Category: RIP

RIP: James Caan

James Caan died yesterday at the age of 82.  No cause of death was given.  Mr. Caan’s family  released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6.  The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

James Caan attended Michigan State University for two years where he played football.  He then transferred to Hofstra University in New York.  This is where he developed his interest in acting.  Mr. Caan’s first roles were in off-Broadway plays.  Soon he was getting guest appearances on television.  Some of James Caan’s roles included parts on Naked City, Route 66, The Untouchables, Dr. Kildare, Combat!, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Get Smart.

James Caan’s first feature film appearance was in Lady in a Cage.  More film roles followed.  A few of his appearances include Red Line 7000, El Dorado, Countdown and The Rain People.

In 1971, James Caan starred as Brian Piccolo in Brian’s SongBrian’s Song was a tv movie that co-starred Billy Dee Williams as Gayle Sayers.  Piccolo and Sayers played for the Chicago Bears and became good friends before Piccolo tragically died from cancer.  The movie was a huge success.

The following year Mr. Caan appeared as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather.  After that there was no looking back.  James Caan racked up over 135 credits on his resume including films such as The Gambler, Rollerball, The Killer Elite, Thief, Alien Nation, Misery, Eraser, Poodle Springs, The Way of the Gun and Elf.  James Caan also starred in the television series Las Vegas from 2003 – 2007.

I probably first saw James Caan on one of his many television appearances since he appeared on many shows that I watched.  But it was his role as Brian Piccolo that got my attention.  Everyone was talking about the movie the next day at school.  James Caan was cool!  Then he followed that role up as Sonny Corleone, the hothead brother in The Godfather!  What a one-two punch.

Many people are listing their favorite James Caan roles in films such as Misery, Thief and The Godfather.  Those were all great Jimmy Caan roles, but I wish more folks were recognizing his part as Joe Sarno in The Way of the Gun.  Sarno was my favorite character in the film and Caan was perfect as the tough, old guy, (years before Jonathan Banks became a fan favorite as Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul).  Caan as Sarno had the perfect delivery on lines such as, “The only thing you can guess about a broken down old man is that he is a survivor” and “I promise you a day of reckoning that you won’t live long enough to never forget.”

I was glad to see Sly Stallone and James Caan acting together in two episodes of Caan’s series Las  Vegas.

James Caan was not only an excellent actor, he was a legit tough guy and athlete.  He did many of his own stunts. As a young man he participated in rodeos.  He played college football.  And perhaps the thing I admired most about James Caan was that what you saw is what you got.  He came across the same in all his interviews as a guy who enjoyed life.

James Caan has one final film in post-production.  It’s called Fast Charlie.  The screenplay is based on Victor Gischler’s Gun Monkeys.  (I’ve read the book and highly recommend it!)  Pierce Brosnan is the lead.  I’m happy that we have one more James Caan film coming and it should be a banger!  Of course anything that James Caan was in was better because of him.

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

RIP: Joseph Turkel

Joseph “Joe” Turkel, best known for his roles in The Shinning and Blade Runner died on Monday, June 27, 2022.  He was 94 years old.  When he was 16 years old, Joe Turkel enlisted in the US Army and served during World War II.  After the war, Mr. Turkel decided on an acting career.

Joe Turkel’s resume contains over 140 credits of television and feature film roles.  Some of the television shows that Mr. Turkel appeared on include: The Lone Ranger, Highway Patrol, Sky King, Dragnet, Bat Masterson, Wagon Train, The Untouchables, Combat!, The Andy Griffith Show, The Rat Patrol, Bonanza, Ironside, Land of the Giants, Adam-12, SWAT, Police Story, Kojak, Fantasy Island and Miami Vice.

Some of the feature films in which Joe Turkel appeared include: The Killing, Paths of Glory, The Sand Pebbles, The Shinning and Blade Runner to name just a few.

Joseph Turkel had a face you couldn’t forget.  As a kid, I remember seeing Mr. Turkel show up on many of the shows I watched.  As an adult I began seeing him in films.  Usually, Mr. Turkel played a bad guy, but I knew he was a good guy to see in the credits.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joseph Turkel’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Sonny Barger

Sonny Barger, one of the founding members of the Hell’s Angels, died yesterday from cancer.  Sonny Barger’s notoriety as a Hell’s Angels leader (including being part of the Rolling Stones security at the Altamont concert where Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane was knocked unconscious and audience member Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death) brought him into the public eye.  Mr. Barger appeared several documentaries about the Hell’s Angels and other motorcycle clubs, three feature films, but is probably known for his reoccurring role on Sons of Anarchy where he played Lenny ‘The Pimp’ Janowitz.  Sonny Barger also wrote or co-wrote six books.

I first became aware of Sonny Barger through his leadership of the Hell’s Angels and the wild stories and documentaries about him/them.  His addition to the cast of Sons of Anarchy added a level of authenticity to the show.  I’ve read a couple of his books.  He lived his life as he wanted.  His final message posted on his Facebook page was:

If you are reading this message, you’ll know that I’m gone. I’ve asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing. I’ve lived a long and good life filled with adventure. And I’ve had the privilege to be part of an amazing club. Although I’ve had a public persona for decades, i’ve mostly enjoyed special time with my club brothers, my family, and close friends.

Please know that I passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer. But also know that in the end, I was surrounded by what really matters: My wife, Zorana, as well as my loved ones. Keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor. – Sonny

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sonny Barger’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Glen Trotiner

Glen Trotiner, actor, producer and director, died on June 16, 2022, at the age of 65.  No details on the cause of death were given.

Mr. Trotiner was best known for his work as a Second Unit or Assistant Director on feature films and television.  His resume lists 101 credits under this title on films that include The Untouchables, Awakenings, Independence Day, Deep Impact, Oz, ER, Phone Booth, Perfect Stranger, Captain America: The First Avenger, Braven and Morbius. Glen Trotiner sometimes appeared in small roles in films that include Regarding Henry, Freejack, Jungle to Jungle and Big Daddy to name a few.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Glen Trotiner’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Tim Sale

Tim Sale died yesterday at the age of 66.  No cause of death was given.

Tim Sale is best known for his collaborations with writer Jeph Loeb.  A few of the series that they created for DC include: Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, Superman for All Seasons and Catwoman: When in Rome.  For Marvel Comics, the duo created Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-Man: Blue, Hulk: Gray and Captain America: White.

Mr. Sale is also known for his work with Darwyn Cooke on Superman: Confidential, Grendel with Matt Wagner and Deathblow with Jim Lee.  Any comic that Tim Sale worked on was worth picking up because of Sale’s unique spin on characters.  Tim Sale won an Eisner Award in 1999 in the “Best Artist/Penciller/Inker” category.  Tim Sale also provided art for the television series Heroes.

I was fortunate to meet Tim Sale a few times at conventions over the years.  In 2011, Tim Sale did a wonderful sketch for me at MegaCon. Tim said that he wanted to do Rocky from the first movie.  He chose to draw Rocky the loan collector who worked for his friend Gazzo.  Tim Sale also added his turtles Cuff and Link. My buddy, John Higashi was responsible for making it happen.  Thanks to John Higashi, I also attended a dinner with Tim Sale and other artists.

Tim Sale was an amazing artist.  By all accounts he was a kind and gracious man.  The number of news organizations reporting his passing and remembrances from people around the world is testimony to his impact.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tim Sale’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Philip Baker Hall

Philip Baker Hall died last night peacefully in his sleep surrounded by loved ones.  Mr. Hall was 90.

While you may not recognize Philip Baker Hall’s name, you surely recognize his face if you’re a movie or tv fan.  Mr. Hall was a character actor in the truest sense of the word.  With 185 roles on his resume, Mr. Hall alternated between feature films and television.

Some of the television shows featuring Mr. Hall include: Emergency!, Good Times, Man from Atlantis, MASH, The Waltons, Quincy, Cagney & Lacey, TJ Hooker, Benson, Miami Vice, Family Ties, Flacon Crest, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Seinfeld, Cheers, Chicago Hope, Third Rock from the Sun, Monk, Boston Legal, The West Wing and Modern Family.

Mr. Hall also appeared in his share of feature films, including: Midnight Run, Say Anything, Ghostbusters II, An Innocent Man, Kiss of Death, Hard Eight, The Rock, Air Force One, Boogie Nights, The Truman Show, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, The Sum of All Fears, Rush Hour 3, Zodiac and Argo.

Philip Baker Hall was an actor that you’d see and think, “It’s THAT guy!”  I loved him as Lt. Joe Bookman in the two episodes of Seinfeld that he did.  He was also excellent as the star of Hard Eight, where he played a tough professional gambler.  Whenever Philip Baker Hall was in the credits, you knew the show or movie would be better for it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Philip Baker Hall’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Jim Seals

Jim Seals, one half of the mega-selling recording duo, Seals & Crofts, died yesterday at the age of 80.  No cause of death was given.

Jim Seals met Dash Crofts when both were in a Texas band called Dean Beard and the Crew Cats.  They later joined Glen Campbell in his band, Glen Campbell and the GCs.  After a couple of years the band broke up and everyone went their separate ways.  Seals and Crofts met up again when both joined a band called The Dawn-Breakers.

In 1969, Seals and Crofts decided to become a duo.  They had moderate success until their fourth album, which contained the single Summer Breeze (also the name of the album).  The single shot up the charts selling over a million copies and earning Seals & Crofts their first Gold Record. Hummingbird was another hit song from the album.

Diamond Girl was Seals & Crofts follow-up album and single proving lightning could strike twice. Diamond Girl became their second Gold record.  We May Never Pass This Way Again was another chart topper from the Diamond Girl album.

Seals & Crofts had two more big hits, I’ll Play for You and Get Closer.  In 1980, Seals & Crofts decided to take a break.  In 1991, Seals & Crofts reunited for a one year tour.  In 2004, Seals & Crofts came together to create their last album, Traces.

Jim Seals’ brother, Dan was better known as England Dan of the singing duo, England Dan & John Ford Coley!  From 2000 – 2008, Jim and his brother Dan toured under the name Seals & Seals.

I am a huge fan of Seals & Crofts (and England Dan & John Ford Coley for that matter).  I remember hearing Diamond Girl when I was a little kid out to eat with my grandparents and asking for juke box money to play the song again.  We May Never Pass This Way Again was the theme for one of the graduating classes when I was in high school.  Jim Seals’ music had a positive impact on my life and the lives of millions.

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

RIP: Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly died yesterday at the age of 76.  No cause of death was reported.

After serving four years in the marines, Ken Kelly decided on a career in art.  He studied under his uncle, the legendary artist Frank Frazetta.  Ken Kelly’s first professional assignment was for Warren’s Vampirella magazine.  That assignment led to Mr. Kelly becoming one of Warren’s most popular and used artists.  Soon other magazine and book publishers were seeking out Ken Kelly to produce covers for them.  His art was especially suited to science fiction, horror and heroic fantasy.

Then in 1975, Mr.. Kelly was commissioned to create the cover for Kiss’ Destroyer album.  The popularity of the Destroyer cover opened up new opportunities.  Soon Ken Kelly’s art was in demand for more album covers, games, calendars, book & magazine covers and books solely dedicated to his art.

I’ve always enjoyed Ken Kelly’s artwork.  My favorites were his barbarian paintings. He made warriors that didn’t look like they’d just come out of the gym, but had instead spent time on the battlefield.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ken Kelly’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Isidoro Raponi

It is just being reported that Isidoro Raponi died on May 27, 2022, from congestive heart failure.  Mr. Raponi was 76 years old.

While Isidoro Raponi’s name may not be familiar, his movie work surely is.  Mr. Raponi was a mechanical effects expert for movies.  In addition to helping design, build and operate E.T. for Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Mr. Raponi’s effects could be seen in King Kong (76), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Running Man and The Godfather Part III to name a few of the movies he worked on.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Isidoro Raponi’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Bo Hopkins

Bo Hopkins died yesterday after suffering a heart attack.  Mr. Hopkins was eighty.

Although he was named William at birth and called Billy as he was growing up, his stage name became Bo when producers of his first off-Broadway play suggested a name change.  Bo was the name of the character he was playing.

Bo Hopkins decided on an acting career after serving in the army.  He began getting parts in local plays, then moved to New York for more stage acting.  Later Mr. Hopkins moved to Hollywood to seek his fame and fortune.  His first roles were guest appearances on television shows.   Then Bo Hopkins got his breakout role in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.  For the remainder of his career Mr. Hopkins alternated between television appearances and feature films.

Some of Bo Hopkins’ television appearances are on: The Virginian, Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, The Andy Griffith Show, The Rat Patrol, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Bonanza, Ironside, Nichols, Hawaii Five-O, Barnaby Jones, The Rockford Files (4 episodes), Charlie’s Angels, Fantasy Island, The A-Team, The Fall Guy, Dynasty (18 episodes), Matlock and Murder She Wrote.

Feature Films on Bo Hopkins’ resume include: The Wild Bunch, Monte Walsh, The Getaway, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, American Graffiti, White Lightning, The Killer Elite, Midnight Express, More American Graffiti and Shade.

I first time I saw Bo Hopkins was on The Wild, Wild West, but the role that comes to mind when his name is mentioned is in The Wild Bunch.  Bo Hopkins appeared in quite a few television shows throughout his career and many of them were shows I watched.  I quickly came to realize that if Bo Hopkins showed up in the credits, things were about to go down.  Then he began appearing in movies often opposite of the tough guy stars: Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Burt Reynolds and James Caan to name a few.  Bo Hopkins made a great adversary.  I also love that Bo Hopkins appeared in Shade with Sly Stallone.  Any time Bo Hopkins name appeared in the credits, I knew we were in for something special.

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

RIP: Ray Liotta

Word has come that Ray Liotta died in his sleep at the age of 67.  No cause of death was given.

In 1978, Ray Liotta graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  He then moved to New York, and within six months landed a regular role on the soap opera Another World.  Three years later, he left the series and moved to LA where he worked in both movies and television for the rest of his career.

Some of Ray Liotta’s memorable television appearances include: St. Elsewhere, Casablanca, The New Mike Hammer, Frasier, The Rat Pack (tv movie), Family Guy, ER, Texas Rising, The Making of the Mob, Modern Family and Shades of Blue.

Ray Liotta’s most notable feature films include: Something Wild, Field of Dreams, Goodfellas, Unlawful Entry, No Escape, Cop Land, Hannibal, Blow, Narc, John Q, Identity, Control, Revolver, Local Color, Smokin’ Aces, Crossing Over, Killing Them Softly, The Iceman, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and No Sudden Move.

I first became aware of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.  Here was this young actor holding his own with DeNiro and Pesci in a Martin Scorsese film!  Who does that almost straight out of the shoot?  Think about this — within six months of graduating college, Ray Liotta had an agent and a regular gig on television.  Then when he went to California, he quickly began getting roles in films and television.  Ray Liotta worked continuously from the very start of his career.  That didn’t happen by accident or luck.  It happened because Ray Liotta was one of the best actors working.

My favorite Ray Liotta role is as Gary Figgis in Cop Land.  Word is Mr. Liotta wanted the starring role as Freddy Heflin.  The director wanted Stallone for the part.  Some actors would have walked away.  Not Ray Liotta, he took the supporting role and turned in one of his all-time best performances.  There are some real heavyweight actors in Cop Land including Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel.  Often the performance fans talk about first is Ray Liotta’s.

I love it whenever Ray Liotta turns up in a television show or movie.  He steals any scene he’s in and makes the production better. If you want to see Ray Liotta in a performance that deserves more attention, check out Narc written and directed by Joe Carnahan. In 2021, Ray Liotta co-starred in No Sudden Move (one of my favorite movies of the year) and turned in a masterful performance.  That same year he appeared as two characters in The Many Saints of Newark and once again showcased his acting chops.  Those two appearances made me excited for what the future held for Ray Liotta.  Although he has a few yet to be released appearances coming, Ray Liotta died too young.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ray Liotta’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: John Aylward

John Aylward, a character actor who is best known for his roles on The West Wing and ER, died on May 16th at the age of 75.  No cause of death was given.

John Aylward graduated from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor’s Training Program in 1970.  The biggest majority of his career until the mid-1980s when he started getting roles on television and in movies.  For the rest of his career Mr. Aylward alternated between feature films and television.  His best known roles were as Dr. Donald Anspaugh on 74 episodes of ER and The West Wing where he played former DNC Chair, Barry Goodwin.  Other notable television appearances include the series: Ally McBeal, The X-Files, The Practice, Law & Order, Boston Legal, Alias, The Mentalist,  CSI, Mad Men, Fringe, American Horror Story, Yellowstone and Briarpatch.  Some of Mr. Aylward’s feature film appearances include: Armageddon, The Crazies, Water for Elephants, Gangster Squad and The Way Back.

John Aylward was a character actor that would have found work in any era.  Like most character actors, you might not recognize his name, but you knew his face.  You also knew that John Aylward’s appearance in any movie or television show meant it was going to get a little better because he was in it.

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

RIP: Fred Ward

Fred Ward’s publicist announced today that Mr. Ward died on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at the age of 79.  No cause of death was given.  

Before Fred Ward began his career as an actor he spent time in the Air Force, as a boxer and a lumberjack!  No wonder Mr. Ward was often cast as a tough guy!  Fred Ward’s earliest roles were small parts, often uncredited in movies and television.  His first big break came when he played one of the convicts who with Clint Eastwood was able to Escape from Alcatraz.  

Fred Ward continued to get bigger parts in features such as Southern Comfort, The Right Stuff, Silkwood and Uncommon Valor.  Then in 1985, Fred Ward starred in the film that was supposed to make him a megastar, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.  Unfortunately, the film fizzled at the box office.  The adventure began and ended there.  Luckily for movie-goers, Fred Ward’s career didn’t.

For the rest of Fred Ward’s life he continued to alternate between television and feature films.  Some of his best known television parts came in Cast a Deadly Spell, Invasion Earth, Grey’s Anatomy, ER and True Detective.  Fred Ward’s best known feature films include Tremors, Miami Blues, Henry & June, Thunderheart, The Player, Tremors II: Aftershock and 2 Guns.

I first saw Fred Ward in Escape from Alcatraz.  But it was when he appeared in Carny, Southern Comfort and Uncommon Valor that I really took notice.  Mr. Ward had a tough guy charisma and I was pulling for him with Remo Williams.  Sadly, that film just didn’t work. But Fred Ward continued to  Whenever Fred Ward’s name was in the credits, you knew the film/show would be better because of him.  Although Andrew Vachss’ Burke character was never developed for movies or tv, I always thought that Fred Ward would have perfect.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Fred Ward’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: George Pérez

George Pérez

We all knew the day would come.  Especially since December 7, 2021.  That’s when George Perez announced that he had surgically inoperable Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer.  Although offered other options George said,

“… after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.”

And that is what he did,

George Perez passed away yesterday the result of his pancreatic cancer.  He was 67.  The announcement on his Facebook page read:

George passed away yesterday, peacefully at home with his wife of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved.

We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives. To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it.

He loved all of you. He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many.

Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator. His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was. George’s true legacy is his kindness. It’s the love he had for bringing others joy – and I hope you all carry that with you always.
Today is Free Comic Book Day. A day George absolutely loved and a fitting day to remember his contributions to comics and to our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy your day today with him in mind. He would have loved that.

Please keep his wife Carol in your thoughts and again, I thank you for respecting her privacy. I remain available through the contact on the page.

George’s memorial service will take place at MEGACON Orlando at 6pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It will be open to all. Details to follow.

We will miss him always.

George Perez entered comics as an assistant to Rich Buckler in the early 1970s.  He quickly graduated to penciling his own series.  It didn’t take long for George Perez to become a fan favorite.  Throughout his career George Perez worked on some of the most popular comic series published: The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The Justice League of America, The New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman, The Infinity Gauntlet, to name just a few.  Whatever George Perez worked on was worth the price of admission.

Evidence of George Perez’s importance and impact to comics is the number of places his death is quickly being reported.  Sadly, often when we lose comic creators, the only place their passing is noted is comic-related websites.  George Perez’s passing has shown up already in The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Daily News, TMZ and The Daily Mail (England) to name just a few of the mainstream publications. 

George Perez won numerous fan favorite awards of the course of his career.  Here are some of them…

  • 1979: Eagle Award for his role in creating the Best Continued Story for Avengers #167–168 and 170–177.
  • 1980: Eagle Award for Best Comic book Cover for Avengers #185. 
  • 1983: Inkpot Award
  • 1983: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Artist
  • 1984: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Comic Book Story:  “The Judas Contract” in Tales of the Teen Titans #42–44 and Annual #3
  • 1985: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Artist
  • 1985: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Cover Artist
  • 1985: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Comic Book Story:  “Beyond the Silent Night” in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
  • 1985: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Limited Series: Crisis on Infinite Earths (with Marv Wolfman)
  • 1985: Named as one of the honorees in DC’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great.
  • 1985: Jack Kirby Award for Best Finite Series for Crisis on Infinite Earths (with Marv Wolfman)
  • 1986: Jack Kirby Award for Best Finite Series for Crisis on Infinite Earths (with Marv Wolfman)
  • 1986: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Cover Artist
  • 1986: Eagle Award for Favorite Pencil Artist in 1986.
  • 1987: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Penciler
  • 1987: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Cover Artist
  • 1989: Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards – Favorite Comic Book Story:  “A Lonely Place of Dying” in Batman #440–442 and The New Titans #60–61 
  • 2022: Inkwell Awards Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award (SASRA) for his lifetime achievement in inking

George Perez was not only one of the most popular artists to ever work in comics, he was one of the nicest.  I first became aware of his art on The Avengers.  Then I went back and found his earlier work.  Following George Perez was easy, because word of his art on a new comic always spread quickly.

I was fortunate to spend time with George Perez at a comic convention in 1980 or 81.  My best friend, John Beatty was inking George on Justice League and was also a guest at the show.  Sitting with John and George was great.  George was wonderful with each fan that came up.  He listened and smiled and exchanged stories.  George had as much fun (if not more) than the fans. 

After the show, George invited John and I to have a bite to eat and hang out.  George drew more sketches as we talked.  I’ve never seen an artist more at ease while drawing.  At one point he even was lying on his back and drawing!

When George Perez announced that he had cancer and most likely only 6 months or so to live, he continued to interact with fans and enjoy the time he had left.  What a great human spirit!  It was an honor to meet George Perez not only because he was a legendary artist, but also because of the great human being we came to know.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to George Perez’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Ron Galella

Ron Galella, one of the world’s most famous photographers, died on April 30, 2022, as a result of congestive heart failure.  Mr. Galella was 91.

Ron Galella was an Air Force photographer in the early 1950s.  After leaving the Air Force, Mr. Galella received a degree in photojournalism from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.  Ron Galella always enjoyed snapping photos of celebrities and would often find a market for those pictures at publications like The National Enquirer or in movie magazines.  As Mr. Galella’s photos became more in demand, he began selling to better publications such as Time, The New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair and many, many others.

Ron Galella become one of the first and best known paparazzi.  Mr. Galella’s style was to take candid photos of celebrities by approaching them at very close range.  Often he would hide or surprise the celebrities, catching them off-guard.  Several celebs took exception to Ron Galella’s methods:

  • Jackie Onassis won a restraining order that Mr. Galella couldn’t get within 25 feet of her. (Mrs. Onassis also ordered her bodyguards to smash his camera!)
  • Marlon Brando broke Ron Galella’s jaw and knocked out 5 of his teeth!  Mr. Galella sued and won $40,000.  The next time Mr. Galella approached Marlon Brando for photos,  Galella wore a football helmet!
  • Richard Burton’s bodyguards badly beat Ron Galella.  Mr. Galella unsuccessfully sued Mr. Burton.
  • Ron Galella was spit on and punched (Sean Penn), had his tires slashed (Elvis’ bodyguards), was sprayed with a hose (Bridget Bardot’s security) and more.

The negative publicity created a greater demand for Ron Galella’s photos.  His run-ins with celebrities continually made news.  Remember, these events took place when most celebrity photos were planned shots used to put the celeb in the best light and promote their latest movie, book or show. Ron Galella’s photos were to show celebs in in a light that they couldn’t control.

Ultimately Ron Galella had several books dedicated to his pictures, and his photos have been shown in museums!

Ron Galella became a celebrity because of his photos of celebrities.  He also inspired a generation of photographers in an era where there was no internet or TMZ.   Mr. Galella really leaned into his bad-boy image and it helped make him famous. Still, it is important to remember that if his photos were terrible, none of that other stuff would have mattered.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron Galella’s family, friends and fans.