12/26/02 Herb Ritts - LOS ANGELES - Photographer Herb Ritts, whose access to celebrities, even at their most fragile moments, gave him an edge in the competitive field, died Thursday of complications of pneumonia, his publicist said. He was 50. Ritts, whose pictures helped define the image-conscious 1980s and '90s, died at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, publicist Stephen Huvane said. Ritts gained entree into celebrities' lives even when they displayed little glamour. He photographed Christopher Reeve, wired up and immobile in a high-tech wheelchair. In another photograph, Elizabeth Taylor sported a crew cut and the scar resulting from her brain surgery. Ritts was born in Los Angeles in 1952, and moved to the East Coast to attend New York's Bard College, where he studied economics. He later returned to California and took a job as a sales representative for his family's furniture business. Chance and connections propelled Ritts into the world of celebrity photography in the '70s. He got to know Richard Gere through someone who was dating the actor at the time. A drive in the desert led to a flat tire and an impromptu photo session in a service station. The result was a photo of a steamy Gere in a white vest, his arms over his head and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. "I can't remember whether I told Richard to put his arms over his head or whether I just clicked when he stretched. And he really smoked a lot. He was like that, a handsome kid and very sexy," Ritts said in an interview for a catalog that accompanied a show at Paris' Fondation Cartier in 2000. At the time, Gere was an unknown. A year later he was a star, and Ritts' photos were being used as publicity shots. Ritts shot celebrities from Madonna to Michelle Pfeiffer to Dizzy Gillespie for top fashion and culture magazines — Interview, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Elle. He took pictures for album covers and directed music videos. His work was displayed at studios and museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1991 two of his videos won MTV Awards: best female video, with Janet Jackson, and best male video, with Chris Isaak. He is survived by his mother, Shirley Ritts; a brother, Rory; a sister, Christy; and his partner, Erik Hyman.
12/3/02 Glenn Quinn - LOS ANGELES (AP) - Glenn Quinn, best known for his recurring role on the sitcom "Roseanne" and a former co-star on "Angel," has died. He was 32. Quinn was found dead of a possible drug overdose Dec. 3, authorities said Friday. An official cause of death was pending on autopsy and toxicology reports. Born in Dublin, Quinn joined the cast of "Roseanne" in its third season, playing Becky Connor's boyfriend and later husband, Mark Healy. He later co-starred as the half-demon Doyle on "Angel," a spinoff of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" that debuted in 1999. Although most of his roles required him to hide his Irish accent, "Angel" was his first performance in which he could speak naturally. Born in 1970, Quinn moved to the United States in 1988 with his mother and two sisters. He made his feature film debut with a supporting role as a drummer in the 1991 John Travolta movie "Shout," in which he shared an on-screen kiss with Gwyneth Paltrow. He went on to appear in the films "Dr. Giggles," "Live Nude Girls" and "Campfire Tales." He also appeared in the TV movies "Call Me Anna" and "Silhouette" and co-starred in "Covington Cross," a short-lived, historical-fantasy series, which aired in the United Kingdom and on ABC in 1992. Most recently, he co-starred in "At Any Cost," a 2000 VH1 movie.
Note from the Underground: Glenn Quinn was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Cypress, CA. Thanks to Underground member Kim for the information.
11/18/02 - James Coburn - BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Nov. 19) - Actor James Coburn, who took on the tough-guy role in such films as ''Our Man Flint'' and ''The Magnificent Seven,'' but whose anguished portrayal of an abusive father in ''Affliction'' finally earned him an Oscar, died Monday. He was 74. Coburn died of a heart attack at home while listening to music with his wife, said his manager, Hillard Elkins. Coburn won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for the 1998 film after overcoming a 10-year struggle with arthritis that left one hand crippled. Despite those earlier physical problems he had been upbeat and working regularly, Elkins said Monday night. Most recently, he appeared in the new film ''The Man From Elysian Fields'' and finished another called ''American Gun.'' ''And I have five or six scripts I've got to get out of my office because he can't shoot them now,'' said Elkins, his voice breaking. Born in Laurel, Neb., on Aug. 31, 1928, Coburn studied acting in Los Angeles and with Stella Adler in New York He appeared on stage in New York and in such dramatic television series as ''Studio One'' and ''General Electric Theatre'' in the 1950s. He made his movie debut in ''Ride Lonesome'' in 1959, following it with another Western, ''Face of a Fugitive,'' the same year. He caught the public's attention the following year, when he played knife-throwing Britt in the epic Western ''The Magnificent Seven.'' Although he had few lines compared with his other macho co-stars, who included Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen, film historian Leonard Maltin noted Coburn's mere screen presence grabbed the public's attention. ''He was a guy who looked like he was casual, but he studied and he worked and he understood character,'' Elkins said of Coburn's success. ''He was a hell of an actor, he had a great sense of humor and those performances will be remembered for a very long time,'' he added. After ''The Magnificent Seven,'' Coburn played sidekicks and villains until the late 1960s when he cashed in on the James Bond mania with the humorous spy spoofs ''Our Man Flint'' and ''In Like Flint.'' He also won acclaim for such films as ''The President's Analyst,'' which he also produced, the World War II escape epic ''The Great Escape'' and ''Goldengirl.'' In the 1980s he all but disappeared from the screen with the onset of arthritis. He said he ''healed himself'' with pills that had a sulfur base. His knuckles remained gnarled, but he said in a 1999 interview with The Associated Press that the pain was gone. He said then, when the film roles weren't coming, ''I've been reading a lot of stuff. I want to go to work. It's what I do best; it's the only thing I can really do. ''Actors are boring when they're not working, it's a natural condition, because they don't have anything to do, they just lay around and that's why so many of them get drunk. They really get to be boring people. My wife will attest to that,'' he said with a hearty laugh. His health restored, he worked steadily through the '90s, appearing in such wide-ranging fare as ''Young Guns II,'' ''The Nutty Professor,'' ''The Cherokee Kid'' and ''Maverick.'' After winning a reputation for his leading roles, he capped his career with an Oscar for a supporting effort in ''Affliction,'' as Glen Whitehouse, the abusive father to Nick Nolte's cop character in ''Affliction.'' It was his only Oscar nomination, and it came after scores of films. In all, he made more than 100. ''I've been working and doing this work for, like, over half my life and I finally got one right I guess,'' he said in his acceptance speech. ''Some of them you do for money, some of them you do for love,'' he added. ''This is a love child,''
10/25/02 - Richard Harris - LONDON — Richard Harris, the renowned actor best known to millions of young Muggles as the wizened, kind-hearted Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, has died at a London hospital, a family spokesman said Friday. Harris was ill with cancer. He had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and was undergoing chemotherapy. The 72-year-old Irish actor was hospitalized in August after complaining of a severe chest infection. It was then that doctors discovered the Hodgkin’s, a cancer which attacks the body’s lymph nodes. Harris’ condition was serious enough to warrant the filmmakers of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” to use a double to complete some of the actor’s final scenes. Harris was for years one of the hell-raisers of British acting along with Richard Burton. He starred in such classics as “The Guns of Navarone” (1961), “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962), “Red Desert” (1964) and the surprise, franchise-launching 1970 hit “A Man Called Horse” (he later accused Kevin Costner of swiping scenes from the film for “Dances with Wolves”). Other notable films included “This Sporting Life” (which earned him a Best Actor Academy Award nomination), the film version of the musical “Camelot” and “Robin and Marian,” in which he starred with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. Harris’ career floundered in the ’70s and ’80s due in part to his increasingly frequent booze binges. A notorious wild man of the ’70s, the actor was once drinking buddies with Peter O’Toole and the late Richard Burton. Harris nearly died from a cocaine overdose in 1978. (According to one newspaper report, Harris had been in intensive care five times over the years and been given last rites twice.) After his O.D., and under doctors’ orders, he gave up his hard-living ways and had remained clear and sober since. Harris had made a comeback over the past decade. He earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for 1990’s “The Field” and followed with a key supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western “Unforgiven.” He played Marcus Aurelius in “Gladiator” before landing the part of Dumbledore in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first movie about the adventures of the bespectacled boy magician. Harris reportedly signed on to play headmaster of Hogwarts after his young niece threatened never to speak to him again if he refused.
9/11/02 - Kim Hunter - (AP) Kim Hunter, the versatile actress who won a supporting Oscar in 1951 as the long-suffering Stella in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and appeared in three "Planet of the Apes" movies, died Wednesday. She was 79. Hunter died in her Greenwich Village apartment from an apparent heart attack, said her daughter, Kathryn Emmett. A shy, modest person, Hunter enjoyed a long and busy career in theater and television, less so in films, partly because she was blacklisted during the red-hunting 1950s and didn't fit the sexpot pattern for female Hollywood stars. "A Streetcar Named Desire" provided the highlight of her career. The play was cast with Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Karl Malden as Mitch, and Jessica Tandy as the tragic Blanche DuBois. Director Elia Kazan admitted in his autobiography, "A Life," that he had trouble casting Stella "because I enjoy looking at girls." He added of Hunter: "The minute I saw her I was attracted to her, which is the best possible reaction when casting young women." Brando, Malden and Hunter played their roles in the somewhat sanitized film version (Hollywood still adhered to a strict moral self-censorship). Because Warner Bros. need a movie star for marquee value, Vivien Leigh, who had appeared as Blanche in London, repeated the role in the film. Leigh, Malden and Hunter won Academy Awards; despite his unforgettable performance, Brando did not. Humphrey Bogart was awarded a long overdue Oscar for "The African Queen." Hunter told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1999 that after she left "Streetcar" she tried to avoid seeing the play with other casts. "It's simply that I have no objectivity about it," she said. "It was so much a part of my life, it would be unfair to the productions and performers." Oscar's legendary golden touch didn't seem to apply to Hunter. Her subsequent films were few, and they lacked the luster of "Streetcar." Among them: "Deadline U.S.A.," as newspaper editor Humphrey Bogart's estranged wife; "Anything Can Happen," as Russian immigrant Jose Ferrer's wife; "Storm Center," a minor film starring Bette Davis; also "The Young Stranger," "Bermuda Affair," and "Money, Women and Guns." Her screen career entered a lull in the late '50s, after Hunter, a liberal Democrat, was listed as a communist sympathizer by Red Channels, a red-hunting pamphlet that influenced hiring by studios and TV networks. Her return to film was "Lilith" (1964), which starred Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg and Peter Fonda. Four years later came "Planet of the Apes." Hunter was cast as Dr. Zira, a chimpanzee psychiatrist in the science fiction classic about a group of astronauts from a ruined earth who discover a future world ruled by apes, with humans as slaves. The actress spent hours as the makeup and monkey suit were applied and later removed. "It was pretty claustrophobic and painful to a certain extent," she told a reporter in 1998. "The only thing of me that came through was my eyeballs." She was enough intrigued with the character and the plots that she appeared in two sequels, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970) and "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" (1971). Hunter was born Janet Cole in Detroit on Nov. 12, 1922; her mother had been a concert pianist. She recalled later that she was a lonely child who "picked friends out of books and played 'let's pretend' games, acting out their characters before a mirror." At 17 she joined a traveling stock company, then gained more seasoning in regional theaters and went to California for a role in "Arsenic and Old Lace" at the Pasadena Playhouse. She obtained a contract with David O. Selznick, whose first move was to change her name. She made her film debut in a low-budget RKO horror film, "The Seventh Victim," and followed with secondary roles in other features, but eventually returned to the New York theater. Irene Mayer Selznick was producing "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1947, and Selznick, her ex-husband, recommended Hunter to play Stella Kowalski. After the "Planet of the Apes" movies, Hunter appeared on Broadway in "Darkness at Noon," "The Children's Hour" and "The Tender Trap" and toured extensively in regional theater. Her television appearances included the soap operas "The Edge of Night" and "As the World Turns" plus numerous miniseries, TV movies and series. Hunter was married to William Baldwin in 1944; they had a daughter, Kathryn, and divorced in 1946. In 1951, she married actor and producer Robert Emett, with whom she sometimes costarred in plays. Their son was named Sean Robert.
8/5/02 Chick Hearn - LOS ANGELES — Play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn, who made phrases like “slam dunk” and “air ball” common basketball expressions during his 42-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died Monday. He was 85. “CHICK HEARN PASSED away at 6:30 this evening,” Los Angeles Lakers spokesman Bob Steiner told a hushed news conference outside Northridge Medical Center Hospital, where Hearn was taken Friday night after suffering a fall. Hearn fell Friday in the back yard of the Encino home he shared with wife, Marge. The two would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Aug. 13. Surgeons operated twice on Saturday to relieve swelling in his brain, but he never regained consciousness. Whether Hearn was the most famous Laker of them all can be debated, but his career with the team was far longer than such standouts as Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, James Worthy and Michael Cooper. And he was calling games long before current stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were born. Hearn called a record 3,338 consecutive Lakers games starting in 1965 before missing one because he had to have an operation in December 2001 for a blocked aortic valve. While recovering, he fell and broke his hip. Hearn returned to work April 9 and broadcast the Lakers’ playoff run to their third consecutive NBA championship. He called his first Lakers game in March 1961. His last game was June 12 when the Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets 113-107 in East Rutherford, N.J., to complete a sweep of the NBA Finals and earn their ninth title since moving from Minneapolis in 1960. During the finals, he told The Associated Press he was getting stronger every day and planned to work at least one more season. And he said he believed his call of the Lakers’ Game 7 victory over Sacramento in the Western Conference finals might have been as good as any in his career. As recently as last week, he drove to Las Vegas with his wife to speak at a fantasy basketball camp. Born Francis Dayle Hearn on Nov. 27, 1916, in Aurora, Ill., Hearn peppered his rapid-fire delivery with terms like “no harm, no foul,” “the mustard’s off the hot dog,” “ticky-tack foul,” and “faked him into the popcorn machine.” Whenever he believed a Lakers victory was clinched, Hearn would say: “You can put this one in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the light’s out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling.” Hearn’s unique “words-eye view” provided the soundtrack for nine NBA championships - one with West and Chamberlain, five with Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar, and the last three with O’Neal and Bryant. When it came time to give out rings, raise championship banners, emcee victory parades or retire uniform numbers, Hearn was the master of ceremonies. Hearn also broadcast other historic Lakers accomplishments, such as the night in Las Vegas when Abdul-Jabbar broke Chamberlain’s NBA career scoring record and when Johnson broke Oscar Robertson’s career assist record. Hearn also was a comforting voice to fans in difficult basketball times - helping fans cope with Johnson’s HIV announcement in 1991 and Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers’ death in 1990. When the Lakers moved from the Forum in nearby Inglewood to the downtown Staples Center in 1999, the press room was named in Hearn’s honor. He has been immortalized with a star on Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame,” and appeared as himself numerous times on television shows - including the TV movie “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.” And he hosted the TV show “Bowling for Dollars.” Hearn missed just two games before his unprecedented streak - one because bad weather kept him grounded and one because he had another broadcast assignment. The first game of the streak was Nov. 21, 1965, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Johnson was in grade school and Abdul-Jabbar was still Lew Alcindor and a teenager. Throughout his career, Hearn refused to call in sick. He came to work when he wasn’t feeling well - including a couple of times with laryngitis that forced him to sit out the second half. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame, Hearn received a standing ovation on his 85th birthday in November during a Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game. He got his nickname when friends played a prank on him when he was an amateur player. Given a box he thought contained sneakers, he found a chicken inside. When Hearn broadcast his 3,000th consecutive game in 1998, O’Neal said, “That’s an amazing accomplishment. I don’t think I’ve done anything 3,000 times in my life. I hope he stays around 3,000 more games.” Hearn documented the Lakers’ record 33-game winning streak in the championship season of 1971-72 with West and Chamberlain, saying: “That will never be duplicated.” It hasn’t. Pat Riley, a member of that team who later spent 2½ years beside Hearn in the broadcast booth before he became the Lakers coach, credited Hearn with being his mentor, and not only in a broadcasting sense. “He was a man who taught me about discipline,” said Riley, who guided the Lakers to four NBA titles in the 1980s and now coaches the Miami Heat. “He was an announcer who got fired up for games. He is the best, he has been the best in the NBA forever and will probably go down as the best,” Riley said when Hearn’s streak reached 3,000. Hearn kept few secrets from Lakers fans. But he didn’t like to talk about his age. After he reached 70 or so, he would only chuckle and say, “I don’t know, I lost my birth certificate.” One might say he was “caught with his hand in the cookie jar” during the NBA Finals in June, acknowledging his age and saying he was proud of it. Hearn’s death leaves Los Angeles with two Hall of Fame broadcasters - Vin Scully of the Dodgers and Bob Miller of the Kings. The Hearns had two children, but both died - a son of a drug overdose, and a daughter after battling anorexia. The couple was very close with Shannon, their granddaughter, and her family.
Note from the Underground: Chick Hearn was laid to rest at Holy Cross Memorial Park, along side his children. Thanks to Underground member, Jesuit Jim, for the information!
7/9/02 Rod Steiger - LOS ANGELES -- Rod Steiger, who played Marlon Brando's mob-connected brother in "On the Waterfront" and won the 1967 Oscar for best actor for his role as the redneck Southern police chief in "In the Heat of the Night," died Tuesday. He was 77. Steiger died at a Los Angeles-area hospital of pneumonia and kidney failure, said his publicist, Lori DeWaal. A devoted practitioner of method acting, Steiger prided himself in undertaking challenging roles, especially real-life persons. "My generation of actors was taught to be able to create different people; that's what an actor is supposed to do," he explained In movies and television, he convincingly portrayed such figures as Mussolini, Rasputin, Pope John XXIII, Rudolf Hess, Pontius Pilate, Napoleon, W.C. Fields and Al Capone. He played scores of characters, many of them forgettable. "I'm 60 percent virgin and 40 percent whore," Steiger said in a 2000 TV interview. "I've not sold out that much, and I've made my own mistakes." He admitted that he made a big mistake in declining the lead in "Patton," believing the film would glorify war and killing. George C. Scott played the role, and it brought him an Academy Award, which he refused. "He was a wonderfully creative actor and a very good friend," said Ray Bradbury, whose novel "The Illustrated Man" was made into a movie starring Steiger. Steiger had another brush with the Oscar in his early movie career. He had been the leading contender for "Marty" in the role he had created on television. But the producer, Burt Lancaster, wanted the loveless butcher to be a gentle character, and Steiger didn't qualify. Ernest Borgnine won the Oscar in the role. Steiger played his most famous scene with Brando in 1954's "On the Waterfront." As the two brothers ride in the rear of a taxi, Brando castigates Steiger for making him throw a boxing match: "I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender." The director, Elia Kazan, wrote in his 1988 autobiography, "A Life," that he shot Brando's closeups first because the actor had to leave the set early. Steiger complained that Kazan was favoring Brando. Kazan wrote: "I believe what had happened hurt his self-esteem but not his performance. If Steiger has played a scene better than that one, I have yet to see it." Rodney Stephen Steiger was born April 14, 1925, in Westhampton, N.Y., the only child of a struggling song-and-dance team that parted soon after his birth. His mother married again, and the boy grew up in a quarrelsome household in Newark, N.J. "I left home at 15 because my family had been destroyed by alcoholism," he remarked in 1998. Lying about his age, he enlisted in the Navy at 16 and served in the South Pacific. Back in New Jersey after the war, Steiger worked at a menial job and joined a drama group of office workers. Soon he was studying drama at the New School for Social Research on the G.I. Bill. As a lark, he also studied opera singing. Steiger moved on to the American Theater Wing and then was accepted into the Actors Studio, joining a class that included Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and Kim Stanley. "Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg, the school directors, taught me to act from the inside out," Steiger said in a 1956 interview. "I learned what it means to talk to other persons in the story instead of reading lines in a phony voice." He credited psychoanalysis as an additional aid to his acting education. Like others of his generation of actors, Steiger earned his seasoning in live television; between 1947 and 1953, he appeared in more than 250 dramas. His film debut came with a minor role in Fred Zinnemann's "Teresa" in 1951. Three years later, Kazan, Steiger's mentor at the Actors Studio chose him to play Brando's betraying brother. The result: an Academy Award nomination as supporting actor and the beginning of a long film career. Next he was cast as the villainous Jud in the big-budget filming of "Oklahoma!" The director, Fred Zinnemann, expected to dub Steiger's songs with a professional singer and use an experienced dancer to portray Jud in the ballet sequence. Stressing his opera training, Steiger convinced the director that he could measure up to star Gordon MacRae in their duet, "Poor Jud Is Dead." He underwent three days of grueling ballet lessons and managed a credible performance in the Agnes DeMille dance. Hollywood soon learned that the new star from the Actors Studio was strong-willed. In his next film, "The Big Knife," Steiger played a studio boss obviously based on the autocratic Harry Cohn. He dyed his hair white and wore a hearing aid. In his first scene with Jack Palance, he seemed to act as if the other actor wasn't there, ranting and weeping then making an exit. Palance because so incensed at the upstaging that he threw a stack of phonograph records at Steiger, who raced off the set and left the studio. The two actors later declared a truce. Steiger established himself as a character actor who could bring power to his often villainous roles. His career crested in 1965 with "The Pawnbroker" as a Jew living a secluded life in Harlem, haunted by memories of his life in a Nazi prison camp. His performance brought him a second Academy Award nomination, and it would remain the film of which he was most proud. Two years later, he was nominated as the police chief in "In the Heat of the Night." He joined a formidable list of nominees: Warren Beatty, "Bonnie and Clyde"; Dustin Hoffman, "The Graduate"; Paul Newman, "Cool Hand Luke"; Spencer Tracy, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." When Audrey Hepburn announced his name as winner, an astonished Steiger walked to the stage and kissed her hand. He concluded his thanks with a bow to co-star Sidney Poitier "for the pleasure of his friendship which gave me the knowledge and understanding of prejudice to enhance my performance." A prolific actor, Steiger often made three or four films a year. Among the notable ones: "Al Capone," "Seven Thieves," "The Loved One," "Doctor Zhivago," "No Way to Treat a Lady," "The Illustrated Man," "Waterloo," "Happy Birthday, Wanda June," "W.C. Fields and Me," "The Amityville Horror," "The January Man," "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," "Mars Attacks!" and "Shiloh." A man of large appetites, Steiger repeatedly became overweight and underwent a regimen to reduce. He was subject to periods of depression, and during the 1980s he did little work for eight years because of it. "I couldn't get out of bed in the morning," he said. He recovered, and his career became busier than ever. Steiger was married and divorced four times: to Sally Gracie, actress Claire Bloom (with who he appeared in "Rashomon" on Broadway), Sherry Nelson and Paula Ellis. He and Bloom had a daughter, Anna, now an opera singer. A son, Michael Winston (named for the actor's heroes: Michelangelo and Winston Churchill) was born to him and Ellis in 1993. In 2000, he married Joan Benedict. An interviewer once asked Steiger how he would like to die. He replied: "I don't want to, but if it's in front of a camera I wouldn't mind." His preferred tombstone: "See you later."
7/9/02 Ward Kimball - ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) - Animator Ward Kimball, who became one of Walt Disney's trusted "Nine Old Men" and helped develop or refine such characters as Mickey Mouse and Jiminy Cricket, has died. He was 88. Kimball died of natural causes Monday at Arcadia Methodist Hospital, said Howard E. Green of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Marketing. Kimball, who joined the Disney organization in 1934, animated or served as directing animator on such classics as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,""Pinocchio,""Fantasia" and "Peter Pan." The top animators hand-picked by Disney to work on his classics during this era became known as the "Nine Old Men." Disney sought to improve his cartoons by having the animators attend seminars, take art classes and analyze movement by studying live action films and earlier cartoons. "You were a real student of animation then ... spent your noon hour running film on moviolas, and talked about it, and you worked late at night - no unions, of course," Kimball recalled in Leonard Maltin's book "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons." "Ward's passing is a tremendous loss to the animation community and to our studio," said Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of the Walt Disney Co. and nephew of founder Walt Disney. "He was a brilliant animator and filmmaker with a distinctive style and humor all his own." Among Kimball's contributions were the redesign of Mickey Mouse and the creation of Jiminy Cricket for "Pinocchio." Kimball said he drew more than a dozen versions of Jiminy before ending up with a figure that "looked like Mr. Pickwick, but with no ears, no nose and no hair." After a stint as an animator on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," he was promoted to animation supervisor on "Dumbo,""Fantasia,""The Three Caballeros,""Alice in Wonderland,""Cinderella" and "Peter Pan." Kimball also directed the Oscar-winning shorts "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" in 1953 and "It's Tough To Be a Bird" in 1969. Kimball wrote the stories for and directed a landmark trio of shows for the "Disneyland" television series - "Man in Space,""Man and the Moon," and "Mars and Beyond." The trilogy is often credited with popularizing the concept of the government's space program during the 1950s, Green said. He retired from Disney in 1973, but re-emerged five years later for a whistle-stop train tour that traveled from Los Angeles to New York City in celebration of Mickey Mouse's 50th birthday. Besides creating animated characters, Kimball formed a Dixieland jazz band in 1948 called the Firehouse Five Plus Two. The group recorded 12 albums and appeared on the Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan television shows, with Kimball on the trombone. He also created a book of parodies of famous paintings called "Art Afterpieces." Kimball is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty; three children, John Kimball, Kelly Kimball and Chloe Lord; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
7/6/02 John Frankenheimer - LOS ANGELES John Frankenheimer, director of such Hollywood classics as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Birdman of Alcatraz," died Saturday. He was 72. Frankenheimer died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of a stroke due to complications following spinal surgery, said his business manager, Patti Person. Frankenheimer was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards in a career that spanned nearly five decades. His work ranged from social dramas to political thrillers, and included a highly regarded run of feature films in the 1960s, and a string of 152 live television dramas in the '50s. "John Frankenheimer chose a camera as his form of expression. For those of us who love movies, thank God he did," former Paramount and MGM head Frank Mancuso Sr. said in a statement. "His passionate commitment to filmmaking provided the world with many treasures." Frankenheimer made his name with "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), a dark conspiracy thriller about a Korean War brainwashing victim. The same year he made the stirring social drama "Birdman of Alcatraz," starring Burt Lancaster as a prisoner who becomes an expert on birds. Two years later came another classic film of political suspense, "Seven Days in May," which starred Lancaster as a renegade general planning a coup. Frankenheimer "made the template" for political thrillers, Mancuso's son, the producer Frank Mancuso Jr., once said. Other films included "All Fall Down," "Seconds," "Black Sunday" and "The Train." His most recent, "Path to War," premiered on HBO in May. "John's passion for filmmaking, and his appetite for life, were without equal," Directors Guild of America President Martha Coolidge said in a statement. "He was one of those rarest of people who, simply put, can never be replaced." "Full bore. You gotta give it everything. You just got to give it everything," Frankenheimer said in a 1998 interview with The Associated Press. "And sometimes that's not even enough." A native New Yorker, Frankenheimer got his first taste of directing movies while in the Air Force stationed in Burbank. He worked on some documentaries, and in 1953 walked into the CBS office in New York and convinced network officials to give him a chance as an assistant director. Frankenheimer moved from weather and news programming to television shows. His early credits included 42 episodes of the "Playhouse '90" anthology series and his success with political thrillers followed. As producer Frank Mancuso Jr. once put it, "He made the template" for such movies. In the 1970s, Frankenheimer ran into some personal difficulties, including a drinking problem, which followed the assassination of close friend Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy was staying at Frankenheimer's house, and Frankenheimer drove him to the Ambassador Hotel the night he was killed in 1968. Frankenheimer lost his touch, making such clunkers as "Prophecy," "The Challenge," "Dead-Bang" and "Year of the Gun." Job offers dried up in the '80s and he had to work to re-establish himself. In the 1990s, Frankenheimer returned to television and found new success directing movies for HBO. He won a string of Emmys starting in 1993 for "Against the Wall," followed by "The Burning Season," "Andersonville" and "George Wallace." Frankenheimer is expected to be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in November. Frankenheimer spoke fluent French, cooked French food and tooled around Los Angeles in a Mercedes-Benz pumped up to 750 horsepower. He assembled miniature cars which he displayed in glass cases at his Beverly Hills home.
6/30/02 Rosemary Clooney - LOS ANGELES Rosemary Clooney, the mellow-voiced singer who costarred with Bing Crosby in "White Christmas" and staged a dramatic comeback after her career was nearly destroyed by drugs and alcohol, has died. She was 74. Clooney died shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday at her Beverly Hills home surrounded by her family, her publicist said. She had been hospitalized earlier this month after suffering a recurrence of lung cancer. Clooney soared to fame with her 1951 record of "Come on-a My House," and became a star in television and films. Her career was sidelined by her marriage to Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer and the births of their five children. The pair divorced, and her attempts to return to performing were sabotaged by her erratic behavior. Having undergone a series of emotional upsets, including the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the blond singer had a breakdown during a 1968 engagement in Reno. She walked off the stage in a rage without finishing her act. As she recalled in her 1977 autobiography, "This for Remembrance," she "fumed" in her dressing room. She wrote: "Nobody could approach me. I was like a hand grenade with the pin pulled. Nobody could tell whether it was a dud or the real thing, because one minute I could be completely sweet and kind, the next, a raving monster." She underwent harrowing confinement in a psychotic ward, then began rebuilding her life, gradually resuming her career and reaching new heights as a singer. Born in Maysville, Ky., on May 23, 1928, Rosemary Clooney started singing with her younger sister, Betty, on WLW radio in Cincinnati in 1945. Their salary: $20 each. Bandleader Tony Pastor heard the girls when he was touring Ohio and hired them. "The Clooney Sisters" made their debut with the band at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City in 1947. Two years later, Betty tired of barnstorming with the Pastor band and returned to Cincinnati. Rosemary also decided it was time for a change. She headed for New York. Clooney played a few dates on radio and early television shows and recorded for Columbia. One day in 1951, Mitch Miller, the mentor of Columbia Records, offered her "Come on-a My House," by Armenian-American author William Saroyan. "I think it was a musically snobbish time in my life," she wrote in her memoirs. "I really hated that song. I hated the whole idea, and my first impression was, what a cheap way to get people's attention." When she refused to record the song, Miller threatened to fire her. She agreed, using an Italian accent instead of Armenian "because it was the only kind of accent I knew." The song became a huge hit, and her first royalty check amounted to $130,000. She catapulted to stardom. In 1952 she signed a contract with Paramount Pictures. Paramount starred her in four musicals: "The Stars Are Singing," "Here Come the Girls," with Bob Hope, a Western spoof "Red Garters," and "White Christmas," with Crosby and Danny Kaye. Musicals were going out of style, and after a cameo in "Deep in My Heart" at MGM, her film career was over. In 1953 she married Ferrer, the Puerto Rico-born actor and director whose brilliant stage career had been followed by success in films. He received an Academy Award as best actor in "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1950. It was the first marriage for Clooney, 25, the third for Ferrer, 41. Their first son, Miguel, was born in 1955. He was followed by Maria, 1956; Gabriel, 1957; Monsita, 1958; Rafael, 1960. Actor George Clooney is Rosemary Clooney's nephew. He is the son of her brother, veteran TV newscaster Nick Clooney. Clooney had also starred in two TV variety series, and the conflict of maintaining a career and a home for her husband and young children began to trouble her. Ferrer's womanizing caused her to divorce him in 1961. After a three-year reconciliation, they divorced for the final time in 1967. More misfortune befell the singer. A two-year liaison with a young drummer ended when he walked out on her. She was devastated by King's assassination, and was present with two of her children in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when Kennedy was shot. For years she had taken pills to assuage personal grief and maintain her double life as a star and a single mother. Overeating had caused her to gain 60 pounds. Her children and associates became alarmed at her irrational behavior. Miguel recalled in a 1976 interview that his mother became "wild, uncontrollable. Once she told a cab driver she had a gun and would kill him. When I started to cry, she shoved her rosary in my hand and told me to pray for him." "My brink of despair was rushing up to meet me like the end of a runway for a plane lumbering in vain to get off the ground," she wrote in her autobiography. She detailed her transfer to a double-locked room ("I was a violent case in a violent ward") in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, where she had given birth to her five children. Clooney's book was adapted for a 1982 TV movie, "Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story," with Sondra Locke portraying her. After four years of therapy, Clooney return to performing in 1972 at Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. For the first time in years, she found joy in entertaining an audience. "Then at Christmas in 1975 Bing called me," she said in a 1985 Associated Press interview. "He said he was going to do a concert at the Los Angeles Music Center. Would I appear with him?" She agreed, thinking it would be a one-time benefit. But the pair continued on to Chicago, New York and London. The Clooney career was reborn. She won a new record contract, and singing dates poured in. Critics detected a new quality in Clooney's singing. Wrote Philip Elwood in the San Francisco Examiner: "She really loves singing, singing just for the hell of it. She opens her mouth, gives a little smile, half-closes her eyes and vocally fondles the lyrics of 'Everything Happens to Me' or 'How Long Has This Been Going On?' or 'I've Got a Crush on You.' And subsequently, listeners wonder why these songs never sounded so good before." In 1995, she received an Emmy Award nomination for guest actress in a drama series for her role on "ER" with her nephew.
6/27/02 John Entwistle - LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - John Entwistle, the bass player for veteran British rock band The Who, died in Las Vegas on Thursday at age 57, just one day before the group was set to begin a North American tour in the city, the Clark County Coroner said. Entwistle, a bearded, taciturn type affectionately known as "Ox," died at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, said coroner Ron Flud. An investigation was under way into the cause of death, he added. The Who, known for such hits as "My Generation," "Pinball Wizard" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," were scheduled to begin their three- month tour in a small club at the hotel. With Entwistle's death, The Who are down to just two original members, singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend. Original drummer Keith Moon died of an accidental pill overdose in 1978. In addition to playing bass, Entwistle helped out on backing vocals. His songwriting contributions to The Who were sporadic, mostly limited to a few album tracks and B-sides. He released a half-dozen solo albums. Entwistle, who was born in the London suburb of Chiswick on Oct. 9, 1944, joined Daltrey in a forerunner of The Who in the early 1960s while working as a tax clerk. The band ultimately took shape in 1964 and made an immediate impression with its "Mod" stylings and its expensive habit of trashing all its stage equipment after each set.
7/10/02 More on John Entwistle - STOW-ON-THE-WOLD, England -- Family, friends and surviving members of the iconic British rock band The Who attended the funeral of virtuoso bass player John Entwistle on Wednesday at a rural church. Guitarist Pete Townshend, vocalist Roger Daltrey and drummer Kenny Jones, who replaced Keith Moon after his death in 1978, attended the service at St. Edward's Church in Stow-on-the-Wold. Entwistle, who died June 27 in Las Vegas, was now "reunited with Keith up there making great music," the Rev. Colin Wilson said at the church, 60 miles northwest of London. "I think he would want us all to be strong, determined, unafraid of the future, ready to meet every challenge, to believe in ourselves and in each other and to try to keep believing in God, even if that seems rather difficult at the present time," Wilson said. A large crowd of onlookers gathered outside the church to see Entwistle's coffin carried inside, followed by members of his family and his girlfriend, Lisa Pritchard-Johnson. Entwistle was found dead in his hotel room June 27 after an apparent heart attack. He was 57. A public memorial service will be held at a later date. The Who, founded in London in the early 1960s, was one of the stalwarts of the British music invasion of America, along with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Animals and Kinks. The Who's hits included "My Generation," "I Can See For Miles," "Pinball Wizard," "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Who Are You" and "You Better You Bet." Entwistle's fingers raced across his bass frets, but he stood stoically on stage in contrast to hyperactive Townshend and boisterous Daltrey. Augmenting the rhythm section with wild drummer Moon, who overdosed on sleeping pills in 1978, Entwistle anchored The Who's dynamic sound. The Who retired in 1982 but reunited and toured frequently. They gave a rousing performance at last year's "Concert for New York," which raised money for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Entwistle was the first band member to have solo success with his 1971 "Smash Your Head Against The Wall" and toured separately with his own group, the John Entwistle Band.
6/22/02 Ann Landers - CHICAGO (AP) - Ann Landers, the columnist whose snappy, plainspoken and timely advice helped millions of readers deal with everything from birth to death, died Saturday. She was 83. The death of Landers, whose real name was Esther Lederer, was announced by the Chicago Tribune, publisher of her column. She died less than two weeks before her July 4 birthday. Her column first appeared in print Oct. 16, 1955, in the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1993, she was the world's most widely syndicated columnist, appearing in more than 1,200 newspapers worldwide with 90 million readers daily. Her twin sister, Pauline, followed her into the profession as writer of the Dear Abby column. The feisty, outspoken Landers was a housewife when she won the Sun-Times contest to become the second Ann Landers after the woman who created the column died. At the end of her career, she was a with-it great-grandmother whose name often appeared on lists of the country's most influential women. Psychology Today once gave her credit for likely having more influence on the way people work out their problems than any other person of her era. "All the column means to me is an opportunity to do good in the world," she said in a 1993 interview with that magazine. She attributed her skill to sheer instinct. "I relate to these people like they are almost sitting in the same room. I feel their pain," she once said. Her advice was always blunt, often sympathetic and sometimes sarcastic. But her answers, even to some of the silliest questions, were heartfelt. To a woman who was fooling around with her fiance even though his gorgeous secretary had moved in with him, Landers chided, "It sounds to me as if the rocks in Jack's head match the holes in yours." When she began her column, newspaper editors forbade her from talking about homosexuality. In later years, there were virtually no taboos: In an Oct. 24, 1993, column, for example, she endorsed masturbation or mutual masturbation as a safe, realistic alternative to abstinence for everyone from teens to the elderly. In a letter published June 16, 1993, a man wrote of being sexually aroused by his girlfriend's young daughters. In a typically pithy response, Landers wrote: "The klinker in your thinker has a pedophile-like twist that could cause real trouble at any time. Please get counseling at once." She was a great believer in counseling and wasn't too big-headed to seek advice from prominent experts when a reader's problem proved too complicated. Her column had lighthearted moments, though. Few topics excited readers more than the question of which direction the toilet paper should be hung in. She made headlines and inspired countless water cooler debates in 1985 when she asked women readers whether they prefer tenderness and cuddling or sexual intercourse. Some 90,000 readers sent in responses, and 72 percent voted for cuddling, she reported.
6/10/02 John Gotti - WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI confirms former Gambino crime boss John Gotti has died at the federal prison at the U.S. medical center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where he was being treated for cancerous lesions on the tongue, neck and ears. He was 61. By murdering his way to the top of one of the nation's most powerful mob families, Gotti became a legend, respected and feared by many. He was the last of the classic gangsters, a Mafia chief who broke all the rules, reveled in the public spotlight and, at least for a while, seemed untouchable with his multimillion dollar illegal operation that thrived on prostitution, extortion, gambling, theft and drugs.
6/6/02 DeeDee Ramone - LOS ANGELES — Dee Dee Ramone, a founding member of the pioneer punk band the Ramones, was found dead of a possible drug overdose in his Hollywood home, the coroner's office said Thursday. He was 50. RAMONE, whose real name was Douglas Glenn Colvin, was found dead on the couch by his wife when she returned home at 8:25 p.m. Wednesday, said Craig Harvey, operations chief for the coroner's office. Paramedics were called and he was declared dead at 8:40 p.m. "The investigator noted drug paraphernalia, including a single syringe on the kitchen counter, and we are handing it as a possible accidental overdose," Harvey said. An autopsy was planned later Thursday. The death comes 11 weeks after the band was celebrated with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lead singer Joey Ramone died in April of last year of lymphoma, a form of cancer. He was 49.
Note from the Underground: DeeDee Ramone was laid to rest at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Thanks to Underground member AJ Marik for the information.
6/3/02 Lew Wasserman - Lew Wasserman, one of the last of the old-time breed of movie moguls, died Monday at his Los Angeles home of complications from a stroke. He was 89. The tall, bespectacled Wasserman, who preferred to keep a low profile in a high-profile business, was the long-time head of MCA Inc., a talent agency that he, in partnership with the late Jules Stein, expanded into a worldwide entertainment conglomerate, the parent company to Universal Studios. Like the hero of one of Universal's most popular hits Back to the Future, Wasserman seemed to have insight into the future. He was considered by many to be the man who virtually invented the synergy that now prevails at the giant media companies. During his 50-plus years with MCA, the company became a powerhouse in the movie, music, consumer products, broadcast, home video, theme park and television businesses. In a statement, Disney CEO Michael Eisner called Wasserman "a visionary who saw the enormous potential of our industry to create engaging works of both commerce and art for audiences across America and around the world." Wasserman is also credited with establishing the careers of many important filmmakers, including, most notably, Steven Spielberg. Wasserman's influence extended beyond Hollywood--he was a long time friend of Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) but also, as a committed Democratic, one of the earliest backers of Bill Clinton. Though prominent in the insider circles and social pages of Washington, D.C., and Hollywood, Wasserman shunned the public spotlight and rarely agreed to be interviewed. He described himself once as "just a paper-pusher" but earned a reputation as a tough businessman. In its obituary, the Associated Press notes Wasserman's famous response to a journalist who once dared ask about his reported ruthlessness at the negotiating table. "If negotiating in an attempt to arrive at a favorable deal comes under the heading of being hard, I would stipulate that I'm hard," Wasserman replied. "Actually, I don't think the word 'ruthless' fits our time. It is outmoded. It's a carryover from robber-baron days." Thom Mount, president of motion picture development during some of Wasserman's hands-on years at Universal, was among many in the Industry saddened by the mogul's passing. "Lew had in abundance three great qualities largely missing from Hollywood today," Mount, now an executive at RKO, told E! Online. "He had unimpeachable personal dignity--when Lew made a deal with you and said, 'It's a deal,' it was then, and forever...He was marvelous at uniting opposing forces, because he realized you couldn't move forward if you didn't move together...[And] he was an incredibly smart, conceptual dealmaker, always able to see the long term rather than just the immediate consequences." In 1986, Wasserman celebrated his 50 years with MCA and his 50 years of happy marriage to his wife, Edie, whom he had met shortly before he signed on as national advertising manager with Music Corporation of America, then simply a booking agency founded by Stein. Born in Cleveland, the son of Jewish immigrants, Wasserman's first contact with show-biz was as a 12-year-old, selling candy in a burlesque house. In high school, he had worked as a movie-theater usher. By 1946 he had risen through the ranks at MCA to become president. Eventually chairman and chief executive, he owned 6.9 percent of the company's stock and, through a variety of trusts, controlled more than 15 percent. He is reputed to have earned $350 million in 1990 when the company was sold to the Japanese electronics company, Matsushita for $6.6 billion. When Seagram took over five years later, Wasserman retired with the title of chairman emeritus, but until 1998 remained on the board of directors of the company, which is now owned by Vivendi. In its 2000 rundown of the most powerful Hollywood players of the last century, the Hollywood Reporter ranked Wasserman on top. While a fierce powerbroker, Wasserman was also known for his philanthropy. Over the years he donated $5 million to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and established a $1 million scholarship fund at the California Institute of the Arts. At the 1974 Oscars (news - web sites), he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his charity work.
4/25/02 Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes - LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, a controversial member of chart-topping American R&B trio TLC, was killed in a car crash in Honduras Thursday, a spokeswoman for her record label said. No other details were supplied by Laura Swanson, a representative of Arista Records in New York. Lopes becomes the second female R&B singer to die tragically in less than a year, following the death last August of rising star Aaliyah in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Arista rapper Notorious B.I.G. was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997. Lopes, a 30-year-old native of Philadelphia who provided the raps for TLC, made headlines in 1994 after she was arrested for burning down the house of then-boyfriend, former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison. She was fined and sentenced to five years' probation, and then entered rehab to deal with a drinking problem. Atlanta-based TLC's most recent album, 1999's "FanMail" topped the U.S. pop album charts for five weeks, and generated eight Grammy Award nominations. The group ended up with the trophies for best R&B album and best R&B performance for "No Scrubs," a savage put-down of loser boys. TLC, which Lopes formed with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, burst onto the music scene 10 years ago with its debut album, "Oooooooh...On the TLC Tip." Its 1994 follow-up, "CrazySexyCool," brought the group mainstream success, with help from the multi-million-dollar video for the ballad "Waterfalls." The album also won TLC Grammys for best R&B album and R&B performance ("Creep"). "FanMail" sold more than eight million copies, and secured TLC's place as the most successful female trio in history. But the band was highly combustible, with Lopes providing the fodder. She threatened to quit prior to the recording of "FanMail," and was reportedly infuriated that none of the eight songs she had written for the album made the final cut. In subsequent interviews, Lopes exchanged insults and accusations with her frustrated colleagues. Their 1999/2000 tour was marred by poor sales in some markets and on-stage theatrics underscoring their feuding.
4/29/02 More on Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes - ATLANTA (Reuters) - The body of Grammy-winning R&B singer Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was flown out of Honduras on Monday for Atlanta, where the TLC member will be buried Thursday after a public funeral at one of the biggest churches in the United States. The ceremony will take place at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, at 11 a.m. EDT. The venue holds between 8,000 and 10,000 people, a church official said. While fans will be able to attend the funeral, it will be closed to television and still cameras. A visiting the day before will be restricted to family and friends, and the interment will also be private, said TLC spokesman Rob Goldstone. Lopes' family was scheduled to meet late Monday to discuss funeral details, such as possible performers and whether to hold a street procession, Goldstone said. A statement issued Monday by TLC's Arista Records label said Lopes' family was grateful for the thousands of condolence messages, but Goldstone said the family was also distressed by the appearance of morgue photos on various TLC fan Web sites. Lopes died in a hospital from fractures and internal injuries suffered when the speeding sport utility vehicle she was driving with eight passengers flipped off a road in northern Honduras last Thursday. Atlanta-based TLC, which burst onto the music scene 10 years ago, won four Grammy Awards and was one of the most successful female trios in history. Its most recent album, 1999's "FanMail," topped the U.S. pop charts for five weeks and sold more than 8 million copies. Goldstone said Lopes' family would announce plans Tuesday to launch a fund in her name for an as-yet-undecided charity. A U.S. embassy spokesman in Tegucigalpa said a private plane carrying Lopes's body took off from the Caribbean city of San Pedro Sula and was due to be met in Atlanta by relatives.
4/22/02 Linda Lovelace - DENVER (AP) - Linda Boreman, who starred as Linda Lovelace in the 1972 pornographic film "Deep Throat" and later became an anti-porn advocate, died Monday from injuries she suffered in a car crash. She was 53. Boreman was taken to Denver Health Medical Center with massive trauma and internal injures after the April 3 accident, hospital spokeswoman Sara Spaulding said. She was taken off life support Monday, Spaulding said. Boreman's ex-husband, Larry Marchiano, said he and their two adult children were at the hospital when she died. "Everyone might know her as something else, but we knew her as mom and as Linda," Marchiano said. "We divorced five years ago, but she was still my best friend." The family moved to Colorado in 1990 and the two divorced in 1996 after 22 years of marriage. Boreman claimed her first husband forced her into pornography at gunpoint. They divorced in 1973. Their relationship disintegrated into a life of violence, rape, prostitution and pornography, according to her 1980 autobiography, "Ordeal" and her testimony before congressional committees investigating pornography. Boreman said she was never paid a penny for "Deep Throat" and her husband only was paid $1,250, though the film grossed a reported $600 million.
4/20/02 Layne Staley - SEATTLE (AP) - Layne Staley, lead singer and guitarist for the grunge band Alice in Chains, was found dead in his apartment, authorities said Saturday. He was 34. Tests were required to establish the identity because the body, discovered Friday, had started to decompose. The King County Medical Examiner's office did not release his cause of death. ``It was natural or an overdose - that's the way it was determined by our investigators,'' said Seattle Police spokesman Duane Fish. Police did not immediately release details on anything that was found at the scene, and a spokesman did not respond to several messages. With Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Alice in Chains was one of the most prominent bands of the Seattle grunge scene of the early '90s. The group was known for its dark, menacing sound, which combined grunge and heavy metal, and often wrote about heroin. ``He was a sweet guy, but very troubled,'' said Charles Cross, a former editor of the defunct Seattle music magazine The Rocket who recently wrote a biography of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. ``He lost his girlfriend to drugs a number of years ago. People still had hopes he would turn around. It's a sad tale.'' While Alice in Chains didn't garner as much respect as other Seattle grunge groups, the band's influence still reverberates, Cross said. ``Critically, they'll never rate in the same pantheon as Nirvana, but they were a band that inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of other bands,'' Cross said. He pointed to Creed and Godsmack, a band that shares its name with an Alice in Chains song. ``They had huge commercial aspirations from the beginning. They fulfilled that, and so much of that was Layne's voice,'' Cross said. His voice ranged from a low, growly monotone to a pained, piercing wail; many a bar-band singer frayed vocal cords in the early 1990s trying to imitate it. Staley also played some guitar for the group. Chad Schuster, 21, a University of Washington student and guitarist in a garage band, came with other fans to an impromptu memorial Saturday at the Seattle Center. He said the group's music ``was very dark, but it was melodic and hopeful at the same time. It was heavy metal that didn't hurt your ears.'' Despite his well-documented drug problems, Staley an inspiration for many, Schuster said. ``He was open about his drug problem and his struggles with life, and I think a lot of people can relate to that,'' he said. Eighteen-year-old Lorn Conner, who also came to the memorial, was less forgiving. ``Seattle always produces so much talent, and they always end up messing it up,'' he said. Alice in Chains stopped touring in the mid-'90s, when Staley's drug use proved too great an obstacle. He began a number of stints in rehab. In a 1996 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Staley spoke of how his drug use influenced his lyrics. ``I wrote about drugs, and I didn't think I was being unsafe or careless by writing about them,'' he told the magazine. ``Here's how my thinking pattern went: When I tried drugs, they were (expletive) great, and they worked for me for years, and now they're turning against me - and now I'm walking through hell, and this sucks.'' The group's first album, ``Facelift,'' was released in 1990. It later released ``Dirt'' and ``Alice in Chains.'' The group's hits included ``Man in the Box,'' ``Them Bones,'' ``Rooster,'' and ``Would?'' The latter song was partly inspired by the 1990 heroin overdose death of Andrew Wood, singer of the seminal grunge group Mother Love Bone. Staley's body was found just over 8 years after Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Heroin was found in Cobain's bloodstream, and his head had been so mutilated that he could not be immediately identified. In the 1996 interview, Staley reflected on Cobain's death: ``I saw all the suffering that Kurt Cobain went through. I didn't know him real well, but I just saw this real vibrant person turn into a real shy, timid, withdrawn person who could hardly get a 'hello' out. ... At the end of the day or at the end of the party, when everyone goes home, you're stuck with yourself.''
4/16/02 Robert Urich - LOS ANGELES (AP) - Television tough guy Robert Urich, an Emmy-winning actor best known for his starring roles in sleuth series such as ``VegaS'' and ``Spenser: For Hire,'' died Tuesday of cancer. He was 55. Urich died at a hospital in Thousand Oaks surrounded by family members and friends, publicist Cindy Guagenti said. Urich announced in 1996 that he was suffering from synovial cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks the body's joints. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatments and two operations in the mid-1990s to combat the cancer. He earned his first television role in the 1973 comedy series ``Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.'' He also appeared in the TV series ``S.W.A.T'' before being cast as Peter Campbell in ``Soap.'' One of Urich's most recognizable roles came as private detective Dan Tanna in ``VegaS,'' which ran on ABC from 1978 to 1981. His knack for solving crimes led to the starring role in another ABC detective series ``Spenser: For Hire,'' which was based on Robert Parker's novels. That series aired from 1985 to 1988. More recently, Urich appeared as a wanderer suffering from amnesia in ``The Lazarus Man,'' and a wise-cracking talent agent on the short-lived NBC comedy ``Emeril.'' Urich sued Castle Rock Television, which produced ``Lazarus Man,'' for nearly dlrs 1.5 million two years ago, claiming the show was canceled by the production company because he had cancer. In July 1996, Urich told Castle Rock that he had cancer and would have to undergo treatment, but his lawsuit said he was able to perform under the agreement both parties signed. The breach of contract suit sought the amount, about $73,000 per episode, he would have received for the second season of ``Lazarus Man.'' The lawsuit was settled in February, but both parties agreed not to disclose terms of the settlement, a Castle Rock spokeswoman said Tuesday. Born in Toronto, Ohio, Urich won a football scholarship at Florida State University. He later earned a master's degree in broadcast research and management from Michigan State University. Urich briefly worked in Chicago as a radio sales agent and a television meteorologist. Burt Reynolds helped Urich land his first major role, co-starring as his younger brother in a stage production of ``The Rainmaker.'' Urich appeared in several television miniseries and cable specials. He won an Emmy in 1992 for his narration of the cable documentary ``U-Boats: Terror on Our Shores.'' That same year, he also won a Cable ACE award as host of the National Geographic series ``On Assignment.'' Other television credits include: ``Crossroads,'' ``Lonesome Dove,'' ``Vital Signs,'' ``It Had to Be You,'' and ``The Love Boat: The Next Wave.'' Among his film credits are starring roles in ``Turk 182!'' with Timothy Hutton and ``Ice Pirates'' with Anjelica Houston. After his bout with cancer, Urich became highly active in cancer research, with he and his wife establishing the Heather and Robert Urich Fund for Sarcoma Research to accelerate the pace of research into sarcoma. Earlier this year, Urich donated the proceeds from his appearance on the game show ``Who Wants to be a Millionaire'' to a fund at the University of Michigan, where he was treated for cancer. ``Charge forward with hope and get the best medical advice you can,'' Urich urged an audience during a public speaking engagement last year in Wisconsin. ``Talk to your friends, neighbors, family, and together you attack it. We can't always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react to it.'' He is survived by his wife; three children, Allison, Ryan and Emily; two brothers; a sister; and his mother. A memorial service was scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles.
4/15/02 Rusty Burrell - As a sheriff's deputy in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Rusty Burrell served as bailiff during the trials of Caryl Chessman, Charles Manson, Patty Hearst and other high-profile cases. But for millions of Americans, Burrell was best known as the affable, silver-haired bailiff in the courtroom of Judge Joseph Wapner on TV's "The People's Court." Burrell died Monday of lung cancer at his home in Rosemead. He was 76. Burrell spent 25 of his 31 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as a bailiff in the court system, including working in Wapner's Los Angeles Superior Court courtroom. Burrell had just retired in 1981 when he was asked to serve as bailiff on the "The People's Court." The syndicated series featured real plaintiffs and defendants who had taken their grievances to small claims courts in Los Angeles and then agreed to have their cases heard by the retired Judge Wapner for a swift disposition of their claims on national TV. The series ran until 1993. In 1998, Burrell returned to a TV courtroom to serve as bailiff on "Judge Wapner's Animal Court" on cable's Animal Planet network. "I told the producer I wouldn't do it without him," Wapner said at the time. "He's the salt of the Earth. He knows how to deal with people, and he has such a great sense of humor." A native of Metropolis, Ill., Burrell lied about his age and enlisted in the Navy at the start of World War II. After his discharge, he played baseball for a couple of years as a pitcher and outfielder in the St. Louis Browns' farm system. "He came out [to Los Angeles] to play ball and stayed," said Burrell's son, Larry, adding that one of his father's friends, a former police officer working as a store security guard in Pomona, suggested that he join the department. After a short time with the Pomona Police Department, Burrell switched to the Sheriff's Department in 1950 for the higher pay: $290 instead of $200 a month. Burrell once said he became a bailiff because Superior Court Judge Elmer "Larry" Doyle liked his sense of humor. "I was visiting a friend of mine who was working in Judge Doyle's courtroom," he recalled. "The judge loved to play practical jokes on people. When I laughed at one he pulled on me, he asked me if I would like to become his bailiff." When Burrell began appearing on "The People's Court," he was no stranger to television. He already had served as the original bailiff on the syndicated television series "Divorce Court" in the 1950s. The show featured a real attorney playing the judge and real lawyers but used actors as litigants. The show's producers had been talking to Burrell about being an advisor on the show. "He was a good looking guy, and they just decided to put him on the show," said Larry Burrell. "My dad was in charge of getting the attorneys to be on the show." One of the attorneys who appeared frequently on the show was Judge Wapner's father. During his years with the Sheriff's Department, Burrell also moonlighted as a bit actor in a number of television shows such as "General Hospital" and movies, including "Take Her, She's Mine," starring James Stewart, and "Fate Is the Hunter," starring Glenn Ford. He also appeared in numerous TV commercials and was, Larry Burrell said, "Col. Morton on packages of Morton's Frozen Foods." While working as a bailiff, Burrell accompanied Chessman, the-so-called "Red Light Bandit" and serial rapist who was executed in 1960, to the law library every day. And during the Manson trial, Burrell guarded the notorious cult leader, recalling, "that was me sitting right beside him all the time. "He used to tell me, 'Rusty, why don't you let me go?' And I'd say, 'Charlie, you know I can't do that.' And he said, 'You know, I could get up and walk out of here any time I want.' And I said, 'Charlie, you won't even get to the door.'" Larry Burrell said his father enjoyed appearing on television, "but it wasn't his big thing. He was never a Hollywood guy. In all honesty, he did it more just to support his family." In addition to his son, Burrell is survived by his wife, Clara; son Mark of Anaheim Hills; five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and a sister, Faith Martin. A memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. today at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to an Alzheimer's group of choice.
3/27/02 Billy Wilder - Billy Wilder--the lively, sophisticated writer who fled Nazi Germany and adeptly made a new home in Hollywood, crafting more than 60 films, including classics like the noirish drama Double Indemnity and the uproarious farce Some Like it Hot--died Wednesday night at his Beverly Hills home, Variety reports. He was 95. The writer-director reportedly succumbed to the pneumonia that repeatedly sent him to the hospital over the past months. One of Hollywood's most prolific filmmakers, Wilder was, by all accounts, a cinematic genius. As a director, writer and producer, he found success not long after emigrating to the United States, and over six decades, excelled creating drama and comedy. He peered at the dark side of human nature with Best Picture winner The Apartment (1960), he created a charming romance with Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina (1954), he skewered war in his wry WWII POW film Stalag 17, and he gave Marilyn Monroe her most legendary on-screen pose--her white skirt billowing overhead as she stood atop a subway grate in The Seven Year Itch (1955). Some critics said his work often bordered on the cynical, but his style was far from one-dimensional. Wilder was nominated for 21 Academy Awards (news - web sites) over his career, and won six, including director and screenplay honors for The Apartment and The Lost Weekend (1945), as well as best screenplay honors for Sunset Boulevard (1950). Among his numerous accolades, Wilder received the Academy's Irving Thalberg Award, the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors and special distinction from the American Film Institute (news - web sites). Born Samuel Wilder in a small village 200 miles from Vienna in 1906, he was reared by a mother who loved all things American and soon began calling her son "Billy" because of its Yankee feel. For all his talents, Billy's first goal was to become a lawyer. But Wilder soon abandoned those plans in favor of journalism, where we worked his way through the news business and reported for a Vienna newspaper, and eventually Berlin's largest tabloid. Wilder also developed a love for the big screen, becoming close with a group of independent filmmakers living in Berlin, and eventually jumping into a new career as a screenwriter. Fearing that his Jewish heritage would mean trouble with Adolph Hitler coming to power, Wilder fled Germany for Paris, and ultimately landed in the United States. (His family died in a concentration camp.) Despite knowing little English, Wilder was a quick study of both the language and of Hollywood, and he benefited from the help of former roommate, actor Peter Lorre. Wilder's screenwriting career soon took off when he teamed up with Charles Brackett, a wealthy, educated man who served as a perfect foil to Wilder's energetic demeanor and sometimes off-color sense of humor. The pair collaborated on numerous films, including the 1939 Greta Garbo classic Ninotchka, 1942's The Major and the Minor and ending with Sunset Boulevard in 1950 (in which Gloria Swanson uttered the infamous line, "All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close-up"). It also was during this time that Wilder expanded his role to that of director. Brackett, meanwhile, was just one of many successful collaborations Wilder had during his career. He later joined forces with writer I.A.L. Diamond for a string of films, including Love in the Afternoon (1957), The Apartment and Some Like it Hot--the 1959 comedy that also marked the first of seven big-screen partnerships with actor Jack Lemmon. In Lemmon, Wilder said he found his quintessential everyman, and Lemmon once declared, "I'd like to spend the rest of my life doing nothing but Billy Wilder films." In what's been called one of the funniest films of all time (it ranked number one on AFI's list of celluloid comedies), Lemmon and Tony Curtis played musicians who witness the St. Valentine's Day (news - web sites) massacre, and dress up like women in an all-female band to hide out. Almost as memorable as the film was Wilder's frustration with costar Marilyn Monroe--who, as legend has it, needed 59 takes to say the line, "Where's the Bourbon?", even after the line was taped to a dresser drawer. Monroe, Wilder cracked, "has breasts like granite and a brain like Swiss cheese." Of course, he had a knack for lively commentary. In speaking about his chosen profession, Wilder once said: "It is not necessary for a director to know how to write. However, it helps if he knows how to read." In 1998, his life was chronicled for a PBS American Masters documentary, and at the time, creator Mel Stuart told The Christian Science Monitor, "I think he brought a European sensibility along with a love of America to his filmmaking. There was a Wilder touch--like there was a [filmmaker Ernst] Lubitsch touch--which included a sophisticated, unsentimental look at America." Wilder's own take on his projects was a bit more simplistic. "When I'm sad, I like to do comedy, and when I'm happy I like to do a heavy drama." Not all Wilder films were critical or commercial successes. He had a string of box-office flops, starting in 1964 with Kiss Me, Stupid, starring Ray Walston and Dean Martin. But he took the cold spell in stride. "If people don't go out to see a film, nobody can stop them," he once joked. Despite the setbacks, Wilder also never lost his standing in Hollywood, even after he retired from show-biz following 1981's Buddy Buddy, which reteamed him with his favorite onscreen team of Lemmon and Walter Matthau. In 1993, he even considered returning, to film the World War II holocaust feature Schindler's List, but Steven Spielberg later took on the project and Wilder gave his blessings. In 1999, Wilder completed a collaborative book with writer/director Cameron Crowe called Conversations with Wilder. In January 2000, he was feted at a Motion Picture Academy gala, despite receiving three standing ovations from a crowd of A-listers past and present, Wilder described the night with typical wryness, "These things are so boring." Wilder was married twice, first to Judith Coppicus in 1936 (with whom he had twins), and then to Audrey Young, whom he met at Paramount Studios as his divorce to Judith was in progress. He tied the knot with Young in 1949, buying her ring at a roadside store before they rushed off to an impromptu ceremony out of town. Wilder is survived by his wife of 53 years, Audrey. Variety reports there will be no funeral, but a public memorial will be held later this year.
Note from the Underground: Billy Wilder is buried at Westwood Memorial Park.
3/27/02 Milton Berle - LOS ANGELES (AP) - Milton Berle, the acerbic, cigar-smoking vaudevillian who eagerly embraced a new medium and became ``Mr. Television'' in the dawn of the video age, died Wednesday, a spokesman said. He was 93. Berle died at his home under hospice care, publicist Warren Cowan said. Berle's wife, Lorna, and several family members were at his side. Berle had been diagnosed with colon cancer last year. ``What a remarkable man, what a remarkable career,'' Bob Hope and his wife, Dolores, said in a written statement. ``Eighty-eight years in show business, a brilliant comedian, an accomplished actor, a lifelong friend.'' Hope, 98, and his wife, 93, joked: ``We are among the select few who could call him 'kid.''' ``Uncle Miltie'' was the king of Tuesday nights. The program's popularity spurred sales of television sets and helped make the new technology a medium for the masses. At 8 p.m., four Texaco service attendants sang the ``Texaco Star Theater'' theme, and then came Berle, dressed for laughs: a caveman introduced as ``the man with jokes from the Stone Age''; a man in a barrel ``who had just paid his taxes.'' If the audience thought he looked funny in a dress, Berle was happy to oblige. Skits in drag became a trademark. He was called the ``Thief of Bad Gags'' and joked about stealing quips - ``I laughed so hard I nearly dropped my pencil,'' he said of a rival comedian. He stopped at nothing for a laugh. ``Good evening, ladies and germs,'' Berle would say to his audience. ``I mean ladies and gentlemen. I call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you really are.'' He admitted his humor wasn't gentle: ``I guess you'd call my style flippancy, aggressiveness ... a put-downer.'' In his debut season in 1948, Berle's show was watched on four out of every five sets in America, and he was the new medium's highest-paid funny man. But the magic faded later in the '50s, and in recent years, Berle and his outsize cigars played fairs, night clubs, college campuses and the private Friars clubs in Beverly Hills and New York. In 1983, he was among the first seven inductees into the TV Hall of Fame of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Born Mendel Berlinger in New York's Harlem on July 12, 1908, Berle remembered his mother bouncing him on her knee and telling him, ``Make me laugh.'' His mother, Sandra, was a thwarted entertainer; his father Moses, Berle recalled, was a ``charming, rather helpless man who suffered from rheumatism and could never keep a job. ... He always dreamed of the big chance around the corner, but it never came.'' Berle's first chance came at age 5, when he won a vaudeville contest by imitating Charlie Chaplin. Soon he was doing child leads in films with Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand, and was the kid rescued from the railroad tracks in the nick of time in the Pearl White silent movies. He appeared with Chaplin and Marie Dressler in the movie, ``Tillie's Punctured Romance,'' and with Miss Pickford in ``Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.'' His Broadway debut came in 1920 in ``The Floradora Girl.'' He attended New York's Professional Children's School, and as a teen-ager toured the vaudeville circuit as a stand-up comic, taking his jokes from the magazines College Humor and Captain Billy's Whiz Bang. ``I studied stars like Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, Lou Holtz and others,'' Berle said in a 1984 interview. ``I have eight or 10 press books of bad notices from those years, but it was a good education in learning what not to do.'' In 1936 Berle was a headliner with the Ziegfeld Follies and began bringing his brand of humor to radio with guest spots on humor shows. He also appeared in several minor film comedies, such as ``New Faces of 1937'' and ``Always Leave Them Laughing'' (based on his autobiography). But he never really made it on the big screen. Then came 1948 and the advent of television. Berle was signed as host of the first show of a variety series - the ``Texaco Star Theater.'' He was supposed to alternate with several other hosts, including Henny Youngman and Morey Amsterdam, but Berle drew so much fan mail that NBC soon gave him the spot permanently. Berle's hour-long ``Texaco Star Theater'' began June 8, 1948, and was renamed ``The Milton Berle Show'' before it ended in June 1956. He won an Emmy for the program, which was truly his own. ``Our star, besides performing, conducted the orchestra, made countless little changes, like revamping the dances, redesigning the costumes, rewriting and improvising one-liners and exit cues,'' recalled Goodman Ace, one of Berle's writers. ``Dress rehearsals were classic exercises in wild frenzy. He wore a traffic cop's whistle around his neck and blew the show to so many stops that a rehearsal often lasted from noon until 10 minutes before air time.'' Berle's sister, Rosalind, designed many of the costumes, and his mother was a fixture in the studio audience. ``When I started out with the Texaco series in 1948, television was brand new, and I knew just as much about it as anybody else,'' Berle once said. ``I was in charge of everything because I wanted to be. Today there are experts for all phases of the medium.... We didn't have any experts in 1948.'' In 1951, NBC signed him to an unprecedented contract calling for dlrs 200,000 a year for 30 years - whether Berle worked or not. The network agreed in 1965 to let him work elsewhere, and Berle accepted a pay cut to dlrs 60,000 a year. In 1960, Berle lasted six months in ``Jackpot Bowling Starring Milton Berle,'' sandwiching comedy bits between play-by-play of a bowling match. He jumped to ABC in 1966 with a new variety show which died after a few months. He made more movies in the 1960s, notably ``It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World'' in 1963. Other films included ``The Oscar,'' ``The Happening,'' ``Who's Minding the Mint?,'' ``Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows,'' ``For Singles Only,'' ``Hieronymus Merkin,'' ``Lepke'' and ``The Muppet Movie.'' In 1984, he played himself in ``Broadway Danny Rose.'' Berle married, divorced and remarried show girl Joyce Matthews, and they adopted a daughter, Vicki. Their second marriage lasted six years. In 1953 Berle married former publicist Ruth Cosgrove. They had an adopted son, Bill. She died in 1989. In later years, Berle also said he found much solace in Christian Science, and called himself a Jew and a Christian Scientist. In 1982, he became the national chairman of the American Longevity Association, and was president of The Friars Club, the comedians' association. A pioneer in television, Berle always was ready to try something new. ``Too many people simply give up too easily,'' he once said. ``You have to keep the desire to forge ahead, and you have to be able to take the bruises of unsuccess. Success is just one long street fight.''
3/27/02 Dudley Moore - TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Dudley Moore, the cuddly little Englishman who pined for Bo Derek in ``10'' and portrayed a lovably forlorn drunk in ``Arthur,'' died Wednesday of complications from a rare and incurable brain disorder. He was 66. The comic actor died at a friend's home in Plainfield of pneumonia stemming from progressive supranuclear palsy, which is similar to Parkinson's disease and affects one of every 100,000 people. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1999. Before breaking into the movies, the 5-foot-2 1/2-inch classically trained pianist found success in comedy revues in London and on Broadway as part of a legendary British troupe that also included the surrealist comic talent Peter Cook. In the 1979 hit movie ``10,'' he played a musician determined to marry a perfect woman, embodied by Derek. His film career peaked in 1981 with the smash ``Arthur,'' in which he played a rich drunk who falls for Liza Minnelli. He was nominated for a best actor Oscar. Co-star John Gielgud, who played Arthur's valet, won the supporting actor Oscar. ``He had a little-boy-lost quality about him, which women loved, and there was always something slightly forlorn about Dudley, even when he was being funny,'' said Michael Parkinson, a British talk-show host. ``He was a lovely man.'' Moore's other films included ``Foul Play,'' 1978; ``Lovesick,'' 1983; ``Unfaithfully Yours,'' 1984; and ``Best Defense,'' 1984. In a statement, Minnelli said: ``I am deeply saddened by the death of my dear friend, Dudley Moore. He was a unique individual that was multitalented. He could make the world laugh and brought joy to millions. I will miss him dearly.'' There was more than a touch of autobiography in ``10.'' But the happy ending eluded him in real life. Four marriages ended in divorce. He confessed to being driven by feelings of inferiority because of his working-class origins in Dagenham, East London, and because of his height. He also spoke of the pain of being rejected by his mother because he was born with a deformed left foot. Comedians, he said in an interview in 1980, are often driven by such feelings. ``I guess if I'd been able to hit somebody in the nose, I wouldn't have been a comic,'' he said. It was music that gave Moore his entrance to public performance, first as a chorister and organist in his church, then in 1960 as a young Oxford graduate recruited for the four-man comedy revue ``Beyond the Fringe.'' ``Fringe,'' which played two years in London and then moved to Broadway, was perhaps the greatest assembly of young comic talent in Britain in the 20th century. Moore was teamed with Cook; Alan Bennett, later a successful playwright; and Jonathan Miller, the opera producer and medical doctor. Moore's whimsical sense of humor fitted oddly with the more savage satirical style of his partners. ``Apart from his musical contributions to the show,'' Cook wrote in 1974, ``Dudley's suggestions were treated with benign contempt by the rest of us.'' Moore and Cook formed a fast friendship and later teamed on television as Dud and Pete on ``Not Only ... but Also,'' a sketch comedy series. They also plumbed the depths of taste and decency in a series of recordings as ``Derek and Clive.'' Cook and Moore both made their screen debuts in ``The Wrong Box'' in 1966. Moore and Cook teamed again in 1971 for a comedy revue titled ``Beyond the Fridge,'' which was a success in London and a smash two years later on Broadway, retitled ``Good Evening.'' The pair won a special Tony Award for their ``unique contribution to the theater of comedy.'' Big screen success came after Moore settled in Southern California and met director Blake Edwards in a therapy group. When George Segal walked out of Edwards' production of ``10,'' the director turned to Moore and he was soon a Hollywood star. ``He was such a wonderful spirit,'' Derek recalled Wednesday. ``He could make you laugh hysterically with his jokes and make you cry with his music. He was so gifted.'' Edwards and his wife, Julie Andrews, said in a statement: ``He was a rare human being who brought warmth and joy to all who knew him. We are so very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a lovely human being.'' While his comedy brought him the most attention, he was a talented pianist, with degrees in music and composition from Oxford. In 1992, he performed with the New World Symphony in Miami and other orchestras. One of the goals of the concerts, he said, was ``to break the bubble of pomposity that can emerge. I think it's one thing that keeps people away from serious music.'' ``I can't imagine not having music in my life, playing for myself or for other people. If I was asked, `Which would you give up?' I'd have to say acting,'' he said in 1988. Moore married Suzy Kendall in 1958, Tuesday Weld in 1975, Brogan Lane in 1988 and Nicole Rothschild in 1994. He had a son, Patrick, by his second marriage and a son, Nicholas, by his fourth. Moore was diagnosed with PSP after suffering balance problems and other symptoms. Ellen Katz, executive director of the Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, said the disorder would have affected his movement, balance, vision, speech and swallowing, while leaving his mind clear. Even as Moore fought the symptoms, he raised nearly $100,000 for two PSP research funds, said Katz, who met Moore several times. ``He came forward with a diagnosis right away because he wanted to help other people who have the disease and aren't diagnosed,'' she said. ``It's such a tragic loss for us to lose someone like him, and to such a cruel disease.''
3/17/02 Sylvester "Pat" Weaver - LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, who created NBC's "Today" and "Tonight" shows, brought opera and a flurry of new commercials to TV and shaped the way Americans watched the infant medium, has died. He was 93. The father of actress Sigourney Weaver died of pneumonia on Friday night at his Santa Barbara home, his wife, Elizabeth, said by telephone Saturday night. Weaver worked at NBC from 1949, when there were only 2 million TV sets in the country, until 1956, when he resigned as chairman of the board. "Pat Weaver was the first major creative force in television programming and one of the most innovative executives in the history of television. Pat's influence on NBC is still seen by millions of viewers everyday," NBC President and CEO Bob Wright said in a statement. When Weaver first joined NBC, TV was run on the radio model. Sponsors owned shows, controlled their content and sometimes even dictated when they aired. Weaver's ideas took away some of that control. He had the network produce its own shows and then sell commercial time to several advertisers, helping fund the medium. For his contributions, Weaver received two Emmy awards and was inducted into the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame in 1985. But the medium he hoped would culturally enrich America was failing to deliver on its promise, Weaver said in a 1994 interview with The Associated Press. "It's very disappointing," he said. "There's occasional good things on, but there's no consistent arts programming." Born to a wealthy roofing manufacturer in Los Angeles, Weaver graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College. In the midst of the Depression, he took a $150-a-month job as a comedy writer for a Los Angeles radio network. He went on to executive jobs in radio and advertising. After a Navy stint in World War II, Weaver returned to the ad world. But he had become enamored of fledging television. "It had the potential to take us, by sight as well as by sound, out of our homes and across oceans in a moment, to any part of the world," he wrote in his 1994 autobiography, "The Best Seat in the House." In 1949, Weaver became NBC's vice president in charge of television. On his first day, he rescinded the cancellation of "Meet the Press" - now TV's longest-running program. Convinced that he could woo morning radio listeners away, Weaver created the first early morning show, "Today," in 1952, with host Dave Garroway. TV news was hampered then by big cameras that were mostly studio-bound, and by film that took hours to develop. "Today," however, had all night to get someplace where news was happening, get the pictures and get back to the studio. "That's what it became," Weaver said, "the principle of serving the audience with the information they needed to know: What time is it? How's the weather? What happened last night? What's new today? What are the big stories? What are the funny stories? And we gradually put together that kind of a show." He went on to create the idea of network specials that pre-empt regular programming, the globe-trotting "Wide World Series" and the talk show institution "Tonight," which showed that viewers would tune in to the tube at all hours. Weaver was "a great idealist" who viewed TV as a way to bring culture to the common man, his wife said. "He put on opera for the first time because he said the man in the street ... wants to hear anything and he doesn't have the money," she said. "His plan was everybody should have access." Weaver was pushed out as NBC president in 1955 by Robert Sarnoff, son of David Sarnoff - the head of NBC's parent corporation RCA. Weaver became chairman of the board, but resigned the next year and went back to advertising. For three years in the 1960s he headed Subscription Television, an early and ultimately failed effort at pay cable TV. Even at age 85, Weaver was continuing to explore the possibilities of television. In 1994, he was working on a pay TV cultural events service called Intercept TV. Along with his wife and daughter, Weaver is survived by a son, Trajan, of Utah; five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
2/22/02 Chuck Jones - NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.- Academy Award-winning animator Chuck Jones, who drew such beloved cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig, died at his home Friday. He was 89. Jones worked on more than 300 animated films in a career that spanned more than 60 years. Three of his films won Academy Awards and he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1996 for lifetime achievement. He also received an honorary life membership from the Directors Guild of America. Jones died of congestive heart failure at his home in the coastal community of Corona del Mar, according to a statement released by his daughter's company, Linda Jones Enterprises. Working at Warner Bros., Jones helped bring to life some of the studio's most recognizable characters. In addition to Bugs and Daffy, he worked on the fast-moving, beep-beeping Road Runner and his hapless pursuer, Wile E. Coyote. He also drew Pepe le Pew, the romantic-minded skunk with a French accent. Jones also produced, directed and wrote the screenplay for the animated television classic ''Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.'' The animator's work won him admirers throughout the entertainment business. ''Chuck Jones' originality, his humor and his pacing still have no peer today,'' director Steven Spielberg once said. Three of Jones' films won Academy Awards: ''Frigid Hare,'' ''So Much, So Little'' and ''The Dot and the Line,'' for which Jones also received a directing Oscar. One of Jones' most popular films, ''What's Opera, Doc?'' was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1992 for being ''among the most culturally, historically and aesthetically significant films of our time.'' Born in 1912 in Spokane, Wash., Jones moved to Hollywood with his family, finding work there as a child extra in Mac Sennett comedies. After graduating from Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of Arts), he began making a living drawing pencil portraits on Olvera Street, a historic Los Angeles marketplace. He landed his first job washing animation cels in 1932, working for legendary Disney animator Ub Iwerks. A few years later, he became an animator at the Leon Schlesinger Studio, which was later sold to Warner Bros. He headed up his own unit at the Warner Bros. Animation Dept. until it closed in 1962. He also worked for MGM Studios, creating episodes for the ''Tom and Jerry'' cartoon series. Jones opened his own company, Chuck Jones Enterprises, in 1962, producing nine 30-minute animated films. His autobiography, ''Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist,'' was published in 1989, followed two years later by a second book, ''Chuck Reducks.''
2/13/02 Waylon Jennings- NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Waylon Jennings, whose rebellious songs and brash attitude defined the outlaw movement in country music, died Wednesday after a long battle with diabetes-related health problems. He was 64. Jennings spokeswoman Schatzie Hageman said Jennings died peacefully at his home in Arizona. Jennings, a singer, songwriter and guitarist, recorded 60 albums and had 16 No. 1 country singles in a career that spanned five decades and began when he played bass for Buddy Holly. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October. He had been plagued with diabetes-related health problems in recent years that made it difficult for him to walk. In December, his left foot was amputated at a Phoenix hospital. Jennings and his wife, singer Jessi Colter, sold their home in Nashville more than a year ago and moved to Chandler, Ariz. In 1959, his career was nearly cut short by tragedy soon after it began. He was scheduled to fly on the light plane that crashed and killed Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to Richardson, who was ill and wanted to fly rather than travel by bus with those left behind. With pal Willie Nelson, Jennings performed duets like "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," "Luckenbach" and "Good Hearted Woman." Those 1970s songs nurtured a progressive sound and restless spirit embraced later by Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels, Steve Earle and others. His resonant, authoritative voice also was used to narrate the popular TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard." He sang its theme song, which was a million seller. "I aimed the narration at children and it made it work," he said in a 1987 AP interview. He traditionally wore a black cowboy hat and ebony attire that accented his black beard and mustache. Often reclusive when not on stage, he played earthy music with a spirited, hard edge. Combined, Jennings had a well-defined image that matched well with his history of battling record producers to do music his way. About his independence, he said: "There's always one more way to do something - your way." Some of his album titles nourished his brash persona: "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean," "I've Always Been Crazy," "Nashville Rebel," "Ladies Love Outlaws" and "Wanted: The Outlaws." He often refused to attend music awards shows on grounds performers should not compete against each other. Despite those sentiments, Jennings won two Grammy awards and four Country Music Association awards. He did not attend his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year. For about 10 years, he declined to appear on the Grand Ole Opry because a full set of drums was forbidden at the time. That rule was eventually dropped. In 1992, he told the AP: "I've never compromised, and people respect that." Of his outlaw image, he said: "It was a good marketing tool. In a way, I am that way. You start messing with my music, I get mean. As long was you are honest and up front with me, I will be the same with you. But I still do things my way." Born in Littlefield, Texas, Jennings became a radio disc jockey at 14 and formed his own band not long afterward. He and Holly were teen-age friends in Lubbock, Texas, and Jennings was in Holly's band. Holly also produced Jennings' first record. "Mainly what I learned from Buddy was an attitude," Jennings said. "He loved music, and he taught me that it shouldn't have any barriers to it." By the early 1960s Jennings was playing regularly at a nightclub in Phoenix. In 1963, he was signed by Herb Alpert's A&M Records, then was signed by RCA in Nashville shortly thereafter by Chet Atkins. Once in Nashville, he and Johnny Cash became friends and roommates. His hit records began in the mid-1960s and his heyday was the mid-1970s. His "Greatest Hits" album in 1979 sold 4 million - a rare accomplishment in country music for that era. In the mid-1980s, he joined with Nelson, Cash and Kris Kristofferson to form the quartet the Highwaymen, which recorded together and did concert tours. "I'd like to be remembered for my music - not necessarily by what people see when they see us - but what they feel when they talk about you," he said in 1984. "Some people have their music. My music has me." His other hit singles included "I'm a Ramblin' Man," "Amanda," "Lucille," "I've Always Been Crazy" and "Rose in Paradise." He made occasional forays into TV movies, including "Stagecoach" and "Oklahoma City Dolls," plus the Sesame Street movie "Follow That Bird" and the B-movie "Nashville Rebel." He has said he spent 21 years on drugs and had a $1,500-a-day cocaine habit. "I did more drugs than anybody you ever saw in your life," he told the Country Music Association's Close Up magazine in 1994. In 1977, he was arrested at a Nashville recording studio and charged with conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The charges were later dismissed. He kicked the habit in 1984 by leasing a house in Arizona and going cold turkey, he said. He and Colter, his fourth wife, married in 1969. They had one son, Shooter
2/9/02 Princess Margaret of Britian - LONDON - Princess Margaret, the fun-loving, hard-playing sister of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, died on Saturday aged 71 after the latest in a line of strokes. The queen announced the death of her younger sister ''with great sadness'' in a statement pinned up for all to see at Buckingham Palace, where the Union Jack fluttered at half mast. Margaret's death robbed the queen of a loyal confidante and ended a lifelong battle between protocol and passion. Curious tourists congregated outside the palace gates in muted sadness and respect -- a far cry from the spontaneous outpouring when that other royal misfit, Princess Diana, died in 1997. Margaret died in the week her sister celebrated 50 years on the throne. Ever more vivacious than the dutiful Elizabeth, Margaret's exotic lifestyle had in the end reduced the glamorous princess to a frail, wheelchair-bound figure. The palace said Margaret suffered her most recent stroke on Friday afternoon, developed heart problems overnight and was taken from her Kensington Palace home to hospital. ''Her beloved sister, Princess Margaret, died peacefully in her sleep this morning at 6.30 a.m. in the King Edward VII Hospital. Her children, Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, were at her side,'' the queen's statement said. Heir to the throne Prince Charles paid tribute to his ''darling aunt.'' ''My aunt was one of those remarkable people who apart from being incredibly vital and attractive...had such incredible talent,'' he said from the royal estate at Sandringham. Earlier he told reporters: ''The last few years with her awful illness were hard for her to deal with.'' A heavy smoker and drinker, Margaret will best be remembered for relinquishing true love in her youth, turning her back on a dashing air force officer when protocol dictated that a princess could not marry a divorced man. Instead she turned her attentions to the high arts, beaux and parties, in striking contrast to the outdoor sporting pursuits preferred by other royals. ''She gave a great deal of service to the country,'' Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters during a trip to Africa. ''The whole country will be deeply saddened. She will be remembered with a lot of affection.'' The palace said her coffin was taken from the hospital to Kensington Palace -- where Diana once lived -- ''to enable friends and family to pay their respects in private.'' The funeral will take place next Friday at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Members of the royal family and friends will attend the ceremony, which will not be a state occasion. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
NOT MARGARET'S SORT OF PARTY
The death comes as the royal family embarks on a year of jubilee celebrations for the queen's 50-year reign. Plans have got off to a bad start, with widespread apathy about the festivities and fresh scandal surrounding the younger royals. The death will be a bitter blow to the family matriarch, the Queen Mother, who at 101 has now outlived her younger child. Right to the end, the ''Queen Mum,'' Elizabeth and Margaret had formed a fierce female trio at the heart of the monarchy, while younger royals dabbled in divorce, adultery and drugs. Always the more striking sister, Margaret barely appeared in public at the end and final outings revealed a woman destroyed. Unable to walk, a formless figure bundled in blankets and wraparound dark glasses, this was not the wild child who had broken so many hearts or cavorted with so many stars. A series of strokes had damaged her eyes and affected one arm. Her wheelchair became Margaret's lifeline. Surgeons removed a section of the princess's left lung in 1985 and there was speculation that her condition had been brought on by smoking up to 60 cigarettes a day. In 1999, she was ill for weeks after scalding her feet while taking a bath. A friend of celebrities and lover of night clubs, the sharp-tongued princess was the first in a line of modern royals who struggled against the stuffy strictures of regal convention. She loved ballet, art and jazz -- Louis Armstrong dubbed her ''one hip chick'' -- but it was her zeal for the Caribbean island of Mustique, men and partying that captured the imagination. Yet for all her bohemian instincts, Margaret gave up her one true love in 1955 when she yielded to pressure by renouncing her love for the handsome but divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend. Constitutional crisis averted, the distraught princess turned to a flamboyant life in high society for consolation. She wed photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones -- who took the title Lord Snowdon -- in 1960. Their marriage produced two children and ended in 1978. It was the first divorce in the inner circle of the royals since the days of King Henry VIII, and presaged the royal discord of recent years. Margaret was 11th in line to the throne.
1/22/02 Sheldon Allman - Actor and songwriter, born June 8,1924 in Chicago, Ill. and raised in Canada. Sheldon's singing career began with the Royal National Guard during his WWII service with the RCAF. He moved to L.A. in 1949, graduated from the L.A. Conservatory of Music and was soon working as a vocalist, composer, lyricist, recording artist, voiceover artist and nightclub entertainer. Among his songwriting credits are, "A Quiet Kind Of Love", "Christmas In The Air" and "Patapan". His was the singing voice for T.V.'s "Mister Ed", for which he also wrote and recorded "The Pretty Little Filly with the Ponytail" and "The Empty Feedbag Blues". He is best known, however, as the co-composer of the popular cartoon songs "George Of The Jungle", "Superchicken" and "Tom Slick". Sheldon was also a talented and much sought-after character actor in over 150 film and TV roles. Among them are "Hud", "In Cold Blood", "The Sons Of Katie Elder", "Dirty Harry" and "All The President's Men". On TV he was a featured actor on "Bonanza", "Gunsmoke", "The Twilight Zone", "I Dream of Jeannie", "Kraft Theatre" and "Batman". He passed away of heart failure on Jan. 22 at his home in Culver City. Services will be held Friday Jan 25 at 11am at Hillside Mem. Park in Culver City.
1/21/02 Peggy Lee - Peggy Lee, the singer-composer whose smoky, insinuating voice in such songs as “Is That All There Is?” and “Fever” made her a jazz and pop legend, died Monday. She was 81. Lee died from a heart attack at her Bel Air home, said her daughter, Nicki Lee Foster. Lee repeatedly battled injury and ill health, including heart trouble, in a spectacular career that brought her a Grammy, an Oscar nomination and sold-out houses worldwide.“SHE WAS a perfectionist, she had an incredible ear,” Foster said. “She saw her performance as a total complete musical picture from start to finish.” During more than 50 years in show business, which began during a troubled childhood and endured through four broken marriages, she recorded hit songs with the Benny Goodman band, wrote songs for a Disney movie and starred on Broadway in a short-lived autobiographical show, “Peg.” Her vocal flexibility and cool, breathy voice brought sultry distinction to big band showstoppers, pop ballads and soulful laments. She was considered by some critics as being in the same league as Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith.Her hits touched generations of listeners. Lee’s more notable recordings included “Why Don’t You Do Right?,” “I’m a Woman,” “Lover,” “Pass Me By,” “Where or When,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “I’m Gonna Go Fishin”’ and “Big Spender.” The hit “Is That All There Is?” won her a Grammy for best contemporary female vocal performance in 1969. Jazz critic Leonard Feather once remarked, “If you don’t feel a thrill when Peggy Lee sings, you’re dead, Jack.” “Many singers confuse shouting with emotion. Peggy Lee sends her feelings down the quiet center of her notes,” Whitney Balliett, longtime jazz critic for The New Yorker wrote. “She does not carry a tune; she elegantly follows it.” EARLY YEARS She was born Norma Egstrom on May 26, 1920, in Jamestown, N.D., where her father worked as a handyman and part-time railroad station agent. Her mother died when she was 4, she recalled in a 1985 interview, and she was abused by a stepmother. She said the experience turned out to be good for her, because “I learned independence.” She decided to become a singer at age 14, when she would earn 50 cents a night at gigs for local PTAs. A few years later she traveled to Fargo where she sang on a local radio station. The WDAY program director suggested a name change, and she became Peggy Lee. Lee eventually arrived in Hollywood with $18 in her pocketbook, supporting herself as a waitress and between nightclub jobs. Goodman, then the King of Swing, hired her to sing with his band after hearing her while she was performing at a Chicago hotel. A string of hits, notably “Why Don’t You Do Right?”, made her a star. Then she fell in love with Goodman’s guitarist, Dave Barbour, and withdrew from the music world to be his wife and raise their daughter, Nicki. But she returned to singing when the marriage fell apart. “I kept blaming myself for his alcoholism and the failure of our marriage,” she said. “And I finally understood what Sophie Tucker used to say: You have to have your heart broken at least once to sing a love song.” Lee’s sultry voice kept her a favorite in radio, on records and later in television. She became an accomplished songsmith, co-writing “Manana” and “It’s a Good Day” with Barbour. She recalled in a 1988 interview that her husband [Barbour] “thought of me as a jazz singer. I never did. I didn’t know what I was. I just liked to think of interpreting.” She collaborated with Sonny Burke on the songs for Disney’s “The Lady and the Tramp,” and was the voice for the wayward canine who sang “He’s a Tramp [But I Love Him].” Her work on that 1955 film led to a landmark legal judgment 36 years later when a California court awarded her $2.3 million after she sued for a portion of the profits from the videocassette sale of the movie. The case hinged on a clause in her pre-video-era contract barring the sale of “transcriptions” of the movie without her approval. In 1956, she was cast her as a boozy blues singer in “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” and she was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar. She also appeared opposite Danny Thomas in an update of “The Jazz Singer,” but her film career was short-lived. “My agents decided they could make more money from me on the road,” she said. She recorded more than 600 songs and wrote many others, including themes for such movies as “Johnny Guitar” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” Her return to recording in 1988 after a hiatus of more than a decade netted her a Grammy nomination for “Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues” in 1989 and another for “The Peggy Lee Songbook: There’ll Be Another Spring” in 1991. Despite her success, Lee believed her record company did not pay her enough in royalties. She is among more than 200 musicians involved in a pending lawsuit against Vivendi Universal’s music division. Lee claimed the company failed to pay her and other musicians, who recorded with the Decca Records label before 1962, millions of dollars by underreporting sales and overcharging for services. In addition to Barbour, Lee was married to actors Brad Dexter and Dewey Martin and percussionist Jack Del Rio. “They weren’t really weddings, just long costume parties,” she once said. She summed up her life and career in the Broadway show, “Peg,” which closed after 18 performances in 1984. She was perplexed by the cancellation: “Audiences loved the show even if the critics didn’t.” With customary resilience, she immediately departed for appearances in Canada, Japan, Great Britain and Los Angeles. Longtime Peggy Lee fans detected a change of attitude in her onstage demeanor. She once seemed aloof, but “I feel free to talk to an audience now. I could do so in the past, but only to a degree. I was much too self-conscious, much too reticent to give of myself. Now I feel at ease with myself and the world. It’s a great feeling.” BATTLED ILLNESS A diabetic, Lee was often troubled by weight and glandular problems. In 1961 she was felled by double pneumonia and in 1976 she had a near-fatal fall in a New York hotel. She was again seriously injured in another fall in Las Vegas in 1987. In early 1985 she underwent four angioplasties — balloon surgery to open clogged arteries — and resumed her singing tour. While appearing in New Orleans in October 1985, she underwent double-bypass heart surgery. In 1998, she suffered a stroke which impaired her speech, requiring therapy to recover. In addition to her daughter, Lee is survived by her grandchildren David Foster, Holly Foster-Wells, and Michael Foster; and three great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
From the Underground: Peggy Lee was laid to rest at Westwood Memorial Park in the new garden. Many thanks to Underground Guru, Roger Sinclair, for the information.
1/20/02 Carrie Hamilton - Carrie Hamilton, daughter of entertainer Carol Burnett and the late producer Joe Hamilton, whose drug problems prompted a family crusade two decades ago and who recently completed a play based on her mother's autobiography, has died. She was 38. The actress, musician and writer died Sunday of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the family publicist, Deborah Kelman. At Hamilton's suggestion, she and Burnett wrote the play, "Hollywood Arms," based on Burnett's best-selling memoir, "One More Time." The play, directed by the influential Broadway producer-director Hal Prince, is scheduled for its world premiere April 29 at Chicago's Goodman Theater. Carrie Hamilton was only a teenager when she burst into national news--not because of acting or writing songs or plays or films but because of her addiction to marijuana, Quaaludes and cocaine and what her parents chose to do about it. The revelation was made in a 1979 People magazine article titled "Carol Burnett's Nightmare" and detailing the two-year effort to get Hamilton off drugs. By then the girl was in a Houston drug rehabilitation program. "I'm compulsive and I'm extremist, and I did have a big ego. I wanted to be Big Something," Hamilton told The Times shortly after the magazine article was published. "If I couldn't be the big wheel, at least I could be the big dope fiend." Burnett and Joe Hamilton, who later blamed a marital separation partially on their daughter's drug problems, said they chose to speak out about their experiences to help other families cope with a growing problem among well-to-do teenagers. They became fund-raisers for the clinic where Carrie was treated. As she matured, Hamilton followed her parents into the entertainment industry, making her first big acting splash in the television series "Fame" in the mid-1980s. She hosted specials, "Superstars & Their Moms" in 1987 and 1988 and sang on such programs as "Beverly Hills Brats" and in the telecast of the 1989 Academy Awards. Hamilton acted in episodes of several popular television series, including "Beverly Hills 90210," "Murder, She Wrote," "Walker, Texas Ranger," "Brooklyn South," "Touched By an Angel," "The Pretender" and "The X-Files." Among her feature film credits are "Cool World," "Tokyo Pop" and "Just Desserts." She also worked with a profit-sharing film company, for which she wrote and directed short films. One, "Lunchtime Thomas," earned her the Women in Film Award at the 2001 Latino Film Festival. Hamilton was interviewed for the 1998 television special about her mother, "Intimate Portrait: Carol Burnett." Survivors include Burnett and two sisters, Erin and Jody Hamilton. The family said that services will be private and asked that any memorial donations be sent to the American Lung Assn. at 5858 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Note from the Underground: Carrie Hamilton was cremated and scattered.
1/14/02 Ted Demme - SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) - Ted Demme, a film and television director whose credits include the film ``Blow,'' died after playing basketball. He was 38. Demme was participating in a celebrity basketball game at the private Crossroads School when he was stricken Sunday, said Ted Braun, a spokesman for Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. Paramedics rushed Demme to the hospital's emergency room in full cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead 20 minutes later. The cause of death has not been determined and an autopsy will be conducted, said Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. Demme, a nephew of director Jonathan Demme, directed Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in last year's ``Blow.'' The film was based on the true story of George Jung, who was the American connection to the Colombian cocaine cartel in the late 1970s and early '80s when the drug became hip. Demme, who lived in West Hollywood, also directed the 1996 film ``Beautiful Girls'' and was a director on the 1999 television series ``Action.'' His uncle, Jonathan Demme, was director of the 1991 film ``Silence of the Lambs,'' which won the Oscar for best picture. He also directed the films ``Philadelphia,'' ``Married to the Mob'' and ``Something Wild.''
1/8/02 Dave Thomas - COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Dave Thomas built Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers into the world's third-largest fast-food chain, but his real fame came from the more than 800 television ads he made over the years that featured his folksy, sometimes self-effacing humor. Wendy's lost its founder and premier pitchman when Thomas, 69, died of liver cancer early Tuesday at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He had been undergoing kidney dialysis for nearly a year and had quadruple heart bypass surgery in 1996. ``He was the heart and soul of our company,'' said Jack Schuessler, chairman and chief executive of Wendy's, which is based in the Columbus suburb of Dublin. ``He had a passion for great tasting hamburgers, and devoted his life to serving customers great food and helping those less fortunate in his community.'' The senior chairman of Wendy's International became a household face when he began pitching his burgers and fries in television commercials in 1989. The smiling Thomas, always wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and red tie, touted the virtues of fast food in humorous ads, often featuring big-name stars such as bluesman B.B. King and soap opera queen Susan Lucci. ``Golly, what a sweet man,'' said former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip, who filmed two commercials with Thomas. ``We finished one commercial last fall and I could tell he wasn't feeling well but he was out there like a trouper. He was out there doing the best he could.'' The 12-year campaign resonated with customers. ``He was kind of like my grandfather,'' said 43-year-old Stan Thompson, who bought lunch at a Columbus Wendy's on Tuesday. ``He was somebody you could trust.'' Though he was a multimillionaire, Thomas' favorite meal never changed: a Wendy's Single with cheese, mustard, pickles and onion; fries, a bowl of chili, a Frosty and a diet Coke. ``My general impression was, he was a good guy who really represented American values. He wasn't some elitist in the business establishment. He had worked his way up and created this major corporation,'' said Matt Mecklenborg of Westerville, Ohio, who was at Wendy's on his lunch break. Thomas, born July 2, 1932, got his first restaurant job at age 12 as a counterman in Knoxville, Tenn. While working at a barbecue restaurant in Fort Wayne, Ind., he met KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders, who became a major influence in his life. Thomas came to Columbus in 1962 to take over four failing KFC restaurants for his boss, who promised him a 45 percent stake in them if he turned them around. Thomas sold the restaurants back to KFC for $1.5 million in 1968, making him a millionaire at 35. He opened his first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers in Columbus a year later, naming it after his 8-year-old daughter Melinda Lou - nicknamed Wendy by her siblings. Thomas said the burgers were square because Wendy's didn't cut corners. The company now has 6,000 restaurants worldwide and more than 2,000 Tim Hortons, a Canadian-based coffee and baked-goods chain acquired in 1996. The two chains have combined sales of more than $8 billion. Wendy's got a big boost when Thomas started making commercials. ``People could identify with him. He looks like America - jolly, happy and slightly overweight,'' said Al Ries, marketing strategist at Ries & Ries in Roswell, Ga. ``Fast food isn't serious food. Serious food is white tablecloths. Fast food is fun food, and Dave Thomas portrayed that.'' In 1996, Thomas filmed his 500th commercial. The company staged a lookalike contest that attracted 1,600 entrants vying for the grand prize: a chance to appear in a commercial with him. Thomas, who was adopted as an infant, created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, an organization focused on raising public awareness of adoption. The profits from his books, ``Well Done!'' and ``Dave's Way,'' go to the foundation. He once testified before a congressional committee about the importance of creating incentives for adoption. ``I know firsthand how important it is for every child to have a home and loving family,'' he said. ``Without a family, I would not be where I am today.'' Thomas is survived by his wife, Lorraine, five children and 16 grandchildren. His funeral is scheduled for Friday in Columbus, and a memorial service is scheduled for Jan. 18 in Fort Lauderdale.
Note from the Underground: Dave Thomas was buried in Union Cemetery in Columbus, OH.
1/5/02 David Swift - LOS ANGELES (AP) - David Swift, who wrote and directed the Walt Disney movies ``Pollyanna'' and ``The Parent Trap'' that made Hayley Mills a teen-age star, has died of a heart attack. He was 82. Swift, who died Monday, also created one of television's earliest comedy hits, ``Mr. Peepers.'' The show, broadcast live from New York in the early 1950s, starred comedian Wally Cox as mild-mannered science teacher Robinson J. Peepers. Swift joined The Walt Disney Studios as an assistant animator in the 1930s, working for Ward Kimball, one of the fabled animators Disney referred to as his ``nine old men.'' He later worked on such films as ``Dumbo,'' ``Fantasia'' ``Peter Pan,'' ``Pinocchio'' and ``Snow White'' before moving into writing, directing and producing for radio, television and films. ``He was so enriched from his experience at Disney that he wanted to do more,'' said his wife of 44 years, Micheline Swift. ``He was a go-getter. He always said, `One can do wonders with a pen.''' He made his feature film debut with ``Pollyanna'' in 1960. The film, Mills' second, won the 14-year-old a special Juvenile Academy Award. She and Swift followed it up with another hit, ``The Parent Trap,'' the following year. ``He was a very big influence in my life,'' Mills told the Los Angeles Times. ``I think they were the two best movies I did for Disney. He was always relaxed and patient and gentle and sweet. It was extremely fortunate for me that he was in charge of those two films.'' Swift directed such hit 1960s films as ``How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,'' ``The Interns,'' ``Under the Yum Yum Tree'' and ``Good Neighbor Sam.'' During the 1970s, he directed episodes of TV shows including ``Eight is Enough,'' ``Barney Miller'' and ``The Love Boat.'' He went on to script the 1998 remake of ``The Parent Trap,'' which starred Lindsay Lohan this time as identical twins. Swift's TV writing credits included the Golden Age of television's ``Playhouse 90,'' ``Studio One'' and ``The Philco Television Playhouse,'' as well as ``The Rifleman'' and ``Wagon Train.''
1/2/02 Julia Phillips - HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Julia Phillips, the ebullient and caustic producer of "The Sting," "Taxi Driver" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" who was the first woman ever to receive a best picture Oscar, died Monday. She was 57. Phillips died of cancer in her Hollywood home, according to her daughter, Kate Phillips, and son-in-law, Modi Wiczyk. A few years after she married businessman Michael Phillips in 1966, the couple formed Bill/Phillips Prods. with actor Tony Bill. In contrast to her even-tempered husband, Phillips gained a reputation as a brilliant but intimidating raconteur who would say anything -- one who stayed up all night, swore like a stevedore and smoked nonstop. "I thought she'd make a good partner," said Bill, with whom the couple produced "The Sting." "I was right." At the dawn of the 1970s, young and aggressive producers were something of an anomaly in Hollywood, and the trio took the town by storm. In 1973, the 29-year-old Phillips walked onto the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage with her husband and Bill to receive the best picture Oscar for "The Sting." True to form, she spoke first: "You can imagine what a trip this is for a Jewish girl from Great Neck," she said. "I get to win an Academy Award and meet Elizabeth Taylor at the same time." What followed was a hot streak that still seems freakish 30 years later: After "Taxi Driver," which earned the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes International Film Festival, Phillips produced "Close Encounters of The Third Kind." However, the 1977 film proved to be something of a coda for Phillips. After producing three of the decade's iconic movies, she had a production deal at 20th Century Fox with a staff of 30. However, her raging cocaine habit took hold, and she didn't produce another film for 11 years. Born Julia Miller in Manhattan in 1944 and raised in Long Island, her father was a scientist who worked on the Los Alamos project that developed the atomic bomb. She worked in publishing before moving to production company First Artists, where she became the protegee of David Begelman. There, she worked with actors like Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. Phillips spent the 1980s getting clean and producing just one film, "The Beat" in 1988. She was also preparing to write a book, one that would make her famous in a new realm. "You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again" showed that she was her father's daughter: The 1991 tell-all memoir was nuclear fission in downtown Beverly Hills. Filled with tales of debauchery that invoked the names of luminaries like Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and Martin Scorsese, the title debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. "She was as ferocious a friend as she was a foe," said Ruth Vitale, co-president of Paramount Classics. "She said what she meant and always said it. In this town, that's a rare asset." In Phillips' case, it was also a quality that ensured her career was truly over. According to Wiczyk, that didn't trouble her. "She always said, 'It turned me from an old producer into an icon."' Like any savvy producer, Phillips followed her hit with a sequel: "Driving Under the Affluence" was published in 1995. The Showtime cable channel is developing a movie based on Phillips' life. "She was amazing," said CAA's John Ptak, who was Phillips' first agent. "A few of us were truly lucky to be with her at the time." Besides daughter Kate, she is survived by a son, Matthew. Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.