In Memoriam 2018: Film & Television – Behind the Cameras

Just a few hours after finishing the first part of this annual tribute, I learned Penny Marshall had passed away at age 75. Penny became a semi-regular on her producer-brother Garry’s sitcom THE ODD COUPLE, then shot to stardom in the HAPPY DAYS spinoff LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, costarring with Cindy Williams as a pair of working class Milwaukee girls who frequently found themselves in slapstick situations. After a successful seven year run, Penny turned to directing with the feature JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH, an action-comedy vehicle for Whoopi Goldberg. Her next film, 1988’s BIG, was a smash, with a 12-year-old kid wishing he was “big” – and, thanks to the fortune telling machine Zoltar, gets his wish, turning into Tom Hanks! BIG was the highest-grossing film directed by a woman at the time, and Penny went on to make AWAKENINGS with Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (my all-time personal favorite baseball film, with Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and so many more), RENAISSANCE MAN starring Danny DeVito, THE PREACHER’S WIFE with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, and RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS starring Drew Barrymore. Whether before or behind the cameras, Penny Marshall was a force to be reckoned with, and her talents will be missed.

Neil Simon’s  (91) talent was with words, and the writer produced a ton of them during his long career. Starting out in television, Simon contributed to Sid Caesar’s groundbreaking YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and CAESAR’S HOUR, and Phil Silvers’ sitcom SGT. BILKO before scoring Broadway success with 1961’s COME BLOW YOUR HORN (later made into a film starring Frank Sinatra). His plays were adapted into movies and TV shows, including BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, THE ODD COUPLE, SWEET CHARITY, LAST OFTHE RED HOT LOVERS, THE SUNSHINE BOYS, and he wrote hits like THE GOODBYE GIRL, MURDER BY DEATH, and THE CHEAP DETECTIVE exclusively for the screen. Winner of numerous awards, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes – but strangely never an Oscar – Neil Simon’s work will still be performed long after we’re all gone.

Director Bernardo Bertolucci

Director’s chairs around the world will be a lot emptier. Italian Bernardo Bertolucci (77) gave us political thrillers like THE CONFORMIST and THE SPIDER’S STRATAGEM before shocking the world with the X-Rated LAST TANGO IN PARIS, starring (of all people) Marlon Brando. Bertolucci’s international productions included the historical drama 1900 (with Robert DeNiro and an all-star cast), the provocative LUNA starring Jill Clayburgh, the Oscar-winning THE LAST EMPEROR, the Zen meditation LITTLE BUDDHA, and the sensuous STEALING BEAUTY. Czech Milos Forman (86) came to America and won two Oscars, for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and AMADEUS. Forman adapted well to his new country, and his sense of humor elevated films like HAIR, HEARTBURN, VALMONT, THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, and MAN ON THE MOON.

Obsessed with film: Nicolas Roeg

Over in England, Nicholas Roeg (90) started as a cinematographer (MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, FARENHEIT 451, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD) before making his directorial debut with PERFORMANCE, starring Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Roeg had success guiding rock stars to fine screen performances (David Bowie in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, Art Garfunkel in BAD TIMING: A SEXUALOBSESSION), made one of the 70”s most chilling films (DON’T LOOK NOW with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), and made daring films like WALKABOUT, INSIGNIFICANCE, and THE WITCHES. Fellow countryman Lewis Gilbert (97) helmed the classics SINK THE BISMARCK!, ALFIE, and EDUCATING RITA, as well as three 007 movies: YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, and MOONRAKER.

Future director Robert Sheerer jitterbuggin’ in the 1940’s

Italian Gianfranco Parolini (93) filmed Peplum entries SAMSON, FURY OF HERCULES, and THE TEN GLADIATORS, but is best remembered for the SABATA trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns. Jorge Grau (88) gave us the cult classic THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE. Michael Anderson (98) directed the Oscar winner AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, THE DAM BUSTERS, 1984, SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL, and the sci-fi hit LOGAN’S RUN . Vincent McEveety (88) worked with icons Henry Fonda and James Stewart on FIRECREEK, and did ten comedies for Disney (THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK, THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD, HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO). Stan Dragoti (85) gave us the comedies LOVE AT FIRST BITE and MR. MOM. Hugh Wilson (74) was responsible (for better or worse!) for the original POLICE ACADEMY, as well as creating TV’s WKRP IN CINCINNATI. Robert Sheerer (89) was a member of the 40’s jitterbug dance troupe The Jivin’ Jacks and A Jill, appearing in WHAT’S COOKIN’, PRIVATE BUCKAROO, and GIVE OUT SISTERS before becoming a director for movies (ADAM AT SIX A.M., HOW TO BEAT THE HIGH COST OF LIVING) and TV (THE LOVE BOAT, FAME, MATLOCK, and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE, VOYAGER). Geoff Murphy (80) made YOUNG GUNS II and FREEJACK.

Al Pacino in Martin Bregman’s “Scarface”

Megaproducer Martin Bregman (92) began as a talent manager before producing some of Al Pacino’s best (SERPICO, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, SCARFACE). He also worked with Alan Alda on such films as THE FOUR SEASONS and SWEET LIBERTY. Gary Kurtz (78) and Gloria Katz (76) both worked behind the scenes producing the George Lucas hits AMERICAN GRAFFITI and STAR WARS . Hong Kong’s Raymond Chow (91) helped bring Martial Arts and Bruce Lee to American theaters. Phil D’Antoni (89) was the genius behind a trio of great 70’s cop flicks: BULLITT , THE FRENCH CONNECTION , and THE SEVEN-UPS . Steven Bochco (74) left his indelible mark on television with hits like HILL STREET BLUES, L.A. LAW, DOOGIE HOWSER M.D., and NYPD BLUE. Jerry Thorpe (92) produced and directed favorites THE UNTOUCHABLES, KUNG FU, and HARRY O. Paul Junger Witt (77) had the magic touch in both TV sitcoms (SOAP, BENSON, THE GOLDEN GIRLS, BLOSSOM) and movies (BRIAN’S SONG, DEAD POETS SOCIETY, THREE KINGS). John D.F. Black (85) worked as a producer/writer/director on a multitude of TV (STAR TREK ) and film (SHAFT,  TROUBLE MAN ) productions.

A sample of Robby Muller’s work from “To Live & Die in LA”

Cinematographer Robby Muller (78) lent his keen eye to SAINT JACK, PARIS TEXAS, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., and DOWN BY LAW. Richard Kline (91) manned the cameras on CAMELOT, HANG ‘EM HIGH , THE BOSTON STRANGLER, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, THE MECHANIC , KING KONG, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, and BODY HEAT. Art Director Michael Ford (90) won Oscars for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and TITANIC. Yvonne Blake (78) created the costumes for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and SUPERMAN. Pablo Ferro (83) gave us dazzling titles for DR. STRANGELOVE, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, and MEN IN BLACK. And let’s not forget the contributions of William Hobbs (79), fight choreographer on the films OTHELLO, THE THREE and FOUR MUSKETEERS, CATAIN KRONUS – VAMPIRE HUNTER, FLASH GORDON, EXCALIBUR, LADYHAWKE, WILLOW, DANGEROUS LIAISONS, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, and the series GAME OF THRONES.

Writer William Goldman

So many talented people are no longer with us: producers Gerald Ayres (82, THE LAST DETAIL), Arnold Kopelson (83, PLATOON), Allison Shearmur (54, THE HUNGER GAMES, ROGUE ONE), Ezra Swerdlow (64, SPACEBALLS, ZOMBIELAND), Craig Zadan (69, FOOTLOOSE); screenwriters William Goldman (87, BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, THE PRINCESS BRIDE), Thad Mumford (67, TV’s MASH, THE COSBY SHOW), David Sherwin (75, IF, O LUCKY MAN);  cinematographers Michael Gershman (73), Ronnie Taylor (93, Oscar for GANDHI); editors Edward Abroms (82, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, BLUE THUNDER), Francoise Bonnot (78, Oscar winner for Z), John Carter (95), Anne V. Coates (92, Oscar winner for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA); production designers Terence Marsh (86, DR. ZHIVAGO, OLIVER!); composers Johann Johannsson (48, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, SICORRO), John Morris (91, Oscar winner for THE ELEPHANT MAN), Arthur Rubinstein (80, WAR GAMES, STAKEOUT), Patrick Williams (79, BREAKING AWAY, SWING SHIFT); documentarians Peter Clifton (77, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME), Rick McKay (57, BROADWAY: THE GOLDEN AGE); stuntman Jack N. Young; animator Rick Reinert (93).

Steven Hillenburg & Friend

Last but certainly not least, we salute Stephen Hillenburg, the animator who introduced the world to SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, the subversively silly Nickelodeon cartoon that’s enjoyed by young and old alike. Hillenburg died from ALS at the too-young age of 57, but his beloved creation will live on forever. Now pass the Krabby Patties, please!

Tomorrow: Music 

In Memoriam 2017: Sports & Other Pop Culture

Since I’m a Massachusetts-based writer and unrepentant Boston sports fan, I’m dedicating this final “In Memoriam” post to two legends in their respective sports. The Red Sox’ Bobby Doerr was MLB’s oldest living player when he died in November at age 99. Doerr was a Hall of Fame second baseman, 9 time All-Star, and one of the best hitters and fielders at his position. Hockey Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt played 16 years with the Boston Bruins, eight of them on the feared “Kraut Line” alongside Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer. Schmidt also coached the Bruins from 1954-66, and passed away in January at 98.

Boston Celtic Fab Melo

Perhaps the saddest loss in Boston sports was former Boston Celtic first round pick Fab Melo, who died at the tender age of 26 from a heart attack in his native Brazil. Quincy, MA native Sam Mele (98) roamed right field for Boston and 6 other teams; as a manager he guided the Minnesota Twins to the AL pennant in 1965, losing to the Dodgers. Jimmy Piersall (87) played center for the Sox and others; the film FEAR STRIKES OUT starring Anthony Perkins was based on his life. Big Don Baylor (68) went to the World Series with The Red Sox in ’86, the Twins in ’87, and the A’s in ’88. NHL defenceman Gary Doak (71) helped the Bruins win the 1970 Stanley Cup.

Patriots QB Babe Parilli

The New England Patriots  lost quite a few alumni: quarterback Babe Parilli (87) was the franchise’s Tom Brady before there was a Tom Brady. Wide receiver Terry Glenn (43) died in a car accident. A pair of Pats head coaches left the field: Dick McPherson (86) and Ron Meyer (76). Cornerback Leonard Myers died of cancer at 38. Lastly, I’ll ask we just remember Aaron Hernandez’s play on the field, and not the tragic mistakes that led to his demise at age 27.

Tennis champ Jana Novotna

Other sports stars gone include Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Congressman and Senator from Kentucky Jim Bunning (85), Detroit Tigers & Red Wings owner (and Little Caesar’s founder) Mike Ilitch (91), Chicago Bulls exec Jerry Krause (77), MLB player and World Series winning manager (with the Phillies) Dallas Green (82), Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney (84), Seattle Seahawks tackle Cortez Kennedy (48), baseball umpires Ken Kaiser (72) and Steve Palermo (67), 18 year MLB vet Lee May (74), Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian (94), TV sports producer Don Ohlmeyer (72), NBA superstars Darrall Imhoff (78) and Connie Hawkins (75), play-by-play man Bob Wolff (96), Wimbleton champ Jana Novotna (49), Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson (86), NY Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle (90), Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (40), and premier sportscaster Dick Enberg (82). “Oh, my!” And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Leonard Reiffel (89), the physicist who invented the Telestrator!

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

The world of professional wrestling was hit particularly hard in 2017. Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka (73) was an innovative high-flyer extremely popular with fans, while Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan (72) was one of the game’s most hated managers. George ‘The Animal’ Steele (79) was noted for chewing up turnbuckles, and portraying Tor Johnson in Tim Burton’s ED WOOD. Ivan Koloff (74) won the WWWF title from Bruno Sammartino back in ’71. Other grappling greats who passed include announcer Lance Russell (91), ‘The Big K’ Stan Kowalski (91), Burrhead Jones (80), Bruiser Bob Sweetan (76), Otto Wanz (74), Buddy Wolfe (76), Chavo Guerrero Sr (68), ‘Outlaw’ Ron Bass (68), Dennis Stamp (68), Japanese hardcore star Mr. Pogo (66), Tom Zenk (59), Nicole Bass (52), Matthew ‘Rosey’ Anoa’i (47), and a pair of “Pretty Boy”‘s, Larry Sharpe (66) and Doug Somers (65). Boxing lost former middleweight champ and RAGING BULL subject Jake LaMotta (95), trainer/manager Lou Duva (94), and Muhammed Ali’s personal physician, “The Fight Doctor” Ferdie Pacheco (89).

Turning our attention to the world of comics, SWAMP THING co-creators Len Wein (69) and Bernie Wrightson (68) both passed away in 2017. Two underground legends, Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, were both age 72 when they passed. MAD magazine writer Stan Hart (88) also won Emmys for his work on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Fran Hopper (95) was one of the few female artists working during the Golden Age. Dick Locher (88) was the artist on the strip DICK TRACY for decades. Marvel Comic’s Gal Friday ‘Fabulous’ Flo Steinberg (78) was an important part of that company’s emergence in the 60’s, as I’m sure was Stan Lee’s beloved wife Joan (93). Artists Rich Buckler (68), Dave Hunt (74), Sam Glanzman (92), Bob Lubbers (95), and Dan Spiegel (96) are also among the departed. And though he wasn’t in comics, painter Basil Gogos (88) will always be remembered for his FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND cover art.

Hef and his Bunnies

An era ended when PLAYBOY Magazine founder Hugh Hefner (91) died, as did three-time Playmate of the Month Janet Pilgrim (82). SPORTS ILLUSTRATED writer and author (ALEX: THE LIFE OF A CHILD) Frank Deford was 78; New York Daily News columnist and author (THE GANG THAT COULDN’T SHOOT STRAIGHT) Jimmy Breslin was 88. Jean Stein (83) wrote the definitive oral history EDIE, about Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick. Robert James Waller (77) was known for his book THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY; Donald Bain (82) for COFFEE, TEA, OR ME? Authors Brian Aldiss (92), Louise Hay (90), Miriam Marx (daughter of Groucho, 90), and Nancy Friday (84) all left us this year. (Just before posting, I learned one of my favorites, Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Milhone “Alphabet” mysteries, passed away today at age 77). And finally, two names that won’t be familiar to you, but deserve their last bows. One is Stanley Weston (84), who is credited with inventing the action figure, prized possession of every fanboy! The other gentleman, Robert Blakely (95), was a graphic designer who created this iconic sign…

Let us all pray we don’t wind up running to one in 2018!

In Memoriam 2017: Music

The world of rock’n’roll lost two of its architects in 2017, giants who can never be replaced. Chuck Berry (90) was rock’s poet laureate, a smooth showman who chronicled the life and times of 50’s teens with songs like “Johnny B. Goode”, “School Days”, “You Never Can Tell”, and the anthem “Rock and Roll Music”. New Orleans pianist Fats Domino (89) contributed his barrelhouse, let-the-good-times-roll sound on hits like “Blueberry Hill”, “Blue Monday”, “I’m Walkin'”, and “Ain’t That a Shame”. Music will not see the likes of these two originals again, and Cracked Rear Viewer respectfully dedicates this post to their memories.

Gregg Allman & Tom Petty

Rock music suffered another one-two blow when Gregg Allman (69), who helped usher in the Southern Rock style with The Allman Brothers Band, passed away in May. Five months later, superstar Tom Petty died at age 66, taking his beautifully jangling guitar sounds with him. Both men remain staples of FM Classic Rock radio. Boston-based guitarist J. Geils , leader of the eponymous J. Geils Band, left us at age 71. Allman Brothers percussionist Butch Trucks (69) also departed, along with classic rockers Overend Watts of Mott the Hoople (69), prog rock drummer Clive Brooks (67), John Wetton of King Crimson and Asia (67), Steely Dan cofounder Walter Becker (67), AC/DC’s Malcom Young (64), Black Sabbath’s Geoff Nicholls (68), Steppenwolf’s Goldy McJohn (72), Prince percussionist John Blackwell Jr (43), and arranger Paul Buckmaster (71). All left us way too soon.

Blues giant James Cotton

Reaching back into rock’s roots, legendary blues harpist James Cotton died at age 81. Other greats who passed include Lonnie Brooks (83), Guitar Gable (79), drummer Casey Jones (77), rockabilly pioneer Sonny Burgess (88), white soul shouter Wayne Cochran (78), Delta bluesman CeDell Davis (91), Chicago bluesman Robert Walker Jr (80), gospel blues singer Leo Welsh (85), and James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield (73). “The French Elvis” Johnny Hallyday (74) was little known in America, but a worldwide success elsewhere. R&B stars Della Reese (86), Al Jarreau (76), Junie Morrison of The Ohio Players (62), ‘Philly Sound’ singer/songwriter Bunny Sigler (76), Bobby Freeman (“Do You Want to Dance”, 76), Robert Knight (“Everlasting Love”, 72), Pete Moore of The Miracles (79), The Main Ingredient’s Cuba Gooding Sr (72), and soul man Charles Bradley (68) are also no longer with us.

70’s heartthrob David Cassidy

70’s Teenybop idol David Cassidy, who made all the little girls scream as star of TV’s THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY and had hits like “I Think I Love You”, “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted”, and “Cherish”, succumbed to organ failure at 67. Tommy Page (“I’ll Be Your Everything”) was a young 46. Gary DeCarlo of Steam (75) will always be remembered for the sports anthem “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” . Joni Sledge of Sister Sledge (60) hit it big with “We Are Family”, which became the theme song for the 1979 World Series winning Pittsburgh Pirates. Songwriter Ritchie Adams (78) not only composed the 1961 hit “Tossing & Turning”, but the theme for TV’s THE BANANA SPLITS!

Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell

More musicians we’ll miss: Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave (52), Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington (41), Husker-Du’s Grant Hart (56), Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip (53), The Afghan Wigs’ Dave Rosser (50), Faith No More’s Chuck Mosely (57), The Lollipop Shoppe’s Fred Cole (69), and Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (62). Paul O’Neill (61) of the fantastic Trans-Siberian Orchestra is gone, so too are reggae stars Earl Lindo (64) and Michael Prophet (60), Mitch Margo of The Tokens (70), power pop singer Tommy Keene (59), gospel queen and Tony winner Linda Hopkins (92), “Bluer Than Blue” singer Michael Johnson (72), ‘Godfather of Jam’ Bruce Hampton (70), and Vegas entertainer Buddy Greco (90).

Country music fans mourned the passing of multi-talented Glen Campbell (81), Don Williams (“I Believe in You”, 76), M-M-Mel Tillis (85), Montgomery Gentry’s Troy Gentry (50), steel guitar wizard Billy Mize (88), and Cajun legend D.L. Menard (85). The world of jazz lamented the losses of singers Jon Hendricks (96) and Keely Smith (89), guitarists Larry Coryell (73) and John Abercrombie (72), drummers Ben Riley (84) and Sunny Murray (81), Big Band singer Dick Noel (90), saxophonist Arthur Blythe (76), accordionist Dick Contino (87), composer/arranger Dominic Frontiere (86), and producer Tommy LiPuma (80).

Shindig’s Jack Good and some friends

Those behind the scenes gone in 2017 include VILLAGE VOICE critic Nat Hentoff (91), Casablanca Records exec Larry Harris (70), AC/DC producer George Young (70, who also played with 60’s group The Easybeats and penned their hit “Friday On My Mind”), SHINDIG TV producer Jack Good (86), and producer/exec Pierre Jaubert (88). Each and every one of these individuals contributed to make music that’s accessible to everyone. May they rest in peace, and may YOU, Dear Reader, go out and enjoy as much live music as you can… before it’s too late.

Tomorrow: Sports & Other Pop Culture

In Memoriam 2017: Film & Television

Classic movie lovers suffered a huge loss when long-time TCM host Robert Osbourne passed away at age 84. Robert’s extensive film knowledge and warm personality were always a welcome presence in my home, as I’m sure it was in movie lover’s across the country. Cracked Rear Viewer respectfully dedicates this post to the memory of the gone-but-never-to-be-forgotten Robert Osbourne.

Jerry Lewis, 1977

Old movie buffs (some say weirdos!) like myself also mourned the loss of many of our favorite stars in 2017. First and foremost there was comedian/actor/writer/director… you name it, Jerry Lewis did it! From his early days clowning with partner Dean Martin to his final dramatic role in 2016’s MAX ROSE, Lewis was a show business legend in every respect. Beautiful Anne Jeffreys (94) starred at RKO with everyone from Frank Sinatra (STEP LIVELY) to Bela Lugosi (ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY ), and also made her mark in television with the ghostly sitcom TOPPER. Danielle Darrieux (100) was a star in America (THE RAGE OF PARIS) and her native France (THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE…). Another French icon, Jeanne Moreau (89), became an international star in THE 400 BLOWS, JULES AND JIM, and VIVA MARIA! Emmanuelle Riva (89) starred in HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR. Cool blonde Dina Merrill (93) is remembered for her work in DESK SET, OPERATION PETTICOAT, and THE YOUNG SAVAGES.

Roger Moore as 007

Roger Moore  (89) took over the role of Agent 007, James Bond, and made it his own. Marvelous Martin Landau (89) lent his talent to everything from Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST to Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Lugosi. Don Gordon (90) is one of my favorite character actors, appearing in BULLITT and PAPILLION alongside his good friend Steve McQueen. Skip Homeier (86) made a name for himself in TOMORROW, THE WORLD!, THE GUNFIGHTER, and HALLS OF MONTEZUMA, among many, many more great films. Lola Albright (92) was superb in CHAMPION , THE SILVER WHIP, and A COLD WIND IN AUGUST, but most fans remember her as sexy singer Edie on TV’s PETER GUNN. Elsa Martinelli (82) was another international star noted for American films HATARI! (with John Wayne) and THE VIP’S.

The great Harry Dean Stanton

The list of supporting players gone in 2017 is long indeed: Francine York (80), Dick Gautier (85), Howard Leeds (97), Richard Karron (82), Miriam Colon (80), Clifton James (96), Anita Pallenberg (75), Richard Anderson (91), Frank Vincent (80), Harry Dean Stanton (91), Don Pedro Colley (79), Roy Dotrice (94), John Dunsworth (71), Jack Bannon (77), Karin Dor (79), John Hillerman (84), Ann Wedgeworth (83), Earl Hyman (91), Rance Howard (89), Robert Hardy (91), Ji-Tu Cumbuka (80), and Bernie Casey (78).

John Hurt in “Alien”

John Hurt (77) graced us with his presence in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, ALIEN, and the HARRY POTTER films. John Heard (71) was so underrated in CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER and CUTTER’S WAY; even in sub-par movies like C.H.U.D. he gives it his all. Alec McCowan (91) gave sterling performances in FRENZY and TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT. Bill Paxton (61) left us much too soon; his parts in APOLLO 13, TWISTER, and A SIMPLE PLAN were just the tip of the iceberg for his talent. ROCKY and THE KARATE KID director John G. Avildsen (81) will be sorely missed.

Spaghetti Western superstar Tomas Milian

More losses: Our Gang’s Juanita Quigley (86) and Leonard Landy (84), CLERKS’ Lisa Spoonauer (44), writer John Gay (SEPARATE TABLES), Spaghetti star Tomas Milian (84), W.C. Fields’ IT’S A GIFT daughter Jean Rouvenol (100), porn director Radley Metzger (88), Tim Piggot-Smith (70), beautiful Israeli actress Daliah Lavi (74), Tino Insana (69), actor/stuntman Sonny Landham (76), Gleane Hedley (62), ANIMAL HOUSE’s Stephen Furst (63), Hywel Bennett (73), Barbara Sinatra (90), actor/playwright Sam Shepard (73), Joseph Bologna (82), documentarians Bruce Brown (80) and Murray Lerner (90), Czech actor Jan Triska (80), Dennis Banks (80), peplum hunk Brad Harris (84), GROOVE TUBE and MODERN PROBLEMS director Ken Shapiro (75), director (THE LION IN WINTER) and editor (DR. STRANGELOVE) Anthony Harvey (87), producer Martin Ransohoff (90), THE SOUND OF MUSIC’s Heather Menzies (68), director George Englund (91), sound mixer (THE GODFATHER, STAR WARS , THE DEER HUNTER) Richard Portman (82), director Robert Ellis Miller (89), and cinematographers Gerald Hirschfield (95), Fred J. Koenekamp (94), and Harry Stradling Jr. (92).

Lon Chaney Jr. courts Elena Verdugo in “House of Frankenstein”

Horror film fans were shocked by the passing of two titans of terror: directors George A. Romero (77) and Tobe Hooper (74). Elena Verdugo (92), who fell in love with the Wolf Man in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN , also left us, as did WEREWOLF IN A GIRL’S DORMINTORY’s Curt Lowens (91), EXORCIST author/filmmaker William Peter Blatty (89), THE BLOB producer Jack H. Harris (98), Kathleen Crowley (TARGET EARTH, CURSE OF THE UNDEAD, 87), WAR OF THE PLANETS and WILD, WILD PLANET star Tony Russel (91), SILENCE OF THE LAMBS director Jonathan Demme (73), Ed Wood stock player Conrad Brooks (86), THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI’s Quinn O’Hara (76), the man in the GODZILLA suit, Haruo Nakajimi (88), Nancy Valentine of THE BLACK CASTLE (89), Hammer star Jennifer Daniel (THE REPTILE, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, 81), Elizabeth Kemp of HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (65), Suzan Farmer (DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS , DIE, MONSTER, DIE!, 75), Italian director Umberto Lenzi (EATEN ALIVE, CANNIBAL FEROX, 86), THE BOOGEYMAN director Ulli Lommel (72), THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD director Peter Duffell (95), actress Suzanna Leigh (THE DEADLY BEES, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, 72), and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD sheriff George Kosana (81).

Mary!

Television lost some of it’s biggest stars of the 60’s and 70’s. America’s Sweetheart Mary Tyler Moore left us, as did MANNIX he-man Mike Connors (91), PERRY MASON’s Barbara Hale (94), GOMER PYLE himself, Jim Nabors (87), Robert Guillaume of SOAP and BENSON (89), and TWIN PEAKS’ Miguel Ferrer (61). Another TWIN PEAKS vet,  Michael Parks (77) also departed, along with my favorite Philip Marlowe of all, Powers Boothe (68). TV’s Caped Crusader, the one, true BATMAN, Adam West (88), is no longer Mayor of Quahog, R.I. Erin Moran (56), kid sister Joanie on HAPPY DAYS, is gone, so too is “America’s top trader, TV’s big dealer”, Monty Hall (96), creator and host of LET’S MAKE A DEAL. BRONCO’s Ty Hardin (87) will no longer be riding the range. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Richard Hatch (71) will no longer roam the galaxy.

The Merchant of Venom, Don Rickles

“Mr. Warmth” Don Rickles (90) left us with a huge comic void to fill. Vaudevillian Professor Irwin Corey (102), king of double-talk, is silenced. LAUGH-IN alums Chelsea Brown (74) and Patti Deutsch (73) both took their smiles away, as well as Shelley Berman (92), Dick Gregory (84), Bill “My name Jose Jimenez” Dana (92), and Jay Thomas (69). Voice actress supreme June Foray (99), rotund stand-up comic Ralphie May (45), sitcom writer Bob Schiller (98), Eddie’s bro Charlie Murphy (57), WALLACE & GROMIT’s Peter Sallis (96), and THE GONG SHOW impresario Chuck Barris (87) have all left, making the world a sadder place.

77 Sunset Strip’s Roger Smith

Other TV names pass us by: 77 SUNSET STRIP’s Roger Smith (84), DALLAS’ Jared Martin (75), CAGNEY & LACEY’s Harvey Atkin (74), IRONSIDE’s Elizabeth Bauer (69), SNL’s Tony Rosato (62), voice actor Bill Woodson of SUPER FRIENDS (99), THE COSBY SHOW’s Earle Hyman (91), THE SOPRANO’s Frank Pellegrino (72), soap star Mark LaMura (68), THE PEOPLE’S COURT’s Judge Joe Wapner (97), director Peter Baldwin (THE WONDER YEARS, 86), SCOOBY DOO’s Daphne, Heather North (71), David Letterman’s mom Dorothy Mengering (95), and GREEN ACRES writer/director Richard L. Bare (101).

Animators Hal Geer (100) and Bob Givens (99) both left their marks with Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes. Stuntmen Red West (81) and his cousin Sonny West (78) were both part of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia. Critics who’ve gone on include Richard Schickel (84) and Roger Greenspun (87), and long-time New York gossip columnist Liz Smith (94), too. All these men and women have made watching films and television a better experience for us all, and we’re certainly grateful for their contributions. Rest in peace.

Tomorrow: Music legends we lost in 2017