Tuesday, January 2, 2018
I was unable to confirm yesterday when I saw the news, but now The Hollywood Reporter has it that actor Peggy Cummins has passed.
Cummins is in at least two fantastic movies, Curse of the Demon (1957) and, of course, one of my hands-down favorite films, Gun Crazy (1950).
You can read the linked article to get a notion of Cummins' career, which was fairly brief despite her obvious talents. Not everyone stays in pictures, or even in Hollywood.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Hugh Hefner, American icon, has passed.
Really, if anyone was living their best life, it's hard to imagine a more straightforward vision pursued and achieved (at a simply mind-boggling level) than America's least repentant swingin' daddio, Hugh Hefner.
|No idea how one gets from "I have an idea!" to this point|
I've mostly lived in the era of "Fun Uncle" and "Kindly Grandpa" Hef, the Playboy Clubs a relic of prior generations by the time I learned about them. The magazine has always been around, but I've only ever bought one issue, and that was for someone else because I was feeling daffy. The era of Playboy journalism getting scoops, publishing name writers, etc.. was still in play in the 1980's, but fading. Mostly I remember the ads they ran on TV selling subscriptions to Playboy, and, of course, the forbidden stack of Playboy Magazines a few neighborhood dads or older brothers would have, which I never, ever would have stolen a peek at. Nope.
But by high school (the early 90's), even chumps like me were aware that Playboy was less pornography (and I still roll my eyes at people who categorize it as such, but it also isn't for the whole family) and more of a lifestyle magazine for people who at least wanted to believe they were living it up. And boobs. Lots of boobs. And butts. And, Hef guessed correctly. That was a popular formula.
You're not supposed to say Hugh Hefner provided an invaluable service to America in a pre-internet era, but he kind of did. For our more sensitive readers, we'll leave it there. But he also provided a view of the world in which embracing a sex-positive stance (albeit, a deeply problematic one) could get some traction. And, he got Jimmy Carter to say some pretty funny shit.
It was always amazing to know the Playboy mansion was out there, and this average-looking guy had a "private grotto" attached to his pool. It was all so cartoonish, it just felt like a giant ad for the magazine, and I guess it was. Sure, I'm sure Hef enjoyed it all, but it was work, too.
But it is true that the Playboy model has struggled since the mid-90's with the rise of the internet splitting up the varying interests contained in the magazine. By the early 00's, Playboy seemed more successful as a brand or license than as a magazine. They're still struggling to find a model that works that people will pay for, but that's other people's problem now and has been for decades. Hef got to just stay in pajamas and hang out at his mansion all day.
I dunno. You did a really remarkable and weird thing, Hef. And I am sure your regrets are both vast and beyond the imaginings of any man. But you did okay, too. We're gonna miss you.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
If you're a Monster Kid of any stripe, you know the work of Basil Gogos. Whether from his work painting covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland to album covers, Gogos spent the back half of the 20th Century and early 21st Century as king of a niche others are just now entering - illustrative portraiture of cinematic marvels and monsters.
Yesterday I became aware of the news that Basil Gogos has passed beyond this veil of tears. But of this I am certain - his work is now as much a part of Monster Movie fandom as the films, actors and creators. His uncanny visuals have been wonderful additions to pop-culture and modern culture itself.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Somehow, death has taken one of the best, Harry Dean Stanton.
A notice in the New York Times.
No matter what he was in, he elevated the movie. Ebert himself said: "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad."
- Cool Hand Luke
- Kelly's Heroes
- Godfather: Part II
- Escape From New York
- Repo Man
- Red Dawn
- Pretty in Pink
- Last Temptation of Christ
- Wild at Heart
- Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With me
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- The Avengers
- Twin Peaks
We're going to miss you, sir. But thanks for everything.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Gerry has informed me, and social media - from Paul Kupperberg to Paul Levitz and Elliot S! Maggin - confirms, that Len Wein has passed.
A report at CBR, Newsarama, and we are certain the reports will be in the hundreds.
My ear is not to the comics social media ground the way it once was, and I confess I didn't know he was ill. When his fellow Swamp Thing creator, Bernie Wrightson, passed in recent days, I'd known of Wrightson's illness in part because of announcements and some of his work stopped that I was reading. Wein had recently returned to the DC stable and I hadn't heard.
I just check Comic Vine, and Wein has 1640 credits on comics to his name between credits for writing, editing, et al.
69 seems far off when you're in your twenties. When you're in your forties, it seems very, very young and very unfair.
But Wein left an incredible legacy, and was a huge part in the shift in content and tone that led to modern comics. From his contribution in creating Wolverine and Swamp Thing to his work on establishing X-Men in much the way we think of them today, to great work on Batman and practically every other character in comics.
I can't say anything that Wein's peers and friends won't say with more grace and with far more meaning than myself. I encourage you to read the tributes which are already appearing. But I will say he will always be remembered, his work loved, his contributions honored and the folks he inspired who came after him owe him a great debt of gratitude for paving the way to a new kind of comic - which, in turn, changed our culture.
Monday, August 7, 2017
Harou Nakajima, the original Man-in-Suit, has passed.
Watching Godzilla movies will tell you that our gigantic, atomic-fire-breathing-pal had a definite personality. And I think you can chalk a good chunk of that up to Mr. Harou Nakajima.
To get a better idea of what I mean, give those first few Godzilla movies a spin and watch as the big fella becomes more himself. A sort of cranky giant who definitely has opinions.
I recently saw this video interviewing the actor. It is absolutely inspiring and a testament to a certain mindset we could all stand to try on.
Monday, July 31, 2017
Actor, Playwright, Director and pretty-cool-guy Sam Shepard has passed at the age of 73. He had been dealing with ALS for some time.
Shepard appeared in one of my favorite films, The Right Stuff, as real-life hero and pilot Chuck Yeager. It's one of those roles and performances I imprinted on at a young age, and I still marvel at each time I watch the movie.
He'll be missed.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
It's impossible to measure the impact this man had on pop culture and culture in general. Legendary director and inventor of the modern zombie genre, George Romero, has passed.
We'll miss you, George.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
This one hurts.
Adam West has passed at the age of 88.
Literally my earliest memories include watching Batman starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Steans-family lore states that my first words were "Batman" as I ran around our home with my security blanket around my neck.
The story is that I was toddler-ish and Jason was two years older, and my mom, The Karebear, had to make us dinner before my Dad got home from work (dude worked hard and late). In order to wrangle me, her ADD wunderkind, she figured out that I'd sit perfectly still for Batman, which happened to be on in syndication right when she needed to fire up the stove.
When the Michael Keaton-starring "serious" Batman was released, in 1989, when I was 14, the show came back on cable, and I totally got what they were up to. Somehow, inbetween, like many of my generation, there'd been some confusion about the show being a drama that was kind of stupid and something you grew out of. But, nope, the show had been winking to the older crowd all along.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
What can you say? Don Rickles was one of the five funniest people I can think of, and he was a pro and working right up til recent years, still himself and sharp as hell the last time I saw him on video.
Some people's comedy doesn't age well - I'm not sure how a lot of comedians from the first thirty years of TV would play today. But Rickles was always in a class of his own, decade after decade, and no one could do what he did and still be beloved by multiple generations. I think we all knew - that wicked tongue? It was the act. You never saw people who actually knew Rickles say a word against him, and if you doubt that, please do watch the doc, Mr. Warmth.
I mean, I can think of few things that would have filled me with more joy in this life than had the man ever called me a hockey puck.
Here's the NY Times obit.
He's truly going to be missed, and I hope all the media coverage he gets tells the younger kids he was more than a Mr. Potato - although that was sort of perfect, too.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Monday, March 6, 2017
Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne has merged with The Infinite.
I was pretty much convinced that Robert Osborne was a robot. It didn't matter what time of day or night I switched on Turner Classic Movies, if a movie wasn't playing, he was providing an intro or outro in a smooth, polished, knowledgeable manner, like the best film prof you never had. In theory he was the prime-time host, but for several years in there, I literally remember no one else.
I mean, sure, it was just a few minutes per movie, but those need to be written, shot, etc... and it was clear he was pretty hands-on with all aspects. Including the phenomenal interviews he wrangled with innumerable Hollywood icons, and later as he'd co-host series with modern luminaries reflecting back on whatever run of movies they were about to show. And he always got to the nut of what made the film special both writ large and what made fans (these modern film stars) so passionate about the movie.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Like all of you, we were saddened to hear of the unexpected passing of actor Bill Paxton.
Paxton became a favorite back in the mid-80's when we first saw Aliens in which he played Private First Class Hudson, the resident smart-ass of the squad of Colonial Marines sent in to investigate the situation on Acheron (aka LV-426). After that, we recognized him as Chet in Weird Science and the punk guy who maybe shouldn't have picked a fight with a naked Arnie in Terminator.
Paxton was always a welcome name to see show up in the credits of any film, and you always knew you were getting something memorable out of him. He didn't have many blockbuster starring roles outside of Twister, but he continued to provide outstanding performances in supporting roles and found a lead role that worked well for him in HBO's polygamy drama, Big Love.
We'll miss Paxton. To say he went too soon is a tremendous understatement, and I think all of us expected him to continue to appear on our screens for decades to come.
But let us never forget that he also directed and starred in the video for Barnes & Barnes classic "Fish Heads".
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Actor and producer Mary Tyler Moore has passed at the age of 80.
My first two memories of Mary Tyler Moore include realizing (a) that MTM tag at the end of shows was her production company and (b) thinking Rob Petrie married well the hell out of his league. I mean, I was like 7 or 8 and didn't watch enough TV to quite get how this works, but I was pretty sure Laura had settled or Rob was rich or something.
Years later she broke new ground with the Mary Tyler Moore Show, showing a divorced woman making it in the city as a reporter. The show was a hit and and Moore became a force in the entertainment world in her own right.
I'm not going to quite do her justice. She will be missed.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
We all have actors we may not seek out, necessarily, but it's a huge bonus when they show up in anything. Indeed, they make whatever they appear in at least five times better.
Since my mom dropped me off (way too young) to go see RoboCop, I've been a fan of actor Miguel Ferrer. I didn't know his actual name until college, he was "that guy from RoboCop, yeah, Bob Morton", but in the years since, and since Jamie has been around since college, she's heard the phrase "oh, hell, yeah. Miguel Ferrer" on innumerable occasions whenever I realize he is in a movie we're considering watching or his name pops up in the credits.
Fortunately for me, far as I know, Jamie shares my appreciation for Miguel Ferrer.
His mother and father (Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer) were extraordinarily famous in their era, and not too many children of power couples manage to reach the levels of success Miguel Ferrer achieved. Or, you know, the place in the hearts of cinephiles and genre-geeks.
I straight up think he's a terrific actor, and while he wasn't often the leading man, he was a force on screen. I can only imagine what he was like in life.
Unfortunately, it seems Miguel Ferrer passed today after a battle with cancer. I had no idea he was ill, and I'm deeply sorry for his friends and family. He went far too soon.
Let's enjoy him as Bob Morton together, shall we?
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
You likely haven't heard of Pete Marston. He was the son of William Moulton Marston - aka: Charles Moulton - aka: the creator of Wonder Woman. Pete passed away today at the age of 87. He didn't have any professional association with DC Comics or Wonder Woman, but he did have a strong affection for the Amazing Amazon.
I am mostly aware of Mr. Marston through the website The Wonder Woman Network, which featured an extensive photogallery of Pete's private museum and a lot of pictures of visitors from all over, including Ms. Lynda Carter.
If I ever wanted to feel like my Wonder Woman collection was a reasonable size, I could always visit The Wonder Woman Network page. Also, Mr. Marston looked so cheery in his picture with Ms. Carter.
While I am very sorry to hear Mr. Marston has passed, I salute him for (a) having an astoundingly great WW collection, and (b) carrying the torch for his parents' legacy, as both are known to have contributed to the character and her mythos. I'm glad he knew Wonder Woman was still beloved as much (or more) in 2017 as any other time.
I just wish he'd been able to see the Wonder Woman movie coming soon.
For a quick gallery of pictures of his collection, click here.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Eugene "Gene" Cernan has passed at the age of 82.
His early career included time as a Naval Aviator, and he earned degrees as an undergraduate from Purdue and a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
An astronaut of the Gemini and Apollo era, Cernan was pilot of Apollo 10 and Commander of Apollo 17. As was widely remarked in the press today, Cernan was the last human to have stepped foot on the lunar surface.
Cernan also pulled the "Snoopy" landing module out of a deadly spin during the Apollo 10 descent - which was never intended to land, just see how all that would work on Apollo 11 when someone finally did touch down.
Somehow Cernan's name has been better known than many other astronauts, at least in my mind, and that may be due to his continuing participation and advocacy for the space program and his frequent appearances on television.
Buddy JuanD has alerted me to a documentary about Cernan, Last Man on the Moon, which we hope to watch very soon.
Here's to an American hero.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Actor, singer and dancer Debbie Reynolds has passed. This would be something we'd cover under any normal circumstance, but, of course, Reynolds was also the mother of actor and author Carrie Fisher who left us just yesterday. We can only imagine the tremendous loss Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourde, is experiencing at this moment. She has our sympathies.
Reynolds is most famous for her part in Singin' In the Rain, one of the best remembered musicals of any era in Hollywood (and a heck of a film). A few years back she appeared in Behind the Candelabra, a Liberace biopic, playing Liberace's oft-referred to mom. She was honestly pretty great.
Here's one of the show-stoppers from Singin' In the Rain, with Gene Kelley and Donald O'Connor.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
We are devastated to say that actor and author Carrie Fisher has passed.
I can't say I knew much about Fisher as a person - same things as everyone else. The Hollywood pedigree, the issues with substance abuse, the biting wit, her dog, Gary.
It had been a very, very long time since I'd re-watched Star Wars, which I did when The Force Awakens was released, and it's amazing to see how darn good she was in that first movie, fluctuating accent and all. I love all the main characters of Star Wars, no doubt, but if my personal collection of Star Wars stuff is any indication, and as longtime readers will probably have figured out, I'm a fan of Princess Leia first and foremost.
And, of course, her life seemed to be on such an upswing of late. She would make Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII and IX, she had a book out that seemed to be moving a lot of copies, and from what I could see on social media, there was a generation of young women who were calling her "Space Mom", properly idolizing the character she'd imbued with tremendous strength, and building her social media army as she embraced them back.
She's leaving behind her daughter, Billie Lourd, a talented actress from what I hear. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, famed actress of the 20th Century. Gary, too, of course. And all of us, a planet of people who wished her the best not just as Princess Leia, but as Carrie Fisher, too.
I'm shocked she went so young and so suddenly, and I'm genuinely very sad. You'd think this year would have toughened me up a bit. I'm going to miss her on the talk show circuits, freaking out the robo-hosts when she goes on a tangent or drops some truth that makes them uncomfortable, or curls up on one of their over-stuffed couches, her shoes on the floor. I liked this era of Carrie Fisher and General Leia.
She'll always be royalty to me.