Saturday, July 30, 2011

RIP Edson Stroll

Television and film actor Edson Stroll, a longtime Marina del Rey resident, dies

Edson Stroll, a longtime Marina del Rey resident who worked as a television and film actor, appearing in several successful series including McHale’s Navy, died of cancer July 18. He was 82.

Stroll was born in Chicago on Jan. 6, 1929.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, he studied acting and singing at the American Theater Wing in New York City and received a Fulbright Scholarship for voice performance, followed by an artists’ contract for performance and advance study by the National Broadcasting Company.

Stroll appeared on stage with Broadway and National companies in Stalag 17, Shangri La, Fair Game, Carousel, Oklahoma, Showboat, Three Wishes for Jamie, Pajama Game, On the Town, The Heiress, Bells are Ringing, Best Man. He also performed in the New York Shakespeare Festival for three seasons.

As a television actor, he starred as Virgil Edwards for 4 years on McHale’s Navy. His TV and film credits include The Twilight Zone, GI Blues, Death in the Arena, Marines Let’s Go, Congressional Investigator, Hawaii Five-0, Virginian, Ironsides, Sea Hunt, Gunsmoke, Hogan’s Heroes, and Snow White and the Three Stooges.

Recurring roles were in Dallas, Simon & Simon, Dynasty, Hotel, and Murder She Wrote. His voice-over skills were used for voice acting, directing of audio productions and voice-over training. Stroll was the technical advisor and consultant for the McHale’s Navy series and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, and AEA.

Stroll became licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to captain commercial vessels, and in 1969 he became a marine surveyor to survey all types of vessels and marine facilities, including the S.S. Catalina. He had a reputation for delivering expert opinions as a witness in marine court cases and delivering in-depth surveys, Marine Accident Reconstruction and damage reports.

Along with a Cal DPH Inspector/Assessor License, a Cal EPA Registered Environmental License, and a Certified Real Estate Appraiser License, Stroll had an Ultrasonic Nondestructive Level II designation. He was a member of the American Arbitration Association Commercial Panel and was an OSHA HAZWOPER and emergency first-responder.

As a resident of Marina del Rey, Stroll was a member of the Marina Venice Yacht Club and the Classic Yacht Association, who loved boating and being on the ocean. He also loved opera and singing for his friends, and had a great love for animals, especially his two Yorkies, friends said.

Stroll is survived by Anita Winters, and his pets, Eddie and Sugar Baby. A private scattering of his ashes will be held in his memory.

Born: 1/16/1930, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 7/18/2011, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Edson Stroll's westerns - actor:
The Wild and the Innocent - 1959 (henchman)
Tombstone Territory - 1960 (Vince Sanders)
Dallas (TV) - 1991 (Charlie Haas, John Kane)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

RIP Sheila Burrell

Stage actress Shelia Burrell, a longtime stalwart of the British stage and television, died on July 19, 2011 in England after a long illness. A cousin of actor Laurence Olivier [1907-1989] she studied at Douglas-Webber School of Singing and Dramatic Arts. Sheila made her stage debut in the "The Patsy" (1942), followed by "The Rest is Silence" (1944). She received her first notice in "Dark of the Moon" (1949) playing Barbara Allen a rape victim in a church. She was a longtime member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and became a character actress in films and TV series such as "The Avengers", "Holby City and "Crown Court". Her first film appearance was in 1949's "Men in Black" and a memorable appearance as Aunt Ada Doom in 1995's "Cold Comfort Farm". She was married to producer, director, actor Laurence Payne [1919-2009] and is the mother of actor Matthew Sim. In her final years she was still visible in commercials. Burrell suffered a stroke in 2009.

Born: 5/9/1922, Blackheath, London, England, U.K.
Died: 7/19/2011, England, U.K.

Sheila Burrell's western - actress:
The Desperados - 1969 (Emily Galt)

RIP Denny Niles

Richard Denison Niles, known as Denny, passed away on July 11, 2011, from complications of COPD. He was born on August 12, 1933, to Wendell and Ann Niles. His father was the radio and television announcer. Denny grew up in Toluca Lake.
 He graduated from North Hollywood High School in 1952 where he was the student body vice-president, president of the Esquires and a three-year letterman on Paul Xanthos’s tennis team.
He graduated from USC in 1956 and was a champion boxer for the Golden Gloves. While serving in the Army for two years, he was the boxing instructor at Ft. Lewis Army Base in Washington. He started his career as an actor appearing in the television series Rescue 8 with Robert Redford. He acted in numerous movies and television shows. A few years later he took his talents behind the scenes and produced The All-American College Show, traveling around to colleges all across America. The show, which ran for four years on NBC, discovered many stars including The Carpenters, who became superstars in the recording industry. Later, he worked with his brother Wendell in producing The Monte Carlo Sports Festival, which ran for almost 25 years.

He will be greatly missed by his loving wife Lila who dedicated herself to taking care of Denny during the last few years. He is survived by his four children, Debra (husband Robert), Eric (partner Tim), Rene (wife Kim) and Richard (wife Rose); six grandchildren, Eric, Nicholas, Rene Richard, Challis, Lochlan and one great-grandchild, Maya. He also leaves his brother Wendell (wife Nelle) and a number of nieces and nephews.

He loved Montana where his dad grew up and he had a home on the Yellowstone River. He spent at least a month every summer there with his family.

NILES, Denny (Rihard Dennison Niles)
Born: 8/12/1933, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 7/11/2011, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Denny Niles' western - actor:
The Rebel (TV) - 1960 (Walt Markam)

RIP Silvio Narizzano

Director best known for Georgy Girl, a romantic comedy set in 60s London

The film and TV director Silvio Narizzano, who has died aged 84, handled several genres throughout his career, including black comedies, period pieces, social dramas, action thrillers and horror movies. But one picture, his swinging London romantic comedy Georgy Girl (1966), stands out from the rest of his eclectic filmography.

Georgy Girl was part of the trend in which British cinema shifted the focus from provincial life and back to the metropolis, celebrating new freedoms and social possibilities. Narizzano, influenced by the French New Wave and his chic contemporaries Richard Lester, John Schlesinger and Tony Richardson, explored such "shocking" subjects as abortion, illegitimacy, adultery and sexual promiscuity with a light touch. The film, which took its cue from the jaunty title song by the Seekers, had superb performances from Lynn Redgrave as the virginal and plain Georgina; Charlotte Rampling as her sexy and amoral flatmate, made pregnant by her charming, laidback boyfriend (Alan Bates); and James Mason as a wealthy businessman who takes more than a fatherly interest in Georgy. The film was nominated for four Oscars, for best actress (Redgrave), supporting actor (Mason), cinematography (Kenneth Higgins) and original song. Narizzano was nominated for a Bafta for best British film and a Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival.

The son of an Italian-American family, Narizzano was born in Montreal and educated at Bishop's University in Quebec. After graduation, he joined the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal. The theatre was run by Joy Thompson, a leading figure in English-language theatre in Quebec and a great influence on Narizzano. He then joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, working as an assistant to Norman Jewison, Arthur Hiller and Ted Kotcheff. Soon after co-directing a documentary about Tyrone Guthrie, the artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Narizzano came to Britain to work in television.

He rapidly reached the top as a director, gaining plaudits for his work on ITV Television Playhouse (1956-60), a series of Saki tales (1962) and ITV Play of the Week (1956-63), all with superb casts and writers. He directed JB Priestley's anti-nuclear play Doomsday for Dyson (1958); an episode of the BBC series On Trial, starring Micheál MacLiammóir as Oscar Wilde (1960); and 24 Hours in a Woman's Life (1961), starring Ingrid Bergman and adapted by John Mortimer from Stefan Zweig's novel.

Narizzano's feature debut was Fanatic (1965), a Hammer horror film notable for being Tallulah Bankhead's last movie (and her first in 20 years). She plays a crazed religious fanatic who keeps her dead son's fiancee (Stefanie Powers) prisoner, hoping to "cleanse" and then kill her so that she can marry the dead son in heaven. Narizzano managed to coax a venomous performance out of Bankhead, who was intoxicated throughout the shoot. After being shown the film with a small audience of her friends, Bankhead, who is seen in many harsh, unflattering close-ups, announced: "Darlings, I must apologise for looking older than God's wet nurse."

The triumph of Georgy Girl was followed by Blue (1968), a plodding western starring Terence Stamp, which opened to withering reviews but, surprisingly, remained Narizzano's favourite film. Loot (1970), a pointless reworking of  Joe Orton's mordant play by the comedy TV writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and directed at a rapid pace, was only marginally better received.

Narizzano was more at ease with Why Shoot the Teacher? (1977), a feelgood adaptation of a novel set in Saskatchewan in the mid-1930s. Then it was back to British television with William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba (1977), fluidly directed on an elaborate studio set, starring Laurence Olivier and Joanne Woodward. In contrast, Staying On (1980), Julian Mitchell's adaptation of Paul Scott's novel, was shot for Granada Television in Simla, India, with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson.

From the mid-60s, Narizzano lived with his longtime companion, the writer Win Wells, in Mojácar in Andalusia, Spain, as well as keeping a house in London. Wells co-wrote the screenplay of Narizzano's Bloodbath (1979), a weird straight-to-video horror movie, shot in Mojácar, starring Dennis Hopper as the leader of a group of degenerate Americans terrorised by locals for their indulgence in drugs and sex.

After directing a Miss Marple mystery, The Body in the Library (1984), for the BBC, Narizzano's work began to tail off. Since his 30s, he had suffered from bouts of depression which became more serious and prolonged after the death of Wells in 1983. He found some comfort at a Buddhist retreat in Chislehurst, south-east London, and later through a Bible study group in Greenwich, where he lived a semi-reclusive life. He is survived by two sisters and a brother.

• Silvio Narizzano, film and television director, born 8 February 1927; died 26 July 2011

Born: 2/28/1927, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: 7/26/2011

Silvio Narizzano's westerns - producer, director:
Fade In (TV) - 1968 [producer]
Blue - 1968 [director]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RIP Christopher Mayer

Actor Christopher Mayer, remembered for his role as Vance Duke on "The Dukes of Hazzard", has passed away suddenly at age 57. Mayer, born George Charles Mayer February 21, 1954, was known as "Chip." He stared as Vance Duke -- the replacement character for Luke -- on the series during the 1982-1983 season.

Mayer is survived by three daughters: Ashley, from his marriage to Teri Copley, and Alexandra and Angelica from his marriage to Shauna Sullivan. He was set to marry his fiancée, Catherine, next month. She wrote BRBTV to inform them of his passing, saying, "I will be posting something as soon as I can find words, just wanted you to know." She was out of town filming a project at the time of his death on July 23.

Fans may also remember Mayer as T.J. Daniels on the daytime soap "Santa Barbara," or as Kenneth Falk from Jim Carrey's "Liar Liar." His most recent acting work was on "18 Wheels of Justice" in 2000.

MAYER, Christopher (George Charles Mayer III)
Born: 2/21/1954, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 7/23/2011, Sherman Oacks, California, U.S.A.

Christopher Mayer's western -actor:
East Meets West - 1995 (Gus Taylor)

Monday, July 25, 2011

RIP G.D. Spradlin

G.D. Spradlin, veteran character actor, dies at 90
G.D. Spradlin, a former Oklahoma oilman who didn't begin acting until he was in his 40s, was known for playing authority figures, including roles in 'The Godfather: Part II' and 'Apocalypse Now.'

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times

1:43 PM PDT, July 25, 2011
Click here to find out more!

Gervase Duan "G.D." Spradlin, a character actor best known for playing authority figures in television and films, including "The Godfather: Part II" and "Apocalypse Now," has died. He was 90.

Spradlin died of natural causes at his cattle ranch in San Luis Obispo on Sunday, said his grandson, Justin Demko.

A former oil company lawyer and millionaire independent oil producer who didn't begin acting until he was in his 40s, the tall and lean Oklahoma native played his share of doctors, ministers, judges, military officers and historical figures during his more than 30-year acting career.

He portrayed President Lyndon Johnson in the 1985 TV mini-series "Robert Kennedy & His Times" and President Andrew Jackson in the 1986 TV movie "Houston: The Legend of Texas."

He also played an admiral in the 1988 TV mini-series "War and Remembrance" and was a pro football coach in the 1979 film "North Dallas Forty" and a college basketball coach in the 1977 film "One on One."

His breakthrough movie role as a character actor was as corrupt Nevada Sen. Pat Geary in director Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather: Part II" in 1974.

Five years later, Spradlin was the Army general who sent Martin Sheen's Capt. Willard up river to find and kill Marlon Brando's Col. Kurtz in Coppola's Vietnam war movie "Apocalypse Now."

Spradlin, whose other film credits include "The War of the Roses" and "Ed Wood," retired from acting after playing Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in the 1999 comedy "Dick."

"He brought a lot of what he had done in his life to what he did on the screen" said Demko, adding that his grandfather had a lifelong love of language and could recite passages from Shakespeare and poetry from memory until the end.

The son of two school teachers, Spradlin was born Aug. 31, 1920, in Pauls Valley, Okla. He received a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Oklahoma before serving in the Army Air Forces in China during World War II.

After earning a law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1948, he became an attorney for Phillips Petroleum Co. and then became head of Phillips' legal department in Caracas, Venezuela.

After returning to Oklahoma in 1951, Spradlin became an independent oil producer. He was so successful that he retired in 1960 and spent time cruising the Bahamas with his family on a yacht.

"Being rich changes surprisingly little," Spradlin told The Times in 1967. "You'll still have to have an absorbing interest in life, something to do to make you feel alive."

For Spradlin, that was acting.

In late 1963 his daughter Wendy, a member of the children's classes at the Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City, wanted to audition for a role in a production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

To give her moral support, Spradlin accompanied her to the theater and wound up auditioning for — and landing — a role in the play, the first of three local productions he appeared in.

Spradlin, who earned a master's degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Miami in 1965 and was a doctoral candidate in the same field, had directed John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign in Oklahoma and had an unsuccessful run for mayor of Oklahoma City in 1965.

A year later, he moved his family to Los Angeles.

He was so new to show business, he told The Times in 1980, that when a secretary at the William Morris Agency asked him if he had any film, "I told her no, but that there was a drugstore around the corner and I could run over and buy some. I thought you must have to bring your own film to have a screen test."

Spradlin's first wife Nell, with whom he had two daughters, Tamara Kelly and Wendy Spradlin, died in 2000.

In 2002, he married Frances Hendrickson, who survives him, as do his two daughters and five grandchildren.

SPRADLIN, G.D. (Gervase Duan Spradlin)
Born: 8/31/1920, Daylight Township, Garvin County, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
Died: 7/24/2011, San Luis Obispo, California, U.S.A.

G. D. Spradlin's westerns - actor:
The Iron Horse (TV) - 1966
Piston ‘n’ Petticoats (TV) - 1966 (marshal)
The Rounders (TV) - 1966,1967 (Jed)
The Big Valley (TV) - 1967 (George Rhodes)
Cimarron Strip (TV) - 1968 (Kermin)
Bonanaza (TV) - 1968, 1970 (Jenks, Chip)
Will Penny - 1968 (Anse Howard)
The Virginian (TV) - 1969 (preacher)
Monte Walsh - 1970 (Hal Henderson)
Sam Hill: Who Killed Mr. Foster (TV) - 1971 (Reverend Foster)
The Hunting Party - 1971 (Sam Bayard)
Alias Smith and Jones (TV) - 1972 (Simpson)
Kung Fu (TV) - 1973 (Lucas Bass)
The Oregon Trail (TV) - 1976 (Thomas Hern)
Dream West (TV) - 1986 (General Steven Watts Kearney)
Houston: The Legend of Texas (TV) - 1986 (President Andrew Jackson)
Riders of the Purple Sage (TV) - 1996 (Pastor Dyer)

Friday, July 22, 2011

RIP Tom Aldredge

Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Aldredge died of lymphoma at a hospice in Tampa, Florida today July 22, 2011. He was 83. Aldredge was a stage, screen and TV actor appearing in the Euro-western "Cold Mountain" (2003) as the blind man and more recently in 2007 in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" as Major George Hite. Tom also appeared on the hit TV series "The Sopranos" and "Boardwalk Empire" and co-starred with Glenn Close on two seasons of legal drama "Damages". Aldredge earned a Daytime Emmy Award in 1978 for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for his role on "Henry Winkler Meets Shakespeare"; an episode aired as part of The CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People.
A celebrated Broadway star, Aldredge also starred in more than 28 stage productions including "The Crucible", "Twelve Angry Men" and "Tom Sawyer". Tom landed a total of five Tony Award nominations throughout his stage career for performances in shows such as "Sticks and Bones" (1972), Stephen Sondheim’s musical "Passion" (1994), and "Twentieth Century" (2004). He was married to costume and set designer Theoni V. Athanasiou-Aldredge [1922-2011] from 1953 until her death earlier this year on January 21.

ALDREDGE, Tom (Thomas Ernest Aldredge)
Born: 2/28/1928, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.
Died: 7/22/2011, Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.

Tom Aldredge's westerns - actor:
Andersonville (TV) - 1996 (Sergeant Hoarce Trimble)
Cold Mountain - 2003 (blind man)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - 2007 (Major George Hite)

RIP Serena Michelotti

According to ‘Il Mondo dei doppiatori’ the Italian voice actor website, actress Serena Michelotti died on July 19, 2011 in Rome. I can find no other details or obits at this time but will update this post if and when more becomes available. Serena was born in Merano, Italy on October 2, 1944 and appeared in 13 films and TV series. She was the Italian voice of several actresses in a half-dozen films.

Born: 10/2/1944, Merano, South Tyrol, Italy
Died: 7/19/2011, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Serena Michelotti's western - actress:
It Can be Done Amigo - 1972 (widow Warren)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

RIP Herb Tanney

Herbert Tanney, M.D., longtime resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, died Tuesday, June 28th, at the age of 80 from congestive heart failure at his temporary residence in San Diego. He is survived by Donna Rae his wife of 33 years, their two daughters Amanda (ART) Tanney and Rebecca Tanney; five children from his previous marriage, Lisa Tanney Clements, Dr. Julia Tanney Flower, Laura Tanney Kennedy, Carol Tanney Valle, and Valarie Tanney Cardenas. 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Dr. Tanney was born in Orange, New Jersey on November 28, 1930. He attended high school in New York and New Jersey. During undergraduate study, Dr. Tanney completed two years at the University of Michigan then transferred to UCLA where he received his Bachelor's degree. He was accepted into the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo where he earned his medical degree in Endocrinology and Internal Medicine while receiving the highly competitive Roswell Park Prize for excellence in surgery. After graduation he served as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Following his service, Dr. Tanney accepted the Endocrinology Fellow position at USC-LA County General Hospital. He opened private practices in Beverly Hills and Century City before relocating to the Santa Ynez Valley in 1988. Dr. Tanney practiced medicine in Solvang for 20 years.

Aside from medicine, Dr. Tanney worked as an actor, appearing in the majority of Blake Edwards' films including Wild Rovers, 10, and the original Pink Panther series. He is best remembered for his role as the private investigator, Charles Bovin, in Victor Victoria. His movie work encouraged him to travel and during the course of his life he visited many different countries including Barbados, England, France, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Jordan, and Japan.

Dr. Tanney's hobbies included cultivating succulents and orchids, collecting and repairing antique clocks, and playing the violin. When asked why he chose to become a doctor over a concert violinist, his response was that as a professional violinist he would not be able to be a doctor as well. However, as a doctor, he could pursue the medical profession and still enjoy his favorite pastime.

His patients will remember his attentiveness, his detective-like instincts for diagnosis, and his endless patience in the office. His family and friends will remember Dr. Tanney for his dry sense of humor, which left some scratching their heads, but always kept him amused.

For those who wish to do so, donations may be made to Odyssey Vista Care Hospice Foundation at 9444 Balboa Ave., Suite 290, San Diego, CA 92123.

Published in Santa Ynez Valley News on July 21, 2011

TANNEY, Herbert (aka Steem Tanney, Studs Tanney)
Born: 11/28/1930, Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 6/28/2011, San Diego, California, U.S.A.

Herbert Tanney's westerns - actor:
Wild Rovers - 1971 (piano player) [as Stude Tanney]
Sunset - 1988 (George the conductor) [as Steem Tanney]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

RIP Patricia Marie Finnegan

March 31, 1928 - July 16, 2011
Pat Finnegan, 83, died Saturday at her home in Manhattan. She was preceded by her husband of 57 years, William R. Finnegan. She leaves behind sister Barbara, daughter Colleen, sons William, Kevin and Michael, daughters-in-law Caroline and Lacey, and adored granddaughters Masha, Leigh and Mollie. A Los Angeles native, Pat produced television movies. She was executive producer of "Quicksand," "This Child is Mine" and "Hope." Her many other films included "A Father for Charlie" and "The $5.20 an Hour Dream." She was the daughter of Arthur and Pauline Quinn. Her father was a refrigerator mechanic, her mother a nurse. Pat graduated from Corvallis, a San Fernando Valley Catholic high school. Known for her spirit of adventure, she set off traveling and working odd jobs - in Yosemite, Nantucket and Manhattan. In the late 1940's she met Bill Finnegan, a colleague at the Hollywood Citizen-News. They married in New York in 1952. They raised their children in Los Angeles and Honolulu. In 1977 they founded Finnegan Associates - later, with Sheldon Pinchuk, the Finnegan-Pinchuk Co. - which became a leading supplier of TV movies. Pat loved New York City, its music and theatre. In the 1990s she and Bill moved back to Manhattan. They spent summers in Sag Harbor, NY, with their children, their grandchildren and their many friends.

FINNEGAN, Patricia Marie (Patricia Marie Quinn)
Born: 3/31/1928, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 7/16/2011, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.

Patricia Marie Finnegan's westerns - producer:
Louis L'Amour's Down the Long Hills (TV) - 1986
The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory (TV) - 1987

RIP Jacques Jouanneau

The actor Jacques Jouanneau has died.

King of the supporting role in French films and grand theatre actor, Jacques Jouanneau died yesterday July 19, 2011 at his home in Nimes, France. He was 84. Jouanneau was a familiar face in the films of Jean Renoir and René Clair. He was the essential partner of Jacqueline Maillan in the theatre. Jacques lived for 15 years in Charente, in his moulin de Chollet, Villejésus. Jacques Jouanneau's career has stretched over half a century, from his first appearance at the theater in "Ubu Roi" in 1947. Jacqueline Maillan, whom he repeatedly told her, replied, "He had a certain appetite for Theater for ("Folle Amanda" or "Peau de vache"). But also for the texts of Francis Blanche ("Les escargots meurent debout") and Sacha Guitry ("N'écoutez pas mesdames!"). Jacques Jouanneau received the rank of French Commander of Arts and Letters in 2005. His last film appearance was in 1996 in "Fallait pas!..." directed and starring Gérard Jugnot

JOUANNEAU, Jacques (Jacques Albert Eugene Jouanneau)
Born: 10/3/1926, Angers, Maine-et-Loir, France
Died: 7/19/2011, Nimes, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Jacques Jouanneau's westerns - actor, voice actor:
The Legend of Frenchie King - 1971 (Letellier)
Lucky Luke: Daisy Town - 1972 [French voice of Jack Dalton]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RIP David Ngoombujarra

Actor with the winning smile found dead at 44

The West Australian
July 19, 2011, 5:17 am

Three-time Australian Film Institute award winner David Ngoombujarra has died.

Ngoombujarra, 44, was found in a park in Fremantle on Sunday and taken to Fremantle Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police are awaiting a toxicology report to determine the cause of death.

Born David Bernard Starr in Meekatharra in 1967 and raised in Coolbellup after being removed from his family under Commonwealth government policy, Ngoombujarra went on to become one of Australia's best-known indigenous actors in a career spanning more than two decades.

He won three Australian Film Institute awards - for Blackfellas, Black and White and The Circuit.

Yirra Yaakin artistic director Kyle Morrison, Ngoombujarra's nephew, was in shock last night.

"I first worked with him as an 11-year-old when he was doing (the ABC series) Heartland with Cate Blanchett and Ernie Dingo back in the 1990s," he said.

"He had so much talent and so much charisma and inspiration.

"One of the things that people always remarked about Uncle David was his infectious smile.

"He will always be remembered for that big, beautiful smile."

Morrison said his uncle's death was sudden and unexpected.

Queensland Theatre Company artistic director Wesley Enoch, who worked with Ngoombujarra and his close friend, actor Kelton Pell, on Yirra Yaakin's Waltzing the Wilarra, also mourned the loss.

He said Ngoombujarra had been charismatic, both as an individual and actor - a "rare and remarkable" breed of Australian actor.

"He was very generous with his time, especially with younger performers, and would often give them guidance and support," Enoch said.

Inspired by black actors such as Sidney Poitier and David Gulpilil, Ngoombujarra began his entertainment career in the early 1980s busking in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

He was spotted by a producer in 1987 while performing at Circular Quay and given bit parts in Breaking Loose and Young Einstein.

Ngoombujarra's breakthrough role came in 1993 with his performance as Pretty Boy Floyd in the WA feature film Blackfellas, James Ricketson's adaptation of Archie Weller's tough urban drama The Day of the Dog.

Ngoombujarra had the support role, but ran away with the movie.

"It was an amazing debut from Ngoombujarra," said _The West Australian _film editor Mark Naglazas.
"He was a natural-born screen actor, oozing charisma and charm. He had such a deep, resonant voice and a mega-watt smile that blew away anyone trying to act in the same frame."

NGOOMBUJARRA, David (David Bernard Starr)
Born: 6/27/1967, Meekatharra, Western Australia, Australia
Died: 7/16/2011, Freemantle, Western Australia, Australia

David Ngoombujarra's westerns - actor:
Snow River: The McGregor Saga (TV) - 1995 (Ninawunda)
Ned Kelly - 2003 (tribesman)
Australia - 2008 (Magarri)


Friday, July 15, 2011

RIP Antonio Prieto

Chilean music lost of one of their most melodic vocalists last night, July 14, 2011, when singer, actor Antonio Prieto passed away at the age of 85. Antonio was the victim of cardiac arrest at a clinic in Santiago. Antonio had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and had lived away from the public spotlight for the last few years. Born Juan Antonio Prieto Espinoza on May 26, 1926 he was considered by critics as an icon of the bolero and he became a star in the 1950s. His charm and versatility made him one of the most popular singers of his time along with his compatriot Lucho Gatica. During his more than five-decade career he also tried his luck in films and appeared in more than 30, including his most memorable role as Don Miguel Benito Rojo alongside Clint Eastwood in "Fistful of Dollars" (1964). He also appeared in the 1963 Zorro film "The Sword of Zorro" and "Weeping for a Bandit" (1964). But it was his singing of such songs as "La Barca" and "El Reloj" by the Mexican composer Roberto Cantoral that gained him international fame. He recorded more than 1000 songs during his career including "La Novia" in 1961 that became a huge hit all across South America.

PRIETO, Antonio (Juan Antonio Espinoza Prieto)
Born: 5/26/1926, Iquique, Chile
Died: 7/14/2011, Santiago, Chile

Antonio Prieto's westerns - actor;
The Sword of Zorro - 1963 (Don Manuel Paredes)
Fistful of Dollars - 1964 (Don Miguel Benito Rojo)
Weeping for a Bandit - 1964 (El Lero)

RIP Hal John (Jon) Norman

Even though he was many a baby boomer’s hero and villain — appearing in episodes of “Bonanza,” “The Rifleman,” “Rawhide,” “Wagon Train,” “The High Chaparral” and “Lassie” — Harold L. Norman Sr. was no fancy-pants cowboy.

He was a Kansan who grew up riding horses.

And somehow along the way, he got into radio and TV, and Hollywood beckoned, and he became a character actor.

“I was kind of popular in school because of who my dad was,” said his son, Harold “Sonny” Norman Jr., a retired Wichita police captain living in San Antonio. “He knew everybody in Wichita back in the 1940s and 1950s.”

Mr. Norman, whose stage name was Hal Jon Norman, died earlier this month in an Andover nursing home at age 99. A private funeral service will be today in Wichita.

He was born Aug. 27, 1911, in Wichita.

When he was 19, he lost his right leg in a train accident. He recovered and learned how to walk with a prosthesis and with no detectable limp.

Just as radio was beginning to be a mainstay in Wichita, Mr. Norman became an announcer and host for many radio shows and acted in radio plays for KFH and KFBI (now KFDI) in Wichita, beginning in the late 1930s.

“He loved working with horses,” Sonny Norman said. “We went to all kinds of activities. He took me and my sisters to rodeos . . . and did trick riding. He was the first commentator to ride a horse and do a live introduction of western movies on television.”

He moved to Hollywood in 1957 and used his stage name Hal Jon Norman until he retired in 1990.

“He didn’t come across as some big-headed superstar,” said Orin Friesen, operations manager at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper near Benton and a local country radio personality. “He was just your average man on the street who did all this cool stuff in Hollywood.”

Mr. Norman performed and worked with almost all of the Western stars of the 1950s up until the late 1980s.

He played Buffalo Bill and was Chief Koso in “The High Chaparral,” Kimki in “Island of the Blue Dolphins” and Frost in “The Rifleman.”

He worked with Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine.

He told agents he could speak with these accents: Continental, German, Swedish, French, Italian, Spanish, Western, Southern and hillbilly.

And he did.

He was nicknamed “Chief” by some friends because he played an American Indian so many times on film.

“He was one-of-a-kind,” Sonny Norman said. “He was always on stage. He was a man with great character. His voice was beautiful. He stood out in the crowd because he was so articulate.”

He would spend summers in Hollywood and winters in Wichita.

“He quit going to Hollywood in 1995,” Sonny Norman said. “He was never rich. Actors don’t make money unless they are famous. The thousands of supporting actors like my dad never get wealthy. He didn’t have a grand home. But he did what he loved.”

In addition to his son, Mr. Norman is survived by his daughter, Rosalie Ohlson in California, and seven grandchildren.

The Old Mission/Wichita Park Mortuary is handling funeral arrangements.

NORMAN, Hal Jon (John) (Harold L. Norman, Jr.)
Born: 8/27/1911, Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A.
Died: 7/14/1911, Andover, Kansas, U.S.A.

Hal Norman's westerns - actor:
Wagon Train (TV) - 1958 (Indian chief)
The Restless Gun (TV) - 1958 (Indian chief)
The Rifleman (TV) - 1959, 1960 (father, Frost)
Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) - 1960 (Indian George)
The Tall Man (TV) - 1962
Bonanza (TV) - 1960, 1961, 1962 (Chief Chato, Apache warrior, medicine man)
Rawhide (TV) - 1962, 1963, 1964 (Mumush, Walker, Yulca)
Shane (TV) - 1966 (Leader)
The Wild Wild West (TV) - 1967 (Juan)
Daniel Boon (TV) - 1965, 1966, 1967 (Gray Elk, Quonah)
The High Chaparral (TV) - 1968 (Chief Koso)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

RIP Wilbur E. Mosier


Wilbur E. Mosier, who worked in film and television as an assistant director and production manager, died June 30 in Simi Valley, Calif., after suffering a stroke in April. He had been residing at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills for a couple of years. He was 93. Mosier started in the accounting office and eventually worked his way up to a production manager role on feature films. He worked as a second a.d. on "Around the World in 80 Days" but soon got sucked into the Universal monster movie craze, working on such features as "Creature From the Black Lagoon" and "Incredible Shrinking Man." He worked as a first a.d. on mainline Universal pictures such as "Twilight for the Gods" and "Night Passage."

Mosier then moved into television with "Peter Gunn" and "Rawhide." He followed the latter in its move to MGM, where he worked as a 1st a.d. on "Dr. Kildare" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."

At Universal, he worked the entire run on "Ironside" (1967-75) as unit manager, then returned to feature work at the studio as a first a.d. on "Airport '77" and "Jaws 2." As a production manager he worked on the films "House Calls," "Butch and Sundance -- The Early Days" and "The Concorde.. Airport '79." He retired after "Modern Problems" in 1981.

Mosier was born in Holly, Colo. He graduated from Kansas U. with a degree in accounting and moved to California to work in the film industry. He returned to California after WWII service in an artillery unit as a corporal accountant-clerk in Europe.

His wife, Alberta, whom he married in 1941, died in February 2010.

A memorial service will be held at the Kirk of the Valley Church, 19620 Vanowen St., Reseda, on July 23. Donations may be made to the Kirk of the Valley Church.

MOSIER, Wilbur E. (Wilbur Eugene Mosier)
Born: 12/2/1917, Holly, Colorado, U.S.A.
Died: 6/30/2011, Simi Valley, California, U.S.A.

Wilbur E. Mosiers westerns - assistant director, production manager:
Night Passage - 1957 [assistant director]
Gunslinger (TV) - 1961 [assistant director]
Rawhide (TV) - 1961 [assistant director]
The Virginian (TV) - 1969 [assistant director]
Butch and Sundance: The Early Days - 1979 [production manager]

RIP Roberts Blossom

Roberts Blossomm, Quirky Character Actor, Dies at 87.

NY Times
By William Grimes

Roberts Blossom, a durable character actor who was known for playing cantankerous old coots, both comic and sinister, but who may be best remembered as the kindly next-door neighbor in the comedy "Home Alone," died on Friday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by his daughter, Deborah.

Mr. Blossom amassed a long string of theater credits before hitting his stride as a character actor in the movies in the 1970s. He performed in dozens of films, usually in small but memorable roles.

He was an ill-fated patient in the George C. Scott film "The Hospital," the delirious Wild Bob Cody in "Slaughterhouse-Five," Paul Le Mat’s ornery father in "Citizens Band," the farmer who once saw Bigfoot in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," the convict who paints the warden’s portrait in "Escape From Alcatraz" and the irate judge who sentences Michael J. Fox to community service in the local hospital in "Doc Hollywood."

In a rare starring role, he was Ezra Cobb, a crazed farmer who unleashes mayhem, in the cult horror film "Deranged." Posters for the film bore the tag line: "Pretty Sally Mae died a very unnatural death ... but the worst hasn’t happened to her yet!"

He played against type in the hugely popular Christmas film "Home Alone." As Old Man Marley, he was a threatening-looking geezer rumored to have killed his entire family, but the scary Marley turns out to be a sweet old fellow who befriends the character played by Macauly Culkin.

Vincent Canby, in an article in The New York Times on outstanding small roles, praised Mr. Blossom in "Escape From Alcatraz" for "one of his quietest, creepiest performances to date" as Doc Dalton, an elderly inmate who incurs the wrath of the sadistic warden when he paints his portrait.

After being denied painting privileges, Doc cuts off his fingers in the prison woodworking shop, an expression of defiance and despair that Mr. Canby described as "serenely lunatic and unexpectedly moving."

Roberts Scott Blossom was born on March 25, 1924, in New Haven and grew up in Cleveland. After graduating from the Asheville School in North Carolina in 1941, he enrolled at Harvard but entered the Army after a year. On returning from duty in Europe during World War II he trained as a therapist, but he soon began acting in productions at Karamu House in Cleveland and then moved to New York.

He made his Off Broadway debut in 1955 in the Shaw play "Village Wooing," for which he received the first of three Obie Awards. The others were for "Do Not Pass Go" (1965) and the Tankred Dorst play "The Ice Age" (1976).

His Broadway credits included Edward Albee’s adaptation of Carson McCullers’s "Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and Sam Shepard’s "Operation Sidewinder."

In 1988 he was cast in Peter Brook’s production of "The Cherry Orchard" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. "As Firs, the octogenarian family retainer, Roberts Blossom is a tall, impish, bearded figure in formal black, stooping over his cane — a spindly, timeless ghost from the past, as rooted to the soil as the trees we never see," Frank Rich wrote in a review for The New York Times.

On television Mr. Blossom appeared in the series "Naked City" in the 1950s and later in "Northern Exposure," "Moonlighting," "The Equalizer" and "Amazing Stories."

His first marriage ended in divorce. His second wife, the former Marylin Orshan, died in 1982. In addition to his daughter, of Los Angeles, he is survived by a son, Michael, of Chicago.

He made his Off Broadway debut in 1955 in the Shaw play "Village Wooing," for which he received the first of three Obie Awards. The others were for "Do Not Pass Go" (1965) and the Tankred Dorst play "The Ice Age" (1976).

His Broadway credits included Edward Albee’s adaptation of Carson McCullers’s "Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and Sam Shepard’s "Operation Sidewinder."

In 1988 he was cast in Peter Brook’s production of "The Cherry Orchard" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. "As Firs, the octogenarian family retainer, Roberts Blossom is a tall, impish, bearded figure in formal black, stooping over his cane — a spindly, timeless ghost from the past, as rooted to the soil as the trees we never see," Frank Rich wrote in a review for The New York Times.

On television Mr. Blossom appeared in the series "Naked City" in the 1950s and later in "Northern Exposure," "Moonlighting," "The Equalizer" and "Amazing Stories."

His first marriage ended in divorce. His second wife, the former Marylin Orshan, died in 1982. In addition to his daughter, of Los Angeles, he is survived by a son, Michael, of Chicago.

BLOSSOM, Roberts (Roberts Scott Blossoms)
Born: 3/25/1924, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Died: 7/8/2011, Santa Monica, California, U.S.A.

Roberts Blossom's westerns - actor:
Noon Wine (TV) - 1985 (Mr. McClellan)
The Quick and the Dead - 1995 (Doc Wallace)

RIP Sherwood Schwartz

Sherwood Schwartz dies: Creator of TV's "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" was 94
By Emma Brown

Sherwood Schwartz, who created and produced two of the most enduringly popular series on television, “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” died today at 94.

“Gilligan’s Island,” about the trials and tribulations of seven shipwrecked castaways, aired on CBS for just three seasons, from 1964 to 1967, and was never a favorite of critics. But fans adored its gags and corny jokes, and the show has enjoyed a sort of immortality in reruns and parodies.

The show spawned a musical and a franchise of made-for-television and reunion movies, and its characters – including the wholesome farm girl Mary Ann Summers, glamorous Ginger Grant and Bob Denver’s bumbling Gilligan – have become fixtures in American pop culture.

Last year, Warner Bros. agreed to make a movie version of the campy classic.

Mr. Schwartz said he interviewed 464 children to find the stars of his other big hit, “The Brady Bunch,” about a blended family of three blonde girls, three brunette boys and their parents. Like “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Brady Bunch” had a long life in syndication and offshoot films after its five-season run from 1969-1974.

Mr. Schwartz claimed his creations were more than simple light comedy. “All my shows actually are how do people learn to get along with each other,” he said in a 1997 interview. “It’s about humanity,” he said of “Gilligan’s Island.”

“That was the idea of the show. And it’s the most important idea in the world today.”

Mr. Schwartz began his career writing for Bob Hope’s radio show in 1939. He wrote for a number of television programs, including “The Red Skelton Show” and “My Favorite Martian,” before creating his own shows.

SCHWARTZ, Sherwood (Sherwood Charles Schwartz)
Born: 11/14/1916, Passaic New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 7/12/2011, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Sherwood Schwartz's westerns - producer, writer, composer:
Dusty's Trail (TV) - 1973-1974 [producer, writer, composer]
The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West - 1976 [producer, writer]

Monday, July 11, 2011

RIP Rex Bell, Jr.

Rex Bell Jr., former Clark County district attorney, dies at 76
By Doug McMurdo

Rex Bell Jr., former Clark County district attorney, Las Vegas justice of the peace and the son of Hollywood royalty, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

He was born Dec. 16, 1934 to one-time lieutenant governor and cowboy actor Rex Bell Sr. and silent film legend Clara Bow. Bell Jr. and his brother, George, grew up on his parents' Walking Box ranch roughly 65 miles south of Las Vegas.

"He was a special person," said District Attorney David Roger, who was hired by Bell in 1987. "Rex loved people and in return, everyone loved him.

"I couldn't identify a single person who was Rex Bell's enemy. He didn't have any."

Former Gov. Bob Miller worked with Bell when he started in the Clark County district attorney's office. When Miller became district attorney in 1979, Bell served as his second in command.
"Rex was one of the old-time Nevadans that acclimated from the cowboy (culture) and the smaller towns into the urban population," Miller said. "But he was always a cowboy at heart. He was a great find for the district attorney's office."

Former mayor Oscar Goodman knew Bell when Goodman was a prominent criminal defense attorney.
"As D.A., Rex's word was his bond," Goodman said.

But it wasn't until Goodman was elected mayor when he saw Bell in a different light. Goodman said Bell routinely represented citizens of modest means in front of the City Council when they clearly couldn't afford an attorney.

"The Rex I appreciated was the Rex who appeared before the council basically as a pro bono attorney," Goodman said. "He went to bat for them as if they were paying him a million dollars.

"He really took care of the little guys. His father was a handsome movie star, his mother was a world class beauty, but he never pulled rank based on his genes."

Bell attended Notre Dame from 1953 to 1955 and remained a lifelong fan of the Fighting Irish sports teams.

He transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno, where he graduated in 1957. He earned his law degree in 1963 from the Willamette Law School in Oregon.

While Bell tried to follow in his famous parents' footsteps -- taking roles in two Westerns after college -- he found his true calling in the law.

He began his legal career in 1969 as a Clark County deputy district attorney. He served as counsel to the Clark County Sheriff's Office while Miller was counsel for the City of Las Vegas Police Department. The two lawyers helped the departments merge into the Metropolitan Police Department.
Bell was elected a Las Vegas justice of the peace in 1972. At the end of that time, he sought the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, a post his father held more than a decade earlier. Bell Sr. died in office July 4, 1962, while campaigning for governor.

Bell Jr. served one term and then entered private practice for two years before returning to the district attorney's office in 1978.

He never lost a case as a deputy district attorney, a fact his former boss Miller attributed to the fact that opposing attorneys underestimated the tall, thin Bell and his slow Western drawl.
"I think people tend to underestimate people who speak with a country twang," Miller said in a 1986 interview with the Review-Journal. "But Rex has had great success in court."

Elected district attorney in 1986, Bell oversaw growth in the office and pursued fraud cases with vigor, first policing Las Vegas' gambling culture and then attacking get-rich-quick schemes.
He was also a tough-on-crime prosecutor who favored longer prison sentences for offenders, saying the cost to build new prisons to house them was less expensive than leaving criminals on the streets.
After leaving the district attorney's office in 1995, Bell Jr. formed a law partnership with defense attorney Drew Christensen.

"He was one of the legends of the last 50 years in Las Vegas," longtime criminal defense attorney Tom Pitaro said. "And he was one of those larger than life individuals. He was a nice, nice man. I can't really think of anyone who didn't like him."

In negotiating plea agreements for clients, Pitaro said Bell didn't let his ego get in the way of trying to carve out a deal that was right for everyone. "He was always a level-headed individual. He would listen to whatever pitch you made and always tried to make the right decision."

Bell embraced his father's Western lifestyle, said Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, one of Bell's most cherished friends. The two were big rodeo fans.

"Rex truly appreciated the Western culture," Collins said. "He was a cowboy.

"He was a true Nevadan. He was a very kind and humble man and very proud of his heritage."
Funeral arrangements are pending.

BELL, Jr., Rex (Anthony Belden)
Born: 12/16/1934, Searchlight, Nevada, U.S.A.
Died: 7/9/2011, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

Rex Bell Jr.'s westerns - actor:
Stage to Thunder Rock - 1964 ('Shotgun') [pictured above on right]
Young Fury - 1964 (farmer)

RIP Luis Arcaraz, Jr.

Luis Arcaraz Carrasco, 74, died of a heart attack following an attack of pneumonia, which led him to be hospitalized since last Thursday, leaving the actress Dacia González, with whom he had two children: Luis Arcaraz Dacia Arcaraz and IV, a widow. The musician left unfinished his autobiography, covering his career and family. Yesterday, at 16 hours he was cremated at the funeral home, who in life composed film music, director of the Orchestra Luis Arcaraz-inherited from his father, the composer Luis Arcaraz, and held the post of secretary general of the Confederation of Revolutionary Musicians Workers and Peasants (CROC).

ARCARAZ, Jr., Luis
Born: 1937, Mexico
Died: 6/28/2011, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico

Luis Arcaraz, Jr.'s westerns - composer:
Los terribles - 1977
El ahorcado - 1983

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RIP Gordon Tootoosis

Saskatoon actor, activist Gordon Tootoosis dead at 69

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Saskatchewan-born actor and aboriginal activist Gordon Tootoosis has died at the age of 69 after a brief illness (pneumonia)

Tootoosis, a Cree from the Poundmaker First Nation, was one of the stars of CBC's "North of 60" television series.

His long career ranged from the 1973 film "Alien Thunder" with Donald Sutherland and Chief Dan George to 1996's "Legends of the Fall" with Brad Pitt.

Tootoosis, who was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004, was also an accomplished stage actor and a founding member of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company.

Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo called Tootoosis "a Cree and Canadian cultural icon."

He said Tootoosis will be remembered as a talented, dedicated and multi-faceted individual.

"He was truly extraordinary," said Atleo. "He survived the tragedy of the residential schools and used that experience in a positive way to help his people, serving as a social worker for youth and young offenders."

Despite his success in the entertainment industry, Tootoosis always made his home on the Poundmaker reserve and used to joke that the movers and shakers in Hollywood knew where to find him.

He recently starred in "Gordon Winter," a play by Saskatoon playwright Kenneth T. Williams that was featured at the Prairie Scene festival in Ottawa.

"He imbued every role he took on with humanity and complexity," said Atleo. "He made a difference to those who knew him personally as well as those who knew him only through his performances."

Born: 10/25/1941, Poundmaker Reservation Saskatchewan, Canada
Died: 7/5/2011, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Gordon Tootoosis’ westerns - actor
Alien Thunder - 1974 (Almighty Voice)
Marie Ann - 1978 (Chief Many Horses)
Stone Fox (TV) - 1987 (Stone Fox)
Higher Ground - 1988 (Willingham)
Bordertown (TV) - 1990 (Wild Eagle)
Blood River (TV) - 1991 (Smiling Knife)
Black Robe - 1991 (Old Aenons)
Lakota Moon (TV) - 1992 (Rolling Thunder)
Call of the Wild (TV) - 1993 (Charlie)
Hawkeye (TV) - 1994
Lonesome Dove (TV) - 1994 (Indian John)
Legends of the Fall - 1994 (One Stab)
Lone Star - 1996 (Wesley Birdsong)
Crazy Horse (TV) - 1996 (Akicita)
Keeping the Promise (TV) - 1997 (Saknis)
Song of Hiawatha - 1996 (Iagoo)
Big Bear (TV) - 1998 (Chief Big Bear)
The Magnificent Seven (TV) - 1998 (Chief Ko-Je)
Dead Man’s Gun (TV) - 1998 (Charlie Three Claws)
Pochaontas: The Legend - 1999 (Chief Powhatan)
Into the West (TV) - 2005 (Growling Bear)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (TV) - 2007 (Chief Red Cloud)
Blackstone (TV) - 2011 (Cecil Delaronde)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

RIP Dusan Janićijević

Dusan Janićijević a giant of the Yugoslav and Serbian cinema, died this morning July 5, 2011. He was 79. Dusan died at his home in Grgurju, Blace, Serbia. Born on April 27, 1932 in Grgurju, he graduated from the Theatre Academy in Belgrade. He began his film work as a student and starred in "Stojan Mutikasa" (1954) which won the Golden Arena at the first Yugoslavia Film Festival in Pula. Since then he appeared in over 500 films and television series. His last role was in the film "Revolt" (2011) which is post production. For over 60 years he played in many theaters in a string of roles. His book Memories was published two weeks ago. In it he recounts his life and his career. His body will be transferred to Belgrade where the date of his cremation set.

Born: 4/27/1932, Grgurju, Serbia, Yugoslavia
Died: 7/5/2011, Grgurju, Serbia, Yugoslavia

Duasn Janicijevic's westerns - actor:
Rampage at Apache Wels - 1965 (Butler)
Flaming Frontier - 1965 (Clinch)
The Jack London Story - 1973

Monday, July 4, 2011

RIP Ewan 'Sudsy' Clark

Thursday, June 23, 2011 was a sad day for all of us in the arts in Canada.
That was the evening Ewan (Sudsy) Clark passed away as a result of complications due to an aggressive colonic cancer diagnosed only three months earlier.

He fought against the cancer as hard as he worked all his life as a musician, actor, writer, producer, teacher and bon vivant.

Since the age of ten Ewan, when he performed his first role as Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors and at the same time acquired his first fiddle, was caught by the acting and music bug. Suds, as he is known to many of us, spent his life making music, acting on stage, in television and film, and working with actors, writers, musicians and incredible radio technicians in Halifax to bring magic to the CBC Radio airwaves.

Since moving to the west coast in 1991 with his partner, Susan MacPhee, Ewan played several seasons with Bard On The Beach, and spent two seasons on Vancouver Island working with Chemainus Theatre. He always loved “trodding the boards”. He continued to perform in radio, television and film.
Ewan played a crucial role in the establishment of the Union of British Columbia Performers even before moving to Vancouver. As a member of the Maritime division of ACTRA Performers Branch, he had worked closely with Alan Krasnick and became a founding member of the UBCP to signify his support of the autonomy of West Coast actors.

Upon moving to Vancouver he became a member of the UBCP Board of Directors, serving as Treasurer during its difficult formative years.

His move to Vancouver prompted even more involvement in music. He rediscovered his Celtic music roots through his association with the Vancouver Fiddle Orchestra and branched out to play with various groups and to teach music with private students and at Douglas College in New Westminster and The Place des Arts in Coquitlam.

He died at home, quickly and without pain, talking about his plans for the next

Ewan specified he would appreciate that in lieu of flowers, people make donations to The Actor’s Fund of Canada.

Born: 19??, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died: 6/23/2011, Vacouver, British Columbia, U.S.A.

Ewan 'Sudsy' Clark's western - actor:
Dead Man's Gun (TV) - 1997, 1998 (townsman, man)

RIP Billy Beck

Billy Beck, Character Actor and Clown, Dies at 86
Though he was known for his character acting, Beck was also a gifted cartoonist, painter, photographer and clown.

By Paul Zollo | July 3, 2011

Billy Beck, one of the greatest of the great sad clowns, is gone. And an era is over.

He’s one of those guys you’ve seen in movies and TV for years and likely never knew his name. Most recently he appeared in the forgettable Zombie Strippers, but you’ve seen him in famous movies like Irma La Douce, The Fortune Cookie and Micki and Maude, as well as in hundreds of TV shows through the decades, including Bewitched, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Twilight Zone, The Monkees, E.R., and The King of Queens. He was a regular on several shows, including Lou Grant, playing the photo editor on several episodes, Falcon Crest (as Charles) and also on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, on which he made many return appearances as the quirky Lt. Trask.

But to many of us, he’ll be most fondly remembered as a sad clown, the character he invented in the streets of Paris in the 1940s and portrayed on the stage of the famed Cirque Medrano, along with Buster Keaton and other legendary sad clowns.

He died just nights ago on June 29 at the age of 90. Though he became famous for being one of this town’s most resonant character actors, he was also a gifted cartoonist, painter, photographer and, of course, clown.

“This was fun, more fun than acting,” he told me in an interview on a spring day in 2006 when we did a photo shoot. It was the first time in more than 40 years that he put on his clown costume and make-up, and though he was reticent at first to delve back into the character he abandoned lifetimes ago, he gave into my polite persistence, and agreed.

Being his first voyage back in time to playing the tramp since he was a young man, it was a momentous occasion sparked with the joy of his longtime love of clowning, but also with some sorrow at all the years which have passed since his Parisian clowntime youth.

Born in 1920 in Philadelphia, as a kid he loved nothing more than drawing, and drawing clowns was one of his specialties. Like millions, he was drawn to the poetic pathos epitomized in Emmett Kelly’s sad clown character – this great comic paradox, a funny man forever frowning – and he used to spend a lot of time drawing, cartooning and painting that character. He also loved the famous sad clowns of the silent movies, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton especially, both of whom he got to know.

He also was a natural performer – he enjoyed acting onstage and clowning off – and was a serious painter. He also was a devout lover of women, and when not sketching clowns he was painting nudes, and also creating stark photographic portraits of lovely women. One of the best things about acting, he said, was getting to work with so many beautiful women.

During World War II, he was stationed in France, and whenever he had the opportunity, would go to Paris to see Buster Keaton and other legends and who performed at the Cirque Medrano. It was while he was still in the army that he fashioned his own Emmett Kelly-inspired tramp costume and make-up, and when the war was over in 1945 he stayed in Paris. Asked why, he said, “The city is beautiful, the language is beautiful, the women are beautiful – why would I leave?”

He started as a street performer and also a street artist in Paris, doing sketches and painted portraits. Soon he was performing on the stage of the famed Cirque Medrano, which led him to perform at venues and celebrations throughout Paris for the next 15 years.

But his love of cinema created in him a yearning to go to Hollywood and act in movies. And in 1960 he made the move, buying a small house on Robinson Street in Silver Lake, where he remained for the rest of his life.

In Hollywood, though he never intended to be a TV actor, he was steadily employed as an actor, appearing in every kind of show TV created, as well as soon landing his first big film role, that of Office DuPont in Irma La Douce (1963), which starred Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

From there on he was rarely unemployed – often as a deranged slasher-guy in horror films. That this famous clown should be so in demand as a monster amused him. “I guess I just have one of those faces,” he explained. “I was just grateful to have a job.”

A quick perusal of his IMDB pages shows he had more than a job – he had five consecutive decades of non-stop work – unusual for an actor, but especially one in Hollywood. His resume contains the entire history of television.

When he had a chance, he would sometimes do small appearances at the Moose Lodge in Burbank or other venues to perform some vaudevillian comedy. But he never donned the clown make-up through all these years, until I cajoled him to do so. “Well, there wasn’t any demand for it,” he explained. “And also, maybe I wasn’t sure I could still do it. That was a long time ago, after all.

It was at the Burbank Moose Lodge in March of 2006 that we met. I was there thanks to my friend Amy O’Neill, another legendary actress and gifted clown. It was an Evening with Billy Beck, during which his lucky fans bathed in stories of his early clowning days, and saw many historic slides, as well as some great solo vaudeville sketches.

Afterwards, jazzed by the ecstatic response of the audience, he agreed to do a photo shoot in his clown character. But underneath his bonhomie, I could sense his reticence.

Still, he invited me to his Silver Lake home for our photo shoot on an April morning in 2006, which he cheerfully agreed to do over the phone, but admitted to me later was the cause for some consternation.

“I just didn’t know if I still had it in me,” he said afterward, “to play the tramp again. Just putting on all the make-up and the costume, it’s a lot of work. And then to take off the make-up. But I really enjoyed doing this.” When asked if he’d consider another shoot, he laughed and said, “Don’t know about that. But this one was good.” We never did do another.

On that day, however, he had endless ideas, and in his overgrown backyard and out in the sunny streets in front of his hillside home, we took more than 300 shots. He brought out an ancient souvenir of Parisian vaudeville – a prop violin which has a little hinged door that opens to the body, out of which he'd pull sheet music as a gag.

Pretending to play this violin as I happily snapped many photos, he smiled at passersby who stopped in their tracks to take in his act. Like a true performer, he relished the attention.

We spent about an hour shooting, after which he reclined deeply into the leather easy chair behind his big iron desk, and admitted to being exhausted. But happily so.

“I’m tired,” he said, “very tired. I’m an old man! But that was fun. Just like old times.”

My interest in those old times led him to lead me through his remarkable home, which overflowed with his love of art: bookshelves packed with thousands of books, and walls filled from floor to ceiling with his own paintings, sketches and photographs as well as a lifetime of souvenir circus and vaudeville posters and photographs, big maps of the world and much more. And that’s just what was visible. In back rooms were crates and boxes of the treasures he’s collected over the years, and never abandoned.

Now like Chaplin, Kelly, Keaton and the other clowns he emulated, his life is over. But fortunately for us, his spirit – whether inhabiting a clown or a monster – lives on endlessly in the abundance of performances which are forever preserved in the movies and TV shows he did. It’s also preserved this series of photographs I was lucky to take, of the late great Billy Beck, the man and the clown. So long Billy. And thanks.

BECK, Billy (Frank Billerbeck)
Born: 9/28/1920, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died: 6/29/2011, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Billy Beck's westerns - actor:
Branded (TV) - 1965, 1966 (Bert Gibbons, Mouse)
Gunsmoke (TV) - 1966 (Tonkins)
Silent Tongue - 1993 (petrified man)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

RIP Mel Burns, Jr.

TV and film makeup artist Mel Berns Jr. died in Beverly Hills on June
23. He was 71.
Born in Beverly Hills, he graduated from Beverly Hills High School and
continued his education at UCLA. Soon thereafter he began his showbiz
career in 1961 as an agent at the William Morris Agency.

After a year and a half, Berns left the suit-and-tie world to learn from
and follow in the footsteps of his father. Mel Berns Sr., who helped
start the make-up union in the 1920s and was head of makeup at RKO for
20 years. Berns Sr. was the key makeup artist on "Citizen Kane."

During a career in the field that lasted 40 years, Berns Jr. was a
makeup artist on TV shows including "The Flying Nun," "The Partridge
Family," "Hotel," "The New Mike Hammer" and "The Adventures of Brisco
County Jr."

As makeup supervisor on "Charlie's Angels," he worked with Jaclyn Smith
on every episode and with Farrah Fawcett.

Berns Jr. also worked on a number of telepics, including "Conspiracy of
Terror," "The Users," "A Question of Love" and "The Pride of Jesse
Hallam," as well as on the 1984 documentary "Going Hollywood: The '30s."

His film credits include "Gidget Goes to Rome" (1963), "The Last of the
Finest," "Wayne's World" and "Mad Dog Time" (1996).

Berns Jr. also did makeup for Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ronee, whom he met while both
worked at WMA; two sons; and his mother.

BURNS, Jr., Mel (Mel J. Burns, Jr.)
Born: 1/?/1940, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.
Died: 6/23/2011, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.

Mel Burns, Jr. - western - make-up artist:
The Adventures of Brisco County Junior (TV) - 1993