Remembering Conrad Bain, Michael Winner and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Remembering Conrad Bain, Michael Winner and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Jan 31, 2013

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 their own way.


Conrad Bain (1923-2013) - Actor best known for his TV roles as Phillip Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes and Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude. He also appears in the films Bananas, Postcards from the Edge, Coogan's Bluff and C.H.O.M.P.S. (see him in the trailer below). He died on January 14. (Deadline)

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012) - Composer nominated three times for the Oscar for his scores to Far from the Maddening Crowd, Nicholas and Alexandra and Murder on the Orient Express. He also scored Four Weddings and a Funeral, Equus and Enchanted April. He died on December 24. (THR)

Robert F. Chew (1960-2013) - Actor best known for playing Prop Joe on TV's The Wire. He also appears in the HBO movie Something the Lord Made. He died of a heart attack on January 17. (THR)

T.S. Cook (1947-2013) - Screenwriter who was nominated for an Oscar for coscripting The China Syndrome. He also cowrote HBO's The Tuskegee Airmen, the dramatized doc sequel Scared Straight! Another Story and Syfy films The Hive and NYC Tornado Terror. He died of cancer on January 5. (THR)

Dan Craft (1971-2013) - Treasurer and secretary for Subway Films and through that one of the directors of the New York Asian Film Festival. He died of cancer on January 4, but not before he'd had a well-reported opportunity to see Star Trek Into Darknes early. (Coming Soon)

David R. Ellis (1936-2013) - Filmmaker and stuntman who directed Final Destination 2, The Final Destination, Snakes on a Plane, Cellular and Shark Night 3D. And he directed second unit for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Matrix Reloaded, Fatal Attraction, Waterworld, Deep Blue Sea, The Perfect Storm and the upcoming films 47 Ronin and R.I.P.D. Before going behind the camera, he performed stunts in Scarface, Lethal Weapon, Days of Thunder, Smokey and the Bandit, Vacation, Road House and many more. He died suddenly on January 7. See our obituary by Peter Hall from earlier this month.

Leslie Frankenheimer (c.1949-2013) - Set director who worked on Blade Runner, The Blues Brothers and The Invasion, as well as many TV series, for which she received four Emmys. She was also the wife of filmmaker John Frankenheimer. She died as a result of leukemia on January 22. (THR)

Martha Greenhouse (1921-2013) - Actress and union leader (AFTRA then SAG) who appears in Bananas, The Stepford Wives and Going Ape. She died on January 5. (THR)

Mike Hopkins (1959-2012) - Sound editor (pictured left) who won Oscars for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and King Kong and was nominated a third time for Transformers. He regularly worked with Peter Jackson for nearly 20 years, starting with Dead Alive and continuing through Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners and the entire LOTR trilogy. Other titles he worked on include Dreamgirls, Kung Fu Panda and Public Enemies. He died in a rafting accident on December 30. (THR)



Stanley Karnow (1925-2013) - Journalist and author of Vietnam: A History, through which he became a consultant for the documentary miniseries Vietnam: A Television History. (The Wrap)

Tony Lip (1930-2013) - Actor who appeared mostly as a mobster in films such as The GodfatherDonnie Brasco and Goodfellas, as well as on The Sopranos. He died on January 4. (Variety)

Mariangela Melato (1941-2013) - Italian actress best known in the U.S. for playing General Kala in Flash Gordon (see the video below). She also starred in the Lina Wertmuller films Swept Away, Love and Anarchy and The Seduction of Mimi, as well as Chabrol's Nada and De Sica's Lo Chiameremo Andrea. She died from pancreatic cancer on January 11. (THR)

David McCann (c.1943-2013) - Postproduction supervisor who worked on the films Prizzi's Honor, Silkwood, SpaceCamp and The Flamingo Kid. He died of pneumonia on January 18. (THR)

Jack F. Murphy (1943-2012) - Producer of Barbara Kopple's Havoc (aka the movie you only saw for Anne Hathaway's boobs) and the horror flick Ticks. He died of cancer on January 6. (THR)

Nagisa Oshima (1932-2013) - Japanese filmmaker who won Best Director at Cannes in 1978 for Empire of Passion. His other films include Taboo, In the Realm of the Senses and Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence. He died of pneumonia on January 15. (Film Studies For Free)

Patti Page (1927-2013) - Singer most famous for the tunes "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window" and "Tennessee Waltz." She also acted in the films Elmer Gantry (see the clip below) and Boys' Night Out. She died on January 1. (CNN)

Lloyd Phillips (c.1949-2013) - Producer who won an Oscar for the 1981 short film The Dollar Bottom. He was also coproducer on Twelve Monkeys, executive producer on Inglourious Basterds, The Tourist and the upcoming Man of Steel and producer of The International and The Legend of Zorro. He died of a heart attack on January 25. (THR)

Jean-Bertrand Pontalis (1924-2013) - French psychoanalyst who contributed to film theory through his book The Language of Psychoanalysis with Jean Laplanche. He died on January 15. (Film Studies For Free)

Linda Pugach (1936-2013) - Subject of the documentary Crazy Love, about her affair and eventual marriage to a man who blinded her with lye (see her in the trailer below). She died of heart failure on January 22. (NYT)

Paolo Rocha (1935-2012) - Portuguese filmmaker best known for 1963's The Green Years, 1982's A Ilha dos Amores and 1998's River of Gold. He died on December 29. (Fandor)

Jean-Henri Roger (1949-2012) - Filmmaker who codirected Cap Canaille and Neige (both with Juliet Berto) and See You at Mao (with Jean-Luc Godard). He also acted in Godard's In Praise of Love and the films Bamako and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. He died on December 31. (Fandor)

Irving Saraf (1932-2012) - Filmmaker who won an Oscar for codirecting the documentary In the Shadow of the Stars. He also produced the Emmy-winning doc Dialogues with Madwomen, edited the Oscar-nominated doc The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and was postproduction supervisor on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He died of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease on December 26. (THR)

Larry Selman (1942-2013) - Mentally handicapped fundraiser and community activist who was the subject of the Oscar-nominated 2002 documentary short The Collector of Bedford Street (see the trailer below). He died of a heart attack on January 20. (NYT)

John Sheardown (1924-2012) - Canadian diplomat in Iran who was involved in the story depicted in Argo, though he is not portrayed nor acknowledged by the film. He was, however, played Chris Wiggins in the 1981 TV movie Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper and acknowledged by the documentary Escape from Iran: The Inside Story. He died on December 31. (THR)

Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) - Computer programmer and Internet activist who help create RSS (at age 14) and Reddit. He appears in the short documentaries Steal This Movie, Steal This Movie II and the upcoming War for the Web. He committed suicide on January 11. (NYT)

J. Mark Travis (1951-2012) - Producer of the films Give 'em Hell, Harry! and Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (see a clip, obviously NSFW, below). He died on December 25. (THR)

Billy Varga (1919-2013) - Professional wrestler and actor who appears in Raging Bull, Abbot and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops and Alligator II: The Mutilation. He died on January 11. (THR)

Ned Wertimer (1923-2013) - Character actor best known for his TV role as the doorman on The Jeffersons. He also appears in the films Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Mame, Robert Benton's Bad Company and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. He died on January 2. (THR)

Michael Winner (1935-2013) - Filmmaker who directed the first three Death Wish movies (and edited II and 3), as well as The Sentinel, the original The Mechanic and the 1978 version of The Big Sleep. He recently made a cameo appearance in John Landis' Burke and Hare. He died on January 21. See our obituary by Alison Nastasi from earlier this month.

Yang Teng-kuei (1938-2012) - Taiwanese mogul who produced Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Flowers of Shanghai, A City of Sadness and Goodbye, South, Goodbye. He died of a stroke on December 31. (THR)

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