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In Memoriam

Funny With A Dose of Acid: Blake Edwards

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  Blake Edwards, the American director whose comedic films were always presented with a dose of acid, passed away in his Los Angeles home yesterday. In a career of highs and lows, Edwards carved a particular niche as a funny man with a dark underside and a dramatist who sometimes injected humor into dark tales of desperation. His 1961 film BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, a huge success despite the smoothing out of the edges of its bohemian party girl Holy Gollightly, is a true classic of American...

Publicist Extraordinaire Warren Cowan

Friday, May 16-------Warren Cowan, 87, one of Hollywood's most influential press agents who represented a who's who of A-list stars during a seven-decade career, has died of heart failure and cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Cowan began working as a publicist while still at student at UCLA. One of his first clients was actress Linda Darnell. In 1950, he became a partner with Henry Rogers in the firm Rogers & Cowan, which grew to become the largest public relations agenc...

Jules Dassin: An Artist In Exile

Friday, April 4-----Jules Dassin, an American director, screenwriter and actor who found success making movies in Europe after he was blacklisted in the United States because of his ties to the Communist Party, died Monday in Athens, where he had lived since the 1970s. He was 96. Mr. Dassin is most widely remembered for films he made after he fled Hollywood in the 1950s, including NEVER ON SUNDAY (1960) with the Greek actress Melina Mercouri, whom he later married; TOPKAPI (1964), with Ms. Merco...

Jules Dassin passed away in Athens at 96

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Jules Dassin, an American director, screenwriter and actor who found success making movies in Europe after he was blacklisted in the United States because of his ties to the Communist Party, died Monday in Athens, where he had lived since the 1970s. He was 96. Mr. Dassin is most widely remembered for films he made after he fled Hollywood in the 1950s, including NEVER ON SUNDAY (1960) with the Greek actress Melina Mercouri, whom he later married; TOPKAPI (1964), with Ms. Mercouri, Peter Ustinov a...

Richard Widmark: Salute To A Sneer

 Thursday, March 27--------No one quite mastered the sneer as did actor Richard Widmark, who died Monday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut at the age of 93. That sneer and a high-pitched giggling laugh is what shot him the stardom in 1947, when he played the psychopathic killer Tommy Udo in the gangster film KISS OF DEATH. Nothing in the movies before or since can compare with the scene in that film when Widmark tied up an old woman in a wheelchair with a cord ripped from a lamp and shoved he...

Paul Scofield: The Golden Voice Is Silenced

Friday, March 21-----Paul Scofield, the golden-throated British actor of stage and screen, who won a Best Actor Oscar in 1966 for his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, passed away on Wednesday. The seasoned actor, 86, who died at a hospital near his home in southern England, had been suffering from leukemia. Scofield had a lifelong attachment to the theatrical stage, where he began his career 60 years ago. He found his first successes in a variety of Shakespearean roles dur...

Director Anthony Minghella Dead At 54

 Thursday, March 20----Anthony Minghella, the British filmmaker who won an Academy Award for his direction of THE ENGLISH PATIENT in 1997, died Tuesday morning in London at the age of 54. The cause was a brain hemmorage, brought on by complications from surgery he underwent a week ago to treat tonsil cancer. Anthony Minghella was born on January 6, 1954, and grew up on the Isle of Wight, where his parents, immigrants from Italy, ran an ice cream factory. Minghella began his career writing scri...

Sixties Fave Suzanne Pleshette

 Friday, January 25--------While the Sundance Film Festival and the on-going drama surrounding the tragic death of Heath Ledger dominated this week's news, I wanted to note the passing of a personal fave. Suzanne Pleshette, the husky-voiced 1960s actress who later redefined the television sitcom wife in the 1970s on THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, died last Saturday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 70 and had been battling lung cancer for the past few years.A native New Yorker, Pleshette started h...

Heath Ledger Dead Of Apparent Drug Overdose

 Tuesday, January 22--------In an ironic twist of fate, on the same day that the Academy Award nominations were announced, 2005 Oscar nominee Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York loft in the Soho district of New York City. An official autopsy will be done tomorrow, but news has leaked out that the naked body of the actor was found next to a cache of sleeping pills and other drugs. The Australian actor, only 28 years old, was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in the Ang Lee fil...

Actor Brad Renfro Dead At 25

 Wednesday, January 16----------Actor Brad Renfro, whose career began promisingly with a childhood role in THE CLIENT (1994), but rapidly faded as he struggled with drugs and alcohol, was found dead Tuesday in his home in Los Angeles. He was 25. The cause of death was not immediately determined, but an autopsy could be conducted as early as today. The actor, who served time in prison in May of 2006 for pleading no contest to driving while intoxicated, has also been convicted of possession of...

Influential Critic Hollis Alpert

Tuesday, December 4------------As the film world enters into the breathless marathon also known as the "awards season", it is worth noting that one of the key architects of the national film critics prizes has passed away. Hollis Alpert, a film critic and author who co-founded the National Society of Film Critics more than 40 years ago has died at the age of 91. The Society was started in 1966 after Alpert -- then a critic for the weekly Saturday Review magazine -- and other reviewer...

Influential Critic Hollis Alpert passed away

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As the film world enters into the breathless marathon also known as the "awards season", it is worth noting that one of the key architects of the national film critics prizes has passed away. Hollis Alpert, a film critic and author who co-founded the National Society of Film Critics more than 40 years ago has died at the age of 91. The Society was started in 1966 after Alpert -- then a critic for the weekly Saturday Review magazine -- and other reviewers were denied membership in the New York Fi...

Oscar Winner Delbert Mann, Director of MARTY

 Tuesday, November 20----------Delbert Mann, who directed the acclaimed live TV production of  MARTY, the classic tale of a lonely Bronx butcher by pioneering television scenarist Paddy Chayefsky, and then won an Academy Award for the 1955 movie version, passed away last week at the age of 87. MARTY, which was the first and most successful of the television-to-film-adaptations, was one of the most celebrated films of the 1950s, winning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Ernest Borgnine), B...

Hollywood Screenwriter Peter Viertel Dies At Age 86

 Friday, November 9-------Less than three weeks after his second wife, actress Deborah Kerr, passed away, news comes from Marbella, Spain that her second husband, screenwriter and novelist Peter Viertel, has died at the age of 86. Peter Viertel was a noted author and screenwriter who plumbed his relationships with the aristocracy of Hollywood, including Greta Garbo, John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and others, to produce provocative works of fiction and memoir.The author of at l...

Deborah Kerr: Cinema's Class Act

 Thursday, October 18-------Today we have lost one of the best, and a personal favorite of mine. Actress Deborah Kerr, who shared one of cinema's most intimate moments on a sea swept Hawaii beach in the clutches of Burt Lancaster in the Oscar winning film FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953) has died at the age of 86. She spent her last years in rural England, suffering from Parkinson's  Disease. Although nominated six times for the Academy Award for taboo-shattering roles in the 1950s and 1960s, Ke...

Low Budget Indie Pioneer Charles Griffith

 Thursday, October 11------Charles Griffith, a screenwriter and director best known for writing the screenplay for the 1960 cult classic THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, died last week at the age of 77. Griffith made a name for himself in low-budget horror-comedy films, frequently collaborating with the producer/director Roger Corman, who also gave burgeoning filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppolla, Dennis Hopper and others their first cracks at directing feature films.THE LITTLE S...

Marcel Marceau: The Mime of the Millenium

 Tuesday, October 9-------Although he was not strictly an actor, nor was his work in films his most enduring legacy, it is important nevertheless to mark the passing of Marcel Marceau, the internationally famous French pantomimist, who died at the age of 84 on September 24th. Although his visage was one of the most famous in international culture, it was ironically always obscured by his trademark white makeup. Few except close associates would even recognize the man outside of his mime person...

The Death of An Actor's Actor

Tuesday, October 2---------George Grizzard, a veteran actor who made memorable appearances on film, television and the Amerrican stage, died yesterday from lung cancer at the age of 79.  The much loved and respected Grizzard is probably still best known for originating the role of Nick, the studly young professor in Edward Albee's original production of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (a part he lost to actor George Segal in the celebrated film version).In a career that spanned more than 50 ye...

Jane Wyman: A Class Act

 Tuesday, September 25-------During a very busy film festival season in September, I wanted to take a moment to mark the passing of Oscar-winning actress Jane Wyman on September 10th at the age of 90. Wyman was a class act whose career began in the late 1930s and reached a zenith with her Academy Award winning performance as a deaf mute woman who is raped by a local farmer in the 1948 drama JOHNNY BELINDA. A bold and explicit story for its time, Wyman brought a grave intensity and deep humanity...

Edward Yang To Be Honored At Pusan FF

 Tuesday, August 21---------Taiwanese director Edward Yang, who died earlier this summer in July of complications from colon cancer at the age of 59, will be honored at this year's Pusan International Film Festival. The ground-breaking film auteur who helped build Taiwan's new wave cinema of the 1980s, will be honored posthumously with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award. Along with Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-Liang, Yang brought international recognition to Taiwanese cinema with a...

Ulrich Plenzdorf: East German Scenarist

 Thursday, August 16--------For almost 50 years, the film industry in the former East Germany was one of the most profitable and prolific in European cinema. However, because of political considerations and trade embargoes, few of those films ever got seen in the West. A result is an almost total familiarity with the films and the auteurs, who worked under an oppressive and meddling regime, and yet who still found an "individual voice" for their films. One of those voices was stilled ...

The Ultimate Hollywood Executive

Thursday, August 9----------Frank E. Rosenfelt, one of the most respected Hollywood production exectives of the past few decades, died on August 2nd at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 85. He reached his career zenith at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he acquired and produced such acclaimed films as DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and NETWORK.Frank Edward Rosenfelt was born in Peabody, Massachussets in 1921, but grew up in what he later described as “the worst slum in the Bronx,” in ...

Bill Tuttle: Hollywood Makeup Pioneer

Tuesday, August 7---------William J. "Bill" Tuttle, a pioneering makeup artist who was the first in his profession to win an Academy Award, died last week at the age of 95. During his 35-year career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Tuttle created innovative techniques in the pre-digital film era and trained generations of makeup artists, who now rule the roost in Hollywood. He won the first Oscar given for achievement in makeup, for his work in the fantasy thriller 7 FACES OF DR. LAO. That Awar...

The Poet Of Alienation

 Thursday, August 2--------Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian director whose chilly depictions of alienation were among the most cherished artistic breakthrough of international cinema, died earlier this week in his home in Rome. He was 94. In 1985, Antonioni suffered a debilitating stroke that left him partly paralyzed, but he continued to make films for two more decades. Along with his fellow auteur Ingmar Bergman (who died less than 24 hours earlier), this poet of alienation is one of the i...

Goodbye Mr. B: Death Of A Film Giant

 Tuesday, July 31-------It perhaps seemed improbable that one of the world's funniest filmmakers was a devoted acolyte of one of the world's most serious. But that was the case for Woody Allen, whose devotion to the Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman was a life-long obsession. He often referenced the great director in his films. In ANNIE HALL, in a scene that all hardcore cinephiles can relate to, Woody refuses to go to a screening of Bergman's FACE TO FACE because he and Diane Keato...
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