GREG SMITH Died Feb. 2009
Producer Greg Smith died at age 68. His exact date of death was not given. Mr. Smith produced the "Confessions Of" series of comedy films in the mid-1970s. Mr. Smith produced over 30 films and TV shows during his career. He produced TV versions of "David Copperfield," "Animal Farm," "Porgy and Bess," "Othello" and"Great Expectations." His feature film credits include "Agnes Browne," "Funny Money," the 1978 remake of "The Thirty Nine Steps," "Confessions from a Holiday Camp," "Confessions of a Window Cleaner" and "Adolf Hitler - My Part in His Downfall" starring Spike Milligan and Jim Dale. Ironically Jim Dale's character's name in that movie was 'Spike Milligan.'
MICHAEL HOMER Died Feb. 1, 2009
Producer Michael Homer died of the neurodegenerative disorder CJD just shy of his 51st birthday. Mr. Homer worked at various companies in Silicon Valley. He was the executive producer of the documentary film "Speed and Angels." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
JEAN MARTIN Died Feb. 2, 2009
French actor Jean Martin died at age 86. Mr. Martin appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his career. Mr. Martin was the only professional actor to appear in Gillo Pontecorvo's masterpiece "The Battle of Algiers." Mr. Martin starred as the French military officer fighting the rebels in Algeria. It is ironic that he played the French colonel as Mr. Martin was blacklisted in France as an opponent of the war in Algeria. Spaghetti Western fans remember Mr. Martin for his roles in "My Name Is Nobody" and "Trinity Is Back Again." Mr. Martin had a supporting role in Fred Zinnemann's "Day of the Jackal." Other credits include a TV version of "Harold and Maude," "The Night Caller," Otto Preminger's "Rosebud" and the Anthony Quinn version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
CHRIS HOWARD Died Feb. 2, 2009
Gaffer Chris Howard died of brain injuries sustained in an accident at age 49. Mr. Howard was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #873. He worked on over 40 films and TV shows during his career. Mr. Howard's credits include "The Rocker," "Shoot 'Em Up," "Hairspray," "Dark Water," "Bulletproof Monk," "Dracula 2000," "X-Men," "Bride of Chucky," "Universal Soldier II" and "Gotti." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends, especially for his wife Mandy and young daughter Kate.
CHRISTINE BURKE Died Feb. 2, 2009
Actress Christine Burke died of cancer at age 74. Ms. Burke appeared in several TV shows during the 1950s and 60s. She was also active in the Los Angeles theater scene. Ms. Burke retired from acting and became a community activist. Her credits include "Twilight Zone," "Danger," "Suspense," "The Best of Broadway," "The Fugitive," "The Andy Griffith Show," "My Favorite Martian," "Judd for the Defense" and "Stoney Burke."
ROLAND LESAFFRE Died Feb. 3, 2009
French actor Roland Lesaffre died at age 81. Mr. Lesaffre appeared in over 60 films and TV shows in a career that began in the late 1930s. Mr. Lesaffre was a frequent collaborator with director Marcel Carne. He appeared in 11 of the director's films including "Wasteland" and "The Adultress." Other credits include Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief," "Bernadette," "Playmates," "Star Pilot," "The Accident," "House of Sin" and "House of Pleasure."
LUX INTERIOR Died Feb. 4, 2009
Lux Interior (real name Erick Purkhiser) died of a heart ailment at age 60. Lux Interior was the co-founder of the punk rock band The Cramps. The Cramps blended rockabilly, surf music and horror movies to produce one of the most unique stage experiences to come out of the US punk rock wave of the 1970s. His wife Kristy Wallace (stage name Poison Ivy) was the other half of The Cramps core. His music can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as "The Matador," "Big Monster on Campus," "The Boys Next Door" and "The Return of the Living Dead." Lux Interior reached a newer, younger audience by providing the singing voice of the 'Bird Brains' lead sing on the children's cartoon series "SpongeBob SquarePants." The Cramps performed on an episode of the TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210." The band's infamous concert at a California Mental Hospital can be seen in the concert film "The Cramps: Live at Napa State Mental Hospital."
HUGH SPENCER-PHILLIPS Died Feb. 4, 2009
English born, Canadian filmmaker Hugh Spencer-Phillips died at age 71. Mr. Spencer-Phillips was a producer and production manager on projects filmed in Canada. He began working for the CBC in the 1960s. Mr. Spencer-Phillips' many credits include "Beachcombers," "Ritter's Cove," "21 Jump Street," "SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2," "Da Vinci's Inquest," "Nick Fury: Agent of Shield," "Touched by Evil," "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk," "The Hitchhiker," "Stranger in My Bed" and "The Death of the Incredible Hulk."
ANNE-MARIE BLANC Died Feb. 5, 2009
Swiss actress Anne-Marie Blanc died at age 89. Ms. Blanc appeared in over 40 films during her career. She found stardom in her native land following her role in the 1941 film "Gilberte de Courgenay." She played the title role in the movie, which promoted the ideals of freedom and independence. Ms. Blanc was also a noted stage actress. She worked until age 85.
DANA VAVROVA Died Feb. 5, 2009
Czech actress and director Dana Vavrova died of cancer at age 41. Ms. Vavrova began her career as a child actress. She gained notice playing a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust in the TV miniseries "A Piece of Heaven." Ms. Vavrova continued acting as an adult. She was married to award-winning director Joseph Vilsmaier. Their three daughters are all actresses. Ms. Vavrova and her husband co-directed the 2006 Holocaust film "The Last Train." Ms. Vavrova played a small role in "Amadeus." Ms. Vavrova's other credits include "Ship of no Return: The Last Voyage of the Gustloff Tatort," "In the Ghetto," "Stalingrad," "Rama Dama," "Pan Tau" and "Brontosaurus." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
JAMES WHITMORE Died Feb. 6, 2009
Oscar-nominated and Tony and Emmy-winning actor James Whitmore died of lung cancer at age 87. Mr. Whitmore received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his second film: the 1949 WWII movie "Battleground." He received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the 1975 film version of his one-man stage play "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" was Mr. Whitmore's tribute to president Harry S. Truman. Mr. Whitmore also built one-man-shows around the lives of Will Rogers and president Teddy Roosevelt. Mr. Whitmore received a Tony Award for his Broadway debut "Command Decision." His work on TV was honored with an Emmy Award for a guest appearance on "The Practice." He also received an Emmy nomination for his recurring role on the short-lived TV series "Mr. Sterling." James Whitmore appeared in nearly 150 films, TV movies and TV series. He began his career shortly after completing a four-year stint in the US Marines during WWII. Mr. Whitmore was the father of actor turned director James Whitmore Jr.
Regular readers know that I am a Monsterkid. One of those people who grew up watching monster movies and who never gave up on their first love. To me James Whitmore will always be Sgt. Ben Peterson, the brave police officer who did battle with giant ants in the 1954 Warner Brothers sci-fi classic "Them!" Mr. Whitmore's other major genre credit was as the president of the assembly which tried Charlton Heston's Taylor in "Planet of the Apes." Mr. Whitmore also appeared in the 1997 horror film "The Relic." His major TV contribution to my favorite genres came in the classic "Twilight Zone" episode "On Thursday We Leave for Home." Mr. Whitmore played the leader of a group of space colonist facing rescue after 30 years of being stranded on a barren rock. The episode is a great portrait of the dangers of Fascism.
James Whitmore was a prolific character actor who appeared in many different genres…serious dramas, comedy, musicals, Westerns. James Whitmore appeared in a number of noted films. He was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in "The Shawshank Redemption." Mr. Whitmore played an institutionalized prisoner who couldn't survive on the outside after being paroled. He was the judge in Barbra Streisand's wrongly maligned tale of child abuse "Nuts." Mr. Whitmore appeared in Ingmar Bergman's misfire "The Serpent's Egg" which dealt with decadence in Germany during the 1920s.
Mr. Whitmore turned in a great performance in "Black Like Me." The film dealt with the true story of a journalist who took medicine to make his skin turn Black so he could go undercover to examine the plight of the Negro in 1950s America. Despite Whitmore's great performance, the film was not as tough as it should have been. Mr. Whitmore's other feature film credits include "The Majestic," "The First Deadly Sin," "Where the Red Fern Grows," "The Harrad Experiment," "Chato's Land," "Tora! Tora! Tora!," "Guns of the Magnificent Seven," "Madigan," "Waterhole #3," "Oklahoma!," "Battle Cry," "Kiss Me Kate," the original version of "Angels in the Outfield," "Across the Wide Missouri," as the narrator of "The Red Badge of Courage," "The Next Voice You Hear..." and "The Asphalt Jungle."
James Whitmore starred in three TV series: "The Law and Mr. Jones," "My Friend Tony" and "Temperatures Rising." His best known TV role might have been as the spokesman in the "Miracle Grow" commercials. James Whitmore made guest appearances on numerous TV shows as well as in a number of Made for TV movies. His small screen credits include "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "The Ray Bradbury Theater," "All My Sons," "The White Shadow," "The Word," "I Will Fight No More Forever," "The Canterville Ghost," "Gunsmoke," "Will Rogers' USA," "The Virginian," "Then Came Bronson," "The Name of the Game," "Bonanza," "The Danny Thomas Hour," "The Big Valley," "Judd for the Defense," "The Invaders," "12 O'Clock High," "Run for Your Life," "Burke's Law," "Combat!," "Disneyland," "Slattery's People," "Dr. Kildare," "Rawhide," "Ben Casey," "Route 66," "The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor," "Zane Grey Theater," "Playhouse 90," "Wagon Train," "Climax!" and "Studio One."
PHILIP CAREY Died Feb. 6, 2009
Actor Philip Carey died of lung cancer at age 83. Mr. Carey passed away just one week after his "One Life to Live" costar Clint Ritchie. Philip Carey played patriarch Asa Buchanan (the father of Clint Ritchie's character Clint Buchanan) on "One Life to Live." Mr. Carey appeared on the show from 1979 until last year. Philip Carey appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. He began his film and TV career after serving his country in the US Marines during WWII and the Korean War. Mr. Carey was also a regular on the TV series "Bright Promise," "Laredo" and "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers." Mr. Carey made guest appearances on numerous TV series including "All My Children," "Little House on the Prairie," "The Bionic Woman," "The Blue Knight," "Police Story," "McCloud," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," "Police Woman," "Banacek," "Room 222," "McMillan & Wife," "Gunsmoke," "All in the Family," "Ironside," "Cimarron Strip," "Daniel Boone," "The Virginian," "77 Sunset Strip," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "The Rifleman," "Zane Grey Theater" and "Philip Marlowe." Philip Carey's film career consisted on mainly Westerns and cop dramas. He played a supporting role in "Mr. Roberts." Mr. Carey's feature film and Made for TV movie credits include "The Toxic Horror," "Fighting Mad," "Scream of the Wolf," Russ Meyer's "The Seven Minutes," "The Great Sioux Massacre," "The Time Travelers," "Screaming Mimi," "Count Three and Pray," "Calamity Jane," "Gun Fury," "Springfield Rifle," "I Was a Communist for the FBI" and "Operation Pacific."
SHIRLEY JEAN RICKERT Died Feb. 6, 2009
"Our Gang" actress turned burlesque queen Shirley Jean Rickert died at age 82. As a child actress Ms. Rickert appeared in a handful of the "Our Gang" comedy shorts. She also appeared in a number of the "Mickey McGuire" comedy shorts, which starred Mickey Rooney. Ms. Rickert appeared in nearly 30 films during her career. As an adult, Ms. Rickert played bit parts and appeared as a dancer. Her credits include "Singin' in the Rain," "Royal Wedding," "In Old Oklahoma" and "'Neath the Arizona Skies." During the 1950s she became a burlesque dancer performing as Gilda and Her Crowning Glory. The Crowning Glory referred to Ms. Rickert's long blonde hair. Ms. Rickert retired from stripping at the end of the 1950s and worked in a variety of businesses.
SUNNY BRESIN Died Feb. 6, 2009
Editor Sunny Bresin died of cardiac arrest at age 30. Ms. Breslin suffered cardiac arrest while working on Feb. 1st. She passed away after a week of valiant attempts to save her life. Ms. Bresin's credits include the TV series "Jockeys," "Gene Simmons: Family Jewels," "The Hills," "TV Land: Myths and Legends," "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," "Love Lounge" and "Paranormal State." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.
SUSAN WALSH Died Feb. 6, 2009
Actress Susan Walsh died at age 60. Ms. Walsh was one of John Waters' ensemble actors. She appeared in his cult classics "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble." Her other credits include "Go-Go Motel," "Multiple Maniacs," "Mondo Trasho" and the documentary "Divine Trash."
REG EVANS Died Feb. 7, 2009
British born actor Reg Evans was one of over 200 people killed in the bushfires which ravaged Australia. Mr. Evans and his life partner, artist Angela Brunton were killed trying to save their farm in St. Andrews Australia from the approaching fire. Mr. Evans appeared in over 60 films and TV shows during his career. His best known role was as Keith Purvis in the TV series "Blue Healers." Mr. Evans had a memorable cameo as the station master made to pay respect by the Toecutter to his late gang member Nightrider in the cult classic "Mad Max." Mr. Evans had a recurring role on the women in prison soap opera "Prisoner: Cell Block H." Other credits include "Gallipoli," "Matlock Police," "Homicide," "Are You Being Served," "Mad Dog Morgan" and the upcoming "Charlie & Boots." Prayers of comfort for Mr. Evans loved ones and the thousands of others affected by this horrific tragedy.
MOLLY BEE Died Feb. 7, 2009
Country music singer Molly Bee died of complications from a stroke at age 69. Ms. Bee became a TV star while still a teenager performing on the shows "Hometown Jamboree" and "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show." Ms. Bee recorded the 1952 classic "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." Ms. Bee's film and TV credits include "The Young Swingers," "Chartroose Caboose," "The Lawrence Welk Show," "Summer Love Going Steady," "The Jack Benny Program," "Hee Haw," "Hillbillys in a Haunted House," "The Jimmy Dean Show," "The Dinah Shore Show," "The Spike Jones Show" and "The Ed Sullivan Show."
BLOSSOM DEARIE Died Feb. 7, 2009
Singer Blossom Dearie died at age 82. Ms. Dearie was best know for her songs "Peel Me a Grape" and "I'm Hip." Ms. Dearie began her singing career in the 1940s. She worked until just a few years ago. Ms. Dearie's songs can be heard on the soundtracks of such films and TV shows as "The Squid and the Whale," "The Story of Marie and Julien," "My Life Without Me," "Kissing Jessica Stein" and "Schoolhouse Rock!"
SARA ROACHE Died Feb. 8, 2009
British actress Sara Roache died at age 58. Ms. Roache was married to "Coronation Street" star Bill Roache. Ms. Roache appeared as a trial judge in eight episodes of the long-running British soap opera. Ms. Roache's other credits include "Cracker," "The Royal," "Chariots of Fire" and "Emmerdale Farm."
CHAVITO MARRERO Died Feb. 8, 2009
Puerto Rican actor Chavito Marrero died of pulmonary fibrosis at age 82. Mr. Marrero was well known in Puerto Rico for his work on stage, TV and film. He last film was "Lovesickness" which starred actor Luis Guzman.
ROBERT ANDERSON Died Feb. 9, 2009
Oscar and WGA-nominated writer Robert Anderson died of pneumonia and Alzheimer's Disease at age 91. Mr. Anderson was twice nominated for Oscars for his adapted screenplays of "I Never Sang for My Father" and "The Nun's Story." Mr. Anderson also received Writer's Guild nominations for these two films as well as a third WGA nod for Robert Wise's "The Sand Pebbles." Mr. Anderson's most famous play was "Tea and Sympathy." The play was produced on Broadway and was turned into a feature film starring Deborah Kerr and John Kerr. Mr. Anderson's many credits include "Absolute Strangers," "The Patricia Neal Story," "Silent Night, Lonely Night," "The Canterville Ghost," "Goodyear Television Playhouse" and "The Philco Television Playhouse." Mr. Anderson served his country in the US Navy during WWII.
RODNEY WINFIELD Died Feb. 9, 2009
Comedian Rodney Winfield died at age 69 after an undisclosed illness. Mr. Winfield was a stand-up comedian discovered by Richard Pryor. Mr. Winfield recorded albums, toured and appeared on TV and in film. His credits include "The Rip-Off," "Be Be's Kids," "Talking Dirty after Dark," "Dark Town Strutters," "Def Comedy Jam," "Soul Train," "Survival of the Illest," "Dead Presidents," "Disco 9000" and "The CBS Newcomers."
LINWOOD TAYLOR Died Feb. 11, 2009
Production designer and art director Linwood Taylor died at age 67. Mr. Taylor worked on such films as "The Strangers," "One Tree Hill," "A Painted House," "A Walk to Remember," "Matlock," "Member of the Wedding," "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries," "Freedom Song," "The Angel Doll," "The Ruby Bridges Story," "CI5: The New Professionals," "Muppets from Space" and "The Handmaid's Tale."
HUGH LEONARD Died Feb. 11, 2009
Tony-winning playwright Hugh Leonard died at age 82 after a short illness. Mr. Leonard wrote a popular newspaper column in his native Ireland. He won the 1978 Best Play Tony award for "Da." The play was turned into a feature film starring Martin Sheen and Barnard Hughes. Mr. Leonard also received Tony nominations for his plays "The Au Pair Man" and "A Life." Mr. Leonard's other film and TV credits include "Widows' Peak," "Parnell & the Englishwoman," "Wuthering Heights," "Nicholas Nickleby," "Father Brown," "Percy," "Great Catherine," "The Ronnie Barker Playhouse" and "Great Expectations."
ALBERT BARILLE Died Feb. 11, 2009
Animation filmmaker Albert Barille died at age 88. Mr. Barille wrote, produced and directed a number of animated children's programs over the past three decades. His series taught children about the universe that surrounds us all. His credits include "Once Upon a Time... the Americas," "Once Upon a Time... Life," "Revenge of the Humanoids," "Once Upon a Time Was the Space," "Once Upon a Time... Man," "Once Upon a Time... The Explorers" and "Once Upon a Time... The Discoverers."
ESTELLE BENNETT Death discovered Feb. 11, 2009
Singer Estelle Bennett of the famed girl group "The Ronettes" was found dead at her home. She was 67 years old. She was last seen alive on February 9th. Ms. Bennett (right in picture) and Nedra Ross (left in picture) backed up singer Ronnie Spector (center in picture) as part of the popular singing group "The Ronettes." Estelle Bennett was lead singer Ronnie Spector's big sister. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. The group's biggest hit was "Be My Baby." Producer Phil Spector discovered the group and produced their breakthrough hit "By My Baby." The song derived much of its power from Spector's trademark 'Wall of Sound' recording technique. The Ronettes can be seen performing in the excellent Rockumentary "The Big T.N.T. Show" and well as on the 1960s TV show "It's What's Happening, Baby!"
PENNY RAMSEY Died Feb. 11, 2009
Australian actress Penny Ramsey died of cancer. Her age was not given. Ms. Ramsey starred in a number of classic Australian TV series from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. She was the life partner of actor Rod Mullinar and the daughter of actress Lois Ramsey. Ms. Ramsey's many credits include "Prisoner: Cell Block H," "The Bush Gang," "Matlock Police," "Homicide," "Division 4," "Mrs Finnegan," "Riptide" and "Anything Goes."
ANTON VAN MUNSTER Died Feb. 11, 2009
Wildlife cinematographer Anton Van Munster died at age 74. Mr. Van Munster lensed the Oscar nominated documentaries "Alleman" and "Ape and Super-Ape." He also was a camera operator on the classic French comedy "Traffic." Mr. Van Munster's other credits include "African Bambi," "Cheetah Story," "National Geographic Specials," "The Voice of the Water," "The Family of Chimps" and "Birds Do It, Bees Do It."
DOMENICA NIEHOFF Died Feb. 12, 2009
German prostitute Domenica Niehoff died of lung disease at age 63. Ms. Niehoff worked as a prostitute in German for several decades. She fought for 20 years to have the world's oldest profession legalized in Germany. She achieved success when the country legalized the trade in 2002. Ms. Niehoff appeared in a handful of films and TV shows during her lifetime. Her credits include "Moritz Kowalsky," "Domenica," "Desperado" and "Poppea: A Prostitute in Service of the Emperor."
CLAUDE NOLLIER Died Feb. 12, 2009
French actress Claude Nollier died at age 89. Ms. Nollier was best known to American audiences for her role as Jose Ferrer's wife in John Huston's biopic "Moulin Rouge." Ms. Nollier appeared in over 20 films during her career. Her other credits include "Mme Dauvergne," "The Devil and the Ten Commandments," "Loss of Innocence," "Lovers of Paris," "Royal Affairs in Versailles," "The World Condemns Them," "Forbidden Fruit" and "Dirty Hands."
JOSEF VANIS Died Feb. 12, 2009
Czech cinematographer Josef Vanis died at age 82. Mr. Vanis began his career as a news cameraman and documentary filmmaker. He shot over 50 feature films and TV shows during his career. Mr. Vanis' credits include "Angelic Eyes," "Pan Tau," "Oasis," "Seventeen and Anxious," "The Pipes" and "Clouds of Glass."
DILYS LAYE Died Feb. 13, 2009
British actress Dilys Laye died of cancer at age 74. Ms. Laye was best known for appearing in the "Carry On" comedy film series. Ms. Laye was also an accomplished stage actress with credits on the West End and Broadway. Ms. Laye's many film and TV credits include "Midsomer Murders," "Coronation Street," "Alice in Wonderland," "Carry on Camping," "Carry on Doctor," Charlie Chaplin's "A Countess from Hong Kong," "Carry on Spying," "Carry on Cruising," "Upstairs and Downstairs" and "Blue Murder at St. Trinian's."
PHUONG THANH Died Feb. 13, 2009
Vietnamese actress Phuong Thanh died of a stroke at age 53. Ms. Thanh appeared in over 150 films and TV shows during her career. Her best known work was "Crocodile Hien" in which she played a criminal sent to a re-education camp following the fall of South Vietnam. She won the Best Actress Award at the 1980 Vietnam National Film Festival for her work in the movie. Ms. Thanh was the wife of actor Quang Dung.
IAN DOUGLASS Died Feb. 13, 2009
Canadian transportation driver Ian Douglas died at age 60. Mr. Douglas worked on such Canadian film productions as "War," "My Boss's Daughter" and "40 Days and 40Nights."
JOHN MCGLINN Died Feb. 14, 2009
Conductor and musical archivist John McGlinn died of a heart attack at age 55. In 1987 Mr. McGlinn discovered the original scores of many Broadway shows long thought to be lost. He released a number of recordings of these scores which helped us rediscover the lost work of many noted composers including Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern. Mr. McGlinn appeared as himself in the documentary "The Show Boat Story."
ROBERT ULLAND Died Feb. 15, 2009
Cameraman, boat captain and scuba diver Robert Ulland died of a heart attack at age 58. Mr. Ulland was a Stedicam operator with over 40 films and TV credits during his career. Mr. Ulland's many notable credits include "Monster-in-Law," "Holes," "Frailty," "What Women Want," "The West Wing," "Roswell," "The Horse Whisperer," "Anaconda," "The Crow II," "The Crossing Guard," "Batman Forever," "The Fugitive," "Super Mario Bros.," "A Few Good Men," "Passenger 57," "The Last of the Mohicans," "Curly Sue," "Sleeping with the Enemy," "Edward Scissorhands," "Days of Thunder," "Miami Blues," "Men Don't Leave," "Parenthood," "Child's Play," "No Way Out" and "The Bedroom Window."
BARBARA FRANKLIN Died Feb. 15, 2009
Canadian stage actress Barbara Franklin died at age 80. Ms. Franklin was an opera singer and actress who appeared in numerous productions in Canada and the US. She appeared in Canadian TV in "Showtime with Howard Cable," "Summer Showtime," "Country Style" and "Wayne and Shuster Hour." Ms. Franklin played the role of Antigone in the 1957 film version of "Oedipus Rex."
RAY NEVIN Died Feb. 15, 2009
Teamster Ray K. Nevin died at age 43. Mr. Nevin worked transportation on a number of films. One of the many behind the scenes people who work in glamorless jobs, but without who we could not have the movies and TV shows we love. Mr. Nevin worked on numerous films including "The Visitor," "The Legend of Bagger Vance," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "A Time to Kill," "The Grass Harp," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," "I'll FlyAway," "The Mighty Quinn" and "Tank."
DOROTHY BRIDGES Died Feb. 16, 2009
Dorothy Bridges, matriarch of the famed acting family died at age 93. Ms. Bridges was the widow of actor Lloyd Bridges and the mother of actors Jeff, Lucinda and Beau Bridges. She was the grandmother of actors Jordan, Casey, Emily and Dylan Bridges. She leaves behind a proud and talented heritage. Mrs. Bridges was an author and poet as well as an actress. She appeared such films and TV shows as "The Thanksgiving Promise," "Sea Hunt," "The Company She Keeps" and "Finders Keepers."
LOKI ROURKE Died Feb. 16, 2009
Mickey Rourke's pet Chihauhau Loki died at age 18. Mr. Rouke has stated in many interviews and his Golden Globe acceptance speech that his dogs were the most special thing in his life. While people had deserted him during his period of depression and self-destruction, he dogs stood by his side. Like all good pets, Loki will be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge to be reunited with his master. Prayers of comfort for Mr. Rourke.
SUSANNE ALMASSY Died Feb. 16, 2009
Austrian actress Susanne Almassy died at age 92. Ms. Almassy appeared in over 20 films and TV shows during a career that began in the mid 1940s. She was the wife of theater director Rolf Kutchera. Her credits include "Tatort," "De Sade," "The Red Hand" and "Anastasia: The Czar's Last Daughter."
ED COTTER Died Feb. 16, 2009
Emmy-winning editor Ed Cotter died at age 80. Mr. Cotter won an Emmy for his work on the series "Happy Days." He was the show's editor for nine years. Mr. Cotter's many credits include "Family Matters," "Frankenstein General Hospital," "Playing with Fire," "The Kid with the Broken Halo" and "Laverne & Shirley."
ALAN MILLS Death announced Feb. 16, 2009
Wardrober Alan Mills died. His age was not given. Mr. Mills was Pat Sajak's wardrober on "Wheel of Fortune." Mr. Sajak announced his passing on the February 16 episode of the hit TV game show. Mr. Mills also worked on the game show "Jeopardy!"
ROBERT FRASER Died Feb. 17, 2009
Canadian production executive Robert Fraser died at age 94. Mr. Fraser helped producer Budge Crawley build Crawley Films into Canada's biggest production company. The company produced dozens of films beginning in the late 1940s. The compnay produced such films as the rockumentary biopic "Janis" and the Robert Shaw film "The Luck of Ginger Coffey." Mr. Fraser served his country during WWII where he saw action including landing on Normandy Beach during D-Day.
KELLY GROUCUTT Died Feb. 18, 2009
Former Electric Light Orchestra bass player Kelly Groucutt died of a heart attack at age 63. Mr. Groucutt played with ELO from 1974 through 1983. He performed with the band on numerous TV shows and in the concert videos "Electric Light Orchestra: Discovery" and "Electric Light Orchestra: 'Out of the Blue' Tour Live at Wembley." His music can be heard on many soundtracks including "Boogie Nights" and "Donnie Brasco."
ORESTE LIONELLO Died Feb. 18, 2009
Italian actor Oreste Lionello died at age 81. Though Mr. Lionello was an actor in his own right, he was best known for his work dubbing English films into Italian for release in his native land. Mr. Lionello was the Italian voice of Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers and Charlie Chaplin! Mr. Lionello appeared in the films "No Problem," "Snow White and 7 Wise Men," "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" and "The Magnificent Gladiator."
FRANCIS MARISCHKA Died Feb. 18, 2009
Austrian writer/director Francis Marischka died at age 90. Mr. Marischka wrote over 40 films and directed over 30. Many of the films he wrote he also directed. His many credits include "What a Mess," "Love 'n' Leather Pants," "Let It All Hang Out," "Legacy of the Incas," "The Daughter of the Regiment" and "Small Town Story."
PETER SHEPHERD Died Feb. 18, 2009
British filmmaker Peter Shepherd died of an aneurysm at age 68. Mr. Shepherd worked his way up from production manager, assistant director, writer and eventually executive producer. Ms. Shepherd worked as a second unit director Bernardo Bertolucci's masterpiece "1900." Other AD credits include "Tentacles," "Forever Emmanuelle," "Beyond the Door" and "A Thousand and One Nights." He wrote and produced the horror film "And When She Was Bad." Mr. Shepherd was production manager on such films as "The Curse," "Piranha Part Two: The Spawning," "Tales of Ordinary Madness" and "Avanti!" Mr. Shepherd's producer credits include "Melissa P.," "Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor," "Jungle Book 2: Mowgli and Baloo," "Wes Craven's The Mindripper," "Lambada," "The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck" and "Desperate Moves."
MICHAEL MEADE Died Feb. 18, 2009
Propmaker and screenwriter Michael Meade died of undisclosed causes at age 26. Mr. Meade was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. Mr. Meade worked on several films including the upcoming version of "Star Trek," "Shoot 'Em Up" and "Charlie Bartlett." Mr. Meade had written as script called "Miguelito" which was in development at the time of his death. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
LOUIS GALLIANI Died Feb. 19, 2009
Teamster Louis Galliani died at age 90. Mr. Galliani's credits include "Halloween 3: Season of the Witch."
ROBERT QUARRY Died Feb. 20, 2009
I don't remember how I talked my dad into letting me go to a midnight movie at age 12, but I do remember that my buddy Bruce Ingram and I were sitting on the front row of the Guild Theater in Memphis for a midnight showing of "Count Yorga, Vampire." We were the only two people in the theater. A little more than halfway through the movie there is a quick cut to Count Yorga running directly at the camera on his way to kill the character played by actor Michael Murphy. I jumped over the back of the theater seat and dumped my popcorn on my friend. It is a fond memory. I thought back to that memory when I heard the news that actor Robert Quarry passed away at age 83. Saturday night I dug out my DVD double feature and watched both "Count Yorga, Vampire" and "The Return of Count Yorga." I laughed to myself as the scene which so scared me 38 years ago flashed across the screen. Robert Quarry had been in ill health the past few years. He passing was expected. It is still sad for his many fans. Mr. Quarry created one of the greatest horror movie Icons in history. Sure, Jason, Freddy and Michael spawned more sequels, but Count Yorga was such a fresh, intelligent and sexy re-imagining of the vampire legend. Yorga stayed true to the core tenants of the vampire genre, but Quarry added a sense of class and charisma to his character.
Robert Quarry overcame a number of tragedies during his life. He fought and won a battle with cancer during the 1960s. He was nearly killed in an automobile crash during the 1970s at the height of his popularity. In the early 1980s Mr. Quarry was robbed and beaten. His injuries nearly crippled him and it took several years to recuperate. In his final years Mr. Quarry's health failed him, but his zest for life was not abated.
Robert Quarry began acting as a child. He worked on radio and was a regular on the radio show "Dr. Christian." He made his film debut as Teresa Wright's boyfriend in Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Shadow of a Doubt." Most of his scenes were cut from the film. Robert Quarry appeared in over 70 films and TV shows during his career. During the 1950s he worked on live TV as well as in such feature films as "A Kiss Before Dying" and "House of Bamboo." Mr. Quarry also acted on Broadway in such plays as "As You Like It," "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Richard III." He also appeared in the Paul Newman films "Winning" and "WUSA."
Robert Quarry will be best remembered by horror movie fans for his famed vampire character. He co-starred with Vincent Price in the films "Dr. Phibes Rises Again" and "Madhouse." His work as Dr. Biederbeck in "Dr. Phibes Rises Again" was the one positive thing the movie had to offer. Likewise, he was the only thing worth recommending in the lame "Madhouse." Mr. Quarry was excellent as the mob boss in the Blaxsploitation zombie horror film "Sugar Hill." Robert Quarry followed the "Count Yorga" films with another vampire film "Deathmaster." He also produced the story of a Charles Mansonesque vampire guru to a bunch of hippies. The DVD version of "Deathmaster" includes a wonderful commentary track by Mr. Quarry and film director Fred Olen Ray. I recommend the DVD for the commentary track. It will give you a chance to hear Mr. Quarry discuss the AIP era of his career. Director Fred Olen Ray played a very important role in the last 20 years of Mr. Quarry's life. The director enlisted Mr. Quarry into his regular stable of actors. This came at a time when Mr. Quarry was recuperating from being brutally beaten during the robbery. Mr. Ray befriended Mr. Quarry and gave fans the pleasure of being able to watch Mr. Quarry in nearly 20 more movies. To steal a pun from the late Forrest J. Ackerman, "Fangs for the memories!" Rest in peace Robert Quarry.
HERCULES BELLVILLE Died Feb. 21, 2009
Producer Hercules Bellville died of cancer at age 69. Mr. Bellville worked in many capacities during a 40 year career. He was befriended by Roman Polanski on the set of "Repulsion." Mr. Bellville was one of the people pushing hands through the rubber wall during the famous scene depicting Catherine Deneuve's descent into madness in Polanski's horror classic "Repulsion." He worked for Polanski for over 10 years doing second unit work on such films as "Tess," "The Passenger" and "Macbeth." Mr. Bellville was a co-producer on Polanski's horror/character study "The Tenant." He was an associate producer on Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" and the gritty crime thriller "Sexy Beast."
HOWARD ZIEFF Died Feb. 21, 2009
Director Howard Zieff died of Parkinson's disease at age 81. Mr. Zieff directed several popular films before his illness forced him to retire in 1994. Howard Zieff began his career in advertising. His most famous TV commercial was the classic Alka-Seltzer 'Spicy Meatball' spot. Mr. Zieff specialized in comedies. His first film remains my favorite of his work. James Caan and Sally Kellerman starred in Zieff's 1973 crime caper "Slither." His best know film is the Oscar-nominated "Private Benjamin." Other credits include "My Girl 2," "My Girl," "Unfaithfully Yours," "The Main Event" and "House Calls."
CAROLYN BLYTHE Died Feb. 22, 2009
Ventriloquist, puppeteer and production manager Carolyn Blythe died of cancer at age 63. She fought a 13 year battle with the disease. Ms. Blythe became a hit on Canadian TV as a teenager. Ms. Blythe and her puppet Sandy were regulars on the TV show "Time of Your Life" which ran from 1963 through 1965. She worked in various capacities on such TV shows as "The Juliette Show," "Talent Caravan," "Doubletalk," "Montreal," "Cartoon Corner," "Hi Diddle Day" and "Waterville Gang." In the 1990s Ms. Blythe worked at the Nelvana Animation Company. She was a Production Manager on TV series "Family Dog." She and her life partner Ina Dennekamp's short film "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree" premiered at the Vancouver "Out on Screen" gay and lesbian film festival.
LADDIE DENNIS Died Feb. 22, 2009
Canadian actress Laddie Dennis died at age 89. Ms. Dennis was also a noted travel writer and photographer. Her acting credits include "Vengeance Is Mine," "Play for Today," "Wojeck" and "The Big Revue."
LAURENCE PAYNE Died Feb. 23, 2009
British actor Laurence Payne died at age 89. Mr. Payne was well known to horror movie fans for his roles in Hammer's "The Vampire Circus," "The Tell-Tale Heart" as well as "The Crawling Eye." Mr. Payne was best known for playing detective "Sexton Blake" in the TV series, which ran from 1967 through 1971. Mr. Payne played D'Artagnan in the 1950s TV series "The Three Musketeers." He appeared in over 50 films and TV shows during a career which began in the late 1940s. Mr. Payne's many credits include "Doctor Who," "Tales of the Unexpected," "The Saint," "Z Cars," "Ben-Hur" and "A Tale of Two Cities."
FRANK GALLACHER Died Feb. 23, 2009
Australian actor Frank Gallacher died at age 66. Mr. Gallacher appeared in over 75 films and TV shows. He was also a noted stage actor in his native land. He played Inspector Stromboli in the sci-fi cult classic "Dark City." Other credits include "December Boys," "Fergus McPhail," "Peter Pan," "Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story," "Snowy River: The McGregor Saga," "Kill or Be Killed," "Deadly," "Raw Silk," "Under Capricorn," "Prisoner: Cell Block H," "Shannon's Mob" and "Matlock Police."
TOM COLE Died Feb. 23, 2009
Playwright Tom Cole died of multiple myeloma at 75. Mr. Cole was the husband of director Joyce Chopra. A number of Mr. Cole's plays have been adapted to the screen. He wrote the screenplay and his wife directed the critically acclaimed film "Smooth Talk." His play "Medal of Honor Rag" was turned into a 1982 TV movie. Other writing credits include "The Disappearance of Nora," "Streets of Gold" and "To Kill the King."
PEARL LANG Died Feb. 24, 2009
Dancer and choreographer Pearl Lang died of a heart attack at age 87. Ms. Lang was the wife of "Dr. No" actor Joseph Wiseman. Ms. Lang was a student of the legendary choreographer and dance teacher Martha Graham. Ms. Lang danced in a number of productions and opened her own school of dance. She appeared in the TV documentary "American Masters: Martha Graham: The Dancer Revealed."
EDWARD JUDD Died Feb. 24, 2009
During the few years I have written this column, I have goofed a few times and posting obits for a person who had not died. It hasn't happened in a while. In 2005 there were reports that actor Edward Judd had passed away. His supposed death was even reported on a DVD release of one of his old horror films. A number of people on both sides of the Atlantic dug around and it was discovered that Mr. Judd was not dead, but rather living in a retirement home. Sadly this time the reports of Mr. Judd's passing are true.
British actor Edward Judd died at age 76. Mr. Judd was well known to fans of horror and science fiction films. He appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. Mr. Judd began his acting career on stage while still a teen. Mr. Judd starred in Ray Harryhausen's sci-fi/fantasy film "First Men IN the Moon." He co-starred in Val Guest's 1961 BAFTA-winning sci-fi thriller "The Day the Earth Caught Fire." Mr. Judd co-starred with Peter Cushing in Terrence Fisher's sci-fi/horror film "Island of Terror." He also co-starred in Hammer's fantasy "The Vengeance of She." Mr. Judd also starred in one of the episodes of Amicus' 1973 omnibus horror film "Vault of Horror." During the earlier days of his career, Mr. Judd had a bit part in the outstanding sci-fi classic "X: The Unknown." Other genre credits include the TV shows "Jack the Ripper," "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "Invisible Man."
Edward Judd was not stereotyped by his many roles in horror and science fiction films. He appeared in many dramas and comedies as well. Mr. Judd's many credits include "Coronation Street," "The House on Garibaldi Street," "Flambards," "The New Avengers," "Softly Softly," "Z Cars," "The Onedin Line," Lindsey Anderson's "O Lucky Man!," "Emmerdale Farm," "Dixon of Dock Green," "The Long Ships," "Sink the Bismarck!," "The Concrete Jungle," "I Was Monty's Double," "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Good Die Young."
CLARENCE SWENSEN Died Feb. 25, 2009
"Wizard of Oz" actor Clarence Swensen died at age 91. Mr. Swenson was one of only nine surviving Munchkins who appeared in the classic 1939 film. Mr. Swenson played one of 25 marching Munchkin soldiers. He also appeared in the 1938 film "The Terror of Tiny Town" which was the first and only Western featuring all little people. Mr. Swenson played seven roles in the film. He donned an ape suit to play a chimpanzee riding an elephant in "Tarzan Finds a Son." Mr. Swenson appeared in a number of documentaries about "The Wizard of Oz."
PHILIP JOSE FARMER Died Feb. 25, 2009
Science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer died at age 91. Mr. Farmer was one of the premiere science fiction writers of the past century. He authored over 75 books and was honored with many accolades for his work. His "Riverworld" series, consisting of five novels written between 1971 and 1983, are considered his best works. Mr. Farmer was the first science fiction writer to deal with sexual themes in a serious way with his books "Flesh" and "The Lovers" written in 1960 and 1961 respectively. Robert Heinlein claimed that Mr. Farmer's work greatly influenced his classic "A Stranger in a Strange Land." From a movie perspective, Mr. Farmer's work as been given short shrift. A 2003 Sci-Fi Channel TV movie was based on his first two "Riverworld" books. As is often the case with Sci-Fi Channel films, the movie discarded most of Mr. Farmer's magic and replaced it with low-budget boredom. The movie is not worth seeing if you really want to get an idea of what Philip Jose Farmer was all about.
WENDY RICHARD Died Feb. 26, 2009
If I had been born and raised in the UK I would probably have had a bigger crush on Wendy Richard than I did. Had I been a Brit I would have been exposed to more of her work at an earlier age. Alas, like most guys in the US, I discovered the sexy, sassy Wendy Richard while channel surfing and coming across the 1970s British series "Are You Being Served?" Wendy Richard lost her battle with cancer today. She was 68 years old. Ms. Richard was made Member of the British Empire in 2000. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 British Soap Awards. Wendy Richard appeared in over 120 films and TV shows during her career. She was an original cast member of the long-running British soap opera "EastEnders." She worked on the series from 1985 through 2006. Her run on "Are You Being Served?" ran from 1972 through 1985!
Wendy Richard played Lady Macbeth in the Beatles film "Help!" Unfortunately for us, her scenes were cut from the movie. Sci-fi fans may remember as the doomed Clara in Cornel Wilde's 1970 end of the world thriller "No Blade of Grass." Her many film and TV credits include "Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time," "Carry on Girls," "Dad's Army," "Z Cars," "Carry on Matron," Stephen Frears' "Gumshoe," both the feature film and TV series version of "On the Buses," "Dixon of Dock Green," "Carry on Again Christmas" and "Danger Man."
RUTH DREXEL Died Feb. 26, 2009
German actress Ruth Drexel died at age 78. Ms. Drexel was a populat TV actress in Germany. Her film and TV career began in the late 1940s. Her best known role was on the TV series was "Der Bulle von Tölz." She worked on the show from 1996 until the time of her death. Other credits include Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Jail Bait," "Tatort," "Der Kommissar" and "Candida."
RYAN MOURITSEN Died Feb. 27, 2009
Writer, production assistant and actor Ryan Mouritsen was killed in an ultralight crash at age 33. Reports state that a mechanical failure in the craft's throttle on take-off caused the ultralight to strike the wing of another plane, lift into the air nearly 100 feet before crashing to the earth. Mr. Mouritsen's production assistant credits include "Rita Rocks," "Libertyville," "Adopted," "Reba." He was an assistant writer of the TV series "Roommates." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ROBERT E. A. LEE Died Feb. 27, 2009
Author and producer Robert E. A. Lee died at age 87. Mr. Lee produced films for the Lutheran Church. His 1953 film "Martin Luther" received two Oscar nominations. He produced Stuart Rosenberg's 1961 film "Question 7." Mr. Lee produced the 1967 documentary "A Time for Burning" which received a Best Documentary Oscar nomination. Mr. Lee also published eight books during his lifetime.
JOHN ALVIN Died Feb. 27, 2009
Prolific character actor John Alvin died at age 91. Mr. Alvin appeared in over 130 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. Mr. Alvin played Matt Sullivan, one of the five Sullivan brothers in the WWII tear-jerker "The Fighting Sullivans." Mr. Alvin was a familiar face to Western fans. He appeared in many B-Westerns as well as Western TV series. Mr. Alvin's many credits include "Milk Money," "Murder, She Wrote," "Somewhere in Time," "The Incredible Hulk," "All in the Family," "The Legend of Lizzie Borden," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!," "It Takes a Thief," "I Spy," "Ironside," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Get Smart," "My Favorite Martian," "The Munsters," "Marnie," "Irma la Douce," "Perry Mason," "Rawhide," "The Rifleman," "Richard Diamond, Private Detective," "Sky King," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "Kentucky Rifle," "Dragnet," "Naked Alibi," "The Shanghai Story," "Hopalong Cassidy," "Dream Wife," "The Lone Ranger," "Carrie," "Three Guys Named Mike," "The Fountainhead," "The Babe Ruth Story," "Under Colorado Skies," "Nora Prentiss," "The Beast with Five Fingers," "San Antonio," "The Horn Blows at Midnight," my personal favorite WWII movie "Objective, Burma!" and "Destination Tokyo."
DOROTHEA HOLT Died Feb. 27, 2009
Illustrator and Disney Imagineer Dorothea Holt died at age 98. Among her over 30 film and TV credits were seven films for master director Alfred Hitchcock: "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "Rear Window," "Rebecca," "Rope," "Saboteur," "Shadow of a Doubt" and "To Catch a Thief." Ms. Holts helped visualize many classic films. Her other credits include "Omar Khayyam," "Funny Face," "The Rainmaker," "The Ten Commandments," "The Court Jester," "White Christmas," the original version of "Sabrina Road to Bali," Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight," the 1050s TV version of "Ten Little Indians," William Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives," "Gone with the Wind," the US remake of "Intermezzo" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."
ALAN LANDERS Died Feb. 27, 2009
Alan Landers, former spokesmodel for Winston cigarettes died of cancer at age 68. Mr. Landers was suing former employer R.J. Reynolds at the time of his death. Mr. Landers appeared in a handful of movies and TV shows. His credits include "Deadly Rivals," "Cop and a Half," "South Beach," Woody Allen's Oscar winner "Annie Hall," "Ellery Queen" and Andy Sidaris' first sex comedy "Stacey."
PAUL HARVEY Died Feb. 28, 2009
Radio legend Paul Harvey died at age 90. I'm sad that my youngest daughter will not grow up hearing Mr. Harvey's "Rest of the Story" and other radio commentaries. My grandmother exposed me to Mr. Harvey on the radio back in the mid-1960s. Like millions of others across the world, I've enjoyed Mr. Harvey's radio broadcasts for decades. He entertained and informed his listeners with his down home style. I can't count the times I would pull up in my driveway after work only to sit in the car until the end of Mr. Harvey's "Rest of the Story" was finished. I have warm memories of listening to Mr. Harvey with my dad as a child. We would try to guess who the "Rest of the Story" was about before Paul Harvey revealed the mystery. In recent years his son Paul Harvey Jr. has taken over the reigns from his ailing father. I listen to his news and commentary each morning on the way to work. His father's pre-recorded radio ads would play and remind me of a past that is quickly fading. Thank you sir. You will be missed.
PEPE HERN Died Feb. 28, 2009
Prolific character actor Pepe Hern died at age 81. Mr. Hern appeared in over 60 films and TV shows during a career, which began in the late 1940s. Among his many credits are "Murder, She Wrote," "Hill Street Blues," "Simon & Simon," "Charlie's Angels," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Joe Kidd," "Bonanza," "The Mod Squad," "Change of Habit," "Madigan," "The Big Valley," "I Spy," "Gunsmoke," "The Fugitive," "The Rifleman," "The Magnificent Seven," "Rawhide," "The Brothers Rico," "Jungle Jim," "The Bamboo Prison," "Hopalong Cassidy," "My Favorite Spy," "Borderline," "Knock on Any Door" and "Bodyguard."
PERRY HICKMAN Died Feb. 28, 2009
Driver Perry Hickman died at age 66. Mr. Hickman owned his own trucking business. He worked as a driver on several film productions including "The Ultimate Gift," "The Notebook," "O," "Major League III" and "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls."