Remembering Ray Harryhausen, Dr. Joyce Brothers and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Remembering Ray Harryhausen, Dr. Joyce Brothers and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

May 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.

Giulio Andreotti (1919-2013) Prime minister of Italy during the years 1972-1973, 1976-1979 and 1989-1992. He is the main subject of the Oscar-nominated biopic Il Divo, in which he's portrayed by Toni Servillo, and he is said to be the inspiration for the character of Don Licio Lucchesi in The Godfather Part III. He also appears as himself in the 1983 Italian comedy Il tassinaro. He died on May 6. BBC News)

Jean Bach (1918-2013) Jazz fan-turned-documentary filmmaker who received an Oscar nomination for her 1994 feature debut, A Great Day in Harlem. She also made a short out of outtakes from that production called The Spitball Story and later worked on an unfinished doc about saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. She died on May 27. (NYT)

Barbara Brenner (1951-2013) Executive director of the awareness organization Breast Cancer Action. She appeared in the recent documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. as one of the critics against companies exploiting the disease for profit (see the clip below). She died May 10.(Healthy Barbs)


Dr. Joyce Brothers (1927-2013) Psychologist and media personality who showed off her sense of humor about herself by appearing as herself in goofy films like Loaded Weapon 1, Spy Hard, Exit to Eden, The Lonely Guy and Analyze That as well as Scorsese's The King of Comedy. She died on May 13 of respiratory failure. (THR)

Jeanne Cooper (1928-2013) Actress best known for TV's The Young and the Restless. She also appears in the films The Boston Strangler, The Intruder and Dead Air, which was directed by her son, Corbin Bernsen. She died on May 8. (THR)

Deanna Durbin (1921-2013) Actress and singer (and infamous Judy Garland rival) who began her career as a teenager with a contract at Universal and hit films such as Three Smart Girls and 100 Men and a Girl. She also starred in It Started with Eve, Christmas Holiday, Because of Him (see clip below), Lady on a Train, First Love and The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (and was my mother's namesake). Though one of the top-paid women in the U.S. by the end of World War II, she retired from Hollywood at the end of the decade following legal disputes with Universal. She died sometime in late April. (THR)

Bryan Forbes (1926-2013) British actor, filmmaker and former EMI Films (then Associated British) production chief who received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Guy Green's The Angry Silence. Other films he wrote but didn't direct include Chaplin, Hopscotch and The League of Gentlemen. His directorial credits include The Stepford Wives, International Velvet, Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Whistle Down the Wind. In addition to appearing in some of his own films, his work in front of the camera also includes roles in The Guns of Navarone, Man with a Million and Quatermass II: Enemy from Space. He died May 8. (AV Club)

Steve Forrest (1924-2013) Actor best known for starring on TV's S.W.A.T. (he also has a cameo in the 2003 movie version, in which his character is portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson). His film work includes roles in Spies Like Us, Mommie Dearest (pictured left) and North Dallas Forty. He died on May 18. (NYT)

Virginia Gibson (1928-2013) Actress and singer who costarred in the musicals Funny Face, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Athena and Tea for Two. She died on April 25. (THR)

Mike Gray (1935-2013) Producer and screenwriter who received an Oscar nomination for his script for The China Syndrome. He also cowrote the Chuck Norris movie Code of Silence, created the short-lived TV series based on Starman and later worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As a director he made the documentaries American Revolution 2 and The Murder of Fred Hampton and did second unit for The Fugitive. His last credit will be for shooting some of Haskell Wexler's upcoming doc Four Days in Chicago. He died on April 30 of heart failure. (THR)

Laurence Haddon (1922-2013) Actor who appears in Hitchcock's Torn Curtain as well as Valley of the Dolls, Infinity and School Spirit. He died on May 10 from complications associated with Lewy body disease, a form of dementia. (THR)

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) Visual effects legend whose iconic work can be seen in the original Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Mighty Joe Young. His very early editing effects work can also be seen in World War II propaganda films under producer Frank Capra, such as the Why We Fight series, the John Huston-directed Let There Be Light and his own short Gaudalcanal. He made cameo appearances in the John Landis films Spies Like Us, Burke and Hare and Beverly Hills Cop III, as well as the remake of Mighty Joe Young and is featured in the documentaries The Harryhausen Chronicles, The Sci-fi Boys, The People vs. George Lucas, The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal and many others. He died on May 7. See Mike Bracken's obituary post and a piece I wrote elsewhere on his WWII work with Capra and Dr. Seuss. Watch TCM's memorial montage below:

Paula Lynn Katz (1946-2013) Emmy-winning costumer whose film credits include The Green Mile, Wonderland and Hooper. She died on May 3. (THR)

Alfredo Landa (1933-2013) Spanish actor who was honored at Cannes in 1984 for his performance in Mario Camus' The Holy Innocents. Before that dramatic role, he was mostly known for a signature comedy style and role now called "landism." He died on May 9. (THR)

Bradley Jay "The Animal" Lesley (1958-2013) Former MLB relief pitcher turned actor who appears in Little Big League, Mr. Baseball, Buddy and Takeshi Kitano's Brother. He died on April 27 of kidney failure. (THR)

Mario Machado (1935-2013) Former newscaster turned actor who appeared in all three original RoboCop films as newsman Casey Wong (see the clips below). He also appears as a reporter or interviewer in De Palma's Scarface, Rocky III, Oh God! and The Concorde... Airport '79 and as himself in Blue Thunder. He died on May 4. (Inquisitr)

Ray Manzarek (1939-2013) Keyboardist for the Doors. He is portrayed by Kyle McLachlan in Oliver Stone's movie about the rock group and he appears himself in the Doors documentaries When You're Strange, Feast of Friends and others, some of which he directed. He also helmed a feature-length thriller titled Love Her Madly, which he wrote based on Jim Morrison's lyrics. Other non-Doors-specific documentaries he appears in include Obscene, Mayor of the Sunset Strip and Re:Generation, where he reunites with the surviving Doors members for a collaboration with dubstep artist Skrillex. He also acted in the 1983 comedy Deal of the Century (see the clip below). An adaptation of his "what if?" novel The Poet in Exile is currently in the works. He died May 20 from bile duct cancer. (NYT)

Pyotr Todorovsky (1925-2013) Russian filmmaker who helmed the Oscar-nominated Voyenno-Polevoy Roman (Wartime Romance) as well as the controviersial box office success Interdevochka (Intergirl), the first Soviet film about a prostitute. He died May 24. (THR)

Peter Sehr (1951-2013) Germany filmmaker who directed Adrien Brody in 2001's Love the Hard Way and Daniel Craig in 1997's Obsession. He was assistant director for Claude Lelouch's Itinerary of a Spoiled Child. He died on May 8 of a brain tumor. (THR)



Categories: Obituaries
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