CLAUDE JADE Died Dec. 1, 2006
French actress Claude Jade died of cancer at age 58. Ms. Jade worked for such acclaimed directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut and Tony Richardson. Ms. Jade appeared in Hitchcocks poltical thriller "Topaz." She worked with Francois Truffaut three times: "Bed and Breakfast," "Stolen Kisses" and "Love on the Run." Ms. Jade starred opposite Rudolf Nureyev in Tony Richardson’s biopic "Nijinski." Ms. Jade appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during her career.
MOHAMMED BOUAMARI Died Dec. 1, 2006
Award-winning Algerian director Mohammed Bouamari died of a heart attack at age 65. Mr. Bouamari won awards at the Berlin International Film Festival for his films "The Charcoal Maker" (1973) and "Premier Pas" (1979). His 1975 film "The Legacy" was nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. Mr. Bouamari was an assistant director on director Jean-Louis Bertucelli’s award-winning film "Ramparts of Clay."
MARISKA VERES Died Dec. 2, 2006
Mariska Veres, lead singer for the band "Shocking Blue," died of cancer at age 59. The sexy Dutch/German singer gained million of fans worldwide for the rock song "Venus." Ms. Veres had a husky voice that perfectly matched the sensuality of the song’s lyrics. Ms. Veres’s vocals can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as "The Brady Bunch Movie," "Outside Providence," "Remember the Titans," "Grumpier Old Men" and "Alles Nur Tarnung." Ms. Veres appeared as herself on the on the German TV series "ZDF Hitparade."
JACKIE BLAISDELL Death discovered Dec. 2, 2006
Jackie Blaisdell, monster-movie creature co-designer and widow of monster-movie design legend Paul Blaisdell was found dead at her home. The 76-year-old Ms. Blaisdell was found by her neighbor Mark Nygard. Mr. Nygard's wife Becky stated that the LA County Coroner estimated that Ms. Blaisdell died on November 30th. Paul and Jackie Blaisdell put together some of the most memorable, if low-budget movie monsters from the 1950s. Paul and Jackie Blaisdell worked wonders for and lead to the success of American International Pictures with their work on such films as "The She Creature," "Attack of the Puppet People," "It Conquered the World," "The Beast with a Million Eyes," "From Hell It Came," "Earth vs. the Spider," "Invasion of the Saucer Men" and the inspiration for "Alien," "It! The Terror From Beyond Space." Though Ms. Blaisdell only received credit for the films "Attack of the Puppet People" and "Earth vs. the Spider" many in the industry who knew the couple state that Ms. Blaisdell worked closely with her husband throughout his entire career. Paul Blaisdell died of stomach cancer in 1983. Unfortunately, Mr. Blaisdell did not receive the credit he deserved during his lifetime. Hopefully his widow did come to discover that her husband and their creations are appreciated and loved by millions of 1950s monster movie fans worldwide. Thanks for the thrills and excitement!
DON DOHLER Died Dec. 2, 2006
Filmmaker and publisher Don Dohler died of cancer at age 60. Don Dohler once published the film magazine "Cinemagic." Mr. Dohler wrote, produced and directed a series of low-budget horror films in the 1970s. After a lengthy sabbatical from filmmaking, Mr. Dohler returned to film in 2001. Mr. Dohler’s many low-budget epics include "Nightbeast," "The Alien Factor," "Fiend" and "Vampire Sisters."
DON SNELL Died Dec. 2, 2006
Actor Don Snell died at age 57 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Snell’s credits include "Murder She Wrote," "Erin Brockovich," "Martial Law" and "Traffic."
JESSE STONE Died Dec. 3, 2006
Construction coordinator Jesse Stone died of age related causes at age 86. Mr. Stone worked for Aaron Spelling, Bing Crosby Productions and 20th Century Fox during his 30 year career. Mr. Stone worked on such films and TV shows as "Charlie’s Angels," "Run, Simon Run," "The Rookies" and Curtis Harrington’s "How Awful About Allan." Mr. Stone was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. Mr. Stone served his country during WWII in the US Army.
SID RAYMOND Died Dec. 3, 2006
Actor Sid Raymond died at age 97. Mr. Raymond provided the voices to a number of animated films. He provided the voice for the characters "Baby Huey" and "Katnip." Mr. Raymond also appeared in several live action films and TV shows. His many film and TV credits include "I Am a Camera," "The Honeymooners," "The Hustler," "Naked City," "The Funhouse," "Making Mr. Right," "My Father the Hero" and "The O.C."
OKSANA STASY Died Dec. 4, 2006
Actress and activist Oksana Stasy died at age 61. Ms. Stasy was the last girlfriend of actor Peter Lawford before his death in 1984. Ms. Stasy was involved in activities to help the homeless and poor in the US. He lone film appearance was in the excellent B-movie "Night of the Juggler." The film is one of my guilty pleasures. Ms. Stasy played a hooker in the extended chase film that pitted James Brolin against a psycho played by Cliff Gorman. I highly recommend the film for the taut direction and outstanding performances by both lead actors.
ADAM WILLIAMS Died Dec. 4, 2006
Actor Adam Williams (real name Adam Berg) died of lymphoma at age 84. Adam Williams was a prolific character actor who appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. Mr. Williams gave one of his best performances as a psycho killer in the 1952 Film Noir thriller "Without Warning." The following year he was in a supporting role in the Film Noir classic "The Big Heat." He played one of James Mason’s henchmen in Hitchcock’s masterpiece "North by Northwest." Other credits from the 1950s include "The Flying Leathernecks" and Robert Wise’s sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
During the 1960s Mr. Williams was a much-in-demand TV actor. He made guest appearances on just about every Western TV series to come out of Hollywood during the decade. I remember his from the great "Twilight Zone" episode "A Most Unusual Camera." He also starred in "The Hitchhiker" episode of that same series. His film credits from the 1960s include Robert Aldrich’s "The Last Sunset," "Convicts 4," Disney’s "Follow Me, Boys!" and "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit." Mr. Williams career came to an end in the 1970s. He appeared in the great TV miniseries "Helter Skelter." Mr. Williams served his country as a Naval Aviator during WWII. He won the Navy Cross.
IAN PRAISER Died Dec. 4, 2006
Emmy-winning writer Ian Praiser died of heart failure at age 59. He was also an actor and producer. Mr. Priaser shared an Emmy award for his work on "The Tracey Ullman Show." He was also nominated for another Emmy for "Taxi." Mr. Praiser’s writing credits include "The Love Boat," "Bosom Buddies" and "Rhoda." His production credits include "Panic in Griffith Park," "Caroline in the City" and "Suddenly Susan." Mr. Praiser’s acting credits include "The First Nudie Musical" and "Loose Shoes."
RUDY DIAZ Died Dec. 5, 2006
Retired LAPD officer turned actor Rudy Diaz died at age 88. Mr. Diaz appeared nearly 40 films and TV shows during his time as an actor. Acting was a second career. After serving his country during WWII as a paratrooper in the US Army, Mr. Diaz became a police officer with the LAPD. His first wife was the late actress Dorothy Abbott. Ms. Abbott committed suicide in 1968. Rudy Diaz appeared in director Don Siegel’s films "Coogan’s Bluff" and "Charley Varrick." He also worked twice with John Wayne: "The Undefeated" and "Hellfighters." Mr. Diaz’s other credits include "Bandolero!," "Mackenna’s Gold" with Gregory Peck, "Che!," "Bonanza," "Flap," "Hawaii 5-0," "Baretta," "A Piece of the Action," "The Rockford Files" and "Matt Houston."
VAN SMITH Died Dec. 5, 2006
Costume designer and makeup artist Van Smith died of a heart attack at age 61. Mr. Smith was a longtime collaborator with trash auteur director John Waters. Mr. Smith designed the costumes and makeup for drag queen Divine in Water’s cult classic "Pink Flamingos." During Mr. Smith’s 32-year-collaboration with John Waters, he worked on the films "Female Trouble," "Desperate Living," "Polyester," "Hairspray," "Cry-Baby," "Serial Mom," "Pecker," "Cecil B. DeMented" and "A Dirty Shame." Mr. Smith also designed costumes for a couple of episodes of he TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street."
MICHAEL GILDEN Died Dec. 5, 2006
Actor Michael Gilden was found dead at his home. He was 44 years old. Internet rumors have stated that Mr. Gilden committed suicide by hanging, but there has been no official confirmation of the rumor. Entertainment Tonight announced that he had committed suicide, but later changed their website story to say that no cause of death had been released. Michael Gilden and his wife, actress Meredith Eaton were both dwarves. Mr. Gilden played an Ewok in "Return of the Jedi." He was also the actor in Tartantino’s "Pulp Fiction" who said the line ‘Call for Phillip Morris’ during the Jackrabbit Slim sequence. Mr. Gilden’s wife played William Shatner’s love interests in the hit TV series "Boston Legal." Other credits include "Charmed," "CSI" and "NCIS." No matter what the cause of his untimely death, prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
MARSHALL SEHORN Died Dec. 5, 2006
Record executive Marshall Sehorn died of a respiratory illness at age 72. Marshall Sehorn and partner Allen Toussaint founded the SeaSaint Recording Studio in new Orleans. Mr. Sehorn was instrumental in launching the careers of Wilber Harrision and Lee Dorsey. Mr. Sehorn shared the writing credit on Sonny Boy Williamson’s song "One Way Out." The song’s most famous version was recorded by "The Allman Brothers band." The song has appeared on the soundtracks of a number of films including "Dogtown and Z-Boys," "The Departed" and "Almost Famous."
MAVIS PUGH Died Dec. 6, 2006
British TV actress Mavis Pugh has passed away. Her age was not given. Ms. Pugh was married to actor John Clegg. She and her husband worked together on the TV series "You Rang, M’Lord?" and "It Ain’t Half Hot Mum." Ms. Pugh’s other credits include "Are You Being Served?," "Fawlty Towers," "Dad’s Army" and Boon." She also appeared in the feature films "Brothers and Sisters" and "The Class of Miss MacMichael."
ANDY DILL Died Dec. 6, 2006
Gay porn star Andy Dill died of meningitis at age 41. He appeared in nearly 20 films since breaking into the adult film industry 3 years ago. He was also an Internet entrepreneur. Mr. Dill directed and starred in the 2004 video movie "Bedrock." Mr. Dill worked as an escort in San Francisco
JAY MCSHANN Died Dec. 7, 2006
Legendary jazz pianist Jay McShann of undisclosed causes. Mr. McShann’s age is also unknown. Some cite his age as 90 while other sources say he was 97. Jay McShann was a prominent figure in the Kansas City Missouri jazz scene. Charlie Parker once played in Mr. McShann’s big band. His lengthy career began in the 1930s. Mr. McShann appeared in a number of documentaries. His credits include Ken Burns’ miniseries "Jazz," "Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall," the Clint Eastwood directed documentary "Piano Blues" and "The Last of the Blue Devils."
CHARLES COLARUSSO Died Dec. 7, 2006
Producer Charles Colarusso died of cancer on his 72nd birthday. Mr. Colarusso was a producer on a number of TV shows including "Every Second Counts," "Picture This," "Dream House" and "It’s Your Move." He was an associate producer of "Dinah’s Place" and "Dinah!" both of which starred Dinah Shore.
DESMOND BRISCOE Died Dec. 7, 2006
Electronic musician and sound producer Desmond Briscoe died at age 82. He was one of the founders of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Mr. Beriscoe contributed his talents to such notable films as the sci-fi cult classic "Phase IV," "The Man Who Fell to Earth," the original version of "The Haunting," "Children of the Damned" and "The Ipcress File."
PETER BRAYHAM Died Dec. 7, 2006
British stunt man and stunt coordinator Peter Brayham died of cancer at age 70. Mr. Brayham added thrills and spills to over 100 films and TV shows during his lengthy career. His worked on the James Bond films "Goldfinger," "You Only Live Twice," "From Russia With Love" and "Live and Let Die." He added grit to Sam Peckinpah's WWII classic "Cross of Iron" and controversial "Straw Dogs." Mr. Brayham's other feature film credits include "The Guns of Navarone," John Wayne's "Brannigan," "Quadrophenia," "Time Bandits," "White Nights," "My Left Foot" and "Bridget Jones Diary." Mr. Brayham worked on just about every major British TV series from the 1960 through the time of his passing.
MARTHA TILTON Died Dec. 8, 2006
Big Band singer Martha Tilton died of natural causes at age 91. Ms. Tilton sing for "The Benny Goodman Orchestra" for three years. She appeared in a number of films and TV shows. Ms. Tilton’s music also graced several movie soundtracks. Her acting credits include "The Benny Goodman Story," "Topper," "Crime Incorporated" and "The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom." Ms. Tilton’s music can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as "Irene," "Ball of Fire," "You’ll Never Get Rich" and "Focus."
ERNI ARNESON Died Dec. 8, 2006
Danish actress Erni Arneson died at age 89. Ms. Arneson acted on stage and in films. Her career in film spanned 60 years. Ms. Arneson’s film and TV credits include "The Broadway Playhouse," "Threesome," one of the "Olsen Gang" comedies, "Black Harvest" and "Carlo & Ester."
VIRGINIA MCDOWELL Died Dec. 8, 2006
Actress Virginia McDowell died at age 79. Ms. McDowell was the sister of the late actor Roddy McDowell. She appeared in a handful of films including "National Velvet," "Anything Goes," "Man Hunt," "The Fan" and "This Above All." Ms. McDowell appeared as herself in the "A&E Biography" episode "Roddy McDowell: Hollywood's Best Friend."
RUSSELL WADE Died Dec. 9, 2006
Veteran character actor Russell Wade died at age 89. Mr. Wade appeared in over 60 films during the 1930s and 40s. He retired from film and became a successful realtor and businessman. Mr. Wade’s many film credits include my wife’s favorite John Wayne western "Tall in the Saddle." Other credits include "The Body Snatcher" with Boris Karloff, "Vivacious Lady," W.C. Field’s classic "You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man," "Million Dollar Legs," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "The Ghost Ship" and "The Bamboo Blonde."
GEORGIA GIBBS Died Dec. 9, 2006
Singer Georgia Gibbs died of leukemia at age 87. Ms. Gibbs was best known for her songs "Kiss of Fire" and "If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked a Cake." She sand with a several Big Bands including Artie Shaw’s and Tommy Dorsey’s. Ms. Gibbs performed on a number of TV shows during the 1950s including "Hit Prade," "The Gary Moore Show," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Steve Allen Show." Ms. Gibbs appeared in the short film "The Pony."
BENJAMIN GUY Died Dec. 9, 2006
Indie filmmaker Benjamin Guy died of undisclosed causes at age 26. Mr. Guy wrote, produced, directed, edited and acted in the short film "Delivery." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
TIMOTHY ALBRECHT Died Dec. 9, 2006
Choreographer Timothy Albrecht died of undisclosed causes at age 41. Mr. Albrechtwas the choreographer on the films "The Intern," "Camp," "Pretty Dead Girl" and the TV show "The View." He performed on Broadway in "A Chorus Line."
FREDDIE MARSDEN Died Dec. 9, 2006
Rocker drummer Freddie Marsden died of cancer at age 66. Freddie and brother Gerry founded the band "Gerry and the Pacemakers." They were the second band to be signed by Brian Epstein. The first one, of course, being "The Beatles." "Gerry and the Pacemakers" scored #1 hits with their first three songs. The band broke up in 1967. Following his stint with the band, Mr. Marsden worked as a telephone operator. He starred with his brother in the film "Ferry Cross the Mersey." The band also appeared in the excellent rock concert documentary "The T.A.M.I. Show." TV appearances include "Beat Club" and "Ready, Steady Go!"
NICHOLAS BALLA Death announced Dec. 9, 2006
Prolific Canadian filmmaker Nicholas Balla died at age 88. Mr. Balla made movies for Canada’s National Film Board. He produced over 150 documentaries, short dramas and comedies during his long career. Many of his films dealt with the history of Canada. Mr. Balla also worked as an editor on nearly 50 films. He also wrote, directed and films several short films. Mr. Balla won a Special Prize: Best Short Film award at the 1962 Berlin International Film Festival for the movie "Nahanni."
JOHNNY HUTCH Died Dec. 9, 2006
British acrobat turned actor Johnny Hutch died at age 93. TV fans remember Mr. Hutch as part of Benny Hill’s crazy cast of characters. Mr. Hutch appeared on "The Benny Hill Show" during its final two seasons. Mr. Hutch traveled the world performing as an acrobat. He helped actor Robert Downey Jr. master the physical pratfalls he needed to know for his performance in the title role of "Chaplin." Johnny Hutch served his country as a paratrooper during WWII.
JOSEPHINE MILLER Died Dec. 10, 2006
Former British actress Josephine Miller died at age 89. Ms. Miller studied acting in London. Her final film was "A Town Like Alice," which starred Peter Finch. She retired in 1956 to raise a family in Canada.
MICAELA NELLIGAN Died Dec. 11, 2006
Actress Micaela Nelligan died of undisclosed causes at age 47. Ms. Nelligan had a recurring role on the Treat Williams TV series "Everwood." She also appears in the current theatrical release "Unaccompanied Minors." Ms. Nelligan’s other credits include "Firestarter 2," "Touched By An Angel" and "In the Line of Duty: Siege at Marion." Ms. Nelligan was very active in regional theater in
ABIGAIL SHELTON Died Dec. 11, 2006
Actress Abby Shelton died in her sleep at age 74. Ms. Shelton was married to screenwriter John T. Kelley until his death of cancer in 1972. Ms. Shelton was a frequent guest star on such TV series as "Perry Mason," "The Millionaire," "The Fugitive," "Check Mate" and "Bonanza." Her feature film credits include "8 Million Ways to Die," "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" and "Zigzag." Ms. Shelton’s late husband John Kelley wrote the script for the cool thriller "Zigzag." Ms. Shelton was also an accomplished singer. She enjoyed success of stage as well as screen. She remarried following the death of her husband. Ms. Shelton’s second husband was musician William Baker. He would accompany her on piano in her one-woman cabaret shows.
ELISABETH MULLER Died Dec. 11, 2006
Swiss actress Elisabeth Muller died of natural causes at age 80. Ms. Muller began her stage career in Zurich, Switzerland in 1946. She appeared in nearly 20 films, mostly in Europe. She made her Hollywood debut in Henry Koster's "The Power and the Prize" opposite Robert Taylor. Despite making a good impression in the film, Ms. Muller then returned to Switzerland to continue her stage and film career. In 1959 she made her only other Hollywood film. Ms. Muller costarred with Robert Mitchum in Robert Aldrich's "The Angry Hills." A.I. Bezzerides adapted the story from Leon Uris's novel. "The Angry Hills" was Ms. Muller's final feature film appearance.
PETER BOYLE Died Dec. 12, 2006
Award-winning actor Peter Boyle died of the blood cancer Multiple Myeloma and heart disease at age 71. While modern audiences know Peter Boyle best as the grouchy father on the hit series "Everybody Loves Raymond," Mr. Boyle was an exciting part of some of the most important films of the 1970s. The most exciting time in film history was the Hollywood renaisance that occurred in the 1970s. The last vestiges of the old Hayes Office had been killed off by such films as "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" During the early 1970s new filmmakers were expanding the universe of what could be expressed in celluloid. More times than not, Peter Boyle was in the cast of many influential or counter-culture hits. Speaking of counter culture, Peter Boyle and John Lennon were close friends. Mr. Boyle was best man at the wedding of John and Yoko. Some of the films may not be well remembered today, but they were influential nonetheless.
Peter Boyle appeared in 130 films and TV shows. He was nominated for 10 Emmy awards, winning once for an episode of "The X-Files." His peers at the Screen Actor’s Guild nominated him nine times for his work. He one once as part of the ensemble cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond." Like many millions of fans, I too liked his work in the Ray Romano TV series. However, the melancholy feelings I have over Mr. Boyle’s death have more to do with my memories of his work in the 1970s.
I came of age in the 1970s. More times than not, I was sneaking into R-rated films on the weekend. Movies I read about in the reviews of Pauline Kael. Movies that a rating board or other moralists deemed I was not old enough to see. They didn’t know me. It was a great pleasure to finally see the films I had read about and anticipated. Peter Boyle starred or appeared in many of them. Filmmakers in the 1970s were searching for answers, both about their art and life in general. Peter Boyle was one of those searchers. He turned to acting after spending three years in a monastery. Always searching.
Haskel Wexler’s "Medium Cool" is still one of the most powerful indie films ever made. It is a must see movie. Peter Boyle had a small supporting role this classic. The following year, Peter Boyle broke through as a force to be reckoned with in the title role of the controversial "Joe." "Joe" told the story of a blue-collar redneck who befriends a white collar parent whose daughter has run off with a drug addicted hippie. The film examined the ever growing rift between the generations and the classes. Susan Sarandon appeared as the rich man’s daughter. Peter Boyle’s Joe was like Archie Bunker with an arsenal. The movie’s final shot is still haunting. Mr. Boyle’s gonzo performance launched his career into high gear. He followed "Joe" with "Diary of a Mad Housewife" and a co-starring role with Candice Bergan in "T.R. Baskin." It was Peter Boyle’s next film that showed his expansive range. Michael Ritchie’s excellent political satire "The Candidate" featured Mr. Boyle as the no-holds-barred campaign manager of Robert Redford’s character. The film’s final scene with Redford and Peter Boyle spoke volumes about what the country was facing at the time.
"Steelyard Blues" was a counter-culture comedy with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Peter Boyle as the stars. The plot dealt with a group of people trying to fly away to a place they could be free. I haven’t seen it in 20 years, so I can’t say if it holds up today. It was funny back then. "Slither" came next. This crime caper comedy still entertains today. James Caan and Sally Kellerman starred. Peter Boyle is very funny as a regular guy caught up in a long, convoluted chase. If you have never seen this great action/comedy do yourself a favor and do so. Many people said that Peter Boyle showed his comedic chops the first time in Mel Brooks’ "Young Frankenstein." Not so. This movie proves it beyond any argument. There were several serious films before Peter Boyle played the Monster for Mel Brooks.
Peter Yates’ "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" is one of the best gangster films of all time. The gritty film is set in modern day Boston. Robert Mitchum starred as an aging gangster who is getting into things way over his head. Peter Boyle plays an Irish bar owner who is also a mid level mob guy. This is a tough, brutal film with great performances all around. The nest year, Boyle would take the lead in another tough gangster film. "Crazy Joe" is worth seeing only for Boyle’s performance as the true-life gangster Crazy Joey Gallo. In the early 70s, anyone who watched the news, knew who Joey Gallo was. His spectacular 1972 murder harkened back to the Mafia hits of the 1930s. The movie is not very good. Boyle’s performance is better than the material.
"Young Frankenstein" cemented Peter Boyle’s reputation as an actor with dramatic range who was also quite good at comedy. His talent shone through the pounds of makeup as he played the tap-dancing monster created by Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks funniest film. After a year long break, Peter Boyle returned to the big screen in Martin Scorsese’s darl masterpiece "Taxi Driver." Mr. Boyle was but once of many great actors in supporting roles around Robert DeNiro’s Travis Bickle. Boyle played a fellow cab driver. The following year, Peter Boyle received his first Emmy nomination for playing Wisconsin senator Joe McCarthy in the TV film "Tail Gunner Joe." Norman Jewison’s veiled biopic of Jimmy Hoffa "F.I.S.T." followed.
One of my guilty pleasures in William Friedkin’s overlooked crime comedy "The Brink’s Job." Peter Boyle co-starred with Peter Falk in the tale of the greatest bank heist of the 20th century. Another movie worth discovering. From comedy, to seedy drama. Peter Boyle’s next film cast him opposite George C. Scott. Paul Schrader’s "Hardcore" told the story of a Lutheran father searching for his runaway daughter. Peter Boyle plays the private detective hired by Scott to find his daughter. He finds her involved in the world of hardcore pornography. The great character study is interesting for the pairing of the upright Scott with Boyle’s amoral character. They have many great scenes together.
Peter Boyle’s memorable films from the 1980s and beyond include the evil mining boss in "Outland," "Hammet," "Honeymoon in Vegas," "The Santa Clause," "While You Were Sleeping" and "Monster’s Ball." His role in "Monster’s Ball" was truly terrifying. It was almost like what you expect his character in "Joe" to be as an old man.
In 1996 Peter Boyle began his nine-year-run as Ray Romano’s father-in-law on "Everybody Loves Raymond." It was nice to see Mr. Boyle as rowdy and vigorous in his old age as in the days of his youth. It is sad to know that he will not be around anymore to share his talents with us. It is nice to know that he left behind an extensive body of work that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Peter Boyle’s final film is Dennis Fallon’s upcoming "All Roads Lead Home." I met producer/director Dennis Fallon earlier this year through my buddy, filmmaker Jeremy Benson. Mr. Fallon had the pleasure of directing Peter Boyle in Mr. Boyle's final film "All Roads Lead Home" (aka "Shadows of Atticus.")
Mr. Fallon shared his feelings upon hearing the news of Mr. Boyle's passing: "Peter Boyle, was an amazing talent. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him. Not only was he a icon of cinema, he was truly a great guy and a joy to be around. I wish I had been able to finish "All Roads Lead Home" before his death, because I believe Peter would have been proud of the movie and his character "Poovey." He loved the script and was excited about playing "Poovey" and we loved having him. Most people remember Peter Boyle from "Everybody Loves Raymond," however for me it was "Young Frankenstein," "The Candidate" and "Steelyard Blues." He truly will be missed as a great talent and a great human being. I will never forget my experience with him."
FRANK CONTI Died Dec. 12, 2006
Actor Frank Conti died at age 82. Mr. Conti worked on stage, TV and film. He appeared in such movies and TV shows as "The Godfather," "West Side Story," "Car 54 Where Are You?," "The Phil Silvers Show" and "One Life to Live." Mr. Conti was also a successful real estate broker.
AVIVA CRANE Died Dec. 12, 2006
Chicago actress Aviva Crane died at age 76. Ms. Crane co-founded the Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards to honor the best of Chicago theater productions. Though she was an accomplished stage actress, Ms. Crane’s one film role was in one of the all-time worst films in movie history. "Monster a Go-Go" was begun by schlockmeister Bill Rebane and finished by the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis. The movie rightfully became fodder for the comic minds behind "Mystery Science Theater 3000."
TOMAS PEREZ TURRENT Died Dec. 12, 2006
Mexican writer and actor Tomas Perez Turrent died of a heart attack at age 71. Mr. Perex-Turrent co-wrote the book "Conversations with Luis Bunuel." Mr. Perez-Turrent won Mexico’s highest film award: The Ariel, for writing the film "Canoe." He was nominated for another Ariel for his script "Ulama." Mr. Perez-Turrent wrote nearly 20 screenplays during his career. He also acted in a dozen films. Mr. Perez-Turrent taught his craft to others at several universities in Mexico.
DAVID WISCHNACK Died Dec. 12, 2006
Special effects foreman David Wischnack died at 4 days shy of his 80th birthday. Mr. Wischnack was the special effects foreman on "Back to the Future." He was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #44.
RALPH MILLER Died Dec. 14, 2006
Retired Army officer turned businessman turned actor Ralph Miller died of prostate cancer at age 83. Mr. Miller's credits include "Nash Bridges," "Outbreak," the remake of "Village of the Damned," "Mission Mars" and "Carrier." Mr. Miller was very active in regional theater in the Bay Area. Mr. Miller served his country during WWII in US Army Intelligence. He retired from the Army after 22 years service at the rank of Major.
HALLIE D’AMORE Died Dec. 14, 2006
Oscar-nominated makeup artist Hallie D’Amore shot her husband, noted photographer Richard D’Amore multiple times killing him before turning the gun on herself. The LAPD reported that the 64-year-old Ms. D’Amore left a note but would not say whether it was a suicide note. Ms. D’Amore shared an Oscar nomination for her work on the movie "Forrest Gump." She also made a cameo appearance in the film. Ms. D’Amore was nominated for Emmy Awards three times, winning for the sex-change movie "Normal." Ms. D’Amore worked on nearly 50 films and TV shows. Her credits include "Steel Magnolias," "The Indian Runner," "Bugsy," "Apollo 13," "The Crossing Guard," "Runaway Bride," "The Princess Diaries," "We Were Soldiers," "xXx" and "Christmas With the Cranks." Richard D’Amore was a noted photographer. He studied his craft under photographer Walter Chappell in the 1960s. His work has been exhibited all over the world as well as published in numerous books and magazines. Mr. D’Amore’s work was also highly sought by many Hollywood celebrities such as Burt Lancaster, Sally Kellerman, Ann-Margret, Charlie Sheen," Robert Towne and Joan Cusack. Prayers of comfort for their family and friends.
MIKE EVANS Died Dec. 14, 2006
Actor/writer Mike Evans died of throat cancer at age 57. Mr. Evans was best known for playing the character Lionel Jefferson on the TV series "All in the Family" and its spin-off "The Jeffersons." Mr. Evans was also the co-creator of the hit TV series "Good Times." Mr. Evans played Lionel Jefferson on "All in the Family" from 1971 through 1975. He played the character during the first season of "The Jeffersons" but then left the show. Mr. Evans was replaced by actor Damon Evans for several seasons before returning to the show in 1979. Along with Eric Monte, Mr. Evans created the TV series "Good Times" which starred Esther Rolle, John Amos and Jimmie Walker. Mr. Evans also wrote over 20 episodes of the series.
Mike Evans other film and TV credits include "Walker: Texas Ranger," "The Voyage of the Yes," "Love, American Style," "Killer By Night," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Now You see Him, Now You Don’t," "The Practice" and the TV miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man."
ROBERT SCHAEFER Died Dec. 14, 2006
Writer Robert Schaefer died of emphysema at age 80. Mr. Schaefer wrote for a number of TV shows during the early days of TV. His credits include multiple episodes of "The Lone Ranger," "Lassie," "Annie Oakley," "The Adventures of Kit Carson," "The Gene Autry Show," "Maverick" and "Buffalo Bill Jr." Me. Schaefer also wrote an episode of "Highway to Heaven." Mr. Schaefer served his country in the US Navy during WWII.
RUDY SUTTON Died Dec. 14, 2006
Adult video exec Rudy Sutton died of COPD at age 83. Mr. Sutton helped rescue VCX Entertainment from bankruptcy during the 1980s to turn it into on of the most profitable distributors in the adult industry. VCX's more famous titles were "The Devil in Miss Jones," "Debbie Does Dallas" and the "Taboo" series. Mr. Sutton received a Special Thanks credit in the award-winning documentary "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes." Mr. Sutton served his country in the US Army/Air Corps during WWII.
SHAILA RUBIN Died Dec. 15, 2006
Emmy-nominated casting director Shaila Rubin died of cancer at age 71. Ms. Rubin was nominated for an Emmy award for the excellent biblical film "Jacob." Ms. Rubin’s credits as a casting agent or casting director include "The Nativity Story," "The Passion of the Christ," "Life is Beautiful," the remake of "Swept Away," "Heaven," "The Sopranos," "Titus," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Moses" and "Joseph."
MICHAEL COLICCHIO Died Dec. 15, 2006
Composer Michael Colicchio died at age 82. Mr. Colicchio scored "The Confession," which starred Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. He also scored "Brown Eye, Evil Eye" and "The Road Hustlers." Mr. Colicchio arranged the vocals on "Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July." According to IMDB, Mr. Colicchio also contributed the theme song to the non-porn sequel "Deep Throat: Part 2." Mr. Colicchio served his country in the US Army during WWI.
RICHARD BURNETT Died Dec. 15, 2006
Businessman turned actor Richard Burnett died at age 83. Mr. Burnett was the father of award-winning filmmaker Robert Burnett. He appeared in his son’s comedy "Free Enterprise." He also appeared in an episode of "Ed." Mr. Burnett served his country in the US Army during WWII.
BENDT REINER Died Dec. 16, 2006
Danish actor and drag queen Bendt Reiner died at age 78. In 1970 Mr. Bendt put on the first drag shows in Denmark He appeared in films and on TV. Mr. Bendt’s credits include "Mirror, Mirror," "Between the Sheets" and "Danish Escort Girls."
WARREN SPOTTSWOOD Died Dec. 16, 2006
Actor/musician/stand-up comedian Warren Spottswood died at age 61. He performed music on Bourbon Street and many other cities. Mr. Spottswood’s film and TV credits include "Light Blast," "Murder in the First" and "Midnight Caller."
ENRIC ARREDONDO Died Dec. 16, 2006
Spanish actor Enric Arredondo died of septic shock at age 66. Mr. Arredondo enjoyed success on stage as well as in films and TV. He appeared on numerous Spanish TV series beginning in the 1960s. Among his many credits is the TV miniseries "Cervantes."
AHMET ERTEGUN Died Dec. 16, 2006
Altantic Records founder died of a head injury at age 83. Mr. Ertegun fell backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in October. He suffered a serious brain injury and went into a coma. Mr. Ertegun founded Atlantic Records in 1947. He was also the founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mr. Ertegun was inducted as a non-performer into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was portrayed by actor Curtis Armstrong in the biopic "Ray."
DR. CHARLES CARTON Died Dec. 16, 2006
Neurosurgeon Charles Carton died of complications from a stroke at age 86. The noted surgeon developed innovative procedures from repairing blood vessel leaks in the brain. He gained fame outside the medical community when he performed a lifesaving operation of actress Patricia Neal following her stroke in 1965. Dr. Carton was the technical advisor on the Emmy-nominated TV movie "The Patricia Neal Story." Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson played Patricia Neal and actor Ken Kercheval portrayed Dr. Carton.
DENIS PAYTON Died Dec. 17, 2006
Rocker Denis Payton died of cancer at age 63. He is the second British Invasion musician to die this month. Mr. Payton was the saxophone player for the British invasion group "The Dave Clark Five." In 1964, only "The Beatles" outsold and outdrew "The Dave Clark Five." The band sold one million copies of records a month for six months in 1964. Their many hits included "Bits and Pieces," "Glad All Over" and "Catch Us If You Can." One of the joys of having older sisters and brothers during the early 1960s is that I was exposed firsthand to the British Invasion. "The Dave Clark Five" was my favorite bands during 1964 and 65. Didn’t care that the older kids were going crazy for "The Beatles," I loved the stomp and beat of the many hits put out by "The Dave Clark Five." Of course, they were eclipsed by the Fab Four, but the music still rocks. Oscar-nominated director John Boorman made his feature film debut directing "The Dave Clark Five" in the movie "Catch Us If You Can." The band also performed on a number of TV shows including "Shindig," "Beat Club" and "Tops of the Pops." My special thanks to famed Rock photographer Chris Walter for permission to use his great photo of "The Dave Clark Five" in this tribute. Mr. Payton is on the back row, far left in the 1964 photo of the band. To see more photos of "The Dave Clark Five" and many other great legends of the Rock era, CLICK HERE to visit Chris Walter’s excellent website Photofeatures.com.
KYOKO KISHIDA Died Dec. 17, 2006
Renowned Japanese actress Kyoko Kishida died of respiratory failure due to a brain tumor at age 76. Ms. Kishida played the title role in the classic 1964 Oscar-nominated film "Woman in the Dunes." The erotic and poetic tale received Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film and Best Director. Kyoko Kishida was honored three times in her native land with Best Supporting Actress awards. Ms. Kishida appeared in nearly 100 films during her career. She broke new ground in Japanese cinema in the 1964 film "Manji." In "Manji" Ms. Kishida played a bored housewife who begins a love affair with another woman. It was one of the earliest depictions of lesbianism in Japanese cinema. Ms. Kishida made 14 films with award-winning director Kon Ichikawa.
MICHEL BERNY Died Dec. 18, 2006
French film and TV writer/director Michel Berny died at age 61. Mr. Berny wrote and directed several TV movies including the miniseries "Billet Doux."
GWEN STITH Died Dec. 18, 2006
Drum majorette and dancer Gwen Stith died of natural causes at age 85. Ms. Stith was picked as the best drum majorette in California in 1937. She won a number of other pageants and competitions before being hired by MGM and Paramount. Ms. Stith performed with a trio of majorettes that also included Betty Atkinson and Maxine Conrad. They are pictured at right. Ms. Stith is in the center. Ms. Stith appeared in the Gene Autry film "Colorado Sunset." She was Judy Garkand’s drum majorette double in "Ziegfeld Girl." Ms. Stith also appeared in the film "Dark Horse." Ms. Stith ran a dance studio in San Pedro, California for over 30 years.
MAVOR MOORE Died Dec. 18, 2006
Canadian renaissance man Mavor Moore died at age 87. What didn’t Mavor Moore do? Mr. Moore was a prolific playwright, author, actor, teacher, television pioneer and influential patron of the arts in Canada. Mr. Moore served his country during WWII as a member of the Canadian military intelligence. Mr. Moore’s career in media included success in radio, TV and film. He wrote for the stage also. Mr. Moore wrote over 100 plays, documentaries and scripts. He was also a successful actor. Mr. Moore leant his vocal talents to the animated fantasy film "Heavy Metal." He appeared in one of my favorite horror films: David Cronenberg’s "Scanners."
IVOR BARRY Death announced Dec. 18, 2006
Welsh character actor Ivor Barry died of heart failure at age 87. Mr. Barry appeared in over 70 films and TV series during his lengthy career. Mr. Barry’s feature film appearances include Hitchcock’s "Under Capricorn," "The Lawyer," "The Andromeda Strain," "Herbie Rides Again," "Lost in the Stars," "The Island at the Top of the World," Mel Brooks’ "To Be or Not to Be," "Weird Science" and "Action Jackson." Mr. barry’s many TV appearances include "The Flying Nun," "Love on a Rooftop," "Judd for the Defense," "Green Acres," "Bewitched," "Mannix," "Mission Impossible," "Here’s Lucy," "McCloud," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Rockford Files," "Days of Our Lives," "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Punky Brewster."
JOSEPH BARBERA Died Dec. 19, 2006
Oscar-nominated producer/animator Joseph Barbera died of natural causes at age 95. Mr. Barbera was creative partner with the late William Hanna. The Hanna/Barbera company was responsible for such classic cartoon characters as "Tom and Jerry," "Yogi Bear," "The Flintstones," "Scooby-Doo," "The Jetsons," "Johnny Quest," "The Smurfs" and hundreds of others. Mr. Barbera and William Hanna shared two Best Short Subject Animated Oscar nominations for "One Droopy Knight" and "Good Will to Men." Fred Quimby also shared in the nomination of "Good Will to Men." Joseph Barbera also received eight Emmy awards including one for the live action TV movie "The Gathering." The cartoon series they created for MGM: "Tom and Jerry" won the studio seven Oscars.
Joseph Barbera directed over 200 animated shorts and films during his career. He and William Hanna first teamed up in the 1930s. The two men worked in the animation department of MGM. After years with MGM, the men began their own production company. There is not a baby boomer alive whose life was not touched by Hanna/Barbera cartoons.
Joseph Barbera began his career as a magazine cartoonist. He joined MGM in 1936.He teamed up with William Hanna in 1938. Their first project together was the first "Tom and Jerry" cartoon. It earned the first of 14 Oscar nominations the animated series would receive. In 1955 the team was put in charge of the MGM animation department. Two years later MGM closed down the animation division and the pair went into business for themselves.
KIMBERLY ROSS Died Dec. 19, 2006
Former actress turned award-winning photographer Kimberly Ross died of undisclosed causes at age 47. Ms. Ross appeared in the films "Pumpinhead," "The Last Starfighter" and "Nightmare at Noon." Ms. Ross played Lana Wood’s daughter in the TV series "Capitol." Her other TV credits include "Charles in Charge," "Dallas" and "The A-Team." Ms. Ross founded Kimberly Ross Photography 11 years ago. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends, especially daughter Mercedes.
MAJ-BRITT NILSSON Died Dec. 19, 2006
Swedish actress Maj-Britt Nilsson died a week after her 82nd birthday. Ms. Nilsson was one of the premiere stage actresses in her native country. She studied at the Royal Dramatic Theater school in Stockholm and made her breakthrough on stage in 1948. Ms. Nilsson is known to fans of director Ingmar Bergman for her work in three of his films. Her first collaboration with Mr. Bergman was in the 1950 tragic love story "To Joy." She co-starred with Stig Olin as a young married couple. Still a powerful film, and a special treat for Beethoven fans. The following year, Ms. Nilsson starred in another tragic/love story for Bergman: "Summer Interlude." This time, Ms. Nilsson played a ballerina in love with a student. In 1952 she joined an ensemble cast of women for Bergman's comedy "Secrets of Women." For lack of a better term, a Swedish 'chick flick' in which four sisters talk about their lives with their husbands. Ms. Nilsson appeared in nearly 30 films and TV shows during her career. As the 1950s ended, she shied from the cameras and concentrated on her successful stage career. She was married to stage director Per Gerhard.
JOHN BISHOP Died Dec. 20, 2006
Writer John Bishop died of cancer at age 77. Mr. Bishop wrote and directed an number of stage plays. His work was produced on Broadway. Mr. Bishop wrote the films "The Package" and "Drop Zone." "The Package" starred Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones. He co-wrote "Drop Zone" with Peter Barsochinni. Mr. Bishop worked as an uncredited script doctor for Paramount Studios during the 1990s.
LOIS HALL Died Dec, 21, 2006
Actress Lois Hall died at age 80 after a short illness. Ms. Hall’s film career began in 1948 in the Cary Grant film "Every Girl Should Be Married." She was on location in New Orleans working in the upcoming Brad Pitt film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" when she fell ill. Ms. Hall was best known for her work in many Western films made at Republic Studios. She appeared in nearly 70 films and TV shows during her lengthy career. Ms. Hall’s credits include "Love Happy" with the Marx Brothers, "Kill the Umpire" with William Bendix, the 1950 film "My Blue Heaven," the "Studio One" production of "Little Women," the 1952 film "Carrie," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Little House on the Prairie," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Dead Again," the remake of "Gone in 60 Seconds," "CSI," "Nip/Tuck," "Flightplan" and "The Unit."
PETER SPELSON Died Dec. 21, 2006
Chicago filmmaker Peter Spelson died at age 75. Mr. Spelson’s 1980 indie "The Psychotronic Man" is a film held dear by lovers of ‘bad cinema’ The movie’s title word Psychotronic has come to be used to mean any movie that is weird or bizarre. "The Psychotronic Video Guide" took its name from Mr. Spelson’s infamous film. The movie dealt with a man (played by Mr. Spelson) who could kill people just by blinking. Peter Spelson served his country in the US Army during the Korean War.
JOHN A. WILLIAMS Died Dec. 21, 2006
Emmy-nominated sound editor John A. Williams died at age 39. Mr. Williams was nominated for an Emmy for his work on "The Pretender." He was nominated for four Golden Reel Awards in 2000 for his work on "Storm of the Century," "Lansky," "Harsh Realm" and "Witness Protection." Mr. Williams other credits include "Black Hawk Down" and "The Bourne Identity."
PHILLIP PINE Died Dec. 22, 2006
Prolific character actor Phillip Pine died at age 86. Mr. Pine appeared in nearly 150 films and TV shows. He also wrote, produced and directed three indie films in the early 1970s. Among the many films and TV shows in which Mr. Pine appeared are the original version of "D.O.A.," "Gunsmoke," "The Big Fisherman," "Rawhide," "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Wagon Train," "Peter Gunn," "The Untouchables," "The Twilight Zone," "77 Sunset Strip," "Perry Mason," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Get Smart," "The Wild, Wild West," "The Fugitive," "The Invaders," "Star Trek," "Mission Impossible," "Hook, Line and Sinker," "Hawaii 5-0," "Ironside," "The Rookies," "Police Story," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Happy Days" and "Hill Street Blues."
JOHN FEENEY Died Dec. 23, 2006
New Zealand filmmaker John Feeney died at age 84. Mr. Feeney wrote and directed a number of documentary and short films. He was also a noted photographer. Mr. Feeney’s 1958 documentary "The Living Stone" was nominated for a Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar. Mr. Feeney served his country in the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve during WWII. He saw combat on June 6, 1944 taking part in the D-Day landings.
RICHARD MORGAN Died Dec. 23, 2006
Australian actor Richard Morgan died of a motor neuron disease at age 48. Mr. Morgan co-starred in the international hit film "Phar Lap." Mr. Morgan was a TV star in his native land long before the success of "Phar Lap." He played the youngest son on the hit TV series "The Sullivans." The award-winning period drama ran from 1976 through 1983. Mr. Morgan also starred in the Austrailian TV series "Sons and Daughters." His film credits include "Farewell to the King" with Nick Nolte and "Outback Vampires."
CHARLIE DRAKE Died Dec. 23, 2006
British actor/writer Charlie Drake died of a stroke at age 81. Mr. Drake gained popularity as a TV star in England during the 1950s. He later branched out into film. He wrote and starred in the films "Sands of the Desert," "Mr. Ten Per Cent," "Petticoat Pirates" and "The Breaksman." Other acting credits include the miniseries "Bleak House." He starred in two TV series called "The Charlie Drake Show."
TIM TOBIAS Died Dec. 23, 2006
Composer Tim Tobias died of cancer at age 54. Mr. Tobias scored the movie "Medium Rare." He also contributed music to the soundtracks of the feature film version of "Fame," "The Sandlot," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "The Flintstones." Mr. Tobias was a jazz composer who released a number of albums including "Transcention."
EDGAR SMALL Died Dec. 23, 2006
Actor/producer/talent agent Edgar Small died of lung cancer at age 83. Mr. Small began acting on stage and also worked in film. He appeared in "The Window" in 1948. Mr. Small later worked as a production assistant during the 1950s and 60s. He produced the TV movie "Children of the Lotus Eaters." The TV movie was turned into the TV series "The Psychiatrist." Mr. Small later followed in his Father Paul Small's footsteps. Paul Small was a noted talent agent. Following his father's death, Edgar Small stepped into the family business.
IRENE WESTON Died Dec. 24, 2006
Former Broadway actress/teacher Irene Weston died at age 79. Ms. Weston was a member of the original cast of "Guys and Dolls" on Broadway. She taught drama at the Berkshire School for 25 years. Ms. Weston was once married to sexploitation filmmaker Joe Sarno. She worked on several of her ex-husbands nudie films during the early 1060s. She was a costume designer on the lost film "Lash of Lust" as well as "Warm Nights and Hot Pleasures" and "Pandora’s Magic Box." She was a production coordinator on Sarno’s "Sin in the Suburbs."
JAMES BROWN Died Dec. 25, 2006
Grammy-winning singer James Brown died at age 73. Though Mr. Brown had been suffering from pneumonia, no cause of death has yet been released. James Brown belongs among the top ranks of influential musicians from the last 60 years. What Chuck Berry and The Beatles were to Rock and Roll, what Bob Dylan was to Folk music, James Brown was to Soul, Funk, Disco and their offspring Rap. He was one of the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. James Brown’s passion in performance earned him the well-deserved moniker ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.’ The self-proclaimed ‘Godfather of Soul’ riveted generations with his sweaty on stage performances. In many regards you could say that Brown’s stage persona was also influential to many professional wrestlers also! I remember James Brown finishing a set…staggering as if he was totally exhausted. His aide would come and put a cape over his shoulders. Suddenly James Brown would throw off the cape as if renewed from some unseen well of energy. He would spring back onstage like a lion ready to move in for the kill. James Brown came from abject poverty and worked his way to the top of the world. He was a survivor: overcoming racism, personal tragedy and his own self-destructive habits. Through all his travails James Brown’s fan base never deserted him. He had that same quality that Robert Mitchum possessed. James Brown made it through the bad times with an inner dignity and pride that was admirable.
James Brown’s many hit records include the landmark "Say It Out Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud," "Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag," "It’s a Man’s Man’s World," "Sex Machine," "Living in America," "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and many others. James Brown’s onstage passion sometimes left you wondering just what he had sung. The words seemed to come faster than our mind could comprehend. His delivery style became the brunt of jokes by several comedians, most notably by Eddie Murphy. Of course it was done with all due respect. Maybe James Brown was in on the joke too. He certainly didn’t mind the fun.
My first visual introduction to James Brown was at a church overnight in the 7th grade. They showed us the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movie "Ski Party." Typical white bread entertainment from the era. That was until some guy in a Ski Ranger parka broke into the kids party, threw off his snow gear and broke into the song "I Feel Good." Of all the cameos by musicians in any of the ‘Beach’ movies, James Brown’s performance in "Ski Party" was the best. He mesmerized in a relatively tame performance. I never missed an opportunity to see his on TV after that.
So influential and enjoyable was his music that it can be found on the soundtracks of over 100 feature films. Not just American films. His music appears on the soundtracks of many European films as well.
Many concert clips of James Brown remain to remind us of his on-stage charisma and energy. They include such films and TV shows as "The T.A.M.I Show," "James Brown Live From the House of Blues," "The Tonight Show," "Soul Train," "Beat Club" and "Shindig!" James Brown also acted in several films. His acting credits include "The Blues Brothers," "Doctor Detroit," "Rocky IV" and "The Blues Brothers 2000."
GERALD RUDOLPH FORD Died Dec. 26, 2006
Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States died at age 93. Gerald Ford was the only person in American history to hold the offices of President and Vice-President without being elected to either. He was the longest living President in American history. Gerald Ford was chosen by President Richard Nixon as Vice-President following the resignation of Spiro Agnew during a bribery scandal in Maryland. President Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in his 1976 bid to be elected as President. Despite his short term in office, Gerald Ford accomplished the important goal of helping the nation to heal from the one-two punch of Watergate and the Vietnam War. He was ridiculed and vilified in some quarters for pardoning former President Nixon, but history has shown that by doing so, Gerald Ford hastened the healing of America’s wounds. Gerald Ford served in Congress for 25 years. He was the House Minority Leader during his final eight years in congress.
President Ford was also the last surviving member of the Warren Commission, established to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. He too would be the target of an assassin’s bullet on two occasions. Charles Manson follower Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme drew a gun on President Ford on September 5, 1975. A secret service agent stuck his hand between the firing pin and the bullet just as she pulled the trigger. On September 22, 2005 Sarah Jane Moore fired a single shot from a .38 caliber handgun as the President left the Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Ford’s life was saved by a bystander who grabbed Ms. Moore’s arm before she could fully raise the weapon.
Gerald Ford played on the University of Michigan’s national championship football teams in the early 1930s. He graduated from the Yale Law School. Gerald Ford served his country as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy during WWII. He served in the Pacific Theater of war. Despite Gerald Ford’s athletic prowess, his time in the White House was marked by several well-publicized missteps. He fell for the cameras on a number of occasions including a fall down the steps of Air Force One’s gangway. The press used these events to portray Ford as a klutz and slow-witted. Chevy Chase launched his career by portraying Ford the klutz on "Saturday Night Live." President Ford had to appreciate the humor because he actually announced the opening of the season one episode of "Saturday Night Live" when his press secretary Ron Nessen hosted the program. As a star on two national championship football teams and a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Michigan and a Yale Law graduate, Gerald Ford was neither clumsy nor stupid. As a true klutz myself, I empathized with President Ford and grew to like him because of these mishaps. I cast my first vote at age 18 for President Ford in his unsuccessful race against Jimmy Carter.
Gerald Ford was married to one of the most beloved First Lady’s in US History. Gerald and Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Ford were married in 1948. Betty Ford was admired for openness and honesty concerning her battles with both breast cancer and also drug and alcohol addiction. Actress Gena Rowlands won an Emmy for her portrayal of Betty Ford in "The Betty Ford Story." The Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage California is one of the leading medical facilities in the country, which deals with addiction problems. The couple had four children: Michael, Steven, Susan and John. Son Steven Ford became and actor and has appeared in nearly 40 films including "Black Hawk Down."
Gerald Ford appeared in a number of documentary films and TV shows including "The Men Who Killed Kennedy," "The Fall of Saigon" and "The American President." President Ford appeared through archived footage in a number of feature films including "All the President’s Men," "Network," "Forrest Gump" and "Nixon." President Ford has been portrayed by a number of actors in various films and TV shows including Chevy Chase, Corbin Bernsen, Josef Sommer, Joe Stokes and Drew Snyder.
Upon taking the office of the President of the United States, Gerald Ford announced that "Our long national nightmare is over." That nightmare was over. Many more face us in the future. Here’s hoping that another man with the intelligence and honesty of a Gerald Ford may rise up to help our country face current nightmares. Thank you for your service to your country.
(All photos courtesy of The Gerald R. Ford Library)
ANDI ENGEL Died Dec. 26, 2006
German film distributor and director Andi Engel died. His age was not given. Mr. Engel wrote and directed the 1989 film "Melancholia," which starred Jerome Krabbe. Mr. Engel won the British Evening Standard Film Award as Most Promising Newcomer for directing the film. After winning the award, Mr. Engel never directed another film!
ROBERT LIBOTT Died Dec. 26, 2006
Screenwriter turned attorney Robert Libott died a week after his 84th birthday. Mr. Libott wrote for the stage, screen and TV. His many credits include "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Flame of Youth," "Wagon Train," "Zane Grey Theater" and "The Untouchables." Mr. Libott became a lawyer in the 1960s and enjoyed a 30-year career at the Bar.
ANNA NAVARRO Died Dec. 27, 2006
Actress Anna Navarro died at age 73. Ms. Navarro's acting career began in the early 1950s and she continued working until the late 1990s. She may be best remembered for her performance as the doomed spy Carlotta Mendoza in Alfred Hitchcock's Cold-War thriller "Topaz." Her character was captured by the Cuban communists and tortured to death along with her husband. It was one of the few memorable parts of the otherwise disappointing film from the master of suspense. Anna Navarro's other film credits include Frank Sinatra's "The First Deadly Sin" and Gov. Schwarzenegger's "The Last Action Hero." Most of Ms. Navarro's work was on TV. She appeared in nearly every major TV series from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s. "CHiPs" fans will remember Ms. Navarro for her role as Eric Estrada's mother! She was also a frequent guest star on the long-running series "Bonanza." Ms. Navarro's many other TV credits include "Perry Mason," "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Gunsmoke," "Family Affair," "The Mod Squad," "Ironside," "Marcus Welby M.D.," "Barnaby Jones," "Hunter" and "Walker: Texas Ranger." Special thanks to Ms. Navarro's son, noted L.A. photographer Tommy Francis and daughter Maria for the beautiful picture of their mother. Friends of the family and fans of Ms. Navarro may contact her son Tommy and daughter Maria by CLICKING HERE to be taken to Mr. Francis's website Class A Photography.
RON MITCHELL Died Dec. 27, 2006
Award-winning producer Ron Mitchell died of lymphoma at age 69. Mr. Mitchell won a DGA Award for the TV series "Picket Fences." Mr. Mitchell produced such films and TV shows as "C.S.I.," "Witchboard," the TV series "Alien Nation," "Halloweentown" and "If Looks Could Kill." Mr. Mitchell was a production manager on many of the same films and TV shows he produced.
PIERRE DELANOE Died Dec. 27, 2006
French composer Pierre Delanoe died of heart failure at age 88. Mr. Delanoe wrote nearly 5000 songs during his career. He wrote the 1969 hit "Les Champs Elysees." Mr. Delanoe’s music has been used in such films as "The Color of Money," "Bye Bye Love," "The Story of O," "It Came From the Sky" and "Bluebird."
KATHRYN TRASK Died Dec. 27, 2006
Actress and activist Kathryn Trask died at age 76. She was very active in the Bay Area theater scene for 50 years. Ms. Trask appeared in the excellent divorce drama "Shoot the Moon." Other credits include "Midnight Caller" and "Hard Traveling."
JAMES ANDELIN Died Dec. 27, 2006
Chicago actor James Andelin died at age 89. Mr. Andelin was a noted actor in the Chicago theater scene. He began acting as a child on radio. Mr. Andelin appeared in a number of films including "Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy," "The Babe," "Rookie of the Year," "Field of Dreams," "Grumpier Old Men" and "Madison."
PETER TURNER Died Dec. 27, 2006
Agent Peter Turner died of natural causes at age 59. Mr. Turner was the founder of the Peter Turner Agency. In addition to his long career as a talent agent, Mr. Turner worked behind the scenes in TV. He appeared in a cameo as a TV reporter in the comedy "Boogievision."
NEAL WHEELER Died Dec. 28, 2006
Utah actor/stuntman/businessman Neal Wheeler died of lung cancer at age 70. Mr. Wheeler was a member of the Utah Stuntman Association. He appeared in the Wings Hauser sci-fi/ horror film "Nightmare At Noon."
JARED NATHAN Died Dec. 28, 2006
Former child actor Jared Nathan was killed in a car crash. The 19-year-old Julliard student was riding with two friends when the car ran off the rode and struck a tree. The driver has been charged with felony DUI. Mr. Nathan was part of the original cast of the PBS children’s TV show "Zoom." He had also acted in regional theater in New England. Mr. Nathan was in his second year at the Julliard School. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.
ANNE-MARIE CARRIERE Died Dec. 28, 2006
French actress and cabaret entertainer Anne-Marie Carriere died in a French hospital at age 81. Ms. Carriere was a popular cabaret artist in France during the 1960s. She was known for her good-natured humor as she portrayed a multitude of comedic characters. She appeared in several films and TV shows during the 1960s and early 70.
AROLDO TIERI Died Dec. 28, 2006
Italian actor Aroldo Tieri died at age 89. Mr. Tieri worked in film, on stage, TV and radio. He was married to actress Giuliana Lojodice. Mr. Tieri appeared in over 100 films during a career that began in the 1930s. His credits include "Messalina," "No Man’s Land," "Two Against All," "The Maniacs," "Salome ‘73" and "Nero Wolfe." He and his wife founded a theater company in the 1960s and performed together through the 1990s.
PRESCOTT WRIGHT Died Dec. 28, 2006
Director Prescott Wright died of Pick's Disease at age 71. Pick's Disease is another name for Frontotemporal Dementia. Mr. Wright was the founder of the Ottowa Animation Festival as well as the producer of the Tournee of Animation. Mr. Wright directed the documentary film "The Animators."
DEAN TURNER Died Dec. 28, 2006
Stage and screen actor Dean Turner died of respiratory failure at age 84. Mr. Turner appeared on Broadway in "Lute Song." He was Yul Brynner's understudy. Mr. Turner's film and TV credits include "Magnum P.I.," the true-crime miniseries "Blood and Orchids" and "Hawaiian Dream." Mr. Turner did voice work for the English version of some Japanese animes including "Nowaru," "Gasaraki" and "Excellent Saga."
RAY DANNIS Died Dec. 28, 2006
Actor Ray Dannis died after a short illness. His age was not given. Ray Dannis appeared in some of the worst films of all time. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Bad films have a special place in the hearts of many film fans. Where would "Mystery Science Theater 3000" be without bad films? No where my friend. So pop open a can of Milwaukee's Finest, and drink a toast to Ray Dannis. The crowning achievement of Mr. Dannis' career was the horror comedy "The Undertaker and His Pals." With a running time of just over an hour, "The Undertaker and His Pals" does achieve that 'so bad its good' status. The same can't be said for a number of his other films Mr. Dannis appeared in. Those include "The Corpse Grinders," "The Severed Arm," "The Black Klansman" and "Coed Dorm." Other credits include "The Chapman Report," "Perry Mason," "The Young Swingers" and "Raiders From Beneath the Sea." Ray Dannis was remembered by his long-time friend, CHicago private detective Paul Huebl: "Ray Dannis touched every person's heart and soul he ever met in an incredibly positive way. We miss Ray, but know he's entertaining and delighting folks in the hereafter." Ray Dannis served his country in the military during WWII.
NICHOLAS MYERS Died Dec. 28, 2006
Music editor Nicholas Myers died at age 64. He was nominated for a Golden Reel Award for his work on the movie "Drumline." Mr. Myers credits include "Sleepless in Seattle," "Carlito's Way" and "The Devil Wears Prada."
ALFONSE DELUCA Died Dec. 29, 2006
Florida actor Alfonse Deluca died at age 70. Mr. Deluca appeared on the TV series "Miami Vice" as well as the films "Easy Money" and "Smokey & the Bandit."
JACK WINTER Died Dec. 29, 2006
Writer Jack Winter died at age 69. Mr. Winter wrote for a number of TV series including "The Jackie Gleason Show," "The Monkees," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Love American Style," "Laverne and Shirley" and "The Odd Couple." He received Thanks for his help on the scripts "Big" and "Awakenings." Mr. Winter's entry at IMDB is yet another case of misinformation with his credits mixed in with those of a foreign art director from the silent film era.
SADDAM HUSSEIN Died Dec. 30, 2006
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was executed from his crimes against humanity. The deposed dictator was hung by the authority of the new Iraqi government less than 60 days after he was convicted of killing 148 men and boys. Though he did not live long enough to be tried for other crimes, it is believed that Hussein ordered the killings of hundreds of thousands of his own people during his 25-year reign of terror. Hussein was unrepentant as he was lead to the gallows. Hopefully his execution may bring some solace to the survivors of his many victims. The folks at "South Park" often portrayed Saddam as the Devil’s love toy in Hell. Only God himself knows if that is the dictator’s fate. Saddam Hussein was the subject of numerous documentary films. He wrote a novel called "The Long Days" which was a thinly veiled autobiography. The book was turned into a 6-hour film in 1980. British director Terrence Young (Dr. No, Thunderball, From Russia With Love) was commissioned by the Iraqi government to edit the film. He is given a co-director’s credit on the film for his contributions.
LIONEL FERBOS JR. Died Dec. 30, 2006
Actor Lionel Ferbos Jr. died two days shy of his 68th birthday. Mr. Ferbos was a business owner, a biologist and an actor! He appeared in Clint Eastwood's police thriller "Tightrope." Other credits include "Storyville," "The Baltimore Bullet" and "French Quarter Undercover."
FRANK CAMPANELLA Died Dec. 30, 2006
Prolific character actor Frank Campanella died at age 87. He was the brother of actor Joseph Campanella. Frank Campanella appeared in over 100 films and TV shows. He was known for playing the Heavy. Mr. Campanella's many film credits include "Somebody Up There Likes Me," "Seconds," "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," "The Stone Killer," the Ben Gazzara version of "Capone," "Chesty Anderson USN," "High Anxiety," Warren Beatty's "Heaven Can Wait," "The North Avenue Irregulars," "Death Wish II," "Young Doctors In Love," "The Flamingo Kid," "Overboard," "Beaches," "Frankie and Johnny," "Pretty Woman," "Dick Tracy," "Exit to Eden" and "Raising Helen."
Frank Campanella appeared on TV show going back the 1949 show "Captain Video and His Video Rangers." His notable TV appearances include "Studio One," "Naked City," "Car 54, Where Are You?," "Route 66," "The Defenders," "Mission Impossible," "The Wild, Wild West," "Mannix," "Room 222," "The Virginian," "Adam-12," "Medical Center," "The F.B.I.," "Ironside," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," "All in the Family," "Kojak," "The Love Boat" and "St. Elsewhere."
The brothers Campanella worked together on the TV shows "The Rockford Files," "Mannix" and "Death at the Stock Car Races." Frank Campanella served his country during WWII as a civilian interpreter. Mr. Campanella helped Robert DeNiro perfect his Sicilian accent to play Don Corleone in "The Godfather Part II."
JUDY GEORGE Died Dec. 31, 2007
TV writer Judy George died of cancer at age 74. Ms. George was married to writer George W. George. The pair wrote together for a number of TV series. Ms. George's credits include "The Rifleman," "Peter Gunn," "Bonanza" and "Combat!"
JANIE KLEIMAN Died Dec. 31, 2006
TV exec Janie Klieman died of ovarian cancer at age 50. Ms. Klieman was a 20+ year veteran of the TV industry. She help executive posts at Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Viacom. Isn't it time we cured ovarian cancer? Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.