BILL BURCH Died Oct. 1, 2005
TV producer/director Bill Burch died of complications from hip surgery at age 86. Mr. Burch made the transition from producing and directing radio shows to television in the early 1950s. Mr. Burch was a producer and director of both the radio and TV versions of "Truth or Consequences." Following host Jerry Lawrence, Mr. Burch is the second person associated with "Truth or Consequences" to die within one week. Mr. Burch also worked on several other early TV shows. He was later an exec at Universal. Mr. Burch served his country in the US Army Air Corp during WWII.
ROBERT HANSON Died Oct. 1, 2005
Robert Hanson, the last living crew member of the B-17 The Memphis Belle. Technical Sergeant Robert Hanson was the radio operator on the first Flying Fortress to complete 25 bombing missions during WWII. He and the rest of the crew became celebrities when they returned the airship to the US and went on a War Bond tour. Director William Wyler directed the award-winning documentary "The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress." Mr. Hanson appeared as himself in the film. The documentary captures the intense final bombing mission over Germany. To this day, Wyler’s 45-minute film paints a portrait of regular men in extraordinary circumstances. It is one of the most realistic depictions of war ever assembled. The 1990 feature film "Memphis Belle" was a fictionalized account of the Belle’s last mission. The entire crew was renamed in the feature film. I grew up admiring the Memphis Belle. For many years the noble airplane stood out in the elements at the National Guard Armory at the corner of Central and Hollywood. I spent many days in the shadow of the plane. In recent years many Memphians tried to raise the money to build a permanent museum to house the old warhorse. Unfortunately the efforts were unsuccessful. On the day that Mr. Hanson died, the Memphis Belle was being given its last local display at an airshow. It is now on its way to the US Air Force’s museum at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Thank you for your service to your country Mr. Hanson.
AUGUST WILSON Died Oct. 2, 2005
Tony Award winning playwright August Wilson died of liver cancer at age 60. Over a twenty-year period, Mr. Wilson wrote a 10 play series, which captured the unique experience of Black Americans in the 20th Century. Mr. Wilson’s work earned him seven New York Drama Critics’ Circle prizes, a Tony Award and six other Tony nominations! One of the plays, "The Piano Lesson" was turned into a Made for TV movie. The telefilm earned nine Emmy nominations including one for Mr. Wilson’s script. In 2004, Mr. Wilson received the Freedom of Speech Award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. Mr. Wilson appeared as himself in the documentaries "Changing Stages" and "Literary Visions."
NIPSEY RUSSELL Died Oct. 2, 2005
Actor/comedian/poet Nipsey Russell died of cancer. Mr. Russell’s age is not know for sure, but he was known to be in his early 80s. Nipsey Russell may have been best known for his guest appearances on numerous TV variety shows, talks shows and game shows. I remember his many appearances on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" as well as "The Dean Martin Show" and "Laugh In." Mr. Russell always had a funny poem about every conceivable subject known to man. That talent earned him the title "The Poet Laureate of Television." Mr. Russell was a regular on the first two seasons of the TV series "Car 54, Where Are You?" He also reprised his role in the 1994 film version. His best known film role was as the Tin Man in "The Wiz."
HUGH DUNNE Died Oct. 2, 2005
Former child actor Hugh Dunne died of cancer at age 62. As a child, Mr. Dunne appeared on the TV shows "I Remember Mama" and "Watch Mr. Wizard."
LOUIS GARFINKLE Died Oct. 2, 2005
Oscar-nominated writer Louis Garfinkle died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease at age 77. Mr. Garfinkle shared a Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Oscar nomination for Michael Cimino’s "The Deer Hunter." Mr. Garfinkle began his movie career in the 1950s. Mr. Garfinkle was the creative partner of director Albert Band. The pair made three films in the late 1950s which Mr. Garfinkle wrote and produced and Mr. Band directed: "The Young Guns," "I Bury the Living" and "Face of Fire." Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Band also collaborated on the scripts for two Spaghetti Westerns: "A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die" and "The Cruel Ones." Mr. Band also produced both films. Their final collaboration was on "Little Cigars." Mr. Band produced the film while Mr. Garfinkle co-wrote it with Frank Ray Perilli. Mr. Garfinkle and Mr. Perilli also co-wrote the sleeper hit "The Doberman Gang." Mr. Garfinkle was also the creator of the interactive screenwriting computer program "Collaborator."
RONNIE BARKER Died Oct. 3, 2005
British comedy actor and multi BAFTA winner Ronnie Barker died at age 76. Mr. Barker was best known as half of the comedy team "The Two Ronnies." Along with partner Ronnie Corbett, Mr. Barker appeared in over 20 films, TV series and TV specials as "The Two Ronnies." Their TV series "The Two Ronnies" ran for 16 years on the BBC. Mr. Barker was honored with nine BAFTA nominations, winning four times. In addition, he was given the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Mr. Barker played Friar Tuck in Richard Lester’s excellent "Robin and Marian," which starred Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the aging Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Mr. Barker was made OBE in honor of his contributions to the British Empire.
HAMILTON CAMP Died Oct. 3, 3005
Actor and folk singer Hamilton Camp died of a heart attack at age 71. Mr. Camp was a prolific actor, appearing in or doing voice work for nearly 200 films and TV shows during a career that started when he was just eight-years-old. In addition to his acting career, Mr. Campwas one of the legends of the folk music scene in the early 1960s. Using the mane Bob Camp, he was half of the duo "Gibson and Camp." Their album "Gibson and Camp at the Gate of Horn" is considered a classic of the genre. Mr. Camp also performed improv comedy with The Committee and Second City! A true renaissance man! Animation and video game fans know Mr. Camp for his work as a voice actor. I remember him best as the senile butler in Warren Beatty’s "Heaven Can Wait." It is a small, but memorable and very funny performance. Mr. Camp also appeared in the 1953 version of "Titanic," "The Black Shield of Falworth," Peter Bogdanovich’s wonderful homage to silent films "Nickelodeon," "American Hot Wax," Paul Bartel’s twisted comedy "Eating Raoul," Blake Edwards’s "S.O.B." and "Under Fire." Mr. Camp was also a familiar face on episodic TV. He made guest appearances on everything from "The Andy Griffith Show" to "Desperate Housewives." He had the distinction of being a regular on the TV series "Turn-On" and "Co-Ed Fever." The distinction being that both series were cancelled after just one episode. "Turn On" may have been ahead of its time as far as its content was concerned. The 1969 TV show had one skit in which a third world firing squad was about to execute a sexy young woman. The head of the firing squad told the condemned woman "This many sound strange, but the firing squad has a last request." Mr. Camp was also known to "Star Trek" fans for his appearances on "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
EMILINHA BORBA Died Oct. 3, 2005
Brazilian singer Emilinha Borba died of a heart attack at age 82. Ms. Borba was an immensely popular singer in her native land. She recorded hundreds of songs in a recording career that spanned four decades. While still a teen, she was discovered by Carmen Miranda. She was dubbed The Queen of Brazil’s Golden Age of Radio. Ms. Borba did not transition well from radio to TV and stopped recording in the 1960s. She did make one last recording in 2002 after a lengthy retirement. Ms. Borba appeared in over 30 films between 1939 and 1967.
BETTY BRYANT Died Oct. 3, 2005
Actress and humanitarian Betty Bryant died at age 85. The British born actress was raised in Australia. She starred in the first internationally successful Australian film "40,000 Horsemen." Ms. Bryant was set to play Greer Garson’s daughter in "Mrs. Miniver." She became pregnant and was replaced by Teresa Wright. Ms. Bryant had a supporting role in the Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake film "Saigon." Ms. Bryant was known as the "Red Cross Queen" during WWII for her efforts to entertain the troops. She and her husband Red Silverstein founded the humanitarian organization The Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific in 1968. The organization has grown immensely over the years. In 1994 the organization changed its name to The Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific. The group provides aide and assistance in such areas as government, emergency relief, education, employment and medicine in 22 countries worldwide.
HAROLD LEVENTHAL Died Oct. 4, 2005
Grammy-winning folk music promoter and Oscar nominated film producer Harold Leventhal died at age 86. Mr. Leventhal was the business manager of American folk legend Woody Guthrie. He co-produced Martin Scorsese’s biopic of Mr. Guthrie: "Bound for Glory." Mr. Leventhal and co-producer Robert Blumofe received a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the 1976 film. Though Mr. Leventhal produced several films and TV shows dealing with folk music, he was first and foremost the premiere promoter of that genre of music. His clients included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Mamas and the Papas and many others. Mr. Leventhal produced "Alice’s Restaurant" for Woody Guthrie’s son Arlo Guthrie. He also produced director Jim Brown’s BAFTA nominated documentary "The Weavers: What a Time That Was."
SHIRLEY HILLARD Died Oct. 4, 2005
Writer Shirley Hillard died at age 70. Ms. Hillard was a screenwriter, playwright and children’s book author. Ms. Hillard wrote the family film "Season of Change," which featured Hoyt Axton and Michael Madsen. The movie won awards at several feativals. Ms. Hillard was best known for her children’s books. She also wrote a number of plays that were produced in the Los Angeles area.
MIKE GIBBINS Died Oct. 4, 2005
Former "Badfinger" drummer Mike Gibbins died in his sleep at age 56. If ever a rock band was dogged by tragedy, "Badfinger" is it. The band’s lineup included frontman Pete Ham, bassist Tom Evans, guitarist Joey Molland and Mr. Gibbins. "Badfinger" was the first band signed by The Beatles new Apple Records. They scored a number of hit records with "Day After Day," "Baby Blue" and "Come and Get It." They played at George Harrison’s "The Concert for Bangladesh." I was just one of their millions of fans. I don’t think you will find anyone who was alive when the band first appeared who was not excited about their words and music. Troubles with Apple Records and an embezzling manager lead to the band losing all of their money. A series of events prevented them from recouping their loses. Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975 and his songwriting partner Tom Evans also killed himself. After years of bad blood, Molland and Gibbins mended their fences. They were scheduled to meet in Los Angeles in support of the upcoming DVD release of "The Concert for Bangladesh." Gibbins appeared with the band in the documentary "The Beatles Anthology" as well as on "Beat Club" and in the video "Badfinger: Director’s Cut."
JEANNE GRIFFITHS Died Oct. 5, 2005
Former Canadian actress and talent agent Jeanne Griffiths died at age 88. She enjoyed theatrical success in regional Canadian theater before moving to England. Ms. Griffiths worked in London. She was a reporter for the TV series "This Week in Britain." In addition, Ms. Griffiths made a number of guest appearances on the long-running British TV series "Coronation Street." Ms. Griffiths also ran a leading theatrical talent agency in London. After her retirement, she returned to Canada.
RAY BUMATAI Died Oct. 6, 2005
Actor, comedian and rock musician Ray Bumatai died at age 52 after a three-year battle with brain cancer. Mr. Bumatai was an entertainer in Hawaii. He did stand-up comedy with the comedy troop "Booga Booga" as well as acting in regional theater. Mr. Bumatai played in bands with such people as Huey Lewis and Elvin Bishop. As an actor, he appeared in many films and TV shows produced in Hawaii. Mr. Bumatai appeared in such TV shows as "Magnum P.I.," "Martial Law," "Baywatch" and "Hawaii." Mr. Bumatai had a small role in the excellent, true-crime mini-series "Blood & Orchids." He also did voice work for a number of animated shows including "The Wild Thornberrys," "Lilo & Stitch," "Rocket Power" and "Aloha, Scooby Doo."
DENNIS MURPHY Died Oct. 6, 2005
Novelist and screenwriter Dennis Murphy died of cancer at age 73. Mr. Murphy wrote the novel "The Sergeant." Rod Steiger delivered a powerful performance in the then-controversial 1968 film version of Murphy’s book. "The Sergeant" dealt with an Army NonCom who battles his inner demon of attraction to another man. John Philip Law played the object of Steiger’s repressed desire. Mr. Murphy wrote the scripts for the all-star misfire horror film "Eye of the Devil" and excellent and overlooked thriller "The Todd Killings." If some wise studio head ever gets the bright idea to release "The Todd Killings" on DVD, then do not miss it. Mr. Murphy’s script is filled with well developed, if twisted characters brought to life by excellent performances by Robert F. Lyons and Richard Thomas. Mr. Murphy finished his second novel shortly before his death.
R. SPARKLE STILLMAN Died Oct. 6, 2005
Character actress R. Sparkle Stillman died at age 90. The diminutive actress worked in a number of films and TV series Her credits include "Suburban Commando," "Big Fat Liar," "True Colors," "Northern Exposure," "Troop Beverly Hills" and "The Beautician and the Beast." Ms. Stillman made news in 2001 when she sued Andy Dick and MTV for a stunt gone wrong on Mr. Dick’s MTV series "The Andy Dick Show." Ms. Stillman appeared, believing she was going to take part in a purse-snatching skit. Once she was on the set, Ms. Stillman alleged that she was told the skit was cancelled and was then told by an AD to lay on the ground. When she asked what was going on, the AD told her to shut up. Then, Ms. Stillman alleged a naked man jumped on her and simulated a sexual attack. I have not been able to find any news concerning the eventual outcome of the lawsuit.
DEVERY FREEMAN Died Oct. 7, 2005
WGA-winning screenwriter Devery Freeman died of complications from heart surgery at age 92. Mr. Devery was nominated by his peers at the Writer’s Guild with a Best Written American Musical award for the 1957 film "The Girl Most Likely To." He won the WGA award for the TV drama "The Great American Hoax." Mr. Devery scripted a number of films in the late 1940s and 50 as well as wrote for several early TV programs. His final script was for the under-rated Timothy Hutton/Sean Penn/Tom Cruise vehicle "Taps." His film credits include "Zeigfeld Follies," "The Fuller Brush Man," "The Yellow Cab Man," "Ain’t Misbehavin’" and tow films in the "Francis the Talking Mule" series. His TV credits include the series "Sugarfoot" (also created), "Playhouse 90" and "Climax!"
CHARLES ROCKET Died Oct. 7, 2005
Actor and comedian Charles Rocket committed suicide by slitting his own throat at age 56. Mr. Rocket was found outside his home. Police stated there was no evidence that the death was a homicide. Mr. Rocket was a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" during the 1980-81 season. He was fired for using the F-word during a skit. Mr. Rocket went on to appear in nearly 100 films and TV shows. His big-screen credits include "Earth Girls are Easy," "Dances With Wolves," "Delirious," "Hocus Pocus," "Wagons East," "It’s Pat," "Dumb & Dumber," "Tom and Huck" and "Titan A.E.." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
MICHAEL WARD Died Oct. 7, 2005
Physician and mountain climber Michael Ward died at age 80. Dr. Ward was the medical specialist on the British expedition that first climbed Mt. Everest. Dr. Ward was the man who stated that a successful trek to the summit would only be achieved if the explorers had supplemental oxygen supplies. Dr. Ward was also important to the world of Cryptozoologists. He was with Eric Shipton when they discovered and photographed a 13-inch footprint in Nepal’s Menlungtse glacier in 1951. This photograph was the beginning of the modern Yeti mythology. The photograph of the footprint appears at right along with the cover from one of Dr. Ward's books. Dr. Ward appeared as himself in the 1953 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning documentary feature "The Conquest of Everest." He also appeared in the 2003 documentary "The Race for Everest."
NIKOLA KOVACHEV Died Oct. 8, 2005
Award-winning Bulgarian filmmaker Nikola Kovachev died at age 79. Mr. Kovachev’s documentaries "Temporary" and "The Drum is Big Music" won the Best Documentary award at the 1980 Union of Bulgarian Filmmaker’s Awards. Mr. Kovachev was also involved in theater in his native country.
ANJU GILL RAJ Died Oct. 8, 2005Bollywood actress Anju Gill Raj (real name Anjali Mudaliar) committed suicide by self immolation at age 30. Ms. Raj was distraught over an alleged extra-marital relationship on the part of her husband, producer Damodaran Mudaliar. She set herself on fire with kerosene and died the next day of burns. Raj made her debut in the action film "Zakhmi Dil." She made several Bollywood films before dropping out of site. Her last film was the soft-core film "Jungle Beauty."
PHIL DAVIS Died Oct. 8, 2005
Writer Phil Davis died at age 101. Mr. Davis wrote for a number of TV series. His credits include "My Mother the Car," "The Donna Reed Show," "My Three Sons," "Family Affair," "The Ann Sothern Show" and "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space." Mr. Davis was the father of writer/producers David and Elias Davis.
LOUIS NYE Died Oct. 9, 2005
Actor and comedian Louis Nye died of lung cancer at age 92. Mr. Nye appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his 50+ year career. He gained notice early on in the TV series "The Steve Allen Show." Mr. Nye’s many credits include "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Laugh Back," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The Tonight Show," "Good Neighbor Sam," "Zotz!," "The Stripper," "A Guide for the Married Man," "Inspector Gadget," "The Jackie Gleason Show," "Sex Kittens Go to College" and "The Ed Sullivan Show."
RAJU PATEL Died Oct. 9, 2005Producer/director Raju Patel died of cancer at age 45. Mr. Patel was the son of producer/director Sharad Patel. The pair co-produced a number of films together. Raju Patel co-produced the Tom Hanks film "Bachelor Party," the remake of Disney’s "The Jungle Book" as well as a sequel. I remember Mr. Patel’s sole directorial effort, "In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro." The thriller was based on a true event in which hoards of baboons were driven by drought into attacking human settlements. The film could have been much better, but Mr. Patel did deliver a number of excellent set pieces that made the movie worthwhile. Mr. Patel went to India in 2002 to try and duplicate his US success in Bollywood. He produced what he called his "Reservoir Dogs" ‘homage "Kaante." "Kaante" was nominated for many awards in India. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
TED PESHAK Died Oct. 9, 2005
We were forced to watch them in schools. They became the fodder of comedians who used the format to make their own bizarre films. They were "Educational Films." You remember them. Black and White films with such titles as "Dating Do’s and Don’ts," "Good Citizenship." "How Billy Keeps Clean" and "Going Steady?" These films didn’t just make themselves. The man behind many of these quaint pieces of Americana has died at age 87. Ted Peshank was a photographic officer for the Army Signal Corps during WWII. He returned home and made a career and later a family business of making educational and training films. He directed over 300 of these movies, many of which he produced with his son Skip Peshank.
STEVEN PECK Died Oct. 9, 2005
Actor Steven Peck died of cancer at age 76. Mr. Peck was a man of many talents. He was an actor, choreographer and restaurant owner. Mr. Peck was sometimes credited in film as Steven Apostle Pec. He made his film debut in the Frank Sinatra movie "Some Came Running," playing Shirley MacLaine’s boyfriend. Mr. Peck was a noted dance teacher. Francis Ford Copolla chose him to dance the tango during the Lake Tahoe party sequence in "The Godfather: Part II." Mr. Peck’s other film and TV credits include "Rhinestone," "The Idolmaker," "Hunter," "The Flying Nun," "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" and "Two Weeks in Another Town."
SERGIO CITTI Died Oct. 11, 2005
Italian writer/director Sergio Citti died following a heart attack at age 72. Mr. Citti was closely associated with murdered Italian master director Pier Paolo Pasolini. Pasolini filmed Mr. Citti’s scripts "The Scrounger" and "Salo: 120 Days of Sodom." Mr. Citti was second unit director on six of Pasolini’s films including "The Decameron," "Medea," "The Canterbury Tales" and "The Witches." Pasolini wrote the scripts for two films directed by Citti: "Ostia" and "Bawdy Tales." Citti and director Bernardo Bertolucci collaborated on Bertolucci’s directorial debut "The Grim Reaper." Both men co-wrote the script. The Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists honored Mr. Citti with the Silver Ribbon award for Best Original Story for the 1996 film "We Free Kings."
JAN HOLDEN Died Oct. 11, 2005
British stage and film actress Jan Holden died at age 74. Ms. Holden was a respected actress on the West End stage, having worked I many of the top productions of the 1960s and 70s. Ms. Holden appeared in many popular British TV shows including "The Avengers," "The Saint," "Are You Being Served?," "The Vise" and "The Count of Monte Cristo." Ms. Holden’s film appearances include the truly awful "Fire Maidens From Outer Space." The 1956 film was a strange mix of sci-fi and male fantasy. Astronauts land on a planet of sex-starved, toga-wearing hotties. Unfortunately, what could have been great camp fun, is just bad cinema. Of course, Ms. Holden did appear in many good films. Her credits include the Hammer horror "The Stranglers of Bombay," "Quatermass II," "Work is a 4-Letter Word," "The Best House in London," "Lace II," "Horror House" and "High Flight."
VIVIAN MALONE Died Oct. 13, 2005
Civil rights pioneer Vivian Malone died of a stroke at age 63. Ms. Malone became a symbol of the struggle for equal rights for all Americans when she tried to enroll in the University of Alabama in 1963. Then Governor George Wallace blocked the entrance to the school. Ms. Jones became the first Black person to graduate from the University of Alabama. It took intervention by the White House to get Wallace to step aside. Ms. Malone appeared as herself in the documentary "Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment." Director Robert Zemeckis used archived footage of Ms. Malone’s confrontation with Governor Wallace in the Oscar-winning film "Forrest Gump."
EDMUND BACON Died Oct. 14, 2005
Architect Edmund Bacon died at age 95. Mr. Bacon appeared as himself in the Oscar nominated documentary film "My Architect," which dealt with the life and work of architect Louis Khan. Mr. Bacon was the father of the talented Bacon Brothers: actor Kevin Bacon and composer Michael Bacon.
LOU DESANTIS Died Oct. 14, 2005
Prop master Lou DeSantis died at age 75. Lou DeSantis was a member of I.A.T.S.E Local 44. The longtime prop maker worked at Warner Brothers for nearly 30 years. Mr. DeSantis was decorated for his service to his country during the Korean War.
LARRY HARPEL Died Oct. 15, 2005
Actor/writer/teacher Larry Harpel died at age 55. Mr. Harpel had a recurring role on the hit TV series "Cheers" during the 3rd, 4th and 5th seasons. Mr. Harpel was also a dialogue coach on the TV series "Amen" and "Hard Time on Planet Earth." Mr. Harpel became and educator and used his wealth of experience to enrich the lives of children. He received grants to study Native American life, developed theater programs and headed the Ethics Task Force at one school. Mr. Harpel’s most recent teaching assignment was at the progressive "Seven Arrows Elementary School" in Pacific Palasades, California.
MILDRED SHAY Died Oct. 15, 2005
Actress Mildred Shay died at age 94. Ms. Shay appeared in nearly 40 films and TV shows between 1932 and 1999. Ms. Shay lived a charmed life, movie from England to Hollywood in the 1920s. She first appeared on film in the 1932 movie "Age of Consent." The diminutive and very sexy actress was known as "The Pocket Venus." Ms. Shay was romantically linked to a number of Hollywood leading men. She was nearly raped by Tasmanian bad boy Errol Flynn. Ms. Shay’s most notable screen appearance was as Joan Crawford’s French maid in George Cuckor’s "The Women." Other early film credits include "The Philadelphia Story," "A Bill of Divorcement," "In Old Missouri," "Reap the Wild Wind" and "Forever Amber." Ms. Shay finally found true love with British Army officer Geoffrey Steele. Their marriage lasted 40-years, until his death in 1987. Ms. Shay stepped away from the silver screen to raise her family. She returned to the screen in 1968 to appear in Blake Edwards’ "Star!" Her later film credits include small roles in the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow version of "The Great Gatsby," gonzo director Ken Russell’s "Valentino," "Superman III," "Death Wish III," the remake of "Little Shop of Horrors" and voice work in "Labyrinth." British filmmakers Austin and Howard Mutti-Merse were very close with Ms. Shay. Austin shared his feeling for her with me: "My brother Howard, my wife and I adored Mildred Shay she was like a granny to us and we are so thankful that she made it to our wedding!" I too am grateful for Mildred Shay. Though I never met the lady, she took the time to call her priest and ask that my daughter Christy be added to the names of those the Church was praying for. She did this one week after my daughter's accident last year. It meant very much to me, as did the thousands of other prayers said on my family's behalf.
RIK VAN NUTTER Died Oct. 15, 2005
Actor Rik Van Nutter died at age 75, Mr. Van Nutter was best known for playing CIA agent Felix Leiter in the James Bond "Thunderball." Mr. Van Nutter appeared in just a few films before retiring to private life. He married Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg in 1963. The marriage lasted twelve years. Among Mr. Van Nutter’s other credits are "Romanoff and Juliet" and a number of Italian movies. He is the fourth James Bond actor to die in the last month.
JOHN LARCH Died Oct. 16, 2005
Noted character actor John Larch died having recently turned 91 years old. Mr. Larch had a long and distinguished career as a character actor. He was just as competent as the heavy as he was playing the goodguy or doing comedy. Mr. Larch spent much of career playing policemen and soldiers. Mr. Larch appeared in over 200 films and TV shows during a career that spanned five decades. Some of his more memorable film roles were as the Chief of Police in the original "Dirty Harry," as Father Nuncio in "The Amityville Horror" and as the ill-fated Sgt. McCallum in Clint Eastwood’s great thriller "Play Misty for Me." Fans of "The Twilight Zone" remember Mr. Larch for his role as the father of Bill Mumy's character Anthony Fremont, the boy who wished people into the cornfield in the episode "It's a Good Life." That episode was the basis of Joe Dante's segment of "Twilight Zone: The Movie." He also appeared in two other "Twilight Zone" episodes: "Perchance to Dream" and "Dust." Mr. Larch was a regular during the 1990 season of "Dallas." He also had a recurring role on the primetime soap "Dynasty." Other credits include "War and Remembrance," "Airplane II: The Sequel," "Bad Ronald," "Santee," "The Wrecking Crew," "How the West Was Won," "Seven Men From Now," "The Phenix City Story" and just about every single TV series made in the 1950s, 60s and 70s!
LEN DRESSLAR Died Oct. 16, 2005Singer and voice actor Len Dresslar died at age 80. Mr. Dresslar did voice work for radio and TV commercials for four decades. Though you may not recognize the name, you knew Mr. Dresslar as the voice of The Jolly Green Giant. Mr. Dresslar recorded 15 albums with the a cappella jazz group "The Singers Unlimited." Mr. Dresslar (second from right) is pictured with fellow members of "The Singers Unlimited" Bonnie Herman, Don Shelton and Gene Puerling.
GORDON LEE Died Oct. 16, 2005
Gordon Lee is the second "Our Gang" cast member to die in the last 30 days. Gordon "Porky" Lee died of brain and lung cancer at age 71. Mr. Lee played Porky in Hal Roach’s popular "Our Gang" series. The character Porky was best friends with Buckwheat (portrayed by Bill Thomas) and was also the little brother of "Our Gang" leader Spanky McFarland. Porky and Buckwheat where known for using the catch phrase "Otay." The pairing was also an early instance of on screen friendship between Black and White characters. Porky and Buckwheat were equals in the film series. Mr. Lee appeared in nearly 50 episodes of the "Our Gang" series during the mid 1930s, including the Oscar-winning short "Bored of Education." Mr. Lee’s character was replaced by Robert Blake when he left the series in 1939. As an adult, Gordon Lee was a school teacher.
URSULA HOWELLS Died Oct. 16, 2005
British actress Ursula Howells died at age 89. Ms. Howells appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during her lengthy career. She was also a respected stage actress in the UK. Ms. Howells was known to horror fans for her roles in several films by director Freddie Francis, especially as Mumsy in the twisted "Girly." She also appeared in "Torture Garden" and "Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors." Ms. Howells was a familiar face on British TV. She was best known for her roles in "The Forsythe Saga" and "The Cazalets." She made guests appearances in many TV shows including "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Lovejoy."
ALVIN JOSEPHY Died Oct. 16, 2005
Author and American Indian historian Alvin Josephy died at age 90. He was the nephew of publisher Alfred Knopf. Mr. Josephy was the founder of the National Museum of the American Indian. Mr. Josephy appeared as himself in the Ric Burns documentary "The Way West." He was also a historical consultant on the BBC TV series "Timewatch." Mr. Josephy did some script work in Hollywood during the early 1950s. He developed the story for the WWII movie "Operation Secret." Mr. Josephy wrote two scripts that were directed by Robert Wise: "Something for the Birds" and "The Captive City." Mr. Josephy was a Marine Corp combat correspondent in the Pacific theater during WWII. He reported the action at Guam, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Mr. Josephy was awarded the Bronze Star for recording the only on-site account of the amphibious landing at Guam.
BERNARD CARR Died Oct. 18, 2005
Director/producer/actor/distributor Bernard Carr died at age 94. Mr. Carr began his career as an actor working is such films as "Three Godfathers" and "Murder in the Fleet." He later worked as an AD for FOX and Hal Roach. In addition to working on Roach’s "Our Gang" series, Mr. Carr was the AD on Roach’s original version of "One Million B.C.," which starred Lon Chaney Jr. Hal Roach employed Mr. Carr as the AD in the hit sequel "Topper Returns." Mr. Carr was also the AD on FOX’s Oscar nominated musical "Orchestra Wives." Bernard Carr produced the talking-dog comedy "The Talking Joe." Mr. Carr was the co-founder of Cascade Pictures Inc. as well as the founder of Multi Media Inc. Bernard Carr served his country in the US Navy during WWII.
STEPHEN KATZ Died Oct. 18, 2005
Writer and teacher Stephen Katz died of prostate cancer at age 59. Mr. Katz wrote for a number of TV series including "LA Law," "Knight Rider," "Friday the 13th: The Series," "Hunter" and "The A-Team." His feature film credits include "Hex," "Satan’s Princess" and Bruce Beresford’s upcoming "The Contract." Mr. Katz also shared his craft as a high school teacher in Texas.
JOHN HOLLIS Died Oct. 18, 2005
Actor John Hollis died at age 74 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Hollis was best known for his role as Billy Dee Williams’ silent aide Lobot in "The Empire Strikes Back." Mr. Hollis appeared in a number of memorable films. My first exposure to his work was in 1967 when I saw "The Dirty Dozen." Mr. Hollis played the porter who carried the bags for Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson as they entered the Nazi chateau. That same year, Mr. Hollis appeared in the James Bond comedy "Casino Royale." He would later appear, though only from the back, as Bond super villain Blofeld in "For Your Eyes Only." In that film, Roger Moore as James Bond drops a wheelchair bound Blofeld to his death in the movies’ opening sequence. Mr. Hollis also played one of the Elders of the planet Krypton in "Superman," "Superman II" and "Superman IV." Other film and TV credits include "Flash Gordon," "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter," "The Avengers," "Dixon of Dock Green," "The Tomorrow People" and "Blake’s 7."
WOLF RILLA Died Oct. 19, 2005
Director, novelist and teacher Wolf Rilla died at age 85. Mr. Rilla directed one of the best horror films in the history of cinema. "Village of the Damned" remains a classic of creepy films. The 1960 film about a village of children with dark and evil powers was nominated for a Hugo Award as Best Dramatic Presentation. In addition to directing the film, Mr. Rilla co-adapted the screenplay along with Stirling Silliphant and Ronald Kinnoch. Director John Carpenter remade the classic film with less than spectacular results. Mr. Rilla directed over twenty feature films as well as a number of TV shows in the UK. His last two films were sex comedies shot in the early 1960s. Mr. Rilla was a respected author of both novels and technical books on filmmaking. He shared the secrets of his craft with film students at the London International Film School. Mr. Rilla was the son of actor Walter Rilla and the father of writer/producer Nico Rilla.
JEAN-MICHEL FOLON Died Oct. 20, 2005
Bulgarian artist Jean-Michel Folon died at age 71. Mr. Folon was a renowned painter, sculptor and book illustrator. Mr. Folon designed a number of movie posters during his career, usually foreign posters for US films. Mr. Folon acted in several films including the award winning "F is for Fairbanks."
MICHAEL GILL Died Oct. 20, 2005
BAFTA-nominated producer/director Michael Gill died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 81. Mr. Gill added his own personal twist to the documentary format in what became known as the "authored documentary." He produced and directed the 1969 documentary TV series "Civilisation," which dealt with art history. Mr. Gill was nominated for Best Factual Series BAFTAs in 1973 and 74 for his TV series "America." Alistair Cooke was the host of the acclaimed series, which also garnered a Golden Globe nomination.
CHALMERS GOODLIN Died Oct. 20, 2005
Test pilot Chalmers Goodlin died of cancer at age 82. Mr. Chalmers’ nickname was "Slick." He was one of the test pilots who worked out the bugs on the Bell X-1, the first airship to break the sound barrier. Mr. Goodlin lost the chance to be known as the first man to break the speed of sound when he demanded a $150,000.00 bonus from Bell Aircraft for accomplishing the feat. Instead, Chuck Yeager gained the fame, on his regular Army-Air Corp pay. This footnote to aviation history was dramatized in the film "The Right Stuff." Mr. Goodlin was upset by the way he was portrayed in Lawrence Kasden’s film, claiming that the film was completely false concerning him. Actor William Russ played Mr. Goodlin in the film. Mr. Goodlin served with the RAF during WWII. He was a test pilot for the US Navy and the Israeli Air Force. Mr. Goodlin flew defense missions in Israel in 1948 and 49.
EVA SVANKMAJEROVA Died Oct. 20, 2005
Award-winning Czech production designer Eva Svankmajerova died at age 65. She was married to writer/director Jan Svankmajer. The pair often worked together. They were also banned from the film industry after making two films in the early 1970s that ridiculed the communist regime in power at the time. They were not allowed to make films for nearly seven years. Ms. Svankmajerova and her husband were nominated for a number of Czech Lion Awards. They won in 1995 for "Faust" and in 2002 for "Otesanek."
TARA CORREA Died Oct. 21, 2005
16-year-old actress Tara Correa was killed in a suspected gang-related drive-by shooting in Ingelwood, California. In a touch of irony, Ms. Correa was best known for her recurring role as an ex-gang member in the TV series "Judging Amy." She made her film debut in Martin Lawrence’s comedy "Rebound," which was released this year. In addition to her other credits, Ms. Correa also appeared in an episode of the TV series "Zoey 101." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends. Stop the violence people!
DINORAH JUDITH Died Oct. 21, 2005
Former Mexican actress Dinorah Orgaz Ross (stage name Dinorah Judith) died of cancer at age 57. Ms. Judith began her career as a dancer. She was the last muse (and wife) of Mexican auteur director Juan Orol Garcia. Ms. Judith starred in seven films by the late director during the 1960s and 70s. Among her credits are the films "History of a Gangster" and "The Fantastic World of the Hippies." Following the death of director Orol, Ms. Judith remarried to Mr. Samuel Ross. Journalist and former actress Norma Niurka worked with Ms. Judith on one film. She remembered Ms. Judith this way: "I met her in 1967 or 1968 when they came to film some pictures in Puerto Rico where I was working as an actress in theatre, TV and movies. She was the new, very young wife of Orol, 70 years old at that time, and the main character of his pictures at that time. Dinorah was very kind and humble, friendly and cooperative, a disciplined actress that did everything she was told to do. She loved to dance and danced very well.
TONY ADAMS Died Oct. 22, 2005
Producer Tony Adams died of a stroke at age 52. The Irish producer was closely associated with Blake Edwards. He produced 20 films by director Edwards. Mr. Adams began his career as an assistant to fellow Irish filmmaker John Boorman on the Oscar nominated "Deliverance." Among the many films of Blake Edwards produced by Mr. Adams are "10," "S.O.B.," "Victor/Victoria," "Skin Deep," "Blind Date" and six of the "Pink Panther" movies. Mr. Adams made a cameo as a waiter in "The Return of the Pink Panther."
WILLIAM HOOTKINS Died Oct. 23, 2005
Actor William Hootkins died of pancreatic cancer at age 58. Despite a successful career in film, on the stage and TV, Mr. Hootkins is best known for his short role in his third film: "Star Wars." Mr. Hootkins played Jek Porkins AKA Red Six in the first of George Lucas’s sci-fi saga. Red Six was one of the X-Wing pilots who assaulted the Death Star during the film’s climatic battle scene. Mr. Hootkins was born in the US, but worked primarily in the UK. He had a successful stage career in England. His final stage role was as director Alfred Hitchcock in "Hitchcock Blonde." Mr. Hootkins was also a prolific voice actor, providing voices for a myriad of video game characters. Mr. Hootkins’s 100+ film and TV credits include Ken Russell’s "Valentino," Nicholas Roeg’s "Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession," "Flash Gordon," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Curse of the Pink Panther," "Trail of the Pink Panther," "Superman IV," "Batman," "The Neverending Story III" and "The Island of Dr. Moreau."
FRED FOX SR. Died Oct. 23, 2005
Writer Fred Fox Sr. died at age 90. Mr. Fox was closely associated with Bob Hope and George Burns. For Mr. Burns, he wrote "Oh God! Book Two" as well as several TV specials. Mr. Fox’s credits include "Petticoat Junction," "F-Troop," "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Mothers in Law," "The Love Boat," "Alice" and "Different Strokes." Mr. Fox’s relationship with Bob Hope and George Burns dated back to the 1940s.
ROSA PARKS Died Oct. 24, 2005
Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks died in her sleep at age 92. On December 1, 1955, Ms. Parks became on of he most visible symbols of the civil rights era when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a White man. Ms. Parks sat down on the Montgomery, Alabama segregated city bus. Rather than walk to the back of the bus, Rosa Parks sat down in the front. Ms. Parks was tired of the years of humiliation that came with having to move further back whenever Whites boarded the bus. She refused to budge. Angela Bassett received an Emmy nomination for portraying Ms. Parks in the TV movie "The Rosa Parks Story." Ms. Parks herself won the Image Award’s Best Supporting Actress Award for an appearance on the TV series "Touched By an Angel." Ms. Parks appeared in a number of documentaries including "Eyes on the Prize," "In Remembrance of Martin," "Intimate Portrait: Rosa Parks" and several others.
FRANK WILSON Died Oct. 24, 2005
Australian actor Frank Wilson died at age 81. Mr. Wilson began his career as a stage actor in the late 1940s. He appeared at the Tivoli in Sydney, Australia. The vaudeville circuit that was popular at the Tivoli for over a hundred years fell victim to the advent of TV. Mr. Wilson made the transition from stage to TV and feature films. He worked with Charlie Chaplin in "A King in New York." Mr. Wilson appeared in several films, which broke through to the international market. He appeared in Bruce Beresford’s 1980 classic tale of injustice "Breaker Morant." Two years earlier, Mr. Wilson appeared in Richard Franklin’s cult horror favorite "Patrick." In 1991 he teamed up with Bruce Beresford for "Black Robe." Mr. Wilson did guest appearances on most of the TV shows produced in Australia during the 1960s.
KATHARINE CLARK REILLY Died Oct. 24, 2005
Actress Katharine Clark Reilly died of ovarian cancer. Ms. Reilly acted on stage in New York and had roles on TV. Ms. Reilly appeared in the TV movie "Anya’s Bell." She also worked on the soap operas "Another World" and "The Guiding Light." Ms. Reilly also did a guest role on the TV series "Everwood." She moved to Utah where she produced stage plays. Ironically, Ms. Reilly starred in the play "Wit," which deals with a woman dying of ovarian cancer.
ALMA WOODS Died Oct. 24, 2005
Actress Alma Woods died. No age or cause of death was given. Ms. Woods was well known in her adopted home of New Zealand for her theater work. Ms. Woods directed and produced plays as well as being and actress. She was known in her homeland for her work on the TV series "Chickaboom." Her film credits include the cult horror film "Strange Behavior," "Runaway," "Don’t Let it Get You" and "Ruby and Rata."
JUN NEGAMI Died Oct. 24, 2005
Japanese actor Jun Negami died of a stroke at age 82. Mr. Negami’s acting career spanned five decades. His wife was singer Peggy Hayama. Mr. Negami’s film credits include "Bitch," "Lightning," "Buddha," "Return of Ultraman" and "Mishima."
BARBARA KEOGH Died Oct. 25, 2005
British actress Barbara Keogh died at age 76. Ms. Keogh enjoyed a long and succesful career on both TV and the stage. She also appeared in a few films. Her film credits include "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," "Tai Pan," "Whoops Apocalypse" and next year’s horror film "Dark Corners." Ms. Keogh’s many TV credits include "Coronation Street," "Dixon of the Dock Green," "EastEnders," "Z Cars," "Quatermass" and "The Grimleys."
JANY HOLT Died Oct. 26, 2005
Romanian born actress Jany Holt died of natural causes at age 96. Ms. Holt worked principally in the French cinema. She was a leading lady for nearly 25 years. Ms. Holt appeared in a number of classic films. She starred in Abel Gance’s 1936 film "The Life and Loves of Beethoven." That same year, Ms. Holt had a supporting role in Jean Renoir’s award-winning "Underworld." She also starred in a Czechoslovakian version of "The Golem." Horror fans might remember her from the 1943 version of "Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors." Ms. Holt appeared with Glenn Ford and Geraldine Fitzgerald in "The Green Glove." Ms. Holt appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during a career that spanned six decades.
CHRISTINE GOSSETT Died Oct. 27, 2005
Former actress Christina Gossett died at age 93. Ms. Gossett appeared in several films for FOX during the 1930s including "High Tension" and "Ramona." She retired from acting after marrying prolific character actor Leon Ames. Mr. Ames appeared in over 150 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. The 55-year marriage lasted until Mr. Ames’ death in 1993.
RICHARD J. NEAGELE Death Announced Oct. 28, 2005
Producer Richard Neagele died of undisclosed causes. Mr. Neagele Turned to the film industry after a full and rewarding career in the world of stock trading. He produced such films as "Totally Blonde" and "Executive Power."
CYRUS HUBBARD Died Oct. 28, 2005
You never saw Cyrus Hubbard on the big screen or TV. However, his influence allowed you to see the work of hundreds of actors and actresses with disabilities. Cyrus Hubbard was appointed by former California Governor Edmund Brown as the executive director of the California Governor's Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities. During Mr. Hubbard’s tenure he established the Media Access Office and Media Access Awards. These programs resulted in the employment of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry. Mr. Hubbard died at age 62.
PAULA LAURENCE Died Oct. 29, 2005
Broadway actress Paula Laurence died at age 89. She also appeared in a few films and TV shows. Ms. Laurence’s acting career spanned seven decades. She began her career acting for Orson Welles in the plays "Horse Eats Hats" and "Dr. Faustus." She was the widow of Charles Bowden. Actress Lily Tomlin considered Bowden and Laurence her "theatrical spiritual parents." Ms. Laurence appeared on the horror soap opera "Dark Shadows." Other film and TV credits include "Crossing Delancy," "Law and Order," "For Love or Money" and "The Cherry Orchard." During WWII, Ms. Laurence supported the troops by volunteering at the famed Stagedoor Canteen. Where are the actress of today stepping up for our servicemen?
LLOYD BOCHNER Died Oct. 29, 2005
Actor Lloyd Bochner died of cancer at age 81. Mr. Bochner appeared in over 250 films and TV shows during his career. He was known for playing suave villains, though his range of characters was much wider than just the sophisticated badguys. He was the father of "Die Hard" actor Hart Bochner. Oh! If I was the kind of person to give spoilers for movies, I’d tell you the story of the classic "Twilight Zone" episode, "To Serve Man." Mr. Bochner starred in the classic show, which is one of Rod Serling’s most twisted shows, if not one of the best shows ever produced for any TV show. Rod Serling adapted Damon Knight's short story of the same name into one of the best "Twilight Zone" episodes of all time. Lloyd Bochner was known by soap opera fans for his role as Cecil Colby on the hit series "Dynasty." He delivered one of his best badguy roles in John Boorman’s "Point Blank." Horror fans may remember Mr. Bochner for his roles in William Castle’s "The Night Walker," "The Dunwich Horror" and "Crowhaven Farm." Other notable credits include "Harlow," "Tony Rome," "The Detective," "Ulzana’s Raid," "The Man in the Glass Booth" and "The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear."
MAURICE ROSENFIELD Died Oct. 30, 2005
Broadway and film producer Maurice Rosenberg died of heart failure at age 91. Mr. Rosenfield and his wife Lois were successful Broadway producers. I paid tribute to his wife in the May 2003 obituary column. Mrs. Rosenfield died at age 78. The pair produced one of the great sports films. A movie in which it is OK for a male viewer to let the tears flow. The Rosenfield’s produced "Bang the Drum Slowly." The film starred Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarty as teammates on a fictional New York baseball team. Moriarty is the slick, urban star pitcher and DeNiro is the ignorant, redneck catcher. DeNiro’s character has a fatal illness that causes the rest of his teammates to examine their lives. Mr. Rosenfield also appeared in the movie as the team owner. Mr. Rosenfield also produced the sci-fi film "Wavelength." Mr. Rosenberg was also a noted attorney who specialized in civil liberties cases. He was one of Lenny Bruce’s appellate attorneys!
NIKKI BRUNO Died Oct. 30, 2005
Actress Nikki Bruno (real name Dorothy Walsh) died of breast cancer. The veteran actress began her career on stage, working in New York and Massachusetts. She toured the country with several stage productions working with noted film stars of the 40s and 50s. Ms. Bruno also worked on TV in the soap operas "The Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns." She appeared in films such as "Mystic Pizza," "True Lies" and "The Crucible."
TERRY MAHAFFEY Died Oct. 30, 2005
Terry Mahaffey, co-owner of the gay adult entertainment company Falcon Studios died of cancer at age 51. Mr. Mahaffey worked in the adult industry for nearly 30 years. He joined Falcon Studios in the late 1990s, purchasing it last year. The company has produced and distributed many films in the genre.
SKITCH HENDERSON Died Oct. 31, 2005
Grammy-winning musical conductor Skitch henderson died at age 87. Skitch Henderson was the first bandleader for NBC’s "The Tonight Show." He was the band leader from the shows inception in 1954 with host Steve Allen, through the Jack Paar years and continued with Johnny Carson. He was replaced by Doc Severinsen in 1967. Mr. Henderson was the founder of The New York Pops. He worked with such noted performers as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Mr. Henderson scored or provided songs for the films "Act One," "The Beginning of the End of the World" and "On Our Merry Way." Mr. Henderson served his country as a pilot in both the RAF and US Army Air Corp during WWII.
MARY WIMBUSH Died Oct. 31, 2005
Actress Mary Wimbush died doing what she loved best. Ms. Wimbush died at age 81 after she had recorded her radio show. The 81 year old actress had worked on the BBC radio for nearly 60 years. She was known for her role in the long-running radio program "The Archers." Ms. Wimbush also appeared in film and on TV. Her credits include "Oh! What a Lovely War," the Hammer horror "Vampire Circus," "Jeeves and Wooster" and "Z-Cars."