JIMMY CARL BLACK Died Nov. 1, 2008
Frank Zappa's drummer Jimmy Carl Black died in his sleep at age 70. Mr. Black was the drummer for "The Mothers of Invention" from the band's beginning in 1964 until their breakup in 1969. He later played with "Captain Beefheart" before retiring from the music business in 1973. Mr. Black appeared in the Frank Zappa movie "200 Motels." Other credits include "Panama Red," "The True Story of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels," "Uncle Meat," "Video from Hell" and "Mondo Hollywood."
YMA SUMAC Died Nov. 1, 2008
Peruvian singer Yma Sumac died of colon cancer at age 86. Ms. Sumac became a world-wide celebrity in the 1950s because of her incredible singing voice. She appeared in concerts all over the world. Ms. Sumac's songs can be heard on the soundtracks of numerous films including the remake of "The In-Laws," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Ordinary Decent Criminal," "The Big Lebowski" and "Omar Khayyam." She appeared on TV shows around the world including "Late Night with David Letterman," "The Hollywood Palace," "The Jack Carter Show" and "The Colgate Comedy Hour."
TIFFANY SLOAN Died Nov. 1, 2008
Tiffany Sloan died of undisclosed causes at age 35. Ms. Sloan was Miss October 1992 in Playboy Magazine. She appeared in the TV series “Married With Children” as well as in over a dozen videos put out by Playboy Enterprises. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
RICHARD D. WRIGHT Died Nov. 1, 2008
Emmy-nominated art director, set dresser and property master Richard D. Wright died at age 53. Mr. Wright worked on over 30 films and TV shows. He was nominated for an Emmy for the 1991 miniseries "Aftermath: A Test of Love." His property credits include "The Big House," "Riders of the Purple Sage," "The West Side Waltz," "The Enemy Within," "Another Midnight Run," "Woman with a Past" and "Fast Company." Mr. Wright's set decorator credits include "Carnivàle," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," "The Core," the remake of "The Out-of-Towners," "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn," "Dante's Peak," "Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story," "Sarah, Plain and Tall," "RoboCop 2" and "Challenger." Mr. Wright was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44.
IVAR WEBERG Died Nov. 2, 2008
Grip Ivar Weberg died at age 72. Mr. Weberg was the father of key grips William and Warren Weberg. The elder Mr. Weberg retired from a career with a plastics corporation. What better way to spend retirement than to spend time with your family. After retiring, Mr. Weberg went to work as a key grip with his sons. His film and TV credits include "Pink Panther 2," "Dan in Real Life," "Underdog," "Brotherhood," "Waterfront" and "The Way."
HENRY CASTILLO Died Nov. 2, 2008
Transportation captain Henry Castillo died at age 66. Mr. Castillo worked on such films as "Michael," "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," "8 Seconds," "Dazed and Confused," "The Hot Spot" and "Alamo Bay." Mr. Castillo served his country in the US Navy during the Vietnam War.
MARCELLE DERRIEN Died Nov. 2, 2008
Former French actress Marcelle Derrien died at age 92. Ms. Derrien co-starred with Maurice Chevalier in Rene Clair's 1947 film "Silence is Golden." Ms. Derrien starred in seven films between 1946 and 1950. She then retired from the screen.
MICHAEL CRICHTON Died Nov. 4, 2008
Author Michael Crichton died of cancer at age 66. Michael Crichton was a Harvard educated doctor who turned to writing and directing. He was associated with some of the most popular films in history. He directed eight films, wrote numerous screenplays and had many films adapted from his novels. Sci-Fi fans admired his smart and terrifying films. His best known work was the post-prehistoric thriller "Jurassic Park."
When I was a kid, I used to cut out movie advertisements from the newspaper and collect them in a scrapbook. I remember the ad for "The Andromeda Strain" which stated "Rated G but may be too intense for younger viewers." I saw the film and was hooked. The tale of a space virus brought back via a crashed satellite which threatens human existence was very intense. Mr. Crichton's book was remade for TV this year. The feature film version remains far superior to the TV version.
Michael Crichton emerged as a double threat in 1973. He wrote and directed the classic "Westworld." The tale of a futuristic amusement park where nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong. Yul Brynner starred as a homicidal gun-slinging robot. Richard Benjamin and James Brolin co-starred. The film spawned a sequel but Mr. Crichton was not involved with the film "Futureworld." A remake of "Westworld" has been announced. Michael Crichton directed two more decent films. His 1978 film "Coma" and the period piece "The Great Train Robbery" with Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley-Anne Down were both excellent films. Well-written and directed by Mr. Crichton. His other director credits include the abysmal "Looker," "Runaway" with Tom Selleck and "Binary."
Michael Crichton maybe best known for his Sci-Fi works, but he also wrote in other genres. His medical background was used to create the Emmy-winning TV series "ER." He also wrote the great little James Coburn film "The Carey Treatment." One of my guilty pleasures is Mike Hodges adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel "The Terminal Man." It is a nice mix of sci-fi, horror and crime. George Segal starred as a computer scientist who suffered a brain injury resulting in seizures. A microchip implanted in his brain to control the seizures turns him into a homicidal maniac for several minutes every day. Other sci-fi credits include the police thriller "Rising Sun," "Disclosure" and "Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues." Michael Crichton's other writing credits include "Timeline," "The 13th Warrior," "Sphere," "Twister" and one of the worst films of all time "Congo."
Director Stephen Spielberg was approached to make a film written by Michael Crichton based on his medical experiences. Spielberg decided to make "Jurassic Park" instead of the medical script. That script was later turned into the TV series "ER." Mr. Crichton wrote a sequel to "Jurassic Park" titled "The Lost World." It was also adapted to the screen. A third sequel was filmed and a fourth is in pre-production. Michael Crichton received a technical award from the Academy for pioneering computerized motion picture budgeting and scheduling. He was nominated for seven Emmy Awards for "ER," winning once for Outstanding Drama Series. He also won a Writer's Guild Award for the pilot episode of "ER."
MICHAEL HIGGINS Died Nov. 5, 2008
Prolific character actor Michael Higgins died at age 87. Mr. Higgins worked on Broadway, in film and TV. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his performance in the play "Molly." Mr. Higgins appeared in nine Broadway productions. He played Peter Firth's father in the original production of "Equus." Mr. Higgins shared several awards for Best Acting or Performance by an Ensemble Cast for David Mamet's "State & Main." He played Doc Wilson in the 2000 film. Mr. Higgins appeared in over 80 films and TV shows during his career. His many credits include "An American Carol," "The Savages," "Swimfan," "Law & Order," "School Ties," "Wind," "Death Becomes Her," "Dead-Bang," "New York Stories," "Angel Heart," "The Equalizer," "Rumble Fish," "Staying Alive," "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy," "Kent State," "Fort Apache the Bronx," "The Black Stallion," "The Seduction of Joe Tynan," "King of the Gypsies," Steve McQueen's little seen "An Enemy of the People," "The Stepford Wives," "The Conversation," "The Arrangement," "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Virginian," "Gunsmoke," "Ben Casey," "The Outer Limits," "One Step Beyond," "Playhouse 90" and "Studio One." Mr. Higgins served his country in the US Army during WWII. He received a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his combat service.
B.R. CHOPRA Died Nov. 5, 2008
Producer and director B.R. Chopra died at age 95 following a lengthy illness. Mr. Chopra was a pioneer of the Indian film and TV industry. He produced “Mahabharat” which was one of the most successful TV series in the history of India. During his nearly 60-year-long career Mr. Chopra helped define and guide the Indian film industry into becoming “Bollywood.”
JAY FIONDELLA Died Nov. 6, 2008
Nightclub founder, adventurer and actor Jay Fiondella died of Parkinson’s Disease at age 82. Mr. Fiondella founded the popular Chez Jay in 1959. The club in Santa Monica became a popular hangout for many celebrities. Ms. Fiondella appeared in numerous films and TV shows under the stage name Jay Della. His many credits include “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Suicide Kings,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “Short Cuts,” “Lethal Weapon 3,” “Delirious,” “Bad Influence,” “Lethal Weapon 2,” “Inside Moves,” “CHiPs,” “Nanny and the Professor,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Batman,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Gunsmoke,” “Perry Mason,” “The Detectives,” “Sea Hunt,” “The Dating Game” and “What's My Line.” Mr. Fiondella served his country in the US Navy during WWII.
MICHAEL HINZ Died Nov. 6, 2008
German actor Michael Hinz died of complications from a stroke at age 68. Mr. Hinz appeared in over 90 films and TV shows during his career. He made his debut starring in the 1959 anti-war film "The Bridge," which received a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination. He co-starred in Mario Bava's lone foray into the sex-comedy genre "Four Times That Night." Mr. Hinz starred opposite Lee Remick in the thriller "Touch Me Not." He played the son of Field Marshall Rommel in "The Longest Day." Mr. Hinz's other credits include "Der Kommissar," "Beyond the Darkness," "The Spy Who Never Was," "Cat and Mouse," "Lana: Queen of the Amazons," "The Lightship," "Stage Fright."
KEN JAMES Died Nov. 6, 2008
Canadian stunt and camera man Ken James died of cancer at age 58. Mr. James was an avid skydiver and downhill skier. His work in skydiving lead to work in the film industry. He was a stuintman on the action flick "Firestorm." Mr. James worked a helmet camera in the TV sci-fi movie "Deadlocked: Escape From Zone 14."
AMULETTE GARNEAU Died Nov. 7, 2008
French-Canadian actress Amulette Garneau died of cancer at age 80. Ms. Garneau was best know for her role in the 1950s TV series "The Plouffe Family." She appeared in over 30 films and TV shows. Ms. Garneau also enjoyed a successful career as a stage actress. Her credits include "Blanche," "Night Zoo" and "House of Pride."
GARY HILL Died Nov. 7, 2008
PR executive Gary Hill died at age 53. Mr. Hill was one of the founders of the PR firm Falco Ink. Mr. Hill worked as Brian DePalma's assistant on three films: "Scarface," "Blow Out" and "Dressed to Kill."
DANIEL J. KELLEY Died Nov. 7, 2008
Propmaker Daniel J. Kelley died of undisclosed causes at age 29. Mr. Kelley worked as a prop maker on "10,000 BC," "The Return of the King," "The Two Towers" and "The Fellowship of the Ring." Mr. Wright was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JOE HYAMS Died Nov. 8, 2008
Author, columnist and actor Joe Hyam died of coronary artery disease at age 85. Mr. Hyams covered the Hollywood scene for The New York Herald Post as well as numerous magazines during the 1950s and 60s. He was the author over two dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction. He wrote two famous biographies of actor Humphrey Bogart. His book “Bogie” was turned into a TV movie in 1980. The 1980 Robert Redford prison drama “Brubaker” was based on a non-fiction book by Mr. Hyams about a corruptly run prison in Arkansas. Mr. Hyams appeared in a few films, usually playing a reporter. His credits include “Love in a Goldfish Bowl,” “The Wild and the Innocent” and “Teacher’s Pet.” Mr. Hyams also appeared in a number of film and TV documentaries about various Hollywood luminaries.
GEORGES DUFAUX Died Nov. 8, 2008
French-Canadian filmmaker Georges DuFaux died at age 81. Mr. DuFaux directed nearly 20 films and served as cinematographer on nearly 100. Mr. DuFaux worked on both documentaries and feature films. His credits include “Fortune and Men's Eyes,” “Isabel,” “That Tender Age” and “I Was a Ninety-pound Weakling.”
STANISLAW ROZEWICZ Died Nov. 9, 2008
Polish film director Stanislaw Rozewicz died at age 84. Mr. Rozewicz used film to deal with and understand what he witnessed and experienced during WWII. His films were often banned or censored because of their uncompromising depiction of the horrors of war. Mr. Rozewicz best known works are “Brzozowa Street” and “Certificate of Birth.” Mr. Rozewicz acted a mentor to a number of up-and-coming Polish directors during them 1960s and 70s.
MIRIAM MAKEBA Died Nov. 10, 2008
South African singer Miriam Makeba died of a heart attack after performing a concert in Italy. The 76-year-old singer was one of the earliest vocal opponents of Apartheid. She left South Africa to perform a singing tour in 1959. When she tried to return the following year to attend her mother's funeral she was denied entry. Ms. Makeba lived in exile for over 30 years. She enjoyed success in the US and performed on a number of TV shows including "The Mike Douglas Show," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Steve Allen Show." Her music can be heard on the soundtracks of "Bobby," "Transamerica" and "Veronica Mars." Ms. Makeba appeared in the films "Sarafina!" and "Amok." Ms. Makeba performed with singer Paul Simon on his "Graceland" tour.
CHERYL ARCHIBALD Died Nov. 10, 2008
Former model and actress Cheryl Archibald died of cancer at age 71. Ms. Archibald appeared as the cover girl for Look Magazine in the movie "Cover Girl." She also appeared on Broadway in the 1948/49 production of "Love Life" which was directed by Elia Kazan.
BUREN HODGE Died Nov. 10, 2008
Cowboy, politician and animal trainer Buren Hodge died 51. Mr. Hodge trained animals for Jonathan Demme's 1998 film "Beloved."
ARTHUR A. ROSS Died Nov. 11, 2008
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Arthur A. Ross has died according to the Writer's Guild of America. Mr. Ross' age and cause of death were not given. Mr. Ross shared a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination with W.D. Richter for the 1980 prison drama "Brubaker." Mr. Ross died three days after Joe Hyams who wrote one of the two books upon which the Ross/Richter screenplay was based. Mr. Ross also received a WGA nomination for writing the Blake Edwards' comedy "The Great Race." Mr. Ross was the father of multi-Oscar-nominated producer/writer/director Gary Ross.
Monster movie fans remember Arthur Ross for co-writing the screenplay for the Universal classic "The Creature From the Black Lagoon." The Gill-Man was the last of Universal's classic Monsters. The others being Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Mummy. "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" spawned two sequels. Mr. Ross was the sole writer on the third and final entry in the series "The Creature Walks Among Us." Arthur Ross' son Gary is currently developing a remake of his father's classic monster movie. Mr. Ross also co-wrote the screenplay for the Ray Harryhausen fantasy film "The 3 Worlds of Gulliver."
Arthur Ross wrote over 30 films and TV shows during his career. His other credits include "Satan's School for Girls," "Mannix," numerous episodes of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Kraft Mystery Theater," "Peter Gunn," "The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock," "Okinawa," "Rusty Leads the Way" and "San Quentin." Arthur A. Ross served his country in the US Army during WWII.
MARIA ELENA MARQUES Died Nov. 11, 2008
Mexican actress Maria Elena Marques died of heart failure at age 83. She is best known for starring in the award-winning film "The Pearl." She was nominated for a Best Actress Ariel Award for her performance in the movie. The 1947 film was based on the John Steinbeck book. The film was directed by Emilio Fernandez who played General Mapache in Sam Peckinpah's classic "The Wild Bunch." Ms. Marques appeared in over 60 films and TV shows during her career. She played Clark Gable's wife in William Wellman's "Across the Wide Missouri." Her only other US film was in the 1953 Western "Ambush at Tomahawk Gap."
WALTER COVELL Died Nov. 11, 2008
Actor Walter Covell died at age 91. Mr. Covell worked in radio and regional theater in the Northeast. He may be best known for playing Col. Mustard in the video version of the board game “Clue.” Mr. Covell’s credits include “Underdog,” “I Rob Banks for the Money,” “The Love Letter,” “Spenser: For Hire” and “Robert Kennedy & His Times.” Mr. Covell served his country in the US Merchant Marines during WWII.
KEITH PRUITT Died Nov. 11, 2008
Actor and pianist Keith Pruitt died of undisclosed causes at age 47. Mr. Pruitt had recurring roles on the soap operas “Loving” and “As the World Turns.” Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
EDWIN SCHIERNECKER Died Nov. 11, 2008
Cinematographer, gaffer and grip Edwin Schiernecker was killed in a motor cycle accident at age 44. Mr. Schiernecker learned his trade as he worked his way up through the electrical department. Mr. Schiernecker worked as a pre-rig electrician, electrician, grip, gaffer, lighting designer, camera operator and eventually cinematographer. His cinematographer credits include the feature film "Shade" and the TV shows "Clean House Comes Clean" and "American Jobs." Mr. Schiernecker's other credits include "Good Soil," "Parental Control," "Fear Within," "PBS Hollywood Presents," "It Came from Outer Space II" and "Above Suspicion." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
MITCH MITCHELL Died Nov. 12, 2008
Mitch Mitchell, the drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience was found dead in a Portland, Oregon hotel room at age 61. The cause of death is unknown at this time. Mr. Mitchell had been taking part in the 2008 Experience Hendrix concert tour which featured many noted musicians including Buddy Guy and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith. Mitch Mitchell began his show business career as a child actor. He played the title role in the 1958 British children's TV series "Jennings at School." He also appeared in the 1963 movie "Live It Up!" Mr. Mitchell worked as a sessions drummer and played in several bands including Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames before being picked to form The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He played with the power trio for all but several months of Jimi Hendrix's career as a headliner. After The Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded, Mitch Mitchell continued to play drums and tour with the Cry of Love band. Billy Cox replaced Experience bass player Noel Redding for this tour. Mitch Mitchell was replaced by drummer Buddy Miles for Hendrix's final musical incarnation "Band of Gypsys." Mr. Mitchell worked as a producer to finish the two posthumous Hendrix releases "Cry of Love" and "Rainbow Bridge." He continued to play gigs for other musicians following Hendrix's death in 1970. Like Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell was cut out of future royalties from his work with the Jimi Hendrix Experience with a pittance payoff. Mitch Mitchell appeared in numerous documentary films including "Jimi Hendrix: Live at Woodstock," "Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival," "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus," "A Film About Jimi Hendrix," "Rainbow Bridge," "Jimi Plays Berkeley," "Band of Gypsys: Live at the Fillmore East," "Woodstock" and "Monterey Pop."
ROD PARKHURST Died Nov. 12, 2008
Canadian cinematographer and camera operator Rod Parkhurst died of cancer 5 days shy of his 69th birthday. Mr. Parkhurst was the cinematographer of several TV movies and series including “The New Addams Family” and “Panic in the Skies!” Mr. Parkhurst worked as a camera operator on many notable films including Terrence Mallick’s “Days of Heaven,” Richard Donner’s “Superman” and Robert Altman’s "McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” His many other credits include “Another Stakeout,” “Who's Harry Crumb?,” “Roxanne,” “The Journey of Natty Gann,” “Mrs. Soffel,” “The Glitter Dome,” “Harry Tracy,” “Rambo: First Blood,” the 1980 horror movie “The Changeling,” “Food of the Gods” and “I Heard the Owl Call My Name.”
BAIRD BRYANT Died Nov. 13, 2008
Underground and documentary filmmaker and cinematographer Baird Bryant died of complications following surgery at age 80. Mr. Bryant directed the Rockumentary “Celebration at Big Sur.” He was the editor of the concert film “Jimi Plays Berkeley.” Mr. Bryant worked as a camera operator on a number of films including “Easy Rider” and “Gimmie Shelter.” While shooting the Rolling Stones’ infamous concert at Latamont for the film “Gimmie Shelter” Mr. Bryant was the camera operator who captured on film the stabbing death of an armed concertgoer by a Hell’s Angels member. Mr. Bryant worked as Foley editor on Lee Marvin’s last movie “The Delta Force.” He was the sound effects editor on the 1970s drive-in monster movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek.”
MARCELLO FONDATO Died Nov. 13, 2008
Screenwriter Marcello Fondato died at age 84. Mr. Fondato is known to horror movie fans for co-writing Mario Bava’s horror classics “Blood and Black Lace” and “Black Sabbath.” Mr. Fondato wrote nearly 50 films and TV shows during his career. He wrote several movies for Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill. His other credits include “Charleston,” “Bulldozer,” “Bomber,” “The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid,” “The Immortal Bachelor,” “Grand Slam” and “One Against All.”
VICTOR LEWIS Died Nov. 13, 2008
Country music impresario and movie producer Victor Lewis died at age 86. In addition to his many accomplishments in the music industry, Mr. Lewis produced the films "Country Music on Broadway," "Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar" and "Sing a Song for Heaven's Sake."
HENRY 'SPIKE' LEE Died Nov. 13, 2008
Former "Our Gang" actor Henry 'Spike' Lee died at age 80. Mr. Lee played the character Spike in a number of "Our Gang" comedy shorts from the late 1930s. His credits include "Aladdin's Lantern," "The Little Ranger," "The Awful Tooth," "Came the Brawn," "Our Gang Follies of 1938" and "Mail and Female."
IRVING GERTZ Died Nov. 14, 2008
Composer Irving Gertz died at age 93. Mr. Gertz composed scores or contributed music to over 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. He worked on many B-Westerns and monster movies from the 1950s. His many credits include “Land of the Giants,” “The Invaders,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “Marines, Let's Go,” “Flaming Star,” “The Leech Woman,” “Hell Bent for Leather,” “The Alligator People,” “The Thing That Couldn't Die,” “The Monolith Monsters,” “The Deadly Mantis,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” “The First Traveling Saleslady,” “The Creature Walks Among Us,” “To Hell and Back,” “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy,” “Cult of the Cobra,” “It Came from Outer Space,” “Dragnet,” “Monster on the Campus,” “M Squad,” “Cannibal Attack,” “Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land,” “My Dog Rusty” and “Young Jesse James.”
ALISON SCOTT Died Nov. 14, 2008
Canadian costumer and costume designer Alison Scott died of cancer at age 41. Ms. Scott’s credits include “Now & Forever,” “Harvest for the Heart” and “Sweet Revenge.” Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
WILBUR RUSSELL Died Nov. 14, 2008
Property master Wilbur Russell died at age 90. Mr. Russell was a member of I.A.T.S.E. local #44. He worked as a property master at Walt Disney Sturdios for 32 years. Mr. Russell’s credits include “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend,” “Splash,” “TRON,” “The Black Hole” and “Battle at Bloody Beach.” Mr. Russell served his country as an officer in the US Navy during WWII and the Korean War. He took part in many naval battles in the Pacific during WWII. Thanks for your service to our country.
FONG LUNG Died Nov. 14, 2008
Hong Kong character actor Fong Lung died of lung cancer at age 54. Mr. Lung appeared in over 50 films, usually playing the villain. His best known role was as the badguy opposite Chow Yun Fat's hero in "The God of Gamblers." Among Mr. Lung's many credits are "The Vengeance," "Invincible," "Godfathers of Hong Kong," "The Big Score," "Shaolin Red Master," "Along Comes a Tiger" and "Master of the Flying Guillotine."
HAROLD BROWN Died Nov. 14, 2008
Film buffs pine over the thought of the recovery of 'lost films' such as Lon Chaney Sr.'s "London After Midnight." Hundreds, if not thousands of films made prior to the 1930s are gone forever. Film preservationists and archivists perform the important task of saving film for future generations. Harold Brown was one of the world's first film archivists and preservationists. He worked for the British Film Institute for nearly 50 years. Mr. Brown set up many of the protocols which are still followed by film archivists today. Mr. Brown's name may not appear in the credits of any movies, but the existence of many movies today can be credited to him!
CHARLES SCHRAM Died Nov. 14, 2008
Emmy-nominated make-up wizard Charles Schram died at age 97. Mr. Schram's was the man who created Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion make-up for the classic film "The Wizard of Oz." He also worked on Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West. Mr. Schram worked in the industry for over 40 years. Charles Schram and fellow USC student William Tuttle were recruited by MGM. The collaborated on several films including the original version of "The Time Machine." Charles Schram shared an Emmy nomination with Michael Westmore and Edwin Butterworth for the Made for TV movie "The Million Dollar Rip-Off." He worked on Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece "The Godfather Part II." Mr. Schram's many credits include "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao," "Ben-Hur," "Mommie Dearest," "Being There," "California Suite," "The Big Fix," "The Cheap Detective," "The Turning Point," "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," "Murder by Death," "Silent Movie," "That's Entertainment, Part II," "Lincoln," "Papillon," "They Only Kill Their Masters," "Portnoy's Complaint," "Carnal Knowledge," "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon," "The Thing with Two Heads," "The Twilight Zone," "Around the World in Eighty Days" and "Andy Hardy Meets Debutante."
REG VARNEY Died Nov. 16, 2008
British comedian Reg Varney died at age 92. Mr. Varney was the star of the popular TV and feature film series “On the Buses.” Mr. Varney played the character Stan Butler in three feature films and the TV series which ran for seven seasons. Mr. Varney began his career as a cabaret entertainer. He continued to do live performances throughout his entire career. He played the character Harry Butt on the TV series “Beggar My Neighbour.” Mr. Varney’s other film and TV credits include “Red Peppers,” “The Plank,” “Down the 'Gate,” “Reg Varney,” “The Reg Varney Revue,” “The Best Pair of Legs in the Business” and “The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery.” Mr. Varney served his country in the Royal Electrical Engineers during WWII.
LILLIAN FITTS Died Nov. 16, 2008
Animation artist Lillian Fitts died at age 73. The former Miss Phoenix Arizona worked as a cell painter on many feature films and cartoon TV series. Some of her credits include "Space Jam," "An American Tail," "Arabian Knights," "The Pagemaster," "Cool World," "Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night" and "TRON."
FRED SCOTT Death announced Nov. 17, 2008
Actor Fred Scott died at age 88. Mr. Scott was one of the Rangers on the early sci-fi TV series “Captain Video and his Video Rangers.” The popular TV series ran from 1949 until 1955. Mr. Scott worked as a TV announcer for 30 years and hosted several local TV shows in New York. Mr. Scott served his country as a medic in the US Army during WWII.
IRVING BRECHER Nov. 17, 2008
Oscar-nominated writer Irving Brecher died at age 94 after a series of heart attacks. Mr. Brecher was one of the best joke writers in show business. He worked on Radio, in Vaudeville, TV and film. Mr. Brecher received an Oscar nomination for the Judy Garland classic “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Comedy fans cherish Mr. Breacher’s scripts for the two Marx Brothers’ films “At the Circus” and “Go West.” Irving Breacher also created the show “The Life of Riley.” “The Life of Riley” started as a radio show and eventually was turned into a feature film and two TV series. While Lionel Stander and Jackie Gleason both played Riley at various points in time actor William Bendix was the one who really brought Mr. Breacher’s classic character to life.
Irving Breacher’s many film and TV credits include “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” “Somebody Loves Me,” “Ziegfeld Follies,” “Yolanda and the Thief,” “Best Foot Forward,” “Du Barry Was a Lady” “Shadow of the Thin Man.” Mr. Breacher was also hired as a script doctor for the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” Mr. Breacher also appeared in several documentaries about the Marx Brothers.
ENNIO DE CONCINI Died Nov. 17, 2008
Oscar-winning screenwriter and sometime director Ennio De Concini died at age 84. Mr. De Concini won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for the 1961 comedy “Divorce-Italians Style.” Mr. Di Concini wrote five scripts for director Mario Bava including his classic horror film “Black Sunday.” He is the second screenwriter associated with a Mario Bava classic to die this week. He also wrote director Tinto Brass’ sexy cult classic “Salon Kitty.” Mr. Di Concini wrote over 160 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. His work encompassed many genres popular in Italy and abroad including the Sword and Sandal films of the late 1950s and early 1960s to the Italian sex comedies, Sci-Fi, Spaghetti Westerns and crime thrillers of them 1970s. He also directed a handful of films including “Hitler: The Last Ten Days.” Mr. Di Concini’s many, many film credits include “Vendetta: Secrets of a Mafia Bride,” “Devil in the Flesh,” the TV miniseries version of “Quo Vadis?,” “China 9, Liberty 37,” Richard Burton’s “Bluebeard,” “The Red Tent,” “Guns for San Sebastian,” “The Colossus of Rhodes,” “Duel of the Titans,” “Marco Polo,” “Esther and the King,” “Space Men,” “Legions of the Nile,” “Messalina,” “Giant of Marathon,” “Hercules Unchained,” “Hercules,” the 1956 version of “War and Peace,” “Attila,” “Ulysses” and “The Devil Is a Woman.”
JOHN NAPIER Died Nov. 17, 2008
Actor John Napier died at age 81. Mr. Napier appeared in a number of TV series during the 1950s and 60s. His many credits include "The Girl Who Knew Too Much," "Bracken's World," "The Gypsy Moths," "Land of the Giants," "Rough Night in Jericho," "The Invaders," "The Time Tunnel," "Bonanza," "Dr. Kildare," "The Slender Thread," "Perry Mason," "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," "Father Goose," "The Farmer's Daughter" and "Search for Tomorrow."
MICHAEL MCGOWAN Died Nov. 17, 2008
Cinematographer and camera operator Michael McGowan died at age 62. Mr. McGowan was the father of cinematographer and stedicam operator Mike McGowan. The elder Mr. McGowan was cinematographer on two episodes of the TV series "Miami Vice." His many camera operator credits include such films and TV shows as "The Sopranos," "Rosewood," "Executive Decision," Michael Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Mean Season," "The River," "Harry & Son," "Body Heat," "Caddyshack," "Jaws 2," Louis Malle's "Pretty Baby," Arthur Penn's "Night Moves," Bob Fosse's "Lenny" and "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things."
GEORGE 'BEST' COSTACOS Died Nov. 17, 2007
Actor and singer George 'Best' Costacos died of undisclosed causes at age 43. Mr. Costacos took part in the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece as portraying a fencer from the 1896 Olympics in Athens. Mr. Costacos was a singer and entertainer in New York. He appeared in the films "Trick" and "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
DONALD MCCAY Died Nov. 17, 2008
Filmmaker Donald McCay died at age 47. Mr. McCay was a member of "The Group Collectively." This group of independent Las Vegas filmmakers have produced over a dozen films. Mr. McCay worked as a script supervisor, assistant director and actor on many of the Group's films. His credits include "The Cold Farewell," "That's How Sinatra Rolls, Kid!," "Fall Guy" and "Straight Forward."
CHARLES MATTON Died Nov. 19, 2008
French director, painter and sculptor Charles Matton died of lung cancer at age 77. Mr. Matton was renowned for his work in many different mediums. He wrote and directed four feature films and one short. His best known film was the biopic "Rembrandt" which starred Klaus Maria Brandauer. Mr. Matton also wrote and directed the sex-comedy "Spermula" which starred Dayle Haddon.
JOHN MICHAEL HAYES Died Nov. 19, 2008
Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Michael Hayes died at age 89. Mr. Hayes received two Oscar nominations for his work on Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and the classic soap opera "Peyton Place." Mr. Hayes worked with Alfred Hitchcock on four films in the mid 1950s: "To Catch a Thief," the remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "The Trouble With Harry" and "Rear Window." Mr. Hayes also received three WGA nominations for his two Oscar nominated films plus "To Catch a Thief." In 2004 the Writer's Guild honored him with their highest award The Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement. Mr. Hayes wrote nearly 30 film and TV scripts during his career. Other notable scripts "The Matchmaker," "Nevada Smith," "Walking Tall," "Harlow," "The Carpetbaggers," "The Children's Hour," "BUtterfield 8," "The Rat Race," "Separate Tables," "It's a Dog's Life," "War Arrow," "Torch Song," "Thunder Bay" and "Red Ball Express." Mr. Hayes appeared in several documentary films about Alfred Hitchcock.
Author Steven DeRosa wrote the excellent book "Writing With Hitchcock." During his research for that book, Mr. DeRosa got to know the late John Michael Hayes very well.
I asked Mr. DeRosa what caused the end of the Hitchcock/Hayes collaboration.
Mr. DeRosa stated: After getting a lot of attention from the studios and the industry press, Hitchcock sought to take John Michael Hayes down a rung or two by having him share screenplay credit with an old friend of his on their fourth film together, "The Man Who Knew Too Much." The trouble was that Hitchcock's friend, Angus MacPhail, suffered a lot of ailments in addition to being an alcoholic, and was incapable of producing any real work of value. Hitchcock knew this but was doing a favor for MacPhail who had fallen on hard times. When Hitchcock submitted the screenplay with both Hayes's and MacPhail's names on it, Hayes protested the credits to the Writer's Guild. And challenging Hitchcock is something that simply wasn't done. He threatened Hayes, "if you persist in this, I'll never speak with you again." Hayes went forward with the protest, and won sole credit on the film. But the two never worked together again.
I also wondered why Mr. Hayes refused to take a credit for the original Joe Don Baker version of "Walking Tall." Again, Mr. DeRose responded: "Walking Tall" was a B movie and Hayes did not feel that it would add anything to his career. Little did he know that it would become a cult hit and financial success.
Finally Mr. DeRosa shared his experiences with Mr. Hayes while preparing to write "Writing With Hitchcock."
For me, it was a very rewarding relationship, in many ways. When I first met Mr. Hayes n 1994, it was with the object of interviewing him for what was to be a more academic study of the screenwriter's role in an auteur director's world. Little did I know that he had an amazing story to tell. Not just his relationship with Hitchcock, which was akin to David and Goliath, but his entire life and career was some thing that I needed to chronicle.
I found him to be a warm and generous spirit. It was that warmth that came through in the characters he wrote, whether for the radio shows like The Adventures of Sam Spade, the films he wrote for Alfred Hitchcock, and as recently as Disney's Iron Will.
Sitting across from him, at the same table at which he wrote many of his screenplays, and having him regale me with tales about Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and John Wayne and directors like Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, William Wyler and Henry Hathaway was a truly amazing experience.
Even after the writing was done, I visited him several times a year, and we enjoyed discussing movies and baseball-both Red Sox fans. He was excited by the book (Writing with Hitchcock) and how it's being developed into a screenplay. He would kid that we needed to find a young Jack Lemmon to play him in the movie.
I was honored to play my small role in helping shine the spotlight back on him and was thrilled when the Writer's Guild recognized him with their Laurel Award in 2004.
JAN MACHULSKI Died Nov. 20, 2008
Polish actor and theater director Jan Muchulski died at age 80. Mr. Muchulski appeared in over 70 films and TV shows in his native land. He was a prolific stage actor and director. He was also the dean of theacting faculty of the Polish National Film School.
ROSE ARRICK Died Nov. 21, 2008
Actress and acting teacher Rose Arrick died of a heart attack at age 80. Ms. Arrick worked on Broadway, in film and on TV. She was a drama teacher at the HB Studio in New York. Ms. Arrick appeared in eight Broadway productions including a revival of "All My Sons." Ms. Arrick's many film and TV credits include "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Being Claudine," "Ishtar," "Those Lips, Those Eyes" and the hilarious "A New Leaf."
LEE POLL Died Nov. 22, 2008
Emmy-nominated set decorator Lee Poll died at age 86. Mr. Poll received two Emmy nominations for his work on "Murder She Wrote." In 2006 he was honored by his peers in the Set Decorators Society of America with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Poll's many credits include "Soapdish," "Sleeping with the Enemy," "Steel Magnolias," "The Morning After," "Scarecrow and Mrs. King," "The Formula," "Seems Like Old Times," "Chapter Two," "Breaking Away" and "The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea." Mr. Poll was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44.
RUDY TELLEZ Died Nov. 22, 2008
TV producer Rudy Tellez died of complications from a 2002 stroke. Mr. Tellez was 78 years old. Rudy Telles was one of the producers of Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" during the 1960s. Other credits include "The Tomorrow Show," "The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters," "The Battle of the Network Stars," "Don Rickles: Rickles on the Loose" and "Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes 2."
KEIICHI URAOKA Died Nov. 24, 2008
Japanese film editor Keiichi Uraoka has died. Mr. Uraoka was a frequent collaborator with controversial director Nagisa Oshima, editing 17 of the director's films. Mr. Uraoka edited Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses." The 1976 film caused controversy as one of the first mainstream movies to show unsimulated sex between actors. Mr. Uraoka also edited Oshima's sequel "In the Realm of Passion." Mr. Uroaka edited Masaki Kobayashi's "The Human Condition" trilogy. Other credits include the Oscar-nominated "Portrait of Chieko," Kinji Fukasaku's outstanding WWII film "Under the Flag of the Rising Sun" and the powerful Ken Ogata crime drama "Vengeance is Mine." Mr. Uraoka was nominated for an Award of the Japanese Academy for editing the animated sci-fi/horror film "Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis."
RONALD FERGUSON Died Nov. 24, 2008
Ronald Lee Ferguson died at age 62. Mr. Ferguson was a retired business agent for I.A.T.S.E. Local #44.
WILLIAM GIBSON Died Nov. 25, 2008
Oscar, Emmy, Tony and WGA nominated writer William Gibson died at age 94. Mr. Gibson won a Tony award and was nominated for an Oscar, Emmy and WGA award for "The Miracle Worker." The script was written for "Playhouse 90" and aired in 1957. Mr. Gibson adapted his TV script for the 1959 Broadway production and then the 1962 feature film version starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft as Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan respectively. "The Miracle Worker" was filmed as a TV movie five times including the original "Playhouse 90" version, and Italian and Spanish version and two US productions. In a bit of novelty casting Patty Duke switched roles from Helen Keller to Ann Sullivan opposite Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller in the 1979 TV version. Mr. Gibson was nominated for two other Tony awards for "Two for the Seesaw" and a musical version of the Clifford Odetts play "Golden Boy." Robert Wise directed the Oscar-nominated film version of Mr. Gibson's play "Two for the Seesaw." Mr. Gibson wrote nine plays which were produced on Broadway.
GERALD SCHOENFELD Died Nov. 25, 2008
Broadway theater owner Gerald Shoenfeld died at age 84. Mr. Schoenfeld was the head of the Shubert Organization which owns 17 Broadway theaters. Mr. Schoenfeld appeared in the documentary TV series "Broadway: The American Musical." His lone film acting credit was in Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose." Mr. Schoenfeld produced the TV version of the famed South African play "'Master Harold'... and the Boys" which starred Matthew Broderick.
CHRISTIAN FECHNER Died Nov. 25, 2008
Producer Christian Fechner died at age 64. Mr. Fechner produced nearly 40 films including the Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee "Camille Claudel." Mr. Fechner received two BAFTA nominations for "The Lovers on the Bridge" and "Girl on the Bridge." Mr. Fechner was a fan of illusionary magic and owned one of the largest collections of books and memorabilia dealing with magic in the world. Mr. Fechner's other credits include "Friends Forever," "A Crime in Paradise," "The Children of the Marshland," "The Animal" and "Lucky Pierre."
ROBERT SCHLITT Died Nov. 25, 2008
Writer/producer Robert Schlitt died at age 75. Mr. Schlitt produced numerous episodes of "The Father Dowling Mysteries," Joseph Wambaugh's "The Blue Knight" and "Matlock." He wrote for a number of TV shows. In addition to his TV writing, Mr. Schlitt wrote the 1973 Canadian horror film "The Pyx." He also adapted Richard Farina's great novel "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" to the screen. Mr. Schlitt's many TV writing credits include "Diagnosis Murder," "Jake and the Fatman," "Hill Street Blues," "Lou Grant," "Hawaii Five-O," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Kung Fu" and "The Monkees."
CALVIN KUNIHOLM Died Nov. 26, 2008
Cal Kuniholm died at age 59. Mr. Kuniholm worked as a piping engineer. Film fans know Mr. Kuniholm for his lone acting credit. While still a student at USC, Mr. Kuniholm co-starred in John Carpenter's debut film "Dark Star." The cult classic deals with four guys stuck on a spaceship for nearly 20 years. Their mission is to destroy unstable planets in solar systems which are going to be colonized. At the same time, they have to try and not go insane. While the movie doesn't work in some places, it is a funny low-budget movie. Mr. Kuniholm played 'Boiler' in the movie.
CLARENCE PIERCE Died Nov. 26, 2008
Propmaker Clarence Pierce died at age 94. Mr. Pierce worked in the industry for over 25 years. Mr. Pierce worked as a propmaker and department supervisor for several studios. He worked for Warner Brothers, MGM, Fox, Paramount, Disney and Mary Tyler Moore Productions.
DE'ANGELO WILSON Died Nov. 26, 2008
Actor De'Angelo Wilson committed suicide at age 29. His mother reported that her son hung himself in a Los Angeles business. Mr. De'Angelo appeared in a half dozen films during his career. He played DJ Iz in Eminem's excellent "8 Mile." Mr. De'Angelo also appeared in "Antwone Fisher." Other credits include "Mercy Street," "The Salon," "CSI: NY," "R.U.S./H." and "The It Factor: Los Angeles." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
WILLIAM LIEB Died Nov. 26, 2008
Cinematographer and editor William Lieb died of lung cancer at age 85. Mr. Lieb worked for Disney as well as Oscar-winning producer Jerry Fairbanks. Mr. Lieb edited the 1972 short film "Brink of Disaster!" and was the cinematographer on the 1950s teen drug abuse film "One Way Ticket to Hell." Mr. Lieb served his country as a gunner on a tank in the US Army during WWII.
PATRICIA MARAND Died Nov. 27, 2008
Tony-nominated actress Patricia Marand died of brain cancer at age 74. Ms. Marand was nominated for a Best Actress in a Musical Tony for her portrayal of Lois Lane in the 1966 production "It's a Bird... It's a Plane...It's Superman." Ms. Marand also appeared on Broadway in "Wish You Were Here" and "South Pacific." Ms. Marand appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and an episode of "The Sopranos."
ROBERT TRONSON Died Nov. 27, 2008
Noted British TV director Robert Tronson died at age 84. Mr. Tronson worked on many of the best British TV series of the past half century. His many credits include "Rumpole of the Bailey," "All Creatures Great and Small," "Bergerac," "Dempsey & Makepeace," "Bognor," "ITV Playhouse," "Thriller," "Father Brown," "The Guardians," "The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder," "Callan," "Mystery and Imagination," "Man in a Suitcase," "The Saint," "Ring of Treason," "The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre" and "The Avengers." Mr. Tronson served his country in the Royal Navy during WWII.
DAVID CAZARES Died Nov. 28, 2007
Sound engineer and boom operator David Cazares died at age 58. Mr. Cazares' credits include numerous episodes of "How I Met Your Mother," "So Little Time" and "¡Viva Vegas!"
JOHN HEWITT Died Nov. 28, 2008
Irish actor John Hewitt died following a short illness. His age was not given. Mr. Hewitt enjoyed success on stage, screen and TV. He was best known for his role as John Fletcher in several of the BBC's "Play for Today" productions of Graham Reid's "Billy" plays. Mr. Hewitt appeared with Kenneth Branagh in "A Coming to Terms for Billy," "A Matter of Choice for Billy" and "Too Late to Talk to Billy." Other credits include "Life After Life," "Four Days in July" and "The End of the World Man."
CHERRY ENOKI Died Nov. 28, 2008
Daytime Emmy-nominated film editor Cherry Enoki was killed in a mountain climbing accident. The 33-year-old editor fell and several hundred feet while climbing Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Ms. Enoki received a Daytime Emmy nomination for her work on "Design Squad." I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Ms. Enoki at the 2002 DragonCon festival in Atlanta. Ms. Enoki was working on Rob Fitz's kung-fu horror movie "God of Vampires." At the time, the film was a work in progress. The pair talked about making films on a shoestring budget. The photo at right was taken at DragonCon. It did not capture Ms. Enoki's beauty, or course thinking back, one of the main things that made her attractive was her passion for her work. Ms. Enoki's other credits include "Nova," "The American Experience" and "This Week in History." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
WILLIAM FINNEGAN Died Nov. 28, 2008
Emmy-nominated producer Bill Finnegan died of Parkinson's disease at age 80. Mr. Finnegan was nominated for five Emmy awards during his lengthy career. His five nominations were for the TV movies "The Dollmaker" and "Amos," the miniseries "King" and "Lincoln" and the TV series "Hawaii 5-0." Mr. Finnegan produced over 50 films and TV shows. His feature film credits include "Ed," "The Babe," "White Palace," "The Fabulous Baker Boys," "Support Your Local Sheriff!," and "Support Your Local Gunfighter." Mr. Finnegan produced many notable TV movies and series. They include "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," "The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory," "This Child Is Mine," "The Atlanta Child Murders," "Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac," "World War III" and "The Ordeal of Patty Hearst." Bill Finnegan also worked as an assistant director and production manager on several films and TV series. He was assistant director on two dozen episodes of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." Mr. Finnegan was production manger on such films as "CrissCross," "Bobby Deerfield," "Monte Walsh" and "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys."
ROLAND SCRIVNER Died Nov. 30, 2008
Roland Scrivner died at age 79. Mr. Scrivner was the retired Deputy Chief of the Berkeley Fire Department. He later became active in regional theater where he won an award for his role as Alfred P. Doolittle in "My Fair Lady." Mr. Scrivner also appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" and the TV series "Midnight Caller."
PHILIP BROADLEY Died Nov. 30, 2008
British screenwriter died of cancer at age 86. Mr. Broadley wrote for numerous TV series in the UK. His credits include "The Mixer," "The Girl from Mani," "Goya," "Bergerac," "Return of the Saint," "The Wilde Alliance," "Van der Valk," "Public Eye," "The Adventurer," "Department S," "Man in a Suitcase," "The Saint," "Danger Man," "Tales of Mystery" and "ITV Television Playhouse."