Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Passings: February 2012

Last February we lost directors of nature documentaries and of cable soft-core fare, as well as American, British, Irish and Swedish actors and a couple of major musical talents.


  • Mike deGruy: In more than two dozen documentaries over a three-decade period, you brought us sharks, octopi, squids, sea lions, whales and other denizens of the seas. Your TV documentaries for the Discovery Channel and the BBC made you both an Emmy winner and a BAFTA winner. Working with James Cameron in 2005 on the documentary series Last Mysteries of the Titanic, you showed us images of the sunken ship never seen before. What a loss that you and pilot Andrew Wright went down in a helicopter in Australia. (4-II-2012, at 60)

  • Zalman King: As an actor, you played a beatnik who dated normal-looking daughter Marilyn on The Munsters and a long-haired do-gooder on The Young Lawyers. As a writer, you worked on the movies Roadie, Endangered Species and Adrian Lyne’s notorious 9½ Weeks starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. As a director you made the steamy Wild Orchid, which played in Paris for five years and sold a buncch of DVDs in the US. But you’ll probably be best remembered for the 1990s soft-core Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries, starring David Duchovny. Too bad your screenplay Love, Lust and the Electric Chair never got produced. (3-II-2012, at 69)


  • Zina Bethune: Despite a childhood diagnosis of scoliosis (curvature of the spine), you were an accomplished ballerina and dancer from the age of 7, becoming a member of the New York City Ballet by the age of 14. For the last three decades, you taught others through your nonprofit dance and drama company Theater Bethune in Los Angeles. And your Infinite Dreams dance and performance program tutored more than 8,000 children with disabilities. But, in addition to your career in dance and choreography, you were also an actor from the age of 6. You were FDR’s daughter in Sunrise at Campobello and nursing student Gail Lucas on TV’s The Nurses. A caring person until the end, you were killed by passing cars when you stopped to help an injured animal. (12-II-2012, at 66)

  • Peter Breck: Your acting career was pretty much exclusively in TV westerns, including the short-lived series Black Saddle, about a gunslinger turned lawyer, and a recurring role as Doc Holliday in Maverick. But you will forever and always be one particular character to us: Barbara Stanwyck’s hotheaded son Nick Barkley in The Big Valley. (6-II-2012, at 82)

  • Phil Bruns: Before Barney Martin became ensconced in the role, you were the first to play Jerry’s dad on Seinfeld. You appeared in more than 40 movies (including The Stunt Man, Return of the Living Dead II and Flashdance) and on more than 60 television shows (including Route 66, M*A*S*H, Kojak, Barney Miller and Maude). Your claim to fame? That would be playing Louise Lasser’s cigar-chomping, hard-hat-wearing father in Norman Lear’s 1970s soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. (8-II-2012, at 80)

  • Peter Halliday: You played more than 100 roles on UK TV and in movies since the 1950s, winding up by playing a vicar in the 2005 Lassie movie. TV appearances included The Citadel, A Is for Andromeda, The Andromeda Breakthrough, Danger Man, The Avengers, UFO, Z Cars, Chico the Rainmaker, Goodnight Sweetheart, Dalziel and Pascoe and The Bill. On the big screen you played a canon in The Remains of the Day. But what we prefer to remember is that you appeared in six different story arcs of Doctor Who between 1968 and 1988, each time playing a different character. These included a Silurian and other aliens, a soldier, a security chief and, yes, a vicar. (18-II-2012, at 87)

  • Erland Josephson: After Max von Sydow went on to an international movie career, you replaced him as Ingmar Bergman’s on-screen alter ego in the Swedish master’s films. The most notable collaboration was in Scenes from a Marriage, opposite Liv Ullmann, but you also appeared in Face to Face, After the Rehearsal and Bergman’s final film Saraband. You also worked with other cinematic auteurs, including Liliana Cavani (as Friedrich Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil), Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), Peter Greenaway (Prospero’s Books) and the late Theo Angelopolous (Ulysses’ Gaze). You appeared in Andrei Tarkovsky’s final two films, Nostalgia and The Sacrifice. My personal favorite? Your turn as Susan Anspach’s husband in Dusan Makavejev’s offbeat 1981 film Montenegro. (25-II-2012, at 88)

  • David Kelly: Beloved Irish actor. Read this. (12-II-2012, at 82)

    Music People

  • Whitney Houston: Sometime actor but mostly the Prom Queen of Soul. Read this. (11-II-2012, at 48)

  • Dory Previn: A contemporary of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Laura Nyro, you wrote and sang dark confessional songs that presaged Sinéad O’Connor and Suzanne Vega. Your difficult childhood, mental problems and painful divorce (from composer/conductor André Previn, over his affair with Mia Farrow) were all fodder for your music. Your movie connection? You earned no fewer than three Academy Award nominations for Best Song (the first two in collaboration with André). They were for “Faraway Part of Town” (1960’s Pepe), “Second Chance” (1962’s Two for the Seesaw) and “Come Saturday Morning” (1969’s The Sterile Cuckoo). Ironically, none of those were your best known movie song. That would be the theme from Valley of the Dolls, which was later recorded by Dionne Warwick, with its haunting lyrics: “Gotta get off, gonna get / Have to get off from this ride / Gotta get hold, gonna get / Need to get hold of my pride.” (14-II-2012, at 86)

    -S.L., 29 January 2013

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