Oh Captain My Captain- Goodbye Robin Williams

faces of Robin

Back in 1974 director George Lucas created a fad with the film “American Graffiti”. Nostalgia for the 1950’s echoed throughout the movie and soon all the media were recalling the decade. Movies, music and TV series started popping up recreating that innocent chapter in American life. One of the more popular TV shows was “Happy Days”, starring Ron Howard and Henry Winkler. This series was so popular that it spawned several others including “Laverne & Shirley”, “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Mork & Mindy”, among others.  In “Mork & Mindy” a space alien lands on Earth to report observations on its inhabitants back to his home planet, Ork. The only thing the show had going for it was a fresh faced comedian, Robin Williams. Williams’ wild antics and manic improvisational comedic talent made the show worth watching.

Sadly, Robin Williams, often labeled the “Funniest Man in the World”, has taken his Final Taxi.

Two entertainers shine the brightest in my memories of high school in the 70’s. Steve Martin in his white suit, with his “wild and crazy guy” act, and Robin Williams sporting rainbow suspenders while delivering an Orkiain handshake, saying “Na-Nu Na-Nu” as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The catchphrase among my classmates back in the day was “Shazbot”, a made-up swear word from the show that made us feel like we were all in on the joke.

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator Anselm J. McLaurin. Robin briefly studied political science before enrolling at Juilliard School to study theatre. After he left Juilliard, he performed in nightclubs, which is where he was discovered for the role of Mork.

In 1980 the first movie Williams did was Robert Altman’s “Popeye” based on the comic / cartoon created by E.C. Segar. He was able to capture the style of the early Popeye and the comedy came from the low mutterings under his breath.  It was a great role from him but the film did not do so well at the box office.

I was lucky to be working as a theatre manager for a chain in 1982 when “The World According to Garp” came out. The trailer made the film look like a comedy- and several people came to the movie excepting to see “Mork” on the big screen. The film was very dark and preachy with a few black comedy bits scatter about. I had many people walk out during the movie. This was Williams telling the public he was not “Mork” and making it clear he wanted more serious roles. “Garp” continues to be one of my favorite Robin Williams movies – giving us what life is really like. It has ups and downs, happy and sad moments and before you know it – it’s over.

From that point on Williams was able to mix comedy and drama. He knew how to wear the mask. There was a palpable energy around him. Whether he was Adrian Cronauer of “Good Morning, Vietnam” or Patch Adams, there was that fine balance of drama and comedy. Even with “Mrs. Doubtfire” he so eloquently portrayed the sadness of a father missing his children while hamming it up as the crazy nanny he played just to be near them. The balance was there. It echoed throughout “Hook,” Bicentennial Man” and “The Fisher King.”

William played pure comedy roles in “The Survivors,” “Aladdin,” “Flubber,”Night At The Museum,” and “RV” to name a few. He could also play very creepy and dark characters such as  twisted Seymour Parrish in “One Hour Photo”  or villains in “Insomnia” and TV shows like  “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

After being nominated for an Academy Award several times for films ( including my favorite, “Dead Poet’s Society”) William won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Sean Maguire in 1997’s “Good Will Hunting“.

Robin Williams has always been one of my favorite actors. While my policy here on the Final Taxi has been to never write about someone who took their own life, this is different. Williams suffered from a sickness which was kept in the shadows up until his death. Depression can make you do things you would not normally do and we need to not judge him by this.

I thought about Juan de Dios Peza‘s famous poem about English actor David Garrick, “To Laugh While Crying.” The poem is about a man who is depressed and goes to see a doctor.

It reads:
“Nothing holds any enchantment or attractiveness;
I don’t care about my name or my fate
I die living an eternal melancholy
and my only hope is that of death”.

The doctor tells him go to see Garrick. He will make him laugh and forget his worry and pains. The man begins to cry that he is Garrick.

The last lines are moving and remind me of Williams:

How many are there who, tired of life,
ill with pain, dead with tedium,
make others laugh as the suicidal actor,
without finding a remedy for their illness!

Ay! How often we laugh when we cry!
Nobody trust the merriment of laughter,
because in those beings devoured by pain,
the soul groans when the face laughs!

If faith dies, if calm flees,
if our feet only step on thistles,
the tempest of the soul hurls to the face,
a sad lighting: a smile.

The carnival of the world is such a trickster,
that life is but a short masquerade;
here we learn to laugh with tears
and also to cry with laughter.

God Bless Robin Williams—Thanks for all the joy you gave us.

Quote from Robin Williams in the movie” Jack”:

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish, and think of me. Make your life spectacular.”

( Written by Jeff Burson; Edited by Lesa Rosato)

‘Private Benjamin’ Drill Captain, Eileen Brennan, dies

In 1978 just as actor Peter Falk was leaving his most famous role – that of Lt. Columbo – he took a part in a comedy called “The Cheap Detective.”  I was excited about seeing Falk in a different role than I had seen him in before.  I laughed at Falk throughout the film, but one actress kept stealing my attention. She was playing the role of Betty DeBoop, who  I had seen only a few months earlier in a film called “FM.”  In it she played a sexy voiced DJ named ‘Mutha’. This actress was Eileen Brennan.

Eileen Brennan, 80, has taken her Final Taxi.

Image

Eileen Brennan was best known for her supporting role as tough-talking drill captain Doreen Lewis in the film ” Pvt. Benjamin”

The actress played memorable roles as the brothel madam in “The Sting”, as a café waitress in “The Last Picture Show” and in “Scarecrow” alongside Gene Hackman and Al Pacino.

Brennan scored an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in 1980’s “Private Benjamin,” and won both an Emmy and Golden Globe for the role in the subsequent TV series adaptation in the early 1980s. She also had a memorable turn as Tess Skeffington, the blonde sidekick to Peter Falk’s San Francisco gumshoe Sam Diamond, in the all-star Agatha Christie spoof “Murder by Death”.

Other films include “Stella,” “Texasville” and “Jeepers Creepers” along with TV appearances in the likes of “Will and Grace,” “7th Heaven,” “E.R.,” and “Blossom”.

I will always remember Brennan for her brilliant work as Mrs. Peacock in one of my favorite films: 1985’s cult comedy classic “Clue”.

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Oscar’s Obit Reel: Who Was Left Off?

The 84th Academy Awards ceremony has come and gone and from what I saw it was a good one. Billy Crystal proved once again why he is the best host for the Oscars.

I tried a little something new this year and watched some of the backstage cameras on the ABC.com website. It was an interesting peek into the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of everyone from presenters, caterers, and production assistants to statuette-wielding winners. The Thank You camera, in particular, gave honorees a way of delivering the ‘shout out’ messages that got cut from their acceptance speeches.

Fun – but you still needed to watch the whole event to get the full scope of the occasion.

As a writer for a blog about recently deceased entertainers I always anticipate seeing who the Academy lists among the talented individuals from the film industry who left us during the previous year. Here is the roll call of who we saw last night – for those who missed it.

Jane Russell
Annie Girardot
John Calley (executive producer)
Polly Platt (production designer/producer)
Ken Russell (director/actor/writer)
Donald Peterman (cinematographer)
Farley Granger
Whitney Houston
Bingham Ray (executive)
Tak Miyagishima (design engineer)
Bert Schneider (producer)
Michael Cacoyannis (director/writer/producer)
David Z Goodman (writer)
James Rodnunsky (engineer)
Peter E. Berger (film editor)
Jack J. Hayes (composer/arranger)
Peter Falk
Cliff Robertson
Laura Ziskin (producer/humanitarian)
Sidney Lumet (director/producer/screenwriter)
Sue Mengers (talent agent)
Steve Jobs (executive)
George Kuchar (experimental filmmaker)
Hal Kanter (writer/director)
Theadora van Runkle (costume designer)
Tim Hetherington (documentarian)
Gene Cantamessa (sound)
Gary Winick (director/producer)
Bill Varney (sound mixer)
Jackie Cooper
Gilbert Cates (director/producer)
Richard Leacock (documentarian)
James M. Roberts (Academy executive director)
Marion Doughtery (casting director)
Norman Corwin (writer/producer)
Paul John Haggar (post production executive)
Joseph Farrell (marketing research)
Ben Gazzara
Elizabeth Taylor

Note that there were only nine actors listed while the rest of the 39 were people who worked behind the camera. Also, there was not nearly enough video footage used during this montage – perhaps because so many of these were not on-screen, recognizable faces.

This year’s was a pretty complete record but sometimes actors or writers get left off the Academy obit reel. There were more than a few character actors left off, many of whom were in Oscar nominated movies.

Screenwriter Arthur Laurents is one that should have been listed. He wrote film scripts including Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rope’ (1948), ‘The Way We Were’ (1973) and ‘The Turning Point’ (1977). One wonders if the stigma of being blacklisted still lingers and kept his name off? Laurents was blacklisted and labeled a communist when one of his plays was reviewed in the Daily Worker, a communist newspaper. Laurents spend 3 months trying to clear his name – since he was not and never had been – a communist but was never able to do so since the blacklisting stopped before he was cleared.

Harry Morgan was more known for his television roles in MASH and Dragnet but he made over 100 films, many of which were Westerns or Disney family movies. He also he did several films of note. Significant roles include ‘The Ox-Bow Incident’ (1943);’High Noon’ (1952); ‘The Glenn Miller Story ‘(1954) and ‘Inherit the Wind’ (1960). He even played Ulysses S. Grant in ‘How the West Was Won’ (1962).

The 1969 film, ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ was nominated and won several Academy awards… so shouldn’t the lead male actor of that film get noticed? Michael Sarrazin’s starring turn opposite Jane Fonda in that movie made it memorable. Sarrazin also played in other films including ‘The Flim-Flam Man’ (1967) with George C. Scott; ‘For Pete’s Sake’ (1974), and the ‘The Reincarnation of Peter Proud’ (1975).

Michael Gough started out in horror films like ‘Dracula’ (1958), and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1962) most will remember him from his films with Tim Burton. They worked together on 1999’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and 2005’s ‘Corpse Bride’ and then again in 2010’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Gough’s most recognizable role is that of Alfred Pennysworth the butler of Batman/ Bruce Wayne in the films from the 80’s and 90’s.

John Boorman’s 1981 epic, ‘Excalibur’, was one of my favorite movies about King Arthur. I was captivated by the beauty and the acting. The standout character was that of the wizard Merlin, played by the late Nicol Williamson. His portrayal was magical in every way. Williamson was also one of the most well-received Sherlock Holmes when he played the character 1976’s ‘The Seven-Per-Cent Solution’. This film gained two Oscar nominations. Other roles include Williamson as Little John in the 1976 Richard Lester film ‘Robin and Marian’ and the dual roles of Dr. Worley/The Nome King in ‘Return To Oz’ (1985).

One of the biggest disappoints with the Academy this year was the exclusion of Charles Napier, who was one of the most easily recognizable character actors in Hollywood. He has been in several Oscar winning films including ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Philadelphia’. Other films include ’Swing Shift’ (1984); ‘Something Wild’ (1986); ‘Married to the Mob’ (1988); ‘The Grifters ‘(1990) and many more. Napier will be most remember as the lead singer of ‘The Good Ole Boys’ band in in ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980) or as Rambo’s commanding officer in ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II‘(1985).

Another year, another list and another listing of luminaries whose lights will be missed.

‘Gilligan’ & ‘Brady’ Creator, Sherwood Schwartz, Final Taxi At 94

Mash-ups have become very popular in modern music. They’re created when a DJ mixes two popular songs together to make one new song. This is accomplished by seamlessly overlaying the vocal track of one song over the instrumental track of another. This has been used quite a bit in the TV show ‘Glee’ where they’ve even done an entire show based on mash-ups. Recently I played one of my favorites to my girlfriend, Lesa. Imagine Led Zepplin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and the theme to the TV show ‘Gilligan’s Island’ melded into one song. (This was recorded by Little Roger and the Goosebumps.)

Most everyone can sing the theme to ‘Gilligan’s Island’ if they’ve ever watched any of these shows. Remember these lyrics?

“Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip.
It started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three-hour tour.”

The music and lyrics for the song, “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle,” were written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle. The TV show was also created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz.

Sherwood Schwartz has taken his Final Taxi.

Schwartz guided the little show through three seasons and garnered solid ratings during its run. It later appeared in syndication in the 70’s & 80’s making Gilligan a television icon and Bob Denver (who played the main character) a recognizable face.

Schwartz later took aim at the American family after hearing that in 1965 nearly one-third of American households included at least one child from a previous marriage. He then wrote the story of the marriage between a “lovely lady” with three daughters and “a man named Brady” with three sons. The series was called “The Brady Bunch”. It became the first sitcom to feature a family blended from two previous marriages. The show ran from 1969 to 1974 and had a theme song which, again, featured catchy lyrics written by Schwartz.

The show was so popular that it spun off a Saturday morning cartoon, a variety show, a reality show, TV movies, and several TV sitcoms. There was even a stage production called “The Real Live Brady Bunch” in the 90’s. A reboot in the movies came about in 1995 with “The Brady Bunch Movie” followed by “A Very Brady Sequel” (1996) and “The Brady Bunch in the White House,” a 2002 TV movie. Schwartz had his hand in all these projects in some form or another.

Schwartz also worked on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” “I Married Joan,” “The Red Skelton Show,” and “My Favorite Martian” early in his career.

The Black Carpet of the 2011 Academy Awards

Being someone who loves movies I have to watch the Academy Awards every year. So on Sunday night I sat with my girl by my side and watched as we found out who was best actor or actress or what was the best picture of the year. My favorite section is the part where Oscar remembers those who died in 2010, [pays final respects to them and honors their accomplishments]. This year the death reel was fronted by Celine Dion singing “Smile” as the list of names rolled by.

Here is who we saw this year:

John Barry (composer)
Grant McCune (visual effects)
Tony Curtis
Edward Limato (agent)
Tom Mankiewicz (writer)
Gloria Stuart
William Fraker (cinematographer)
Joseph Strick (director)
Lionel Jeffries
Sally Menke (editor)
Ronni Chasen (publicist)
Leslie Nielsen
Robert Radnitz (producer)
Claude Chabrol (director)
Pete Postlethwaite
Bill Littlejohn (animator)
Pierre Guffroy (art director)
Patricia Neal
George Hickenlooper (director)
Irving Ravetch (writer)
Robert Culp
Bob Boyle (art director)
Mario Monicelli (director)
Lynn Redgrave
Elliott Kastner (producer)
Dede Allen (editor)
Peter Yates (producer-director)
Anne Francis
Arthur Penn (producer-director)
Theoni Aldredge (costume designer)
Susannah York
Ronald Neame (director)
David Wolper (producer)
Jill Clayburgh
Alan Hume (cinematographer)
Irvin Kershner (director)
Dennis Hopper
Dino De Laurentiis (producer)
Blake Edwards (writer-director)
Kevin McCarthy
Lena Horne

I almost wish that they had left Kevin McCarthy for last and use the scene in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” where he screams “Your Next!!” but it would have spoiled the mood.

Every year the Academy leaves off people that should have been on the list and this year is no exception. First off the list is Peter Graves. Graves deserves to be on that list of beloved actors not for bad sci-fi movies he did or the laughs he gave us as Captain Over in the Airplane( 1980) movies but at least for his involvement in the 1953 World War II film Stalag 17 (1953), acting as a German spy pretending to be a prisoner of war.

Another Airplane ( 1980) actor who was left off the list was Barbara Billingsley. Many will remember her as the mother on Leave It To Beaver but she had a strong start in films with movies like The Bad and the Beautiful (1950), Three Guys Named Mike (1950), with Jane Wyman, and the sci-fi movie Invaders from Mars (1953).

James Gammon should not have been left off the list either. The scruffy actor will be best known as the coach in the Major League movies but he was also in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Urban Cowboy (1980), Silverado (1985), Noon Wine (1985), The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), Wild Bill (1995), Truman (1995), Cold Mountain (2003), and more recently, Appaloosa (2008).

Harold Gould who again will be known for his TV roles was also in the films The Yellow Canary(1963), The Satan Bug (1966); Inside Daisy Clover; and Harper (1966) with Paul Newman. He will also be known for playing Kid Twist in The Sting (1977) and as a villain in Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie (1976).

Betty Garrett, a comedic actress who was a fixture in such MGM musicals as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” “Neptune’s Daughter” with Red Skelton and “On the Town” with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, was missing from list.

Others missing include Maria Schneider, a French actress best known for playing Jeanne, opposite Marlon Brando, in the 1972 film, Last Tango in Paris and Maury Chaykin who acted in WarGames (1983), My Cousin Vinny (1992) and had a small but pivotal role in the film Dances with Wolves (1990), portraying Major Fambrough.

The person whose omission from this years’ list was most shocking was Corey Haim. Haim’s may have ended his career with a list of bad direct-to -video movies, but the body of his work is well worth a nod from the Academy. His first noted film was 1984’s thriller Firstborn, starring alongside Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey Jr as a boy whose family comes under threat from his mother’s violent boyfriend, played by Peter Weller. After that the list just gets better with films such as Lucas ( 1986) , Silver Bullet( 1985), Murphy’s Romance (1985), License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream(1989). The movie that must be remembered is The Lost Boys (1987), which made Haim a household name. It is regarded as a 80s classic and bonded him alongside his friend Corey Feldman to fight teenage vampire Kiefer Sutherland.

The Black Carpet of the 2010 Academy Awards

Every year in my household my family gathers together and watches the Academy Awards. This year was no different. We watched the walk down the red carpet on various channels and comment on the clothes or how different an actor looks this year. We await to see who the best actor or actress is and see what film is best picture this year. ( I was surprised by “The Hurt Locker” as we were counting on “Up In The Air.”)

My favorite part is when the Academy salutes those that we lost this past year. We call it those who have walked down the ‘black carpet.” This year it was split in two with a special memorial to director and writer John Hughes. It was a chance to see many of the films he brought to us and the young actors who he made famous.

The second part was the normal obituary reel. This was presented by Demi Moore as James Taylor sang the Beatles song ‘ In My Life.’

The 2010 list was:

Patrick Swayze
Maurice Jarre
Monte Hale (actor)
Jean Simmons
Tullio Pinelli (writer)
Eric Rohmer (director)
Ken Annakin (director)
David Carradine
Gareth Wigan (executive)
Daniel Melnick (producer)
Howard Zief (director)
Dom DeLuise
Army Archerd
Ron Silver
Brittany Murphy
Lou Jacobi
Simon Channing-Williams (producer)
Betsy Blair
Joseph Wiseman
Jack Cardiff (cinematographer)
Kathryn Grayson
Arthur Canton (public relations)
Nat Boxer (sound)
Millard Kaufman (writer)
Roy E. Disney (executive)
Larry Gelbart
Horton Foote
Robert Woodruff Anderson (writer)
Budd Schulberg
Michael Jackson
Natasha Richardson
Jennifer Jones
David Brown (producer)
Karl Malden

Every year I watch there is a few that I cannot believe the Academy left off. This year is no different. First missing is Henry Gibson. Sure he may have been in films like “The Blues Brothers’ or “The Burbs,” but the Academy should remember him for his role in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”

Also missing was Gene Barry who may have made a name for himself in TV with ‘Bat Masterson’ or ‘Burke’s Law’ but he did appear in films. Most notable in both version of “War Of The Worlds.”

I understand not using Farrah Fawcett or Beatrice Arthur since they are more known for their TV roles but missing Zelda Rubenstein, who gave such a memorable character as the psychic in ‘Poltergeist,’ is such a shame.

One name that should have been on that list is Dan O’Bannon. O’Bannon was a director and actor but he will be more known for his screen writing skills. For without him we would not have had “Blue Thunder,” “Dark Star,” “Total Recall,” or any of the “Alien” movies. “Avatar” is this year’s biggest grossing movie and it would be missing its actress, Sigourney Weaver, if Dan O’Bannon had not written his screenplay that launched her career.

Those Who Have Taken Their Final Taxi In 2009

A decade comes to an end and in 2009 that end came to several celebrities. We lost several entertainers during 2009’s infamous ‘summer of death’ as names like Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, David Carradine, Ed McMahon all died within days of each other. Of that lot one name shocked the public the most: Michael Jackson. In his short life of 50 years Jackson helped shape popular music and culture. From his early years with the Jackson 5 to his solo career he maintained the title ‘King of Pop.’ Other deaths without warnings for the year included actress Natasha Richardson, David Carradine, and of course Brittany Murphy.
Through 2009 we all watched as Patrick Swayze continued to act ( in the TV series ‘The Beast’) knowing he didn’t have long to live. It didn’t make is easier as the actor in films like ‘Ghost’ & ‘Dirty Dancing’ died due to pancreatic cancer in September.
It’s always a shock every year as I make this list of who has checked out and taken their Final Taxi to their last resting place. Here is a list of some of those who have become Final Taxi riders in 2009:

JANUARY
Johannes Mario Simmel, 84. Austrian-born author; topped German-language best-seller lists. Jan. 1.
Jett Travolta, 16. John Travolta’s son. Jan. 2.
Betty Freeman, 87. Modern-art collector, music patron. Jan. 3.
Olga San Juan, 81. Actress, dancer known as “Puerto Rican Pepperpot.” Jan. 3.

Pat Hingle, 84. Tony-nominated stage actor. (I will always remember him as Commissioner Gordon in the “Batman” movies.) Jan. 3.
Ned Tanen, 77. As Paramount and Universal chairman. ( The man who help bring “Top Gun,” “E.T.” into our lives). Jan. 5.
Ron Asheton, 60. Punk rock guitarist for the Stooges. ( Worked great alongside Iggy Pop) Jan. 6.
Cheryl Holdridge, 64. Mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club”; also known for playing Wally Cleaver’s girlfriend Julie Foster in the TV series “Leave it to Beaver.” Jan. 6.
John Scott Martin,82, Actor best known for playing the chief Dalek in the “Dr. Who” Also in “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life,” “Pink Floyd The Wall” “Ali G Indahouse,” “Erik the Viking,” Jan 6
Don Galloway, Actor playing officer Ed Brown in TV’s “Ironside” and was also JoBeth Williams’ husband in “The Big Chill.” Jan 7
Cornelia Wallace, 69, Former Alabama First Lady (Loved that she was played by sexy Angelina Jolie in mini-series with Gary Sinese) Jan 8
Jon Hager, 67. One of the Hager Twins on TV’s “Hee-Haw.” ( The other twin died last year.) Jan. 9
Henry Endo, 87, Actor who played Che Fong on the hit TV series “Hawaii 5-0.” Jan 9
Daniel Allar, 46, Played Avacado in season one of “Prison Break.” Jan 10
Tom O’Horgan, 84. Directed “Hair,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway. Jan. 11.
Claude Berri, 74. French actor, director. Jan. 12.
W.D. Snodgrass, 83. Pulitzer-winning poet (“Heart’s Needle”). Jan. 13.
Pedro “Cuban Pete” Aguilar, 81. Star mambo dancer in 1950s. Jan. 13.
Patrick McGoohan, 80. Emmy-winning actor. Will be remembered as ‘6’ in the cult TV classic “The Prisoner” but I loved him in Braveheart as Edward Longshanks. Jan. 13.
Hortense Calisher, 97. Fiction writer known for dense prose (“False Entry”). Jan. 13.
Ricardo Montalban, 88. Actor – What a loss! Known for MGM musicals, Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island,” or my favorite as Star Trek villain Kahn. Jan. 14.
John Mortimer, 85. British writer; created curmudgeonly lawyer Rumpole of the Bailey. Jan. 16.
Susanna Foster,84, Actress remembered for starring with Claude Raines in the 1943 remake of “Phantom of the Opera.” Jan 17
David “Fathead” Newman, 75. Jazz saxophonist; played with range of luminaries, including Ray Charles. Jan. 20.
Darrell Sandeen,78, Actor; rogue cop Buzz Meeks in “L.A. Confidential.” Also in “Father Murphy,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Bonanza” Jan 22
Kim Manners,58, Director; Nominated four time for Emmy awards for “The X Files.” He produced over 100 episodes and directed over 50 episodesof the series. Jan 25
James Brady, 80, Author, Parade magazine celebrity columnist. Jan. 26.
John Updike, 76, Pulitzer-winning novelist, essayist. Jan. 27.
Billy Powell, 56, Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboard player (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird”). Saw him in the original lineup in the 70’s Jan. 28.
John Martyn, 60. British singer-songwriter, guitarist (“May You Never”). Jan. 29.
Hans Beck, 79. Created colorful Playmobil toy figures. Jan. 30.
Milton Parker, 90. Owned New York City’s Carnegie Deli, known for gargantuan sandwiches. Jan. 30.

FEBRUARY

Lukas Foss, 86. Avant-garde composer. Feb. 1.
Dewey Martin, 68. Drummer with influential band Buffalo Springfield (“For What It’s Worth”). Feb. 1.
Lux Interior, 62. Lead singer of horror-punk band the Cramps. (What a shock this was for me! A lost talent.) Feb. 4.

James Whitmore, 87. Actor ; did one-man shows on Harry Truman & Will Rogers but most younger audiences will remember him as Brooks Hatlen in The Shawshank Redemption. Feb. 6.
Philip Carey, 83. Played tycoon Asa Buchanan in “One Life to Live.” Feb. 6.
Molly Bee, 69. Country singer; teamed with Tennessee Ernie Ford (“Don’t Go Courtin’ in a Hot Rod Ford”). Feb. 7.
Blossom Dearie, 84. Jazz singer with girlish voice. Feb. 7.
Robert Anderson, 91. Broadway playwright (“Tea and Sympathy”). Feb. 9.
Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, 76. Bassist for Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. Feb. 9.
Estelle Bennett, 67. One of the Ronettes, ’60s girl group (“Be My Baby”). Feb. 11.
Hugh Leonard, 82. Irish playwright; won Tony for father-son drama “Da.” Feb. 12.
Gerry Niewood, 64, and Coleman Mellett, 34. Members of Chuck Mangione’s band. Feb. 12. Buffalo, New York ( plane crash. )
Louie Bellson, 84. Jazz drummer; performed with Duke Ellington, wife Pearl Bailey. Feb. 14.
Snooks Eaglin, 72. New Orleans R&B singer, guitarist. Feb. 18.
Kelly Groucutt, 63. Bass player with Electric Light Orchestra. ( Saw my first concert with him playing with ELO) Feb. 19.
Howard Zieff, 81. Directed films (“Private Benjamin”), TV ads (Alka-Seltzer’s “Spicy Meatballs.” ) Feb. 22.
Philip Jose Farmer, 91. Science-fiction writer. (World of Tiers & Riverworld series) Feb. 25.

Wendy Richard, 65. Actress: Known as Miss Brahms in “Are You Being Served?” & Pauline Fowler in “EastEnders.” Feb. 26.
Paul Harvey, 90. Radio news and talk pioneer; one of the nation’s most familiar voices. Feb. 28.
Natasha Richardson , 45, Actress: Films include Nell, The Parent Trap & Maid in Manhattan. Married to actor Liam Neeson. Died in skiing accident.

MARCH

Joan Turner, 86, Comedian & actress; “All About the Benjamins,” “Scandal,” “No Surrender,” & as Marilyn Chamber’s aunt in the porn classic “Insatiable” March 1
Ernie Ashworth, 80. Grand Ole Opry singer (“Talk Back Trembling Lips”). March 2.
Sydney Chaplin, 82. Tony-winning actor; son of Charlie Chaplin (“Bells Are Ringing”). March 3.
Horton Foote 92. Playwright (“The Trip to Bountiful”) and screenwriter (“To Kill a Mockingbird”). March 4.
Kyle Tucy Sweet, 52, Make-up artist in such films as “The Terminator,” “Teen Wolf,” “Ghost,” & “Repo Man” ( Side note; she was wife of Michael Sweet, the lead singer of the Christian rock band “Stryper.) March 5
Jimmy Boyd, 70. Child actor, singer known for “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. March 7.
Tullio Pinelli, Writer & Director; Wrote 13 films for Federico Fellini. including “8½,” “La Dolce Vita,” “I Vitelloni” and “La Strada.” March 7
Hank Locklin, 91. Smooth-voiced country singer “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On”. March 8.
Anne Wiggins Brown, 96. Soprano; the original Bess in Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” March 13.
Betsy Blair, 85. Actress, Oscar-nominated for role as shy woman courted by homely Ernest Borgnine in “Marty.” March 13.
Alan Livingston,91, Music exec; Created Bozo The Clown and while at Capitol Records brought the Beatles to the US. March 13
Millard Kaufman, 92. Writer; Oscar nominations for writing “Bad Day at Black Rock” and “Take the High Ground!” Co-creator of “Mr. Magoo.” March 14.

Ron Silver, 62. Actor, Director, Producer: Films include: “Reversal of Fortune,” “Enemies, a Love Story,” “Silkwood” “Ali,” “Best Friends,” “Garbo Talks.” TV: “Rhoda,” “Veronica’s Closet,” “The West Wing” March 15.
Jack Lawrence, 96. Lyricist for Frank Sinatra’s first hit, “All or Nothing at All.” March 15.
Eddie Bo, 79. New Orleans blues singer-pianist; worked with greats such as Irma Thomas. March 18.
Uriel Jones, 74. Drummer for Motown in songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” “I Second That Emotion” “For Once In My Life. March 24.
Dan Seals, 61. Half of duo England Dan and John Ford Coley. March 25.
Steven Bach, 70. Movie executive and writer. Ran United Artists studio and killed it with the movie “Heaven’s Gate. ( Also produced “Raging Bull,” “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” “Annie Hall,” “Eye of the Needle” ) March 25.
Irving R. Levine, 86. NBC newsman. War March 27.
Maurice Jarre, 84. Oscar-winning film composer (“Lawrence of Arabia,” &”Doctor Zhivago”). March 28.
Andy Hallett, 33. Actor who played the demon Lorne in TV series “Angel.” March 29.
Hal Durham,77, Announcer for the Grand Ole Opry from 1964 through 1996 March 30

APRIL

Bud Shank, 82. Jazz saxophonist, flutist ( He played with Mamas & the Papas on “California Dreamin'”). April 2.
Tom Braden, 92. Helped launch CNN’s “Crossfire”; wrote memoir “Eight Is Enough,” which inspired a TV show. April 3.
Victor Millan, 89, Actor who played Sal Mineo’s father in the classic “Giant.” Other credits “Boulevard Nights,” “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze,” & Brian DePalma’s “Scarface.”
Maxine Cooper,84, Actress and social activist; Active in civil rights during the 1960s while making films like “Fear on Trial,” & “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” ( I loved her as a sick passenger in the “Airplane!”) April 4
Dave Arneson, 61. Co-creator of groundbreaking Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game. April 7.
David “Pop” Winans Sr., 76. Grammy-nominated patriarch of gospel music family. April 8.
Randy Cain, 63. Member of “Philadelphia sound” soul group the Delfonics. April 9.
Jane Bryan,90, Actress that appeared in nearly 20 films during the late 1930s.( “Marked Woman ” “Kid Galahad.” “Brother Rat”) April 8
Marilyn Chambers, 56. Actress in the groundbreaking porn film “Behind the Green Door.” April 12.
Jack D. Hunter, 87. Wrote novel “The Blue Max,” made into 1966 film. April 13.
Peter Rogers, 95. Producer of the British “Carry On” films. April 14.
J.G. Ballard, 78. Author of “Empire of the Sun” and “Crash” April 19.
Tharon Musser, 84. Tony-winning lighting designer (“A Chorus Line,” “Follies”). April 19.
Jack Cardiff, 94. Oscar-winning cinematographer on the classic “Black Narcissus.” His other cinematography Oscar nods were for “War and Peace” and “Fanny.”. April 22.
Ken Annakin, 94. Director: “Battle of the Bulge,” “Swiss Family Robinson,” “The Longest Day.” April 22.
The Rev. Timothy Wright, 61. Grammy-nominated gospel singer, and composer (“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”). April 23.

Bea Arthur, 86, Actress known to TV audiences as “Maude” in the 1970s & on “Golden Girls” as Dorothy. Received eleven Emmy nominations during her career April 24
Salamo Arouch, 86. Jewish boxer whose Auschwitz experiences inspired movie “Triumph of the Spirit.” April 26.
J.J. Linsalata, 65, Assistant director; worked on children’s TV show “The Big Blue Marble,” “X-Men 2,” “Kindergarten Cop.” April 27
Vern Gosdin, 74. Country singer: “I Can Tell By The Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight)”, “Set ’em Up Joe” and “I’m Still Crazy”. April 28.

MAY

Danny Gans, 52. Singer-Actor-Comdeian; Films: “Bull Durham,” “Sinatra,” “Race To Witch Mountain”. May 1.
Ric Estrada, 81, Animator on “Jonny Quest,” “Pound Puppies,” “Smurfs,” “Challenge of the GoBots,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” “Tiny Toon Adventures” May 1
Marilyn French, 79. Feminist writer; “The Women’s Room” May 2.

Dom DeLuise, 75. Actor. I think this is one actor I will miss most in the 2009 Final Taxi riders. Wither working with Burt Reynolds (The Cannonball Run, The End, All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) or with Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, History of the World, Part I, Spaceballs) DeLuise will be remembered as one of the great comedians of the 70’sand 80’s May 4.
Randall ‘Poodie’ Locke,60, Willie Nelson’s stage manager for over 30 years May 6
Vincent Davis, 65 , Animation director for “Cow and Chicken.” “The Batman,” “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” “Duck Tales,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “The Wuzzles,” “My Little Pony,” “The Mouse and His Child,” “Garfield and Friends” and “Mother Goose and Grimm.” May 6
Linda Dangcil, 67, Actress best known for her role as Sister Ana in the Sally Fields TV series “The Flying Nun.” May 7
Mickey Carroll, 89. One of last surviving Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz.” May 7.
John Furia Jr., 79. Film & television writer ( “ Twilight Zone,” “Bonanza,” “The Waltons”). May 8.
Stephen Bruton, 60. Guitarist, songwriter; worked with T Bone Burnett, Bonnie Raitt, Rita Coolidge, Christine McVie, Elvis Costello, Delbert McClinton & Kris Kristofferson. May 9.
Wayman Tisdale, 44. Jazz musican May 15.
Alice Eisner,87, Actress in “The Cemetery Club,” “Zac and Miri Make a Porno,” “Passed Away” May 15
Lee Solters, 89. Hollywood publicist; clients included Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand. May 18.
Jay Bennett, 45. Ex-member of rock band Wilco. May 24.

JUNE


Koko Taylor, 80. Known as “Queen of the Blues” for her rough, powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings. June 3.
Sam Butera, 81. Las Vegas saxophonist; teamed with Louis Prima, Keely Smith. June 3.
Shih Kien, 96. Veteran Hong Kong actor; Bruce Lee’s archrival in 1973’s “Enter the Dragon.” June 3.

David Carradine, 72. Actor who appeared in more than 100 feature films. (“Death Race 2000,” “Bound for Glory,” “Kill Bill”) He will be remembered as the half-breed Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine on the hit TV series Kung Fu June 4.
Fleur Cowles, 101. Author; founded magazine “Flair.” June 5.
Kenny Rankin, 69. Pop vocalist, musician, songwriter. June 7.
Norman Brinker, 78. The man who give us Chili’s restaurant. June 9.
Bob Bogle, 75. Guitarist, co-founded of the rock band the Ventures. June 14.
Ed McMahon, 86. Tonight Show sidekick of Johnny Carson and host of Star Search. June 23.

Farrah Fawcett, 62, Sex symbol of the 70’s. I had her poster on my bedroom wall. Starred in “Charlie’s Angels.” June 25
Michael Jackson, 50, The King of Pop. Starting with the Jackson 5 and moving to a solo career his 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, with Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995) also among the world’s best selling albums. 15 Grammy Awards & 26 American Music Awards. June 25
Gale Storm, 87. Actress in the early TV show “My Little Margie”. June 27.
Billy Mays, 50. Bearded TV salesman for such items as OxiClean, Orange Glo & Kaboom. June 28.
Fred Travalena, 66. Las Vegas impressionist. June 28.
Harve Presnel,75, Actor best remembered as William H. Macy’s father-in-law in 1996 film “Fargo” & was a regular in the TV series “The Pretender” June 29

JULY

Karl Malden, 97. Oscar-winning actor whose career spanned more than seven decades. Films include A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, How the West Was Won and Patton. TV he played Lt. Mike Stone on the 1970s crime drama, The Streets of San Francisco. July 1.

Mollie Sugden, 87, Actress who remembered as Mrs Slocombe in long-running BBC sitcom “Are You Being Served?” Every episode Sugden sported a different hair color and continually harped on about her “pussy”. July 1
Allen Klein, 77. Music manager who worked with the Beatles & Rolling Stones. July 4.
Vasily Aksyonov, 76. Russian writer (“Generations of Winter) July 6.
Sir Edward Downes, 85. Longtime head of the BBC Philharmonic. July 10.
Beverly Roberts, 96, Actress in “The Singing Kid”, “Two Against The World with Humphrey Bogart, “China Clipper” &“God’s Country and the Woman” July 13
Walter Cronkite, 92. THE TV News anchorman for a generation. On CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81). Reported many events from 1937 to 1981, including bombing in World War II, the Nuremberg trials, Vietnam War,the death of President John F. Kennedy, Watergate, the Moon landings, to the Space Shuttle. The first American broadcast of The Beatles was with Walter Cronkite. July 17.
Gordon Waller, 64. Half of the pop duo Peter and Gordon. July 17.
Frank McCourt, 78. Irish-born schoolteacher who enjoyed a Pulitzer, for memoir “Angela’s Ashes.” July 19.
Heinz Edelmann, 75. Graphic designer; art director of the 1968 Beatles film “Yellow Submarine.” July 21.
John “Marmaduke” Dawson, 64. Co-founded psychedelic country band New Riders of the Purple Sage. July 21.
Les Lye, 84, Know as one of the only two multitalented adults on the children’s show You Can’t Do That On Television July 21
Merce Cunningham, 90. Avant-garde dancer and choreographer who revolutionized modern dance. July 26.
George Russell, 86. Jazz composer; theories influenced greats like Miles Davis. July 27.
Gidget, 15 known as the Taco Bell talking Chihuahua July 27

AUGUST

Naomi Sims, 61. Black model of the ’60s. Aug. 1.
Billy Lee Riley, 75. Rockabilly performer recording “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll” and “Red Hot”. Aug. 2.
Budd Schulberg, 95. Novelist (“What Makes Sammy Run?”) and Oscar-winning screenwriter (“On the Waterfront”). Aug. 5.
John Hughes, 59. Writer-director of the 80’s so-called ‘Brat pack’ films. (“Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Sixteen Candles,” “ Pretty in Pink,” “Home Alone”). Aug. 6.
Willy DeVille, 58. Singer, songwriter; Founder of punk group Mink DeVille who were a regular at New York’s CBGBs Aug. 6.
Mike Seeger, 75. Co-founded traditional folk group the New Lost City Ramblers. Aug. 7.

John Quade, 71. Character actor; Played the villain in several Clint Eastwood movies including High Plains Drifter, Outlaw Josey Wales, and Every Which Way But Loose. Aug. 9.
Rashied Ali, 76. Jazz drummer who worked with John Coltrane. Aug. 12.
Les Paul, 94 guitarist and inventor. Pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which “made the sound of rock and roll” and also helped in multi-track recording. Aug. 13
Virginia Davis, 90. As child actress, appeared in Walt Disney’s early “Alice” films in the ’20s. Aug. 15.
Robert Novak, 78. Syndicated columnist, journalist, television personality, author, and conservative political commentator Aug. 18.
Hildegard Behrens, 72. German-born soprano hailed as one of the finest Wagnerian performers of her generation. Aug. 18.
Don Hewitt, 86. TV news pioneer who created “60 Minutes” and produced it for 36 years. Aug. 19.
Larry Knechtel, 69. Grammy-winning keyboardist and member of the 70’s soft-rock band Bread. Best known for his work as a session musician with such artists as Simon & Garfunkel, Duane Eddy, The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Doors, and Elvis Presley. Aug. 20.
Elmer Kelton, 83. Acclaimed Western novelist (Buffalo Wagons, The Day the Cowboys Quit, The Day It Never Rained, Eyes of the Hawk, The Good Old Boys). Aug. 22.
Ted Kennedy, 77, United States Senator from Massachusetts Aug 25
Ellie Greenwich, 68. Singer/Songwriter for “Be My Baby”, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Leader of the Pack”, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, and “River Deep, Mountain High”, among many others. She discovered Neil Diamond and sang backing vocals on several of Diamond’s hit songs. Aug. 26.
Dominick Dunne, 83. Best-selling author and host of “Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice” on CourtTV. Aug. 26.

Sadie Corré, 91, Actress known for one of the Ewoks in Star Wars and became a cult figure as the short Transylvanian in The Rocky Horror Picture Show Aug 26
Sergei Mikhalkov, 96. Soviet author. Aug. 27.
Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, 36. Celebrity disc jockey and reality-TV actor. Aug. 28.
Chris Connor, 81. Female jazz vocalist who recorded songs like “Jeepers Creepers”, “If I Should Lose You”, “I Get A Kick Out Of You”& “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” Aug. 29.
Marie Knight, 84. Gospel music singer with songs like “Cry Me A River,” “Beams of Heaven”, “Didn’t it Rain”, and “Up Above My Head. Aug. 30.

SEPTEMBER

Erich Kunzel, 74, leader of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Sept. 1
Wycliffe Johnson, 47. Keyboardist and producer: made Reggae music popular as part of Steely & Clevie. Preformed alongside the Specials, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, and No Doubt. Sept. 1.
Bill Hefner, 79. 12-term North Carolina congressman and gospel singer. Sept. 2.
Keith Waterhouse, 80. British playwright, novelist and columnist. Wrote several TV series for BBC. Sept. 4.
Frank Coghlan, Jr, 93, Actor who played the caped super-hero Captain Marvel in 1941 movie series. (Shazam!) Sept 7
Army Archerd, 87. Write for Hollywood’s Daily Variety. Sept. 8.
Frank Batten Sr., 82. Founder of the first nationwide, 24-hour cable weather channel, The Weather Channel through his media giant Landmark Communications. Sept. 10.
Jim Carroll, 60. Poet, punk rocker. Wrote “The Basketball Diaries” a story of his life. I’ll remember Carroll for one song I hear in my head every time I write this blog, “People Who Died.” Sept. 11
Larry Gelbart, 81. Screen writer. Wrote skits form early TV before writing screenplay for “M*A*S*H,” “Tootsie,” “Oh, God!’ to name a few.. Sept. 11.
Pierre Cossette, 85. Record label founder who brought the Grammy Awards to television.. Sept. 11.
Crystal Lee Sutton, 68. Her fight to unionize Southern textile plants became the film “Norma Rae.” Sept. 11.
Yoshihito Usui, 51, creator of feisty kindergartner “Shin Chan,” (seen on Cartoon Network) took Final Taxi after falling off cliff Sept 11
Paul Burke, 83. Two-time Emmy nominee for his role as Detective Adam Flint in the gritty crime drama “Naked City.” Sept. 13.

Patrick Swayze, 57. Movie heartthrob who starred in films including “Dirty Dancing,” “Red Dawn,” “Ghost.” “Point Break,” “Road House ,” Sept. 14.
Henry Gibson, 73. Comic character actor; loved him as the Nazi leader in The Blues Brothers or evil neighbor in The ‘Burbs . Sept. 14.
Trevor Rhone, 69. Jamaican playwright; co-wrote the reggae film “The Harder They Come.” Sept. 15.
Mary Travers, 72. One-third of the ’60s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. I remember her more for her radio talk show Mary Travers Presents where she talked to several of my rock heroes. If listened to in stereo Mary was in one speaker while the guest would be in the other. Sept. 16.
Linda C. Black, 65. Syndicated columnist. Sept. 17.
Dick Duroc,72, Actor and Stuntman; Best known for role of “Swamp Thing” in the movies and TV series. Sept 17
Art Ferrante, 88. Half of the piano duo Ferrante and Teicher. Sept. 19.

Robert Ginty,60, Actor, director and producer; One of the mose overlooked deaths of 2009- Started as a rock drummer playing with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana and John Lee Hooker before moving to acting. Had a regular role on TV’s “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” In 1978 played Bruce Dern’s friend in “Coming Home” It was 1980’s “The Exterminator” that launched him into that of an unforgettable action star. Sept 21
Alicia de Larrocha, 86. Reuters referred to her as “the greatest Spanish pianist in history” Sept. 25.
William Safire, 79. Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist Sept. 27.
John “Bootsie” Wilson,69.lead singer of the Silhouettes. Their # 1 song ‘Get a Job’ became a national anthem of doo-wop. Sept 29

OCTOBER

Mercedes Sosa, 74. Argentine folk singer. Oct. 4.
Stephen Gately, 33. Singer with Irish boy band Boyzone. Oct. 10.
Al Martino, 82. Singer,played the Frank Sinatra-type role in “The Godfather.” Oct. 13.
Daniel Melnick, 77. Producer of acclaimed films “Straw Dogs,” “Network.” Oct. 13.
Lou Albano, 76. Pro wrestler; appeared Cyndi Lauper’s dad in the music video “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and other video by her. Oct. 14.
Collin Wilcox-Paxton, 74. Portrayed the false accuser in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Oct. 14.
Vic Mizzy, 93. Songwriter; best-known works are the themes to the 1960s television sitcoms Green Acres and The Addams Family. He also penned top-20 songs from the 1930s to 1940s.. Oct. 17.
Joseph Wiseman, 91. Actor; played the villain Dr. No in James Bond film of that name. Oct. 19.
Soupy Sales, 83. Comedian who perfected the pies to the face gag. Was also seen in several game shows. Oct. 22.

Lou Jacobi, 95. Actor with notable film roles including Uncle Morty in “My Favorite Year” Moustache in “Irma La Douce,” a transvestite husband in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask),” Barry Levinson’s “Avalon;” and my favorite as the remote controled husband who get caught in his underwear between channels in “Amazon Women on the Moon”. Oct. 23.
Troy N. Smith, Sr, 87, American entrepreneur who founded Sonic Drive-In Oct 26
Claude Levi-Strauss, 100. French intellectual considered father of modern anthropology. Oct. 30.

NOVEMBER

Lou Filippo, 83. World Boxing Hall of Famer; had small roles in “Rocky” movies. Nov. 2.
Sheldon Dorf, 76. Founded Comic-Con International comic-book convention. Nov. 3.

Carl Ballantine, 92. Actor-comedian. Best remembered as Lester Gruber, one of the PT boat sailors in the sitcom “McHale’s Navy ” Nov. 3.
Ron Sproat,77, Screenwriter who wrote 100s of episodes of the dark gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” Nov 6
David Lloyd, 75, Emmy Award-winning screenwriter of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, Cheers, Frasier and Wings Nov 10
Paul Wendkos, 84. TV, film director of the Gidget movies and The Mephisto Waltz, and Guns of the Magnificent Seven to name a few Nov. 12.
Ken Ober, 52. Hosted ’80s MTV game show “Remote Control.” Nov. 15.
Dennis Cole, 69, Character actor who played on TV in shows Medical Center, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Three’s Company, and Murder, She Wrote.

Edward Woodward, 79. British actor most known for playing ex-secret agent and vigilante Robert McCall in the series The Equalizer. Among his film credits, Woodward starred in the 1973 horror film The Wicker Man, and in the title role in Breaker Morant. Nov. 16.
Al Alberts, 87. Member of singing Four Aces who recorded “”Three Coins in the Fountain” & “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”. Nov. 27.

DECEMBER

Aaron Schroeder, 84. Songwriter of Elvis Presley song’s “ A Big Hunk o’ Love,” “ Good Luck Charm,” ” It’s Now or Never,” & more. Also songs for Roy Orbison, Duane Eddy, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Perry Como and Pat Boone. Dec. 1.
Richard Todd, 90. British actor who was the first choice of author Ian Fleming to play James Bond in Dr. No, but a scheduling conflict gave the role to Sean Connery. Dec. 3.
Vyacheslav Tikhonov, 81. Russian actor; starred in Oscar-winning Soviet production of “War and Peace.” Dec. 4.
Liam Clancy, 74. Last of Clancy Brothers Irish folk-song troupe. Dec. 4.
Bryan O’Byrne , 78, Actor; priest in the elevator in “Love at First Bite,” Reverend Simmons in “Murder She Wrote.” Hodgkins in 5 episodes of “Get Smart Dec 4
Mark Ritts, 63, Puppeteer; Played Lester the Lab Rat on “Beakman’s World Dec 7

Gene Barry, 90, Actor, known for roles in TV’s “Bat Masterson” & Amos Burke on “Burke’s Law” Also in both versions of “War of the Worlds” Dec 9
Roy Disney, 79. Nephew of Walt Disney, 56-year company veteran who helped make such blockbusters as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.” Dec. 16.
Conrad Fowkes, 76, Actor in soap operas:Search For Tomorrow, The Edge of Night, The Secret Storm, As The World Turns and cult favorite ‘Dark Shadows’ Dec 15
Jennifer Jones, 90. Actress, won Academy Award for “Song of Bernadette” Nominated for“Duel in the Sun” and “Love Letters.” Dec. 17.
Dan O’Bannon, 63, Screenwriter, director, actor. O’Bannon will be most known for writing of all the Alien movies. He worked on“Heavy Metal,” “Blue Thunder,” “The Return of the Living Dead,” “Invaders From Mars “and “Total Recall.” He did special effects work on “Star Wars.” My favorite movie was his student film he did with John Carpenter called “Dark Star.” This film help movie bookers listen to me to make a mid-might film series in Birmingham. Dec 17
Alaina Reed-Amini, 63, Actress from 1976 to 1988, she played the role of ‘Olivia’ on the popular children’s show “Sesame Street” and then moved to NBC’s “227” Dec 17
Connie Hines, 78, Actress most famous for playing Wilbur’s wife in “Mister Ed Dec 18
Brittany Murphy, 32. Movie actress; What a shocker for the year! her breakout film was 1995’s “Clueless.” Many people loved her in “Just Married” “Girl, Interrupted” and “8 Mile” Dec. 20.

Arnold Stang, 91, Nerdy looking actor was the spokesman for Chunky, the candy bar and the voice of T.C., the leader of cats in cartoon, “Top Cat.” In 1963 “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Stang was one of the two attendants who witnessed their gas station being destroyed by a toppling water tower. Dec 20
Marianne Stone, 87, Played Nurse Alice Able in the Carry On movies and Vivian Darkbloom in Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita.” Dec 21
Michael Currie, 81, started as Sheriff Jonas Carter in the cult series “Dark Shadows” and moved to the Dirty Harry movies as Captain Donnelly. Worked with Clint Eastwood as well in “Firefox” and “Any Which Way You Can”. Dec 22
Tim Hart , 61, Founder of the British folk rock band Steeleye Span Dec 27.
James ‘The Rev’ Sullivan, 28, drummer for heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold Dec 28
Erik Gates, 47, member of Discovery Channel hit series ‘Mythbusters’ Dec 29

How many of these people touched your life in one form or another during their lifetime?