Tuesday, April 16, 2013

January 2008 Film World Obituaries


Bill Bonanno, the son of the late Mafia boss Joe Bonanno died of a heart attack at age 75. Mr. Bonanno followed his father into the Family business and like his father, he was able to leave the Family business behind him. Mr. Bonanno was the subject of Gay Talese's book "Honor Thy Father." Actor Joseph Bologna portrayed Bill Bonanno in the TV movie version of the book. Mr. Bonanno wrote a book about his father's life called "Bound By Honor: A Mafioso's Story." The book was turned into the TV movie "Bonanno: A Godfather's Story" which Mr. Bonanno produced. His father was portrayed by three actors in the film including Martin Landau. Actor Costas Mandylor played Bill Bonanno. Mr. Bonanno's wife Rosalie was the daughter of Mafia boss Joseph Profaci. Her book "Mafia Marriage" was turned into the TV miniseries "Love, Honor & Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage." Actor Eric Roberts portrayed her late husband in that film.

PETER CAFFREY Died Jan. 1, 2008

Irish actor Peter Caffrey died at age 58 after a period of illness. Mr. Caffrey suffered a stroke in 2000. Mr. Caffrey was a regular on the TV series "Ballykissangel." He had a supporting role in Neil Jordon's crime thriller "Angel." Mr. Caffrey appeared in nearly 30 films and TV shows during his career.

MAE BELLE NUTT Died Jan. 1, 2008

Medicinal marijuana advocate Mae Belle Nutt died at age 86. Ms. Nutt was instrumental in the passage of the first medical marijuana legalization bill in 1979. She became involved in the cause after she witnessed how marijuana reduced the effects of nausea caused by chemotherapy as her own son died of cancer. Ms. Nutt is featured in the 2005 award-winning documentary film "Waiting to Inhale."

GINA LOUISE Died Jan. 1, 2008

Hairstylist Gina Louise died at age 36. She worked on the movies "Playing Mona Lisa" and "Around the Fire." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends, especially her son Riley.

GUNTHER SCHUBERT Died Jan. 2, 2008

German actor Gunther Schubert died of cancer at age 69. Mr. Schubert was a popular TV actor in East Germany and made feature films under DEFA. He appeared in the Red Western "The Sons of Great Bear." This film was part of a popular series of socialist themed Westerns in which the Native American Indians were the heroes and the whites were the badguys. Mr. Schubert was best known for his work in such TV series as "Mona M" and "Elbflorenz." Mr. Schubert narrated a 1996 documentary about the long-running crime-comedy film series "The Olsen Gang."

WALLY HIGH Died Jan. 2, 2008

Canadian musician and actor Wally High died of cancer at age 59. Mr. High served as Dan Aykroyd's bodyguard when the actor was in Kingston, Ontario. Mr. High appeared in the films "Blues Brothers 2000" and "Rainbow."

HERBERT SWOPE JR. Died Jan. 2, 2008

Producer director Herbert Swope died of natural causes at age 92. He was the father of actress Tracey Swope. Mr. Swope was the son of Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Herbert Swope Sr. Mr. Swope was a producer and director during the early days of TV. His credits include "Lights Out," "Climax," "Five Fingers" and "The Fiend Who Walked the West."


Writer George MacDonald Fraser died at age 82. Mr. Fraser was the author of the popular Sir Harry Flashman series of books. His hero was a rogue and a scoundrel who always seemed to come out on top of every situation. The 11 "Flashman" books saw Sir Harry make his way through many historical events and into the hearts of readers worldwide. Only one of the "Flashman" books was turned into a film. Richard Lester directed "Royal Flash" which starred Malcolm McDowell as Sir Harry. Unfortunately the film did not capture the magic of the book. This was a shock as director Richard Lester and Mr. Fraser had collaborated on the classic "The Three Musketeers" and "The Four Musketeers" just prior to "Royal Flash." Mr. Fraser's scripts for the Dumas films resounded with the humor for which his "Flashman" books were known. Mr. Fraser's other screenwriting credits include "Crossed Swords," "Red Sonja," the James Bond film "Octopussy" and "The Return of the Musketeers." George MacDonald Fraser served his country in the Army during WWII. He was appointed OBE in 1999.

BRICE MACK Died Jan. 2, 2008

Animation background artist turned director and producer Brice Mack died at age 92. Mr. Mack was the father of Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Kevin Scott Mack. Mr. Mack provided backgrounds for many of Disney's great classics. His many credits include "Fantasia," "Pinocchio," the sadly neglected "Song of the South," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan" and "Lady and the Tramp." Mr. Mack was the executive in charge of production on Curtis Harrington's 1977 horror film "Ruby." Mr. Mack directed his own horror film "Jennifer" the following year. Mr. Mack's wife was the model for Disney's Tinkerbell! His son Kevin is an Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack. Mr. Mack served his country in the US Army-Air Corp during WWII.


Russian film star Aleksandr Abdulov died of lung cancer at age 54. Mr. Abdulov's career included over 120 film roles. Despite his refusal to take part in Communist propaganda, Mr. Abdulov remained one of the nations most popular film stars. He was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Nika Award for the 1991 film "The House Under the Starry Sky." In 2007 Mr. Abdulov received the Order of National Merit from Vladimir Putin. Mr. Abdulov's many credits include "The Scarlet Flower," the biopic "A Moment Decides Everything," "The Woman in White," Chekhov's "The Kiss," "Gold" opposite Franco Nero and "Leningrad" opposite Gabriel Byrne and Mira Sorvino.

NATASHA COLLINS Died Jan. 3, 2008

British TV hostess Natasha Collins was found dead in her bath at age 31. A coroner's inquest returned a verdict of misadventure. Her body contained a large amount of cocaine and 60% of her body was covered with scalds. Ms. Collins credits include "The 10th Kingdom" and "Real Women II." She was the fiancée of Mark Speight, the host of the children's TV show "SMart!." He boyfriend was arrested and charged with suspicion murder for supplying her with the cocaine. The charges were later dropped. Mr. Speight committed suicide in April of 2008. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.

JACK ARANSON Died Jan. 3, 2008

Actor Jack Aranson died of pneumonia at age 83. Mr. Aranson was a respected theater actor and director. He was best known for his one-man-show "Moby Dick." The stage show was filmed in 1978. He appeared in the "Lindemann's Catch" episode of Rod Serling's TV series "Night Gallery." Other credits include "Murder in Eden" and "Interstate 84." Mr. Aranson served his country in the US Navy during WWII.

CLAUDE WHATHAM Died Jan. 4, 2008

British director Claude Whatham died at age 80. Mr. Whatham worked primarily in TV but did helm several feature films. Mr. Whatham directed the 1973 film "That'll Be the Day," which starred David Essex and Ringo Starr. Set in the late 1950s "That'll Be the Day" told the tale of a high school grad who tries to 'find himself.' David Essex plays Jim MacLaine, a man with dreams of becoming a rock star. Those dreams are fulfilled in the film's sequel "Stardust," which was directed by Michael Apted. Mr. Whatham was nominated for two BAFTAs for directing the TV shows "Cider With Rosie" and "A Voyage Round My Father." He received the Australian Film Institute's Best Director nomination for the 1981 crime film "Hoodwink."

MARIANNE KIEFER Died Jan. 4, 2008

German actress Marianne Kiefer died at age 79. Ms. Kiefer was a popular TV actress in her native land. She had a recurring role on the TV series "Three Lovely Sisters." Ms. Kiefer also enjoyed success on the stage in Germany.

MORT GARSON Died Jan. 4, 2008

Composer Mort Garson died of kidney failure at age 83. Mr. Garson co-wrote the hit song "Our Day Will Come." His biggest contributions to the world of music was fusing the Moog synthesizer with traditional orchestral instruments. He recorded several well-respected albums of his Moog music during the 1960s and 70s. Mr. Garson's music was used by CBS news to accent the visual images during their coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Mr. Garson's work can be heard in such films as "More American Graffiti," "Grease 2," "Love Field" and "Beware! The Blob."

MARITZA EISEN Died Jan. 4, 2008

Former extra and actress Maritza Eisen died of cancer at age 65. Ms. Eisen worked in Hollywood for a six-year period during the 1960s. She appeared in "Lost in Space." Ms. Eisen was one of the two girls sitting next to Paul Newman in the fake photo he sent to the guys in prison after his escape in the classic film "Cool Hand Luke." Ms. Eisen is the blond to Mr. Newman's left in the picture included in this tribute. Ms. Eisen gave up acting to study interior design.


Art director Edward Richardson died of lung cancer at age 63. Mr. Richardson worked on such films as Brian DePalma's "Scarface," "American Gigolo," the remake of "The Cat People," "Blaze," "Toys" and "Avalon." Mr. Richardson began his career as an associate art director on Terrence Malick's classic "Badlands." He was also an associate art director on Mel Brooks "High Anxiety."

EDWARD KLOSINSKI Died Jan. 5, 2008

Award-winning cinematographer Edward Klosinski died of lung cancer at age 65. Mr. Klosinski shot over 70 films. He lenses and also collaborated on the script of "Three Colors: White." Mr. Klosinski collaborated with director Andrzej Wajda on ten films including "The Promised Land," "Man of Iron" and "Man of Marble." Other credits include Lars Von Trier's "Europa." His work on "Europa" earned Mr. Klosinski the Best Cinematography award at the Sitges International Film Festival. He won the same award at the Berlin International Film Festival for the film "Gloomy Sunday."

ARTHUR KOULIAS Died Jan. 6, 2008

Actor Art Koulias died at home in Los Angeles at age 88. Mr. Koulias appeared in the TV shows "Apple's Way," "Mission: Impossible" and "The Wild Wild West." His film credits include the Dean Martin film "The Silencers" and "The Naked Road." Mr. Koulias served his country as a medic during WWII. He was decorated for his service under fire. Mr. Koulias was wounded in The Battle of the Bulge. Thanks for your service to your country.

LYAL BROWN Died Jan. 6, 2008

Canadian writer Lyal Brown died at age 78. Mr. Brown created and wrote the TV series "Ritter's Cove." Other credits include "The Albertans," "The Beachcombers," "A Terrible Beauty Is Born," "Getting Married in Buffalo Jump" and "Bordertown."

JOSEPH HANNAN Died Jan. 7, 2008

Author Joseph Hannon died at age 84. Mr. Hannan wrote the book 1961 "Never Tease a Dinosaur." The book dealt with his experiences as an elementary school teacher in the 1950s. His observation of a man working in what was then a mainly woman's job. The book was the basis for the 1964 "Vacation Playhouse" TV pilot "Hey, Teacher." Dwayne Hickman starred as Mr. Hannan. Mr. Hannan served his country in the US Coast Guard during WWII.

BILL BELEW Died Jan. 7, 2008

Costume designer Bill Belew died of diabetes at age 76. Mr. Belew was the man who dressed The King. He created many of Elvis Presley's stage costumes including the black leather outfit worn on his 1968 comeback TV special "Elvis." Other film and TV credits include "Elvis: One Night With You," "Elvis, That's the Way It Is," "Fridays," "Santa Barbara" and "Miracle Mile." Mr. Belew was nominated for an Emmy award for the TV special "The Carpenters: Music, Music, Music."

CLYDE OTIS Died Jan. 8, 2008

Composer and record company executive Clyde Otis died at age 83. Mr. Otis was a pioneer for Black American businessmen in that he became an executive with Mercury Records during the 1950s. Clyde Otis is credited with writing or co-writing over 800 songs. He wrote such hits as "The Stroll," "(Baby) You've Got What it Takes" and "It's Just a Matter of Time." Mr. Otis' work can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as "American Graffiti," "Blue Sky" and "Boogie Nights."

JOHNNY GRANT Died Jan. 9, 2008

Johnny Grant, actor, TV host and the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood died of natural causes at age 84. Mr. Grant began his career as a radio broadcaster. As the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Mr. Grant presided over the unveiling of the stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Johnny Grant appeared in the films "The Girl Can't Help It," "White Christmas," "The Great Man," "The Babe Ruth Story," "China Beach," "77 Sunset Strip" and "Hollywood Homicide." Mr. Grant was involved in numerous charities. He supported the US Armed Forces by taking part in dozens of USO shows.

JOSEPH SHAW Died Jan. 9, 2008

English actor Joseph Shaw died of emphysema at age 87. Mr. Shaw performed at the fames Stratford Shakespeare Festival of 24 years. Mr. Shaw's film and TV credits include David Cronenberg's horror film "The Brood," "The Ray Bradbury Theater" and "The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever."

LEW SPENCE Died Jan. 9, 2008

Composer Lew Spence died at age 87. Mr. Spence's songs have been recorded by artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy. Sinatra recorded a number of Mr. Spence's songs including the Grammy nominated "Nice and Easy." His songs have been heard on the soundtracks of such films and TV shows as "The Misfits," "Paris When It Sizzles," "The Right Approach" and "Marriage-Go-Round." He was the musical director on the 1950s sci-fi TV series "Space Patrol."

EARL DEEMS Died Jan. 9, 2008

Producer Earl Deems died at age 88. During the past 50 years millions of American drivers education students have seen Mr. Deems' famous 1959 film "Signal 30." Mr. Deems was the president of Highway Safety Films. "Signal 30" was designed to scare the crap out of teenagers so they would obey the traffic laws. "Signal 30" incorporated real film footage of auto accident fatalities with voice over narration warning "This could be YOU!" Mr. Deems also produced the 1979 film "Options to Live." That film incorporated footage from other Highway Safety films. He appeared as himself in the documentary film "Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films." While Mr. Deems films may have contributed to the nightmares of many a teen, his work may have also saved countless lives. For this I thank him. Earl Deems served his country in the US Army during WWII.

ALBERT PONCE Died Jan. 10, 2008

Sound recordist Albert Ponce died at age 38. Mr. Ponce worked on the hit reality TV series "Cops." Other credits include "National Geographic Explorer," "Frontline" and "The Club." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.


Former figure skating champion Christopher Bowman died at age 40. Mr. Bowman was found dead in a Los Angeles motel. The cause of death has not been confirmed, but news services are reporting that it is a possible drug overdose. Christopher Bowman was a child actor who became one of the most popular figure skaters of his generation. He won the US Men's Single Figure Skating championship twice. Mr. Bowman represented the USA twice in the Olympics, but did not win a medal. As a child he appeared in a couple of episodes of "Little House on the Prairie." He did stunt work in "The Lost Boys" and "Surf Nazis Must Die." Other acting credits include "Archie Bunker's Place," "The Return of Sammy" and Brian De Palma's upcoming "Down and Distance." Mr. Bowman showcased his skating talents on several TV specials including "NBC Sports Presents World Champions on Ice." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

MAILA NURMI Died Jan. 10, 2008

Actress and TV host Maila Nurmi died of natural causes at age 86. Ms. Nurmi hosted KABC's creature feature "The Vampira Show" in 1954. She played essentially the same character in Ed Wood's infamous sci-fi stinker "Plan 9 From Outer Space" except that she had no lines in the film. Ms. Nurmi appeared in a few films and TV shows during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Those credits include "Sex Kittens Go to College," "I Passed for White" and "Too Much, Too Soon." Ms. Nurmi appeared in a number of documentaries about herself and about director Ed Wood. Actress Lisa Marie portrayed Ms. Nurmi in Tim Buron's Oscar-winning film "Ed Wood." Ms. Nurmi was once married to the late "Dirty Harry" screenwriter Dean Reisner.

EARL BROWN Died Jan. 10, 2007

Composer Earl Brown died in his sleep at age 75. Mr. Brown was nominated for eight Emmy Awards. He shared a WGA award for the TV special "All Commercials…A Steve Martin Special." Anyone remember the Okra Cola bit? Mr. Brown composed Elvis' hit song "If I Can Dream." The song was featured in the King's 1969 comeback TV special "Elvis" as well as in a number of documentaries about Elvis. Other credits include "The Sonny and Cher Show," "Fame," "The Goldie Hawn Special" and "Donny and Marie."

JACK EAGLE Died Jan. 10, 2008

Actor Jack Eagle died at age 81. Mr. Eagle was also a well known stand-up comedian. Mr. Eagle was best known for his role as Brother Dominic in the famous Xerox commercial which aired during the 1977 Super Bowl. (On the right side of the picture) Mr. Eagle appeared in Chris Columbus' "Stepmom" and the Bette Midler/Nathan Lane comedy "Isn't She Great?"

DUSTY COHL Died Jan. 11, 2008

Dusty Cohl, producer and the man most responsible for making the Toronto Film Festival the international success that it is, died of cancer at age 78. Mr. Cohl produced "The Circle Game" and "Rush: Grace Under Pressure Tour 1984." He was the uncle of rock promoter Michael Cohl. Mr. Cohl appeared in the documentaries "A Criminal Mind: The Life and Times of Edward Greenspan" and "Satisfaction: The Life & Times of Michael Cohl."

SIR. EDMUND HILLARY Died Jan. 11, 2008

Sir. Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest died at age 88 in his native New Zealand. On May 29, 1953, Hillary and his team mate Tenzing Norgay (both pictured at right) became the Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren of mountain climbing when they became the first men to stand atop the world's tallest mountain. He and Norgay appeared as themselves in the 1953 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA winning documentary "The Conquest of Everest." Their heroic feat was the subject of numerous documentaries including "Hillary & Tenzing: Climbing to the Roof of the World." Sir. Hillary's autobiography "Nothing Venture, Nothing Win" was published in 1975.

PETE CANDOLI Died Jan. 11, 2008

Master trumpeter Pete Candoli died of prostate cancer at age 85. Mr. Candoli played with most of the major Big Bands including Glen Miller and Tommy Dorsey's bands. Pete Candoli's music can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as "Day the World Ended," "One-Eyed Jacks," "West Side Story" and "Faces." He appeared in such films and TV shows as "The Man With the Golden Arm," "Bell, Book and Candle" and "Peter Gunn." Mr. Candoli was once married to actresses Vicky Lane, Betty Hutton and Edie Adams.

HELGA WARNECKE Died Jan. 12, 2008

Former German actress Helga Warnecke died at age 81. Ms. Warnecke came from a circus family. She appeared in a few films during the WWII era and 1950s. Her credits include "Tonelli" and "The Mad Bomberg." Ms. Warnecke moved to the US in the early 1960s where she worked as the nanny for actor Peter Lawford's family.

ALEXANDRE DE PARIS Died Jan. 12, 2008

Hairstylist Alexandre de Paris died at age 85. Alexandre was the favorite hairstylist of many stars including Elizabeth Taylor. He did Ms. Taylor's hair in a number of movies including "Ash Wednesday," the excelent Made for TV movie "Divorce His - Divorce Hers," "Hammersmith Is Out," "The Only Game in Town," "Secret Ceremony," "Reflections in a Golden Eye" and "The Taming of the Shrew." Other credits include "How to Steal a Million," Hitchcock's "Marnie" and "55 Days at Peking."

BOB LEMOND Died Jan. 13, 2008

TV announcer Bob Lemond died of complications from dementia at age 94. Mr. Lemond was the announcer on several well-known TV shows from the Golden Age of Television. His credits include "I Love Lucy," "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." Mr. Lemond did his part for the war effort as a broadcaster for Armed Forces Radio during WWII. He met his wife Barbara Brewster, half of The Brewster Twins while she was entertaining the troops with the USO. Mrs. Lemond died of congestive heart failure on June 21, 2005.

ARTHUR SWERDLOFF Died Jan. 14, 2008

Documentary filmmaker Arthur Swerdloff died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 86. Mr. Swerdloff edited Arch Obler's nuclear cautionary tale "Five." He wrote and produced a number of short educational films dealing with subjects from youth gangs to nuclear war. "What's the Big Hurry?" was a driver's education scare film directed by Mr. Swerdloff. He directed the feature film "Roadracers." Mr. Swerdloff served his country in the US Army during WWII.


Actress Viola Kate Stimpson died at age 101! Ms. Stimpson was a chorus girl during the Roaring '20s and later acted on the stage. She took time out to go to college, have a career as a city school teacher in LA. After retiring from the classroom, Ms. Stimpson returned to acting. She appeared in over 30 films and TV shows during her second career. Ms. Stimpson's credits include "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," "ER," "Seinfeld," "Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation," "General Hospital," "Murder, She Wrote," "Max Headroom," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," "Into the Night," "The Woman in Red," "St. Elsewhere" and "Dream On!"

JANICE DAVIES Died Jan. 15, 2008

Actress Janice Davies died while visiting family in India. The 76 year old actress was given a tradition Hindu celebration of her last rites. Ms. Davies appeared in a number of films and TV shows including "Neighborhood Watch," "Rancho Cucamonga," "Diagnosis Murder," "The Michael Richards Show," "Becker," "Seinfeld" and "Friends."

NORA BOLAND Died Jan. 15, 2008

Actress Nora Boland (real name Nora Ullrich) died at age 78. Ms. Boland appeared in over 20 films and TV shows including "Mississippi Masala," "Doogie Howser, M.D.," "Highway to Heaven," "General Hospital," "Hill Street Blues," "WKRP in Cincinnati," "The Jayne Mansfield Story," John Carpenter's TV biopic "Elvis," "California Suite" and "The World's Greatest Lover."

BRAD RENFRO Died Jan. 15, 2008

Actor Brad Renfro died of a heroin overdose at age 25. According to reports, Mr. Renfro had been out drinking and partying with 'friends' the night before. His friends were unable to wake him up this morning. Mr. Renfro had a history of drug abuse.

Would 'real friends' be out drinking and partying with a person struggling with drug addiction? Real Friends would help a brother to maintain sobriety.

This pisses me off. Yes, it is sad, but it is also stupid. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Does the name River Phoenix ring a bell? Hey Britney! Are you listening? What about Anna, Anna, Anna, Anna Nicole? Gone, adios, sayonara, hasta la vista Baby! Live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse. Believe me, it won't stay good looking for long after you are dead. Perhaps if Mr. Renfro had been an apt pupil of history, this unnecessary tragedy would not have happened. Drugs will kill you people! What a waste of talent. What a waste of a life.

Brad Renfro made his screen debut in John Grisham's "The Client." The film was shot in my home town. My late father's courtroom was used for many of the movie's major scenes. I remember my father getting a kick out of Brad Renfro. My dad told me that the young actor was just a sweet kid, void of any pretense. My dad liked to doodle as he sat on the bench during lulls in courtroom activity. He said that Brad asked him if he could sit behind the bench and how the kid got a thrill from being up there. Brad asked him a bunch of questions about what he did. Then Brad noticed a few of my dad's doodles. He laughed and asked if he could have them. My dad said sure. He wasn't an artist, it was just his way of killing time when things were slow. The next week, Brad came into the courtroom to film another scene. He had a piece of paper with him. He had tried his hand at drawing some silly pictures like my dad's. He gave them to my dad. Just a 11-year-old kid being a kid. I often thought of that story when I heard of Mr. Renfro's troubles with drugs and with the law. 13 years ago, he was a regular Tennessee kid being cast in a major motion picture. Now he is a dead actor with a troubled past and a lot of grieving friends and relatives. What a sad, sad shame.

In addition to his powerful debut performance in "The Client," Brad Renfro showed he had the chops to be a great actor in "Apt Pupil" and "Bully." Mr. Renfro starred in and was an associate producer of the disturbing true-crime film "Bully." He made you completely forget the tough but good kid in "The Client." In "Apt Pupil" Mr. Renfro brought Stephen King's dark tale of the seduction of the innocent by evil to life in a rich performance. He made 24 films during his short career. Other credits include "Ghost World," "Sleepers," "Tom & Huck" and the upcoming "The Informers." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends. May his troubled soul find peaceful rest with God.

REV. LYNN LEMON Died Jan. 15, 2008

Reverand Lynn Lemon died in of a heart attack at age 90. Rev. Lemon was one of the Baptist investors convinced by fellow pastor J. Edward Reynolds to bankroll director Ed Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space." The hope was that the movie would make money and the profits would be used to make feature films with Christian themes. The investors lost their money. Rev. Lemon appeared in the film as the minister officiating Inspector Clay's (Tor Johnson) funeral. Rev. Lemon was portrayed by actor G.D. Spradlin in Tim Burton's film "Ed Wood." Rev. Lemon appeared as himself in the documentary film "The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr." Rev. Lemon also appeared in the 1973 film "Invasion of the Bee Girls" where he also played a minister at a funeral. This role came about by accident as Rev. Lemon was working for the cemetery company in which filmmaker Denis Sanders wanted to film.

ADELE LONGMIRE Died Jan. 15, 2008

Actress turned agent Adele Longmire died at age 89. Ms. Longmire's film and TV credits include "I Love Lucy," "With a Song In My Heart" and "The Lone Ranger." She began as a stage actress and appeared in five Broadway productions in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Ms. Longmire was the second wife of actor Arthur Franz. Ms. Longmire spent many years as working as a literary agent for several top agencies.

KENNETH DENISOFF Died Jan. 15, 2008

Emmy-winning film editor Kenneth Denisoff died at age 70. Mr. Denisoff won two Emmy awards for his work on "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters" and "The Scarlet Letter." Mr. Denioff was also nominated for four other Emmy awards. His many credits include "C.P.O. Sharkey," "Sanford and Son," "Quantum Leap," "Family Matters," "Dear John," "Elvis Presley's Graceland," "Madame's Place" and "Eddie Murphy Delirious."

JINZO TORIUMI Died Jan. 17, 2008

Japanese screenwriter Jinzo Toriumi died of liver cancer at age 78. Mr. Toriumi wrote for many classic anime series. His credits include "Speed Racer," "Gatchaman" and "Yatterman."

BOBBY FISCHER Died Jan. 17, 2008

Chess champion turned madman Bobby Fischer died at age 64. Had Bobby Fischer died 25 years ago, he would be remembered as a hero of the Cold War. Mr. Fischer beat Russian chess champion Boris Spasky in 1972. The victory landed Mr. Fischer on every major magazine cover in the country. It was a symbolic victory for his homeland in the decades old ideological war with the Soviet Union. The thing is, Bobby Fischer didn't die 25 years ago. Maybe Mr. Fischer's anti-Semitic, anti-American rants following the 9/11 terrorist attacks were the result of severe mental illness. Maybe they were heartfelt beliefs. I find it hard to give praise to a man who said things that Adolph Hitler would have been proud of. Following 9/11 Mr. Fischer called for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Jews. He called for the destruction of America and Israel. In my mind, that erases whatever accomplishments he may have had as a chess champion. It is not my place to judge another's heart. Mr. Fischer had a history of erratic behavior and mental health problems. His hateful speeches could very well have been the result of disease. I condemn the words he spoke and the comfort they gave the forces of evil. I'll leave it to God to judge the heart that spoke those words. Steve Zallian's excellent "Searching for Bobby Fischer" had nothing to do with Mr. Fischer's life or career.

ALLAN MELVIN Died Jan. 17, 2008

Character actor Allan Melvin died of cancer at age 84. Mr. Melvin was one of the most familiar faces on TV from the 1950s through the 1970s. Mr. Melvin played recurring roles on numerous TV shows. My fondest memories of his work were of his performances as Archie Bunker's friend Barney Hefner on "All in the Family." Other memorable TV roles include Cpl. Henshaw on "The Phil Silvers Show," as Sgt. Hacker on "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." and as Sam the butcher on "The Brady Bunch." Mr. Melvin was also a noted voice actor. He contributed live and voice performances to over 70 TV shows and films. His live action credits include "Route 66," "Perry Mason," "Lost in Space," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "With Six You Get Eggroll." Mr. Melvin provided the voice of "Magilla Gorilla." He voices Sgt. Snorkel in several "Beetle Baily" cartoons. Other voice credits include "The Smurfs," "Scooby Doo," "The Flintsones" and "Hong Kong Phooey." Mr. Melvin appeared on Broadway in "Stalag 17." The production ran for 472 performances in 1951 and 52.

ERNIE HOLMES Died Jan. 17, 2008

Former NFL star Ernie Holmes was killed in a single car crash in Texas at age 59. Mr. Holmes was one of the reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1970s. Earnie Holmes spent time in professional wrestling. He took part in the big Battle Royal at "Wrestlemania 2." Mr. Holmes appeared in an episode of "The A-Team" as well as in the horror movie "Fright Night." Mr. Holmes became an ordained minister and lead his congregation in Wiergate Texas. Mr. Holmes was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his car. Might still be with us had he buckled up!

GEORGE KEYMAS Died Jan. 17, 2008

Veteran character actor George Keymas died of a heart attack at age 82. Mr. Keymas was a familiar face on TV during the 1950s through the 1970s. The prolific actor appeared in nearly 150 films and TV shows. More times than not, Mr. Keymas played the badguy, especially in episodic Western TV shows. He played the 'Big Brother' character who appeared on the TV monitors in the classic "Twilight Zone" episode "Eye of the Beholder." He worked with Rod Serling later appearing on an episode of "Night Gallery." Mr. Keymas played bit parts in a number of films in the 1950s before becoming a regular character actor on TV. His early film credits include "The Robe," "Bait," "Flame of Calcutta" and "I Shot Billy the Kid." Later film roles include parts in "The Other Side of Midnight," "Journey to Shiloh," the 1966 version of "Beau Geste," "Lonely Are the Brave," "Studs Lonigan," Disney's "Texas John Slaughter: Ambush in Laredo" and "Kismet."

Mr. Keymas appeared on every major Western TV series during a 20 year period. Those credits include "Gunsmoke," "Alias Smith and Jones," "Lancer," "Daniel Boone," "The Big Valley," "The High Chaparral," "Hondo," "The Wild Wild West," "Cimarron Strip," "Winchester 73," "Laredo," "Shane," "Bonanza," "Rawhide," "Wagon Train," "The Virginian," "Death Valley Days," "Have Gun - Will Travel," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "The Tall Man," "Stagecoach West," "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," "Maverick," "Johnny Ringo," "The Texan," "Zane Grey Theater," "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," "U.S. Marshal," "Tales of the Texas Rangers," "Trackdown," "Colt .45," "Cole Younger, Gunfighter," "Zorro," "The Adventures of Jim Bowie," "Cheyenne" and "Hopalong Cassidy." Whew! If that don't make you a cowboy, I don't know what does!

Mr. Keymas wasn't relegated to just Westerns. Other notable TV credits include "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Ironside," "Mannix," "The F.B.I.," "The Invaders," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "The Time Tunnel," "Burke's Law," "Honey West," "Combat!," "The Untouchables," "Hawaiian Eye," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Man with a Camera," "Playhouse 90," "Mike Hammer," "Circus Boy," "Whirlybirds," "Studio 57," "Peter Gunn" and "M Squad."

UGO PIRRO Died Jan. 18, 2008

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Ugo Pirro died at age 87. Mr. Pirro was nominated for two Oscar nominations in the same year. He received a Best Writing Adapted Oscar nomination for Vittorio De Sica's "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis." Mr. Pirro and director Elio Petri shared a Best Writing Original Oscar nomination for "Investigation of a Citizen…Above Suspicion." Both Italian films were shot in 1970 and released in the US in 1971. Both films were also nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" won the gold statue. Mr. Pirro wrote over 50 film scripts during his career. His many credits also include "The Battle of Neretva," Lina Wertmuller's "The Nymph" and Martin Ritt's "5 Branded Women." "For a Few Dollars More" actor Gian Maria Volante appeared in eight films written by Mr. Pirro including "The Bandit" and "We Still Kill the Old Way."

FRANK LEWIN Died Jan. 18, 2008

Composer and teacher Frank Lewin died of congestive heart failure at age 82. Mr. Lewin scored 130 episodes of the TV series "The Nurses" and "The Defenders." He was sound editor on the early Steve McQueen film "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery." Mr. Lewin's film scores include "The Plot Against Harry." He scored over twenty documentary films including the Oscar winning "A Year Toward Tomorrow." Mr. Lewin shared his craft as a teacher at Yale and Columbia Universities.

LOIS NETTLETON Died Jan. 18, 2008

Tony and Emmy nominated actress Lois Nettleton died of lung cancer at age 80. Ms. Nettleton received three Emmy nominations for her work in "The Golden Girls," "In the Heat of the Night" and the TV movie dealing with McCarthyism "Fear on Trial." She won two Day Time Emmy Awards for "The American Woman: Profiles in Courage" and an episode of the religious series "Insight." Ms. Nettleton was nominated for a Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for her work in the production of "They Knew What They Wanted." Ms. Nettleton appeared in nine Broadway productions including a revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

She appeared in over 120 films and TV shows during her career. Ms. Nettleton had a bit part in the classic "A Face in the Crowd." Her first real film role was a co-starring role in George Roy Hill's "A Period of Adjustment" opposite Tony Franciosa, Jane Fonda and Jim Hutton. Other feature film credits include "Come Fly With Me," "Mail Order Bride," "The Bamboo Saucer," "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys," "Dirty Dingus Magee," "The Honkers," "Echoes of a Summer," "Soggy Bottom, USA," "Deadly Blessing," "Butterfly," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "The Feminine Touch."

Ms. Nettleton was a prolific TV actress. She was a regular on the short-lived series "The Accidental Family." She had recurring roles on the soap opera "General Hospital," "In the Heat of the Night" and "Crossing Jordon." Ms. Nettleton made guest appearances on multitudes of TV series. Genre fans remember her work in such shows as "Twilight Zone," "Night Gallery" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Lois Nettleton was married to author and humorist Jean Shepard during the early 1960s.

JOHN STEWART Died Jan. 19, 2008

Composer John Stewart died of a massive stroke at age 68. In 1961 Mr. Stewart replaced Dave Guard as a member of "The Kingston Trio." He remained with the group until they disbanded in 1967. They recorded a dozen albums during Mr. Stewart's tenure with the group. Mr. Stewart composed the hit song "Daydream Believer" which was a massive hit for "The Monkees." Prior to being in "The Kingston Trio" Mr. Stewart had formed his own trio. One of his band mates was Gil Robbins, the father of actor Tim Robbins. In 1979 Mr. Stewart scored a #5 hit song with "Gold." The song featured Stevie Nicks on backing vocals. "Gold" was featured on the soundtrack of Edward Burns' comedy "The Groomsmen." His music was can be heard on the soundtracks of "The Monkees," "The Third Wish," "Now and Then," "Soggy Bottom USA" and "Hot Dog: The Movie." Mr. Stewart performed with "The Kingston Trio" on numerous TV shows and in the 1982 special "The Kingston Trio and Friends: Reunion."

SUZANNE PLESHETTE Died Jan. 19, 2008

Multi-Emmy nominated actress Suzanne Pleshette died of respiratory failure at age 70. I imagine I am just one of several million men around the world who had a movie crush on Suzanne Pleshette. My crush started when I was too young to even know what to do with girls. I first noticed the beautiful actress on the late show in the movies "Nevada Smith" and Hitchcock's "The Birds." I couldn't understand why Rod Taylor's character in "The Birds" preferred Tippi Hedren over Suzanne Pleshette. I still don't. My crush was further fueled by Ms. Pleshette's appearance on "The Tonight Show." She read Johnny Carson a poem she had written about lusting after a younger man with washboard abs. Mr. Carson, as were most men who heard her words, was moved in an animal way by the poem. I remember wishing I was a California surfer hanging out front the TV studio when I heard her speak.

Suzanne was not just beautiful, she was one of the most versatile and talented actresses to ever grace the screen. Drama, comedy..didn't matter. Ms Pleshette hit the mark right on target. Her performance as the frustrated school teacher in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" contains subtleties that are worth studying in acting class. She showed so much burning below the surface in her supporting role that the viewer can catch something new upon each new screening. TV audiences will remember her best as Bob Newhart's wife Emily on "The Bob Newhart Show." She was the perfect 'straightman' for Newhart. It is a blessing that the series can be enjoyed on DVD all these years later. She reprised her role as Emily for the final episode of her former co-star's 1990 TV series "Newhart." The final episode had Bob Newhart waking up with Ms. Pleshette as if they wer still in the old TV series and him acting as if the new TV series was just a dream. A great moment in TV history.

Suzanne Pleshette was nominated four times for Emmy Awards. She also received two Golden Globe nominations. Ms. Pleshette's beauty was accented by one of the sexiest voices in film history. Along with Lauren Bacall and Kathleen Turner, Ms. Pleshette was blessed with a sexy, husky voice. Her vocal talents led to a number of voice roles in animated films and TV series.

Suzanne Pleshette's many film credits include the hilarious "It It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium," "The Geisha Boy," "Fate is the Hunter," "A Rage to Live," "The Power," "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?," "Support Your Local Gunfighter," "The Shaggy DA" and "Oh God, Book 2." Suzanne Pleshette appeared in nearly 130 films, TV shows and documentaries. She appeared on most of the notable TV shows from the 1950s to the present time. Her many TV credits range from "Have Gun, Will Travel" through "Will & Grace." Her voice credits include the English version of Miyazaki's Oscar winning "Spirited Away" and "The Lion King II." Ms. Pleshette performed several times on Broadway including in productions of "Compulsion" and "The Miracle Worker."

Suzanne Pleshette was the widow of actor Tom Poston. Her first marriage was to actor Troy Donahue. She was married to Texas oil man Tim Galligher for 32 years until his death in 2000.

ROBERT CUNNIFF Died Jan. 20, 2008

Emmy-winning writer/producer Robert Cunniff died at age 81. Mr. Cunniff shared a 1973 Emmy award for producing "Sesame Street." He created the character 'The Count' for "Sesame Street." Mr. Cunniff was the head writer for "The Dick Cavett Show" as well as "The Today Show" for much of the 1960s. Mr. Cunniff also created Disney's "Mouseterpiece Theater." Mr. Cunniff and his four brothers all served their country during WWII. Mr. Cunniff served in the US Navy.

KEVIN STONEY Died Jan. 20, 2008

British actor Kevin Stoney died at age 86. Mr. Stoney was best known for his work in three of the "Dr. Who" series. Mr. Stoney appeared in over 100 films and TV shows during his career. Other TV credits include "The Adventures of Robin Hood," "Dixon of Dock Green," "The Saint," "Danger Man," "The Avengers," "Blake's 7," "Z Cars," "I, Claudius," "Space: 1999," "All Creatures Great and Small" and "Inspector Morse." Mr. Stoney served his country as a member of the RAF during WWII.


Brazilian actor Luiz Carlos Tourinho died of a brain aneurysm at age 43. Mr. Tourinho's biggest hit was the comedy TV show "Under New Direction." He played Franco in over 100 episodes. Mr. Tourinho was best known as a soap actor in his native land. He died during the production of the show "Desejo Proibido." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

PETER SILVER Died Jan. 21, 2008

Cinematographer/editor/producer Peter Silver died of pancreatic cancer at age 62. Mr. Silver shot 39 episodes of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." He also shot episodes of "The World of Sports Illustrated," "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" and "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Mr. Silver also directed and produced the TV series "The World of Sports Illustrated."

CAMPBELL MORRISON Died Jan. 21, 2008

Scottish actor Campbell Morrison died of an undisclosed illness at age 55. Mr. Morrison was the artistic director of Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theater. His film and TV appearances include "A Touch of Frost," "Pickles: The Dog Who Won the World Cup," "William and Mary," "Taggart," "Mad Dogs," "Coronation Street" and "EastEnders."

TIMOTHY STETSON Died Jan. 21, 2008

British actor Timothy Stetson was killed in an apartment fire at age 52. Mr. Stetson's film and TV credits include "All My Children," the excellent miniseries based on John Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "Yanks!" and "The Benny Hill Show." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

RUSSELL LLOYD Died Jan. 21, 2008

Oscar-nominated film editor Russell Lloyd died at age 92. Mr. Lloyd was nominated for a Best Film Editing Oscar for John Huston's grand adventure film "The Man Who Would Be King." "The Man Who Would Be King" was the last of eleven films Mr. Lloyd edited for director John Huston. Mr. Lloyd began his collaboration with Huston on the 1956 film "Moby Dick." Their other collaborations include "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison," "Sinful Davy," "Reflections in a Golden Eye," "The Kremlin Letter," "The MacKintosh Man" and "The Last Run."

The British film editor began his career working for famed studio head Alexander Korda. Mr. Lloyd worked as an assistant editor on such films as "Rembrandt" and the sci-fi film "Things to Come." Mr. Lloyd graduated from assistant editor on the 1937 film "The Squeaker." His early British films include the Vivian Leigh version of "Anna Karenina." He also directed second unit work on that film. The following year, Mr. Lloyd directed his only film "The Last Days of Dolwyn." He co-directed the movie with Emlyn Williams, who also wrote and starred in the film. He also did second unit work on Disney's 1950 masterpiece "Treasure Island." Russell Lloyd's many credits include "Absolute Beginners," Peter Sellers final film "The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu," the infamous "Caligula," the 1979 version of "The Lady Vanishes," "The Sea Shall Not Have Them" and "Star of India."

ROBERTO GARI Died Jan. 22, 2008

Actor Roberto Gari died of a heart attack at age 87. Mr. Gari was the former son-in-law of Eddie Cantor. He appeared on Broadway in "A Connecticut Yankee," "Sadie Thompson" and "Nellie Bly." Mr. Gari's film and TV credits include "Strangers With Candy," "Another World," "The Believer" and "Jersey Guy."

HEATH LEDGER Died Jan. 22, 2008

Yet another promising young actor has died of a drug overdose. Oscar-nominated Australian actor Heath Ledger was found dead in a New York City apartment. The 28-year-old actor leaves behind a two-year-old daughter. Autopsy results showed that Mr. Ledger died of a combination of six or seven different prescription drugs. Mr. Ledger was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his work in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain."

Heath Ledger began his acting career in his native Australia. He appeared in several movies and was a regular on a couple of TV series including "Home and Away." His early film credits include "Paws" and "Black Rock." Mr. Ledger's first US film was "10 Things I Hate About You" opposite Julia Stiles.

Heath Ledger's break through film was "The Patriot." He played Mel Gibson's son in the 2000 epic. The following year Mr. Ledger cemented his reputation as a fine actor in the Oscar-winning "Monster's Ball." His performance as Billy Bob Thorton's troubled son should have earned him an Oscar nomination. His character's on-screen suicide in that film was as shocking to me as a viewer as the news of his death is today. That same year Mr. Ledger shored up his younger fan base with the silly but very successful "A Knight's Tale."

His next few films were not as successful. However "The Four Feathers," "Ned Kelly" and "The Order" did not sink Heath Ledger's acting career. 2005 would turn out to be a very good year professionally. He appeared in four films that year. While "Casanova," "The Lords of Dogtown" and "The Brothers Grimm" did little more than confirm his status as a Movie Star, his work in "Brokeback Mountain" proved beyond all doubt that the acting talent he showed in "The Patriot" and "Monster's Ball" was no fluke. Ang Lee's landmark film was a daring piece of acting in an uptight world. Mr. Ledger not only received an Oscar nomination for his work, but he won the Best Actor Award from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Australian Film Institute. He was also nominated for BAFTA, SAG, Independent Spirit and Golden Globe acting awards for the film. Mr. Ledger followed up this success with roles in "Candy" and "I'm Not There." The photo at top right was taken by EI's Jonathan Hickman at the Toronto Film Festival as Mr. Ledger fielded questions about Neil Armfield's "Candy." In "I'm Not There" Heath Ledger was one of six actors to portray singer Bob Dylan during different phases of his career. Heath Ledger had wrapped shooting on the up-coming "Batman" movie "The Dark Knight." He played the villain The Joker. He was currently filming Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." It is not known at this time how his death will affect that film's production.

Heath Ledger was the father of two-year-old daughter Matilda. Matilda's mother is Mr. Ledger's "Brokeback Mountain" costar Michelle Williams. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

BARRY GOSNEY Died Jan. 23, 2008

British comedic actor Barry Gosney died of injuries sustained in a fall at age 81. Mr. Gosney appeared in dozens of films and TV shows during his career. His credits include the Robert Mitchum version of "The Big Sleep," "Dixon of Dock Green," "Z Cars," "Keeping Up Appearances," "Are You Being Served?," "Don't Just Lie There, Say Something!" and several films in the "Up the…" film series.

JIM ZWICK Died Jan. 24, 2008

Author and Mark Twain expert Jim Zwick died at age 51. Mr. Zwick served as technical consultant on Ken Burns' documentary "Mark Twain."

MICHAEL ABBOTT Died Jan. 24, 2008

Broadway and TV producer Michael Abbott died at age 81. Mr. Abbott staged the first New York production of "Stalag 17" when he was just 21 years old. He produced some of the finest TV productions during the 1950. Laurence Olivier starred in Mr. Abbott's 1959 TV version of "The Moon and Six Pence." Other TV credits include "The Prince and the Pauper," "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" and "A Tale of Two Cities." His Broadway credits as producer include "Rashoman" and "The Traitor."

JAHNA STEELE Died Jan. 24, 2008

Transgendered entertainer Jahna Steele died of undisclosed causes at age 49. Ms. Steele was born in San Antonio, Texas as John Matheny. He underwent sexual reassignment surgery in his 20s and became Jahna Steele. Ms. Steele lived stealthily and became a successful showgirl at the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas. She was voted the sexiest showgirl on the strip. One year later the tabloid TV show "A Current Affair" outed Ms. Steele as having once been a man. The casino fired her. Ms. Steele rebounded from the situation and enjoyed a successful career as an entertainer and singer. Ms. Steele appeared on an episode of "NYPD Blue." She was also featured in the 2006 documentary "Trantasia."

JANE EASTON Died Jan. 24, 2008

Former model and actress Jane Easton died at age 80. Ms. Easton was a maodel during the 1940s and 50s. She appeared in over a dozen films and TV shows including "Dick Tracy," "Son of Paleface," "Serpent of the Nile," "Abbott and Costello Go to Mars" and "The French Line."


60-year-old actor Christopher Allport was killed in an avalanche while skiing near Wrightwood California. Mr. Allport appeared in nearly 100 films and TV shows during his career. He played Wilhem Dafoe's double-crossing lawyer in William Friendkin's excellent crime thriller "To Live and Die in L.A." He was the creepy photographer (pictured at right) in Gary Sherman's cult-classic horror masterpiece "Dead & Buried." Mr. Allport also appeared in Tobe Hooper's terrible remake of the classic 1950s sci-fi film "Invaders From Mars." He co-starred in the so-bad-that-it-is-good horror film "Jack Frost" about a serial killer who dies and comes back as a homicidal snowman! Mr. Allport also appeared in several noted Made for TV Movies including "Special Bulletin," "Who Will Love My Children" and "The Atlanta Child Murders." It would be easier to list the TV series from the 1980s through today on which Christopher Allport did NOT make a guest appearance. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

LOUISA HORTON Died Jan. 25, 2008

Actress Louisa Horton died at age 87. Ms. Horton was the ex-wife of the late director George Roy Hill. Ms. Horton worked on Broadway, in film and on TV. Her credits include "All My Sons," "Lights Out," "Inner Sanctum," "Swashbuckler" and Alfred Sole's cult classic horror film "Alice, Sweet Alice."

MICHAEL SPIELBERG Died Jan. 25, 2008

Producer and film company exec Michael Spielberg died of cancer at age 49. Mr. Spielberg co-producer "South Central" with Oliver Stone. He also produced "Benefit of the Doubt" and "Little Noises." Mr. Spielberg held executive positions with such companies as Prism Films, Miramax Films and Fox/Lorber Home Video. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

ROC KIRBY Died Jan. 25, 2008

Roc Kirby, the founder of Village Roadshow died at age 89. What's the old saying, from a little acorn, the mighty oak grew? Kind of describes Roc Kirby's dream. Mr. Kirby's company grew from one Drive-In theater in Australian to a major film production company. The family business is now run by his sons Robert and John.

RANDY SALERNO Died Jan. 25, 2008

Chicago TV news anchor Randy Salerno was killed in a snowmobile accident while vacationing in Wisconsin. Mr. Salerno was a passenger on a snowmobile being driven by his best friend Scott Hirschey. The driver's BAC was almost three times the legal limit. Mr. Hirschey has been charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Randy Salerno was the news anchor for the CBS affiliate in Chicago. Mr. Salerno played a WGN TV reporter in the Richard Gere/Edward Norton thriller "Primal Fear." Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

SERGIO GUERRERO Died Jan. 26, 2008

Prolific Mexican composer Sergio Guerrero died at age 86. Mr. Guerrero had over 375 compositions registered with SACM. He provided music for over 200 films during his lengthy career. Mr. Guerrero's many credits include "Don Juan 67," "Cain & Abel," "Ship of Monsters," "The Mask of Death," "House of Perdition," "The Treasure of Pancho Villa," "Puss n Boots," "The Shark Hunters" and "Santos and Dracula's Treasure."

CHRISTIAN BRANDO Died Jan. 26, 2008

Christian Brando, the son of actor Marlon Brando and actress Anna Kashfi died of pneumonia at age 49. Mr. Brando lead a troubled life and is better known for killing his sister Cheyenne Brando's boyfriend Dag Drollet, than for any of his film work. Brando received a 10-year-sentence when he pled guilty to manslaughter for the fatal shooting of his mentally ill sister's boyfriend. Brando who was abusing drugs at the time, took the schizophrenic accusations of his half-sister Cheyenne of physical abuse by Dag Drollet and confronted Drollet with a gun. While Brando claimed Drollet grabbed the gun and it went off, the forensic pathologist stated the Drollet was shot in the back of the head. Cheyenne was whisked away to a mental hospital in Tahiti preventing LA County prosecutors from building a Murder 1 case against Brando. The state had to settle for a manslaughter conviction. Brando did five years in jail. His sister Cheyenne hung herself in 1995. Christian Brando appeared in a few films including "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas."

ITALO MARTINENGHI Died Jan. 27, 2008

Italian producer/director Italo Martinenghi died at age 77. Mr. Martinenghi produced and directed several films in the "3 Superman" action series during the 1960s and 70s.

DWIGHT HEMION Died Jan. 28, 2008

Emmy-winning producer/director Dwight Hemion died of kidney failure at age 81. Mr. Hemion holds the record of most individual Emmy nominations with forty-seven nods during his career. He won seventeen Emmys. Mr. Hemion was also nominate for eleven DGA awards, winning five. Mr. Hemion produced and directed TV variety shows for some of the biggest names in show business. His documentary "Elvis in Concert" covered The King's final tour. It aired two months after Mr. Presley's death in 1977. Mr. Hemion also produced and directed specials spotlighting the talents of Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, Sandy Duncan, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Julie Andrews, Paul McCartney, Sammy Davis Jr., Bette Midler, Petula Clark, Lucille Ball, John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Ann-Margret, Shirley MacLaine, Goldie Hawn, Sheena Easton, Linda Lavin, Andy Williams and Baryshnikov! No wonder he won so many awards! To gain the trust of that group of performers is validation of one's talent behind the camera. Mr. Hemion also directed the TV inaugurations of presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Who says we can't have hands across the aisle in Hollywood!

JOSEPH W. SCHMIT Died Jan. 28, 2008

Academy Award winning chemical engineer Joseph Schmit died at age 88. Mr. Schmit held a variety of positions with various companies during his career. He was part of the Technicolor team which was awarded a technical Academy Award in 1959 for the development and practical application of equipment for wet printing. Mr. Schmit was also an expert on Technicolor's dye transfer process used in films like Cecil B. Demille's "The Ten Commandments." Mr. Schmit served his country as an officer in the Naval Reserve during WWII where he saw combat action in the South Pacific.

MARY RUTH SMITH Died Jan. 28, 2008

Sound editor Mary Ruth Smith died of pancreatic cancer at age 57. Ms. Smith's many credits include "The Insider," "A Civil Action," "What Dreams May Come," "Urban Legend," the US remake of "Godzilla," the hilarious "Mousehunt," "The Devil's Advocate," "Jerry Maguire," "The Chamber," "Braveheart," "The Prince of Tides," "The Hunt for Red October," "Twins" and "Fresh Horses."

MANUEL PADILLA JR. Died Jan. 29, 2008

Actor Manuel Padilla Jr. died unexpectedly at age 51. Mr. Padilla had spent the past weekend meeting fans at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. The cause of death ahs yet to be released. I spoke by phone with John Furrer, president of Cruisin' the Boulevard, Inc. Mr. Furrer's organization is a non-profit which promotes Petaluma, California's connection with the filming of the classic film "American Graffiti." Mr. Furrer had spoken to Mr. Padilla's parents confirming the bad news. Mr. Furrer stated that "Manny was truly nice person. He went out of his way to talk with fans. I will miss him dearly."

Maybe I'm being presumptuous with you as I am a huge fan of George Lucas' "American Graffiti." Actor Manuel Padilla played Carlos, one of the Pharoahs gang in the classic film. In a film full of memorable dialogue, Mr. Padilla's tagline was "You tell'em Wolfman! He's my man. When I graduate, I'm gonna be a Wolfman." Of course fans know this already. Mr. Padilla reprised his role in the sequel "More American Graffiti." (Mr. Padilla is pictured in the center, in front of Richard Dreyfus in the photo above.)

In addition to his role in "American Graffiti," Mr. Padilla was also well known as a child actor for his role as Jai in the 1960s TV series "Tarzan." He also appeared in the movies "Tarzan and the Great River" and "Tarzan and the Valley of Gold." Ron Ely (pictured with Mr. Padilla at right) played Tarzan on the TV series while actor Mike Henry starred in the two films. Manuel Padilla's final film was Brian De Palma's "Scarface." He appeared in over 30 films and TV shows. Other notable credits include "The Great White Hope," "A Man Called Horse," Joseph Wambaugh's "Police Story" and "Happy Days."

PHILIPPE KHORSAND Died Jan. 29, 2008

French actor Philippe Khoursand died of an undisclosed illness at age 59. Mr. Khoursand appeared in nearly 80 films and TV shows during his career. He was known in his native land for his roles in several TV series including "De Lux Hotel" and "Une Famille Formidable." Mr. Khoursand appeared in four films by director Claude LeLouch including "Edith and Marcel" and "Men, Women: A User's Manual." Other credits include "Total Western" and "Don Juan."


Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of former president Harry S Truman died at age 83. Ms. Daniel was the widow of Clifton Daniel, the managing editor of "The New York Times." During the 1950s, Ms. Truman hosted an NBC radio talk show. Ms. Truman appeared on several TV shows during the 1950s including "What's My Line," "Tonight!," "The Steve Allen Show," "The Spike Jones Show" and "The Jimmy Durante Show." One of the most famous stories concerning her singing career was the time her father threatened the Washington Post critic who panned his daughter's 1950 performance at a Washington recital. Nice to see a father stick up for his daughter! Ms. Truman enjoyed success as a novelist with a series of 22 mysteries set in the nation's capital. The first novel was titled "Murder in the White House."

GORDON BELLAMY Died Jan. 29, 2008

Animator Gordon Bellamy died at age 70. Mr. Bellamy began his career with Disney at age 18. He was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #839. His credits include "Sleeping Beauty," "The Mad Magazine TV Special," "The Rescuers Down Under," "Space Jam," "The Iron Giant," the TV series " Alvin and The Chipmunks," "My Little Pony," "Sesame Street," "MTV" and "Cabbage Patch Kids: First Christmas."

CHARLES FRANZEN Died Jan. 30, 2008

College professor turned actor Charles Franzen died at age 82. After a full career as a professor at the University of Georgia, Mr. Franzen turned to acting. He appeared in a dozen films and TV shows during his second career. Mr. Franzen had supporting roles in two Tim Conway comedies: "The Prize Fighter" and "They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way." He also appeared in the excellent miniseries "Chiefs." Mr. Franzen's other credits include "The Neon Bible," "In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas," "Mississippi Burning," "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones." Mr. Franzen served his country in the US Army-Air Corp during WWII.

HERBERT KENWITH Died Jan. 30, 2008

TV director/producer Herbert Kenwith died of prostate cancer at age 90. Mr. Kenwith began his career as an actor. From 1944 through 1946 he appeared on Broadway in "I Remember Mama." He also produced the 1948 Broadway production of "Me and Molly." Herbert Henwith directed for TV from the early 1950s through the late 1980s. He was a producer on the hit TV series "Diff'rent Strokes." Mr. Kenwith's many directing credits include "Gimme a Break!," "The Brady Brides," "Bosom Buddies," "Too Close for Comfort," nearly 40 episodes of "Good Times," "Sanford and Son," "The Young and the Restless," "The Partridge Family," "Love, American Style," "Star Trek" and "The Jonathan Winters Show." Mr. Kenwith was a friend of actress Joan Crawford. The photo at right is from the documentary "Tough Baby: Torch Song." He also appeared in the documentary "Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star."

VERONIKA BAYER Died Jan. 31, 2008

German actress Veronika Bayer died at age 62 after battling an undisclosed illness. Ms. Bayer was a prominent stage actress in her native land. She began her career in the late 1950s. Ms. Bayer also appeared in several films and TV shows. Her credits include "Tatort," "Macbeth," "Twelve Girls and One Man" and "Melody and Rhythms."

ROBERT GUY BURROWS Died Jan. 31, 2008

Writer Robert Guy Burrows died of complications following cancer surgery at age 81. Mr. Burrows wrote for a number of TV shows during the 1960s and 70s including "Alias Smith and Jones," "Daniel Boone," "The Virginian," "Bonanza," "Mission: Impossible," "The Green Hornet" and "The Fugitive."

MARK SCHWED Death discovered Jan. 31, 2008

Mark Schwed, journalist and former TV reporter for "E!" and "TV Guide" was found dead in his apartment. The 52-year-old newsman had called in sick to work several days before. Mr. Schwed appeared as himself in the TV series "Grosse Point" and "The George Carlin Show."

GARY GRAFFRATH Died Jan. 31, 2008

Set dresser Gary Graffrath died at age 60. He was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #479. Mr. Graffrath dressed sets on Broadway as well as for films and TV shows. His film and TV credits include "Freejack," "Pet Sematary" and the TV show "In the Heat of the Night." His Broadway credits include productions of "Cats," "Mame" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."