Showing posts with label passing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label passing. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Trina Robbins Merges With The Infinite

Cartoonist, comics-maker, artist, historian and beloved comics icon Trina Robbins has passed.

I became aware of Robbins around 2003 or so during the comics blogging boom, and learned of her work in Wonder Woman and underground comix at about the same time.  I have to assume it was a CBR or Newsarama interview tied to her Go Girl! comic I was picking up.

She became a figure within modern comics culture as someone who carved her own path, wasn't afraid to speak her mind and was deeply knowledgeable about the history comics, especially about women creators.

The last Robbins thing I picked up was a reprint of her (and Tanith Lee's) Silver Metal Lover adaptation that went into reprint via Kickstarter.

I recommend taking a look at her Wikipedia page as well as any tributes you see.  I'm not going to do her life and career justice here, but we want to mark the passing of one of the greats.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Joe Flaherty Merges With The Infinite

According to multiple sources, actor and comedian Joe Flaherty has passed.  

Flaherty retired about a decade ago, but still lived large in the public consciousness of GenX and probably on either side of that media-consuming era.  

I knew Joe originally from SCTV episodes, and basically stole his Count Floyd bit to entertain Jamie as Count Dracula Jr.  Flaherty was fortunate or unfortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the comedy giants of his generation - so you both have a bar set that's extraordinarily high and you're one of the SCTV bunch rather than just Joe Flaherty.  But he did work *constantly* until his retirement in 2012-ish.  

He was always good, and quite often *great*, and I'll miss knowing he was out there.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Great M. Emmet Walsh Merges With The Infinite

Actor M. Emmet Walsh, a staple of movies and television for about five decades, has passed.  He was 88.

How do you sum up the career and impact of someone who has been in more movies than you can count, and was terrific in every single one of them, no matter how large or small the part.  No matter if he played a lovable grandpa or a weird neighbor or the guy on the shop floor with a particular tale about working Nine Mile with Bill Parker (not that mother-scratcher Bill Roberts).

I know I recognized Walsh when I saw Blade Runner the first time, but for a guy who had just a few minutes on screen, he made a hell of an impression, and - for a while - he was "the guy who played Bryant" in my book.  

But he's been a hundred other things since - I was blown away by his menace in Blood Simple and his comedic timing in his brief scene in Fletch.  Of late, he'd been included in The Righteous Gemstones as Eli's elderly father and in Knives Out as the generation who grew up on him wanted to include him in their casts.

His voice was unmistakable, and he never quite had matinee idol good looks, but he was a great presence on screen, and so he worked tirelessly, right into the last year.  The man has 233 IMDB acting credits.

I'll miss seeing him pop up in new movies and shows, but with his filmography, it's also very likely I'll see him appear in movies that are new to me for years to come.

Here's to one of the good ones.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ramona Fradon Merges With The Infinite

Literally just yesterday I pre-ordered three comics as they had covers by Ramona Fradon.  Today I have learned Fradon has passed.

Fradon had just retired this January at the age of 97 - and I assumed those covers were her last for DC.  That's a career, friends.  So, clearly, she was well and working right up til recent days.  Thanks to some good people on the internet, she'd been recognized for her role as a woman in comics during the Silver and Bronze Age - in a vastly male-dominated industry.  She was the right artist for many-a-project, and I'm glad she had a sort of late-career renaissance when folks recognized her.  And, frankly, her art was still great right up til January.

If you're unfamiliar with Fradon's style, she's credited with the original design for Metamorpho, a DC hero, and I tend to think of her work as tilting more towards cartoony than illustrative, with an excellent use of line to suggest character.  She's probably almost as famous for her work on Aquaman as Metamorpho, 

In addition to work across genres at DC, she also worked on Brenda Starr, Reporter, a newspaper strip.  

I'm sorry she has passed, but glad she had such a long life bringing so much great art to the world, and really enjoy a new generation of fans the last decade or so.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Carl Weathers Merges With The Infinite

Here's what I think about when I think about Carl Weathers:

Sometimes you just like someone's vibe.  And then literally everything you learn about that person over a lifetime just reinforces or surpasses your early first impression.

I didn't see a Rocky movie til Rocky IV, and my introduction to Carl Weathers was seeing the great Apollo Creed fall in the ring.  He was, in my opinion, more likable and charming than our protagonist, enough so that seeing him die on screen in the first act was jarring.  Mission accomplished, movie.  You motivated Rocky and you got us to care, relying on Weathers' performance - and that was before I saw the other three Rocky movies, in which he's clearly, absolutely the star boxer the movies need.  

But of course Carl Weathers was also in action movies and generally around.  A few years later I was enjoying him in Predator and other movies.  I missed Action Jackson at the time, but caught it in recent years (it's not great, but he is).  

And then someone realized: you can put this guy in comedy.  People love this guy, and he's got a sense of humor.  And, so he started showing up in Happy Gilmore and Arrested Development.  I also was surprised to see him pop up in Friday Foster (I, too, enjoy a Pam Grier actioner).

What I'd missed was the whole Carl Weathers backstory of New Orleans kid who got a sports scholarship in high school and then college, and went pro as a football player - quitting to get into the movies.  And successfully doing so.  

But he was also behind the camera - and directed some of my favorite episodes of what I think is already a well-made show, The Mandalorian, in which he also starred in what may be my favorite role of his - Greef Karga, the shady businessman who finds a calling as a local leader (and has a vain streak you can't help but like).  I own at least two Greef Karga action figures, I admit.

Through that work was how I learned that Weathers had been busy behind the camera for a while, directing some TV, including some action programs.  Which - totally made sense.  I could see him dipping in and wanting to expand what he was doing and trying.

On a personal note, back when I was on twitter, I exchanged a tweet or two with Weathers, and the fact I'm still giddy about it should tell you where he ranked with me.  

I'm absolutely rattled at the sudden news of his passing, and wish his loved ones well.  I hope my impression of the man was correct, because he seemed like one of the good ones.    

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Cindy Morgan Has Merged With The Infinite

Morgan is remembered at The Signal Watch primarily for her roles in Caddyshack and Tron, where she played Dr. Lora Bradley/ Yori.  

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Kenpachrio Satsuma Merges With the Infinite

Satsuma is probably best known in the US as the actor to wear the Godzilla suit in multiple movies during the Heisei Era, starting with 1984's Return of Godzilla and wrapping up with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah - so, spanning the entire era.  

It's hard to express how challenging the Godzilla suit work is, from the physical challenges of carrying an intensely heavy costume (sometimes in the water) to the mental fortitude needed to work in the suit for hours per day.  And, to actually act - and arguably all of the actors in the suit have brought personality to Big G.  And I'm a fan of the work Satsuma did in these movies.


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Andre Braugher Merges With The Infinite

I am deeply saddened to say that actor Andre Braugher has passed.

Back in college, he was the talent who got me to check out and stay with Homicide: Life on the Street and years later starred for several seasons of Brooklyn 99 as the precinct captain, making the most of his comedic talents.

Braugher was an amazing talent, and added a great deal to everything he was in.  I'm very sorry to hear of his passing.

Please enjoy some of the best of his role as Captain Holt

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Norman Lear Merges With The Infinite

Norman Lear, a man who changed television, has passed at 101.

There's whole areas of media study dedicated to Lear, so I won't get into it too much here.  But for those of us growing up as kids in the 1970s and 80's, there was kind of pre-Lear television and post-Lear television.  Those halcyon days of media you think of where father knew best and folks' disagreements were settled over a polite laugh or gunfire and women wore pearls and kissed husbands as they walked in the door with a smile?  Not Norman Lear.

Lear found the comedy in the reality of world and knew you could do more making people laugh than you could with a lecture, reflecting real world issues back to the audience, in the format of the sitcom.  As a kid, I remember knowing things could take a dramatic turn on One Day at a Time (something the reboot series echoed), but it wasn't off-putting even as a kid.  It was part of how television worked, as far as I was concerned.

While he moved on from TV, Lear has remained influential.  I hope in years to come, folks understand what he did to move TV on from its juvenile state and propel conversations onto the screen and into living rooms, and giving voice to characters that had been supporting characters at best.

Here's to 101 well-lived years. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Richard Roundtree Merges With the Infinite

Actor Richard Roundtree has passed at 81.  Like many 90's-era college kids, I know Roundtree from Shaft, which is not just a great score, it's a phenomenal detective/ crime movie.  If you've not seen it, Roundtree is amazing in the film.

Roundtree had an amazing career, and for the past few decades kept very busy, with a terrific diversity of roles to his credit, sliding into whatever part he was offered.  I know he's one of those actors I say "oh, hell, that's Richard Roundtree" when he'd show up on screen, but you never knew where he'd pop up.  

He should be remembered for all that, but the impact of Shaft as a film and cultural phenomenon can't be underestimated, and while the soundtrack might have carried on, it was Roundtree as the tough-as-nails, smarter-than-the-rest leading man in the movie that gave it enduring appeal. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Piper Laurie Merges With The Infinite

Star or movies and television, Piper Laurie, has passed.  

We know Laurie primarily from Twin Peaks, Carrie and The Hustler.  

Laurie was a Civil Rights advocate and involved in numerous causes.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Phyllis Coates Merges With the Infinite

Coates appeared only in the first season of The Adventures of Superman from 1952 and the film, Superman and the Mole Men.  

I am a fan of all Loises, and as part of the legion of Loises, Ms. Coates folds a special place here at The Signal Watch.  Her Lois was quite a bit different from Noel Neill's take.  Coates tended to play a bit more into the streetwise, tough newspaper writer persona that would circle back around with some other actors to play the part.  

She left pretty quickly, but one does not play Lois and not get included in the Superman mythos.  As is the tradition, she returned to a different incarnation of Superman, appearing on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the first year as Lois' mother, Ellen Lane.

Of course, Coates was infinitely more than her brief Superman appearances.  She has 145 appearances listed on IMDB, and spanned 50 years in the business (including a lengthy break).  

Let's salute Ms. Coates and remember her for being a terrific part of the Superman legacy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Keith Giffen Merges With the Infinite

Comics legend Keith Giffen has passed.  

I can't begin to quantify how much an impact Giffen had on the industry and on me as a reader.

I knew Giffen first as one of the talents on the famed mid-80's Justice League America and I am the guy who still thinks we all dropped the ball not making The Heckler a top seller.  

He's responsible for so, so many characters and stories that make up the DCU, with amazing runs on Legion of Super-Heroes and innumerable other titles.  If Giffen's name was on it, it was worth checking out.  Just last week I was pricing a collection of his Doom Patrol on eBay. 

I'll just drop this wikipedia link here, because it's just way too much for me to repeat here.  The man was a giant, and responsible for countless ideas, many of which are the best at multiple comics publishers.  He gave us worlds upon worlds.  

I'm finding myself surprisingly shaken by Giffen's passing. He was one of the pros I always wanted to meet, and he was just in Austin, but I didn't make it to the Con.  I am sure the industry is going to be in deep mourning this week as folks say goodbye to their friend and inspiration.

Y'all take a minute to remember Mr. Giffen and all he brought to these worlds and this medium we love.


Sunday, August 27, 2023

Arleen Sorkin Merges With The Infinite

Actor and voice actor Atleen Sorkin has passed.

When Batman: The Animated Series premiered back in the early 1990's, I was a skeptical Bat-reader, but literally by the end of the credits, I was in.  By the time I saw Batman getting dragged behind Man-Bat through the skyline of Gotham, I was out of my mind.  In many ways, I think the show is the epitome of Batman as a concept, but it also went beyond adapting a comic and movie concept to a cartoon, it restored and built upon the decades of Bat-mythology.  And chief among those addition was Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka: Harley Quinn.  

We're still reeling from that addition.  And brought to brilliant life through writing, art, animation and the unforgettable voice of Arleen Sorkin.  

Sorkin was probably best known as an actress as Calliope Jones on Days of Our Lives, where she appeared for decades across hundreds of episodes.  

 As much as comic characters could be identified by their silhouettes, cartoon characters need to be specific and memorable to really work - and that was something voice director Andrea Romano brought to fore with BTAS.  But with Harley Quinn, they'd found absolute gold in Sorkin. 

A face of a Bat-villain might drive a certain thought process, but Harley was new, an invention of the show, and maybe the logical extrapolation of what the difference is between comics and animation - suddenly you can do new things with a voice alone.   For comic fans and Batman fans, Sorkin's voice and character would be the magical ingredient.  A kind of Brooklyn-ese taken to extremes.  Funny, crazy, a little sad.  High energy, with the potential for violence.  A crack in the voice here or there could say it all.  An octave jump something else.  

Anyway, as soon as the show hit and Harley appeared, the doors of fandom were thrown wide open to Harley as a new addition, and she was soon appearing in comics as well as the show.  If there was resistance by die-hard Batfans, those voices were drowned out.  Harley became so popular, DC eventually realized they had to transform her.  No more chasing after a killer clown, seeking his love.  She'd become a sort of agent of chaos within the DCU, sometimes on the side of the angels, and sometimes... less so.

The voice of Harley by Sorkin would go on to survive art changes, changes in leadership in WB animation, and make the jump to video games.  She's the voice you hear in your head when reading the comics, and what Margot Robbie borrowed across three feature films as a live-action version of the character.  

Like Kevin Conroy before her, she passed way too young.  But she also will have left millions of people with the memory of her voice, instantly recognizable, and which will be imitated by others for decades to come.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Bob Barker Merges With the Infinite

Bob Barker - the man, the myth, the pal for millions of us having a sick day from school or work - has passed at the age of 99.  

Not a soul in America living in the back quarter of the 20th Century hadn't seen Barker at one point or another, appearing daily on The Price is Right, possibly America's real favorite game show.  Among a hundred different games on the program, and surrounded by "Barker's Beauties", Bob was our genial uncle, walking contestants through the motions and managing chaos with a light chuckle, a peculiarly thin microphone and a voice gifted by the gods. 

Barker was a kind of gentlemen that no longer exists, a part of a different age.  The Kids will have only known the modern, post-modern gameshow host, maybe minus the soon-to-retire Pat Sajack, the guy who can't believe he's hosting a gameshow and refuses to take it seriously.  And while I don't think Barker had any illusions about what he was doing, he was never above it.  

Anyway, never write off a sharp suit, a good haircut and an unflappable demeanor.  

Have your pets spayed or neutered!

Monday, July 31, 2023

Paul Reubens Merges With the Infinite

Man, this is some sad news I did not expect at all.

Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-Wee Herman, has passed at the age of 70.

Reubens was a member of The Groundlings and became part of the class of breakout stars of his era, alongside Cassandra Peterson and others.  

Reubens created the unique and beloved character of Pee-Wee Herman, a persona who wound up in TV specials, movies, and the excellent Pee-Wee's Playhouse - one of the best things ever on Saturday mornings.  He's responsible for Tim Burton's early big screen success, and co-starred with everyone from Laurence Fishburne to Lynn-Marie Stewart and John Paragon on the Saturday morning show.  

Pee-Wee's run was cut short in the 1990's, but he returned in the age of social media, releasing a final movie, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, that was as funny as anything he'd done, and maybe freer?

What has surprised me most about Pee-Wee over the years has been that the movies, specials, etc.. get *funnier*.  My first viewing of Pee-Wee Herman content was in elementary school, and every time I watch one of his movies or review clips of any of his work, it doesn't just hold up, it shines a little brighter.  

Reubens also appeared in numerous other projects, playing a wide range of characters.  He's great in Mystery Men, 1991's Blow, and he got the biggest laugh of the movie from me in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  

On social media, he was very plugged into the same sort of cheerful "look at this weirdo thing" stuff I tend to want to forward to Jamie, all of it in fun.  Lots of retro, lots of outlandish goofiness.  The kind of stuff that would look at home beside Mr. T cereal and pterodactyl puppets.

We'll miss Paul Reubens, and we'll miss Pee-Wee Herman.  Taken way too soon.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Alan Arkin Merges With the Infinite

Alan Arkin, prolific and wildly talented actor, has passed at 89.

Arkin was a staple of media I consumed particularly in the 1990's, and was still a draw to this very day.  His roles were not often those of the lead or leading man, but he was always terrific and often the highlight of the films in which he appeared.  

For many of us, he was an avatar or the personification of our inner monologue through a well-crafted persona he brought to comedies (watch The In-Laws.  Brilliant.).  But there was no persona or genre or kind of film he didn't make better.

We were lucky to have him for so long and enjoy his work, which he was still doing through last year.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Iron Sheik Merges With the Infinite

Wrestler Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, known to generations of fans as the colorful character The Iron Sheik, has passed.  

The Iron Sheik was representative of WWF/ WWE's early smash success via playing out America's psychoses via avatars of various concepts in the zeitgeist appearing in the ring, often to battle the heroes of the WWF.  The Iron Sheik was, of course, the threat Americans saw of the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in the post-gas-crisis world.  

Vaziri was not, however, actually Saudi.  He was from Iran, and I have a very hard time figuring out when and how he came to the States, but it was in the early 70's and tied originally to Olympic wrestling.  I think.  That he would choose not to villainize Iran in his heel-turn of the 1980s is not a shock.

Like many kids of my generation, I liked the villains as much as the heroes of the WWE, and The Iron Sheik was a favorite.  With social media, he resurfaced, pounding out tweets in the broken dialect he employed as his character to cutting and hilarious effect.  I think I saw him tweeting just last week, so his passing is a bit of a surprise.

I'm aware of the brow-furrowing concern that media cops have put on wrestling then and now.  I get it.  But if I may... not once did I think The Iron Sheik was representative of anything but silliness and sweet wrestling moves, and while not fitting a rubric of acceptable, he's still a beloved figure of a certain era of my life.

Godspeed, you maniac.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Icon and Legend Tina Turner Has Merged With the Infinite

In the fall of 1996 I was at a party at Jamie's apartment, and someone said something about Tina Turner being passe, and - in the way only the right number of cocktails can steer you - I found myself giving an impassioned speech about the history, legacy and import of Tina Turner, and that we were lucky to share the planet with her.  

I swear to god, I hadn't thought that hard about Tina Turner since sorting through the lyrics to Private Dancer as a kid.  I hadn't ever even see What's Love Got To Do With It? because the idea of watching an entertainer I enjoy get beaten by fucking Ike Turner was in no way appealing.  I should have seen it (still haven't for same reason.  Fuck Ike Turner.)

I guess the speech stuck with Jamie, because a few months later she produced Tina Turner tickets for us to see her at the Alamodome in San Antonio.  And, friends, that show was amazing.

The crowd was made up of all demographics.  I had never seen the concept of "dress" before, but it was on full display there (I was a dopey 22 year old in college-kid concert clothes) and I immediately got it and was aware I was improperly attired.  Folks from the aged to children were in attendance.  And Jamie had bought seats at about the 13th row, dead-center facing the stage.  The view was phenomenal.

I still think about that show and Nutbush City Limits maybe once a month.  And GoldenEye, because, I mean, y'all know me and Bond and Bond themes, and it was wildly sexy, to boot.

In 1984 when Turner exploded back into the pop culture consciousness with the single and video for What's Love Got To Do With It?, I was 9 and pretty much unaware of who she was.  I think she'd been on MTV for a while when my dad made mention of "Oh, Tina Turner" and I got that she was not a new act and this was, in fact, a sort of return to prominence for the artist.  I sort of vaguely had ideas of what her stage show and persona had been via descriptions from people, but this was all years before YouTube, and so it wasn't until the film came out that I got what she'd been with Ike when TV ran clips.

And then, of course, YouTube had clips pretty early on.  

Man, she's just amazing

Admittedly, maybe I should have watched that movie because it wasn't until the 2021 documentary Tina was released that I got the full picture of Turner's life, and of the abuse and career devastation that followed until 1984.  I highly recommend the doc, which we discussed when it was released.

Turner was so popular that I never bothered to buy her records until the aforementioned concert.  She was just on the radio all the time or on VH1 and MTV.  I find it odd that she doesn't get the same play as other 1980's and 1990's artists on oldies stations as she was so a part of the soundtrack of everyday life for so long, and I don't quite get how she's been shelved to the point where I'm not sure folks ten years younger than me get who she was and the scope of her stardom.  But she'd also pivoted out of the world of R&B to rock in the 1980's, and that's probably a whole other discussion about rock's legacy.

I'm the guy who thinks she was awesome in Thunderdome, and was welcome wherever she showed up.  If I can recommend one record to get, or put on your streaming service of choice, it's Simply the Best.  Which is a greatest hits which prominently features one of her best hits, The Best.*  Which has been my favorite Turner song for 25 years now.  Wowsers.

I can't put my finger on exactly what I liked about Turner.  Clearly the stage show I saw cemented her in my mind.  But her voice was perfect for both rock and R&B.  Her presence was elegant and exuberant at the same time.  She was gorgeous and could dance like mad.  Really, she was one of the most complete packages of American musical performance talent I can think of.

Turner married a Swiss gentleman quite some time ago, and the pair retired to Switzerland in more recent years.  Tina did her farewell tour and sort of stuck to it.  I salute that.  

In 2021, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  There's a musical based on her life that's a Broadway show that's now also touring.  

I don't think Turner is anywhere near forgotten or will be.  Her place is secure for the next several decades.  

But, yeah, I'm crushed to hear of her passing.  She was the best.

Y'all take some time and listen to some Tina tonight.

*which, yes, Schitt's Creek took the song and made it their own

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Jerry Springer Merges With The Infinite

Not many talk-show hosts get a movie playing themselves doing their own talk show.  Not many talk-show hosts inspire operas.  Not many talk-show hosts wind up doing a talk-show after a major political scandal involving paying a hooker with a signed check and then *still* winding up as mayor of a major US city for a stint.

Jerry Springer was probably not a good man, but in 2011, I did meet him in the sportsbook at the Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas where he was very nice to me and posed for drunken blurry pictures that have since been lost to bad asset management on the interwebs.  He was there hosting the Vegas nightly show of America's Got Talent.  He smoked a giant cigar and looked bored.

Like many talk-shows, Springer started off trying to do reasonable interviews that went in-depth on important issues, but when cancellation seemed imminent, he and his producers transformed his show into the chair-hurling, fist-tossing, hair-pulling bonanza it was.  Which made Springer rich, ultimately ran for roughly 25 years and spun off a few other shows, including a behind-the-scenes that made no one look good.  But when your set is designed to look like a sewer with a stripper pole, I guess no one cares?