Remembering Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, Ned Vizzini and Other Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Remembering Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, Ned Vizzini and Other Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Dec 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 his or her own way.

Frederic Back (1924-2013) - Animator who won two Oscars for his short films Crac! (watch below) and The Man Who Planted Trees. He was also nominated two other times, for All Nothing and The Mighty River. He died of cancer on December 24. (LAT)

Joan Fontaine (1917-2013) - Actress who won an Oscar for her lead performance in Hitchcock's Suspicion and was nominated for Rebecca (below) and The Constant Nymph. The sister of fellow Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland, with whom she had a famous feud, she also starred in The WomenGunga Din, the 1944 Jane EyreLetter from an Unknown Woman and Born to Be Bad. She died on December 15. (THR)

Al Goldstein (1936-2013) - Publisher and pornographer who appears in the documentaries ScrewedObsceneInside Deep Throat and Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy. He died of renal failure on December 19. (NYT)

Eric Harrison (c.1956-2013) - Film critic who contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Houston Chronicle. He died of a brain aneurysm on November 17. (Indiewire)

Richard Heffner (1925-2013) - Chairman of the MPAA ratings board (aka CARA, the Classification and Rating Administration) from 1974 to 1994. He appears in the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated (pictured). He died on December 17. (Indiewire)

Roland Everett Hill Jr. (1929-2013) - Set designer for Die HardThe Monster SquadOver the TopThe Presidio and Nothing in Common. He died from heart failure on November 26. (THR)

Marty Hornstein (1937-2013) - Producer of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryStar Trek: First ContactStar Trek: InsurrectionStar Trek: Nemesis and Along Came a Spider. He was also an assistant director and production manager who worked on Silent RunningFutureworldBack to the BeachTommy BoyThe Crow: City of Angels and Beverly Hills Cop III. He died on December 19. (

Wojciech Kilar (1932-2013) - Composer who scored Bram Stoker's Dracula (listen below), We Own the NightThe Portrait of a Lady, Polanski's The Pianist, Death and the Maiden and The Ninth Gate, Kieslowski's Blind Chance and From a Night Porter's Point of View and and numerous works by Andrzej Wajda, including The Promised Land and The Revenge. He died on December 29. (THR)

Tom Laughlin (1931-2013) - Writer, director and star of the controversial Billy Jack films, beginning with 1967's The Born Losers (see below). He also costarred in South PacificGidget and the 1978 version of The Big Sleep. He died of complications from pneumonia on December 12. (CNN)

Gyula Maar (1934-2013) - Hungarian filmmaker whose 1973 film Mrs. Dery Where Are You? won an award at Cannes. He died on December 20. (Nepszabadsag

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) - South African civil rights activist who became the first black president of his nation. He is the subject of or a character in many movies, including the Oscar-nominated documentary Mandela (see below) and the dramatic works The Color of FreedomInvictusWinnie and the new release Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. He also made an appearance as a soweto teacher at the end of Malcolm X. He died on December 5. (NYT)

Allan McKeown (1946-2013) - Producer of the films Doing Time (aka Porridge) and To Russia... with Elton. He had also worked as a hairdresser on the sets of the original Get Carter and Lindsay Anderson's If... and later won an Emmy for producing TV specials starring his wife, Tracey Ullman. He died of prostate cancer on December 24. (THR)

Don Mitchell (1943-2013) - Actor best known for his role on the TV series Ironside who also starred in Scream, Blacula, Scream. He died on December 8. (Variety)

Edouard Molinaro (1928-2013) - French filmmaker who received Oscar nominations for writing and directing La Cage aux Folles (see below), which was later remade as The Birdcage. He also directed La Cage aux Folles II and the 1967 version of Oscar (later remade starring Sylvester Stallone). He died of lung failure on December 7. (THR)

Peter O'Toole (1932-2013) - Actor who was nominated for an Oscar eight times with no wins, for his lead performances in Lawrence of ArabiaBecketThe Lion in WinterThe Ruling Class (see below), The Stunt ManMy Favorite YearVenus and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. He was given an honorary Academy Award in 2003. His other films include The Last EmperorKing RalphSupergirlTroy and Caligula. He was also the voice of food critic Anton Ego in Pixar's Ratatouille. He died on December 14. See our poll and discussion of his best roles here

Eleanor Parker (1922-2013) - Actress who earned Oscar nominations for her lead roles in Interrupted MelodyDetective Story and Caged. She is best known for playing the baroness in The Sound of Music (see below) and for the films The Man with the Golden ArmScaramoucheHome from the HillEscape from Fort BravoA Hole in the Head and The Naked Jungle. She died of complications from pneumonia on December 9. (The Wrap)

Mimmo Pintacuda (1927-2013) - Movie theater projectionist who served as the inspiration for Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso and later appeared in the same director's Baaria. He died on December 23. (The Guardian)

Rossana Podesta (1934-2013) - Italian actress who played the title role in Robert Wise's Helen of Troy (see below). She also starred in Sodom and GomorrahThe Sensual Man, the 1955 Ulysses and the 1983 Hercules. She died on December 10 (National Enquirer

Jeff Pollack (1959-2013) - Director of Booty CallLost & Found and Above the Rim, which he also cowrote and produced. His other producer credits include The Fighting Temptations and TV's The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He died on December 23. (THR)

Ray Price (1926-2013) - Legendary country singer who appears in Clint Eastwood's Honkeytonk Man as well as documentaries American Music: Off the Record and That's Country. He died on December 16. (THR)

Garry Robbins (1957-2013) - The 7'5" actor who distinctly appears in Wrong Turn (as Saw Tooth, pictured), Short Circuit 2Narc and The Love Guru. He died of a heart attack on December 11. (St. Catherines Standard)

Farooq Shaikh (1948-2013) -  Indian actor who costarred in the recent Bollywood hits Shanghai and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani as well as the Satjayit Ray film The Chess Players. Other films he starred in include 1981's Chashme Buddoor and Umrao Jaan. He died of a heart attack on December 27. (THR)

Jeff Shannon (1961-2013) - Film critic and activist who contributed to among other outlets. He died on December 20. (

Audrey Totter (1917-2013) - Actress who starred in films noir of the '40s and '50s, including Lady in the LakeThe Set-Up, The UnsuspectedThe Postman Always Rings TwiceA Bullet for JoeyTension (see below) and High Wall. She died of congestive heart failure following a stroke on December 12. (Fandor)

Ned Vizzini (1981-2013) - Author of the autobiographical novel It's Kind of a Funny Story, which was turned into a movie starring Keir Gilchrist in the role based on him. He committed suicide on December 19. (THR)

Robert D. Wachs (1940-2013) - Comedy club owner turned comanager of Eddie Murphy and producer of his movies The Golden ChildComing to AmericaEddie Murphy Raw, Eddie Murphy DeliriousHarlem NightsAnother 48 Hrs. and Beverly Hills Cop II. He died of pancreatic cancer on December 2. (THR)

Christopher Evan Welch (1965-2013) - Actor who played the man who grills Philip Seymour Hoffman's cult leader character in The Master (see below). He also narrated Vicky Cristina Barcelona and appears in the Paul Rudd comedies Our Idiot Brother and Admission, in Spielberg's Lincoln and War of the Worlds and again alongside Hoffman in Synecdoche, New York. He died on December 2. (A.V. Club)

Louis Waldon (1934-2013) - Actor who starred in the Andy Warhol films Lonesome CowboysBlue Movie and Flesh. He also appears in Mask. He died on December 6. (NYT)

Danny Wells (1941-2013) - Actor best known for playing Luigi on TV's The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. He also appears in the films MagnoliaThe Last KissPrivate Benjamin and The Woman in Red. He died on November 28. (THR)





Categories: Obituaries
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