Category: RIP

RIP: Steve "Croc Hunter" Irwin

When I first read the news this morning that Steve “Croc Hunter” Irwin had been killed by a stingray, I have to admit that I thought it might have been a sick hoax. So I immediately started checking legitimate news sources and found that the news was true and had spread all over the internet and tv.

Irwin became an international celebrity in 1992 when his “Croc Hunter” television show was picked up by the Discovery Channel. Irwin’s genuine love of nature and animals was infectious and I don’t know anyone who didn’t know and enjoy his work.

Steve Irwin leaves behind a wife and two children as well as a world of fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them all.


RIP Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane died yesterday. He was 88 years old and had cancer, so the news shouldn’t come as quite a shock. It’s just that Mickey Spillane was one of those guys that seemed like he could live forever.

Although Mr. Spillane started his career as a comic book writer, it was his Mike Hammer novels that made him a superstar. The first, “I, the Jury” was a hit with readers everywhere, critics be damned. Spillane followed up with 12 other Mike Hammer books… 9 other novels… and a bunch of short stories. Most folks don’t realize that Mr. Spillane also wrote two young adult novels [one which won a prize from the Junior Literary Guild].

As much as I enjoyed Spillane‘s books, I liked his attitude even more. He considered himself a writer, not an author. Spillane was more concerned with royalty checks than reviews… and his fans dearly loved him.

I miss him already.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mickey Spillane‘s family, friends and fans.

Dan Curtis – Rest in Peace

Dan Curtis, best known as the creative force behind “Dark Shadows” died today at the age of 78. Curtis‘s career as a producer, writer, and director spanned five decades. Many would say that the high point of his career was in 1983 when he produced, directed and co-wrote the highly successful “Winds of War” mini-series starring Robert Mitchum. But I would argue that his work on “Dark Shadows” is what most folks will remember.

Curtis created a cult classic that was “must see tv” for the five years that it ran. Ok, ok, truth be told, it wasn’t until the second year and the addition of Jonathon Frid as Barnabus Collins that the series really took off; but boy did it! “Dark Shadows” spawned two feature films [not as good as the tv series], comic books, novels, trading cards, and more. Even now, as I think back at how all of my friends and I were “into” “Dark Shadows” I have to smile.

Curtis’s wife of 54 years died earlier this month. He is survived by his two daughters and a world of fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today.

Dennis Weaver and a Different Kind of Three

What’s that saying about deaths of famous people happening in “threes? Today, I’d like to discuss a different kind of three.

It was announced today that Dennis Weaver passed away on Friday. Weaver, was by any definition a celebrity. He has over 100 credits listed on his filmography. Weaver was an actor, director, composer and more.

My fondest memories of Dennis Weaver always involve my grandfather. We’d watch Gunsmoke [Weaver played Chester the deputy who always seemed to be yelling “Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon!”] and later McLoud [the country cop who ended up in New York City]. My grandfather and I really enjoyed Dennis Weaver in any role. So wouldn’t you know it, we watched the world premiere of “Duel” [directed by Steven Spielberg]. I can remember, during commercials, my grandpa and I talking about how exciting the movie was.

Of course Weaver was known for many other roles. He starred in the Gentle Ben tv series, had a role in Orson Welles‘ classic “Touch of Evil,” memorable guest appearances on all kinds of classic shows and headlined dozens of other movies. Still it is those three roles that I cherish most. It’s obvious why.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Dennis Weaver‘s family, friends, and fans.

Don Knotts & Darren McGavin: RIP

Pictured above are Darren McGavin and Don Knotts who appeared together in Disney’s No Deposit, No Return. As many of you have already heard, both recently passed away within a day of each other.

Don Knotts, best known as the bumbling but loveable Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith show, died on Friday from pulmonary and respiratory complications. Knotts appeared in more than 25 films and seven tv series but it was his role as Barney Fife that brought him the most awards [five Emmys] and fan recognition. Looking at Mr. Knotts’ filmnography, it’s obvious that he would have had a successful career even without the role of Barney Fife [over 50 years in the business, movies, tv, etc.], but the world would have been a bit sadder place.

Darren McGavin, 83, passed away on Saturday from natural causes. Although Mr. McGavin had a long, successful career in movies and on television; there were two roles that standout for me. The first was as newspaper reporter, Carl Kolchak who discovered a real vampire in modern day LA in the made for tv movie “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” [Although I was never a fan of the series that the movie spawned…] The second role was that of Ralphie‘s dad in the classic “A Christmas Story.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and fans of both Mr. McGavin and Mr. Knotts.

RIP Al Lewis aka Grandpa Munster

Al Lewis [born Alexander Meister ], who was best known as Grandpa Munster, died yesterday at the age of 95.

I can remember watching Lewis on “Car 54, Where Are You?” and later “The Munsters” when I was very young. Lewis seemed old then… but as the years passed he didn’t seem to age. Another benefit of growing older was that with each passing year Lewis seemed to get more and more popular. He was always a LIVELY guest where ever he appeared.

Lewis is survived by his wife, three children, four grandchilden and generations of fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone of them.

RIP Shelley Winters

Academy Award-winning actress Shelley Winters, who appeared in over 125 movies during her career, died today at the age of 85.

I’m not the biggest Shelley Winters fan in the world, but I did admire her ability to morph throughout her career so that she could continue to act well into her 70s.

Before making it in movies, Winters worked as a chorus girl and on the stage. When Winters first came to Hollywood she roomed with another future star by the name of Marilyn Monroe. Although Winters started out as another blonde bombshell, her best roles and recognition came when she worked as a supporting actress.

Not content to just act, Winters also wrote two popular biographies in which she talked about her intimate affairs with many of Hollywood’s leading men, including Sean Connery, Errol Flynn, William Holden and Burt Lancaster [among others]. Shelley was a playa before the term was invented.

My two favorite Shelley Winters roles occured in movies that were made 17 years apart.

In “Night of the Hunter” Shelley played Willa Harper who falls victim to the wonderfully evil preacher, Harry Powell [Robert Mitchum in perhaps his greatest performance]. The scene of Winters dead and strapped in a car at the bottom of a lake… with her hair floating in the currents is one of the most haunting images ever. In 1972, Winters was no longer the young wife, now she was the aging overweight wife, Belle Rosen, whose ultimate sacrifice [she dies of a heart attack after a long underwater swim to save Gene Hackman] allows others to survive. Looking back now, I find it somewhat strange that she dies in both of my favorite roles and ends up underwater.

Shelley Winters died today. She leaves behind many wonderful family members, friends, fans and movie roles.

John Spencer – RIP

A few minutes ago it was announced that John Spencer has died of a heart attack.

Most of you that recognize the name probably know Mr. Spencer from his work on
the West Wing where he played Leo McGarry.

Others may know him from his roles in LA Law, Cop Land, Black Rain, The Rock, Ravenous or one of the many other roles that he played in his career.

I always, always enjoyed it when John Spencer was on the screen. Even, like in Cop Land when he was playing a bad guy, I liked him. I wasn’t alone in my admiration for Mr. Spencer‘s acting. You can tell that from the many awards that he won over the course of his career.

Mr. Spencer was just 59 years old. He was still appearing on the West Wing where his character had been chosen to run for Vice President [under the likely winner]. Even with the potential of this being the last year for West Wing, John Spencer, and his fans should have had many more years to enjoy his acting.

Sadly that is not to be. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

Richard Pryor – RIP

As you’ve probably already heard, Richard Pryor died yesterday. He’d turned 65 a little over a week ago, but had suffered with multiple sclerosis for years. The disease made Richard seem older and robbed him [and us] of years that he could have been performing.

In the coming days you will hear testimony from comics, celebrities and others about Richard Pryor. Most will proclaim him to be one of the greatest comedians of all time. They’d be right, but Richard Pryor was much more than just a guy who told jokes.

Richard was a former soldier [two years in the army]. He was a great stand-up comedian. His comedy albums are classics. Pryor worked in television as an actor and writer [even starring in a short-lived series that was ahead of it’s time]. He also appeared in nearly 40 feature films, several of which he wrote, produced and/or directed.

Pryor’s comedy was raw. Sure, the language was quite often foul, but that’s not what I mean when I say his comedy was raw. Pryor’s comedy wasn’t superficial. He didn’t just relate funny stories. Pryor’s comedy crossed age barriers, color differences, and made you think even as you were laughing till the tears came. That’s because Richard’s comedy was founded in truth. He talked about racism, drug addiction, sex, male -female relations, and more.

Sure, he made us laugh… but equally important, he made us think.

The funniest movie that I ever saw was Richard Pryor Live. I saw it in a crowded theater in 1979. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a concert movie. Richard Pryor, a microphone and a crowded ampitheater. I never laughed so hard in my life.

Truly.

I laughed to tears and beyond. My sides were truly hurting by the time the movie was over. And I wanted to hear more. I talked about the movie for days. Telling others that they should go and sharing laughs with people who’d seen it. Heck, it’s 26 years later and I’m still recommending it.

I’m sad to hear that Richard Pryor is no longer with us. I’m just as sad that he had to suffer so long from multiple sclerosis.

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

Bob Denver’s Legacy

Bob Denver, the clueless hero of “Gilligan’s Island” has died at the age of 70.

Denver, as Gilligan,. set sail on what should have been a three-hour tour but instead ended up being a 40 year adventure entertaining several generations of fans.

I was five years old when “Gilligan’s Island” premiered and I can remember watching each week. They castaways were funny. Especially Gulligan.

The show ran for only three seasons. The funny thing is it never died. Bob Denver has 25 credits listed in the Internet Movie Database. Eight of them have direct ties to Gulligan’s Island. Talk about creating an enduring and endearing character.

I didn’t care much for Gilligan’s Island once I was older. I remember watching Rescue from Gilligan’s Island and thinking how stupid it was. It wasn’t stupid though, it was silly. The kind of silly that little kids eat up… like I did when I used to watch Gilligan and the castways in their initial run.

Bob Denver‘s three hour tour will never end. He’ll continue to entertain generation after generation. Smiles and the sounds of laughter is a great legacy.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Denver.

RIP: Reggie White

It’s just been posted that Reggie White died today of a massive heart attack.
Man, one of the best loved and greatest NFL defensive players ever… dead at 43.

“Today our beloved husband, father and friend passed away,” White‘s wife, Sara, said in a statement through a family pastor. “His family appreciates your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of Reggie White. We want to thank you in advance for honoring our privacy.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Reggie‘s family and friends.

RIP: Christopher Reeve

Early this morning, while on my way to work I heard that Christopher Reeve had died.

It was like a gutshot.

Christopher Reeve’s death was so unexpected … despite the fact that he had been a quadriplegic for the last nine years of his life. Yet, it was in these last nine years, when Chris’ health was at his worst that he was at his best.

Christopher Reeve is most famous for his role as Superman. And rightly so. Although a virtual unknown actor when chosen for the part, Reeve vaulted to the ranks of one of the most identified stars in the world once the movie was released.

Reeve was the perfect choice. And not just because he looked like Superman when in the suit. Christopher Reeve not only understood the difference between Clark Kent and Superman but had the chops to make the difference come alive with just a pair of eyeglasses and his acting ability.

Christopher Reeve went on to other starring roles, but none had the impact of him playing Superman. But how could they, Reeve and Superman were such a perfect fit.

Then nine years ago when Christopher was injured he took on another role, that of role model. Christopher Reeve dealt with his paralysis with grace, dignity and determination. He became the focal point of hope, not for just those who sufffered from spinal cord injuries, but for anyone who thought about feeling sorry for him/herself. How could you, if Christopher Reeve could face his troubles with such a positive outlook.

Christopher Reeve will always be remembered for his role as Superman, but I believe that the true super man was Christopher Reeve.

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

RIP: Rodney Dangerfield

Rodney Dangerfield passed away this afternoon.

Man, I really enjoyed Rodney‘s comedy. Most people really became aware of Rodney Dangerfield after he appeared [and got the best laughs] in Caddyshack.

But I remember him first from his standup comedy on variety shows in the 60’s that I used to watch with my grandparents. Rodney’s trademark line, “I don’t get no respect” was always followed by several great one-liners.

I don’t get no respect. When I was born I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother.”

I don’t get no respect. I was in a bar and a guy asked me if I had any naked pictures of my wife. I said, ‘No.’ He asked me if I wanted to buy some.”

After Caddyshack, Rodney graduated from co-star to star status and headlined several movies. But it was always his standup that appealed most to me.

Now Rodney’s gone. I’m going to miss seeing him pop up from time to time with another spin on his “I don’t get no respect” lines. But I’ll always have great memories of watching Rodney perform and all of the laughs he gave us.

And you have to respect that.

Our prayers go out to Rodney‘s family and friends.

Remembering 9-11

Today is the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks which took down the twin towers, destroyed part of the Pentagon and took the lives of thousands of citizens from around the world.

It was the most shocking day of my life.

The History Channel is running a very interesting documentary called “The Twin Towers: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon.” It’s extremely well done and worth a look.

The picture above is of family members of victims who have returned to the site to pay their respects. And because the day had such an impact me, I felt it appropriate to pay my respects as well.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who lost someone on that terrible day.

RIP – Marlon Brando

Dim the the lights. A legend has died. Marlon Brando passed on today.

Arguably the greatest actor who ever lived, none can argue that he influenced a generation. And I’m not just talking about actors such as James Dean, Robert DeNiro, or Johnny Depp. Brando literally influenced a generation of kids who wanted to rebel… and Brando continued to rebel throughout his life.

If all you know about Marlon Brando was that he played Superman‘s father or was pretty strange when interviewed by Larry King. If you only know Brando from impressionists doing their take on Brando as Vito Corleone from The Godfather then you owe it to yourself to check him out.

Yeah, he was cool in Apocalypse Now… and you may have heard how strange he was in The Island of Dr. Moreau [both on and off the set]…

…but if you want to see Brando at his best then check out On the WaterfrontA Streetcar Named DesireGuys and Dolls [he could do it all!]…One Eyed Jacks [which he also directed]… Mutiny on the Bounty… and of course… The Godfather.

Marlon Brando was indeed the man. Our prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

Now I think I’ll dim the lights and put on a classic Brando movie…