In Memoriam 2018: Film & Television – Performers

(The Grim Reaper was pretty busy this year, so busy this remembrance of film and television personalities will be broken into two parts)

At the end of every year, Cracked Rear Viewer salutes those both in front of and behind the cameras who are no longer with us. The biggest name was undoubtedly Burt Reynolds, who passed away at age 82. Burt was one of 70’s cinema’s hottest stars, from his breakthrough role in DELIVERANCE to rough’n’tumble films WHITE LIGHTNING and THE LONGEST YARD to his ‘yahoo’ classics SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and THE CANNONBALL RUN. Reynolds hit a career slump during the 80’s, but came back strong as a character actor in such 90’s films as BOOGIE NIGHTS (receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination) and MYSTERY, ALASKA. He was no stranger to the small screen, either; early in his career, he was a regular on RIVERBOAT, GUNSMOKE, and DAN AUGUST, later starring in the 90’s sitcom EVENING SHADE. Burt’s warm personality and unforgettable, infectious laugh will certainly be missed.

Tab Hunter & Dorothy Malone in “Battle Cry” (1955)

Burt wasn’t the only big name who left the stage. Oscar winning actress Dorothy Malone (93) first got noticed in Howard Hawks’ THE BIG SLEEP , sharing a brief scene with Humphrey Bogart, and went on to fame in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, WRITTEN ON THE WIND, TOO MUCH TOO SOON , BEACH PARTY , and the TV version of PEYTON PLACE (as the prime-time soap’s star Constance McKenzie). Tab Hunter (86), Dorothy’s BATTLE CRY co-star, was one of the biggest matinee idols of the 1950’s, whose credits include Joe Hardy in DAMN YANKEES, TRACK OF THE CAT, GUNMAN’S WALK, and the early beach movie RIDE THE WILD SURF. Tab scored a #1 hit song, “Young Love”, and later starred in John Waters’ POLYESTER and Paul Bartel’s LUST IN THE DUST opposite the immortal Divine.

For a generation of filmgoers, Margot Kidder (69) was THE Lois Lane, costarring with Christopher Reeve in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and it’s sequels. Margot was much more than the Man of Steel’s main squeeze, starring in genre films SISTERS, BLACK CHRISTMAS, THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD, and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, and more mainstream fare like THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER, 92 IN THE SHADE, and WILLIE AND PHIL. John Gavin (86) played Janet Leigh’s lover in PSYCHO, Lana Turner’s lover in IMITATION OF LIFE, and Julius Caesar in SPARTACUS,  but his biggest role came when President Ronald Reagan appointed Gavin as Ambassador to Mexico. Gloria Jean (92) was a Universal starlet of the 40’s whose sweet soprano graced such films as THE UNDERPUP, IF I HAD MY WAY, A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN, and NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (starring the irrepressible W.C. Fields); she was teamed with Donald O’Connor for a series of teen-oriented pocket musicals with titles like GET HEP TO LOVE, IT COMES UP LOVE, and MR. BIG. Patricia Morison (103) was never a big star in movies, but did fine work in films of the classic era: PERSONS IN HIDING (as a Bonnie Parker-type), THE MAGNIFICENT FRAUD, BEYOND THE BLUE HORIZON, HITLER’S MADMAN , THE FALLEN SPARROW, CALLING DR. DEATH, LADY ON A TRAIN , DRESSED TO KILL. Patricia left Hollywood behind in the late 40’s and achieved stardom on Broadway in KISS ME KATE and THE KING AND I.

Big Clint Walker (90) was popular in both television (CHEYENNE, KILLDOZER) and films (YELLOWSTONE KELLY, THE DIRTY DOZEN ), as was actor Bradford Dillman (87, COMPULSION, FRANCIS OF ASSISI, countless episodic TV and TV-Movies). Multi-talented Harry Anderson (65) was a comedian, magician, and sitcom star (NIGHT COURT, DAVE’S WORLD) who also acted in the Stephen King miniseries IT. Comedian Jerry Van Dyke (86) appeared with John Wayne in MCCLINTOCK!, on his brother Dick’s weekly series, and sitcoms MY MOTHER THE CAR and COACH. Ken Berry (85) kept fans laughing in F TROOP, MAYBERRY RFD, and MAMA’S FAMILY. John Mahoney (77) was in TIN MEN, MOONSTRUCK, EIGHT MEN OUT, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, but is best remembered as Kelsey Grammer’s cranky dad for nine seasons on FRASIER. Nanette Fabray (97) won a Tony for LOVE LIFE, three Emmys for CAESAR’S HOUR, and costarred with Fred Astaire in THE BAND WAGON. David Ogden Stiers (75) amused viewers as stuffy Major Charles Emerson Winchester on M*A*S*H.

Actress/writer Delores Taylor (85) worked with husband Tom Laughlin in the BILLY JACK films . Sondra Locke (74) received an Oscar nomination for THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, and costarred in a series of 70’s films with then-boyfriend Clint Eastwood (THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, THE GAUNTLET , EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE, SUDDEN IMPACT). Susan Anspach (75) gained fame in FIVE EASY PIECES, BLUME IN LOVE, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM, and THE BIG FIX. Former Marine R. Lee Ermey (74) had a long career after debuting in Stanley Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET. Verne Troyer (49) made audiences laugh as Mini-Me in the AUSTIN POWERS movies. Jerry Maren (98) helped pave the way for Troyer and others; he was THE WIZARD OF OZ’s last surviving Munchkin. Maria Rohm (72) appeared in Jess Franco’s BLOOD OF FU MANCHU, 99 WOMEN, JUSTINE, VENUS IN FURS, and COUNT DRACULA. French star Stephane Audran (85) was known for Claude Chabrol’s LES BICHES and LE BOUCHER, BABETTE’S FEAST, and Luis Bunuel’s THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE. Mary Carlisle (104) started way back in the 1930’s; her films include COLLEGE HUMOR and DR. RHYTHM opposite Bing Crosby, KENTUCKY KERNALS with Wheeler & Woolsey, and the “old, dark house” comedy ONE FRIGHTENED NIGHT.

Barbara Harris in “Freaky Friday” (above), Michele Carey in “El Dorado” (below)

Barbara Harris (83) played in A THOUSAND CLOWNS, NASHVILLE, Hitchcock’s final film FAMILY PLOT, and the original FREAKY FRIDAY with Jodie Foster. Michele Carey (75) starred opposite The Duke (EL DORADO), The King (Elvis in LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE), and The Chairman of the Board (Frank Sinatra in DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE). James Karen (94) was in everything from FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER to THE CHINA SYNDROME, POLTEGEIST, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Soon-Tek Oh (85) was in such diverse fare as THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN , MISSING IN ACTION 2, and voiced the title character’s father in MULAN. Tim O’Connor (90) had ongoing roles in the series PEYTON PLACE and BUCK ROGERS. Jean Porter (95) played an autograph hound in THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION, rode the range with Roy Rogers in SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, and was part of the havoc in ABBOTT & COSTELLO IN HOLLYWOOD. Ann Gillis (90) played Becky Thatcher in 1938’s THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER, the title role in LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE, and voiced Faline in Disney’s BAMBI.

Zany Marty Allen
Mary Hatcher in “Variety Girl”

Other performers and personalities who’ve left screens large and small: actors Lassie Lou Ahern (97, Our Gang member), funnyman Marty Allen (90), Gary Beach (70, THE PRODUCERS), Patricia Benoit (91, MR. PEEPERS), Scotty Bloch (93), Phillip Bosco (88), Olivia Cole (75, ROOTS, BACKSTAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE), Bill Daily (91, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW), Hugh Dane (75, THE OFFICE’s Hank), Peter Donat (90), Frank Doubleday (73, ASSAULT ON PRECICNT 13, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK), Robert Dowdell (85, Lt. Cmdr. Morton on VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA ), Fenella Fielding (90, the CARRY ON movies), Sean Garrison (80), Eddie Foy III (83), Eunice Gayson (90, DR. NO , FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE , REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN), Pamela Gidley (52, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, CHERRY 2000), James Greene (91, PARKS & RECREATION), Kenneth Haigh (86, CLEOPATRA, MAN AT THE TOP), Mary Hatcher (88, VARIETY GIRL, HOLIDAY IN HAVANA), Alf Humphreys (64, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, FIRST BLOOD), Ricky Jay (72), Diane Jergens (83), David Landsberg (73), Louise Latham (95), Deanna Lund (81, LAND OF THE GIANTS )…

CIRCA 1963: Pop singer Rick Nelson and his wife Kristin Nelson pose for a portrait in circa 1963. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Katherine MacGregor (93, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE), Vanessa Marquez (49, ER, STAND AND DELIVER), Robert Mandan (86, SOAP), Wayne Maunder (80, CUSTER , THE SEVEN MINUTES), Jan Maxwell (61), Peggy McCay (90), Allyn Ann McLerie (91), Laurie Mitchell (90, QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE ), Donald Moffat (87), Alan O’Neill (47, SONS OF ANARCHY’s Hugh), Yosuke Natsuki (81, YOJIMBO, GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER), Kristin Nelson (72, OZZIE & HARRIET, ADAM-12, wife of Ricky Nelson, mother of Matthew and Gunnar, sister of Mark Harmon), Daniel Pilon (77), Jacqueline Pearce (74, THE REPTILE), Roger Perry (85), William Phipps (96, FIVE)…

Charlotte Rae and “The Facts of Life” girls

Charlotte Rae (92, THE FACTS OF LIFE), Meg Randall (91), Siegfried Rauch (85, PATTON, THE BIG RED ONE), Donnelly Rhodes (80, SOAP), Mark Salling (35, GLEE’s Puck), Connie Sawyer (105, “The Oldest Working Actress in Hollywood”), Carole Shelley (79, THE ODD COUPLE), Diana Sowle (88, WILLY WONKA), Naomi Stevens (92, THE APARTMENT, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS), Kin Sugai (92, GODZILLA ), Ken Swofford (85), Greta Thyssen (90, several Three Stooges shorts, JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET), Charles Weldon (78), Scott Wilson (76, IN COLD BLOOD, THE WALKING DEAD), Robert Wolders (81), Peter Wyngarde (90, JASON KING, FLASH GORDON), Celeste Yarnell (74, EVE), Louis Zorich (93).

Death does not discriminate: porn queen Jennifer Welles (top), preacher Billy Graham (bottom)

Former child stars Donna Butterworth (62, PARADISE HAWAIIAN STYLE, THE FAMILY JEWELS), Joseph Wayne Miller (36, HEAVYWEIGHTS), John Paul Steuer (33, GRACE UNDER FIRE), original Mouseketeer Doreen Tracy (74); voice actors Douglas Rain (90, 2001’s HAL), Simon Shelton (52, TELETUBBIES’ Tinky Winky), Doug Young (98, Hanna-Barbera’s Ding-A-Ling Wolf, Doggie Daddy); porn stars Jerry Butler (58), Johnny Keyes (82, BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR), Jennifer Welles (81). Evangelist Billy Graham (99) first appeared in America’s living rooms in 1951; his Crusades can still be watched today on TBN and his website. Jim Hendricks (68) hosted CAPTAIN USA’s GROOVIE MOVIES in the early days of cable. Chuck McCann (83) hosted Laurel & Hardy comedies on local New York television before branching out as a voice and onscreen actor; longtime fans haven’t forgotten his series of commercials for Right Guard (“Hi, guy!”). Robin Leach (76) took us on weekly tours inside the LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH & FAMOUS. Will Jordan (91) made a career out of imitating Ed Sullivan, while Will Vinton’s (70) Claymation marvels introduced us to The California Raisins. Finally, there’s Alan Abel (91), a prankster who perpetrated hoaxes on the media for decades, and made the mockumentary IS THERE SEX AFTER DEATH? Hey, Alan, let us know…

Next: Film & Television – Behind the Cameras 

%d bloggers like this: