Thursday, February 21, 2019

RIP Peter Tork

Peter Tork, endearingly offbeat bassist and singer in the Monkees, dies at 77

The Washington Post
By Harrison Smith
February 21, 2019

Peter Tork, a blues and folk musician who became a teeny-bopper sensation as a member of the Monkees, the wisecracking, made-for-TV pop group that imitated and briefly outsold the Beatles, died Feb. 21. He was 77.

His death was confirmed by his sister Anne Thorkelson, who did not say where or how he died. Mr. Tork was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer affecting his tongue, in 2009.

If the Monkees were a manufactured version of the Beatles, a “prefab four” who auditioned for a rock-and-roll sitcom and were selected more for their long-haired good looks than their musical abilities, Mr. Tork was the group’s Ringo, its lovably goofy supporting player.

On television, he performed as the self-described “dummy” of the group, drawing on a persona he developed while working as a folk musician in Greenwich Village, where he flashed a confused smile whenever his stage banter fell flat. Off-screen, he embraced the Summer of Love, donning moccasins and “love beads” and declaring that “nonverbal, extrasensory communication is at hand” and that “dogmatism is leaving the scene.”

A versatile multi-instrumentalist, Mr. Tork mostly played bass and keyboard for the Monkees, in addition to singing lead on tracks including “Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again,” which he wrote for the group’s psychedelic 1968 movie, “Head,” and “Your Auntie Grizelda.”

At age 24, he was also the band’s oldest member when “The Monkees” premiered on NBC in 1966. Not that it mattered: “The emotional age of all of us,” he told the New York Times that year, “is 13.”

Created by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, “The Monkees” was designed to replicate the success of “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!,” director Richard Lester’s musical comedies about the Beatles.

The band featured Mr. Tork alongside Michael Nesmith, a singer-songwriter who played guitar, and former child actors Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, who played the drums and sang lead, respectively. Like their British counterparts, the group had a fondness for mischief, resulting in high jinks involving a magical necklace, a monkey’s paw, high-seas pirates and Texas outlaws.

“The Monkees” ran for only two seasons but won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy and spawned a frenzy of merchandising, record sales and world tours that became known as Monkeemania. In 1967, according to one report in The Washington Post, the Monkees sold 35 million albums — “twice as many as the Beatles and Rolling Stones combined” — on the strength of songs such as “Daydream Believer,” “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville,” which all rose to No. 1 on the Billboard record chart.

Almost all of their early material was penned by a stable of vaunted songwriters that included Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, David Gates, Neil Sedaka and Jeff Barry. But while the band scored a total of six Top 10 songs and five Top 10 albums, they engendered as much critical scorn as commercial success. In one typical review, music critic Richard Goldstein declared, “The Monkees are as unoriginal as anything yet thrust upon us in the name of popular music.”

Detractors pointed to the fact that the band, at least initially, existed only in name. While the Monkees appeared on the cover of their debut album and were shown performing on TV, their instruments were actually unplugged. The songs were mostly done by session musicians — much to the shock of Mr. Tork, who recalled walking into the recording studio in 1966 to help with the group’s self-titled debut.

He was “mortified,” he later told CBS News, to find that music producer Don Kirshner, dubbed “the man with the golden ear,” didn’t want him around. “They were doing ‘Clarksville,’ and I wrote a counterpoint, I had studied music,” Mr. Tork said. “And I brought it to them, and they said: ‘No, no, Peter, you don’t understand. This is the record. It’s all done. We don’t need you.’ ”

After the release of the band’s second album, “More of the Monkees” (1967), Mr. Tork and his bandmates wrested control of the recording process and wrote and performed most of the songs on records including “Headquarters” (1967) and “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.” (1967).

They also started touring, playing to sold-out stadium crowds and backed by opening acts that briefly included guitarist Jimi Hendrix. But as Mr. Tork’s musical ambitions grew, leading him to envision the Monkees as a genuinely great group of rockers, he began to clash with bandmates who saw the Monkees as more of a novelty act.

He left the group soon after the release of “Head,” a satirical, nearly plot-free film flop that featured a screenplay co-written by actor Jack Nicholson. Mr. Tork seemed to have taken his cue from musician Frank Zappa, who made a cameo in the movie, telling Jones’s character that the Monkees “should spend more time” on their music “because the youth of America depends on you that show the way.”

For much of the 1970s, Mr. Tork struggled to find his own way. He formed an unsuccessful band called Release, was imprisoned for several months in 1972 after being caught with “$3 worth of hashish in my pocket,” and worked as a high school teacher and “singing waiter” as his Monkees wealth dried up. He also said he struggled with alcohol addiction — “I was awful when I was drinking, snarling at people,” he told the Daily Mail — before quitting alcohol in the early 1980s.

By then, television reruns and album reissues had fueled a resurgence of interest in the Monkees, and Mr. Tork had come around to what he described as the essential nature of the music group, which he joined for major reunion tours about once each decade, beginning in the mid-’80s, in addition to performing as a solo artist.

“This is not a band. It’s an entertainment operation whose function is Monkee music,” he told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper during a Monkees tour in 2016. “It took me a while to get to grips with that but what great music it turned out to be! And what a wild and wonderful trip it has taken us on!”

He was born Peter Halsten Thorkelson in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 13, 1942. His mother was a homemaker, and his father — an Army officer who served in the military government in Berlin after World War II — was an economics professor who joined the University of Connecticut in 1950, leading the family to settle in the town of Mansfield.

Both parents collected folk records and bought him a guitar and banjo when he was a boy. Peter went on to take piano lessons and studied French horn at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where he reportedly flunked out twice before settling in New York City. At coffee shops and makeshift folk music venues, he performed with the shortened last name Tork, which had been emblazoned on one of his father’s hand-me-down sweatshirts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Tork played with guitarist Stephen Stills before moving to Long Beach, Calif., in 1965. Stills moved west as well and auditioned for “The Monkees” after the show’s producers placed an advertisement in Variety calling for “4 Insane Boys, Ages 17-21.”

When Stills didn’t get the part — purportedly on account of his bad teeth — he suggested that Mr. Tork audition. “I went, ‘Yeah, sure, thanks for the call,’ and hung up,” Mr. Tork later told the Los Angeles Times. “Then he called me a few days later,” finally persuading Mr. Tork to try out.

He later appeared in episodes of television shows such as “Boy Meets World,” playing the love interest Topanga’s guitar-strumming father, and in recent years performed with a band called Shoe Suede Blues. Mr. Tork also released a well-received 1994 solo album, “Stranger Things Have Happened,” and partnered with folk singer James Lee Stanley for several records.

Mr. Tork’s marriages to Jody Babb, Reine Stewart and Barbara Iannoli ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Pamela Grapes; a daughter, Hallie, from his second marriage; a son, Ivan, from his third marriage; a daughter, Erica, from a relationship with Tammy Sustek; a brother; and a sister.

Many of the Monkees reunion tours were conducted without Nesmith, who inherited a fortune from his mother, the inventor of Liquid Paper, and largely dropped out of public view after the band first split up. Nesmith returned to performances after the death of Jones, the Monkees’ singer, in 2012, which helped spur a 50th anniversary reunion tour and album, “Good Times!,” four years later.

And while the Monkees were dogged by reports of squabbling and frequent tensions — Mr. Tork was once head-butted by Jones and said he dropped out of a 2001 tour because he had a “meltdown” and “behaved inappropriately” — Mr. Tork insisted that they were at their best when they were together. Their musical chemistry was special, he said, even if it was the result of a few producers looking to cast a few handsome men for a television show.

“I refute any claims that any four guys could’ve done what we did,” he told Guitar World in 2013. “There was a magic to that collection. We couldn’t have chosen each other. It wouldn’t have flown. But under the circumstances, they got the right guys.”

TORK, Peter (Peter Halsten Thorkelson)
Born: 2/13/1942, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Died: 2/21/2019, U.S.A.

Peter Tork’s western – actor:
Head – 1968 (Peter)

RIP O’Neal Compton

SUMTER, SC - Belton O'Neal Compton Jr., a well-known film and television actor and director, died Monday, Feb. 18, at the Veterans Administration hospital in Columbia. Born in Sumter on Feb. 5, 1951, O'Neal was a son of the Belton O. Compton Sr. and Dorothy Brunson Compton. Survivors include four brothers, Kell B. Compton (Carol Ann), Lawrence B. Compton (Terri), Joseph R. Compton (Valerie), and Michael F. Compton (Rebecca), and many nieces and nephews. His caregiver for the last 10 years, Ms. Sadia Mullins, is like a part of the family. O'Neal attended Clemson University for one year before serving in the Navy for four years. He then enrolled at Wofford College where he studied biology, but his passion was the theater. He was inspired by Dr. James Gross, director of the Wofford Theatre Workshop at that time. O'Neal had numerous roles at the The Sumter Little Theater, and was heavily involved in political advertising throughout his career. He also was decades ahead of his time with the 1981 Compton Plan, a simple burial or cremation company. He zoned and built the first crematorium in Atlanta, Georgia. After a brief stint as director of the family funeral home, Shelley-Brunson, O'Neal moved back to Charleston. In the mid 1980s, O'Neal and good friends David Boatwright and Timmy Mallard started a production company, Bear Films, which produced and directed numerous award-winning commercials for Ford, Bojangles and others and syndicated O'Neal's beloved character Justin Thyme. O'Neal was in high demand as a character actor for years in Los Angeles and New York. He was an award-winning, writer, producer, photographer and director. His acting career really took off in the early 90s with the movies: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1993), The Thing Called Love (1993), Made in America (1993), What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), Nell (1994), Road Racers (1994), and Little Big League (1994). Following these movies, he had great parts in Nixon (1995), Diabolique (1996), Deep Impact (1998), Primary Colors (1998), Life (1999), and Big Eden (2000). He acted with the top actors of his time, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Ted Danson, Whoopi Goldberg, Daryl Hanna, Sharon Stone, and Tia Leoni. He had roles on episodes of a number of TV shows including Martin, Quantum Leap, Home Improvement, and Coach, to name a few, along with two appearances on Seinfeld. O'Neal also landed a regular part on the short-lived TV series Orleans with Larry Hagman. O'Neal's photography has been featured in exhibitions at the Michael Hoppen Gallery (London), Castle Haggenberg (Vienna) and in private galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, New Orleans and South Carolina. His photographs hang in the collections of many celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Billy Bob Thornton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, Emma Thompson, and Oliver Stone. O'Neal was commissioned by Jerry Seinfeld to create a series of his "slow speed" natural light portraits of the cast and crew in the last year of that show. A gathering in celebration of O'Neal's life is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Sumter County Museum located at 122 North Washington Street, in Sumter. Dress: Casual Memorials may be made to a . Visit our guestbook at Charleston

COMPTON, O’Neal (Belton O’Neal Compton Jr.)
Born: 2/5/1951, Sumter, South Carolina, U.S.A.
Died: 2/18/2019, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A.

O’Neal Compton ‘s westerns – actor:
Harts of the West (TV) – 1993
Shaughnessy (TV) - 1996

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

RIP Steve George

Steven Hayden George
April 17th, 1952-February 15th, 2019

Daily Press
February 17, 2019

Steve passed away on Friday, February 15th, 2019 after a brief stay at Riverside Regional Hospital. Steve was a person who never let life happen to him but was a person who was always out in front pursuing one adventure after another. Always looking for adventure, Steve was an avid surfer in his youth and young adulthood. Baltimore and Ocean City, Maryland were the places he called home until 1977. That's when he started the first of many lives lived to the full. He joined a company called "Caribe Salvage" and moved down to the Dominican Republic to pursue his love of the sea and water as a Treasure Diver on the Quicksilver Galleons. The treasure salvaged from these Spanish Galleons was featured in the National Geographic "Mysteries of the Sea." He learned to speak Spanish and met his wife of 37 years Jenny George on the island. They lived and worked there until 1985 when they both returned to the United States.So began the second of his adventurous lives. He got a job in 1986 at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). His love of the water and knowledge of boats gained him a job as first mate on the R/V John Smith and Bay Eagle. He made many life-long friends here as he had in his previous career. He worked on trawl surveys with a variety of researchers until 1991.So began his 3rd career in the film and television business. Steve started as a stunt diver on the "Abyss" where his diving skills as a treasure diver enabled him to be a stunt double for one of the characters. He went on to work on several shows as a set decorator, prop assistant, and honed his craft and passion for props under the mentorship of notable Prop Masters until he achieved this status himself. He was Prop Master on many well-known film and TV series such as Havana, Sommersby, Runaway Bride, Veep, and John Adams. These are just a few among more than 44 shows he worked on over more than 25 years in the entertainment business. He again made many life-long friends and helped young beginners in the business along the way. He loved working on historical shows including many featuring the history of Native Americans, The Civil War (Gods and Generals) and The Revolutionary War. He was an avid reader of history, and his final show "Harriet" (Harriet Tubman) was one of his favorite shows working with outstanding people (director, actors, art department) and close friends (the crew and his team) here in Virginia. Although a tough prop movie, he felt this was his best work.And so Steve is now on a new and final adventure. Preceding Steve on this new adventure was his father and best friend, Robert Beale George and beloved grandmother, Olive Marie Henzler Burnside. He leaves behind his wife, lndrani "Jenny" George, son, Logan Hayden George, mother, Harriett George, and brother, Robert George, niece, Jenny George, and nephew, Robert T. George and wife, Katie. He also leaves behind a host of cousins (Georges, Burdettes, and Laytons) and their families-all of who will miss him greatly. Finally Steve will best be remembered as a great son, great brother, great husband, great father (most of all) and a true friend to many.There will be a Celebration of Life on Monday, February 25, 2019 at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church at 2:00 p.m. Memorial donations can be made in Steve's name to Riverside Hospice Program who took such caring and compassionate care of Steve. Andrews Funeral Home & Crematory, Gloucester, Va. is in charge of arrangements.

GEORGE, Steve (Steven Hayden George)
Born: 4/17/1952, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Died: 2/15/2019, Riverside, California, U.S.A.

Steve George’s westerns – property master:
Tecumseh: The Last Warrior (TV) - 1995
Crazy Horse (TV) - 1996
Purgatory (TV) – 1999
Gods and Genereals – 2003
The New World - 2005

RIP Chelo Alonso

Goodbye to Chelo Alonso, the actress of the Dolce Vita movie star of the 60s

Dentro Magazine
February 20, 2019

The ballerina, soubrette and actress in the unforgettable 1960s, died this night Chelo Alonso in the house of Mentana where she had lived for several years with her son Aldo and his family. An extraordinary life was that of the Cuban showgirl born in Camaguey in 1933, still very young she approached the world of entertainment through dance. From Cuba she conquered Broadway and then arrived in Paris. A disruptive beauty with long legs and a sensual look, in the years of Dolce Vita becomes a star of Italian cinema. The bigger directors cannot do without her.

She made her debut in 1959, she took part in twenty productions, from “Morgan the pirate” to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, by Sergio Leone in 1966. She recited with Vittorio De Sica, Alberto Sordi, and is a charismatic woman appreciated in the roles of a proud and sensual woman, Chelo Alonso married the record producer Aldo Pomilla, and as a widow, went to live first in Siena and then in Mentana with her son Aldo. She abandoned the world of entertainment and became an entrepreneur.

Known, respected, and loved by the entire community of Mentana, she had suffered a great deal with several health problems that had afflicted her for the past five years, forcing her to enter and exit hospitals. She leaves her son Aldo and three nephews to whom she was very attached, Alessandra, Carola and Alice. The "Cuban H bomb" as she was called in America for her hypnotic beauty, will be remember for the magic of those years, having worked with the big ones, like Fellini.

But Chelo Alonso is a story that will remain among the many in history, told by the same actress on TV a few years ago. When at the end of the 1950s Ernesto Che Guevara presented himself in Rome sent by Fidel Castro to convince the artist to return to Cuba, but not even the head of the revolution succeeded in making her leave Italy.

ALONSO, Chelo (Isabel Apolonia García Hernández)
Born: 4/10/1933, Central Lugareño, Camagüey, Cuba
Died: 2/20/2019, Mentana, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Chelo Alonso’s westerns – actress:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – 1966 (Mrs. Mondrega/Stevens)
Run, Man Run – 1967 (Dolores)
Night of the Serpent – 1968 (Dolores)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

RIP Terry Earp

Terry Earp: Playwright, triathlete, entrepreneur and, to husband Wyatt Earp, 'my hero'

Arizona Republic
By Kerry Lengel
February 18, 2019

In the Phoenix theater scene, she was that rare marvel, a local playwright who could sell out a house. But to her husband and sometime scene partner Wyatt Earp — the great-nephew of his namesake — she was “my hero.”

Terry Tafoya Earp, the Arizona playwright best known for chronicling the lives of legendary gunslingers, died in her Moon Valley home Feb. 15 at age 69 after more than a decade of medical battles following an accident that left her quadriplegic.

“She was training for (another) triathlon when she was hit” in 2006, Wyatt Earp said.

He was bike riding with her when a red-light runner struck. Terry was wearing a helmet, but the accident caused severe spinal injuries that required repeated surgeries.

They had been riding together for a long time. They met in 1978 while scuba diving off the California coast and had bumped into each other at the downtown Phoenix YMCA. When a friend mentioned that Terry was now divorced, Wyatt asked her to a “harmless breakfast,” then mixed up his schedule and stood her up — twice.

“She got back at me,” Wyatt said. Taking over the date planning, Terry planned a morning bike ride to breakfast. She failed to mention it would be with the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association.

“All these people start showing up in fancy cycling clothes and high-tech gear,” he recalled. Oh, and breakfast? It was 25 miles away.

“It about killed me, but I had to be macho and stay up with these guys,” Wyatt said.

And that night, Terry insisted they go dancing.

Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Terry Earp served in the Army in the ’60s before moving to Arizona in 1970. She earned a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in public administration at Arizona State University, but in 1988 she decided to pursue a new dream: writing plays.

She had her first success two years later with “Skimpies,” a comedy about the goddess Aphrodite moonlighting as a lingerie pitchwoman.

“We didn’t expect it to be a hit, and it saved our theater, essentially, because we were hurting for cash flow, and all of a sudden that play came along and ran for three months or more,” said Raymond Shurtz King, founder of Playwright’s Workshop Theatre.

Earp went on to open her own venue, On the Spot Theater on Central Avenue, which ran off and on for about decade or so before closing in 2003. In addition to her own work, she promoted other playwrights, including King after his theater closed.

“Terry was so affable and so great to work with,” he said. “You could go and pitch her an idea, and she was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ She wasn’t afraid of risks.”

Earp is best known for the historical plays “Wyatt Earp: A Life on the Frontier” (which starred her husband) and “The Gentleman Doc Holliday,” both of which were produced on tour. In addition to her fascination with Arizona history, she also explored personal topics, such as her own mixed Anglo and Latino heritage in a comedy titled “A Touch of Tortilla,” another local hit.

“Terry was probably one of the few working playwrights that was actually kind of eking out a living with it,” King said. “She really was prolific. She had a lot going on.”

When circumstances forced On the Spot to close for good, Earp posed for a photo dressed as a Wagnerian valkyrie to say, “It ain’t over (till the fat lady sings),” recalled Laura Durant, a photographer and PR professional serving the Valley’s arts scene.

“She was fearless, and she literally wrote her own ticket,” Durant said.

“When I first met her, she had a desk job just like I did. And she left her day job, and it inspired me to do what I’m doing now, and to be a champion of original works and new works in the Valley.”

Earp’s 2006 accident was followed by a long, painful rehabilitation, but a year later she was attending theater openings in a wheelchair. She returned to writing with shows such as “In My Humble Opinion,” another historical work about Jack Durant, the late proprietor of the local-legend eatery Durant’s. Adapted from a book, it in turn was adapted into the 2016 film “Durant’s Never Closes.”

Earp also volunteered to help people facing life-changing injuries like her own make the transition to a new life, Wyatt Earp said.

“She talked to them from the chair, so she was living testimony, and she said, ‘Now it’s your job to reinvent yourself.’ And really, isn’t that what we all have to do, all our lives?

“There are not many men you talk to who say their wife is their own hero.”

In addition to her husband, Earp is survived by her sister, Gerri Siebenaller, as well as in-laws and, Wyatt Earp added, Earp’s personal nurse, Danelle Gerischer, who shared caregiving work with him for more than 12 years.

Services will be private.

EARP, Terry (Terry Tafoya)
Born: 1948, Pueblo, Colorado, U.S.A.
Died: 2/15/2019, Moon Valley, Arizona, U.S.A.

Terry Earp’s westerns – actress, playwright:
The Tombstone Saga – 1996 [playwright, actress]
Wyatt Earp: A Life on the Frontier – 1996 [playwright, actress]
The Gentleman Doc Holliday - 1998 [playwright, actress]
Kate, the Woman of Many Names – 1998 [playwright, actress]
Of Legends and Lovers: Doc and Kate – 1998 [playwright, actress]
Mrs. Wyatt Earp – 2004 [playwright, actress]
Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt Earp – 2006 [playwright, actress]
Will Rogers: A Ropin’ Fool – 2010 [playwright]
Lark, a Cowboy Women’s Ride – 2012 [playwright]