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 XXIII

It’s that time again. Time for my annual review of all the movie and entertainment people who passed away during the previous calendar year. I don’t pretend that my list is exhaustive, only exhausting.

Firstly, however, let us re-remember those who passed away last year, about whom I have already written:

  • TV mom extraordinaire Barbara Billingsley
  • Character actor of stage and screen Tom Bosley
  • France’s answer to Alfred Hitchcock Claude Chabrol
  • All-around great actor Jill Clayburgh
  • Irish Times film critic and all-around movie fanatic Michael Dwyer
  • Versatile and frequently funny filmmaker Blake Edwards
  • Legendary illustrator and artist Frank Frazetta
  • Beloved character actor Harold Gould
  • Veteran leading man Peter Graves
  • One-time popular child star Corey Haim
  • Trailblazing actor and filmmaker Dennis Hopper
  • Beautiful singer and actor Lena Horne
  • Beloved fixture of Irish television Mick Lally
  • Longtime actor and sci-fi icon Kevin McCarthy
  • Courageous and unstoppable actor Patricia Neal
  • Leading man turned comedian Leslie Nielsen
  • British scream queen Ingrid Pitt
  • Dark Shadows alumnus Addison Powell
  • Acting dynasty scion Lynn Redgrave
  • French directing titan Eric Rohmer
  • Newsman and sometime cameo movie actor Daniel Schorr
  • Luminous leading lady of big and small screens Jean Simmons
  • Daytime television pioneer and superstar Helen Wagner

    Now that that’s out of the way…

    I’m going to try something different this year. Here’s what I need you to do. Put on that song “Thanks for the Memory.” If you don’t have a copy, go find one. (Legally, please.) It’s usually sung by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross (from the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938), but there are also versions by Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Harry Nilsson. Once you have the song, set it to play with automatic repeat. (If you are using vinyl media, ask a friend to move the needle back to the beginning each time it finishes.) Once the music begins, begin reading my thank you’s to the various departed below. These are directors, writers and other various professions. Actors will follow next week.


  • Roy Ward Baker: Thanks for directing episodes of The Avengers and The Saint and movies with John Mills like The October Man, Morning Departure (called Operation Disaster in the U.S.) and The Singer Not the Song. But thanks especially for a suspenseful flick about a somewhat deranged babysitter called Don’t Bother to Knock (with Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark and Anne Brancroft) and A Night to Remember, the 1958 dramatization of the Titanic sinking, with Kenneth More and Honor Blackman.

  • Alain Corneau: You made a number of movies in your native France, but not all of them were well received by American critics. But you always managed to get top-notch actors, like Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, who starred in your Choice of Arms and Fort Saganne. But thanks mainly for making Tous les Matin du Monde, about the 18th century Baroque composer Marin Marais. At different stages of Marais’s life, the role was played by Gérard Depardieu and his talented but doomed son Guillaume, then 21.

  • Clive Donner: Thanks for helping define the 1960s and the British New Wave, beginning with the Harold Pinter adaptation The Caretaker and Nothing But the Best (both with Alan Bates), followed by What’s New Pussycat (with Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole and its screenwriter, Woody Allen) and Luv (with Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk). Thanks (but not so much) for your subsequent work, including the misbegotten historical epic Alfred the Great, the Get Smart flick The Nude Bomb and the late-in-the-day 1981 Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, with Peter Ustinov(!) in the title role.

  • George Hickenlooper: Thanks for the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, about the making of the movie Apocalypse Now, and the feature film Factory Girl, about Andy Warhol protégée Edie Sedgwick, starring Sienna Miller. And thanks for the recent movie Casino Jack, about the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, starring Kevin Spacey. So sad that you did not live to see it released.

  • Irvin Kershner: Thanks for being a teacher at the USC film school and teaching a budding genius named George Lucas and then overcoming your reluctance when he asked you to direct a movie. And so thanks also for helming what many consider the best Star Wars movie ever, The Empire Strikes Back, and indeed being the only person to direct both a Star Wars movie and a James Bond movie (Sean Connery’s 007 swan song, Never Say Never Again). Also thanks for The Flim-Flam Man (George C. Scott), A Fine Madness (Connery again) and The Eyes of Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway).

  • Mario Monicelli: Thanks for your contribution to the Italian film genre called comedia all’Italiana, laced with serious social criticism, including flicks like Big Deal on Madonna Street and La Grande Guerra.

  • Ronald Neame: Thank you for producing, directing and/or photographing more than 70 movies, including some of the best to come out of Britain. Thank you for Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist (with Alec Guinness as Fagin), The Chalk Garden, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Poseidon Adventure. And thanks for your later work in America, including The Odessa File, Hopscotch and First Monday in October.

  • Joseph Sarno: This isn’t really a thank you for your movies, but I will thank you for some entertaining movie titles from 1961 to 2004. They say it all, thankfully, which means we don’t actually need to see the movies: Lash of Lust, Sin in the Suburbs, Flesh and Lace, Red Roses of Passion, The Bed and How to Make It!, Anything for Money, Deep Inside, All the Sins of Sodom, Horn-a-Plenty, Slippery When Wet, Princess of Penetration and Red Head. There are plenty more, but I can only muster so much gratitude.


  • Stephen J. Cannell: Thanks for an amazing output in terms of creating TV series and writing scripts for them. Let me take a breath and thank you for some of them individually. Thank you for The Rockford Files, Wiseguy, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, The Commish, 21 Jump Street, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Riptide, Renegade, Silk Stalkings. Sorry, out of breath already and didn’t even get to Booker. Anyway, all of that was after getting started writing for It Takes a Thief, Toma and Columbo. When did you take a break? Thanks again.

  • Suso Cecchi D’Amico: Thank you for your screenwriting work for such Italian giants as Vittorio De Sica, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luchino Visconti and Mario Monicello. You could have had a career in Hollywood, but your experience as a script doctor for William Wyler’s Roman Holiday disabused you of that. So thank you for writing such great films as The Bicycle Thief, Rocco and His Brothers, Big Deal on Madonna Street, The Leopard and The Innocent.

  • David Dortort: Thanks for following up your writing and producing job on the 1950s TV western The Restless Gun by coming up with an idea for a TV series about a family on a Nevada ranch on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Instead of the traditional formula involving a lone gunslinger, you decided to make the series about a father and three sons. Thank you for creating Bonanza.

  • David E. Durston: Thank you for not making more movies than you did. You are remembered for one. It was about a cult of satanic hippies who invade a small town. They wind up turning into zombies. You were unhappy that a distributor changed the title from Blood Phobia to I Drink Your Blood. But maybe not as much as the guy whose zombie flick was paired with yours on a double bill and renamed I Eat Your Skin.

  • David Mills: Thanks for contributing to some quality television dramas during your all-too-brief 48 years on earth and for bringing your experience of covering race relations as a journalist to prime time. Thanks for screenplays for NYPD Blue, The Wire and Homicide and also for the show your were working on when you died, Treme, about New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. And thanks for your miniseries The Corner, about life in inner city Baltimore, which won you two Emmys.

  • William Norton: Thanks for your many screenplays for rough-and-tumble adventure movies and also for your life, which was perhaps even more entertaining. On behalf of John Wayne and Burt Reynolds, thanks for writing Brannigan, Sam Whiskey, Gator and White Lightning. But when will we get a movie about you, which tells about smuggling guns to Irish republicans, fleeing the law to France and Nicaragua (where you shot one of a gang of robbers who invaded your home), Cuba and then Mexico—before being smuggled back into the U.S. by your wife and daughter. Now there’s a basis for a movie!

  • Irving Ravetch: Thanks for writing, with your wife and partner Harriet Frank Jr., some great screenplays set in the South, even if they did take liberties with the source material or the historical facts. Thanks specifically for turning William Faulkner’s The Hamlet into The Long, Hot Summer, a great vehicle for Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Orson Welles. And for turning Larry McMurtry’s Horseman, Pass By into Hud, another great vehicle for Newman. And for turning actual experiences of North Carolina mill worker Crystal Lee Jordan into an Oscar winner for Sally Field, Norma Rae.

  • Furio Scarpelli: Thank you for your contribution to Italian comedy as part of the writing team “Age and Furio,” alongside with your partner Agenore Incrocci. Thanks for your contributions to Mario Monicelli’s Big Deal on Madonna Street, The Organizer and Casanova ‘70—the latter two earning you Academy Award nominations. Also, Pietro Germi’s Seduced and Abandoned, Dino Risi’s I Mostri, Luigi Comencini’s Tutti a casa and, a personal favorite, Ettore Scola’s We All Loved Each Other So Much. Oh yeah, and thanks for being part of the teams that wrote both Michael Radford’s Il Postino and Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

  • Erich Segal: Thanks for providing the pretext for me holding the hand of a very pretty girl sitting next to me in a cinema in San Diego. The movie made from your novel Love Story, was a shameless tearjerker and, like my gambit with the young lady, it didn’t really go anywhere. But it is your claim to fame, and nobody remembers that your other writing included the screenplay for the Beatles movie Yellow Submarine and musical about Helen of Troy. But thanks for setting the record straight that the Oliver character (played by Ryan O’Neal in the movie) was mostly based on fellow Harvard student Tommy Lee Jones and not so much (as the then-vice-president had implied) on Al Gore.

  • Alan Sillitoe: Thanks for your significant body of work that included novels, poetry and the occasional play. Your focus mostly seemed to be the drab lives, punctuated by rowdiness and lacking in prospects, of young English working class men. Despite your longevity, fate decreed that your best remembered books would be the very first two, published in 1958 and 1959—probably because of the movies that were adapted from them by you. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was directed by Karel Reisz and starred Albert Finney. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was directed by Tony Richardson and starred Tom Courtenay.


  • David Brown: Thanks for producing some truly fine films from the time you were first hired Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Fox in 1951. Husband of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, you were involved with some of the great ones. Thanks for producing The Sting, Jaws, The Verdict, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy, The Player, Chocolat and Angela’s Ashes—among many, many others.

  • Dino DeLaurentiis: Thanks for giving us everything from the early works from Federico Fellini to big splashy event movies. Thanks for La Strada and Nights of Cabiria but also David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Roger Vadim’s Barbarella, Serpico, Death Wish, John Wayne’s final film The Shootist and the remake of King Kong which gave us Jessica Lang—among many, many others.

  • Bob Guccione: While I don’t particularly feel any gratitude to you for founding the magazines Penthouse and Viva, I will concede that your Omni did provide an always-appreciated outlet for science and science fiction writing. And, on the principle that any film is a contribution to society, I have to thank you for producing the low-budget cop flick Lowball and, erm, the infamous 1979 Caligula that managed to combine top-drawer thesps like Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren with stretches of lurid flesh-sploitation footage. Was it art? Thanks for not asking.

  • Aaron Ruben: On behalf of all baby boomers, let me thank you for many memories of classic sitcoms in the 1960s and 1970s. We don’t remember the 1969 movie you wrote and produced with Carl Reiner, The Comic, starring Dick Van Dyke. But we remember the comedy legends you wrote for during the golden age of radio and television, including Burns & Allen, Milton Berle, Phil Silvers and Sid Caesar. Thank you, moreover, for producing the sitcoms The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and Sanford and Son.

  • William Self: Thanks for bringing to television and/or being in charge of such memorable shows as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daniel Boone, Peyton Place, the campy Batman and Green Hornet and the beloved long-running sitcom M*A*S*H.

  • David L. Wolper: Thanks for your many and varied movie and television productions. They run the gamut from the miniseries The Thorn Birds to the film The Hellstrom Chronicle and If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and L.A. Confidential. But thanks especially for the seminal miniseries you are mainly remembered for, the epic adaptation of Alex Haley’s Roots.

    Musical People

  • Jerry Bock: Thanks for composing really great music for the Broadway shows Fiorello! and She Loves Me—but especially for one of the all-time best musicals of all time, Fiddler on the Roof.

  • Jimmy Dean: So long and thanks for all the sausage. Thanks for the musical TV shows on CBS and ABC in the 1960s, which my family enjoyed. And thanks for the haunting ballad about a big, quiet miner who saves his all his co-workers in a mining accident. “Big Bad John” got a lot of play in our house.

  • Eddie Fisher: It would be a bit insincere to thank you for your pop songs (“Wish You Were Here,” “I’m Walking Behind You,” “Oh! My Pa-Pa,” “I Need You Now”) since I barely remember them. But I can thank you, on behalf of Hollywood’s major leading ladies of the mid-20th century, for keeping so many of them entertained romantically. You were linked with Kim Novak, Marlene Dietrich, Angie Dickinson and, of course, Debbie Reynolds, whom you married but then divorced in order to marry Elizabeth Taylor. (But you found that turnabout was fair play, thanks to Richard Burton.) Connie Stevens and a couple more were to follow. Oh, and thanks for being the father of Princess Leia.

  • Rosa Rio: Thanks for the organ music. You were playing it for the vast majority of your nearly 108 years. You accompanied the likes of Chaplin, Keaton and Pickford in the cinema on your Mighty Wurlitzer. You played on radio and on television, accompanying soap operas. You accompanied Orson Welles on The Shadow, The Bob and Ray Show, As the World Turns and even the Today show. At the beginning of World War II, you played somber music in between news bulletins. When radio and television no longer needed you, you played for the silent films again, this time at restored movie houses for new audiences re-discovering the silent classics. And you continued to do that until just a couple of years ago. Thank you.

  • Joseph Stein: Thanks for writing the book for the musical Fiddler on the Roof. How strange that the composer, Jerry Bock (see above), would pass on ten days after you.


  • Jaime Escalante: Thanks for coming from Bolivia to provide academic inspiration to students in East Los Angeles and doing such a good job of teaching calculus that your students were accused of cheating on the College Board’s exam. And thanks for providing the inspiration for the uplifting movie Stand and Deliver, which earned Edward James Olmos an Oscar nomination for playing you.

  • Robert Gary: Thanks for striking a blow for gender equality and excelling as a script supervisor, a job traditionally held by women. John Ford hired you for The Searchers because he didn’t think a woman could hack it on the arduous shoot in Monument Valley. Thank you for your work on numerous films, under the likes of directors William Wyler and George Stevens. But thanks especially for being script supervisor on every single Star Trek series, beginning with Gene Roddenberry’s original in the 1960s.

  • Dick Giordano: Strictly speaking, you didn’t have anything directly to do with movies, but thanks anyway. For four decades of work at DC Comics, where you drove a resurgence in that company’s creative fortunes. Thanks for creating such superheroes at Charlton Comics, which included the Blue Beetle, The Question and the Peacemaker, which would later be acquired by DC and morphed into the Watchmen. Thanks for pioneering graphic novel collections and overseeing The Dark Knight Returns and the epic Crisis on Infinite Earths, which attempted to reboot and reconcile, once and for all, all the various versions of the myriad characters in the DC universe, as well as The Man of Steel which rebooted the granddaddy of all superheroes, that guy from Krypton. And thanks for being the first publisher to give all writers and artists credit on the covers of their books.

  • Martin Grace: Thanks for being one of the unsung heroes who thrilled us time and again in the movies. Thanks for going from County Kilkenny to stunt work in commercials to livening up the battles in Clive Donner’s Alfred the Great. And thanks for spending a dozen years as Roger Moore’s stunt double in the James Bond movies, beginning with The Spy Who Loved Me. Thank you for enduring injuries, such as the one sustained while filming Octopussy and breaking your neck while doubling for Albert Finney in Scrooge. (Huh?) And thanks for your work in at least 73 films. Sadly, in a display of the capriciousness of life, you life ended, at the age of 67, after a bicycling accident in Spain.

  • Art Linklater: Okay, I wasn’t a fan. But thanks for entertaining my mother and lots of other housewives for many years. Mom loved People Are Funny and House Party and, in hindsight, it seems like pretty decent daytime TV fare compared to a lot of stuff that’s on now. And your “Kids Say the Darndest Things” was apparently such a good idea that even Bill Cosby got in on the act later on. When your daughter died in a drug-related incident, it was like it had happened to one of the neighbors.

  • Carroll Pratt: Thanks (I think) for inventing the laugh track. Well, at least for being a major contributor to its development. And for generally being a top sound engineer, contributing to shows like The Tonight Show (Johnny Carson era).

    To be continued…

    -S.L., 13 January 2011

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