JERRY REED Died Sep. 1, 2008
Singer/songwriter/actor Jerry Reed died of complications from emphysema at age 71. Jerry Reed's music and movies were a popular part of my youth growing up in the South. I was never a country music fan in high school, but Jerry Reed cut across all genres with his humorous novelty songs, incredible and distinctive guitar playing and his naturally cool and funny screen presence. You couldn't help but like Jerry Reed. His many appearances on variety talk shows like "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "The Dean Martin Show" showcased his charismatic personality. Jerry Reed drew you into his own cult of personality. He was the guy you wanted at your back in a bar-fight or by your side at a keg party. His laughter was infectious.
Jerry Reed wrote songs for many other artists including Elvis and Brenda Lee. Some of his more memorable songs were "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "Amos Moses," "That's All You Gotta Do," "Misery Loves Company," "Guitar Man," "Tupelo Mississippi Flash," "Lord, Mr. Ford" and "East Bound and Down."
The song "East Bound and Down" was the theme song to the movie "Smokey and the Bandit." Jerry Reed co-starred with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in the hit movie. He acted in over 20 films and TV shows, often playing to his good-old-boy persona. He stretched a bit to play the villain in Burt Reynolds' "White Lightning" sequel "Gator." His other acting credits include "The Waterboy," "Evening Shade," "Bat*21" (which he also served as executive producer, "The Survivors," "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" and "Harper Valley, U.S.A."
Mr. Reed's songs can be heard on the soundtracks of such films and TV shows as "My Name Is Earl," "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The Thing Called Love," "This Is Elvis," "Drive-In" and "Vanishing Point."
DON LAFONTAINE Died Sep. 1, 2008
Voiceover artist Don LaFontaine died of complications from pneumothorax at age 68. Don LaFontaine had one of the most recognizable voices in modern media. He provided the narration to thousands of movie trailers over the past three decades. Mr. LaFontaine's trademark line was "In a world with…" then he would fill in the blank depending on the product. Millions of TV viewers were finally able to put a face with the voice when Geico Insurance hired him to do one of their recent TV commercials. It would be impossible to list all of the films on which Mr. LaFontaine worked. In a world without Don LaFontaine who will do our voiceovers? He was one of a kind.
SHELDON KELLER Died Sep. 1, 2008
Emmy and WGA winning writer Sheldon Keller died of Alzheimer's Disease at age 85. Mr. Keller received six Emmy nominations during his career. He won for "An Evening With Carol Channing." Mr. Keller was best know for his work on Sid Caesar's "Caesar's Hour" for which he received three Emmy nominations. Mr. Keller shared a WGA Award with Larry Gelbart for the screenplay "Movie Movie." He received another WGA nomination for the Gina Lollobrigida movie "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell." Mr. Keller's other credits include "The Beatles Forever," "Cleopatra Jones," "The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Danny Kaye Show," "Shirley Temple's Storybook" and "The Art Carney Show."
MICHAEL PATE Died Sep. 1, 2008
Prolific Australian character actor Michael Pate died of respiratory failure at age 88. Mr. Pate was on location filming a remake of his 1977 film "The Mango Tree" when he died. Mr. Pate moved to the US in 1950 and enjoyed a long and successful career. He often was cast as an American Indian on numerous TV shows and films. He played the villainous Sierra Charriba in Sam Peckinpah's misfire "Major Dundee" (see picture at right). Mr. Pate appeared in over 150 films and TV shows during his career. He appeared in the first film adaptation of a James Bond novel: the 1954 live-TV version of "Casino Royale." Mr. Pate played Clarence Leiter. Not sure why they writer changed the character's name from Felix. The show was an episode of the TV series "Climax!" Mr. Pate was also a successful screenwriter. In addition to writing the aforementioned "The Mango Tree" Mr. Pate wrote the Mel Gibson film "Tim." Mr. Pate was nominated for a Best Screenplay Adapted award by the Australian Film Institute for "The Mango Tree." Mr. Pate won the Australian Logie Award (their version of the Emmy) for "Tim." He also directed "Tim." Mr. Pate was the father of actor Christopher Pate.
Michael Pate's many film and TV credits include "Howling III," "The Virginian," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Mission: Impossible," "The Rat Patrol," "The Time Tunnel," "The Wild Wild West," "Batman," "The Singing Nun," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "Get Smart," "Wagon Train," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason," "Rawhide," "McLintock!," "PT 109," "Tower of London," "Route 66," "The Rifleman," "77 Sunset Strip," "Have Gun - Will Travel," "Sergeants 3," "Peter Gunn," "Thriller," "Maverick," "Curse of the Undead," "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "The Court Jester," "The Silver Chalice," "Hondo," "The Maze," "Houdini," the Brando version of "Julius Caesar," "The Desert Rats" and "Ten Tall Men."
BILL MELENDEZ Died Sep. 2, 2008
Oscar-nominated producer/animator and composer Bill Melendez died at age 91. Mr. Melendez was also nominated for 28 Emmy awards. He won six! Bill Melendez will always be beloved and remembered for bringing Charles Schultz characters from the "Peanuts" comic strip to TV and film. He produced, directed and/or animated over 50 "Charlie Brown" TV specials and feature films. Mr. Memlelndez shared an Oscar nomination for the 1969 feature "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." Bill Melendez also provided the voice of Snoopy and Woodstock! Mr. Memlelndez started his career working for Walt Disney and contributed to projects like "Pinocchio" and "Bambi" among others. He then went to work for Warner Brothers and worked on many "Bugs Bunny" and "Daffy Duck" cartoons. Mr. Melendez won Emmy awards for "Cathy," "Garfield on the Town," "Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown," "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus," "You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Mr. Melendez was honored by his peers in the Animation Guild with the Windsor McCay Award in 1979.
DR. SELMA DRITZ Died Sep. 3, 2008
Dr. Selma Dritz died at age 91. Ms. Dritz worked as a doctor for the city of San Francisco's pulic health department. She was on the cutting edge of tracking the first AIDS cases which broke out in the early 1980s. Her work was among the earliest dealing with the coming AIDS epidemic. Dr. Dritz worked tirelessly to share information with other doctors and agencies as well as the Gay population of San Francisco. Dr. Dritz was portrayed by actress Lily Tomlin in the excellent HBO adaptation of Randy Shiltz's book "And the Band Played On."
RUY POLANAH Died Sep. 3, 2008
Brazilian actor Ruy Polanah died at age 86. Mr. Polanah appeared in nearly 50 films during his career. International audiences will remember Mr. Polanah for his appearances in such films as Werner Herzog's "Fitcarraldo," John Boorman's "The Emerald Forest," "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," "Journey to the End of the Night," "Amazon" and "Running Out of Luck."
FERNANDO TORRES Died Sep. 4, 2008
Brazilian actor Fernando Torres died at age 80 after suffering from respiratory disease. Mr. Torres was a stage, TV and film actor in his native land. He appeared in over 30 films during a career that began in the 1940s. Mr. Torres is known to international audiences for his work in the Oscar-winning "Kiss of the Spider Woman." He was the father of award-winning actress Fernanda Torres and writer/director Claudio Torres.
KELLY BAKER Died Sep. 4, 2008
Make-up artist and hairstylist Kelly Baker died at age 46 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Baker worked on such films and TV shows as "Broken," "Bride of Chucky," "54," "Moving Target" and "Terminal Rush." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
TOM NANCE Died Sep. 5, 2008
Writer/producer/actor Tom Nance was killed when his motorcycle was hit by a truck in Los Angeles. Mr. Nance is the fourth person in the industry to be killed in a motorcycle accident in the last month! I guess truck and car drivers will never learn to share the road. Sad. That's why I gave up the joy of riding motorcycles. He recently wrote, produced and acted in the award-winning indie film "Sherman's Way." Mr. Nance wrote for the TV series "Perfect Strangers." He also wrote the "A Very Goofy Christmas" segment of Disney's "Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
EDUARDO BERGARA LEUMANN Died Sep. 5, 2008
Argentinean actor and costume designer Eduardo Bergara Leumann died of complications from a stroke and heart disease on his 76th birthday. Mr. Leumann played the High Priest of Rome in Bob Guccione's infamous "Caligula." Other credits include "How to Seduce a Woman" and "Delito." He was a costume designer on several films including "The Cave of Ali Baba."
ANITA PAGE Died Sep. 6, 2008
Anita Page, the last surviving silent film star died at age 98. Yes, there are other actors and actresses who worked in silent films still living, but Ms. Page was the last of the star from the era. Ms. Page rose to stardom in the late 1920s. Her costars included Lon Chaney Sr., Ramon Novarro, Joan Crawford, Buster Keaton and Clark Gable. Anita Page's career was over at age 23. Fear of a scandal because of a deluge of fan letters from admirer Benito Mussolini combined with Ms. Page's refusal to have sex with producer Irving Thalberg ended her career. Like a comet entering the atmosphere, Ms. Page's career burned bright hot and then was gone. She made a British film three years after her Hollywood career was taken from her, but then nothing…until the late 1990s when she began making cameo appearances in small horror movies.
Anita Page became a superstar when she co-starred with Joan Crawford in the 1928 "Our Danicing Daughters." The actresses made three films together though Ms. Page detested Crawford. Her next film cast her opposite Lon Chaney Sr. in the gangster film "While the City Sleeps." IMDB states that Ms. Page also appeared uncredited in Chaney's "West of Zanzibar" but a close examination shows that she is no where to be found. The following year Ms. Page successfully made the transition to 'talkies.' She co-starred in "The Broadway Melody," which was the first sound film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Anita Page made 30 films before her career was taken from her. Other credits include "Free and Easy" and "Sidewalks of New York" both opposite Buster Keaton, "Our Blushing Brides," "Little Accident" opposite Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and "The Easiest Way" as Clark Gable's love interest. Ms. Page married naval officer Herschel House and enjoyed her role as wife and mother as well as popular hostess to parties in San Diego. Following the death of her husband, Ms. Page began appearing in indie horror films. She had recently finished a role in the upcoming "Frankenstein Rising" in which she plays the mother of another star from yesteryear Margaret O'Brien!
ROBERT MONROE Died Sep. 6, 2008
Former agent turned producer and drama teacher Robert Monroe died at age 79. Mr. Monroe worked as an associate producer on a number of the excellent Made for TV movies ABC TV produced during the 1970s. "Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole" was the final screen appearance of Oscar-winner Susan Hayward. "The Rookies" was the pilot film for one of the most popular cops shows of the decade. Other credits include "They Only Come Out at Night," "The Bait," "The Great American Beauty Contest," "A Cold Night's Death" and "The Daughters of Joshua Cabe."
GREGORY MCDONALD Died Sep. 7, 2008
Author Gregory McDonald died of cancer at age 71. Mr. McDonald wrote 26 novels during his lifetime. Several of his novels which were turned into feature films. His book "Fletch" was turned into a hit film starring Chevy Chase. The sequel "Fletch Lives" was not based on one of his books. Mr. McDonald's book "Running Scared" was filmed in 1972. The British film has never been released in the US. Johnny Depp directed and co-starred with Marlon Brando in the 1997 film "The Brave" which was based on a Gregory McDonald novel. Mr. McDonald's novel "Fletch Won" is currently in production with actor Joshua Jackson slated to play the title character.
JULIO MADRUGA Died Sep. 7, 2008
Award-winning Spanish cinematographer and camera operator Julio Madruga died at age 61. Mr. Madruga worked on nearly 100 films during his career. He was the cinematographer on over 20 films. Mr. Madruga was a journeyman camera operator who was a mentor to many young up-and-coming cameramen in the Spanish film industry. He was nominated for two Atv Awards, the Spanish Emmy, and won for "Cartas de Sorolla." Mr. Madruga worked on many internationally known films including "The Others," "Goya in Bordeaux," "The Rift" and "China 9, Liberty 37."
PAUL TESCHKE Died Sep. 7, 2008
Actor Paul Teschke died of congestive heart failure at age 94. After a career in education, Mr. Teschke became an actor. Mr. Teschke worked primarily on stage at the Long Beach Theater. His film and TV credits include "Carpool," "Rockford Files," "Highway to Heaven" and "The Heart of Justice." Mr. Teschke served his country in the US Army during WWII.
CELIA GREGORY Died Sep. 8, 2008
British actress turned faith healer Celia Gregory died at age 56. Ms. Gregory appeared in nearly 20 films and TV shows. She had a recurring role in the 1970s TV series "Survivors." Other credits include "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes," "Casualty," "Lace II," "Tales of the Unexpected," "Lace," "Reilly: Ace of Spies," "Play for Today," "Hammer House of Horror," "Agatha" and "Quiller." Ms. Gregory also worked as a stage actress in London's West End.
JAE-HWAN AHN Death discovered Sep. 8, 2008
South Korean actor Jae-Hwan Ahn was discovered dead in a van parked in a Seoul alley. The 36-year-old actor died of smoke inhalation. Police stated that he had been dead for at least 10 days when his body was discovered. They found a three-page suicide note. Mr. Ahn appeared in several films before turning to the business side of the industry.
RICHARD MONETTE Died Sep. 9, 2008
Canadian actor and theater director Richard Monette died of a pulmonary embolism at age 64. Mr. Monette was the longest-serving artistic director of the famed Stratford Festival. Mr. Monette was with the Stratford Festival for 14 years. He was the subject of the documentary "The Madness of King Richard" while still director of the festival. Mr. Manette appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows during his career. His many acting credits include the 1980s TV series "The Twilight Zone," "Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II," "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing," the 1980s TV series version of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Higher Education" and "Popeye Doyle."
CONRAD POMERLEAU Died Sep. 10, 2008
Actor Conrad Pomerleau died of cancer at age 74. Mr. Pomerleau was a noted stage actor who's best know work was the one-man show "Poe in Person." Mr. Pomerleau portrayed Edgar Allen Poe in theaters across the country. He also made a series of four short films in the late 1980s and early 1990s dramatizing the works of America's greatest horror novelist. They include "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Black Cat," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "Edgar Allen Poe: The Essential Works: The Raven/Annabelle Lee/A Dream Within a Dream." Mr. Pomerleau had a bit part in the Oscar-winning film "Kramer vs. Kramer."
BOBBY MALLON Died Sep. 10, 2008
Former Child actor Bobby Mallon died at age 89. Mr. Mallon was one of the last surviving "Our Gang" actors. Mr. Mallon over a dozen of the "Our Gang" films produced both in the silent film and sound eras. Mr. Mallon appeared in one of my personal favorites: "Teacher's Pet." He played the ring-announcer in the comedy short "Boxing Gloves." Bobby Mallon and fellow "Our Gang" actor Buddy McDonald also worked with Laurel and Hardy in the 1932 film "Pardon Us!" Their scene was cut as it involved them watching Oliver Hardy as an old wheel-chair bound man roll into a lake and drown. Producer Hal Roach felt it didn't fit the tone of the movie and cut the scene.
MARK BOZMAN Died Sep. 10, 2008
Camera operator Mark Bozman, age 47, was killed in a motorcycle accident when a car swerved into his lane and struck his bike. Mr. Bozman is the 5th industry member to be killed in a motorcycle accident in less than a month! Each time, the biker was hit by a car or truck driver. I guess the attitude of car and truck drivers is that if you only use two wheels, you are entitled to half the courtesy due to folks who drive 4-wheeled vehicles. Mark Bozman was a longtime cameraman for the TV reality shows "COPS" and "LAPD: Life on the Beat." Other credits include "Pimp My Ride," "Ax Men" and "Black Gold." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ALICE RAETZ Died Sep. 12, 2008
Former child actress Alice Raetz died at age 82. Ms. Raetz was known in the film industry as Baby Alice Raetz. She appeared in the Shirley Temple film "Stand Up and Cheer." In the Hal Roach short "Crooks Tour" Ms. Raetz did a wicked Mae West imitation. Her family placed obituary states that she also appeared in some "Our Gang" shorts.
GEORGE PUTNAM Died Sep. 12, 2008
Legendary Los Amgeles radio and TV newsman George Putnam died at age 94. Mr. Putnam began his radio career in the 1930s and shifted to TV in the early 1950s. After retiring from TV in the mid 1970s Mr. Putnam returned to radio. Mr. Putnam appeared in several films and TV shows, usually playing a reporter. He played a radio announcer in one of my favorite films of the 1950s: "The Fourteen Hours." Other credits include the TV version of "Christmas in Connecticut," "Gus," "Helter Skelter," "Independence Day," "I Want to Live!" and "The Atomic Café."
MAURICE DUNSTER Died Sep. 12, 2008
Maurice Dunster died 11 days shy of his 78th birthday. Mr. Dunster was an actor and an assistant to both Donald and Keifer Sutherland during their careers. Mr. Dunster worked for Keifer Sutherland on a dozen films including "Dark City" and "Renegades." Mr. Dunster played a security guard on Sutherland's hit TV series "24." He worked with Donald Sutherland on "Eye of the Needle" and "The Disappearance." Mr. Dunster's other acting credits include "Truth or Consequences, N.M.," "Dan Candy's Law," "Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World" and "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines."
BILLY MYATT Died Sep. 12, 2008
Special effects tech Billy Myatt died at age 78. Mr. Myatt was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44. His film and TV credits include "I'll Do Anything," "Lost in Yonkers," "Relentless II," "Baywatch," "MacGyver," "Romancing the Stone," "Used Cars" and "1941."
ALICE VAN-SPRINGSTEEN Died Sep. 13, 2008
Regular reader know that I occasionally defer to British documentary filmmaker Austin Muttie-Mewse for his insightful obituaries. Those who saw my piddling tribute to Ms. Van-Springsteen will attest to the superior quality of Austin's tribute. I should have checked my e-mail sooner! Once again, Thanks Austin! The photo at right shows Ms. Van-Springsteen (left) doubling for actress Gail Davis.
Alice Van, who died on September 13 in Point Loma, San Diego, California aged 90, was Hollywood’s most prolific stuntwoman who as well as winning a plethora of prizes for her trick riding opened the 1932 Olympics and was invited in 1937, by King George and Queen Elizabeth to perform in the Royal Easter Show in Australia.
Alice Grace van Der Veen was born to a Dutch dairy farm family in California on October 12, 1919, and debuted in rodeo at age 12 at the LA Coliseum and just a week after her fiftieth birthday performed a solo piece at the opening ceremony at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Despite the fact U.S. President Herbert Hoover did not attend the Olympic games that year ( becoming the first sitting head of government not to appear at an Olympics hosted in it’s own country) she did attend a White House banquet afterwards and commented that “Hoover had the biggest hands of anyone I’d ever met.”
Her first work as a film stunt woman was in Will Rogers' last movie, "In Old Kentucky" (1935), for which she doubled for pretty ingénue Dorothy Wilson. She then signed a contract at Columbia Pictures who loaned her out to double for Dorothy Revier for the Buck Jones shoot-‘em-up "The Cowboy and the Kid" (1936). Eventually she was employed at every studio in town as a double for many recognized stars, such as Marion Davis (in Hearts Divided 1936), Lois January (The Roaming Cowboy 1937), Elizabeth Taylor (in National Velvet 1944), Jane Wyman (in The Yearling 1946), Judy Canova (Oklahoma Annie 1952) as well as Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Ingrid Bergman, Betty Hutton, Gail Davis (Annie Oakley TV series), Martha Manor (Bonanza TV series) and for both Barbara Stanwyck and Linda Evans (in The Big Valley TV series made during the 1960s).
Whilst performing stunts for actress Dennie Moore on ‘The Dawn Rider’ (1935), she was asked by director Robert N. Bradbury to double for relative newcomer John Wayne who'd been feeling off-colour, “I was the only female to ever do so,” she said.
In 1937, at the age of 18, she was invited by King George and Queen Elizabeth to ride in the annual Royal Easter Show in Australia. “The King had seen me ride during a previous trip to The States,” she said, “I remember he was charming but a nervous man.” Alice also rode for The Duke and Duchess of Windsor during a US visit in the 1940s. A World champion trick rider undefeated to this day her recorders are still unbreakable. 'I've broke every bone in my body at least once,' she said. 'One time I had a stunt to do where I had to jump over a waterfall... I told the camera man I can't swim so if I don't come up can you come get me?'
“I taught Dale Evans how to ride,” said Alice Van in 1998, the year she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and decade after winning the prestigious Golden Boot Award. “John Wayne and Buck Jones said I could ride like a ‘real’ man…that’s the sort of praise that got me work in pictures.”
It was on the set of ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’ 1944, the second film Roy Rogers and Dale Evans made together, that Alice Van and Evans met. Evans remembered watching Alice work and trying to learn how better to ride a horse by following her moves.” I had other women that doubled me, but none of them impressed me like Alice,' Evans once said.
In the days before Evans married Rogers, she and Alice were roommates. They shared a guest house at Bing Crosby's home for about a year. In addition to sharing their living space, they shared the trials of their early careers.
Most of Alice’s pitfalls came in the way of bruises and broken bones, including a broken back from coming down on top of a gate during a rodeo event. 'They said, I’d never walk again,' ' said Alice, recalling the doctors' prognosis. “But I was walking in six months.'
There was a time when the studios tried to move Alice Van from anonymity and turn her into a star. Jack Warner likened Alice Van to fellow blonde Alice Faye and thought she’d make it in musicals and melodramas and had her test for the role of Annie Oakley which eventually went to Betty Hutton. 'They sent me to dramatic school,” she said. “Teacher’s wanted to teach me Shakespeare and deportment. I said, `I'm doing Westerns!” The final straw came when her fencing teacher ‘got fresh’ with her, Alice hit him thus ending her career as an actress.
'We never received the credit back then like the stunt women do now days,” she said in 2000. “Half the time I wasn't even sure of the name of the movie set I was on I just did the stunt and on to the next job... Years later when watching television I would see a stunt I had done on a movie. Sometimes I even doubled men and that was always fun! If I had to do it all over again I would.”
Alice Van married ‘Bud Springsteen’ during the 1940s; he started out as a wardrobe assistant for Fox in 1920, before becoming a well known film director. The couple’s only son Norman died in 1970 and Bud in 1989.
She is survived by her granddaughter Darcy Segobia.
ARLENE COFFEY Death discovered Sep. 15, 2008
Costume designer and wardrobe woman Arlene Coffey was murdered by her 52-year-old, mentally-ill son David Coffey who then committed suicide. Ms. Coffey was 73 years old. Ms. Coffey was the widow of cinematographer Joseph Coffey. Ms. Coffey, who was ill with lymphoma was shot in the head by her son. He then turned the gun on himself. Ms. Coffey was last heard from by a friend on September 12th. Ms. Coffey's credits include "The Sopranos," "Deceived," "F/X2," "See No Evil, Hear No Evil," "Arthur 2: On the Rocks," "Legal Eagles," "The Last Dragon" and "Eyewitness."
RICHARD WRIGHT Died Sep. 15, 2008
Pink Floyd co-founder Richard Wright died of cancer at age 65. Mr. Wright played keyboard for the band as well as serving as songwriter on several albums. Mr. Wright played on every tour the band made as was absent from only one album. Among other songs, Mr. Wright wrote the classic "Us and Them" from the album "Dark Side of the Moon." He appeared with the band in numerous documentaries and TV shows. Pink Floyd was nominated for a Grammy for the concert film "Pink Floyd: The Delicate Sound of Thunder." Other film and TV credits include "Pink Floyd The Wall," "Stoners" and "Dogtown and Z Boys."
JOHN MATSHIKIZA Died Sep. 15, 2008
South African actor and journalist John Matshikiza died of a heart attack at age 54. Mr. Matshikiza appeared in nearly 20 films and TV shows. I remember him best for his supporting role in the excellent horror film "Dust Devil." Mr. Matshikiza appeared in such international hits as "Cry Freedom," "The Air Up There," "Mandela," "Woman of Desire" and "Shake Hands with the Devil."
STARVOS PARAVAS Died Sep. 15, 2008
Greek actor Starvos Paravas died of heart failure at age 71. Mr. Paravas appeared in nearly 50 films. He was a popular comedic actor in such films as "Alice in the Navy." Mr. Paravas was also a stage actor performing in many classic Greek tragedies with the National Theater of Greece.
STEVEN OLIVER PRICE Died Sep. 15, 2008
Actor and theater director Steven Oliver Price died at age 37. The cause of death was not revealed. Mr. Price was active in theater in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. His film and TV credits include "Confidence," "Unsolved" and "Suspension."
NORMAN WHITFIELD Died Sep. 16, 2008
Songwriter and record producer Norman Whitfield died of complications from diabetes at age 65. Mr. Whitfield co-wrote some of the greatest songs to come out of America during the 1960s and 70. Mr. Whitfield spent the most prolific and productive part of his career working at Motown. His list of hits include "Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Ball of Confusion" and "War." Mr. Whitfield won a Grammy for the soundtrack album to the comedy movie "Car Wash." He also composed addition music for Berry Gordy's cult classic "The Last Dragon." Can you imagine "The Big Chill" without Norman Whitfield's music? The haunting effect of "Heard It Through the Grapevine" over the credit sequence and the contagious joy of "Ain't to Proud to Beg" during the dance scene in the kitchen helped make "The Big Chill" the classic film it became. The movie would be empty and shallow without Mr. Whitfields great songs. Mr. Whitfield's music can be heard on the sound tracks of dozens of films and TV shows. Some of them include "Rush Hour 3," "The Sopranos," "Munich," "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," "The Wire," "Tupac: Resurrection," "Undercover Brother," "Bringing Out the Dead," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," "Private Parts," "Dead Presidents", "Smiling Faces," "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," "Eddie Murphy Raw," "Hamburger Hill," "Ruthless People" and "Which Way Is Up?"
JONATHAN MOORE Died Sep. 17, 2008
Actor Jonathan Moore died at age 85. He worked on Broadway as well as in film and TV. Soap opera fans remember Mr. Moore from the TV series "Love of Life." He appeared in the Broadway and film versions of "Amadeus." Other credits include "Spenser: For Hire," "The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana," "Raise the Titanic" and "1776."
HUMBERTO SOLAS Died Sep. 17, 2008
Award-winning Cuban director Humberto Solas died of cancer at age 66. Mr. Solas was best known for the 1968 film "Lucia." Mr. Solas won the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival for the movie. Mr. Solas was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes for his 1982 film "Cecilia." His 2001 film "Honey for Oshun" won the Silver Ariel in Mexico. He received the Cuban National Film Prize for his lifetime achievement and contributions to the Cuban film industy.
BENJAMIN THOMAS Died Sept. 18, 2008
Actor Benjamin Thomas died at age 64. Mr. Thomas played Dr. Jack Garner on the soap opera "The Doctors."
PETER KASTNER Died Sep. 18, 2008
Actor Peter Kastner died of a heart attack at age 64. Mr. Kastner gained was a child actor in Canada. He gained notice as an adult in the film "Nobody Waves Goodbye." He followed this with the starring role in Francis Ford Coppola's breakthrough film "You're a Big Boy Now." He also starred in the 1971 film "B.S. I Love You." Mr. Kastner was cast in the lead of the comedy TV series "The Ugliest Girl in Town." The short-lived series sank Mr. Kastner's career. His talent and promise were not enough for him to crawl out from under the shadow of the failed TV series. Other credits include "Frightmare," "Simon & Simon," "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," "Delta House," "Emergency!," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Love, American Style," "Medical Center" and "The Cimarron Strip."
FLORESTANO VANCINI Died Sep. 18, 2008
Award-winning Italian director Florestano Vancini died at age 82. Mr. Vancini directed over 20 films during his career. His debut film "It Happened in '43" won the Best First Work award at the Venice Film Festival. His 1973 film "The Assassination of Matteotti" starring Franco Nero won a special prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. "Seasons of Our Love" starring Anouk Amiee won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.
HOWARD MANN Died Sep. 18, 2008
Stand-up comedian and actor Howard Mann died of cancer at age 85. Mr. Mann appeared on numerous TV shows during his career as well as several feature films. His many credits include "Pushing Daisies," "Without a Trace," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Malibu's Most Wanted," "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," "Becker," "Seinfeld," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Mr. Saturday Night," "Moonlighting," "Hunter," "Murder, She Wrote," "The Jeffersons," "They Call Me Bruce?," "Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part 1," "Going Ape!," "Barney Miller," "Wholly Moses!," "Alice," "Laverne & Shirley," "The Defenders" and "Naked City."
JAMES GAVIN Died Sep. 18, 2008
Character actor James Gavin died at age 88. Mr. Gavin appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during his career. He was a familiar face to fans of TV Western series. Though he worked mainly on TV Mr. Gavin did appear in several feature films including Clint Eastwood's "Coogan's Bluff," "The Werewolf" and "Three Violent People." His many TV credits include "Apple's Way," "McCloud," "Ironside," "Daniel Boone," "The High Chaparral," "It Takes a Thief," "The Wild Wild West," "Cimarron Strip," "The Big Valley," "Mission: Impossible," "The F.B.I.," "A Man Called Shenandoah," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "Wagon Train," "Rawhide," "The Twilight Zone," "The Rifleman," "Bonanza," "Have Gun - Will Travel," "M Squad," "Gunsmoke," "Dragnet" and "Perry Mason."
EARL PALMER Died Sep. 19, 2008
Prolific sessions drummer Earl Palmer died at age 84. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member played on such classic rockers as Little Richard's "Tuttie Fruiti" and Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." He appeared in the documentaries "Make It Funky!" and "Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music." Mr. Palmer also appeared in such films and TV shows as "Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl," "The Two Jakes" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." His music can be heard of the soundtracks of such films as "Cry-Baby" and "Pretty Woman."
AL RUSK JR. Died Sep. 19, 2008
Former law enforcement officer turned teamster Al Rusk Jr. died of cancer. Mr. Rusk provided transportation services on such films and TV shows as "Without A Trace," "Erin Brockovich," "The Limey" and "Dante's Peak."
DAVID HUGH JONES Died Sep. 19, 2008
Film and theater director David Hugh Jones died at age 74. Mr. Jones was nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival for "84 Charing Cross Road." Mr. Jones directed two film versions of Harold Pinter plays: "The Trial" and "Betrayal." Mr. Jones spent 10 years directing plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His many film and TV credits include "Ghost Whisperer," "7th Heaven," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The Practice," "Picket Fences," "And Then There Was One," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "Look Back in Anger" and "BBC2 Play of the Week."
JUN ICHIKAWA Died Sep. 19, 2008
Award-winning Japanese director Jun Ichikawa died at age 59 after collapsing while eating lunch. Mr. Ichikawa's 2004 film "Tony Takitani" received nominations at Sundance and the Independent Spirit Awards while winning the FIPRESCI Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival. Like Ridley Scott, Mr. Ichikawa came to feature films after directing TV commercials. He directed 20 films since making his feature debut in 1987 with the teen drama "BU*SU."
ANNE SARRAUTE Died Sep. 19, 2008
Film editor Anne Sarraute died at age 78. Ms. Serraute edited three feature films for director Alain Resnais. She edited his Oscar nominated "Hiroshima, Mon Amour." She was an assistant editor on his excellent WWII documentary "Night and Fog." Ms. Sarraute also edited Jacques Cousteau's Oscar-winning documentary "World Without Sun." Ms. Sarraute was also Maurice Nadeau's collaborator on "The Fortnight" literary review magazine.
WILLIAM FOX Died Sep. 20, 2008
British actor William Fox died at age 97. Mr. Fox enjoyed success on the stage, in film and on TV. He appeared In London's West End and on Broadway. Mr. Fox appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. His many credits include "The Lavender Hill Mob," "All Creatures Great and Small," "Mata Hari," "Omen III: The Final Conflict," "Callan," "Doomwatch," "Coronation Street," "Softly Softly," "Z Cars," "The Avengers" and "The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell." Mr. Fox served his country as a Lieutenant Colonel in the London Rifles during WWII.
MARGARET WOLFIT Died Sep. 20, 2008
Actress Margaret Wolfit died of cancer at age 79. She was the daughter of actor Donald Wolfit. Ms. Wolfit was best known for her stage work on London's West End including many one-woman shows. Her TV credits include "Oliver Twist," "No Hiding Place," "The Four Just Men" and "BBC Sunday Night Theatre."
JERI SOPANEN Died Sep. 21, 2008
Finish cinematographer Jeri Sopanen died of cancer at age 79. Mr. Sopanen shared a Daytime Emmy for his work on the children's show "3..2..1..Contact." His feature film and TV credits include "My Dinner with Andre," "Soul of an Empire," "Farewell Colette," "The Odyssey Tapes," "National Geographic Specials," "I Could Never Have Sex with Any Man Who Has So Little Regard for My Husband," "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau," "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" and the rockumentary "Mad Dogs & Englishmen."
HERBERT HARRIS Died Sep. 21, 2008
Percussionist Herbert Harris died at age 91. Mr. Harris worked as a Broadway musician. Leonard Bernstein hired him for the New York Philharmonic where he played for over 20 years. Mr. Harris played as a studio musician on numerous films. Mr. Harris was the music coordinator on the Alan Arkin sci-fi comedy "Simon."
BERNHARDT CRYSTAL Died Sep. 21, 2008
Artist and gallery owner Bernhardt Crystal died at age 93. Mr. Crystal was a combat artist during his WWII service. In addition to fighting for his country, Mr. Crystal drew War Bond posters and sketches of what he saw during such battles as D-Day. Mr. Bernhardt was the subject of the HBO documentary "My Uncle Berns" which was directed by Lindsay Crystal, the daughter of Billy Crystal. Mr. Crystal played Santa Claus in Rob Reiner's "When Harry Met Sally."
CONNIE HAINES Died Sep. 22, 2008
Big-band singer Connie Haines died of myasthenia gravis at age 87. Ms. Haines appeared with Frank Sinatra in the films "Ship Ahoy" and "Las Vegas Nights." She sang with Frank Sinatra in bothe the Tommy Dorsey and Harry James orchestras. The pair had several hit duets. Ms. Haines' credits include such films as "Birth of a Band," "Duchess of Idaho," "Record Party," "A Wave, a WAC and a Marine" and "Twilight on the Prairie."
BUDDY MCDONALD Died Sep. 22, 2008
"Our Gang" actor Buddy McDonald died at age 85. Mr. McDonald played 'Buddy' in a number of "Our Gang" comedies including the perennial favorite "Teacher's Pet." Mr. McDonald died two weeks after fellow "Our Gang" actor Bobby Mallon. Buddy McDonald and Bobby Malon also appeared in the 1932 Laurel and Hardy short "Pardon Us!" but their scene was cut as it involved them watching as Oliver Hardy rolled into a lake in a wheelchair and drown! Mr. McDonald's credits include "Hook and Ladder," "Seal Skins," "School's Out" and "Pups Is Pups."
PEDRO MASO Died Sep. 23, 2008
Comedic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Maso died at age 81. Mr. Maso won several awards during his lengthy career including an honorary Goya Award in 2006. Mr. Maso wrote, produced and directed dozens of films during his career. He formed his own production company in the early 1960s. Mr. Maso's credits include "The Grand Family, "Vacation for Ivette" and "Honey."
SONJA SAVIC Died Sep. 23, 2008
NOTE: I received an e-mail from Vojislav Rodic, a regular reader in Belgrade. He actually sent it to me last week, but because I am getting ready for a trial, I just opened it. I really appreciate Mr. Rodic's letter because he has a perspective about Ms. Savic that I could never have because my lack of exposure to her life and work. I was touched by the passion and sadness with which Mr. Rodic wrote to me. He has kindly allowed me to post his words here. I think they are a more fitting tribute to Ms. Savic's life and career than what I wrote. I have moved my original tribute to the bottom of this obituary.
Vojislav Rodic: I have a sad news, all the media in Belgrade report this morning about the passing of actress Sonja Savic (1961-2008), who died in her apartment (yet undisclosed cause of death). She was an actress (most popular in eighites), but in later years also directed theater plays and at least one movie. Never in the mainstream, she had popularity and recognition, played a wide range of roles, gave a lot to the art and to the audiences, but it is my impression that she didn't have enough opportunity to show all that she carried inside. She was very critical of the artistic establishment, her rare interviews always carried a lot of criticism of the society, in the nineties she was "banned" in the media (you know, one of those bans which are never spoken of, she was just missing, her views were publicly ignored, but public was hungry of her words, and her acting). Having no access to mainstream she concetrated on the alternative scene both as actress as well as director, or complete author of various theatrical performances. Even though she passed away I have a feeling that her time is yet to come (as with many artists who were not fully accepted in their lifetime). Sonja was a person who was living her art, it was not just a profession for her.
In her own words the most demanding movie role she played was in Braca po Materi (exact translation would be "Maternal Brothers" story of two half-brothers, one's father was Croatian, the other one was Serb), and Sonja played a drunken peasant aunt of one of the characters. At the time it was such a surprising performance - there was a period when Sonja was on movie magazines front pages as a true model-type bombshell (tall, slim, sophisticated). In a way that performance reminded me of (much later) MONSTER with Charlize Teron, but Sonja didn't use much makeup, it was all her acting, always acted with deep dedication and conviction, her professional training in Belgrade Drama Art School was just a polish over her inner artistic being.
My original obit: Serbian actress Sonja Savic died of a drug overdose at age 47. Ms. Savic became a star at age 16 in the film "Butterfly Cloud." She appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during her career. Ms. Savic won a Best Actress award at the 1985 Venice Film Festival for the movie "Life is Beautiful." She also appeared in "The Dark Side of the Sun" with Brad Pitt. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
RICHARD PIMM Died Sep. 24, 2008 Canadian production manager and camera operator Richard Pimm died at age 60. Mr. Pimm worked in various capacities on a number of animated films and TV shows. His many credits include "A Side Show Christmas," "Return to Never Land," "The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea," "Tales from the Endor Woods," "Babar," the cartoon series version of "Beetlejuice," "Babar: The Movie," "The Care Bears," "Ewoks," "Care Bears Movie," "Care Bears Movie 2," "Strawberry Shortcake and the Baby Without a Name," "Rock & Rule," "The Magic of Herself the Elf," "Hercules" and "Belle's Magical World."
OLIVER CRAWFORD Died Sep. 24, 2008
Writer Oliver Crawford died at age 91. Mr. Crawford was twice honored by the Writer's Guild with the Morgan Fox Award. Mr. Crawford was blacklisted after refusing to names names to HUAC in 1953. He was able to continue working though and became a prolific TV writer during the 1960s. Sci-fi fans remember Mr. Crawford for his work on such series as "Star Trek" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." Mr. Crawford's many credits include "Kojak," "The Bionic Woman," "The Blue Knight," "Ironside," "Mannix," "Love, American Style," "Land of the Giants," "The Wild Wild West," "Here Come the Brides," "I Spy," "Bonanza," "The Fugitive," "Ben Casey," "The Big Valley," "Gilligan's Island," "The Outer Limits," "The Rifleman," "Perry Mason," "Rawhide," "Climax!" and "The Man from the Alamo."
IRENE DAILEY Died Sep. 24, 2008
Daytime Emmy and Drama Desk-winning actress Irene Dailey died of colon cancer at age 88. Ms. Dailey was the sister of actor Dan Dailey. Ms. Dailey worked on Broadway as well as in film and TV. Ms. Dailey began her Broadway career in 1943. She co-starred with Jack Albertson in the two-year run of "The Subject Was Roses." She won the Drama Desk Award for her performance in the play "Rooms." Ms. Dailey was well known to soap opera fans for her work in "The Edge of Night" and "Another World." She won a Daytime Emmy award in 1979 for her work in "Another World." Irene Dailey appeared in a number of memorable films. She played the Ma Barker based character in Robert Aldrich's excellent depression-era gangster film "The Grissom Gang." Other film credits include "The Amityville Horror," "Jigsaw," "Five Easy Pieces" and "No Way to Treat a Lady." Her TV credits include "Ben Casey," "Dr. Kildare," "The Twilight Zone," "The Defenders" and "Naked City."
Actor Vance Strickland died of colon cancer at age 61. Mr. Strickland's credits include "Friends," "Independence Day," "The Chamber," "Runners" and "LA Heat." Mr. Strickland produced and starred in the 2006 indie horror film "Basketweave."
TERRY SPANO Died Sep. 25, 2008
Former Rockette Terry Spano died of ovarian cancer at age 53. Ms. Spano was a member of the Rockettes for 23 years. She founded the Roseland Performing Arts Company in New Jersey and served as its artistic director. Ms. Spano appeared in the TV movie "Legs."
M. CLAY ADAMS Died Sep. 26, 2008
TV director and producer M. Clay Adams died at age 99. Mr. Adams directed the landmark WWII documentary TV series "Victory at Sea." Mr. Adams oversaw the filming of "The Beatles Live at Shea Stadium" for Ed Sullivan. Mr. Adams served as production manager on such shows as "The Nurses," "The Defenders" and "The Phil Silvers Show." He also produced "The Phil Silvers Show." He was an assistant to Sol Wurtzel at FOX during the last half of the 1930s. Mr. Adams then went to work at RKO before joing the US Navy during WWII.
PAUL NEWMAN Died Sep. 26, 2008
Oscar-winning actor/producer and director Paul Newman died of cancer at age 83. Though blessed with leading-man good looks, Paul Newman was one of the best character actors of his generation. He was that rare combination of Movie Star and talented serious actor. Unlike his two-time screen partner Robert Redford, Paul Newman did not bring the same mannerisms ad bits to each role. There was always something new and different in every performance. The camera and audiences carried on an on-screen love affair with Paul Newman for over 50 years. His characters included heroes, bastards, losers and winners. We gave his characters a chance because we loved the man bringing them to life.
Paul Newman married actress Joanne Woodward in 1958. It was his second marriage and was one of the longest Hollywood marriages on record. When asked if he was ever tempted to stray, Mr. Newman said "Why go out for hamburger when you have steak at home?" In addition to his accomplished acting career, Paul Newman was a philanthropist, activist and respected race-car driver. He was the father of actress/producer Susan Kendall Newman, actresses Nell Potts and Melissa Newman, actor Scott Newman and two daughters not in show business: Stephanie and Claire. His son Scott Newman died of an overdose of drugs and alcohol in 1978. Paul Newman started the Scott Newman Center to prevent drug abuse through education to help prevent other parents having to go through the pain of loss he suffered. Paul Newman was able to donate nearly $200,000,000.00 to various charities through the profits of his "Newman's Own" salad dressing company. The company was begun in 1982 and has expanded to produce other food products in addition to the salad dressing line. His daughter Nell is slated to continue the "Newman's Own" company and philanthropic work. Paul Newman also started the "Hole in the Wall" camps for seriously ill children. Paul Newman served his country as a tail-gunner in the US Navy in the Pacific Theater of Operation during WWII.
Paul Newman was nominated for ten Oscars during his lengthy career. He received eight Best Actor nods, one Best Supporting Actor nomination as well as a Best Picture nomination for "Rachel, Rachel." Mr. Newman won his lone competitive Oscar for Best Actor for playing Fast Eddie Felson in Martin Scorsese's "The Color of Money." The 1986 film was a sequel to his 1961 film "The Hustler." Paul Newman earned the distinction of being one of only five actors to be nominated for Oscars for playing the same character in two different films! Paul Newman received two honorary Oscars. He received an Honorary Oscar for his body of work in 1986 and he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award in 1994. Paul Newman's work on film, TV and stage was also honored with numerous nominations and awards including Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and the New York Film Critic Circle awards.
Paul Newman appeared in over 80 films and TV shows during his career. He made his Broadway debut in the original 1953 production of William Inge's "Picnic." The following year, Paul Newman made his big screen debut in the Biblical epic "The Silver Chalice." Depending on which version you believe, the young actor took out a full page ad in either Variety or the New York Times to apologize for the film. After making a number of appearances on early TV shows, Paul Newman starred in his second feature film. The 1956 biopic "Somebody Up There Likes Me" re-teamed Newman with his "Chalice" co-star Pier Angeli as boxer Rocky Graziano. This time the audiences and critics liked what they saw. The film also marked the big-screen debut of actor Steve McQueen in a small supporting role. McQueen would spend a number of years struggling in Hollywood before he reached Paul Newman's level of stardom. There was no love lost between the two actors as Steve McQueen resented Newman's success and fought to emerge from Newman's shadow in the industry.
Paul Newman continued to work on TV and in film during the 1950s. 1958 turned out to be a banner year for Paul Newman. Though his first marriage ended that year he married actress Joanne Woodward. Mr. Newman starred in four feature film releases in 1958 which planted him firmly and permanently in the A-List of Hollywood talent. He co-starred with Joanne Woodward and Orson Wells in the Faulkner-based "The Long, Hot Summer." Newman created his first of many great anti-heroes as Ben Quick. Next up was Arthur Penn's "The Left Handed Gun" with Newman playing famed outlaw Billy the Kid. Paul Newman received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination in Tennessee William's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." He played a latent-homosexual, alcoholic ex-football star married to a very hot and horny Elizabeth Taylor. He ended 1958 with the comedy "Rally 'Round the Flag Boys." This was the second of ten feature films he made with wife Joanne Woodward. The soap opera drama "The Young Philadelphians" was his final film of the 1950s.
Paul Newman made 18 feature films during the 1960s. He created one of the great Iconic film characters of all time in Stuart Rosenberg's "Cool Hand Luke." His films ranged from soap operas to comedies to Westerns. Paul Newman personified the anti-hero with his film roles during this productive decade. He started the decade with the entertaining soap-opera "From the Terrace." He followed this with Otto Preminger's overblown 'important film' "Exodus." In 1961 he created his first immortal character 'Fast Eddie' Felson in Robert Rossen's classic "The Hustler." The gritty drama earned Newman his second Best Actor Oscar nomination. The following year he reteamed with Joanne Woodward in "Paris Blues." He then recreated his Broadway role in the film version of "The Sweet Bird of Youth." He played a small role in "Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man" in 1962. In 1963 Paul Newman created another immortal film character in Martin Ritt's "Hud." This was the fourth of six films the actor and director worked on. Newman played a selfish bastard, but you can't help but root for Hud and admire his pure lust for life. The performance earned Newman his third Best Actor Oscar nomination.
Five forgettable films followed before Newman returned to top form in the detective thriller "Harper." The popular movie spawned the 1970s sequel "The Drowning Pool." His next film was "Torn Curtain," directed by the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. The Cold War thriller was not one of Hitchcock's best films. It does include one of the most brutal murder scenes ever filmed. Hitchcock wanted to show just how hard it is to take a person's life. Newman and actress Carolyn Conwell work together to kill a KGB agent played by Wolfgang Keiling. The scene is classic Hitchcock stuck in the middle of one of his most unsatisfactory films. Paul Newman re-teamed with director Martin Ritt for one of my personal favorite Westerns: "Hombre." Mr. Newman plays a white man raised by Indians who inherits a boarding house owned by his father. His character comes to town, sells the boarding house and heads back to the hills. He rides a stage coach along with those displaced by the sale of his new property. He is ridicules and oustricized by the 'Whites' until the stage is held up by bandits lead by the menacing Richard Boone. Once again, Paul Newman plays against his leading man looks to create a memorable character who is not the most likable guy in the world. This is a must-see film for those who've never had the pleasure.
With so many memorable characters, it is hard to say which role was Paul Newman's best. For my money, his best film is "Cool Hand Luke." The prison drama is a character study of a man angry at the world. A real world shaker! Stuart Rosenberg's film is one of the best films of the 60s or any decade. Luke is Newman's ultimate anti-hero. Newman received his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination. Actor George Kennedy won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Dragline.
In 1968 Paul Newman made his directorial debut with "Rachel, Rachel." The movie earned four Oscar nominations including a "Best Picture" nod for Newman. His wife Joanne Woodward received her second of four Best Actress Oscar nominations as the title character. Estelle Parsons earned her second of back-to-back Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for her performance. The story of an old-maid finally learning to live life is a rewarding small film.
Returning to acting, Paul Newman appeared in the so-so comedy "The Secret War of Harry Frigg." Next up was "Winning" which combined Newman's new-found love of automobile racing with his acting profession. Paul Newman's final film of the 1960s was the classic comedy-Western "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Newman co-starred with Robert Redford in one of the first great 'buddy films.' The stars had a wonderful on-screen chemistry which made the movie one of the most popular films of all time. Unfortunately the pair would only make one more film together.
Paul Newman's output during the 1970s wasn't as prolific as his work in the 60s, but he turned in several excellent comedic performances. He began the decade with the little-seen "WUSA." The flawed film looks at a right-wing radio station in the south. Newman himself was a staunch liberal all his life. He worked for Eugene McCarthy during the 1968 presidential race and was proud of the fact he ended up on Richard Nixon's Enemies List! Ironically, Newman's rival Steve McQueen was a staunch conservative and was upset the he too somehow found his way on Nixon's infamous list.
Another one of my personal favorites was the 1971 film "Sometimes a Great Notion." Newman co-stars with Henry Fonda, Michael Sarrazin and Richard Jaeckel (in a memorable Oscar nominated performance) as an independent logging family trying to survive against the large logging companies. This was Paul Newman's second film as director. Newman's scene in which he tries to save his brother (Jaeckel) from drowning is unforgettable. The following year Paul Newman stepped behind the camera to direct "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds." The movie starred wife Joanne Woodward and their daughter Nell Potts as a dysfunctional mother and her idealistic daughter.
Next up, acting-wise, was the disastrous "Pocket Money" with Lee Marvin. In 1972 director John Huston cast Newman in the lead of "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean." This classic off-kilter Western contains some of Newman's best work as a comedian. The film was not a big success and the fact it is not considered a cult classic still mystifies me. The following year he re-teamed with John Huston on the deliberately-paced thriller "The MacKintosh Man." A rewarding film for the patient viewer.
In 1973 director George Roy Hill re-teamed with Newman and Redford for the Oscar-winning comedy "The Sting." During the early 1970s, Memphis had its own film review board. A number of films rated GP in the rest of the country were rated R in Memphis. "The Sting" was one such film. I spent a week with relatives in Little Rock that year and caught up on all the movies I couldn't see in Memphis. What a great movie. No great performances, just fun entertainment. The depression era conman movie won seven Oscars including Best Picture. Once again, Newman and Redford shined together. Next to wanting the Beatles to get back together, I think wanting to see another Newman/Redford movie was on the top of my wish list. Alas, it will never happen.
Irwin Allen wrangled Paul Newman and Steve McQueen to co-star in his disaster film "The Towering Inferno." The all-star disaster movie was famous for McQueen's contractual negotiations to star with the man he most envied. He followed "Inferno" with the "Harper" sequel "The Drowning Pool." It was his final of four collaborations with director Stuart Rosenberg. Paul Newman made three more films during the 1970s. Two of them were quirky tales for director Robert Altman: "Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bulls History Lesson" and the post-apocalyptic sci-fi mystery "Quintet." One of Newman's best films of the decade is the profane sports comedy "Slap Shot." Newman is in top form as the cynical, middle-aged, minor league hockey player trying to keep his team from being sold. The film is filled with some of the most crude and hilarious humor you will ever witness.
Paul Newman made eight feature films during the 1980s. He received Oscar nominations for three and won his sole competitive Oscar. The decade didn't start out that well, acting-wise. He starred in Irwin Allen's 1980 disaster film "When Time Ran Out." This Paul versus the volcano movie hammered the final nail in the disaster movie coffin. 1980 was a successful year for Paul Newman in that he directed the excellent Made for TV movie "The Shadow Box." He received an Emmy nomination for the tale of three people dealing with impending death. Wife Joanne Woodward co-starred with Christopher Plummer.
Paul Newman returned to form as an actor in 1981 with the excellent cop-drama "Fort Apache, the Bronx." I love the scene in which Paul Newman disarms a crazy man with a knife by acting so crazy himself that the suspect begins laughing and surrenders. The movie also features a chilling performance by Pam Grier as a murderous prostitute.
Paul Newman received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination for Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice." He plays the son of a gangster wrongfully framed for a murder. His "Slap Shot" leading lady Melinda Dillon turned in an Oscar-nominated performance as his doomed girlfriend. I don't care how many times I run across this movie on TV, if I get a chance to watch the scene in which Wilfred Brimley as the US Attorney takes names and kicks ass. I will watch it. I've always thought that his sole scene in the movie was worth an Oscar, just like Ned Beatty's Oscar-winning single scene in "Network." The following year he received his sixth Best Actor Oscar nomination as Frank Galvin, an alcoholic lawyer getting one last chance at life in Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict." James Mason and Milo O'Shea were also excellent in this great courtroom drama. A young Bruce Willis was an extra in the courtroom scenes!
I never saw Newman's 1984 feature "Harry & Son." Robby Benson co-starred in Newman's third outing as director of a feature film. Oscar finally shined on Paul Newman in 1986. Martin Scorsese directed Newman in "The Color of Money." He reprised his "Hustler" role as 'Fast Eddie' Felson. This time playing Felson as a mentor and manager to a young pool shark played by Tom Cruise. Newman ended the decade with the A-Bomb drama "Fat Man and Little Boy" and the fun but forgettable "Blaze."
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward made their final feature film together in 1990. "Mr. & Mrs. Bridge." The Ivory/Merchant film earned Joanne Woodward her, to now, final Oscar nomination. Newman next appeared in the Coen Brother's comedy "The Hudsucker Proxy." The following year he co-starred with Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith in Robert Benton's great little comedy/drama "Nobody's Fool." Mr. Newman received his final Best Actor Oscar nomination in a role that has to be seen a number of times to appreciate its many nuances. Four years later, director Robert Benton called on Paul Newman to star in the thriller "Twilight." The only reason to see the mediocre movie is for Mr. Newman's performance. The following year he turned in a nice cameo the romancer "Message in a Bottle." 2000's "Where the Money Is" was a fun piece of fluff that showed that Paul Newman at 75 was still cooler than most actors still in their 20s. His final live-action feature film performance was in the Sam Mendes's gangster film "The Road to Perdition." He played a cold, evil and well-mannered mob boss and received his sole Best Supporting Oscar nomination. Paul Newman ended his acting career with two Made for TV movies. He played the stage manager in the 2003 version of "Out Town." He also played the role on Broadway the same year. He received both Emmy and Tony nominations for his work in the productions of "Our Town." His final live work was in the HBO miniseries "Empire Falls." He won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries for his work. Mr. Newman ended his career doing vocie work on the IMAX documentary "Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon" and Pixar's "Cars."
PHYLLIS WELCH Died Sep. 26, 2008
Former actress Phyllis Welch died in her sleep at age 95. Ms. Welch was Harold Lloyd's leading lady in the film "Professor Beware." Ms. McDonald appeared as herself and provided photographs for the "American Masters" TV episode "Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius." Ms. McDonald was also an award-winning Broadway actress. She appeared in five Broadway productions. She won the New Times Critics' Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1937 production of "End of Summer." Her other Broadway credits include "High Tor" with Peggy Ashcroft and Burgess Meredith, "Granite," "Clemence Dane" and "A Slight Case of Murder" which was co-written by Damon Runyon. Ms. Welch also starred in the hit radio show "John's Other Wife." Ms. Welch married Graeme MacDonald directly after completing Harold Lloyd's "Professor Beware" and proceeded quickly after to mother five sons. She remained active in regional theater in the San Francisco area. She worked with Shirley Temple Black to develop children's theater in San Francisco. Served on the board for San Francisco's Children Theatre, and organized both the Peninsula Chapter of the Junior League, as well as serving on the board of the Hillbarn Theatre. Ms. Welch was also a talented painter and had various gallery shows in her later years. Ms. Welch was the grandmother of actress Alexis McDonald, the founder and Artistic Director of Strings Attached Theater Company based in New York City.
CIRIO H. SANTIAGO Died Sep. 26, 2008
Filipino director/producer Cirio H. Santiago died of lung cancer at age 72. Mr. Santoago is familiar to fans of exploitation films throughout the world. He produced over 80 films, also directing nearly 70 of those films. Mr. Santiago worked as line producer on Jack Hill's famous women in prison films "The Big Doll House" and "The Big Bird Cage." He also produced "Women in Cages" filmed at the same time as the two Jack Hill movies. Mr. Santiago's many credits include "Road Raiders," "Caged Heat 2," "Bloodfist II," "Spyder," "Naked Vengeance," "Up from the Depths," "T.N.T. Jackson," "The Blood Drinkers," "Vampire Hookers," "She Devils in Chains" and "Fly Me."
RON SULLIVAN aka HENRI PACHARD Died Sep. 27, 2008
Adult film director Henri Pachard (real name Ron Sullivan) died of cancer at age 69. Mr. Pachard was an old school adult film director who made the transition to video when the industry moved from shooting on film. He directed a number of erotic classics from the 1970s. His credits include "Babylon Pink" and "The Devil and Ms. Jones: Part 2." Mr. Pachard was mentor to many directors to emerge in the years following the PornChic era including actor turned director Paul Thomas. Mr. Pachard directed over 300 adult films. Mr. Parchard, as Ron Sullivan was also producer on Robert Downey Sr.'s landmark satire "Putney Swope." "Putney Swope" dealt with a Black man becoming the head of a Madison Avenue advertising firm. For those who look down on the adult industry, Mr. Sullivan's part in bringing "Putney Swope" to the screen should still earn him the respect he deserves from film fans.
LYDIA JEMENE MILLER Died Sept. 27, 2007
Rocker Lydia Jemene Miller died at age 55. Drugs are suspected. I spent several summers living in Pompano Beach Florida following my parent's divorce in 1968. There was a regional hit by the band "Fantasy" called "Stoned Cowboy." By the time I wore the grooves off of my copy, the record was out of print. I came across a 45 rpm of it in North Carolina back in the early 90s, but it got lost. My buddy, musician Cam WIlliams finally found it on the internet and surprised me with a CD. That made me a happy camper. Just two days ago, I discovered that some other fan of South Florida rock from the 1960s and 70s had posted it the song on YouTube! Then today I hear that pretty little Lydia Miller has died. She was the 16-year-old lead singer of the band who was gifted with an ability to sing equal to Janis Joplin and surpassing Grace Slick. She played with a number of famous musicians including Jerry Garcia, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder. But I think her loyalist fans are those people who spent part of their youth in South Florida during the magic time when "Fantasy" reigned over the local music scene. She and her bandmates appeared in the Iron Butterfly experimental musical feature "Musical Mutiny."
MIGUEL CORCEGA Died Sep. 28, 2008
Mexican actor and director Miguel Corcega died of a stroke at age 78. Mr. Corcega was best known for acting and directing telenovelas (Mexican soap operas). Mr. Corcega began his film-acting career in the late 1940s in "Lady of the Veil." He made a dozen feature films during the 1950s before focusing on TV acting. He appeared in some of the first telenovelas in Mexico. Many of the early shows were 'live TV.' Mr. Corcega turned to directing in 1970. He recently had to give up his role in the popular TV series "Cuidado con el Angel" due to ill health. He was the father of actress Barbara Corcega.
STAN KANN Died Sep. 29, 2008
Theater organist and quirky comedian Stan Kann died at age 83. Mr. Kann played the mighty Wurlitzer organ at the St. Louis FOX theater from 1953 to 1975. He provided organ music for the soundtracks of Brian DePalma's "The Fury" and the TV series "M*A*S*H." Like millions of others, I remember Mr. Kann's many appearances (over 70!) on the "Tonight Show" during the Johnny Carson era. Mr. Kann was one of those guests who brought strange and quirky inventions into our living-rooms via the TV. Who knew that vacuum cleaners were so versatile! In reality it was Mr. Kann who was the versatile one. He was the subject of the 2005 documentary "Stan Kann: The Happiest Man in the World." Mr. Kann' credits include "The Mike Douglas Show," "The Merv Griffin Show," "Gimme A Break," "The Two Of Us," "Hee Haw" and "Meet Marlon Brando."
RICHARD CLAYTON Died Sep. 29, 2008
Actor turned agent Richard Clayton died of congestive heart failure at age 93. Mr. Clayton represented a number of nopted actors during his career. He was Burt Reynold's personal manager for over two decades. Mr. Clayton began his career as a contract actor for Warner Brothers. He appeared in such films as "My Friend Irma Goes West," "The Bride Came C.O.D.," "The Strawberry Blonde," "High Sierra," "Knute Rockne All American," "Castle on the Hudson," "The Fighting 69th" and "Brother Rat and a Baby."
MICHAEL BERRY Died Sep. 29, 2008
Writer Michael Berry died of brain cancer at age 61. Mr. Berry co-wrote the movies "Short Time" and "Blue Streak" with John Blumenthal. Before his stint as a screenwriter Mr. Berry had been a independent fashion photographer and then photo editor for Playboy and Oui magazines. He left Hollywood and pursued a career as a book author.
LOU GUSS Died Sep. 29, 2008
Prolific character actor Lou Guss died at age 90. Mr. Guss appeared in numerous movies and TV shows during his career. His feature film credits include "Find Me Guilty," "The Yards," "Girlfight," "The Cemetery Club," "Used People," "Moonstruck," "Highlander," "H.O.T.S.," "New York, New York," the original version of "Fun with Dick and Jane," "Nickelodeon," "No Deposit, No Return," "Lucky Lady," "Lepke," "Harry and Tonto," "Crazy Joe," "The Laughing Policeman," "The Godfather" and "Love with the Proper Stranger." Mr. Guss was also a familiar face to TV audiences. His many TV credits include "Law & Order," "Chicago Hope," "Mad About You," "The Nanny," "Quantum Leap," "Father Dowling Mysteries," "Frank Nitti: The Enforcer," "Tales from the Darkside," "Cagney & Lacey," "Gimme a Break!," "Trapper John, M.D.," "Hart to Hart," "Taxi," "Barnaby Jones," "Chico and the Man," "All in the Family," "CHiPs," "Kojak," "Charlie's Angels," "Quincy M.E.," "Mary Tyler Moore," "Switch," "Baretta," "Maude," "Harry O," "Mannix," "Sanford and Son," "I Spy" and "Naked City."
TERENCE FITCH Died Sep. 30, 2008
Second unit director and AD Terence Fitch died at age 54. Mr. Fitch's credits include "The Big Game," "The Shooting Party," "Brazil," "Brimstone & Treacle" and "Chariots of Fire."