Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

Custom Search

© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Passings: November 2012

Last November we didn’t just lose J.R. We also lost a couple of veteran British thespians, the voice of some familiar cartoon characters, the man who provided music to an amazing string of quality movies and the man who gave us Hee Haw.


  • Frank Peppiatt: You were a top producer of TV series and specials for the likes of Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews and Jonathan Winters. In 1969 when you and your partner John Aylsworth were producing a short-lived series for comic genius Winters, you noticed that when you invited several country music stars—like Jimmy Dean, Dale Evans, Minnie Pearl—onto the show, ratings spiked. So when CBS needed a new series to replace The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which was canceled due to the stars’ on-air opposition to the Vietnam War, you jumped in with a country music/comedy show, a sort of Laugh-In for hicks. And Hee Haw stayed on the air (network and syndication) for 22 years. So you must have been some down home southern country type right? Nah, just a savvy Canadian. Somewhere in heaven Buck Owens is a-pickin’, and somewhere in Oklahoma Roy Clark is a-grinnin’. (7-XI-2012, at 85)


  • Lucille Bliss: Most of us had no idea what you looked like, but a lot of us heard your voice. A veteran of live radio, you graduated to voicing animated characters. You were an ugly stepsister in Disney’s Cinderella. You were the original Elroy on The Jetsons. Lots of cartoon and video game worked followed. In a rare on-air role, you were a lady on a cable car on PBS’s Tales of the City. Your most recent work included voicing the pigeon lady in Robots, Yagoda on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Ms. Bitters on Invader ZIM. But your claim to fame rests on two immortal characters. You were both Smurfette and Crusader Rabbit. (8-XI-2012, at 96)

  • Clive Dunn: You wouldn’t be as well known outside the UK, but in the British Isles you are known for the catchphrases “Don’t panic!” and “They don’t like it up ’em!” After an early career on the stage and service in WWII during which you were taken prisoner by the Germans, you broke into television with a variety show called Funny Thing This Wireless. That led to a lot of sketch comedy in which you specialized in playing amusing old men. Your crowning achievement was the zealous old soldier Lance-Corporal Jones, who was meant to be in his 70s even though you began playing him when you were in your late 40s. For nine years on telly and in a spinoff movie, you played Jones (a butcher given to much reminiscing about his years in the trenches) on the popular sitcom Dad’s Army. (7-XI-2012, at 92)

  • Larry Hagman: King of 1980s primetime soaps. Read this. (23-XI-2012, at 81)

  • Deborah Raffin: Your good looks made us notice you in young women roles in the 1970s. You were in 40 Carats with Liv Ullmann and Gene Kelly and in the Jacqueline Susann adaptation Once Is Not Enough, as well as a couple of Michael Winner movies, The Sentinel and Death Wish 3. Other roles included playing the actor Brooke Hayward in Haywire and a business woman in the TV miniseries Noble House. TV series roles included 1981’s Foul Play and the late 1990s/early 2000s 7th Heaven. But you weren’t just an actor. In the 1980s you and your husband started a business in your garage and turned it into a multi-million-dollar business, Dove Books-on-Tape. One of your first bestsellers was Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. (21-XI-2012, at 59)

  • Dinah Sheridan: A British film actor from the age of 15, you took a break to drive an ambulance during WWII. So, your career didn’t really take off until after the war, with you becoming really well known for the comedy Genevieve, about a veteran car rally. After another career break (because of marriage and health problems), you came back to play the mother in the 1970 adaptation of the E. Nesbit novel The Railway Children. Many television appearances followed, including roles on The Winning Streak, Don’t Wait Up and Just Us. But once again I’ve buried the lead. The reason we not only remember you but also celebrate you is that, exactly 29 years to the day before you passed away, you appeared in the 20th anniversary Doctor Who special, The Five Doctors, as Time Lady Chancellor Flavia. (24-XI-2012, at 92)


  • Richard Robbins: One of the key things that always made a Merchant/Ivory film a Merchant/Ivory film was the music. And that was pretty much all due to you. Starting with The Europeans in 1979 and ending with The White Countess in 2005, you composed the score for every one of their movies. By my count, that works out to about 18, including Howard’s End and The Remains of the Day, which both earned you Oscar nominations. The diversity of settings in the Merchant/Ivory flicks required you to musically master everything from opera in Jane Austen in Manhattan to Indian street sounds in Heat and Dust to Parisian jazz in Quartet to pop music in Slaves of New York. Reportedly, you hadn’t exactly planned on being composer and the long and fruitful collaboration nearly came about by accident, as you met James Ivory and Ismail Merchant through their screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, whose daughter was your piano student. (7-XI-2012, at 71)

    -S.L., 7 May 2013

    If you would like to respond to this commentary or to anything else on this web site, please send a message to Messages sent to this address will be considered for publishing on the Feedback Page without attribution. (That means your name, email address or anything else that might identify you won’t be included.) Messages published will be at my discretion and subject to editing. But I promise not to leave something out just because it’s unflattering.

    If you would like to send me a message but not have it considered for publishing, you can send it to

    Commentaries Archive