Monday, February 28, 2011

RIP Jane Russell

Jane Russell dies at 89; screen siren had sensational debut in 'The Outlaw'

Her provocative performance in the 1943 Howard Hughes film — and the publicity shots posing her in a low-cut blouse while reclined on a stack of hay bales — marked a turning point in moviedom sexuality. She became a bona fide star and a favorite pinup girl of soldiers during World War II

By Claudia Luther, Special to the Los Angeles Times
March 1, 2011

E-mail Print Share Text Size Jane Russell, the dark-haired siren whose sensational debut in the 1943 film "The Outlaw" inspired producer Howard Hughes to challenge the power and strict morality of Hollywood's production code, died Monday at her home in Santa Maria, Calif. She was 89.

Russell, who would later turn her sexy image to comic effect in films with Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe and other major stars, had respiratory problems and died after a short illness, her family said.

Russell's provocative performance in "The Outlaw" — and the studio publicity shots posing her in a low-cut blouse while reclined on a stack of hay bales — marked a turning point in moviedom sexuality. She became a bona fide star and a favorite pinup girl of soldiers during World War II. Troops in Korea named two embattled hills in her honor.

She went on to appear in 18 more films in the 1940s and '50s and, though only a few were memorable, she remains a favorite from the era for her wry portrayals of sex goddesses who seem amused by their own effect.

"Such droll eroticism is rare in Hollywood, and we are lucky that she was allowed to decorate so many adventure movies," film historian and critic David Thomson wrote of Russell, whom he called "physically glorious."

Among Russell's better films are "The Paleface," in which she plays the spirited Calamity Jane opposite Hope's feckless dentist in a spoof of "The Virginian"; and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," a musical in which she is brunet gal pal Dorothy to Marilyn Monroe's gold-digging Lorelei Lee. In the latter, the two stars perform a razzle-dazzle production number of the Jule Styne-Leo Robin hit song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."

Russell appeared in a few films in the 1960s and ended her movie career in 1970 playing Alabama Tigress in "Darker Than Amber," a film version of John D. McDonald's mystery novel. She replaced Elaine Stritch in "Company" on Broadway for several months in 1971, but her career after that was mostly limited to nightclub, stage or other live appearances.

To later generations, Russell — who once famously had a brassiere designed for her by Hughes — was known as the "bra lady" for her role as a spokeswoman for Playtex bras for "full-figured women."

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell was born June 21, 1921, in Bemidji, Minn., and moved to Southern California with her family as an infant. After graduating from Van Nuys High School, she was working as a part-time model and receptionist when her photo was noticed by a casting agent working for Hughes. The mogul was conducting a nationwide search for a beauty with ample breasts for the part of Rio McDonald, who falls for Billy the Kid in "The Outlaw."

One audition got Russell the part.

Hughes, who took over direction of the film from Howard Hawks, made it his personal business to make the most of his discovery's assets. He even had his engineers design a special "cantilever" bra with no noticeable seams that would expose more of her breasts than conventional undergarments. Russell said she found his contraption "ridiculous" and wore her own bra.

"He could design planes, but a Mr. Playtex he wasn't," Russell wrote in her 1985 autobiography, "Jane Russell: My Past and My Detours."

On seeing the results of Hughes' efforts in 1941, Joe Breen, who enforced the production code, was appalled, saying he had "never seen anything quite so unacceptable as the shots of the breasts of the character of Rio," which were "shockingly emphasized and, in almost every instance, are very substantially uncovered."

He ordered Hughes to delete dozens of shots of Russell's bosom. Hughes not only refused but played up the resulting controversy to publicize the film. He issued Russell-in-the-haystack posters with such lines as "How Would You Like to Tussle With Russell?" and "Mean! Moody! Magnificent!" In one publicity stunt, a skywriter wrote "The Outlaw" in the sky and then carefully drew two circles with a dot in the center of each.

Hughes also dreamed up the line: "What are the two reasons for Jane Russell's rise to stardom?" (Comedian Hope later used a variation, introducing the actress as "the two and only Jane Russell.")

The film was released briefly in 1943, then withdrawn while Hughes considered revisions and maximized the publicity. It was released more widely in 1946 without code approval. The film was "not a bore," a Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote, assuring readers that while Russell's character was incidental to the story line, "the exploitation of [her] physical attractions is as insistent as advertised."

Drawn by the film's notoriety, moviegoers flocked to see it. It had made millions of dollars by the time censors approved it in 1949. As James R. Petersen wrote in Playboy magazine in 1997, "Hughes showed that a film could ignore the code and make a profit." Other challenges to the code followed —including, notably, director Otto Preminger's "The Man With the Golden Arm" and "The Moon Is Blue" in the 1950s. In the late 1960s, the code was replaced by the Motion Picture Assn. of America's ratings system, which permitted the release of explicitly sexual or violent movies as long as audiences were restricted on the basis of age.

Hughes' famed battle with the code was portrayed in "The Aviator," Martin Scorsese's 2004 biographical film that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes. In the film, Hughes appears before the enforcer of the production code armed with close-up pictures of Russell's and other prominent bosoms of the day.

Russell cooperated in Hughes' publicity campaign, but drew the line at blatantly revealing pictures.

Deeply religious throughout her life, she looked back with regret at the unrelenting attention devoted to her bounteous figure, calling it "Hollywood gook."

Although she grew to despise the provocative pictures that had made her a star at 19, she succumbed to her publisher's pressure to use one of the sultriest on the cover of her autobiography.

In her personal life, counter to her rather rowdy public image, Russell was a political conservative and a born-again Christian years before the phrase became popular. She once promoted the use of the Bible in public schools.

She and her first husband — Van Nuys High School sweetheart Bob Waterfield who went on to become a football star for UCLA and the Cleveland (later Los Angeles) Rams — were married for 23 years until they divorced in 1967. They adopted three children — Tracy, Thomas and Robert (Buck) — who survive her, along with six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Russell recounted in her autobiography that before her marriage to Waterfield she had had a botched abortion, which she thought might have affected her ability to have children. The couple's difficulties in adopting inspired her to form the World Adopting International Fund, which helped place tens of thousands of children with adoptive families. The organization closed in 1998.

After she and Waterfield divorced, Russell married actor Roger Barrett, who died of a heart attack three months after their 1968 wedding. Her marriage in 1974 to John Calvin Peoples, a real estate businessman, lasted until his death in 1999.

After her third husband's death, Russell moved from their Montecito estate to Santa Maria, home to her youngest son and his family. By 2006, macular degeneration had begun claiming her sight.

At 84, silver-haired and still statuesque, she regularly performed in a 1940s-style revue that she staged with friends on a tiny stage at the local Radisson Hotel, far from Las Vegas, where she made her singing debut in 1957.

In summing up her film career, Russell wrote in her autobiography that she never got to make the kinds of movies she would have liked to.

"Except for comedy, I went nowhere in the acting department," she said. "I was definitely a victim of Hollywood typecasting."

RUSSELL, Jane (Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell)
Born: 6/21/1921, Bemidji, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Died: 2/28/2011, Santa Maria, California, U.S.A.

Jane Russell's westerns - actress:
The Outlaw - 1943 (Rio McDonald)
The Paleface - 1948 (Calamity Jane)
Son of Paleface - 1952 (Mike ‘The Torch’ Delroy)
Montana Belle - 1952 (Belle Starr)
Foxfire - 1955 (Amanda)
The Tall Men - 1955 (Nella Turner)
Death Valley Days (TV) - 1960 (Mary Taylor)
Johnny Reno - 1966 (Nona Williams)
Waco - 1966 (Jill Stone)

RIP Amparo Muñoz

The actress and former Miss Universe Amparo Muñoz has died

The actress and former Miss Universe, Amparo Muñoz, has died at the age of 56 after a long illness. Her brother, Pedro Muñoz, announced that she died at her home in Málaga on Sunday night and asked on behalf of the family for ‘absolute privacy’ at his sister’s funeral.

Amparo Muñoz Quesada was awarded the title of Miss Costa del Sol and then Miss Spain in 1973. She was crowned as Miss Universe in July 1974, the first Spaniard to ever win the award, but renounced the title six months later over discrepancies with the organisers.

She began her career in cinema in that same decade and, after a number of roles on the silver screen, met her first husband, Patxi Andion, while filming ‘La otra alcoba’ in 1976. Her success continued in the 1980s with roles in films such as Pilar Miró’s ‘Hablamos esta noche’, and Carlos Saura’s ‘Mama Cumple Cien Años’.

She also had a role in the 1984 film, ‘El Balcón Abierto’, a homage to the poet Federico García Lorca.

MUNOZ, Amparo (Amparo Muñoz Quesada)
Born: 6/21/1954, Velez Malaga Andalucia Spain
Died: 2/27/2011, Velez Malaga Andalucia Spain

Amparo Muñoz's western - actress:
A Real Man - 1983 (Laua Monteros)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

RIP Duke Snider

“The Silver Fox” has passed away.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980 as a Dodger, the aptly nicknamed Duke Snider was an eight-time All-Star and also finished with MVP votes in eight different major league seasons.

He came up with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and moved with the team out to Los Angeles in 1958, spending five years out west before moving on to the Mets in 1963. He retired in 1965 after playing out his final season with the San Francisco Giants.

Snider went on to broadcast games for the Montreal Expos from 1973-1986 and made for a memorable pairing with Dave Van Horne.

In everything he did, Duke was well-liked.

He tallied 2,116 hits, 407 home runs and 1,333 RBI against a .295/.380/.540 career slash line. His number 4 will never be worn by another Dodger — it was retired along with his Hall of Fame induction.

SNIDER, Duke (Edwin Donald Snider)
Born: 9/19/1926, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 2/27/2011, Escondido, California, U.S.A.

Duke Snider's western - actor:
The Rifleman (TV) - 1959 (Phil Wallace)

RIP Greg Goossen

Greg Goossen, a former six-figure bonus baby of the Dodgers who played for Casey Stengel and the New York Mets, dabbled as a boxing trainer with his brother and was a stand-in for actor Gene Hackman in more than a dozen films, was found dead Saturday at his home in Sherman Oaks. He was 65.

Goossen was scheduled to be inducted into the Notre Dame High School Hall of Fame on Saturday night. When he did not arrive for a photo session, a family member went to his nearby home and found him. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Born on Dec. 14, 1945, in Los Angeles, Goossen was the fourth member of a family of eight brothers and two sisters. He was a standout football and basketball player at Notre Dame, where he graduated in 1964. He was a catcher in baseball, and the Dodgers drafted him and signed him for a six-figure bonus.

The Mets picked him up the following year on a waiver from the Dodgers. Stengel, the legendary manager of the Mets, said, "We got a young catcher right here, he's 20 years old, and in 10 years, he's got a chance to be 30."

He played for the Mets, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Senators before his baseball career ended in 1970.

He worked as a private detective and later helped his brother, Joe, as a boxing trainer, working with Michael Nunn and the Ruelas brothers, Gabriel and Rafael. Another brother, Dan, was the promoter.

Through boxing, he met Hackman, became good friends and served as a stand-in while also getting bit parts in movies.

He was preparing to be honored by his alma mater Saturday night.

"He said, 'It's the highlight of my life being inducted into the Notre Dame Hall of Fame,' " said Jeff Kraemer, one of the organizers of the event.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

GOOSSEN, Greg (Gregory Bryant Goossen)
Born: 12/14/1945, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 2/26/2011, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.

Greg Goossen's westerns - actor, stuntman:
Unforgiven - 1992 (fighter)
Geronimo: An American Legend - 1993 (Schoonover gang)
Wyatt Earp - 1994 (friend of bullwacker) [stunts]
The Quick and the Dead - 1995 (young Herod's henchman)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

RIP Odón Alonso

Spanish composer, conductor Odón Alonso, who was currently the Director of Fall Musical Soriano with José Manuel Aceña died February 21, 2010, in Madrid. He was 85

During the closing of the Festival in its 2008 edition, the Mayor of Soria, Carlos Martinez, announced that one of the main squares of the city would receive the composer’s name.

Alonso had been "One of the most important Spanish conductors of the second half of the twentieth century" and conducted the National Orchestra of Spain, the Symphony Orchestra of SpanishRadio & Television (1968-1984), the Philharmonic Orchestra of Málaga (1995 -1999) and the Symphonic Orchestra of Madrid.

Alonso also composed the original scores for films like “Residencia para Espias "(1966) and “El Diablo que vino de Akasawa” (1971), both directed by Jesus Franco. Alonso composed scores for two Euro-westerns “The Coyote” (1955) and “The Justice of the Coyote” (1956). Odón awarded the Order of Isabel by the Catholic Church and the Gold Medal by UNICEF, among others, and in 1977 was named the best Spanish director of the year by the magazine Record World.

At the express wish of Odón  Alonso, his funeral will take place in Soria probably Tuesday.

ALONSO, Odón (Odón Alonso Ordas))
Born: 2/28/1925, La Bañeza, León, Spain
Died: 2/21/2011, Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Odón Alonso's westerns - composer: 
The Coyote - 1955
Justice of the Coyote - 1956

Thursday, February 24, 2011

RIP Rudy Robbins

Rudy Warner Robbins (November 17, 1933-February 21, 2011) was a Western entertainer known for his singing, songwriting, acting, writing, and his past performance of film and television stunts.

He was the youngest of four children born in Evergreen in Avoyelles Parish in South Central Louisiana to Charles Robbins, a native of Mississippi, and the former Mary Alice Grimble.

When Rudy was two years old, the family moved to Port Arthur, where he was reared. He graduated in 1952 from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, and then, for one academic year, attended Lamar University in Beaumont, known at the time as Lamar Technical Institute. Himself a Baptist, Robbins graduated in 1956 from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall with credentials in business administration and sociology.

From 1957-1959 Robbins served in the United States Army and was on the Fourth Army track team. He set a record for the javelin throw, the same event in which he had lettered at ETBU.

In the Army, he met the son of a film producer who told him about the job opportunities in Hollywood as a stuntman. After military service, he moved to Bandera, and worked for a time as a wrangler at the Dixie Dude Ranch until he was offered a speaking but unnamed role as one of the Tennessee Volunteers in John Wayne's Epic The Alamo. In The Alamo, Robbins was involved in a short dialogue repeated several times during the film: a fellow Tennessean would review a developing situation and ask Robbins, "Do this mean what I think it do?" Robbins would reply "It do." Thereafter John Wayne called Robbins by the nickname "It Do"; one of Robbins' treasured possessions was a souvenir Alamo mug addressed to "It Do" from "Duke", Wayne's nickname.

After the Alamo, Robbins went to Hollywood but returned semi-permanently to Bandera in 1971. Wayne introduced Robbins to legendary director John Ford, who hired him as an actor in Two Rode Together with James Stewart and Richard Widmark, and later for stunts in Cheyenne Autumn, also with Widmark, and in three other Wayne Films, McClintock with Maureen O'Hara, The Green Berets, and Rio Lobo. Robbins' other parts were uncredited stunts in The Rounders in 1965, and Sugarland Express in 1974. He also appeared as a mechanic in Sugarland Express. He did stunts for CBS's Gunsmoke in 1964, acting as a double for series star James Arness. In 1966, Robbins played Josh Cutler in NBC's Daniel Boone with Fess Parker. Robbins held Parker, later a large Los Angeles developer, in high esteem because Parker paid him in advance: "He knew I was hard up. When I showed up on Monday morning, he handed me an envelope with my first episode's pay in advance," recalled Robbins. Along with Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Charlton Heston, Robbins was awarded honorary membership in the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures. Robbins also trained horses for other stuntmen and became a production manager for various shows. In 1967. He was selected by the United States Department of Commerce to go to Europe as a "Cowboy Goodwill Ambassador" to introduce and promote the sale of denim jeans. Later he joined Montie Montana, Jr., to re-create Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. With a cast of 125 cowboys, cowgirls, and Indians and 135 bison, longhorns, and horses, the show toured worldwide from London to Brazil to Singapore. The group was particularly well received in Japan, where it performed four to five shows daily for four months. The last wild west performance was near Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Back in Texas, Robbins produced the Rudy Robbins Western Show and the All American Cowboy Get-Together, a two-day event of music, poetry, cooking, arts, crafts, and demonstrations. He was also active in the "Keep Bandera Western" campaign.

Rudy formed the Spirit of Texas, a western harmony group, which in 1991 was named by the Texas State Senate as the "Official Cowboy Band for Texas". Modeled on the old Sons of the Pioneers, the band performed for such celebrities as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Rogers, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and Tom Selleck, as well as General Norman Schwarzkopf and Texas Governors Ann W. Richards and George W. Bush. Robbins and the Canadian Yodeler Shirley Field co-authored "How to Yodel the Cowboy Way", which can still be obtained through Robbins also wrote short stories for Cowboy Magazine. He is featured in the Museum of the Gulf Coast, which is administered by the Port Arthur Historical Society. Among his awards, Rudy was made honorary town Marshal of Tombstone, Arizona, honorary deputy Sheriff of Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, and "Outstanding Cowboy of the 20th Century" for Bandera County. He was commissioned an admiral in the Texas Navy by former Governor Bill Clements. He was awarded a plaque for excellence by the Texas Stuntmen's Association.

Rudy is the father of one son, Jody Eldred and his fiancee‚ Pam Cablayan of Marina Del Rey, California. Jody is a producer, director, and cameraman in the film and television industry. He is also survived by his sister Barbara Miles and husband Jim of Florida, 2 brothers, Lon Robbins and wife Betty of Nederland, and Charles "Doo" Robbins of Nederland and numerous nieces and nephews.

A longtime head usher at First Baptist Bandera, Rudy and his son were privileged to travel to the Holy Land together in 2000. Rudy would be quick to tell you that none of his accomplishments or honors begin to compare to the eternal life Jesus bought for him on the cross. As his days on this earth were ending he often remarked, "My bags are packed and I have my ticket in my hand, paid in full by Jesus. I'm ready to go." And at 10:25 AM Monday February 21, with his family and friends at his side, the angels punched his ticket and took him home.

The family will receive friends at the Funeral Home on Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 4-6 PM.

Funeral services will be held on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM at the First Baptist Church in Bandera with Bro. David Collett and Bro. Larry Taylor officiating. Interment will follow at Bandera Cemetery.

ROBBINS, Rudy Warner
Born: 11/17/1933, Evergreen, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Died: 2/21/2011, Bandrea, Texas, U.S.A.
Rudy Robbins' westerns - actor, stuntman:
The Alamo - 1960 (Tennessean)
Two Rode Together - 1961 [stunts]
McLintock! - 1963 [stunts]
Cheyenne Autumn - 1964 [stunts]
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1964 [stunts]
The Rounders - 1965 [stunts]
Daniel Boone (TV) - 1966 (Josh Cutler)
Rio Lobo - 1970 [stunts]

Monday, February 21, 2011

RIP Anne Diamond

Brownstone, Anne Diamond

June 4, 1923 - January 29, 2011

Anne Diamond Brownstone, a Theatre, Film and Television actress, passed away peacefully at age 87 on Jan 29th in her Manhattan apt. Anne starred in 100's of radio shows in Hollywood opposite every major star of the day including John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. She wrote & starred in early TV shows such as Dragnet, Burns & Allen, The Nurses, & Tombstone Territory, and on stage played opposite James Whitmore, Claire Trevor, and Robert Redford to name a few. Well-known in Hollywood and a regular leading actress at The Pasadena Playhouse, she was referred to as "The L'il Gem" in the column "The Boulevardier" from her maiden name 'Diamond'. After her husband Joseph Brownstone's early death she worked as Assistant to the President of Actors' Equity Association to Theodore Bikel, Ellen Burstyn and Colleen Dewhurst, and was granted a Lifetime Membership to Actors' Equity for her devotion to the Union. She returned to the stage in 1992 touring in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers and Moon Over Buffalo. Anne is survived by 3 children, Robert Brownstone, an attorney who is Technology & eDiscovery Counsel at Fenwick & West LLP, Diana Brownstone, a Broadway Actress & Astrologer and Richard Brownstone, Upper School Dean/English Teacher at Packer-Collegiate Institute, and 3 grandchildren.

Born: 6/4/1923, U.S.A.
Died: 1/29/2011, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.

Anne Diamond's western - actress:
Tombstone Territrory (TV) - 1958 (Flo)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

RIP Walter Seltzer

Producer and publicist Walter Seltzer died Friday of an age-related illness, according to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF). The 96-year-old spent much of the '80s as a fundraiser for the organization and passed away at its retirement home in Woodland Hills, Calif., where he had lived for more than three years.

Seltzer was a publicist for films like Mutiny on the Bounty and Marty, and as part of MGM's publicity team, fed stories to gossip columnists about stars like Clark Gable and Joan Crawford.

In the '60s and '70s, he produced films for Marlon Brando and Charleton Heston's production companies, including Soylent Green, The Omega Man, Shake Hands With the Devil and One-Eyed Jacks.
Seltzer's work on behalf of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which cares for aging industry employees at its retirement home, took off in earnest by the '80s. He helped raise $60 million for the cause and was awarded its Silver Medallion for humanitarian achievement in 1986.

In an interview, Seltzer said, "I am proud that the Motion Picture & Television Fund is still around and is still serving the industry we all love. I hope that, in the future, it will continue to be underwritten by industry companies as well as individuals and generous corporations, so we can continue to provide unique services for our unique industry."

Born: 11/7/1914, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died: 2/18/2011, Woodland Hills, California, U.S.A.

Walter Seltzer's westerns - producer:
One-Eyed Jacks - 1961 [executive producer]
Will Penny - 1968 [producer]
The Last Hard Men - 1976 [producer]

RIP Johan du Plooy

Veteran South African actor Johan Du Plooy has died at the age of 84. He passed away at the Florida Hospital in Roodepoort on the early hours of Thursday morning. Johan is best known for his parts in films such as “Dirkie”, “Oupa for Sale” and the western “They Call Me Lucky”.

Du Plooy’s grandson, also Johan, who shares his name, said his grandfather acted in about 80 films during his career. “He was a very upstanding person and loved by his family and also loved by the guys at the SABC,” said his grandson.

[John du Plooy with Jaime Uys pictured above]

du PLOOY, Johan
Born: 1927, South Africa
Died: 2/17/2011, Roodepoort, South Africa

John du Plooy's western - actor:
Kimberly Jim - 1963
They Call Me Lucky - 1973

Friday, February 18, 2011

RIP Darrell Milstead

Darrell D. Milstead was the founder and CEO of Nandar Entertainment and Silver Cinema. He brought an impressive and multifaceted record of business and management success to this new endeavor.

A native of Saginaw, Michigan, and an Air Force veteran, he began his career in engineering as an electrical apprentice and was soon on a rapid climb through the ranks and into management positions with more than 9 different companies. He has been responsible for multi-million dollar design and construction operations in more than 20 states all across America.

His executive reputation was built on his skills in value engineering, high-level trouble-shooting, and the ability to motivate employees while containing costs, maximizing productivity, and increasing profits. From his days as a foreman and project manager to his years as President and Chairman of the Board, Milstead believed in the philosophy of teamwork and a lean management team. He also practiced and wass emphatic about the role of continuing education and training for all staff and executives. He recognized the value of expanding one's knowledge in the technical, creative and marketing spheres of their order to keep on the forward edge of progress on all levels.

In addition to his credentials and achievements as a corporate leader, Milstead had a unique background in the a musician, dancer, stage designer, actor, director and producer. His well-rounded lifestyle also included such diverse activities as: piloting light aircraft, open water diving, water and first aid instructor, judo and martial arts competition, ranch operator and horse trainer, rifle marksmanship, former training officer for the Arizona Rangers, former Captain of the Cass County Sheriff's Posse, and founding member of Reel Cowboys.

The extraordinary combination of business experience, executive skill, creative know-how, and extra-curricular insights, brought a special new energy and spirit of independence and innovation to the motion picture industry.

Milstead believed that success began with a clear vision and realistic goals. To his he added simplicity of operations, entrepreneurial enthusiasm, discipline, and intelligent decision-making...all this plus a willingness to adapt to change, the recognition of invisible opportunities and a work ethic that balances the wise use of time and money.

Born: 4/1/1934, Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A.
Died: 2/14/2011, California, U.S.A.

Darrell Milstead's western - producer:
True Legends of the West - 2003

Thursday, February 17, 2011

RIP John Strauss

'Amadeus' Composer John Strauss Dies

John Strauss, a composer and sound editor whose work includes theme songs from early TV shows and the film and soundtrack for Oscar best picture winner Amadeus, has died. He was 90.

Strauss passed away Monday night at a nursing home in West Los Angeles after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, said his son, Larry Strauss.

In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Strauss won an Emmy Award for sound editing (1977's The Amazing Howard Hughes) and a Grammy for best classical album of 1984 (Milos Forman's Amadeus).

Along with producing the soundtrack album for the eight-time Oscar winner, Strauss served as the film's music coordinator and is briefly seen onscreen as a conductor. He also wrote the brief composition that the Count shows to Mozart, who mocks the effort.

Strauss coordinated the music for three other Forman films: Hair (1979), Ragtime (1981) and Valmont (1989), for which he also composed part of the score.

However, Strauss' most widely recognizable composition is probably the theme from Car 54, Where Are You?, the 1961-63 NBC series that starred Joe. E. Ross and Fred Gwynne. He also scored The Phil Silvers Show and the Elaine May film Mikey and Nicky (1976) and served as music editor on NBC series L.A. Law.

The New York native worked as sound editor on early Woody Allen films Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971) and Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex ... (1972). He did the original Heartbreak Kid and Slaughterhouse-Five, both in 1972, and was music supervisor on The Blues Brothers (1980), Impromptu (1991) and The Pirates of Penzance (1983).

His theater credits include a song from the 1960s Broadway musical Pickwick.

Strauss was married to actress Charlotte Rae, for whom he wrote arrangements for her 1955 album Songs I Taught My Mother and with whom he collaborated on cabaret shows. They divorced in 1975. Strauss then became life partners with artist Lionel Friedman, who died in 2003.

Strauss served in France and North Africa during World War II, studied under Paul Hindemith at the Yale School of Music and taught briefly at New York's High School of Performing Arts. He composed two ballets for the Joffrey Ballet, and his opera, The Accused, was performed by soprano Patricia Neway and televised on the NBC Opera series of the 1950s.

In addition to Rae, with whom he remained friends, and Larry, Strauss is survived by his daughter-in-law Eleanor and grandchildren Carly, Nora and Sean.

Born: 1921 New York, U.S.A.
Died:  2/14/2011, West Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

John Strauss' western - musical arranger:
Little Big Man - 1970

RIP Jeannette Batti

French actress Jeannette Batti passed away on February 10, 2011 in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, France. She was 89. Born Henriette Eugénie Genot on September 6, 1921 in Marseille, France she began appearing in films in 1945 and made more then 35 films until her retirement in 1983. Two of her best known films were “Le Père Noël est une ordure” with Bourvil and Jean Gabin and the musical “Trois de la Canebière” both in 1956. Jeannette would go on to appear in four TV series and TV movies between 1968 and 1983. Batti also appeared on stage in operettas and plays. She met actor singer Henri Genes in 1948 and they were soon married. They appeared together many times in film and theater. Jeanette appeared in one Euro-western as Mrs. Bridleford in “River Pirates of the Mississippi” (1963) credited as Jeannette Batty, with Brad Harris and Horst Frank.

BATTI, Jeannette (aka Janette Batti, Jeannette Batty)
Born: 9/6/1921, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone, France
Died: 2/10/2011, Courbevoie, Ile-de-France, France

Jeannette Batti's western - actress:
River Pirates of the Mississippi - 1963 (Mrs. Bridleford) [as Jeannette Batty]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RIP Len Lesser

Veteran actor Len Lesser died in his sleep Wednesday morning in Burbank, California, of complications from pneumonia. He was 88.

"It was very peaceful," his daughter, Michele Lesser, told CNN, saying the family had hoped for a quick and painless death. "He was a great grandpa, and an amazing father. He had a heart of gold -- and a sense of humor of platinum."

Best known as Jerry Seinfeld's Uncle Leo on TV's "Seinfeld," Lesser made more than 500 film, television and stage appearances. His TV roles ranged from "Studio One in Hollywood" in 1949 to a 2009 role on "Castle."

In addition to "Seinfeld," he had a recurring role as Garvin on "Everybody Loves Raymond." He also appeared on "ER," "Mad About You," "Thirtysomething," "Falcon Crest," "Quincy M.E.," "The Rockford Files," "Kojak," "The Bob Newhart Show," "The Mod Squad," "Green Acres," "All In The Family," "The Monkees," "Get Smart," "My Favorite Martian," "Ben Casey" and "The Untouchables."

Lesser's films included "Gallipoli," "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and "Kelly's Heroes."

Lesser also served in the Army during World War II.

In addition to his daughter Michelle, Lesser is survived by a son, David, David's wife Julie and the couple's three children.

LESER, Len (Leonard King Lesser)

Born: 12/3/1922, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 2/16/2011, Burbank, California, U.S.A.

Len Lesser's westerns - actor
Sheriff of Cochise (TV) - 1957 (Harry Nixdorf)
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1957, 1958 (townsman)
Have Gun - Will Travel (TV) - 1958 (Boldt)
The Texan (TV) - 1958 (Brad)
Tombstone Territory (TV) - 1960
Hotel de Paree (TV) - 1960 (Cleve Turnbull)
Bat Masterson (TV) - 1960 (Frank Holloway)
Stoney Burke (TV) - 1962, 1963 (Leo, Detective Sam)
The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (TV) - 1963 (Wes Matlock)
Temple Houston (TV) - 1963 (Orley Baldwin)
The Wild Wild West (TV) - 1965 (Mason)
Laredo (TV) - 1966 (Dirk)
The Last Challenge - 1967 (Ed)
Death Valley Days (TV) - 1968 (Spider)
Bonanza (TV) - 1970, 1972 (Fred Gaskell, Francher)
Dirty Little Billy - 1972 (Slits)
Barbary Coast (TV) - 1975 (clerk)
The Oulaw Josey Wales - 1976 (Abe)
Death Hunt - 1981 (Lewis)

Monday, February 14, 2011

RIP Kenneth Mars

Kenneth Mars, co-star in Mel Brooks comedies, dies

(02-14) 15:24 PST GRANADA HILLS, Calif. (AP) --

Kenneth Mars, a Mel Brooks collaborator who played a Hitler-worshipping playwright in "The Producers" and an earnest police inspector with a malfunctioning artificial arm in "Young Frankenstein," has died. He was 75.

In a statement Monday, Mars family said the actor died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Grenada Hills.

In Brooks' 1968 romp "The Producers," Mars co-starred as Franz Liebkind, a Nazi enthusiast whose play, "Springtime for Hitler," is the basis for a scheme by two conniving showmen (Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) to bilk investors by putting on a surefire Broadway flop.

Brooks cast Mars again in 1974's "Young Frankenstein" as the constable poking around the castle grounds on the trail of mad scientist Wilder's monster.

In both films, the Chicago-born Mars demonstrated his talent for vocal farce, lending over-the-top German accents to the characters.

Mars' nearly 50-year career included a long list of voice credits, including "The Little Mermaid,""The Jetsons" and the "The Land Before Time" movies and TV series.

Among Mars' other film credits were Woody Allen's "Radio Days" and "Shadows and Fog," and Peter Bogdanovich's "What's Up, Doc." His extensive television work featured regular roles on "Malcolm in the Middle,""Fernwood Tonight" and the 1960s series "He & She."

On stage, Mars appeared in such plays as "The Affair" and "Anything Goes."

Mars is survived by two daughters, Susannah Mars Johnson and Rebecca Mars Tipton, and six grandchildren.

A private funeral service was planned.

MARS, Kenneth
Born : 4/14/1936, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 2/12/2011, Granada Hills, California, U.S.A.

Kenneth Mars' westerns - actor:
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1967 (Clyde Hays)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - 1969 (Marshal)
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again - 1979 (Marshal Wooly Bill Hitchcock)

RIP David F. Friedman

B-movie producer David F. Friedman has died in Anniston at the age of 87.

Friedman's niece, Bridgett Everett, said he died of heart failure Monday morning at a nursing home.

Friedman was an independent movie producer who was credited with helping create "gore" or splatter movies. He produced "Blood Feast" in 1963 for $24,500. His niece says the cult classic ended up netting $6.5 million for him and the other investors.

Friedman spent much of his career in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. He moved to Anniston in 1988 to be near family.

Visitation will be from 1-5 p.m. Saturday at K.L Brown Funeral Home in Anniston.

FRIEDMAN, David F. (David Frank Friedman)
Born: 12/24/1923, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.
Died: 2/14/2011, Anniston, Albama, U.S.A.

David F. Friedman's westerns - producer, screenwriter, actor:
Brand of Shame (Nude Django) - 1968 [producer, screenwriter, actor]
The Ramrodder - 1969 [producer]
The Erotic Adventures of Zorro - 1972 [producer, screenwriter, actor

Sunday, February 13, 2011

RIP Manuel Esperon

Manuel Esperon composer dies at 99

The musicalizador of more than 500 films, mostly during the Golden Age, he suffered a respiratory arrest.

Posted: 13/02/2011 17:21

Mexico, DF. The Mexican composer Manuel Esperon one of the most important of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, died Sunday at 99-year-old victim of a respiratory arrest.

According to agency staff funenaria Felix Cuevas, the remains of the composer, who died today, 10 minutes after noon, will be veiled in one of its rooms.

The creator of iconic themes such as Amorcito heart , my darling and Ay Jalisco, no give in! , excelled in the art world, thanks to the gift of writing songs that have become anthems that identify people of Mexico, which became hits in the voices of singers like Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante.

Manuel Esperon's talent extended to the big screen musicalizar over 500 films during his career, that during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.

Over 947 songs are part of his musical legacy he left immortalized in such films as: For your damn love , My dear old , We the poor , The three Garcia , The Abandoned , Eyes of Youth and Death in love , to name a few titles.

Worked with leading figures such as Alberto Vázquez, María Félix, Antonio Aguilar, Elsa Aguirre, Silvia Pinal, Maria Antonieta Pons, Libertad Lamarque and Irma Dorantes.

In addition to Lola Beltrán, Ernestina Garfias, Antonio Aguilar, Luis Aguilar, Javier Solis, Manuel Capetillo, Demetrio González, Mario Moreno Cantinflas , Germain Valdés Tin Tan , Joaquin Pardavé and Alberto Vazquez, among others.

The composer will have a tribute for his musical contribution to the film industry and the national popular culture during the 26th edition of International Film Festival Guadalajara (FICG26), to be held March 25 to April 1.

Moreover, in his honor, last year unveiled a plaque in the Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. Esperon is considered the most prolific of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.

Manuel Esperon Gonzalez was born in Mexico City on 3 August 1911, the artistic side he inherited from his mother, Raquel Gonzalez Cantu, who was a pianist and belonged to an aristocratic family and their great-grandparents were French, Yucatan and Monterrey.

From an early age showed willingness and talent for music, at age 14 began formally studying piano and music. He learned the piano with a teacher who was very dear to him, Alfredo Carrasco, author of the famous song Goodbye .

Subsequently, Esperon was entered in the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts and then studied at the Escuela Superior de Música del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes.

His foray into music was as a pianist in silent films, then developed as an arranger and orchestrator of the music that made other authors for the first sound film productions.

Began writing professionally in 1933 for the movie "Woman of the Port." From this work he developed his career as a film composer, created the background music of more than 500 films and about 947 songs.

Manuel Esperon mariachi introduced the film and instructed him to study music, in this way, he could attach the mariachi band for the instrumental arrangements of the films.

Composer was head of the great film idols of the Golden Age, including highlighting Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante. He touched on Pedro Infante find great value in interpretation for the popular song, and though Peter wanted to sing in the manner of Jorge Negrete, managed to convince him to take the style that made him succeed.

A similar case happened with Jorge Negrete, who wanted to play opera, and never imagined singing other songs. In the beginning was hard to convince him to switch to another genre.

In the voice could be heard Negrete Esperon issues as Ay Jalisco no give in! , Cocula , Jalisco These high , Serenata Ochoa , among many others.

Manuel Esperon achieved great recognition in a short time and thus became musical director of nearly 500 films. Parallel was artistic director of several radio stations.

His music is still played by the vernacular singers and mariachi bands, as well as trios bolero and even has arranged for symphony orchestras. He has received numerous awards for his career in Mexico and in U.S. cities like San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles, California.

In 1989 he won the National Award for Arts and Crafts and a year later he received the President of Mexico, the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, the highest award that is given to people whose work has influenced decisively the country.

In addition, he is awarded the Silver Goddess PECIME (Mexico's Film Journalists) and the honorable council of the city of Guadalajara given a Diploma and a Gold Medal for 57 years of artistic creation to the State of Jalisco and the city of Guadalajara. He is granted entry into the Hall of Fame, by the COMEDEP.

In 2001, he paid homage at the Palace of Fine Arts in the Historic Center of Mexico City, also received the Trustees Award (Prize of the Council), the Latin Recording Academy (Latin Grammy) in 2004.

ESPERON, Manuel (Manuel Esperon Gonzalez)
Born: 8/3/1911, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
Died: 2/13/2011, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico

Manuel Esperon's westerns - composer actor:
Jesusita en Chihuahua - 1942
Love in Jalisco - 1942
Cuando hable el corazón - 1943
Hands Across the Border - 1944 [soundtrack]
Hasta que perdió Jalisco - 1945
El tigre de Jalisco - 1947
Tres hombres malos - 1949
El siete machos - 1951
My Outlaw Brother - 1951
El enamorado - 1952
The Children of Maria Morales - 1952
Watch Out for Love - 1954
El aguila en ‘El vengador solitario’ - 1954
El rapto - 1954
El 7 leguas - 1955
Los gavilanes - 1956
Pancho López - 1957 [musical director]
Gritenme piedras del campo - 1957
El jinete solitario - 1958
30-30 Carbine - 1958
Ángel del infierno - 1959
El ciclón - 1959
Dicen que soy hombre malo - 1960
Viva la parranda - 1960
Ladrón que roba a ladrón - 1960
Chip on the Shoulder - 1960
Stray Bullet - 1960
Remolino - 1961
Tres balas perdidas - 1961
Mi guitarra y mi caballo - 1961
Juan sin miedo - 1961
Martin Santos el llanero - 1962
The White Horse - 1962
Los cinco halcones - 1962
El centauro del norte - 1962
¡En peligro de muerte! - 1962
Vuelven los cinco halcones - 1962
Juan guerrero - 1963
Vuelve el Norteño - 1964
El halcón solitario - 1964
El último cartucho - 1965
Los tres calaveras - 1965 [also actor]
Alma grande - 1966
Los tres salvajes - 1966
Los cuatro Juanes - 1966
Juan Colorado - 1966
Juan Pistolas - 1966
The Two Rivals - 1966
The Bandits - 1967
A Real Man - 1983

Saturday, February 12, 2011

RIP Peter Alexander

Peter Alexander is dead

The Austrian actor, singer and entertainer Peter Alexander is dead confirmed his spokeswoman Erika Swatosch in the early hours of Sunday, the Austrian news agency APA.

Alexander was for more than 30 years on of the most popular entertainers in Germany. He appeared in 50 movies and 40 TV shows and recorded over 120 recordings.

According to the spokeswoman, who "on behalf of the family", commented Alexander died on Saturday February 12th. Information on the cause of death was not made in the statement, APA reported that, "The funeral will take place in the closest family circle," it said.

Alexander was born in Vienna in 1926 under the name of Peter Alexander Ferdinand Maximilian Neumayer son of a banker. An ongoing study of medicine he traded after one year of a British prisoner of war against an acting training at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar, which he graduated in 1948.

He taught himself how to sing and play the piano. Even during his training, he intended more for Peter Alexander, to become a professional comedian.

His first song "Das machen nur die Beine von Dolores" in 1952 was a great success. In the same year he began a career as a film actor. Among his most successful films include, for example, "Liebe, Tanz und 1000 Schlager” in 1955, "Charley's Tante" in 1963 and "Im Weissen Rössl" in 1969.

On Austrian television in 1952 Alexander was at first seen as a quiz master on German television, he was one of TV’s the most popular entertainers. On ZDF in 1969, he had his own show "Peter Alexander Show”.

With Soccer’s 1986 World Cup in Mexico Peter sang the German national team with the title "Mexico mi amor." Until his resignation from the stage in the early 1990s he continued on with his "Peter Alexander Show" - a mixture of music, skits and guests - for joy.

For his decades of achievements in showbiz, he received a Bambi including six times and four times the Golden Camera.

In recent years he has been quiet, "Peter the Great," as his fans call him affectionately. From the mid-1990s, the entertainer moved increasingly into private life and spent most of his time at his country home at the Wörthersee.

Especially after the death of his wife he had withdrawn more and more of the public. In 2009 he also lost his daughter, Susan Neumayer, in a car accident in Thailand.

ALEXANDER, Peter (Peter Alexander Ferdinand Maximilian Neumayer)
Born: 6/30/1926, Vienna, Austria
Died: 2/12/2011, Vienna, Austria

Peter Alexander's western - actor:
County Bobby, the Terror of the Wild West - 1965 (Count Bobby Pinelski)

RIP Betty Garrett

L.A. Weekly's 2005 Queen of the Angels, Betty Garrett, died Saturday morning of natural causes at UCLA Medical Center following a brief illness. She was surrounded by her family at the time of her death. She was 91.

A revered figure in the Los Angeles theater community, she was the recipient of nearly every artistic award the city could bestow, including Career Achievement Awards from the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle and the Ovation Awards, and the Queen of the Angels Award from L.A. Weekly. She was a founding member of the 49-year-old Theatre West, and was moderator of its Musical Comedy workshop until the time of her death. She frequently appeared on the Theatre West stage. Her final shows there included "Nunsense," the Los Angeles premiere of Noel Coward's "Waiting in the Wings," and a revue, "Betty Garrett, Closet Songwriter."

A Broadway star, she appeared in thirteen Broadway shows, among them "Call Me Mister," "Bells Are Ringing," "The Supporting Cast," the revival of "Follies," and the 1963 production of "Spoon River Anthology" originally developed at Theatre West.

She appeared in a dozen films, including classic Hollywood musicals including "Words and Music," "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "Neptune's Daughter," "On The Town," "Hit Parade of 1951," and "My Sister Eileen."

She was also a popular television performer, best known for her work on "All in the Family," for which she received a Golden Globe ®, and "Laverne and Shirley." She received an Emmy ® nomination in 2003 for a guest appearance on "Becker." Her final TV appearance was on "Grey's Anatomy" in 2006.

Betty Garrett received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.

A longtime social activist, in her later years she was active in supporting activities of charities assisting those living with HIV/AIDS.

Widowed in 1975 from the late actor Larry Parks, she is survived by her son , actor Andrew Parks and his wife Katy Melody; her son, composer Garrett Parks and his wife, actor Karen Culliver Parks; and a granddaughter, Madison Claire Parks.

A memorial will be planned for a later date. Donations in Ms. Garrett's memory can be made to Theatre West, the Actors' Fund, or S.T.A.G.E.

GARRETT, Betty (Annie Wright Seminary)
Born: 5/23/1919, St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 2/12/2011, Westwood, California, U.S.A.
Betty Garrett's western - actress:
Harts of the West (TV) - 1994 (Thelma)

Friday, February 11, 2011

RIP Nicola Rizzo

Costume designer Nicola Rizzi dies at 84

Worked at various studios for more than three decades


Hollywood costume designer Nicola Rizzi died of lung cancer on Feb. 5 in San Clemente, Calif. He was 84.

Rizzi was a freelance costume designer who worked for studios including 20th Century Fox, Paramount Studios, Burbank Studios, Culver City, Universal and Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope beginning in 1962.

Born in Giovinazzo, Italy, Rizzi migrated first to Toronto, where he worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Co. He moved to Los Angeles in the early '60s.

Film credits include "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "One From the Heart" and "Silverado"; he worked with Coppola, Terry Garr, Sylvester Stallone, Dolly Parton, Lainie Kazan and Roberto Benigni, among others. "L.A. Law" was the last show on which he worked; he retired in 1995.

He was a member of Motion Pictures Costumers Local 705.

Survivors include two sons, a daughter and three grandchildren.

Funeral will be at noon Friday at St. Edwards the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, Calif.

RIZZO, Nicola
Born: 1927, Giovinazzo, Puglia, Bari, Italy
Died: 2/5/201, San Clemente, California, U.S.A.
Nicola Rizzo's western - tailor:
Silverado - 1985

Thursday, February 10, 2011

RIP William Justice

Bill Justice dies at 97; Walt Disney Studios animator worked on 'Fantasia' and 'Bambi'

Justice joined Walt Disney Studios in 1937 and animated Thumper in 'Bambi' and Chip 'n' Dale. He directed the animated opening for the TV series 'The Mickey Mouse Club.'

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times
February 11, 2011

Bill Justice, a former Walt Disney Studios animator who worked on classics such as "Fantasia," "Bambi" and "Alice in Wonderland" and later joined Walt Disney Imagineering where he helped program Audio-Animatronics figures for attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, died Thursday, a day after he turned 97.

Justice died of natural causes in a nursing home in Santa Monica, said Ted King, a family friend.

An Ohio native who launched his career at Walt Disney Studios in 1937, Justice's credits as a Disney animator include "Saludos Amigos," "Victory Through Air Power," "The Three Caballeros," "Make Mine Music" and "Peter Pan."

Among the characters Justice animated were Thumper in "Bambi" and the mischievous Chip 'n' Dale.

Justice also directed the animated Mickey Mouse March opening for the popular 1950s TV series "The Mickey Mouse Club."

"If he'd done nothing else but direct that unforgettable Mickey Mouse Club opening, he'd have a place in the hearts of baby-boomer Disney fans everywhere," said film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, adding that Justice had a long and diverse career at Disney.

"He did so many different things over the course of his career and wound up as an Imagineer, bringing the same sense of inventiveness to that field as he did to animation," Maltin said.

After joining Walt Disney Imagineering in 1965, Justice helped program Audio-Animatronics figures for Disneyland attractions such as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the Carousel of Progress, Mission to Mars, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree and America Sings.

He later was involved with the Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World and is said to have "masterminded" the Mickey Mouse Revue featured at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

Justice was born Feb. 9, 1914, in Dayton, Ohio, and grew up in Indianapolis. He studied to be a portrait artist at the John Herron Art Institute, which is now affiliated with Indiana University in Indianapolis. He moved to California after graduating in 1935.

In the 1950s and early '60s, Justice directed three Oscar-nominated Disney animated shorts, "Noah's Ark," "A Symposium on Popular Songs" and "The Truth About Mother Goose."

Teamed with Disney colleagues X Atencio and T. Hee, Justice also did stop-motion animation in live-action Disney features such as "The Parent Trap," "Mary Poppins" and "Babes in Toyland."

"Bill was the leader of our trio," said Atencio. "He was a great animator, particularly on the short subject. He was as good as they came."

Justice also designed the floats and costumes for the first Disneyland Christmas Parade and created sketches for the first Main Street Electrical Parade.

Justice, who retired in 1979, chronicled his 42 years at Disney in the book "Justice for Disney," which Maltin described as "a vivid personal reminiscence."

"In his later years," Maltin said, "he was happy to attend Disney fan conventions and was notorious for drawing Disney characters on linen hotel napkins or paper plates wherever he went."

Justice is survived by his wife, Kim; his daughter, Melissa Justice; and a granddaughter.

Services are pending.

JUSTICE, William
Born: 2/9/1914, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.
Died: 2/10/2011, Santa Monica, California, U.S.A.
William Justice's western - director:
A Cowboy Needs a Horse - 1956

RIP Edward J. McDonald

Monday, February 7th

In Memory of Edward J. McDonald

The SDSA announces the passing of beloved colleague Edward J. McDonald on February 2nd.

Eddie McDonald had a long and distinguished career as a Set Decorator. An SDSA member prior to retirement, Eddie was the recipient of four Emmy Award nominations, taking home the trophy in 1988 for the period piece telefilm “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. Other works include feature films "Escape from Alcatraz" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", TV films "Mrs. Sundance" and "Studs Lonigan" (Emmy nomination), and TV series "Barney Miller", "Beyond Westworld" (Emmy Nomination), "Night Court" and The Drew Carey Show, ending his career with another Emmy nomination.. A favorite among vendors, Eddie was as kind and thoughtful as he was professional, he was known for taking personal interest in the well-being of staff members of the businesses he frequented. Mr. McDonald will be missed by a great many people.

McDONALD, Edward J.
Died: 2/2/2011, Glendale, California, U.S.A.

Edward J.McDonalds's western - set director:
Mrs. Sundance (TV) - 1974

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RIP Peggy Rea


Character actress, Peggy Rea, 89, known for her many roles in television series, and a number of films, died at her home in Toluca Lake on February 5th. She died of complications from congestive heart failure. Peggy was born in Los Angeles to her parents, Jack and Ruth Rea, on March 31, 1921. Peggy began her television acting career in the 1960's as a member of Red Skelton's TV stock company. Among her recurring roles in television were as Olivia Walton's cousin, Rose Burton, on "The Walton's", as man chasing, Lulu Hogg on "The Dukes of Hazzard", as Ivy Baker, the mother of Suzanne Sommers' character on "Step by Step", and as Brett Butler's mom, Jean Kelly on "Grace Under Fire". Peggy also appeared in such television programs as "I Love Lucy", "Sergeant Bilko", "Bonanza", "Gunsmoke" "Ironside", "Hunter", "Marcus Welby, M.D.", "Burke's Law", and "MacGyver". Among her many film credits are "Cold Turkey" (1971) "In Country" (1989), "Love Field" (1992), and "Made in America" (1993). Interment will take place at 11:00 a.m., on Monday, February 28, at Santa Barbara Cemetery, 901 Channel Drive. Santa Barbara, in the Mausoleum in the Pines Courtyard.
REA, Peggy
Born: 3/31/1921, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 2/5/2011, Toluca Lake, California, U.S.A.
Peggy Rea's westerns - actress:
Have Gun - Will Travel (TV) - 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1963, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1971
7 Faces of Dr Lau - 1964
The Wild Wild West (TV) - 1966
Death Valley Days (TV) - 1969
Bonanza (TV) - 1971
How the West Was Won (TV) - 1977
Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid (TV) - 1978

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RIP Donald S. Sanford

Sanford, Donald S.

March 17,1918 - February 8, 2011

Donald S. Sanford, died Feb. 8, 2011. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Teddi, and his step-chlldren, Jennifer Levinson, Daniel Levison, and Michael Levinson, all of Atlanta. Don served in the U.S. Navy before beginning his career in radio and television. He had a long and successful career, which included over 200 credits and several Writers Guild Awards. His movie "Midway" has become a cult classic. He wrote many episodes of Bonanza, Perry Mason, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, The Telephone Hour, Loretta Young Show, General Hospital, just to name a few. His movie credits in addition to "Midway" included "Ravengers", "Thousand Plane Raid", and numerous others. He was also a key member of the Pension and Health Finance Committee for the Writers Guild Pension and Health Fund for many years and was instrumental in getting one of the best health plans in the country. When he retired from writing he embarked on a new career as CEO of Stansbury Inc., a company that mined vermiculite. He was an excellent tennis player, a seasoned backpacker (hiking for 28 days on the Muir Trail), and really a man for all seasons. He loved animals and birds and on our deck in L.A., birds would perch on his hand to be fed. He also loved gardening and supplyed neighbors with beautiful vegetables every season. He was a classical music buff and could identify any symphony as well as a history of the composer. He played the flute for many years but decided he could never master it so he just listened and enjoyed. He was the kind of person that everyone wanted to sit next to at a dinner party. He knew how to listen, as well as how to converse. He was very comfortable being alone with himself and his music. Much of his work was requested by and donated to the University of Wisconsin. He was a gentle and kind person and will be very much missed and always remembered. In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to the Weinstein Hospice, 3150 Howell Mill Rd., Atlanta, GA 30327. There will be a private Celebration of Life gathering, Thursday, February 12, 2011 from 4-6:30 PM at Park Place. Arrangements handled by Fischer Funeral Care and Cremation Services, Atlanta, 678.514.1000

SANFORD, Donald S.
Born: 3/17/1918, U.S.A.
Died: 2/8/2011, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Donald S. Sanford's westerns - screenwriter:
Wagon Train (TV) - 1959
Bonanza (TV) - 1959
The Wide Country (TV) - 1962
The Virginian (TV) - 1962
Laramie (TV) - 1963
Temple Houston (TV) - 1963, 1964
The Monroes (TV) - 1966
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1970, 1971

Monday, February 7, 2011

RIP Michael Habeck

His voice was probably known by most everyone but his face but to a few. The Munich-based actor Michael Habeck the Germn voice of Oliver Hardy and Barney Rubble from the animated series 'The Flintstones', Danny DeVito, whom he also resembled. This stocky man slipped into the hearts of many children, simply because of his numerous voices for the puppets of Jim Henson which he brought to life, both in the Muppet Show, as well as on Sesame Street where he spoke at times for such puppets as Ernie and his strange laugh. Habeck was also the voice of the Smurfs and later the Simpsons.

After a time at the Frankfurt Schauspielhaus which Habeck belonged to the mid-80s, and the ensemble of the Munich Chamber he appeared in international film productions such as Jean-Jacques Annaud's 'The Name of the Rose', where he embodied the bald-headed, homophilic monk Berengar. Michael Habeck passed away last Friday, February 4, 2011 at the Schwabinger Institution in Munich. He died after a short illness at the age of 66.

HABECK, Michael
Born: 4/23/1944, Bad Grönenbach, Bavaria, Germany
Died: 2/4/2011, Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Michael Habeck's westerns - actor, voice actor:
Texas Doc Snyder - 1993 (Buckliger)
Asterix Conquerors America - 1994 [German voice of Lucullus]

Saturday, February 5, 2011

RIP Eddie Fowlie

Special effects expert for Lawrence of Arabia film dies

Richmond - Twickenham Times
February 4, 2011
By Clare Buchanan

A Hollywood special effects expert whose humble beginnings transformed into a remarkable career rubbing shoulders with the stars has died aged 89.

From creating quicksand in Lawrence of Arabia, to blowing up a bridge on the River Kwai, Eddie Fowlie led an adventurous life.

Born and brought up in Teddington, Mr Fowlie landed his first job at Kingston’s Hawker Aircraft factory, helping to build fury biplanes. Quickly realising factory work was not for him, he joined the war effort with an 18-month stint before being discharged due to an injured leg. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In the hospital, pondering his next move, Mr Fowlie got chatting to a soldier in a neighbouring bed, who told him he had worked in a film studio before the war. Not one to shy from adventure, Mr Fowlie wasted no time in heading to the Warner Brothers film studios in Teddington where he landed himself a job as a set dresser and worked on his first major film, Captain Horatio Hornblower. It was here he became known for his ability to go the extra mile for every film and he cultivated his interest in special effects and explosives. A breath of fresh air to Hollywood, he broke into the golden era of cinema and went on to join some of the world’s leading film directors and worked on some of the biggest films of our time, including Doctor Zhivago, Swiss Family Robinson and the Three Musketeers.

On the set of the Bridge on the River Kwai, in 1956, Mr Fowlie forged a friendship with legendary film director David Lean, which lasted until his death in 1991. He worked on all of Lean’s films and the pair became inseparable as working colleagues and friends. Mr Fowlie’s retirement to Spain coincided with the boom of special effects in cinema, however, his skill is still recognised as remarkable. He received a standing ovation when he was presented a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to film making at the International Short Film Festival in Almería in December 2009. But Mr Fowlie never forgot his roots and when asked which film school he went to he would always say he “learned everything playing in Hampton Court Palace and Richmond Park as a boy”. He was also drawn to Kingston’s Super Cinema saying that “despite being very old, dilapidated and infested with rats, we were drawn to like a magnet”.

Mr Fowlie died in his sleep, at his home in Carboneras, Spain, on January 22, just one month after the release of his autobiography, David Lean’s Dedicated Maniac – Memoirs of a Film Specialist.

FOWLIE, Eddie (Edwad George Fowlie)
Born: 8/8/1921 Teddington, Middlesex, England, U.K.
Died: 1/22/2011, Carboneras, Almeria, Spain

Eddi Fowlie's westerns - property manager:
The Desperados - 1969
Charley One-Eye - 1973

YouTube link:

Friday, February 4, 2011

RIP Michael Tolan

Michael Tolan, an actor who became a recurring presence on television in the 1960s and ’70s after walking away from film and Broadway but who returned to the stage to help found the American Place Theater, a successful Off Broadway house, died on Monday in Hudson, N.Y. He was 85.

The cause was heart disease and renal failure, his partner, Donna Peck, said. They lived in Ancram, N.Y.

By the early 1960s Mr. Tolan had had roles in films, like Edwin L. Marin’s western “Fort Worth” (1951), and on Broadway, including big parts in long-running romantic comedies like Peter Ustinov’s “Romanoff and Juliet.” But he was dissatisfied.

“This Broadway is for the birds,” he told The New York Times in 1965. “In 99 percent of the cases it has nothing to do with acting as a craft, as an art.”

So Mr. Tolan began acting in televised plays, which led to roles on weekly series. In 1964 he starred as Dr. Alex Tazinski, a character he called “hard-hitting, uncompromising, somewhat antisocial” on the CBS prime-time medical drama “The Doctors and the Nurses.”

He later starred on the NBC drama “The Senator” (1970-71) and appeared on other shows, including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” as Ms. Moore’s journalism teacher and boyfriend, Dan Whitfield.

Mr. Tolan founded the nonprofit American Place Theater with Wynn Handman and Sidney Lanier at St. Clement’s Church on West 46th Street in 1963. The theater has since moved to 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets.

“We wanted to attract some of the writers who wrote fine, intelligent, deep material about American life, and see if we could interest them in writing for the theater,” Mr. Tolan wrote in an unpublished memoir.

The American Place produced first plays by writers like Donald Barthelme and Anne Sexton. Faye Dunaway, Morgan Freeman and other Hollywood stars performed there early in their careers.

Michael Tolan was born Seymour Tuchow on Nov. 27, 1925, in Detroit. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1947 and performed with a repertory company in Detroit. In New York he studied under Stella Adler and won a fellowship to study acting at Stanford University.

A performance at Stanford led to his first movie role, as a gangster (under the name Lawrence Tolan, which he later changed) in “The Enforcer” (1951) with Humphrey Bogart.

He made his Broadway debut in George Axelrod’s “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” in 1955, and appeared in five more Broadway plays through 1961. He later had supporting roles in “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965) and “Presumed Innocent” (1990), among other films.

His two marriages ended in divorce.

In addition to Ms. Peck, he is survived by a brother, Gerald Tuchow, of Detroit; a daughter, Alexandra, of Watertown, Mass., from his first marriage, to the actress Rosemary Forsyth; and two daughters, Jenny and Emilie, both of New York, from his marriage to Carol Hume.

TOLAN, Michael (Seymour Tichnow)
Born: 11/27/1925, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Died: 1/31/2011, Hudson, New York, U.S.A.

Michael Tolan's westerns - actor:
Fort Worth - 1951 (Mort Springer)
The Savage - 1952 (Long Mane)
Hour of the Gun - 1967 (Pete Spence)
Nichols (TV) - 1971 (Flying Fox)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

RIP Stefanie Staffin Kowal

TV Producer, Exec Stefanie Kowal Dies at 69

At Universal, she oversaw the development, sales and production of such titles as James Michener mini 'Centennial,' 'Off the Minnesota Strip' starring Hal Holbrook and 'Little Women.'

Stefanie Kowal (aka Stefanie Cragg), the head of movies and miniseries at Universal TV during a strong era of television longform, died Jan. 26 of lung cancer at her home in Los Angeles. She was 69.

Survivors include her husband, veteran TV director-producer Stephen Cragg.

At Universal in the late 1970s and early ’80s, Kowal oversaw development, sales and production of such titles as James Michener miniseries Centennial, Off the Minnesota Strip starring Hal Holbrook, Little Women and Harvest Home. She also produced the 1986 Showtime movie Slow Burn starring Eric Roberts, Beverly D’Angelo and Johnny Depp.

Kowal served as the production executive on the 1982 CBS documentary special E.T. and Friends: Magical Movie Visitors starring Robin Williams and developed and produced numerous primetime series at Universal, including 1984’s The Four Seasons, starring Alan Alda.

In 1986, Kowal left Universal but continued to mentor aspiring artists and young filmmakers. Her later TV work was mostly consulting jobs, mainly with her husband. More recently, she wrote comics books as Stefanie Cragg.

Born Diana Stefanie Staffin in Chicago, Kowal worked for the syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers at the Sun-Times newspaper in the late 1960s, eventually writing and producing Landers’ daily radio program on NBC. Kowal then moved to Chicago O&O WLS-TV and launched AM Chicago starring Steve Edwards, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1976.

In addition to her husband, survivors include two sisters and a brother. A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. on Feb. 18 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.

KOWAL, Stefanie Staffin (Diana Stefanie Staffin)
Born: 1941, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 1/26/2010, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Stefanie Staffin Kowal's western - producer:
Centennial (TV) - 1978-1979

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RIP Charles E. Sellier, Jr.

Charles Sellier (sel-ee-AY'), producer of Christian films and creator of the book and television series "The Life and Time of Grizzly Adams," has died. He was 67.

Darryl Howard, director of sales and marketing for Sellier's production company, says Sellier died unexpectedly in his home near Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, on Monday. Howard declined to specify the cause of death.

Sellier produced dozens of family-friendly films and television shows, many of them with religious themes. They include "In Search of Noah's Ark" and "Mark Twain's America."

But he was perhaps best known for creating Grizzly Adams, a fictional book and television character who flees bounty hunters and recues a bear cub that grows into a companion.

SELLIER, Jr., Charles E.
Born: 1944, U.S.A.
Died: 1/31/2011, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, U.S.A.

Charles E. Sellier, Jr's. westerns - screenwriter, producer:
The Brothers O'Toole - 1973 [producer]
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams - 1974 [producer]
The Adventures of Frontier Fremont - 1976 [screenwriter, producer]
Guardian of the Wildreness - 1976 [screenwriter, producer]
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (TV) - 1977 [screenwriter, producer]
Last of the Mohicans (TV) - 1977 [producer]
Donner Pass: The Road to Survival (TV) - 1978 [producer]
The Deerslayer (TV) - 1978 [producer]
The Legend of the Wild - 1981 [producer]
California Gold Rush (TV) - 1981 [producer]
Desperado (TV) - 1987 [producer]
The Return of Desperado (TV) - 1988 [producer]
Desperado: Avalanche at Devil's Ridge (TV) - 1988 [producer]
Desperado: The Outlaw Wars (TV) - 1989 [producer]
Desperado: Badlands Justice (TV) - 1989 [producer]
Brotherhood of the Gun (TV) - 1991 [producer]
The Capture of Grizzly Adams (TV) - 1982 [screenwriter, producer]