Reel Important People is a monthly column that highlights those individuals in or related to the movies who have left us in recent weeks. It is unfortunate that we lose so many great film contributors, on-screen and off, that it's impossible to pay extensive tribute to every one. But I think it's important to recognize them at least in this monthly digest, not to mourn but to remember their work. Below you'll find names big and small and from all areas of the industry, though each was significant to the movies in their own way.
Turhan Bey (1922-2012) - Actor, known by his fans as "The Turkish Delight," who was a prominent player at Universal in the 1940s. He can be seen as the title monster's minion in The Mummy's Tomb, and he costars in Arabian Nights, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Dragon Seed and The Amazing Mr. X. Following a career decline in the 1950s he returned to his homeland of Austria and worked as a stage director but returned to Hollywood in the 1990s for TV and small film roles. In the past decade he appeared in the documentaries Hollywood Chinese, speaking of his work in Dragon Seed, and Vom Gluck Verfolgt. Wien - Hollywood - Retour, which was about his own life. He died from Parkinson's disease on September 30. (Alt Film Guide)
Anita Bjork (1923-2012) - Swedish actress who starred in Ingmar Bergman's Secret of Women, In the Presence of a Clown, Madame de Sade and The Image Makers and in the Bergman-scripted films Woman Without a Face, Private Confessions and The Best Intentions. She also starred in the title role in Alf Sjoberg's Miss Julie, which inspired Alfred Hitchcock to cast her in the lead of I Confess, though she was fired by the studio before shooting began. She died on October 24. (NYT)
Yash Chopra (1932-2012) - Indian filmmaker known as the "king of romance" who directed the internationally popular Bollywod films Deewar, Dil to Pagar Hai, Veer-Zaara, Darr and Lamhe and -- through his hugely successful studio, Yash Raj Films -- produced such blockbuster hits as Dhoom, Dhoom 2, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and the Dead Poets Society-inspired Mohabbatein, which was helmed by his filmmaker brother, Aditya Chopra. He died from multiple organ failure on October 21. (BBC)
Gary Collins (1938-2012) - Actor mostly known for TV work who also appeared in the films Airport, Biutiful and Hangar 18. He died October 13. (CNN)
Alex Karras (1935-2012) - Football player and pro wrestler turned actor who starred in the TV series Webster and was well-known for his role of Mongo in Blazing Saddles. His other films include Porky's, Victor Victoria, Against All Odds and the adaptation of George Plimpton's Paper Lions, in which he plays himself. He died from complications caused by kidney failure on October 10. Read Mike Bracken's earlier tribute to Karras and other football players turned movie stars here.
Sammi Kane Kraft (1992-2012) - [Pictured Above] Actress who costarred at age 12 in Richard Linklater's Bad News Bears remake as tomboy Amanda Whurlitzer, the girl-pitcher role originated by Tatum O'Neal. She died in a car accident on October 9. (THR)
Sylvia Kristel (1952-2012) - Actress who was famous for playing the title character in the first four installments of the soft-core Emmanuelle film series. She also starred in Private Lessons, Private School, The Nude Bomb, Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Concorde... Airport '79. She died from esophageal and lung cancer on October 17. (Daily News)
Douglas Laurence (1918-2012) - Producer of the Elvis movies Speedway, Stay Away, Joe and Live a Little, Love a Little, as well as the Sandra Dee comedy Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding! and the Oscar-nominated Mister Buddwing. He died on October 2. (THR)
Johnny Lewis (1983-2012) - Actor best known for TV's Sons of Anarchy and The O.C. who also appears in the films Aliens vs. Predator -Requiem, One Missed Call, The Runaways and Lovely Molly (pictured left). He died from a fall after allegedly murdering his landlady on September 26. (THR)
George McGovern (1922-2012) - U.S. senator and congressman who was the Democratic nominee for President in 1972. That same year he appeared as himself in The Candidate. And the campaign was the focus of the documentary One Bright Shining Moment. Other documentaries he appears in include Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Breakfast with Hunter and The U.S. vs. John Lennon. He died October 21. (CNN)
Russell Means (1939-2012) - Native American activist and actor who made his film debut costarring in The Last of the Mohicans (pictured right) then went on to appear in Natural Born Killers, Wagons East, Pathfinder, in which he played the title character, and The Last Shot, where he played himself. He also voiced the father of Pocahontas in Disney's animated feature and its sequel, Journey to a New World, and appears in the recent documentaries Reel Injun and Sing Your Song. He died of esophageal cancer on October 22. (THR)
Michael O'Hare (1952-2012) - Actor best known for the TV series Babylon 5. His film work includes roles in C.H.U.D., The Promise and Last Exit to Brooklyn. He suffered a heart attack on September 23, which put him in a coma until he died on September 28. (Variety)
Harris Savides (1957-2012) - Cinematographer with much acclaim for shooting Gus Van Sant's films Elephant, Gerry, Last Days, Finding Forrester, Restless and Milk and David Fincher's The Game and Zodiac (he also shot some of Se7en). Other films displaying his remarkable D.P. talents include Jonathan Glazer's Birth, Woody Allen's Whatever Works, Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, Noah Baumbach's Greenberg and Margot at the Wedding, John Turturro's Illuminata, Ridley Scott's American Gangster and shorts that were also ads from Wong Kar Wai and Martin Scorsese, the latter exhibiting a perfect mimicry of Robert Burks's legendary work for Hitchcock. His final work will be seen next year in Coppola's The Bling Ring. He died from brain cancer on October 9. Read Mike Bracken's earlier obituary notice here.
Peter Tory (1939-2012) - Journalist for British papers the Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Express and Sunday Express who appears in Errol Morris's documentary Tabloid. He died of cancer on October 9. (Independent)
Koji Wakamatsu (1936-2012) - Japanese filmmaker who directed United Red Army, Caterpillar, The Embryo Hunts in Secret and Go, Go Second Time Virgin. He died after being hit by a taxi on October 17. (Variety)
Run Wrake (1965-2012) - Filmmaker who wrote and directed the popular, BAFTA-nominated animated short Rabbit. He died from cancer on October 21. (Film Drunk)