The 80th Annual Academy Award Obit List

I watch the Academy Awards last night, like I do every year, and waited for the segment that I enjoy watching every year. This is when the Oscars salute the people who have taken the Final Taxi in the last year. Here is the list if you missed it:

Roscoe Lee Browne
Barry Nelson
Kitty Carlisle Hart
Betty Hutton
Calvin Lockhart
Jane Wyman
Melville Shavelson (writer)
Curtis Harrington (director)
Jack Valenti
Michael Kidd (dancer)
Michelangelo Antonioni
Delbert Mann (director)
Montague “Monty” G. Westmore (makeup)
Peter T. Handford (sound)
Bud Ekins (stuntman)
Bernard Gordon (writer)
Dabbs Greer
Jean-Claude Brialy
Harold Michelson (art director)
Laraine Day
Jean-Pierre Cassel
Lois Maxwell
Laszlo Kovacs (cinematographer)
Robert Clark (director)
George Jenkins (art director)
Johnny Grant (executive)
Frank E. Rosenfelt (executive)
Martin Manulis (producer)
Donfeld (costume designer)
Sembene Ousmane (director)
Freddy Fields (agent)
Robert Lantz (agent)
Ray Kurtzman (executive)
Miyoshi Umeki
Suzanne Pleshette
Deborah Kerr
Peter Ellenshaw (visual effects)
Peter Zinner (film editor)
Freddie Francis (cinematographer)
Ingmar Bergman (director)
Ray Evans (music)
William Tuttle (makeup)
Heath Ledger

I suddenly felt a bit shocked as it ended. Wait a minute. There is a few names missing off that list.

I would think most of the old-time  Hollywood players would have wanted Joey Bishop or Robert Goulet names to be seen.

Also curiously missing was Alice Ghostley. I would think that a star in To Kill A Mockingbird or Grease would be enough to warrant mentioning. I missed seeing Lois Nettleton and Marcel Marceau, the famous mime who was in films.

Ron Carey was in many Mel Brooks films and did not have his name on the list nor was Sidbad’s Kerwin Mathews.

 Beside actors not being on there I saw no mention of the animator for the Pink Panther opening credits, Warren Batchelder (who also did several Warner Bros cartoons) and missing was Art Stevens the man who drew several Disney classic films including “Peter Pan”, “Winnie the Pooh”, “Fantasia” and later co-directed “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Rescuers.”

The biggest slap in the face was to Charles Lane. Lane, whose career spanned more than 60 years, appeared in such film classics as “It‘s a Wonderful Life,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Primrose Path ” and “Murphy’s Romance” with Sally Field in 1986.

Mr. Lane was in “The Music Man,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “The Carpetbaggers,” among his many films.

Someone at the Academy Awards needs to do their homework and remember the old Hollywood stars.

The Man On The Beatles’ Abby Road Album

While going to the craft store can be a pain if you are a guy, I recently went with my wife and found something that I had to have. They were frames that were made to specially fit my old vinyl LPs. I was able to take some of my favorite album artwork and put it on my home office like they were artwork, which to me they were.

While listening to music during my teen years I would hold the 12×12 cardboard home of my new record and study it. The cover served 3 main purposes:

The 1969 Beatles LP Abby Road-

* To advertise the contents of the music product.
* To convey the artistic aspirations of the original.
* To serve as a primary image in the promotional efforts surrounding the product or as an identifiable image associated with it.

Also, in the case of vinyl records, it also served as part of the protective sleeve. Many also had a place for the musician to ‘speak’ to their fans. ( Long before the days of websites or MySpace pages.)

Among the most noted covers are those by Pink Floyd, especially The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here (album), The Grateful Dead’s Steal Your Face, Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold as Love and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I remember my brother getting Wish You Were Here and it having a dark purple plastic on the LP instead of the normal clear one. I also remember playing with the cut-out faces of John Lennon on his Wall and Bridges or fantasizing over the girl on the Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass LP Whipped Cream.

I often wonder with people moving to downloads for their music will the artwork for music be lost?

One of my favorite album cover I bought twice. Once as for the record and a second time at a yard sale just to put it on my wall. This was The Beatle’s Abby Road. On it is has one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. The Fab Four are walking across a street in a straight line and dressed their ‘normal ‘attire’ for the time.

Also in this famous shot of the Beatles walking across London’s Abbey Road is a man staring at them in the distance. That man was Paul Cole. Cole, a longtime resident of Barefoot Bay, Florida, has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 96

Cole explained in 2004 how he came to be there at that precise moment for the front cover of the group’s classic 1969 album.

On a London vacation with his wife, Cole declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.

“I told her, ‘I’ve seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I’ll just stay out here and see what’s going on outside,'” he recalled.

Parked just outside was a black police van. “I like to just start talking with people,” Cole said. “I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day.”

In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.

It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.

Close up of Paul Cole on the Beatles' 1969 LP Abby Road

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks,” Cole remembered. “A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn’t walk around in London barefoot.”

About a year later, Cole first noticed the “Abbey Road” album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison’s love song “Something” on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan’s photo.

“I had a new sportcoat on, and I had just gotten new shell-rimmed glasses before I left,” he says. “I had to convince the kids that that was me for a while. I told them, ‘Get the magnifying glass out, kids, and you’ll see it’s me.'”

How many years did I stare at Paul Cole’s picture wondering who that guy was?

Do you think we will lose images like this as we move toward downloading more music than buying it?

Robocop’s Sgt. Reed – Robert DoQui

 Do you remember those Robocop movies?

Robert DoQui, a stage, screen and TV actor whose rough-edged character roles included Sgt. Warren Reed in three Robocop movies has taken his Final Taxi at age 74.

Robort DoQui as Sgt. Warren Reed in the Robocop movies. He played the role in all three films.

Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1934, DoQui attended Langston University on a music scholarship and was a member of singing group the Langstonaires. He served in the United States Air Force for four years before going to New York, then Hollywood.

In the 1960s, he began acting in films and TV shows.

DoQui was a guest on a wide variety of live-action TV series, including Gunsmoke, Tarzan, I Dream of Jeannie, Happy Days, The Jeffersons, Maude, E.R., NYPD Blue, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (as a Klingon), Picket Fences, Starman, Webster, The Fall Guy, Punky Brewster, Hill Street Blues, The Streets of San Francisco, Sanford and Son, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Mod Squad, The Fugitive, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Outer Limits. He last appeared on a 2003 episode of Wanda at Large.

He was former slave Ben in Disney’s live-action 1976 movie Treasure of the Matecumbe. He portrayed flamboyant pimp King George in Jack Hill’s blaxploitation classic Coffy. Other appearances include Fortune Cookie and miniseries How The West Was Won and Centennial.

DoQui portrayed a fanatical religious cult member in Guyana: Crime of the Century, and a short-tempered short-order cook in Miracle Mile. He played a police officer in both Cloak & Dagger and My Science Project. Was that because of his roles in the Robocop trilogy?

He also appeared in three Robert Altman films, “Nashville,” “Buffalo Bill & The Indians” and “Short Cuts,” for which he was part of the Golden Globe and Venice Film Fest award-winning ensemble cast.

DoQui’s distinctive voice kept him on dozens of animated TV shows over his 50-year career. Often in the voice cast of Hanna-Barbera’s The New Scooby-Doo Movies, he was Pablo Robinson in the episodes The Ghostly Creep From The Deep (1972), The Loch Ness Mess (1972) and The Mystery Of Haunted Island (1973). He was credited as “Robert Do Qui” when voicing Robinson in Hanna-Barbera’s The Harlem Globetrotters (1970-71).

He was in the voice cast of the short-lived 1985 H-B series The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians and in the Batman cartoon as well.

He also served for a decade on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild, helping it encourage women and minority groups to participate in the media.

Howard the Duck Creator – Steve Gerber

Ok- So I am in my forties and I still read comic books. Look how many of them are being turned into movies. Even one is listed on Time Magazine’s list of “the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. ( Alan Moore’s Watchmen)

Being a comic fan I was shock to see that one of my favorite writers, Steve Gerber has taken his Final Taxi at the early age of 60.

I was introduced to Geber’s writing in a book called Man-Thing. It was about a large, slow-moving, vaguely humanoid creature living in the Florida Everglades near the Seminole reservation. (Not to be confused with Swamp Thing or your mother-in-law) By helping people around him he runs into a duck from another planet called Howard. Howard the Duck by Steve Gerber

Howard graduated to his own backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing, confronting such bizarre horror-parody characters as the Hellcow and the Man-Frog, before acquiring his own comic book title with Howard the Duck #1 in 1976. Howard’s adventures were generally social satires and often parodies of other fiction.  Gerber wrote the first 27 issues of the series. It gradually developed a substantial cult following, possibly amplified by Howard’s entry into the 1976 U.S. presidential campaign under the auspices of the All-Night Party (an event later immortalized in a brief reference in Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers). Marvel attempted a spin-off with a short-lived Howard the Duck newspaper strip from 1977 to 1978 written by Gerber. ( Gerber had nothing to do with the George Lucas’ movie Howard the Duck.)

He was born Stephen Ross Gerber in St. Louis, Missouri on September 20, 1947. During the 1960s, he was a fanzine publisher in the days of dittos and mimeographs, publishing Headline at age 14.

Gerber became friends with comic book writer Roy Thomas. Years later, Gerber was hired by Thomas, then the editor at Marvel Comics, and made a writer and assistant editor. (Gerber had been writing advertising copy until then.)

Gerber’s many titles at Marvel included Morbius the Living Vampire, Guardians of the Galaxy, Son of Satan, Dracula Lives, Daughter of Dracula, and one of my favorite super-teams- The Defenders. The Defenders are Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer and a few other heroes.

His other comics creations include Nevada (Vertigo Press); Void Indigo (Epic Comics); Sludge (Malibu Comics); Destroyer Duck (Eclipse Comics and Image Comics); Stewart the Rat (Eclipse Comics); A. Bizarro (DC Comics); and Foolkiller, Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils and Omega the Unknown (co-created with Mary Skrenes), all published by Marvel Comics. Gerber also wrote, edited and supervised the production of Marvel’s celebrated KISS comic book, based on the goth-glam rock band.

Besides comics he also wrote scripts for animated series. In 1998, Toons magazine asked its readers to vote for the Top 25 animated series of all time. Gerber served as chief story editor on two of those series — G.I. Joe (Sunbow Productions) and Dungeons & Dragons (Marvel Productions) — and won an Emmy for his work as staff writer on a third, The Batman/Superman Adventures (WB Animation).

Gerber was a writer for the short-lived 1981 Ruby-Spears Productions series Goldie Gold and Action Jack, as well as Ruby-Spears’ Mr. T (1983) and 4Kids Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! He also co-created and story edited the animated cult favorite Thundarr the Barbarian for Ruby-Spears. His first work in animation was for a script for Ruby-Spears’ Plastic Man series.

He was also a story editor for Marvel Productions’ Transformers (1984).

During a career spanning over 30 years, Gerber put words in the mouths of virtually every major character in the comic book world — from Superman to Scooby-Doo — and his work appeared under the imprint of almost every major publisher in the field.

I will miss his writing. While in the hospital struggling with pulmonary fibrosis, Steve Geber was working on one of my favorite comic book character, Dr. Fate. I can’t wait to read those last stories of his.

Roy Scheider – “You’re gonna need a bigger boat….”

In one of my jobs I work for a company the plays movies in parks and other outdoor settings. For we get to show films at a lot of birthday parties and last year we were playing in a rather unusual place. We were on Lake Tuscaloosa showing this movie to all of these boats that were on the lake parked and watching the film. It was like a drive-in for boats. The cool thing was that the movie was perfect for this event. It was Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws.

I was not luck to see Jaws when it first came out in 1975 but did see it many years later on a re-release. The film scared the hell out of me  enough that we skipped the beach that year.

Jaws is regarded as the father of the summer blockbuster movie . In the movie the police chief of Amity Island, a Summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open to draw a profit from tourists. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as marine biologist Matt Hooper, the late Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint.

Roy Scheider, best known for that rolein Steven Spielberg’s 1975 shark-attack smash hit has taken his Final taxi at age 75.

A stage actor when he began his career, Scheider was nominated twice for Academy Awards for his movie roles. The first was for best supporting actor as Gene Hackman’s police partner, Buddy Russo, in “The French Connection” (1971). He was later nominated for best actor for his depiction of a womanizing, drug- taking Broadway choreographer inspired by Bob Fosse in “All That Jazz” (1979).

The American Film Institute, on its list of the 100 greatest movies from 1907 to 2007, placed “Jaws” at 51 and “The French Connection” at 93.

Those two films and “All That Jazz” were among seven Scheider movies that are considered classics.’ The others are “Klute” (1971), “The Seven-Ups” (1973), “Marathon Man” (1976) and “Blue Thunder” (1983).

Roy Richard Scheider was born Nov. 10, 1932, in Orange, New Jersey, and battled rheumatic fever when he was 6 and again at 10 and 15. Restricted in his activities, he became a regular movie-goer.

“I dreamed, and the movies took me to the South Seas, to all the places I wanted to go,” he said

His health improved in his late teens, and when he was about 17 he began boxing at the local YMCA. Under the tutelage of a retired welterweight, Scheider entered the Golden Gloves competition in Elizabeth, N.J. He won one fight and lost the next. In the process, he got his nose broken, creating the slightly off-kilter profile that lent him authenticity in his later tough-guy roles.
He graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania with a degree in history, intending to become a lawyer. After serving three years in the U.S. Air Force, he pursued his acting career, debuting in “Romeo and Juliet.”

His film debut was in Del Tenney’s “Curse of the Living Corpse” (1964). He won attention for his role in “Klute” in 1971, followed months later by “The French Connection.” Among other notable films, he appeared in “Marathon Man” (1976), “Sorcerer” (1977), “Jaws 2” (1978), “Still of the Night” (1982), “2010” (1984) and “The Russia House” (1990).

In a career spanning four decades, Scheider appeared in more than 60 films, as well as in numerous roles on stage and television. But his most acclaimed roles came in a span of eight years in the 1970s, beginning with “The French Connection” in 1971.

He probably will be best remembered for his role as Martin Brody, the water-shy police chief in “Jaws” (1975) who uttered the immortal line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” after seeing the size of the shark. He once lamented that the role “will be on my tombstone.”

Among other notable films, he appeared in “Jaws 2” (1978), “Still of the Night” (1982), “2010” (1984) “The Russia House” (1990) Naked Lunch ( 1991) and The Punisher (2004).

In 1993, Scheider signed on to be the lead star in the Steven Spielberg-produced television series SeaQuest DSV. He played as Nathan Bridger, captain of the eponymous high-tech submarine seaQuest DSV 4600. He has also repeatedly guest-starred on the NBC television series Third Watch.

General Hospital’s Nurse Amy – Shell Kepler

In the legendary days of the TV soap opera, General Hospital, most people will recall the names of “Luke and Laura’. There was another character that was popular during that time, Nurse Amy Vining. She was played by actress Shell Kepler.

Kepler, who is best known for her work on General Hospital, has taken her Final Taxi. According to reports, the 49-year-old actress succumbed to renal failure, a situation in the body in which the kidney fails to function adequately.

Kepler joined General Hospital in 1979, taking over the role of the gossipy nurse from Cari Ann Warder, who portrayed the character in 1975. She beat out over 205 people during the audition and was considered as a fan favorite, enjoying more than two decades of exposure on the long-running soap.

Kepler’s character, Amy, was the sister of icon, Laura Spencer, who was adopted by Amy’s family when she was a baby. Raised as siblings, Amy and Laura established a strong bond even after Laura left the Vinings to go and live with her biological mother, Lesley Webber. Amy soon followed her sister to Port Charles and became a nurse at General Hospital. Amy remained single during her stint on the show and was never really officially written off. She last appeared on the canvass in 2002.

Additionally, Kepler was also credited for the 1982 Joan Collins film, Homework, the soap opera Port Charles, and a couple of episodes of the sitcom Three’s Company. I also remember seeing her in an early episode of CHiPS.

Apart from being an actress, Kepler was also a business woman, marketing her clothing line, Lacy Afternoon, on the former Home Shopping Club with sales over $20 million in one year alone

Eva Dahlbeck, actress in many Ingmar Bergman films

I was surprised last year when film maker Ingmar Bergman died. Many of his films touched my life. There was a magic in his direction and the crew he worked with. The lighting was perfect and so were the actors. Many of them he used in numerous films.

 One of those actresses Bergman used was Eva Dahlbeck who has taken her Final Taxi at age 87.

Born in 1920, Dahlbeck was one of Sweden’s most popular actresses in the 1940s and ’50s and became internationally known for her strong female leads in a number of Bergman’s films, including “Secrets of Women” (1952), “A Lesson of Love” (1954) and “Smiles of a Summer night” (1955).

It is significant that her only subsequent appearance for him was in his only late comedy, All These Women (1964). It is essentially as a comic presence—aware, ironic, sophisticated—that Dahlbeck functions in Bergman’s work, and the path he chose at the end of the 1950s led to the virtual abandonment of comedy.

In Secrets of Women, A Lesson in Love, and Smiles of a Summer Night Dahlbeck played opposite Gunnar Björnstrand, and they formed a team one might compare without absurdity to the great couples of Hollywood comedy, such as Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, playing to each other with extraordinarily refined precision and nuance. Their episode of the three-story Secrets of Women takes place almost entirely in an elevator stuck between floors in which, as a couple whose marriage has become stale and routine, they work their way through a series of mutual recriminations to discover a new basis for their relationship; the entire episode is built essentially on the actors’ comic gifts for facial expression, timing, and body language.

In the 1960s, she eventually came to give up acting as she started to write and Dahlbeck has not come back to filming or acting since the late 1960s (she made her last and final appearance in the Danish film Tintomara, released in 1970). She has published several novels and poems in her native Sweden, and much successfully wrote the screenplay for Arne Mattsson’s dark film piece Yngsjömordet (The Yngsjö Murder) in 1966.

In 1961 she was awarded the Eugene O’Neill Award for her highly critically acclaimed stage work in several plays.