Sunday, December 12, 2010


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!"


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."


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.


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.


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."


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 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.


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.


CYRIL FLETCHER Died Jan. 1, 2005

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

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM Died Jan. 1, 2005

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

ROBERT R. FORTIER Died Jan. 1, 2005

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

PAUL MANNING Died Jan. 2, 2005

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

BARBARA PILAVIN Died Jan. 2, 2005

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

TERESA BLAKE Died Jan. 2, 2005

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


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

FRANK KELLY FREAS Died Jan. 2, 2005

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

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

STANLEY WATT Died Jan. 2, 2005

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

WILL EISNER Died Jan. 3, 2005

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


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


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


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

DANNY SUGERMAN Died Jan. 5, 2005

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

RENE LE HANAFF Died Jan. 5, 2005

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

GABRIELLE DAYE Died Jan. 5, 2005

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

ERNEST LENART Died Jan. 6, 2005

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

SINDHU Died Jan. 6, 2005

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

RICHARD CLARKE Died Jan. 7, 2005

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

WARREN SPEARS Died Jan. 8, 2005

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

EVERETT WILSON Died Jan. 8, 2005

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

BADJA D’JOLA Died Jan. 8, 2005

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

HASKELL GORDON Died Jan. 8, 2005

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

GONZALO GAVIRA Died Jan. 9, 2005

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

KOJI HASHIMOTO Died Jan. 9, 2005

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

ERWIN HILLIER Died Jan. 10, 2005

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

BUNTY WEBB Died Jan. 10, 2005

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

AMRISH PURI Died Jan. 11, 2005

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

JIMMY GRIFFIN Died Jan. 11, 2005

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

SPENCER DRYDEN Died Jan. 11, 2005

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

THELMA WHITE Died Jan. 11, 2005

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

SAL PACINO Died Jan. 12, 2005

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

DANNY BENSON Died Jan. 12, 2005

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

RUDOLPH MOSHAMMER Died Jan. 14, 2005

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

CARL MOHNER Died Jan. 14, 2005

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

CLINT PRENTICE Died Jan. 14, 2005

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

JACK KINE Died Jan. 14, 2005

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

DEEM BRISTOW Died Jan. 15, 2005

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

DAN LEE Died Jan. 15, 2005

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

RUTH WARRICK Died Jan. 15, 2005

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

ELIZABETH JANEWAY Died Jan. 15, 2005

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

AGUSTAN GONZALEZ Died Jan. 16, 2005

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

ROGER IBANEZ Died Jan 16, 2005

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

VIRGINIA MAYO Died Jan.17, 2005

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

BASIL HOSKINS Died Jan. 17, 2005

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

LAMONT BENTLEY Died Jan. 18, 2005

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

GABRIELLA BRUNE Died Jan. 18, 2005

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

CAL BOLDER Died Jan. 19, 2005

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

CHUCK OLIN Died Jan. 20, 2005

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

PARVEEN BABI Died Jan. 20, 2005

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

BEVERLY DENNIS Died Jan. 20, 2005

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

ROBERT DWAN Died Jan. 21, 2005

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

STEVE SUSSKIND Died Jan. 21, 2005

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

PATSY ROWLANDS Died Jan. 22, 2005

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


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

JOHNNY CARSON Died Jan. 23, 2005

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

PHILIP DEGUERE JR. Died Jan, 24, 2005

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

RAY PETERSON Died Jan. 25, 2005

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

VICKKI LA MOTTA Died Jan. 25, 2005

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

RUDI FALKENHAGEN Died Jan. 26, 2005

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

JOSIE MCAVIN Died Jan. 26, 2005

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

PAUL PARTAIN Died Jan. 27, 2005

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

JONATHAN WELSH Died Jan. 27, 2005

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

NICOLE DUFRESNE Died Jan. 27, 2005

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

EMILY BERNSTEIN Died Jan. 27, 2005

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

KAREN BACH Died Jan. 28, 2005

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

JACQUES VILLERET Died Jan. 28, 2005

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

JIM CAPALDI Died Jan. 28, 2005

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

ALAN JAMES Died Jan. 28, 2005

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

EPHRAIM KISHON Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

DARRYL ARMSTRONG Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

TONI BERGER Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

TRICIA GOKEN Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

RON TOMME Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

JOAN TOMPKINS Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

RON FEINBERG Died Jan. 29, 2005

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

COLEY WALLACE Died Jan. 30, 2005

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

MARTYN BENNETT Died Jan. 30, 2005

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

ERICH KAESTNER Died Jan. 31, 2005

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


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

MITZI LUUKKONEN Died Jan. 31, 2005

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