Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson





Building façade in Cannes, France

Passings: January 2012

This month a year ago, we lost two directors, a very long-lived screenwriter, a fencing master and actors whose roles ranged from an English scullery maid to a futuristic robot.

Directors

  • Theo Angelopoulos: If you hadn’t been struck down by a motorcycle while crossing the street, you surely would have gone on making movies. Indeed, you had The Other Sea in production at the time of your death. Renowned in your native Greece and throughout the world, you worked with everyone from Marcello Mastroianni to Harvey Keitel to Willem Dafoe to Brunco Ganz to Jeanne Moreau. Your Eternity and a Day won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. I won’t lie. Your films were challenging, and not always in a good way. But the one image I’ll never forget is that of a gigantic statue of Lenin floating down on a barge in a river in Ulysses’ Gaze. (24-I-2012, at 76)

  • John Rich: For nearly a half-century, you directed episodes of 100 television series, including Our Miss Brooks, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., That Girl, Gunsmoke and The Brady Bunch. But the episode that got mentioned in the first paragraph of your obituary was the All in the Family in which bigot Archie Bunker meets Sammy Davis Jr. It was your idea to have Davis plant a kiss on Archie’s cheek, thereby bringing down the proverbial house. (29-I-2012, at 86)

    Writer

  • Federica Sagor Maas: After you got fed up being a screenwriter in Hollywood, you left, saying you would have preferred to be a wash lady. But before that, you worked with the likes of Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. But your most enduring writing might be your memoir The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood. (The title was taken from a script co-written with your husband Ernest.) You dished all the dirt and scandal on early Hollywood, and the best part (from your point of view anyway) was that, being 99 years old, you didn’t have to worry about anyone contradicting your version. As you told Salon in 1999, “I can get my payback now. I’m alive and thriving and, well, you S.O.B.’s are all below.” (5-I-2012, at 111)

    Actors

  • Ian Abercrombie: A British veteran of stage, screen and television for a half-century, you made appearances on an amazing number of American TV shows over the decades. You get huge fanboy cred for having appeared in the original Burke’s Law, Get Smart, Columbo, the original Battlestar Galactica, Happy Days, Three’s Company, Airwolf, Moonlighting, Falcon Crest, Dynasty, 21 Jump Street, Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Voyager and Desperate Housewives. Your movies included Army of Darkness, Addams Family Values, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Rango. But you will be best remembered, perhaps, for being the voice of Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious on Star Wars: The Clone Wars or, more likely, as Elaine’s imperious boss Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld. (26-I-2012, at 77)

  • Elizabeth Eis: On Broadway you appeared in Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead. You had bit parts on TV shows like The Guiding Light and Kate Loves a Mystery (aka Mrs. Columbo). You appeared in a 1972 horror movie called Dear Dead Delilah, starring Agnes Moorhead and Will Geer. But the reason so many people took note when you passed away was that, during 1970, you played three different characters on Dark Shadows. It was as the barmaid Buffie Harrington, whose involvement with Christopher Pennock’s John Yaeger was integral to a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like storyline, that you made your greatest impression. (6-I-2012, at 68)

  • James Farentino: Tall dark and handsome, you were easy on the eyes as an up-and-coming actor in the 1960s, in movies like Ensign Pulver, The War Lord and The Pad and How to Use It. More than a decade later, you showed up in the time travel movie The Final Countdown, as a sheriff in Dead & Buried and as Juan Perón in the TV movie Evita Peron. You went on to be Dr. Toscanni on Dynasty and star in Blue Thunder. Other series included Mary (opposite Mary Tyler Moore) and Julie (opposite Julie Andrews) plus recurring roles on Melrose Place and on ER, as George Clooney’s father. (24-I-2012, at 73)

  • Robert Hegyes: Before taking on your best known role, you did bits on The Streets of San Francisco, Mr. T and Tina and Chico and the Man. Afterwards, you showed up on CHiPs, L.A. Heat, NewsRadio and Diagnosis Murder, and you were a regular on Cagney & Lacey. But to most of us you will always be Juan Epstein, John Travolta’s classmate on Welcome Back, Kotter. As the half-Jewish/half-Puerto Rican (you were actually half-Hungarian/half-Italian), afro-coiffed Sweathog, your signature gag was absence-excuse notes signed by “Epstein’s mother.” (26-I-2012, at 60)

  • Jenny Tomasin: You became famous for playing the scullery maid Ruby Finch in Upstairs, Downstairs in the early 1970s, but unfortunately that pretty much defined you and limited your possibilities forever after. You did have roles (often as the help) on other UK TV series like Midnight Is a Place, Crossroads and Emmerdale Farm, as well as the miniseries Martin Chuzzlewit. You even showed up in a couple of films, The Trouble with Spies (with Donald Sutherland) and Just Ask for Diamond (with Colin Dale). But for most people, you will just be Ruby. Wait! No, you also did something (for some of us) even more noteworthy. You played a funeral home employee on the planet Necros during the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who! (3-I-2012, at 73)

  • Frederick Treves: Sure you played well over a hundred roles on the big and small screens in your native Britain from the 1950s through the early 21st century. You even had roles in Emergency-Ward 10, the TV version of The Railway Children, Tightrope, The Regiment, Follyfoot, The Main Chance, The Jewel in the Crown, Yes, Prime Minister, Game, Set, and Match and The Cazalets. But what we really care about is that you played a mercenary from Gaztak in a story arc of Tom Baker-era Doctor Who. (30-I-2012, at 86)

  • Dick Tufeld: We have no idea what you looked like, but we will never forget your voice. You were the narrator or announcer on countless TV shows and advertisements. You introduced everything from Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color to Peyton Place. But it is mainly in your work with Irwin Allen where we remember your sonorous tones: shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Time Tunnel. But you will forever be remembered, above all else, for uttering the words, “Danger, Will Robinson!” You were, of course, the voice of the youngest Robinson’s constant robotic companion in Lost in Space. (22-I-2012, at 85)

    Other

  • Bob Anderson: You were an Olympic fencer and swordmaster. You helped actors ranging from Errol Flynn to Antonio Banderas to convincingly swashbuckle. And you anonymously appeared on screen in movies and TV shows (notably, Highlander) as a stunt double in many a dueling scene. Your claim to fame? Taking over from David Prowse (who was 13 years younger and several inches taller than you) in wearing the Darth Vader helmet during the key lightsaber fight scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy. And we might never have known if Mark Hamill hadn’t spilled the beans in a 1983 interview. (1-I-2012, at 89)

    -S.L., 23 January 2013


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