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?

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Character Actress – Lilyan Chauvin

A character actor can give a motion picture that bit of something extra that makes a scene in the movie.

In the 2002 film by Steven Spielberg, Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio started his career of pretending to be others people when his mother and father told him they were getting a divorce. That scene help to put a fright into him more with his maternal grandmother appearing speaking nothing but French. He knew his life was in for a change.
The character actress who played that role was Lilyan L. Chauvin who started in Hollywood as one of its glamor girls and ends up as one of the most familiar faces in TV, commercials and films, yet no one remembers her name.

Lilyan Chauvin has taken her Final Taxi at the age of 83.

Born Lilyan Lowans in Paris in 1925, Chauvin traveled via the Queen Elizabeth to New York in 1952 and begin teaching French at the Berlitz school off of 5th Ave.

In 1953 actress Judith Anderson met Chauvin, who says she looks like a Garbo, and helped to set her up on the TV show “Studio One Summer Theater” where she played in the presentation “Letter from Cairo.”

In 1956 she guest-starred in Crusader with Brian Keith and later the same year, she appeared in The Adventures of Jim Bowie and in the Adventures of Superman in 1957.

In 1958, she made her first credited motion picture appearance in Lost, Lonely and Vicious. In 1960 she starred in Walk Like a Dragon and North to Alaska. In the rest of the 1960s she appeared in Bloodlust!, Back Street, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Two Weeks in Another Town, Tickle Me and Yours, Mine and Ours.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she appeared in a wide variety of motion pictures and television movies, nearly always playing French characters or nuns. In 1971 she was in The Mephisto Waltz with Alan Alda and Jacqueline Bisset and in 1975 she acted alongside Barbra Streisand and James Caan in Funny Lady. 1980 saw her with Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin, but the role she will be most remembered for was from 1984 where Chauvin played the lead role in the horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night, playing the Mother Superior. The role was so popular that she return for the sequel Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.

1990 movies included Bad Influence, Predator 2, Universal Soldier, True Identity,No Place to Hide (Where she played another Mother Superior) and Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.

Her latest offerings have been Catch Me If You Can and the The Man Who Wasn’t There (by the Coen Brothers).

During all this time Chauvin was always on TV. In the 60’s there was Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Perry Mason, and Mission: Impossible to name a few.
The 70’s and 80’s saw McCloud, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Mannix, Fantasy Island, Magnum, P.I and she was a regular on the nighttime TV soap Falcon Crest, playing a nun.

Chauvin was also on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless where she played Marianne and also for a short time on Ryan’s Four playing Nurse Rose.

Her television roles of the 1990s include guest appearances in Baywatch, Murder, She Wrote, The X-Files, Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Frasier. One role many TV watchers will remember Lilyan Chauvin for is when she appeared on the sitcom Friends, where she play Joey’s grandmother.

Her last role was in a episode last year of the TV show “Ugly Betty.”

Twice nominated for the “Emmy Award”, (The Young and the Restless & Baa Baa Black Sheep) her dedication to the arts won her recognition to for Excellence in moral quality media. She won the 1991 “Angel Award” for the program “Hollywood Structured”, a cable TV show she co-produced, directed and hosted. On the show Chauvin explored new facets of the industry each week through interviews with top professionals. The 64 episodes covered acting, directing, make up, documentary filmmaking, producing, music, comedy, cinematography, stunt coordinating, modeling, publicity, writing, dancing, sports announcing, production design,
entertainment law, agency, casting, union, special effects and more.

The show’s star- studded guest list read like the Who’s Who in the entertainment world. Celebrity guests included Jacqueline Bisset, Henry Mancini, Danny Glover, Linda Gray, Anne Francis, Morey Amsterdam, Al Burton, Roy Christopher, Nina Blanchard, Billy Barty, Jeanne Cooper, Linda Purl, Betty Thomas, Joanna Lee, Barney Rosenzweig, Mel Torme, Alexander Godunov and many more. The show stood as the platform for this consummate actress and director in the launching of both her successful video tape package, “Discover Yourself Hollywood” and the book she penned, “Hollywood Scams & Survival Tactics” where she shared a lifetime of survival experiences.

Chauvin also taught for over 10 years at USC and at UCLA for two years.

Lilyan Chauvin was a long time member and active supporter of the Wilderness Society, Children’s Hospital and the LA Camp Fund. She established loving relationships with many types of animals and was an animal and nature advocate for many years.

Oscar and Emmy-winning director – Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack, the actor, in 1982's Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman in drag and in 2007's Michael Clayton with George Clooney

In Christmas of 1982 I was working for Cobb Theaters in Tuscaloosa, Alabama when I was lucky to play what would become one of my favorite movies. The film was called Tootsie, and it starred Dustin Hoffman as a respected but perfectionist actor on the verge of turning forty. Nobody in New York wants to hire him anymore because he is so difficult to work with. Not having worked in four months, he eventually hears of an opening on the soap opera “Southwest General Hospital” (a parody of General Hospital) from his friend Sandy Lester (Teri Garr), who initially tries out for the role but doesn’t get it. In desperation, he cross-dresses and eventually wins the part. Besides Hoffman and Garr, Toosie also starred Jessica Lange, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray, George Gaynes, Lynne Thigpen and Geena Davis (in her film debut). It also starred Sydney Pollack who was also the film’s director.I was shock to learn that Oscar and Emmy-winning director and producer Sydney Pollack had taken his Final Taxi at 73. My wife and I had just rented Michael Clayton a film from 2007 where he appeared opposite George Clooney. This was a film which he also co-produced.

Sydney Irwin Pollack was born in 1934 in Lafayette, Indiana, to a family of Jewish immigrants from Russia. Mr. Pollack developed a love of drama at South Bend High School and went to New York and enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. He studied there for two years teaching acting but also appearing onstage and in television.

Pollack had a notable role in a 1959 “Playhouse 90” telecast of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and also appeared on Broadway with Zero Mostel in “A Stone for Danny Fisher” and with Katharine Cornell and Tyrone Power in “The Dark Is Light Enough.”

Turning to directing he landed an assignment on the television series “Shotgun Slade” and on a few episodes of “Ben Casey, “Naked City,” “The Fugitive” and other well-known shows. In 1966 he won an Emmy for directing an episode of “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater.”

Sydney Pollack directed five films during the 1960s. His feature debut was “The Slender Thread” which starred Sidney Portier and Ann Bancroft. The movie received two Oscar nominations. His second film was the first of seven collaborations with actor Robert Redford. “This Property is Condemned” starred Redford, Natalie Wood and Charles Bronson. Miss Wood received a Golden Globe nomination for the film. Pollack and friend Burt Lancaster teamed up for Pollack’s next two films as director. “The Scalphunters” is an underrated comedic Western. “Castle Keep” is an interesting misfire that wants to be a surreal anti-war film. Lancaster called on Pollack to finish directing his adaptation of John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” following creative differences with director Frank Perry. Sydney Pollack’s final film of the 1960s was one of his best. “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” received nine Oscar nominations including Pollack’s first as Best Director. Gig Young won a well-deserved Best Supporting Oscar for his performance as the organizer of the Depression-era dance marathon.

Pollack directed six films during the 1970s. His first film of the decade was 1972’s “Jeremiah Johnson.” It was his second collaboration with Robert Redford. Pollack was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes for the film. The following year Mr. Pollack directed Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand in “The Way We Were.” The film earned six Oscar nominations including a Best Actress for Streisand. Sydney Pollack’s “The Yakuza” is one of the best crime films of all time. Robert Mitchum is tough as nails as a WWII vet who returns to Japan to help out an old war buddy. The excellent supporting cast includes Brian Keith, Herb Edelman and Richard Jordon. In 1975 Pollack once again teamed up with Robert Redford for the thriller “Three Days of the Condor.” Max Von Sydow, Cliff Robertson and Faye Dunaway co-starred in the Oscar-nominated film. His last tow films of the 70’s were “Bobby Deerfield” and “The Electric Horseman.”

During the 1980s he only directed three films. “Absence of Malice” The film chalked up three Oscar nominations. Next came the gender-bending comedy “Tootsie.” Pollack not only produced and directed but also acted in the film as Dustin Hoffman’s agent. The movie earned ten Oscar nominations. Mr. Pollack received his second Best Director nod and his first nomination for Best Picture. Jessica Lange won for Best Supporting actress. His final film as director in the 1980s was “Out of Africa.” Once again, he teamed up with Robert Redford. The film received ten Oscar nominations and won six. Mr. Pollack won Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for “Out of Africa.”

Other films included, 1990’s “Havana” (His final film with Robert Redford.) 1993’s “The Firm” the remake of “Sabrina” and “The Interpreter.”

Sidney Pollack also produced a number of films for other filmmakers. His many producer credits include “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “Presumed Innocent,” “White Palace,” “Dead Again,” “Flesh and Bone,” “Searching for Bobby Fisher,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Dead Again,” “Heaven,” “40 Shades of Blue” and “Cold Mountain.”

Hogan’s Heroes “Kinch” – Ivan Dixon

I picked up a new DVD set  released this week of an old TV show that I barely remembered but have enjoyed watching in syndication. It was a collection of the 3rd season of Hogan’s Heroes. That show ran from September 17, 1965, to July 4, 1971, on the CBS TV network. The comedy starred Bob Crane as Colonel Robert E. Hogan and was set in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during the Second World War. The POWs of Stalag 13 were actually active war participants, using the camp as a base of operations for Allied espionage and sabotage against the Nazis.

Ivan Dixon as Kinch in CBS' Hogan's Heroes

One of the regulars on the U.S. Staff Sgt. James Kinchloe. He was one of the only African-American’s on the show and in charge of electronic communications and could also mimic German officers on the radio or phone.

The role was played to perfection by Ivan Dixon. Dixon has taken his Final Taxi ate the age of 76.

Ivan Dixon was born in New York City on April 6, 1931. Ivan had a prestigious list of acting credits before delving into the comedic escapades of Stalag 13. One of his first acting credits was for the celebrated television anthology show “The Dupont Show of the Month” in the 1960 production of “Arrowsmith.” He went on to act in the film version of the theatrical drama “A Raisin in the Sun” with Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in 1961, in which he played Asagai, the African boyfriend of Beneatha. He also portrayed Jim in the 1959 film version of “Porgy and Bess.” His other pre-“Hogan’s Heroes” film work includes: “Something of Value” (1957), “The Murder Men” (1961), and “The Battle at Bloody Beach” (1961).

Perhaps Ivan’s most important film role is in the acclaimed drama “Nothing But a Man” (1964). In this subtle, complicated character study, Ivan plays Duff, a Southern railroad worker who must decide if his life, his marriage and his relationship with his son will repeat the mistakes his own father committed. Unlike many films of the era, it presents a cast of black characters who are fully-developed individuals, with problems, joys and identities of their own. Dixon acted with Poitier again in the 1965 film “A Patch of Blue” about a blind white girl falling in love with a black man (Poitier).

Also in 1965, Dixon began his enlistment as Sergeant James Kinchloe on “Hogan’s Heroes” “Kinch” was primarily responsible for radio, telegraph, and other forms of electronic communications on the show and was always their when Hogan needed him.

Dixon left the series in 1970, one year before the show ended. His post-“Hogan” films included: “Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?” (1970) and the Vietnam veteran melodrama “Clay Pigeon” (1971). I fondly remember him in the movie “Car Wash” (1976) when he played the boss Lonnie. Other television acting credits include the 1987 mini-series “Amerika,” the 1986 mystery film “Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star,” in which he played the judge, and the 1974 action drama “Fer-de-Lance” (aka “Death Dive”). In addition to acting on television, he also directed hundreds of episodic shows, including “The Waltons,” “The Rockford Files,” “Magnum P.I.” and “Heat of the Night.”

Dixon began directing films in the early 1970s, such as the 1972 gang warfare flick “Trouble Man” and the 1973 action movie “The Spy Who Sat by the Door” (which he also produced). For television, he directed “Love Is Not Enough” (1978), the series “Palmerstown, U.S.A.” (1980), the detective series “Hawaiian Heat” (1984), and the telemovie “Percy & Thunder” (1993).

Dixon’s awards include four NAACP Image Awards, National Black Theatre Award and the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award from the Black American Cinema Society. He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild of America, and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.