Monday, July 31, 2017

RIP Nicola Di Gioia
By Marco Giusti
July 31, 2017

Italian film and cinema Stracultist loses Nicola Di Gioia, 73, born in Andria but immediately transferred to Rome, stuntman, actor, organizer, historical catch-monsters for Fellini, a fundamental presence and tireless in an unspecified number of films of every type. Peplums like Pontius Pilate and Romulus and Remo, comedies like 002 Secret Agents, westerns like Poker With Pistols and Death Walks in Laredo, Merola movies like Your Life For My Son, Buddy-movie Like Banana Joe, Yellow, Historic. Not everyone remembers.

Occasionally a new title emerged, like Accattone. For Dino Risi, Nicola was tout court in the cinema. For Carlo Verdone, who acted as an actor on several occasions, Nicola had "the most horrified voice in Italian cinema". His voice, so pungent, so peculiar, so "shaken up" had given him a kind of new vitality in the recent comedy, from Verdone to Giovanni Veronesi to Paolino Ruffini, who wanted him as Darth Vader in Everything Very Beautiful. For me it was not just a brother of adventures, but the key to looking for characters and actors who, like him, had appeared in films.

I met him for the first time on TV on Orgoglio Coatto where he played the role of recruiter for me and Carlo Verdone. He had filled the Theater of Victories of Presence really frightening. From there it had become a key element of Stracult. And if I think about Stracult, I think of myself and Nick going around Italy looking for great features of the 1960s and 1970s like Ennio Antonelli, Horse Fever Manzotin, Nino Terzo, Tartaglione d ' Italy, by Osiride Pevarello, who turned 90 in motion with a watermelon of mysterious actors like Ken Clark. Or looking for stuntmen like Mario Novelli or Gilberto Galimberti, who had just disappeared.

Or of old bad actors like Max Turilli, who opened the door to a sort of hell where he lived. Nick did not stop at anything and could find anyone. He knew Italian cinema, his sets, his absurd geographies as very few others in the world. There was no Roman road that he did not know and where he did not shoot. If he appeared on a set they knew each other.

When we went looking for old actors and stuntmen of Spaghetti westerns, they came to mythological characters never seen before by anybody, like Angelo Susani called "Ciuffo", a tripartite trio of Livio Lorenzon who had moved from Mongolian roles to peplum to those as a Mexican.

Forgotten filmmakers like Franco Lattanzi, who while filming a film for a producer, simultaneously turned another with the same set for himself. Nicola had opened the door to an incredible movie far far from the official one, even though he had long since snatched that too. For Mario Monicelli he was an old-fashioned researcher, although many did not hold the second recall on the set. Also for Dino Risi had built the minor cast of Dago

If you knew him, as it happened to me and Verdone, it was impossible to do it. He knew best of all Federico Fellini, who had given him a hand for the most absurd casts, recruiting dwarves for Ginger and Fred, the chubby, the gay, the Chinese. Nick still had the notebook where he had divided the Roman extras and the attractions, including the dwarves, he was in the early days, including a couple of Lilliputians, very rare.

The dwarves also served him for the set of a dream of a mid-summer motley by Michael Hoffman. The Chinese filled us with the Gangs of New York. You could ask him anything. At the request of a lion, he answered "Like you, bond or bad?" He had marvelous stories. As Richard Burton drove him out of Doctor Faustus's set because he touched the ass of Elizabeth Taylor. But he was an infamous devil, what else should he do?

Or when he had a story with a young Catherine Deneuve on the set of Pontius Pilate. Or when they went with another famous stuntman for the Lollobrigida stand-up. Or when he stepped over the wall of Cinecittà to get a role in Ben Hur. Nick was the Metro Goldwyn Mayer for whom the movie had just dreamed of it. With him we have always enjoyed it. And everyone has always loved him. From Fellini to Monicelli to Risi to Verdone to Veronesi. With Nick goes a healthy and mythical part of Cinecittà and our cinema.

Di GIOIA, Nicola
Born: 5/3/1944, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 7/31/2017, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Nicola Di Gioia’s westerns – stuntman, actor:
My Name is Pecos – 1966 (Mexican policeman)
Death Walks in Laredo – 1967 (gunman)
Don’t Wait Django… Shoot! – 1967 (Hondo)
Poker With Pistols – 1967 (gunman)
A Stranger in Town – 1967 (bandit)
A Stranger in Paso Bravo – 1968 (gunman)
Arrapaho – 1984 [stunts]

RIP Sam Shepard

Playwright/actor Sam Shepard dies at 73

USA Today
By Maria Puente
July 31, 2017

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of plays, screenplays, stories and memoirs, whose rugged good looks and laconic style made for a memorable screen presence as an actor, has died, according to reports. He was 73.

His death was reported first by Broadway World and then by The New York Times, which cited an unnamed spokesman for his family. His New York agent, Patrick Herold of ICM Partners, would not confirm the death and declined to comment, according to his office.

Shepard was one of those rarities: an award-winning stage dramatist and a movie star, screenwriter and director.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child, which launched his career as a playwright. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983's The Right Stuff, a role that seemed to embody Shepard's own laconic personality.

The author of nearly 50 plays, according to his website, Shepard's work firmly established him in the canon of American theater. It also made him one of America's most famous playwrights, regularly anthologized and taught in universities and drama schools across the country.

His personal life, including marriages and liaisons with some of Hollywood's most interesting and beautiful women, also helped contribute to his fame: From 1969 to 1984, he was married to O-Lan Jones, with whom he has a son, Jesse Mojo Shepard, born in 1970, also an author.

Shepard met two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange on the set of the 1982 film Frances, in which they both appeared (Lange was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, her first nomination). He moved in with her in 1983, and they were together for nearly 30 years; they separated in 2009. They have two children, Hannah Jane, born in 1985, and Samuel Walker Shepard, born 1987.
Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, seated in cockpit.

Shepard's last movie, according to his IMDb page, is Never Here, a psychological thriller starring Mireille Enos that premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. It's due for a theatrical release later this year, followed by a pay-TV debut on Starz in early 2018, according to Deadline.

Born Samuel Shepard Rogers IV in Fort Sheridan, Ill., Shepard grew up on military bases in a dysfunctional family, which provided grist for recurrent dark themes in his writing and a preoccupation with the myth of the vanishing West.

After settling in Duarte, Calif., Shepard began acting and writing in high school, then spent a year studying agriculture with the idea of becoming a vet. In 1962, a touring theater company visited town and he joined up, spending nearly two years touring with the company. Eventually, he moved to New York where he began writing plays, first performing with an obscure off-off-Broadway group but eventually gaining recognition for his writing and winning prestigious OBIE awards.

SHEPARD, Sam (Samuel Shepard Rogers)
Born: 11/5/1943, Fort Sheridan, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 7/30/2017, Midway, Kentucky, U.S.A.

Sam Shepard’s westerns – director, writer, singer, actor:
Days of Heaven – 1978 (farmer)
Silent Tongue – 1993 [director, writer]
The Good Old Boy – 1995 (Tarnell
Streets of Laredo (TV) – 1995 (Pea Eye Parker)
Purgatory (TV) – 1999 (Sheriff Forest/Wild Bill Hickok)
All the Pretty Horses – 2000 (J.C. Franklin)
Don’t Come Knocking – 2005 (Howard Spence) [also singer]
Bandidas – 2006 (Bill Buck)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Bob Ford – 2007 (Frank James)
Blackthorn – 2011 (James Blackthorn/Butch Cassidy) [also singer]
Klondike (TV) -2014 (Father Judge)

RIP Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau: French screen icon and star of Jules et Jim, dies at 89

July 31, 2017

Actress Jeanne Moreau, one of French cinema's biggest stars of the last 60 years, has died at the age of 89.

Moreau is probably best known for her role in Francois Truffaut's 1962 new wave film Jules et Jim.

She won a number of awards including the best actress prize at Cannes for Moderato Cantabile in 1960.

She also worked with Orson Welles on several films and won the Bafta Award for best foreign actress for Viva Maria! in 1967.

Moreau was found dead at her home in Paris, the district's mayor told the AFP news agency.

Paying tribute, French President Emmanuel Macron said Moreau had "embodied cinema" and was a free spirit who "always rebelled against the established order".
Analysis - Nick James, editor of Sight & Sound magazine

Of the three most iconic French actresses of her generation - herself, Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot - Moreau was the one with the most on-screen authority. Post-war French cinema is unthinkable without her.

So many key directors owe important, often breakthrough successes to her - Louis Malle's Lift to the Scaffold and The Lovers, Francois Truffaut's Jules et Jim and Jacques Demy's Bay of Angels, for instance.

Her famous sensual presence was backed up with formidable timing and technique, so much so that every major director wanted to work with her - Orson Welles, Michelangelo Antonioni, Joseph Losey and Luis Bunuel among them.

She was, perhaps, the female equivalent of what Welles called a "king" actor - someone who cannot help but be the centre of attention. Certainly, over time, she became almost everyone's idea of the ultimate magnetic French movie star.

Moreau was born in 1928, the daughter of a French restaurateur and a Tiller Girl dancer from Oldham.

She pursued an acting career, despite her father's disapproval, and got her break in the 1957 films Lift to the Scaffold, which had a jazz score by Miles Davis, and The Lovers.

Known for her husky tones, her other films included 1961's La Notte, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni; Luis Bunuel's Diary of a Chambermaid (1964); and Tony Richardson's Mademoiselle (1966).

Welles, who worked with her on films including Chimes at Midnight and his adaptation of Kafka's The Trial, once described her as the greatest actress in the world.

She famously turned down Mike Nichols' invitation to play Mrs Robinson in The Graduate, and instead reunited with Truffaut for 1968's The Bride Wore Black, an homage to Alfred Hitchcock.

She was also known for her singing voice and performed the refrain Le Tourbillon de la Vie in Jules et Jim.

Moreau had a prolific career and continued acting into her 80s.

In an interview with the New York Times in 1989, she said: "I work more now because at this time of my life I am not disturbed from my aim by outside pressures such as family, passionate relationships, dealing with who am I - those complications when one is searching for one's self. I have no doubt who I am."

Her theatre career included a role in 1989 as a matchmaker in La Celestine, a 15th Century Spanish play by De Fernando de Rojas.

Moreau won one of France's highest acting honours, a Cesar for best actress, for The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea in 1992.

A feminist icon for many, the actress once declared: "Physical beauty is a disgrace."

MOREAU, Jeanne
Born: 1/23/1928, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Died: 7/31/2017, Paris, Île-de-France, France

Jeanne Moreau’s westerns – actress:
Viva Maria! – 1965 (Maria Fitzgerald O’Malley)
Monte Walsh – 1970 (Martine Bernard)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

RIP Emilio Freixas

Spanish voice actor Emilio Freixas died on July 30, 2017. He was the son of artist and set designer Emilio Freixas Aranguren [1899-1976] and brother of artist Carlos Freixas Baleitó [1923-2003]. Born Emiliiet Freixas Baleitó he was the grandson of the actor Carlos Freixas and started his career as a child actor in the 1950s. In the ‘60s he turned to dubbing films imported from America, Italy and some Spanish films. He was the Spanish voice of Sal Mineo in 1955’s “Rebel Without a Cause” starring James Dean.

FREIXAS, Emilio (Emiliiet Freixas Baleitó)
Born: 1927, Spain
Died: 7/30/2017, Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Emilio Freixas’ westerns – voice dubber:
Frontier Hellcat – 1965 Spanish voice of Terence Hill]
A Pistol for Ringo – 1965 [Spanish voice of Juan Torres, Pablito Alonso]
Sunscorched – 1966 [Spanish voice of Mario Via]
China 9, Liberty 37 – 1978 [Spanish voice of Governor’s representative]
Boot Hill – 1991 DVD [Spanish voice of Eduardo Fajardo]

Thursday, July 27, 2017

RIP Russell Durham Comegys

Jones-Stewart Funeral Home
July 27, 2017

Mr. Russell "Rowdy" Comegys, age 45, of Vidalia died Sunday afternoon, July 23, 2017 in Bulloch County from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while traveling to Savannah with his close friend to watch a movie. Russell was a native of Cedartown, GA and moved with his family to Vidalia in 1976.
He quickly made an impact upon the hearts of people in Vidalia as Russ was crowned Little Mr. Vidalia in 1978. He graduated from Vidalia High School in 1991 where he was voted best looking of his class, played on the high school football team where he earned several varsity letters; and then attended Brewton Parker College where he studied Science Literature. He then followed his dream and went to the University of Georgia where he graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor's Degree in Drama with a minor in Spanish. In 2001 Russell attended the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York City. Russell was an actor who passionately followed his dream.
He lived for many years in New York City, Los Angeles and also Atlanta where he was always looking for the next acting opportunity. He was a member of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and was represented by The People Store Talent Agency of Atlanta. He appeared in over 33 movies and television shows including, Rectify, The Walking Dead, Solace, The Lucky One, Necessary Roughness, Vampire Diaries, Dead Birds, The Gift, Sun Records and The Punisher. Although he was always called "Rowdy" he had a giving soul who loved all people as he truly never met a stranger.
He had a genuine heart for people in need and homeless animals. He recently devoted nearly two years of his life taking care of and raising two homeless dogs until he found the perfect family to adopt them in Maine. Russell is survived by his mother, Gayle Comegys of Vidalia; his father, Alex Comegys (Vicki) of Vidalia; his sister, Robyn Comegys Parson of Vidalia; his two nieces, Kailee and Cassidy Parson, both of Richmond Hill; his girlfriend of ten years, Lauren Boyle of Los Angeles CA and his step-son Jahsua Johnson of Los Angeles CA; his uncle Maylon Lane (Oleria) of Roopville GA; his step-brother, Neil Persohn of Lakeland FL and his step-sister, Lindsay Persohn (Chris) of Lakeland FL. He is also survived by many other relatives and numerous special friends all over the country. Funeral Services for Mr. Russell "Rowdy" Comegys will be held Thursday July 27, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Stewart-Rosier Funeral Service Vidalia Chapel with Reverend Don Moye officiating.
Entombment will follow at Lakeview Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends Wednesday evening at Stewart-Rosier Funeral Service Vidalia Chapel from 4:00 to 8:00 pm.

COMEGYS, Russell Durham
Born: 5/21/1972, Cedartown, Georgia, U.S.A.
Died: 7/23/2017, Bulloch County, Georgia, U.S.A.
Russell Durham Comegy’s westerns – actor:
Dead Birds – 2004 (Kormer)
The Work and the Glory II: American Zion – 2005 (ruffian)
Here The Vulture Waits – 2014 (Steel Eyes)
The Clinch Mountain Tracker - 2017

RIP Eddie Kafafian

Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2017

Eddie passed away at the age of 90 on July 9, 2017. Born in New Jersey, Eddie was a Voting Member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Eddie received two honorable discharges from the Navy and the Marine Corps. After WWII, Eddie became an actor and appeared in films including Shake Rattle And Rock with Fats Domino. Eddie segued into reporting for Daily Variety which included his own music column Clef Dwellers. After leaving Variety, he went into publicity for several studios including Warner Bros., Universal, MGM and retired as Director of Publicity and Promotion at 20th Century Fox working with Studio Head Alan Ladd, Jr. During his studio years, among the people Eddie worked with are John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Anthony Hopkins, James Garner, Charlton Heston and Mel Brooks. After retiring, Eddie joined the Los Angeles Police Dept. as a sworn Reserve Officer for 26 years. He leaves his wife Leah, a son, a grandson, a daughter in law and two nieces.

KAFAFIAN, Eddie (Edward Eugene Kafafian)
Born: 9/24/1926, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 7/9/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Eddie Kafafian’s western – actor:
Flesh and the Spur – 1956 (Bud)

RIP June Foray

June Foray, Voice of ‘Bullwinkle Show’s’ Natasha and Rocky, Dies at 99

By Terry Flores
July 26, 2017

June Foray, the voice of “The Rocky and  Bullwinkle Show’s” Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his nemesis Natasha Fatale of Boris and Natasha fame in the early 1960s and a key figure in the animation industry, died Thursday. She was 99.

Her close friend Dave Nimitz, confirmed her death on Facebook, writing “With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old.”

Foray was also the voice behind Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel, Nell from “Dudley Do-Right,” Granny in the “Tweety and Sylvester” cartoons and Cindy Lou Who in Chuck Jones’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” among hundreds of others.

The first lady of voice acting, one of the original members of animation organization ASIFA-Hollywood and founder of the annual Annie Awards, was also instrumental in the creation of the Oscars’ animated feature category.

“We are all saddened by the news of June’s passing,” said ASIFA-Hollywood executive director Frank Gladstone, who noted that she would have celebrated her 100th birthday in September. “Although it didn’t come as a shock, it has really taken us back a bit.”

Gladstone noted her instrumental role in starting the Annie Awards. “It was part of her legacy and a testament to her enduring love for animation and the animation industry.”

Said ASIFA president Jerry Beck: “On behalf of ASIFA-Hollywood, of which June was a founder, we are mourning the passing of animation’s best friend. She has touched so many lives: with her voice that of so many classic cartoon character, her efforts to create ASIFA, to maintain the Academy’s Oscar for Best Animated Short and her leadership in crafting the category of Best Animated Feature. She was one of a kind. A trailblazer, a great talent and a truly wonderful person. We will never forget her.”

Recently elected Academy board member and animation veteran Tom Sito said of Foray: “She was a mainstay of the animation community in Hollywood and the queen of voice talent.”

Foray continued to work late in life, reprising her role as Rocky in director Gary Trousdale’s short “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” released by DreamWorks Animation in 2014. In a 2013 interview with Variety, Foray said: “I’m still going. It keeps you thinking young. My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old.”

Foray is credited with coming up with the idea for the Annie Awards, which started out as a dinner honoring the year’s best in animation in 1972, and she presided over what has become a gala event in the animation industry every year since. The Annies created a juried award named for Foray in 1995 that honors individuals who have made significant or benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and she was its first recipient.

Foray told Variety that she had been working in the animation business for about 20 years before the group that would eventually become ASIFA-Hollywood casually came to be. “We never did anything. Sometimes we’d have lunch together and call each other on the phone,” she said. Foray was a founding member of what was then called ASIFA West Coast in the early 1960s with fellow animation professionals Les Goldman, Bill Littlejohn, Ward Kimball, John Wilson, Carl Bell and Herbert Kasower.

In the early 1970s Foray pitched the idea for an awards show. “I was thinking that there were the Grammys, the Tonys, the Oscars, but nobody recognizes animation,” Foray said. So she suggested the board host a dinner, and though other board members said no one would show up to such an event, they rented space in the Sportsmen’s Lodge in the San Fernando Valley to honor animation pioneers Max and Dave Fleischer. “And 400 people showed up,” boasted Foray.

A longtime cheerleader for the animation industry, Foray lobbied for many years to have animated films recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. “I was on the board of governors for 26 years and I tried for 20 years” to convince the Academy to have a category for animated features, she told Variety. Finally the Academy created the category in 2001, and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek” won the first Oscar for animated feature. Afterward, Foray said, “Jeffrey Katzenberg called me to thank me because he was aware of what I had done.”

Though not a superstar in the traditional sense, Foray had an impressive list of fans, as Leonard Maltin relayed in his forward to Foray’s 2009 autobiography “Did You Grow Up With Me, Too?” He wrote: “When I was fortunate enough to attend the Oscar nominees’ luncheon in 2007, I asked director Martin Scorsese who he was excited to have met that day, among the hundred-or-so contenders and Academy guests. He smiled and said, ‘June Foray.’”

Foray was born June Lucille Forer in Springfield, Mass., and she was doing vocal work in local radio dramas by the time she was 12. She continued working in radio after her family moved to Los Angeles after she graduated from high school, following her dream of becoming an actress. She even had her own “Lady Make Believe” radio show that showcased her vocal talents, and she appeared regularly on network shows such as “Lux Radio Theater” and “The Jimmy Durante Show.”

She met her future husband, writer and director Hobart Donavan, while working on “Smilin’ Ed’s Buster Brown Show,” then moved on to work with Steve Allen on morning radio show “Smile Time,” in which she’d play “everyone and everything. It was there that I perfected my Spanish accent and where my booming Marjorie Main-type voice got a good workout,” she recalled in her autobiography.

After “Smile Time,” Foray found work with Capitol Records, where she recorded many children’s albums and where she first met and worked with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler, with whom she recorded several comedy records, including “Dragnet” parody “St. George and the Dragonet.” Later she was a regular cast member of “The Stan Freberg Show” on CBS Radio.

Foray got her start in the animation business when someone from the Walt Disney studio called her to ask if she could do the voice of a cat. “Well, I could do anything,” recalled Foray in an interview with Variety. “So he hired me as Lucifer the cat in ‘Cinderella,’ and then I started to work for Disney.” Much of her work for Disney was uncredited, including work as a mermaid and squaw in “Peter Pan.” But she starred as the voice of Hazel the Witch in the 1952 Donald Duck short “Trick or Treat,” using a voice that would later morph into “Looney Tunes” character Witch Hazel. She would often say that she voiced a long litany of cartoon witches, many of them named Hazel.

About the same time, the 1950s, Foray worked on a series of cartoons by such animation pioneers as Tex Avery and Walter Lantz. For Warner Bros., she became Granny in the “Tweety and Sylvester” cartoons and Alice Crumden in the cartoon parody of “The Honeymooners,” “The Honey-Mousers.” At Warner Bros. she met Chuck Jones, for whom she worked on several “Looney Tunes” cartoons, starting with “Broom-Stick Bunny” in 1956. She would later star as Cindy Lou Who in Jones’ cartoon adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

She also voiced Mother Magoo in the “Mister Magoo” series.

But her greatest fame came with Jay Ward’s satirical “Rocky and His Friends,” which would later become “The Bullwinkle Show,” eventually known collectively as “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” which ran from 1959 through 1964. Foray did most of the female voices for the show, including the voice of Russian villain Natasha Fatale, as well as that of Rocket J. Squirrel. She also voiced characters for other Jay Ward cartoons, such as “Dudley Do-Right” (Nell Fenwick), “George of the Jungle” (Jane) and “Tom Slick” (Marigold).

It wasn’t only in animation that Foray got to use her myriad vocal talents. She voiced the demonic doll Talky Tina in “The Twilight Zone” episode entitled “Living Doll” in 1963.

Despite her prolific career, she had to wait until 2012 for an Emmy nomination; she went on to win a Daytime Emmy for her performance as Mrs. Cauldron on Cartoon Network’s “The Garfield Show.”

A documentary about her life, “The One and Only June Foray,” was produced in 2013.

Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945. She was married to Donavan from 1954 until his death in 1976.

FORAY, June (June Lucille Foray)
Born: 9/18/1917, Springfield, Massachusetts, California
Died: 7/26/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

June Foray’s westerns – voice actress:
Rawhide (TV) – 1960 [voice of Raymond (Kim Hector)
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1974 [girls voices in play]