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Saturday, May 1, 2004
by Rusty White

Rivals John Wayne and Ray Milland battle a giant squid in Cecil B. DeMille's 1942 adventure classic REAP THE WILD WIND

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DUNCAN CARSE Died May 2, 2004

Explorer, sailor and actor Duncan Carse died at age 90. Mr. Carse was a renowned British explorer. He was responsible for mapping the polar island of South Georgia. The four expeditions to map South Georgia were not Mr. Carse’s only excursions into the unknown. During the 1930s Carse served on the royal research ship Discovery. Mr. Carse played the lead in the successful BBC radio drama "Dick Barton, Secret Agent." He appeared in the movie "Penny and the Pownall Case." Mr. Carse directed and filmed the documentary "Gateway to the Antarctic." He wrote the script and dialogue for the documentary "The White Continent."

NELSON GIDDING Died May 2, 2004

Screenwriter Nelson Gidding died of congestive heart failure at age 84. Mr. Gidding was nominated, along with Don Mankiewicz for the Best Screenplay Adapted Oscar for the true crime drama "I Want to Live!" The movie was directed by Robert Wise. Mr. Wise and Mr. Gidding made five films together including two personal favorites of mine: the original version of "The Haunting" and "Odds Against Tomorrow." Nelson Gidding’s many credits include the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s "The Andromeda Strain," "Nine Hours to Rama" which dealt with the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the cheesy Burt Reynolds’ missing-link film "Skullduggery," "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" and "Onionhead." Mr. Gidding served his country in the Army Air Corp during WWII. His B-26 was shot down in Italy and Mr. Gidding spent 18 months in a German POW camp. He taught screenwriting at USC’s film school.

PAUL GUIMARD Died May 2, 2004

French writer Paul Guimard died of heart problems at age 83. Mr. Guimard’s most famous novel "Les Choses de la Vie" was filmed with Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. The 1970 film was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes. It was remade in the US in 1994 as "Intersection." The remake starred Richard Gere, Sharon Stone and Lolita Davidovich.

ZULU Died May 3, 2004

Hawaiian actor Zulu (real name Gilbert Lani Kauhi) died of complications from diabetes at age 66. Zulu was best known for his supporting role as Detective Kono Kalakaua on the CBS TV series "Hawaii 5-0." Zulu was part of the original cast. He stayed with the show for four years. Other credits include "The Brian Keith Show," "Magnum P.I." and "Charlie’s Angels."

BETTY MILLER Died May 3, 2004

Actress Betty Miller died at age 79. Ms. Miller worked on stage and in film and TV. Her film credits include a personal favorite of mine: "The Pope of Greenwich Village." She played Betty Spaghetti as an older woman in "A League of Their Own." Other film credits include "Leon: The Professional," "Bringing Out the Dead," "Angie," "Antigone" and "Law & Order."

VOLUS JONES Died May 3, 2004

Veteran animator Volus Jones died at age 90. Mr. Jones worked for almost every major animation company in the business during his 48-year career. Mr. Jones received the "Golden Award" during the 1985 Motion Picture Screen Cartoonist Awards. Mr. Jones numerous credits include "Chip ‘an Dale," "Pluto’s Christmas Tree," "Chili Con Corny," "Scooby and Scrappy Doo," "The New Adventures of Tom and Jerry" and "Santa and the Three Bears." Four cartoons animated by Mr. Jones were nominated for Best Short Subject Cartoons Oscars.


Actress Michelle Skalnik died at age 27. Ms. Skalnik appeared in several films and TV shows. She was one of the Blue Ribbon Society members in the horror film "Disturbing Behavior." Other credits include "The Linda McCartney Story," "The Perfect Body," "Atomic Train" and "Poltergeist: The Legacy."

ANTHONY AINLEY Died May 3, 2004

British actor Anthony Ainley died at age 71. Mr. Ainley was know to millions of "Dr. Who" fans as "The Master." Ainley played Dr. Who’s arch enemy from 1981 through 1989. Mr. Ainley appeared a number of films including "Inspector Clouseau" and the James Bond entry "You Only Live Twice." He was the son of silent film star Henry Ainley and the brother of actor Richard Ainley.

HUGH GILLIN Died May 4, 2004

Character actor Hugh Gillin died at age 78. Mr. Gillian was best known for his portrayal of Sheriff Hunt in "Psycho 2" and "Psycho 3." Mr. Gillin appeared in one of my favorite B-movies, "Fast Walking." The photo at right is courtesy of Bob Hoffman Video Productions. Mr. Hoffman said that Mr. Gillin was "Always a real gentleman. Very nice top work with and professional." Among Mr. Gillin’s many credits are "Back to the Future Part III," "Elvis and Me" in which he played Col. Tom Parker, "The Winds of War," "Airplane II," "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" and "Paper Moon."

DAVID J. PIEL Died May 6, 2004

One of my favorite lines from "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" is "What are you going to do with those pies, boys?" The hapless security guard who delivers the line is then bombarded with highly acidic pies which dissolve him in short order. Actor David Piel delivered the memorable line. Mr. Piel has died at age 80. Mr. Piel served his country as a US Marine in the Pacific theater of operation during WWII.

VIRGINIA CAPERS Died May 6, 2004

Tony Award winning actress Virginia Capers died of complications from pneumonia at age 78. Ms. Capers had over 100 film and TV credits. She appeared in a number of great films during her lengthy career. I remember her best as the Nurse in the 80s classic "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off." She won a Tony Award for her performance in "Raisin" a musical adaptation of "A Raisin in the Sun." Ms. Capers’ many film credits include "The Great White Hope," "Lady Sings the Blues," "Support Your Local Gunfighter," "Trouble Man," "Five on the Black Hand Side," "White Mama," "The Toy," "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling" and "What’s Love Got to Do With It?" Among her many TV credits was a recurring role on the TV series "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

VALENTIN YEZHOV Died May 8, 2004

Oscar nominated writer Valentin Yezhov died of natural causes at age 83. The Russian screenwriter penned over 30 films during his career. Mr. Yezhov is best known to international audiences for the 1959 film "Ballad of a Soldier." Yezhov shared a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination with Grigori Chukhraj. "Ballad of a Soldier" is a very moving film about a young soldier who falls in love while on leave from the front.

OLIVE OSMOND Died May 9, 2004

The matriarch of the famed Osmond family died of complications from a massive stroke. Mrs. Osmond was the mother of Donny, Marie and the rest of the singing clan. She made cameo appearances in two TV movies devoted to the family of Mormon entertainers. Her daughter Marie portrayed her in the TV film "Side by Side: The True Story of the Osmond Family." The movie was based on a book written by Mrs. Osmond. Actress Veronica Cartwright portrayed her in the TV film "Inside the Osmonds." Mrs. Osmond appeared with her family on several episodes of "The Andy Williams Show." Mrs. Osmond is pictured with her husband George. This December would have been their 60th wedding anniversary! Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.

TOMMY FARRELL Died May 9, 2004

Actor/comedian Tommy Farrell died of natural causes at age 82. Mr. Farrell was the son of Warner Brothers’ actress Glenda Farrell (Little Caesar). He was also the father of producer/writer/director Mark Farrell. Tommy Farrell has success in a number of different showbiz arenas. He was a well-known actor in Western films and TV shows. Mr. Farrell was described as the last living B-movie Western sidekick. Mr. Farrell also performed as a nightclub comedian. Mr. Farrell’s film credits include "Kissin’ Cousins" and "Girl Happy" with Elvis Presley, uncredited cameos in Hitchcock’s "Strangers on a Train" and "North by Northwest" and Blake Edwards’ "Breakfast at Tiffany’s." He also appeared in a number of Westerns. His TV credits include roles as regular characters on "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," "This is Alice" and "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." Mr. Farrell was honored with a Golden Boot Award in 2003 for his lifetime of work in the Western film genre.

ALAN KING Died May 9, 2004

The King of Comedy Alan King died of lung cancer at age 76. King’s quick wit and sharp quips entertained audiences for nearly 60 years. He appeared on TV’s "The Ed Sullivan Show" over 50 times. Part of my social conscience came from growing up watching King’s humorous commentary on "Ed Sullivan" and "The Tonight Show." King and Johnny Carson had many memorable exchanges. I always liked the way Alan King would wait for the audience to catch up with him. If the joke was a bit subtle, King would pause, puffing on his cigar until the joke hit pay dirt. His wit rarely missed its mark. King was a member of the Friar’s Club. Everyone who was anyone in show business during the last half of the 20th century was slow roasted by Alan King at the Friar’s Club.

Alan King also had a successful acting career. Her appeared in a number of films and TV shows. While he was typecast to a certain extent, King was able to bring depth to his characters. King often played gangsters. One of my favorite films of the 70s is Sidney Lumet’s smart crime caper "The Anderson Tapes." King shines in a small but important role as Sean Connery’s Mafia backer. King starred opposite Ali McGraw in Sidney Lumet’s "Just Tell Me What You Want." The film gave King a rare romantic-leading role. Of course, the character was a bit gruff, but it was nice to see King given headliner exposure in a film. While the movie received lukewarm reviews, it has some great moments. The film also boasts the great Myrna Loy in her final feature film. King made a total of four films with director Sidney Lumet. He played the Rabbi in "Bye, Bye Braverman." King appeared as himself in Lumet’s true-life crime drama "Prince of the City."

King was also a film producer. He produced the intelligent if somewhat disappointing horror film "Wolfen." Albert Finney and Gregory Hines starred in the thinking man’s werewolf movie. That same year, King produced the great star studded Western "Cattle Annie and Little Britches." Being a die hard Diane Lane fan, I probably rate this one a bit higher than non-fans. King produced "Memories of Me," in which he also starred. He played Billy Crystal’s dying father. The film is average but King is responsible for what heart the movie does have. He produced a number of TV series and films including "How to Pick Up Girls!"

King was married to his wife Jeanette for 57 years! Thanks for the many laughs!

PHIL GERSH Died May 10, 2004

Hollywood super agent Phil Gersh died at age 92. Mr. Gersh was an agent for a multitude of Hollywood stars for over 70 years. He started his own agency in 1949. Among Mr. Gersh’s many clients were Humphrey Bogart, William Fraker, Jim Brown, Richard Benjamin, Robert Wise, Richard Fleischer, William Holden, David Niven, Karl Malden and countless others. Mr. Gersh served his country in the US Army during WWII. He saw action in North Africa and Italy. Mr. Gersh appeared as himself in the documentary "Jim Brown All American."

DOROTHY VAN ENGLE Died May, 10, 2004

Black actress Dorothy Van Engle died at age 87. Ms. Engle was one of the leading Black actresses in America during the late 1930s and 40s. While White Americans would probably associate the names Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen with the 1930s and 40s, Black Americans of the era will remember Ms. Engle. She appeared in the films of Black film pioneer Oscar Micheaux and others. His films were made for Black audiences, with Black casts and crews. Ms. Engle’s credits include "Murder in Harlem," "Swing," "Girl from Chicago" and "Lying Lips."

PORTLAND MASON Died May 10, 2005

Actress Portland Mason died at age 55 of undisclosed causes. Ms. Mason was the daughter of actors James and Pamela Mason. Ms. Mason acted as a child. She appeared as Gregory Peck’s daughter in the film "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit." She appeared with her parents and brother in an episode of the anthology TV series "Panic!" Other film and TV credits include "The Shirley Temple Storybook," "Cry Terror!," "The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery" and "Sebastian." Ms. Mason and her brother Morgan fought their stepmother for 16 years to have their father’s ashes interred. The children finally won the legal battle in 2000. Ms. Mason was named for the wife of comedian Fred Allen.

LEE ORGEL Died May 12, 2004

Producer/writer Lee Orgel died of emphysema at age 78. Mr. Orgel produced the famous cartoons "The Abbott and Costello Show," "Gay Puree" and "Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol." He also wrote for the TV series "Batman," "The Scooby Doo/Dynomutt Hour" and "The New Three Stooges."

SYD HOFF Died May 12, 2004

Prolific children’s book author, illustrator and cartoonist Syd Hoff died at age 91. Mr. Hoff’s books "Danny and the Dinosaur" and "Sammy the Seal" entertained millions of baby boomer toddlers, myself included. My late grandmother promised she would buy me a book of my choice if I learned to tie my shoes. I was four at the time! I chose Hoff’s "Danny and the Dinosaur." My love for the book has been passed on to my children and hopefully they will pass it on to theirs. Mr. Hoff’s funny book "Stanley and the Dinosaurs" was turned into a great 26-minute claymation short by John Clarke Matthews. The funny little film tells the tale of a caveman named Stanley who may be a little more evolved than his friends. The dinosaurs are funny and personable. Mr. Hoff was also a panelist on the TV game show "Draw to Win."

FLOYD KALBER Died May 13, 2004

Emmy winning newsman Floyd Kalber died of emphysema at age 79. The Chicago newsman made the jump to the national stage when he was tapped to co-anchor the "Today" show. Mr. Kalber also anchored the "NBC Sunday News." His assignments included covering the first two Apollo moon landings.

TERRY CRUMMITT Died May 13, 2004

Actor and Internet Icon Terry Crummitt was killed in an automobile accident in Laurel Maryland. As Terry McCrea, Mr. Crummitt appeared in a number of films and TV shows including "Gods and Generals," "Cecil B. Demented," "America’s Most Wanted" and "The West Wing." The 27-year-old actor was probably best known for his Internet incarnation: "Snack Boy." "Snack Boy" helped ease the workday load for millions with his five-minute story breaks via live internet broadcast. If you are unfamiliar with "Snack Boy" you can access archived programs at Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

SHAUN SUTTON Died May 14, 2004

BBC producer Shaun Sutton died at age 84. Mr. Sutton was the head of the BBC TV drama group between 1969 and 84. Mr. Sutton produced some of the most famed BBC TV series and movies. He co-produced "The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare" between 1978 and 85. During Mr. Sutton’s tenure, the BBC produced such classic shows as "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," "I, Claudius," "The Forsythe Saga" and "The Browning Version." It is unlikely that Mr. Sutton would be able to work for US media giant Clear Channel as Mr. Sutton fought for the BBC’s right to air controversial material such as the series "Brimstone and Treacle" and "Scum." Mr. Sutton served his country in the Royal Navy during WWII. Mr. Sutton was made OBE.

ANNA LEE Died May 14, 2004

Veteran actress Anna Lee died of pneumonia at age 91. Ms. Lee had over 120 film and TV credits during her 70 plus year career. Ms Lee portrayed Lila Quartermaine on "General Hospital" from 1978 through 2003 and on "General Hospital" spin-off "Port Charles" from 1997 through 2003. Ms. Lee performed the role in a wheelchair for most of the series run. She was paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident in 1979. The British actress moved to the US in the early 1930s. She appeared in a number of great films. Ms. Lee was one of the John Ford regulars. She appeared in eight of Ford’s films including "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "Fort Apache" and "How Green Was My Valley." Ms. Lee played Sister Margaretta in "The Sound of Music." She costarred with Boris Karloff in Mark Robson’s "Bedlam." Other memorable credits include "In Like Flint," "7 Women," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "Flying Tigers," "King Solomon’s Mines," "Gunsmoke," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Mannix," "My Three Sons," "Perry Mason," "77 Sunset Strip," "Wagon Train" and "Combat!" Ms. Lee’s first husband was her "King Solomon’s Mines" director Robert Stevenson. Her last husband was writer Robert Nathan (Portrait of Jennie.) She was the mother of actors Jeffery Byron and Venitia Stevenson. Ms. Lee was made MBE in 1982.

PHILIP JONES Died May 14, 2004

Thames TV producer Philip Jones died of cancer at age 76. Mr. Jones was the producer who lured Benny Hill away from the BBC and into the happy arms of ITV, Thames parent company. Mr. Jones was nominated for an Emmy award for producing "The Benny Hill Show." His relationship with Benny Hill lasted 20 years. Mr. Jones oversaw Thames during the 1970s and 80s. Mr. Jones produced the pop music series "Thank Your Lucky Stars" in the early 1960s. The show was notable for the first televised appearance of The Beatles on January 19, 1963 and the first UK TV appearance by The Rolling Stones on July 7, 1963! Mr. Jones was made an OBE in 1978.


Spanish actor Narciso Ibanex Menta died after a lengthy illness at age 91. Mr. Menta was well known in Spain and Argentina as an actor in the horror genre. Mr. Menta appeared in cult director Jacinto Molina’s "Return of the Wolfman." Mr. Menta’s best known film is director Enrique Carreras’ Edgar Allan Poe anthology film "Masterworks of Terror." Mr. Menta joined the ranks of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee when he portrayed Count Dracula in "The Saga of Dracula." Mr. Menta appeared in over 50 films during his 55-year career.


WWII hero Robert Morgan died of complication from a fall at age 85. Morgan was the pilot of the famed B-17 Super Fortress "Memphis Belle." The "Memphis Belle" was the first B-17 to complete 25 missions over Germany during WWII. Morgan was quoted as saying "25 missions doesn’t sound like much until you start flying them!" Director William Wyler shot the documentary "The Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress," which chronicled the famed aircraft’s last combat mission. Col. Morgan appeared as himself in the taut documentary. The exploits of the famed B-17 were turned into the 1990 feature film "Memphis Belle." Unfortunately, the move was a factual fiasco. The names of the famous crew were changed for Hollywood. I guess that way, they didn’t have to pay the brave men who actually risked their lives to defend freedom. Matthew Modine played the plane’s commander. He wasn’t named Robert K. Morgan! I remember growing up in the shadow of the Memphis Belle. As a child, I accompanied my older sister when she took her pet Great Dame to obedience school at the National Guard Armory at Central and Hollywood in Memphis. It was 1966. My sister and her fellow dog owners trained their pups under the Memphis Belle’s wingspan. Fast forward 20 years: I was working at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Memphis in 1988. As I was waiting on a table, I heard the roar of Pratt and Whitney Engines overhead. This particular day, the Memphis Belle Exhibit at Mud Island in Memphis was being opened. Four B-17 Bombers were flying in formation over the Mississippi River at Memphis. The sound of the Pratt and Whitney engine is unique. If you have seen the movie "12 O'Clock High" you know the sound. I told my customers to hold one that day. I ran outside of the restaurant and looked up in time to see the squadron of B-17s flying overhead. The B-17 is such a beautiful aircraft. I can't think of a sexier aircraft. The Memphis Belle was a prominent part of my childhood. Col. Robert Morgan was a big part of so many people in Memphis. Thanks for the years of service to your country Col. Morgan! Thanks for a life well lived.

TATSUYA MIHASHI Died May 15, 2004

Award-winning Japanese actor Tatsuya Mihashi died of a heart attack at age 80. Mr. Mihashi appeared in nearly 70 films during his 50 plus year career. Mr. Mihashi’s last film was the recently released "Casshern," a live action version of a 1973 sci-fi anime movie. Mr. Mihashi is best known to US audiences for his portrayal of Commander Minoru Genda in the 1970 Pearl Harbor film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Commander Genda was the mastermind who planned the attack. Mr. Mihashi appeared in two films by the master director Akira Kurosawa. "The Bad Sleep Well" was Kurosawa’s 1960 take on "Hamlet." "High – Low" is one of Kurosawa’s more introspective films. As with everything Kurosawa did, these films are well worth seeing. Mr. Mihashi also appeared in Woody Allen’s spy spoof "What’s Up Tiger Lilly?" Mr. Mihashi won two Best Actor Awards at the Mainichi Film Concours in 1966 for "The Thin Line" and in 2000 for "Not Forgotten."

SUSAN SILKISS Died May 15, 2004

TV producer Susan Silkiss died of Breast cancer at age 48. Ms. Silkiss was the coordinating producer on a number of TV shows including "Sunset Beach," "Wheel of Fortune" and "Generations." Prayers of comfort for her family and friends.

JACK BRADBURY Died May 15, 2004

Animator Jack Bradbury died of renal failure at age 89. Mr. Bradbury worked for Disney and Warner Brothers before moving to the world of print illustrations. While at Disney, Mr. Bradbury worked on such films as "Bambi," "Fantasia" and "Pinocchio." He drew the stag fight in "Bambi," the scene set to Beethoven’s 6th Symphony in "Fantasia" and Figaro the cat walking on Gepetto’s bed in "Pinocchio." Mr. Bradbury then went to work for Fritz Freleng at Warner Brothers. Mr. Bradbury’s longest association was with Western Publishing where he illustrated scores of Dell and Gold Key Comics (most notably the "Beanie and Cecil" comics) and Little Golden Books. Mr. Bradbury retired in 1970 due to failing eyesight.

MARIUS CONSTANT Died May 15, 2004

Romanian composer Marius Constant died at age 79. Mr. Constant was best known to American audiences for composing the theme music for Rod Serling’s "The Twilight Zone." He was a graduate of the Academy of Bucharest and was the first Musical Director of France Music. He was a professor at the Academy of France from 1978 through 1988.

JUNE CARROLL Died May 16, 2004

Composer, singer, actress June Carroll died at age 91. Ms. Carroll wrote a number of songs for a dozen Broadway p[lays. She sang her songs in the play and film "New Faces of 1952." Her best known songs were "Penny Candy," "Monotonous" and "Love is a Simple Thing." She was the wife of Oscar nominated writer Sidney Carroll. Mr. Carroll was nominated for an Oscar for "The Hustler."

BURTON KAISER Died May 16, 2004

Producer, writer, actor Burton Kaiser died at age 77. Mr. Kaiser wrote, produced and starred in the film "The Female Jungle." The movie was famous for giving sex symbol Jayne Mansfield her start. Mr. Kaiser won a Tony Award the play "Borstal Boy." He also produced theatrical versions of "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Glengarry Glen Ross."

LE MANH THICH Died May 16, 2004

Award winning documentary filmmaker Le Manh Thich died at age 66. Mr. Thich was one of Vietnam’s most influential filmmakers. His films won awards at the Leipzig, Hosu Runka and Asia-Pacific Film Festivals. He also won four first prizes from the Vietnam Cinema Association.

MARY DRESSELHUYS Died May 16, 2004

Dutch actress Mary Dresselhuys died in her sleep at age 97. Ms. Dresselhuys was best known in her native land for her many stage performances. She was known as the Grand Lady of Comedy. She appeared in several films over a 60-year career.

MARIKA ROEKK Died May 16, 2004

Hungarian actress Marika Roekk died of heart failure at age 90. Ms. Roekk began her film career in England. She appeared in two British films: "Kiss me Sergeant" and "Why Sailors Leave Home." Ms Roekk was discovered by a talent scout from Germany. She became one of the leading movie stars in the country. Ms. Roek was a triple threat; she sand and danced as well as acted. Ms. Roekk retired from film in the 1960s and concentrated on her stage career. Ms. Roekk won the very first Bambi Award in 1948 as well as the Jubilee Award at the 1998 Bambi’s. Ms. Roekk was also honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 1981 German Film Awards for her contribution to the German Film Industry.

HARRY ELTON Died May 16, 2004

Canadian TV producer Harry Elton died in Tibet at age 74. Mr. Elton was responsible for bringing "Coronation Street" to the air. "Coronation Street" is the longest running English language TV drama. Mr. Henry was an executive with Granada Television in the early 1960s. He fought to have writer Tony Warren’s stories produced. After a lengthy battle, the working class drama "Coronation Street" was aired on a temporary basis. 44 years later, it is still on the air! Mr. Elton also had a successful career as a TV anchor and voice actor. He had a number of TV, radio, documentary and industrial film credits in Canada. Catherine Mensour of the L'Agence Mensour Agency said "Harry was the morning anchor man for CBC radio here in Ottawa and has worked for the CBC, as well as a voice artist and actor for various productions. Needless to say he will be greatly missed."

JUNE TAYLOR Died May 16, 2004

Emmy winning choreographer June Taylor died in her beloved Miami at age 86. Ms. Taylor won an Emmy for her work on "The Jackie Gleason Show." The June Taylor dancers opened Mr. Gleason’s show each week with complex numbers that featured lots of legs. When I was a small child, watching Diana Rigg on "The Avengers" and the leggy June Taylor Dancers on "The Jackie Gleason Show" helped me to realize that older girls were more interesting than the ones I went to elementary school with! Ms. Taylor was the sister in law of the Great One. Ms. Taylor worked on both of Mr. Gleason’s TV series. She also worked on "Cavalcade of Stars" and Ed Sullivan’s "Toast of the Town." Following her work on TV, Ms. Taylor was hired by the Miami Dolphins to work with their cheerleaders. Ms. Taylor worked with the Dolphin organization from 1978 through 1990.

TONY RANDALL Died May 17, 2004

Two-time Emmy-award winning Tony Randall has died after a long illness at age 84. Though Mr. Randall had a long and successful career in feature films and on stage, he was best known for his role as Felix Unger on the TV series version of Neil Simon’s play "The Odd Couple." Mr. Randall flayed neat-freak Felix Unger opposite Jack Klugman’s slob Oscar Madison. The weekly TV series pitted the unlikely roommates against each other, with Felix usually screwing up Oscar’s chances of getting lucky with the opposite sex and vice versa.

My fondest memories of Mr. Randall were from his many appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. You never knew what Mr. Randall would do. He had a very bizarre sense of humor on the talk show circuit. It revealed a subversive streak that didn’t come through from his sitcom and film performances. Whether Mr. Randall was talking about his Flea Circus or fathering children while in his late 70s he made you laugh. One thing that always led me to believe that he was a ‘real’ person was the fact that he would react to others in such an unguarded manner. Mr. Randall would fall down with laughter if Mr. Carson or some other guest on the show nailed a joke or gag. He appeared to be in ecstatic love with life.

My favorite Tony Randall film has to be "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao." Regular readers know I love horror/fantasy films, especially those with stop-motion animation. In "Dr. Lao," Mr. Randall played the mysterious owner of a travelling circus. The circus-goers darkest secrets and desires were revealed to them through Dr. Lao’s strange exhibits. Tony Randall played eight different roles in the 1964. Animator Jim Danforth livened things up with a giant dragon at the end of the film.

Tony Randall had a string of successful films during the late 1950s and early 60s. He starred with Jayne Mansfield in the hilarious "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" In the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedy "Pillow Talk," Mr. Randall provided comic relief as the second banana. He turned in a dramatic performance in the soap opera feature "No Down Payment," which also starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Other credits from this period include "Let’s Make Love," "The Mating Game," "Send Me No Flowers" and "Robin and the Seven Hoods."

Mr. Randall founded the National Actor’s Theater in 1991. The company has produced 16 Broadway productions. Mr. Randall’s last stage performance was for his company’s production of "Right You Are," which opened last December. Thanks for the many laughs.


Actor Lincoln Kilpatrick died of lung cancer at age 72. Mr. Kilpatrick delivered memorable performances in a number of my favorite films. He played the everyday good guy Charlie Gray in the messianic Sidney Poitier film "Brother John." In the sci-fi classic "The Omega Man," Mr. Kilpatrick played the zombie leader Zachery intent on defeating Charlton Heston. He teamed up with Mr. Heston again as the creepy Father Paul in "Soylent Green." Mr. Kilpatrick appeared in Tom Laughlin’s Western misfire "The Master Gunfighter." He fared better in the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy "Uptown Saturday Night." I first noticed Mr. Kilpatrick’s work in the cop drama "Madigan." He was also a familiar face on TV shows from the 1950s through the 90s. Thanks for the memorable performances. Mr. Kilpatrick also had an influential and successful stage career.

CARL RADDATZ Died May 19, 2004

German actor Carl Raddatz died at age 92. He is the second German actor from the UFA era to die this month. Mr. Raddatz appeared in nearly 50 films dating back to 1938. He also had a successful stage career. Mr. Radde3tz appeared in a few WWII propaganda films despite the fact that he was an avowed anti-Nazi. In 1979 he was given an Honorary Award by the German Film Awards for his contribution to the German film industry. He was compared to Humphrey Bogart in Germany.

GENE WOOD Died May 21, 2004

TV announcer Gene Wood died of cancer five days after his 70th birthday. Mr. Wood’s voice was well known to generations of TV game show fans. His many TV credits include "Card Sharks," "Concentration," "Beat the Clock," "Match Game" and most notably "Family Feud." Mr. Wood also acted occasionally with guest roles on "M*A*S*H" and "Mama’s Family."

RICHARD BIGGS Died May 22, 2004

Actor Richard Biggs died of an apparent stroke at age 43. Mr. Biggs was best known for his role as Dr. Stephen Franklin on the TV series "Babylon 5." He also played a recurring role on the soap opera "The Guiding Light." He was a regular on "Days of Our Lives" from 1987 through 1992. Other credits include the TV series "Tremors" and "Any Day Now." A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing director Angie Alexander concerning her documentary "Invasion: Anime." Mr. Biggs appeared as himself in that film. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Biggs at Dragon.con, though I did not have the chance to interview him due to the large number of fans present. He seemed to be a genuinely nice man. Prayers of comfort for his family and friends.

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