We’ve lost another wonderful actor. Sir John Hurt has passed away. John Hurt may not be an instantly recognizable name to casual film fans, but everyone who has seen a fair number of movies has seen his work. He was Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter series. He was The Storyteller in Jim Henson’s wonderful and too-short-lived eponymous series. He was nominated twice for Academy Awards in 1977 for Midnight Express, and for what is probably his most indelible performance, that of the title character in 1980’s The Elephant Man. He was also the unfortunate victim in one of the most famous scenes in film history: the “chest burster” dinner scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien. He brought gravitas and dignity to every project he participated in, and I always was instantly more interested in a film when his name appeared in the credits. Below is a wonderful obituary of Sir John written by Liz Miller from IndieWire. Hurt was 77. Continue reading R.I.P. Sir John Hurt (1940 – 2017) “Another Consummate Actor Leaves Us”
I don’t know how many more of these I can take. Celebrity deaths that impact you personally are rare. They’re performers, you enjoy their work, but they weren’t really a part of your life. That isn’t the case with Mary Tyler Moore. The actress, who passed away today at the age of 80 was part of two of (if not the two) greatest sitcoms of all-time in The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. As a kid growing up, I wasn’t terribly popular. I got beat up a lot, to be honest. But I noticed that the kids that made the other kids laugh usually got away with murder. So I decided to learn how to be funny (to the extent you think I am) by watching Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Cheers, MASH, and a host of others over and over until I apparently achieved enough success to stop getting curb-stomped. The two I watched the most, though, were Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. Moore was a consummate comedienne and actress, and below is a wonderful tribute to her from the New York Times. But, to me, she’s one of the people who made me smile, and taught me how to make others smile when I could. That the world no longer has her smile, makes the entire planet gloomier for the loss. I doubt she’d want us to cry though. I think, like Mary RIchards in the classic “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode of The MTM Show, she’d rather our tears turn to laughter at the memory of what she gave us. I’ll run that clip below before the Times outstanding obituary.
Continue reading R.I.P. Mary Tyler Moore (1936 – 2017) *The World is Missing its Smile*
This was a post I was praying I was not going to have to write, but given the guarded news regarding Carrie Fisher’s condition ever since she suffered a heart attack on an airplane days ago, I think all Star Wars fans were steeling themselves for this news. 2016 has taken from us so many of the greats. It saddens me beyond words to add Fisher-Star Wars’ royalty-to that number. It’s deeply tragic on a number of levels, but to see someone who has fought all her life to keep her demons at bay, seemingly overcome them with a return to the role that made us all fall in love with her last year, only to have a resurgent life and career cut short. There’s a line from Episode VII referencing her character: “To me, she’ll always be royalty.” And to me she always will. I will be pasting below the official obituary from The New York Times, followed by a reworked paragraph I wrote when the news of her cardiac episode first broke speculating on what this means for the series (shallow and trivial as that seems compared to a life). We will get to see her as Princess Leia one last time when Star Wars Episode VIII opens in December 2017.
*UPDATE: I am saddened beyond words to have to add that 24 hours after her daughter’s death, screen legend Debbie Reynolds passed away from a stroke. I can’t bear to do another post on this tragedy, but just as I’ll always remember Fisher trading quips with Ford on the Falcon, I’ll always remember Reynolds singing in the rain. 2016 cannot end quickly enough.
Continue reading R.I.P. Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016) *We’ve Lost Our Princess* UPDATED
Hollywood is short a talented, sometimes brilliant director today, as Curtis Hanson has passed away at the age of 71. Hanson, director of films like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, The River Wild, Too Big To Fail, 8 Mile, and-his masterpiece-LA Confidential,won only one Oscar in his career (for the screenplay to LA Confidential). Confidential is one of the top five films made in the 1990’s and it’s a shame that it went up against Titanic Fever at the Oscars, but many have discovered the noir classic at home and in the near 20 years since its release, it’s cast has developed into an ensemble of legends. Hanson was nothing if not willing to take on varied subject matter and prove himself adept at any genre he attempted. In recent years, Hanson has been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, had not made a film since 2012. He will be greatly missed by all who love film and appreciate talent behind the lens. Variety’s obituary is below. Continue reading R.I.P Curtis Hanson (1945 – 2016) *Another Great Director is gone*
Willy Wonka is gone. Gene Wilder is dead. We’ll never see his mischievous grin or that conspiratorial twinkle in his eyes, we’ll never see the depth and breadth of talent across all medium of entertainment, and we’ll never see the like of the pure imagination he brought to each of his roles ever again. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite films when I was a child (and remains so to this day), not because of the wondrous chocolate factory, but because I saw in Wilder’s performance a kind of manic, sly genius that I wanted. I didn’t want the golden ticket. I wanted to be Gene Wilder.
Wilder had been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for many years and more recently Alzheimer’s, so this shouldn’t be a shock, but this is one of those rare celebrity deaths where I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend. Wilder wasn’t just Wonka, of course, he was a star on broadway, television, and in a host of indelible comedies like Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. I’m going to place Variety’s excellent, comprehensive obituary below. This one hurts. Thank you, Gene. Continue reading R.I.P. Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016) *Pure Imagination is Gone*