Remembering Harry Dean Stanton, Jake LaMotta and More Reel-Important People We Lost in September

Remembering Harry Dean Stanton, Jake LaMotta and More Reel-Important People We Lost in September

Oct 04, 2017

Reel-Important People is a monthly column that highlights those individuals in or related to the movies that 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.

Mehmet Aksoy (1985-2017) - Documentary Filmmaker. He died covering the battle to retake Raqqa from ISIS on September 26. (BBC)

Xavier Atencio (1919-2017) - Animator, Imagineer. As a Disney animator, he worked on Fantasia and Pinocchio, sequences in Babes in Toyland and Mary Poppins and the titles for The Shaggy Dog and The Parent Trap. As one of the creators of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, he also wrote the lyrics to "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)." He died on September 10. (Variety)

Shelley Berman (1925-2017) - Comedian, Actor. Now best known for playing Larry David's father on Curb Your Enthusiasm, he also appears memorably in the movies The Best ManTeen Witch (see below), Meet the FockersDivorce American Style and You Don't Mess With the Zohan and the documentary The Aristocrats. He died of Alzheimer's disease on September 1. (THR)

Tony Booth (1931-2017) - English Actor. He starred in The L Shaped Room, Confessions of a Window Cleaner and Confessions of a Driving Instructor and appears in The Contender and Priest. He died on September 25. (THR)

Gisele Casadesus (1914-2017) - French Actress. She stars as the title character in My Afternoons with Margueritte plus Roger Vadim's Une Femme Fidele, Claude Lelouch's What War May Bring and many movies going back to the 1930s. She died on September 24. (RTL)

Bernie Casey (1939-2017) Football Player, Actor. The former NFL wide receiver played Felix Leiter in Never Say Never and had memorable roles in Revenge of the NerdsSpies Like Us (see below), Bill & Ted's Excellent AdventureGuns of the Magnificent SevenBoxcar BerthaUnder SiegeI'm Gonna Git You Sucka and many '70s blaxploitation films. He died on September 19. (THR)

Barry Dennen (1938-2017) - Actor, Mentor. An instrumental part of Barbra Streisand's rise to fame, he also starred as Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and appears in Superman III, Titanic, The Shining and Trading Places and voiced characters in The Dark Crystal. He died on September 26. (Deadline)

Harry Gittes (1936-2017) - Producer. His movie credits include About Schmidt, The Girl Next Door, Harry and Walter Go to New York and the Jack Nicholson-helmed Goin' South and Drive, He Said. He died on September 2. (THR)

Basil Gogos (1929-2017) - Illustrator. He was known for his portraits of movie monsters on the covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine (see one below). He died on September 13. (NYT)

Mary Goldberg (c.1945-2017) - Casting Director. Her movie credits include Alien, Amadeus, The Siege, The Hunger, Ragtime, Silkwood, Dying Young, the 1982 version of Cat People and the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She died of lung cancer on September 7. (THR)

Robert A. Goldston (c.1929-2017) - Producer. His movie credits include Runaway TrainGeorgy GirlPorky's and Murder by Decree. He died on September 23. (Variety)

Kate Guinzburg (1957-2017) - Producer. As Michelle Pfeiffer's producing partner, she worked on Dangerous Minds, One Fine Day, The Deep End of the Ocean and A Thousand Acres. Earlier in her career she was a production coordinator for New York movies including Ghostbusters and Moscow on the Hudson. She died of cancer on September 17. (THR)

Sir Peter Hall (1930-2017) Director. The founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company was mostly known for his work for the stage, but he directed the 1968 movie of A Midsummer Nights Dream (see below), as well as the movies Never Talk to Strangers and The Homecoming. His daughter is actress Rebecca Hall. He died of pneumonia on September 11. (THR)

Ben Hammer (1924-2017) - Actor. He appears in The Beastmaster, Sleepers, Mannequin, Johnny Got His Gun, Jagged Edge and Victory at Entebbe. He died on September 18. (Legacy)

Hugh Hefner (1926-2017) - Publisher. The creator of Playboy magazine and its ensuing brand, he also appears in the movies History of the World: Part ICitizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, as himself in The House Bunny and Beverly Hills Cop II and in multiple documentaries, including Inside Deep Throat. Additionally, he was a notable film preservationist; he produced movies including Roman Polanski's Macbeth and Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different and was portrayed by Cliff Robertson in Star 80 and Stan Lee in Iron Man(see below). He died on September 27. (THR)

Blake Heron (1982-2017) - Actor. As a teenager he starred in Shiloh and Tom and Huck and later was part of the ensemble in We Were Soldiers and recently appeared in the documentary A Thousand Junkies. He died on September 8. (Variety)

Anne Jeffreys (1923-2017) - Actress. In addition to starring in the TV series Topper, she played Tess Truehart in the 1945 Dick Tracy movie plus Dick Tracy vs. Cueball and also starred in DillingerZombies on Broadway (see below) and Riff-Raff. She died on September 27. (THR)

Elizabeth Kemp (1951-2017) - Actress, Acting Teacher - An integral member of The Actor's Studio, she passed on training she learned from Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan to Harvey Keitel, Bradley Cooper and others. She recently coached Cooper and Lady Gaga for his upcoming directorial debut, A Star is Born. She also co-starred opposite Tom Hanks in He Knows You're Alone. She died of cancer on September 1. (THR)

Jake LaMotta (1922-2017) - Boxer, Actor. Famously portrayed by Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (see below) and less famously by William Forsythe in The Bronx Bull, both for which he served as a consultant, he also acted in The HustlerManiac Cop and New Jack City. He died of complications from pneumonia on September 19. (Variety)

Murray Lerner (1927-2017) - Documentary Filmmaker. He won an Oscar for directing the doc feature From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China and was previously nominated for Festival. His other films include Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who and Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival. He died of kidney failure on September 2. (Washington Post

Chuck Low (1928-2017) - Actor. He played Morrie Kessler in Goodfellas (see below) and also appears alongside Robert De Niro (his former tenant) in The MissionNight and the City, SleepersMistressThe King of Comedy and Once Upon a Time in America. He died on September 18. (Legacy)

Gastone Moschin (1929-2017) - Italian Actor. He's iconically known as Don Fanucci in the flashback narrative of The Godfather: Part II (see below). He also stars in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist, Marco Ferreri's Her Harem and many, many more Italian films. He died on September 4. (La Repubblica)

Carlos Munoz Portal (1970-2017) - Location Scout/Manager. His movie credits include Spectre, Sicario, Man on Fire, Fast & Furious, Resident Evil: Extinction, Apocalypto, the Point Break remake and the upcoming Sicario sequel Soldado. He was murdered while scouting in Mexico for the Netflix series Narcos on September 11. (NYT)

Jose Salcedo (1949-2017) - Editor. A regular collaborator of Pedro Almodovar, he cut All About My MotherVolverTalk to HerThe Skin I Live In (see below), Bad EducationBroken EmbracesLive FleshWomen on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownJulietHigh HeelsMatadorThe Flower of My SecretTie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and others. He also cut Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone and was an assistant editor on Luis Bunuel's Tristana. He died on September 19. (El Mundo)

Joel Schiller (1930-2017) - Production Designer. His movie credits include The Graduate, Rosemary's Baby, The Muppet Movie, Ice Castles and Megaforce. He actually died back on January 17. (THR)

Andreas Schmidt (1963-2017) - German Actor. He co-starred in Wetlands and the Oscar-winning film The Counterfeiters. He died of cancer on September 28. (Berliner Morgenpost)

Harry Dean Stanton (1926-2017) - Actor. Best known for his roles in Alien (pictured at the top), Repo Man, Pretty in Pink and Paris, Texas, he is also memorable in Cool Hand Luke, Escape from New York, Christine, Kelly's Heroes, Red Dawn(see below), The Last Temptation of Christ, The Green Mile, The Avengers and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, among so many classic credits. He died on September 15. (

Jan Triska (1936-2017) - Czech Actor. He starred in Jan Svankmajer's Lunacy and Jan Sverak's The Elementary School and also appears in Milos Foreman's The People vs. Larry Flynt and Ragtime, plus The Karate Kid Part III, Apt Pupil, Ronin, My Antonia, 2010 and Reds. He died following a fall from a bridge on September 25. (iDNES)

Jeffrey Tuchman (1955-2017) - Documentary Filmmaker. He directed the Bill Clinton doc The Man from Hope. He died of pancreatic cancer on September 2. (THR)

Hal Tulchin (1926-2017) - Filmmaker. He directed the concert film Black Woodstock and captured much of the footage seen in What Happened, Miss Simone, for which he received a co-directing credit. He actually died on August 29. (NYT)

Frank Vincent (1937-2017) - Actor. Best known for playing Billy Batts in Goodfellas and Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos, he also appears in Raging Bull (see below), Do the Right Thing, Casino and Jungle Fever. He died of complications from heart surgery on September 13. (

Len Wein (1948-2017) - Comic Book Writer/Editor. He co-created Marvel's Wolverine, star of many X-Men movies and this year's Logan, also Storm of X-Men and DC's Swamp Thing, who also had his own movies, and Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman in the Dark Knight trilogy. He was also the editor of Watchmen, which was turned into a movie by Zack Snyder. He plays a senator in X-Men: Days of Future Past. He died on September 10. (NYT)

Benjamin Whitrow (1937-2017) - English Actor. He co-starred in Quadrophenia, Chaplin, The Saint and Restoration and voiced the old rooster character Fowler in Chicken Run. He died on September 28. (The Guardian)

Don Williams (1939-2017) - Country Singer, Songwriter. He appears in Smokey and the Bandit II performing "To Be Your Man." He died of emphysema on September 8. (THR)



Categories: Features, Obituaries
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