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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:41 pm 
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Susan Sontag, the author, activist and self-defined "zealot of seriousness" whose voracious mind and provocative prose made her a leading intellectual of the past half century, died today. She was 71.

Sontag died at 7:10 a.m. today, said Esther Carver, a spokeswoman for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The hospital declined to release a cause of death. Sontag had been treated for breast cancer in the 1970s.

Sontag called herself a "besotted aesthete," an "obsessed moralist" and a "zealot of seriousness." She wrote a best-selling historical novel, "The Volcano Lover," and in 2000 won the National Book Award for the historical novel "In America." But her greatest literary impact was as an essayist.

The 1964 piece "Notes on Camp," which established her as a major new writer, popularized the "so bad it's good" attitude toward popular culture, applicable to everything from "Swan Lake" to feather boas. In "Against Interpretation," this most analytical of writers worried that critical analysis interfered with art's "incantatory, magical" power.

She also wrote such influential works as "Illness as Metaphor," in which she examined how disease had been alternately romanticized and demonized, and "On Photography," in which she argued pictures sometimes distance viewers from the subject matter. "On Photography" received a National Book Critics Circle award in 1978. "Regarding the Pain of Others," a partial refutation of "On Photography," was an NBCC finalist in 2004.

She read authors from all over the world and is credited with introducing such European intellectuals as Roland Barthes and Elias Canetti to American readers. "I know of no other intellectual who is so clear-minded with a capacity to link, to connect, to relate," Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican novelist, once said. "She is unique."

Unlike many American writers, she was deeply involved in politics, even after the 1960s. From 1987-89, Sontag served as president of American chapter of the writers organization PEN. When the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for Salman Rushdie's death because of the alleged blasphemy of "The Satanic Verses," she helped lead protests in the literary community.

Sontag campaigned relentlessly for human rights and throughout the 1990s traveled to the region of Yugoslavia, calling for international action against the growing civil war. In 1993, she visited Sarajevo and staged a production of "Waiting for Godot."

The daughter of a fur trader, she was born Susan Rosenblatt in New York in 1933, and also spent her early years in Tucson, Ariz., and Los Angeles. Her mother was an alcoholic; her father died when she was 5. Her mother later married an Army officer, Capt. Nathan Sontag.

Susan Sontag remembered her childhood as "one long prison sentence." She skipped three grades and graduated from high school at 15; the principal told her she was wasting her time there. Her mother, meanwhile, warned if she did not stop reading she would never marry.

Her mother was wrong. At the University of Chicago, she attended a lecture by Philip Rieff, a social psychologist and historian. They were married 10 days later. She was 17, he 28. "He was passionate, he was bookish, he was pure," she later said of him.

By the mid-1960s, she and Rieff were divorced (they had a son, David, born in 1952), and Sontag had emerged in New York's literary society. She was known for her essays, but also wrote fiction, although not so successfully at first. "Death Kit" and "The Benefactor" were experimental novels few found worth getting through.

"Unfortunately, Miss Sontag's intelligence is still greater than her talent," Gore Vidal wrote in a 1967 review of "Death Kit."

"Yet ... once she has freed herself of literature, she will have the power to make it, and there are not many American writers one can say that of."

Her fiction became more accessible. She wrote an acclaimed short story about AIDS, "The Way We Live Now," and a best-selling novel, "The Volcano Lover," about Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Hamilton.

In 2000, her novel "In America," about the 19th-century Polish actress Helena Modjeska, was a commercial disappointment and was criticized for the uncredited use of material from fiction and nonfiction sources. Nonetheless, Sontag won the National Book Award.

Sontag's work also included making the films "Duet For Cannibals" and "Brother Carl" and writing the play "Alice in Bed," based on the life of Alice James, the ailing sister of Henry and William James. Sontag appeared as herself in Woody Allen's mock documentary, "Zelig."

In 1999 she wrote an essay for "Women," a compilation of portraits by her longtime companion, photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Sontag did not practice the art of restrained discourse. Writing in the 1960s about the Vietnam War she declared "the white race is the cancer of human history." Days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she criticized U.S. foreign policy and offered backhanded praise for the hijackers.

"Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?" she wrote in The New Yorker.

"In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards."

Even among sympathetic souls, she found reason to contend. At a 1998 dinner, she was one of three given a Writers For Writers Award for contributions to others in the field. Sontag spoke after fellow guest of honor E.L. Doctorow, who urged writers to treat each other as "colleagues" and worried about the isolation of what he called "print culture."

"I agree with Mr. Doctorow that we are all colleagues, but there are perhaps too many of us," Sontag stated.

"Nobody has to be a writer. Print culture may be under siege, but there has been an enormous inflation in the number of books printed, and very few of these could be considered part of literature. ... Unlike what has been said here before, for me the primary obligation is human solidarity."


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:48 pm 
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After a months-long battle with prostate cancer, actor Jerry Orbach has died.

In a story first heard on 1010 WINS, Orbach's manager Robert Malcolm confirmed orbach's death. He was 69 and had only recently revealed his battle with cancer. Orbach died Tuesday night in Manhattan after several weeks of treatment, Audrey Davis of the public relations agency Lippin Group said. The cast and crew of "Law and Order", on which Orbach played detective Lennie Briscoe, had known about the treatments since last spring. Orbach had been with the series since the beginning, 12 seasons ago

Born Jerome Orbach, on October 20, 1935, in the Bronx, New York. The only child of Emily (nee O'Lexy), a greeting card manufacturer, and Leon Orbach, a restaurant manager. Since neither of his parents were strangers to the performing arts (his father had tried vaudeville and his mother once had a stint as a radio singer), they were always supportive of Jerry�s desire to be an actor. While Jerry was still in grade school, the family moved frequently but finally settled in Waukegan, Illinois, where he joined the football team and began learning basic acting techniques from his speech teacher. In 1952, following his high school graduation, he worked in summer stock at the Chevy Chase Country Club in Wheeling, Illinois, where he got to try his hand at everything from minor performances to set building. After attending the University of Illinois for one year, Jerry transferred to Northwestern University, where he continued to study the Stanislavsky method of drama.

In the fall of 1955, Orbach decided to forego his senior year at Northwestern and move to New York City, where he found work as an understudy in The Threepenny Opera. He stayed with the show for over three years, eventually playing the lead character, Mack the Knife. During this time, he continued to study acting under the tutelage of Herbert Berghof, Mira Rostova, and Lee Strasberg of The Actor�s Studio. In 1959, he received two simultaneous acting offers: one for a Broadway production paying $250 a week and the other for an off-Broadway show paying only $45 a week.

Orbach chose the latter and created the role of El Gallo in the off-Broadway production The Fantastiks, which met exceptional reviews and became the longest running off-Broadway show in history. Orbach left the show in 1961 to make his Broadway debut in David Merrick�s production of Carnival! and won rave reviews for both his singing and his acting.
Following this success, Orbach experienced a brief slump; discouraged about being typecast in musicals, he spent a few miserable months trying unsuccessfully to break into films in Hollywood. However, he hit his stride once again when he returned to the East and earned a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Skye Masterson in Guys and Dolls and made a stunning, critically acclaimed performance as a neurotic Jewish intellectual in Scuba Duba. He then went on to win a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1969 for his portrayal of Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises, a Neil Simon adaptation of Billy Wilder�s 1960 film The Apartment. In 1976, he received another Tony nomination for his role in Chicago. He last appeared on Broadway in 1981, playing Julian Marsh in 42nd Street at the Majestic Theatre in New York.

Launching off from his illustrious theater career, Orbach began to move increasingly toward roles in film and television in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a recurring guest star on Murder, She Wrote and played the title role in its short-lived spin-off, The Law and Harry McGraw. His stint in Neil Simon�s Broadway Bound (1991) and his frequent appearances on the sitcom The Golden Girls both earned him Emmy nominations.

His first major supporting film role came in Sidney Lumet�s drama Prince of the City (1981), and he followed up with the crime-thriller F/X in 1986. In 1987, he changed pace, playing the stern but loving father of a rebellious teenage girl in the runaway hit Dirty Dancing, costarring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, still his best-known movie role. He then lent his voice and personality to the loquacious lantern, Lumiere, in the animated musical Beauty and the Beast (1991). Most recently, he starred in Chinese Coffee (2000) with longtime friend Al Pacino, who also produced and directed the film.
Orbach first appeared on the critically acclaimed NBC series Law & Order in 1990 and in 1992 landed a regular role on the show, playing the quick-witted and sharp-tongued Detective Lennie Briscoe.

Orbach and actress/writer Marta Curro, who was a fellow understudy in The Threepenny Opera, married in June 1958 and had two sons, Anthony and Christopher, before divorcing in 1975. In 1979, Orbach married Elaine Cancilla, who had replaced Chita Rivera as his co-star in the 1975 production of Chicago. They live in New York City.
(Source: Biography.com)
JERRY ORBACH CREDITS

Cop Hater (1958), Twenty Four Hours in a Woman's Life (TV-1961), Mad Dog Coll (1961), Ensign Pulver (1964), John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965), Annie Get Your Gun (TV-1967), The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971), A Fan's Notes (1972), Fore Play (1975), The Sentinel (1977), Underground Aces (1980), Prince of the City (1981), An Invasion of Privacy (TV-1983), Brewster's Millions (1985), F/X (1986), Dream West (TV miniseries-1986), The Imagemaker (1986), Out on a Limb (TV-1987), Love Among Thieves (TV-1987), Dirty Dancing (1987), Someone to Watch Over Me (1987), I Love N.Y. (1988), Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical Murder (TV-1989), The Flamingo Kid (TV-1989), Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), In Defense of a Married Man (TV-1990), Kojak: None So Blind (TV-1990), Perry Mason: The Case of the Ruthless Reporter (TV-1991), Coney Island (TV voice-1991), Out for Justice (1991), Toy Soldiers (1991), Delusions (1991), Delirious (1991), Beauty and the Beast (voice-1991), Dead Women in Lingerie (1991), California Casanova (1991), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1992), Broadway Bound (TV-1992), Quiet Killer (TV-1992), Straight Talk (1992), Universal Soldier (1992), Mr. Saturday Night (1992), Mastergate (TV-1992), The Cemetery Club (1993), Disney Sing-Along-Songs: Be Our Guest (voice-1994), Aladdin and the King of Thieves (voice-1996), Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas (voice-1997), Belle's Magical World (voice-1997), Chinese Coffee (2000), Prince of Central Park (2000), The Acting Class (2000)

TV Series: The Law and Harry McGraw (1987), The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (voice-1988), Encounters With the Unexplained (host-2000), House of Mouse (voice-2001)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:15 am 
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Actress Virginia Mayo dead at 84

Virginia Mayo, a 1940s screen siren who co-starred opposite such greats as Danny Kaye and James Cagney, died near Los Angeles Monday of pneumonia and heart failure, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site. She was 84.

Mayo, whose films included "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "White Heat" and "The Best Years of Our Lives," died in a nursing home near her residence in Thousand Oaks, California, the newspaper quoted a family friend as saying.

Famed for her peaches-and-cream complexion and curvaceous figure, the St. Louis native appeared in more than 40 films during the 1940s and '50s, equally adept at comedies and dramas. A former vaudeville performer, she made her Hollywood debut in the 1943 movie "Jack London," starring her future husband, Michael O'Shea.

She teamed with Kaye the following year in "Up in Arms," and they reunited over the next few years in "The Kid From Brooklyn," "A Song Is Born," and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Perhaps her most memorable role was as the unscrupulous wife of Cagney's gangster character in the 1949 crime melodrama "White Heat."
"Jimmy was the master actor, the most dynamic star the screen ever had," Mayo told the Los Angeles Times in 1981. "His acting was so real that I was really scared half the time we were on the set."

Her other credits included "Captain Horatio Hornblower" with Gregory Peck; "The Silver Chalice" with Paul Newman; and "The Flame and the Arrow" with Burt Lancaster. She co-starred in two of her films with Ronald Reagan -- 1949's "The Girl From Jones Beach" and 1952's "She's Working Her Way Through College."

After her career faded in the early 1960s, she did stage and dinner theater work.

She was married to O'Shea from 1947 until his death in 1973. She is survived by a daughter, Mary Johnston.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:30 pm 
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'All My Children' Star Ruth Warrick Dies

She played the icy first wife of Orson Welles in "Citizen Kane" and a mysterious housekeeper on "Peyton Place," but one role seemed to resonate the most with Ruth Warrick � that of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, an inveterate busybody on "All My Children."

"I understand her. I may not be all Phoebe, but she is all me," Warrick wrote in her 1980 autobiography, "The Confessions of Phoebe Tyler."

Warrick, who was honored last May with a Daytime Emmy Award for lifetime achievement, died at her New York home Saturday of complications from pneumonia, ABC-TV said Monday. She was 88.

In "All My Children," which debuted in 1970, Warrick played the grande dame of the fictitious affluent town of Pine Valley. She portrayed the meddlesome and over-the-top personality so believably that her fans often had trouble distinguishing between the stylish actress and her equally sophisticated character. Producer Jorn Winther once said of the actress: "Obviously Ruth and Phoebe are separate and unique, yet they have much in common. All I can say with confidence is that they are both great ladies and that I love them."

Twice nominated for an Emmy for the role, she made her final appearance less than two weeks ago to commemorate the show's 35th anniversary. Susan Lucci, who plays Erica Kane on "All My Children," said Warrick was her first mentor. "Over the years she not only shared with me her talent and grace, but she did so with the entire country," Lucci said in the ABC statement.

Warrick, born and raised in St. Joseph, Mo., left for New York after graduating from the University of Kansas City. Her interest in acting led her to the Mercury Theater troupe, headed by Welles. She made her Hollywood debut in 1941 in "Citizen Kane" as Emily Norton Kane. Welles, who co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, hand-picked her for the role of his wife because he said there were no "ladies in Hollywood" who fit the bill.

In 1991, Warrick was honored with a caricature on the wall of the famous New York restaurant Sardi's in honor of the 50th anniversary of her performance in the film. Warrick later appeared in other movies, including "The Corsican Brothers," with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and "The Great Bank Robbery" with Zero Mostel. Her Broadway credits include appearances with Debbie Reynolds in the 1973 musical "Irene" and with Jackie Gleason (news) in the 1959 musical "Take Me Along."

But television turned out to be her medium. Before landing the role of Phoebe Tyler, Warrick had the starring role in the series "Father of the Bride" and received an Emmy nomination for her role as Hannah Cord in the long-running "Peyton Place." She also appeared in two other TV series � "As the World Turns," from 1956-60, and "The Guiding Light," from 1953-54.

Warrick seemed to find her niche in the role of Phoebe Tyler. She said that it was Welles' "compelling hand" that was indirectly responsible for the character's development. Besides her acting, Warrick had a strong commitment to the arts in education. She taught at Julia Richman High School in New York as part of former President Carter's City in Schools program and was a dropout prevention consultant for the Department of Labor under former President Kennedy and for former President Johnson's Job Training Corps.

Warrick, who married five times, is survived by three children, a grandson and six great-grandchildren.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:53 pm 
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Very, very sad...

Late-Night King Johnny Carson Dies at 79

LOS ANGELES - Johnny Carson (news), the "Tonight Show" host who served America a smooth nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30 years, died Sunday. He was 79. NBC said Carson died of emphysema at his Malibu home.

"Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning," his nephew, Jeff Sotzing, told The Associated Press. "He was surrounded by his family, whose loss will be immeasurable." The boyish-looking Nebraska native with the disarming grin, who survived every attempt to topple him from his late-night talk show throne, was a star who managed never to distance himself from his audience.

His wealth, the adoration of his guests � particularly the many young comics whose careers he launched � the wry tales of multiple divorces: Carson's air of modesty made it all serve to enhance his bedtime intimacy with viewers.

"Heeeeere's Johnny!" was the booming announcement from sidekick Ed McMahon that ushered Carson out to the stage. Then the formula: the topical monologue, the guests, the broadly played skits such as "Carnac the Magnificent." But America never tired of him; Carson went out on top when he retired in May 1992. In his final show, he told his audience: "And so it has come to this. I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something that I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it."

His personal life could not match the perfection of his career. Carson was married four times, divorced three. In 1991, one of his three sons, 39-year-old Ricky, was killed in a car accident.

Nearly all of Carson's professional life was spent in television, from his postwar start at Nebraska stations in the late 1940s to his three decades with NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Carson choose to let "Tonight" stand as his career zenith and his finale, withdrawing into a quiet retirement that suited his private nature and refusing involvement in other show business projects. In 1993, he explained his absence from the limelight. "I have an ego like anybody else," Carson told The Washington Post, "but I don't need to be stoked by going before the public all the time."

He was open to finding the right follow-up to "Tonight," he told friends. But his longtime producer, Fred de Cordova, said Carson didn't feel pressured � he could look back on his TV success and say "I did it."

"And that makes sense. He is one of a kind, was one of a kind," de Cordova said in 1995. "I don't think there's any reason for him to try something different."

Carson spent his retirement years sailing, traveling and socializing with a few close friends including media mogul Barry Diller and NBC executive Bob Wright. He simply refused to be wooed back on stage. "I just let the work speak for itself," he told Esquire magazine in 2002 in a rare interview.

Carson did find an outlet for his creativity: He wrote short humor pieces for The New Yorker magazine, including "Recently Discovered Childhood Letters to Santa," which purported to give the youthful wish lists of William Buckley, Don Rickles and others.

Carson made his debut as "Tonight" host in October 1962 and quickly won over audiences. He even made headlines with such clever ploys as the 1969 on-show marriage of eccentric singer Tiny Tim to Miss Vicki, which won the show its biggest-ever ratings.

The wedding and other noteworthy moments from the show were collected into a yearly "Tonight" anniversary special.

In 1972, "Tonight" moved from New York to Burbank. Growing respect for Carson's consistency and staying power, along with four consecutive Emmy Awards, came his way in the late 1970s.

His quickness and his ability to handle an audience were impressive. When his jokes missed their target, the smooth Carson won over a groaning studio audience with a clever look or sly, self-deprecating remark.

Politics provided monologue fodder for him as he skewered lawmakers of every stripe, mirroring the mood of voters. His Watergate jabs at President Nixon were seen as cementing Nixon's fall from office in 1974.

He made presidential history again in July 1988 when he had then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton (news - web sites) on his show a few days after Clinton came under widespread ridicule for a boring speech at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton traded quips with Carson and played "Summertime" on the saxophone in what was hailed as a stunning comeback. Competing networks tried a variety of formats and hosts to challenge Carson, but never managed to best "Tonight."

There was the occasional battle with NBC: In 1967, for instance, Carson walked out for several weeks until the network managed to lure him back with a contract that reportedly gave him $1 million-plus yearly.

In 1980, after more walkout threats, the show was scaled back from 90 minutes to an hour. Carson also eased his schedule by cutting back on his work days; a number of substitute hosts filled in, including Joan Rivers, Jerry Lewis and Jay Leno, Carson's eventual successor.

Rivers was one of the countless comedians whose careers took off after they were on Carson's show. After she rocked the audience with her jokes in that 1965 appearance, he remarked, "God, you're funny. You're going to be a star."

"If Johnny hadn't made the choice to put me on his show, I might still be in Greenwich Village as the oldest living undiscovered female comic," she recalled in an Associated Press interview 20 years later. She tried her own talk show in 1986, quickly becoming one of the many challengers who could not budge Carson.

In the '80s, Carson was reportedly the highest-paid performer in television history with a $5 million "Tonight" show salary alone. His Carson Productions created and sold pilots to NBC, including "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Carson himself made occasional cameo appearances on other TV series. He also performed in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., and was host of the Academy Awards (news - web sites) five times in the '70s and '80s.

Carson's graceful exit from "Tonight" did not avoid a messy, bitter tug-of-war between Leno and fellow comedian David Letterman to take over his throne. Leno took over on May 25, 1992, becoming the fourth man to hold the job after Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Carson. Letterman landed on rival CBS.

Born in Corning, Iowa, and raised in nearby Norfolk, Neb., Carson started his show business career at age 14 as the magician "The Great Carsoni." After World War II service in the Navy, he took a series of jobs in local radio and TV in Nebraska before starting at KNXT-TV in Los Angeles in 1950. There he started a sketch comedy show, "Carson's Cellar," which ran from 1951-53 and attracted attention from Hollywood. A staff writing job for "The Red Skelton Show" followed.

The program provided Carson with a lucky break: When Skelton was injured backstage, Carson took the comedian's place in front of the cameras. Producers tried to find the right program for the up-and-coming comic, trying him out as host of the quiz show "Earn Your Vacation" (1954), the variety show "The Johnny Carson Show" (1955-56), the game show "Who Do You Trust?" (1957-62).

A few acting roles came Carson's way, including one on "Playhouse 90" in 1957, and he did a pilot in 1960 for a prime-time series, "Johnny Come Lately," that never made it onto a network schedule. In 1958, Carson sat in for "Tonight Show" host Paar. When Paar left the show four years later, Carson was NBC's choice as his replacement.

After his retirement, Carson took on the role of Malibu-based retiree with apparent ease. An avid tennis fan, he was still playing a vigorous game in his 70s. He and his wife, Alexis, traveled frequently. The pair met on the Malibu beach in the early 1980s; he was 61 when they married in June 1987, she was in her 30s.

Carson's first wife was his childhood sweetheart, Jody, the mother of his three sons. They married in 1949 and split in 1963. He married Joanne Copeland Carson that same year, but divorced nine years later. His third marriage, to Joanna Holland Carson, took place in 1972. They divorced in 1985.

On the occasion of Carson's 70th birthday, former "Tonight" bandleader Doc Severinsen, who toured with musicians from the show, said he was constantly reminded of Carson's enduring popularity. "Every place we go people ask `How is he? Where is he? What is he doing? Tell him how much we miss him.' It doesn't surprise me," Severinsen said.

Carson won a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1992, with the first President Bush (news - web sites) saying, "With decency and style he's made America laugh and think." In 1993, he was celebrated by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for career achievement. His nephew said there will be no memorial service.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:55 pm 
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Criterion Mourns the Loss of Goffredo Lombardo

The Criterion Collection is saddened to note the passing of Italian film luminary Goffredo Lombardo. For more than five decades, Lombardo led Titanus�one of Italy's most celebrated companies, founded in 1904 by his father, Gustavo Lombardo�and produced such classics as Luchino Visconti's The Leopard, Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto and I Fidanzati, and hundreds of others. Lombardo passed away in Rome on Wednesday, February 2, at the age of 84.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:03 am 
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From The Guardian:

The Italian film producer Goffredo Lombardo, who has died aged 84, differed from most of his colleagues who helped to give international prestige to the Italian film industry after the second world war, in that he had grown up in the movie business.

He didn't marry a movie star as most of his fellow producers did, but his mother was Leda Gys, one of the great beauties of the Italian silent screen, and his father, Gustavo, founded the Titanus film company and had been a pioneer of Italian cinema.

Goffredo, who was born in Rome, got his university degree in 1938 with a thesis on film royalties. His first job was as a scene painter at Titanus's Farnesina studios in Rome. During the 1930s Titanus had distributed mostly comedies, but after the war Goffredo and his father relaunched the company, and by 1952, when his father died, Titanus was producing and distributing popular melodramas, mostly directed by Raffaello Matarazzo. His I Figli Di Nessuno (Nobody's Children, 1951) was Goffredo's first credit as producer.

By 1953, some of the starkness had been taken out of neo-realism by films like Renato Castellani's buoyant peasant comedy, Due Soldi Di Speranza (Two Pennyworth Of Hope, 1952). Lombardo signed up that film's scriptwriter, Ettore Margadonna, and commissioned him to write Pane, Amore E Fantasia (Bread, Love And Dreams), to be directed by Luigi Comencini.

Vittorio de Sica, as actor rather than neo-realist filmmaker, won new popularity as the middle-aged carabiniere who courts the buxom peasant girl played by the new sex goddess, Gina Lollobrigida. It was a triumph for Titanus at home and abroad. Lombardo immediately made an equally successful sequel, Bread, Love And Jealousy (1954).

In 1955, when Comencini and La Lollo refused to do a third film, the undaunted Lombardo persuaded Dino Risi to direct what in English was called Scandal In Sorrento, with Sophia Loren as the poor fish seller, courted by De Sica's philandering cop. It was a hit, as were two other "rosy realism" comedies directed by Risi, Poor But Beautiful (1957) and Poor Girl, Pretty Girl (1957), set among the impoverished but randy youths of Rome.

In the 1950s, the Italian cinema also indulged in teaming big Hollywood names with Italian stars. Lombardo made his modest contribution by pairing De Sica with Marlene Dietrich in Montecarlo (1953), and the popular comedian Alberto Sordi as Nero with Gloria Swanson as Agrippina and Brigitte Bardot as Poppea in Mio Figlio Nerone (My Son Nero, 1956).

But Lombardo also supported more serious Italian cinema. He distributed early films by Ermanno Olmi and Valerio Zurlini, and signed Fellini to make two films, but after the first, Il Bidone (1955), with Broderick Crawford uncomfortably cast as an Italian trickster, which proved to be Fellini's biggest-ever flop, they never agreed on a second project. Lombardo was intrigued by Fellini's idea for La Dolce Vita, but the budget seemed unthinkable to him.

Even so, he produced another "scandalous" and costly film in 1960: one of his most prestigious achievements, Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers. The saga of a close-knit southern Italian family who move to the north for work and find their unity destroyed, it got a box-office boost thanks to shocking the Italian censors. In the end they accepted Lombardo's compromise: to get the projectionists to dim the lights during certain scenes: a homosexual seduction and close-ups of Annie Girardot in her knickers.

In the early 1960s, the Italians tried to make "American" films. Lombardo had already realised The Naked Maja (1959), shot in Spain with Ava Gardner. Now he undertook two international productions, which were to bring him close to ruin.

One was Visconti's Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963), starring Burt Lancaster as the Sicilian prince of Lampedusa's novel, for which Lombardo had bought the rights soon after publication. The other was Sodom And Gommorah (1962), for which he had hired Robert Aldrich as director, later admitting the choice to be " the greatest mistake of my whole life". After he fired Aldrich, Sergio Leone finished the shoot, but it did not save the film.

Both films did well at the Italian box office, but they had gone so far over budget that Lombardo never recovered costs. At least in Visconti's case the result was an artistic success, winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1963.

To add to Lombardo's woes, Titanus was also the loser on a disastrous film produced by Carlo Ponti, an adaptation of Sartre's The Condemned Of Altona (1962), with Sophia Loren, Maximilian Schell and Fredric March, directed by an unconvinced De Sica.

Lombardo had to sell his studios and most of his private property, but somehow managed to keep Titanus afloat, at least as a distributor. He was producer and distributor of Giuseppe Tornatore's first film The Professor (1985), with Ben Gazzara, and distributed his more successful second feature, Cinema Paradiso (1989), which made money only in Italy after its success at Cannes and the Oscars.

After the big financial debacle, Lombardo had obtained support from Edison and later was linked to other financial groups including Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest, but their TV-oriented machinations outbid his attempts to save Italian filmmaking from TV dependence.

The last feature he personally backed was in 1989: Luigi Comencini's Buon Natale ... Buon Anno (Happy Christmas ... Happy New Year), a heartrending story of an aged couple kept apart by their married children's egoism, which was boycotted by exhibitors. Goffredo withdrew altogether and left Titanus in the hands of his son Guido, who soon abandoned theatrical distribution to produce for television.

His other son, Giulio, died in an accident at the age of 24. His wife Carla died in 1996.

Goffredo Lombardo, film producer and distributor, born May 8 1920; died February 2 2005.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:56 am 
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John "Dean Wormer" Vernon

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- John Vernon, a stage-trained character actor who played cunning villains in film and TV and made his comedy mark as Dean Wormer in "National Lampoon's Animal House," has died. He was 72.

Vernon died at home in his sleep Tuesday following complications from January 16 heart surgery, his daughter, Kate Vernon, said Thursday.

The Canadian-born actor found satisfaction in his varied career, his daughter said.

"He loved the comedy that he was able to do, but his training was in drama and he really enjoyed the dramatic roles," she said.

Movie fans may know him best for his role in "Animal House" as Dean Wormer, who is bent on expelling the hard-partying Delta fraternity house. The movie, starring John Belushi and Tim Matheson, is one of the most popular comedies ever made.

Born in 1932 in Montreal, Vernon studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He did repertory work in England and was heard off-screen as the voice of Big Brother in the 1956 film "1984."

He returned to Canada to appear on stage and on television, including the starring role in the 1960s drama "Wojeck," in which he played a coroner.

"John was superb. He really knew how to use the camera, and vocally he was just born to have a mike nearby," Ted Follows, his co-star in "Wojeck," told The Canadian Press.

After appearing on Broadway in "Royal Hunt of the Sun" he became a steady player in U.S. films, making his debut in director John Boorman's "Point Blank" (1967) as a turncoat tossed to his death by Lee Marvin.

Vernon went on to work with other celebrated filmmakers including Alfred Hitchcock ("Topaz," 1969); Don Siegel ("Dirty Harry," 1971), and Clint Eastwood ("The Outlaw Josey Wales," 1976).

His deep, menacing voice was custom-made for the many bad guys he played.

He reprised his role in "National Lampoon's Animal House" in the TV spinoff "Delta House" (1979). Other comedy roles followed, including the part of Mr. Big in the film "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" in 1988.

Vernon appeared in a DVD edition of "Animal House" as part of a satiric update on the characters. Wormer was portrayed as a curmudgeonly old man in a wheelchair.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 12:14 pm 
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Ossie Davis, an actor distinguished for roles dealing with racial injustice on stage, screen and in real life - and perhaps best known as the husband and partner of actress Ruby Dee - has died at the age of 87.

Davis was found dead on Friday in his hotel room in Miami, where he was making a film called "Retirement," according to Arminda Thomas, who works in his office in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Davis, who wrote, acted, directed and produced for the theater and Hollywood, was a central figure among black performers of the last five decades. He and Dee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998 with the publication of a dual autobiography, "In This Life Together."

Their partnership called to mind other performing couples, such as the Lunts, or Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Davis and Dee first appeared together in the plays "Jeb," in 1946, and "Anna Lucasta," in 1946-47. Davis' first film, "No Way Out" in 1950, was Dee's fifth. They shared billing in 11 stage productions and five movies during long parallel careers.

Both had key roles in the television series "Roots: The Next Generation" (1978), "Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum" (1986) and "The Stand" (1994). Davis appeared in three Spike Lee films, including "School Daze," "Do the Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever." Dee also appeared in the latter two; among her best-known films was "A Raisin in the Sun," in 1961.

In 2004, he and Dee were among the artists selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors.

When not on stage or on camera, Davis and Dee were deeply involved in civil rights issues and efforts to promote the cause of blacks in the entertainment industry. They nearly ran afoul of the anti-Communist witch-hunts of the early 1950s, but were never openly accused of any wrongdoing.

Davis, the oldest of five children of a self-taught railroad builder and herb doctor in tiny Cogdell, Ga., grew up in nearby Waycross and Valdosta. He left home in 1935, hitchhiking to Washington to enter Howard University, where he studied drama, intending to be a playwright.

His career as an actor began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem, then the center of black culture in America. There, the young Davis met or mingled with some of the most influential figures of the time, including the preacher Father Divine, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.

He also had what he described in the book as a "flirtation with the Young Communist League," which he said essentially ended with the onset of World War II. Davis spent nearly four years in service, mainly as a surgical technician in an Army hospital in Liberia, serving both wounded troops and local inhabitants.

Back in New York in 1946, Davis debuted on Broadway in "Jeb," a play about a returning soldier. His co-star was Ruby Dee, whose budding stage career had paralleled his own. They had even appeared in different productions of the same play, "On Strivers Row," in 1940.

It marked the beginning of a collaboration on and off the stage.

In December 1948, on a day off from rehearsals from another play, "The Smile of the World," Davis and Dee took a bus to New Jersey to get married. They already were so close that "it felt almost like an appointment we finally got around to keeping," Dee writes in "In This Life Together."

As black performers, they found themselves caught up in the social unrest fomented by the then-new Cold War and the growing debate over social and racial justice in the United States.

"We young ones in the theater, trying to fathom even as we followed, were pulled this way and that by the swirling currents of these new dimensions of the Struggle," Davis wrote in the joint autobiography. "Black revolutionaries fighting, just like the Russians, to liberate the workers and save the world, against the black bourgeoisie fighting, at the behest of rich white folks, to defeat the Communist menace and save the world."

Davis says he "had no trouble identifying which side I was on." He lined up with black socialist reformer DuBois and singer Paul Robeson, remaining fiercely loyal to the singer even after Robeson was denounced by other black political, sports and show business figures for his openly communist and pro-Soviet sympathies.

While Hollywood and, to a lesser extent, the New York theater world became engulfed in McCarthyism and red-baiting controversies, Davis and Dee -despite their leftist activism in causes ranging from labor rallies to saving the accused atom spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg - emerged from the anti-communist fervor unscathed and, in Davis' view, justifiably so.

"We've never been, to our knowledge, guilty of anything - other than being black - that might upset anybody," he wrote.

They were friends with baseball star Jackie Robinson and his wife, Rachel - Dee played her, opposite Robinson himself, in the 1950 movie, "The Jackie Robinson Story" - and with Malcolm X.

In the book, Davis told how a prior commitment caused them to miss the Harlem rally where Malcolm was assassinated. But Davis delivered the eulogy at Malcolm's funeral, and reprised it in a voice-over for the 1992 Spike Lee film, "Malcolm X."

Along with film, stage and television, their careers extended to a radio show, "The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour," that ran on 65 stations for four years in the mid-1970s, featuring a mix of black themes.

Both wrote plays and screenplays, and Davis directed several films, most notably "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970) and "Countdown at Kusini" (1976), in which he also appeared with Dee.

Other films in which Davis appeared include "The Cardinal" (1963), "The Hill" (1965), "Grumpy Old Men" (1993), "The Client" (1994) and "I'm Not Rappaport" (1996), a reprise of his stage role 10 years earlier.

On television, he appeared in "The Emperor Jones" (1955), "Freedom Road" (1979), "Miss Evers' Boys" (1997) and "Twelve Angry Men" (1997). He was a cast member on "The Defenders" from 1963-65, and "Evening Shade" from 1990-94, among other shows.

Both Davis and Dee made numerous guest appearances on television shows.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 1:08 pm 
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Playwright Arthur Miller Dies at 89

Arthur Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose most famous fictional creation, Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman," came to symbolize the American Dream gone awry, has died. He was 89. Miller, who had been hailed as America's greatest living playwright, died Thursday night at his home in Roxbury of heart failure, his assistant, Julia Bolus, said Friday. His family was at his bedside, she said.

His plays, with their strong emphasis on family, morality and personal responsibility, spoke to the growing fragmentation of American society.
"A lot of my work goes to the center of where we belong if there is any root to life � because nowadays the family is broken up, and people don't live in the same place for very long," Miller said in a 1988 interview.

"Dislocation, maybe, is part of our uneasiness. It implants the feeling that nothing is really permanent." Miller's career was marked by early success. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for "Death of a Salesman" in 1949, when he was just 33 years old.

His marriage to Marilyn Monroe in 1956 further catapulted the playwright to fame, though that was publicity he said he never pursued. In a 1992 interview with a French newspaper, he called her "highly self-destructive" and said that during their marriage, "all my energy and attention were devoted to trying to help her solve her problems. Unfortunately, I didn't have much success."

"Death of a Salesman," which took Miller only six weeks to write, earned rave reviews when it opened on Broadway in February 1949, directed by Elia Kazan. The story of Willy Loman, a man destroyed by his own stubborn belief in the glory of American capitalism and the redemptive power of success, was made into a movie and staged all over the world.

"I couldn't have predicted that a work like `Death of a Salesman' would take on the proportions it has," Miller said in 1988. "Originally, it was a literal play about a literal salesman, but it has become a bit of a myth, not only here but in many other parts of the world." In 1999, 50 years after it won the Tony Award as best play, "Death of a Salesman" won the Tony for best revival of the Broadway season. The show also won the top acting prize for Brian Dennehy (news), who played Loman.

Miller, then 83, received a lifetime achievement award. "Just being around to receive it is a pleasure," he joked to the audience during the awards ceremony.

Miller won the New York Drama Critics' Circle's best play award twice in the 1940s, for "All My Sons" in 1947 and for "Death of a Salesman." In 1953, he received a Tony Award for "The Crucible," a play about mass hysteria during the Salem witch trials that was inspired by the repressive political environment of McCarthyism. That play, still read by thousands of American high-school students each year, is Miller's most frequently performed work.

Miller and Monroe divorced after five years and in 1962 he married his third wife, photographer Inge Morath. That same year, Monroe committed suicide. Miller wrote the screenplay for the Monroe film "The Misfits," which came out in 1960, and reflected on their relationship in his 1963 play "After the Fall."

Reminiscing about Monroe in his 1987 autobiography, "Timebends: A Life," Miller lamented that she was rarely taken seriously as anything but a sex symbol. "To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was," he wrote. "Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes."

Miller's success, so overwhelming in the 1940s and '50s, seemed to be on the wane during the next two decades. But the 1980s brought a renewal of interest, beginning with a Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman" starring Dustin Hoffman in 1984. Enthusiasm for Miller's work was particularly strong in England, which marked his 75th birthday in 1990 with four major productions of his plays.

Miller also directed a Chinese production of "Death of a Salesman" at the Beijing Peoples' Art Theatre in 1983. Those who saw the Beijing production may not have identified with Loman's career, Miller wrote, but they shared his desire, "which was to excel, to win out over anonymity and meaninglessness, to love and be loved, and above all, perhaps, to count."

In his later years, Miller became increasingly disillusioned with Broadway, and in 1991 he premiered a new play, "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan," in London � the first time he had opened a play outside of the United States. Miller said at the time he opted for the London opening to avoid the "dark defeatism" of the New York theater scene.

"There is an open terror of the critics (in New York) and of losing fortunes of money," Miller said in an interview that year. "I have always hated that myself. All in all, it seemed like we ought to do the play in London."

He returned to Broadway in 1994 with "Broken Glass," a drama about a dysfunctional family that won respectful reviews and a Tony nomination, but no big audiences. In London, it won an Olivier award as best play.

Even in his later years, Miller continued to write. "It is what I do," he said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press.

"It is my art. I am better at it than I ever was. And I will do it as long as I can. When you reach a certain age you can slough off what is unnecessary and concentrate on what is. And why not?"

"Resurrection Blues" had its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in the summer of 2002 when Miller was 86. Set in an unnamed banana republic, the satire dealt with the possible televised execution of a revolutionary.

In recent years New York even rediscovered Miller's first Broadway play, "The Man Who Had All the Luck," which was a four-performance flop in 1944, but had a successful revival, starring Chris O'Donnell, nearly six decades later.

Last October, another new play, "Finishing the Picture," premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. It was based on an episode of his marriage to Monroe.

In accepting his lifetime achievement award at the 1999 Tony awards ceremony, Miller lamented that Broadway had become too narrow. "I hope that a new dimension and fresh resolve will inspire the powers that be to welcome fiercely ambitious playwrights," Miller said. "And that the time will come again when they will find a welcome for their big, world-challenging plays, somewhere west of London and somewhere east of the Hudson River."

He was born Oct. 17, 1915, Miller was one of three children in a middle-class Jewish family. His father, a manufacturer of women's coats, was hard hit by the Depression in the 1930s, and could not afford to send Miller to college when the time came. Miller worked as a loader and shipping clerk at a New York warehouse to earn tuition money and eventually attended the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1938.

He wrote his first plays in college, where they were awarded numerous prizes. He also published several novels and collections of short stories.
He wrote several screenplays, including "The Misfits" (1961), which became Monroe's last movie, and "Playing for Time," (1981) a controversial television movie about the women's orchestra at Auschwitz.
He also wrote a number of books with Morath, mainly about their travels in Russia and China.

Miller had two children, Jane Ellen and Robert, by his first wife, Mary Slattery, and he and Morath had one daughter, Rebecca.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 1:14 pm 
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Good innings for a great playwright and human being.
Sad day :(


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2005 9:42 pm 
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Veteran Irish Actor Dan O'Herlihy Dies

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Irish actor Dan O'Herlihy, nominated for an Oscar in 1954 for his performance in Luis Bunuel's "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe," has died at age 85 at his home in Malibu, California, a family spokesman said on Friday.

An architecture student who turned to acting to earn money for college, O'Herlihy wound up working with Hollywood notables including Orson Welles, Gregory Peck and John Huston after being discovered by British director Carol Reed and cast opposite James Mason in the 1947 thriller "Odd Man Out."

He appeared in more than 70 plays on the Dublin stage and played the lead in the original production of Sean O'Casey's "Red Roses for Me."

He made his U.S. film debut in Orson Welles' "Macbeth" in 1948, playing the role of Macduff.

His Academy Award Best Actor nomination for "Robinson Crusoe" was a career highlight, but one of his opponents that year was Marlon Brando (news), who won for his performance in "On the Waterfront."

O'Herlihy had a long and varied career that included a lead role in John Huston's film version of the James Joyce story "The Dead" in 1987 and playing Kennedy family patriarch Joe Kennedy in a TV film "The Rat Pack" in 1998.

He was the CEO of Omni Consumer Products in "RoboCop" in 1987 and its 1990 sequel, and a friendly alien lizard in 1984's "The Last Starfighter."

Michael Druxman, a close friend, said O'Herlihy was famed for his sense of humor. He recalled O'Herlihy wearing the lizard costume as he drove home from the studio to see if anyone noticed.

He also played U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in "MacArthur," starring Gregory Peck, and appeared in several episodes of David Lynch's TV series "Twin Peaks."

He is survived by his wife, five children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 1:32 am 
Go, and never darken my towels again!
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Film director Kihachi Okamoto, known for his comedy and war movies, died of esophagus cancer Saturday afternoon at his home in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, his family said. He was 81.

Okamoto, a native of Tottori Prefecture, was at a military school in Japan when World War II ended and later demobilized. He made his debut as a film director in 1958. He produced a number of World War II related-films such as "Nihon No Ichiban Nagai Hi" (Japan's Longest Day), which depicted Japan's surrender, and "Dokuritsu Gurentai" (Desperado Outpost), about Japanese soldiers revealing corruption in his corps in China during the war period. --Kyodo News


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 5:33 pm 

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Sandra Dee, the actress who became an icon for a generation playing roles in such films as "Gidget" and "Imitation of Life," died today at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She was 63.

The cause was complications from kidney disease, said Steve Blauner, a friend of the family.

Ms. Dee was married to the singer Bobby Darin, who died in 1973 at the age of 37 and was the subject of the recent film "Beyond the Sea."

She is survived by her son, Dodd Darin of Malibu, Calif., and two granddaughters. --NYTimes


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:26 am 
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Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counter-culture author of books such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

"Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family," Juan Thompson said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a personal friend of Thompson, confirmed the death to the News. Sheriff's officials did not return calls to The Associated Press late Sunday.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 2:04 am 
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I'm completely depressed. Hunter was a personal hero of sorts for me, and this news is devastating.

In true Hunter spirit, I'll be in the bar...and say hello to Dick Nixon for me, doc.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 10:17 am 
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I couldn't agree more. Hunter was an original. He was, as he would say, "Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 10:46 am 
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LEE Eun-ju was a wonderful young actress who starred in numerous films, including "Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors", "Bungee Jumping of Their Own", "Lovers Concerto" and "Taegukgi". Last night, she hung herself -- apparently depressed over the failure of her last film and a romantic breakup. One of Koreas finest young actresses is gone. A very very sad story.

Addendum: Apparently Lee just (belatedly) graduated from college last Friday.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 6:27 pm 
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The good Rev. Gene Scott has passed on. You may know him as the star of Herzog's God's Angry Man. A sad day for watchers of televangelist crazies everywhere.


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Tien Miao passed away from lymphoma. He appeared in the original Dragon Inn and is perhaps best known today for his recurring role as the father in Tsai Ming-liang's films.

Tsai Ming-liang's father figure dies
By Yu Sen-lun
Taipei Times

After winning three awards at the closing ceremony of the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) lost his favorite actor Miao Tien (苗天) on the same day. Miao was a favorite father figure for Asian movie fans. Miao died Saturday evening of lymph cancer at Taipei's Veteran's Hospital (榮總). He was 80.

The actor gained fame for his role as the villain in the martial-arts classic Dragon Inn (é¾


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:17 pm 
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Quote:
The French actress Simone Simon passed away yesterday in Paris.

In the 1930s, Darryl Zanuck whisked her to the USA, amid much hoopla, where she starred in a number of Fox films before becoming disenchanted with Hollywood. Among those American films were Henry King's sound remake of the Borzage silent classic, Seventh Heaven (1937), in which Simon starred opposite James Stewart.

Simon also starred in Jean Renoir's La B�te humaine (1938); William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941); Jacques Tourneur's Cat People (1942); and Max Oph�ls' La Ronde (1950) and Le Plaisir (1952). - N.W.

Some great movies there. . .


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2005 7:55 pm 
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zedz wrote:
Quote:
The French actress Simone Simon passed away yesterday in Paris.

In the 1930s, Darryl Zanuck whisked her to the USA, amid much hoopla, where she starred in a number of Fox films before becoming disenchanted with Hollywood. Among those American films were Henry King's sound remake of the Borzage silent classic, Seventh Heaven (1937), in which Simon starred opposite James Stewart.

Simon also starred in Jean Renoir's La Bete humaine (1938); William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941); Jacques Tourneur's Cat People (1942); and Max Ophuls' La Ronde (1950) and Le Plaisir (1952). - N.W.

Some great movies there. . .

95 years old! That sounds like a full life. I don't know much about her but I thought she was hauntingly beautiful in the Devil and Daniel Webster and have been stumbling across her name a lot lately.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:43 pm 
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'Halloween' Writer-Producer Debra Hill Dies at 54

LOS ANGELES - Debra Hill, who co-wrote the horror classic "Halloween" and was one of Hollywood's pioneering woman producers, died Monday, according to a family friend. She was 54. The friend, Barbara Ligeti, said more information would be made available later Monday.

Hill's big break came in horror films when she and director John Carpenter co-wrote the genre's modern classic, "Halloween." The 1979 film, also directed by Carpenter and produced by Hill, starred a 20-year-old Jamie Lee Curtis (news) as the baby sitter terrorized by a murderous psychopath. Made on a modest $300,000 budget, it grossed $60 million worldwide, a record for an independent movie at the time, and launched a seemingly endless chain of sequels.

Hill, Carpenter and Curtis returned for "Halloween II," and Hill and Carpenter were involved in the writing of several later sequels, including "Halloween: Resurrection," "Halloween 5" and "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers." A "Halloween 9," also written by Hill and Carpenter, is reported by the Internet Movie Database to be in production.

After her "Halloween" run, Hill joined her friend Lynda Obst in forming an independent production company in 1986 that made "Adventures in Babysitting" and "Heartbreak Hotel," both directed by Chris Columbus, and Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" with Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges (news).

In 1988 she entered a contract with Walt Disney Pictures under which she produced the feature "Gross Anatomy," short films for the Walt Disney theme park and an NBC special for Disneyland's 35th anniversary. Films she produced included "The Dead Zone," 1983; "Head Office," 1985; and "Clue," 1986.

"Back when I started in 1974, there were very few women in the industry, and everybody called me 'Honey,'" she recalled in 2003. "I was assumed to be the makeup and hair person, or the script person. I was never assumed to be the writer or producer. I took a look around and realized there weren't many women, so I had to carve a niche for myself." Carpenter praised her as "a real pioneer in this business."

"Unlike many producers, she came from the crew ranks. I think they're the most under-appreciated people, and they work the hardest," he said. "She had experienced the ins and the outs and had a thorough understanding of what it took to make a picture."

Hill began as a production assistant on adventure documentaries, working up to films as a script supervisor, a job that required sitting beside the director and keeping a record of each scene. From there she landed jobs as assistant director and second-unit director and became associated with Carpenter, who was then a rising young director. The two also collaborated on 1980's "The Fog" and 1981's "Escape From New York."

When she was honored by Women in Film in 2003, Hill said, "I hope some day there won't be a need for Women in Film. That it will be People in Film. That it will be equal pay, equal rights and equal job opportunities for everybody."


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:41 pm 
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Teresa Wright, Stage and Film Star, Dies at 86

By DOUGLAS MARTIN

Teresa Wright, the high-minded ing�nue who marshaled intelligence and spunk to avoid being typecast as another 1940's "sweater girl" and became the only actor to be nominated for Academy Awards for her first three films, died on Sunday at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She was 86. The cause was a heart attack, her daughter, Mary-Kelly Busch, said.

Miss Wright had many parts on Broadway and once performed at a White House dinner for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but her meteoric landing in Hollywood in 1941 is the stuff of legend.

After seeing her on Broadway, Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary producer, asked her to play the role of Bette Davis's daughter in "The Little Foxes" in 1941. Her performance in the film moved its director, William Wyler, to tell The New York Times that she was the most promising young actress he had ever directed.

She proved his point by being nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the picture. The next year, she was nominated for best actress for her next role, opposite Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig's wife in "The Pride of the Yankees," and won the Oscar for best supporting actress as the love interest of Greer Garson's war-bound son in "Mrs. Miniver."

Her work included a starring role in Wyler's "Best Years of Our Lives," winner of the best-picture Oscar in 1946; playing opposite Marlon Brando in his first movie, "The Men," in 1950; and creating the character of Charlie, the innocent but suspicious niece of a serial killer, in Alfred Hitchcock's harrowing "Shadow of a Doubt" in 1943.

After the 1950's, she drifted away from movies and worked on the stage in roles like Linda Loman opposite George C. Scott's Willy in a 1975 Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman." She was nominated for three Emmy Awards for her dramatic roles on television and in 1997 appeared in a cinematic adaptation of John Grisham's "Rainmaker."

For all her allure as the fetching "girl next door," Miss Wright fiercely fought not to be a glamour girl. She loathed pictures in bathing suits and interviews with fan magazines, and told Goldwyn as much. He assured her he was not of "the bathing suit school of Hollywood producers," according to The Times in 1942, and promised to promote her more ethereal talents.

"There would be no leg art, no whispered romances for the columnists, no orchid and ermine setting for her background," her contract stipulated, according to The Times. But Miss Wright's disregard for Hollywood's demands eventually caused Goldwyn to terminate her contract, in 1948. In their highly publicized exchange, he said she was lax in publicizing her pictures. She said movies had become too brazenly commercial.

"I was going to be Joan of Arc," she said in an interview with The New York Post in 1969, "and all I proved was that I was an actress who would work for less money." For her next picture, "The Men," instead of the $125,000 she had once commanded, she received $20,000, but her co-star was Marlon Brando.

Muriel Teresa Wright was born on Oct. 27, 1918, in Manhattan. She dropped her first named in her early 20's when she found another Muriel Wright was already registered with Actors' Equity.

Her parents separated soon after she was born, and her father, an insurance salesman, farmed her out to various relatives in New York and New Jersey. She did not start school until she was 8, and did not graduate from high school in Maplewood, N.J., until she was almost 20.

She was inspired to become an actress by seeing Helen Hayes in "Victoria Regina" on Broadway while still a student. She played leading parts in high school plays, but a teacher told her to stick with typing. Another teacher helped her get a scholarship to the Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Mass., the summer of her junior year. That led to summer stock work, an understudy role on Broadway in "Our Town" and, in 1939, the part of Mary in "Life With Father," based on the memoirs of Clarence Day. After seeing it, Goldwyn went backstage to hire her.

Miss Wright was married for 10 years to Niven Busch, a screenwriter and novelist. She married the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, and they divorced in the early 1970's. Ms. Busch, Miss Wright's daughter, said the two remained close.

In addition to her daughter, who lives in Clinton, Conn., Miss Wright is survived by her son, Niven Perence Busch of Indianapolis, and two grandchildren.

In 1998, Miss Wright was asked to throw the first pitch at a Yankees game in honor of the anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech to fans in 1939, the climax of "Pride of the Yankees." She said it was her first game. But after years of ignoring baseball, she then became a fervent fan herself, raptly following the Yankees on television and at their stadium.

"The whole thing is pure theater to me," she explained.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:07 pm 
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Criterion Remembers Brigitte Mira

Criterion is saddened to note the passing of the great German actress Brigitte Mira. A renowned stage and cabaret performer, Mira broke into film in the late 1940s, appearing in a wide range of projects for the big screen and television throughout the next five decades. She is best known to international audiences for her work with pioneering director Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Mother K�sters Goes to Heaven, Chinese Roulette, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. In 2003, the remarkably vibrant and effortlessly charming Mira�at the age of 92�recorded a video interview for Criterion�s DVD release of Ali. In it, she said of her longtime friend and colleague Fassbinder, �We belonged together, the Siamese Twins.� Mira died in Berlin on Tuesday, March 8. She was 94.


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