LOUIS PERRYMAN Died Apr. 1, 2009
Actor Lou Perryman was murdered in his Austin, Texas home. The 68-year-old actor was approached by a recently paroled armed robber who was also mentally ill, off his medications and intoxicated. The man had earlier attacked his own step-father with garden shears. Mr. Perryman was shot and killed in his house. And the killer stole his car. The following day the killer turned himself into the police, admitted killing the owner of the car and sent the police to Mr. Perryman's address. Lou Perryman was a character actor who worked in Austin film productions as well as in several major studio films. He was an assistant camera man on the 1974 horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." He played a small role in the first sequel "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." Mr. Perryman played the sheriff that Hilary Swank relates her story to in "Boys Don't Cry." He had a humorous cameo as a construction worker in Tobe Hooper's "Poltergeist." Another memorable cameo came in John Landis' "The Blues Brothers." Other credits include "Walker, Texas Ranger," "Natural Selection," "The Cellar," "Last Night at the Alamo" and "Fast Money." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
Reader Ron Miller shared this informative story concerning Mr. Perryman: He was a funny and gentle soul. A real product of the 1970's hippie scene in Austin, Texas. He had been an assistant cameraman on "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and most obituaries of him use this fact and a cameo in TCM2 to label him a horror film star. Sadly, almost no one remembered that in 1978 he and Sonny Carl Davis starred in what was probably his most important film, "The Whole Shootin' Match" a micro budget movie that looked like it had a much bigger budget due to donated time and equipment. It wasn't that this movie portrayed working class west Texans in the most realistic manner that made it a major film though. Robert Redford saw the film in a local film festival in Park City, Utah later in the year, and realized that this wonderful film literally had no place to play outside of a few film festivals. He then resolved to start up his own film fest and begin a non-profit organization to help independent filmakers find backing and support. So "The Whole Shootin' Match" directly lead to the founding of the Sundance Institute. The director of the film, Eagle Pennell, was given several opportunities to make films in Hollywood, but his addiction to cocaine and alcohol wrecked them all. After his death, it feared that "The Whole Shootin' Match" was a lost film. Pennell had literally been homeless for years and the negative was lost. One of Pennell's nephews spent years tracking down prints of the film for restoration. Ironically the DVD was released (Watchmaker Films) at about the time of Lou Perryman's death. At least it contains two commentary tracks with Perryman and Davis narrating parts of "The Whole Shootin' Match" and a short film called "A Hell of a Note." There is also a documentary on Eagle Pennell titled "The King of Texas" that contains many interviews with Lou Perryman. It makes me regret that Lou will not be around for commentary if the rights to Pennell's best film "Last Night at the Alamo" is ever acquired and restored.
MIGUELANGEL SUAREZ Died Apr. 1, 2009
Puerto Rican actor Miquelangel Suarez died of cancer at age 69. Mr. Suarez over two dozen films. He appeared in Hollywood productions as well as Spanish language movies. Mr. Suarez's credits include "Che," "Illegal Tender," "Under Suspicion," "The Survivor," "Havana," "Stir Crazy" and "Bananas."
DON SCHISLER Died Apr. 1, 2009
Insert car driver Don Schisler died of a heart attack at age 74. Mr. Schisler and his son John both worked in the film industry as drivers. He was one of the builders of the original Georgia General Lee car and transportation coordinator for the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard." Mr. Schisler played a bit part in the movie "Six Pack." He also performed stunts in "Trick or Treat." He provided vintage cars for the movie "Memphis" which starred Cybil Sheperd and my 7th grade classmate John Laughlin. Mr. Schisler drove the process car in "National Lampoon's Vacation." Mr. Schisler's driving credits include "Shallow Hal," "The Gingerbread Man," "Amos & Andrew," "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag" and "Great Balls of Fire!"
PETER DONOGHUE Died Apr. 1, 2009
Grip and gaffer Peter Donoghue died of a heart attack while swimming. Mr. Donoghue worked on a number of films and TV shows produced in Chicago. His many credits include "Kinsey," "Soul Survivors," "What Women Want," "Blues Brothers 2000," "Chain Reaction," "Blink," "Hero," "Curly Sue," "Child's Play," "The Color of Money," Arthur Penn's under-rated gem "Four Friends" and "The Blues Brothers."
YAN HUANLI Died Apr. 2, 2009
Chinese actor Yan Huanli died of respiratory failure at age 73. Mr. Huanli was best known in China for his role in the beloved TV series "Journey to the West."
RAY CHEHARDY Died Apr. 2, 2009
Actor Ray Chehardy died at age 79. Mr. was a New Orleans business man and actor. He appeared in a number of TV commercials. His film credits include one of Italian schlock director's Joe D'Amato's more commercial outings "A Woman's Secret."
TOM BRADEN Died Apr. 3, 2009
Author, CIA member and liberal political commentator Tom Braden died of a heart attack at age 92. Mr. Braden's autobiographical novel "Eight is Enough" became the basis for the hit TV series. Mr. Braden was an on air personality on CNN's "Crossfire." He represented the liberal POV and took on conservative Pat Buchanan on the weekly show.
VICTOR MILLAN (real name Joseph Brown) Died Apr. 3, 2009
Actor and college dean Joseph Brown died at age 89. Mr. Brown was a well-known character actor who worked under the stage name Victor Millan. He was the Dean of Theater Arts at Santa Monica College. As Victor Millan, he appeared over 80 films and TV shows. Mr. Millan played Manelo Sanchez, the man Orson Welles tries to frame for murder in the last Film Noir classic "Touch of Evil." Mr. Millan played Sal Mineo's father in George Steven's classic "Giant." His final feature film appearance was in Brian DePalma's "Scarface." Other credits include "Boulevard Nights," "W.C. Fields and Me," "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze," "The Streets of San Francisco," "The Pink Jungle," "The Fugitive," "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Bonanza," "The FBI Story," "Terror in a Texas Town," "Whirlybirds," "Escape from San Quentin," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "Walk the Proud Land," "Battle Cry" and "Elephant Walk." Mr. Brown served his country in the US Army-Air Corp during WWII.
JODY MCCREA Died Apr. 4, 2009
Actor Jody McCrea died of a heart attack at age 74. Mr. McCrea was the son of actors Joel McCrea and Francis Dee. Jody McCrea appeared with his father on the Western TV series "Wichita Town" during the 1950s. He appeared in nearly 40 films and TV shows during his career. Mr. McCrea was best know to fans of the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movies of the 1960s. He played characters called Deadhead or Bonehead in over half a dozen of the beach romps during the 1960s. He also played on of the officers in Sam Peckinpah's "Major Dundee." Peckinpah directed Jody's father in the classic "Ride the High Country" three years earlier. Mr. McCrea appeared in one of my favorite monster movies from the 1950s "The Monster That Challenged the World." He plays the first Navy diver to be eaten by the monster snails hiding in the Salton Sea! Jody McCrea retired from acting in the 1970s and took up the life of a rancher in Roswell, New Mexico. Jody McCrea's many credits include "The Glory Stompers," "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini," "Beach Blanket Bingo," "Wagon Train," "Pajama Party," "Bikini Beach," "Muscle Beach Party," "Beach Party," "Operation Bikini," "Death Valley Days," "All Hands on Deck," "The Restless Years," "Lafayette Escadrille" and "Studio One."
MAXINE COOPER Died Apr. 4, 2009
Actress and social activist Maxine Cooper died at age 84. Ms. Cooper was best known for playing Mike Hammer's secretary Velda in Robert Aldrich's Film Noir classic "Kiss Me Deadly." Ms. Cooper appeared in over 30 films and TV shows during her career. She retired from acting (except for the occasional cameo) after marrying Oscar-nominated screenwriter Sy Gromberg (When Willie Comes Marching Home) in 1957. They remained married until his death in February 2001. Ms. Cooper was active in civil rights and anti-war efforts during the 1960s. She organized the Hollywood effort to support Dr. King's march on Montgomery in the early 1960s. Ms. Cooper's other film and TV credits include "Fear on Trial," "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?," "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "The Twilight Zone," "Perry Mason," "Peter Gunn," as a sick passenger in the "Airplane!" inspiration "Zero Hour!," "Dragnet," "Autumn Leaves" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
DAVID WHEATLEY Died Apr. 5, 2009
British director David Wheatley died at age 59. Mr. Wheatley began his career directing animated shorts. He moved on to documentaries and then feature films for TV. Mr. Wheatley's credits include "Starhunter," "Catherine Cookson's The Girl," "Hostages," "The March" and "The Road to 1984."
JOHN O'REGAN Died Apr. 6, 2009
TV and film producer John O'Regan died at age 68. Mr. Regan worked for CBS News for two decades and received an Emmy nomination for his work. He was a line producer on the National Lampoon comedy "RoboDoc." Mr. Regan served his country as an intelligence officer in the US Army during the Vietnam War.
CLARA FRAME Died Apr. 6, 2009
Editor Clara Frame died of undisclosed causes at age 47. Ms. Frame and her husband David worked in post production. She was an assistant editor on Keith Gordon's "The Chocolate War." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
MICHAEL STERN Died Apr. 7, 2009
Author and producer Michael Stern died of pancreatic cancer at age 98. Mr. Stern was executive producer of the David Carradine film "Run For Your Life." He was a journalist and author who served as a war correspondent during WWII.
JACK WRANGLER Died Apr. 7, 2009
Former adult-film star Jack Wrangler died of lung disease at age 62. Mr. Wrangler was an openly gay man who appeared in over 80 adult films, both gay and straight. He was the son of TV producer Robert Stillman. Mr. Wrangler was married to singer Margaret Whiting. He retired from the porn industry and helped her with her singing career which included concieving the idea for the Broadway show "Dream." Mr. Wrangler's many film credits include "Behind the Green Door, the Sequel," as the Devil in "The Devil in Miss Jones Part II" and "Debbie Does Dallas Part II."
JANE BRYAN Died Apr. 8, 2009
Actress Jane Bryan died at age 90. Ms. Bryan appeared in nearly 20 films during the late 1930s. Ms. Bryan was under contract with Warner Brothers and was being groomed for stardom. She gave up her acting career and married future drug store tycoon Justin Dart. She co-starred opposite James Cagney and George Raft in the gangster classic "Each Dawn I Die." She made her film debut in the 1936 "Perry Mason" movie "The Case of the Black Cat." Ms. Bryan had a supporting role in the Bette Davis/Humphrey Bogart crime thriller "Marked Woman." She reteamed with Bette Davis, as well as Edward G. Robinson in the crime comedy "Kid Galahad." She and Mr. Robinson also co-starred in the crime comedy "A Slight Case of Murder." She was a young William Holden's love interest in the gangster film "Invisible Stripes" which also starred George Raft. Ms. Bryan also starred in the hit film "Brother Rat" and its sequel "Brother Rat and a Baby."
ALOUTTE LEBLANC Death announced Apr. 8, 2009
Famed New Orleans tassel dancer Aloutte LeBlanc (real name Ruth Corwin) died. Her age was not given. Ms. LeBlanc was billed as "America's Greatest Tassel Dancer" during her career in the 1940s and 50s. Ms. LeBlanc appeared in the 1954 film "Naughty New Orleans."
DR. ROBERT DORSEN Died Apr. 9, 2009
Dr. Robert Dorsen died at age 88. Dr. Dorsen was a respected New York and Louisiana OB/GYN. He also enjoyed working as an actor. While working as an intern in New Orleans, he appeared in a bit part in the suspense classic "Panic in the Streets." After retiring from medicine, Dr. Dorsen returned to his other love: acting. His other film and TV credits include "Tootsie," "One Life to Live" and "Death Mask."
DALE SWANN Died Apr. 9, 2009
Actor Dale Swann died of complications from a stroke at age 61. Mr. Swann appeared in a number of films and TV shows during his 30 year career. His many credits include "Proud Men," "Cybill," "Melrose Place," "Murder, She Wrote," "Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight," "Drop Zone," "Diagnosis Murder," "SeaQuest DSV," "Baywatch," "Beverly Hills, 90210," "The Wonder Years," "Matlock," "Quantum Leap," "Father Dowling Mysteries," "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson," "Gremlins 2: The New Batch," "Knots Landing," "Tango & Cash," "Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure," "Baby M" and "The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory."
LEE MADDEN Died Apr. 9, 2009
Director Lee Madden died of pneumonia at age 82. Mr. Madden directed a number of exploitation films as well as some episodic TV. His debut film was "Hell's Angels '69," which was the only biker film of the era to actually star real members of the notorious biker organization. Actors Jeremy Slate (The Born Losers) and G.D. Spradlin (Apocalypse Now) acted along side members of the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels including Sonny Barger. Mr. Madden's other credits include "Night Creature," "The Manhandlers," "Cade's County," "The Night God Screamed" and "Angel Unchained."
JOHN MCDOUGALL Died Apr. 10, 2009
Louisiana filmmaker John McDougall died. His age was not given. Mr. McDougall directed, edited and shot the video "Living Water." He produced and shot the 2009 political comedy "Dirty Politics." Mr. McDougall worked as editor on the films "Baller Blockin'" and "Dangerous Proposition."
ROBERT CANNON Died Apr. 11, 2009
Real estate broker and actor Robert Cannon died at age 95. Mr. Cannon was active in regional theater in Ohio. His film and TV credits include the TV series "The Beachcomber," Elvis Presley's "Follow that Dream" and "The Touch of Flesh." Mr. Cannon served his country in the US Army-Air Corps during WWII.
LAWRENCE MILLER Died Apr. 11, 2009
Tony-nominated production designer and art director Lawrence Miller died at age 64. Mr. Miller received a Tony Award nomination for Tommy Tune's "Nine The Musical." In addition to his stage work, Mr. Miller also enjoyed success in film and TV. His many credits include "Aftershock: Earthquake in New York," "Beethoven's 2nd," the movie version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Doc," "L.A. Story," "True Believer," "The Flamingo Kid," "Simon," "The Wiz," "Equus," "Overboard," "Desert Bloom" and Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy."
SIMON CHANNING WILLIAMS Died Apr. 11, 2009
Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning producer Simon Channing Williams died of cancer at age 63. Mr. Williams was the creative partner of producer/director Mike Leigh. Mr. Williams received a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the 1996 film "Secrets & Lies." Mr. Williams and director Mike Leigh won the BAFTA for the same film. Mr. Williams was nominated for eight other BAFTA awards for such films as "Naked," "Vera Drake" and "The Constant Gardner." He stared out as an assistant director. Mr. Williams was 1st AD on "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes." Mr. Williams produced over 30 films and TV shows during his career. Other credits include "Blindness," the creepy horror film "Shrooms," "Man About Dog," "Nicholas Nickleby," "Topsy-Turvy," "Jack & Sarah" and "High Hopes."
ROB DICKSON Died Apr. 11, 2009
Australian soccer player and TV personality Rob Dickson was killed, along with his 5-year-old son Byron in a car crash in South Africa. Mr. Dickson was the first winner of the Australian version of the TV series "Survivor." Mr. Dickson played professional soccer for four seasons. Most recently he was producing documentary films about the sport. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
UPDATE: Mr. Dickson's 8-year-old son Gabriel has now died of the injuries he sustained in this accident. Continued prayers of comfort for their family and friends.
TITA MUNOZ Died Apr. 11, 2009
Philippino actress Tita Muñoz died at age 82. Ms. Munoz played leading lady roles in the 1950s, but she is best remembered by international horror movie audiences for her role in the 1968 film "Mad Doctor of Blood Island." Other credits include "The Stepmother," "Island of Desire," "The Moonchild," "Lilet" and "The Evil Within."
BENNY S. CANNON Died Apr. 12, 2009
Actor Benny S. Cannon died at age 52. Mr. Cannon worked on stage, in film and on TV. His acting credits include "Asleep in the Deep," "Suddenly Susan," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "The Wayans Bros" and "Crossing the Bridge."
NORRIS DOMINGUE Died Apr. 12, 2009
Actor Norris Domingue died of cancer at age 83. Mr. Domingue appeared in over 40 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. His many credits include "The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Twists of Terror," "The Amityville Curse," "Enemies: A Love Story," "The Kiss," "The Hotel New Hampshire" and "Blackout."
MARILYN CHAMBERS Died Apr. 12, 2009
My first wife Jeani and I moved to Las Vegas in January 1990. We were in our early 20s, so sin city was an adventure. No thought for the future, just having fun. I think back to some stupid conversations we had. One involved being faithful to each other. We lived in Vegas for a year and a half before we actually got married. I told her that I wouldn't screw around on her unless propositioned by Marilyn Chambers. She responded that if she ever got a shot at Donald Sutherland (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers era) I had better watch out. We worked waiting tables at a place called Tommy's Bar-B-Q located on Las Vegas Blvd. at Charlston Blvd. It was run by a crotchety, but cool old Chicago guy named Tommy Johnson and his family. One Friday night we arrived at work. The place was busy as usual. Tommy told me that I was about to wait on a celebrity. "Who?" I asked. "Marilyn Chambers." Jeani shot me a look that said "Oh shit!" I walked up to the table and greeted her and her then husband husband Chuck Traynor. I couldn't believe it. There she was, the woman of my many lustful dreams.
I had actually never seen her most famous movies. Back when I was 14 years old, a buddy and I snuck into the Capri Art theater in Memphis and saw Sean S. Cunningham's 1971 X-rated venture "Together." I don't remember much about the movie, except for the sexy young blond who smiled at the camera and pronounced the word "cock" like she was revealing the secrets to the universe. I don't believe she even had sex in the movie. She made an impression on my young psyche, only recently being altered by puberty. This was in the days before VHS, and Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, so I would not see her more famous films for several more years. But the sexy blond stayed on my mind.
Being a good waiter, I never fawned over celebrities. Made sure they got good service and gave them their space. If I were to ask for an autograph, it would be after the meal was over. There were a number of notables including Mel Blanc who traveled to Tommy's to feast on his hickory smoked ribs. Tommy heard me tell another waiter that I was going to wait until their dinner was through before asking her for an autograph and taking a moment to speak with her about being a fan. I was in the middle of taking their order when Tommy walked up to the table and busted me. He stuck a piece of paper in front of Ms. Chambers and said "He's a big fan, dreams of you at night! But he's too shy to ask for an autograph." The old bastard loved to have his fun with the help. Meanwhile, my then wife Jeani, who was working a station on the other side of the restaurant would drop what she was doing and walk past the table whenever I was there. I think she was afraid that Ms. Chambers would throw me on the table right in front of God and everybody and do me. Alas, that was not to be. She did turn out to be a very nice woman. She and her husband had a place atop Mt. Charleston outside the city. They were regulars at the restaurant. While my fantasy of being with my dream woman never came true, it was a pleasure to get to know her in the slight way I did.
These days any woman who works in the adult industry calls themselves a Porn Star. Truth be told, with the exception of maybe Jenna Jameson, none of the adult actresses of today come near to the bar set by real Porn Stars like Marilyn Chambers and the sad Linda Lovelace. Marilyn Chambers burst onto the scene in the 1972 Mitchell Brothers classic "Behind the Green Door." Ms. Chambers was an aspiring actress and model. The stars aligned to propel her to stardom when the release of her film coincided with the decision by Proctor and Gamble to use one of her modeling photos on the box of their Ivory Snow detergent. Unbeknownst to the detergent company, their model was the star of the then current theatrical release "Behind the Green Door." Proctor and Gamble ended up with egg on their face, but the Mitchell Brothers and Marilyn Chambers made the most of the PR possibilities. The press had a field day with Ivory Snow's "99 and 44/100 per cent pure" slogan. Marilyn Chambers looked like the girl next door. She had a fresh, wholesome look that made her an object of desire across the world. Marilyn CHambers was a pioneer in the Porno Chic movement of the early 1970s.
Unlike many others in the business, Ms. Chambers did not make that many movies. Few lived up to the erotic standard set with her first Mitchell Brothers movie. Her second film for the Mitchell Brothers, "The Resurrection of Eve" in one of the best adult films ever made. It is a very good movie by any standard. Truth be told, one could take out all of the sex scenes and have a damn good film. Ms. Chambers showed she acting range as the heroine who is survives a near fatal traffic accident and re-examines her life. The movie actually deals with real relationship issues and societal concerns.
Ms. Chambers wanted to break through to mainstream films. Her film debut came in a bit part as Robert Klein's girlfriend in Barbra Streisand's "The Owl and the Pussycat." In 1977 director David Cronenberg cast her in the lead of his horror film "Rabid." Ms. Chambers was excellent in the hybrid sci-fi, vampire, zombie film. The movie showed Cronenberg's interest in form and mutation which he would later explore in such films as "Videodrome" and "Naked Lunch." The film works in large part due to Ms. Chambers' great performance. Sadly for her, she would not get another mainstream role until this years, yet unreleased "Solitaire." Ms. Chambers also tried her hand at song and dance with a cabaret act and by cutting a record.
Ms. Chambers continued to work in the adult industry to the very end. Her early 1980s efforts "Insatible" and "Up 'n Coming" remain stimulating films. Her later efforts don't come close to capturing that special something which made her one of the greatest Pron Stars of all time. Most of her later work fell into the softcore realm of erotica. Ms. Chambers was portrayed by "Extreme Makeover" personality and actress Tracy Hutson in the docudrama "Rated X" which chronicalled the rise and fall of Jim and Artie Mitchell. Emilio Estevez directed and he and brother Charlie Sheen played the famed pornographers.
Marilyn Chambers was found dead at her home in California by her 17-year-old daughter. She was 56 years old. While the police stated that they do not suspect foul play, no cause of death has yet been revealed. Thanks for fueling the dreams of my youth. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
KRISTOPHER ROBINSON Died Apr. 12, 2009
Production accountant Kristopher Robinson died at age 48. He worked in the industry for nearly 20 years with credits that include "Children of the Corn 666," "Going All the Way" and "The Real McCoy."
LESLEY GILB TAPLIN Died Apr. 13, 2009
Former actress and community activist Lesley Gilb Taplin was killed in a six-car pileup on highway 101 in Los Angeles at age 62. She was the only person hurt in the crash. As Lesley Gilb she played the title character in the 1973 fantasy/fairytale/vampire film "Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural." The film is noteworthy for the presence of actress Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith as the innocent who Lemora seeks to consume. Ms. Gilb also appeared in the movie "The Activist." That is an aptly named film as Ms. Gilb Taplin became an activist in Los Angeles. She founded the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. She remained active in the arts as well as the volunteer community. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
KENNETH MCCREADY died Apr. 13, 2009
BAFTA-nominated documentary filmmaker Kenneth McCready died at age 79. Born in the UK, Mr. McCReady moved to Canada and began a lengthy career with the National Film Board of Canada. His documentary "Isotopes in Action" received a BAFTA nomination for Best Specialized Film. Mr. McCready wrote, produced and directed a number of films during his career. Many of his films dealt with environmental issues. His credits include "Dinosaurs: Piecing It All Together," "Keepers of Wildlife," "Question of Immunity" and "Tomorrow's Energy Today."
HARRY KALAS Died Apr. 13, 2009
Broadcast legend Henry Kalas died of a heart attack at age 73. Mr. Kalas suffered a heart attack in the broadcast booth as he prepared to call the Philadelphia Phillies/Washington Nationals baseball game. He died later in hospital. Kalas had been the voice of the Phillies since the 1970s. Those who might not follow the Phillies will undoubtedly recognize Mr. Kalas' voice from his fantastic voice-overs for "NFL Films." His rich voice accented the award-winning documentaries, which replayed many of the greatest games in American football history. Without Mr. Kalas, the "NFL Films" would not have had nearly the drama and beauty. Fans of the Phillies will miss Mr. Kalas' tradmark "Outta Here!" call whenever a homerun was hit. He also called games for the Philadelphia Eagles football team. Mr. Kalas was also the voice of Animal PLanet's kid's specials "The Puppy Bowl," which aired opposite the NFL championship game the Super Bowl.
JACK HUNTER Died Apr. 13, 2009
Author Jack Hunter died of cancer at age 87. Mr. Hunter's first novel "The Blue Max" was turned into an exciting WWI film from the German POV, which starred George Peppard, James Mason and Ursula Andress. Mr. Hunter wrote 17 novels during his career. His final novel "The Ace" revisited WWI, this time from the POV of American aviators. Mr. Hunter's love of airplanes lead to a second career as an aviation artist. Mr. Hunter was a decorated US Army intelligence officer during WWII. As an undercover operative, Mr. Hunter was responsible for uncovering 2000 Nazi war criminals in the post-war era. The German's he dealt with during this period inspired him to create the cynical character Bruno Stachel. Unlike the fate of George Peppard's Bruno Stachel in "The Blue Max" the character did not die in the book. Mr. Hunter actually wrote a trilogy of books about the soldier taking him from WWI, through the rise of the Nazi party and into WWII.
MARK FIDRYCH Died Apr. 13, 2009
Former Detroit Tiger pitcher Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych was suffocated when his clothes were caught in a moving drive shaft of a truck he was working on. Mr. Fidrych was one of the most colorful characters in baseball during the late 1970s. The All-Star pitcher was known to talk to balls, and request that umpires remove certain balls from the game because "they had too many hits in them." Mr. Fidrych was Rookie of the Year in 1976. Injuries cut short his colorful career. Mr. Fidrych played a baseball player in Neil Simon's "The Slugger's Wife." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
PETER ROGERS Died Apr. 14, 2009
British producer Peter Rogers died at age 91. Mr. Rogers was the producer and co-creator along with the late Gerald Thomas of the "Carry On" film series. Long before American filmmakers came up with movie spoofs such as "Scary Movie" and its spin-offs, the Brits were poking fun at every imaginable genre in the highly successful "Carry On" films, which began in the 1950s, spoofed everything from Tarzan to the erotic adventures of Emmanuelle. The lengthy series is the most successful film series in British film history. There were several TV spinoffs including an animated series called "The Carryoons."
Mr. Rogers' many "Carry On" credits include "Carry on Columbus," "Carry on Emmannuelle," "Carry on Girls," "Carry on Up the Jungle," "Carry on Doctor," "Carry on Screaming!," "Carry on Cowboy," "Carry on Cleo," "Carry on Spying" and "Carry on Sergeant." Mr. Rogers also produced a number of other films. Those credits include "Bless This House," "Satan's Playthings," "Revenge," "The Iron Maiden," the TV series "Ivanhoe," "The Solitary Child," "The Cat Girl," "Rock Around the World," "The Circle," "Man-Eater" and "Don't Ever Leave Me." Thanks for the years of laughter in a world that really needs it!
DONNIE NEUBAUER Died Apr. 14, 2009
Actor Donnie Neubauer died at age 58. Mr. Neubauer worked in advertising and appeared in a number of TV and radio ads. He was also a regional theater actor in Texas. Mr. Neubauer played a record executive in the biopic "Selena."
WENDY BLAIR Died Apr. 14, 2009
Producer Wendy Blair died of cancer at age 70. Ms. Blair worked on such TV series as "Where's Rodney?," "Three's Company" and "The Ropers." Following her TV career Ms. Blair was the long-time business manager of The Smothers Brothers.
ARTHUR WILDE Died Apr. 15, 2009
Hollywood publicist Arthur Wilde died at age 90. Mr. Wilde began his career in Hollywood in the 1930s. He worked for most of the major film and TV studios during his lengthy career. Mr Wilde helped publicize over 100 films. His credits include "Marty," "Bridge on the River Kwai," "MacArthur," "Raise the Titanic," the remake of "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Lust in the Dust," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "The Star Chamber," "The Mountain Men," "...And Justice for All" and "The Choirboys."
DIRK MAGWITZ Died Apr. 15, 2009
Assistant director and production assistant turned Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Dirk Magwitz died at age 39. Mr. Magwitz was found dead in his apartment. He was working on his doctorate degree at the time of his death. An autopsy is pending. Mr. Magwitz worked on a number of films before changing career. He worked on such films and TV shows as "Skeleton Woman," "Just One Night," "Wildflowers," "Nash Bridges" and "Mars Attacks!" Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
HANS SPEAR Died Apr. 15, 2009
Hans Spear died at age 90. Mr. Spear was a German Jew who fled Hitler in 1938. He joined the US Army's Counter Intelligence Core and returned to Europe to fight the Nazi menace. Mr. Spear was highly decorated soldier, even though the US Army didn't award him his medals until 2008. He was originally denied the awards because of his religion! Kind of ironic. Mr. Spear and the other German Jews who trained to fight at Camp Ritchie, Maryland relived their experiences in the excellent documentary "The Ritchie Boys." Thanks for your service to our country.
KEITH ROGERS Died Apr. 15, 2009
Actress Keith Rogers died of lung cancer at age 67. Her film and TV credits include "Hart to Hart," "Airport 1975," "Apple's Way," "The New Perry Mason," "Cannon," "The Sixth Sense," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "That Girl."
SHAWN MORTENSEN Died Apr. 15, 2009
Famed photographer Shawn Mortensen died at age 43 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Mortensen photographed many noted celebrities and filmmakers. His work was exhibited in some of the world's greatest museums. Mr. Mortensen was not just a photographer of celebs. He covered war and famine and revolution to bring about an understanding of the human condition. He challenged people to work and fight against injustice with his images. He published two books of his work during his short life. He directed the "Machinehead" segment of the Rocumentary "Bush: Alleys and Motorways." Mr. Mortensen appeared in a couple of movies: "The Big Bend" and "CQ." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JAMES D. HOUSTON Died Apr. 16, 2009
Emmy-nominated and Humanitas Prize winning writer James D. Houston died of cancer at age 75. Mr. Houston and his wife Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston collaborated on the book "Farewell to Manzanar." Mrs. Houston was a Japanese American who was interned in the U.S. Military camp at Manzanar during WWII. The book was turned into a 1976 TV movie. Mr. Houston was nominated for an Emmy for his script. He won the Humanitas Prize for the screenplay.
DOM SALINARO Died Apr. 17, 2009
Actor, dancer and choreographer Dom Salinaro died of natural causes at age 81. Mr. Salinaro danced on Broadway and in film. He also was a theatrical director and choreographer. Mr. Salinaro's film and TV credits include "Sweet Charity," "The History of The World, Part I," "Mrs. Harris," "Mr. Belvedere," "Girls of the White Orchid" and the TV biopic "Mae West."
TOM HULL Died Apr. 18, 2009
Actor Tom Hull died at age 73. Mr. Hull was active in regional theater in North Carolina. He also worked with several national-touring companies. He did voice work on the video game "Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30." Mr. Hull's film and TV credits include "Fall Time," "Truman Capote's One Christmas," "Lovejoy," "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles," "Little Monsters" and "Raw Deal."
PETER DENNIS Died Apr. 18, 2009
Actor Peter Dennis died at age 75. Mr. Dennis was best known for his one-man stage show "Bother! The Brain of Pooh." He performed the Winnie the Pooh play for over 30 years. He worked as both a live action and voice actor. Mr. Dennis' many film and TV credits include "ER," "Beowulf," "Eragon," "Sideways," "Alias," "Star Trek: Voyager," "Shrek," "Felicity," "Family Matters," "Friends," "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones," "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr," "Murphy Brown," "War and Remembrance," "The Great Escape II: The Untold Story," "The Stud," "Confessions of a Window Cleaner" and "The Avengers."
J.G. BALLARD Died Apr. 19, 2009
Author J.G. Ballard died at age 78. He had been fighting prostate cancer for three years. Mr. Ballard drew on his childhood experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese army in China during WWII for his novel "Empire of the Sun." Steven Spielberg adapted the novel to the screen. Mr. Ballard's dark novel "Crash" was perfect material for director David Cronenberg. Mr. Ballard's other film credits include "Home," "Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers" and "Out of the Unknown."
NEWTON FIVEASH Died Apr. 19, 2009
Bus driver and nudist colony founder Newton Fiveash died at age 97. Mr. Fiveash worked as a bus driver for Greyhound for nearly 40 years. His interest in the nudist lifestyle lead him to found the nudist colony Chinkapin Ranch in Lake City, Florida during the 1940s. During the 1930s, Mr. Fiveash was befriended by actor Johnny Weissmuller and worked as a stuntman and standin on several "Tarzan" movies filmed in Silver Springs, Florida. Mr. Fiveash's exploits inspired two books: "The Naked Bus Driver" and "Newt in the World of Tarzan."
DEXTER LOCKE Died Apr. 20, 2009
Actor and stuntman Dexter Locke died at age 56. Mr. Locke was also a middle school teacher for the past 10 years. His film and TV credits include "Oz," "The Jerky Boys," "Fresh," "Malcolm X" and "Scar City."
MIKE MENZA Died Apr. 21, 2009
Composer Mike Menza died at age 58. He composed the scores for a number of features and shorts directed and starring his brother Menza. His credits include "Slight of Life," "Man Alive" and "The List Nice Guys..."
CORKY RANDALL Died Apr. 20, 2009
Ramrod, wrangler and horse trainer Corky Randall died of prostate cancer at age 80. Mr. Randall brought his animal husbandry talents to the film and TV industry where he won awards from the Humane Society for his training methods. Mr. Randall worked on such films and TV shows as "The Young Black Stallion," "The Mask of Zorro," "Cinderella," "Spy Hard," "Dracula: Dead and Loving It," "The Road to Wellville," "Wagons East," "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "Of Mice and Men," "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken," "Back to the Future Part III," "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "Caddyshack II," "Ishtar," "Angel Heart," "The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory," "¡Three Amigos!," "The Black Stallion Returns," "The Black Stallion," "For Pete's Sake," "The Horsemen" and "Soldier Blue." Mr. Randall served his country in the US Army during the Korean War.
KEN ANNAKIN Died Apr. 22, 2009
DGA-nominated director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ken Annakin died at age 94. Mr. Annakin was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines." He also directed the comedy/adventure. Mr. Annakin received a DGA nomination as one of the directors of the classic D-Day film "The Longest Day." He also directed the all-star WWII film "Battle of the Bulge." My personal favorite of his films is the Disney classic "Swiss Family Robinson." Urban legend says that George Lucas paid tribute to the director by naming his "Star Wars" character Annakin Skywalker after him, however Mr. Lucas has denied this. Mr. Annakin's film credits include "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking," "The Pirate Movie," "The Fifth Musketeer," "Harold Robbins' The Pirate," "The Call of the Wild," "Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies," "Three Men in a Boat," "The Sword and the Rose" and "Hotel Sahara."
Friend, film historian and Omaha Film Event founder Bruce Crawford (pictured at right with director Ken Annakin) was a personal friend of Mr. Annakin and his wife. He shared his thoughts with me: Ken Annakin was one of the most prolific and wide ranging Directors in all of cinema. From intimate dramas like "Across The Bridge" with Rod Steiger, to epics like "The Longest Day" and "Battle of the Bulge" which are two of the greatest war films of all time. Even comedies like "The Biggest Bundle of them All" and "Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines". Ken could do it all. I remember vividly when I had him and his lovely wife Pauline here for a tribute to D Day and "The Longest Day", he said the screen we were showing it on (105 ft wide Cinerama screen) showed off the film even better then at its world premiere in 1962! Ken was not a person easily impressed, you had to earn that from him. After that event, we became good friends, and I went to visit him in Beverly Hills at his home many years later and he showed me his office and how he had lost a lot of his film memorabilia in a terrible fire. He didn't have a "Longest Day" one sheet because of the fire, so I gave him mine and he had it framed on his office wall! I felt very honored that my poster adorned his office. His like will not be seen again, I am afraid.
MARILYN COOPER Died Apr. 22, 2009
Tony-winning actress Marilyn Cooper died at age 74. Ms. Cooper won a Tony and Drama Desk award for her work in "Woman of the Year." Ms. Cooper was a prolific actress on Broadway, appearing in the original productions of "West Side Story" and "Gypsy." Her film and TV credits include "Keeping the Faith," "Caroline in the City," "The Nanny," "Law & Order," "Cheers," "Family Business," "Penn & Teller Get Killed," "Kate & Allie," "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Alice."
JACK CARDIFF Died Apr. 22, 2009
Oscar-winning cinematographer and Oscar-nominated director Jack Cardiff died at age 94 after a brief illness. Mr. Cardiff received three Best Cinematography Oscar nominations and one Best Director nod. He won his Oscar for Best Cinematography on the classic "Black Narcissus." His other cinematography Oscar nods were for "War and Peace" and "Fanny." He received a Best Director nod for "Sons and Lovers." Mr. Cardiff received an Honorary Oscar in 2001.
Though best known as a cinematographer and director, Mr. Cardiff wore many hats during his lengthy career. He appeared as a child and teenager in several silent films including "The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots."
Jack Cardiff's director credits include the horror film "The Mutations," "The Girl on a Motorcycle," "The Liquidator," "The Long Ships" and "The Story of William Tell."
Jack Cardiff's many cinematographer credits include "Tai-Pan," "Rambo: First Blood Part II," "Cat's Eye," "Conan the Destroyer," "The Far Pavilions," "Ghost Story," "The Dogs of War," "Death on the Nile," "Crossed Swords," "Dark of the Sun," "The Vikings," "The Prince and the Showgirl," "The Barefoot Contessa," "The Magic Box," John Huston's "The African Queen," Alfred Hitchcock's "Under Capricorn," "Scott of the Antarctic," the beautifully shot "The Red Shoes," "Caesar and Cleopatra" and "The Last Days of Pompeii."
Mr. Cardiff was the cinematographer for the on location scenes of "The Diary of Anne Frank." He worked as a camera operator on many films including "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," "The Four Feathers," "Things to Come" and the original version of "Brewster's Millions."
BEA ARTHUR Died Apr. 24, 2009
Tony and Emmy winning actress Bea Arthur died of cancer at age 86. Ms. Arthur was best remembered for her starring roles on the hit TV series "Maude" and "The Golden Girls." She won an Emmy award for each series. Ms. Arthur received eleven Emmy nominations during her career. Nine of those were for her two hit series and the others were for guest spots on "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Laugh In." Bea Arthur won a Tony award for her work in the 1966 production of "Mame." She later reprised her role in the film version starring Lucille Ball. He ex-husbands were Oscar-nominated writer/producer Robert Alan Aurthur and DGA nominated director Gene Saks. Bea Arthur served her country in the US Marine Corps!
Bea Arthur appeared in over 150 films and TV shows. She shot to stardom after a guest spot as Edith Bunker's liberal, feminist cousin Maude on "All in the Family." Her political jousting with Archie Bunker made for great television. It also made for a hit spin-off series which ran for six years. "Maude" co-starred Bill Macy and Adrienne Barbeau. Seven years later she joined Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty in the cast of the series "The Golden Girls." That series ran for seven seasons. Both shows were cancelled when Ms. Arthur decided to leave the cast.
Bea Arthur's many credits include "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Futurama," "For Better or Worse," "History of the World: Part I," "Soap," "The Mary Tyler Moore Hour," "The Star Wars Holiday Special," "Lovers and Other Strangers," "The Sid Caesar Show," "The Martin Short Show," "Ellen," "Bob Hope's Birthday Memories," "The Howard Stern Show," "The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast," "The Mike Douglas Show," "Saturday Night Live" and "The Perry Como Show."
FRANK CHARLES Died Apr. 24, 2009
Author and screenwriter Frank Charles died at age 86. Mr. Charles wrote the popular children's book "Beyond the Midnight Mountains." Mr. Charles wrote episodes of the TV series "Tom Grattan's War." He also had story credit on the 1960 film "Danger Tomorrow."
MITCHELL BERNSTEIN Died Apr. 24, 2009
Attorney and producer Mitch Bernstein died of pancreatic cancer at age 44. Mr. Bernstein was an attorney with the firm Moses & Singer LLP. He produced the films "Eavesdrop" and "Everything's Jake." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
DARBY HOPPIN Died Apr. 24, 2009
Hair stylist Darby Hoppin died at age 80. Mr. Hoppin worked in the industry for four decades. His film and TV credits include "Highway to Heaven," "Little House on the Prairie," "Inchon," "When Time Ran Out..." and "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure."
FERNANDO HILBECK Died Apr. 25, 2009
Spanish actor Fernando Hilbeck died at age 76. Mr. Hilbeck appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. He appeared in many international productions as well as a number of Spaghetti Westerns. One of his earliest films was Orson Welles "Chimes at Midnight." He also appeared in Paul Verhoven's erotic fairy tale "Flesh+Blood." Mr. Hibeck appeared in the TV miniseries version of Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo." Other credits include "The House on Garibaldi Street," "Salomé," "Don't Open the Window," "Nightmare Inn," "Madigan's Millions," "Cervantes," "The Cups of San Sebastian," "Pyro," "Two Against All" and "Barabbas."
DARYL HURY Died Apr. 26, 2009
Stand-up comedian and actor Daryl Hury died of brain cancer at age 35. Mr. Hury was a member of the "Film Pigs and Live, Live, News, News" comedy group. He appeared in the films "Harold Buttleman, Independent Stuntman" and "A Thief of Time." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
CHUCK GRADI Died Apr. 26, 2009
Actor Chuck Gradi died of lung cancer at age 70. Mr. Gradi turned to acting in the 1970s after a career in manufacturing. Mr. Gradi had roles in a number of films including Norman Jewison's thinly veiled Jimmy Hoffa biopic "F.I.S.T" and the TV movie "Deadly Game."
FEROZ KHAN Died Apr. 27, 2009
Actor/director Feroz Khan died of cancer at age 69. The macho actor was called the 'Clint Eastwood of the East.' He was one of the first Bollywood directors to shoot movies in foreign locations. He scored hits with such gangster films as "Sacrifice" and "Dharmatma" which was inspired by "The Godfather."
J.J. LINSALATA Died Apr. 27, 2009
Assistant director J.J. Linsalata died of congestive heart failure at age 65. Mr. Linsalata began his career acting, conducting and directing in theater. He directed the children's TV show "The Big Blue Marble" in the 1970s. He also directed the 1977 short film "Sunday Dinner" which starred Maureen Stapleton. Mr. Linsalata was assistant director on a number of major motion pictures and TV shows. His many credits include "Towelhead," "X-Men 2," "Beverly Hills, 90210," "Charmed," "Babylon 5: The Gathering" and "Kindergarten Cop."
VIVIAN COX Died Apr. 27, 2009
Producer and writer Vivian Cox died at age 93. Mr. Cox's producer credits include "The Long Duel," "We Are in the Navy Now," "Kraft Mystery Theater," "Deadly Record," "The Prisoner" and "Father Brown." Mr. Cox wrote a number of films including "The Iron Maiden" and "What a Carry On: Watch Your Stern."
VERN GOSDIN Died Apr. 28, 2009
Country music singer Vern Gosdin died of complications following a stroke at age 74. Mr. Gosdin score hits with such songs as "Set 'em Up Joe" and "I Can Tell By the Way You Dance (You're Gonna Love Me Tonight)." His song "What Would Your Memories Do" was featured in John Carpenter's "Starman." Mr. Gosdin performed on the TV shows "Hee Haw" and "Pop! Goes the Country."
ALBERT ALEXANDER Died Apr. 28, 2009
Grip Albert Alexander died at age 76. Mr. Alexander's credits include "Ben-Hur," "The Two Jakes" and "Table for Five."
MARL YOUNG Died Apr. 29, 2009
Composer and union activist Marl Young died at age 92. Mr. Young was the first Black musical director of a major network TV series. Mr. Young lead the fight to desegregate Black and White musician's unions in Los Angeles during the 1950s. The two-year battle ended with a vote to merge the unions in 1953. Mr. Young was the music director for the TV series "Here's Lucy" from 1970 through 1974.
NORA O'BRIEN Died Apr. 29, 2009
NBC exec Nora O'Brien died of undisclosed causes at age 40. Ms. O'Brien was shooting basketball during a break in production of the TV series "Parenthood" when she collapsed. Ms. O'Brien was a production exec with NBC/Universal. She previously worked as an exec for the Sci-Fi channel. Ms. O'Brien worked in various capacities on such films and TV shows as "The New Outer Limits," "Starship Troopers," "Sliver," "The Edge," "Outbreak" and "Peter Benchley's Creature." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.