibsen’s "An Enemy of the People" to the screen. It was turned into a Made for TV movie and later, a little-seen theatrical version starring Steve McQueen. I actually saw the Steve McQueen version in a fleabag motel in Barstow California when my car broke down for several days on the way to Disneyland.
Miller won his second Emmy for writing the excellent TV movie "Playing for Time." Vanessa Redgrave starred in the 1980 movie which told the true story of Fania Fenelon, a Jewish woman who survived Auschwitz by playing music for the Nazis.
HUMBERT BALSAN Died Feb. 10, 2005
Actor turned producer Humbert Balsan committed suicide at age 50. Mr. Balsan specialized in producing films for Arab filmmakers, most noatably with Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. Mr. Balsan also co-produced several of the Merchant/Ivory films. Among his numerous credits are "Le Grand Voyage," "The Bathers," "Jefferson in Paris," "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge" and "Quartet." Mr. Balsan also acted in numerous films including "LouLou," "Chanel Solitaire" and "Lancelot du Lac." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
YABO YABLONSKY Died Feb. 10, 2005
Writer/director Yabo Yablonsky died of cancer at age 73. Mr. Yablonsky wrote and directed one of the most bizarre and inept films of all time. "The Manipulator" starred Mickey Rooney and 70s cult actress Luana Anders. Rooney is a loony tune who thinks he is a movie director from the 40s. He kidnaps Ms. Anders. This is the kind of film they will be playing in Hell. You will be strapped down and forced to watch it for centuries on end. Mr. Yablonsky stuck to writing after this misguided little film. His writing was not bad. "Revenge for a Rape" was an excellent entry in the ABC "Tuesday and Wednesday Movie of the Week" series. Mike Conners is great as a man who tracks down the three men who raped his wife. Mr. Yablonsky’s best-known film is John Huston’s "Victory." Despite a good story, great director and cast, the film left me feeling empty. Many other critics felt the same way. Mr. Yablonsky’s other credits include "Portrait of a Hitman," "Lena: My 100 Children" and an episode of the great TV series "Crime Story."
STAN RICHARDS Died Feb. 11, 2005
British TV actor Stan Richards died of emphysema at age 74. Mr. Richards had suffered from chronic respiratory problems for several years. Mr. Richards played Seth the Gamekeeper in the long-running British TV series "Emmerdale Farm." Mr. Richards was a regular on the series for 25 years! He left the series in 2003, but made a final guest appearance last December. Mr. Richards also had recurring roles on the TV series "Coronation Street" and "All Creatures Great and Small."
BRIAN KELLY Died Feb. 12, 2004
Actor Brian Kelly died of pneumonia two days shy of his 74th birthday. Baby Boomers fondly remember Brian Kelly as Porter Ricks, the caring and strong dad on the hit TV series "Flipper." For four years Mr. Kelly raised his sons Bud and Sandy and led them on numerous adventures with the lovable dolphin Flipper. Mr. Kelly also appeared in the feature film "Flipper’s New Adventures." Mr. Kelly appeared in a number of other films and TV series before his acting career was cut short by a motorcycle accident that left him partially paralyzed. Mr. Kelly was set to star in the film "The Love Machine" but was replaced by John Phillip Law following the motorcycle accident. Mr. Kelly turned to real estate but kept his fingers in Hollywood. He was one of the executive producers of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic "Blade Runner." Mr. Kelly was once married to 60s actress Laura Devon. His nephew is the Tony nominated actor Brian d’Arcy James. Mr. Kelly served his country in the Marines during the Korean War.
HARRY BAIRD Died Feb. 13, 2005
Actor Harry Baird died at age 73. Mr. Baird was one of a number of talented Black actors who never really got his due. He appeared in a number of films and TV shows during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Mr. Baird co-starred in the BARTA Best Picture winner "Sapphire" in 1959. I remember him best as part of the ensemble cast in the superior original version of "The Italian Job." He made his film debut in "Third Man" director Carol Reed’s "A Kid for Two Farthings." He was a regular on the TV series "White Hunter" and "U.F.O." Mr. Baird had the distinction of starring in the little seen 1968 French film "The Story of a Three-Day Pass." That film was directed by American director Melvin Van Peebles. Van Peebles traveled to France in order to be treated as an equal among men. There he directed what was the first movie directed by a Black American! Mr.Baird’s other credits include "The Mark," "Tarzan the Magnificent," "The Road to Hong Kong" and Hammer’s "The Oblong Box."
LUCIA DE JESUS DOS SANTOS Died Feb. 13, 2005
In 1917, three children claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary at Fatima Portugal. The children said that the Virgin Mary appeared to them six times. The final vision was supposedly witnessed by nearly 50,000 people. Lucia de Jesus dos Santos and her two cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marta were the subject of worldwide speculation and adoration. Ms. Dos Santos became the Nun Sister Lucia. She died at age 97. Sister Lucia’s cousins died during the worldwide flu epidemics of 1919 and 1920. The Catholic Church beatified the two cousins in 2000, the last step before Sainthood. Actress Susan Whitney portrayed Sister Lucia in the Oscar nominated film "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima." Actress Inis Orsini played her in the Spanish/Portuguese co-production "Our Lady of Fatima." The events were also the subject of the films "Aparicao" and "The Third Secret of Fatima."
DICK WEBER Died Feb. 13, 2005
The world’s greatest profession bowler, Dick Weber died at age 75. I can remember many a Saturday afternoon watching Mr. Weber bowl perfect games on ABC’s "Wide World of Sports." Fans of "Late Night with David Letterman" will remember Mr. Weber’s many appearances where he would drop bowling balls off of tall buildings into various items like watermelons or TVs. Mr. Weber won over 30 Bowling titles during his career.
JASON BYCE Died Feb. 13, 2005
Actor/teacher Jason Byce died of the incurable blood cancer multiple myeloma at age 60. Though Mr. Byce appeared on Broadway, TV and in films, he may be most recognizable for a Polander All Fruit TV commercial. Mr. Byce was the guy sitting at the fancy dining table with a group of society snobs who made the social faux paux of asking "Would ya please pass the jelly?" Mr. Byce taught musical theater at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. His film and TV credits include "The Program," "All My Children" and the TV series version of "In the Heat of the Night."
JOHN LYKES Died Feb. 13, 2005
Actor John Lykes died of undisclosed causes at age 60. Mr. Lykes appeared several films and TV shows during the 1980s. His credits include "Tapeheads," "Night Court," "Fame," "Moving Violations," "MacGyver," "Murder, She Wrote," "Alice" and "Home Improvement." Thanks to Artnet.com for the use of Mr. Lykes photo!
ALEC STALL Died Feb. 14, 2005
Extreme skier Alec Stall was killed by an avalanche while filming a scene for an up-coming documentary on the sport. The 23-year-old skier was knocked off of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont. The film was being shot by Meathead Films, a company started by several of Mr. Stall’s friends from college. Meathead Films has produced the extreme skiing films "Schooled" and "Epoch." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
OTTO PLASCHKES Died Feb. 14, 2005
Producer Otto Plaschkes died of a heart attack at age 75. Mr. Plaschkes was an Austrian Jew who fled the Nazis as a child. His love of film led him to seek work at Ealing Studios during it’s heyday. He began as a cutter. Mr. Plaschkes was an assistant director on Otto Preminger’s "Exodus." He was a production assistant on David Lean’s classic "Lawrence of Arabia." Mr. Plaschkes produced a number of notable films. His production credits include "Georgy Girl" and "Butley," both of which starred Alan Bates. "Butley" was one of the films produced as part of the American Film Theater series. Mr. Plaschkes was incolved in several films from that series including "The Homecoming," "Galileo," "In Celebration" and "The Sailor's Return." Mr. Plaschkes’s other credits include the hit comedy "Hopscotch," which starred Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, Robert Ludlum’s "The Holcroft Covenant," "The Bofur’s Gun," the 1984 version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," the 1986 version of "The Sign of Four" and "A Separate Peace."
NAJAI TURPIN Died Feb. 14, 2005
Middleweight boxer Najai Turpin committed suicide at age 23. The young boxer shot himself in front of his girlfriend following an argument. Mr. Turpin was one of the hopefuls in the up-coming boxing reality show "The Contender." The show debuts on March 7. His episodes Mr. Turpin’s episodes will be aired and the producer is setting up a fund for his orphaned 2-year-old daughter. "The Contender" will be hosted by actor Sylvester Stallone. Prayers of comfort for Mr. Turpin’s family and friends.
PIERRE BACHELET Died Feb. 15, 2005
Composer Pierre Bachelet died at age 60 of an undisclosed illness. Mr. Bachelet composed the music for the erotic films "Emmanuelle" and "The Story of O." His score for "Emmanuelle" was used in nine of the sequels. Mr. Bachelet was nominated for the French Cesar Award for his score for "Les Enfants du Marais."
NICOLE DEHUFF Died Feb. 16, 2005
Actress Nicole DeHuff died of asthma, brochitis and an aggressive staph infection at age 31. Ms. DeHuff co-starred in the hit comedy "Meet the Parents." She played the sister of Ben Stiller’s girlfriend. Ms. DeHuff’s character was given a black eye by an over-enthusiastic Ben Stiller during a game of water volleyball. Ms. DeHuff’s other film credits include "Suspect Zero" and the upcoming "Unbeatable Harold." She appeared on several TV series including "C.S.I." and "C.S.I.: Miami." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
GERRY WOLFF Died Feb. 16, 2005
German actor Gerry Wolff died of heart failure at age 84. Mr. Wolff’s wife of 53-years died of heart failure last month. Gerry Wolff was a German born Jew who’s family escaped Hitler to the refuge of England. Mr. Wolff appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. His best known film was "Naked Among the Wolves" which dealt with a group of prisoners hiding a small Jewish boy from the Germans at the Buchenwald death camp. He was the father of writer/director/actor Thomas Wolff.
HANK STONECIPHER Died Feb. 16, 2005
Construction coordinator Hank Stonecipher died at age 82. Mr. Stonecipher had a lengthy career behind the scenes in the TV industry. He worked on a number of popular TV series and Made for TV movies including "Hart to Hart," "Starman," several of the "Police Story" TV films," "Mike Hammer," "Switched at Birth" and "The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story." Ironically, Mr. Stonecipher died two days before the real Uli Derickson! He was a member of I.A.T.S.A. Local 44.
FRED CRAMER Died Feb. 16, 2005
BAFTA and Emmy nominated special effects coordinator Fred Cramer died at age 74. Mr. Cramer was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Special Effects for Rolland Joffe’s "The Killing Fields." His Emmy nomination came for the great HBO docudrama "The Tuskegee Airmen." Fred Kramer designed the flameguns used by the Sandmen in "Logan’s Run." The guns were actually functional guns that fired flames! Mr. Cramer added his special magic to a number of well known films including "The Deer Hunter," "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Silver Streak," Blake Edward’s "10," "Inchon," "Twister," "I’m Gonna Get You Sucker" and the overlooked 70s gem "Mother, Jugs and Speed." He was a member of I.A.T.S.A. Local 44.
PETER FOY Died Feb. 17, 2005
Aerographer Peter Foy died of natural causes at age 79. Mr. Foy was the theater industry’s foremost expert on ‘flying’ actors with wire rigs. He founded the company Flying by Foy in 1957. Mr. Foy was the man who made Mary Martin fly in her famous run on Broadway in "Peter Pan." Mr. Foy’s harnesses and rigs have been used on such films and TV shows as "The Flying Nun," "Fantastic Voyage," "Superman" and "The Wiz." Mr. Foy served his country as a navigator in the RAF during WWII.
DAN O’HERLIHY Died Feb. 18, 2005
Oscar-nominated, Irish-born actor Dan O’Herlihy died of an undisclosed illness at age 85. Mr. O’Herlihy was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for playing the title role in Luis Bunuel’s "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe." Last December I took the wife and lids with me to Atlanta to visit my daughter in the hospital. Thanks to modern technology we can watch DVDs in the care. The first movie we watched during the drive was the VCI release of "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe." I never saw this version growing up. It is a spectacular film with a wonderful performance by Mr. O’Herlihy. This was also director Bunuel’s first English language film. Mr. O’Herlihy had some tough competition for the Oscar that year. He lost to Marlon Brando in "On the Water Front." Horror fans may remember Mr. O’Herliky as the demonic CEO in the flawed but worthwhile "Halloween 3: Season of the Witch." The film has nothing to do with Michael Myers. That may be why it is an object of scorn to others. Had the film been titled something else, it might have developed a greater fan base. In the film Mr. O’Herlihy plays a Halloween mask manufacturer with plans to destroy our children. It is a dark movie worth seeing.
Among Mr. O’Herlihy’s over 150 film and TV credits are a number of true classics. He played McDuff in Orson Welles 1948 version of "MacBeth." He worked with Bette Davis in "The Virgin Queen." Mr. OP’Herlihy gave a fine supporting performance in the 50s melodrama "Imitation of Life." In 1964 he appeared in one of the best thrillers ever made. "Fail-Safe" tells basically the same story as Kubrick’s "Dr. Strangelove." "Fail-Safe" is however a very serious film. It still packs a wallop today.
Among Mr. O’Herlihy’s other notable credits are "Robo Cop" and "Robo Cop 2," the excellent TV mini series "QBVII," "100 Rifles," "Twin Peaks," as FDR in "MacArthur," "The Last Starfighter" and as Joe Kennedy in "The Rat Pack."
ULI DERICKSON Died Feb. 18, 2005
Flight attendant/heroine Uli Derickson died of cancer at age 60. Ms. Derickson was on board T.W.A. Flight 847 on June 14, 1985 when two gunmen hijacked the plane. The terrorist shot US Navy diver Robert Stetham and dumped his body on the tarmac in Beruit. During the remainder of the ordeal, Ms. Derickson risked her life to prevent further bloodshed. Her heroic intervention led to the release of the remaining hostages unharmed. Ms. Derickson’s heroics became the subject of a made for TV movie starring Lindsay Wagner. "The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story" received five Emmy nominations including one for director Paul Wendkos.
KIHACHI OKAMOTO Died Feb. 19, 2005
Award-winning Japanese director Kihachi Okamoto died of throat cancer at age 81. Mr. Okamoto won the Best Director and Best Screenplay Awards of the Japanese Academy for his 1991 crime/comedy "Rainbow Kids." Mr. Okamoto directed over 50 films during his lengthy career. His crime noir film "The Big Boss" is generally considered his best work. Mr. Okamoto was drafted into the Japanese army in the middle of WWII. He returned to that trying time as a director. Mr. Okamoto directed several war films including "Desperado Outpost," "The Battle of Okinawa" and "Japan’s Longest Day."
RICHARD LUPINO Died Feb. 19, 2005
Writer/director/actor Richard Lupino died of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 75. Mr. Lupino was the cousin of actress Ida Lupino. He was a classically trained actor who appeared on Broadway as well as on many noted stages around the world. Mr. Lupino appeared in numerous TV shows dating back to the 1950s. His film and TV credits include "Father Goose," "Midnight Lace," "Never So Few," "Strategic Air Command," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "77 Sunset Strip," "Thriller," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "One Step Beyond." Mr. Lupino was also an author who wrote ten novels.
SANDRA DEE Died Feb. 20, 2005
Golden Globe winning actress Sandra Dee died of kidney disease. Some sources state that Ms. Dee was born in 1942 while others claim it was 1944. Ms. Dee was either 60 or 62 years old. Sandra Dee enjoyed a meteoric rise as a teen idol during the late 1950s. She was one of the top ten box-office draws during her heyday. Girls wanted to look like her and boys wanted to date her. Sandra Dee personified the wholesome girl-next-door in such films as "Gidget," "Tammy and the Doctor," "A Summer Place," "The Reluctant Debutante" and "Tammy Tell Me True." Occasionally she received roles that showed her range. She held her own opposite Lana Turner and Dan O’Herlihy in the Oscar nominated melodrama "Imitation of Life." Peter Ustinov cast her as Juliet in his Cold-War/comedy update of the Shakespeare play, which Ustinov called "Romanoff and Juliet." Despite her virginal screen image, Sandra Dee was a normal woman. She married actor/singer Bobby Darin. The couple appeared together in three films: "Come September," "If a Man Answers" and "That Funny Feeling." The marriage lasted a little over six years. Following her divorce, Universal Studios dropped her from her contract. Good girls don’t get divorces! What a hypocritical double standard. Especially in Hollywood! Sandra Dee continued to work sporadically, but her time on the top ended with her divorce. In 1970 she starred with Dean Stockwell in a so-so adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s "The Dunwich Horror." During the 1970s Ms. Dee appeared in a couple of entertaining Made for TV movies. In "The Daughters of Joshua Cabe" Buddy Ebsen plays a mountain man who hires a hooker and two thieves to pose as his daughters in order to get around some homestead law. It was nice to see Ms. Dee play against type. Karen Valentine and Lesley Ann Warren played the other so-called daughters. The following year Ms. Dee appeared in the first film about the Apollo 13 disaster: "Houston We’ve Got a Problem." She also appeared in the pilot film for the TV series "Fantasy Island." Ms. Dee won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer in 1958.She gained exposure to a new generation through the Broadway play and film "Grease" because of the song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee."
We all have a movie that touches us, or which draws us back to a special time in our life. A reader in San Francisco named Janet shared her memories of watching Ms. Dee act in the film "Portrait in Black." I thank her for letting me share it with you:
Anyway, no one mentions it, but Sandra Dee was in a movie called "Portrait in Black" which was filmed here in San Francisco in 1960. I am especially fond of this movie because I was a 12-year old Sandra Dee fan when I saw it being filmed near my elementary school in Pacific Heights. Miss Dee was of course wonderful and my friends and I got a kick out of watching take after take of her trying to park a little sports car in front of the mansion where the movie was being filmed.
The film also stars Lana Turner, Anthony Quinn, Anna May Won, Lloyd Nolan, and John Saxon. It has some fine San Francisco scenery from the period, which brings back many memories of my fair city when I was growing up, much as "Vertigo" does for me.
HUNTER S. THOMPSON Died Feb. 20, 2005
Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson pulled his latest and last act as a wildman by shooting himself in the head. He was 67 years old. Dr. Thompson was the father of "Gonzo Journalism." His work focused on him as much as whatever subject he was observing. His best know work was the classic "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." He also wrote the excellent look at the famed California biker organization "Hells Angels." Actor Bill Murray played Dr. Thompson in the 1980 misfire "Where the Buffalo Roam." Thompson was an executive consultant on that film. His best known book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was filmed in 1998 and starred Johnny Depp. Dr. Thompson co-wrote the pilot film for the TV series "Nash Bridges" with his neighbor Don Johnson. He was the inspiration of Garry Trudeau’s "Doonsebury" character Duke. Dr. Thompson’s antics were too numerous and detailed to try and summarize in this small space. Read "Fear and Loathing." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JOHN RAITT Died Feb. 20, 2005
Singer/actor John Raitt died of pneumonia at age 88. Mr. Raitt was a famed singer on Broadway. He starred in Rogers and Hammerstein’s "Carousel." He was the father of the excellent Bonnie Raitt. Mr. Raitt’s success on Broadway didn’t translate into a successful film career. He starred opposite Doris Day in "The Pajama Game." It was his only starring film role. Mr. Raitt appeared in small parts in several films during the late 40s and early 50s. He was, however a very popular guest on a number of TV shows during the 1950s and 60s. His TV credits include Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town," "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" "Shirley Temple’s Storybook," "General Electric Theater," "Death Valley Days," "Shower of Stars" and "The Bell Telephone Hour."
TINA LEIU Died Feb. 20, 2005
Actress/DJ/singer Tina Leiu died of a pulmonary edema at age 29. Ms. Lieu co-starred with her husband/director Jon Hacobs in the up-coming movie "Hey DJ." Ms. Leiu was a regular on the HBO erotic series "Hotel Erotica." Ms. Leiu’s other credits include "Chained Heat III," "Hell Mountain," "Miami" and "Devil and Angel." According to Ms. Leiu’s website, she was a genuine Samoan Princess! Ms. Leiu had success in Germany with the club band "Spankox." Ms. Leiu fell ill with a virus that attacked her heart in 2003. She battled back from the life-threatening illness, but was left much weaker than before. Prayers of comfort to her family and friends, especially her young son.
GUILLERMO CABRERA INFANTE Died Feb. 21, 2005
Cuban novelist G. Cabrera Infante died of septicemia at age 75. Mr. Infante was an early supporter of Fidel Castro, but became one of his harshest critics. Mr. Infante had lived in exile in London for nearly 40 years. Though he is best known for his novels including "Three Trapped Tigers," Mr. Infante was also a screenwriter. Among his credits is the cult classic and personal favorite of mine "Vanishing Point." Mr. Infante adapted writer Malcolm Hart’s story of the last of the free spirits. "Vanishing Point" was an unusual mish-mass of fast car chases, religion, philosophy, drugs, sex and rock and roll. Mr. Infante’s other film credits include "Wonderwall: The Movie" and the upcoming production "The Lost City." Mr. Infante adapted the novel "Under the Volcano" into a screenplay in 1972. His adaptation was not the version filmed by John Huston in 1984. Mr. Infante’s papers including his movie scripts are located at Princeton University.
DR. GENE SCOTT Died Feb. 21, 2005
Pastor Gene Scott was not your run-of-the-mill televangelist. Being an insomniac, I’ve channel surfed across decades. I came across Dr. Scott’s show back in the early 1990s while I was going through my first divorce. While I can’t say that Dr. Scott’s teachings lifted my spirits, he sure was entertaining. Dr. Scott sat in the middle of his low tech set, smoking cigars and going on and on about how the mathematics found in the pyramids of Egypt could unlock the mysteries of the Bible. I liked the way he raised money. The guy would stop in the middle of a talk and say that he needed donations. He wouldn’t start talking again until a goal was met. Dr. Scott wouldn’t spend extra time pleading with the viewers for more money. He’d just sit there smoking his cigar until the goal was met. Once the money came in, he’d go back to his teaching. I can’t say that I agree with his take on Christianity, but Dr. Scott sure was a colorful figure. Famed director Werner Herzog’s documentary "God’s Angry Man" had Dr. Gene Scott as it’s subject. Dr. Scott died of complications following a stroke at age 75.
DON HIGGINS Died Feb. 21, 2005
Emmy Award winning sound editor Don Higgins died at age 80. Mr. Higgins won an Emmy Award for his work on the TV bio-pic "The Amazing Howard Hughes." He was nominated for another Emmy for the mini-series "Dallas: The Early Years." Mr. Higgins was a sound effects editor on Irwin Allen’s TV series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." His film credits include Ken Russell’s "Altered States," "Once Bitten" and "The Letter." Mr. Higgens claimed that he was the first editor to bring a computer in the editing room and was fired for doing so.
LEE EUN-JOO Died Feb. 22, 2004
South Korean model turned actress Lee Eun-joo committed suicide by hanging herself. Ms. Eun-joo was 25. Ms. Eun-joo first gained critical notice as a naïve screenwriter who falls for a manipulative ladykiller in "The Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors." She also starred in the hit drama "Bungee Jumping of Their Own." Ironically Ms. Eun-joo’s final screen appearance in "The Scarlet Letter" was as a woman who commits suicide. Ms. Eun-joo was a gifted pianist. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
HEATH LAMBERTS Died Feb. 22, 2005
Actor Heath Lamberts died of kidney failure and cancer at age63. Mr. Lamberts was primarily a stage actor. He created the role of Cogsworth in the original Broadway version of Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast." Mr. Lamberts’ film and TV credits include "Nothing Personal," "Ordinary Magic," "Tom and Huck," "Eerie Indiana," "Road to Avonlea" and "Law & Order." Mr. Lamberts costarred with Blythe Danner and Alan Alda in the overlooked thriller "To Kill a Clown." Lambert and Danner played a couple who are menaced by crazed Vietnam vet Alda.
MARY ETHEL GREGORY Died Feb. 22, 2005
Actress Mary Ethel Gregory died at age 79. The Utah actress appeared in a couple of my favorite films. She played killer Gary Gilmore’s aunt in the excellent TV mini-series "The Executioner’s Song." Actor Eli Wallach played her husband. Ms. Gregory also had a nice supporting role in the wonderful TV adaptation of Stephen King’s "The Stand." She played Alice Underwood, the grandmother of fictional rock star Larry Underwood played by Adam Storke. Ms. Gregory’s other credits include "Footloose," "Double Jeopardy" and the Ted Bundy TV mini-series "The Deliberate Stranger." Ms. Gregory was also active in regional theater in Utah.
TRUDE RITTMANN Died Feb. 22, 2005
Broadway dance and vocal arranger Trude Rittmann died of respiratory failure at age 96. She worked on most of the greats of the Broadway musical theater during the last century. She collaborated with Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, Irving Berlin and others. Her film credits include "The King and I," "Camelot" and the 1960 TV version of "Peter Pan."
WILFRED LOEFFLER Died Feb. 22, 2005
Cinematographer Bill Loeffler died of cancer at age 74. Mr. Loeffler won an Emmy for his work on the HBO series "Inside the NFL." Mr. Loeffler was a cinematographer for NFL Films for over 30 years.
SIMONE SIMON Died Feb. 23, 2005
French actress Simone Simon died at age 94. The sexy actress was best known for her starring role in producer Val Lewton’s original "Cat People." Ms. Simon played the sexually frigid woman who feared she was turning into a panther. "Cat People" is among the best films of producer Lewton. Though great directors like Robert Wise and Jacques Tourneur actually directed Lewton’s films, the producer got top billing. His moody atmospheric films proved that true terror could be achieved through suggestion. Simone Simon was the most provocative leading lady Lewton ever featured. Ms. Simon made a cameo in the not quit as good sequel "The Curse of the Cat People."
Simone Simon was discovered at a sidewalk café in France. A chance meeting with director Viktor Tourjansky led to her being cast in his 1931 film "The Unknown Singer." Ms. Simon appeared in 15 films in Europe before coming to America. For two years she worked in American films, but did not achieve any real success. She played opposite Jimmy Stewart in "Seventh Heaven" and in five other films. Ms. Simon returned to France and starred in Jean Renoir’s "The Human Beast." She quickly reestablished her place as an European star. That success was short lived as German tanks overran Paris.
Back in the US, Ms. Simon appeared in her two best films. Ms. Simon garnered critical praise as the Devil’s seductress in "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Ms. Simon turns in an amazingly erotic performance, made all the more remarkable considering the constraints of the Production Code. Ms. Simon followed "The Devil and Daniel Webster" with "Cat People." Unfortunately Ms. Simon was never given another role in US films that utilized her talents. After appearing in several b-movies, Ms. Simon returned once more to France. She appeared in Max Ophuls’ Oscar-nominated and BAFTA winning "La Ronde." She retired in 1956 except for a cameo in the 1973 film "The Woman in Blue."
JOANNE BROUGH Died Feb. 24, 2005
TV producer Joanne Brough died of throat cancer at age 77. Ms. Brough worked her way up in the TV industry from an employee of a local TV station to a network executive. She was a producer of such shows as "Falcon Crest," "Washington Mistress," "Dallas" and "This is Kate Bennett." Ms. Brough left the US in the early 1990s to produce TV shows in Jakarta, Indonesia. She left Indonesia in 1998 when political violence threatened outsiders.
EDWARD PATTEN Died Feb. 25, 2005
I believe it was the comic strip "Doonesbury" that had a running parody of Gladys Knight and the Pips. I remember one strip that focused on the Pips choreography. In the forth frame of the strip, the three guys perform a spin while one of the characters has a thought balloon that says "Here’s the money." I guess the idea of the cartoonist was that it was easy to be a Pip. Gladys did all the work and the Pips road her coattails. The truth was far from the comic strip image found in "Doonesbury." Edward Patten and his cousins Gladys Knight and William Guest were the core of Gladys Knight and the Pips. Mr. Patten was the man who did the choreography and made sure the bills got paid. He was the backbone of the Pips. Mr. Patten appeared as part of the group on a number of TV shows including their own short-lived variety series. Their credits include "The Gladys Knight and the Pips Show," "Soul Train," "The Flip Wilson Show," Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town," "Benson" and "American Bandstand." The band had a number of hit songs including "Midnight Train to Georgia." Their music was used in the film "Claudine." Mr. Patten died of complications following a series of strokes. He was 65. Spin… take a bow!
PIERRE TRABAUD Died Feb. 26, 2005
French actor Pierre Trabaud died at age 80. Though he appeared in a number of films during a career that started in the 1940s, Mr. Trabaud was best known for his voice over work. He played the voice of Daffy Duck, Popeye and Lucky Luke in France. He also did voice work for the X-rated cartoon "Shame of the Jungle." The US version featured voice work by John Belushi and Bill Murray. Mr. Trabaud’s best know live action work was in the classic French children’s film "War of the Buttons." Mr. Trabaud was briefly married to "The Pink Panther" co-star Capucine.
BRANDON MILLER Died Feb. 27, 2005
Brandon Miller died at age 30. Mr. Miller was the former assistant to a number of notable industry figures. Her worked for director John Schlesinger during the late 1990s. Mr. Miller also was an assistant to actress Marsha Mason and worked with both Shirley MacLaine and Paul McCartney. Mr. Miller moved into the corporate world where he was an executive with Estyle, the company behind Babystyle. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
SHELLEY HULL Died Feb. 27, 2005
Producer Shelley Hull died of emphysema and pneumonia at age 85. Mr. Hull was the son of "Werewolf of London" and "Objective Burma!" star Henry Hull. Shelley Hull had a long and successful career as a TV producer. His numerous credits include such TV hits as "Starsky and Hutch," "Charlie’s Angels," "The Mod Squad," "The Rookies," "7th Heaven," "The Over the Hill Gang" and "The Guns of Will Sonnett."
CHRIS CURTIS Died Feb. 28, 2005
Chris Curtis, drummer for the 1960s band "The Searchers" was found dead at home at age 63. No cause of death was reported. Mr. Curtis was a member of British Invasion band "The Searchers." The band took their name from John Ford’s classic John Wayne Western. The band had a string of hits that included "Needles and Pins," "Don’t Throw Your Love Away" and "Sugar and Spice." The band appeared in 1963 comedy "Saturday Night Out." They also performed on the British TV show "Ready Steady Go." Curtis left "The Searchers" in 1966. In 1967 Curtis met organist Jon Lord at a party. Curtis told Lord his concept for a band. Curtis’s band was to be a three-man ensemble called "Roundabout." Curtis left shortly thereafter in a haze of drugs. John Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore stayed together as the core of what would become "Deep Purple." Curtis moved on to producing records and eventually made his living as a civil servant.