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Sunday, January 31, 2016

In Memoriam - 2015

My own list of notable people (and others) we lost in 2015 whose time on this planet left some impression, big or small, on me. Of course, like all the other lists, it doesn't include everybody, so feel free to remark on anyone you'll miss in the comments.



 
First of all, my father-in-law
Henry Kittleson
May 13, 1929 - December 8, 2015
lawyer

Donna Douglas
September 26, 1933 - January 1, 2015
actor
The Beverly Hillbillies

Lance Percival
July 26, 1933 - January 6, 2015
actor
Yellow Submarine, The Water Babies

Samuel Goldwyn Jr.
September 7, 1926 - January 9, 2015
producer
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Taylor Negron
August 1, 1957 - January 10, 2015
actor
Young Doctors In Love

Rod Taylor
January 11, 1930 - January 7, 2015
actor
The Birds, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Inglourious Basterds, The Time Machine (1960)

Richard Bonehill
c. 1948 - February 4, 2015
actor
The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi

Gary Owens
May 10, 1934 - February 12, 2015 
announcer / voice-over artist / disc jockey
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Dynomutt: Dog Wonder 

Louis Jordan
June 19, 1921 - February 14, 2015
actor
Gigi, Swamp Thing, Octopussy 

Lesley Gore

May 2, 1946 - February 16, 2015
singer / songwriter
"It's My Party"

Leonard Nimoy
March 26, 1931 - February 27, 2015
actor / director
Star Trek, In Search Of..., Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Sam Simon
June 6, 1955 - March 8, 2015
producer / writer
The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show, Cheers, Taxi

Lou Silverstone
May 17, 1924 - March 9, 2015
writer
MAD Magazine, Cracked Magazine

Eugene Patton, aka Gene Gene the Dancing Machine
April 25, 1932 - March 9, 2015
dancer / stagehand
The Gong Show

Jimmy Greenspoon
February 7, 1948 - March 11, 2015
musician
Three Dog Night

Terry Pratchett
April 28, 1948 - March 12, 2015
writer
The Discworld series, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Mike Porcaro
May 29, 1955 -  March 15, 2015
musician
Toto 

Andy Fraser
July 3, 1952 - March 16, 2015
musician
Free

Gregory Walcott
January 13, 1928 - March 20, 2015
actor
Plan 9 from Outer Space

 A. J. Pero
October 14, 1959 - March 20, 2015
musician
Twisted Sister 

James Best
July 26, 1926 - April 6, 2015
actor
The Dukes of Hazzard, The Killer Shrews

Milton DeLugg
December 2, 1918 - April 6, 2015
composer
The Munsters, The Gong Show, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Stan Freberg
August 7, 1926 - April 7, 2015
humorist / voice-over artist
Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Three Little Bops, Rabbit's Kin

Herb Trimpe
May 26, 1939 - April 13, 2015
comic book artist
The Incredible Hulk, first appearance of Wolverine

Richard Corliss
March 6, 1944 - April 23, 2015
film critic
Time Magazine

Jayne Meadows
September 27, 1919 - April 26, 2015
actor
Song of the Thin Man, City Slickers

Andrew Lesnie
January 1, 1956 - April 27, 2015
cinematographer
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit trilogy

Ben E. King
September 28, 1938 - April 30, 2015
singer
"Stand By Me", "I (Who Have Nothing)"

 Nigel Terry
August 15, 1945 - April 30, 2015
actor
The Lion in Winter, Excalibur

Michael Blake
July 5, 1945 - May 2, 2015
writer
Dances With Wolves

Gilbert Lewis
August 6, 1941 - May 7, 2015
actor
Pee-Wee's Playhouse

B. B. King
September 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015
musician
"Lucille"

Anne Meara
September 20, 1929 - May 23, 2015
actor / comedian
Stiller and Meara, Archie Bunker's Place, Awakenings

Richard Johnson
July 30, 1927 - June 5, 2015
actor
The Haunting (1963)

Christopher Lee
actor
May 27, 1922 - June 7, 2015
Horror of Dracula, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Man With the Golden Gun, Hugo

Robert Chartoff
August 26, 1933 - June 10, 2015
film producer
Rocky, Raging Bull

Ron Moody
January 8, 1924 - June 11, 2015
actor
Oliver!, The Twelve Chairs

James Horner
August 14, 1953 - June 22, 2015
film composer
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, Avatar

Dick Van Patten
December 9, 1928 - June 23, 2015
actor
High AnxietyEight Is Enough, Spaceballs

Blaine Gibson
February 11, 1918 - July 5, 2015
sculptor / animator
Pirates of the Caribbean ride, The Haunted Mansion ride

Irwin Keyes
March 16, 1952 - July 8, 2015
actor
Intolerable Cruelty

Omar Sharif 
April 10, 1932 - July 10, 2015
actor
Lawrence of Arabia

Roger Rees
May 5, 1944 - July 10, 2015
actor
Cheers

Satoru Iwata
December 6, 1959 - July 11, 2015
video game programmer

Dave Somerville
October 2, 1933 - July 14, 2015
singer
"Little Darlin'" with the Diamonds

Alex Rocco
February 29, 1936 - July 18, 2015
actor
The Godfather, A Bug's Life, The Simpsons

Theodore Bikel
May 2, 1924 - July 21, 2015
actor / singer
The African Queen, My Fair Lady

E. L. Doctorow
January 6, 1931 - July 21, 2015
writer
Ragtime, Billy Bathgate

Patrick Macnee
February 6, 1922 - June 25, 2015
actor
The Avengers (1961-1969), A View to a Kill, This Is Spinal Tap


Dick Maugg
August 29, 1931 - July 28, 2015
pitchman
Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers
  
Roddy Piper
April 17, 1954 - July 31, 2015
wrestler / actor

Uggie
February 14, 2002 - August 7, 2015
canine performer
The Artist, The Campaign

Susan Sheridan
March 18, 1947 - August 8, 2015
actor
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series, The Black Cauldron

Lenny B. Robinson
September 28, 1963 - August 16, 2015
"The Baltimore Batman"
  
Yvonne Craig
May 16, 1937 -  August 17, 2015
actor
Batman (1966-1968), Star Trek (1966-1969)

Oliver Sacks
July 9, 1933 - August 30, 2015
neurologist / writer
Awakenings

Wes Craven
August 2, 1939 - August 30, 2015
director
A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, The Scream films


Brad Anderson
May 14, 1924 - August 30, 2015
cartoonist
Marmaduke 

Dean Jones
January 25, 1931 - September 1, 2015
actor
That Darn Cat! (1965), The Ugly Dachshund, The Love Bug, The Shaggy D. A.

Judy Carne
April 27, 1939 - September 3, 2015
actor
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

Jean Darling
August 23, 1922 - September 4, 2015
actor
The Our Gang / Little Rascals comedies

Dickie Moore
September 12, 1925 - September 7, 2015
actor
The Our Gang / Little Rascals comedies

Ben Cauley
October 3, 1947 - September 21, 2015
musician
"Soul Finger" with the Bark-Kays

Catherine E. Coulson
October 22, 1943 -  September 28, 2015
actor
Twin Peaks 

Kevin Corcoran
June 10, 1949 - October 6, 2015
actor / director / producer
Old Yeller, Toby Tyler, The Shaggy Dog (1959), Swiss Family Robinson

Cory Wells
February 5, 1941 - October 20, 2015
singer
"Mama Told Me Not to Come" with Three Dog Night 

Marty Ingels
March 9, 1936 - October 21, 2015
actor / voice-over artist
The Great Grape Ape Show, Pac-Man (1982-1983)

Murphy Anderson
July 9, 1926 - October 22, 2015
comic book artist
Superman, Hawkman, Action Comics

Al Molinaro
June 24, 1919 - October 30, 2015 
actor
Happy Days, The Odd Couple (1970-1975)

Melissa Mathison
June 3, 1950 - November 4, 2015
screenwriter
E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Black Stallion

George Barris
November 20, 1925 - November 5, 2015
auto customizer
Batman (1966-1968), The Munsters, Jurassic Park

Gunnar Hansen
March 4, 1947 - November 7, 2015 
 actor
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Carol Doda
August 29, 1937 - November 9, 2015
actor / exotic dancer
Head

Michael C. Gross
October 3, 1945 - November 16, 2015
artist / graphic designer / film producer
National Lampoon, Heavy Metal, Ghostbusters

 
Cynthia Robinson
January 12, 1944 - November 23, 2015
singer / musician
"Dance To the Music" with Sly and the Family Stone

Robert Loggia
January 3, 1930 - December 4, 2015
actor
Jagged Edge, Big

Nicholas Smith
March 5, 1934 - December 6, 2015
actor
Are You Being Served?, The Twelve Chairs, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Haskell Wexler
February 6, 1922 -  December 27, 2015
cinematographer
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Meadowlark Lemon
April 25, 1932 - December 27, 2015
athlete / actor
The Harlem Globetrotters

Lemmy Kilmister
December 24, 1945 - December 28, 2015
singer / songwriter / musician
"Ace of Spades" with Motörhead

Natalie Cole
February 6, 1950 - December 31, 2015
singer / songwriter
"This Will Be"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

In Memoriam - 2014

My own list of notable people (and others) we lost in 2014 whose time on this planet left some impression, big or small, on me. Of course, like all the other lists, it doesn't include everybody, so feel free to remark on anyone you'll miss in the comments.

Saul Zaentz
February 28, 1921 - January 3, 2014
film producer
AmadeusOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Larry D. Mann
December 18, 1922 - January 6, 2014
actor
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Roger Lloyd-Pack
February 8, 1944 - January 15, 2014
actor
Doctor Who, The Vicar of Dibley, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Russell Johnson
November 10, 1924 - January 16, 2014
actor
Gilligan's Island, This Island Earth

Dave Madden 
December 17, 1931 - January 16, 2014
actor
The Partridge Family, Alice (television series), Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Charlotte's Web (1973)


Ruth Robinson Duccini
July 23, 1918 - January 16, 2014
actor
The Wizard of Oz



Hal Sutherland
July 1, 1929 - January 16, 2014
animator
The Archie Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
 
Luis Ávalos
September 2, 1946 - January 22, 2014
actor
The Electric Company, Hot Stuff, Stir Crazy


Pete Seeger
May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014
musician
"If I Had a Hammer", "Turn! Turn! Turn!"


Arthur Rankin Jr.
July 19, 1924 - January 30, 2014
Producer / animator
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Mad Monster Party!

Maximilian Schell
December 8, 1930 - February 1, 2014
actor
The Black Hole



Philip Seymour Hoffman
July 23, 1967 - February 2, 2014
actor / director / producer
The Big Lebowski, The Boat That Rocked (aka Pirate Radio), The Hunger Games movies



Richard Bull
June 26, 1924 - February 2, 2014
actor
Little House On the Prairie 


Christopher Barry
September 20, 1925 - February 7, 2014
director
Doctor Who



Shirley Temple
April 23, 1928 - February 10, 2014
actor
Bright Eyes, The Blue Bird



Sid Caesar
September 8, 1922 - February 12, 2014
actor / comedian
Your Show of Shows, Caesar's Hour, Silent Movie, History of the World, Part I



John Henson
April 25, 1965 - February 14, 2014 
puppeteer
Muppets Tonight, Muppet Treasure Island 

Mary Grace Canfield
September 3, 1924 - February 15, 2014
actor
Green Acres


Christopher Malcolm
August 19, 1946 - February 15, 2014 
actor
Absolutely Fabulous, The Empire Strikes Back, Labyrinth  

Bob Casale
July 14, 1952 - February 17, 2014
musician
Devo 

Harold Ramis
November 21, 1944 - February 24, 2014
actor / director / screenwriter
Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Animal House, Groundhog Day, National Lampoon's Vacation, SCTV, Ghostbusters II, Stuart Saves His Family


David Brenner
February 4, 1936 - March 15, 2014
comedian



Glenn Edward McDuffie
May 31, 1927 - March 9, 2014
military sailor















James Rebhorn
September 1, 1948 - March 21, 2014
actor
My Cousin Vinny



Lorenzo Semple Jr.
March 27, 1923 - March 28, 2014
screenwriter
Batman (1966 television series)



Kate O'Mara
August 10, 1939 - March 30, 2014
actor
Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous
  
Mickey Rooney
September 23, 1920 - April 6, 2014
actor
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Black Stallion, the Mickey Maguire shorts



Bob Hoskins
October 26, 1942 - April 29, 2014
actor
Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Pink Floyd The Wall, Hook



Al Feldstein
October 25, 1925 - April 29, 2014
writer / artist
Tales From the Crypt (comic), The Vault of Horror, Mad Magazine



Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
November 30, 1918 - May 2, 2014
actor
Batman: The Animated Series



Pauline Wagner
August 19, 1910 - May 2, 2014
actor
King Kong (1933)
  
Jackie Lynn Taylor
June 29, 1925 - May 5, 2014
actor
The Our Gang  / Little Rascals shorts



H. R. Giger
February 5, 1940 - May 12, 2014
artist
Alien
 

Gordon Wills
May 28, 1931 - May 18, 2014
cinematographer
The Godfather, Annie Hall, Manhattan



Ann B. Davis
May 5, 1926 - June 1, 2014
actor
The Brady Bunch



Rik Mayall
March 7, 1958 - June 9, 2014
actor
The Young Ones (television series), Blackadder II, Blackadder Goes Forth, An American Werewolf in London



Ruby Dee
October 27, 1922 - June 11, 2014
actor
The Stand



Casey Kasem
April 27, 1932 - June 15, 2014
disc jockey / voice-over artist
Scooby- Doo, Where Are You?, Super Friends, American Top 40


Patsy Byrne
July 13, 1933 - June 17, 2014
actor
Blackadder II
  
Mary Rodgers
January 11, 1931 - June 26, 2014
author / composer
Freaky Friday



Meshach Taylor
April 11, 1947 - June 28, 2014
actor
Mannequin



 Bob Hastings
April 18, 1925 - June 30, 2014
actor
Batman: The Animated Series



Dickie Jones
February 25, 1927 - July 7, 2014
actor
Pinocchio (1940)



Tommy Ramone
January 29, 1952 - July 11, 2014
musician
The Ramones



Elaine Stritch
February 2, 1925 - July 17, 2014
actor / singer
Two's Company, 30 Rock, Paranorman

James Garner
April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014
actor
Victor / Victoria, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, God, The Devil, and Bob



John Fasano
August 24, 1961 - July 19, 2014
director / producer / screenwriter
Zombie Nightmare



Dick Smith
June 26, 1922 - July 30, 2014
make-up artist
Amadeus, Starman, Altered States, The Excorcist, The Godfather



James Shigeta
June 17, 1929 - July 28, 2014
actor
 Die Hard, Mulan



Marilyn Burns
May 7, 1949 - August 5, 2014
actor
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)



Robin Williams
July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014
actor / comedian
The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, Aladdin, Mork & Mindy, One Hour Photo, The World According to Garp, Good Mornin, Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Moscow On the Hudson, Hook



Liz Holzman 
February 9, 1953 - August 11, 2014
animator / producer
Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, DuckTales



Lauren Bacall
September 16, 1924 - August 12, 2014
actor
To Have and Have Not, Misery, Murder On the Orient Express, The Shootist



Richard Attenborough
August 29, 1923 - August 24, 2014
director / actor
Chaplin, Jurassic Park, Shadowlands



Stan Goldberg
May 5, 1932 - August 31, 2014
artist
Archie Comics



Joan Rivers
June 9, 1933 - September 4, 2014
actor / comedian
Spaceballs



Richard Kiel
September 13, 1939 - September 10, 2014
actor
The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, Eegah, Force 10 From Navarone, So Fine



Bill Fiore
January 1, 1940 - October 3, 2014
actor
Alice, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company



Geoffrey Holder
August 1, 1930 - October 5, 2014
actor
Live and Let Die, Annie (1982), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



Jan Hooks
April 23, 1957 - October 9, 2014
actor
Saturday Night Live, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Batman Returns, The Simpsons, 30 Rock



Elizabeth Peña
September 23, 1959 - October 14, 2014
actor
The Incredibles. La Bamba



Gerry Parkes 
October 16, 1924 - October 19, 2014
actor
Fraggle Rock



Marcia Strassman
April 28, 1948 -  October 24, 2014
actor
Welcome Back, Kotter, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids



Tom Magliozzi
June 28, 1937 - November 3, 2014
radio personality
Car Talk



R. A. Montgomery 
March 9, 1936 - November 9, 2014
author
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books
  
Glen A. Larson 
January 3, 1937 - November 14, 2014
producer
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979 television series), Battlestar Galactica



Mike Nichols 
November 6, 1931 - November 19, 2014
director
The Graduate, Catch-22, Monty Python's Spamalot


Ken Weatherwax 
September 25, 1955 - December 7, 2014
actor
The Addams Family (television series)



Norman Bridwell
February 15, 1928 - December 12, 2014
author
Clifford, the Big Red Dog books



Joe Cocker 
May 20, 1944 - December 22, 2014
musician
"Feelin' Alright", "With a Little Help From My Friends"



Christine Cavanaugh 
August 16, 1963 - December 22, 2014
voice-over artist
Rugrats, Babe, Dexter's Laboratory, The Critic 

David Ryall
January 5, 1935 - December 25, 2014
actor
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1


Edward Herrmann 
July 21, 1943 - December 31, 2014
actor
The North Avenue IrregularsThe Lost Boys, Annie (1982), Intolerable Cruelty

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Study in Classic Horror- SON OF DRACULA (1943)

I understand that Lon Chaney Jr.’s acting abilities have been the subject of debate. Overall, I’m on his side. In his career at Universal he had quite a variety of parts. He’s quite good in Man Made Monster and Calling Dr. Death; he brings the right amount of sympathy to his signature role in The Wolf Man; but, in some films, such as The Black Castle, his roles are little more than glorified cameos.Then there’s Son of Dracula, in which I’m sorry to conclude that he was woefully miscast, but that may have not been his fault. By the time Son of Dracula was made, Chaney had already pretty much stepped into the shoes of all of Universal’s other monster stars, so to the producers, Dracula probably seemed a safe bet. Chaney does fine as leading-men, lovable simpletons, and lumbering behemoths, but Dracula is more a character actor’s role, and Chaney’s talents just didn’t seem up to the task.

Then, there’s the other debate: is he Dracula or not? Well, he certainly identifies himself as Count Dracula, despite travelling under the name of Alucard, so I guess the real question is: Is he the Dracula or merely a descendent cashing in on the family name. (Which would be ironic considering some of Chaney’s critics accused him of doing the same concerning his own father.) The latter would at least explain what was, for me, the movie’s greatest fault: the plot hinges on Dracula being a dupe in his own movie! A Dracula movie should be about his evil plot to obtain power or a new bride, not about a bored rich girl (Louise Allbritton) seducing him into making her immortal, so she can dump him and be with her own true love (Robert Paige) for eternity. Dracula is supposed to be the controller, not the controlled.

Like Dracula’s Daughter, (which I still think, with its faults, is a stronger film) there are weak attempts to import elements from the original film. Paige’s Frank Stanley is another Jonathan Harker, while J. Edward Bromberg’s Professor Lazlo is clearly meant to be our new Van Helsing.  The end result is rehash mixed with a misguided plot. 

Supporting features:

Porky Pig in The Sour Puss (1940)

The Our Gang short Mush and Milk (1933)

Next time:

Night Monster (1942) starring Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwell, Leif Erickson, Irene Harvey, and Ralph Morgan