Category: RIP

RIP: Steve Carver

Steve Carver, best known for directing action films, died yesterday of a heart attack.  Mr. Carver was 75.

After graduating from college (BA from Cornell University and MFA from Washington University), Carver worked as a cameraman for the Wide World of Sports for the St. Louis Cardinals, taught at local colleges and made documentaries.  One of his documentaries earned him a spot in the American Film Institute.  Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, one of the short films Carver created there, was well received and led to Carver meeting and working with Roger Corman.

Carver cut trailers for Corman’s New World pictures and began writing scripts.  Corman then gave Carver the opportunity to direct The Arena starring Pam Grier.  The success of that film led Corman to give Carter the helm of Big Bad Mama starring Angie Dickinson, William Shatner and Tom Skerritt.  The success of Big Bad Mama led to Carver directing CaponeCapone starred Ben Gazarra, Harry Guardino, Susan Blakely, Sylvester Stallone and John Cassavetes.

The success of these films made Carver the potential director for Billy Jack Goes to Washington.  That fell through when Tom Laughlin decided to direct it himself.  Carver was instead hired to replace director Burt Kennedy on Drum which starred Warren Oates, Ken Norton, Pam Grier and Yaphet Kotto.  Although the film was successful, Carver didn’t enjoy the experience.

Carver had ideas for a couple of films but they fell through. Instead Carver went on to direct David Carradine and Brenda Vaccaro in Fast Charlie… the Moonbeam Rider and Steel starring Lee Majors and Jennifer O’Neal.

In 1981, Carver directed Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee and Richard Roundtree in An Eye for an Eye.  Two years later, Carver reteamed with Chuck Norris for Lone Wolf McQuade (co-starring David Carradine, Barbara Carrera and Leon Isaac Kennedy).  Both of these films were highly successful, but Carver was becoming less enchanted with Hollywood and more interested in photography.  Carter made six more films, but in 1995 opened his own photography studio and left directing behind.

Thanks to Steve Carver for many hours of entertainment.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

R.I.P. – Dawn Wells

Dawn Wells, best known as Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island died yesterday from Covid-related complications at the age of 82.  

Wells went to Hollywood after she competed in the 1960 Miss America pageant as Miss Nevada.  There she found success making guest appearances on nearly every major television show including Wagon Train, Cheyenne, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Bonanza and others.  In 1964, Wells won the role of Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island.  The series ran for 3 years and 98 episodes. Surprisingly Gilligan’s Island gained even more popularity when the series ended and went into syndication.

After Gilligan’s Island, Wells continued to have success with guest appearances on other television shows including The Invaders, The Wild, Wild West and Bonanza.  Wells also appeared in theatrical releases including Winterhawk, The Town that Dreaded Sundown and Return to Boggy Creek.

Due to the popularity of Gilligan’s Island in syndication, Over a decade after the series was cancelled, Wells returned to play Mary Ann in three made-for-tv movies (Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island).  Wells even voiced Mary Ann (and Ginger) on the cartoon series Gilligan’s Planet.  Wells continued to stay active appearing on tv shows and movies through 2019. 

By all accounts Dawn Wells was really as sweet and loveable as her character Mary Ann.  Its funny to think that when I was a kid, you liked either Mary Ann or Ginger and I was always on the Mary Ann bandwagon.  So were most of my friends.  That’s because we were on the Dawn Wells’ bandwagon.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dawn Wells’ family, friends and fans. 

 

RIP: William Link

William Link, best known as co-creator of Columbo, passed away on Sunday, December 27th from congestive heart failure.  Mr. Link was 87.

William Link often partnered with Richard Levinson to write, create and produce everything from radio scripts to teleplays and feature films.  In addition to co-creating Columbo, Link along with Levinson and Peter S. Fischer created the popular and long-running television program Murder, She Wrote.  Link and Levinson also created Mannix in addition to other tv series.  Link and Levinson’s television movies included My Sweet Charlie, That Certain Summer, and (my favorite) The Execution of Private Slovak starring a young Martin Sheen. Their scripts for feature films included The Hindenburg; Rollercoaster; and Steve McQueen’s last film The Hunter.

Link and Levinson won numerous awards throughout their long partnership including two Emmys, two Golden Globes, four Edgar Allan Poe Awards and many others.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to William Link’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Sir Thomas Sean Connery

Sean Connery has died at the age of 90.

Best known for his portrayal of James Bond, Connery was the first actor to play the character in a major motion picture.  Connery starred in seven Bond films and was widely considered the best actor to ever play 007.  Connery was much more than James Bond. With over 100 acting credits on his resume, Connery made every movie he was in better by his presence.

In 1987, Connery won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Jim Malone in The Untouchables. Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July, 2000. Connery was popular in Scotland and throughout the world.  In 2004, he won a poll as The Greatest Living Scot.  In 2011, another survey named him as Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure. People magazine named Connery the Sexiest Man Alive in 1989 when he was 59 years old. Then in 1999, People magazine named Connery the Sexiest Man of the Century. He received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. 

When I think of Sean Connery, like most folks, my thoughts go to James Bond.  For my money, Connery was the coolest of all Bonds and set the standards for all who followed.  But even if Connery had never played Bond, look at all the movies that he made that entertained us.  My personal favorite Connery movies include: The Wind and the Lion, Robin and Marian, Outland, Highlander, The Name of the Rose, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rock and (even) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sir Thomas Sean Connery’s family, friends and fans.  

RIP James Randi aka The Amazing Randi

James Randi aka The Amazing Randi died on Tuesday at the age of 92.  Mr. Randi began his career as a magician (that’s where the Amazing part of his name came from).  He was a different kind of magician though.

Sure, he could perform mind-reading stunts, bend spoons just as those who claim to do so via mental powers, escape from padlocked chains and the like, but The Amazing Randi claimed no supernatural powers.  In fact he offered his own money (eventually getting the amount to one million dollars) own money to anyone who could show scientific evidence of supernatural powers.  No one ever collected.

James Randi became famous for debunking spiritualists, mind readers and the like who claimed supernatural powers to defraud people.  He had his own radio show, television specials and was a popular guest on television shows.  Randi was also the author of ten books.  By all accounts he was a fun guy to be around.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to James Randi’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Conchata Ferrell

Conchata Ferrell passed away yesterday as a result of complications following a cardiac arrest.  She was 77.

Best known as Berta on Two and a Half Men, this is just one of her 131 acting credits!  Check out all the appearances.  What a career, but even if Conchata had only been on Two and Half Men, her career would have been made.  She was perfect in that role.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Conchata Ferrell’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Mac Davis

Mac Davis, the multi-talented singer-songwriter and actor died yesterday at age 78 from complications of a recent heart surgery.

Davis was an award-winning song writer who first came to notice for writing the popular Elvis Presley songs, In the Ghetto, Don’t Cry Daddy and A Little Less Conversation.  Other singers such as Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Perry Como, and Helen Reddy (to name just a few) were happy to cover Mac Davis songs.

Davis wrote hits for himself such as Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me, Stop and Smell the Roses and One Hell of a Woman.  In 1974, Davis was named the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year.  This success led to The Mac Davis Show which ran from 1974-1976.  Davis caught the acting bug and began his career in North Dallas Forty.  Davis would spend the rest of his life singing and acting alternating between movies and television and live concerts.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mac Davis’ family, friends and fans.

RIP: Jacqueline Stallone

Jacqueline Stallone passed away this morning at the age of 98.  Best known as the mother of Sylvester and Frank Stallone, she was much more than just the parent of famous brothers.

Here is part of what Frank posted on his Instagram

This morning my brothers and I lost our mother Jackie Stallone . She was the mother to four children, Tommy, Sylvester, Frankie and my late sister Toni Ann. She was a remarkable woman working out everyday full of spunk and fearless . She died in her sleep as she had wished. It was hard not to like her, she was very eccentric and flamboyant person.

Jackie, as she was known, was indeed a remarkable woman.  She was always into fitness and training.  As a young woman she performed as a trapeze artist!  She was also a nightclub dancer.  Jackie Stallone was the first woman to have a daily exercise and fitness show in Washington, D.C. Later in her career she owned Barbella’s, a gym for women.

Jackie became a popular guest on talk shows where she discussed not only her famous sons but also her astrology books and psychic hotline.  She also became involved with GLOW – the Gorgeous Women of Wrestling!

Jackie Stallone was a powerhouse.  Frank was right in describing her as eccentric, flamboyant, fearless and hard not to like. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jacqueline Stallone’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Ronald “Khalis” Bell (Kool & the Gang Co-Founder)

Ronald “Khalis” Bell, co-founder of Kool & the Gang, died yesterday of an undisclosed cause at the age of 68.  Bell was a singer, songwriter, producer and saxophonist.  Just a few of the songs Bell composed, produced and performed include Celebration, Get Down On It, Jungle Boogie, Cherish, Hollywood Swinging and Summer Madness.  Celebration is in the Grammy Song Hall of Fame and Bell is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Kool & the Gang, which Bell co-founded with his brother, Robert in 1969 released their first album in 1970. Khalis and his brother remained in the band which underwent many group member changes over the years but still continued to produce music their fans loved.

Ronald “Khalis” Bell, along with Kool & the Gang, created music that brings back great memories.  I was in Junior High when Jungle Boogie and Hollywood Swinging broke big.  Both songs still bring a smile to my face.  When I was in high school and college they continued to be a part of fun times with songs like Ladies Night, Celebration and more.  Bell’s song Summer Madness was even featured in Rocky.   Their hits continued in the 80s with songs like Too Hot, Joanna, Cherish (a great love song), and Fresh.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ronald “Khalis” Bell’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – James “Kamala” Harris

James Harris better known as the professional wrestler Kamala the Ugandan Giant has died at the age of 70 due to complications from Covid-19.

Harris began his pro wrestling career in 1978 after meeting Hall of Fame Wrestler Bobo Brazil.  In his early years Harris wrestled under the names, Ugly Bear Harris, Big Jim Harris and Bad News Harris.  In 1982, Harris signed with promoter Jerry Lawler’s Continental Wrestling Association.  Harris and Lawler created the Kamala character — a giant headhunter brought to the US from the jungles of Uganda.

Harris wrestled for all of the major companies and was a fan favorite.  When my sons and nephews were young, I took them to a live wrestling event where Kamala was one of the featured stars.  I overheard the boys telling my youngest son, Chris, that Kamala was a cannibal and a headhunter who ate little kids.  They went on to tell Chris that if Kamala got hungry he would begin slapping his belly and then climb out of the ring to look for a meal.  (Slapping his belly was a signature move for Kamala and he did it in every match.)

Needless to say when Kamala came out to wrestle Chris seemed to move a bit closer to me with eyes as big as saucers watching the Ugandan giant enter the ring.  Sure enough, part way through the match he began to slap his belly.  Chris grabbed my hand, and said, “C’mon dad.  Time to go, Kamala’s getting ready to look for a meal!”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to James Kamala Harris’ family, friends and fans.

RIP – Reni Santoni

Reni Santoni, 81, died on August 1, 2020, at hospice after a long illness.  Sanotni appeared in over 100 film and television roles.  Most folks probably know Santoni best from his role as Poppie on Seinfeld.  My favorite Santoni performances were in Dirty Harry and Cobra but it was always a pleasure when Santoni appeared on any show or movie.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

RIP – Wilford Brimley

Wilford Brimley died yesterday at the age of 85 after being hospitalized for two months with kidney problems.

I first saw Wilfred Brimley in an uncredited role with John Wayne in True Grit.  At that point I had no idea who Wilfred Brimley was, but that would all change with his tv appearances in Kung Fu, The Waltons, How the West was Won and The Wild, Wild West Revisited.  After that it wasn’t surprising to see Brimley popping up in movies (The Electric Horseman, Brubaker, Absence of Malice) or television (Walker, Texas Ranger; Seinfeld).

My favorite Wilfred Brimley roles were in The Thing and Hard Target, but it didn’t matter the role or movie, Wilfred Brimley always made it better.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wilfred Brimley’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – John Saxon

John Saxon died yesterday of pneumonia. He was 83. Saxon is best known to fans for his role as Roper in Enter the Dragon, but that was just one of his nearly 200 acting credits. 

Saxon began is career in the mid 1950s playing teen idol parts.  In the 60s, Saxon alternated between movies and guest starring television roles.  In 1972, Saxon co-starred with Clint Eastwood in Joe Kidd and the following year with Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly in Enter the Dragon.  Saxon continued to alternate between movie and tv roles for the rest of his career.  Any time Saxon was in the production, you know it got just better.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to John Saxon’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – Denny O’Neil

Denny O’Neil died yesterday at his home after a long illness.  Mr. O’Neil was 81.  Denny O’Neil was a comic book writer, editor, teacher, novelist and screenwriter for television and movie projects. 

Mr. O’Neil is often credited with steering Batman from the cartoonish character of earlier comics and the television series to a more serious creature of the night.  It was also O’Neil who wrote the classic, award-winning Green Lantern / Green Arrow issues that proved comics could shine a spotlight on issues of the day and still entertain.  He revitalized The Question for DC comics.  He served as a mentor and editor to Frank Miller on Daredevil.  He wrote the famous Superman vs Muhammad Ali comic.  He did all of these things and so much more.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Denny O’Neil’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Jerry Stiller

Jerry Stiller died today from natural causes.  He was 92.  Most folks know Jerry Stiller as the father of either Ben Stiller, George Costanza .  Ben is, of course, Mr. Stiller’s real-life son and George was his son on Seinfeld.  Others may recognize Jerry Stiller as Arthur Spooner, Carrie Heffernan’s dad on The King of Queens.

I first knew Jerry Stiller as one half of the comedy team Stiller and Meara.  You’ve probably figured out that he made up the Stiller half of the duo, but did you know his wife, Ann Meara, made up the other 50%?  I can’t tell you how many times I saw them turn up on The Ed Sullivan Show and other variety series.  I enjoyed their humorous routines. It was (and still is) unusual to see a husband and wife comedy team.  Especially one that lasts over 60 years.

Mr. Stiller’s resume contains 115 acting credits but it was his roles on Seinfeld and The King of Queens that I’ll remember best.  Often Jerry Stiller got the biggest laughs and considering the talent involved that’s saying a lot.  From all accounts Jerry Stiller was a humble, giving man and one that made everything he appeared in better.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.