Remembering 'Star Wars' Actor Alfie Curtis, Bugs Bunny Co-Creator Bob Givens and More Reel-Important People We Lost in December

Remembering 'Star Wars' Actor Alfie Curtis, Bugs Bunny Co-Creator Bob Givens and More Reel-Important People We Lost in December

Jan 03, 2018

Reel-Important People is a monthly column that highlights those individuals in or related to the movies who have left us in recent weeks. Below you'll find names big and small and from all areas of the industry, though each was significant to the movies in his or her own way.

Jack Blessing (1951-2017) - Actor. Best known for TV series including Moonlighting, he also appears in the movies Talladega Nights, Thirteen Days and Heaven's Gate. Recently he worked in ADR, doing voice work for Hell or High Water and the two parts of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. He actually died of pancreatic cancer on November 14. (THR)

Conrad Brooks (1931-2017) - Actor. One of Ed Wood's regular actors, he plays a policeman in Plan 9 from Outer Space and also appears in Jail BaitBride of the MonsterGlen or Glenda and other notoriously bad movies. He also appears as a bartender in the biopic Ed Wood, in which he's portrayed by Brent Hinkley (see the portrayal below). He died on December 6. (THR)

Bruce Brown (1937-2017) - Documentary Filmmaker. He was nominated for an Oscar for directing Any Given Sunday and is most famous for helming The Endless Summer. He also made The Endless Summer 2 and produced On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter and Step Into Liquid. He died on December 10. (THR)

Peggy Cummins (1925-2017) - English Actress. She played the femme fatale in the film-noir classsic Gun Crazy (see below) and also starred in the film-noir dramas Hell Drivers and Escape as well as the horror film Curse of the Demon, the mystery film Moss Rose, the Western Green Grass of Wyoming and comedies The Captain's Table and The Ship Was Loaded. She died on December 29. (THR)

Alfie Curtis (1930-2017) - English Actor. He iconically played the Mos Eisley Cantina troublemaker Dr. Evazan in Star Wars (pictured above and seen below). The character recently made a cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story but not played by Curtis. He also co-starred in David Lynch's The Elephant Man. He actually died on November 30. (THR)

Therese DePrez (1965-2017) - Production Designer. Her movie credits include Black SwanStokerI Shot Andy WarholGoing All the WayHigh FidelitySummer of SamMe and You and Everyone We KnowHedwig and the Angry InchAmerican Splendor and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. She died of breast cancer on December 19. (Variety)

Peter Duffell (1922-2017) - British Filmmaker. He directed The House That Dripped Blood (see below) and worked as a second-unit director on Superman. He died on December 12. (The Guardian)

Dick Enberg (1935-2017) - Sports Broadcaster. He played sports announcers, basically as himself, in The Naked GunGusMr. 3000 and the original Rollerball. He died on December 21. (THR)

Dominic Frontiere (1931-2017) - Composer. He scored the movies Freebie and the BeanThe Stunt ManModern ProblemsOn Any Sunday and Hang 'Em High and composed the theme for TV's The Outer Limits. He died on December 21. (Variety)

Bob Givens (1918-2017) - Animator. He is credited with designing Bugs Bunny for the Warner Bros. short A Wild Hare (see his sketches below). Earlier, he was employed by Disney and worked on Donald Duck shorts and the feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Other films he worked on include 1971's The Cat in the Hat and The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie. He died December 14. (Geek Tyrant)


Howard Gottfried (1923-2017) - Producer. He was nominated for an Oscar for Network and also produced Torch Song TrilogyAltered States, The Hospital, Body Double and Suburban Commando. He died of complications from a stroke on December 8. (Variety)

Sue Grafton (1940-2017) - Author. She wrote mystery novels based on the alphabet, two of which were adapted into Japanese movies. She also worked on the scripts for the Agatha Christie adaptations A Caribbean Mystery and Sparkling Cyanide and the TV movie A Killer in the Family. She died of cancer on December 28. (NYT)

Bruce Gray (1936-2017) - Actor. He played the father of John Corbett's character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel and was the president in Spy Hard. He also appears in Starship TroopersEvan Almighty and Crimson Peak. He died of cancer on December 13. (THR)

Jerry Greenberg (1936-2017) - Editor. He won an Oscar for The French Connection (see his win below) and received a double nomination in 1980 for Apocalypse Now and Kramer vs. Kramer. Other movies he edited include American History XHeaven's GateThe UntouchablesNational Lampoon's Christmas VacationAwakeningsBody DoubleDressed to Kill, the 1983 Scarface and the Point Break remake. He also assisted Dede Allen on Bonnie and Clyde and did some work on Reds. He died on December 22. (Variety)

Johnny Hallyday (1943-2017) - French Singer and Actor. Known musically as "The French Elvis," he also starred in the movies The Man on the Train, Johnny To's VengeanceCrime Spree (see below), Diabolique and The Pink Panther 2. He died of lung cancer on December 6. (Variety)

Clifford Irving (1930-2017) - Author. He is notoriously known for writing a fake Howard Hughes autobiography then later wrote about the experience, which was turned into the movie The Hoax starring Richard Gere as Irving. He is also a featured subject in Orson Welles's classic documentary F for Fake. He died of pancreatic cancer on December 19. (NYT)

Shashi Kapoor (1938-2017) - Indian Actor. He starred in numerous Hindi movies, including DeewaarSilsila and Shaan and also the English/Pakistani film Jinnah opposite Christopher Lee. He died of a chest infection on December 4. (Variety)

Hiep Thi Le (1971-2017) - Vietnamese-American Actress. She starred in Oliver Stone's Heaven & Earth (see below) and appears in the movies Cruel Intentions and National Security. She did of stomach cancer on December 19. (Variety)

Suzanna Leigh (1945-2017) - English Actress. She starred opposite Elvis in Paradise, Hawaiian Style and also co-starred in The Deadly BeesLust for a VampireSon of Dracula and Tom Thumb. She died of liver cancer on December 11. (THR)

Ulli Lommel (1944-2017) - German Actor and Filmmaker. He collaborated with Andy Warhol and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, starring in many of the latter's films from Love Is Colder Than Death and including World on a Wire and Chinese Roulette. His own movies include The Boogey ManCocaine CowboysZombie Nation and B.T.K. Killer. He died on December 2. (Bloody Disgusting)

Rose Marie (1923-2017) - Actress. She was best known as Sally Rogers on TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show but also appears in the movies Lost & Found and Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth and also was the voice of Norma Bates in Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake. She died on December 28. (

Julio Oscar Mechoso (1955-2017) - Actor. His movie credits include Little Miss SunshineJurassic Park IIIBad BoysVirus (see below), Flight of the Navigator and Robert Rodriguez's Machete KillsPlanet Terror and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He actually died of a heart attack on November 25. (Variety)

Heather Menzies-Urich (1949-2017) - Actress. She is best known for playing Louisa, one of the Von Trapp children, in The Sound of Music (see below). She also starred in PiranhaSssssssThe Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and Hawaii, in which she reunited with Julie Andrews. She also starred on the TV series based on the movie Logan's Run. She died of cancer on December 24. (Variety)

Grant Munro (1923-2017) - Animator. He starred in the classic Oscar-winning short Neighbours (watch it below) and collaborated with Norman McLaren on other projects, such as Christmas Cracker and Canon. He also directed his own award-winning animated shorts, including the Cannes nominee Toys. He died on December 9. (THR)

Heather North (1945-2017) - Actress. She is known as the voice of Daphne on the cartoon series Scooby Doo, Where Are You! and numerous TV and feature-length spin-offs. She also appears in the movies The Barefoot ExecutiveI Love My Wife and Git! She actually died on November 30. (THR)  

Tamio Oki (1928-2017) - Japanese Voice Actor. He voiced the role of the Section 9 chief Daisuke Aramaki in Ghost in the Shell and its sequel. His other movie credits include the anime features Wolf Children and Wicked City. He died on December 14. (CrunchyRoll)

Martin Ransohoff (1927-2017) - Producer. His movie credits include Catch-22The Cincinnati KidSilver StreakJagged EdgeIce Station Zebra and Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers. He died on December 13. (Variety)

Steve Reevis (1962-2017) - Native American Actor. He played Shep Proudfoot in Fargo (see below) and the Native American guide in the desert in The Doors and also co-starred in Dances with WolvesGeronimo: An America LegendPosseThe Longest Yard and The Missing. He died on December 7. (THR)

Keely Smith (1928-2017) - Singer, Actress. Most famous for her musical collaborations with Louis Prima, she also co-starred in the movies Thunder Road and the musical Hey Boy! Hey Girl!, the latter with Prima. She died on December 16. (THR)

Thomas Stanford (1924-2017) - Editor. He won an Oscar for West Side Story (see the win below) and also worked on the movies Jeremiah JohnsonHell in the PacificThe Yakuza and Suddenly, Last Summer. He died on December 23. (THR)

Daniel Talbot (1926-2017) - Exhibitor. He was the longtime manager of New York City's famed Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, which incidentally is closing for good this month. Beforehand, he managed the New Yorker Theater and founded New Yorker Films, which distributed My Dinner With AndreChan is MissingBefore the Revolution and other arthouse classics. He died on December 29. (Variety)

Recy Taylor (1919-2017) - Activist. She is famous for fighting for her own justice after being kidnapped and raped by a number of men in 1944, an incident that helped fuel the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. As such, she was the subject of the new documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor and is part of the focus of the new documentary Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? She died on December 28. (NYT)

Categories: Obituaries, Features
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