Remembering James Gandolfini, Richard Matheson, Esther Williams and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Remembering James Gandolfini, Richard Matheson, Esther Williams and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Jun 27, 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 his or her own way.

Fran Bascom (1927-2013) - Casting director for television and film, including the 2012 Hank Williams biopic The Last Ride and 2010's The Genesis Code. She died on June 2. (Deadline)

James Gandolfini (1961-2013) - Actor best known for playing Tony Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos. He also memorably appears in the films Killing Them Softly, The Man Who Wasn't There, True Romance, In the Loop (see below), Welcome to the Rileys, The Mexican and many more. He also voiced the character Carol in Where the Wild Things Are, produced the war documentaries Alive Day Memories and Wartorn: 1861-2010 and appears in the new doc Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. He died of a heart attack on June 19. See our previous memorial pieces on Gandolfini, on his role on The Sopranos and a discussion of his greatest film performances. (


Rituparno Ghosh (1963-2013) - Indian filmmaker who wrote and directed 2004's Raincoat, based on O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi, along with the films The Last Lear, Unishe April and Choker Bali: A Passion Play. He died following a massive heart attack on May 30. (AP/Legacy)

Gary David Goldberg (1944-2013) - Producer best known for the TV series Family Ties, Brooklyn Bridge and Spin City. He also wrote and produced the films Bye Bye Love, Must Love Dogs and Dad, the latter two of which he directed. He died of brain cancer on June 22.

Deacon Jones (1938-2013) - Legendary NFL defensive end turned actor who appears as himself in Black Gunn, as a football player in Heaven Can Wait and as a viking in The Norsemen (pictured). He died on June 3. (THR)

Jiah Khan (1988-2013) - Indian actress who starred in the 2008 Bollywood hit Ghajini and the 2007 romantic drama Nishabd in which she was leading lady to much older legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan (see below). She killed herself by hanging on June 5. (Variety)


Senator Frank Lautenberg (1924-2013) - Senator from New Jersey who was associated with environmental concerns such as pollution. He appears in the documentary Fuel. He died on June 3. (CNN)

Harry Lewis (1920-2013) - Actor who played supporting characters in Key Largo (pictured), The Harder They Fall, Gun Crazy, The Unsuspected, The Ten Commandments and many other films of the '40s and '50s before going into the restaurant business. He died on June 9. (THR)

Richard Matheson (1926-2013) - Author best known for the horror novel I Am Legend, which has been adapted as a feature film three times, including the retitled The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man. He also scripted the adaptations of his own novels Bid Time Return, which was renamed Somewhere in Time (see his cameo below), and The Shrinking Man, which became The Incredible Shrinking Man and also inspired the film The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Other movies based on his novels and short stories include Real Steel, What Dreams May Come, The Box, Stir of Echos, The Young Warriors, The Legend of Hell House, The Comedy of Terrors and Steven Spielberg's Duel, which he also scripted. His other screenplay credits include Jaws 3D, Loose Cannons, The Beat Generation, Twilight Zone: The Movie (from one of his many episodes of the TV series) and the Roger Corman films of Edgar Allan Poe works The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror and House of Usher. He died on June 23. (


Elliott Reid (1920-2013) - Character actor who starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Inherit the Wind, Heaven Can Wait and alongside Fred MacMurray in Woman's World and the Disney films Follow Me, Boys!, The Absent-Minded Professor and its sequel, Son of Flubber (see him getting attacked below). He died of heart failure on June 21. (THR)


Bernie Sahlins (1922-2013) - Cocreator of the Second City comedy troupe, without which we wouldn't have many hilarious actors today. He also produced the 1969 sci-fi comedy The Monitors. He died of pancreatic cancer on June 16. (Chicago Tribune)

Jean Stapleton (1923-2013) - Actress best known for her TV role as Edith Bunker on All in the Family. She also appears in the Nora Ephron films You've Got Mail and Michael plus Damn Yankees!, Cold Turkey, Bells Are Ringing and Klute. She also voiced a character in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World and earned one of many Golden Globe nominations for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 TV movie Eleanor, First Lady of the World (see below). She died on May 31. (CNN)


Bert Stern (1929-2013) - Filmmaker and photographer known best for his semi-nude shots of Marilyn Monroe (recently remade with Lindsey Lohan) and his publicity images for Lolita, including the heart-shaped sunglasses poster design. He also directed the classic documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day and is the subjet of the recent doc Bert Stern Original Madman. He died on June 25. (NYT)

Robert West (1953-2013) - Founder of Working Films, a nonprofit organization which connects issue documentaries with activists interested in working on those issues. He died from brain cancer on June 6. (Docs in Progress)

Albert White Hat (1938-2013) - Native American linguist who served as a Lakota translator and dialogue coach for Dances with Wolves. He died on June 11. (AP/Legacy)

Esther Williams (1921-2013) - Competitive swimmer turned MGM starlet who starred in the synchronized swimmer biopic Million Dollar Mermaid as well as many other "aquamusicals," including Bathing Beauty, Neptune's Daughter and a section of Ziegfeld Follies. She also starred in Busby Berkeley's Take Me Out to the Ball Game. She was also prominently profiled in the documentary That's Entertainment! (see below). She died on June 6. (NYT)

Categories: Obituaries
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