MICHAEL PILLER Died Nov. 1, 2005
Emmy-nominated producer and writer Michael Piller died of head and neck cancer at age 57. Michael Piller was well known to millions of "Star Trek" fans around the world. He was the co-creator of "Star Trek Voyager" as well as the executive producer on that series and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." Mr. Piller shared an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nomination in 1987 for "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Mr. Piller also wrote the script for the feature film "Star Trek: Insurrection." Mr. Piller wrote over 20 scripts for the various "Star Trek" TV series. Along with his son Shawn, Michael Piller created the USA Network TV series "The Dead Zone." The father and son team also created and produced the family TV series "Wildfire." Mr. Piller also wrote for and co-produced the TV series "Simon and Simon" and "Miami Vice." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JEROME GOTTLER Death Announced Nov. 1, 2005
Writer/composer Jerome Gottler died at age 89. Mr. Gottler wrote the story for "Woman Haters," the very first of the short films "The Three Stooges" made for Columbia. Mr. Gottler later wrote "Sweet and Hot," one of the last of the Stooges shorts featuring Moe, Larry and Joe Besser. He also wrote two of the later "Bowery Boys" films. Mr. Gottler was the son of composer Archie Gottler and collaborated with his father on a number of songs. Mr. Gottler wrote for the TV series as "Circus Boy" (featuring future Monkee drummer Micky Dolenz) and "Racket Squad." Mr. Gottler served his country in the US Army Signal Corp during WWII.
JEAN CARSON Died Nov. 2, 2005
Actress Jean Carson died at age 80. Ms. Carson appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows. She may be best remembered for her numerous appearances on "The Andy Griffith Show." Sci-fi fans may remember Ms. Carson for her role in the classic "I Married a Monster From Outer Space." He film credits include the Blake Edwards’ films "Gunn" and "The Party." She appeared in the 1959 adaptation of Faulkner’s "The Sound and the Fury." Other credits include the original version of "Fun With Dick and Jane," "Warning Shot," "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," "Perry Mason," "The Untouchables," "Studio One" and "The Twilight Zone."
ALFRED SHAUGHNESSY Died Nov. 2, 2005
Emmy-nominated writer Alfred Shuaghnessy died at age 89. Mr. Shaughnessy was also a producer and director. He was the father of actor Charles Shaughnessy of "The Nanny" fame. Mr. Shaughnessy was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs." Mr. Shaughnessy produced and directed several films in the late 1950s including the Barbara Shelley horror film "Cat Girl." He directed the film "Brandy of the Parson," which starred his wife Jean Lodge.
SIMONE GRANT Died Nov. 2, 2005
Stage actress Simone Grant died after a five-year battle with breast cancer at age 44. Ms. Grant was an actress Off-Broadway, in regional theater as well as performing with the New York City Opera. Ms. Grant did voice work for a number of anime films and TV series including "Record of Lodoss War," "Space Travelers" and "Boogiepop Phantom." Ms. Grant was married to actor Michael Timoney with whom she is pictured at right. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
RICK RHODES Died Nov. 2, 2005
Multi-Daytime-Emmy-winning composer and song-writer Rick Rhodes died after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. Mr. Rhodes was 54 years old. Rick Rhodes was nominated for twenty seven Daytime Emmy awards and won six. His many credits include "The Guiding Light," "As the World Turns," "Days of Our Lives," "Entertainment Tonight," "Another World," "Malcolm in the Middle," "20/20," "Saturday Night Live," " Sesame Street," "Passions," "Access Hollywood," "Wild Things," "Mars Attacks!," "True Lies," "Family Ties," "Santa Barbara" and "Day by Day."
SIMON MUNTNER Died Nov. 3, 2005
Emmy-nominated writer Simon Muntner died of colon cancer at age 75. Mr. Muntner shared an Emmy nomination with Larry Gelbert for writing an episode of the hit TV series "M*A*S*H." Mr. Muntner wrote hundreds of episodes for numerous TV series. In addition to his work on "M*A*S*H," Mr. Muntner contributed episodes to such series as "Kung Fu," "Barney Miller," "Alice," "Mork and Mindy," "Different Strokes," "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Hunter."
PETER JOHL Died Nov. 3, 2005
Stage actor Peter Johl has died. Mr. Johl enjoyed a lengthy stage career, appearing on Broadway, in touring companies and off-Broadway productions for over 40 years. Mr. Johl played Dr. Jekyll’s manservant in the Broadway play "Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical." The play, which starred David Hasselhoff, was aired on TV in 2001. Mr. Johl acted on Broadway in "Luther," "Baker Street," "She Loves Me" and "Pousse Café."
GEOFFREY KEEN Died Nov. 3, 2005
British character actor Geoffrey Keen died at age 89. Mr. Keen may be best known for his role as Sir Frederick Gray in six James Bond films and as a voice actor in the animated series "James Bond Jr." He first played the Minister of Defense in "The Spy Who Loved Me." His other Bond films are "Moonraker," "For Your Eyes Only," "Octopussy," "A View to a Kill" and "The Living Daylights." Mr. Keen was the son of actor Malcolm Keen. His first wife was actress Hazel Terry. Mr. Keen appeared in over 120 films and TV shows. He appeared with fellow, future James Bond actor Bernard Lee as a military policeman in Carol Reed’s Film Noir classic "The Third Man." "The Third Man" was one of four films he made with director Reed. Other notable film credits include the 1950 version of "Treasure Island," "The Man Who Never Was," "Horrors of the Black Museum," "Sink the Bismark!," "Doctor Zhivago," "Taste the Blood of Dracula," "Cromwell," "Sacco and Vanzetti," "Doomwatch" and the landmark mini-series "QBVII." Mr. Keen served his country in the Medical Corp during WWII.
MILTON HOLLAND Died Nov. 4, 2005
World-class drummer Milton Holland died of kidney failure and Alzheimer’s Disease at age 88. Mr. Holland was a legendary studio musician who contributed to hundreds of albums by many leading artists including Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Bob Dylan praised his as "one of the greatest drummers in the world," while fellow percussionist Ringo Starr called him "a legend in his own time." In addition to his 50+ years as a studio musician, Mr. Holland contributed his talents to many notable films and TV shows. He was the man who scored Samantha’s nose twitch in "Bewitched." Tinker Bell’s tinkle in Disney’s classic "Peter Pan" was also the work of Milt Holland. His work may be heard on the soundtracks for the original version of "Around the World in Eighty Days," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The King and I," "West Side Story," "Bewitched" and Disney’s "Peter Pan." Director Walter Hill utilized Mr. Holland’s talents in his films "The Long Riders" and "Southern Comfort." Mr. Holland worked on the Mick Jagger vehicle "Performance." One of the reasons for Mr. Holland’s versatile range was his dedication to constantly educating himself concerning his craft. He studied in India for many years as well as going to Africa to also study drumming and rhythmic systems. One of Mr. Holland’s proudest achievements occurred outside the recording studio. Mr. Holland was instrumental in desegregating Los Angeles’s Professional Musician Union Local #47.
SHEREE NORTH Died Nov. 4, 2005
Actress Sheree North died from complications following surgery at age 72. The sexy actress began her film career as an alternate for reigning blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe. Ms. North was considered to have a more reliable work ethic. The sexy and versatile actress appeared in over 120 films and TV shows. My fondest cinematic memories of Ms. North came from her work with tough-guy director Don Siegel. Ms. North worked with Siegel in four of his best films. Those roles were evidence of Ms. North’s ability to remake herself as an actress. Following her early years as a Monroe clone, Sheree North shook off the studio imposed image and revealed the real actress within. Sure she was good in her early roles. She proved she could sing and dance with the best of them. However, in the 1960s and 70s, Ms. North showed us much more.
Don Siegel used Ms. North’s talent and incredible sex appeal for a variety of roles. She first worked with Siegel in the somewhat mediocre detective drama "Madigan." Ms. North and star Richard Widmark delivered the best performances in the film. My favorite Sheree North performance was as the forger in Siegel’s excellent crime caper "Charley Varrick." When it comes to on-screen romantic pairings, Walter Mathau and Sheree North may seem like an odd couple, but they pulled it off in "Charley Varrick." Ms. North had a wonderful cameo in Don Siegel’s classic Western "The Shootist." In John Wayne’s final film, Ms. North plays a wild west tramp who wants to cash in on her relationship with the dying shootist played by John Wayne. Her short role is a perfect portrait of a manipulative hussy out for themselves. She plays it sweet and then lets the claws out when she doesn’t get her way. Ms. North’s final film with Don Siegel was the under-rated political thriller "Telefon," which starred Charles Bronson. Ms. North played a sleeper agent sent by the Russian to carry out a terrorist attack. "Telefon" was Ms. North’s second on-screen pairing with Charles Bronson. The pair co-starred with Robert Duval in the 1975 hit thriller "Breakout." She worked with Elvis in "The Trougle With Girls." Ms. North’s other film credits include "Lawman" and "The Gypsy Moths" both with Burt Lancaster.
As good as her film work was, Sherre North was probably seen by more people during her successful TV career. She was a freguent guest star on many of the most popular TV shows during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. She played Ed Asner’s girlfriend on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Ms. North was Kramer’s mother on "Seinfeld." The list goes on. Thanks for the memories.
GRAHAM PAYN Died Nov. 4, 2005
Singer/actor/author Graham Payn died at age 87. Mr. Payn was a prodigy. The boy-soprano was discovered by British playwright Noel Coward when Payne was just 14-years-old. Mr. Payn was a noted actor on London’s West End stage as well as performing on Broadway. As an adult, he and Noel Coward became life partners. They stayed together for over 30 years, until the death of the noted playwright. Mr. Payn appeared with Mr. Coward in the original version of "The Italian Job." His other film credits include "The Boys in Brown," "The Tempest" and "Jig Saw."
JOHN FOWLES Died Nov. 5, 2005
Acclaimed British author John Fowles died at age 79 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Fowles was best known for his novel "The French Lieutenant’s Woman." Harold Pinter adapted the novel for the screen. The film was directed by Karel Reisz and starred Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. My favorite film adaptation of one of Mr. Fowles’ novels was William Wyler’s "The Collector." Samantha Eggar and Terence Stamp starred as the art student and her psychotically deluded kidnapper. "The Collector" was also filmed in 1986 as the Filipino movie "Prisoner of the Dark." One of Mr. Fowles most complex, and intriguing books was "The Magus." A must read. Mr. Fowles adapted his own book to the screen, but the results were less than spectacular. Anthony Quinn and Michael Caine starred. Take about a movie that needs to be made, or remade in this case! Mr. Fowles’ short story "The Last Chapter" was made into a short film starring Denholm Elliot. Sir Laurence Olivier starred in the BAFTA-nominated TV movie version of Mr. Fowles’ "The Ebony Tower." Mr. Fowles served his country in the Royal Marines.
DEREK LAMB Died Nov. 5, 2005
Oscar-winning short film producer Derek Lamb died of cancer at age 69. Mr. Lamb won the Best Short Subject Animated Oscar for the 1979 film "Every Child." The British born producer was the executive director of Canada’s Nation Film Board’s animation department for six years starting in 1976. He produced over 100 animated films during his career. A number of films Mr. Lamb produced earned Oscar and BAFTA nominations and wins for the directors and animators including "The Bead Game" (Oscar nomination), "Special Delivery" (Oscar win), "The Sweater" (BAFTA win) and "The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin" (Oscar nomination and BAFTA win for his wife, director Janet Perlman). Mr. Lamb directed a personal favorite: "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," which featured Burl Ives singing the silly favorite. Mr. Lamb was also the executive producer of the Emmy-nominated series "Peep and the Big Wide World."
LINK WRAY Died Nov. 5, 2005
Guitarist Link Wray died in his adopted home of Copenhagen, Denmark. The US born guitar virtuoso wrote and performed a number of influential instrumental hits including "Rumble," "Ace of Spades," "Comanche" and "Jack the Ripper." Link Wray’s biggest contribution to the world of rock music came through his invention: The Power Chord. A Power Chord is when the guitarist plays two notes in unison; a root note played that is harmonized with another note played a perfect 5th above or below the root note. When done correctly, the sound is fuller. Quentan Tarantino, along with a number of other directors has used Mr. Wray’s music to make his movies fuller. Link Wray’s artistry can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as "Pulp Fiction," "ID4," the remake of "Breathless," "Twelve Monkeys" and "Blow."
STEVEN LARNER Died Nov. 6, 2005
Award-winning cinematographer and documentary filmmaker Steven Larner died from injuries sustained in an accident at his family’s vineyard. Mr. Larner received a number of Emmy nominations and two ASC nominations for his cinematography. He directed the 1968 Oscar-nominated documentary "A Few Notes On Our Food Problem." Mr. Larner taught film at UCLA during the 1960s and caounted "The Doors" frontman Jim Morrison among his many students. Mr. Larner lensed many notable films and TV programs including Terrence Malick’s "Badlands," "The Student Nurses," "Roots," "The Buddy Holly Story," "Caddyshack," "Kent State," "World War III," "Twilight Zone: The Movie," "Fatal Vision," "North and South" and the TV series "Beauty and the Beast." Ironiacally, Mr. Larner was involved in two films which were plagued by fatal helicopter accidents. Mr. Larner was the cinematographer on the John Landis segment of "Twilight Zone" The Movie" in which Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed. The year before, Mr. Larner was the cinematographer on the Made for TV movie "World War III." During that film’s production, director Boris Sagal, father of actors Katey, Joe, Jean and Liz Sagal, was killed when he walked into the tail rotor of the helicopter he had just exited. Mr. Larner served his country in the US Army during the Korean War.
FRANCESCO DE MASI Died Nov. 6, 2005
Prolific composer and arranger Francesco De Masi died of cancer at age 75. A brief survey of Mr. De Masi’s film credits makes one wonder if anyone else scored Italian movies during the 1960s. Sure, that’s an exageration, but Mr. De Masi did score over 200 films and TV shows during his career. His work is familiar to fans of Spaghetti Westerns, Giallos, Sword and Sandal epics and horror films. Mr. De Masi was the music arranger on the Chuck Norris film "Lone Wolf McQuade." He was the conductor for the horrible movie shot in my home town "Making the Grade." Mr. De Masi’s composer credits include "The Ghost," "Sartana Does Not Forgive," "Lesbo" and Lucio Fulci’s hate-filler and totally unredeemable "The New York Ripper."
HARRY THOMPSON Died Nov. 7, 2005
BAFTA-winning producer Harry Thompson died of cancer at age 45. Mr. Thompson won the BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Program or Series for the long-running comedy show "Have I Got News For You." He also won the British Animation Award for Best Comedy for the 2003 series "Monkey Dust." Mr. Thompson’ other credits include "Da Ali G Show" and "Harry Enfield and Chums." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ROBERT O’BRIEN Died Nov. 7, 2005
Writer Robert O’Brien died at age 87. Mr. O’Brien wrote for TV and film. His film credits include "Lady on a Train," "The Lemon Drop Kid" and "Lucky Me." Mr. O’Brien was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award for Best Musical for the 1959 Bing Crosby/Debbie Reynolds film "Say One for Me." Mr. O’Brien worked more often in TV. He became Lucille Ball’s main writer during her later TV series. Mr. O’Brien’s TV credits include "Here's Lucy," "The Lucy Show," "The Real McCoys," "Burke's Law," "My Three Sons" and "The Dick Powell Show."
ALEKOS ALEXANDRAKIS Died Nov. 8, 2005
Greek actor Alekos Alexandrakis died of cancer at age 77. Mr. Alexandrakos appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during a career that dated back to the 1940s. He was also a respected stage actor. Mr. Alexandrakis’ biggest international hit was the 1955 film "Stella," which co-starred Melina Mercuori. The film’s director was nominated for a Golden Palm at Cannes.
DAVID WESTHEIMER Died Nov. 8, 2005
Novelist and screenwriter David Westheimer died of heart failure at age 88. Among Mr. Westheimer’s books were "Von Ryan’s Express" and "My Sweet Charlie." Both were turned into successful films. The P.O.W. escape actioner "Von Ryan’s Express" starred Frank Sinatra and an all-star British cast. Mr. Westheimer’s inspiration for the novel came from his own personal experiences. He was a Captain in the US Army-Air Corp during WWII and spent three years in both Italian and German P.O.W. camps. "My Sweet Charlie" was turned into one of the best Made for TV movies of 1970. The film garnered eight Emmy nominations and won three including an Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role by Patty Duke. Lamont Johnson won a DGA award for his direction. Mr. Westheimer wrote and directed for the TV series "Airwolf." Thanks for your service to our country.
CAROLA HOHN Died Nov. 8, 2005
Prolific German actress Carola Hohn died at age 95. Ms. Hohn’s film career stretched back to the silent films of the 1920s! Ms. Hohn was also a successful stage actress. German audiences watching American films heard Ms. Hohn provide the dubbed voice for such actresses as Katherine Hepburn and Maureen O’Hara. Her life and career was the subject of the 2000 documentary "Never Stop Beginning: The UFA Star Carola Hohn." Among her more than 100 film and TV credits are "Night Crossing," "Viktor and Viktoria," "Charley’s Aunt" and the horror film "Schlos Vogelod."
EDWARD ANCONA Died Nov. 8, 2005
Color consultant Edward Ancona died of a heart attack at age 84. Mr. Ancona was the man whose work lead to standardized colors for network television. Mr. Ancona won a technical Emmy award for his contributions to the TV series "Bonanza." He also worked "The High Chaparral" and "The Little House on the Prairie."
AVRIL ANGERS Died Nov. 9, 2005
British comedy legend Avril Angers died of pneumonia at age 87. Ms. Angers enjoyed a 73-year career! She began her stage career while still a young teen. Ms. Angers appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows as well as her extensive stage and music hall career. Among her notable film roles are "The Family Way" with Hayley and John Mills, "The Best House in London," "There’s a Girl in My Soup" with Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn and "Staircase" with Rex Harrison and Richard Burton." Among Ms. Angers’ TV credits was a regular role during the second season of the long-running "Coronation Street," "All Creatures Great and Small" and "Are You Being Served?" During WWII, Ms. Angers joined the Entertainment National Service Association, the British version of the USO and entertained combat troops in Africa.
MARIE DAVIS Died Nov. 9, 2005
Visual effects producer and editor Marie Davis died of breast cancer at age 47. Ms. Davis’ credits include "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," "Zathura," "Batman Forever" "Spider-Man 2," "Star Trek: Generations,"The Polar Express," the remake of "Planet of the Apes," "The Matrix Reloaded," "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and "Titanic." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
MOUSTAPHA AKKAD Died Nov. 11, 2005
Producer Moustapha Akkad was the latest film industry victim of a terrorist attack. The executive producer of the "Halloween" horror film series was one of at least 56 people killed in an al qaeda suicide-bomb attack in Amman Jordon on November 9th. Mr. Akkad’s 34-year-old daughter Rima died Wednesday of her injuries sustained in the blast. The father and daughter were part of a group attending a wedding ceremony. Three hotels were struck by the al qeada terrorists. As happened in the 9/11 attacks, which took the lives of a cross-section of humanity, this latest attack shows that the enemy has no regard for the race, sex or religion of their victims. Mr. Akkad was killed at an Islamic wedding! Mr. Akkad first achieved international notice in 1976 when he produced and directed the religious historical epic "Mohammad: Messenger of God." Mr. Akkad wished to educate the world about the origins of Islam. In keeping with Islamic law, Mohammad himself was never seen or heard in the film! Akkad showed himself to be an excellent director in that he was able to tell the story of Mohammad without actually showing him, and also revealing his flair for the epic film genre. Anthony Quinn starred as Mohammad’s uncle Hamza. The photo at right is of director Akkad and his star Anthony Quinn on location. Mr. Akkad reteamed with Anthony Quinn for the 1981 epic "The Lion of the Desert." Though the movie was well made, it did poorly at the box office. Mr. Akkad holds a place near and dear to the hearts of horror movie fans. He was the only person connected to all eight films in the "Halloween" series. Mr. Akkad is the fourth person linked with the "Halloween" series this year. Producer Debra Hill (Halloween I, II, III) died in March, actor Dan O’Herlihy (Halloween III) died in February and producer Joseph Wolf (Halloween II, III) died in September. Prayers of comfort for the families and loved ones of those who were murdered in this cowardly attack.
LORD LICHFIELD Died Nov. 11, 2005
Celebrity photographer Lord Lichfield died of a stroke at age 66. Lord Lichfield was the first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. He was the official photographer of the wedding of Lady Diana and Price Charles. Lord Lichfield photographer many of the most famous celebrities of the past 40 years. He appeared as himself in a number of TV shows and films. He appeared in "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." His film credits include the 1995 thriller "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" (not the Rockumentary), "Aspel & Company," "Keeping Up Appearances" and "The Truth About Boarding Schools."
PAMELA DUNCAN Died Nov. 11, 2005
Actress Pamela Duncan died of a stroke at age 73. Ms. Duncan appeared in nearly 70 films and TV shows during the 1950s and 60s. She was best known for her role in Roger Corman’s cheapie horror film "Attack of the Crab Monsters." The movie co-starred Russell Johnson of "Gilligan’s Island" fame. Going from one end of the spectrum to the other, Ms. Duncan appeared in the Oscar-nominated short documentary "Curtain Call," which dealt with former actors living in the Actor’s Fund Home in New Jersey. Ms. Duncan also starred in Roger Corman’s "The Undead." Both films were made in 1957. Ms. Duncan’s final feature film appearance was in the Elvis flick "Girls! Girls! Girls!"
KEITH ANDES Died Nov. 11, 2005
Actor Keith Andes died of an apparent suicide at age 85. The handsome and musically talented actor was relegated to second lead roles during the 1950s and 60s. Roles became fewer and fewer during the 1970s and he retired. Though Mr. Andes was a talented singer, Hollywood was more interested in his handsome face and muscular build. He appeared in a number of notable films including "The Farmer’s Daughter," "Away All Boats," "Winged Victory," "Clash By Night," "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "…And Justice for All." Mr. Andes made guest appearances on many TV series including "Playhouse 90," "Sea Hunt," "Have Gun-Will Travel," "Perry Mason," "The Lucy Show," "The Outer Limits," "I Spy," "Canon" and "The Streets of San Francisco." Mr. Andes passed his musical talent on to his son Mark Andes. I had the pleasure of seeing the younger Mr. Andes perform live as a member of the band Jo Jo Gunne back when I still had a full head of long hair and a flat stomach. Keith Andes served his country in the US Army-Air Corp during WWII. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
EDUARDO GUERRERO Died Nov. 13, 2005
Former WWE wrestling champion Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room in Minneapolis, Minnesota. No cause of death has been determined for the 38-year-old WWE star, but the police did say that there appeared to be no foul play. Mr. Guerrero appeared in over 100 WWF, WCW and WWE productions including "Wrestlemania," "Smack Down" and "Raw is War." Mr. Guerrero was a role model in that he shared openly about his past problems with drugs and alcohol. He was the subject of the documentary "Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story." No matter what the autopsy reveals as the cause of death, Mr. Guerrero spoke out about his trials and errors and victories in the battle against substance abuse. Those lessons he passed on to his young fans will live on. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
AL FRAZIER Died Nov. 13, 2005
Singer Al Frazier died at age 75. Mr. Frazier was a member of the vocal group The Rivingtons. The group scored two novelty hits in the early 1960s: "The Bird’s the Word" and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow." The Minnesota based surf band Trashman took both of the songs and turned them into the hit single "Surfin’ Bird." "Surfin’ Bird" was featured in Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War film "Full Metal Jacket." The Rivington’s song "The Bird’s the Word" was used on the soundtrack of the 1963 horror film "The Crawling Hand" as well as the 1991 River Phoenix film "Dogfight."
MATTHEW HOUBRICK Death discovered Nov. 14, 2005
Producer Matthew Houbrick was found dead in his room at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Mr. Houbrick was 42 years old. Neither the cause or date of death has yet to be determined. It was reported that drugs were found on the scene. Mr. Houbrick was in Chicago for the production of the FOX TV series "Prison Break." Mr. Houbrick worked on such shows as "7th Heaven," "Charmed" and "The Love Boat: The Next Wave."
Houbrick started his entertainment career as a clown with Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. Along with his twin brother Michael, they were "The World’s First Twin Clowns." After leaving the baggy pants world of the big top, the brother’s Houbrick started performing stand-up comedy under the stage name of the Kamikaze Bros, Harry & Kari. Houbrick then landed a job as a staff accountant in Universal Studios participation department. Houbrick’s eye for detail was not unnoticed by studio brass who quickly tapped Houbrick as a Production Accountant on "Swamp Thing," "Dream On" and many USA/Lifetime movies.
Houbrick is survived by his 2 sons Jonathan Dylan Houbrick and Daniel Maxwell Houbrick, his parents Dr. William & Beverly Harthill, father Robert J. Houbrick, twin brother Michael Houbrick, brothers Jacob Houbrick and Charles Carr and sisters Cheryl (Rod) Mittmann, Beth (Don) Krenowicz, Bonnie (Tim) Nelson, Karin Purcell and Kriste (Daniel) Henwood. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
SPECIAL NOTE from Michael Houbrick (Matt's Twin Brother): The initial media reports that my twin brother died of a drug overdose has had a profound impact on me. First off, I flew from my home in Spokane, Washington to Chicago and met with medical examiner who could not determine Matthew’s exact death until further test have been concluded. I think every media outlet that has covered this story needs to wait to see the outcome of the toxicology test. Matthew’s previous medical conditions conclude that it is entirely possible that he could have died for other causes that a drug overdose. Our family stands behind out memory of Matthew as a father of two boys and a hard working television executive who loved life more than anyone we know. There is so much more to this story.
2012 UPDATE: While getting this column ready to repost, I did some more checking to see if Mr. Houbrick's cause of death had been determined. I found a memorial posted by his brother Michael which stated that Mr. Houbrick did indeed die of a cocaine overdose.
AGENORE INCROCCI Died Nov. 15, 2005
Oscar-nominated writer Agenore Incrocci died at age 86. Mr. Ncrocci was known as Age. Mr. Incrocci was nominated for two Oscars for his work on "The Organizer" (Compagni, I) and "Casanova, 70." Both films were directed by Mario Monicelli. Mr. Incrocci’s work also earned him awards from Cannes, a David di Donatello Awards and four Silver Ribbons from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. He contributed to or wrote over 100 films during his career. Many of his scripts were co-written with his long-time creative partner Furio Scarpelli. Among his many credits are Sergio Leone’s "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly," "Divorce-Italian Style," "The Witches," "Operation SNAFU," "We All Loved Each Other So Much," "The Terrace" and "The Great War."
DR. ADRIAN ROGERS Died Nov. 15, 2005
Bellevue Baptist Church is a landmark in my hometown of Memphis. It is a place that inspired both awe and ridicule depending on one’s beliefs. The church has one of the largest congregations in the world. For over 32 years, Dr. Adrian Rogers was the leader of Bellevue Baptist. In the days before I became a Christian at age 34, I was one of those who made fun of the folks at Bellevue. I’d never been to the church and didn’t know anyone who did. Making fun of the Baptists was just the thing to do if you were a promiscuous doper like I was in high school. My one encounter with Dr. Rogers came while waiting tables at a fancy restaurant during college. I was still a few years away from my own conversion. Looking back, I know that Dr. Rogers played a small part in that event. Anyone who has ever waited tables knows that it is a high stress job. One thing that annoyed me was when customers would say indignantly "We Don’t Drink!" whenever I would ask if they wanted anything. "Damn Baptists" I would think to myself. You would have thought I had asked them if they wanted to shoot heroin by the way they responded. Of course, my attitude could have had something to do with the fact that I was very anti-Christian at the time. The night came when I waited on Dr. Rogers, his wife and another couple. I was going to show him to be as judgmental as those of his flock I had waited on. I met him with a certain amount of inner hostility. I asked them if they wanted anything to drink and they said water would be fine. I decided to push the matter and specifically asked if they wanted alcohol. Instead of the rebuke I was expecting Dr. Rogers said, "No thanks, we’re in good spirits as we are, but thank you for asking." He met my hostility with grace and sincere politeness. It totally disarmed me. A few days later, another waiter was complaining about how a table treated him badly for asking if they wanted anything to drink. He mentioned Dr. Rogers. I was surprised to hear myself say, "He’s not like that. It would be nice if more of his flock was like him." A few years later, I came to kneel at the foot of the cross. I wasn’t a member of Dr. Roger’s church, but I did listen to his radio show "Love Worth Finding." His words provided comfort and guidance, especially last year when I was constantly driving back and forth from Memphis to Atlanta when Christy was in the Shepherd Center fighting for her life. The term "televangelist" has been used to describe Dr. Rogers in many obits. The term has a negative connotation attached to it. Dr. Rogers was not a televangelist. He was a man who spoke the words of his Savior. Sometimes he did it on TV, but that was just so he could reach out to millions as he was commanded in The Great Commission. I’m grateful for my one encounter with the man. Dr. Rogers appeared on a number of TV shows and news programs including "Praise the Lord." His instructional video series "What Every Christian Ought to Know: Essential Truths for Growing Your Faith" is a wonderful tool for leading a more spiritual life. Dr. Adrian Rogers died of cancer and pneumonia at age 74.
RUTHIE ROBINSON Died Nov. 15, 2005
Former child actress Ruthie Robinson died at age 55. Ms. Robinson appeared in several films and TV shows during the late 1950s and early 1060s. She played Little Red Riding Hood in George Pal’s 1962-fantasy film "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm." Other credits include "Tall Story," "Gidget," "Ben Casey," "Tombstone Terrritory" and "Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theater." Ms. Robinson played Beckey Thatcher in the "Tom and Huck" episode of "Shirley Temple’s Storybook."
FELIPE DE ALBA Died Nov. 15, 2005
Actor Felipe De Alba died at age 81. Mr. Alba was the third cast member of Luis Bunuel’s Oscar-nominated film "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" to die this year. Ironically, the top three-billed actors in the film have died in that same order. Dan O’Herlihy died in February, Jamie Fernandez in April and now Mr. De Alba. Mr. De Alba appeared in nearly 30 films during the late 1940s and early 50s. Mr. De Alba then took up the law as his profession and was a successful attorney. He returned to film in 2002 with a cameo in the movie "Real Women Have Curves." He also wrote and directed two indie films that same year. Neither was released. Mr. De Alba had one of the shortest Hollywood marriages. He was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor for one day. In actuality, the marriage was never legal as Ms. Gabor was still married to her 7th husband at the time.
ED GRUSKIN Died Nov. 15, 2005
Comic book author turned screenwriter/producer Ed Gruskin died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 91. Mr. Gruskin wrote for such comics as "Beebo," "Doc Savage" and "Supersnipe Comics" during the 1940s. He also produced a radio version of "Doc Savage." Mr. Gruskin produced and wrote for the 1950s TV series "Flash Gordon."
RALPH EDWARDS Died Nov. 16, 2005
Pioneering radio and TV producer and host Ralph Edwards died of heart failure at age 92. He produced and hosted the popular TV series "This Is Your Life," which ran on NBC from 1952 to 1961. The series was from a kinder, gentler time. Mr. Edwards would lure celebrities and regular people alike to a location and then present them with a multitude of people from their past. The series was revived in 1971 (3 seasons) and again in 1983 (2 seasons) and 1987 (1 season). Mr. Edwards also produced the hit TV series "Truth or Consequences." He began that show on Radio in 1940. One year later, the show debuted as the first commercially broadcast TV show for NBC. As happened with the outbreak of WWI, WWII once again delayed the development of commercial TV broadcasting. The TV show folded, but remained popular on the radio. In 1950, Mr. Edwards brought "Truth or Consequences" back to TV for an astounding 38 year run! The show became so popular that a town in the state of New Mexico formally changed its name to "Truth or Consequences, NM. Mr. Edwards also produced "The People’s Court." He acted in a few movies including "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round" and "The Bamboo Blonde."
JAMES MAPP Died Nov. 16, 2005
Actor James Mapp died at age 81. Mr. Mapp acted on stage, in film and TV. He appeared on stage in "God’s Trombones" and Langston Hughes "A Land Beyond the River." He appeared in a number of films and TV shows including "Trick Baby," "Enemy Mine," "Speed," "Hanging With Mr. Cooper" and "The Wayans Brothers." Mr. Mapp served his country in the U.S. Coast Guard during WWII. He was one of the first Black radiomen in the Coast Guard and was decorated with three Battle Stars for valor.
MAURICE ZIMRING Died Nov. 17, 2005
Former screenwriter Maurice Zimring died of pneumonia at age 96. Writing under the name Maurice Zimm, he wrote for radio and later TV and the movies during the 1950s. His best known work was the 59-page story treatment for the Universal monster movie "The Creature From the Black Lagoon." His story was turned into script form by Arthur Ross and Harry Essex. The hit film spawned two sequels. His other credits include the films "The Prodigal," "Jeopardy," "Affair in Havana" and "Good Day for a Hanging." He wrote an early script adapting Tom Lea’s novel "The Wonderful Country" to the screen. The film was later made with another writer’s script. Mr. Zimring also wrote for the TV series "Perry Mason" and "The Web." He retired from Hollywood and became a real estate developer in Hawaii.
DENNIS JASEAU Died Nov. 17, 2005
Cinematographer Dennis Jaseau died after a lengthy illness at age 52. Mr. Jaseau was the cinematographer and a producer on the 2004 Florida based indie film "Lithium Springs." The film was co-written, directed by and starred Carter Lord. Mr. Jaseau was a businessman with a wide variety of interests. He was involved in numerous businesses including a commercial video company. Director Carter Lord shared his thoughts about his friend with me: "We are still in shock about this unexpected turn of events. Dennis was in line to get a liver transplant as a result of hep C from a childhood blood transfusion and we figured he would recover fully. He just never got a suitable match. He was a happy, lighthearted and beloved partner, father and cinematographer whose best work was still in front of him. He was a big man who never complained or bemoaned his fate. He will be missed."
JOHN W. MITCHELL Died Nov. 17, 2005
Oscar and BAFTA nominated sound recordist John W. Mitchell died at age 88. Mr. Mitchell was nominated for two Oscars for his work on the films "A Passage to India" and "Diamonds are Forever." His BAFTA nomination came for the film "Gold." Mr. Mitchell began working in the industry while a teenager. He operated Boom Microphones on a number of films during the 1930s. He worked his way up the sound ladder so to speak. Mr. Mitchell’s many credits include "The African Queen," "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "Above Us the Waves," "Moby Dick," "The Prince and the Showgirl," "Our Man in Havana," "From Russia With Love," "The Spy Who Came In from the Cold," "Arabesque," "Casino Royale," "You Only Live Twice," "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang," "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service," "Live and Let Die," "Shout at the Devil," "Death on the Nile," "Murder by Decree," "Raise the Titanic," "The Mirror Crack’d," "The Bounty" and "Manhunter." Mr. Mitchell’s career was the subject of the documentary short "A Matter of Sound." Mr. Mitchell served his country as a submariner in the Royal Navy during WWII. Mr. Mitchell was made a Member of the British Empire.
HAROLD STONE Died Nov. 18, 2005
Prolific actor Harold Stone died of natural causes at age 92. Mr. Stone appeared in nearly 200 TV shows and films. Though Mr. Stone appeared in over 30 films, his biggest success came on the small screen. Mr. Stone played a variety of tough-guys and villains, but he was also adept and comedy and kid-hearted characters. Two of his best non-heavy roles came in the TV series "Bridget Lovers Bernie" and "My World, and Welcome to It." Mr. Stone starred in "The Twilight Zone" episode "The Arrival." He played a FAA investigator trying to solve the mystery of a commercial flight that landed with no crew or passengers. Among Mr. Stone’s film credits are "The Black Dahlia," "The Harder They Fall," "Somebody Up There Likes Me," Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Wrong Man," "Spartacus," "X-The Man With X-Ray Eyes," "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and "The St. Valentine Day’s Massacre."
CAROLYN KEARNEY Died Nov. 18, 2005
B-movie beauty Carolyn Kearny died of heart disease at age 70. Ms. Kearney appeared in a small number of films and TV shows during the 1950s and 60s. She is remembered for her roles in the cult films "The Thing That Couldn’t Die" and "Hot Rod Girl." Ms. Kearney also appeared in the crime expose "Damn Citizen." The film starred Keith Andes who died one week earlier than Ms. Kearney. She also is remembered for her appearances on the TV shows "The Twilight Zone," "Thriller" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Speaking of Hitchcock, the director had considered Ms. Kearney for the role of Janet Leigh’s sister in "Psycho." Ms. Kearney appeared in many other TV shows including "Playhouse 90," "Zane Grey Theater," "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Dr. Kildare," "The Dick Powell Show," "The Virginian," "Route 66," "Wagon Train" and "Ben Casey."
ERIK BALLING Died Nov. 19, 2005
Award-winning Danish writer/director Erik Balling died of a heart attack ten days shy of his 81st birthday. Though Mr. Balling directed two films that won the Bodil Award for Best film, he is best known as the co-creator/writer/director of the popular "The Olsen Gang" film series. Eric Ballings and production designer/special effects whiz Henning Bahs co-wrote the 1968 film "The Olsen Gang." The pair turned the comedy crime caper into one of the longest running and most popular film series in Danish history. The original film spawned twelve sequels! In 1953, Mr. Balling adapted his play "Adam and Eve" to the big screen. The movie won the Bodil Best Picture Award that year. The Bodil is Denmark’s highest film award. Mr. Balling and Mr. Bahs also wrote the 1956 film "Operation Lovebirds," which earned Mr. Balling a second Best Picture Bodil award. In addition, Mr. Balling was given a Honerary Bodil Award in 1993.v
HARRY LAWTON Died Nov. 20, 2005
Writer Harry Lawton died at age 77. Mr. Lawton wrote the book "Willie Boy" about a 1909 manhunt for an American Indian and his girlfriend wanted for the murder of her father. The book was the basis for Abraham Polonsky’s 1969 under-rated film "Tell Them Willie Boy is Here." I highly recommend the deliberately paced action film/character study. Robert Blake played the title character. Katherine Ross played his girlfriend. Robert Redford co-starred as the sheriff in charge of the manhunt.
GENE FUKASAWA Died Nov. 20, 2005
Propmaker Gene Fukasawa died just shy of his 75th birthday. Mr. Fukasawa was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. His credits include the Bruce Willis erotic thriller "Color of Night."
NORA DENNEY Died Nov. 20, 2005
Actress Nora Denney died at age 77 after a short illness. Mr. Denney may be best known for her role as Mrs. TeeVee in the original version of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Ms. Denney appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows. Her film credits include "Who’s Minding the Mint?," "I Walk the Line," "American Hot Wax," "Splash" and "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge." She also appeared in several noted Made for TV movies such as "Truman" and "The Burden of Proof." Other TV credits include "Eight is Enough," "Soap," "Starsky and Hutch," "Get Smart," "Green Acres" and "Bewitched."
LUZ POTTER Died Nov. 21, 2005
Actress Luz Potter died just shy of her 91st birthday. Ms. Potter appeared in several films including "The Incredible Shrinking Man," "The Wizard of Oz," "The Greatest Show on Earth," "Houdini" and "Invaders From Mars." For the thousands of kids like myself who grew up reading "Famous Monsters of Filmland," Ms. Potter’s image from "Invaders From Mars" induced many a nightmare. She played the leader of the Martian invaders. It was a very creepy getup, pictured at right. Of course, we never knew her name, but now you do.
CONSTANCE CUMMINGS Died Nov. 23, 2005
Tony Award-winning actress Constance Cummings died at age 95. Ms. Cummings enjoyed successful stage and film careers on both sides of the Atlantic. She made her film debut in Howard Hawks’ classic "The Criminal Code" co-starring with Walter Huston and Boris Karloff. Ms. Cummings was one of Columbia Studio exec Harry Cohn’s WAMPAS Baby Stars. The WAMPAS program was designed to hype a group of actresses who the studio execs felt were destined for stardom. Some made and others didn’t. Ms. Cummings was one of those who did. Ms. Cummings was busy on screen during the early 1930s appearing in nearly 15 films between 1931 and 33. She married noted British playwright Benn Wolf Levy (Hitchcock’s Blackmail) in 1933 and moved to the UK. There, her career continued to flourish on screen and on stage. She co-starred with Rex Harrison in the David Lean version of Noel Coward’s "Blithe Spirit." Among her other notable credits were "Seven Sinners" and "Remember Last Night." Constance Cummings joined the National Theater under the direction of Laurence Olivier in 1971. She co-starred with Olivier in his production of "A Long Day’s Journey Into Night." Ms. Cummings Tony Award as Best Actress was for her 1979 performance in the play "Wings." She later reprised the role on TV. Speaking of TV, Ms. Cummings appeared in the 1937 TV version of "Cyrano de Bergerac."
HARRY JOE BROWN JR. Died Nov. 23, 2005
Producer/writer Harry Joe Brown Jr. died of prostate cancer at age 71. Mr. Brown began his career producing theatrical plays including Edward Albee’s "The Zoo Story" and Samuel Beckett’s "Krapp’s Last Tape." Mr. Brown was a one time studio exec with 20th Century Fox. Mr. Brown wrote the screenplay for the James Coburn crime caper "Duffy." He developed the story with Donald Cammell and Pierre de la Salle. Mr. Brown was the son of Oscar-nominated producer Harry Brown Sr. and actress Sally Eilers. Mr. Brown changed careers and became a hugely successful real estate developer.
PAT MORITA Died Nov. 24, 2005
Oscar and Emmy nominated actor Par Morita died of natural causes at age 73. Pat Morita was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid." The hit film spawned three sequels. His Emmy nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Mini Series or Special came from the TV movie "Amos," which starred Kirk Douglas and Elizabeth Montgomery. Pat Morita appeared in nearly 200 films and TV shows. He began his career doing stand-up comedy in the early 1960s. After years of bit roles, Mr. Morita gained prominence in the hit TV series "Happy Days" as the owner of Arnold’s Drive In. Mr. Morita appeared in the 1976 TV movie "Farewell to Manzanar," which dealt with the internment of Japanese Americans in California during WWII. Mr. Morita drew on his own personal experiences for the role as he spent his early teen years in just such a camp. Among Mr. Morita’s credits are "Thoroughly Modern Millie," the hilarious "Evil Roy Slade," "Midway," "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," "Spy Hard," "Mulan," "Boy Meets World," "The Hughleys," "The Outer Limits," "Married…With Children," "Magnum P.I.," "Starsky and Hutch," "Kung Fu," "M*A*S*H," "Green Acres" and "Laugh-In."
ADELE LAMONT Died Nov. 24, 2005
Broadway actress/singer Adele Lamont died at age 74. She also appeared in a couple of films and TV shows. B-horror movie fans remember Ms. Lamont as the woman that mad doctor Jason Evers wanted to use to transplant the head of his wife onto in "The Brain That Wouldn’t Die." Ms. Lamont appeared in several Broadway plays. She was also a singer with Xavier Cugat’s band.
DOUG BLACKIE Died Nov. 24, 2005
Canadian art director and property master Doug Blackie died at age 50. Mr. Blackie was the Art Director on the excellent horror films "Ginger Snaps 2" and "Ginger Snaps 3." Mr. Blackie was also a property master. His property credits include the TV series "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and "Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story."
STAN BERENSTAIN Died Nov. 26, 2005
Children’s author Stan Berenstain died at age 82. Mr. Berenstain and his wife Jan created and wrote the popular "Berenstain Bears" books. My mother read their first book "The Great Honey Hunt" to me when I was small. In turn, I have shared the funny work of Stan and Jan Berenstain with my own children. The pair wrote over 200 children’s books during their career. Mr. and Mrs. Berenstain were executive producers of the 2003 animated series "The Berenstain Bears." Mr. Berenstain served his country in the US Army during WWII. Thanks for enriching the lives of our children.
IRVING LUDWIG Died Nov. 26, 2005
Former studio exec Irving Ludwig died of natural causes at age 95. Mr. Ludwig was the president of distribution for Walt Disney. He worked for the studio for over 40 years. Mr. Ludwig oversaw the distribution of most of the Disney hits of the 1960s. he appeared as himself in the documentary "The Fantasia Legacy: The Concert Feature."
JOCELYN BRANDO Died Nov. 27, 2005
Actress Jocelyn Brando died of natural causes at age 86. Ms. Brando was the older sister of actor Marlon Brando. Like her brother, Ms. Brando began her career on Broadway. She played the female lead in "Mister Roberts" at the same time her brother was appearing as Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Ms. Brando appeared in over 70 films and TV shows. She appeared with her brother in the films "The Ugly American" and "The Chase." Other film credits include "The Big Heat," "Movie Movie" and "Mommie Dearest." Ms. Brando had a prolific TV career. She was a semi-regular on the hit series "Dallas." She was also a regular for two seasons on the soap opera "Love of Life." Other TV credits include "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Kojak," "Ironside," "The Virginian," "Thriller," "Wagon Train," "River Boat" and "Actor’s Studio."
JACK CONCANNON Died Nov. 28, 2005
Former NFL quarterback Jack Concannon died of a heart attack at age 62. Mr. Concannon played for the Chicago Bears during the 1960s and 70s. He was a teammate of the late Brian Piccolo. Mr. Concannon played himself in the original version of "Brian’s Song" about the dying running back. Mr. Concannon also appeared in the football game sequence of Robert Altman’s "M*A*S*H." Mr. Concannon also played for the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and the Green bay Packers.
MARC LAWRENCE Died Nov. 28, 2005
Prolific and controversial tough-guy actor Marc Lawrence died at age 95. Mr. Lawrence made films during eight different decades! Marc Lawrence had the perfect face for playing badguys. He delivered so many memorable performances that it is hard to pick out one favorite. He lent a sinister air to a movie just by being present. Marc Lawrence also could be very funny. At times he parodied his tough-guy image on film. His performance as Rupert Stiltskin in "Foul Play" is a perfect example. Marc Lawrence played badguys in two James Bond films. He was the thug who threw Lana Wood out the window in "Diamonds are Forever." His character professed that he didn’t know there was a "pool down there" when Wood’s character Plenty O’Toole survived the fall. He was a hitman hired to take on Roger Moore in "The Man With the Golden Gun." It didn’t matter if the film was an urban crime drama or a Western, Marc Lawrence was the man to call when you needed menace. He made his film debut in the 1932 anthology film "If I Had a Million." W.C. Fields and Gary Cooper starred. Among his over 200 film and TV credits were such classics as "This Gun for Hire," "The Ox-Bow Incident," the original version of "Dillinger," "Flame of the Barbary Coast," "Key Largo," and "The Asphalt Jungle." Marc Lawrence went through a dark period during the HUAC hearings in the late 1940s and early 50s. Mr. Lawrence admitted to attending communist meetings. He played it off with the quip "I heard it was a good place to meet girls." The senators were not amused and kept up the pressure on Lawrence. He eventually named names, but was still black-listed. Actor Lionel Stander (Once Upon a Time in the West) was named by Lawrence. Mr. Stander attempted to sue Lawrence for slander, but the case was thrown out when the judge ruled that Mr. Lawrence had congressional immunity. Mr. Stander demanded to be allowed to appear before the committee to clear his name. It took him two years to get the opportunity, but he still remained on the blacklist. Mr. Lawrence also named actor Jeff Corey to the committee. Mr. Lawrence fled the blacklist by moving to Europe. He worked in foreign films for more than a decade. Once the blacklist was ended, he moved back to the US and continued his career. Other credits include "Gotti," "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Revenge of the Pink Panther," "Marathon Man," "A Piece of the Action," "Honor Thy Father," "Krakatoa: East of Java," "Helen of Troy" and "Looney Toons: Back in Action."
TONY MEEHAN Died Nov. 28, 2005
Drummer Tony Meehan died of injuries sustained in fall at his home. The 62-year-old musician was drummer for and founding member of Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The band appeared in the classic cult film "Espresso Bongo." Which was a vehicle for rising British star Cliff Richard. The following year Cliff Richard & the Shadows appeared in the film "The Young Ones."
E. CARDON WALKER Died Nov. 28, 2005
Former Disney CEO Card Walker died of congestive heart failure at age 89. Mr. Walker worked his way up from the mail room to the head of one of Hollywood’s most powerful studios. He took over the reigns of the studio following the death of Walt Disney’s brother Roy in 1971. He began his career with Disney in 1938 and retired in 1983. Mr. Walker was instrumental in the development of both Disneyland and Disney World. He produced the short film "Once Upon a Mouse."
LORRAINE ANSELL Died Nov. 28, 2005
Canadian actress Lorraine Ansell died at age 49. Ms. Ansell appeared in over 20 films and TV shows. She also was an award-winning stage actress in Canada. She played the lead in the Canadian TV series "Mann to Mann." She appeared with Ernest Borgnine in the comedy "The Kiss of Debt." Other credits include "Undercover Angel," "The Body Electric" and "The Killer Upstairs."
JACK JOZEFSON Died Nov. 28, 2005
Character actor Jack Jozefson died of cancer. The part most people will remember Mr. Jozefson for was as the odd homeless man holding up a variety of signs in "Bruce Almighty." Mr. Jozefson appeared in a number of films and TV shows dating back to the 1970s. His credits include "The Buddy Holly Story," "The Fall Guy," "Hunter," "NYPD Blue" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
JOAN BARTLETT HUNTER Died Nov. 28, 2005
Stuntwoman Joan Bartlett Hunter died of lung cancer at age 76. Ms. Bartlett was an accomplished rodeo rider. She was hired to do the horse stunts for actress Virginia Leith in the Film-Noir thriller "A Kiss Before Dying." Her second husband was actor Jeffery Hunter. She was the mother of key-rigging grip Steele Hunter.
BEVERLY TYLER Died Nov. 28, 2005
Actress Beverly Tyler died at age 78. Ms. Tyler was a contract player with MGM. She appeared in a number of films during the 1940s and 50s. She also worked on TV during the 50s. Ms. Tyler’s credits include the atomic bomb drama "The Beginning or The End," "Voodoo Island" with Boris Karloff, "Best Foot Forward," "The Battle at Apache Pass," "Bonanza," "Hazel," "Death Valley Days" and "The Andy Griffith Show."
MACON MCCALMAN Died Nov. 29, 2005
Character actor Macon McCalman died at age 72 after a lengthy period of poor health. Mr. McCalman began his career as a stage actor at Memphis’s Front Street Theater. Other alumni from that theater who went on to successful film and TV careers include Dixie Carter, George Touliatos and Babara Carson. Mr. McCalman appeared in over 100 films and TV shows. His many credits include "Deliverance," "Lipstick," "Smokey and the Bandit," "Roots," "Comes a Horseman," "Friendly Fire," "The Concorde: Airport 79," "Dead and Buried," "Marie," playing musician Bob Wills in Clint Eastwood’s "Honkeytonk Man," "Timerider," "The Falcon and the Snowman," "The Deliberate Stranger," "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Falling Down," "The Client" and "Rosewood." Mr. McCalman served his country in the US Army during the Korean War.
WENDIE JO SPERBER Died Nov. 29, 2005
Very sad news to report friends. Actress Wendie Jo Sperber died after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. The 46-year-old actress became a cancer crusader and activist during her long war with the insidious disease. Ms. Sperber was an inspirational role model during her illness. She founded the weSpark Cancer Support Center to assist victims and their loved ones in dealing with the many problems associated with living with cancer. I’ve been a fan of her delightful comic nature since her screen debut in Robert Zemeckis’ hilarious and heart-warming "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." Ms. Sperber was part a of a great ensemble cast playing Beatle fans trying to get into their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." She continued to make an impression in numerous comedy films. She had a memorable comedic dance number during the USO sequence in Spielberg’s "1941." She reteamed with Zemeckis as a student driver in the low-brow comedy "Used Cars." Ms. Sperber played Lynda McFly in the "Back to the Future" trilogy. She was best known to TV audiences as Tom Hanks’ co-star in "Bosom Buddies." Other credits include "Moving Violations," "Bachelor Party," "Home Improvement," "JAG" and "8 Simple Rules …for Dating My Teenage Daughter." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
JOSEPH FURST Died Nov. 29, 2005
Austrian born character actor Joseph Furst died at age 89. Mr. Furst appeared in a number of films and TV shows. He spent the last few decades of his life in his adopted homeland of Australia. Bond fans will remember him as Dr. Metz in "Diamonds are Forever." Horror movie fans may remember Mr. Furst from the films "The Brides of Fu Manchu" and "Theater of Death." Fans of the sci-fi genre will recognize Mr. Furst from the TV series "Doomwatch" and "Dr. Who." Mr. Furst appeared in director John Huston’s "Freud." He also appeared in Otto Preminger’s overblown "Exodus." Mr. Furst enjoyed success in Canada, England and Australia.
HERBERT STROCK Died Nov. 30, 2005
If you asked me today who my favorite directors were I would say Speilberg, Kurosawa, Scorsese and Peckinpah. If you had asked me the same question when I was 8 years old, my answer would have been Roger Corman, Bert Gordon, William Castle and Herb Strock. Like millions of kids growing up in the 60s, I was a huge fan of B-horror movies. Herb Strock was a beloved figure to those who remember the really bad monster movies of the 1950s. He directed a number of movies that still hold a warm place in my heart. His films were shown on WHBQ’s "Fantastic Features" numerous times. Change the city from Memphis to Your Town and whatever the old "Creature Feature" show you remember, chances are they too showed Herb Strock’s movies. His many credits include "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein," "How to Make a Monster," "Blood of Dracula," "The Crawling Hand," "Gog" and "The Magnetic Monster." Mr. Strock also directed a number of non-genre films as well as episodic TV. His TV credits include "Highway Patrol," "Maverick" and "77 Sunset Strip." Director Herb Strock died at age 87.
JOHN DETLIE Died Nov. 30, 2005
Oscar-nominated art director John Detlie died of lung cancer at age 96. Mr. Detlie worked on a number of films prior to WWII. After the war be turned to architecture as a profession. Mr. Detlie was nominated for a Best Art Direction Oscar for the 1940 film "Bitter Sweet." Mr. Detlie shared the Oscar nomination with MGM department head Cedric Gibbons. Oscar winning film editor Elmo Williams told me that studio department heads shared credits in all films produced whether they worked on them or not. Mr. Williams specifically pointed out Cedric Gibbons as a person who shared in a multitude of nominations and awards for movies they never worked on due to their position with the studio. John Detlie’s other credits include "Saratoga," the Reginald Owen version of "A Christmas Carol," "On Borrowed Time," "Another Thin Man," "Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary" and "Lady Be Good." Mr. Detlie was actress Veronica Lake’s first husband. John Detlie served his country in the US Army during WWII.
JEAN PARKER Died Nov. 30, 2005
Actress Jean Parker died of complications from a stroke at age 90. Ms. Parker appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during her lengthy career. She also acted on Broadway. Ms. Parker was in the original version of "Little Women," portraying Beth. She appeared in a number of notable films. Frank Capra cast her in the comedy "Lady for a Day." She co-starred with Robert Donet in Rene Clair’s romantic fantasy "The Ghost Goes West." Ms. Parker broke Oliver Hardy’s heart in the Laurel and Hardy comedy "The Flying Deuces." She played the second female lead in one of my all-time favorite Westerns: Henry King’s "The Gunfighter." Gregory Peck was the star. Ms. Parker’s film debut came in the 1932 film "Rasputin and the Empress," which starred John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore. Her final big-screen appearance was in the 1966 low budget Western "Apache Uprising." Ms. Parker’s fourth husband was actor Robert Lowery who played the title role in the 1949 serial "Batman." Her second husband was assistant director Douglas Dawson. Ms. Parker did her part in WWII by traveling to entertain the troops.