Sunday, November 27, 2016

RIP Joe Esposito

Los Angeles Times
November 27, 2016

January 22, 1938 - November 23, 2016 Joe (Joseph Carmine) Esposito passed away peacefully in Calabasas, California, at 78. Joe was born of Italian immigrants in Chicago, Illinois. He was a happy, jovial man who made friends with everyone he met. Often his children were told "Your father is the nicest man I've ever known!" An Italian through and through, he loved to cook and entertain, nurturing family and friends, thriving in the laughter and enjoyment around the table. His playful nature endeared him to many, and he was gifted in reaching out and staying in touch. And, of course, music was a great love¿ Best known as Elvis Presley's road manager and best friend, Joe and Elvis met in the army in 1958, while stationed in Germany. They worked together until Elvis' death in 1977. He also worked with Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees, Karen Carpenter and John Denver. He has written multiple books about his life with Elvis, and was a great source of stories and antidotes for Elvis fans until the day he passed, constantly appearing at Elvis conventions and celebrations. Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Martha (Gallub), and survived by his three children, Debbie and Cindy - from his first marriage to Joan (Kardashian), and Anthony - from his second marriage to Martha, and his three grandchildren, Cody, Rebecca and Dylan. Private memorial only. Please contact family at his email address. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to John Douglas French Alzheimer's Foundation (

ESPOSITO, Joe (Joseph Carmine Esposito)
Born: 1/22/1938, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 11/23/2016, Calabasas, California, U.S.A.

Joe Esposito’s western – actor:
Stay Away, Joe – 1968 (man who take’s Joe car)

RIP Fritz Weaver

Fritz Weaver, Tony-Winning Character Actor, Dies at 90

The New York Times
By Robert Berkvist
November 27, 2016

Fritz Weaver, a Tony Award-winning character actor who played a German Jewish doctor slain by the Nazis in the 1978 mini-series “Holocaust” and an Air Force colonel who becomes increasingly unstable as the nation faces a nuclear crisis in the 1964 movie “Fail Safe” died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by his son-in-law, Bruce Ostler.

Mr. Weaver won a Tony in 1970 for his role in Robert Marasco’s drama “Child’s Play” about the malevolent environment at an exclusive Roman Catholic school for boys.

Mr. Weaver and Ken Howard played teachers of wildly different temperaments who inevitably became adversaries. Mr. Weaver was the fierce disciplinarian. Mr. Howard, as his easygoing rival, also won a Tony.

But winning the Tony did not catapult Mr. Weaver into stardom. “What I remember is a vast silence from the phone,” he said, “because people said, ‘We won’t offer it, now, because we can’t offer him enough money.’”

From the 1950s on, Mr. Weaver was a familiar presence on television shows like “Studio One,” “Playhouse 90,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

He appeared in two episodes of “The Twilight Zone” — “The Obsolete Man” and “Third From the Sun,” in which he played a scientist who plots to take his family aboard a rocket to escape earth before a nuclear war.

He was nominated for an Emmy for his performance in the NBC mini-series “Holocaust,” playing Dr. Josef Weiss, the patriarch of a Jewish family who is denied his livelihood, is sent to the Warsaw ghetto and then to Auschwitz to die.

Mr. Weaver made his Broadway debut in 1955 in “The Chalk Garden,” Enid Bagnold’s play about the woes of an aristocratic British family. Mr. Weaver won laughs and a Tony nomination with his portrait of the fussy household butler.

A review in The Boston Globe said: “Mr. Weaver boasts sound basic equipment; a natural ease on the stage, aristocratic good looks and a resonant baritone, which he attributes to a family line that boasts a number of opera singers.”

Mr. Weaver went on to appear in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Great God Brown” (1959) and the Phoenix Theatre’s 1960 staging of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” in which he starred as the world-weary British monarch.

His other Shakespearean roles included Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth. For the latter role, The New York Times said in 1973, Mr. Weaver was almost unrecognizable, having transformed from “thin, fine-drawn, long-fingered” into a “robust, burly Macbeth.’’

Mr. Weaver’s theater credits also included the 1979 revival of Arthur Miller’s “The Price”; Lanford Wilson’s “A Tale Told” (1981), part three of a trilogy about a feuding Missouri family, in which he played the clan patriarch with what Frank Rich in The Times called “an often startling mixture of pathetic senility and foxy viciousness”; and Mr. Wilson’s “Angels Fall” (1982).

In later years Mr. Weaver turned increasingly to voice-over work, serving as narrator of, among other specials, “The Rape of Nanking” (1999) and “Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor” (2001), as well as many shows on the History Channel.

One of his last roles was in the 2015 Adam Sandler film “The Cobbler.” He also appeared in the 2016 film “The Congressman,” starring Treat Williams.

Fritz William Weaver was born on Jan. 19, 1926, in Pittsburgh, the son of John Carson Weaver and the former Elsa Stringaro.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, where he majored in physics, he came to New York and enrolled in acting classes at the Herbert Berghof Studio. In 1954 he made his Off Broadway debut in “The Way of the World” at the Cherry Lane Theater.

Mr. Weaver’s first marriage, to Sylvia Short, ended in divorce. He married the actress Rochelle Oliver in 1997. She survives him, as do his daughter, Lydia Weaver; his son, Anthony; and a grandson.

He was often cast as an aristocratic villain. In “The Day of the Dolphin” (1973), directed by Mike Nichols, Mr. Weaver played the head of a shadowy company supporting researchers (George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere) who are studying dolphin intelligence. His sinister goal was to use trained dolphins to attach explosives to the presidential yacht.

Mr. Weaver’s screen credits also included “Marathon Man” (1976), “Demon Seed” (1977), “Creepshow” (1982) and “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999).

In a 1988 interview with The Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Weaver spoke about the challenges actors face.

“When you play the great roles, you get spoiled and think you’ll have a whole career playing nothing but great roles, and of course you can’t,’’ he said. “You play a lot of junk most of the time. Television is junk, most of it.”

But he reveled in performing Shakespearean roles.

“The old boy — he’s the one who makes the maximum challenge to the actor,’’ he said. “That high charge on all the lines that he writes — you’ve got to measure up. You can’t just saunter into that stuff; you’ve got to bring your whole life into it.”

WEAVER, Fritz (Fritz William Weaver)
Born: 1/19/1926, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died: 11/26/2016, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.

Fritz Weaver’s westerns – actor:
Rawhide (TV) – 1964 (Jonathan Damon)
Gunsmoke (TV) – 1967 (Marshal Burl Masters)
The Big Valley (TV) – 1967, 1969 (Burke Jordan, Hebron Grant)
The Outcasts (TV) – 1968 (Sam Craft)
Kung Fu (TV) – 1974 (Hillquist)
Dream West (TV) – 1986 (Senator Thomas Hart Benton)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

RIP Paul Sylbert

Paul Sylbert, Oscar-winning production designer for 'Heaven Can Wait,' dies at 88

Los Angeles Times
By Steve Marble
November 23, 2016

Paul Sylbert, an Academy Award winning production designer who created the lighter-than-air atmosphere of God’s waiting room in “Heaven Can Wait” and the white-on-white sterility of “One Flew Over the Cockoo’s Nest”, has died at the age of 88 at his home outside Philadelphia.

Sylbert and his twin brother, Richard, were go-to players in the 70s and 80s when directors like Warren Beatty, Roman Polanski, Robert Benton and John Frankenheimer went looking for someone to capture the visual core of a movie. While Sylbert worked on finding the visual metaphors for “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Gorky Park”, his brother was helping shape the look of “Chinatown” and “Reds.”

When he was working on “Rush,” the story of two desperate cops hopelessly chasing after an elusive drug dealer, Sylbert spent weeks searching for a a neighborhood — preferably on the outskirts of Houston — that would capture the dark edges of the moody 1991 film. He settled on a badly rutted road with ditch water rolling over the curbs and rusted barbed wire in front of the homes. A petroleum plant blotted out the skyline, belching out steam and smoke.

“There’s nothing that looks more like the mouth of hell than a crackling plant when the gas flames are shooting into the air,” he explained to Smithsonian Magazine in a 2008 interview.

Sylbert, who died Saturday , won an Oscar for his work on “Heaven Can Wait” and was nominated for another for his production work with Barbara Streisand on “Prince of Tides.” His other credits include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Kramer vs. Kramer, “The Drowning Pool”, “Baby Doll” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man.” His career spanned nearly half a century.

Born in Brooklyn in 1928, Sylbert and his brother were nearly inseparable. They served in the same Army infantry unit in Korea and attended the school of art at Temple University. When Sylbert landed a job at CBS in New York, his brother found work over at NBC.

He arrived in Hollywood at a time when he felt the visual fine-tuning of set production work was reasserting itself. If the 30s and 40s had taken advantage of the elegance of L.A.’s Art Deco backdrop and the moody side streets that lent themselves to film noir, many of the films of the next two decades had retreated to sound stages or indulgent location shoots, Sylbert believed.

“Hollywood fell asleep, the vessel was empty,” Sylbert told the Times in 1990. “They were doing things by rote.”

Which would explain why he went to the trouble to track down furniture covered with cigarette burns for the apartment of the chain-smoking police inspector in “Gorky Park” or why his brother purchased 300 books — handpicked Hemingway novels, Harvard classics, feminist Georgian poets — for a single shot of the bookshelves in a home library in “Without a Trace.”

“Putting a film together is like composing music or painting on a white canvas,” Sylbert told the Times. “Every addition affects the whole.”

Sylbert also designed opera sets for the New York City Opera Company and the summertime Festival of Two Worlds in Spoletto, Italy. He also wrote and directed a feature film, ‘The Steagle”, the story of a college professor during the Cuban missile crisis trying to live out all of his dreams.

“He was as smart and well-read as anyone I have ever come in contact with, and all who knew him respected him,” said Hawk Koch, a film producer who worked with Sylbert on “Heaven Can Wait” and “Gorky Park.”

At the time of his death, he was writing a book on the craft of production design, his wife, Jeanette, said. She said he also was teaching film courses at Temple and the University of Pennsylvania.

“He was a wonderful man who believed in fair play, civility and courage, and was unafraid to say it like it was,” his wife said.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two children, Olivia and Christian. He was preceded in death by another child, Christopher. His brother died in 2002.

Born: 4/16/1928, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 11/19/2016, Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Paul Sylbert’s westerns – production designer:
Bad Company - 1972

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RIP Jerry Tucker

Jerry Schatz, child actor in ‘Our Gang’ comedies, dies at 91

By Daniel Bubbeo
November 23, 2016

Copiague resident Jerry Schatz, a former child actor who appeared in several “Our Gang” comedies, often as a spoiled rich kid, and co-starred opposite such screen luminaries as Shirley Temple, Ginger Rogers and Laurel and Hardy, died Wednesday morning of natural causes at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook at age 91, his daughter Renee Schatz Wolf confirmed.

“He was a child actor, a disabled World War II veteran, a Mason, a Shriner, an Odd Fellow, but most of all he was our dad,” Wolf said.
Most popular

Schatz, who was born in Chicago and acted under the screen name Jerry Tucker, always downplayed his screen accomplishments. “Growing up, I thought everybody worked in the movies,” Schatz told Newsday in 2013. “I had no idea there was an outside world.”

He earned his ticket to Hollywood at age 5 when his father took him to a boxing match and had him enter the ring and recite “Gunga Din.” The head of Paramount Pictures was in the audience and was taken with the youngster.

Schatz’s screen debut — on loan to MGM — was in the Buster Keaton comedy “Sidewalks of New York” (1931), which was followed by his first “Our Gang” comedy, “Shiver My Timbers.” With his carrot-topped locks and freckled complexion, Schatz fit in perfectly with the rest of the gang and appeared in 14 shorts in the series, which was known as “The Little Rascals” when shown later on television. In his favorite episode, “Hi, Neighbor” (1934), he played a rich snob who uses his fancy fire engine to win the affections of a pretty blond girl.

Schatz also appeared in some of the biggest movies of the 1930s including “Babes in Toyland” (1934) with Laurel and Hardy, “San Francisco” (1936), “Captain January” (1936) with Temple and “Boys Town” (1938).

Still, Schatz was never enchanted with Hollywood, and in 1942 he joined the Navy as part of the demolition team aboard the destroyer USS Sigsbee. “Jerry Tucker died at the age of 16, and Jerry Schatz was reborn in the Navy,” Schatz said. “It’s not that being in the movies was anything that was bad. That’s just not my life.”

He was awarded the Purple Heart after suffering a permanent leg injury when a piece of shrapnel was caught in his leg during an attack on his ship during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. “He talked about the movies, but if you asked what he was most proud of, it was his Navy career,” Wolf said.

Schatz and his wife, Myra, who died in 2012, settled in Copiague in 1950, where he worked as an electrical engineer with RCA Global Communications. He was also actively with several military-related groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In June 2015, a portion of St. Ann’s Avenue in Copiague was renamed Jerry Schatz Place in honor of his military career and service to the community.

In addition to Wolf, Schatz is survived by his daughter, Karen Duffy; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday in Powell Funeral Home in Amityville.

TUCKER, Jerry (Jerome Harold Schatz)
Born: 11/1/1925, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 11/23/2016, Long Island, New York, U.S.A.

Jerry Tucker’s westerns – actor:
Annie Oakley – 1935 (boy at shooting gallery)
Cavalcade of the West – 1936 (Clint as a boy)
Wells Fargo – 1936 (boy)

RIP Peter Sumner

Peter Sumner, Australia's link to the original Star Wars, dies at 74

The Sydney Morning Herald
By Garry Maddox
November 23, 2016

The veteran Australian actor Peter Sumner joked last year that he had a fair idea what would be written on his gravestone.

"TK-421 do you copy?"

Sumner, who has died aged 74 after a long illness, was best known as the only Australian to work on Star Wars. And that was one of his few lines playing Lieutenant Pol Treidum, an officer on the Death Star, in George Lucas' 1977 classic sci-fi film.

It was just two days work - earning £60 a day - but it resonated throughout Sumner's life, taking him to sci-fi conventions and attracting thousands of fan letters over four decades.

But he also worked like so many well-known Australian actors on Play School and acted in the Mick Jagger version of Ned Kelly, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, the television series Spyforce and played Bill Hayden in The Dismissal.

"He was best known for Star Wars and Play School but he did so much more," said his wife, Lynda Stoner. "He did many Shakespearean plays on stage. He toured a lot with David Williamson plays. He did so many shows on the ABC with Jacki Weaver and Cornelia Frances and other people. He did a lot of comedies. He did a lot of dramas. In the seventies, he was barely off the ABC doing one show or another."

Sumner, who was also a writer, director and documentary maker, was in England after travelling with his family when Star Wars was being cast.

"I had an agent in London and she rang and said, 'There's this strange little American sci-fi movie and there are couple of days work in it.' As we were broke, the first first thing I said was, 'How much?'

"She said, '£60 a day.' I said, 'I'll take it.'"

Sumner went to Elstree Studios for the shoot.

"I was absolutely amazed at the sets that had been built," he says. "On the first day, when the second or third assistant took me up to the control room set that I was working in, I was standing on the back wall when this man suddenly appeared at my side.

"His glasses were crooked and he had an old white shirt and grey pants on. I thought he was an accountant of some sort.

"We got talking - being Australian always interests people - and just as I was about to say, 'And who are you?', the first came over and said, 'Mr Lucas, we're ready.' That was my meeting with George Lucas."

Sumner also remembers meeting Harrison Ford, who later became famous as Han Solo, on set.

"Lovely man," he says. "Bit distracted.

"But the one thing that did trigger me into thinking maybe this is more than it seems was, passing through one of the sets, I happened to notice this figure in a cowl reading.

"I realised it was Alec Guinness. He's a hero as far as I'm concerned - a brilliant actor - so I thought, 'Wow, what would Alec Guinness be doing in this movie?

"Either he's desperately in need of money or there's more to this than meets the eye."

It was not till Sumner returned to Australia that Star Wars became a blockbuster hit.

"People have often said to me I must have made a fortune in residuals and I just laugh," he says. "I made £120 and that was it.

"I've spent 10 times that answering letters from fans around the world and sending them photographs."

Sumner is survived by Stoner and three children - son Luke and daughters Kate and Joanna with first wife Christina Sumner.

SUMNER, Peter (Peter Sumner-Potts)
Born: 1/29/1942, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 11/22/2016, Australia

Peter Sumner’s western – actor:
Ned Kelly – 1970 (Tom Lloyd)