Category: RIP

RIP – Stephen Verona

Stephen Verona died on Saturday after a year and a half long battle with lung cancer.  Readers of this site probably know Verona best as the Producer, Co-Writer and Director of Lords of Flatbush, but Verona was much more than that.

Verona got his start creating commercials.  He met and became friends with John Lennon which led to Verona getting to animate the Beatles song I Feel Fine.  Next came a music short with Barbara Streisand.  He went on to work with Natalie Cole, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel and many others.

Verona was a screenwriter, an award-winning  director of feature films, television episodes and specials, an  an award-winning painter and photographer.  A renaissance man, indeed.

The Hollywood Reporter posted that “When Stallone learned that Verona was ill, he sent him an email saying that his career would not have been the same without him.”  The same could be said for many other celebrities.

Had Stephen Verona only been known as the talent behind Lords of Flatbush, it would have been worth noting here, but I hope fans know he was so much more.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Stephen Verona’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – Bart Starr

Bart Starr, the Hall of Fame quarterback has died at the age of 85.  Mr. Starr had been in failing health since 2014 when he suffered a heart attack and two strokes. 

Starr was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1977 after playing for 16 years as a Green Bay Packer, leading them to five NFL Championships and victories in the first two Super Bowls.  Personal awards include being picked four times for Pro-Bowl, two times as an All Pro, being selected as the 1966 NFL Most Valuable Player, the Most Valuable Player for the first two Super Bowls and selected to the All Decade Team for the 1960s.  The NFL also named an award after him.  The Bart Starr Award is given out annually to a player of outstanding character.  The Green Bay Packers retired Starr’s jersey in 1973 (as just the third player to ever receive that honor).  What a legacy!

I have always been a Chicago Bears fan, but also a Bart Starr fan.  I can remember watching Starr dive into the end zone for the winning touchdown with just seconds remaining in the NFL Championship game in 1967!  When we played football, all of the kids wanted to be Bart Starr when quarterbacking (myself included — even if he wasn’t a Bear).  And could there have been a cooler name for a NFL quarterback than Bart Starr?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Starr’s family, friends and fans.

Larry Cohen – RIP

Larry Cohen, the writer – director – producer who made his mark in television and feature films, has died at the age of 77.

I first became aware of Mr. Cohen when he wrote and directed the low-budget horror cult classic It’s Alive.  After that I saw Cohen’s name pop-up from time to time but it wasn’t until Cohen’s adaption of Mickey Spillane’s I, the Jury that I really began to take notice.

Cohen’s I, the Jury, directed by Richard T. Heffron starred Armand Assante as Mike Hammer.  That film really hit a sweet-spot for me.  As I learned more about the people behind the making of the film I discovered that Cohen had created two television series that I loved as a kid: Branded and The Invaders!

Cohen broke into the business writing for television creating scripts for The Fugitive, The Rat Patrol, Custer (3 shows I loved as a kid) and many other series.  He went on to create Branded and The Invaders.  Cohen’s tv work led to theatrical films where he wrote and directed Black Caesar, Hell Up in Harlem, Q and others.

Had Cohen just been known for Branded or The Invaders or I, the Jury, his impact on my youth would have warranted a mention here, but to think that he did those and so much more…

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Larry Cohen’s family, friends and fans.

Jan-Michael Vincent: RIP

It was reported today that Jan-Michael Vincent died on February 10th of cardiac arrest in Asheville, North Carolina.  Vincent was 74 and hadn’t acted in nearly two decades due to battles with drugs and alcohol and the results of two car crashes (1996 and 2008) that left him with damaged vocal cords and an amputated leg.  It was a sad end to a career that started with such promise.

I first took notice of Jan-Michael Vincent when he appeared as Link in the Danger Island segments of The Banana Splits.  Vincent then had the starring role in the TV movie The Tribe.  A couple of years later Vincent co-starred with Charles Bronson in the theatrical release The Mechanic.  He followed that up with a starring role as The World’s Greatest Athlete from Disney.

With his good looks and easy manner, Vincent was on the verge of a long career starring in theatrical films.  Sadly, it just wasn’t to be.  Still Vincent had a strong presence and starred or co-starred in films such as Baby Blue Marine, White Line Fever, Big Wednesday and Hooper (with Burt Reynolds).  His best known television projects included The Winds of War mini-series and a starring role in the tv series Airwolfe.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jan-Michael Vincent’s family, friends and fans.

Peter Tork – R.I.P.

Peter Tork died today after a long battle with cancer at the age of 77.

Born Peter Thorkelson on February 13, 1942, Peter was, of course, better known as Peter Tork a member of The Monkees.

The Monkees [Peter, along with Davy JonesMickey Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith] took the world by storm in 1966.  The group was hand-picked by Screen Gems in an effort to create a tv show about a group of young musicians.  Lightning struck and the group not only had a hit tv series but became one of the biggest selling bands of the 60’s.  In 1967, The Monkees sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.  The Monkees even appeared in a feature film called Head that was co-written by Jack Nicholson!

I was a huge Monkees fan like many kids my age [7].  I collected their albums, trading cards, comic books and magazines.  I had a model of The Monkeemobile.  I even followed The Monkees after Peter, then later Mike, quit the band.  Sadly, I never got to see them perform live when they reunited for several reunion tours.

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

R.I.P. – Andrew Vanja

Andrew Vanja, one of the producers behind the Rambo franchise has died at the age of 74.  Vanja’s producing credits include many of my favorite films including: First Blood, Rambo, First Blood, Part II, Angel Heart, Extreme Prejudice, Rambo III, Total Recall, Tombstone, The 13th Warrior and many others.

Thanks for the hours of entertainment, Mr. Vanja.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Andrew Vanja’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – William Goldman

William Goldman, the two-time Oscar winning screenwriter, has died at age 87.  Goldman won his Oscars for Best Original Screenplay (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and Best Adapted Screenplay (All the President’s Men).  Goldman was also the screenwriter for the beloved The Princess Bride (based on his novel), The Marathon Man, Misery and dozens of other movies.

Goldman began his career as a novelist and then moved to writing movies, plays and non-fiction.  Goldman won two Edgar Awards, from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay (for Harper starring Paul Newman and for Magic which he adapted from his novel). Mr. Goldman also received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the Writers Guild of America.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Goldman’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson, the actor best known for his role as Hershel on The Walking Dead, passed away yesterday reportedly from complications with leukemia.  Wilson began his career with the one-two punch of the big screen classics In the Heat of the Night and In Cold Blood.

While most tributes focus on Wilson’s role as Hershel from The Walking Dead, Wilson’s resume features movie and television credits spanning 50 years.  Anything Wilson appeared in became at least a little bit better because of him.  Some of my favorite Wilson appearances include his roles in…

  •  The Tracker: An HBO movie directed by John Guillermin and written by Kevin Jarre;  starring Kris Kristofferson and Scott Wilson.
  • Judge Dredd: starring Sylvester Stallone and with an uncredited appearance of Scott Wilson as Pa Angel.
  • The Way of the Gun written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
  • In Cold Blood written, produced and directed by Richard Brooks, based on Truman Capote’s book. Starring Robert Blake and Scott Wilson.


Our thoughts and prayers go out to Scott Wilson’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – Burt Reynolds

I was sad to read that Burt Reynolds died yesterday at the age of 82 from cardiac arrest.

Like most of you reading this, I was a huge Burt Reynolds fan and have many fond memories watching him on television and at the movies.  My favorite Burt Reynolds’ films include Sharkey’s Machine; The Longest Yard, The Last Movie Star and of course, Smokey and the Bandit.  Keep in mind that’s just the tip of the Reynolds acting iceberg.

Part of Reynolds’ charm was his charm.  His appearances on Carson and other talk shows of the era allowed us to see Reynolds as a self-deprecating celebrity who never took himself too seriously.  He came off as a guy with a great sense of humor that would be fun to be with.  And he was.  At least he was every time he’d turn up in a movie or television role.

If you haven’t seen Reynolds in The Last Movie Star, give it a go.  He’s really good in it and it serves as a nice capper to his career.

Rest in Peace Burt Reynolds.

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

RIP – Koko

Koko the gorillia known throughout the world for her ability to use sign language has passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 46.   Koko was able to understand over 1,000 signs and approximately 2,000 words.

Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo but lived most of her life in The Gorilla Foundation’s preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.  Koko was a celebrity and made headlines for her love of kittens as well as her meetings with other celebrities such as Robin Williams, Betty White and Mr. Rogers.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Koko’s friends and fans throughout the world.

RIP – Clint Walker

Clint Walker died yesterday at the age of 90 from congestive heart failure.

Walker was best known as Cheyenne Bodie, the star of the extremely popular Cheyenne tv series which aired on ABC from 1955-61.  Cheyenne was the first hour-long western drama.  Walker also played Cheyenne Bodie on episodes of Maverick and later Kung-Fu as well as in the tv movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw and the theatrical release of Maverick.  The  Cheyenne series was so popular, in some markets episodes were combined and re-edited for theatrical release.

After the series ended Walker could be found making guest appearances on tv series but his focus became making movies.   His best-known theatrical appearances included, None But the Brave; The Dirty Dozen and Grizzly.  In 1971, Walker was seriously injured in a fall from a sky lift that caused a ski pole to pierce his heart.  He was pronounced dead, but when a faint heartbeat was heard he was rushed into surgery.  Two months later Walker was back to work!

Walker went on to star in other theatrical films, as well as made-for-tv movies and the short-lived tv series Kodiak.  After voicing Nick Nitro in Small Soldiers, Clint Walker retired.

Clint Walker was one of my first childhood heroes.  I loved him in Cheyenne and still do.  The series is still one of my favorites and can be seen on various cable channels daily.

Walker is survived by his daughter, Valerie and his wife Susan Cavallari Walker.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Clint Walker’s family, friends and fans.




Dorothy Malone – R.I.P.

Dorothy Malone, Oscar winner as best supporting actress for her 1956 performance in Written on the Wind has died at age 92.  Malone is probably best known for her starring role in the  1960s TV series Peyton Place.  Visitors here might remember her for her last role as Sharon Stone’s friend in Basic Instinct

Dorothy Malone played in over 100 roles on film and tv, but I’ll always best remember her small role with Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep.  In a scene lasting less than 4 minutes, Malone made a huge impact. I’ll bet Bogart returned to the Acme Bookstore after solving the case.  I know I would have.  Check out the scene and see if you don’t agree.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dorothy Malone’s family, friends and fans.

RIP – Bobby Heenan

Bobby Heenan passed away today surrounded by his family.  My guess is even if you’re not a fan of professional wrestling, you know of Bobby Heenan.

Bobby Heenan was a WWE Hall of Famer, but he transcended the sport.  Of course when you’re considered to be the greatest manager of all time as well as the best color commentator to ever call a match your popularity shouldn’t be surprising.

Heenan spent over 40 years in the world of pro wrestling. He wasn’t your typical wrestler. He wasn’t gigantic. He wasn’t musclebound. He didn’t fly through the air [unless being thrown by Dick the Bruiser or some other good guy].  Bobby Heenan started out as manager “Pretty Boy” Bobby Heenan.  He was a heel.  As a little kid, Heenan was the first person to make me root for the “bad” guy.

Fans loved or hated him, but no one was neutral about Bobby Heenan. Sometimes Heenan would even get involved in matches [usually against his will].   He could “rassle” with anyone and make them look better.  No one could work a crowd like “the Brain.”  And Bobby Heenan was witty. His one-liners and off-the-cuff comments were at times more entertaining than the matches themselves.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bobby Heenan’s family, friends and fans.

R.I.P. – Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell has passed on.  From his official website:

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the donation page.

I was and continue to be a Glen Campbell fan.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

RIP – George Romero

George Romero passed away today at the age of 77 from a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.”  I was shocked and saddened to read those words.  Romero is one of my movie heroes.

Most of you know that Romero co-wrote (with John Russo) and directed Night of the Living Dead, the movie that redefined zombies and created a horror sub-genre.  Romero always did things his way and followed NOTLD with several other “…of the Dead” zombie films.  He was currently working to get financing for Road of the Dead, which was set to become the next feature in his zombie franchise.

Although Mr. Romero was a bit older, I was truly surprised by his passing.  Just last weekend I listened to Jonathon Maberry talking about the joy of working with George Romero on Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology.  I couldn’t wait to order my copy.  Now I want to get it in my mitts even more.  I have a post scheduled to go live in a couple of days about Mr. Romero working on financing for Road of the Dead.  There was no hint that he’d been ill.

Romero died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family while the score of one his favorite films, 1952’s “The Quiet Man,” played in the background.  I can’t think of a much nicer way to go.  Thanks to George Romero for not only all of the movies he created but also for those his work inspired.

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

Source: Los Angeles Times.