Monday, February 25, 2013

May 2006 Film World Obituaries

JAY PRESSON ALLEN Died May 1, 2006

Oscar-nominated writer Jay Presson Allen died of a stroke at age 84. Jay Presson Allen was one of the best writers in Hollywood when it came to adapting stories from other mediums. Ms. Allen was nominated twice for her adaptations to the screen of the movies "Cabaret" and the true crime drama "Prince of the City." She adapted Muriel Spark’s novel "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody" to the stage and later the screen. Alfred Hitchcock called on her to adapt the novel "Marnie" to the screen. Other credits include George Cukor’s "Travels With My Aunt," "40 Carats," "Funny Lady," the Streisand version of "A Star is Born" and "Deathtrap." She also wrote the one-man play "Tru" based on the life of Truman Capote.

EMMA BUSHNELL Died May 1, 2006

Former actress and Ice Capades skater Emma Bushnell died at age 85. Ms. Bushnell acted under the stage name of Toni Riamando. Riamando was her birth name. Ms. Bushnell skated in the 1939 Ice Capades. She appeared in the comedy "Slave Girl," the Irene Dunne/Rex Harrison version of "Anna and the King of Siam" as well as the Charlie Chan serial "Red Dragon." She was also briefly married to actor Alan ‘Rocky’ Lane.


Actress Betsy Jones-Moreland died of cancer at age 76. Fans of Roger Corman movies remember Ms. Jones-Moreland for her appearance in "The Creature From the Haunted Sea" and "The Last Woman on Earth." She appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during her lengthy career. Fans of the "Perry Mason" TV movies of the 1980s knew Ms. Jones-Moreland for her recurring role as Judge Elinor Harrelson. Her film credits include Elia Kazan’s "The Last Tycoon," "The Hindenberg" and "Gable and Lombard."

TOMMY OLIVER Died May 2, 2006

Grammy nominated composer and musical director Tommy Oliver died at age 73. In addition to his extensive recording career, Mr. Oliver was the musical director for a number of TV series and films. His credits include the Robert Duvall film "Tender Mercies." Other credits include "Playboy After Dark," "The Donny and Marie Show," "Face the Music" and "Name That Tune."

LOUIS RUKEYSER Died May 2, 2006

The old saying states "they always die in threes." Economist Louis Rukeyser died of multiple myeloma at age 73. He is the second famous economist to pass away in less than a week. Mr. Rukeyser was probably the nation’s most recognizable economist. He was the host of the PBS TV series "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser" for 32 years. He left his show in a dispute with producers and moved to CNBC to host "Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street." Had I watched more of Mr. Rukeyser’s show during the nearly 35 years they aired, I might actually have a nest egg growing for retirement. My mistake. His show was enjoyable and informative, largely due to Mr. Rukeyser’s style and humor. Louis Rukeyser made cameo appearances on such TV shows and films as "Big Business," "Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood," "Gordy" and "Northern Exposure."

JOHNNIE BURKE Died May 2, 2006

Special effects supervisor Johnnie Burke died at age 85. Among Mr. Burke’s many film credits are several personal favorites of mine. He did special effects on the great P.O.W. drama from 1965: "King Rat." Some of his best work was in the cult classic "Endangered Species." "Endangered Species" was an excellent conspiracy theory film about the rash of cattle mutilations in the US during the 1960 and 70s. He also worked on Blake Edwards scathing satire of the movie business "S.O.B." Other credits include "Locusts," Norman Jewison’s under-rated "F.I.S.T.," "Assault on the Wayne" and the TV series "Mission Impossible." Mr. Burke was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44.

EARL WOODS Died May 3, 2006

Earl Woods, the father of gold great Tiger Woods died at age 74 after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. Earl Woods was a role model for fathers around the world. He loved and trained up his son to be a man. Would there were more dads like him. If you are interested in finding out how Mr. Woods did what he did, you might read his inspirational book "Training a Tiger: A Father’s Guide to Raising a Winner Both in Golf and Life." Earl Woods was the first Black man to play baseball in the Big Eight Conference. He served his country with two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Green Beret! Actor Keith David received a Daytime Emmy Nomination for his portrayal of Earl Woods in the TV movie "The Tiger Woods Story."

JUDITH HAVILAND Died May 3, 2006

Former actress Judith Haviland died at age 75. Ms. Haviland appeared in several of the 1955 TV series "Sherlock Holmes." The TV series was an American production shot in France and never shown in England!


Miss Eddie Crispell was a well-known psychic in addition to being a respected business woman in California. She hosted both radio and TV shows in local California markets. Miss Eddie appeared in the Glenn Ford Western "Heaven With a Gun."

ALEJANDRA BOERO Died May 4, 2006

Argentine actress/director Alejandro Boero died at age 88. Ms. Boero was a noted actress and theater director in her native company. She directed over 40 national stage productions in Argentina. Ms. Boero’s film credits include the movies "The Film" and "All Sun is Bitter."

HOSSEIN KASBIAN Died May 4, 2006

Iranian actor Hossein Kasbian died at age 72. Mr. Kassbian enjoyed a successful stage and film career in Iran. His career spanned 50 years. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award this year at the International Fajr Theater Festival. Mr. Kasbian’s film credits include "A House on Water," "Mother," "Tall Shadows of the Wind," "Grandfather," and "Like The Wind."

ATIF YILMAZ Died May 5, 2006

Award-winning Turkish write/director Atif Yilmaz died of cancer at age 80. Mr. Yilmaz’s films won awards at film festivals around the world including Moscow and Valencia. Mr. Yilmaz helmed over 100 films during his 50+ year career. His films "Mine," "Berdle" and "Ade Vasfiye" either won or were nominated for awards at a number of international film festivals.


Cinematographer and camera operator Herbert Raditschnig died of complications from a stroke at age 72. Mr. Raditschnig was well known for his skill as an alpine photographer. He shot mountain sequences for the James Bond films "Goldeneye" and "For Your Eyes Only." Mr. Raditschnig was the cinematographer on "Bergwind," "The Outing" and "The 500 Pound Jerk." Other credits include "Five Days One Summer," "Scream of Stone" and "White Rock."


Sister Rose Thering began her life of service to the church in 1936. During the past 70 years Sister Rose has fulfilled many roles in serving the Lord. One subject close to her heart was the improvement of Christian-Jewish relations. This aspect of her life was the subject of the 2005 Oscar-nominated short subject "Sister Rose’s Passion."

STEVEN C. MARSHALL Died May 6, 2006

Inventor Steven Marshall died of melanoma at age 58. Mr. Marshall invented the Marshall Time Modulator. The device allowed the user to modify their voice. It was used heavily in the music industry. It was also one of the devices used to create Darth Vader’s voice. Mr. Marshall was also a noted sound engineer. His ‘revectorization’ process was used to restore the soundtracks of a number of older films including "Gone With the Wind."

ANDRE BRUMMER Died May 6, 2006

Composer Andre Brummer died of pneumonia at age 89. Although Andre Brummer conducted several noted orchestras and Broadway shows, under the name Henri Price, he composed the scores for many of the worst films ever made. He provided the musical accompaniment to such B-horror films as "Eegah!," "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!!?," "The Monster Maker," "Sinthia, The Devil’s Dog," "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo" and Russ Meyer’s "Mudhoney." Most of his scores were for B-movie schlockmeister Ray Dennis Stickler.

MACHIKO SOGA Died May 7, 2006

Rita Repulsa has died but the Power Rangers had nothing to do with her demise. Japanese actress Machiko Soga died of pancreatic cancer at age 63. Ms. Soga was best know for her roles as the villainess Rita Repulsa on the "Mighty Morphing Power Rangers" and Queen Hedrian in the "Solar Task Force" and Electronic Task Force" TV series. Ms. Soga’s career began in the 1960s with an appearance in "Samaritan Zatoichi." She was also a prolific voice actress.

JOHN KIMBROUGH Died May 8, 2006

Football player/actor/state legislator John "The Haskell Hurricane" Kimbrough died of pneumonia at age 87. Mr. Kimbrough was a member of the 1939 Texas A&M National Champion football team. (My wife’s alma mater!) That team was the only Aggie team to win the National Championship. Mr. Kimbrough was second place in the Heisman Throphy voting the next year. He then played pro football for a few years. 20th Century Fox tried to groom Mr. Kimbrough to be a Western movie star. He was given the lead role in two B-Westerns in 1942: "Sundown Jim" and "Lone Star Ranger." WWII interrupted his film career as he served his country in the US Army. Mr. Kimbrough later served his home state as a member of the Texas state legislature during the 1950s.

GEORGE LUTZ Died May 8, 2006

Writer George Lutz died of heart disease at age 59. Mr. Lutz and his then wife Cathy collaborated on the story which became the book and movies "The Amityville Horror." Though his story has been thoroughly debunked by numerous sources, Mr. Lutz claimed to have moved into a house possessed by evil spirits. The house in Amityville, New York was the scene of the infamous DeFeo family murders. Ronald DeFeo Jr. was convicted of killing his parents and four brothers and sisters. The Lutz later bought the house, claimed it was haunted and left. There were two film versions of "The Amityville Horror." Mr. Lutz was portrayed by James Brolin in the original 1979 film and Ryan Reynolds in the 2005 remake. Mr. Lutz appeared as himself in several documentaries. There were reports two years ago that his ex-wife Cathy Lutz had died. Despite many attempts to confirm the reports, I was unable to do so.

TONY WARD Died May 9, 2006

Australian actor Tony Ward died of cancer at age 82. Mr. Ward was the star of "Hunter," the first Australian Spy genre TV series. The hit series ran from 1967 to 69. Mr. Ward was a former TV news anchor turned actor. He also appeared in the Australian TV series "Riptide," "Dynasty" and "The Long Arm" among others.

PIETRO GARINEI Died May 9, 2006

Stage director/writer/producer Pietro Garinei died at age 87. Mr. Garinei wrote and produced a number of musical plays. His play "Rugantino" became the only Italian musical to also be produced on Broadway. The play was also turned into a 1973 film. It was one of many films he wrote.


Former pro-football player turned actor Michael "Bear" Taliferro died of a stroke at age 45. My first memory of Mr. Taliferro was in the action/adventure film "Armageddon." His most memorable role came in the Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence comedy "Life." Among his many other film and TV credits are "The Last Boy Scout," "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit," "Bad Boys," "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate," "Witch Hunt," "Martin," "The Drew Carey Show" and "The Jamie Foxx Show." Mr. Talirerro played in the NFL with the Washington Redskins before moving on to the USFL and the Canadian Football League. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, especially his three children.

VAL GUEST Died May 10, 2006

Prolific director/writer Val Guest died at age 94. Val Guest moved up the film ladder from movie journalist to actor to writer to director. His film career began in the early 1930s and he directed his final TV show in 1986. During his 50-year career, Val Guest created some of the best or at least best remembered sci-fi and horror films in history. Mr. Guest was not solely a genre director or writer. Val Guest had nearly 80 writing credits. He directed over 50 films. Val Guest directed the classic sci-fi films "The Quatermass Experiment" and its first sequel "Quatermass 2." For many people my age, these Hammer productions were the first adult sci-fi films they were exposed to. Brian Donlevy starred in the title role as Professor Bernard Quatermass. Val Guest had a long association with Hammer Films. Among the movies her directed for the famed British house of horror were "The Abominable Snowman," "The Camp on Blood Island" "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" and "When Dinosaur’s Ruled the Earth." "When Dinosaur’s Ruled the Earth" was a sequel to Ray Harryhausen’s "1,000,000 Years B.C." This time around the animation was done by Jim Danforth. Blonde beauty Victoria Vetri replaced Raquel Welsh as the eye-candy to keep the dads in the theaters while their children watched the dinosaurs. Val Guest was one of the many co-directors and co-writers of the original James Bond spoof "Casino Royale." Another noted film was the 1960 Cliff Richard movie "Expresso Bongo." "Expresso Bongo" starts out to be one of the best rock and roll films from that era. Unfortunately it fizzled before the running time ended. Still it is worth a look.

SORAYA Died May 10, 2006

Grammy-winning singer Soraya died of breast cancer at age 37. The Columbian-American singer had battled cancer since 2000. She won a Latin Grammy in 2004 and was nominated again in 2005. Soyara appeared on TV in concert many times including "Selena ¡Vive!, Acceso Total." "Selena ¡Vive!, Acceso Total" was an all-star concert that occurred on the 10th anniversary of the death of Tejano star Selena. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.

DYLAN COLLIER Died May 10, 2006

Artist Rylan Collier died during an accident in his home at age 30. Among Mr. Collier’s film credits was as a scenic artist on M. Night Shymalan’s utopian fantasy "The Village." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

MILDRED ELMAN Died May 10, 2006

Writer Mildred Elman died at age 85. She is survived by her husband, Emmy-nominated writer/playwright Irving Elman. Ms. Elman worked with her husband as a writer on the 1950s TV series "True Story." She was one of the head writers on the soap operas "General Hospital" and "Search For Tomorrow." Her other credits include the TV shows "The Eleventh Hour" and "The Verdict is Yours." Ms. Elman was an instructor at Santa Monica College.

FLOYD PATTERSON Died May 11, 2006

Former Heavyweight Boxing champion Floyd Patterson died at age 71 for prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Patterson represented his country in the 1952 Olympic Games. After turning pro, Mr. Patterson became the youngest man to win the Heavyweight belt when he beat champ Archie Moore in 1956. Mr. Patterson was also the first man to lose the championship and then win it back. He was one of many great boxers defeated by the legendary Muhammad Ali. Mr. Patterson appeared as himself in the Made for TV movie "Terrible Joe Moran." That was the final film appearance of movie star James Cagney. Mr. Patterson appeared as himself on the TV shows "What’s My Line?" and "The Ed Sullivan Show." He also appeared in the documentary films "Muhammad Ali, The Greatest" and "Sonny Liston: The Mysterious Life and Death of a Champion."

YOSSI BANAI Died May 11, 2006

Popular Israeli actor Yossi Banai died at age 74. Mr. Banai enjoyed a successful career in his native land for the past 50- years. He appeared on stage screen and TV. He also had a successful recording career as a musician. Mr. Banai’s film credits include "The Patriots," "The Pill" and "What a Gang."

FRANK THOMAS JR. Died May 11, 2006

Actor Frank Thomas Jr. died of complications from a stroke and respiratory failure at age 85. Frank Thomas Jr. was best known for the role of "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet." The TV series ran from 1950 to 1955. Though Mr. Thomas appeared in a number of memorable films and also was a successful author, he will forever be associated with "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet." Mr. Thomas came from a show biz family. His parents Frank M. Thomas, mother Mona Bruns were both stage and screen actors. Mr. Thomas’ other film credits include "A Dog of Flanders," "Boys Town," "The Major and the Minor" as well as several "Nancy Drew" films. After retiring from acting Mr. Thomas became a successful writer, penning a number of "Sherlock Holmes" novels. Mr. Thomas served his country during WWII in the US Navy.

MONY DALMES Died May 11, 2006

French actress Mony Dalmes died at age 91. Ms. Dalmes’ film career stretched back to the 1930s. She also appeared on Broadway. Her many film credits include "Mayerling" and Claude Charbrol’s cool thriller "The Swindle."

BYRON MORROW Died May 11, 2006

Prolific character actor Byron Morrow died at age 94. Mr. Morrow appeared in over 150 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. The majority of his work was on TV. He seems to have appeared on nearly every single TV show produced during the 1960s and 70.s Mr. Morrow often played military men and historical figures. He portrayed Sentator William Fulbright in the Cuban Missile Crisis telefilm "The Missiles of October." Mr. Morrow played Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the Chuck Colson biopic "Born Again." He played a movie studio executive in Elia Kazan’s final film "The Last Tycoon." Among the many films that Mr. Morrow lent his talents to are the excellent sci-fi film "Colossus: The Forbin Project," Dalton Trumbo’s antiwar film "Johnny Got His Gun," "King Kong Versus Godzilla," Charles Bronson’s brutal "The Stone Killer," "Panic in the Year Zero!," "Black Zoo," "Captain Newman M.D.," "The Best Man," "The Wrecking Crew," "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes," "Sidewinder 1" and "How To Beat the High Cost of Living." Mr. Morrow served his country in the US Army during WWII.

BRENDAN O’DUILL Death Announced May 12, 2006

Irish actor Brendan O’Duill died at age 70. Mr. O’Duill was part of the ensemble cast on the long-running Irish soap opera "The Riordans." The TV series ran from 1965 through 1979. He also had a small role in the John Huston directed spy thriller "The MacKintosh Man."

JOAN DIENER Died May 13, 2006

Actress and singer Joan Diener died of cancer at age 76. Ms. Diener played the role of Dulcinea in the Broadway musical "Man of La Mancha." The role in the film version was played by non-singer Sophia Loren. Ms. Diener had the beauty and talent to succeed in Hollywood, but she chose not to do so. She appeared as herself on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1966.

MARY RITTS Died May 14, 2006

Puppeteer Mary Ritts died of natural causes at age 95. Ms. Ritts and her late husband Paul Ritts enjoyed a long and successful career as puppeteers on TV and film. Their son Mark followed his parents into the business. Mary Ritts’ credits include the Jerry Lewis film "The Errand Boy" as well as TV appearances on "The Pink Panther Show," "Exploring," "The Watch Your Child/The Me Too Show" "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show." She and her husband also starred in several TV specials. Her husband Paul Ritts died in 1980.

EVA NORVIND Died May 14, 2006

Former actress turned dominatrix Eva Norvind drowned in Mexico at age 62. Talk about your varied life! Ms. Norvind was born in Norway. She left New York by bus for Mexico when she was a teenager. She became the Mexican Bridget Bardot in short order, appearing in a number of films during the 1960s. Ms. Norvind also dabbled in prostitution, political activism, working with Mother Teresa and eventually became a top dominatrix in New York. A life like that is the stuff movies are made of. In fact, Ms. Norvind was the subject of the 1997 documentary "Didn’t Do It For Love." "Didn’t Do It For Love" was released on DVD by First Run Features. Ms. Norvind’s film credits include "Saint Tropez Blues," "Don Juan 67" and "Juan Pistolas." She was the mother of Mexican TV actress Nailea Norvind.

PAUL MARCO Died May 14, 2006

Actor Paul Marco died at age 80. Mr. Marco was best known for his role as Kelton the Cop in Ed Wood Jr.’s infamous "Plan Nine From Outer Space." He worked with Ed Wood in three films including "The Bride of the Monster" and "Night of the Ghouls." He reprised his role as Kelton the Cop in the horror movie spoof "The Naked Monster." Mr. Marco was portrayed by actor Max Casella in Tim Burton’s wonderful biopic "Ed Wood." It was just bad. Mr. Marco was a frequent guest at numerous fan conventions. Mr. Marco served his country in the US Navy during WWII.

LEW ANDERSON Died May 14, 2006

Musician and actor Lew Anderson died at age 84. Mr. Anderson was a noted Big Band musician and singer. He was known to millions of Baby Boomer children as the third and final Clara Bell the Clown on "The Howdy Doody Show." The only time he spoke on the show was to say goodbye during the final episode.

EVERETT OLSON Died May 15, 2006

Construction coordinator Everatt Olson Jr. died at age 83. The long time member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44 worked on such films as "The Star Chamber," "All the Right Moves," "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Johnny Dangerously."

EBERHARD ESCHE Died May 15, 2006

German stage and film actor Eberhard Esche died at age 72. The East German actor was a devote communist who enjoyed great success and failure behind the iron curtain. Though primarily a stage actor, Mr. Esche appeared in nearly 30 films and TV shows.

SHELAH RELJIC Died May 15, 2006

Editor/producer/director Shelah Reljic died at age 77. Ms. Reljic began her showbiz career in theater during the 1930s. She was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of Women In Film. She edited a number of films including "Jablonski," "Mental Patient’s Association" and "Harrison’s Yukon." She directed the short film "Soccer" and the documentary "Harrison’s Yukon."

JORGE PORCEL Died May 16, 2006

Even though I understand very little spoken Spanish, I used to watch Jorge Porcel’s show "To Bed With Porcel" whenever it was on. Like British comedian Benny Hill, Jorge Porcel stocked his TV show with beautiful, scantily clad women. The actor/comedian died of complications from gall bladder surgery at age 69. Mr. Porcel was best known for his various TV shows, but he also enjoyed a lengthy film career. His final film appearance was in a cameo role in Brian DePalma’s excellent "Carlito’s Way." Mr. Porcel became a Christian in 1995 and retired from his risque comedy routines.

DAN Q. KENNIS Died May 17, 2006

B-movie producer Dan Q. Kennis died at age 86. Mr. Kennis was involved in the film industry starting in the 1940s. He was an investor and distributor for films and TV shows for many years. He began his career as a producer in the 1960s with the biker film "Satan’s Sadists." The biker movie was directed by noted cult movie director Al Adamson. Adamson was murdered in 1995. Mr. Kennis produced a number of films for Adamson including "Naughty Stewardesses" and "Cinderella 2000." Mr. Kennis was the production manager on the notoriously bad 1971 film "Dracula vs. Frankenstein." He did co-produce one non-genre film: the Made for TV biopic "It’s Good to Be Alive" about Brooklyn Dodger Roy Campanella.

CY FEUER Died May 17, 2006

Multi-Oscar nominated composer, musical director, film and Broadway producer Cy Feuer died of bladder cancer at age 95. Mr. Feuer worked on hundreds of films in various capacities. He was a producer on the Oscar nominated "Cabaret." He received a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the Bob Fosse directed film. Mr. Feuer was nominated for five Best Music Oscars. Those films were "Storm Over Bengal," "She Married a Cop," "Hit Parade of 1941," "Ice Capades" and "Mercy Island." In 1942 he was nominated twice in the same category for different films! His Broadway production credits include "Guys and Dolls" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." As head of the music department for Republic Pictures, he provided the scores for dozens of B-Western films.

CLIVE MIZUMOTO Died May 17, 2006

Award-winning sound engineer Clive Mizumoto died of cancer at age 53. Mr. Mizumoto won two International Monitor Awards for his work as a re-recording engineer on the animated TV series "The Incredible Hulk" and "Mad Jack the Pirate." The International Monitor Award honor the creative achievements of production and postproduction professionals around the world. Mr. Mizumoto was the Vice President of Post Production for Saban Entertainment and Fox Family Worldwide. His other credits include the TV series "The Super Mario Brothers Super Show" and "Power Rangers in Space" among others.

FREDDIE GARRITY Died May 19, 2006

Even though I was just a small child at the time, I realized there was something very different about Freddie Garrity. The leader of the British band Freddie and the Dreamers was a bit odd when compared with The Beatles or the Animals. He was goofy. That was my opinion when I was five years old and it never really changed. Freddie Garrity was goofy and funny on stage. That was his show biz gimmick. He resembled Jeff Goldblum doing a Jerry Lewis impression. Freddie and the Dreamers enjoyed a number of hit records including their theme song "Do the Freddie." My favorite was the song "I’m Telling You Now." That song showed a deeper talent than the gimmicky stage persona. The band appeared on many TV shows of the time including "Shindig." The Dreamers starred in the movie "Every Day’s a Holiday." Freddie Garrity died of circulatory problems at age 69.


Japanese TV actor Kiyosuke Tadahisa was killed when the motorcycle he was driving was hit by a car. The 23-year-old actor was a regular on the Japanese children’s morning TV show "Gogo Sentai Boukenger." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

PETER BRYANT Died May 19, 2006

British actor/producer and agent Peter Bryant died at age 82. Mr. Bryant began acting on radio for the BBC. He starred in the first British TV soap opera "The Grove Family." He reprised his role in the feature film spin off "It’s a Great Day." Mr. Bryant was also a producer and script editor on the British sci-fi TV series "Dr. Who" from 1967 through 1969.

ABRAM GINNES Died May 20, 2006

On occasion, I will post an obituary written by someone else. This is one such occasion. TV and film historian Stephen Bowie has graciously allowed me to publish his tribute to TV writer Abram Ginnes. Thank you Stephen!

Abram S. Ginnes, an enormously talented writer whom I had the pleasure of knowing during his last years, died Saturday in Los Angeles following a long illness. He was 91.

Ginnes was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for his only screenplay, "Gaily Gaily" (1969), an adaptation of Ben Hecht's memoirs. Before that he wrote extensively for radio, television and the theatre, specializing in cop shows and flavorful tales of New York City life that drew upon his own Brooklyn upbringing. Ginnes was an unapologetic radical for his entire life, and as a result he was blacklisted for several years during the 1950s. Like most artists who ran afoul of the McCarthy-era witchhunts, Ginnes found himself out of work just as his career was beginning to gather momentum. He worked behind fronts for a while and finally became widely employable after the debut of his Broadway show, "Drink to Me Only." Ginnes' comeback from the blacklist took the form, primarily, of a baker's dozen of hour-long scripts for the New York-based police drama "Naked City." "Naked City" was always an anthology in disguise (the writers struggled to get the cops into their stories), and Abe's contributions were all perfectly polished gems that reflected his wry, offbeat, and optimistic outlook on life. They were obsessively psychoanalytical, deeply interested in folklore and outsider communities, and dabbled in a surrealism that was highly unusual for TV at the time. I could go on about these amazing, largely unknown works, but most of them are on DVD and I encourage anyone who's interested to seek them out.

Ginnes' other TV credits include scripts for "Big Story," "Philco Television Playhouse," "Armstrong Circle Theatre," "Decoy, Brenner," "The Untouchables," "Adventures in Paradise," "The Asphalt Jungle," "Hawaii Five-O," "Police Woman" and "Jessie," but few of these were as personal as the work he did for "Naked City" in 1961-1962. He should have enjoyed a more substantial post-blacklist career, but like Abraham Polonsky and others, Ginnes' comeback was cut short by ageism and a decided inability to suffer fools gladly.

One of the last moviemakers to arrive in Hollywood following a wholly different earlier career, Ginnes began writing professionally (for radio's "The Goldbergs") around the age of 35, following stints as a labor organizer and as the owner of a jazz nightclub in Chicago in the thirties. When I met Abe he was beginning to get a bit frail, but I'm told he was an avid partier, ladies' man, raconteur, arguer, and a man who lived life to the fullest.

Abe is survived by a loving family, including his wife of nearly 20 years, Dione.

CHERD SONGSRI Died May 20, 2006

Award-winning Thai film director Cherd Songsri died of cancer at age 74. Mr. Songsri studied filmmaking at UCLA in the 1960s and early 70. He directed nearly 20 films during his career. In 2005 The Thailand National Film Association awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the Thai film industry. His 1981 film "Plae Chow" was also recognized with film festival awards.


Production assistant Bennah Burton-Burtt died of breast cancer at age 60. Ms. Benton-Burtt was a long-time assistant to producer Charles Band. She worked with Mr. Band on 30 films. Ms. Benton-Burtt also worked with other producers. Among her many credits are "The Ghoulies," "Crash and Burn," "Puppet Master II," "Trancers II," "Prehysteria" and "Decadent Evil."

BILLY WALKER Died May 21, 2006

Country & Western musician Billy Walker was killed, along with his wife and two band members on an automobile crash in Alabama. Mr. Walker was 77 years old. Billy Walker was a long-time performer with the Grand Old Opry in Nashville. He had a number of hit records during his lengthy career. Billy Walker missed death once before. He was singing at a charity event in Kansas City, Missouri in 1963 when her received an emergency phone call from home. A fellow performer, Hawkshaw Hawkins, gave Mr. Walker his plane ticket so he could return home. Mr. Hawkins then took the chartered plane that crashed and killed him, as well as Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. Billy Walker appeared on a number of TV shows as well as in the film "Second Fiddle to a Steal Guitar" with the Bowery Boys!

KATHERINE DUNHAM Died May 21, 2006

Choreographer/teacher/civil rights activist Katherine Dunham died at age 96. Ms. Dunham established the first all-Black modern dance group in America. Ms. Dunham’s influence was felt from Broadway to the poorest inner city ghettos. She taught in prestigious colleges and inner city schools. Her dance students included Marlon Brando as well as the underprivileged. Ms. Dunham was honored by many nations including the Presidential Medal of the Arts awarded by President Reagan. Ms. Dunham appeared in the classic film "Stormy Weather." She also choreographed several films including "Carnival of Rhythm" and "Pardon My Sarong."

PIERRE GOBEIL Died May 21, 2006

Canadian actor Pierre Gobeil died of cancer at age 68. Mr. Gobeil acted on film, radio and TV. Among his many credits are "Dear Theo," "The Lucky Star" and "Beyond Forty."

CLIFFORD ANTONE Died May 22, 2006

Austin, Texas blues legend Clifford Antone died of natural causes at home at age 56. Mr. Antone was an influential figure in the music world, especially in Austin. He was the owner of the famed Blues club "Antone’s." Mr. Antone was the subject of the excellent 2004 documentary film "Antone’s: Home of the Blues." Mr. Antone died just two weeks before the film is set to make its Koch Vision DVD release. Mr. Antone also appeared in the documentary "Janis Joplin Slept Here."

SALVATORE BILLA Died May 22, 2006

Italian tough guy actor Salvatore Billa died of natural causes at age 63. Mr. Billa was usually the heavy in the background, though he did occasionally have larger roles. If you look fast you can spot Mr. Billa in Martin Scorsese’s "The Gangs of New York," "Sergio Leone’s "Once Upon a Time in America," Francis Ford Copolla’s "The Godfather Part II," Fellini’s "Fred and Ginger," Zefferelli’s "Romeo and Juliet," John Huston’s "The Bible," "National Lampoon’s European Vacation," "Mr. Scarface" with Jack Palance, "Bread and Chocolate," three of the "Sabata" Spaghetti Westerns and "Cleopatra" with Liz and Dick.

KATHLEEN ARC Died May 22, 2006

Actress Kathleen Arc died in her sleep. No age was given. Ms. Arc appeared such films and TV shows as "Chicago Hope," "Mary White," "Deadly Alliance" and "Moving West." She was an assistant to the producer on the film "A Hero Ain’t Nothing But a Sandwich."

LUCINA PAQUET Died May 23, 2006

Actress/teacher/author Lucina Paquet died of cancer at age 84. Ms. Paquet taught theater arts and directed plays on the college level. She also wrote two books on the works of playwrights Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. Ms. Paquet began acting in film later in life. Her film credits include "Groundhog Day," "Prelude to a Kiss," "My Best Friend's Wedding," "No Mercy" and "Novocaine." Her final film was "Sin City." Though her scenes as Mickey Rourke’s mother were cut from the theatrical version, you can see them on the Special Edition DVD version. She also acted as Grandma Joad in the 1990 Tony-winning production of "The Grapes of Wrath."

MAX MEYNIER Died May 23, 2006

French radio personality and actor Max Meynier died of cancer at age 68. Mr. Meynier had a successful radio career that began in the 1970s. He was the creator of "The French Truckers" radio show. Mr. Meynier appeared in the TV series "Figures and Letters" and "The Man of Picardy."

DODIE FOSTER Died May 23, 2006

Assistant producer/production manager/assistant director Dodie Foster died of lung cancer at age 77. He many film and TV credits include "The Color of Money," "Men Don’t Leave," "Funny Lady," "Harry and Tonto," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Quincy."

PAUL HELMICK Died May 23, 2006

Assistant director/production manager/associate producer Paul Helmick died at age 87. Mr. Helmick wrote and directed the hot rod films "Teenage Thunder" and "Thunder in Carolina." He was an associate producer on the classic adventure film "Hatari!" as well as "El Dorado" and "Rio Lobo." Mr. Helmick was a production manager on "Funny Girl" and "The Cheyanne Social Club." He was an assistant director on a number of A-list films. His AD credits include "Gentleman Prefer Blondes," "River of No Return," "Marty," "Land of the Pharaohs," "The Defiant Ones," "Rio Bravo," "Hello, Dolly!" and "Comes a Horseman." Mr. Helmick shared the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures with Delbert Mann for his AD work on "Marty."

HENRY BUMSTEAD Died May 24, 2006

Two-time Oscar-winning production designer/art director Henry Bumstead died of prostate cancer at age 91. Mr. Bumstead was nominated four times for the Best Art Direction Oscar. He won twice for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Sting." His other two nominations were for Hitchcock’s classic "Vertigo" and Clint Eastwood’s brutal Western "Unforgiven." Mr. Bunstead was a long-time collaborator with Clint Eastwood. The Art Director’s Guild honored Mr. Bumstead with a Excellence in Production Design Award for his work on Eastwood’s "Mystic River." He was also nominated for his work on Eastwood’s "Million Dollar Baby." In 1998, the Guild also bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on Mr. Bumstead.

Henry Bumstead worked on a number of great films. I addition to "Vertigo," he worked on Hitchcock’s "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "Topaz" and "Family Plot." Mr. Bumstead’s films for Clint Eastwood include "Joe Kidd," "High Plains Drifter," "A Perfect World," "Absolute Power," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," "True Crime," "Space Cowboys" and "Blood Work." His final two films, also for Clint Eastwood are currently in post-production: "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Red Sun, Black Sand." Not bad for a man in his 90s! Who says the elderly don’t have anything to contribute to society!

Among Mr. Bumstead’s many, many credits are the remake of "Cape Fear," "The Little Drummer Girl," "The World According to Garp," "A Little Romance," "House Calls," "Slaughterhouse Five," "Slap Shot," "The Great Waldo Pepper," "Tell Them Willie Boy is Here," "Cinderfella," "I Married a Monster From Outer Space," "Come Back Little Sheba" and "My Friend Irma."

Mr. Bumstead served his country in the US Navy during WWII.

CLAUDE PIEPLU Died May 24, 2006

French actor Claude Pieplu died at age 83. Mr. Pieplu had a successful career on both stage and screen. He appeared in a number of international hit films including Luis Bunuel’s "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie." His greatest fame in his native land came for his voice work in the cartoon series "Shadoks." Mr. Pieplu appeared in over 100 films and TV series. His many credits include "Le Sex Shop," Claude Charbrol’s "Wedding in Blood," Roman Polanski’s "The Tenant" and "Asterix and Ceasar."

LEO PESCAROLO Died May 24, 2006

Award-winning producer Leo Pescarolo died of respiratory failure due to asthma at age 70. Mr. Pescarolo won the David di Donatello Award for Best Producer for the 1997 film "Truce," which starred John Turturro. Other credits include "Galileo," "Autopsy" and "Time to Kill" with Nicolas Cage.


Actress Charlotte McGinnis died of cancer at age 53. Ms. McGinnis was a one-time comedy partner of Paul Reubens before he became known as Pee Wee Herman. The pair appeared together on Chuck Barris’ hit TV show "The Gong Show." Ms. McGinnis’ film credits include "Billy Jack Goes to Washington," "Hardcore" and "Reform School Girls." She was the wardrobe supervisor on the film "Down On Us." She is survived by her husband, producer/director Howard Wiffinden.

DOROTHY STRONGIN Died May 25, 2006

Actress Dorothy Strongin died at age 86. The SAG member appeared in the cult-classic horror film "Basket Case."

AIDA LUZ Died May 25, 2006

Actress Aida Luz died at age 89. The Argentinean actress appeared in nearly 50 films during a career that began in the 1930s. In 1999 Ms. Luz was given a lifetime achievement award at the Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards.

DESMOND DEKKER Died May 25, 2006

Composer Desmond Dekker died of a heart attack at age 64. Mr. Dekker was one of the first Jamaican artists to break through to international audience; giving many outside the Caribbean their first taste of Reggae. His song "The Israelites" broke through as an international hit in 1969. He composed the song "0.0.7. (Shanty Town)" for the Jimmy Cliff cult classic "The Harder They Come." His hit song "The Israelites" was featured on the soundtracks of "Miami Blues," "Drugstore Cowboy" and "A Walk on the Moon."


Actress June Whitley Taylor died at age 84. Ms. Whitley began her film career in the 1940s. She worked in film and TV until the mid 1980s. Mr. Whitley appeared in the pilot episode of the TV series "The Monkees." Among her many credits are the TV shows "The Lone Ranger," "Dragnet," "Mr. Ed," "The Donna Reed Show," "The Flying Nun," "Mannix," "Love American Style," "The Rockford Files," "The Incredible Hulk," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Alice." Mr. Whitley’s film and TV movie credits include "Confidentially Yours," "Bright Victory," "Women in Chains," "Captains and the Kings," "The Patricia Neal Story" and "Rescue From Gilligan’s Island."

MASUMI OKADA Died May 26, 2006

Japanese actor Masumi Okada died of cancer at age 70. Mr. Okada’s career dated back to the 1950s. He appeared in the hit TV mini-series "Shogun." He also appeared in the Christopher Lambert action flick "The Hunted." Mr. Okada’s other credits include "Atragon II," "Marco" and the TV series "The Space Giants."

SEAN BELLANICH Died May 27, 2006

Actor Sean Bellanich drowned at age 24. Mr. Bellanich was at the beginning of his career. He appeared as a Holocaust victim in the MTV series "BIOryhtym." He also appeared in the short film "Yakimoto, Good for You." He studied art at Santa Monica College. In a 2001 college profile, Mr. Bellanich stated that he grew up drawing animation cells. Mr. Bellanich was working as an animator and was in the process of writing a screenplay. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.


Popular Indian character actor Oduvil Unnikrishnan died of renal failure at age 62. Mr. Unnikrishnan appeared in over 70 Malayalam language films. He received numerous awards for his work in his native land including the Maiden State Award.

ALEX TOTH Died May 27, 2006

Comic artist Alex Toth died at his drawing board at age 77. Mr. Toth was both a comic book artist and character designer for Hanna Barera. He designed characters for such shows as "Johnny Quest," "Space Ghost," "The Fantastic Four," "Shazzan" and "Battle of the Planets." He worked for Dell and DC comics among others.

BARBARA COHEN Died May 27, 2006

Casting director Barbara Cohen died of breast cancer at age 53. Ms. Cohen was married to producer/director Tom Huckabee. Ms. Cohen’s credits include "Hocus Pocus," "Needful Things," "Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain," "Rushmore," "Frailty," "House of Wax" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."

PAUL GLEASON Died May 27, 2006

Prolific character actor Paul Gleason died of mesothelioma at age 67. The illness which killed him is a rare lung cancer connected to asbestos exposure. Paul Gleason appeared in over 130 films and TV shows during his career. He was adept and both comedy and at playing the heavy. Though Mr. Gleason delivered a number of memorable performances, he was best know for his role as the principle in John Hughes’ teen classic "The Breakfast Club." Paul Gleason’s hard-line disciplinarian personified everything that kids saw as wrong and unjust with adults. His scenes with actor Judd Nelson were the most devastating as far as the way they portrayed an authority figure gone bad. Paul Gleason was also remembered as the full of crap FBI agent in the original "Die Hard." He also was memorable as the henchman who got a big surprise from an amorous ape in "Trading Places." Paul Gleason began his film and TV career in the 1960. The student of Lee Strasberg appeared in several TV series and films in the 60s and 70s, but his career didn’t really take off until the 1980. Mr. Gleason’s many feature film roles include "Doc Savage: Man of Iron," "The Great Santini," "Fort Apache the Bronx," "Arthur," "Tender Mercies," "Miami Blues," "Not Another Teen Movie" and "National Lampoon’s Van Wilder." I recently had the pleasure of reviewing "Abominable," a new horror film by director Ryan Schifrin: son of composer Lalo Schifrin. "Abominable's" cool ending features Mr. Gleason as a loudmouth sheriff.

THELMA BERNSTEIN Died May 27, 2006

Actress Thelma Bernstein died at age 95. Ms. Bernstein was the mother of actor/director Albert Brooks and actor Super Dave Osborne. She was the inspiration for the title character in son Albert Brooks’ film "Mother." The title role was played by Debbie Reynolds. She appeared in her son’s films "Modern Romance" and "Real Life." Ms. Berstein acted in the 1930s under the name Thelma Leeds. She appeared in the films "Follow the Fleet," "New Faces of 1937" and "The Toast of New York."

DAVID BUTLER Died May 27, 2006

Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Butler died at age 78. Mr. Butler received a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination for the 1976 film "Voyage of the Damned." He co-wrote the script with Steve Shagan. The pair was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award. David Butler wrote primarily for TV. His specialty was the historical drama. He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Mini Series or Special for "Lord Mountbattan: The Last Viceroy." Other credits include "Bear Island," "Disraeli," "Edward the King," "Marco Polo" and "Jesus of Nazareth."

ARTHUR WIDMER Died May 28, 2006

Oscar-winning inventor and special effects pioneer Arthur Widmer died at age 91. Mr. Widmer was awarded an Award of Commendation by the Academy in 2005 for his lifetime achievement in the science and technology of image compositing for motion pictures as exemplified by his significant contributions to the development of the Ultra Violet and the 'bluescreen' compositing processes. He worked for Warner Brothers and Universal during his long career, making significant contributions to the development of such movie process as 3D and Widescreen technology. Mr. Widmer served his country during WWII as a member of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge Tennessee.

BROOK BYRON Died May 29, 2006

Actress Brook Byron died at age 92. She was also billed as Delma Byron. Ms. Byron appeared in a number of films from the 1930s through the 1960s. She starred with Shirley Temple in the 1936 film "Dimples." Over 20 years later she appeared with Rosalind Russell in the best version of "Auntie Mame." Her film and TV credits include "Everybody’s Old Man," "Laughing at Trouble," "M Squad" and "The Untouchables."

STEVE MIZERAK Died May 29, 2006

Pool champion Steve Mizerak died at age 61 of complications following gall bladder surgery. Mr. Mizerak won four U.S. Open Championships. He appeared as Paul Newman’s first opponent in Martin Scorsese’s "The Color of Money." He played himself in the 1980 comedy "The Baltimore Bullet."

BILL KOVACS Died May 30, 2006

Oscar-winning computer animator Bill Kovacs died of complications of a stroke brought on by a cerebral hemorrhage at age 56. In 1998 he shared a Scientific Oscar with Roy Hall for his leadership that lead to the Wavefront Advanced Visualizer computer graphics system. The Wavefront Advanced Visualizer is an integrated workstation-based 3D animation system that offers a comprehensive set of tools for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, image composition, and video output. Mr. Kovacs worked on Disney’s sci-fi film "Tron." He appeared in the documentary "The Story of Computer Graphics."

ROBERT STERLING Died May 30, 2006

Actor Robert Sterling died of natural causes at age 88. Mr. Sterling co-starred with his second wife Anne Jeffreys in the hit TV series "Topper." The stars of "Topper" are pictured at right. He and first wife, actress Ann Southern were the parents of actress Tisha Sterling. Mr. Sterling appeared in over 70 films and TV shows. His credits include "Golden Boy," "The Gay Caballero," "The Sundowners," "Show Boat," "Lights Out," "Suspense," "Robert Montgomery Presents," "Studio One," "Wagon Trail," the film version of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "The Twilight Zone," "Naked City," "Nanny and the Professor," "Fantasy Island" and "Murder, She Wrote."

SHOHEI IMAMURA Died May 30, 2006

Award-winning Japanese director Shohei Imamura died of liver cancer at age 79. Mr. Imamura’s work was recognized internationally with numerous awards. He won or was nominated for awards at Cannes, the Venice Film Festival, Kinema Junpo Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Cesar Awards, Berlin International Film Festival and the Awards of the Japanese Academy. He is only one of four directors to win the Palm d’Or twice. Mr. Imamura made both features and documentary films. He worked to show the grittier side of life. He embraced the anti-hero. His 1979 film "Vengeance Is Mine" had a murderous thief on the run from the law as its hero. One of Mr. Imamura’s best know films was the bizarre "The Eel." "The Eel" won the Palm d’Or at Cannes. His final film was a short subject entitled "Japan," which was part of the feature compilation known as "September 11."

KEN LETTVIN Died May 31, 2006

TV film editor Ken Lettvin died at age 80. The longtime film editor worked primarily on TV. His credits include Andy Griffith’s "Deadly Game" and "Nightmare in Badham County" among others.

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