Sunday, April 21, 2013

March 2008 Film World Obituaries

JEFF HEALEY Died Mar. 2, 2008

Blind guitar legend Jeff Healey died of cancer at age 41. Mr. Healey lost his sight to cancer when he was an infant. He began playing guitar at age 3 and became one of the world's foremost guitar virtuosos. Jeff Healey played rock, blues, jazz and classical guitar styles. He was about to release his first new blues/rock album in nearly a decade. For those who don't remember the late 1980s or early 1990s, YouTube is full of classic clips of Jeff Healey destroying the competition. I highly recommend checking out the video of Mr. Healey and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan tearing up the song "Look at Little Sister." One of my guilty pleasures is the Patrick Swayze B-movie "Road House." Jeff Healey provided some great music and had respectable acting chops as Cody, the musician who rocked the bar. A fun, trashy movie, made all the better for Jeff Healey's presence. Jeff Healey performed on numerous TV shows worldwide. There was a corny old song called "Rock and Roll Heaven" in which the singer lamented about those who have passed away. I'm sure if anyone were to rerecord that song today it would contain a lyric about Jeff Healey. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, especially his two young children.

MICHAEL TROMER Death announced Mar. 2, 2008

Emmy-nominated sound man Michael Tromer died at age 70. The date of his passing was not given. Mr. Tromer was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the series "Miami Vice." Mr. Tromer's other credits include "Going to California," "Miami Rhapsody," "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway," "Mr. Wonderful," "Cadillac Man," "Miami Blues," "Sea of Love," "Married to the Mob" and "To Kill a Cop."

SOFIKO CHIAURELI Died Mar. 2, 2008

Ukranian film and stage actress Sofiko Chiaureli died at age 80. She was the daughter of award-winning director Mikheil Chiaureli and famed actress Veriko Anjaparidze. Ms. Chiaureli starred in Sergei Parajanov's masterpiece "The Color of Pomegranates." She appeared in five of the director's films.

ZEBEDEE MASSEY Died Mar. 2, 2008

Data wrangler Zebedee Massey died in Melbourne Australia. His age and cause of death were not given. Mr. Massey was a data wrangler on several films including "Kingdom of Heaven," "Troy," "The Da Vinci Code" and "10,000 BC." A data wrangler is one who makes sure there is enough computer space to do visual effects without losing any information. A thankless job of storage administration so that CGI artists and animators can do their magic. While it only takes two parents to raise a child, it DOES take a village to make a movie. Mr. Massey also wrote, produced and directed the short film "Blowback."

WADE BATTLEY Died Mar. 2, 2008

Art director Wade Battley died of cancer at age 52. Ms. Battley won a Day Time Emmy for the soap opera "Days of Our Lives." Ms. Battley's other credits include "General Hospital," "Port Charles," "Showtime at the Apollo" and "Star Search."


Singer and recording engineer Hurricane Smith died at age 80. Mr. Smith worked as a recording engineer at EMI studios. He was the engineer on all of the Beatles records through "Rubber Soul." Mr. Smith also engineered recordings for such bands as Pink Floyd and Manfred Mann. Mr. Smith's song "Oh Babe, What Would You Say" was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic when I was in high school. He appeared in the US on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "The John Denver Show." His song "What Makes the Man" can be heard on the soundtrack of the spy thriller "Innocent Bystanders."

GLORIA CROMWELL Died Mar. 3, 2008

Actress Gloria Cromwell has died. Her age was not given. Ms. Cromwell appeared in such films and TV shows as "One Life to Live," "The Golden Girls," "Hunter," "The War of the Roses," "Murder, She Wrote," "Say Anything...," "Designing Women," "Moonlighting," "Hill Street Blues," "Parent Trap II," "Kate & Allie" and "Ryan's Hope."


Japanese voice actor Taichiro Hirokawa died of cancer at age 68. Mr. Hirokawa died voice work for a number of the "Space Battleship Yamato" films. He also dubbed the voices of English speaking actors for the Japanese release of their films. He was the Japanese voice of Roger Moore. He also dubbed Tony Curtis and Robert Redford films into Japanese.

PAUL RAYMOND Died Mar. 3, 2008

British porn baron Paul Raymond died at age 82. Mr. Raymond built a multi-million dollar empire during the 1960s on publishing, sex shops and strip clubs. He produced three films which starred model Fiona Richmond. "Expose" was a nudity ladened horror film. It had the distinction of being the only British produced film to be included on the infamous "Video Nasty" list of horror films banned in Britain. Mr. Raymond next produced two sex-comedies for Ms. Richmond: "Let's Get Laid" and "Hardcore." His final film was "Paul Raymond's Erotica" starring Brigette Lahaie.

ROBERT BRUNING Died Mar. 4, 2008

Australian actor/producer Robert Bruning died at age 79. Ironically, Mr. Bruning who often said that 'exercise can kill you' died while swimming in New Zealand. He was in New Zealand while his wife was filming the movie "The Lovely Bones." Mr. Bruning was the star of several classic Australian TV series including "The Long Arm," "The Godfathers" and "Homicide." He produced the first Made for TV movie in Australia: "Is There Anybody There." He would eventually produce over 20 Made for TV movies. Mr. Bruning appeared in the feature films "Ned Kelly" with Mick Jagger and "Sunday Too Far Away" with Jack Thompson.

LEONARD ROSENMAN Died Mar. 4, 2008

Oscar and Emmy-winning composer Leonard Rosenman died of a heart attack at age 83. Mr. Rosenman won back-to-back Oscars for his work on Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" and Hal Ashby's "Bound for Glory." He was nominated for two more Oscars for "Cross Creek" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." Mr. Rosenman won two Emmy awards for the miniseries "Sybil" and the TV movie "Friendly Fire." Mr. Rosenman contributed his talent to over 100 films and TV shows.

Leonard Rosenman's long career began with the James Dean films "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause." Later he would score James Bridges' 1978 film "September 30. 1955," which dealt with the news of James Dean's death on a young man played by Richard Thomas.

Horror and Sci-Fi fans will remember Mr. Rosenman's memorable scores for such films as "Fantastic Voyage," Robert Altman's "Countdown," "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," "Battle for the Planet of the Apes," "Race With the Devil," "The Car," "Prophecy" and "RoboCop 2."

Leonard Roseman also scored several memorable crime films including "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond," "The Todd Killings" and "Hide in Plain Sight." Other credits include the Neil Diamond version of "The Jazz Singer," "A Man Called Horse," Steve McQueen's little seen "An Enemy of the People," "The Chapman Report" and "Making Love."

ENRICO JOB Died Mar. 4, 2008

Award-winning production and costume designer Enrico Job died of leukemia at age 74. Mr. Job won two David di Donatello Awards and was nominated for two Cesar Awards for his costumes and production design for the 1984 version of "Carmen." He won another David di Donatello Award for the crime drama "Camorra." Mr. Job was the husband of director Lina Wertmuller. They are the parents of actress Maria Job. Mr. Job collaborated with his wife as production designer 12 films including "Seven Beauties" and "The Nymph." He designed costumes for five of Ms. Wertmuller's films including "The Seduction of Mimi" and the original version of "Swept Away." Mr. Job was the production designer on the infamous cult classics "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein" and "Andy Warhol's Dracula."

GARY GYGAX Died Mar. 4, 2008

Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax died of an abdominal aneurysm at age 69. Mr. Gygax and Dave Arneson created the popular role playing game in 1974. Mr. Gygax wrote episodes for and co-produced the TV series "Dungeons & Dragons." He appeared as himself in a number of documentaries including "Let the Games Begin" and "Uber Goober."

ELENA NATHANAIL Died Mar. 4, 2008

Award-winning Greek actress Elena Nathanail died of lung cancer at age 67. Ms. Nathanail won the Best Actress award at the Thessoloniki Film Festival for her performance in "Randevou Me Mia Agnosti." She appeared in over 30 films and TV shows including "Web of Deception," "Assignment Skybolt" and "Love Cycles."

GUSTAW HOLOUBEK Died Mar. 5, 2008

Renowned Polish actor Gustaw Holoubek died at age 85. He was considered one of Poland's foremost stage actors. He began his career in underground theater during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Mr. Holoubek appeared in over 50 films including these award-winning films: "The Men of Blue Cross," "Partings," "Sun and Shadow," "The Sarragossa Manuscript," "Goya," "The Hour-Glass Sanatorium" and "With Fire and Sword."

JEFF HYDE Died Mar. 5, 2008

Special effects technician Jeff Hyde died of cancer at age 52. Mr. Hyde worked on such films as "Smokey and the Bandit," "The Outsiders," "Bull Durham," "Sharkey's Machine," "Army of Darkness," "Rumble Fish," "Darkman," "Twister's Revenge!," "Midnight Edition" and "Evil Dead II."

STEPHEN OLIVER Died Mar. 5, 2008

Actor Stephen Oliver died of cancer at age 68. Mr. Oliver played badguy Lee Webber for two seasons on the soap opera "Peyton Place." One of his last roles was as boxer Gentleman Jim Corbett in Steve McQueen's next to last film "Tom Horn." Mr. Oliver's other film credits include the biker films "Cycle Psycho," "Werewolves on Wheels," "Angels from Hell" and Russ Meyer's "Motor Psycho." Stephen Oliver's other film and TV credits include "The Naked Zoo," "Streets of San Francisco," "Starsky and Hutch" "CHiPs," "The Van" and "The Immortal." Mr. Oliver was married and divorced from actresses Lana Wood and Andrea Cyrill. Stephen Oliver served his country in the US Navy during the Vietnam War.

MARVIN WALD Died Mar. 6, 2008

Oscar nominated screenwriter Marvin Wald died at age 90. Mr. Wald was nominated for an Oscar and two WGA Awards for his script for the 1948 crime classic "The Naked City." He produced and wrote the Ida Lupino directed rape story "Outrage." The 1950 film pushed the limits of the production code with its serious subject matter. Mr. Wald worked in film and on TV. Other credits include the Rod Steiger gangster film "Al Capone," "In Search of Historic Jesus," "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams," "Daktari," "Combat!," "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," "Shirley Temple's Storybook," "Peter Gunn," "Climax!," "Have Gun - Will Travel," "Man on Fire," "Lassie," "My Friend Flicka," "Jungle Jim," "Ten Gentlemen from West Point" and "Two in a Taxi." He was the brother Oscar-nominated producer Jerry Wald.

ALEX SHARP Died Mar. 6, 2008

Actor, stuntman and writer Alex Sharp died of heart and stroke related illness at age 86. Alex Sharp is held in high regard by "Bonanza" fans for his many comedic scripts. Mr. Sharp wrote eight scripts for the series. He also acted in two episodes and did stuntwork in a number of others. Mr. Sharp also wrote multiple episodes of "The High Chaparral." Mr. Sharp was inducted into the Stunt Man's Hall of Fame. Mr. Sharp did stunt work in numerous films and TV shows. He added excitement to such films and TV shows as "In the Line of Fire," "The Rookie," "Bound For Glory," several "Planet of the Apes" films, "Dirty Harry," "Diamonds Are Forever," "Bullitt," "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "Spartacus." Alex Sharp also appeared in front of the camera as an actor. His many acting credits include "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," "Telefon," "Zero to Sixty," "Gunsmoke," "The Cisco Kid" and "Jim Thorp-All American."


Famed Croatian actress Semka Sokolovic-Bertok died of a stroke at age 72. She appeared in over 80 films during her career. Ms. Bertok was recognized as one of the top film actresses in her country by the national press. Her credits include "Sidney Sheldon's Memories of Midnight," "Born to Ride" and "The Pope Must Die."

RUSS POWELL Died Mar. 6, 2008

Transportation coordinator Russ Powell died of cancer at age 68. Mr. Powell was the transportation coordinator on the production of 60 episodes of "Northern Exposure." Other credits include "Plain Clothes," "Sylvester," "Bill: On His Own" and "Adam."

GEORGE TYNE Died Mar. 7, 2008

Actor turned TV director George Tyne died one month before his 91st birthday. Mr. Tyne appeared in over 60 films and TV shows during a career that began in the early 1940s. Mr. Tyne started directing TV shows in the late 1960s though he continued to act until his retirement. George Tyne appeared in eight Broadway productions including the 3-day run of "See the Jaguar" with actor James Dean! Mr. Tyne's many acting credits include "The Lonely Guy," "I Will, I Will... for Now," "Mr. Ricco," "Skin Game," "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here," "The Boston Strangler," "Don't Make Waves," "Decision Before Dawn," "No Way Out," "Sands of Iwo Jima," "The Red Pony," "Call Northside 777," the classic original version of "Body and Soul," "They Won't Believe Me," "A Walk in the Sun," as one of the platoon soldiers in a personal favorite of mine "Objective, Burma!" and "Four Jills in a Jeep." Mr. Tyne's director credits include such TV shows as "M*A*S*H," "James at 15," "The Love Boat," "Happy Days," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Mary Tyler Moore," "The Brady Bunch," "Love, American Style," "The Odd Couple," "It Takes a Thief" and "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir."

COLETTE BERGE Died Mar. 8, 2008

French dancer/actress Colette Berge died at age 66. Ms. Berge worked mainly on stage, however she had several film and TV credits. Those credits include "The Oddball," Fred Zinnemann's original version of "The Day of the Jackal" and "Le Misanthrope."

JOHN HENRY KURTZ Died Mar. 8, 2008

Actor, singer and TV announcer John Henry Kurtz died of cancer at age 62. Mr. Kurtz appeared on Broadway in the 1981 production of "Marlowe." His film and TV acting credits include "Law & Order" and "The Cosby Mysteries." He was the voice of the "NBC Nightly News." Other voice work included "Saturday Night Live." His recording of the song "All I Need for Christmas" was on the soundtrack of the HBO movie "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom." Mr. Kurtz served his country in the US Navy during the Vietnam War.

CAROL BARNES Died Mar. 8, 2008

British TV news anchor Carol Barnes died of a stroke at age 63. Ms. Barnes did the news for the ITV network in England. She appeared as herself in the horror/comedy "Shaun of the Dead."

RICHARD DEROY Died Mar. 8, 2008

Writer Richard DeRoy died at age 77. Mr. DeRoy wrote for numerous TV shows. His two feature film credits were "The Baby and the Battleship" and Robert Wise's "Two People." His many TV credits include "Father Dowling Mysteries," "Remington Steele," "Hart to Hart," "Hawaii Five-O," "Murder in Peyton Place," "The Name of the Game," "The Partridge Family," "The Flying Nun," "The Rat Patrol," "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.," "Peyton Place," "The Twilight Zone," "77 Sunset Strip," "Kraft Television Theatre" and "Studio One."

GEORGE JUSTIN Died Mar. 9, 2008

Producer, production manager and studio exec George Justin died at age 91. George Justin held executive positions at Orion, MGM and Paramount during his 60 year career. He produced such films and TV shows as "Murphy's Romance," "The Deep," "Marathon Man," the excellent heist thriller "The Anderson Tapes," "The Owl and the Pussycat," "The Night They Raided Minsky's," Ann Jackson and Eli Wallach's hilarious "The Tiger Makes Out," "The Defenders" and "12 Angry Men." Mr. Justin worked in various production capacities on such films as "Rollover," "Eyes of Laura Mars," "The Possession of Joel Delaney," "The Graduate," "Up the Down Staircase," "Inside Daisy Clover," "Long Day's Journey Into Night," "A Face in the Crowd" and "On the Waterfront." Mr. Justin had cameo acting roles in Hal Ashby's "Shampoo" and Roman Polanski's "Chinatown." Mr. Justin served his country in the US Army Signal Corps during WWII.

BILL HAYWARD Died Mar. 9, 2008

Producer and entertainment attorney Bill Hayward committed suicide at age 66. Mr. Hayward shot himself in the heart. Mr. Hayward was the son of super agent Leland Hayward and actress Margaret Sullavan. He was the brother of actress Brooke Hayward. Mr. Hayward was an associate producer on the landmark indie film "Easy Rider." "Easy Rider" director Dennis Hopper was once married to Brooke Hayward. His sister Brooke wrote the book "Haywire" about the family's troubled past. Bill Hayward produced the TV movie based on his sister's book. Actor Hart Bochner portrayed Mr. Hayward in the TV movie. Bill Hayward produced five films with his friend Peter Fonda: "Easy Rider," "The Hired Hand," "Wanda Nevada," "High-Ballin'" and "The Idaho Transfer." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

DAVE STEVENS Died Mar. 10, 2008

Comic book and pin-up artist Dave Stevens died of leukemia at age 52. Mr. Stevens created the character "The Rocketeer." His graphic novel was later turned into a film starring Jennifer Connelly and Bill Campbell. Mr. Stevens co-produced the hit film. Mr. Stevens was a huge fan of Bettie Page and captured her sensual beauty in hundreds of drawings and paintings. Mr. Stevens did uncredited storyboard work on "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller." He appeared as himself in the documentary "Frazetta: Painting With Fire."

CHUCK DAY Died Mar. 10, 2008

Rock guitarist Chuck Day died at age 65 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Day is not a name you have probably heard of, but you have heard his work. Mr. Day was the guitarist on Johnny River's hit "Secret Agent Man." He also played on the The Mamas & the Papas hits "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday." Mr. Day was the father of Cass Elliot's daughter Owen. Mr. Day contributed music to the soundtrack of Ralph Bakshi's "Fritz the Cat." He also worked on Shel Silverstein's "Freaker's Ball."

AKEMI NEGISHI Died Mar. 11, 2008

Japanese actress Akemi Negishi died of ovarian cancer at age 73. Ms. Negishi came to the attention of international audiences when she starred in the US/Japanese co-production "Anatahan." This was her debut film. Josef von Sternberg directed the tale of shipwrecked Japanese soldiers who refused to believe that WWII had ended six years after the bombing of Hiroshima. Ms. Negishi worked with director Akira Kurosawa in four films: "The Lower Depths," "Red Beard," "Dodes'ka-den" and "I Live in Fear." Ms. Hegishi had a supporting role in the classic "Lady Snowblood" which was one of the main inspirations for Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill." Other credits include "Half Human" with John Carradine," "King Kong vs. Godzilla" and "Snake Woman's Curse."

VIVIAN BYRNE Died Mar. 11, 2008

Animation painter, checker and union activist Vivian Byrne died at age 95. Ms. Byrne was the widow of animator Tom Byrne and sister-in-law of animator Charles Byrne. Ms. Byrne worked at various studios including MGM, Warner Brothers, Walter Lantz Productions, Filmation and Hanna-Barbera. Ms. Byrne was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 839. She served several terms on the executive board of the Animation Guild and was a shop steward at Hanna-Barbera.

ERWIN GERCHONNECK Died Mar. 12, 2007

German actor Erwin Geschonneck died at age 101. Mr. Gerschonneck was sent to concentration camps by the Nazis because of his communist sympathies. Ms. Gerschonneck was one of the prisoners on board the luxury liner Cap Arcona when it was mistakenly sunk by the RAF. The ship Cap Arcona was used in the filming of the 1943 anti-British propaganda film "Titanic." His story was turned in to an East German TV movie "The Man of the Cap Arcona." Erwin Gerschonneck appeared in over 70 films and TV shows. Mr. Gerschonneck appeared many films produced at the East German DEFA studio including "Naked Among Wolves."

ALUN HODDINOTT Died Mar. 12, 2008

Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott died at age 78. Mr. Hoddinott composed over 300 operas. He also composed music for the Brtish Royal Family. Mr. Hoddinutt composed music for Disney's "The Horsemasters: Follow Your Heart" and "Sword of Sherwood Forest."

SINGKHAM BANDITH Died Mar. 13, 2008

Actor and musician Singkham Bandith died of undisclosed causes at age 35. Mr. Bandith composed the music for, was an actor and second unit director on the short film "Blood Money." He had a small role in the Oscar nominated "Maria Full of Grace." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

NICK COMINOS Died Mar. 14, 2008

Director/producer/writer/editor and WWII Hero Nick Cominos died at age 84. Mr. Cominos directed or produced a number of documentary films. His director credits include "Wind Raiders of the Sahara," "Strange Creatures of the Night" and "On the Trail of Stanley and Livingstone." He worked as an editor on "Roots: One Year Later" and "The Making of 'Star Wars'." Mr. Cominos served his country in the OSS during WWII. The OSS eventually became the CIA. Mr. Cominos took part in amny behind the lines actions against the Nazis during WWII. He was honored with medal 50 years later when the OSS files were finally declassified! Thanks for your service to our country.

JOAN POTTER Died Mar. 14, 2008

Actress and teacher Joan Potter died at age 82. Ms. Potter taught theater and film at Purchase University in New York. Ms. Potter's film and TV credits include "The Bramble Bush," "The Nurses" and "Studio One."

SAL CAROLLO Died Mar. 14, 2008

Actor Sal Carollo died at age 91. Mr. Carollo played Al Pacino's father in "Serpico." Other credits include "The Godfather," "Lovers and Other Strangers," "Moscow on the Hudson," "Miami Vice," "Vigilante," Lucio Fulci's "New York Ripper" and George A. Romero's "Knightriders." Mr. Carollo served his country in the US Army-Air Corps during WWII.

NORMAN WELSH Died Mar. 15, 2008

Actor and Professor Norman Welsh died at age 83. Mr. Welsh taught theater arts at NYU and UCLA. Born in England, Mr. Welsh moved to Canada in the 1950s. Though primarily a stage actor, Mr. Welsh appeared in a number of films and TV shows. He played the title role in the 1973 Canadian TV production of "Dracula." Other credits include "Reluctant Nation," "Arch Oboler's 1+1: Exploring the Kinsey Reports" and "Hudson's Bay." Mr. Welsh served his country in the RAF during WWII.

FREDERICA MINTE Died Mar. 15, 2008

Actress and model Frederica Minte died at age 87. Ms. Minte worked on stage, film and TV. Ms. Minte worked with Paul Lynde in his stage production of "The Impossible Years." Her film and TV credits include "All My Children," "General Hospital" and "Looking Up." Ms. Minte served her country as a Pharmacist's Mate in the US Navy during WWII.

JOHN HEWER Died Mar. 16, 2008

British actor John Hewer died at age 86. Though Mr. Hewer starred on Broadway and worked in film and TV he was best known for playing Captain Birds Eye in British TV commercials for over 30 years. Mr. Hewer co-starred with Julie Andrews in the 1954/55 Broadway production of "The Boy Friend." The show ran for 485 performances. Mr. Hewer's film and TV credits include "Home Before Midnight," the miniseries "Nicholas Nickleby," "Strip Tease Murder," "Law and Disorder," "The Great Detective" and "The Dark Man."

CLAUDE FARELL Died Mar. 17, 2008

German/French actress Claude Farrell died at age 89. Ms. Farrell acted under several different names. She acted under the name Monika Burg while making films in Nazi Germany during WWII. Her credits from this period include "Two for the Big City" and the anti-British propaganda version of "Titanic." After the war she changed her name first to Catherine Farrell and then Claude Farrell. Other credits include Fellini's "I, Vitelloni," "The Secret of Mayerling," the TV series "The Andromeda Breakthrough" and "The Zombie Walks."

OLA BRUNKERT Died Mar. 17, 2008

ABBA drummer Ola Brunkert died when he fell against a pane of glass and slashed his throat. The 61-year-old drummer played on every recording by the Swedish supergroup ABBA. He appeared in the feature film "ABBA: The Movie" as well as the documentary "ABBA In Concert."

JUSTIN WRIGHT Died Mar. 18, 2007

Pixar storyboard artist Justin Wright died of a heart attack at age 27. Mr. Wright was born with several major heart defects. He underwent a heart transplant at age 12. During his stay in the hospital a doctor noticed all of Mr. Wright's sketches and arranged a tour of Pixar studios to boost the boy's spirits. From that point on, Mr. Wright wanted to work for Pixar. He got his wish, first as a production assistant and then as a storyboard artist. Mr. Wright's 2D animation is featured in the closing credits of the Oscar winning film "Ratatoullie." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

JOAN POTTER Death announced Mar. 18, 2008

Actress and theater professor Joan Potter died. Her age and the cause of death were not released. Joan Potter appeared on Broadway in the 1961 production of "A Far Country" and the 1964 production of "The Three Sisters." Ms. Potter appeared in a number of TV productions during the 1950s. She costarred with Darren McGavin in the 1953 "Philco Television Playhouse" production of "The Rainmaker." Other credits include "Studio One" and "The Nurses." Ms. Potter taught acting at the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film at Purchase College for over 30 years.

IVAN DIXON Died Mar. 18, 2008

Emmy-nominated actor, producer and director Ivan Dixon died of a hemorrhage at age 76. Mr. Dixon was also suffering from kidney failure. Ivan Dixon was best known for his role as Sgt. Kinchloe on the hit TV series "Hogan's Heroes." Mr. Dixon was one of the few Black actors to have a major, and non-stereotypical role on a network TV series during the turbulent 1960s. Ivan Dixon was nominated for an Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role Emmy for the 1967 "CBS Playhouse" production "The Final War of Olly Winter." Ivan Dixon appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during his career. He also enjoyed success as a director of feature films and TV shows. His daughter Doris is a production assistant.

Mr. Dixon was Sidney Poitier's stunt double in Stanley Kramer's landmark film "The Defiant Ones." Mr. Portier and Mr. Dixon became friends on the set. The two men acted together in four other films. Mr. Dixon played Mr. Poitier's brother in the Oscar-winning "A Patch of Blue." Their other credits include "Porgy and Bess," "Something of Value" and "A Raisin in the Sun." Ivan Dixon also appeared in the 1959 Broadway production of "A Raisin in the Sun." He also appeared in "The Cave Dwellers" on Broadway. One of Ivan Dixon's most memorable films was the 1964 indie film "Nothing But a Man." Micahel Roemer's film still packs a powerful punch. The film was added to the National Film Registry in 1993. Set in the South, "Nothing But a Man" was a love story told in a frank manner. What was and still is refreshing about the film is that the characters are Black. This was one of the landmark films that helped break down the racial stereotypes so long in place in Hollywood. Ivan Dixons other acting credits include "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?," "Car Wash," the cool TV snakes on a submarine movie "Fer De Lance" and the miniseries "Amerika." Ivan Dixon was a successful director. He helmed the Blaxploitation films "Trouble Man" and "The Spook Who Sat By the Door" as well have many, many episodic TV shows.

ANTHONY MINGHELLA Died Mar. 18, 2008

Oscar and BAFTA winning director Anthony Minghella died of a hemorrhage at age 54. Last week Mr. Minghella underwent surgery to remove cancer from his neck. Mr. Minghella won the Best Director Oscar and BAFTA for "The English Patient." He was nominated for two Best Writing Oscars for "The English Patient" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Anthony Minghella was the brother of screenwriters Dominic and Edana Minghella. He was the father of actor Max and Hannah Minghella, the President of Production of Sony Pictures Animation.

Anthony Minghella directed seven feature films during his career. He won a Best Director BAFTA for his debut film "Truly Madly Deeply." Mr. Minghella followed this with the enjoyable Matt Dillon/Annabella Sciorra romancer "Mr. Wonderful." His third film was the acclaimed "The English Patient." The film was honored with over 80 awards and nominations worldwide including nine Oscars including Best Picture. Next was "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Mr. Minghella's film earned five Oscar nominations and seven BAFTAs. Jude Law's Best Supporting Actor BAFTA was the film's lone win. Mr. Minghella reteamed with Jude Law for his next film: "Cold Mountain." "Cold Mountain" received thirteen BAFTA nominations (3 wins) and seven Oscar nominations. Renee Zellweger's Best Supporting Actress Oscar was the film's lone win. The 2006 feature "Breaking and Entering" was the final film released during Mr. Minghella's lifetime. This was his final film with actor Jude Law. He had recently completed production on his final film "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency."

Anthony Minghella began his career as a writer. He wrote for numerous TV shows including "Inspector Morse" and "The Storyteller." He also wrote or co-wrote the scripts for all of his feature films except "Mr. Wonderful." Mr. Minghella also produced a number of films for other directors. His producer credits include "Iris," the great thriller "Heaven," the remake of "The Quiet American," "The Interpreter" and "Michael Clayton." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

SIR ARTHUR C. CLARKE Died Mar. 19, 2008

Oscar nominated screenwriter and award-winning author Arthur C. Clarke died of respiratory problems at age 90. Sir Clarke had been mostly wheel-chair bound due to post-polio syndrome since 1988. Arthur C. Clarke wrote science fiction as well as futurist speculation concerning the development of space exploration. Many of his predictions from the 1950s and 60s have come true. Sir Clarke developed the idea of world-wide telecommunications via satellites in geosynchronous orbit. He also developed the idea of the space elevator. Arthur C. Clarke served his country as a radar specialist with the RAF during WWII. He took part in the Battle of Britain.

Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick shared an Oscar nomination for the landmark film "2001: A Space Odyssey." The pair used Clarke's story "The Sentinel" as the starting point of their script. Clarke and Kubrick also worked simultaneously on a novel of the story. Arthur C. Clarke received sole credit for the book which differed in several respects from the film. Director Peter Hyams adapted Clarke's novel "2010: Odyssey Two" into the film "2010: The Year We Make Contact." The sequel was less mystical than the Kubrick film, but was still an excellent science fiction film.

Arthur C. Clarke's novel "Rendezvous With Rama" is in pre-production stages with director David Fincher at the helm. Clarke co-wrote the documentary film "The Colours of Infinity." His short story "Breaking Strain" was turned into the 1994 film "Trapped in Space." Arthur C. Clarke appeared as himself in numerous documentary films and TV shows. He was a TV commentator along with Walter Cronkite for CBS during the Apollo moon landings.

PAUL SCOFIELD Died Mar. 19, 2008

Oscar, Tony, Emmy and BAFTA-winning actor Paul Scofield died of leukemia at age 86. Paul Scofield was considered one of the greatest British stage actors of the last century. Though he appeared in over 30 films and TV shows, Mr. Scofield's first love was the stage. Paul Scofield starred as Sir Thomas More in the 1962 Broadway production of "A Man for All Seasons." He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He reprised his role in the 1966 film, winning the Best Actor Oscar in the process. Mr. Scofield was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in Robert Redford's 1994 film "Quiz Show." Mr. Scofield's talent was honored in England with five BAFTA nominations. He won three times for his work in "That Lady," "A Man for All Seasons" and "The Crucible." He received an Emmy Award for the 1969 TV movie "Male of the Species" which co-starred Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier!

Among his memorable film roles was the Nazi art lover Col. Waldheim in John Frankenheimer's 1964 film "The Train." Burt Lancaster co-starred as the French resistance fighter trying to thwart Scofield from looting art treasures before the fall of Paris. Scofield and Lancaster reteamed in the 1973 thriller "Scorpio." He co-starred with Katherine Hepburn in the American Film Theater production of "A Delicate Balance." Mr. Scofield played the title role in Peter Brook's production of "King Lear." Mr. Scofield's other Shakespearian roles on film include parts in Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" and Mel Gibson's "Hamlet." Mr. Scofield played Otto Frank in the excellent TV movie "The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank." Paul Scofield's last major feature film role was in the 1996 version of "The Crucible."

MICHAEL VAN DYKE Died Mar. 19, 2008

Construction foreman Michael Van Dyke committed suicide by hanging himself in a home owned by Oscar-winner Mel Gibson. Mr. Van Dyke was doing renovation work at the home. Mr. Van Dyle was 48 years old. His film credits include "Crank," "The Matrix Reloaded," "Dr. Dolittle 2," "Star Trek: Nemesis," "Karate Kid II" and the remake of "Psycho." He also appeared on the TV series "Monster House" which dealt with building and designing homes. He was the twin brother of construction foreman Robert Van Dyke. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

JON HASSLER Died Mar. 20, 2008

Minnesota novelist John Hassler of a neurological disorder died at age 74. Mr. Hassler was working on his 20th book at the time of his death. His 1984 novel "A Green Journey" was turned into the 1990 TV movie "The Love She Sought" starring Angela Lansbury.

BRIAN WILDE Died Mar. 20, 2008

British actor Brian Wilde died at age 80. Mr. Wilde was best know for his role as Mr. Barrowclough in the TV series "Porridge with Ronnie Barker." He was also a regular on the long-running comedy series "Last of The Summer Wine." Mr. Wilde appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. His many credits include "To the Devil a Daughter," "North and South," "No Sex Please: We're British," "Carry on Doctor," "Dixon of Dock Green," "You Only Live Twice," "The Avengers," "Rasputin: The Mad Monk," "Softly Softly," "Darling," "Z Cars," "Corridors of Blood" and "Night of the Demon."

ARTHUR LYONS Died Mar. 21, 2008

Writer Arthur Lyons died at age 62. Mr. Lyons wrote the Jacob Asch detective novels. His novel "Castles Burning" was turned into the 1986 TV movie "Slow Burn." Mr. Lyons also wrote the film reference book "Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir."

JOHN LIST Died Mar. 21, 2008

Mass-murderer John List died in prison of pneumonia at age 82. Mr. List killed his mother, wife and three children in 1971. He then disappeared for nearly 18 years. Mr. List was captured due to his profile on John Walsh's wonderful TV show "America's Most Wanted." John List was portrayed by actor Robert Blake in the Made for TV Movie "Judgment Day: The John List Story."


Emmy-nominated sound editor and film editor William DeNicholas died at age 84. Mr. DeNicholas shared two Emmy nominations for his work on the miniseries "Marco Polo." He was an assistant film editor on Irwin Allen's disaster films "The Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure" as well as Allen's TV version of "The Swiss Family Robinson."

JULIUS NAYFACK Died Mar. 22, 2008

Film and sound editor Julius Nayfack died at age 87. Mr. Nayfack edited Tom Laughlin's overblown sequel "The Trial of Billy Jack." He was the sound editor on the TV movie "Murder Can Hurt You!" Other credits include the TV series "Starsky and Hutch" and "Charlie's Angels."

NEIL ASPINALL Died Mar. 23, 2008

Producer and long-time Beatles associate Neil Aspinall died of lung cancer at age 66. Mr. Aspinall was a childhood friend of the lads from Liverpool. He began driving them to gigs and later became their road manager. After the death of manager Brian Epstein, Mr. Aspinall served for a short time as the band's manager. He was a producer of the band's final film "Let It Be." Following the break-up of the band, Mr. Aspinall ran Apple Records. He held the post until his retirement last year. Mr. Aspinall was nominated for an Emmy Award for the TV special "The Beatles: Anthology." He also produced "The Beatles in Help!," "Hendrix: Band of Gypsies" and "The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit."

VIRGINIA PARIS Died Mar. 23, 2008

Actress Virginia Paris (real name Ginny Accosta) died of a heart attack at age 73. Ms. Paris appeared in over 20 films and TV shows. She also acted on stage. Her credits include "Quantum Leap," "Stand and Deliver," "The Greatest American Hero," "Knots Landing," "Quincy M.E.," "Barnaby Jones," "CHiPs," "Police Woman," "Ironside," "Emergency!" and "Cade's County."


Chicago actor Richard Sollenberger died of cancer at age 67. Mr. Sollenberger was very active in the Chicago theater scene. His film and TV credits include "Only the Lonely," "The Naked Face," "Mad Dog and Glory," "Early Edition," "The Fence," "Missing Persons," "Big Shots," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Bad Boys" and Arthur Penn's underrated "Four Friends."

BEVERLY ROYDE Died Mar. 24, 2008

Former dancer Beverly Royde (real name Elizabeth Royde Callen) died of pneumonia at age 96. Ms. Royde appeared as a dancer in a number of films during the 1920s and 30s. Her credits include "Swiss Miss," "College Holiday," "George White's Scandals," "Music in the Air," "Bottoms Up" and "Just Imagine."

RICHARD WIDMARK Died Mar. 24, 2008

Oscar-nominated actor Richard Widmark died at age 93. He had been in ill health after breaking a vertebrae. Richard Widmark was an accomplished actor who shunned the bright-lights and flash that came with Movie Star status. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his 1947 screen debut as the evil killer Tommy Udo in "Kiss of Death." Mr. Widmark was typecast as a psychotic killer after the Film Noir classic, but was able to break out of the mold and portray a wide range of characters during his long career.

Richard Widmark moved from radio to film in 1947. He tried to enlist in the military three times during WWII but was turned down because of a perforated eardrum. He made his debut in "Kiss of Death." Henry Hathaway's "Kiss of Death" is one of the best movies in the Film Noir genre. The movie catapulted Richard Widmark to stardom in his Oscar-nominated performance as psycho killer Tommy Udo. This is the movie in which Widmark throws a wheel-chair bound Mildred Dunnock down a flight of stairs. Mr. Widmark made six more films during the 1940s. His next film "The Street With No Name" cemented Widmark's status as a classic badguy. He played a psychotic, wife-beating gang leader targeted by the FBI. Next came "Road House," a minor Noir love triangle film. Widmark's fourth film was his first Western. In William Wellman's "Yellow Sky" he played villain against Gregory Peck's hero. In 1949 Mr. Widmark reteamed with director Henry Hathaway for "Down to the Sea in Ships."

Richard Widmark starred in 26 films during the 1950s. He started the decade with Jules Dassin's Film Noir classic "Night and the City." Once again he was the heavy. In his next film Mr. Widmark got to play the hero. Elia Kazan's "Panic in the Streets" dealt with a Navy medical officer assisting the police in tracking down a criminal who had contracted the Plague. Jack Palance co-starred as the badguy. Widmark returned to the villain role for "No Way Out." He played a bigoted stick-up man being treated for gunshot wounds by a Black doctor. Sidney Poitier co-starred as the doctor. The two actors became life-long friends. Though Widmark was not allowed to serve his country during the war he often portrayed American fighting men. His first war film was Lewis Milestone's all-star "The Halls of Montezuma." Widmark followed this up with another war film "The Frogmen." In the 1952 thriller "Don't Bother to Knock" Richard Widmark had the tables turned on him. He was the hero being menaced by the psycho. Marilyn Monroe played the crazed baby-sitter in her break through role.

Director Sam Fuller cast Widmark as his anti-hero in the Noir classic "Pickup on South Street." Widmark plays a pickpocket who inadvertently steals microfilm intended to be delivered to the commies. A great film. Fuller and Widmark reteamed a year later with the Cold War thriller "Hell and High Water." Other memorable films from the 1950s include the Gary Coopper Western "Garden of Evil," "Broken Lance" with Spencer Tracy, "The Last Wagon," Otto Preminger's "Saint Joan" (memorably bad!) and the excellent Western "Warlock." In 1957 Richard Widmark produced his first film: "Time Limit." Actor Karl Malden directed the Korean War court-martial film. Richard Basehart received a BAFTA nomination for his performance as the man accused of being a traitor. Richard Widmark would produce two more films during his career.

During the 1960s starred in two-dozen films, produced two and co-directed one. He started the decade off playing American legend Jim Bowie in John Wayne's bloated epic "The Alamo." I remember the first time I saw the movie on TV in 1971. I thought Richard Widmark was so cool with his multi-barrel shotgun. His performance remains one of the best things in the film. Richard Widmark produced, co-directed and starred in his next film, the Cold War thriller "The Secret Ways." One of the biggest films of Mr. Widmark's career was the 1961 Stanley Kramer classic "Judgment at Nuremberg." The film was written by Abby Mann who died the day after star Richard Widmark. Mr. Widmark played the Army prosecutor during the Nazi war crimes trials. He held his own opposite such stars as Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Cliff and Judy Garland.

The following year Mr. Widmark was part of the all-star epic "How the West Was Won." In 1963 he starred in John Ford's final Western "Cheyenne Autumn" playing a US Calvary officer sympathetic to the plight of the American Indians. The 1965 Cold War thriller "The Bedford Incident" remains one of the best films of the genre. Widmark starred and produced the cat-and-mouse tale of a Navy destroyer commander tracking a Soviet submarine that strayed into US waters. This was the third film co-starring Widmark and friend Sidney Poitier.

In 1968 Richard Widmark delivered a great performance as the tough New York detective "Madigan." He would later reprise the role in a short lived TV series. The movie was directed by Don Siegel. Widmark's final film of the decade was "Death of a Gunfighter." Widmark had creative differences with director Bob Totten and had him replaced by Don Siegel. When it came time to release the film Don Siegel said he had not directed enough of the film to have his name in the credits. Bob Totten did not want credit either. The result was that "Death of a Gunfighter" became the first film directed by Allen Smithee!

Mr. Widmark slowed down his career during the 1970s but he still gave several memorable performances. Mr. Widmark won an Emmy Award for his performance in the TV movie "Vanished." He played the title role in the 1974 TV miniseries "Benjamin Franklin." Another fun TV movie was "The Last Day" which dealt with the Dalton's failed attempt to rob Mr. Widmark appeared 11 feature films during the 1970s. He gave one of the best performances of his career in Stuart Millar's rodeo drama "When Legends Die." The film rivals Sam Peckinpah's "Junior Bonner" as one of the best character studies of men on the rodeo circuit. Richard Widmark added just the right touch of slime as the murder victim Mr. Ratchett in Sidney Lumet's all-star whodunit "Murder on the Orient Express." One of my guilty pleasures is the Hammer Horror film "To the Devil a Daughter." I think my enjoyment of the film has more to do with Nastassja Kinski than Richard Widmark but he was fine also. Many of Richard Whidmark's 1970s film roles were in supporting parts. Other notable credits include Robert Aldrich's "Twilight's Last Gleaming," Stanley Kramer's "The Domino Principle," "Rollercoaster" and "The Swarm."

Richard Widmark made five feature films and seven TV movies during the 1980s and 90s at which point he retired from acting. Among his final credits are the TV movie "A Whale for the Killing," the Gene Wilder/Gilda Radner comedy "Hanky Panky," "A Gathering of Old Men" and "Cold Sassy Tree." In 1984 Richard Widmark had a supporting role in the remake of the Noir classic "Out of the Past." "Against All Odds" paled in comparison to the original film. Mr. Widmark's cameo and an out of place car race down Sunset Blvd are the only things the movie had going for it. Richard Widmark's final feature film was the political thriller "True Colors." The film was a fine swansong for the veteran actor. A great performance in a supporting. Just as strong at the end as he was at the beginning of his career. Rest in Peace Mr. Widmark.

RAFAEL AZCONA Died Mar. 24, 2008

Award-winning Spanish screenwriter Rafael Azcona died of lung cancer at age 81. Mr. Azcona wrote the Oscar winning Best Foreign film "Belle Epoque." He often collaborated with Italian director Marco Ferreri. The pair made 15 films together including the disturbing exercise in excess "Le Grande Bouffe." Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noriet and Ugo Tognazzi played four wealthy men who gather for a weekend to eat themselves to death. The film won many awards and divided critics and audiences alike. It remains a very disturbing and somewhat pointless film. Mr. Azcona and Mr. Ferreri specialized in surreal, profane and dark films. Mr. Azcona was honored in his homeland with nine Goya nominations. He won five times and was also given an Honorary Goya in 1998 for his life work. Mr. Azcona had nearly 100 screenplays produced during his lifetime.

TONY CHURCH Died Mar. 25, 2008

British stage actor Tony Church died at age 77. Mr. Church was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His film and TV credits include "Krull," "The Plague Dogs," Roman Polanski's "Tess" and the TV miniseries "Edward & Mrs. Simpson."

ABBY MANN Died Mar. 25, 2008

Oscar and Emmy-winning screenwriter Abby Mann died of heart failure at age 84. Mr. Mann won the Oscar for his script "Judgment at Nuremberg." He was nominated for a second Oscar for "Ship of Fools." He was also nominated for WGA Awards for both films.

My first memory of Mr. Mann's work was the excellent TV movie "The Marcus-Nelson Murders." The Emmy-winning Made for TV movie starred Telly Savalas and Marjoe Gortner. It was based on the true-crime story of the Wylie/Hoffert 'Career Girl' murders in New York. Abby Mann was drawn to stories of injustice. "The Marcus-Nelson Murders" mirrored the real-life case in which a Black man was beaten into confessing a double murder. He was later cleared when other detectives uncovered evidence to exonerate the suspect and find the real culprit. Telly Savalas played the composite character Detective Theo Kojak. This Emmy0winning TV film became the springboard for the hit TV series "Kojak." The original movie was far superior to any of the TV episodes. Abby Mann is credited as the creator of the TV series. He produced several episodes but became disenchanted with the direction the TV series took.

Abby Mann was nominated for ten Emmy Awards during his lengthy career. He won three awards. Two for his scripts for "The Marcus-Nelson Murders" and "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story" and a third award for producing the HBO movie "Indictment: The McMartin Trial." He was nominated for writing and directing the TV miniseries "King," which dealt with the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Other credits include the feature films John Cassavettes' early directorial feature "A Child is Waiting," "Report to the Commissioner" and Frank Sinatra's "The Detective." Mr. Mann later wrote the TV biopic "Sinatra." His other writing and producing TV credits include "The Atlanta Child Murders," "Skag," "Medical Story," "Playhouse 90" and "Studio One."

ROBERT SIDNEY Died Mar. 26, 2008

Choreographer Robert Sidney died of pneumonia at age 98. Mr. Sidney was a choreographer in film and on Broadway. Mr. Sidney's film credits include "This is the Army," "Bloodhounds of Broadway," "Susan Slept Here," "The Conqueor," the original version of "Where the Boys Are," "How to Murder Your Wife," the original version of "Valley of the Dolls," "The Silencers" and "The Singing Nun."

KARL LEWIS MILLER Died Mar. 27, 2008

Renowned animal trainer and animal action director Karl Lewis Miller died at age 66. Mr. Miller's film career spanned 40 years. He learned his trade, in part from the legendary "Lassie" trainer Rudd Weatherwax. He trained animals in such films as "The Invasion," "House of 1000 Corpses," "Babe: Pig in the City," "Babe," "Beethoven," "Miller's Crossing," "Raising Arizona," "Stand by Me," "Cat's Eye," "Cujo," "White Dog," the original version of "The Amityville Horror," "Longstreet," "They Only Kill Their Masters" and "The Doberman Gang." Mr. Miller acted in the films "Babe" and "White Dog."

ROBERT GROUND Died Mar. 28, 2008

Musician, poet, cook, author and one-time film director Robert Ground died of cancer at age 86. Mr. Ground directed the truly bizarre 'documentary' "The Weird World of LSD." This strange movie has to be seen to be believed. It is a cult classic that rivals "Reefer Madness" as one of the most over-blown 'warning films' of all time. Mr. Ground served his country in the US Army during WWII, seeing action on D-Day and in the Pacific


SHANNON FENADY Died Mar. 29, 2008

Segment producer Shannon Fenady died of a heart attack at age 44. Mr. Fenady's credits include "Extra!," "What's So Funny!," "The Most Outrageous Live TV Moments" and "TV's Funniest Outtakes."

ROBERT WARNES LEACH Died Mar. 30, 2008

Writer and victim's rights activist Robert Warnes Leach died at age 93. Mr. Leach wrote for several TV series including "Parry Mason," "Ripcord," "Men Into Space" and "The Adventures of Jim Bowie." Following the murder of his daughter Mr. Warnes dedicated his life to victim's rights in the criminal justice system.

SEAN LEVERT Died Mar. 30, 2008

39-year-old singer Sean Levert died of unknown causes in a Cleveland Ohio jail. Autopsy results are pending. Mr. levert was in the Cleveland jail awaiting transfer to the state prison. He was sentenced to 22 months in prison for failing to pay child support. Mr. Levert was a member of the R&B trio Levert. His brother Gerald Levert and friend Marc Gordon formed the band Levert in 1986. Gerald Levert died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2006. Mr. Levert appeared in the movies "New Jack City" and "Dope Case Pending." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

DITH PRAN Died Mar. 30, 2008

Journalist Dith Pran died of pancreatic cancer at age 65. Mr. Pran's ordeal escaping from Cambodia was the basis for the Oscar-winning film "The Killing Fields." Over two million Cambodian people were murdered by Pol Pot's evil regime during the late 1970s. Dith Pran spend nearly five years in Hell before escaping. Actor Dr. Haing S. Ngor portrayed Dith Pran in "The Killing Fields." Dr. Ngor won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Ngor was murdered during a robbery in 1996.

JULES DASSIN Died Mar. 31, 2008

Oscar-nominated director and writer Jules Dassin died of the flu at age 96. The American ex-patriot became a Greek citizen in 1981. Jules Dassin was the husband of actress Melina Mercouri. He directed her in the 1960 film "Never on Sunday." The tale of a prostitute in Greece garnered Mr. Dassin Best Director and Best Writing Oscar nominations. His wife also received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance. Jules Dassin directed his wife in nine feature films including the hilarious "Topkapi" and the Oscar-nominated "Phaedra" opposite Tony Perkins.

Mr. Dassin began directing films during the 1940s. He helmed five of the best movies in the Film Noir genre. His early films include the comedy "The Canterville Ghost." Mr. Dassin drew attention with the 1947 Noir film "Brute Force" starring Burt Lancaster. Next came the 1948 classic "The Naked City." The Oscar-winning film was shot on location in New York City, a novelty at the time. Mr. Dassin next directed "Thieves' Highway" starring Richard Conte and Lee J. Cobb. Mr. Dassin's final film for an American studio for nearly 20 years was the 1950 masterpiece "Night and the City." Richard Widmark starred as a London con-man with the worst luck in the world. Jules Dassin was Blacklisted after director Edward Dmytryk named him as a former communist in front of the House Un-American Activities committee. Dassin first moved to France and later Greece. Five years into his exile, Jules Dassin directed his second masterpiece in the Film Noir genre. "Rififi" is one of, if not the best 'perfect heist gone wrong' films. The movie is famous for the half hour long robbery sequence which does not include any dialogue or music. Often imitated, never bettered.

Jules Dassin returned to the US to directed the 1968 film "Up Tight!" The landmark film was based on "The Informer." He co-wrote the film with actress Ruby Dee and Julian Mayfield. "Up Tight!" dealt with the cultural revolution in the Black community during the 1960s. The movie struck a chord with Black audiences and scared the crap out of White audiences. It was one of the first films to break down the racial stereotypes so-long in place in Hollywood.

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