JERRY ZIMMER Died May 1, 2005
Pianist Jerry Zimmer died of leukemia at age 56. Mr. Zimmer appeared on TV in "Dynasty" and "The Love Boat."
BOB HUNTER Died May 2, 2005
Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter died of prostate cancer at age 63. Agree with his politics or not, you had to respect the fact that Bob Hunter put everything on the line for his beliefs. He placed his life in danger to stop whaling and seal hunts. Mr. Hunter and others placed themselves in small boats between the giant whaling ships and their prey. Mr. Hunter was a TV news reporter and ecology expert for such Canadian TV shows as "CityPulse," "Breakfast Television" and "CityTV."
RENEE FAURE Died May 2, 2005
French actress Renee Faure died of complications following surgery at age 86. Ms. Faure appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during her 60 year career. She was a highly respected stage actress in her native land. Among her best known films are "The Charterhouse of Parma," "Who Killed Santa Claus?," "Adorable Creatures" and "The President."
BAT LATIFF Died May 2, 2005
Malaysian actor Bat Latiff died of complications from a number of illnesses including diabetes and heart disease. He was 53. Mr. Latiff was a famous child actor in his native land. He won the Best Male Child Actor award at the 1960 Asia Film Festival for his work in the movie "Nujum Pak Belalang." Mr. Latiff became a choreographer as an adult. He was the founder of The Bat Latiff Dancers.
BRITNEY MADISON Died May 2, 2005
Budding porn star Britney Madison, real name Stacey Pfeiffer was killed in a one-car accident in her home town of Las Vegas. Ms. Madison and her friend Kyle Anderson were both killed when their car went off the road and flew more than 90 feet in the air. Both were 21-years-old. The buxom blond had worked for a number of adult video producers including Diabolic Video Productions, Hustler Video and Platinum X Pictures.
CURTIS JENKINS Died May 3, 2005
Propmaker Curtis Jenkins died three weeks shy of his 50th birthday. Mr. Jenkins worked on such films and TV shows as "Back to the Future," "Back to the Future II" and "Moonlighting." Mr. Jenkins was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, especially his two daughters.
LILA DULALI Died May 4, 2005
Indian actress Lila Dulali died at age 66 after a short illness. Mr. Dulali appeared in a number of Oriya language films during her career. Many were directed by Oriya director Nitai Palit. Her credits include "Kedar Gouri," "Kie Kahara" and the 1969 version of the oft-filmed "Bandhan."
EDWARD T. MCAVOY Died May 4, 2005
Production designer/art director Edward McAvoy died at age 55. Mr. McAvoy was nominated twice by the Art Director Guild for the Excellence in Production Design Award for his work on "Lansky" and "Push, Nevada." Mr. McAvoy’s production designer credits include "Wild Things," "Monster," "Ghost World" and the TV series "Nip/Tuck." He was the art director on "Con Air," "The Rock" and "Airheads." Mr. McAvoy worked his way up from scenic artist to assistant art director to art director and then production designer. He was a scenic artist on "Young Frankenstein," "The Towering Inferno," "All the President’s Men" and "Blade Runner" among others. "Ghost World" fans can spy Mr. McAvoy in the cameo role of Mr. Satanist during the early restaurant scene.
EDGAR PONCE Died May 5, 2005
Mexican TV actor Edgar Ponce was killed in a motorcycle accident while filming a TV commercial for a male striptease show. A car ran into Mr. Ponce and three other actors who were on motorcycles. The young actor had appeared in a number of TV series in his native land including "Salome."
ELISABETH FRASER Died May 5, 2005
Actress Elisabeth Fraser died of heart failure at age 85. Ms. Fraser was often typecasts as the blonde with a lot of sand in her character. She was best known for her role as Sgt. Joan Hogan on "The Phil Silvers Show." She was the perfect partner for Silver’s Sgt. Bilko. The series ran for three years in the late 1950s and can still be seen today in syndication. Ms. Fraser had an extensive film and TV career. She appeared in over 70 films and TV shows. Among her best known movie credits are "A Patch of Blue," "The Man Who Came to Dinner," "All My Sons," "Death of a Salesman," "Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed," "Seconds," "The Graduate" and "Tony Rome."
JUNE MACCLOY Died May 5, 2005
Actress June MacCloy died of natural causes at age 96. Ms. MacCloy appeared in several feature and short films during the 1930s. She retired in 1941 after her final film appearance in the Marx Brother’s film "Go West." Ms. MacCloy also acted on the stage, appearing in Flo Zeigfield’s final production. She appeared in three short films directed by actor turned director Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. Arbuckle was one of the top silent film comedians until the notoriety of a rape charge ruined his career. Even though her was acquitted, Mr. Arbuckle’s career was all but over. Ms. MacCloy’s career was also dodged with scandal. She was married four times in an age when such behavior was frowned upon. Ms. MacCloy’s credits include "June Moon," "Good Morning, Eve!" and "Niagara Falls." In "Go West" Groucho Marx delivered the famous line to Ms. MacCloy’s character "Ah Lullabelle, I didn’t recognize you standing up!"
HERB SARGENT Died May 6, 2005
Multi Emmy and WGA winning writer Herb Sargent died at age 81. For twenty years, Herb Sargent wrote for the hit TV series "Saturday Night Live." He was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, winning six. He also won six WGAs! Mr. Sargent lead the Writer’s Guild as president for 14 years. Other credits include "The Steve Allen Show," "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "Bye Bye Braveman," "The Dennis Miller Show" among others. Mr. Sargent served his country in the Pacific in the US Army Air Corp during WWII. He was the brother of screenwriter Alvin Sargent.
JOE GRANT Died May 6, 2005
Disney writer/animator/character designer/producer/director Joe Grant died 11 days before his 97th birthday. Mr. Grant was one cornerstones of the success of Walt Disney Studio in the 1930s and 40s. He was the story supervisor on the classics "Fantasia" and "Dumbo." Mr. Grant designed characters for such classics as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," "Pinocchio," "Mr. Toad," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," and the list goes on. Mr. Grant left Disney to start his own company. After a successful second career, he returned to Disney in the 80s and worked on "Pocahontas," "Alladin," "The Lion King," "Mulan," "Lorenzo" and "Fantasia 2000." In 1985 Mr. Grant received the Winsor McCay Award. It is one of the highest awards given to animators. The award is named after Winsor McCay, the creator of "Little Nemo." In 2001, the Los Angeles Film Critic’s Association bestowed a lifetime achievement award to Mr. Grant for his lasting contributions to the art of animation from the 1930s to infinity and beyond.
MARTHA MONTGOMERY Died May 9, 2005
Former actress and matriarch of one of Hollywood’s most musical families Martha Montgomery died of natural causes at age 84. Ms. Montgomery was the widow of Oscar-winning composer Alfred Newman. Newman died in 1970 and she remarried in 1998. She was also the mother of Oscar-nominated composers David and Thomas Newman, noted musician Maria Newman and the aunt of Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman. Ms. Montgomery was one of the Goldwyn Girls. She appeared in a dozen films during the late 30s and 1940s. Her film appearances include "Words and Music," "A Song is Born" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Ms. Montgomery retired from acting after marrying composer Newman.
STANLEY SILVERMAN Died May 9, 2005
TV writer Stanley Silverman died of natural causes at age 90. Mr. Silverman’s many credits include the TV series "Land of the Giants." "Flipper," "Sea Hunt," "Have Gun, Will Travel," "The Second Hundred Years," "The Secret Storm," "Another World," "The Green Hornet," "Sky King" and "The Farmer’s Daughter." Mr. Silverman was a frequent collaborator of producer Budd Schulberg.
OMAR KAVUR Died May 12, 2005
Award-winning Turkish writer/producer/director Omar Kavur died of lymph node cancer at age 61. Mr. Kavur’s work was recognized at film festivals around the world for his insightful take on the human condition. His work was nominated for or won prizes at the Venice Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival, the AFI Festival among others. He also had his work shown at Cannes. Mr. Kavur was educated in France and brought a European feel to his work.
MONICA ZETTERLUND Died May 12, 2005
Swedish singer/actress Monica Zetterlund died in an apartment fire at age 67. Ms Zetterlund was a world renowned jazz singer. Her singing voice led to roles in a number of films. She appeared in the Oscar nominated films "The Emigrants" and "The New Land." Both films were directed by Jan Troell. "The Emigrants" was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Foreign Film. Its sequel "The New Land" garnered a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination. Ms. Zettelund won back-to-back Best Actress Awards at the Swedish Guldbagge Awards for "The New Land" and "The Apple War." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
ZOILA CONAN Died May 12, 2005
1930s actress Zoila Conan died just short of her 102nd birthday! Ms. Conan appeared in several films during the 1930s including "Sensation Hunters" and the "Our Gang" short "The First Round-Up." Ms. Conan was also a stage manager and story analyst.
BRIAN WESLEY GREEN Died May 12, 2005
Disney animator Brian Wesley Green collapsed at his home in Texas and died. The cause is yet unknown. Mr. Green was a modeler on Disney’s "Fantasia 2000." He was also an assistant and character animator on several other Disney films. He animated the characters Baylene, the Brachiosaur voiced by Joan Plowright and Url, an Anklyosaur in "Dinosaur." In "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," Mr. Green animated Leviathan. Mr. Green also worked on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and Kangaroo Jack." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JERRY LUTHART Died May 12, 2005
Propmaker and construction foreman Jerry Luthart died at age 71. Mr. Luthart was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. Mr. Luthart was propmaker on the Johnny Depp film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." He was the construction foreman on a number of films including Martin Scorsese’s "Casino," "Paul Schrader’s "Hardcore" and Steven Spielberg’s "Hook." PTher credits include "Bandits" and "Hildago."
EDDIE BARCLAY Died May 13, 2005
French composer and record producer Eddie Barclay died of heart disease at age 84. Mr. Barclay produced records for such people as Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour. Mr. Barclay also composed music for several European films during the 1950s and 60s.
CRAIG MORRISON Died May 13, 2005
Coordinator and construction foreman Craig Morrison died eight days shy of his 53rd birthday. Mr. Morrison’s behind the scenes artistry graced such films as "White Men Can’t Jump," "The General’s Daughter," "Life is a House," "Dante’s Peak" and "Paulie." Mr. Morrison was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44.
PHIL KELLISON Died May 13, 2005
Visual effects whiz and stop-motion animator Phil Kellison has passed away. Mr. Kellison was one of the work-horses in the field of stop-motion animation. While many people know the names of Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen and Jim Danforth, there have been many others who did not receive screen credit, but who none-the-less made a large contribution to many well-known stop-motion animation films and TV shows. Phil Kellison is one of those unsung giants. He worked in Hollywood for 35 years. While animation fans will recognize the many films he worked on, Mr. Kellison may be best known for his TV commercial creations. The Pillsbury Doughboy, The Jolly Green Giant, Speedy Alka Seltzer and Mrs. Butterworth to name a few. Mr. Kellison ran the animation department at Cascade. The company developed and created numerous memorable visual effects for TV commercials. Mr. Kellison was a mentor and guru to a number of other animators including Jim Danforth and Denis Muren. He was also the supervisor of Coast Productions visual effects department. Mr. Kellison built some of the miniatures for Willis O’Brien’s "The Giant Behemoth." He supervised the process photography for Howard Anderson on Jim Danforth’s "Jack the Giant Killer." Mr. Kellison was one of the original animators on George Pal’s "Puppetoons" along with Ray Harryhausen, Wah Ming Chang, Willis O'Brien and others. At one time, Mr. Kellison owned the original armature of "King Kong." He presented it as a present to Disney animator Bob Burns of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" fame. Other films on which Mr. Kellison worked include "Dinosaurus," "Airplane II," "Deal of the Century" and "Discovery Bay."
MICHAEL CARSON Died May 14, 2005
Australian TV director/producer Michael Carson died of pancreatic cancer at age 57. Mr. Carson worked his way up through the ranks. He began his career as a stage-hand in am Australian TV station. Through the years he moved up from 2nd AD to 1st AD to director. He is best known for his powerful TV mini-series "Scales of Justice." He had been voted an Accreditation Award by the Australian Screen Director’s Association. The award was scheduled to be presented at the 2005 ceremony in October, but Mr. Carson passed before he could be honored.
MARK ESTRIN Died May 14, 2005
Screenwriter turned winery owner Mark Estrin died complications from a brain tumor at age 57. Mr. Estrin wrote the TV movies "Bare Essentials" and "Warm Hearts. Cold Feet." He went into partnership with producer Carroll Kemp to found the Red Car Wine Company.
ED KELLEHER Died May 14, 2005
Horror movie screenwriter Ed Kelleher died at age 61. Mr. Kelleher was a journalist, film critic, playwright and screenwriter. His film credits include several B-movie cult classics. My favorite of his films is the truly awful "Shriek of the Mutilated." What a title! The story is of a group of college students who run across a Yetti with a taste for blood. Another one of Kelleher’s films featuring a great title and bad acting is "Invasion of the Blood Farmers." Blood, boobs and bad acting. What more can you ask for? Other credits include "Lurkers," "Prime Evil" and "Voodoo Dolls." Mr. Kelleher was a Rock journalist for "Creem" and "Hit Parader." He was also a film critic and editor for the magazine "Film Journal Intl." He was the nephew of writer/producer Martin Mooney.
JIMMY MARTIN Died May 14, 2005
Bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin died of bladder cancer at age 77. Mr. Martin was a member of "The Blue Grass Boys" and "The Shunny Mountain Boys." He was one of the most energetic performers in a usually staid bunch. His life was the subject of the documentary "King of Bluegrass: The Life and Times of Jimmy Martin." He also appeared in the documentary "High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music." Mr. Martin acted in two dozen films during the 1940s and 50s. His credits include "Four Jills in a Jeep," "The Dalton’s Women," "King of the Bullwhip" and "The Black Lash."
MICHAEL MCLEAN Died May 14, 2005
Casting director Michael McLean died of cancer at age 63. Mr. McLean worked as a casting director on nearly 50 films and TV shows. He helped match actors to roles in such films as "The Sound of Music," "The Boston Strangler," "Patton," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," the original version of "Vanishing Point," "Love at First Bite," "Rocky II" and "The Osterman Weekend." Mr. McLean later moved into personal management. His clients included Dennis Hopper.
MAHIPAL Died May 15, 2005
Hindi actor Mahipal died of a heart attack at age 86. Mahipal appeared in dozens of films in India. He played the lead in the fantasy "Alladin and the Wonderful Lamp." He also starred in "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves." Mahipal acted in a number of Hindi religious films including "Sampurna Ramayan," from which this still was taken.
NATALYA GUNDAREVA Died May 15, 2005
Award-winning Russian actress Natalya Gundareva died of a stroke at age 57. Ms. Gundareva suffered a stroke several years ago. She was in a coma for a short time and had suffered ill-effects from the stroke until her death. Ms Gundareva was a noted stage and film actress in her native land. In addition to her many awards for her stage work, Ms. Gundareva won the Nika for Best Actress for her work in the film "Sobachiy Pir." The Nika is the Russian equivalent of the US Oscar. She also won the Best Actress Award at the Montreal World Film Festival in 1990 for the same film. Ms. Gundareva appeared in over 50 films since 1970.
ZINA PROVENDIE Died May 15, 2005
Teacher and actress Zina Provendie died of pneumonia at age 91. Ms. Provendie was a respected drama teacher. She had a lengthy stage career as well as appearing in several early TV series. Her film and TV credits include "All the Fine Young Cannibals," "The Badlanders," "Gunsmoke," "77 Sunset Strip" and "The Real McCoys."
VINCE VIVERITO Died May 16, 2005
Actor Vince Viverito died of brain cancer at age 62. Mr. Viverito was a noted stage actor in Chicago who also worked in film and TV. He did guest spots on the great TV series "The Sopranos" and "Crime Story." Mr. Viverito’s other credits include Brian De Palma’s "The Untouchables," "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," "Mail Order Bride," "Law & Order," "Hill Street Blues" and "Hunter."
BOB KAISER Died May 16, 2005
Bob Kaiser, the head color timer for Technicolor labs died of a heart attack at age 67. A color timer works with a film’s cinematographer to insure that the director achieves the look he or she wants. The color timer works in the lab to correct and balance the color of a movie. Mr. Kaiser helped a number of noted directors get the look they wanted. He had over 80 film credits during his career. Mr. Kaiser’s film credits include "2010," "The Rocketeer," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Pelican Brief," "Forrest Gump," "Dolores Claiborne," "Casino," "Nixon," "Armageddon," "Space Cowboys," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Seabiscuit."
FRANK GORSHIN Died May 17, 2005
Frank Gorshin never failed to make me laugh. For me, Frank Gorshin was the real reason to watch the campy TV series "Batman." His Riddler is one the most memorable characters in TV history. Jim Carrey’s manic take on the frenzied badguy paled in comparison to Frank Gorshin’s Emmy nominated take on Batman’s arch foe. I remember sitting in a motel room in Nashville with my five younger brothers and sisters watching the original "Where the Boys Are" on the CBS late movie. The scene in which Frank Gorshin falls into a large aquarium and mugs for the camera as he swims drunkenly around had all of us busting a gut in laughter. I remember seeing him do stand up and song and dance on a variety of TV talk shows during the 1960s. The man was a natural funnyman. It is with great regret that I was unable to see Mr. Gorshin last month in Memphis where he performed his one-man tribute to George Burns: "Say Goodnight, Gracie." Frank Gorshin died of pneumonia at age 71. In addition to his Emmy nomination for "Batman," Mr. Gorshin received a second nomination for a guest appearance during the last season of the original "Star Trek." Frank Gorshin appeared in over 150 films and TV shows during a career that began when he was 17 years old. Another one of my fond childhood memories is of the cheesy 1950s sci-fi film "Invasion of the Saucer Men." Frank Gorshin provided the comic relief. Thanks for the laughs and memories.
EILIF NILSEN Died May 17, 2005
Veteran prop maker Eilif Nilsen died at age 70. The I.A.T.S.E. Local 44 member became a prop maker for Universal Studios beginning in the 1970s.
STELLA ZAZVORKOVA Died May 18, 2005
Acclaimed Czech actress Stella Zazvorkova died of a heart attack at age 83. Mr. Zazvorkova played a major supporting role in the 1996 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner "Kolya." She was nominated for the Czech Lion Award for Best Supporting actress in that same film. Ms. Zazvorkova won the Best Actress Lion Award in 2001 for her work in "Babi Leto." She also received a lifetime achievement award this year for her contribution to the Czech film industry. Ms. Zazvorkova appeared in over 60 films during her lengthy career.
HENRY CORDEN Died May 19, 2005Actor Henry Corden died of emphysema at age 85. Mr. Corden was the second actor to do the voice of Fred Flintstone. Mr. Corden took over the role in 1977 when actor Allen Reed died. Although he did many voice roles, Mr. Corden also did live action work. He appeared in over 200 films and TV shows. Mr. Corden’s film credits include "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "The Asphalt Jungle," "Viva Zapata!," "I Confess," "The Egyptian" and "The Ten Commandments." He appeared in numerous TV series including "I Dream of Jeannie," "Police Story," "Welcome Back Kotter," "Hogan’s Heroes," "Get Smart," "The Monkees" and "Dragnet." Mr. Corden’s claim to fame though was as the voice of Fred Flintstone. He lent his vocal talents to other animated series such as "The Simpsons," "Josie and the Pussycats," "Jonny Quest," "Atom Ant" and "The Smurfs."
CARINA STEPHENSON Died May 19, 200517-year-old British teen Carina Stephenson committed suicide. Ms. Stephenson and her family took part in the Australian reality TV series "The Colony." "The Colony" had contestants live life similar to the convicts and settlers who founded Australia over 200 years ago. The series had already aired in Australia, but was set for broadcast in the UK later this month. The teen had recently revealed to her family that she was gay. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
RICHARD LEWINE Died May 19, 2005
Emmy-winning producer Richard Lewine died at age 94. Mr. Lewine won an Emmy for producing the 1965 Barbra Streisand TV special "My Name is Barbra." He worked with Julie Andrews when he produced the 1957 TV version of "Cinderella." Other credits include Noel Coward’s 1956 teleplay "This Happy Breed" and Leonard Bernstein’s "The Young People’s Concerts."
LINDA MARTINEZ Died May 19, 2005
Composer Linda Martinez committed suicide at age 29. The child prodigy turned award-winning composer lost her lengthy battle with depression. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends. Ms. Martinez began playing piano at age 4! In 2003, Ms. Martinez won the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers Competition Grand Prize. She won the award for her new score to the 1925 Jackie Coogan silent film "The Rag Man." Ms. Martinez was presented the award by Oscar-winning composer Elmer Bernstein with whom she is pictured at right. Ms. Martinez scored a number of films and TV shows. She was the house keyboardist on "The Kenan Ivory Wayens Show" and toured with Destiny’s Child. Ms. Martinez worked closely with multi-Emmy-winning composer and mentor Laura Karpman on a number of Ms. Karpman’s film and TV scores. She was also a spokesperson for Yamaha keyboards. Her association with Yamaha dated back nearly 20 years. An amazing feat considering Ms. Martinez was only 29 years old. Ms. Martinez film and TV credits include the TV remake of "Carrie," "Lives of the Pharaohs," "Catching Kringle," the silent film "Exit Smiling," "Boy Next Door" and "Living Edens." Depression is an insidious disease. It kills right under the noses of loved ones who are unaware of the danger. Depression cares not if you have the whole world in the palm of your hand or if you are barely surviving. As one who survived the battle, all I can say is get help and don’t lose sight of tomorrow.
MARY JANE COLE Died Mar. 19, 2005
Inker Mary Jane Cole died at age 86. Ms. Cole worked for a number of studios during her 29-year career. The I.A.T.S.E. Local 839 member did artwork for Disney, Hanna-Barbera and Ralph Bakshi among others.
STEPHEN ELLIOT Died May 20, 2005
Tony Award nominated actor Stephen Elliot died of congestive heart failure at age 86. Mr. Elliot had successful careers on Broadway, in film and TV. He was nominated for a Tony for his work in the 1967 production of "Marat/Sade." I remember Mr. Elliot beast as the amoral murderer J.J. Cord in the 1981 cult classic "Cutter and Bone." Mr. Elliot was the epitome of evil arrogance in the final scene with John Heard and Jeff Bridges. Mr. Elliot was also memorable in another 1981 film "Arthur." He appeared in nearly 120 films and TV shows. Newer audience may remember him best for his recurring role as a judge on "Chicago Hope." Among Mr. Elliot’s many credits are "Beverly Hills Cop," "Young Joe, The Forgotten Kennedy," "Death Wish," "Pueblo," "The Hospital," "As the World Turns," "Hotel," "St. Elsewhere," "Falcon Crest" and Shelly Duvall’s "Faerie Tale Theater."
JD CANNON Died May 20, 2005
I know it is an exaggeration but I think character actor JD Cannon appeared in every movie and TV show made during the 60s and 70s. In truth, his list of credits is not quite that extensive, but he was one of the more memorable character actors working during that era. Actor JD Cannon died at home at age 83. Among his 120 film and TV credits were several memorable roles. He played Chief of Detectives Peter Clifford on the long-running hit TV series "McCloud" opposite Dennis Weaver. In the classic TV series "The Fugitive," Mr. Cannon played the cowardly neighbor of Dr. Richard Kimball who finally cleared Kimball of his wife’s murder in the high rated final two episodes of the series. He was also part of the fine ensemble of actors playing supporting roles as prisoners in the classic film "Cool Hand Luke." Other credits include "Beyond Witch Mountain," "Death Wish II," "Scorpio," "Law & Order," "Murder, She Wrote," "Alias Smith and Jones," "The F.B.I.," "Gunsmoke," "The Invaders," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "12 O’clock High," "Rawhide," "The Wild, Wild West," "Combat!," "The Untouchables" and "Wagon Train." Mt. Cannon served his country as a member of the US Army during WWII.
HARRIET WHITE MEDIN Died May 20, 2005
Actress Harriet White Medin died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease, a stroke and other illnesses. Ms. Medin was an American ex-patriot actress who worked in the post-WWII Italian film industry. Ms. Medin worked as an actress and voice coach to Italian actors. Horror fans know her best for her work with Italian master director Mario Bava. Ms. Medin appeared in some of Bava’s best films: "Black Sabbath," "The Whip and the Body" (pictured at right) and "Blood and Black Lace." Not all of her work in Italy was in the horror genre. She appeared in "Quo Vadis?," "La Dolce Vita" and Rossellini’s "Paisan." She returned to the US in the late 1960s and continued her career in American films and TV shows. She appeared in John Landis’s directorial debut "Schlock." Cult movie fans may remember her as Thomasina Paine in "Death Race 2000." Other credits include "The Witches of Eastwick," "Blood Beach" and "The Terminator."
HOWARD MORRIS Died May 21, 2005
"It’s me! It’s Me! It’s Ernest T!" Though he appeared in over 150 films and TV shows and also directed a number of films and TV episodes, Howard Morris was best known for appearing a hand-full of episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show." I was shocked to discover that Morris’s rock-throwing town crazy Ernest T. Bass appeared in so few episodes during the show’s eight year run. Howard Morris died at age 85. Mr. Morris did it all. He wrote, directed, produced and acted. He started his career working with Sid Caesar in the classic TV series "Your Show of Shows." He later performed and wrote for Caesar’s follow-up series "Caesar’s Hour."
Howard Morris appeared in several Mel Brooks films: "High Anxiety," "Life Sucks" and "History of the World: Part I." He also had a funny bit part in "Splash." Other live action acting credits include "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "The Twilight Zone," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Trapper John," "Baywatch," "The Nutty Professor" and "The Munster’s Revenge." Howard Morris was a gifted voice actor. He played Gopher in several "Winnie the Pooh" cartoons. Likewise, he was the voice of Jughead in "Archie," the voice of "Atom Ant," the voice of "Beetle Bailey" and many, many others.
Mr. Morris was also a gifted director of comedies. His directing credits include the feature films "Who’s Minding the Mint?," "With Six You Get Eggroll" and Jackie Gleason’s "Don’t Drink the Water." Mr. Howard did most of his directorial work on TV. He directed the pilot episode of "Get Smart," 14 episodes of "Hogan’s Heroes," "Gomer Pyle," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Andy Griffith Show," "Love American Style" and "One Day at a Time."
BILL DEARTH Died May 21, 2005
Character actor and dialect coach Bill Dearth died at age 58. Mr. Dearth seemed to specialize in playing cops. He portrayed law enforcement officers in such films and TV shows as Walter Hill’s "48 Hrs.," "The Glass Shield," "Beverly Hills 90210," "Matlock," "Wes Craven’s Chiller" and "The Loneliest Runner." Other credits include "Marathon Man," "Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "CSI." Mr. Dearth was an avid body builder. He was a dialect coach and counted Nick Nolte among his students.
ELAINE LEVINE Died May 21, 2005
Elaine Levine died after a lengthy battle with cancer. Ms. Levine had the distinction of being Alfred Hitchcock'’ secretary! Ms. Levine was also assistant to Columbia Executive Gordon Stulberg. One of Mr. Levine'’ brothers is "Cat Ballou" director Eliot Silverstein.
THURL RAVENSCROFT Died May 22, 2005
Renowned voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft died of prostate cancer at age 91. He was the voice of Tony the Tiger in the long running series of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials. Tony the Tiger was just one of many animated characters voiced to life by Mr. Ravenscroft. He sang "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," in the TV classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." He had a long assoociation with Walt Disney. Both his singing and talking voices were used in "Dumbo," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Sleeping Beauty," "One Hundred and One Dalmations," "Mary Poppins," "Cinderella," "Lady and the Tramp," "The Sword in the Stone," "The Aristocats" and "The Jungle Book." He also was the Master of Ceremonies at a number of Disneyland events including the 1955 opening day. Other credits include "The Brave Little Toaster" and its two sequels, "The Music Man," "It Happened at the World’s Fair," "The Cat in the Hat," "Horton Hears a Who," "Snoopy Come Home," "The Hobbit" and "Superior Duck." Mr. Ravenscroft served his country during WWII.
CICELY PAGET-BOWMAN Died May 23, 2005
British stage actress Cicely Paget-Bowman died at age 97. Ms. Paget-Bowman enjoyed a lengthy stage career in England. She trod the boards for nearly 50 years. Ms. Paget-Bowman later transistioned into films and TV, but was best known for her stage work. Her film and TV credits include "The Trials of Oscar Wilde," "The Man Who Never Was," "The Miniver Story," "The Forsythe Saga," "Z Cars," "Danger Man," "Fabian of the Yard" and "Hadleigh." Ms. Paget-Bowman served her country as a nurse and ambulance driver for the British Army’s airborne commandos during WWII.
ISMAIL MERCHANT Died May 25, 2005
Oscar-nominated producer/director Ismail Merchant died at age 68 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Merchant and business partner James Ivory were the core of one of the most successful film companies in history. Merchant Ivory Productions. Although Mr. Merchant occasionally directed, he was usually the man who produced while James Ivory directed. Ismail Merchant produced films garnered a multitude of awards and nominations. His films received an impressive ten Oscars and another twenty Oscar nominations and eight BAFTAs with another thirtysix BAFTA nominations! Mr. Merchant was personally nominated for four Best Picture Oscars and four Best Picture BAFTAs, winning two BAFTAs. Whether making a period piece or contemporary drama, an Ismail Merchant film could be counted on for great acting, impeccable production design and costumes, stunning cinematography and of course, great direction by James Ivory. My first exposure to their work was the Fatty Arbuckle inspired "The Wild Party" with Raquel Welch and James Coco. It is one of their lesser films, but the seeds of things to come where already apparent in the 1975 film. Among Mr. Merchant’s many films are "The Europeans," "Jane Austen in Manhattan," "Quartet," "The Bostonians," "A Room with a View," "Maurice," "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge," "The Ballad of the Sad Café," "Howards End," "The Remains of the Day," "Jefferson in Paris" and "Le Divorce."
GRAHAM KENNEDY Died May 25, 2005
Graham Kennedy, Australia’s King of Comedy, died of pneumonia at age 71. If an American audience can imagine Johnny Carson, George Carlin and Ed Sullivan rolled into one person, then you might get a picture of the influence and impact Graham Kennedy had in his native land. For fifteen years, Mr. Kennedy ruled the airwaves as the host of the popular TV show "In Melbourne Tonight." Mr. Kennedy won nineteen Logie Awards, the Australian equivalent of the Emmy. He pushed the envelope with at times risque humor. In 1989 he commented that for a woman her age Queen Elisabeth II "didn’t have bad breasts!" Though he was known mainly for his TV work, Mr. Kennedy was also a very good character actor. He was part of a nice ensemble cast in Bruce Beresford’s social comedy "Don’s Party." He starred in the excellent, if somewhat overlooked Vietnam War film "The Odd Angry Shot." A young Bryan Brown played one of the soldiers under his command. Shifting focus from Vietnam to Cambodia, Mr. Kennedy did a nice supporting turn in Roland Joffe’s harrowing "The Killing Fields."
SUNIL DUTT Died May 25, 2005
The USA isn’t the only country in which an actor can make the jump to politics. The nation of India is mourning the loss of one of its favorite sons in both the world of entertainment and politics. Sunil Dutt died of cardiac arrest at age 75. Mr. Dutt became a major film star in the 1950s. He appeared in over 100 films and also directed occasionally. He starred in the 1958 Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee "Mother India." An added bonus from that film set, was that Mr. Dutt ended up marrying his leading lady, award-winning actress Nargis. She died of cancer in 1981. Their son Sanjay, is himself an award-winning actor in India. Sunil Dutt was a five-time member of India’s Parliament, having been elected the first time in 1984.
DOMINIC TROJANO Died May 25, 2005
Rock guitarist and composer Dominic Trojano died of cancer at age 59. The Italian born, naturalized Canadian was one of the most respected guitarist in the world of Rock, Blues and Jazz. Mr. Trojano replaced Joe Walsh as the lead guitarist of "The James Gang." He also replaced Randy Bachman as guitarist for "The Guess Who." Mr. Tojano was nominated for two Canadian Gemini Awards for his scores of the TV series "Night Heat" and "Diamonds." He scored nearly 20 films and TV shows including "Hot Shots." Mr. Trojano also produced the action film "Death by Dawn." He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
EDDIE ALBERT Died May 26, 2005
Oscar nominated actor Eddie Albert died of pneumonia at age 99. It didn’t matter if he was cast as the leading man, as a comedic foil, a dislikable coward or the badguy, Eddie Albert could do it all. He received two nominations as Best Supporting Actor for his work in "Roman Holiday" and "The Heartbreak Kid." Mr. Albert was also nominated for two Golden Globes and a BAFTA. He appeared in over 250 films and TV shows during a career that spanned seven decades. Mr. Albert actually appeared on the very first US TV broadcast. He appeared in an experimental TV broadcast in 1936 in which NBC and RCA applied for broadcasts licenses in New York.
Eddie Albert is probably best known for his role as Oliver Wendell Douglas in the hit TV show "Green Acres." Albert played a New York lawyer with a yen for the rural life. He drags his high maintenance wife played by Eva Gabor to Hooterville. The show ran for six years. Albert was the perfect foil for the antics of Ms. Gabor and the various country bumpkins who populated the series. My favorite of Mr. Albert’s TV series was "Switch," which costarred Robert Wagner.
He turned in three of his most memorable badguy roles under the eye of director Robert Aldrich. In the 1956 WWII film "Attack," you loved to hate Albert as the cowardly CO of a platoon that is killed in action due to his marred leadership. In Aldrich’s hit film "The Longest Yard" Albert played sadistic prison warden Hazen, a man bent on capturing a football championship for his team of prison guards. The next year he reteamed with Aldrich and "The Longest Yard" co-star Burt Reynolds in the misfire police drama "Hustle." Albert’s performance as the villain is one of the few interesting things in the film. He also showed his talent at playing insufferable people in the John Wayne cop drama "McQ."
Eddie Albert made his film debut in the 1938 film "Brother Rat." Two years later he appeared in the sequel "Brother Rat and a Baby." Among Mr. Albert’s notable film credits are "Oklahoma!," "The Teahouse of the August Moon," "The Sun Also Rises," "The Longest Day" and "Captain Newman M.D."
Though Mr. Albert occasionally played coward, he was in fact a real-life war hero. Mr. Albert served his country in the US Navy during WWII. He was awarded the Bronze Star for a series of 26 rescue missions during the bloody Battle of Tarawa. Mr. Albert risked his own life and rescued 70 US Marines. Mr. Albert was the widower of actress Margo, who died in 1985. He was also the father of actor Edward Albert and the father-in-law of actress Katherine Woodville. Mr. Albert was also an active environmentalist.
DANIEL SALES Died May 27, 2005
Film distributor and producer Daniel Sales died at age 46. Mr. Sales began producing independent films. He continued to produce films and expanded into distribution with such companies as Cinequanon, Interactive Film Sales and Boll KG. Mr. Sales producer credits include "House of the Dead," "Bloodrayne," "Woundings" and the Ed Wood scripted "I Woke Up Early the Day I Died." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JEAN NEGRONI Died May 28, 2005
French actor and theater director Jean Negroni died at age 84. Mr. Negroni was one of the most respected figures in the French theater. He was the founder and director of the theater Maison de la Culture André Malraux de Créteil. Founded in 1968, Mr. Negroni was its director until 1976. Mr. Negroni appeared in a number of movies in a film career that spanned 50 years. His best known film may be the classic short sci-fi film "La Jette." I had the pleasure of discovering "La Jette" as an undergrad student. Mr. Negroni narrates the unique film about a time traveler haunted by visions from his childhood. The film is composed of still photographs, with one brief moving exception in which a beautiful woman looks at the camera. "La Jette" was the inspiration for the great "Twelve Monkeys." Other credits include a 1980 TV version of "Les Liasions Dangereuses," an inferior 1965 version of "The Queen of Spades" and "Is Paris Burning?"
SHIRLEY EDER Died May 29, 2005
Former actress turned show business columnist Shirley Eder died of Alzheimer’s disease at age 85. Ms Eder started out as a stage actress. When her acting career didn’t gel, she turned to journalism, beginning a radio career at age 17. She hosted her own TV show, "Women Talk It Over" during the early 1950s. While in her 30s, Ms. Eder began writing for the Detroit Free Press. Her syndicated columns covered all aspects of the entertainment industry. Ms. Eder had small parts in "Palm Springs Weekend" and "C.C. and Company."
OSCAR BROWN JR. Died May 29, 2005
Composer/playwright Oscar Brown Jr. died of a bacterial infection at age 78. Mr. Brown released several influential jazz albums. He later wrote several musicals focusing on the Black experience in America. His musical play "Big Time Buck White" had a Broadway run and featured Muhammad Ali. Mr. Brown appeared in several films and TV shows. His credits include "Original Gangstas," "Up Against the Wall," "Brewster Place" and Roc."
LUCIANO ROSSI Died May 29, 2005
Italian character actor Luciano Rossi died of undisclosed causes at age 70. Mr. Rossi appeared in nearly 80 films during his career. He was a familiar face in both the Spaghetti Westerns and Italian Giallo films of the 1960s and 70s. He also appeared in a number of A-list films including Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar nominee "The Conformist" and Terrence Young’s "L’ Adventuriero." I remember Mr. Rossi best for his part in the Western comedy "My Name is Trinity." The slapstick Western starred Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer. The film spawned two sequels and several ‘in name only’ sequels. He also appeared in a number of the "Django" Spaghetti Westerns. Mr. Rossi’s other film credits include Tinto Brass’s sexploitation classic "Salon Kitty," "A Man Called Sledge" directed by Vic Morrow, "Confessions of a Sex Maniac" starring Farley Granger, "Emanuelle’s Revenge" and Lucio Fulci’s "City of the Living Dead."
JAIME MENDOZA-NAVA Died May 31, 2005
Composer Jaime Mendoza-Nava died at age 79. The Bolivian child prodigy was trained in music in some of the world’s most respected musical schools including Julliard. He was a composer for Disney Studios for much of his career. Mr. Mendoza-Nava’s work wasn’t limited to work for Disney though. He worked with B-movie producer Charles B. Pierce on seven films including "The Legend of Boggy Creek," "Bootleggers," "Gray Eagle" and "The Town That Dreaded Sundown." Among his many other credits are "Zorro," "The Mickey Mouse Club," "Handle With Care," the Ed Wood scripted "Orgy of the Dead," "Single Room Furnished," "Tomb of the Dead," "Aloha, Bobby and Rose," half of L.Q. Jones’s sci-fi cult classic "A Boy and His Dog," "The Boys in Company C" and "Vampire Hookers."
Renowned crytozoologist Loren Colman shared his memories of Mr. Mendoza-Nava with me: While I was writing my book, "Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America," I knew I had to attempt to get permission to quote the haunting lyrics tied to the eerie score from the movie "The Legend of Boggy Creek." So I spent days tracking down the creators of the music and the lines that drift through a film that has inspired so many to become involved in cryptozoology. I finally was given the name and phone number of the music's composer, Jaime Mendoza-Nava, and spent two wonderful afternoons talking to him about that music, and his friend, the late Earl E. Smith, who did the words. Mrs. Barbara Smith gave me and Paraview Pocket permission to use the lyrics in the book, but in the search I was given something very special, a few moments with a genius, Mr. Mendoza-Nava. I was saddened to read of the passing of Mr. Mendoza-Nava this morning, a man who truly understood how to send chills up the spines of movie-goers through the music he composed.
FRANK BARTON Died May 31, 2005
Writer/producer Frank Barton died at age 87. Mr. Barton wrote or produced a number of popular TV shows from the 1950s and 60s. He wrote for "The Invaders," "Judd For the Defense," "Peyton Place" and "Robert Montgomery Presents." Mr. Barton was the supervising producer of season two of "Hawaii 5-0." He also produced the Made for TV movie "Ransom for Alice."