Remembering Roger Ebert, Les Blank, Annette Funicello and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Remembering Roger Ebert, Les Blank, Annette Funicello and More Reel-Important People We Lost This Month

Apr 26, 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.


Christina Amphlett (1959-2013) - Lead singer of the Divinyls, best known for the song "I Touch Myself," which has been licensed to numerous movies, and its Michael Bay-directed music video. She also acted in the 1982 Australian film Monkey Grip, in which she also performs many songs with her band (see below). She died April 21 from breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.(AP/NYT)

Allan Arbus (1918-2013) - Actor and photographer best known for playing Dr. Sidney Freeman on TV's M.A.S.H.. His films include Damien: Omen II, Volunteers and Coffy. He died April 19 of congestive heart failure.(THR)

Frank Bank (1942-2013) - Child actor best known for playing Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford on TV's Leave It to Beaver and its 1980s resurrection. He also appears in the movie adaptation and he played a young Will Rogers in the 1952 biopic The Story of Will Rogers. He died April 13. (THR)

Shamshad Begum (1919-2013) - Indian playback singer who performed many tunes for Bollywood musicals, including Mother India, Awaara and Mugal-E-Azam. She died April 23. (Variety)

Les Blank (1935-2013) - Documentary filmmaker best known for his works involving Werner Herzog, including Burden of Dreams, which is about the making of Fitzcarraldo, and the short Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. Two of his nonfiction films, Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers and Chulas Fronteras, are on the National Film Registry, preserved by the Library of Congress for their significance. Other notable docs include Gap-Toothed Women, The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins, In Heaven There Is No Beer? and Spend It All, which Herzog cites as one of his favorites of all time. His son, Harrod Blank, is also a documentary filmmaker. Les Blank died April 7. (Deadline)

Helena Carroll (1920-2013) - Actress who appears in The Jerk, The Dead, The Friends of Eddie Coyle and The Mambo Kings. She died March 31. (Variety)

Roger Ebert (1942-2013) - Film critic who became famous for reviewing alongside Gene Siskel on TV's At the Movies. He also wrote the scripts for Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Up! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens. He founded his own film fest, Ebertfest, recorded commentary tracks for multiple DVD releases (including Citizen Kane and Crumb) and also appears in the documentaries Pitch, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism and the forthcoming Life Itself, which will be specifically about him. He died April 4 of cancer. Read our full obituary and tribute discussion.

Michael France (1962-2013) - Screenwriter who penned the story for Goldeneye and Cliffhanger and worked on scripts for Hulk, Fantastic Four and The Punisher. He died April 12.(THR)

Jesús "Jess" Franco (1930-2013) - Spanish filmmaker known for low-budget and often X-rated horror films. He directed Christopher Lee in Count Dracula and The Bloody Judge and also helmed cult classics like Vamyros Lesbos, The Awful Dr. Orloff, Necronomicon and A Virgin Among the Living Dead. He died April 2.(Fandor)

Annette Funicello (1942-2013) - Actress best known for starring on TV's Mickey Mouse Club and beach movies like Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party and the later tribute Back to the Beach (see below). She also starred in Disney features The Shaggy Dog, Babes in Toyland, The Monkey's Uncle and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, as well as the Monkees movie Head. She died April 8 of complications from multiple sclerosis.(THR)

Alfredo Guevara Valdés (1925-2013) - A major figure in Cuban cinema, he cofounded the Cuban Institute for the Arts and Industry of Cinematography (ICAIC) and started the Havana Film Festival (aka the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. He died April 19 of heart failure.(NYT)

Richie Havens (1941-2013) - Singer-songwriter and guitarist who opened Woodstock and appears in this role in the documentary of the event. His other doc involvements include an appearance in and songs for the boxing film The Fighters, music for Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X and narration for The Empire in Africa. Additionally he starred in the musical version of Othello, titled Catch My Soul and acted in Greased Lightning and I'm Not There (see below). His signature song "Freedom" was most recently heard in Django Unchained. He died April 22 of a heart attack. (Variety)

Jane Henson (1934-2013) - Cocreator of the Muppets with later husband Jim Henson. When she quit as a Muppeteer to raise their children, she was replaced by legends Jerry Juhl and Frank Oz, whom she taught to lip-synch. She died April 2.(THR)

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-2013) - Screenwriter known for her longtime collaboration with director James Ivory and producer Ishmail Merchant, which began in the early '60s with her adaptation of her own novel The Householder. She won Oscars for writing their E.M. Forster adaptations A Room with a View and Howard's End. She was also nominated for her adaptation of Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. Her other scripts for Merchant Ivory include Le Divorce, Surviving Picasso, Jefferson in Paris, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge and the Henry James adaptations The Golden Bowl, The Europeans and The Bostonians. She died April 3. (Fandor)

Andy Johns (1952-2013) - Sound engineer and record producer who worked on albums by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. He appears prominently in the documentaries Stones in Exile, which is about the making of Exile on Main Street. He died April 7. (Variety)

Patrick Kennedy (1953/1954-2013) - Milwaukee police detective who arrested serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and got him to confess to his crimes. He is pretty much the star of the new documentary The Jeffrey Dahmer FIles (aka Jeff, seen left). He died April 18 of a heart attack. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
 

Richard LeParmentier (1946-2013) - Actor who had the memorable role of Admiral Motti (the guy Darth Vader chokes, below) in Star Wars. He also appears in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Octopussy, Reds, Superman II and the original Rollerball, the last two of which also starred his wife at the time, Sarah Douglas. He died April 15.(THR)

J.J. Bigas Lunas (1946-2013) - Spanish filmmaker who directed Jamon Jamon, the first in his "Iberian Trilogy," which was followed with Golden Balls and Tete & the Moon. Other films include The Ages of Lulu and The Chambermaid on the Titanic and Anguish. He died April 6 while battling cancer and while developing a sci-fi film as his next project.(Deadline)

Sara Montiel (1928-2013) - Spanish singer and actress whose Hollywood films include Vera Cruz (right), Serenade and Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow. She was recently portrayed in drag form by Gael Garcia Bernal in Almodovar's Bad Education. She died April 8. (Fandor)

Milo O'Shea (1926-2013) - Character actor who played Durand Durand in Barbarella and Leopold Bloom in Joseph Strick's adaptation of Ulysses. He also appears in The Purple Rose of Cairo, Only the Lonely, The Verdict and Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. He died April 2. (THR)

Phil Ramone (1934-2013) - Music producer who picked up one of his 14 Grammy Awards for the Flashdance soundtrack. He also worked on the soundtracks for Ghostbusters, Spies Like Us, White Nights and Beyond the Sea. He died March 30 from a brain aneurysm.(AP)

Mickey Rose (1935-2013) - Screenwriter who cowrote the Woody Allen movies Bananas, Take the Money and Run and What's Up, Tiger Lily?. He later wrote Condorman and wrote and directed the horror comedy Student Bodies. He died April 7 of cancer. (Variety)

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) - Former prime minister of the United Kingdom. She was the subject of the biopic The Iron Lady, in which she was portrayed by Meryl Streep in an Oscar-winning performance. She was also the subject of Nick Broomfield's humorous documentary Tracking Down Maggie (pictured left, watch in full at Snagfilms) and figures prominently in the docs A Call to Arms and Ken Loach's latest, The Spirit of '45. She died April 8 after suffering a stroke.(BBC)

Marcel Vercoutere (1925-2013) - Special effects artist who came up with the head-spinning technique (see below) among many other tricks he created for The Exorcist. Other films he did effects for include Deliverance, McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege. He died April 13 from complications from dementia. (THR)

Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) - Comedic actor who costarred in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (see below), The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, The Loved One, Moon Over Parador and The Shadow. He also did a lot of voice acting and is best known for the animated series and movie versions of The Smurfs, including the upcoming sequel. Originally he voiced Grandpa Smurf but for the movies he portrays Papa Smurf. He died April 11. (Deadline)

Categories: Obituaries
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