The movie world lost three vital personalities over the weekend. The most unexpected death was that of Sage Stallone, just 36 years of age. The son of Sylvester Stallone and his first wife, Sasha, Sage Stallone made his film debut in 1990, playing Rocky Balboa Jr. in his father’s Rocky V (above).
He appeared with his father again in Daylight, released in 1996. That same year, he formed Grindhouse Releasing with Bob Murawski, a company “dedicated to the restoration and preservation of movies historically held in low regard.” The company, whose presentation logo was loaned to Quentin Tarantino for use in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Grindhouse, built a strong reputation for their work, which focused especially on extreme Italian movies, but also embraced the likes of lost 70s U.S. exploitation flick Gone with the Pope.
Sage Stallone, who also made two films as a director, clearly had many years in front of him. Sadly, he was found dead in his Los Angeles-area apartment on Friday afternoon. The cause of death is not yet known.
Earlier that day, Richard D. Zanuck, 77, died at his home in Beverly Hills from a heart attack. Most recently, he produced a string of films directed by Tim Burton, everything from Planet of Apes through to Dark Shadows.
Long before that, however, Zanuck was known as the son of Darryl F. Zanuck, the powerful head of 20th Century Fox, a studio the elder Zanuck cofounded in 1933. Richard Zanuck began as a producer before his father appointed him head of production, a post from which his father fired him a few years later. He promptly formed a company with David Brown, and the two men produced some of the best-known films in the next two decades, including The Sting, Jaws, The Verdict and Cocoon. Zanuck later won an Academy Award for producing Driving Miss Daisy.
And early Sunday morning, Celeste Holm passed away at the of age of 95. She began her career onstage in the late 1930s, with notable credits including the original Broadway production Oklahoma! in 1943. Four years later, she won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Gregory Peck’s empathetic mother in Gentlemen’s Agreement, which examined anti-Semitism in America.
She was also memorable as a conflicted playwright’s wife in All About Eve (1950), for which she received another Academy Award nomination. (She was also nominated for 1948’s Come to the Stable.) She divided her career between stage, TV and films, and always maintained a regal, yet down-to-earth bearing in her roles, which numbered into the dozens. She continued to make personal appearances from time to time, always impressing fans and critics alike.
[Photo credit: Actress Celeste Holm in 1997. (Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)]