As 2022 comes to a close, we here at JoBlo.com would like to take a moment to pay tribute to some of the people who sadly passed away this year. Our deepest respect goes out to everyone in the industry we have lost, and our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of those who died in 2022. These talented individuals will always be remembered for their impact on the world of film and television.
In Memory Of…
When Peter Bogdanovich was twelve-years-old, he began keeping a record of every film he saw, even including reviews, a practice he kept up for decades, seeing as many as four hundred films a year. This sparked a love of movies and he was intent on becoming a director. Bogdanovich caught his break when he happened to strike up a conversation with Roger Corman at a screening, who quickly offered him a job. “I went from getting the laundry to directing the picture in three weeks,” Bogdanovich later said. “Altogether, I worked 22 weeks – preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven’t learned as much since.” He achieved fame with The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age drama starring Jeff Bridges and Timothy Bottoms, which received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Bogdanovich also helmed What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Daisy Miller, At Long Last Love, They All Laughed, Mask, Texasville, The Thing Called Love, The Cat’s Meow, and She’s Funny That Way. Bogdanovich was no stranger in front of the camera either as he is best known for playing psychiatrist Elliot Kupferberg on The Sopranos. He also appeared in movies such as Infamous, Are You Here, It: Chapter Two, as well as TV shows like Out of Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Simpsons, Rizzoli & Isles, and Get Shorty. Bogdanovich also appeared in Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind. The film was shot in the ’70s but was never completed until Bogdanovich and others reconstructed the movie and finally released it in 2018. Peter Bogdanovich died on January 6th at the age of 82
Sidney Poitier, an icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood, died on January 6th at the age of 94. After growing up in the Bahamas, Poitier found his way to America as a young teenager looking to become an actor. After a disastrous audition for the American Negro Theater showcased his heavy accent, Poitier practiced speaking English by listening to the radio. He returned to the theater and was given a spot, but only after convincing them that he would also work as a janitor without pay. He soon won praise for his roles and began transitioning to movies, appearing in The Defiant Ones, Porgy and Bess, All the Young Men, Lilies of the Field, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Duel at Diablo, To Sir, with love, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, For Love of Ivy, They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, The Organization, Uptown Saturday Night, The Wilby Conspiracy, Let’s Do it Again, A Piece of the Action, Shoot to Kill, Sneakers, The Jackal, and more. He was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid and most popular actors during his heyday, but he came under fire for being typecast as idealized Black characters. Poitier was all too aware of this, but realized how important it was to set examples with his characters. “It’s a choice, a clear choice,” Poitier said in a 1967 interview. “If the fabric of the society were different, I would scream to high heaven to play villains and to deal with different images of Negro life that would be more dimensional. But I’ll be damned if I do that at this stage of the game.” Poitier also directed a handful of movies, many of which he also starred in, including Buck and the Preacher, Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do it Again, A Piece of the Action, Stir Crazy, Hanky Panky, and Ghost Dad. With his performance in Lilies in the Field, he became the first Black performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.
As a young teenager, Bob Saget met one of his comedy icons — Larry Fine of The Three Stooges. Saget convinced his mother to drive him to the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital, where Fine was living after several strokes. He would listen to Fine’s stories about the old days of comedy and, upon learning that his hero hadn’t seen any of his famous shorts in decades, brought a series of silent 8mm Stooges shorts for him to watch. Saget became a stand-up comedian and later made appearances on TV shows such as Bosom Buddies, The Greatest American Hero, Quantum Leap, Raising Dad, Huff, Entourage, Surviving Suburbia, Louie, Grandfathered, Robert Chicken, Shameless, and more. Of course, Saget is best known for playing Danny Tanner on Full House, a role which he reprised for the Netflix revival series Fuller House. He was also the original host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Despite his wholesome image on television, Saget’s stand-up career was full of raunchy material and dark humour, culminating in a seven-minute-long rendition of the dirtiest joke in the world for The Aristocrats, which has since become infamous. “Aristocrats couldn’t be done now,” Saget said in 2018. “Maybe it would come out right now as an anti-freedom of speech… The point was censorship. Different ways can do an artform, all tell the same thing. ‘Everybody paint the same painting and see what happens.’ But it really was about freedom of speech. I mean, Lenny Bruce went to jail for saying things that were said overtly in that film.” Saget can also be seen in movies such as Full Moon High, Critical Condition, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, Madagascar, and more. He also directed Norm Macdonald’s Dirty Work, Farce of the Penguins, and Benjamin. Bob Saget died on January 9th at the age of 65.
Gaspard Ulliel died on January 19th at the age of 37, following a skiing accident. When Ulliel was just six-years-old, he attempted to ride a Doberman like a horse, causing the dog to lash out and claw him in the face. This left him a distinctive dimple-like scar on his left cheek, which was described as the most famous scar in French cinema. “Many people talk about this scar, and a few directors before were seduced, if I can say so, by this scar,” Ulliel said in a 2007 interview. “I’m going to phone the surgeon and thank him for it.” Gaspard Ulliel got his start on the big screen with a small role in Christophe Gans’s Brotherhood of the Wolf. He made appearances in Summer Things, Strayed, A Very Long Engagement, The Last Day, Paris, je t’aime, The Princess of Montpensier, The Art of Love, Saint Laurent, It’s Only the End of the World, and Eva. The actor is also known for playing the young Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising. Ulliel also played Anton Mogart in Marvel’s Moon Knight series, which was released after his death.
While Meat Loaf is known as an iconic rock n’ roll singer, he made quite the impact on the silver screen as well. Perhaps his most famous movie role was Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a character he also played in the original Los Angeles and Broadway productions of the musical. He went on to appear in movies such as Roadie, Wayne’s World, Spice World, The Mighty, Focus, The Salton Sea, BloodRayne, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Stage Fright, and more. Next to Rocky Horror, his most enduring movie role was that of Bob in David Fincher’s Fight Club. Meat Loaf told the AV Club in 2016 that he even helped Fincher edit the movie after spending months watching the production over Fincher’s shoulder. “I hardly spent any time in my trailer for almost 10 months,” he said. “I sat next to David the entire time. Well, not next to him—I would have driven him crazy—but close, like behind him, so I could see what was going on and what he was seeing. It got to the point, about four or five months into filming, that we’d break for lunch, and Fincher would call me into his trailer and say, ‘I want you to help me pick which one I should use.’ Of course, in my head I’m going, ‘What?’ The first time he did that, I said, ‘I can’t do that,’ and he goes, ‘Yeah, you can. You’ve been sitting next to me, so help me pick out the best one.’ His average take was 44, so we’d sit there and watch 40 takes, and he’d go, ‘Which one did you like the best,’ and I’d say something like, ‘Well, it’s either 24 or 26,’ and he’d say, ‘I agree with you, 26.’” Meat Loaf also appeared in TV shows such as The Equalizer, Monsters, Tales from the Crypt, Nash Bridges, South Park, The Outer Limits, Masters of Horror, House, Monk, Glee, Fairly Legal, Elementary, and Ghost Wars. His Bat Out of Hell trilogy of albums has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Meat Loaf died on January 20th at the age of 74.
Louie Anderson died on January 21st at the age of 68. Growing up as the second youngest of nearly a dozen siblings, Anderson realized he might like to try out stand-up while attending a comedy show at Mickey Finn’s in Minneapolis in 1978. “I signed up next week, my mom and dad came down, my family came down, my co-workers,” Anderson said. “And I did three minutes, and I felt like I did good.” He went on to appear in TV shows such as Remington Steele, Grace Under Fire, Touched by an Angel, Ally McBeal, Nash Bridges, Young Sheldon, Search Party, Tig n’ Seek, and more. He also co-created and starred in the animated series Life with Louie, as well as the short-lived sitcom, The Louie Show. Anderson also won acclaim for his role of Christine Baskets on FX’s Baskets. He told W Magazine that his mother was a major influence on the character. “I kind of stole her whole identity,” Anderson said. “The whole idea is my mom. I don’t know in my life if I’ve become my mom or if I’ve retained any idea of who I am. This character has taken over. It’s so comfortable being in this character or body. She’s not afraid. She’s afraid to do things, but she does them. She has doubt and apprehension, but she’s brave. I think that’s who my mom was.” Louie Anderson also appeared in movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Coming to America, Mr. Wrong, Cook Off!, Sandy Wexler, and Coming 2 America.
The world lost a visual effects icon when Douglas Trumbull died on February 7th at the age of 79. His work on To the Moon and Beyond at the 1964 New York World’s Fair caught the eye of Stanley Kubrick, who hired him to work on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Working with Kubrick profoundly impacted the rest of Trumbull’s career. “Kubrick was determined even then not to make a story-movie,” Trumbull said in a Sight and Sound interview. “He would say, ‘This is an experience.’ He never would have said, ‘This is art,’ although to him it was art. Something about the movie had to do with the audience directly experiencing the film, absorbing it, instead of being a third person watching other people go about their business. And I thought that was fascinating. Kubrick had a profound effect on me, not to mention the sheer delight in Super-Panavision, widescreen, Cinerama, the whole thing, with six-track stereo sound.” He produced special and visual effects for The Andromeda Strain, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner, and The Tree of Life. Trumbull was also brought in to save Star Trek: The Motion Picture after the original effects company couldn’t deliver. He described the job as a nightmare. “We only had six months and I had crews working in three shifts, round the clock,” Trumbull said. “I never went home, ate junk food and wound up in hospital. We spent, I think, but I quit counting at some point, $19m on special effects – much of that wasted on overtime. There are some incredible pieces of photography in the film, as well as some poor shots. There are as many special effects shots as in Star Wars and Close Encounters combined, done in a quarter of the time.” He also directed Silent Running and Brainstorm, the latter of which was intended to be a showcase for his Showscan process, which used special cameras and projectors to capture 70mm film at 60 frames per second. The process wound up not being used for the film after theater owners refused to install new projection equipment, but Trumbull continued developing it.
Although primarily known for his directing work, Ivan Reitman was also a prolific producer who caught his big break when he produced National Lampoon’s Animal House. From there, he directed Foxy Lady, Cannibal Girls, Meatballs, Stripes, Legal Eagles, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior, Fathers’ Day, Six Days, Seven Nights, Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, No Strings Attached, and Draft Day. Of course, his most iconic work is Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, the classic supernatural comedies starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Rick Moranis. While some doubted that the first film would work, Reitman knew he was onto something special when he first saw the cast in their ghostbusting outfits on Madison Avenue. “There was just something so extraordinary about that image,” he told the CBC in 2007. “I turned to the script assistant next to me and said, ‘I think this movie’s gonna work.’” His son has carried on the Ghostbusters legacy by directing Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Jason Reitman even asked his father to put on the suit for insert shots, which found him stepping in for Egon Spengler. “That was the most emotional moment for me,” Jason Reitman said in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife – The Art and Making of the Movie book. “My dad is one of the original Ghostbusters.” Ivan Reitman died on February 12th at the age of 75.
Sally Kellerman died on February 24th at the age of 84. She’s best known for playing U.S. Army Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, but it was a role she very nearly turned down. “I couldn’t find the role,” Kellerman said. “I felt I had been promised a ‘best part’ in the film, and I counted the lines and just felt I had been misled. I thought I would never get in the movies, and I huffed and puffed and hated this stranger (Altman) that I didn’t even know, wanting so much for this woman, this character, in this picture. And he said, ‘you’ll either have something or nothing’. And I went with it.” Kellerman’s biggest scene, and one of the most memorable of the film, was the shower prank scene. She had never appeared nude on film before but had a few distractions lined up. “When I looked up, there was Gary Burghoff stark naked standing in front of me,” Kellerman said. “The next take, [Altman] had Tamara Horrocks, she was the more amply endowed nurse, without her shirt on … So I attribute my Academy Award nomination to the people who made my mouth hang open when I hit the deck.” She also appeared in movies such as The Boston Strangler, The April Fools, Brewster McCloud, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Lost Horizon, Welcome to L.A., Foxes, It Rained All Night the Day I Left, Back to School, That’s Life!, Meatballs II: Summer Job, Prêt-à-Porter, Payback, and more. As far as the small-screen, Kellerman appeared in The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Bonanza, The Invaders, Mannix, Diagnosis: Murder, Columbo, 90210, Workaholics, Maron, The Young and the Restless, Decker, and more. She also played Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in Where No Man Has Gone Before, the second Star Trek pilot.
Veronica Carlson was an icon of Hammer Horror despite appearing in a small handful of the studio’s movies. Carlson started as a model and had played minor parts in movies such as Casino Royale and The Magnificent Two before Hammer Films co-founder James Carreras discovered her. “I had a photograph of me coming out of the waves in a white bikini on the front page of a tabloid newspaper,” Carlson said. “Jimmy Carreras saw that photograph and said he wanted me in his next Hammer movie. So, I went for an audition and I ended up with Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.” After Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Carlson was also featured in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and The Horror of Frankenstein. Carlson can also be seen in Hammerhead, Crossplot, Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You, Vampira, The Ghoul, and The Saint, but the changing face of the industry led to her making a choice to leave. “It was never my intention to. Because I thought I was really going places,” Carlson said. “The film industry changed for one thing. There was a lot of nudity introduced and I wasn’t into that, because I’d had a very strict upbringing and my father was a retired air force officer. He worked in the Ministry of Defense. It was all very—I had a very strict upbringing. I wouldn’t think of taking my clothes off. But it seemed at the time that was going to be the only option, for certainly any more Hammer films.” Veronica Carlson died on February 27th at the age of 77.
Alan Ladd Jr.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Star Wars, but plenty of studios turned George Lucas down when he was pitching the project… except for Alan Ladd Jr. As an executive at 20th Century Fox, Alan Ladd Jr. was one of very few people who saw the potential in Lucas, even if he didn’t entirely understand what Star Wars was all about. “Laddie loved film and believed in filmmakers. He was one of the few executives who bet on the person rather than the project,” George Lucas said. “Without Laddie there would be no Star Wars. He didn’t understand what Star Wars was about, but he believed in me and supported my vision. Quiet and thoughtful, he had an independent spirit that gave so many storytellers a chance. He stood up to the studios and went with his gut instinct. Laddie took a great personal and professional risk on Star Wars, and on me, and for that I will be forever grateful.” Throughout its troubled production and scrutiny from other Fox executives, Ladd supported Star Wars until the end, which paid off when it became the highest grossing film of the year upon its release in 1977. During his time at 20th Century Fox, Ladd championed movies such as The Omen, Silent Movie, and Alien before he left to form his own production company, The Ladd Company, and also served as the chairman and CEO of MGM. His other producing credits include Blade Runner, Willow, Spaceballs, Thelma & Louise, Gone Baby Gone, and more. Several of the films he produced won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, including Chariots of Fire and Braveheart. Alan Ladd Jr. died on March 2nd at the age of 84.
Mitchell Ryan died on March 4th at the age of 88. The actor got his start playing Burke Devlin on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows but was fired from the show due to his alcoholism. “I was so drunk that year, I barely remember what it was about,” Ryan told TV Guide in 1976. From there, Ryan appeared on TV shows such as Cannon, Barnaby Jones, The Rockford Files, Hart to Hart, Hardcastle and McCormick, Dallas, The A-Team, All My Children, St. Elsewhere, Mission: Impossible, L.A. Law, The Golden Girls, Walker, Texas Ranger, Renegade, Murder, She Wrote, The Practice, The West Wing, and more. Ryan was also considered for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. “I was pretty well considered until they ran across that incredible British actor … Patrick Stewart,” Ryan said. “I don’t know how close I came, but I was told [at the time] I was really being considered and it was looking good.” He wound up appearing on the series as the father of William Riker. He also starred alongside Thomas Gibson and Jenna Elfman on Dharma & Greg as the father of Gibson’s character. Ryan can also be seen in movies such as The Hunting Party, High Plains Drifter, Magnum Force, Hot Shots! Part Deux, Judge Dredd, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Liar Liar, Grosse Pointe Blank, and more. But his most prominent movie role was that of the villainous General Peter McAllister in Lethal Weapon.
At the urging of his stepfather, William Hurt initially studied theology at Tufts University for several years before moving on to Juilliard to study acting. His first big break arrived with Altered States, in which he played an obsessed scientist who experiments with drugs and a sensory-deprivation tank to unlock what he believes are genetic memories. From there, Hurt went on to star in movies such as Eyewitness, Body Heat, The Big Chill, Gorky Park, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News, The Accidental Tourist, I Love You to Death, The Doctor, Michael, Jane Eyre, Lost in Space, Dark City, One True Thing, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Changing Lanes, The Village, A History of Violence, Syriana, The Good Shepherd, Mr. Brooks, Into the Wild, Vantage Point, Robin Hood, and more. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for three consecutive years for Kiss of the Spider Woman (which he won), Children of a Lesser God, and Broadcast News. He also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for A History of Violence, despite appearing on screen for less than ten minutes. Hurt also played General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in The Incredible Hulk, and reprised the role in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow. Hurt was also no stranger to the small screen, appearing in Frank Herbert’s Dune mini-series as Duke Leto Atreides as well as The King of Queens, Damages, Humans, Goliath, Condor, and Mythic Quest. William Hurt died on March 13th at the age of 71.
Estelle Harris died on April 2nd at the age of 93. Harris got her start singing the praises of SOS Pads, Pepto Bismol, Handi-Wrap II, and other products in countless advertisements, even earning the nickname “Queen of Commercials.” She later made the jump to TV shows, appearing in Night Court, Married… with Children, Law & Order, Mad About You, The Mask: Animated Series, The Tick, Star Trek: Voyager, Hercules, Family Guy, Kim Possible, Dave the Barbarian, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, ER, American Dad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Futurama, and more. But of course, Harris is best known as Estelle Costanza, the mother of Jason Alexander’s character on Seinfeld. She made her first appearance in The Contest, the classic episode in which Estelle wound up in the hospital after catching her son treating his body like an amusement park. “She is the mother that everybody loves, even though she’s a pain in the neck,” Harris said while describing her character to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1998. “That voice coming out of that tiny body, it’s instant comedy,” Jason Alexander recalled. She also appeared in movies such as Once Upon a Time in America, Stand and Deliver, This is My Life, Out to Sea, Chairman of the Board, The Odd Couple II, My Giant, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, Tarzan II, and more. She’s also known for voicing Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, and Toy Story 4, the last of which was her final film role.
No matter the role, Gilbert Gottfried’s distinctive voice made him instantly recognizable. After growing up doing voices and imitations of Hollywood celebrities, Gottfried was encouraged to participate in The Bitter End’s open-mic night. From there, he was hooked and began developing edgier material, even though it got him into trouble on more than one occasion. “I started getting in trouble because I’d get bored with my usual act, and I’d start doing something more edgy or filthy,” Gottfried said in a 2012 interview. “This one time I was doing a show opening for Belinda Carlisle. And a stage manager told me ‘There’s a lot of little girls here with their mothers, so watch what you say.’ So I tried doing my regular act for about five minutes, then I just launched into the filthiest stuff I could think of. And the next day, I got a call from my agent saying ‘Everybody there loved you.’ Which is show business talk for, ‘You’re fired.’” Gottfried went on to appear in movies such as Beverly Hills Cop III, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Look Who’s Talking Too, House Party 3, Meet Wally Sparks, Dr. Dolittle, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and more. Gottfried also played Igor Peabody in Problem Child, Problem Child 2, Problem Child 3: Junior in Love, as well as the animated Problem Child TV series, making him the only actor in the franchise to appear in the entire franchise. He also voiced Iago in Disney’s Aladdin and reprised the role in The Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the Aladdin TV series, and more. Gottfried was also a cast member of the infamous 1980-81 season of Saturday Night Live and appeared in TV shows like The Cosby Show, Bobby’s World, Duckman, Wings, Mad About You, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Superman: The Animated Series, Clerks: The Animated Series, The Fairly Oddparents, Cyberchase, CSI, Family Guy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Arrested Development, Critters: A New Binge, and more. I’d be a fool if I didn’t mention that Gottfried was also a frequent fixture on Hollywood Squares. Gilbert Gottfried died on April 12th at the age of 67.
Liz Sheridan is best known as Helen Seinfeld, the TV mother of Jerry Seinfeld on the acclaimed sitcom, but her career consisted of so much more. Sheridan got her start as a dancer and singer in nightclubs, and it was then that she met a young James Dean, who was a struggling actor at the time. “Somebody brought him home,” Sheridan recalled in a 2009 interview, adding that the two discovered they had “this strange, kind of funny sense of humor and were attracted [to each other]. He borrowed my umbrella, which meant he had to come back… We didn’t want to be apart. So we did what you didn’t do in those days, we found a place and lived together.” The affair lasted a year, but Sheridan said it was “just kind of magical. It was the first love for both of us.” Upon hearing of Dean’s death in a car crash at the age of 24, Sheridan said she was “numb. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t — I keep thinking he’s going to call.” In addition to Seinfeld, Liz Sheridan also appeared in TV shows such as Kojak, Archie Bunker’s Place, St. Elsewhere, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, One Day at a Time, The A-Team, Three’s A Crowd, Newhart, Moonlighting, Who’s the Boss, Remington Steele, Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Family Ties, Empty Nest, Murder, She Wrote, Melrose Place, Life with Louie, Sliders, Numbers, American Dad, and more. She also played nosy neighbour Raquel Ochmonek on ALF. Sheridan can also be seen in movies such as Avenging Angel, School Spirit, Legal Eagles, Who’s That Girl, and more. Liz Sheridan died on April 15th at the age of 93.
Robert Morse died on April 20th at the age of 90. As a young man, Morse got his start on Broadway and quickly won acclaim for playing Barnaby Tucker in Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker; he also reprised the role for the 1958 movie adaptation. But Morse hit the big time when he starred as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The role won him the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, and he would also play the role in the big-screen adaptation. Robert Morse appeared in TV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Naked City, That’s Life, Night Gallery, Love, American Style, Fantasy Island, All My Children, One Day at a Time, The Fall Guy, The Dukes of Hazzard, Murder, She Wrote, Trapper John, M.D., The Twilight Zone, Pound Puppies, Superman: The Animated Series, The Legend of Korra, Teen Titans Go!, The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and more. Of course, Robert Morse is best known to modern audiences as Bert Cooper, the co-founder of Sterling Cooper on Mad Men. One of his final appearances on the AMC series found Morse showing off a little of his musical theater prowess by singing and dancing to The Best Things in Life are Free to Don Draper. “It wasn’t just, ‘Go and sing a song and au revoir, Bobby.’ It was Bert telling Don, ‘What are you doing? All this shit that you’re doing, cut it out. The best things in life are free. We just landed on the moon. Calm down. Enjoy things while you have them,’” Morse told Rolling Stone. “I saw how the scene fit into the whole picture and thought: ‘Wow. This gives things a lot of perspective here. Let’s do it.’ We rehearsed for a few days and then just filmed it over the course of a day or so. No one else knew we were doing it.” Robert Morse also appeared in movies like The Proud and the Profane, Honeymoon Hotel, A Guide for the Married Man, Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?, The Boatniks, Hunk, Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans, and more.
Mike Hagerty had been taking acting classes at the University of Illinois in Chicago when he got an invitation from Jim Belushi to join the improv group The Second City. From here, Hagerty appeared in just about everything throughout his career, including TV shows such as Cheers, Married… with Children, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Family Ties, Murphy Brown, The Wonder Years, Seinfeld, Grace Under Fire, Ally McBeal, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Angel, Deadwood, American Dad, Boston Legal, Entourage, CSI, Monk, Medium, Community, Grey’s Anatomy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Shameless, and much more. He’s also known for playing Mr. Treeger, the building superintendent on Friends, and Ed Miller on HBO’s Somebody Somewhere, which became the final project of his career. He also starred in The George Carlin Show and Lucky Louie. As far as the big screen goes, Hagerty can be seen in Brewster’s Millions, Nothing in Common, Overboard, Red Heat, Dick Tracy, Wayne’s World, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Space Truckers, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Inspector Gadget, and more. Mike Hagerty died on May 5th at the age of 67.
Fred Ward died on May 8th at the age of 79. Ward didn’t have the easiest childhood. “My father did a lot of time,” the actor told the Tribune. “He was in jail when I was born, got out briefly to celebrate the birth and then went right back. He was just the kind of man who got into trouble. Alcohol was the real trouble, underneath all the rest.” Ward said that his mother left him with his grandmother when he was three-years-old to set up a new life for them in New Orleans. “After a while, she sent for me,” Ward said. “She supported us by working in bars. In five years, we lived in five different places. Then she married my stepfather, who was with the carnie. Maybe that’s where my restlessness comes from. I inherited it.” That restlessness found Ward spending three years serving as an airborne radar technician in the U.S. Air Force before moving on to amateur boxing and gigs in logging and construction. He even spent time in Rome dubbing Italian movies into English and appearing in some Roberto Rossellini projects. Ward went on to appear in movies such as Escape from Alcatraz, Carny, Southern Comfort, Silkwood, Uncommon Valor, Catchfire, Big Business, The Player, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Road Trip, Corky Romano, Joe Dirt, Sweet Home Alabama, Enough, 30 Minutes or Less, 2 Guns, and more. Ward is best known for playing astronaut Gus Grissom in The Right Stuff and Remo Williams in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, as well as Earl Bassett in Tremors and Tremors: Aftershocks. Ward also appeared on The Incredible Hulk, Invasion: Earth, Grey’s Anatomy, ER, In Plain Sight, United States of Tara, Leverage, and True Detective.
John Aylward was one hell of a prolific actor. He appeared in TV shows such as Northern Exposure, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Grace Under Fire, The Practice, The Others, The Fugitive, Family Law, Alias, Diagnosis: Murder, Ally McBeal, Dharma & Greg, The X-Files, Everwood, Judging Amy, Nip/Tuck, Carnivale, Law & Order, The West Wing, Boston Legal, Stargate SG-1, Cold Case, Without a Trace, The Mentalist, CSI, Brothers & Sisters, Mad Men, Fringe, American Horror Story, Scorpion, Shameless, Yellowstone, Briarpatch, and more. John Aylward is best known for playing Dr. Donald Anspaugh on ER. While speaking with the Seattle Times in 2009, Aylward recalled a humourous interaction with an ER fan at the grocery store. “It was right after the season in which Anspaugh’s son had died,” Aylward said. “I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, and this woman came running up to me and said, ‘Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you, I’ve been out of the country … what happened to your son?’ And I said, ‘Oh, he died.’ The lady says ‘Oh, no!’ and I said, ‘Yeah, we buried his ass last week!’ and the girl checking out the groceries turned as white as a sheet, so I had to stop and say, ‘We’re talking about a TV show!’ I could tell she was thinking ‘Who is this heinous man who talks about the death of his kid like that.’” Aylward also appeared in movies such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Buddy, Armageddon, Instinct, Thirteen Days, Bad Company, Down with Love, Monster-in-Law, The Crazies, Water for Elephants, Gangster Squad, A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Way Back, and more. John Aylward died on May 16th at the age of 75.
Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, known professionally as Vangelis, died on May 17th at the age of 79. He is best known for one of the most memorable scores in cinematic history — Chariots of Fire. The Greek composer formed his first band in the 1960s, covering pop hits and progressive rock. He later started contributing scores to Greek films before breaking out with Chariots of Fire. Vangelis’s modern-sounding, synthesizer-based score hit a chord with audiences and later won him the Academy Award for Best Score. “The script. The characters,” Vangelis said of his inspiration behind the score. “The story of these runners is full of magnificent and profound messages that we have always needed – messages that are even more necessary today… If you look for truth you have to be courageous,” says Vangelis. “My main inspiration was the story itself. The rest I did instinctively, without thinking about anything else, other than to express my feelings with the technological means available to me at the time.” The main theme of Chariots of Fire was also used at the 1984 Winter Olympics. Vangelis also contributed to the scores of Missing, Blade Runner, The Bounty, Vampire in Venice, Antarctica, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Alexander, and more.
Ray Liotta didn’t set out to be an actor, but once he saw a girl in line for drama at the University of Miami… it was fate. “I was going to take liberal arts, but I had to take history and math, which I didn’t want to do. I was in line for registration and – typical actor’s story – I saw this girl in line for drama,” Liotta said in a 2012 interview. “I knew if you took drama you didn’t have to do history and math, so I got in line. We got talking and she said, ‘Are you going out for the play?’ I said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘What are you in this line for? It’s all about doing plays.’ I had done a drama class in high school, just messing around, and I hated it. But because of her I went out for the play. I became a singing waiter in Cabaret. To this day I don’t know how I did it.” Ray Liotta went on to appear in movies such as Something Wild, Dominick and Eugene, Field of Dreams, No Escape, Corrina, Corrina, Operation Dumbo Drop, Unforgettable, Turbulence, Cop Land, Hannibal, Heartbreakers, Blow, Narc, John Q, Identity, Revolver, Smokin’ Aces, Wild Hogs, In the Name of the King, Bee Movie, Observe and Report, Charlie St. Cloud, Killing Them Softly, The Iceman, The Place Beyond the Pines, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Marriage Story, The Many Saints of Newark, and more. The actor has several projects yet to be released, including Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear. Of course, Liotta is best known for starring alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. The iconic mob classic found Liotta playing Henry Hill, a real-life mobster who the actor met on several occasions. “I got a call to meet [Hill] at this bowling alley in the Valley,” Liotta recalled. “I remember the first thing he said to me, ‘Thanks for not making me not look like a scumbag.’ I am not sure we were watching the same movie.” Ray Liotta also appeared in TV shows such as Another World, St. Elsewhere, Our Family Honor, Frasier, Family Guy, Just Shoot Me!, ER, Smith, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Texas Rising, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, You Sheldon, The Simpsons, Hanna, and Black Bird. Liotta also starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the crime drama Shades of Blue. Ray Liotta died on May 26th at the age of 67.
Philip Baker Hall
Philip Baker Hall died on June 12th at the age of 90. The actor got his start with roles in movies such as The Man with Bogart’s Face, Secret Honor, Nothing in Common, Midnight Run, Say Anything, Ghostbusters II, The Rock, Buddy Air Force One, The Truman Show, Rush Hour, Enemy of the State, Psycho, The Insider, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Rules of Engagement, The Sum of All Fears, The Contender, Dogville, Bruce Almighty, The Amityville Horror, Zodiac, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, 50/50, People Like Us, Argo, Bad Words and more. He’s also known for his frequent collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson, including Cigarettes & Coffee, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia. Hall also appeared in TV shows such as Emergency!, M*A*S*H, The Waltons, Quincy, M.E., Cagney & Lacey, T.J. Hooker, Benson, Miami Vice, Family Ties, Falcon Crest, Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, L.A. Law, Nurses, Cheers, Empty Nest, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Practice, Millennium, The Fugitive, Without a Trace, Everwood, Monk, Boston Legal, The West Wing, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Big Love, Psych, Worst Week, Modern Family, The Newsroom, Children’s Hospital, Madam Secretary, Bojack Horseman, and much more. Hall’s most iconic role for many is that of Lt. Joe Bookman on Seinfeld, the library investigation officer who is hot on Jerry’s tail due to a long-overdue book. While speaking with Rolling Stone in 2014, Hall said people reference the episode every time he went out. “It’s been over 20 years since we shot that episode, and I still can’t go out in public for very long before someone says, ‘My God, it’s Bookman!’ Or: ‘Are you Bookman? I returned that library book, I swear!’” Hall said. “It’s not just in New York or L.A.; it’s happened in a mall in the Midwest or even other countries where they air the show. The guy made an impression.” The popularity of the character meant that Seinfeld was one of the last roles Hall ever had to audition for, “simply because so many doors opened up after I did the show.“
James Caan is best known for playing Sonny Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. He also returned for a cameo in The Godfather Part II. “One of the things that made ‘The Godfather’ successful, besides brilliant directing and writing and wonderful actors … was that everyone really enjoyed making it, and that comes off on the screen,” Caan told the New York Post. “And I think the audience can tell that we were having a good time doing what we were doing up there.” Caan also appeared in movies such as Irma la Douce, The Glory Guys, Red Line 7000, Countdown, The Rain People, Cinderella Liberty, The Gambler, Funny Lady, Rollerball, The Killer Elite, Silent Movie, A Bridge Too Far, Hide in Plain Sight, Thief, Alien Nation, Dick Tracy, Misery, For the Boys, Bottle Rocket, Eraser, Mickey Blue Eyes, The Way of the Gun, Dogville, Elf, Get Smart, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and more. Caan is equally known for the movies he said no to, turning down roles in The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kramer vs. Kramer, Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, and Superman. “If there’s any one thing I could attribute my success to, it’s that I said ‘no,’” Caan told Roger Ebert in 1988. “You’d go to an audition and they were always very cordial and nice and, ‘How do you do, sir?’ And if I didn’t like the job, I’d turn it down. And then when you walked out, they’d say, ‘Who the hell does that punk think he is? He’ll work for me! I’ll goddamn show him! He can’t say no to me!’“James Caan also appeared in TV Shows such as The Untouchables, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The F.B.I., Get Smart, Crossing Jordan, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Hawaii Five-0, Magic City, and Back in the Game. Caan was featured in four seasons of Las Vegas and also starred alongside Billy Dee Williams in Brian’s Song, which is often called one of the best TV movies of all time. James Caan died on July 6th at the age of 82.
If you’ve watched a TV show in the last forty years, chances are good that Gregory Itzin made an appearance at some point. The prolific character actor has appeared in Mork and Mindy, Voyagers!, Falcon Crest, Tales from the Darkside, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, MacGyver, St. Elsewhere, Max Headroom, Matlock, L.A. Law, 21 Jump Street, Night Court, Empty Nest, Murphy Brown, Coach, Eerie, Indiana, Beverly Hills 90210, Quantum Leap, Something Wilder, Millennium, The Practice, Family Law, Profiler, Judging Amy, Friends, Firefly, Without a Trace, NCIS, Crossing Jordan, Boston Legal, The Mentalist, Covert Affairs, Big Love, Desperate Housewives, and so much more. He also became a frequent Star Trek actor, playing five different roles across Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. Itzin’s best known role is that of Charles Logan on 24, the power-hungry President of the United States. The role landed him Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Outstanding Guest Actor. Itzin credits the role with transforming his career. “[It was] a sea change,” Itzin said. “I was a working actor and that sort of thing, but now I’m an in resident villain.” Gregory Itzin can also be seen in movies such as Airplane!, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Airplane II: The Sequel, Teen Wolf, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Evolution, Original Sin, Adaptation, Law Abiding Citizen, The Change-Up, The Ides of March, Lincoln, and more. Gregory Itzin died on July 8th at the age of 74.
Tony Sirico, best known for playing Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on The Sopranos, died on July 8th at the age of 79. Sirico had initially auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior on The Sopranos, and although he didn’t get the part, creator David Chase offered him the role of Paulie. Sirico accepted on the condition that the character never turn out to be a rat. Like the character he portrayed on The Sopranos, Tony Sirico’s early life growing up in Brooklyn was surrounded by crime. Before he turned to acting, he had been arrested close to 30 times. “I was very unstable,” Sirico told the LA Times in 1990. “I wasn’t thinking right. So I hooked up with these guys and all of a sudden I’m a stick-up artist. I stuck up every nightclub in New York.” After serving 20 months at Sing Sing for felony weapons possession, he was visited by an acting troupe of ex-convicts who inspired him to try his hand at the craft. Sirico went on to appear in movies such as Goodfellas, Innocent Blood, Bullets over Broadway, Dead Presidents, Mighty Aphrodite, Deconstructing Harry, Cop Land, Mickey Blue Eyes, Café Society, and more. He also appeared in TV shows such as Kojak, Police Squad, Miami Vice, The Fairly Oddparents, Chuck, Medium, Lilyhammer, Family Guy, The Grinder, and American Dad.
While studying law at the University of Texas, Justus Ellis McQueen was roommates with Fess Parker, who would star in the Daniel Boone TV series. After moving to Hollywood, Parker was set to appear in an adaptation of Leon Uris’ Battle Cry and encouraged McQueen to try out. “Fess encouraged me to come out and drew me a map on the back of a laundry-shirt stuffing showing how to get to the studio,” McQueen recalled. “Within two days of arriving, I had the part of [Pvt.] L.Q. Jones in Battle Cry and probably would never have been in the business had it not been for Fess.” McQueen liked his character’s name so much that he decided to adopt it as his own, and L.Q. Jones the actor was born. Jones went on to appear in movies such as Target Zero, Love Me Tender, The Naked and the Dead, Flaming Star, Cimarron, Hell is for Heroes, Major Dundee, Hang ‘Em High, The Hunting Party, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, The Beast Within, Lone Wolf McQuade, Casino, The Edge, The Patriot, The Mask of Zorro, A Prairie Home Companion, and much more. Jones is best known for playing bounty hunter T.C. in The Wild Bunch, one of his many collaborations with Sam Peckinpah. “Sam was a genius and I loved him, but he was a basket case,” Jones said. “He drove everybody nuts.” Jones also wrote and directed A Boy and His Dog, a sci-fi black comedy based on the novella by Harlan Ellison. He can also be seen in TV shows such as Cheyenne, Lassie, Laramie, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Rifleman, Have Gun — Will Travel, Rawhide, The Virginian, My Favorite Martin, The Big Valley, The F.B.I., Gunsmoke, Kung Fu, Charlie’s Angels, CHiPs, Columbo, The Incredible Hulk, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Fall Guy, The A-Team, Walker, Texas Ranger, Renegade, and more. L.Q. Jones died on July 9th at the age of 94.
David Warner died on July 24th at the age of 80. As the actor himself said in an interview with AV Club, Warner never thought he would become a professional actor; he just kind of drifted into it. “In my Wikipedia entry, it says I had a messy childhood, and that’s the truth” Warner explained. “But I sort of drifted into the odd school play, and that was one thing that I kind of felt that I had some enthusiasm for, so I was sort of interested. But I never thought I’d ever become a professional actor or anything. I joined an amateur company when I was a teenager in England, and they wouldn’t let me go onstage in the beginning. They just let me paint scenery and stuff like that. But then I did some amateur theater and decided to try and apply for the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts, and—much to everybody’s surprise—I got in!” From there, David Warner went on to appear in movies such as The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Straw Dogs, From Beyond the Grave, The Omen, Cross of Iron, Age of Innocence, The Thirty Nine Steps, The Concord – Airport ’79, Time After Time, The Island, Time Bandits, Tron, The Man with Two Brains, The Company of Wolves, My Best Friend is a Vampire, Waxwork, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, In the Mouth of Madness, Ice Cream Man, Titanic, Scream 2, Wing Commander, Planet of the Apes, Black Death, Mary Poppins Returns, and more. Warner also made several memorable Star Trek appearances, playing St. John Talbot in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Gul Madred in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also appeared in TV shows such as S.O.S. Titanic, Remington Steele, Murder, She Wrote, Tales from the Crypt, Batman: The Animated Series, The Legend of Prince Valiant, Dinosaurs, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Babylon 5, Spider-Man, Gargoyles, Freakazoid!, Men in Black: The Series, Toonsylvania, The Outer Limits, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, Wallander, Doctor Who, Penny Dreadful, Inside No. 9, Ripper Street, The Alienist, and more.
Paul Sorvino is best known for playing Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, but it was a role he didn’t think he’d be able to tackle. “I’d done a lot of comedies as well as dramas, but I’d never done a really tough guy. I never had it in me,” Sorvino told the New York Times. “And this [part] called for a lethality, which I felt was way beyond me. I called my manager three days before we started shooting and said, ‘Get me out. I’m going to ruin this great man’s picture, and I’m going to ruin myself.’ He, being wise, said, ‘Call me tomorrow, and if necessary I will get you out.’” Sorvino added, “Then I was going by the hall mirror to adjust my tie. I was just inconsolable. And I looked in the mirror and literally jumped back a foot. I saw a look I’d never seen, something in my eyes that alarmed me. A deadly soulless look in my eyes that scared me and was overwhelmingly threatening. And I looked to the heavens and said, ‘You’ve found it.’” In addition to Goodfellas, Sorvino also appeared in movies such as A Touch of Class, The Day of the Dolphin, The Gambler, Oh, God, Slow Dancing in the Big City, Cruising, Reds, The Stuff, Dick Tracy, The Rocketeer, The Firm, Nixon, Romeo + Juliet, Bulworth, The Cooler, Mr. 3000, Repo!: The Genetic Opera, The Bronx Bull, and more. Sorvino can also be seen in TV shows like Moonlighting, Murder, She Wrote, Law & Order, Star Trek: The Next Generation, That’s Life, Still Standing, Elementary, The Goldbergs, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and Godfather of Harlem. Paul Sorvino died on July 25th at the age of 83.
Mary Alice died on July 27th at the age of 85. After graduating college and working as a Social Security secretary and an elementary school teacher, Alice joined a local theater group and got her first paying acting gig when the Negro Ensemble Company brought a touring group to Chicago. “Equity required the group to use one local actor, and I was hired to do a couple of roles and the laundry,” Alice said in 1979. “I loved it. I really loved it, and I didn’t mind doing the washing and ironing twice a week.” She went on to appear in movies such as The Education of Sonny Carson, Sparkle, Teachers, To Sleep with Anger, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Awakenings, Malcolm X, A Perfect World, Life with Mikey, Down in the Delta, Sunshine State, and more. She also played the role of the Oracle in The Matrix Revolutions after the death of the original actress (Gloria Foster). She appeared in TV shows such as Sanford and Son, Good Times, All My Children, L.A. Law, I’ll Fly Away, Law & Order, Cosby, Touched by an Angel, Oz, The Jury, and more. Alice played dorm director Leticia “Lettie” Bostic in the first two seasons of A Different World. Alice also won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role in August Wilson’s Fences, where she starred alongside James Earl Jones.
While modern audiences likely know Bernard Cribbins thanks to his role as Wilfred Mott on Doctor Who, the actor’s career stretches back decades. When Cribbins was just thirteen-years-old, he left school and joined the local theater. “I’d done a couple of bit parts while I was still at school and when I was leaving, they offered my a job as assistant stage manager and playing kids’ parts, such as they were,” Cribbins said in a 1995 interview. “There weren’t many!” He took the gig as it was easier than looking for other work at the time. He went on to appear in movies such as Two-Way Stretch, The Wrong Arm of the Law, Carry On Jack, She, Casino Royale, Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River, The Railway Children, Frenzy, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, and more. He also played Tom Campbell in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. opposite Peter Cushing as Dr. Who, forty years before he would return to the franchise to play Wilfred Mott. He also appeared in TV shows like The Avengers, Jackanory, Fawlty Towers, Space:1999, Cuffy, High & Dry, Coronation Street, Down to Earth, Midsomer Murders, and more. He also narrated and provided all of the voices for the beloved children’s program, The Wombles. Prior to his death, Cribbins reportedly returned as Wilfred Mott for the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary specials set to air in 2023. Bernard Cribbins died on July 27th at the age of 93.
Pat Carroll, best known for voicing villainous sea witch Ursula in The Little Mermaid, died on July 30th at the age of 93. Pat Carroll appeared in TV shows such as The Red Skeleton Show, Mary Tyler Moore, My Three Sons, Love, American Style, Police Story, Laverne & Shirley, Trapper John, M.D., Pound Puppies, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, ER, and more. She also played Bunny Halper, the high-spirited wife of Charley Halper (Sid Melton), on three seasons of The Danny Thomas Show. Carroll can also took part in movies such as A Goofy Movie, Freedom Writers, Nancy Drew, and Bridemaids. After playing Ursula in The Little Mermaid, Carroll went on to reprise the role in a variety of other projects, including the Kingdom Hearts video games, The Little Mermaid spin-off TV series, Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse, Mickey’s House of Villains, The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse, and more. She also voiced Ursula’s sister Morgana in the direct-to-video sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. The role of Ursula was easily one of Carroll’s favourites. “It was a lifelong ambition of mine to do a Disney film,” Carroll said in Makin‘ Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies. “So, I was theirs hook, line and sinker.” The Little Mermaid producer and lyricist Howard Ashman has originally envisioned Joan Collins as Ursula, but after she turned down the role, Carroll rose to the occasion, and she credits a video of Ashman performing Poor Unfortunate Souls for helping her land the role. “He gave me that performance! Come on, I’m honest enough to say that,” Carroll said. “I got the whole attitude from him. … His shoulders would twitch in a certain way, and his eyes would go a certain way. … I got more about that character from Howard singing that song than from anything else.“
Nichelle Nicholas, best known for playing Nyota Uhura on Star Trek, died on July 20th at the age of 89. Her role on the ground-breaking sci-fi series was one of the first times a Black woman was featured on a major TV series. However, Nichols felt she could have better opportunities elsewhere and told Gene Roddenberry that she planned to leave the series. Roddenberry tried to convince her to stay and told her to take the weekend to think it over, but if she still wanted to leave, he would give her his blessing. Nichols seemed confident with her decision, but a chance encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King changed her mind and her future. “[Dr. Martin Luther King] told me that Star Trek was one of the only shows that his wife Coretta and he would allow their little children to stay up and watch,” Nichols said. “I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. All the smile came off his face and he said, ‘You can’t do that. Don’t you understand, for the first time, we’re seen as we should be seen? You don’t have a Black role. You have an equal role.” Dr. King persuaded her how much of an impact her mere presence had on young Black people and the Civil Rights Movement, so the very next day, Nichols told Roddenberry that she would be staying. Nichelle Nichols reprised the role of Uhura for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star VI: The Undiscovered Country. She also voiced Uhura on Star Trek: The Animated series. In addition to Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols also appeared in TV shows such as The Lieutenant, Peyton Place, Tarzan, Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Spider-Man, Futurama, The Simpsons, Heroes, The Young and the Restless, and more, as well as movies like Porgy and Bess, Doctor, You’ve Got to be Kidding!, Truck Turner, The Supernaturals, Snow Dogs, Are We There Yet?, and more.
Born William Martin Gulager, the actor got his nickname from his father for the clu-clu birds who were nesting nearby when he was born. After serving in the United States Marine Corp, Gulager turned his sights to acting, appearing in TV shows such as Laramie, The Untouchables, Have Gun — Will Travel, Wanted Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare, Ironside, The F.B.I., Cannon, Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu, Police Story, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider, Airwolf, Magnum, P.I., Murder, She Wrote, MacGyver, Walker, Texas Ranger, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and more. Gulager also starred as Billy the Kidd in The Tall Man, but the series was cancelled after two seasons, reportedly because Congress wasn’t thrilled with Billy being portrayed as a hero. “But they left The Untouchables on, which was very violent,” Gulager said a 2015 interview. “I played a character on that called ‘Mad Dog’ Coll [in 1959] where I shot a horse in a horse race, killed a little boy in Brooklyn and cut off a bartender’s fingers. But they left that on because they thought that show was historically accurate.” Gulager is also known for playing Deputy Sheriff Emmett Ryker for four seasons of The Virginian. Clu Gulager made his feature-film debut alongside Lee Marvin in The Killers, a crime film that was also the final movie in which future President Ronald Reagan appeared. Gulager went on to be featured in Winning, The Last Picture Show, The Glass House, The Other Side of Midnight, A Force of One, Chattanooga Choo Choo, The Initiation, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, From a Whisper to a Scream, The Hidden, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Uninvited, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, Tangerine, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He appeared in several movies directed by his son, John Gulager, including Feast, Feast II: Sloppy Seconds, Feast III: The Happy Finish, and Piranha 3DD. Perhaps one of his most famous roles was one he didn’t want to accept, but it would be the one he’d be remembered for: The Return of the Living Dead. “I didn’t especially want to do it,” he said in a 2017 interview. “I thought I was kind of above that. And it turned out, if I’m remembered at all, that’s what I will be remembered for … I killed 18 zombies and then they came back and nuked me!” Clu Gulager died on August 5th at the age of 93.
Roger E. Mosley
Roger E. Mosley is best known for playing Theodore “T.C.” Calvin on Magnum, P.I. opposite Tom Selleck, Larry Manetti, and John Hillerman. When he first signed on to do the pilot, his agent assured him that it would just be a quick, lucrative trip to Hawaii because there was no way the show would be picked up. “‘It’s starring this guy Tom Selleck,’” Mosley recalled his agent telling him. “‘Tom Selleck has made about five pilot shows … and none of them has sold. So here’s what you do, Roger: Sign up for the show, go over to Hawaii, they’ll treat you good for the 20 days it will take to shoot the [pilot], you’ll get a lot of money, and then you come home. A show with Tom Selleck always fails, and you’ll be fine.’ Well, 8 1/2 years later… ” Mosley wanted his character to be a positive role model for Black kids, telling Ebony in 1982 that the writers “keep writing for me to smoke and drink, but I won’t do it. I never get high, smoke or drink on the show or in real life. That’s not what I want Black kids to see.” Moseley also appeared in TV Shows such as Cannon, Sanford and Son, Kojak, Kung Fu, Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, The Love Boat, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, The Sinbad Show, RoboCop, Rude Awakening, Arliss, Las Vegas, and more. He also made several guest appearances on the Magnum P.I. reboot as a different character. Mosley was also featured in movies such as The Mack, Sweet Jesus, Preacherman, Terminal Island, McQ, Darktown Strutters, Leadbelly, Drum, The Greatest, Semi-Tough, Attica, Heart Condition, Unlawful Entry, Pentathlon, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and Letters from a Killer. Roger E. Mosely died on August 7th at the age of 83.
Olivia Newton-John died on August 8th at the age of 73. She was already a best-selling musician when she was offered the chance to star alongside John Travolta in Grease, but casting director Joel Thurm said that she didn’t jump at the chance. “John was already pre-set, and John asked me, ‘What do you think of Olivia?’ I said, ‘She’s wonderful.’ He said, ‘What do you think of her for Sandy? That’s a great idea.’ And once John said that, and that’s who John wanted, I stopped anything else,” Thurm explained to People. “If she said no, I’d be playing the part in a poodle skirt. So everybody wanted Olivia here, but Olivia didn’t jump at the offer.” She finally agreed to consider it but wanted to see a screen test with John Travolta and herself. “I think I’ve never heard of a case where an actor being offered a role said, ‘I want to see me before I say yes.’ But that’s how smart she was,” Thurm said. Grease was the highest-grossing movie of 1978 and its soundtrack spent weeks at the #1 spot. “I think the songs are timeless,” Olivia Newton-John told Billboard in 2018. “They’re fun and have great energy. The ’50s-feel music has always been popular, and it’s nostalgic for my generation, and then the young kids are rediscovering it every 10 years or so, it seems. People buying the album was a way for them to remember those feelings of watching the movie and feelings of that time period. I feel very grateful to be a part of this movie that’s still loved so much.” Olivia Newton-John went on to appear in Xanadu, Two of a Kind, A Mom for Christmas, A Christmas Romance, It’s My Party, Sordid Lives, A Few Best Men, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, and The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee.
Anne Heche’s family life was anything but stable, and one of her first professional acting gigs was out of necessity to help provide money for her family. She acted in a dinner theater production of The Music Man when she was 12. “At the time we’d been kicked out of our house and my family was holed up living in a bedroom in the home of a generous family from our church,” Heche said in a 2011 interview. “I got $100 a week, which was more than anyone else in my family. We all pooled our money in an envelope in a drawer and saved up enough to move out after a year.” Heche later moved to New York City and made her television debut on Another World in the dual role of twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love. From there, Heche appeared on TV shows such as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Murphy Brown, Everwood, Nip/Tuck, Masters of Science Fiction, The Michael J. Fox Show, Adventure Time, The Legend of Korra, Quantico, Chicago P.D., and All Rise. She also had leading roles in Men in Trees, Hung, Aftermath, and The Brave. As for the big screen, Anne Heche appeared in movies such as The Adventures of Huck Finn, A Simple Twist of Fate, Pie in the Sky, The Juror, If These Ways Could Talk, Donnie Brasco, Volcano, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Wag the Dog, Six Days, Seven Nights, Psycho, John Q., Birth, What Love Is, Superman: Doomsday, Cedar Rapids, Wild Card, My Friend Dahmer, The Best of Enemies, and more. Anne Heche died on August 11th at the age of 53.
Wolfgang Petersen grew up in post-war Germany and developed a love for the American movies that flooded the country. Those movies, particularly Westerns, helped Petersen find clarity as a child who was confused about what had happened during the war. “We didn’t learn about the situation under the Nazis,” Petersen said in a 2016 interview. “My parents never really talked about that. And for a kid at the age of 10 or 12, you want an answer. I had the feeling that everything in my world and in Germany around that time was unclear. There was no moral there; there was no understanding of why things happened. In these films, there was clarity – especially in Westerns – about what is good and what is bad and about what you have to fight against and why. Clarity is important for a boy, and it was missing from the world around us.” Petersen is best known for his World War II epic Das Boot, which told the story of a German U-boat crew. “In the beginning, when the film was first screened in Los Angeles, it read on the screen, ‘Of 40,000 German submariners, 30,000 died,’” Petersen said. “There was a big applause. They thought it was good that they died. At the end of the film, after two and a half hours, they all clapped and there was a standing ovation. The film turned this hostile audience around. That is a quality of the film to show that war is war and young people die for horrible reasons.” Wolfgang Petersen went on to direct The NeverEnding Story, Enemy Mine, Shattered, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, Troy, and Poseidon. Wolfgang Petersen died on August 12th at the age of 81.
Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most influential pioneers of the French New Wave film movement, died on September 13th at the age of 91. Godard began his career as a film critic for the Cahiers du Cinéma magazine before setting out to make his own films. He quickly received global acclaim for Breathless, his debut feature film which starred Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. He went on to direct A Woman is a Woman, My Life to Live, The Little Soldier, Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Week-end, Wind From the East, Tout va bien, Letter to Jane, Every Man for Himself, Passion, First Name: Carmen, Detective, Hail Mary, King Lear, Nouvelle Vague, Hélas pour moi, For Ever Mozart, The Image Book, and more. Godard’s work has inspired just about every major director from the ’60s onwards and in 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award, but declined to accept it in person, with his partner Anne-Marie Mieville saying, “Jean-Luc won’t go to America, he’s getting old for that kind of thing. Would you go all that way just for a bit of metal?“
Henry Silva grew up in Spanish Harlem, which he later said helped prepare him for the roles he would play in countless movies. “I saw a lot of things in Harlem,” Silva said. “It was the kind of place where if you lived on one block and you wanted to go a few blocks away, you had to take a couple of guys with you, or else you would get your ass kicked.” Silva quit school when he was 13 and began working as a dishwasher to support himself while taking drama classes. He later auditioned for The Actor’s Studio and made his big-screen debut alongside Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata!. He went on to appear in movies such as A Hatful of Rain, The Bravados, Ocean’s 11, The Manchurian Candidate, Johnny Cool, The Plainsman, The Hills Run Red, The Italian Connection, The Death Dealer, Almost Human, Alligator, Sharky’s Machine, Megaforce, Chained Heat, Escape from the Bronx, The Outsider, Cannonball Run II, Code of Silence, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Amazon Women on the Moon, Above the Law, Dick Tracy, The Silence of the Hams, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and more. He also made a cameo in the Ocean’s Eleven remake. Silva made dozens of movies in Europe, many in the spaghetti western and poliziotteschi genres. “Funny thing,” Silva said in a 1971 interview, “over here they see me as a bad guy; in Europe, they see me as a hero.” Silva also appeared inTV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Spy, Hawaii Five-O, Night Gallery, The F.B.I., Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Batman: The Animated Series, and more. Henry Silva died on September 14th at the age of 95.
Irene Papas, an icon of Greek cinema, died on September 14th at the age of 93. Best known for her roles in The Guns of Navarone and Zorba the Greek, Papas knew acting was for her from a young age. “As I child I was always acting,” Papas said in a 1990 interview. “I made dolls out of sticks and rags. Once a tour came to the village and set up a tent and I saw women tearing their hair in the Greek tragedies and I liked that. After that, I would tie black kerchiefs around my head and charge the other children to watch me.” She desperately wanted to be accepted by Greece’s National School of Dramatic Arts but was still too young. In an attempt to appear taller, stronger, and older-looking, Papas exercised vigorously, but her efforts didn’t fool the school. She did eventually get accepted and upon graduation, went on to appear in movies such as Tribute to a Bad Man, Antigone, Electra, The Brotherhood, Z, Anne of the Thousand Days, The Trojan Women, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Message, Loin of the Desert, Into the Night, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and more “There are a lot of pretty girls in movies, but not many women,” Roger Ebert said in a 1969 interview with the actress. “Irene Papas is a woman, a lady, a great actress. We do not have many like her. Perhaps that’s why she doesn’t appear in many movies; ordinary actors have trouble sharing the screen with her. John Wayne has something of the same quality. Many young actors don’t have the authority and presence to play opposite him. They tend to go transparent.“
Both Louise Fletcher’s parents were deaf and worked with the deaf and hard of hearing, which Fletcher told Vanity Fair “was like having immigrant parents. You feel a special responsibility, and you’re a translator. You try to explain the world and how it works to them.” Fletcher would accompany her movie-loving mother every weekend to the cinema and use sign language to explain the plot. “People used to tease me and say that’s how I got started, re-doing old Bette Davis movies,” Fletcher said. She went on to appear in movies such as Thieves Like Us, Russian Roulette, Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Lady in Red, Strange Behavior, Strange Invaders, Brainstorm, Firestarter, Once Upon a Time in America, Invaders from Mars, Nobody’s Fool, Flowers in the Attic, Best of the Best, Blue Steel, The Player, Virtuosity, Mulholland Falls, High School High, Gone Fishin’, Cruel Intentions, and more. Of course, Louise Fletcher is best known for playing Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. “She was convinced that she had her world in order, and that for it to work properly it had to be in that order,” Fletcher said of her character. “The minute McMurphy arrived, things began to fall apart for her. And she couldn’t have that. She had enough power that her conviction could have consequences – and that’s where I felt we were in the world at the time, too. The film was all about who has the power and how they use it, and how absolute power absolutely corrupts.” Fletcher also appeared in TV shows such as Maverick, The Untouchables, Wagon Train, Perry Mason, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Twilight Zone, In the Heat of the Night, Tales from the Crypt, Picket Fences, Profiler, Joan of Arcadia, Wonderfalls, 7th Heaven, ER, Heroes, Private Practice, Shameless, and more. She also played Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Louise Fletcher died on September 23rd at the age of 88.
Coolio died on September 28th at the age of 59. “I come from very humble beginnings,” Coolio said in a 2002 interview. “My mother was a factory worker, my stepfather was a postal worker and my real father was a convict. And when I was 11, my stepfather and mother divorced, and believe me, it got pretty rough around that time. So I just believe that no matter where you come from and what your beginnings are, if you are of the mindset that you wanna do something with your life, you can do it as long as you can attain some kind of education.” Coolio is best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single Gangsta’s Paradise, which was featured in Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The song was the first rap single to sell over a million copies and reached the #1 spot on charts across the globe. Coolio also appeared in more movies and TV than you might have thought, including movies such as Dear God, Batman & Robin, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, Judgement Day, Leprechaun in the Hood, Submerged, Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th, Perfume, Get Over It, Daredevil, Red Water, and Dracula 3000, as well as TV shows like The Parent ‘Hood, Martin, All That, Space: Above and Beyond, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Duckman, The Nanny, Arliss, Charmed, Joey, Gravity Falls, and more. He also starred in the short-lived reality series Coolio’s Rules and voiced Kwanzaa-bot on Futurama. He also performed the theme song for Nickelodeon’s Kenan & Kel.
At just 17-years-old, Angela Lansbury signed a seven-year contract with MGM and her first film, Gaslight, earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Those early years found Lansbury playing characters who were much older than she was. “I played so many hags 20 years older than myself in those early films that now everyone thinks I’m 80 years old!” Lansbury told People. “I never had those chocolate-box looks they wanted for romantic leads in those days.” But as a character actor, Lansbury said that she achieved two things: “First, a healthy sense of my offscreen self and my private life, which I learned to keep separate from my screen characters. And second, a longevity of career that has outlasted many of the leading ladies who relied on their looks.” She went on to appear in movies such as National Velvet, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, The Three Musketeers, Samson and Delilah, Mutiny, The Court Jester, Blue Hawaii, The Manchurian Candidate, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Death on the Nile, The Lady Vanishes, The Last Unicorn, The Pirates of Penzance, The Company of Wolves, Nanny McPhee, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Grinch, Mary Poppins Returns, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and more. Lansbury also voiced Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. Of course, Angela Lansbury is best known for playing novelist and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, a role she would come to love. “When I first started ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ I thought it would last maybe two, three years, you know, or maybe a year if we were lucky,” Lansbury said in a 2000 interview. “But when it extended and I realized the deep inroads it had made into family life in America, I couldn’t stop. So I was sort of trapped, happily trapped, for 12 years with it. And I’m still playing Jessica from time to time and loving it. I wouldn’t want to let go of that lady.” Angela Lansbury died on October 11th at the age of 96.
Robbie Coltrane died on October 14th at the age of 72. Born Anthony Robert McMillan, the actor adopted his stage name in tribute to jazz legend John Coltrane. Coltrane got his start in theater and comedy sketch shows, appeared in The Comic Strip Presents, Alfresco, Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee, and more, before moving on to movies such as Flash Gordon, Krull, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Henry V, Slipstream, Nuns on the Run, The Adventures of Huck Finn, Buddy, Message in a Bottle, From hell, Ocean’s Twelve, Van Helsing, The Tale of Despereaux, The Brothers Bloom, Brave, and more. Coltrane also played Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky alongside Pierce Brosnan’s James bond in Goldeneye and The World is Not Enough. Coltrane was also featured in TV shows such as Are You Being Served?, Tutti Frutti, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, Frasier, and more. He also starred as Dr. Eddie ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald in Cracker, the acclaimed British crime drama. Robbie Coltrane is best known for playing Rubeus Hagrid, the kindly gamekeeper of Hogwarts, in all eight Harry Potter films. Robbie Coltrane appeared in Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts and shared a tribute to the legacy of the movies, made all the more touching after his death. “The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children,” Coltrane said. “You can be watching it in 50 years time, easy. I’ll not be here, sadly. But Hagrid will. Yes.“
Leslie Jordan fell in love with acting while studying at the University of Tennessee. “I was not one who did plays in high school,” Jordan said. “I was always funny, but that was to keep the bullies at bay and I got up in that Intro to Theater class, and it just hit me like a drug. I was a sissy, you know? I wasn’t good at sports. My dad was a lieutenant colonel in the army. He was a man’s man and his, you know, group of guys would come home and I’d be twirling a baton in the front yard.” Jordan went on to appear in TV shows such as The Fall Guy, Night Court, Murphy Brown, Newhart, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Bodies of Evidence, Perfect Strangers, Reasonable Doubts, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Nurses, Hearts Afire, Coach, Star Trek: Voyager, Arliss, The Pretender, Wings, Dharma & Greg, Ellen, Nash Bridges, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Son of the Beach, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Reba, Boston Legal, Ugly Betty, American Dad, Raising Hope, American Horror Story, Supernatural, Fantasy Island, Call Me Kat, and more. Jordan is best known for playing Beverley Leslie Will & Grace, frenemy of Megan Mullally’s Karen. Jordan told Today in 2008 that the role had originally been written for Joan Collins. “This is a true story. They’d written this episode for Joan Collins where she was gonna steal Rosario (Shelley Morrison) away from Karen Walker, the Megan Mullally character,” Jordan explained. “And then they were gonna have a ‘Dynasty’ catfight, pull each other’s wigs off.” At the last minute, Collins changed her mind, and Jordan stepped into the quickly rewritten role. Jordan also appeared in movies such as Moving, Missing Pieces, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Goodbye Lover, Sordid Lives, Home on the Range, Demonic Toys: Personal Demons, Love Ranch, The Help, and more. Leslie Jordan died on October 24th at the age of 67.
It would be difficult to imagine the holidays without the work of Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. Through their Rankin/Bass Productions, the pair created the iconic holiday TV specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. Jules Bass attended New York University before joining Rankin at Videocraft International, later known as Rankin/Bass Productions.Their first project was the stop-motion animated series The New Adventures of Pinocchio. Bass also worked on Tales of the Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz, The Wacky World of Mother Goose, The Little Drummer Boy, Jackson 5ive, The Year Without a Santa Claus, The First Easter Rabbit, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, The Little Drummer Boy Book II, The Hobbit, Jack Frost, The Return of the King, The Last Unicorn, The Wind in the Willows, and more. Bass also executive produced the Thundercats TV series. Arthur Rankin Jr., who died in 2014, said that Bass and himself “sort of complemented each other. He had certain talents that I didn’t have, and I had certain talents that he didn’t have. I was basically an artist and a creator; he was a creator and a writer and a lyricist.” Jules Bass died on October 25th at the age of 87.
Kevin Conroy attended the Juilliard School’s drama division, where he roomed with Robin Williams and studied under John Houseman. After graduating, Conroy went on to appear in TV shows such as Another World, Search for Tomorrow, Dynasty, Matlock, Spenser: For Hire, Ohara, Tour of Duty, Cheers, Murphy Brown, The Venture Bros., Masters of the Universe: Revelation, and more, but he’s best known for voicing Bruce Wayne/Batman in a variety of DC projects beginning with Batman: The Animated Series. Conroy didn’t know much about Batman before auditioning. “I had no preconceptions about the character, either,” Conroy said. “Bruce Timm said, ‘What do you know about Batman?’ And I said, ‘Well, I know the Adam West show from the ’60s.’ He said, ‘Oh, no, no, that’s not what we’re doing! Forget that!’ He had to explain to me the Dark Knight legacy and how dark this character was: ‘He’s avenging his parents’ deaths and he’s got these dual identities.’” Series co-creator Bruce Timm said, “We had him read both Bruce Wayne dialogue and Batman dialogue and, right out of the gate, without any extra direction from us, he just nailed it.” Conroy went on to voice the character in TV shows like Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Static Shock, Teen Titans Go!, and movies such as Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Gotham Knight, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Justice League: Doom, Batman: The Killing Joke, and much more. He also voiced the character for a variety of video games, including the popular Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight. Kevin Conroy died on November 10th at the age of 66.
Nicki Aycox died on November 16th at the age of 47. She is best known for playing Meg Masters on Supernatural, a recurring demon antagonizing Sam and Dean Winchester. Aycox boarded the series early in its first season but felt immediately welcomed by the crew. In a 2016 interview, she gave credit to the late Kim Manners for allowing her to collaborate on the creation of her character. “Kim Manners [Supernatural’s late executive producer and director, who oversaw day-to-day production on set in Vancouver] was actually the one that sat down with me at dinner and said ‘hey, you’re here now, you’re in Vancouver, what can we do with this character?’” Aycox said. “So it was him that brought that in and allowed me to sort of create the character as well, and nobody argued about it, so I think they were very positive.” Nicki Aycox also appeared in TV shows such as 3rd Rock from the Sun, Boy Meets World, Providence, Ally McBeal, The X-Files, Dark Angel, CSI, Family Law, The Twilight Zone, Ed, Las Vegas, LAX, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, John from Cincinnati, Law & Order, Dark Blue, Longmire, The Glades, and more, as well as movies such as Jeepers Creepers 2, Perfect Stranger, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Joy Road 2: Dead Ahead, and more.
Jason David Frank
Jason David Frank is best known for playing Tommy Oliver, aka the Green Ranger, on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Frank was originally intended to appear in a limited number of episodes, but the character proved so popular that they brought him back as a regular character. Frank was one of the show’s biggest champions, and he believed in the show from day one. “I’m a martial arts guy and you get a bunch of guys in different colours fighting these big monsters? Kids are going to love that,” Frank said in a 2017 interview. “Kids love cheese, and karate is so cool to watch, too. I’ve always been loyal to the brand, but I had no idea that we’d be sitting here 25 years later talking about it. But my philosophy has always been, ‘Work hard today and you’ll have a better tomorrow.’” In addition to the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series, Frank reprised his role for Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers Wild Force, Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Power Rangers Megaforce, Power Rangers Ninja Steel, and more, appearing in over 200 episodes of the series in total. Frank also appeared in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. He also made a cameo appearance alongside original Pink Ranger Amy Jo Johnson in the 2017 big-screen Power Rangers reboot. Jason David Frank died on November 19th at the age of 49.
While growing up in Hawaii, Albert Pyun received an invitation from Toshiro Mifune to travel to Japan for an internship. “He saw a short film I had done and knew it was difficult for an Asian in Hollywood at that time,” Pyun said in a 2011 interview. “So he really supported my dream to become a feature filmmaker.” Pyun also received instruction from Takao Saito, Akira Kurosawa’s cinematographer who worked on Ran, Dreams, and more. “He taught about using composition and color to tell a story, and reveal characters,” Pyun said. Throughout his career, Pyun directed a lot of low-budget cult classics, including The Sword and the Sorcerer, Radioactive Dreams, Dangerously Close, Down Twisted, Alien from L.A., Cyborg, Bloodmatch, Kickboxer 2, Dollman, Nemesis, Arcade, Knights, Brainsmasher… A Love Story, Kickboxer 4, Hong Kong ’97, Nemesis 2, Nebula, Omega Doom, Nemesis 3: Prey Harder, Nemesis 4: Death Angel, Crazy Six, Urban Menace, The Wrecking Crew, and more. Pyun is also known for directing Captain America, the 1990 cult classic featuring the iconic Marvel superhero. At the time, the rights belonged to The Cannon Group, but when Menahem Golan set out on his own, Pyun urged him to take the rights with him. “I told Menahem to make sure he took Captain America with him, as it could really be a valuable project,” Pyun said in a 2011 interview. “He did, but obviously it was a struggle for him financially to get 21st Century up and running. So he couldn’t afford a rights payment that was coming due. His rights to Captain America would revert back to Marvel if he missed the payment. I asked to read the most recent and Marvel-approved draft of Captain America and loved writer Stephen Tolkin’s take on the character, because it was really about Steve Rogers and our hero culture in the United States. I found it to dovetail into my own feelings about the character. I went right to Menahem and proposed a way to make the film on a budget and before the rights expiration date. Menahem gave me the green light, and off I went.” Captain America originally had a budget of $6 million, but it quickly became apparent to Pyun that Menahem couldn’t close his bank financing for the project. “My producer, Tom Karnowski, literally was told to travel to different countries with a suitcase to pick up cash,” Pyun explained. “It was a miracle the production didn’t shut down and fall apart. So we just shot as fast as possible and used that momentum to finish the shoot.” Albert Pyun died on November 26th at the age of 69.
Brad William Henke
Brad William Henke died on November 29th at the age of 56. Before becoming an actor, Henke was an NFL player who played with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers, but multiple injuries led him to retire from professional football several years later. He quickly discovered a love for acting. “I’m fortunate I’ve found something I love to do a million times more than playing football,” Henke said in a 1998 interview. “I was kind of lost for a while after my football career ended, and I’m so glad I found this. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with the best of my life already behind me.” Henke went on to appear in movies such as Mr. Wrong, Space Jam, The Fan, The Thirteenth Floor, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Must Love Dogs, North Country, World Trade Center, Hollywoodland, Choke, Struck by Lightning, Jobs, Pacific Rim, Draft Day, Fury, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, Split, Bright, and more. He can also be seen in TV shows such as Nash Bridges, Arliss, ER, The Pretender, Going to California, Crossing Jordan, Judging Amy, CSI, Dexter, Cold Case, Law & Order, October Road, Lost, CSI: Miami, Party Down, Criminal Minds, Shameless, Justified, The Chicago Code, Bones, The Office, Castle, The Bridge, Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, Manhunt: Deadly Games, The Stand, and more. Henke also played Desi Piscatella on Orange is the New Black. The role proved to be a breakout one for Henke, who achieved acclaim for playing the gay corrections officer at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary. “I actually didn’t see the show until year three and I binged it over a few days, and then I go the audition, and was in New York a few days later,” Henke said in a 2017 interview. “I will always love and watch this show. … ‘Orange Is the New Black’ was the best acting experience of my life.“
Kirstie Alley is best known for playing Rebecca Howe on NBC sitcom Cheers after being brought in to replace Shelley Long in the sixth season. When Alley arrived on set, she dressed like her predecessor with a blond wig, lightened eyebrows, and a “goody-two-shoes” dress. “I wanted to break the ice and get off to a fresh start,” Alley said. It worked as she was quickly accepted into the Cheers family. She would go on to win a Golden Globe and Emmy Award for her work on the series. After Cheers came to an end, Alley starred in her own series, Veronica’s Closet, in which she played the owner of a lingerie company in New York City. She also made appearances in Wings (as her Cheers character), Dharma & Greg, Hot in Cleveland, The Middle, Scream Queens, The Goldbergs, and more. She also appeared as herself in Fat Actress, Kristie Alley’s Big Life, Dancing with the Stars, and more. On the big-screen, Kirstie Alley made her debut as Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan but chose not to reprise the role for further appearances of the character due to not being offered enough money. She’s also known for starring alongside John Travolta in Look Who’s Talking, and returned in Look Who’s Talking Too and Look Who’s Talking Now. Alley also appeared in Summer School, Loverboy, Madhouse, Village of the Damned, It Takes Two, Deconstructing Henry, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and more Kirstie Alley died on December 5th at the age of 71.
Angelo Badalamenti, best known as the composer of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, died on December 11th at the age of 85. Badalamenti’s haunting and beautiful theme for Twin Peaks was merely one of his many collaborations with David Lynch. He composed music for Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, and Mulholland Drive. He also returned for the Twin Peaks revival series on Showtime. Badalamenti’s work can be heard on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The City of Lost Children, Arlington Road, The Beach, Auto Focus, Cabin in the Woods, A Very Long Engagement, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, The Wicker Man, and more. Angelo Badalamenti’s relationship with David Lynch was rooted in improvisation, with the pair getting together and letting the music pour out as Lynch described the scenes. “I sit with Angelo and talk to him about a scene and he begins to play those words on the piano,” Lynch told The New York Times in 2005. “Sometimes we would even get together and make stuff up on the piano, and before you know it that leads to the idea for a scene or a character. When we started working together, we had an instant kind of a rapport — me not knowing anything about music but real interested in mood and sound effects. I realized a lot of things about sound effects and music working with Angelo, how close they are to one another.” In the same interview, Badalamenti added, “David’s visuals are very influenced by the music. The tempo of music helps him set the tempo of the actors and their dialogue and how they move. He would sit next to me at a keyboard describing what he was thinking as I would improvise the score. Almost all of Twin Peaks was written without me seeing a single frame, at least in the pilot.“ In addition to his work on movies and television, Angelo Badalamenti also collaborated with numerous musical artists throughout his career, including Nima Simone, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Marianne Faithful, Shirley Bassey, Liza Minnelli, Anthrax, LL Cool J, and more.
Mike Hodges died on December 17th at the age of 90. Hodges is best known for directing Get Carter, which has been described as “one of the great British gangster films of all time,” as well as Flash Gordon, the colourful, pulpy sci-fi fantasy based on the comic strip of the same name. Mike Hodges started working as a teleprompter operator for British television before writing and directing films for TV. His first feature film was Get Carter, a crime drama which starred Michael Caine as a London gangster who returns to his hometown to learn about his brother’s supposedly accidental death. He reunited with Caine for his next film, Pulp, and went on to direct The Terminal Man, Flash Gordon, Morons from Outer Space, A Prayer for the Dying, Black Rainbow, Croupier, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Nearly thirty years after the release of Get Carter, a remake was released starring Sylvester Stallone, but Hodges has never seen it. He came close when his son brought back a DVD of the remake from Hong Kong. He got drunk one night and tried to watch it, but the disc wasn’t compatible. “So we put it in the dustbin,” Hodges said. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Damien: Omen II and served as director of the film for several weeks before he was fired and replaced by Don Taylor. The relationship between Hodges and the producers reportedly grew so grim that one of the producers even pulled a gun on him, although Hodges downplayed the interaction while speaking with The Guardian in 2003. “Well, ‘pulled’ isn’t quite the right word,” Hodges said. “I was having a discussion with the producer, who was slightly neurotic, to say the least, and he got very angry. We were sitting in an office and he suddenly rummaged in his bag and put this handgun on the table. And I said, ‘Is that loaded?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And then we just looked at each other for a bit.”
As a teenager, Ruggero Deodato was close friends with Renzo Rossellini, the son of famed Italian director Roberto Rossellini. After Renzo persuaded him to work on several of his father’s movies, Deodato rose behind the scenes, serving as an assistant director on General Della Rovere, Blackout in Rome, Django, Navajo Joe, The Hellbenders, and more. Deodato went on to helm his own movies, including Hercules, Prisoner of Evil, Waves of Lust, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, Jungle Holocaust, Concorde Affaire ’79, The House on the Edge of the Park, The Atlantis Interceptors, Cut and Run, Body Count, The Barbarians, Phantom of Death, and more. But of course, Deodato is best known for Cannibal Holocaust, a found-footage horror movie that was so gruesome Deodato was brought up on murder charges due to the belief that he had actually killed several of the actors on camera. In order to sell the illusion that Cannibal Holocaust contained genuine recovered documentary footage, Deodato hired largely unknown young actors. “I had them sign a contract that said they must disappear for a year after the film was finished. ‘To me you’re dead,’” Deodato said in a 2011 interveiw. “When the court case happened they genuinely accused me of having killed the actors! I hired the best lawyers in Italy and I screened the film. They watched the film and I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m going to jail.’” Deodato had to track down several of the actors he had supposedly “killed” in order to prove his innocence and explained how they pulled off the more grisly moments, most notably the impalement scene. Ruggero Deodato died on December 29th at the age of 83.
Other notables we lost this year include The Count of Monte Cristo screenwriter Jay Wolpert, The Time Machine actress Yvette Mimieux, The Flight of the Phoenix actor Hardy Krüger, WKRP in Cincinnati actor Howard Hesseman, Man of Steel editor David Brenner, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit actor Ned Eisenberg, The Shaggy Dog actor Tim Considine, Game of Thrones actor John Stahl, Good Times actor Johnny Brown, Sesame Street actor Emilio Delgado, The Irishman actor Paul Herman, Roots director Marvin J. Chomsky, Spartacus actress Joanna Barnes, Twin Peaks actor Kenneth Welsh, The Sopranos actor Bruce MacVittie, Dynasty actor Bo Hopkins, Seinfeld producer George Shapiro, Blade Runner actor Joel Turkel, F Troop actor Larry Storch, Twin Peaks actor Lenny Van Dohlen, James Bond theme composer Monty Norman, Charmed actress Rebecca Balding, Hill Street Blues actor Taurean Blacque, The Postman Always Rings Twice director Bob Rafelson, Dallas actress Roseanna Christiansen, The Doctors actor Richard Roat, Barry Lyndon actor and Stanley Kubrick’s personal assistant Leon Vitali, Triangle of Sadness actress Charlbi Dean, It’s a Wonderful Life actress Virginia Patton Moss, Pride and Prejudice actress Marsha Hunt, The A-Team actor Jack Ging, Star Trek actor Robert Brown, Murder, She Wrote actor Ron Masak, Fringe actor Michael Kopsa, Ghostbusters actress Kymberly Herrin, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone actor Leslie Phillips, Hogan’s Heroes actor Robert Clary, Halloween actor James Winburn, River’s Edge screenwriter Neal Jimenez, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service cinematographer Michael Reed, General Hospital actress Sonya Eddy, Surfside 6 actress Diane McBain, Football superstar and Escape to Victory actor Pelé, and American broadcast journalist legend Barbara Walters.