BOOK OF THE DEAD

Last Round-Up, 2005

By Jim Knipfel

As has become a bit of a tradition here at New York Press, we would like to take a moment at the beginning of this new year to remember a few of those brighter and dimmer lights we’ve lost over the previous 12 months. Oh, we know a lot of news programs and magazines do this sort of thing, which is why you’ve been seeing all those pictures of Shirley Chisolm, Johnny Carson, Philip Johnson, Ossie Davis, Arthur Miller, Hunter S. Thompson, Bobby Short, the Pope, Peter Jennings, Anne Bancroft, William Rehnquist, Simon Wiesenthal, Richard Pryor and Eugene McCarthy over the past week or so.

But we’d like to remember some of the other musicians, writers, filmmakers and wrestlers who’ve died. These are people you may not remember as well as the Pope—some you may not have heard of at all—but who have all enriched our lives.

So here’s a thank you and a tip of the hat to the greats who passed on in 2005, including  Hasil Adkins, Nipsey Russell, Frank Gorshin, Simone Simon and Will Eisner. I think they’re the ones I’ll miss the most, but there were plenty more.

Readers of mysteries, thrillers and crime novels lost Ed McBain, Larry Collins, Trevanian and Eddie Bunker.

Readers of other kinds of books lost Robert Creeley, Saul Bellow, Andrea Dworkin, Shelby Foote, Christopher Fry, Judith Rossner, M. Scott Peck, Lucy Freeman, August Wilson, John Fowles and—though he wrote no books—the man who helped create the Beat Generation, Lucien Carr.

Along with Hunter S. Thompson, the world of journalism will remember Shana Alexander,  Jack Anderson and Al Aronowitz, who was among the first to write about rock and roll and (again) the Beats.

The television and motion picture industry lost the great Don Adams, Bob Denver, Pat Morita, Wendy Jo Sperber and Brian Kelly (who played the dad on Flipper). Professional giant Matthew (“Bigfoot”) McGrory died, as did John Vernon (Animal House’s Dean Wormer), Thelma White (Reefer Madness), Star Trek’s James Doohan, Ruth Warrick (Citizen Kane), Virginia Mayu (White Heat), and Paul Partain (who was in Rolling Thunder, Race With Devil, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

We not only lost one of my favorites, Dan O’Herlihy, but also Sandra Dee, Jason Evers (The Brain that Wouldn’t Die), Ruth Hussey (The Philadelphia Story), Sir John Mills (Quatermass), Maria Schell (99 Women) and Mason Adams (Lou Grant and the voice of Smuckers jellies).

Elisabeth Fraser (who was in The Graduate with Anne Bancroft) died, as did Stephen Elliott (Arthur), J.D. Cannon (Cool Hand Luke), Dana Elcar (Dark Shadows), Robert Clarke (who wrote, produced and starred in The Hideous Sun Demon), Suzanne Flon (Mr. Arkadin), Ron Randell (She-Creature) and Lorna Thayer (Five Easy Pieces).

Western and film noir actor Lon McCallister passed away. It was a rough year for Sylvester Stallone, as Bruce Malmuth, who directed Nighthawks died—as did George P. Cosmatos, who directed Rambo. June (“The Next Betty Grable”) Haver is no more, and neither are Kevin Hagen (Little House on the Prairie), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Dark Victory), Richard Eastham (Battle for the Planet of the Apes), Ford Rainey (Voyage to the Bottom Sea) or George Wallace (Radio Men From the Moon).

The always-reliable Pat McCormick (Smokey & the Bandit) bit the dust, together with the equally great Barbara Bel-Geddes (Vertigo), James Booth (Zulu), Brock Peters (Soylent Green) and Michael Sheard, who played Hitler in five different movies.

Remarkable director Robert Wise died, as did Richard Cunha, who directed the amazing She Demons, and Lloyd Bochner—who, among so many other things, starred in the “Twilight Zone” classic, “To Serve Man.”

Sheree North (Maniac Cop) kicked, along with  Jean Carson (I Married a Monster from Outer Space), Ralph Edwards (who hosted This is Your Life), Harold Stone (Spartacus), Pamela Duncan (Attack of the Crab Monsters), Constance Cummings (Goodbye Mr. Chips) and Marlon Brando’s sister, Jocelyn, who was in The Big Heat.

Macon “Sonny” McCalman (Deliverance), perennial movie tough guy Marc Lawrence, Herbert Strock (who profuced and directed The Crawling Hand), and Jack Colvin (The Incredible Hulk) are all dead. Gregg Hoffmann, who was an executive at Disney before he produced the Saw movies keeled over unexpectedly, as did famed indie producer Robert Newmeyer. The Waltons’ Mary Jackson died, too.

There were a few double whammies as well. The Little Rascals lost both Thomas Bond (“Butch”) and Gordon Lee (“Porky”). SNL lost writer/producer Herb Sargent and former cast member Charles Rocket, who cut his own throat. Two of the producers of the original Halloween, Debra Hill and Moustapha Akkad, both died this year. And in a sort of double-whammy-once-removed, Coley Wallace, who played Joe Louis in Raging Bull died, and so did Vicki LaMotta.

Next Week: Cartoons, Pooh, pop music, wrestlers,‑scholars and the uncategorizable.

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