Thursday, July 28, 2016

RIP Jerry Doyle

'Babylon 5' star Jerry Doyle Dead at 60


Jerry Doyle -- best known for his role on "Babylon 5" -- died Wednesday ... TMZ has learned.

Sources tell us ... a call was made to his Las Vegas home yesterday afternoon after he was found unresponsive. It's unclear how the political radio talk show host and actor died ... but we're told no foul play is suspected. An autopsy is pending.

Jerry starred as security officer Michael Garibaldi from 1994 to 1998 and was married to co-star Andrea Thompson from 1995 to 1997. He worked on Wall Street before going into acting.

As of late ... Jerry hosted a nationally syndicated radio talk show, "The Jerry Doyle Show."

He was 60.

DOYLE, Jerry
Born: 7/16/1956, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 7/27/2016, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

Jerry Doyle’s western – actor:
The Long Ride Home – 2003 (Sheriff)

RIP Joe Powell

Joe Powell, stuntman – obituary

The Telegraph
July 27, 2016

Joe Powell, who has died aged 94, was known as the “daddy of British stuntmen” for the gut-wrenchingly high-risk feats he performed in classic adventure films such as Where Eagles Dare and The Guns of Navarone.

For The Man Who Would Be King, John Huston’s adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling story filmed in the Atlas mountains, Powell, “doubling” for Sean Connery, had to plunge 100 ft from a collapsed rope bridge into a perilous ravine: if he had missed the target area covered with boxes to cushion his fall, he would have plummeted a further 2,000 ft. The co-star Michael Caine walked away saying: “I’m not going to watch this one.” Huston was delighted, saying it was “the darnedest stunt I ever saw”.

During the course of his career Powell suffered a few broken ribs, and a broken hip after a horse fell on him, but he did not allow himself to be unduly troubled by nerves. “The thing is,” he explained, “you don’t have time to be scared – if you stop to think about what you are doing you wouldn’t do it…  I didn’t have any training so when I performed a stunt the audience were literally seeing someone fall off a cliff – it made it more realistic.”

Joseph Augustus Powell was born on March 21 1922 at the Shepherd and Flock public house, Shepherd’s Bush, where his father, Joseph, a former quartermaster sergeant in the Life Guards, was the landlord. Joe was brought up in Camden where his father had the tenancy of a pub called the Camden Head, then in Chelsea where, after the death of his father, his mother Ada (neé Blunt) ran the Prince of Wales in Dover Street.

Joe was one of five siblings; his only brother, Eddie, also became a stuntman. Whiling away his spare time while his parents were running the pub, he joined first the Cubs and then the 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers Cadet Corps. He enjoyed soldiering, and soon after the outbreak of war, when he was still only 17, he joined the Grenadier Guards. To break the monotony of drill and PT he took up boxing with the regimental team, but as the war progressed he was selected for No 4 Special Service (Commando) unit, taking part in the 1942 raid on Dieppe, during which he was briefly knocked out, and in the D-Day invasion.

With the war in Europe over, Powell was sent to Germany, where he learnt to ride. He had little idea of what he was going to do apart from vague thoughts of becoming a professional boxer. But in 1946 a chance meeting at a bus stop with the actor Dennis Price led to Powell visiting the studios where Price was filming a Napoleonic-era musical with Stewart Granger called The Magic Bow.

Powell was struck by how comically unrealistic Napoleon’s “crack soldiers” were and determined that here might be an opening. “I’m going into the film industry,” he told his friends, “to bring realism into action films.”

Demobbed in the rank of sergeant, he managed to get a job as an extra at Pinewood. He was sparring at the Polytechnic Boxing Club in Regent Street and through a friendship there he ended up as a founding partner in a stunt team set up by Captain Jock Easton MC, who was just out of the SAS.

For Powell’s first big stunt, in The Small Voice, filmed at Ealing Studios, he played a motorcycle policeman pursuing a criminal gang in a car. He had to simulate being shot at, swerving off the road at 40 mph and crashing into a tree. The stunt was so lifelike that the prop man assumed Powell really had been injured.

Powell appeared in nearly 100 films, including Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), Moby Dick (1956), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965). It was not unusual for him to be blown up, machine-gunned or otherwise “killed” multiple times in one picture, as when he played German soldiers in Where Eagles Dare (1968). He always insisted that he had not trained to be a stuntman, though one special skill he had was falling from heights.

As well as the rope bridge fall in The Man Who Would Be King, there was a dramatic plunge 90 ft down from the side of a sinking ship (Titanic) in A Night to Remember in 1958, filmed in Glasgow docks. Then in 1961 for The Guns of Navarone he took the role of a German shot by Gregory Peck and dropping 90 ft from a cave into the sea by the island of Rhodes. It went without a hitch, though he was heavily bruised.

Living through a golden age of films with military themes, Powell applied his own Army experience to his projects. In 1964 he took on a rare acting role in one such film, as Sgt Windridge, in Cy Endfield’s Zulu. The film contained some unusual stunts; Powell also trained the Zulus and helped choreograph the battle scenes.

In 1962 he worked on The Longest Day, the film based on Cornelius Ryan’s book about D-Day, which depicted events in which he had been involved. Visiting the set one day with the producer Darryl Zanuck, Lord Lovat was heard to say: “There’s Powell, one of my sergeants.”

Powell appeared in three Bond films and the spoof Casino Royale. In 1969, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he stood in for Telly Savalas as the criminal mastermind Blofeld in a terrifying bobsleigh chase.

In retirement Powell kept up his keep-fit enthusiasm. Looking back on his career he was particularly proud of the fact that he had helped stunt performers to gain acceptance into Equity, the actors’ union. He had a lifelong love of the sea and was in the crew of the replica ship Mayflower II when it sailed to America in 1957.

He was twice married, first to Marguerite, known as “Clem”; she died of cancer. His second wife, Juliet, also died, and he is survived by four sons and a daughter; another daughter predeceased him.

POWELL, Joe (Joseph Augusta Powell)
Born: 3/21/1922, Shepherd’s Bush, London, England, U.K.
Died: 6/30/2016, London, England, U.K.

Joe Powell’s western – stuntman:
Africa: Texas Style - 1967

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

RIP Joe Napolitano

Joe Napolitano, ‘Quantum Leap,’ ‘X-Files’ Director Dies at 67

By Lamarco McClendon
July 26, 2016

Joe Napolitano, the TV director known for his work on “Quantum Leap” and “The X-Files,” passed away on July 23 in Los Angeles after losing his battle with cancer. He was 67.

Napolitano’s career in directing and producing spanned over thirty-four years and his television credits numbered over forty episodes of prime time dramas, including “Picket Fences,” “Northern Exposure,” “E.R.” and “Boston Public.”

He directed 12 episodes of “Quantum Leap” between 1990 and 1992, four episodes of “JAG” between 1995 and 1997 and two episodes of “The X-Files” series in 1993 and 1994.

In addition to television, Joe served as first assistant director on such classic Hollywood films as “Scarface,” “Parenthood,” “Throw Momma From the Train,” “The Fisher King,” “The Untouchables,” “Body Double,” “Blow Out,” and “The Pope of Greenwich Village.”

During this time, he worked with such directors as Brian Hutton, Danny DeVito, Stuart Rosenberg, Donald P. Bellisario, Ron Howard, Howard Zieff, Terry Gilliam, Antoine Fuqua, and on multiple projects directed by Brian De Palma.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and two children, Michael and Grace.

NAPOLITANO, Joe (Joseph Ralph Napolitano)
Born: 11/22/1948, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 7/23/2016, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Joe Napolitano’s western – director:
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (TV) - 1993

RIP Lee Grant

The New Zealand Herald
July 25, 2016

GRANT, Lee. Died Friday 22nd July, 2016, Perth, Australia. Actress and dear friend. Remembered with love by her colleagues at Mercury Theatre and Theatre Corporate.

GRANT, Lee (Leonara Elizabeth Grant)
Born: 8/3/1931  Carshalton, Surrey, England U.K.
Died: – 7/22/2016, Perth, Australia

Lee Grant’s western – actress:
White Fang (TV) – 1994 (Mrs. Dillon)

Monday, July 25, 2016

RIP Marni Nixon

Marni Nixon, the Voice Behind the Screen, Dies at 86

New York Times
July 25, 2016

Marni Nixon, the American cinema’s most unsung singer, died on Sunday in New York. She was 86.

The cause was breast cancer, said Randy Banner, a student and friend.

Classically trained, Ms. Nixon was throughout the 1950s and ’60s the unseen — and usually uncredited — singing voice of the stars in a spate of celebrated Hollywood films. She dubbed Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” among many others.

Her other covert outings included singing for Jeanne Crain in “Cheaper by the Dozen,” Janet Leigh in “Pepe” and Ida Lupino in “Jennifer.” “The ghostess with the mostest,” the newspapers called her, a description that eventually began to rankle.

Before her Hollywood days and long afterward, Ms. Nixon was an acclaimed concert singer, a specialist in contemporary music who appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic; a recitalist at Carnegie, Alice Tully and Town Halls in New York; and a featured singer on one of Leonard Bernstein’s televised young people’s concerts.

Her concerts and her many recordings — including works by Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Webern, Ives, Copland, Gershwin and Kern — drew wide critical praise. Yet as late as 1990, decades after Ms. Nixon had made good on her vow to perform only as herself, she remained, in the words of The Los Angeles Times, “the best known of the ghost singers.”

At midcentury, Hollywood was more inclined to cast bankable stars than trained singers in films that called for singing. As a result, generations of Americans have grown accustomed to Ms. Nixon’s voice, if not her face, in standards like “Getting to Know You,” from “The King and I”; “I Feel Pretty,” from “West Side Story”; and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” from “My Fair Lady.”

Deborah Kerr was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956 for her role as Anna in “The King and I”; the film’s soundtrack album sold hundreds of thousands of copies. For singing Anna’s part on that album, Ms. Nixon recalled, she received a total of $420.

“You always had to sign a contract that nothing would be revealed,” Ms. Nixon told the ABC News program “Nightline” in 2007. “Twentieth Century Fox, when I did ‘The King and I,’ threatened me.” She continued, “They said, if anybody ever knows that you did any part of the dubbing for Deborah Kerr, we’ll see to it that you don’t work in town again.”

Though Ms. Nixon honored the bargain, her work soon became one of Hollywood’s worst-kept secrets. She became something of a cult figure, appearing as a guest on “To Tell the Truth” and as an answer to clues featured by “Jeopardy!,” Trivial Pursuit and at least one New York Times crossword puzzle.

Her increasing renown helped bring her spectral trade into the light and encouraged her to push for official recognition. “The anonymity didn’t bother me until I sang Natalie Wood’s songs in ‘West Side Story,’ ” Ms. Nixon told The Times in 1967. “Then I saw how important my singing was to the picture. I was giving my talent, and somebody else was taking the credit.”

Although the studios seldom accorded Ms. Nixon the screen credit and royalties that she began to demand, both became customary for ghost singers.

Starting as a teenager in the late 1940s and continuing for the next two decades, Ms. Nixon lent her crystalline soprano to some 50 films, sometimes contributing just a line or two of song — sometimes just a single, seamless note — that the actress could not manage on her own.

The voice of an angel heard by Ingrid Bergman in “Joan of Arc”? It was Ms. Nixon’s.

The songs of the nightclub singer, played by Ms. Kerr, in “An Affair to Remember”? Also Ms. Nixon.

The second line of the couplet “But square-cut or pear-shape/These rocks don’t lose their shape,” with its pinpoint high note on “their,” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”? That was Ms. Nixon too. (The film’s star Marilyn Monroe sang the rest of the number, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”)

It was a decidedly peculiar calling — and not one on which Ms. Nixon had ever planned — entailing not so much imitating actors as embodying them.

“It’s fascinating, getting inside the actresses you’re singing for,” she told The New York Journal-American in 1964. “It’s like cutting off the top of their heads and seeing what’s underneath. You have to know how they feel, as well as how they talk, in order to sing as they would sing — if they could sing.”

Over time, however, Ms. Nixon came to regard her spectacular mimetic gift as more curse than blessing. For despite her myriad accomplishments as a singer of art songs, she was obliged to spend years exorcising her ghostly cinematic presence.

“It got so I’d lent my voice to so many others that I felt it no longer belonged to me,” she told The Times in 1981. “It was eerie; I had lost part of myself.”

A petite, fine-boned woman who resembled Julie Andrews, Ms. Nixon was born Margaret Nixon McEathron on Feb. 22, 1930, in Altadena, Calif., near Los Angeles.

She began studying the violin at 4 and throughout her childhood played bit parts — “the freckle-faced brat,” she called her typical role — in a string of Hollywood movies. At 11, already possessed of a fine singing voice, she won a vocal competition at the Los Angeles County Fair and found her true calling. She became a private pupil of Vera Schwarz, a distinguished Austrian soprano who had settled in the United States.

At 17, Ms. Nixon appeared as a vocal soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Leopold Stokowski, singing in Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” She later studied opera at Tanglewood with Sarah Caldwell and Boris Goldovsky.

During her teenage years, Ms. Nixon worked as a messenger at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Knowing of her musical ability — she had perfect pitch and was an impeccable sight reader — the studio began recruiting her to furnish the singing voices of young actresses. The work helped pay for Ms. Nixon’s voice lessons.

Her first significant dubbing job was singing a Hindu lullaby for Margaret O’Brien in “The Secret Garden,” released in 1949.

Ms. Nixon did occasionally take center stage, as when she played Eliza Doolittle in a 1964 revival of “My Fair Lady” at City Center in New York. (Ms. Andrews had played the part in the original Broadway production, which opened in 1956.) In 1965, Ms. Nixon was seen on camera in a small role as a singing nun in “The Sound of Music,” starring Ms. Andrews.

On Broadway, Ms. Nixon appeared in the Sigmund Romberg musical “The Girl in Pink Tights” in 1954 and, more recently, in the musical drama “James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ ” (2000), the 2001 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” and the 2003 revival of “Nine.”

Ms. Nixon’s first marriage, to Ernest Gold, a film composer who won an Oscar for the 1960 film “Exodus,” ended in divorce, as did her second, to Lajos Frederick Fenster. Her third husband, Albert Block, died in 2015.

Survivors include her daughters from her first marriage, Martha Carr and Melani Gold Friedman; her sisters Donyl Mern Aleman, Adair McEathron Jenkins and Ariel Lea Witbeck; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A son from her first marriage, Andrew Gold, a popular songwriter whose hit “Thank You for Being a Friend” became the theme of the NBC sitcom “The Golden Girls,” died in 2011 at 59.

Ms. Nixon’s other onscreen credits include “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” In the 1970s and ’80s, she was the host of “Boomerang,” a popular children’s television show in Seattle, where she had made her home for some years before moving to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

She also supplied the singing voice of Grandmother Fa in Disney’s animated film “Mulan,” released in 1998. (The character’s spoken dialogue was voiced by the actress June Foray.) She taught for many years at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where she was the founding director of the vocal department.

But it was her work as a ghost that is enshrined forever in the cinematic canon: “West Side Story” won the Oscar for best picture of 1961; “My Fair Lady” won for 1964. Both films remain perennials on television.

Ms. Nixon, who continued singing until she was in her 80s, eventually came to regard her heard-but-not-seen life with affection. She paid it homage in a one-woman show, “Marni Nixon: The Voice of Hollywood,” with which she toured the country for years.

She did likewise in a memoir, “I Could Have Sung All Night,” published in 2006. (The memoir was written with a ghost, Stephen Cole, whom Ms. Nixon credited prominently on the cover and the title page.)

In the few movie musicals made today, directors tend to cast actors who are trained singers (like Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”) or those whose star power mitigates the fact that they are not (like Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”).

What this means is that the ghost singers who were once a Hollywood mainstay have now, for the most part, become ghosts themselves.

NIXON, Marni (Margaret Nixon McEathron)
Born: 2/22/1930, Altadena, California, U.S.A.
Died: 7/24/2016, New York, U.S.A.

Marni Nixon’s western – voice actress:
Bonanza (TV) – 1965 [voice double for Viveca Lindfors]