RIP: Reel Important People - June 2012

RIP: Reel Important People - June 2012

Jun 21, 2012


Welcome to the first edition of Reel Important People, a new column that highlights those individuals who've left us in the past month (or whose deaths have only been reported during this time). It's unfortunate that we lose so many great film contributors, on screen and off, that it's impossible to pay extensive tribute to every one. But I think it's important to recognize them at least in this monthly digest, not to mourn but to remember their work. Below you'll find names big and small and from all areas of the industry, though each was significant to the movies in their own way.

  • Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) - Legendary science fiction author whose novels and short stories turned to films include Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, A Sound of Thunder and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He has a cameo in George Cukor’s final movie, Rich and Famous, and is an interviewee in multiple documentaries, including the recent How to Live Forever. Watch two deleted scenes from that film featuring the author here. And read more about the movies he was involved with in Scott Weinberg’s tribute.
  • Frank Cady (1915-2012) - Actor best known for his TV work (Green Acres). His films include Rear Window, The Bad Seed, Ace in the Hole, D.O.A., When Worlds Collide, The Asphalt Jungle and the original Father of the Bride. He died June 8. (NYT)
  • Janet Carroll (1940-2012) - Actress best known for playing Tom Cruise’s mother in Risky Business. She also appears in Enough, Family Business, Secret Admirer, Forces of Nature and the upcoming College Debts. She died May 22 after a long illness. (THR)
  • Richard Dawson (1932-2012) - Best known for hosting the game show Family Feud, he also parodied his TV persona as the villainous emcee in The Running Man and was obviously the inspiration for Stanley Tucci's character in The Hunger Games. He also acted in the war films The Devil’s Brigade, The Longest Day and King Rat. He died of esophageal cancer on June 2. (AP)


  • Henry Denker (1912-2012) - Novelist and playwright whose radio scripts for the 1940s religious series of The Greatest Story Ever Told were in part the source for the 1965 film epic of the same name. He also produced and scripted another Jesus movie, 1958’s The Power of the Resurrection. Other screenplays include Twilight of Honor, The Hook, Time Limit!, which adapted from his own play, and the TV movie Outrage, which is based on his own novel. He died of lung cancer on May 15. (NYT)
  • Ruth Foster (1920-2012) - Actress best known for her TV work (The Little House on the Prairie) who also an editor, regularly for the Michael Lindsay-Hogg films, including The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, The Object of Beauty, Frankie Starlight and Paul Simon, Graceland: The African Concert. She died on May 12. (Variety)
  • Judy Freudberg (1949-2012) - Longtime writer for Sesame Street who co-scripted Follow That Bird and the Spielberg-produced animated films An American Tail and The Land Before Time. She died from complications with brain cancer on June 10. (NYT)
  • Robin Gibb (1949-2012) - Singer and songwriter for the fraternal trio The Bee Gees, who are particularly known for composing the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. He also acted, with his fellow Bee Gee brothers, in the musical Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He died May 20 from liver and kidney failure related to his battle with colorectal cancer. (CNN)


  • William Hanley (1931-2012) - Novelist and playwright who scripted John Frankenheimer’s The Gypsy Moths and contributed dialogue to the director’s earlier film Grand Prix. Among his many TV scripts were The Scarlett O’Hara War, which tells the story of the casting of the Gone With the Wind lead, and The Silent Lovers, which is about the romance between Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. He died May 25. (AP)
  • Henry Hill (1943-2012) - Former mobster whose life story became the basis for Goodfellas. He was also the subject of the documentary The Real Goodfella, which you can watch here. He died June 12. (LAT)
  • Stan Jolley (1926-2012) - Oscar-nominated production designer for Witness. Other films he worked on as art director/production designer include Superman: The Movie, Caddyshack, Donald in Mathmagicland, Taps, The Swarm and the original Walking Tall. He was also one of the designers of Disneyland. He died of gastric cancer on June 4. (Variety)
  • Kathryn Joosten (1939-2012) - Actress best known for her TV work (Desperate Housewives). Her films include Hostage, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Wedding Crashers, in which she played the mother of Will Ferrell’s character. She died of lung cancer on June 2. (NYT)


  • Richard Lynch (1936-2012) - Actor who often played bad guys, including characters in The Sword and the Sorcerer, Bad Dreams, Scarecrow and Little Nikita. He died June 19. (AP)
  • Nolan Miller (1935-2012) - Costume designer best known for TV work (Dynasty). Films he worked on include Mr. Mom, Soapdish and All I Want for Christmas. He died June 6. (LAT)
  • J. Michael Riva (1948-2012) - Oscar-nominated production designer for The Color Purple. Other films he worked on include The Goonies, Scrooged, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Spider-Man 3 and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man. He died on June 7 after suffering a stroke while working on his last film, this December’s Django Unchained. (THR)
  • Ann Rutherford (1917-2012) - Actress who played Scarlett O’Hara’s sister, Careen, in Gone With the Wind. Her other prominent roles include Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy series and Carol Lambert in Red Skelton’s Wally ‘The Fox’ series. She also co-starred in the 1938 adaptation of A Christmas Carol, the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. She died June 11. (LAT)


  • Andrew Sarris (1928-2012) - One of the most significant and influential film critics in history, he popularized auteur theory in America and devised the seminal classification of directors in his book The American Cinema. He was the subject of the recent doc short Andrew Sarris: Critic in Focus and also appears in the documentaries Godard in America, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism and Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. He died June 20 from complications of an infection developed after a fall. (NYT)
  • Kaneto Shindo (1912-2012) - Japanese filmmaker whose many prominent works over six decades include 1952’s Children of Hiroshima, 1960’s The Naked Island, 1995’s A Last Note and a 1975 documentary on his mentor, Kenji Mizoguchi. He also wrote for other directors, including Mizoguchi (on Flame of My Love). At the age of 99, he just recently received his tenth Japanese Academy Award nomination for directing Postcard. He died on May 29. (NYT)
  • Victor Spinetti (1929-2012) - British actor best known for appearing in the Beatles films Help!, A Hard Day’s Night and Magical Mystery Tour. He also starred in Franco Zeffirelli’s version of The Taming of the Shrew, Stanley Donen’s The Little Prince and Bud Yorkin’s Start the Revolution Without Me. He died of cancer June 19. (NYT)
  • Susan Tyrrell (1945-2012) - Oscar-nominated actress for her supporting role in John Huston’s Fat City. Other films she appears in include I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Forbidden Zone, Big Top Pee-Wee, Cry-Baby, Masked and Anonymous and the current indie release Kid-Thing. She also narrated the Ralph Bakshi animated film Wizards. She died June 16. (NYT)


  • Doc Watson (1923-2012) - Bluegrass guitarist and songwriter who composed the theme for Operation Repo: The Movie. He also acted  in The Cooler and Disco Godfather and appears in the documentaries Banjoman and the upcoming The Porchlight Sessions. He died May 29. (NYT)
  • Yvette Wilson (1964-2012) - Actress best known for TV work (Moesha). Films she appears in include Poetic Justice, House Party 3, Friday, Blankman and Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. She died of cervical cancer on June 14. (THR)
  • Audrey Young (1922-2012) - Former singer and Paramount starlet, who quit acting in 1949 when she married filmmaker Billy Wilder, who she met on the set of The Lost Weekend and who widowed her a decade ago. She did also appear briefly later in King Vidor’s Love Me or Leave Me and Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon and consulted on the costuming for some of her husband’s films, including Some Like it Hot. She died on June 1. (THR)



Categories: News, Obituaries, Features
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