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 XIX

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve dragged out my annual roll call of personal good-byes (to people who passed away during the previous calendar year) so much that’s finally overlapped with the Oscar nominations. I have calculated (using the same computer model algorithm that projects global warming temperatures into the next century) that at the current rate of increase, my weekly column will be entirely devoted, 52 weeks per year, to discussing the departed by the year 2072. But we won’t worry about that for the moment. Pour yourself a glass of single malt scotch and join me in toasting the people on the final third of my list (begun two weeks ago and continued last week), who contributed to the world of film and entertainment.

  • Dick Martin: You were basically Gracie Allen to Dan Rowan’s George Burns, and you can look that up in your Funk and Wagnall’s. And you can bet your sweet bippy that the two of you kept us laughing for years, as you spouted non-sequiturs while standing around in formal attire. Your seminal TV show Laugh-In was the source of all our major catch phrases back in the 1960s. In hindsight, the mystery is how you got so much mileage by endlessly repeating gags that were pretty nonsensical and somehow sounded naughtier than they were. And you gave us the likes of Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Henry Gibson, et al. All I can say is, sock it to me. And say good night, Dick.

  • Breno Mello: Two weeks ago we remembered your co-star Marpessa Dawn. Now it’s your turn. Unlike Ms. Dawn, you were actually Brazilian. The title role in Marcel Camus’s Black Orpheus was your first movie role, and five more movies followed, the last one a 1998 film called Prisoner of Rio, about Ronald Biggs the in famous British train robber, who took refuge for many years in Brazil. But you never were able to make a living as an actor, so you went back to the place where Camus had first spotted you: the soccer pitch.

  • Allan Melvin: Baby-boomers might not all recognize your name but they would undoubtedly recognize your mug. You were on TV a lot in the 1950s and 1960s. A stocky Scandinavian-looking lug, you were sometimes a cop, sometimes a bully, sometimes one of a gang of lugs. You started out playing Cpl. Henshaw to Phil Silvers’s Sgt. Bilko. You later got promoted to give voice to Sgt. Snorkel on the brief animated series Beetle Bailey. You played multiple guest roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show (three times as Sol Pomerantz) and The Andy Griffith Show (an escaped prisoner, a con man), and had a recurring role as Sgt. Hacker on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and another one years later as Archie Bunker’s friend Barney on All in the Family and its spinoff Archie Bunker’s Place. You also did a lot of voice work on cartoon shows, like The Flintstones, over years, and you hold the distinction of being the voice of Magilla Gorilla. But your destiny, at least according to your obits, is to be forever remembered mainly as Sam the Butcher, beau of Alice of the maid, on The Brady Bunch.

  • Robin Moore: “Fighting soldiers from the sky / Fearless men who jump and die / Men who mean just what they say / The brave men of the Green Beret.” We can still hear SSgt. Barry Sadler intoning those words on our radios during the Vietnam era. He co-wrote the words with you. An ardent admirer of U.S Special Forces, you also wrote the novel The Green Berets, which was adapted into a movie starring John Wayne. Other contributions to the movies include the screenplay for a minor 1972 flick about a New York housewife letting loose on a Caribbean holiday called, variously, Hot Pants Holiday or Tropical Heat. And you co-wrote the source book for the flick about Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker. And you co-wrote the screenplay for the ill-regarded war movie Inchon, with Laurence Olivier as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. But your greatest contribution to the movies was undoubtedly authoring the book that was adapted into an award-winning William Friedkin movie: The French Connection.

  • Barry Morse: Sure, you had roles on more than one TV series. But we don’t remember any of the other ones. For the record, you were Adam Verver on a 1972 series called Golden Bowl, Mr. Parminter in The Adventurer, Alec “The Tiger” Marlowe in The Zoo Gang, Prof. Bergman in Space: 1999, Peter Hathaway in The Martian Chronicles and President Cyclops in Whoops Apocalypse. You appeared in a 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone as an arrogant critic who buys a player piano that reveals people’s true natures. And you appeared in a 1988 episode (written by J. Michael Straczynski and starring Eddie Albert) of the revised series, about a nursing home resident having strange dreams. You were in the two WWII miniseries The Winds of War (as Wolf Stoller) and War and Remembrance (as Col. Gen. Halder). You played a parapsychologist in The Changeling (with George C. Scott) and Menchem Begin in the made-for-TV movie Sadat. But all of that pales and melts away in the memory under the glare of one single role that established you in the pantheon of TV immortality. You played Lt. Gerard in fewer than a third of The Fugitive’s 120 episodes from 1963 to 1967. But your presence haunted all of them. You were Inspector Javert to David Janssen’s Jean Valjean. You were a relentless and heartless pursuer. But somehow we knew that, in the final episode, you would come out on the side of justice.

  • Robert Mulligan: By rights you should have had a whole week to yourself. But I was busy last month when you died, and you got short shrift. So let’s try to make up for it now, quickly. You were one of the most accomplished film directors to never win an Oscar, although you did get nominated for your most memorable movie. Your body of work is so serious and thoughtful that it is hard to believe that you were the brother of rubber-faced comic actor Richard, of Soap and Empty Nest. You once attributed your storytelling ability to your Irish roots, and that surely explains how a boy from The Bronx could make such convincing movies about the South and other places. Your directing c.v. is so varied and brimming with interesting films that it is hard to believe that the same man was behind all of them: the Jimmy Piersall baseball biopic Fear Strikes Out (with Anthony Perkins), the romantic comedy The Rat Race (with Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds), The Great Impersonator (with Curtis), another romantic comedy Come September (with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida and bringing together Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin), Love with the Proper Stranger (with Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen), Baby the Rain Must Fall (with McQueen), Inside Daisy Clover (with Wood), Up the Down Staircase (Sandy Dennis as an inner-city teacher), the western The Stalking Moon (with Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint), the coming-of-age Summer of ‘42, the horror flick The Other, Same Time, Next Year (with Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda), Kiss Me Goodbye (a remake of Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, with Sally Field and James Caan), the drama Clara’s Heart (with Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris), and The Man in the Moon, another coming-of-age story, which marked the film debut of the young Reese Withspoon. But one movie stands tall above all of them. The one in which Gregory Peck, as Atticus Finch, defended an unjustly accused black man in Depression-era Alabama and, incidentally, in which an actor named Robert Duvall made his film debut (as Boo Radley): To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • Lois Nettleton: You’re another one with gazillions of TV credits for guest appearances on westerns, dramas and sitcoms. Let’s isolate a few to remember you well. You were the new program director who had a crush on Lou Grant on an episode of Mary Tyler Moore. You were Lori Loughlin’s mother in the two-part episode of Full House where John Stamos gets married. You were the mother of George’s girlfriend, who spots him eating an éclair out of a trash can in Seinfeld. You were also a regular on the brief 1960s Jerry Van Dyke sitcom Accidental Family and you had a recurring role on Crossing Jordan. And it is worth mentioning that you were the voice of Maleficent, the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty, in various Disney TV shows. But special mention should also be made of your role as one of two women dealing with increasingly oppressive heat when the earth falls out of orbit in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. And, perhaps most significantly, you were one of Londo Molari’s three wives in an episode of the immortal Babylon 5.

  • Lorenzo Odone: You died too young at 30, but most of your years were a gift from your parents. Most people diagnosed with the tongue-twisting disease adrenoleukodystrophy die very young. But your parents refused to accept your fate and formulated an oil that seems to have helped fight the disease. Their story was dramatized in a 1992 movie starring Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte, Lorenzo’s Oil.

  • Ken Ogata: The titles (translated into English, of course) speak for themselves: The Demon, The Samurai I Loved, The Hidden Blade, Shogun’s Blade and the ever popular Zatôichi. (Also, the somewhat disappointing sequel Gonin II.) But not all your acting roles were in samurai movies. After all, you were in scores of different screen roles over a span of nearly 50 years. Your best known work: in Shohei Inamura’s Vengeance Is Mine. Western audiences may have seen you in films like Paul Shrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters or Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book

  • Manuel Padilla Jr.: Born in L.A. in 1956, you had a pretty steady career going in the 1960s as a child actor in bit roles. You were often in westerns or adventure type yarns playing a Mexican or Native American boy. Your roles had names like Orphan Boy, Pepe and Indian Boy. Films included the Rat Pack flicks 4 for Texas and Robin and the 7 Hoods and TV appearances included Dr. Kildare and Rawhide. Recurring roles included Jai on the Ron Ely Tarzan TV series and Marcello on The Flying Nun. Later on you had a couple of appearances as Squirt on Happy Days. Your biggest impression on us? Probably your turn as Carlos, a member of the Pharaohs gang in George Lucas’s American Graffiti (as well as its ill-advised sequel). Your memorable line: “You tell’em Wolfman! He’s my man. When I graduate, I’m gonna be a Wolfman.”

  • Joy Page: Despite being his step-daughter, Jack L. Warner refused to give you a contact after you made your film debut in one of the greatest classic movies of all time. Still, you carried on with your career for another decade and a half before retiring. You appeared in movies like Kismet and Bullfighter and the Lady and on TV shows like Wagon Train, Cheyenne and Disneyland. But you will be forever remembered for playing Annina, the young Romanian bride who reluctantly offers herself to Claude Rains’s lecherous Capt. Renault in exchange for exit visas but who is saved from having to do so by Humphrey Bogart’s Rick in my favorite movie of all time, Casablanca.

  • Randy Pausch: Not many professors of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University find their way onto this list of mine. Even extraordinary ones like yourself, who made national news by giving an inspirational “Last Lecture” after learning that you had pancreatic cancer. So what does this have to do with movies? Only that you were a huge Star Trek fan and that later this year we will see your first and last movie performance. You have a cameo as a Starfleet officer in J.J. Abrams’s new big screen reboot of the venerable franchise.

  • House Peters Jr.: For more than three decades you were a journeyman character actor, usually playing bad guys. You set yourself a deadline of becoming a star by the time you were 50 or you would quit the business. And that’s what you did. But before then, you appeared in well over a hundred roles in movie westerns and on TV shows like Death Valley Days, Hopalong Cassidy, Wyatt Earp, The Roy Rogers Show, The Lone Ranger, Zane Grey Theater, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and, in your final role, several appearances as the sheriff on Lassie. But even if you never became the big star you wanted to be, your image is forever etched in our memories—not because of a movie or TV role but because of TV commercials. You were the original Mr. Clean.

  • Joseph Pevney: You directed a whole bunch of TV shows (and several movies) over your 35-year career. You started with the 1950 flick Shakedown and finished up with Trapper John , M.D. in the 1980s. During the 1950s you made more than a movie a year. In the mere space of two years (1957 and 1958), for example, you made Tammy and the Bachelor, Man of a Thousand Faces and Twilight for the Gods. After that decade, you directed massive quantities of TV shows: Wagon Train, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Loner, The Munsters, The Virginian, Bonanza, Emergency!, etc. etc. But of special note are the 14 episodes you directed of the original Star Trek series. They were some of the classics, including “The City on the Edge of Forever” (with Joan Collins), “Amok Time” (Spock in heat) and the ever popular “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

  • Kate Phillips: From 1936 through WWII, under the name Kay Linaker, you were a supporting actor in more than 50 movies. Most of them we don’t remember or else we don’t remember you in them. Perhaps your most high-profile part was the rich society matron who marries Ginger Rogers’s ex-husband in Kitty Foyle, the movie that won the star her only Oscar. After the war, you turned to writing. And because of that, we remember you for co-writing a 1958 movie that, merely seeing the trailer, gave me nightmares for weeks and introduced a young actor named Steve McQueen to movie audiences: The Blob.

  • Harold Pinter: Hugely respected playwright and Nobel laureate, you don’t need me to validate your career. But let’s take a moment to consider your contribution to the movies. Aside from a few small acting roles and walk-ons, you have adapted a number of other writers’ works for the big screen. You adapted a novel by L.P. Hartley for the 1970 film The Go-Between (with Julie Christie and Alan Bates), F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel for the 1976 film The Last Tycoon (with Robert De Niro), John Fowles’s novel for the 1981 film The French Lieutenant’s Woman (with Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons), Russell Hoban’s novel for the 1985 film Turtle Diary (with Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley), Fred Uhlman’s novel for the 1989 film Reunion (with Jason Robards), Margaret Atwood’s novel for the 1990 film The Handmaiden’s Tale (with Natasha Richardson), Ian McEwan’s novel for the 1990 film The Comfort of Strangers and Anthony Shaffer’s play (first adapted by himself for a 1972 movie) for the 2007 film Sleuth (with Michael Caine and Jude Law). Every adaptation you wrote made the movie your own, endowing the characters with your trademark terse and compelling dialog and a general atmosphere of uncomfortable tension. Logically then, the movie that is really your own must be the 1983 adaptation of your own play Betrayal, directed by David Hugh Jones, in which Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley and Patricia Hodge act out your semi-autobiographical narrative of infidelity through the ingenious device of telling the story backwards. Watching the story end badly and then progress to the giddy, romantic beginning—thereby deconstructing the lovers’ destructive behavior—was genius.

  • Robert Prosky: After a couple of decades in regional theater, you seemed to be everywhere in movies and on TV. The quintessential character actor, you were in movies like The Natural, Mrs. Doubtfire and Broadcast News. And for a man born with the surname Porzuczek, you sure played a lot of Irish clergymen. At 49, you made your film debut in Michael Mann’s Thief. You went on to have supporting roles in Christine, Outrageous Fortune, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Green Card, Far and Away, Hoffa, Last Action Hero, Rudy, Dead Man Walking, The Chamber and the live action version of Dudley Do-Right, as Inspector Fenwick. But mostly we remember you from TV. You made lots of guest appearances on regular shows as well as featuring in TV movies. You were offered the role of Coach on a new show called Cheers, but you turned it down because you couldn’t see playing the same character over and over. But later you appeared on Cheers as Kirstie Alley’s father and then played her father again on Veronica’s Closet. But what we will always remember you for is the role you stepped into after the death of a beloved actor. After Michael Conrad died, Hill Street Blues needed a new sergeant. It was a hard act to follow, but you filled the gap by creating your own character distinct from Conrad’s, replacing his trademark “Let’s be careful out there” with “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us.”

  • Jerry Reed: Musically inclined people think of you as a singer and guitar player from Georgia, who could be heard on the radio in the 1970s with hits like “Amos Moses” and “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” Those of us who are more movie inclined will remember you for being in a lot of Burt Reynolds movies that inevitably seemed to focus on car chases—as well as providing soundtrack songs for them as well. You were Burt’s buddy and/or foil in such good ol’ boy classics as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Gator and Smokey and the Bandit (plus two sequels). But your career extended (marginally) beyond Burt with movies like High-Ballin’ (with Peter Fonda), Hot Stuff (with Dom DeLuise), The Survivors (with Walter Matthau and Robin Williams), What Comes Around (which you directed and starred in), BAT*21 (with Gene Hackman) and The Waterboy (with Adam Sandler)—as well as the TV series Concrete Cowboys. My favorite title of all your songs: “She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft).”

  • Estelle Reiner: You came extremely close to being remembered exclusively for being related to your famous husband and son. Spouse of comedy giant Carl and parent of accomplished director (and “Meathead” himself) Rob, your few tiny screen roles (Anne Bancroft’s Fatso, your husband’s The Man with Two Brains, the Mel Brooks remake of To Be or Not to Be, Michael Dinner’s Hot to Trot) would not even have been noticed. Except for your brief appearance in one of your son Rob’s hits, a little romcom called When Harry Met Sally. You are, of course, the woman in the New York delicatessen who, when Meg Ryan completes a fake but very loud and convincing episode of, er, um, la petite mort, deadpans to a waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Since your husband based his seminal sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show on his own life writing for Sid Caesar, I guess that makes you the real-life Laura Petrie.

  • Dino Risi: Scores of directing credits over six decades, beginning at the end of WWII, you were a major figure in Italian cinema. We’ll use the occasion to remember one: 1974’s Profumo di Donna, in which a naïve army recruit learns about life and love from a blind captain, played by Vittorio Gassman (one of 15 times you worked with the great actor). Two decades later, there was an American remake by Martin Brest, starring Al Pacino. The screen-chewing actor won his only Oscar to date for Scent of a Woman.

  • Leonard Rosenman: Over a hundred credits on movies, TV shows and video over half a century, you were nothing if not prolific. Your film career began when your friend James Dean introduced you to director Elia Kazan, and he asked you to score East of Eden. Films that followed included Rebel Without a Cause, Fantastic Voyage, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Robocop 2. You received Oscars for adapting music for Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and for Hal Ashby’s biopic of Woody Guthrie Bound for Glory. And you received Oscar nominations for scoring Martin Ritt’s Cross Creek and (yes!) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

  • Ann Savage: Over the past year or so, a movie by Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin called My Winnipeg has been making the film festival rounds. His own personal portrait of his home town, it featured you as the mother. With you well into your 80s, this marked a comeback of sorts. After all, you were in more than 30 crime, western and other B movies during the 1940s and 1950s. And you entered femme fatale immortality particularly for your role in the 1945 surreal film noir Detour. Time magazine listed your portrayal of the scheming Vera as one of the Top 10 All-time Best Villains, and Detour was the first B movie to be inducted by the Library of Congress into the National Registry of Film.

  • Paul Scofield: When it comes to your movie-roles-to-big-awards ratio, you definitely got a lot of bang for the buck. An accomplished actor, mainly of the stage, you appeared in a few movies over the years as well as a number of appearances on British TV. You played opposite Katharine Hepburn in Tony Richardson’s A Delicate Balance, you were a German officer in John Frankenheimer’s The Train, King Charles of France in Kennth Branagh’s Henry V, the ghost of Mel Gibson’s father in Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet, Ralph Fiennes’s father in Robert Redford’s Quiz Show and a judge in Nicholas Hytner’s The Crucible (with Daniel Day-Lewis). But you will be always remembered for your fourth film role, the one that got you the first of two Oscar nominations and, in the end, the coveted statuette: Fred Zinnemann’s much lauded adaptation of Robert Bolt’s play about Thomas More’s principled stand against King Henry VIII, A Man for All Seasons.

  • Viola Stimpson: You lived to the ripe old age of 101, but you didn’t get started on screen until you were in your 70s, with an appearance in an episode of The Bionic Woman. You started as a dancer and chorine on the stage in the 1920s, but in the 1950s you went back to school and became a teacher. After you retired from that, you went back into show biz. You had various bits in TV shows and movies for the next three decades, being listed variously as Grandmother, Older Fan, Blind Lady, Old Woman at Cab, Woman Neighbor, Elderly Crip and Sweet Old Lady with Dog. The role I choose to remember you for? The tour lady in San Francisco who explains why the whales George and Gracie might be singing in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

  • Dale Wasserman: You were mainly a playwright, although you wrote a number of teleplays for the small screen, beginning with anthology series like The Alcoa Hour, Kraft Television Theatre and The DuPont Show of the Month. Your scripts for the big screen included The Vikings (with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis), Quick Before It Melts (with George Maharis and Robert Morse), Mister Budwing (with James Garner and Jean Simmons) and John Huston’s A Walk with Love and Death (starring the director’s then-teenage daughter Anjelica). But movie fans won’t really remember you for any of that. What they will remember you for is writing two very successful Broadway plays that became major motion pictures. You adapted your own Man of La Mancha (based on Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quijote) for Arthur Hiller for a movie starring Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren. Three years later, your play based on Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was adapted by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman for a movie by Milos Forman, which won five Oscars.

  • Trevor Williams: Last but not least (and just in time because I am about to run out of scotch). Your career brought you from your native England to the CBC in Toronto to Hollywood. A production designer and art director, you worked in television and movies for nearly 40 years. The films and TV series you shaped the look of are a real grab bag. They run the gamut from Little House on the Prairie to The Immortal on the small screen and from Futureworld and Pretty Baby to The Changeling and various Police Academy movies on the big screen. So why am I singling you out for special recognition? It’s simple. You got your start in the art department of a little daytime gothic soap opera called Dark Shadows. Need I say more? No. But I will. You went on to be the production designer and associate producer of the two big screen spinoffs of the series, House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. And you also worked on various TV movies for DS creator Dan Curtis, including the immortal Night Stalker. It’s long past time to salute the man who made Collinwood so creepy. Cheers!

    -S.L., 29 January 2009

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