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 VI

I now continue my annual alphabetical roll call (begun last week) of movie and other entertainment personalities who passed on during the year 2002. Farewell and thanks.

  • Katy Jurado: You made the transition from Mexico to Hollywood, but you’ll always be remembered as a bit player. At least you had a part in one classic, High Noon, and some decent westerns, including Broken Lance and One-Eyed Jacks.

  • Ward Kimball: You had a hand in many classic Disney movies, including Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. But your claim to fame will be as the creator of Jiminy Cricket. Did you wish upon a star when you came up with that one?

    [Oops, somebody’s missing…]

  • Frederick Knott: Your film credits aren’t very lengthy, but you sure gave me a few frights. You’re best known for adapting your own play to the screen: Dial M for Murder. But, personally, I got the jumps from watching your adaptation of someone else’s play, in which a blind Audrey Hepburn is menaced by an unexpectedly terrifying Alan Arkin: Wait Until Dark. Gulp!

  • Jack Kruschen: Another durable character player whose numerous screen credits span decades. In your case, starting with Red, Hot and Blue in 1949. Like so many of these guys, you can be hard to place. But maybe this will help: Dr. Dreyfuss (with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine) in The Apartment, Bimbaum (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara) in McLintock! and Christmas Morgan (with Debbie Reynolds) in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

  • Peggy Lee: We are all wondering if, at the end, you really thought, is that all there is? Of course, you were a singer extraordinaire first and last. But you did have onscreen roles in four movies, getting a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Pete Kelly’s Blues. But for my generation, your most lasting impression in film is definitely singing about a rakish hound in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

  • Linda Lovelace: Weird as it may be, you were a significant part of my sexual education, as well as that of just about every teenage boy of the era. You seemed to be having a good time, but I now know that you weren’t. I’m sorry about that. Speaking of weird, who would ever have thought that your porn flick’s title would be immortalized by the Watergate scandal?

  • Leo McKern: Your face was perfect for all kinds of certain character roles. And, unlike a lot of other actors who weren’t natural leading men, you weren’t someone we were likely to forget. For many TV viewers, you will always be Rumpole of the Bailey. But I’ll always remember you for a host of roles in historical and dramatic epics. First and foremost, the publican and titular father in Ryan’s Daughter. But there were so many others, including The Mouse That Roared, A Man for All Seasons, The Shoes of the Fisherman and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Oh yeah, and a kicky little musical about a band from Liverpool, called Help!

  • Julia Phillips: Never eat lunch in that town again? You had a pretty good snack all right when you bit the hand that fed you with that memoir. But I guess you were entitled. Your track record was pretty darn good, as a producer on such stellar movies as Taxi Driver and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. You even made history (in 1974) when you became the first woman to win a Best Picture Oscar for being a producer on The Sting. After all is said and done, quite a feast.

  • Reginald Rose: If we just skim the obituary, we might think the only thing you wrote was the play (and screenplay) for 12 Angry Men. And that’s probably enough. It’s a pretty good contribution to literature and film. You are mainly thought of as a television writer, in addition to dramatic adaptations, like Whose Life Is It Anyway? But your pen also gave us a few good adventure yarns—including stiff-upper-lip tales like The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves. I guess we can forgive you for the Farrah Fawcett fiasco Somebody Killed Her Husband.

  • Harold Russell: Well, percentage-wise your acting career was a huge success. Only two major feature film roles (34 years apart) and two Academy awards to show for it. (Well, at least you had them to show until you had to auction off the Oscar for the cash.) For what it’s worth (and it’s probably not worth much), you touched every American who saw you in William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, a movie way ahead of its time in examining the aftermath of war—and during a period of extreme patriotism. Thanks for the performance and thanks for your sacrifice.

  • George Sidney: Your directing c.v. is a virtual catalog of significant, if not necessarily the most celebrated, MGM musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. From Kelly and Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh to Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls to Keel and Grayson in Kiss Me Kate to Sinatra again in Pal Joey, you provided some of the most memorable musical numbers of the era. Not bad for a guy who started out as child actor in Tom Mix westerns. You even transcended into a different musical era to direct the Elvis spoof Bye Bye Birdie and Elvis himself in Viva Las Vegas.

  • Kenneth Tobey: As an actor, you pioneered a role that would become standard in horror movies forever—the leader of an isolated crew that is killed off one by one by an elusive monster—in 1951’s The Thing. While not exactly a household name, you were a staple of action/adventure pics for a couple of decades, playing everyone from Jim Bowie in a couple of Disney Davy Crockett movies to Bat Masterson in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In later years, you usually showed up in small roles as a cop or military guy. It was fun to see you (and the better known Leslie Nielsen) mock your action guy personas in Airplane!, where you played an air traffic controller.

  • Robert Urich: Let’s face it, none of your handful of big-screen movies was exactly noteworthy. (The Ice Pirates, for gawd’s sake, man, what were you thinking?) But you have to have been the most durable TV star there ever was. It seemed as though only a few seconds passed between the cancellation of one series and the premiere of the next one. Vega$, Spenser: For Hire, the list went on and on and on. But you had the last laugh on those of us who sneered. Your refusal to give in to the Big C was John Wayne-like in its sheer courageousness. Rest easy in TV movie and miniseries heaven.

  • Lew Wasserman: You were still a mogul when the very term “mogul” was all but retired. As the clichés go, you were the last of a generation, the end of an era. You ran the parent corporation of Universal in a single-handed way that’s no longer possible. At the height of your power in the 1980s, your company virtually defined 1980s culture, by giving us Back to the Future on the big screen and Miami Vice on the small screen. Then MCA was swallowed up by the Japanese, and then by a liquor conglomerate, and then by the French. Anyway, I loved the tours of your back lot and the thrill rides in your theme park.

    -S.L., 16 January 2003


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