Alan Rickman – More Than Just Snape

I really hate how the media sometimes summarize someone’s life in a few words.king-louis

Many times they will look at an incredible actor and only see a few of the more popular roles he played and miss the greater body of work. They are doing that now with Alan Rickman.

Actor Alan Rickman took his Final Taxi at age 69 because of cancer. He has done so many wonderful films that have touched our lives but the news mostly focuses on the franchises, Harry Potter and Die Hard.

I first took notice of Rickman as an actor in the movie “Truly, Madly, Deeply” in 1990. This was two years after Die Hard. In it he plays Jamie, a dead musician so in love that death cannot keep him apart from his lover. It was kind of a thinking man’s “Ghost.”

 

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One of my daughter’s favorite Rickman films is Ang Lee’s ” Sense and Sensibility” from 1995. This adaption of Jane Austin’s book has Rickman playing Colonel Brandon as a rich and worthy suitor for Marianne, played by Kate Winslet. This would not be the only time Winslet and Richman worked together. In 2015 Rickman directed ” A Little Chaos” with her as his lead ( He gives a great portrayal of King Louis XIV.)

Many fans will remember his role in 1999’s Galaxy Quest. Playing Alexander Dane, a Shakespearean actor who had found himself trapped and most fondly remembered for an alien on a silly sci-fi TV show. He did not hide the fact he hated it and we all thought it was hilarious as it echoed reality with a great spoof of Star Trek’s Spock. ( “By Grabnar’s Hammer!” )

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I will always remember Rickman’s voice. It conveyed a wide range – from dripping sarcasm to great comic pomposity. He proved that in one of my favorite roles as Marvin the paranoid robot in 2005’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. With a brain as big as a Volkswagen, Marvin was utterly depressed by having to hanging out with other life forms that were less intelligent than him. Rickman was actually one of the best at that kind of deadpan comic delivery. He used his voice only again in 2010’s Alice In Wonderland as the Blue Caterpillar a role that he repeated for the 2016 sequel.

There are so many other great films by Rickman you should see- The Cohen Brother’s “Gambit,” “Bottle Shock” Lee Daniel’s “The Butler” and “Something The Lord Made”. Alan Rickman will be missed for many reasons — his dry wit, incredible English humor, and most importantly for his ability to completely capture our attention on the big screen with his incredible performances. ..and that unforgettable voice.

 

 

 

Edited by Lesa Rosato Burson

Favorite Native American, Egyptian, Klingon, Michael Ansara, Dies

Michael Ansara, 91, TV, screen, and voice actor best known for his portrayal of Cochise in the American television series “Broken Arrow”has taken his Final Taxi.  Another popular role was that of Klingon Commander Kang on three different Star Trek TV series.  He was one of only a handful of actors to boldly go from “Star Trek [the Original Series]” to “Deep Space Nine” to “Voyager” – playing the exact same character on each of them.

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Ansara played Kane in the 1979–81 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart on the NBC series, Law of the Plainsman. He guest starred on many of the most well-known television series of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” “The Rifleman,” “The Untouchables,” “Perry Mason,” “The Outer Limits,” “Ben Casey,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Lost in Space,” “Bewitched,” “The Fugitive,” “The Mod Squad,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Hawaii 5-0” and “Kojak.” 

In later years he took on several voice acting roles, providing the voice for Mr. Freeze in “Batman: The Animated Series” and General Warhawk in the Rambo cartoon.  Ansara was married for 16 years to Barbara Eden who is best known for her role in the hit sitcom, “I Dream of Jeannie”.  They even acted together in that series three times.

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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?

Stargate and Twin Peaks Actor – Don S. Davis

One of the strangest and most original TV shows that I enjoyed watching was Twin Peaks. Beginning in April of 1990, Twin Peaks is a drama that follows the investigation of the brutal death of popular, respected teenager and homecoming queen, Laura Palmer, headed by Agent Dale Cooper. Created by one of my favorite cult film directors, David Lynch, its eccentric characters were unorthodox for a supposed crime drama. Among the regulars on the show was a Major Garland Briggs. He was a U. S. Air Force officer who gave information to Agent Cooper and was also the father to one of the main characters named Bobby Briggs. Major Briggs work is so highly classified that he does not tell even his family about it. The role was played by Don. S. Davis and can be seen as a precursor to Davis’s character Lt. Gen. George Hammond on the TV series Stargate SG-1, who is also an Air Force officer involved in secret projects.

Don S. Davis has taken his Final Taxi.

Davis guest-starred in dozens of well-known TV series, often appearing as a head military staff or a sheriff. He had a recurring part on The X Files as Captain William Scully, father of Gillian Anderson’s Agent Dana Scully.

He co-starred on Stargate SG-1 for the series’ first seven years, but left in 2003 due to a medical condition that restricted his workload. However, he returned for several guest appearances on SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis in the following years. He continued to work on- and off-screen until his death.

He was born Don Sinclair Davis on August 4, 1942 in Aurora, Missouri, a town located in the southwestern part of the state. He was raised there amid the Missouri Ozarks.

In 1965, Davis received a Bachelor of Science Degree with a double major in theater and art from Southwest Missouri State College.

He then served three years on active duty in the United States Army, entering as a second lieutenant. He achieved the rank of captain by the time he completed his required tour of active duty.

Upon leaving the army, Davis studied at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. He received a master’s degree in theater in 1970. Davis then taught for several years before returning to SIU to complete the coursework for a PhD in theater, which he received in 1982.

Davis began working in the film industry in the early 1980s while he was an assistant professor of theater, teaching courses in technical theater at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

He left teaching to pursue acting full-time in 1987.

He appeared in numerous feature films, including Miracle, Alaska, A League of their Own, Needful Things, Look Who’s Talking, Con Air and Best of Show.

Davis had featured roles in several dozen made-for-TV movies, including In Cold Blood; The Ranger, The Cook and the Hole in the Sky; and Columbo: A Bird in Hand; as well as the mini-series Atomic Train.

He guest-starred in such TV series as The West Wing, NCIS, The Dead Zone, Northern Exposure, The Outer Limits, L.A. Law, Knots Landing, Wiseguy and Macgyver. He also played on several episodes of 21 Jump Street.

In 2004, he was nominated for a Leo Award, honoring British Columbia films and television, for best supporting performance by a male in a dramatic series for his role in the Stargate SG-1 episode “Heroes, Part 2.” He won the Director’s Award for best supporting actor at Fright-Fest in 2003 for his part as Keith Young in the low-budget thriller Savage Island.

His final Stargate appearance is in Stargate: Continuum, the SG-1 DVD movie that will be released July 29. He will also appear in the forthcoming films Vipers, Woodshop and Far Cry.

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.

Coffin Shopping

Being in Alabama I am also in college football country. I once had to go to a funeral for a co-worker’s father. It was known that he was a big Alabama Crimson Tide fan. He had tickets to all the games. Traveled to games out of state and when the team went to the bowl games. His truck was covered in “Roll Tide” stickers and the truck was of course red and white ( the team colors.) So when he died what did his coffin have on it but a “Roll Tide” football sticker and the coffin was red and white.

I’m not a football fan but I did have to say I liked that the family had a choice. It would not have been the deceased choice to be in a plain metal looking coffin.

It is a matter of choice that made Simon Dorgan and his partner, Paula Rainey Crofts open Heaven on Earth, Britain’s first designer death shop. The service actually treats death pretty much as a part of life.
With the funeral services, you can pre-order coffins of all shapes and sizes as well as for multiple uses long before they become your final resting place.

All of which appears seemingly rational given that coffins can be such an extravagance when one is already six feet under.

Instead of a mere oblong box, Dorgan has introduced a fascinating range of practical coffins that can double up for everyday use.
For instance, Croft’s mother (who is still very much alive) is storing her dancing shoes in her coffin. Others have turned theirs into linen chests or spice racks.

Indeed, the embodiment chests – as the couple prefer to call them – have been used as tabletops with board games, bookcases, CD cabinets or even shoe racks.
Such units would eventually return to their original purpose when the time comes, thus reducing funeral expenses while having served the owner well when alive.

One of the most talked about services is them sending your ashes up a space shuttle and have it ejected back to earth as a shooting star!
“That’s how Gene Rodenberry went,” Dorgan said, referring to Star Trek creator whose ashes were reportedly sent up in a space shuttle and fell back to earth as a shooting star.
He said his company could make arrangements for the ashes to be sent to the United States and blasted off into space.
A vial of the ashes would be ejected about 320km above earth, where it’ll burn out in the atmosphere and become a shooting star. “We haven’t got any such request in the UK yet. But you can actually have your ashes falling back from heaven to earth,” he quipped..

On the most unique coffin he has supplied so far, Dorgan listed a replica of Britain’s Red Arrows aerobatics jet as topping the list.

“It’s even got a cockpit, so you can see the person’s face,” he said, referring to the jet-shaped coffin.

He added that the coffin, with wings that could be folded up for burial, had been ordered by a Scottish woman in her 50s.A passionate fan of the Red Arrows, the woman – who is still alive – has a whole room dedicated to the world-famous aerobatics display team.
Dorgan said they got the idea of unusual coffins from Ghana, where a person is usually buried in one which denoted his occupation.

For example, a fisherman would be laid to rest in a wooden fish-shaped coffin, a pepper trader in a “giant pepper” replica and a businessman in a mock-up of a Mercedes Benz.
He said they had also painted coffins in football colors like Bristol City and Cardiff City football clubs.
“We’ve recently received an inquiry to build a coffin shaped like a chess piece of the king,” he said, adding that the person wanted to be buried as a chess king.
Heaven on Earth has come a long way since it was set up in Bristol in 1995, as bespoke funeral arrangers and gift shop.
The business was, in fact, born out of a misheard wish when Dorgan thought his partner wanted to open a “coffee-shop” instead of a “coffin-shop”. “Although it’s sad when we have to go, we try to concentrate on the celebration of a life, rather than mourning a death,” said Dorgan.

He said he is not only interested in the business of living well, but in dying well too.

PODCAST: The voice of Jaws and Airplane’s Lipstick Lady.


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Percy Rodrigues, whose role as a neurosurgeon on the 1960s television series “Peyton Place” broke ground because he was cast as an authority figure when relatively few black actors were given such parts, has taken his Final Taxi at 89. He will be known by Star Trek fans as Commodore Stone in the original series but most have heard his voice in movie ads and voiceovers. His most popular would be for “Jaws.”

Charlotte Zucker was the mother of filmmakers David Zucker and Jerry Zucker (aka The Zucker Brothers) who appears in her sons’ movies, including Airplane!, Top Secret!, Ghost, My Boss’ Daughter, First Knight and The Naked Gun trilogy. In Airplane she was the ‘Lipstick Lady.”