As 2019 comes to a close, we here at JoBlo.com would like to take a moment to honour some of the people who sadly passed away this year. Our deepest respect goes out to everyone in the industry we have lost, and our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of those who died in 2019. These talented individuals will always be remembered for their impact on the world of film and television.
In Memory Of…
Even with your eyes closed, you wouldn’t need more than a second or two to recognize the uniquely deep tones of Bob Einstein. After getting his start writing and acting for the Smothers Brothers and various other comedic variety shows such as The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and Van Dyke and Company, Einstein created Super Dave Osborne, a naive yet optimistic stuntman whose stunts frequently went horribly wrong. In addition to headlining his own show, Super Dave, Bob Einstein played the character on many TV shows, such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night with David Letterman, In Living Color, Hollywood Squares, and more. Einstein was also known for playing Larry Middleman, the professional surrogate, on Arrested Development, as well as Marty Funkhouser on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Bob Einstein died on January 2nd at the age of 76 shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.
W. Morgan Sheppard
W. Morgan Sheppard passed away on January 6th at the age of 86. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Art, Sheppard spent over a decade acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but went on to appear in feature-films as well, including THE DUELISTS, THE ELEPHANT MAN, THE KEEP, NEEDFUL THINGS, GETTYSBURG, GODS AND GENERALS, THE PRESTIGE, and TRANSFORMERS, as well as TV shows such as Shogun, Max Headroom, MacGuyver, SeaQuest DSV, Babylon 5, Frasier, Murder She Wrote, Charmed, Gilmore Girls, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Mad Men, Doctor Who, Dexter, and more. W. Morgan Sheppard also made several appearances in the Star Trek franchise, including episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as roles in STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY and J.J. Abrams‘ STAR TREK reboot.
From a young age, Carol Channing knew that she was born to entertain, and it wasn’t long before she was trying out for parts on Broadway. Over the years, Channing’s star rose, but she truly broke out when she starred in Hello, Dolly as Dolly Levi, a performance which won her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. From there, Channing branched out to film, including an Academy Award nominated performance in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, as well as frequent TV appearances, mostly playing herself, in shows such as What’s My Line?, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, Sesame Street, The Addams Family, The Nanny, The Drew Carey Show, Family Guy, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Channing also released many albums and spoken word audio-books throughout her career. Channing was an outspoken liberal Democrat, which earned her a place on President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list,” which she joked was the highest honour in her career. Carol Channing died on January 15th at the age of 97.
Dick Miller died on January 30th at the age of 90 due to natural causes. Even if you didn’t know his name, you likely knew his face as Dick Miller appeared in a great many movies and TV shows over the course of his more then 60-year career. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Miller attended City College of New York and Columbia University and soon began performing on Broadway while working at the Bellevue Hospital Mental Hygiene Clinic and the psychiatric department of Queens General Hospital. After a series of small roles on film, Miller began working with Roger Corman, appearing in A BUCKET OF BLOOD, THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THE TERROR, THE WILD ANGELS, and many more. The actor also enjoyed a long and fruitful working relationship with Joe Dante, appearing in nearly all of the director’s projects, including PIRANHA, THE HOWLING, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, GREMLINS, EXPLORERS, INNERSPACE, THE ‘BURBS, GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, MATINEE, SMALL SOLDIERS, and more. Dick Miller also appeared movies like THE TERMINATOR, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, CHOPPING MALL, and TV shows such as Mannix, Dragnet, Police Squad!, Taxi, V: The Final Battle, Fame, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Flash, Batman: The Animated Series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, ER, and more. The actor was also featured in THAT GUY DICK MILLER, a documentary about his life and career.
Julie Adams died at the age of 92 on February 3rd. The actress is best known for her role of the beautiful Kay Lawrence in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, one of my all-time favourite Universal Monster movies, but she appeared in hundreds of other films and TV shows throughout her long career. Adams appeared in feature-films such as BEND OF THE RIVER, THE LAWLESS BREED, ONE DESIRE, THE MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER, THE MAN FROM THE ALAMO, WINGS OF THE HAWK, THE PRIVATE WAR OF MAJOR BENSON, SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE, and THE GUNFIGHT AT DODGE CITY, as well as TV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Surfside 6, Perry Mason, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Mannix, The Mod Squad, Night Gallery, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, McMillan & Wife, The Incredible Hulk, Trapper John, M.D., Cagney & Lacey, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Murder She Wrote, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Sliders, Cold Case, Lost, CSI: NY, and much more.
Albert Finney passed away on February 7th at the age of 82. After getting his start in the theater, Finney had a breakthrough role on the big-screen with SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING, later going on to appear in feature-films such as TOM JONES, SCROOGE, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, THE DUELLISTS, WOLFEN, ANNIE, THE DRESSER, UNDER THE VOLCANO, MILLER’S CROSSING, ERIN BROCKOVICH, TRAFFIC, BIG FISH, OCEAN’S TWELVE, CORPSE BRIDE, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, THE BOURNE LEGACY, and SKYFALL. Albert Finney was also originally chosen to play T.E. Lawrence in David Lean‘s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, but wound up turning the part down. The actor was the recipient of many awards and nominations over the years, including Academy Award nominations for Best Actor for his performance in TOM JONES, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, THE DRESSER, UNDER THE VOLCANO, as well as a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in ERIN BROCKOVICH.
Morgan Woodward died on February 22nd at the age of 93. After serving in both World War II and the Korean War, Woodward turned his attention to Hollywood and quickly became a trusted character actor, appearing in many TV shows, including Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Broken Arrow, Cimarron City, The Restless Gun, Perry Mason, Have Gun – Will Travel, Rawride, Wagon Train, Star Trek, The Virginian, Bonanza, Kung Fu, Gunsmoke, Logan’s Run, The Waltons, Fantasy Island, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, Days of Our Lives, Murder She Wrote, The X-Files, and Millennium. Woodward also had recurring roles on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp as “Shotgun” Gibbs, and as Marvin “Punk” Anderson on Dallas. Morgan Woodward was no stranger to the big-screen as well, appearing in such films as THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE, FIRECREEK, DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER, ONE LITTLE INDIAN, THE MIDNIGHT MAN, THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, but the big-screen role which stands out the most is Woodward’s silent performance as Boss Godfrey in COOL HAND LUKE, the walking boss of a Florida prison chain gang whose eyes are nearly always hidden behind a pair of mirrored sunglasses.
Katherine Helmond is best known for her starring role as Jessica Tate on Soap, ABC’s parody of daytime soap-operas, and the role earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Helmond then played Mona Robinson on Who’s the Boss?, the feisty and sexually progressive mother of Judith Light’s Angela. Helmond also had recurring roles on Coach and Everybody Loves Raymond, and made guest appearances on TV shows such as The Bob Newhart Show, Benson, The Glades, Melissa & Joey, True Blood, and Harry’s Law. The actress also appeared in feature-films such as THE HINDENBURG, FAMILY PLOT, TIME BANDITS, BRAZIL, OVERBOARD, LADY IN WHITE, and voiced Lizzie, the Ford Model T Coupe, is all three installment’s of Pixar’s CARS franchise. Katherine Helmond died on February 23rd at the age of 89 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
After suffering a massive stroke, Luke Perry died on March 4th at the age of 52. Perry became a teen idol thanks to Beverly Hills, 90210, where he played brooding loner Dylan McKay. He even caused a riot at The Fashion Mall at Plantation in 1991 when a crowd of 10,000 teen-age girls showed up for an autograph signing session. Upon Perry’s appearance, the crowd rushed the stage, forcing the actor to leave after 90 seconds. After six seasons of Beverly Hills, 090210, Perry decided to leave the series (although he would later return) in search of more mature roles. Luke Perry appeared in movies such as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, AMERICAN STRAYS, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, and ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, as well as TV shows such as The Simpsons, The Incredible Hulk, Spin City, Johnny Bravo, Family Guy, Oz, Clone High, Will & Grace, What I Like About You, Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit, Criminal Minds, Leverage, Body of Proof, Community, and Major Crimes. Perry also starred in Jeremiah, a post-apocalyptic series which took place after a plague had wiped out the adult population, as well as Riverdale, The CW’s teen drama series based on the characters of Archie Comics.
John Carl Buechler
John Carl Buechler created special makeup effects for a huge number of classic films, including RE-ANIMATOR, THE DUNGEONMASTER, GHOULIES, TROLL, TERRORVISION, THE DOLLS, THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER, PRISON, CELLAR DWELLER, HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS, BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS, HATCHET, and more. Buechler also directed a segment of THE DUNGEONMASTER, TROLL, CELLAR DWELLER, and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD, which was the film that introduced audiences to Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees. In a 2013 interview with Byran Reesman, Buechler explained what made his version of Jason stand out from the others. “I wanted to show Jason not just as this guy with a machete but show him full of emotion,” Buechler said. “I think I can say that I’m the first guy that ever showed Jason really ticked off. I don’t think you saw pissed off Jason in any of the previous movies. He was just bewildered and startled in most of them, but in this one he’s upset and that’s because someone is defying him. I think my Jason, by virtue of Kane Hodder, could act not only through the hockey mask but all that prosthetic makeup. You saw the ferocity in him, you saw the anger, and he wasn’t afraid to go for it. I think Kane was an excellent choice for the role, and I think history has proven me correct because he did three more movies afterward.” John Carl Buechler passed away on March 18th after battling prostate cancer at the age of 66.
Larry Cohen died on March 23rd at the age of 82. Cohen got his start as a writer on a variety of television series, including Kraft Television Theatre, Rick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre, Checkmate, The Defenders, Espionage, The Fugitive, Columbo, and NYPD Blue. He also created three different TV shows, Branded, a western series starring Chuck Connors, The Invaders, a sci-fi series starring Roy Thinnes, and Griff, a crime drama starring Lorne Greene and Ben Murphy. Cohen then turned his attention to feature-films, penning scripts for SCREAM, BABY SCREAM, RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE AMERICAN SUCCESS COMPANY, I, THE JURY, MANIAC COP, MANIAC COP 2, MANIAC COP III: BADGE OF SILENCE, PHONE BOOTH, CELLULAR, and CAPTIVITY, as well as directing movies such as BONE, BLACK CAESAR, HELL UP IN HARLEM, Q, PERFECT STRANGERS, THE STUFF, A RETURN TO SALEM’S LOT. Larry Cohen is probably best known for his horror trilogy about vicious mutant children, IT’S ALIVE, IT LIVES AGAIN, and IT’S ALIVE III: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE.
It can be tough to stand out among legions of the undead and grotesque special effects, but Joseph Pilato certainly managed to do so with his scene-stealing portrayal of Captain Rhodes in DAY OF THE DEAD, the third installment of George Romero‘s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD series. Pilato’s performance of the increasingly unhinged Captain Rhodes is a thing of beauty, right down to yelling “choke on ’em!” during his character’s particularly graphic death scene. In addition to DAY OF THE DEAD, Joseph Pilato appeared in DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, GUNG-HO, PULP FICTION, WISHMASTER, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: DARKEST DAWN. Pilato also voiced MetalGreymon in DIGIMON: THE MOVIE as well as multiple episodes of the various Digimon TV shows. Joseph Pilato died on March 24th at the age of 70.
Agnès Varda died from cancer on March 29th at the age of 90. Known as the Grandmother of the French New Wave film movement, Varda was a director, photographer, and artist whose films were experimental and political. Varda began her career as a successful photographer, but soon found herself moving into the realm of film as well, writing and directing films such as LA POINTE COURTE, CLEO FROM 5 to 7, ONE SINGS, THE OTHER DOESN’T, DOCUMENTEUR, VAGABOND, JACQUOT DE NANTES, THE GLEANERS AND I, FACES PLACES, and more. Varda’s final film, VARDA BY AGNÈS, was a documentary about her own career and approach to art. “It’s a way of saying goodbye,” Varda said at the film’s premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February. “I have to prepare myself to say goodbye and go away. It’s fine… What saved me is that I remained curious. And if you’re curious you always have something to watch, to discover… it’s always interesting to have ideas, and daydream. The imagination is something that fulfilled my life… Every day I think I could do something.”
Terry Rawlings died of heart failure on April 23rd at the age of 85. After beginning his career in the sound department on films like THE DUELLISTS, THE GAMBLER, THE GREAT GATSBY, THE MECHANIC, and more, Terry Rawlings made the leap to the editing room, lending his skills to films such as THE SENTINEL, WATERSHIP DOWN, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, BLADE RUNNER, YENTL, LEGEND, F/X, ALIEN 3, GOLDENEYE, THE SAINT, U.S. MARSHALS, ENTRAPMENT, THE CORE, and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Rawlings actually only received a “supervising editor” credit on BLADE RUNNER, but that was only because he didn’t belong to the American union at the time. “I was the only editor, and the reason I had to have that [credit] was I wasn’t a member of the American union then,” Rawlings said in a 2012 interview. “To work over in America was very difficult, because of union problems, and I had to work on the film in a little hotel place because I wasn’t allowed at Warner Bros. to cut it there.” Rawlings received an Academy Award nomination for his work on CHARIOTS OF FIRE, as well as BAFTA nominations for his editing/sound editing work on WOMEN IN LOVE, ISADORA, BLADE RUNNER, ALIEN, and CHARIOTS OF FIRE.
At the young age of 24, John Singleton became the youngest person ever to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards as well as the first African-American. The film was BOYZ IN THE HOOD, a crime drama which followed the lives of three young men living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles which dealt with race, relationships, and violence. BOYZ IN THE HOOD was a big success, both critically and commercially, and thrust Singleton into the public spotlight, and he would go on to direct POETIC JUSTICE, HIGHER LEARNING, ROSEWOOD, SHAFT, BABY BOY, 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, FOUR BROTHERS, and ABDUCTION. Singleton also turned his talents towards television as well, directing episodes of Empire, American Crime Story, Rebel, Billions, and Snowfall, the last of which he also served as writer and co-creator. In an interview with THR, Singleton spoke of growing up in South Central, Los Angeles. “I’m happy that I grew up that way because it made me more of a fighter, more of a hustler, and it made me really appreciate life in a different way as a storyteller. I could identify with people of other various communities around the world because of that experience,” Singleton said, adding that the nearby Century Drive-In, whose screen he could see from his apartment window, served as his introduction to the world of movies. “[They were] B-movies, the AIP films, the throwaway films, the slasher movies, the blaxploitation movies, the kung fu movies,” Singleton recalled. “I would see them with no sound. That was my initial entree into film and filmmaking.” John Singleton passed away on April 28th at the age of 51 after suffering a stroke weeks before and being placed on life support.
One of the most beloved characters in the STAR WARS franchise is Chewbacca, the intensely loyal wookie who is Han Solo’s best friend as well as the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. It couldn’t have been an easy task to bring such a character to life while buried head-to-toe in a fur suit, but Peter Mayhew absolutely pulled it off and became the very heart and soul of the franchise in the process. Prior to STAR WARS, Peter Mayhew had played the role of the Minoton in SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER, but it was the role of Chewbacca which he became the most known for. George Lucas had initially planned on 6’6″ actor David Prowse playing Chewbacca, but Prowse wanted to play Darth Vader, which left Lucas with the task of finding someone even taller to play Chewbacca. Although Mayhew got the gig simply based upon his impressive height (7’3″), he was able to bring a distinct personality to Chewbacca through his performance and expressive eyes. Following STAR WARS, Mayhew would go on to play Chewbacca in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI, and would also reprise the role for REVENGE OF THE SITH. By the time the Sequel Trilogy rolled around, Mayhew was suffering from knee problems, but he was able to suit up as Chewbacca for THE FORCE AWAKENS. In order to accommodate Chewbacca’s more strenuous scenes in the film, Mayhew shared the role with Joonas Suotamo, who would go on to take over the character in THE LAST JEDI, SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, and STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER .Peter Mayhew passed away on April 30th at the age of 74.
Peggy Lipton died on May 11th from colon cancer at the age of 72. After getting her start modelling, Lipton soon made appearances in TV shows such as Bewitched, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The John Forsythe Show, The Virginian, and The Invaders, before she landed a starring role on The Mod Squad, ABC’s crime/drama which focused on three young outsiders who fight crime as undercover cops. Lipton would receive four Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe nominations (with one win) for her performance on the series. Lipton would reprise the role for THE RETURN OF THE MOD SQUAD, a made-for-TV movie in 1979, but largely retired from acting following her marriage to Quincy Jones. Upon her return to the world of acting years later, Lipton achieved new fame as Norma Jennings, the owner of the Double R Diner, on David Lynch‘s Twin Peaks. The actress would go on to play Norma Jennings in TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME as well as Lynch’s more recent Twin Peaks revival. Lipton also appeared in films such as PURPLE PEOPLE EATER, THE POSTMAN, WHEN IN ROME, and A DOG’S PURPOSE, as well as TV shows such as Popular, Alias, Crash, House of Lies, Psych, and Angie Tribeca, a comedy series which starred Lipton’s daughter, Rashida Jones.
Doris Day passed away on May 13th at the age of 97. While recovering from a car accident, Day found herself singing along with musicians on the radio. Upon her recovery, Day’s mother prompted her to take singing lessons and she quickly became a popular entertainer. Day transitioned to feature-films, mostly comedy/musicals, such as ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, IT’S A GREAT FEELING, TEA FOR TWO, CALAMITY JANE, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, THE PAJAMA GAME, PILLOW TALK, LOVER COME BACK, THE THRILL OF IT ALL, MOVE OVER, DARLING, and more. She also released dozens of studio albums and appeared on TV shows such as What’s My Line, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and more. Day also starred in The Doris Day Show, a CBS sitcom which featured the actress as the widowed mother of two young boys who moved out to her father’s rural ranch in Mill Valley, California.
Actor and comedian Tim Conway first gained national fame from his role as the bumbling Ensign Charles Parker in the ABC sitcom McHale’s Navy, in which he starred alongside Ernest Borgnine and Joe Flynn. The series would spawn two feature-film’s, MCHALE’S NAVY and MCHALE’S NAVY JOINS THE AIR FORCE, which Conway also starred in. Conway went on to appear in films such as THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG, THE SHAGGY D.A., THE BILLION DOLLAR HOBO, THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG RIDES AGAIN, CANNONBALL RUN II, and SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL, as well as TV shows such as The Mike Douglas Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Newhart, The Golden Palace, Married…with Children, Coach, Cybill, The Larry Sanders Show, The Simpsons, Cosby, Touched by an Angel, Suddenly Susan, The Drew Carey Show, Ellen, 7th Heaven, Yes, Dear, 30 Rock, CSI, Hot in Cleveland, Mike & Molly, Two and a Half Men, Glee, and more. Conway was also featured in his own unfortunately short-lived TV shows, including The Tim Conway Show and The Tim Conway Comedy Hour, but he enjoyed enormous success on The Carol Burnett Show, playing a variety of hilarious characters who frequently caused his fellow cast-members to break character. Tim Conway died on May 14th at the age of 85 from complications of normal pressure hydrocephalus.
Billy Drago died on June 24th at the age of 73 due to complications from a stroke. With his unique, piercing look, it’s no surprise that Billy Drago frequently played villains, but you can’t deny that those were the types of roles he excelled at. After initially starting out as a stuntman, Drago appeared in films such as PALE RIDER, INVASION U.S.A., and VAMP, but it was his role of the gangster Frank Nitti in THE UNTOUCHABLES for which he’s become the most recognized. Drago went on to appear in HERO AND THE TERROR, DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLOMBIAN CONNECTION, CYBORG 2, TREMORS 4: THE LEGEND BEGINS, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and CHILDREN OF THE CORN: GENISIS, as well as TV shows such as Moonlighting, Friday the 13th: The Series, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Charmed, The X-Files, and Supernatural. Drago also starred in Imprint, Takashi Miike‘s installment for Showtime’s Master’s of Horror anthology series, but the episode wound up being shelved by Showtime (you can find it on DVD/Blu-ray) due to concerns over its graphic content. Masters of Horror creator Mick Garris called the episode, “the most disturbing film I’ve ever seen.” Yep, you’re going to want to check that one out for yourself.
Max Wright died on June 26th at the age of 75 following a long battle with cancer. Wright is best known for playing Willie Tanner on the NBC sitcom ALF, which dealt with a sarcastic extraterrestrial who crash-landed in the garage of the middle-class Tanner family, who decided hide him from the authorities. Although the series launched Wright to stardom, the actor didn’t always enjoy playing the straight man to a puppet, particularly due to the technically demanding nature of the production over the course of its four season run. Wright later confessed to People that he was “hugely eager to have it over with” and was pleased when ALF was finally cancelled. The actor also appeared in films such as ALL THAT JAZZ, REDS, THE STING II, SOUL MAN, THE SHADOW, GRUMPIER OLD MEN, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, and SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, as well as TV shows such as Hart to Hart, WKRP in Cincinnati, Taxi, AfterMASH, E/R, Murder She Wrote, Quantum Leap, Murphy Brown, The Stand, Friends, From the Earth to the Moon, Mad About You, The Drew Carey Show, and Norm.
Cameron Boyce died on July 6h as the result of an epileptic seizure at the age of 20; Far too young. Before making the shift into acting, Boyce was an avid dancer, having been trained in break-dancing, hip-hop, modern dance, jazz, tap, and ballet. The actor appeared in films such as MIRRORS, EAGLE EYE, GROWN UPS, and GROWN UPS 2, as well as a variety of Disney Channel sitcoms, including Good Luck Charlie and Shake It Up, as well as a starring role in Jessie. Boyce also played Carlos, son of Cruella de Vil, in all three installments of Disney’s DESCENDANTS series, a franchise which dealt with the teenage children of famous Disney villains. Boyce also voiced Carlos in Descendants: Wicked World, a CG animated TV series, as well as lent his voice to Captain Jake in the Disney animated series Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Following his death, The Cameron Boyce Foundation was established in his honour. The non-profit organization provides young people with creative outlets to support causes Cameron was passionate about, including ending gun violence, clean water, and epilepsy awareness.
Rip Torn died on July 9th at the age of 88. After studying at the Actors Studio in New York under Lee Strasberg, Rip Torn quickly began appearing in films such as PORK CHOP HILL, KING OF KINGS, THE CINCINNATI KID, PAYDAY, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, CROSS CREEK, THE SEDUCTION OFJOE TYNAN, ONE-TRICK PONY, THE BEASTMASTER, AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL, FLASHPOINT, ROBOCOP 3, CANADIAN BACON, DOWN PERISCOPE, HERCULES, WONDER BOYS, FREDDY GOT FINGERED, WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT, DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY, EULOGY, YOURS, MINE & OURS, MARIE ANTIONETTE, ZOOM, and BEE MOVIE. Rip Torn also played Zed, the head of the MiB, in MEN IN BLACK and MEN IN BLACK II, and even though his character was killed off in MEN IN BLACK 3, Torn still made a cameo as an alien at Zed’s funeral. Torn also appeared in many TV shows, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Naked City, Dr. Kildare, The Lieutenant, Mannix, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Rawhide, Bonanza, Columbo, Will & Grace, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and 30 Rock, but the actor is perhaps best known for starring in The Larry Sanders Show alongside Garry Shandling and Jeffrey Tambor as Artie the producer. Torn received six consecutive Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his work on The Larry Sanders Show, winning once.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” – Roy Blatty. The death soliloquy delivered by Rutger Hauer in Ridley Scott‘s BLADE RUNNER remains one of the most powerful and moving moments in cinema, a testament to the actor’s incredible talent. While his role in BLADE RUNNER may be his most remembered performance, Rutger Hauer appeared in a great many films. After getting his start in the theater and television of his native Netherlands, Hauer’s career was launched when Paul Verhoeven cast him as the lead in TURKISH DELIGHT. From then, Hauer went on to appear in films such as THE WILBY CONSPIRACY, NIGHTHAWKS, LADYHAWKE, THE HITCHER, ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER, BLIND FURY, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, SIN CITY, BATMAN BEGINS, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, DRACULA 3-D, and more, as well as TV shows such as Floris, Lexx, Alias, Smallville, Salem’s Lot, True Blood, Wilfred, Galavant, and The Last Kingdom. Rutger Hauer died on July 19th at the age of 75.
Beginning in 1986, Russi Taylor was the official voice of Minnie Mouse, bringing the beloved Disney character to life in shorts, films, TV shows, video-games, theme-park attractions, toys, and more. Taylor lent her voice to many other beloved cartoon characters as well, such as Huey, Duey, and Louie, Strawberry Shortcake, Pebbles Flintstone, and more. In addition to Minnie Mouse, Taylor is probably best known for her work on The Simpsons, where she voiced a variety of characters, including Martin Prince, Sherri & Terri, Wendell, Lewis, Üter, and more. Russi Taylor voiced characters in films such as MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, JETSONS: THE MOVIE, THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER, BABE, BABE: PIG IN THE CITY, FANTASIA 2000, and THE SIMPSONS MOVIE, as well as TV shows like The Smurfs, Pac-Man, Duck Tales, Muppet Babies, My Little Pony, Superman, The Critic, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and more. Russi Taylor died from colon cancer on July 26th at the age of 75.
Born to Henry Fonda and Frances Ford Seymour in 1940, Peter Fonda caught the acting bug early on and was soon appearing in TV shows such as Naked City, Wagon Train, The Defenders, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and more. Fonda became something of a counterculture figure throughout the ’60s, which reached its peak when Fonda produced, co-wrote, and starred in EASY RIDER alongside Dennis Hopper (who also directed). Fonda received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his work on EASY RIDER, and the impact of the film is still felt today as it recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Following the success of EASY RIDER, Fonda directed and starred in cult western THE HIRED HAND, as well as appeared in FUTUREWORLD, THE CANNONBALL RUN, ESCAPE FROM L.A., THE LIMEY, GHOST RIDER, 3:10 TO YUMA, and many more. Aside from EASY RIDER, the actor’s most celebrated role was his starring turn in ULEE’S GOLD, a drama which found Fonda playing a widowed beekeeper who must tangle with some criminals in order to protect his family. The role snagged Fonda an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Peter Fonda passed away at the age of 79 on August 16th from respiratory failure due to lung cancer.
Valerie Harper began her entertainment career by studying ballet and soon became a Broadway dancer in a number of musicals, but she got her big break when she was asked to audition for Mary Tyler Moore’s new show. “It was the easiest, most pleasant audition process I ever went through, and it had this extraordinary outcome,” Harper told the Archive of American Television in a 2009 interview. “It was the wind in the sails of my entire career.” Harper played Rhoda Morgenstern, the witty, insecure best friend of Mary Richards (Moore) who lived upstairs. Her character was so popular that a spin-off, Rhoda, was developed several seasons later and Harper departed The Mary Tyler Moore Show, although she would still make guest appearances throughout its remaining years. Although the series was extremely popular initially, CBS cancelled Rhoda mid-way through its fifth season. Valerie Harper snagged four Emmy Awards as well as a Golden Globe for her work as Rhoda Morgenstern across the two shows. Following Rhoda, Valerie Harper would take the lead in Valerie, a sitcom in which she played the role of a mother trying to juggle her career as well as raising three sons while her husband was frequently absent. Due to a dispute with NBC, Harper was written out of the series after two seasons and it was explained that her character had died. Amazingly, the show actually continued without Valerie Harper for four more seasons (under two different titles) before it was finally cancelled. Valerie Harper also appeared in Touched by an Angel, Sex and the City, That ’70s Show, Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva, Hot in Cleveland, The Simpsons, American Dad!, and much more. Valerie Harper passed away at the age of 80 on August 30th following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Sid Haig passed away on September 21st at the age 80. After starting his career as a musician, Sid Haig soon transitioned to acting at the suggestion of his high-school drama teacher. Throughout his long career, Haig appeared in Jack Hill’s blaxploitation films, sci-fi thrillers, and horror films such as BLOOD BATH, POINT BLANK, SPIDER BABY, THX 1138, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA, COFFY, FOXY BROWN, GALAXY OF TERROR, JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL: VOLUME 2, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D, HALLOWEEN, CREATURE, THE LORDS OF SALEM, HATCHET III, and BONE TOMAHAWK, but the actor is probably best known for his portrayal of Captain Spaulding, a psychotic clown and patriarch of the Firefly family, in Rob Zombie‘s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, and 3 FROM HELL. Haig also appeared on TV shows such as The Untouchables, Batman, Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, Get Smart, The Flying Nun, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Jason of Star Command, Fantasy Island, Buck Roger in the 25th Century, The Fall Guy, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, MacGyver, and Just the Ten of Us.
Diahann Carroll died on October 4th at the age of 84 after battling cancer. Carroll appeared in films such as CARMEN JONES, PORGY AND BESS, HURRY SUNDOWN, THE SPLIT, CLAUDINE (for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress), and PEEPLES, as well as TV shows such as Peter Gunn, Naked City, The Love Boat, Star Wars: Holiday Special, Roots: The Next Generation, A Different World, Lonesome Dove: The Series, Touched by an Angel, The Court, Soul Food, Grey’s Anatomy, White Collar, and Diary of a Single Mom. Diahann Carroll also made appearances as herself on Tonight Starring Jack Paar, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Gary Moore Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Danny Kaye Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Dean Martin Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Dick Cavett Show, and Hollywood Squares. She also starred in The Diahann Carroll Show, a series of four musical variety specials. Carroll is best known for her starring role in Julia, which was was one of the first TV shows to star an African-American woman in a non-stereotypical role, as well as the wealthy and ruthless Dominique Deveraux on Dynasty, a role which she reprised on The Colbys, a spin-off of Dynasty.
Robert Forster died on October 11th after battling brain cancer. Forster appeared in films such as REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE, MEDIUM COOL, THE DON IS DEAD, AVALANCHE, THE BLACK HOLE, ALLIGATOR, THE DELTA FORCE, VIGILANTE, HOLLYWOOD HARRY (which he also directed), and MANIAC COP III: BADGE OF SILENCE, as well as TV shows such as Banyon, Police Story, Magnum, P.I., Murder, She Wrote, William Tell, and Walker, Texas Ranger, but his career received a major boost after starring in Quentin Tarantino‘s JACKIE BROWN, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Afterwards, Forster appeared in such films as PSYCHO, SUPERNOVA, ME, MYSELF & IRENE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE, FIREWALL, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, THE DESCENDANTS, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, AUTOMATA, and LONDON HAS FALLEN, as well as TV shows such as Fastland, Karen Sisco, Huff, Heroes, The Simpsons, CSI: NY, Alcatraz, Last Man Standing, Twin Peaks: The Return, and Breaking Bad. Forster’s final role found him reprising his Breaking Bad role for EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE, which was released the same day as his death.
Producer and studio executive Robert Evans actually got his start as an actor, appearing in films such as MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES, THE SUN ALSO RISES, and THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, before realizing that he wasn’t overly impressed with his acting talent and decided to transition into producing instead. Robert Evans took over as head of production at Paramount Pictures, which wasn’t in the best of shape at the time, but Evans managed to turn the studio’s fortunes around with a string of successful movies, such as THE ODD COUPLE, ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE ITALIAN JOB, TRUE GRIT, LOVE STORY, HAROLD AND MAUDE, THE GODFATHER, SERPICO, THE GREAT GATSBY, THE CONVERSATION, and more. Following the enormous success of CHINATOWN, which he produced, Evans stepped out on his own as an independent producer with films such as MARATHON MAN, URBAN COWBOY, POPEYE, THE COTTON CLUB, THE TWO JAKES, THE PHANTOM, THE SAINT, and HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS. Robert Evans died on October 26th at the age of 89.
Actor and comedian John Witherspoon died as the result of a heart attack on October 29th at the age of 77. Witherspoon appeared in films such as I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, HOUSE PARTY, THE METEOR MAN, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, BULWORTH, THE LADIES MAN, LITTLE NICKY, SOUL PLANE, LITTLE MAN, and A THOUSAND WORDS, but he’s probably best known on the big-screen for his role of Willie Jones in FRIDAY, NEXT FRIDAY, and FRIDAY AFTER NEXT. Witherspoon was a regular on TV shows such as The Wayans Bros., The Tracy Morgan Show, and The Boondocks, and also appeared in The Richard Pryor Show, What Happening!!, Good Times, L.A. Law, Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The First Family, Anger Management, Black Jesus, Black Dynamite, Black-ish, Animals, White Famous, and BoJack Horseman.
D.C. Fontana, the legendary writer best known for her work in the Star Trek franchise, passed away on December 2nd following a short illness at the age of 80. From a young age, Dorothy Catherine Fontana knew that she wanted to be a writer, and after serving as a secretary and working on several western TV shows, such as The Tall Man and Frontier Circus, Fontana met Gene Roddenberry on his military-based series The Lieutenant, and she continued working with Roddenberry as he developed Star Trek. Fontana quickly began writing for the series, penning episodes such as Charlie X, Tomorrow is Yesterday, Journey to Babel, The Enterprise Incident, and many more. In her role as story editor, Fontana also contributed to many other episodes and is credited with developing the Vulcan culture. Fontana continued writing for television after Star Trek’s cancellation, mostly on westerns such as Lancer and Bonanza, but Star Trek came calling once again with Star Trek: The Animated Series and Roddenberry also brought Fontana back when he began developing Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fontana would co-write the two-hour pilot episode with Roddenberry as well as several others throughout the first season. D.C. Fontana also penned an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well as Star Trek: New Voyages, the fan-made webseries. Fontana also wrote episodes of Then Came Bronson, The Streets of San Francisco, The Six Million Dollar Man, Land of the Lost, Kung Fu, Logan’s Run, Dallas, The Waltons, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, War of the Worlds, Earth: Final Conflict, Babylon 5, and more.
Rene Auberjonois passed away on December 8th following a battle with lung cancer at the age of 79. Like many young actors, Auberjonois got his start in the theater, with appearances in plays such as King Lear, A Cry of Players, and Coco, but his first feature film role was a major one, playing Father Mulcahy in Robert Altman‘s MASH. Rene Auberjonois would go on to appear in feature films such as MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, THE HINDENBURG, KING KONG, POLICE ACADEMY 5: ASSIGNMENT MIAMI BEACH, STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, BATMAN FOREVER, INSPECTOR GADGET, THE PATRIOT, THE PRINCESS DIARIES, EULOGY, and more, but the actor is best known for his roles on television. Auberjonois was a series regular on three separate shows, playing Clayton Endicott III on Benson, Paul Lewiston on Boston Legal, and Odo, the shape-shifting security chief on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He also made guest appearances on The Jeffersons, The Bob Newhart Show, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Murder She Wrote, The Outer Limits, Chicago Hope, Stargate SG-1, The Practice, Frasier, Star Trek: Enterprise, Warehouse 13, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, and more. Auberjonois also lent his voice to many animated projects such as THE LITTLE MERMAID, LITTLE NEMO: ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND, Ducktales, Batman: The Animated Series, The Pirates of Dark Water, The Legend of Tarzan, Archer, Young Justice, and more. The actor also spent some time behind-the-camera as well, directing multiple episodes of Marblehead Manor and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Chances are extremely good that Caroll Spinney played a major role in your childhood. From 1969 until 2018, Spinney played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (among other characters) on Sesame Street. In a statement, Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said, “Caroll Spinney’s contributions to Sesame Street are countless. He not only gave us Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he gave so much of himself as well. We at Sesame Workshop mourn his passing and feel an immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and to children around the world.” Spinney would play these roles in a number of films, including THE MUPPET MOVIE, THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER, FOLLOW THAT BIRD, THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND, and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE AT THE SMITHSONIAN. He also played Big Bird and/or Oscar the Grouch in a variety of TV programs such as What’s My Line?, The Electric Company, Hollywood Squares, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The West Wing, Scrubs, Portlandia, and Supernatural. Spinney was also the subject of a documentary, I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY, and has written several Sesame Street-centric books. Carol Spinney died on December 8th at the age of 85.
Prior to taking up acting, Danny Aiello worked at a bouncer at New York City’s The Improv, but soon found himself serving as M.C. on occassion and was offered a role in an Off Broadway play. From then on, Aiello caught the acting bug and went on to appear in films such as BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY, THE GODFATHER PART II, BLOODBROTHERS, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, THE STUFF, THE PROTECTOR, RADIO DAYS, THE PICK-UP ARTIST, MOONSTRUCK, HARLEM NIGHTS, JACOB’S LADDER, HUDSON HAWK, RUDY, MISTRESS, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, and more, but Aiello is best known for his role of Sal in Spike Lee‘s DO THE RIGHT THING, which found him nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. Aiello also appeared on TV shows such as Kojak, The Andros Targets, On Our Own, and Tales from the Darkside, as well as starring roles in short-lived TV series Lady Blue and Dellaventura. Aiello also starred as Don Domenico Clericuzio in CBS’ miniseries The Last Don and The Last Don II, a mafia epic based on the novel by Mario Puza, author of “The Godfather.” Danny Aiello died on December 12th at the age of 86.
At just 17 years old, Hanne Karin Bayer hitchhiked to Paris from her native Denmark to pursue a career as a model. She was soon spotted at the cafe Les Duex Magots and met Coco Chanel, who suggestioned that Bayer take on the stage-name of Anna Karina, meant to recall Leo Tolstoy‘s novel “Anna Karenina.” Karina also caught the attention of director Jean-Luc Godard, who had seen her in an ad for Palmolive soap and offered her a role in BREATHLESS, which was to be his debut feature-film. Upon learning there would be a nude scene, Karina turned him down, but Godard returned months later with another offer to star in his next film. Karina became Godard’s muse throughout the ’60’s, as well as his wife for several years, appearing in many of his films, including THE LITTLE SOLDIER, A WOMAN IS A WOMAN, MY LIFE TO LIVE, BAND OF OUTSIDERS, PIERROT LE FOU, ALPHAVILLE, MADE IN U.S.A., and the ANCIPATION segment of the anthology comedy THE OLDEST PROFESSION. Anna Karina quickly became one of the icons of the French New Wave film movement, and also appeared in CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, THE NUN, THE STRANGER, THE MAGUS, JUSTINE, LAUGHTER IN THE DARK, CHINESE ROULETTE, and more, but she told The New York Times in 2016 that she never expected these films to be remembered. “We never thought the films would be so famous for so long,” Karina said. “We were just happy to do things. It was more bohemian. We knew we were doing something we liked and it was not like everyone else. It was a happy world.” Anna Karina passed away on December 14th at the age of 79 from cancer.
Other notables we lost this year include ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST actress Louisa Moritz, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER actress Verna Bloom, make-up artist Daniel C. Striepeke, who received Academy Award nominations for his work on FOREST GUMP and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE MUPPET MOVIE director James Frawley, Airwolf actor Jan-Michael Vincent, DOWNFALL actor Bruno Ganz, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN and FUNNY FACE director Stanley Donen, Oz actor George Morfogen, Community actor Richard Erdman, GOLDFINGER actress Tania Mallet, THE GODFATHER PART II editor Barry Malkin, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE actress Nadja Regin, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS actor Seymour Cassel, The Mary Tyler Moore Show actress Georgia Engel, ORDINARY PEOPLE screenwriter Alvin Sargent, RASHOMON actress Machiko Kyo, Blake’s 7 actor Paul Darrow, MIDNIGHT COWBOY actress Sylvia Miles, ROMEO AND JULIET director Franco Zeffirelli, EYES WITHOUT A FACE actress Édith Scob, actor and comedian Arte Johnson, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman actor Eddie Jones, WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY actress Denise Nickerson, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea actor David Hedison, THEY CALL ME HALLELUJAH actor George Hilton, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT animator Richard Williams, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE actress Carol Lynley, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers actor Robert Alexrod, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actor Aron Eisenberg, THE KARATE KID actor Rob Garrison, actor and comedian Rip Taylor, Maude actor Bill Macy, BLADE RUNNER and BACK TO THE FUTURE production designer Lawrence G. Paull, BONNIE AND CLYDE actor Michael J. Pollard, Star Trek actor Robert Walker Jr., Archer voice-actor Ron Leibman, THUNDERBALL actress Claudine Auger, and Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson.