Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Gone but not forgotten IV

I now continue my annual alphabetical roll call (begun last week) of movie personalities who passed on during the year 2001. May their souls rest in peace.

  • Jay Livingston: It’s amazing the number of popular standards you composed (in collaboration with lyricist Ray Evans). Never mind the themes from Bonanza and Mr. Ed. Your “Qué Será Será” made Hitchcock’s remake of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much even more haunting. And thank you especially for the Christmastime tune “Silver Bells.” It’s enough to forgive you for the theme from Tammy.

  • Stan Margulies: You were mainly a TV producer (Roots, The Thorn Birds), but you did produce a few movies, mostly with long titles. Exhibit A and B: Those Magnificent Young Men in Their Flying Machines and If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.

  • Dorothy McGuire: Why do I always think you were one of The McGuire Sisters? You were in a heck of a lot films, usually tasteful or wholesome or both. In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, you were frequently the mom in Disney flicks. Your impressive résumé includes everything from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to Three Coins in the Fountain to Friendly Persuasion, Old Yeller and Swiss Family Robinson.

  • Jason Miller: I suppose if there were any justice, we would remember you as the writer of the play and film, That Championship Season. Or maybe even being the father of Jason Patric. But face it. You will always, always be one of the priests dealing with a head-turning, green-vomiting Linda Blair. Trying exorcising that!

  • Joey Ramone: Okay, you were a punk music dude, not really a movie dude. But you did make Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. I wanna be sedated, indeed.

  • Harry Secombe: Of course, you will always be remembered as TV funnyman, in British TV shows that carried your own name as well as the venerable Goon Show. But you did make a few movies, including your turn as Mr. Bumble in Oliver!. Cheerio, old chap.

  • Ann Sothern: As with lots of stars of classic 1950s TV comedy shows, we forget that you made a ton of movies in a previous life. Like a whole series in which you played the sassy showgirl Maisie. Or the musical Panama Hattie. Or the drama A Letter to Three Wives. (You even showed up in the TV remake 36 years later.) And you had a lovely swan song, with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish, in The Whales of August. But you know what would be really weird? If you were reincarnated as a car!

  • Kim Stanley: For such a highly praised actor, you didn’t make very many films. But every one of them was a winner. You were the Marilyn Monroe stand-in in The Goddess, the off-screen narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird, the crazed medium in Séance on a Wet Afternoon, Frances Farmer’s mother in Frances, and flying legend Pancho Barnes in The Right Stuff. Nice going.

  • Beatrice Straight: If ever an actor’s surname defined their screen persona, yours did. You were often rather rigid wives and/or mothers. I particularly remember you as William Holden’s devastated wife in Network. And let us not forget you were Dr. Lesh in Poltergeist.

    Also, here are a half-dozen authors who deserve a mention as well for providing (or who might have eventually provided) source material for some notable movies:

  • Douglas Adams: There were rumors that you were in discussions about a big screen treatment of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when you died. I can’t imagine what it could have added to the radio and TV versions, but I would have queued up for it anyway. Don’t panic? How can I not, knowing we’ll never see any more of your wonderful writing? So long, and thanks for all the fish.

  • Ken Kesey: You were part of a legendary generation that seems to be vanishing fast. But your spirit of rebellion will live on in a way in your novel and the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Milos Forman, Jack Nicholson and Louis Fletcher owe you some thanks for those Oscars.

  • John Knowles: I don’t know if anyone even knows that a movie (in 1972, starring Parker Stevenson) was made from your novel, A Separate Peace. But like a lot of adolescents, I was quite affected by your book. Just wanted to let you know.

  • Robert Ludlum: Your espionage potboilers have been fodder for such film fare as The Osterman Weekend and The Holcraft Covenant. Too bad you won’t be around to see Matt Damon and Franka Potente star later this year in the big screen version of The Bourne Identity.

  • Mordecai Richler: Your novel (and screenplay) of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz in some ways presaged Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. In addition to charming and entertaining quite a few people, your film gave Richard Dreyfuss something to do between American Graffiti and Jaws.

  • Eudora Welty: Okay, so no one has ever heard of either of the two or so films made from your short stories. (One of them was the underwhelming Why I Live at the P.O.) But you still deserve to be remembered for not only being a great writer but also for having an email program named after you.

    And, finally, let us not forget these cartoonists and/or animators who also provided source material for the flickers: Dan DeCarlo, without whom the world would not have experienced Josie and the Pussycats; William Hanna, whose studio (along with partner Joseph Barbera) gave birth to so many memorable cartoon characters (even if their animation wasn’t as inspired as Warner Bros. or even Disney), including The Flintstones and the inevitable Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?; Faith Hubley, who (along with her husband) created the myopic Mr. Magoo, thereby providing Leslie Nielson with yet another zany film role; Hank Ketcham, whose Dennis the Menace spawned a television show and a John Hughes movie; and Seymour Reit, who haunted us with Casper the Friendly Ghost.

    That’s quite a list. Have I left anyone out? Probably several. In fact, I have already thought of one. I’ll deal with him next time—if I don’t get caught up in the Golden Globes.

    -S.L., 17 January 2002

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