Tuesday, October 6, 2015

RIP Billy Joe Royal

Singer Billy Joe Royal dies at 73

The Tennessean
Juli Thanki
October 6, 2015

Singer Billy Joe Royal, best known for his pop hit “Down in the Boondocks” and a string of country singles in the 1980s, died unexpectedly in his home in Marietta, North Carolina on Tuesday morning, according to his publicist, Brent Taylor. He was 73 years old.

Mr. Royal was born April 3, 1942 in Valdosta, Georgia, and began singing at an early age. As a young man he performed on the radio program "Georgia Jubilee," which is where he met artists like Jerry Reed and Joe South. It was South who penned Mr. Royal's 1965 breakout single, "Down in the Boondocks," which peaked at No. 9. Mr. Royal would also find success with his follow-up single: another South-penned song, called "I Knew You When."

During the mid-1980s, Mr. Royal's career was revitalized when he signed with Atlantic Records and began releasing country songs. In late 1985, Mr. Royal notched his first Top 10 country single with "Burned Like a Rocket," though the song was reportedly pulled from the radio after the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy of January 1986. He followed "Rocket" with several country hits including "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow," "Tell It Like It Is," and "Till I Can't Take It Anymore." He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988.

Mr. Royal's soulful voice was still in fine form, and he continued to tour in recent years. His final live performance was Sept. 24 at the Gwinnett County Fair in Georgia, the state in which he was raised and where he discovered his love of music. Taylor said that Mr. Royal had planned to spend some time off the road in the coming weeks in order to spend time with his daughter, a student at NC State University.

He is survived by his ex-wife, Michelle Royal, with whom he was still close, daughter Savannah Royal, and two stepsons, Trey and Joey Riverbank. Funeral arrangements will be announced this week.

ROYAL, Billy Joe
Born: 4/3/1942, Valdosta, Georgia, U.S.A.
Died: 10/6/2015, Marietta, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Billy Joe Royal’s western – actor:
Billy the Kid – 2013 (Robert Ally)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

RIP Alex Giannini

Actor in new Krays film dies
Actor Alex Giannini has died, aged 52, before he was due to go on stage

The Telegraph
By Nicola Harley
October 3, 2015

ributes have been paid to Legend actor Alex Giannini who has died aged 52.

The star, who appeared alongside Tom Hardy in the new movie about twin gangsters the Krays, was pronounced dead shortly before he was due to take to the stage in Plymouth.

Officials said Mack And Mabel at the Theatre Royal was cancelled an hour before the curtain was due to come up for the start of the show.

Agent Felix de Wolfe confirmed Giannini's death on Twitter saying: "The talented and much loved actor Alex Giannini died suddenly of natural causes yesterday. An incredible life force has left the building."

Giannini's most recent film role saw him portray US mobster Antonio Caponigro, known as Tony Bananas, in the hit film Legend.

The Chelsea football fan has also appeared in the 2007 royal biopic Elizabeth: The Golden Age and has had numerous TV roles including The Bill and Dalziel and Pascoe.

And he had also won plaudits for his performances in the theatre - with credits including Batman Live and Oh What A Lovely War.

In a recent interview Giannini said he was always destined to be a performer.

Speaking to Theatre Cloud website he said: "I grew up in Rome, Luxembourg, North London, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire and changed schools 13 times. So I've been touring all my life."

Among those paying tribute online was actress Amy Beadal, who said: "So so sad to hear about the amazing Alex Giannini. I had the honour of working with him this year and completely adored him. RIP darling man."

Benidorm TV star Hugh Sachs added: "Terrible news about lovely Alex Giannini."

Born: 1963, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 10/2/2015, Plymouth, Devon, England, U.K.

Alex Giannini’s western – actor:
The Ballad of Kid Divine - 1991 (Sheriff Dan Johnson) [as Alex Richardson]

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

RIP John Guillermin

John Guillermin, director of Towering Inferno and King Kong, dies at 89

Entertainment Weekly
By Oliver Gettell
September 30, 2015

John Guillermin, the British director of The Towering Inferno and the 1976 version of King Kong, died earlier this week at his home in Los Angeles. He was a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday.

Nick Redman, a friend of Guillermin’s, confirmed the news to EW.

As a filmmaker, Guillermin was best known for action and adventure tales such as Shaft in Africa, Death on the Nile, El Condor, Skyjacked, Sheena, two Tarzan movies, and the sequel King Kong Lives. Over the course of his career, he worked with actors including Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Jessica Lange, Fred Astaire, Peter O’Toole, and Faye Dunaway.

Born in London, Guillermin studied at the University of Cambridge and served in the Royal Air Force before beginning his directing career in France, as a documentary filmmaker. He helmed his first feature, Torment (also known as Paper Gallows), in 1950.

“He was a tough man but a very charming man,” said Redman, whose Twilight Time label re-released Guillermin’s Rapture on home video in 2011. “He was every inch the Hollywood director, the Hollywood figure, but he had very much a European sensibility. He was a very urbane person, and he made some great movies.”

Born: 11/11/1925, London, England, U.K.
Died: 9/28/2015 Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

John Guillermin’s westerns – director:
El Condor – 1969
The Tracker – 1988

RIP Rockne Tarkington

RIP Rockne Tarkington

American actor Rockne Tarkington died on April 5, 2015. His death was not covered by the mainstream media and I can find no official obituary. His death is noted on several websites including Wikipedia and IMDb.

Rockne Tarkington appeared on a number of TV shows and movies, primarily in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. He played the lead in the "Blaxploitation" film Black Samson in 1974. He was a semi-regular on Tarzan, the Ron Ely TV series, playing Tao, a jungle veterinarian. He also played a recurring role on the Lee Horsley detective series, Matt Houston, in the 1980s, playing "Too Mean" Malone.

Fans of The Andy Griffith Show may remember Rockne for his role as football player Flip Conroy in the episode titled "Opie's Piano Lesson." In the episode, Opie gets in trouble for skipping his piano lessons to go to football practice. Then, he subsequently gets in trouble with coach Conroy, a former pro player, for missing football practice to take piano lessons. It turns out that Conroy had to take piano lessons as a kid himself, and he works out a schedule so Opie can do both.

Rockne will also be remembered by fans of the Banana Splits Saturday morning kids show for his portrayal of Morgan, the castaway merchant sailor in the serial adventure "Danger Island," which was a featured element on the show. It was Rockne who frequently uttered the line, "Uh oh, Chongo!", which became a catch-phrase of sorts for kids who watched the show in the late 60s.

Tarkenton's career tailed off in the 1990s. His most recent recorded roles were in the films The Desparate Trail in 1995 and Wyatt Earp (starring Kevin Costner) in 1994.

TARKINGTON, Rockne (Rockne Booth Tarkington)
Born: 7/15/1931, Junction City, Kansas, U.S.A.
Died:  4/5/2015, U.S.A.

Rockne Tarkington’s westerns – actor:
Major Dundee – 1965 (Jefferson)
Cowboy in Africa (TV) – 1967 (Jacob)
The High Chaparral (TV) – 1968 (Sergeant)
The Dream of Hamish Mose – 1969
Bearcats! (TV) – 1971 (Lukas)
The Great Gundown – 1977 (Sutton)
Showdown at Eagle Gap (TV) – 1981 (Enterprise Jackson)
Uphill All the Way – 1986 (Leon)
Lucky Luke (TV) – 1990 (Harp)
The Desperate Trail – 1994 (Packo)
Wyatt Earp – 1994 (stable hand)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

RIP Michael Burgess

Canadian tenor Michael Burgess dies at age 70

Canadian tenor Michael Burgess died at a Toronto hospital Monday evening.

The Toronto Star
By Fakiha Baig
September 28, 2015

Noted Canadian artist and singer Michael Burgess has died following a battle with cancer. Burgess had been battling cancer for the past several years.

“Two weeks ago, he called home and sang happy birthday to my wife,” said David Warrack, a close friend of Burgess and his pianist for about 15 years.

“He was a beautiful man and there was nobody like him.”

Burgess was best known for his role in the Toronto production of Les Misérables where he played the character of Jean Valjean 1,000 times in duration of the production. The year long production opened at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre on March 15, 1989.

“Michael created the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, which was one of the first international blockbusters to have its own production in Canada with a local cast,” said David Mirvish on the life and legacy of the great Canadian musical theatre star Michael Burgess.

“He was a very talented performer with a spellbinding voice and a truly arresting stage presence.”

In its 1989 review of Les Miz, the Star wrote: “It’s hard to imagine anyone bringing greater energy and commitment to the role of Valjean than Burgess, particularly in the opening part of the show. His voice is strong and secure (everyone receives discreet electronic aid) and his rendering of the touching, falsetto-style number “Bring Him Home” is exquisite.”

His other major performances include Man of la Mancha, Blood Brothers, and starring roles throughout Canada and the United States.

Burgess was also known for singing the national anthem at sporting events.

Burgess was the first person to sing “O Canada” at a World Series baseball game, in Atlanta in 1992.

Many Canadians, especially Toronto Maple Leaf fans, took to Twitter to express how much they will miss the legend who’s voice graced many home games.

Burgess married Susan Gilmour, his costar in Les Miz, in 1994.

He attended St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto.

Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre and Royal Alexandra Theatre will dim their marquee lights on Tuesday, September 29, at 8 p.m. for two minutes in the memory of Burgess.

BURGESS, Michael
Born: 7/22/1945, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died: 9/28/2015, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Michael Burgess’ western – actor, singer:
The Campbells (TV) – 1990 (Mr. Davis)
Bortdertown (TV) – 1990 (Arthur Harrington)
Clearcut – 1991 [vocalist]