MARY HAYLEY BELL Died Dec. 1, 2005
Writer/actress and Mills family matriarch Mary Hayley Bell died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 94. Ms. Bell was the widow of Oscar-winning actor John Mills, who passed away on April 23 of this year. She is the mother of actresses Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills and writer/producer Jonathan Mills. Ms. Bell and John Mills were married for 64 years. Her novel "Whistle Down the Wind" was turned into a memorable thriller starring Alan Bates and a young Hayley Mills. Other writing credits include "Scott of the Antarctic," "Sky West and Crooked" and "The Winged Boy." Ms. Bell was a stage and film actress before she married John Mills in 1941. She retired from acting to raise her family, but still took the occasional role. Her acting credits include "Vintage Wine" and "The Shrike." Ms. Bell’s greatest professional success came as a playwright. She had many plays produced in the UK.
JACK COLVIN Died Dec. 1, 2005
Character actor Jack Colvin died at age 71 of complications from a stroke suffered in October. Mr. Colvin was best known for his role as tabloid reporter Jack McGee in the hit TV series "The Incredible Hulk." Mr. Colvin had a successful film and TV career during the 1960s and 70s. He played supporting roles in such films as "Jeremiah Johnson," "Monte Walsh," "Hickey & Boggs," "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," "The Stone Killer," "The Terminal Man," "Rooster Cogburn" and "Child’s Play." His many TV credits include "The Rat Patrol," "Kojak," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Baretta," "Hunter" and "MacGyver."
MICKE DUBOIS Died Dec. 2, 2005
Risque Swedish comedian and musician Micke Dubois committed suicide by hanging at age 46. Mr. Dubois had checked into a clinic for depression in November. Mr. Dubois recorded a number of comedy albums under the name Svullo. He appeared in a number of films and TV series in his native land. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
MAURICE HARRIS Died Dec. 2, 2005
Musician Maurice Harris died of natural causes at age 84. Mr. Harris was a trumpet player in the Tonight Show Orchestra for 25 years. He was also a studio musician, whose work appeared on the soundtracks of numerous films. Mr. Harris contributed music to such films and TV shows as "Fort Apache," "High Noon," "Bugs Bunny," "The Bob Hope Comedy Hour," "Bonanza," "Grand Hotel," "Hot Rod Rumble," "Kelly’s Heroes," "Big Jake," the remake of "The Italian Job," "Rocky," "The Killer Elite," and "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia." As a big band member, Mr. Harris played with Freddie Martin, Merv Griffin, Frankie Lane, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and others.
JOHN C. FLINN JR. Died Dec. 2, 2005
Studio exec John Flinn Jr. died of congestive heart failure at age 88. Mr. Flinn worked in publicity for a number of Hollywood studios include Monogram, Columbia, Allied Artist and for David O. Selznick. His first job was helping promote "Gone With the Wind." Mr. Flinn was a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy. He was the father of director and Emmy-nominated cinematographer John C. Flinn III.
LEONARD LEWIS Died Dec. 2, 2005
British TV producer/director Leonard Lewis died at age 78. Mr. Lewis began his career as a director with the BBC. He continued to direct throughout his career, but also expanded into producing. He was a director on the popular British police drama "Z Cars." Later he would produce and direct the spin-off series "Softly, Softly," in which the main detectives from "Z-Cars" (Barlow and Watt) now worked in a regional crime Task Force. One of Mr. Lewis’ most interesting projects was the TV docudrama mini-series "Jack the Ripper." Mr. Lewis had his fictional detectives Barlow and Watt take an analytical look at all of the Jack the Ripper evidence in hopes of solving the crime. The six-part mini series is one of the best you will find on the infamous Whitechapel Murders. Mr. Lewis’ other producer credits include "The EastEnders," "When the Boat Comes In" and "The Flambards."
ILEANA GHIONE Died Dec. 3, 2005
Italian actress Ileana Ghione died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 71 while on stage performing the play "Ecuba." Ms. Ghione said "Excuse me…I feel bad" and collapsed. Doctors operated for six hours to try and stop the bleeding from the aneurysm but the actress never regained consciousness. Ms. Ghione was a respected stage actress. She died onstage at her own theater, the Teatro Ghione. Ms. Ghione appeared in the 1965 Italian TV mini series "David Copperfield" playing Mrs. Copperfield opposite a very young Giancarlo Giannini in the title role.
DAVID BECKWITH Died Dec. 3, 2005
David Beckwith died at age 52 after a lengthy illness. David Beckwith was one of the thousands of behind the scenes people that filmgoers never know or think about when going to the movies. Mr. Beckwith worked at various movie studios for nearly 25 years. He worked as a set painter. Not everyone in the industry works above the line, but all are essential to the final cut. Thanks to Mr. Beckworth for his contributions.
ANTHONY GEORGILAS Died Dec. 3, 2005
TV producer, actor and teacher Anthony Georgilas died of natural causes at age 78. Mr. Georgilas was a child actor in the days of radio. He did voice work for several radio programs including "The Green Hornet" and "The Lone Ranger." Mr. Georgilas was the child who asked "Who was that masked man?" during the opening credits if "The Lone Ranger" radio show. As a production manager at CBS, Mr. Georgilas worked on such TV series as "Gunsmoke," "Playhouse 90," "The Twilight Zone" and "Perry Mason." Mr. Georgilas then passed on his skills to younger generations as a teacher at various Southern California colleges. Mr. Georgilas taught at Pasadena Community College for 38 years, winning a number of awards along the way.
VICE ADMIRAL FREDERICK ASHWORTH Died Dec. 3, 2005
Vice Admiral Frederick Ashworth (USN ret.) died during heart surgery at age 93. Admiral Ashworth was part of the Manhattan Project and helped develop the detonation devices for both of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan to end WWII. He rode as weaponeer in the B-29 Bocks Car as it dropped the second A-Bomb on Nagasaki Japan on August 9, 1945. The Japanese surrendered unconditionally six days later. Though the two A-Bombs killed over 100,000 people, they allowed the war to come to an end without a manned invasion of Japan, which in turned saved millions of lives. Admiral Ashworth appeared as himself in the documentaries "Enola Gay and the Atomic Bombing of Japan" and "V is for Victory."
HISAKO HARA Died Dec. 4, 2005
Japanese actress Hisako Hara died at age 96. Ms. Hara’s most notable role was in Shohei Imamura’s award-winning "Black Rain." The film dealt with the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. The film won nine awards including Best Picture at the Awards of the Japanese Academy. It also won awards at film festivals around the world including Cannes. Ms. Hara’s other film credits include "Weaker Sex," "The Scarlet Man" and "Bullet Wound."
GREGG HOFFMAN Died Dec. 4, 2005
"Saw" and "Saw II" producer Greg Hoffman died of undisclosed causes at age 42. Mr. Hoffman had complained of neck pain and was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital where he died. Mr. Hoffman was a partner in Evolution Entertainment and Twisted Pictures. He found the short film "Saw" and was the person most responsible turning the short film into the blockbuster feature film. Hoffman also co-produced the sequel, which has also been a blockbuster at the box-office. Mr. Hoffman began his career at the indie company PRO Filmworks where he produced Betty Thomas’s comedy "Only You." He later moved to Disney, developing a number of films and producing "George of the Jungle." Mr. Hoffman and his partners at Twisted Pictures were currently in post production on "Saw" director James Wan’s new film "Silence" and the horror film "Catacombs." The company had also announced production on "Saw III" and a feature film remake of the 1970s Made for TV movie thriller "Crawlspace." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ED MASRY Died Dec. 5, 2005
Attorney Ed Masry died of complications of diabetes at age 73. Mr. Masry and his legal assistant Erin Brockovich took on Pacific Gas & Electric for poisoning a California town with cancer causing chemicals when the company’s tanks leaked into the ground water. The noted attorney won an award of $333,000,000.00! The story was turned into the Oscar-winning film "Erin Brockovich." Mr. Masry was portrayed by actor Albert Finney in the film. Mr. Masry appeared as himself in the documentary "The Making of Erin Brockovich." Mr. Masry served his country in the US Army during the early 1950s.
GILBERT MACK Died Dec. 5, 2005
Veteran voice actor Gilbert Mack died of old age at 93. Mr. Mack provided voices for a number of cartoons including "Astro Boy," "Gigantor," Godzilla," "The Superman/Aquaman Hour," "Johnny Jupiter," "The Hungry Ghost," "Kimba the White Lion" and "Super Book." He also did voice work during the Golden Age of Radio for such shows as "Tom Corbet Space Cadet," "Theater Five" and as the dog Asta in "The Adventures of the Thin Man." Mr. Mack returned to radio in Himan Brown’s "CBS Radio Mystery Theater" during the 1970s. Mr. Mack was known for his animal imitations. He played a dog trained to kill in an episode featuring Oscar winner Kim Hunter. Mr. Mack was a character actor on such TV shows as "Hallmark Hall of Fame," "Naked City" and "Car 54 Where Are You?" He appeared in Broadway in "A Bell for Adano."
CHARLES MCELMURRAY Died Dec. 5, 2005
Animation designer Charles McElmurray died at age 84. Mr. McElmurray began working for Walt Disney in the early 1940s. He served his country during WWII. After the war, Mr. McElmurray worked for a number of independent animation studios. He was a graphic designer on the feature film "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." Other credits include "Your Safety First" and "Magoo’s Arabian Nights." Mr. McElmurray designed a number of animated TV commercials during the 1950s and 60s.
PATRICK BETZ Died Dec. 5, 2005
TV exec and producer Patrick Betz died at age 87. Mr. Betz was an exec with CBS and NBC. He produced the 1959 B-Western "A Lust to Kill," which starred future "Dallas" patriarch Jim Davis.
PATRICK NIELSEN Died Dec. 5, 2005
Actor and set designer Patrick Nielsen died at age 75. Mr. Nielsen was a set designer in numerous regional theaters. He designed the sets for the TV show "The Jackie Gleason Show" as well as the 1960s biker film "Wild Rebels."
GEORGE WALSH Died Dec. 5, 2005
Radio announcer George Walsh died of congestive heart failure at age 88. Mr. Walsh worked in radio for over 40 years. He was the announcer for the radio show "Gunsmoke." He also became the announcer on the TV version, which began in 1955. Many more people heard Mr. Walsh’s voice in the famous public service ads for Smokey Bear. It was Mr. Walsh who said "Only you can prevent forest fires." Another footnote in Mr. Walsh’s life was the fact that he worked for an ABC radio in Roswell New Mexico back in June of 1947. Mr. Walsh was the man who broke the story about the Air Force finding a crashed UFO. At least that was the original story. Of course, everyone knows those things don’t exist!
CARL BRAUNGER Died Dec. 6, 2005
Art director Carl Bruanger died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 81. Mr. Braunger worked in film and on TV. His many credits include "The Lucy Show," "Paint Your Wagon," John Huston’s hilarious "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," the original version of "The Bad News Bears," "Viva Max!," "Get Smart," "The Waltons" and "The Partridge Family."
ADRIAN BIDDLE Died Dec. 7, 2005
Oscar and BAFTA-nominated cinematographer Adrian Biddle died of a heart attack at age 54. The English photographer was nominated for both an Oscar and BAFTA for Best Cinematography for his work in Ridley Scott’s feminist manifesto "Thelma & Louise." Adrian Biddle had a long time professional relationship with Ridley Scott. He worked on Soctt’s masterpiece "The Duellists" and "Alien" as the camera focus tech. He later collaborated with Scott as the DP on "Aliens." Mr. Biddle was the cinematographer on both "Thelma & Louise" and "1492: Conquest of Paradise." Mr. Biddle won the European Film Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Neil Jordan’s "The Butcher Boy." Mr. Biddle was called upon by numerous directors to lese their films. He worked with Ron Howard on "Willow," Rob Reiner on "The Princess Bride," James McTeigue on the upcoming "V for Vendetta," Paul W.S. Anderson on "Event Horizon" and Stephen Sommers on "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns." Mr. Biddle worked on two James Bond films. He was an assistant camera operator on "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service." That was his first film job. 33 years later he was the cinematographer on "The World is Not Enough." Mr. Biddle’s other credits include the live-action remake of "101 Dalmatians," "102 Dalmatians," "City Slickers 2," "Judge Dredd," "Reign of Fire," "Shanghai Nights" and "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason."
BEACH DICKERSON Died Dec. 7, 2005
Roger Corman alumni Beach Dickerson died at age 81. Mr. Dickerson acted in some of Roger Corman’s campiest cult classics. Like many folks who worked in the Corman stable, Mr. Dickerson also produced, did special effects, directed, recorded sound and various other odd film jobs. Mr. Dickerson’s acting credits include "Attack of the Crab Monsters," "Teenage Caveman," "The Trip," "The Dunwich Horror," "Capone" and "Crazy Mama." He produced several films including the excellent but little-seen gem "The Candy Snatchers."
GEORGY ZHZHYONOV Died Dec. 8, 2005
Russian actor Georgy Zhzhyonov died of complications following surgery at age 90. Mr. Zhzhyonov’s film career spanned back to the 1930s. At the 1997 Nita Awards, he was awarded the Honor and Dignity Award for his lifetime contribution to the Soviet film industry. Mr. Zhzhyonov starred in the 1962 sci-fi film "Planet of Storms." The movie dealt with a space mission to the planet Venus. The crew is met by dinosaurs. Three years later, the movie was given to director Curtis Harrington to be used as the basis for "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet." New scenes with Basil Rathbone and Faith Domergue were intercut with the footage from the original Russian film. In 1968 director Peter Bogdanovich did the same thing! His film, "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" dumped the footage shot by Curtis Harrington and replaced it with footage starring Mamie Van Doren! In all three films, Mr. Zhzhyonov’s character is given different names and dialogue. Mr. Zhzhyonov appeared in over 70 films in a movie career that began in 1931 and ended in 1999. His career was interupted in 1938 when Stalin's feared NKVD accused the young actor of being a spy for the US. Mr. Zhzhyonov spent seven years in the Gulags. He was arrested again in 1949 and sent to Siberia. He was released in 1955 and allowed to resume his acting career.
PAUL F. HARRON JR. Died Dec. 8, 2005
Producer/cable TV pioneer and businessman Paul F. Harron Jr. died of lung cancer at age 63. Mr. Harron was the president of one of the nation’s largest cable TV companies: Harron Communications. Mr. Harron was the executive producer of the award winning indie feature "Shadow Glories." The 2001 film won best picture at several film festivals including the Dances With Films Festival. He was also the executive producer of the award-winning documentary "The Letter: An American Town and the Somali Invasion." Both films were directed Syrian filmmaker by Ziad Hamzeh.
JEROME LESHAY Died Dec. 8, 2005
Award-winning director/producer Jerome Leshay died of respiratory failure at age 78. Mr. Leshay was Buzz Kulik’s assistant director on the TV movie "A Storm in Summer." The pair won the DGA Award. Mr. Kulik was also nominated for a directing Emmy for the film. Mr. Leshay worked on many shows during a career that started in the Golden Age of TV. His credits include "Playhouse 90," "The George Gobel Show" and "Fernwood 2Night."
DR. JESS SCHWIDDE Died Dec. 9, 2005
Full-time neurosurgeon and part-time actor Jess Schwidde died at age 89. Dr. Schwidde lead a full and multi-faceted life. He worked his way through medical school during the Great Depression. His skills were put to good use by Uncle Sam during WWII. Dr. Schwidde earned a Purple Heart. He was also avidly involved in anthropology; taking part in archeological digs around the world. Dr. Schwidde also appeared in a number of films. He was an extra in the Arthur Penn films "Little Big Man" and "The Missouri Breaks." Dr. Schwidde had speaking parts in other films including Leonard Nimoy’s "Holy Matrimony" and Robert Redford’s "A River Runs Through It." Dr. Schwidde’s wife Kate died in October of 2000 after 58 years of marriage. May they have a happy reunion. Plato said the unexamined life is not worth living. It would appear that Dr. Schwidde lived a very worthwhile life.
ROBERT SCHECKLEY Died Dec. 9, 2005
One of my earliest exposures to sci-fi films was the Italian movie "The 10th Victim." The futuristic tale told the story of people who lived on the edge by playing games of government sanctioned murder. My pre-teen libido was sparked by the opening scene in which Ursula Andress as an exotic dancer in a metalic bra killed her prey with zip-gun pasties. The film was based on Robert Scheckley’s book "The Seventh Victim." Science fiction writer Robert Scheckley died of complications from a brain aneurysm at age 77. Mr. Scheckley also wrote the book "Immortality Inc." That book was turned into a British TV movie in 1969. In 1992, the novel was turned into the feature film "Freejack" starring Mick Jagger and Emilio Estevez. Mr. Scheckley wrote a number of episodes for "The Twilight Zone" and "Captain Video and His Video Rangers." Mr. Scheckley served his country in the US Army during the Korean War.
RICHARD PRYOR Death Announced Dec. 10, 2005
Groundbreaking comedian and actor Richard Pryor died of a heart attack at age 65. Mr. Pryor had been battling Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years. He died at home sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Pryor broke through to the big time in the early 1970s. He broke convention with his hilarious and foul-mouthed comedy routines. The title of his Grammy-winning 1974 album caused a stir of controversy. I first heard "That Nigger’s Crazy" at a friends house. My father had raised me to see the innate evil of the N word. Pryor was one of the first Black comedians to embrace and eventually defuse the N word. What set Pryor apart from dozens of other ‘dirty’ comedians was his insight into the human condition. Some saw him as further proof of the decline of civilization, while in reality he was one of the first Black entertainers to express his true equality with others. He was unapologetic and in your face. His appeal crossed racial boundaries.
Richard Pryor made the jump from live stand-up to TV and film. He appeared on numerous TV shows during the early and mid 1960s. Of course his routine was much cleaner when performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" or "The Tonight Show." During this time, the raunchy material was saved for nightclubs. After Richard Pryor emerged as the hottest act in comedy, he became the first person to appear with a time delay on "Saturday Night Live." He struck fear into the network censors who thought he would corrupt viewers with banned words or acts. In 1977, he starred in his own TV series "The Richard Pryor Show." It was cancelled after four episodes. Some people now say it was cancelled because he ran afoul of the censors. I remember watching the show and wondering when it was going to get funny. His stand-up routine was captured in two very funny concert films: "Richard Pryor: Live in Concert" and "Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip."
Richard Pryor appeared in nearly 40 films. He played bit parts on a number of films before becoming a headliner. Mr. Pryor played supporting roles in such films as "Wild in the Streets," "Lady Sings the Blues," "Uptown Saturday Night," "Car Wash" and "The Mack." His most successful films were his first two pairings with Gene Wilder. They made four films together: "Silver Streak," "Stir Crazy," "See No Evil Hear No Evil" and "Another Your." The latter two films did not achieve the success of the first two. Richard Pryor occasionally showed his dramatic side. He gave an impressive performance in Paul Schrader’s under-rated "Blue Collar." Pryor also gave an excellent dramatic performance in his autobiographical "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling." The film dealt in part with Pryor’s suicide attempt that was first described by the press as a freebasing accident. Pryor suffered burns to more than 50% of his body. He recovered from his burns and resumed his career. Before long, Mr. Pryor was to face his greatest challenge when he was diagnosed with MS.
Richard Pryor’s other film credits include "Greased Lightning," "The Wiz," "California Suite," "The Muppet Movie," "Some Kind of Hero," "Superman III," "Harlem Nights" and David Lynch’s "Lost Highway." Richard Pryor won several Grammy Awards. He also won an Emmy for writing the TV special "Lily." He was nominated for an acting Emmy for a guest appearance on the TV series "Chicago Hope." Mr. Pryor shared a Writer’s Guild Award as well as a BAFTA nomination for the screenplay of Mel Brook’s "Blazing Saddles." He was initially set to play the lead opposite Gene Wilder, but backers feared Pryor’s ‘dirty’ image and so the role went to Clevon Little.
EUGENE MCCARTHY Died Dec. 10, 2005
Former US Senator Eugene McCarthy died in his sleep at age 89. The former senator from Minnesota gave voice to people opposed to the Vietnam War during the 1968 presidential campaign. His surprisingly strong showing in the New Hampshire primary lead to LBJ exiting from the race. Following the assassination of RFK, LBJ’s vice-president, Hubert Humphrey emerged as the front runner and won the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. I remember witnessing my first political argument when my mother dared to put a "Come Clean With Gene" sticker on the drawing board in my parent’s bedroom. My dad was a Kennedy man all the way and let my mother know what he thought of the McCarthy sticker. I didn’t help matters any when I opened my 10-year-old smart mouth and said, "Nixon’s going to win. He has the coolest sounding name." The backhand I received was enough to keep me from saying "I told you so that November." Senator McCarthy played himself in the Made for TV movie "Countdown to Looking Glass," which dealt with nuclear war between the US and Russia. He also appeared via archived footage in Oliver Stone’s "JFK." Senator McCarthy appeared in several documentaries including "Cold War" and "The Ten Thousand Day War."
MARY JACKSON Died Dec. 10, 2005
Actress Mary Jackson died at age 95. Ms. Jackson had Parkinson’s Disease. She was best known for her role as Miss Emily Baldwin on the hit TV series "The Waltons." Actress Helen Kleeb, who played her sister Miss Mamie Baldwin died in December 2003 at age 96. Ms. Jackson began her career on the stage. She appeared in a number of Broadway plays during the 1940s and 50s. Ms. Jackson appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows. She had an especially creepy role as a possessed old lady in the terrifying "Exorcist III." Ms. Jackson also appeared in the Richard Pryor film "Some Kind of Hero." Her other feature film credits include the under-rated "Leap of Faith," "Big Top Pee Wee," "Coming Home," the original version of "Fun With Dick and Jane," "Audrey Rose," Dennis Hopper’s "Kid Blue," as the mother of the killer in Peter Bogdanovich’s brilliant "Targets," "Airport" and "Friendly Persuasion." Ms. Jackson was primarily a TV actress. She appeared in TV shows for four decades. Her many TV credits include "L.A. Law," "Highway to Heaven," "The Rockford Files," "The Case of the Hillside Strangler," "Mary Tyler Moore," "The F.B.I.," "The Invaders," "The Outer Limits," "The Fugitive," "Route 66" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
MITCHAEL DUCKSWORTH Died Dec. 10, 2005
Producer Mitchael Ducksworth was found murdered in a Bronx motel. Mr. Ducksworth was 42. Police have arrested a male prostitute and charged him with the robbery/homicide. Mr. Ducksworth head was stomped on and then he was smothered. Mitch Ducksworth was co-founder of the Northeast Media Group and president of M.T.D. Group Inc. He had produced several indie features and documentaries. Mr. Ducksworth preciously worked in TV and radio including a stint behind the scenes on "The Bill Cosby Show."
WILLARD F. "BILLY" CLAREY III Died Dec. 10, 2005
Production assistant Billy Clarey committed suicide at age 23. Mr. Clarey graduated from NYU’s film school earlier this year. He was working as a production assistant on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." The producers of "The Daily Show" proved that they are a class act by canceling production of their Monday show and allowing the staff to deal with their grief. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ROBERT DRISCOLL Died Dec. 11, 2005
TV producer and magazine publisher Robert Driscoll died of cancer at age 70. Mr. Driscoll produced several soap operas. His produced "As the World Turns," "The Secret Storm" and "The Edge of Night." He also produced the Canadian TV series "High Hopes."
NORMAN LEAVITT Died Dec. 11, 2005
Jim Clark of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club reports in his latest news letter that character actor Norman Leavitt died at age 92. Mr. Leavitt appeared in six episodes of the beloved TV series "The Andy Griffith Show." He played five different characters! The prolific character actor appeared in over 250 films and TV shows between the 1940s and 70s! Mr. Leavitt’s many, many credits include "Day of the Locust," "The Ten Commandments," "Elmer Gantry," "Kismet," "Show Boat," "Harvey," "The Inspector General," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
ANNETTE VADIM Died Dec. 12, 2005
Actress Annette Vadim died of cancer. Her age has been reported to be both 67 and 71. The Danish actress was the second wife of director Roger Vadim. She made her film debut in Vadim’s "Dangerous Liaisons 1960." She played the role performed by Michelle Pfeiffer in Stephen Frears 1988 version. Horror movie fans remember Ms. Vadim as the lesbian vampire Carmilla in "Blood and Roses," Roger Vadim’s version of the Sheridan Le Fanu oft-filmed novel "Carmilla."
RAMANAND SAGAR Died Dec. 12, 2005
Award-winning Bollywood filmmaker Ramanand Sagar died of old age just shy of his 88th birthday. Mr. Sagar won two Filmfare Awards for his work. The Filmfare Award is India’s equivalent of the Oscar. He won the Best Director award for the 1968 film "Aankhan." In 1959 he won for his writing on the film "Paigham." Mr. Sagar achieved his greatest success for the 1986 TV series "Ramayana." The show was the most popular TV series in India’s history. It dealt with the epic Hindu poem "The Ramayana."
ROBERT NEWMYER Died Dec. 12, 2005
Award-winning producer Robert Newmyer died of a heart attack at age 49. Mr. Newmyer won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Picture for "sex, lies and videotape." The Indie producer was behind some of the most popular films of the last two decades. He was, along with Jeffery Silver, one of the founders of Outlaw Productions. Mr. Newmyer produced such films as "The Santa Clause," "Wagons East," "Don Juan Demarco," "Addicted to Love" and "Training Day." Mr. Newmyer was on location in Toronto for his new film "Breach" when he suffered a heart attack while working out at a gym. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
GYULA TREBITSCH Died Dec. 12, 2005
Award-winning German producer Gyula Trebitsch died of natural causes at age 91. Mr. Trebitsch produced numerous films. His 1957 film "The Captain From Kopenick" was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar. In 2000, Mr. Trebitsch was honored at the German Film Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Trebitsch began working in the German film industry in the early 1930s. He was imprisoned by the Nazis during the persecution of the Jews. He lost family members in the Holocaust. Mr. Trebitsch was instrumental in rebuilding the German film industry following the Allied victory over the Nazis.
STEVENSON PALFI Died Dec. 14, 2005
Documentary filmmaker Stevenson Palfi committed suicide at age 53. Mr. Palfi’s work focused on the music scene in New Orleans. He co-produced the Learning Channel’s TV series "Played in the U.S.A.," His most famous work was "Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together." The documentary focused on a number of great New Orleans piano players. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
SUDHIR JOSHI Died Dec. 14, 2005
Veteran Indian actor Sudhar Joshi died of a heart attack at age 57. Mr. Sudhar acted in Marathi and Hindi language films. He was a popular TV actor in his native land.
TREVANIAN Died Dec. 14, 2005
Writer Rodney Whitaker was best known for his pen name Trevanian. The author used five different pen names, each one for a different genre. Under the pseudonym Trevanian, Mr. Whitaker wrote such spy thrillers as "The Loo Sanction" and "The Eiger Sanction." Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the 1975 film version of "The Eiger Sanction." Eastwood played Trevanian’s sophisticated hitman Dr. Jonathan Hemlock. His short story "Hot Night in the City" was filmed in 2004. Mr. Whitaker served in the US Navy during the Korean War.
JAMES POTTER Died Dec. 14, 2005
Post Production Supervisor James Potter died at age 78. Mr. Potter worked in the industry in various capacities for over 60 years. He worked as a film editor on several films including actor/director Laurence Harvey’s final film the cannibal horror film "Welcome to Arrow Beach." He also edited "The Amazing Dobermans." Mr. Potter was the post-production supervisor on a number of films including "Sophie’s Choice," "On Golden Pond," "Raise the Titanic," "The Muppet Movie" and the excellent TV movies "The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd" and "Friendly Fire."
ROBERT VISCIGLIA Died Dec. 14, 2005
Veteran property master Robert Visciglia died at age 80. Mr. Visciglia worked as a property master for 50 years. Mr. Visciglia worked on numerous films. He had a long association with one of my favorite directors. Sam Peckinpah used Mr. Visciglia’s expertise on such films as "The Getaway," "Junior Bonner," "Pat Garritt and Billy the Kid," "The Killer Elite" and "Convoy." Peckinpah gave Mr. Visciglia a small role in "Convoy." He also appeared as himself in the Peckinpah documentaries "Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron" and "Sam Peckinpah’s West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade." Mr. Visciglia’s other credits include "Body Heat," "Heaven’s Gate," "Species," "Internal Affairs," "Foxfire" and "The River." He is the father of director/producer/property master Robert (Touched By an Angel) Visciglia Jr. Mr. Visciglia was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. He served his country in the US Navy during WWII and the Korean War.
CLINTON JENCKS Died Dec. 14, 2005
Former union organizer Clinton Jencks died of natural causes at age 87. Mr. Jencks organized the famous strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in 1950 and 51. The strike’s goal was to achieve equal pay for Hispanic workers. The strike became the subject of the famous indie film "Salt of the Earth." The film was produced and directed by a number of victims of the McCarthy era blacklist. Mr. Jencks and the other actual participants in the strike played the characters in the film version of their story. "Salt of the Earth" was added to the National Film Registry by the US Congress in 1992; only one of 400 films to be so honored. Mr. Jencks served his country in the armed forces during WWII.
DEVOY WHITE Died Dec. 14, 2005
Combat veteran and career soldier turned actor Devoy White died at age 72. Mr.W hite worked mainly in regional theaters, industrial films and commercials. His film and TV credits include "The A-Team" and "The Trigger Effect." Mr. White served his country for over 30 years in the USAF. He saw action in Korea and Vietnam.
GIUSEPPE PATRONI-GRIFFI Died Dec. 15, 2005
Award-winning writer director Giuseppe Patroni-Griffi died at age 84 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Patroni-Griffi was one of the more versatile artist to emerge from the Italian film industry in the last century. Mr. Patroni-Griffi was not a household name like such Italian directors as Fellini, Visconti, Rosselini, Bava or Argento. However, Mr. Patroni-Griffi excelled as a screenwriter, theatrical director and film director. Roberto Rosellini adapted Mr. Patroni-Griffi’s play "Anima Nera" to the screen in 1962. Luchino Visconti’s segment of "The Witches" was also written by Mr. Patroni-Griffi. Mr. Patroni-Griffi stepped behind the camera several times. His best know work as a director was "The Divine Nymph," which starred Laura Antonelli. He directed Elizabeth Taylor in the 1974 film "The Driver’s Seat." One of his most challenging films was "Tis a Pity She’s a Whore." Charlotte Rampling starred in a twisted story of incest. The film was based on a play by Shakespeare contemporary John Ford. His 1969 film "One Night at Dinner" was based on a story by horror master Dario Argento. Mr. Patroni-Griffi won two Emmy Awards for directing TV versions of the operas "Tosca" and "La Traviata."
SENATOR WILLIAM PROXMIRE Died Dec. 15, 2005
Senator William Proxmire died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 90. The Wisconsin Senator was a crusader against over spending by government. He gave his annual Golden Fleece Award to agencies, which gave taxpayers the shaft by extreme over spending. William Proxmire was elected to the Senate in a special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of notorious commie hunter Joseph McCarthy. Mr. Proxmire appeared as himself on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson."
T.K. BALACHANDRAN Died Dec. 15, 2005
Indian actor/producer T. K. Balachandran died at age 78. The character actor appeared in over 400 Tamil language films in his native land. He began his career as a stage actor and later moved to film and TV. He also produced nearly 20 films.
DR. HEINRICH GROSS Died Dec. 15, 2005
Judge not lest ye be judged. As a Christian, I am commanded not to judge my fellow man. Leave it up to God. On December 15th, Dr, Heinrich Gross went to his judgment. Dr. Gross will have to stand before his creator and explain the horrific experiments he oversaw as a Nazi involved in eugenics. Dr. Gross ran a clinic in Vienna that experimented on defective children the Nazis felt were expendable. Dr. Gross was one of the main subjects of Joe Berlinger’s excellent documentary "Gray Matter." With the recent rantings from the president of Iran claiming that the Holocaust never happened, I felt that I had to include Dr. Gross’s obituary in this column. We can NEVER FORGET!
JOHN SPENCER Died Dec. 16, 2005
Emmy and SAG Award-winning actor John Spencer died of a heart attack four days shy of his 59th birthday. Mr. Spencer won an Emmy and SAG award for his work in the TV series "The West Wing." Mr. Spencer appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during his long career. He had a recurring role as the boyfriend of one of Patty Duke’s two characters in "The Patty Duke Show." Like most people, I was impressed by role as Harrison Ford’s investigator in "Presumed Innocent." Mr. Spencer’s character was an honorable man who was also loyal to his friend. It was a shock at the end when Spencer’s character destroyed evidence that was being used to frame his buddy. Mr. Spencer’s work elevated what could have just been a forgettable cop into a very memorable supporting role. His role in "Presumed Innocent" lead to a regular role in the hit TV series "L.A. Law." Mr. Spencer’s many credits include "The Rock," "Sea of Love," "Black Rain," "Albino Alligator," "Cop Land," "War Games" and "Green Card."
ENZO STUARTI Died Dec. 16, 2005
Italian tenor Enzo Stuarti died at age 86. Mr. Stuarti was once a test driver for the Ferrari racing team! Mr. Stuarti appeared in over a dozen Broadway plays including "South Pacific" and "Kiss Me Kate." Mr. Stuarti was a popular guest on many TV variety shows. He made over 150 guest appearances on such shows as "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Mike Douglas Show."
ED HANSEN Died Dec. 16, 2005
Director/writer/editor Ed Hansen died of bladder cancer at age 68. Mr. Hansen was known for writing and directing such sexploitation films and videos as "The Bikini Car Wash Company," "Taking It Off" and "Eroticise." Mr. Hansen was also a film editor. His editing credits include "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," "Nine and ½ Weeks" and "Nightforce."
STEPHEN PAPICH Died Dec. 16, 2005
Choreographer Stephen Papich died of cancer at age 80. Mr. Papich produced a number of musical stage productions from the 1950s through the 70s. He was the staff choreographer at 20th Century Fox. His film credits include the wonderfully kinky "The Egyptian," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "South Pacific," "The Silver Chalice," "Desiree" and "The Rains of Ranchipur." Mr. Papich also acted in the film "South Pacific." A friend of the legendary Josephine Baker, Mr. Papich wrote about their friendship in the 1976 book "Remembering Josephine Baker." Mr. Papich also wrote the forward to Gary Smith’s great book "Epic Films."
SANKARAN NAIR Died Dec. 17, 2005
Indian director Sankaran Nair died at age 80. Mr. Nair directed over 30 films during a career that dated back to the 1950s. Mr. Nair directed Malayam language films.
MARC FAVREAU Died Dec. 17, 2005
Canadian actor marc Favreau died of cancer at age 76. Mr. Favreau was best known in his native land for playing Sol the hobo clown in the TV series "Sol et Gobelet." Mr. Favreau’s other credits include "Give Me a Hand" and "Parlez-Moi."
JACK ANDERSON Died Dec. 17, 2005
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jack Anderson died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 83. Jack Anderson wrote the long-running column "Washington Merry Go Round." The column was started by Anderson’s mentor Drew Pearson, who hired Anderson in 1947. Jack Anderson sought out political corruption where ever it may dwell. It didn’t matter if plots arose from the right or left, Jack Anderson drove headlong toward exposing those who would violate the constitution. Anderson exposed the CIA’s plot to kill Castro under the administrations of JFK and IKE. Anderson’s digging onto the Watergate scandal lead some of Nixon’s aides to plot Anderson’s murder. Jack Anderson appeared as himself in the TV mini series "The Fifties." Other credits include "American Justice: Target-Mafia" and "Terrorism: Target USA."
MOHAMED OSFOUR Died Dec. 17, 2005
Mohamed Osfour, the father of the Moroccan film industry died at age 80. He directed the first feature-length film produced in Morocco. Mr. Osfour’s film credits include "Le Fils Maudit" and "Le Tresor Infernal."
JEAN SCHLEGEL Died Dec. 17, 2005
Swiss actor Jean Schlegel died of a heart attack at age 58. Mr. Schlegel was primarily a stage actor. Among his many credits are the international hits Fellini’s "And the Ship Sails On," "Three Colors: Red" and "Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000."
JENNA JOHNSON Died Dec. 18, 2005
Production assistant Jenna Johnson collapsed while training for the Los Angeles Marathon and died. She was 22-years-old. Ms. Johnson was a production assistant on "The George Lopez Show." Ms. Johnson graduated from the University of Miami with a double major of English and Soccer. She played for the University’s soccer team. Ms. Johnson continued her love for the sport as an assistant coach of the Flintridge Sacred Heart girl’s soccer team. This is the second tragic death to mar that team this year. Former Sacred Heart player Jessica Hanson was killed in a car accident along with her father in August. Prayers of comfort for Ms. Johnson’s family and friends.
BELITA Died Dec. 18, 2005
Olympic skater Belita died at age 82. Belita skated in the 1936 Olympic Games representing Great Britain. She appeared in 10 films during the 1940s and 50s. Her credits include "Silk Stockings," "The Gangster," "The Ice-Capades," "Silver Skates" and "The Man on the Eiffel Tower."
PETER TUPY Died Dec.18, 2005
BAFTA-winning graphic artist Peter Tupy died of complications following heart surgery. Mr. Tupy won a BAFTA for his work on the British TV series "Max Headroom."
WILLIAM BRYAN JENNINGS Died Dec. 19, 2005
Texas attorney Bill Jennings died at age 86. Though Mr. Jennings was a well-respected member of the Texas Bar, he did have an infamous shadow from his past. Bill Jennings is known to bad-movie fans worldwide as one of the cast members of the all-time worst film ever made "Manos: The Hands of Fate." The 1966 horror film was given new life as the most popular film parodied on the hit series "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Mr. Jennings played the police officer. Mr. Jennings served his country as a pilot in the US Navy during WWII.
VINCENT GIGANTE Died Dec. 19, 2005
Mafia boss Vincent Gigante died in prison at age 77. Mr. Gigante was the one-time head of the Genovese family, one of the original five families of New York. Mr. Gigante avoided prosecution for years by feigning mental illness. The press dubbed him "The Oddfather" because of his penchant for acting bizarre in public. He was known to walk the streets in his pajamas talking to himself. Mr. Gigante admitted the ruse when he was sentenced for racketeering in 1997. Mr. Gigante was portrayed by actor Giant Gustav Ouimet in the Made for TV movie "Bonanno: A Godfather’s Story."
IAN BLACK Died Dec. 19, 2005
Canadian actor Ian Black died at age 55. Mr. Black was heavily involved in the Canadian theater scene. In addition, Mr. Black appeared in a number of films and TV shows. His credits include Disney’s "The Journey of Natty Gann," "Johnny’s Girl," "Airwolf," "MacGyver" and "Try to Remember."
FUJIKI YUU Died Dec. 19, 2005
Japanese actor Fujiki Yuu died of a pulmonary embolism at age 74. Mr. Yuu worked with master director Akira Kurosawa three times. He played a samurai warrior in Kurosawa’s take on "MacBeth" entitled "Throne of Blood." Mr. Yuu also appeared in Kurosawa’s "The Hidden Fortress" and "The Lower Depths." Mr. Yuu is also well known to millions of fans of Japanese monster movies. Mr. Yuu appeared in such films as "King Kong vs. Godzilla," "Atragon," "Godzilla vs. Mothra" and "Yog: Monster From Space." Mr. Yuu appeared in over 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career.
MARJORIE KELLOGG Died Dec. 19, 2005
Author Marjorie Kellogg died of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease at age 83. Marjorie Kellogg wrote the novel "Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon" based on her experiences as a hospital social worker. The story of three mental disabled patients living together was a best seller in the late 60s. Director Otto Preminger brought the film to the big screen in 1970. Ms. Kellogg adapted her own novel to the screen. Preminger’s film was one of Liza Minnelli’s earliest starring roles. Ms. Kellogg worked with Otto Preminger once more, writing additional dialogue for the forgettable thriller "Rosebud." In 1979, Ms. Kellogg was called on to adapted Sylvia Plath’s "The Bell Jar" to the big screen. The film was a major disappointment.
ARGENTINA BRUNETTI Dec. 20, 2005
Actress Argentina Brunetti died of natural causes at age 98. Ms. Brunetti appeared in over 130 films and TV shows during a 60 plus year career. She played Mrs. Martini in Frank Capra’s classic "It’s a Wonderful Life." Soap opera fans remember her for her recurring role on "General Hospital" during the 1980s. Ms. Brunetti appeared in many memorable films. Her film credits include "Gilda," "House of Strangers," the Western "Broken Arrow," "My Cousin Rachel," "The Caddy," "The Tall Men," "The George Raft Story," "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao," "The Appaloosa" and "The Shakiest Gun in the West." Ms. Brunetti also had a prolific TV career. She appeared on such TV shows as "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Fantasy Island," "Kojak," "The Flying Nun," "Ironside," "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Fugitive," "Ben Casey," "Rawhide," "Route 66," "Wagon Train," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Untouchables." Her first job in Hollywood was to dud the voices of Jeanette MacDonald and Norma Shearer into Itlaian for foreign releases. Ms. Brunetti maintained a website, which is filled with great info about her years in the industry as well as current film news.
DAVID RAIN Death announced Dec. 20, 2005
Stockbroker turned actor David Rain died in Oklahoma. His age was not given. Mr. Rain appeared in several films and TV shows including "Nash Bridges," "The Matrix," "The Matrix II" and "The Princess Diaries."
ALMA THORPE Died Dec. 20, 2005
Alma Thorpe suffered from mental illness. She was subjected to the horrors of electroshock therapy when she involuntarily committed to a mental institution in the 1960s. Her story was the subject of the award-winning 1998 documentary film "Alma." Ms. Thorpe died of complications from diabetes at age 63.
BILLY HUGHES JR. Died Dec. 20, 2005
Former child actor Billy Hughes died at age 57. Mr. Hughes appeared in numerous films and TV shows during the 1960s. Among his many film credits are "Ole Rex," "Stakeout," "Posse From Hell," "My Six Loves," "Five Card Stud" and "Smoke In The Wind." Mr. Hughes appeared in a number of TV shows including "Lassie," "The Detectives," "Shirley Temple Theatre," "Gunsmoke," "General Hospital," "The Rifleman," "Dr. Kildare," "Wagon Train," "Ben Casey," "77 Sunset Strip," "The Twilight Zone" and "Leave It To Beaver." Mr. Hughes was the son of prolific stuntman Bill Hughes Sr. Mr. Hughes Sr. worked with Sam Peckinpah on "The Wild Bunch" and "Convoy." Mr. Hughes uncle is respected veteran stuntman Whitey Hughes. Mr. Hughes had recently finished writing a screenplay with writing partner David Sorenson. Mr. Sorenson shared his memories of his friend with me: "He was noted as a very intense child actor who always gave the best, and it showed. I had the privilege of not only being his friend, but a co-writer as well. We had just finished a screenplay together. It was suppose to be our first of many to come. Everyone that met Billy always noted his humble and giving spirit. A huge loss for everyone."
MYRON HEALEY Died Dec. 21, 2005
Actor/writer/Air Force officer Myron Healey died at age 82. The prolific actor was one of the most recognizable badguys in the history of B-Movies. While IMDB claims that Mr. Healy appeared in nearly 300 films and TV shows, the real number may very well be three times that amount. Such was Mr. Healey’s contribution to B-Movies that at the 2000 Golden Boot Awards, he was given the "Backbone of the B’s Award." Though Mr. Healey spent most of his film career playing a badguy, his real life persona was far from that. Mr. Healey served his country as a navigator and bombadier during WWII. Following the war, Mr. Healey continued to serve in the Air Force reserve until the 1960s. It might be easier to list the films and TV shows that Myron Healey wasn’t in. One of my regular stops in researching this column is the Old Corral Home Page.
AURORA MIRANDA Died Dec. 22, 2005
Singer/actress Aurora Miranda died at age 90. She was the sister of actress Carmen Miranda. Ms. Miranda was a huge singing star in Brazil. She made several film appearances which usually highlighted her singing talent. She appeared in Richard Siodmak’s Film Noir thriller "Phantom Lady." In that film she sang the song "Chica-Chica-Boom-Boom." Her best known US film was Disney’s "The Three Caballeros." She was Donald Duck’s dance partner in the Bahia sequence. Ms. Miranda appeared in the documentaries "Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business" and "Once Upon a Mouse."
GEORGE FOUCHE Died Dec. 22, 2005
Veteran propmaker and construction foreman George Fouche died of cancer at age 55. Mr. Fouche was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44. His film credits include "Dangerous Minds," "Nothing But Trouble," "Dead Poets Society" and "Home Alone 2." He worked as a carpenter at Warner Brothers. Mr. Fouche served his country as an officer during the Vietnam War.
MICHAEL VALE Died Dec. 24, 2005
Veteran character actor Michael Vale died of complications from diabetes at age 83. Mr. Vale was best know as the mascot for Dunkin’ Donuts. Mr. Vale worked on stage, in film and on TV. He was best known for his work in TV commercials. He made over 1,000 of them! Mr. Vales film and TV credits include "Car 54, Where are You?," "3-2-1 Contact," "The Cosby Show," "A Hatful of Rain" and "Marathon Man."
ROY STUART Died Dec. 25, 2005
Actor Roy Stuart died at age 70. Mr. Stuart was best known for his role as Sgt. Carter’s sidekick Cpl. Boyle on the hit TV series "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." Mr. Stuart worked on the TV series for three years. Mr. Stuart acted on TV, in film and on stage. He was a member of the Los Angeles theater company Theater West. Other credits include "Bewitched," "Mr. Ed," "Sanford and Son," "The Golden Girls" and "General Hospital."
FELICE ANDREASI Died Dec. 25, 2005
Italian actor Felice Andreasi died just shy of his 78th birthday. Mr. Andreasi was a noted stage and screen actor. Mr. Andreasi won the Best Supporting Actor Award given by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists for his work in the film "Bread and Tulips."
BIRGIT NILSSON Died Dec. 25, 2005
Swedish opera legend Birgit Nilsson died at age 87. He nearly 40 year career began at the Stockholm Royal Opera in 1946. Ms. Nilsson appeared in the films "The Happy Tailor," "Stimulantia," "Elecktra" and "Tristan and Isolde." Ed Sullivan exposed the masses to her powerful voice when she made numerous appearances on his Sunday Evening TV show "The Toast of the Town."
JACK WIENER Died Dec. 26, 2005
Producer Jack Wiener died of a heart attack at age 79. Mr. Wiener worked for numerous studios during a career that stretched back to the 1940s. He became and independent producer in the 1970s. Mr. Wiener produced the Michael Caine thriller "The Eagle Has Landed." His biggest hit was the 1986 thriller "F/X." He and Dodi Fayed teamed up in 1991 to produce the sequel "F/X2."
VINCENT SCHIAVELLI Died Dec. 26, 2005
Veteran character actor Vincent Schiavelli died of lung cancer at age 57. Mr. Schiavelli was a familiar face to movie-goers of all ages. His range of characters included the good, the bad and the ugly. Mr. Schiavelli appeared in adult dramas, teen comedies and scores of children’s films. Mr. Schivelli’s distinctive looks along with his ability to play comedy, drama, menace or gentleness with equal ease that made him one of the most in-demand character actors of the past 30 years. In addition to his thespian skills, Mr. Schiavelli was a world class chef who published three cookbooks as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles on food.
I first noticed Mr. Schiavelli as the mental patient Frederickson in the Oscar-winner "One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest." "Cookoo’s Nest" was the second film directed by Milos Forman in which Mr. Schiavelli appeared. Her worked for director Forman in six films: "Taking Off," "Amadeus," "Valmont," "The People vs. Larry Flynt" and "Man in the Moon." Mr. Schiavelli played the caffeine addicted science teacher in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Murdered actress Lana Clarkson played his wife in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." He also reprised his role as Mr. Vargas in the short-lived TV series "Fast Times." Mr. Schiavelli turned in a dark and scary performance as the subway ghost in "Ghost." His performance in "Ghost" is probably Mr. Schiavelli's most widely recognized role. In the 2000 Made for TV movie "Snow White," the 6 foot 5 inch tall actor played the tallest dwarf in film history! He played an assassin in the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies."
He also did occasional voice work in film, TV and video games. Ralph Bakshi used his talents in the under-rated "American Pop." His vocal talents were also used in "Hey Arnold! The Movie," "Family Guy," the cartoon series "Hey Arnold," "Batman," and the video games "Blade Runner," "Corpse Killer," "Lands of Lore 2" and "Emperor: Battle for Dune."
Mr. Schiavelli appeared in a number of horror, fantasy and sci-fi films. His genre credits include "Mr. Frost," "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," "The Return," "Batman Returns," "Lurking Fear" and "Lord of Illusions."
Among Mr. Schiavelli’s other notable film credits are Francis Ford Copolla’s "The Great Gatsby," Barbra Streisand’s comedy "For Pete’s Sake," Paul Mazursky’s wonderful films "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" and "An Unmarried Woman," Richard Lester’s under-rated sequel "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days," "Night Shift" and "Death to Smoochy." His many TV guest appearances include such shows as "Starsky and Hutch," "Taxi," "Charlie’s Angels," "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Night Court," "Moonlighting," "MacGyver," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "The X-Files" and "Dharma & Greg."
JACK NORTH Died Dec. 26, 2005
Actor Jack North died at age 72. Mr. North appeared in numerous films and TV shows, many of which were filmed in his native Utah. Among his many credits are "Brigham City," "Halloween 5," "Touched By an Angel," "Revenge of the Ninja" and "Fast Getaway."
LINDA LEIGHTON Died Dec. 26, 2005
Actress Linda Leighton died of congestive heart failure at age 88. Ms. Leighton appeared in film and on TV for nearly 30 years using the stage name of Linda Johnson as well as her real name. She appeared in such films as "Strike Up the Band," "That Brennan Girl," "Jungle Goddess" and "The Threat." Her TV credits include "The Mod Squad," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "The Cisco Kid," "The Lone Ranger," "Perry Mason" and "The Gale Storm Show." She and Ms. Storm were high school friends in Texas.
DEE POLLOCK Died Dec. 27, 2005
Character actor Dee Pollock died at age 68. Mr. Pollock began his career as a child actor and continued working in film and TV until the early 1970s. Mr. Pollock then turned his life to poetry, music and devotion to the Hindu off-shoot Babajism. Mr. Pollock played Private Jonesy in the Clint Eastwood war/crime caper "Kelly’s Heroes." You may remember him as the guy that Don Rickles tries to convince to carry around the heavy .50 caliber machine gun after the bank-robbing soldier’s truck is blown up by an airplane. Other credits include "Beware, My Lovely," "It Grows on Trees," "Carousel," "Perry Mason," "Bonanza," "The Fugitive" and "The Outer Limits."
BONNIE CONSOLO Died Dec. 27, 2005
Bonnie Consolo got through life with courage and grace. She had to do it the hard way as she had no arms. Ms. Consolo was a motivational speaker. She was the subject of the 1975 Oscar nominated short subject documentary "A Day in the Life of Bonnie Consolo." Ms. Consolo died at age 67.
RITA TUCKETT Died Dec. 27, 2005
Actress Rita Tuckett died at age 96. Ms. Tuckett was a stage actress in Canada. Later in life she began working in film and TV. Her credits include "Agnes of God," "Police Academy 3," "Pushing Tin," "Love" and the TV mini-series "Stephen King’s Storm of the Century."
DR. SAM STETSON Died Dec. 27, 2005
Dr. Sam Stetson died of brain cancer at age 81. Mr. Stetson was a professor of Erotology and one of the foremost historians of erotic material. As a porn historian, Dr. Stetson was a mentor to such people as the late adult film director Jim Halliday. Sr. Stetson was a researcher on the documentary film "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes."
PATRICK CRANSHAW Died Dec. 28, 2005
Character actor Patrick Cranshaw died of natural causes at age 86. Mr. Cranshaw enjoyed a lengthy career in film and TV. He is best know for playing the old frat brother ‘Blue’ in Will Ferrill’s comedy "Old School." He had a hilarious death scene in the film where he dies of a heart attack while getting ready to wrestle two topless girls. In the film, Blue dies with a smile on his face. Mr. Cranshaw appeared in over 100 films and TV shows during his fifty-year career. His biggest roles came later in life. He was the demolition derby owner in Disney’s "Herbie: Fully Loaded." He also appeared in three of the "Air Bud" films. Mr. Cranshaw’s many credits include "Bonnie and Clyde," "Mars Needs Women," "Bandolero!," "Slumber Party ’57," "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," "The Gong Show Movie," "Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure," the film version of "The Beverly Hillbillies," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Ed Wood," "Best in Show" and "My Boss’s Daughter."
RICHARD DEANGELIS Died Dec. 28, 2005
Actor Richard DeAngelis died of congestive heart failure at age 73. The actor was also suffering from prostate cancer at the time of his death. Mr. De Angelis had a recurring role as Col. Raymond Foerster on the HBO TV series "The Wire." Mr. DeAngelis worked with director John Waters in "A Dirty Shame" and "Cecil B. Demented." Other credits include "Chances Are," "Being There," "First Monday in October," "The Man Who Wasn’t There" and "Men Don’t Leave." Mr. DeAngelis served his country in the US Navy during the Korean War.
CANDY TOXTON Died Dec. 28, 2005
Actress Candy Toxton died at age 80. Ms. Toxton was the former wife of both singer Mel Torme and actor Hal March. She appeared in a handful of films during the 1940s and 50s. Her best known film was the Film noir classic "Knock on Any Door." She appeared in the film under the name Susan Perry. The movie is best known for John Derek’s dialogue "Live fast, die young, have a good-looking corpse." Ms. Toxton’s other films include "Words and Music" and "The Kissing Bandit."
ANNE GREGORY Died Dec. 29, 2005
Anne Gregory, the widow of character actor James Gregory died at age 88. Mrs. Gregory was married to the renowned character actor for 58 years when he died in 2002. Mrs. Gregory was once a member of the singing group The Chordettes. The group appeared on several TV shows including "The Ed Sullivan Show." Their song "Mr. Sand Man" was featured in the opening credits of John Carpenter’s "Halloween." I am still trying to find out when exactly Mrs. Gregory sang with the group.
GEORGE HARRIS II Died Dec. 29, 2005
Actor George Harris II died at age 84. Mr. Harris worked on film and on Broadway. He played several roles in the original Broadway production of "The Great White Hope." Mr. Harris is probably best know for his cameo in the 1978 version of "Superman." Mr. Harris played patrolman Mooney, a New York police man who witnesses Superman’s first night at work. Patrolman Mooney walks into the police station and reports what he has witnesses. His sergeant thinks he has been drinking until, he himself sees a large yacht full of badguys that Superman has left on the street in front of the police station. The police sergeant says, "Mooney, the first bottle is on me. Let me get my hat." He also appeared in the police comedy "Cops and Robbers." Mr. Harris served his country in the armed forces during WWII.
ALAN ROLFE Died Dec. 29, 2005
Actor and historian Alan Rolfe died at age 97 of complications from a fall a few days before his death. Mr. Rolfe appeared in numerous British films and TV shows during the 1950s and 60s. Horror fans will remember him for his bit part in Michael Powell’s disturbing classic "Peeping Tom." He also worked on Powell’s excellent war film "The Pursuit of the Graf Spee." Mr. Rolfe also appeared in the TV shows "The Avengers," "Dixon of the Dock Green," "Z Cars" and "Suspense." Mr. Rolfe’s sister Lillian (also pictured at right) was a WWII hero. She was a spy who broadcast German troop movements from behind enemy lines in France. Ms. Rolfe was captured in 1944 and executed the following year at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Mr. Rolfe has also joined up to serve his country during WWII but was given a medical discharge shortly thereafter due to a weak heart. Mr. Rolfe and his family had been struck down during the great flu epidemic of 1918. Though he survived, it weakened his heart. Mr. Rolfe instead entertained the troops during WWII as a member of the Entertainments National Service Association, the British version of the USO. Mr. Rolfe was a respected London neighborhood historian. There are several audio interviews with Mr. Rolfe concerning life in London during the WWI era that can be accessed at the Museum of London website. Mr. Rolfe was also a noted genealogist who traced his own family back to the 1600s.
TERESA VICTOR Died Dec. 29, 2005
Actress Teresa Victor died at age 62. Ms. Victor was Leonard Nimoy’s assistant for nearly 20 years. She appeared in several films including "Star Trek II," "Star Trek III" and "Star Trek IV."
RONA JAFFE Died Dec 30, 2005
Writer Rona Jaffe died of cancer at age 74. Ms. Jaffe wrote the 1958 best-seller "The Best of Everything." The book told the story of four working girls in the big city. It was turned into a film starring Hope Lange, Diane Baker, Martha Hyer and model Suzi Parker. The film received Oscar nominations for Best Song and Best Costume Design. Ms. Jaffe also wrote the novel "Mazes and Monsters" based on the popular role playing game "Dungeons and Dragons." That novel was turned into a Made for TV movie starring Tom Hanks as a college student who takes the game way to seriously. Ms. Jaffe was the author of 16 books and numerous short stories. She also created The Rona Jaffe Foundation to encourage female writers.
JUANITA PHILLIPS Died Dec. 30, 2005
Juanita Phillips, once known as the exotic dancer Candy Barr died of pneumonia at age 70. Under the name Candy Barr, Ms. Phillips became a famous stripper in the 1950s and was an associate of Jack Ruby. The FBI questioned her about Ruby after he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Ms. Barr was reportedly a one-time girl friend of Los Angeles mob boss Mickey Cohen. While still a teenager, she was forced at gunpoint to appear in the famous 1951 adult film "Smart Alec." Ms. Barr did three-years of a fifteen year sentence for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana! She taught Joan Collins how to bump and grind as a technical advisor on the Henry Hathaway crime thriller "Seven Thieves." Ms. Phillips appeared in the nudie comedy "My Tail is Hot." She also appeared as herself in Gerard Damiano’s documentary "All About Sex." She also appeared in the Alex de Renzy documentary "A History of the Blue Movie."
DENNY LYNCH Died Dec. 30, 2005
Pilot Denny Lynch died of heart complications at age 70. Mr. Lynch had a lifelong love of flying. He got his pilot license 53 years ago. Mr. Lynch was respected as one of the foremost people in the aerial fire-fighting industry. Mr. Lynch was one of the stunt pilots on Steven Speilberg’s romancer "Always." The B-26s used in the film were Mr. Lynch’s also.
BILL DAWKINS Died Dec. 30, 2005
Maine actor Bill Dawkins died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 87. Mr. Dawkins worked as an actor and director in regional theaters in Maine and New York for many years. Mr. Dawkins and his wife Harriet played a married couple in the Oscar-nominated film "In the Bedroom."
SAM MAGDOFF Died Dec. 30, 2005
Animation pioneer Sam Magdoff died at age 90. Mr. Magdoff was the president of the commercial animation studio Elektra Films. Old-timers will remember the NBC Peacock. That 12-second animation was the product of Elektra Films. Many an animator worked for the company during the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Magdoff was on of the contributors to the book "Visual Scripting."
MARGARET THOMPSON Died Dec. 30, 2005
Director Margaret Thompson died at age 95. The Australian born director made a number of documentaries in England during WWII. The films were informational documentaries dealing with making do with what was available during the war. Her titles includes such classics as "Making a Compost Heap" and "Clamping Potatoes." Ms. Thompson directed one feature film, the 1953 comedy "Child’s Play." Ms. Thompson later worked as a casting director and coach of child actors. Ms. Thompson coached the juvenile actors Vincent Winters and Jon Whiteley in the 1953 film "The Little Kidnappers." Both children were awarded Honorary Oscars for their work in the film.
JOSEPH HECHT Died Dec. 31, 2005Actor/manager Joseph Hecht died of a stroke at age 85. Mr. Hecht appeared in a few films and TV shows including "Eight is Enough" and "My Friend Irma Goes West." He was married to actress Jean Kean, the second Trixie on "The Honeymooners." Mr. Hecht became his wife’s manager and did theater with her during their 30-year marriage. Mr. Hecht served his country in the military during WWII.