Wednesday, August 31, 2016

RIP Irma Sandrey

RIP Irma Sandrey
New York Times
August 31, 2016

Acted in leading roles on Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater and feature films. Ms. Sandrey made her acting debut in the part of "Liat" in the original Broadway production of "South Pacific". Some of her many stage credits are "Yen" in "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" with Al Pacino, "Winning Hearts and Minds" at the Public Theater, "Electra", "The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year" by John Guare and Chekov's "The Boar". She Co-starred in "Happy Family" at the "Centenary Stage Company". She can be seen in the leading role of the film "The Orchard".

Irma Sandrey had been a member of the Actors Studio since 1969, and has appeared in numerous projects there. Her favorite productions were "Richard III", in which she played "Lady Anne", and "Jesse and the Bandit Queen", in which she played "Belle Starr". Ms Sandrey received her first theatrical training as a scholarship pupil at the School of American Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. While she was in her early teens "The New York City Ballet" was started, and for the next two years she danced solos in most of Mr. Balanchine's ballets. Ms. Sandrey then joined the legendary "Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo", performing in over a hundred cities per season for the next three years. Ms. Sandrey had been teaching acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute since 1976. She was the Senior Teacher and Advisor.

Irma Sandrey had been starring in film and theater productions as part of IS/MB Productions, which she founded in 2007. These have included "Perfection", in which she played the starting role and co-wrote at the DR2 Theatre in New York City, "The Fourth Wall" by A.R. Gurney, in which she played the part of "Peggy" at the Century Theater, also in New York City; and co-directed "A Taste of Honey", also at the Century Theater. As part of IS/MB Productions, Ms. Sandrey starred in a series of short films, currently entering film festivals around the world: "Closing Notice", "Hearts N' Flower" and "Whatever Happened". These are films which she also co-wrote and produced. Ms. Sandrey was set to appear in two feature films, due to start production in the near future.

Irma Sandrey was a brilliant young ballerina at a unique and exciting period in American dance. She took her first ballet class in 1941 and was a soloist in two of the world’s greatest ballet companies in the mid-forties and early fifties. The New York City Ballet when it was called Ballet Society, and The Ballet Russo de Monte Carlo was at the height of its fame. She was a scholarship student at the School of American Ballet which was founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. The teachers there were the great dancers from the Marinsky Ballet now named The Kirov who left Russia to dance with the Diaghilev company. Irma Sandrey entered the School of American Ballet in the fall of 1943. She was dancing solos in the New York City Ballet at sixteen when the company was just starting and named Ballet Society. At eighteen she joined the legendary Ballet Russe do Monte Carlo when they were at the height of their success. She danced with them for three years starting with their famous tenth anniversary season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. During this season many of the great dancers who had formerly danced with the company returned as guest artists. The Ballet Russe seasons were eleven months long and toured the United States and Canada. Irma Sandrey left the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in September 1951 on a leave of absence to appear on Broadway in the role of LIAT in South Pacific.

She never went back to performing in either the New York City Ballet or The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She unexpectedly turned her career to acting. She did however continue to take daily ballet classes for many years at the School of American Ballet, and was in condition to return even though she never chose to do so. Funeral services will be held at Kensico Cemetery Valhalla, NY on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at 11am. Under the direction of "The Frank E Campbell", 81st and Madison Ave., NYC, NY.

Born: 193?, U.S.A.
Died: 8/?/2016, New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Irma Sandrey’s western – actress:
Have Gun – Will Travel (TV) – 1961 (girl, French woman)

Monday, August 29, 2016

RIP Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder, ‘Willy Wonka’ Star and Comedic Icon, Dies at 83

By Richard Natale
August 29, 2016

Gene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died late Sunday at his home in Stamford, Conn. His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.

His nephew said in a statement, “We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.

He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the the company of beloved ones.”

He had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989.

The comic actor, who was twice Oscar nominated, for his role in “The Producers” and for co-penning “Young Frankenstein” with Mel Brooks, usually portrayed a neurotic who veered between total hysteria and dewy-eyed tenderness. “My quiet exterior used to be a mask for hysteria,” he told Time magazine in 1970. “After seven years of analysis, it just became a habit.”

Habit or not, he got a great deal of mileage out of his persona in the 1970s for directors like Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, leading to a few less successful stints behind the camera, the best of which was “The Woman in Red,” co-starring then-wife Gilda Radner. Wilder was devastated by Radner’s death from ovarian cancer in 1989 and worked only intermittently after that. He tried his hand briefly at a sitcom in 1994, “Something Wilder,” and won an Emmy in 2003 for a guest role on “Will & Grace.”

His professional debut came in Off Broadway’s “Roots” in 1961, followed by a stint on Broadway in Graham Greene’s comedy “The Complaisant Lover,” which won him a Clarence Derwent Award as promising newcomer. His performance in the 1963 production of Brecht’s “Mother Courage” was seen by Mel Brooks, whose future wife, Anne Bancroft, was starring in the production; a friendship with Brooks would lead to some of Wilder’s most successful film work. For the time being, however, Wilder continued to work onstage, in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1963 and “Dynamite Tonight” and “The White House” the following year. He then understudied Alan Arkin and Gabriel Dell in “Luv,” eventually taking over the role.

Wilder also worked in television in 1962’s “The Sound of Hunting,” “The Interrogators,” “Windfall” and in the 1966 TV production of “Death of a Salesman” with Lee J. Cobb. He later starred in TV movies including “Thursday’s Game” and the comedy-variety special “Annie and the Hoods,” both in 1974.

In 1967 Wilder essayed his first memorable bigscreen neurotic, Eugene Grizzard, a kidnapped undertaker in Arthur Penn’s classic “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Then came “The Producers,” in which he played the hysterical Leo Bloom, an accountant lured into a money bilking scheme by a theatrical producer played by Zero Mostel. Directed and written by Brooks, the film brought Wilder an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor. With that, his film career was born.

He next starred in a dual role with Donald Sutherland in “Start the Revolution Without Me,” in which he displayed his fencing abilities. It was followed by another middling comedy, “Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx,” also in 1970.

In 1971 he stepped into the shoes of Willy Wonka, one of his most beloved and gentle characters. Based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was not an immediate hit but became a children’s favorite over the years. The same cannot be said for the 1974 Stanley Donen-directed musical version of “The Little Prince,” in which Wilder appeared as the fox. He had somewhat better luck in Woody Allen’s spoof “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex,” appearing in a hilarious segment in which he played a doctor who falls in love with a sheep named Daisy.

Full-fledged film stardom came with two other Brooks comedies, both in 1974: Western spoof “Blazing Saddles” and a wacko adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famous book entitled “Young Frankenstein,” in which Wilder portrayed the mad scientist with his signature mixture of hysteria and sweetness.

Working with Brooks spurred Wilder to write and direct his own comedies, though none reached the heights of his collaborations with Brooks. The first of these was “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Younger Brother” (1975), in which he included such Brooks regulars as Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman. It was followed by 1977’s “The World’s Greatest Lover,” which he also produced.

Wilder fared better, however, when he was working solely in front of the camera, particularly in a number of films in which he co-starred with Richard Pryor.

The first of these was 1978’s “Silver Streak,” a spoof of film thrillers set on trains; 1980’s “Stir Crazy” was an even bigger hit, grossing more than $100 million. Wilder and Pryor’s two other pairings, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” and “Another You,” provided diminishing returns, however.

While filming “Hanky Panky” in 1982, Wilder met “Saturday Night Live” comedienne Radner. She became his third wife shortly thereafter. Wilder and Radner co-starred in his most successful directing stint, “The Woman in Red” in 1984, and then “Haunted Honeymoon.” But Radner grew ill with cancer, and he devoted himself to her care, working sporadically after that and hardly at all after her death in 1989.

In the early ’90s he appeared in his last film with Pryor and another comedy, “Funny About Love.” In addition to the failed TV series “Something Wilder” in 1994, he wrote and starred in the A&E mystery telepics “The Lady in Question” and “Murder in a Small Town” in 1999. He also appeared as the Mock Turtle in a 1999 NBC adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.”

He last acted in a couple of episodes of “Will and Grace” in 2002-03 as Mr. Stein, winning an Emmy.

He was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee and began studying acting at the age of 12. After getting his B.A. from the U. of Iowa in 1955, Wilder enrolled in the Old Vic Theater school in Bristol, where he learned acting technique and fencing. When he returned to the U.S. he taught fencing and did other odd jobs while studying with Herbert Berghof’s HB Studio and at the Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg.

Wilder’s memoir “Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art” was published in 2005. After that he wrote fiction: the 2007 novel “My French Whore”; 2008’s “The Woman Who Wouldn’t”; a collection of stories, “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” in 2010; and the novella “Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance” in 2013.

Wilder was interviewed by Alec Baldwin for the one-hour TCM documentary “Role Model: Gene Wilder” in 2008. The actor was also active in raising cancer awareness in the wake of Radner’s death.

He is survived by his fourth wife Karen Boyer, whom he married in 1991 and his nephew. His sister Corinne, predeceased him in January 2016.

Before Radner, Wilder was married to the actress-playwright Mary Mercier and Mary Joan Schutz (aka Jo Ayers).

WILDER, Gene (Jerome Silberman)
Born: 6/11/1933, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Died: 8/28/2016, Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Gene Wilder’s westerns – actor:
Blazing Saddles – 1974 (Jim ‘The Waco Kild’)
The Frisco Kid – 1979 (Avram)

RIP Cesare Gelli

Italian stage, screen, television and voice actor Cesare Gelli died in Rome, Italy on August 27th. He was 83. Gelli appeared in over 35 films and TV appearances beginning in 1962. He appeared in the ‘Totò ciak’ 1967 western episode ‘Toto contro Ringo’ starring Gordon Mitchell. Gelli played the role of Slim MacGregor.

GELLI, Cesare
Born: 11/28/1932, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 8/27/2016, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Cesare Gelli’s western – actor:
Totò ciak: Toto contro Ringo (TV) - 1967 (Slim MacGregor)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RIP Mario Novelli

Mario Novelli, actor who played bad guys and 'beefcake' in low-budget Euro-films – obituary

The Guardian
September 11, 2016
Mario Novelli, the actor, who has died aged 76, was, with his high cheekbones and sulphurous eyes, one of the finest bad guys in spaghetti Westerns.

He made nearly 70 films, mostly under the name of Anthony Freeman, cutting his teeth on sword-and-sandal epics and later enjoying a second career as a stuntman.

Mario Novelli was born in Rome on February 26 1940. Aged 19 he found himself in Spain, where a friend suggested he try stunt work, and he was encouraged to act by the producer Vincenzo Musolino. “He felt I had something aside from beefcake,” Novelli recalled.

Beefcake, however, was very much on the menu. In 1962 Novelli was an uncredited nobleman in the epic Fury of Achilles, then played a succession of gladiators in The Rebel Gladiators (1962), Seven Slaves Against Rome (1964) and The Revenge of Spartacus (1965).

His first substantial role, credited as Tony Freeman and modelled on a better-known Italian heart-throb, Kirk Morris (aka Adriano Bellini), came in The Invincible Brothers Maciste (also 1964), the last notable “sword-and-sandaller” (they were also known as “peplum” pictures, referring to the ubiquitous tunics).

Although reviews were generally less than favourable, Novelli was stripped to the waist for most of his screen time and accordingly built up a sizeable female following, as well as being  linked to some of Italy’s most desirable women.

“We were called upon to flex our muscles for those peplum pictures,” he recalled. “Quite often we were required to simply look beautiful, either with chests waxed or chest hair tonged under hair dryers. Looks were everything.”

He did not disappoint his female fans in Three Swords for Rome (1966) notable for its impressive sets and wardrobe – mostly borrowed from other films.

“You’d get into a sweat-stained toga fresh from some other guy and be expected to just carry on,” Novelli said.

Tweaking his stage name to Anthony Freeman (the “h” was occasionally dropped), he made his first foray into spaghetti westerns as a bounty hunter in Texas, Adios (1966), starring Franco Nero, a loose sequel to Sergio Corbucci’s masterpiece of the genre, Django. The same year came a piece of alien-abduction hokum called Star Pilot, which had unfortunate shades of the low-budget “shlock” of Ed Wood, as Novelli battled ape-like Martians in moth-eaten fur coats who take to the skies on trampolines.

He won some of his best reviews for his role as one of two bank-robber brothers in the underrated Ballad of a Gunman (1967), which drew on Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More, and was also praised for his role in a gripping German film, A Big Grey-Blue Bird (1969), part sci-fi, part political thriller.

He returned to spaghetti westerns in Dead Men Ride and Kill Django… Kill First (both 1971) and A Gunman Called Dakota (1972). He worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder on Beware of a Holy Whore (1971), which depicted an egomaniac director ganged-up on by cast and crew.

The much-praised crime thriller, Violent City (1975), and Like Rabid Dogs (1976) paved the way for Freeman’s involvement in poliziotteschi films, an Italian genre that influenced vigilante movies such as Death Wish. He also played a gunman in a 1979 episode of Return of the Saint.

He worked prolifically into the 1990s. As a stuntman and stunt co-ordinator, his credits included Delta Force Commando (1988), the Satanic horror film Beyond the Door III (1989), and John Frankenheimer’s thriller Year of the Gun (1991), starring Sharon Stone. Later work included Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), and Michael Winterbottom’s The Face of an Angel (2014), starring Kate Beckinsale.

He is survived by his two sons, both of whom followed in his footsteps, as stuntmen.

Mario Novelli, born February 26 1940, died August 21 2016

NOVELLI, Mario (aka Anthony Freeman)
Born: 2/26/1940, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 8/21/2016, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Mario Novelli’s westerns – actor:
Texas, Adios – 1966 (bounty hunter)
Ballad of a Gunman – 1967 (Chiuchi)
The Stranger Returns – 1967 (Austin)
Two Crosses at Danger Pass (Charley Moran)
And God Said to Cain – 1969 (bounty killer)
Aquasanta Joe - 1971 (Donovan henchman)
Dead Men Ride – 1971 (Alan)
Kill Django... Kill First - 1971
A Gunman Called Dakota – 1972 (John Lead)
California – 1977 (brother of Northern soldier)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

RIP Anne Udell

RIP Anne Udell

Los Angeles Daily News
August 23, 2016

Studio City- Anna Marie Udell passed away August 20, 2016. Born September 4, 1926 in Boston to Anna E. and Herbert C. Hewes, Anna developed a passion for figure skating, which continued when she moved to Los Angeles as a young woman. She competed in ice dancing, and married Bill Udell, a figure skating coach and well-known competitive figure skating photographer. Ann edited the All Year Figure Skating Club newsletter for 21 years. She was a member of the Screen Writers Guild, working on television productions of Death Valley Days and The Secrets of ISIS, and contributing to Disney's Barry of the Great St. Bernard. Anna was a devoted member of the Sherman Oaks Women’s Club. She loved her cats, birds and gardening. Anna is survived by her brothers, Herbert C. Hewes of Webster, NY and Robert Hewes of Las Vegas, NV, as well as many loving nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts may be made to East Valley Animal Care Center, 14409 Van Owen Street, Van Nuys, CA 91405

UDELL, Anne (Anna Marie Udell)
Born: 9/4/1926, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Died: 8/20/2016, Studio City, California, U.S.A.

Anne Udell’s westerns – writer:
Death Valley Days (TV) – 1968, 1970
Huckleberry Fin and His Friends (TV) - 1979