Saturday, December 31, 2016

Who we lost in 2016, Part 3



One of the problems with doing this list is deciding whether a deceased person was famous enough to be included. Obviously David Bowie and Leonard Cohen deserve immediate inclusion, but what about the chap who played the police commandant in the Police Academy movies? It seems a bit cruel to have them die and then make a decision that they weren't famous enough, or interesting enough, to be in this list. I have therefore included those who may not have been as famous as some but who may be remembered for one reason or another, even if you didn’t know their names.
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The second aspect is that although I prepared the names in order of date of death, names were then suggested to me, or came to awareness, that should have been included in the chronologies already posted.

Hence the first 9 of the following list should have been in the earlier posts.

Mea culpa.
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Pierre Boulez:


Date of death: 05.01.2016, aged 90.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Pierre Boulez was a French composer, conductor, writer and organiser of institutions. He was one of the dominant figures of the post-war classical music world. 
According to an obituary in The Guardian: “Pierre Boulez, who has died aged 90, was arguably the single dominant figure of the classical musical world through the second half of the 20th century and beyond. Without his compositions, his legacy of recordings as a conductor, his writings on music and his administrative skill and drive, the musical scene today would be of a quite different order.” The whole obit is lengthy and detailed, those who wish to read it can click on the following link:
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George Gaynes:


Date of death: 15.02.2016, aged 98.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: George Gaynes was an American singer, actor, voice artist, and comedy performer of stage, screen, and television. Born to Dutch and Russian parents in Finland, he served in the Royal Netherlands Navy during World War II and subsequently immigrated to the United States, where he became a citizen and began his acting career on Broadway. Gaynes' most recognised role in cinema was that of Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy series (remeber when he is making a speech at the dais?) and the comedy film Tootsie. To television fans, he is perhaps best remembered as the curmudgeonly but lovable foster parent Henry Warnimont on the NBC series Punky Brewster. 
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Tony Burton:


Date of death: 25.02.2016, aged 78.

Cause of death: Complications from pneumonia.

About: Tony Burton was an American actor, comedian, boxer, and football player. He was known for his role as Tony "Duke" Evers in the Rocky franchise, where he started off as Apollo Creed’s trainer and then Rocky Balboa’s trainer after Apollo is killed in the ring by Karl Drago. He is the only actor, other than Sylvester Stallone to appear in every film of that franchise.
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Earl Hamner Jnr:


Date of death: 24.03.2016, aged 92.

Cause of death: Cancer.

About: Earl Hamner Jnr was an American television writer and producer, best known for his work in the 1970s and 1980s on the long-running CBS series The Waltons and Falcon Crest. As a novelist, he was best known for Spencer's Mountain, which was inspired by his own childhood and formed the basis for both the film of the same name and the television series The Waltons, for which he provided voice-over narration. Goodnight John Boy. Good night Mary Ellen. Goodnight Earl.
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Roscoe Brown Jnr:


Date of death: 02.07.2106, aged 94.

Cause of death: Complications from a fall.

About: Has anyone seen either The Tuskegee Airmen (1995) with Laurence Fishburne or Red Tails (2012) with Terence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jnr? The films tell the story of a group of African-American military pilots (fighter and bomber) who fought in World War II. The group included the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the pilots. The group was named after the Tuskegee Army Air Field, located at Tuskegee, Alabama, where they trained. Ironically, they were fighting for a country that, at the time, denied them civil rights, and wouldn’t let them train or fight with white personnel. Despite this they fought overseas and distinguished themselves and their units. With pride they painted the tails of their planes red, hence the nickname of The Red Tails. Other black fighter and bomber units also painted the noses of their planes, and the propellers, red.

Roscoe Brown Jnr was one of the last Tuskegee Airmen. He graduated from the Tuskegee Flight School on March 12, 1944 and subsequently flew 68 missions, including taking part in the longest flight mission during the entire campaign, a 2,400 kilometer(1,500-mile) journey from Italy to Berlin to engage the Luftwaffe. Brown was also the first pilot to shoot down a German military jet. He survived the war with a Distinguished Flying Cross but didn’t let up. Roscoe obtained masters and doctoral degrees from New York University, became president of Bronx Community College, advised many black officials who were elected in New York. And he ran nine New York City marathons.
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Michael Cimino:


Date of death: 02.07.2016, aged 77.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Michael Cimino was an American film director, screenwriter, producer and author, best known for the great film The Deer Hunter, which he co-wrote, directed and produced (and which won 5 Oscars), and for the disaster that financially almost killed United Artists, Heaven’s Gate. The story of 1890’s Wyoming land disputes, it ended up costing $40m, four times its budget. Cimino was blamed for delays, budget overruns, for large scale animal abuse (causing greater controls to be introduced), for abuse of actors and personnel and for his micromanaging style. It resulted in the Hollywood studios taking tighter control of motion picture production and of exerting greater control over directors, a move which has lasted to the present day. It ruined Cimino’s career. (When Dances with Wolves [1990] was being made, its production encountered so much difficulty, and Kevin Costner received so much negative press concerning the shooting, it was called "Kevin's Gate".)
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David Huddleston:


Date of death: 02.08.2016, aged 85.

Cause of death: Heart and kidney disease.

About: David Huddleston) was an American actor. An Emmy Award nominee, Huddleston had a prolific television career, and appeared in many films including Blazing Saddles, Crime Busters, Santa Claus: The Movie and The Big Lebowski. One of those faces that you know, even if that doesnt extend to the name,
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Michael Leader:


Date of death: 22.08.2016, aged 78.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Michael Leader was an English actor known for his role in the British soap opera EastEnders and, in popular culture, as the stormtrooper in the 1977 film Star Wars who hits his head on the top of the door frame. See it by clicking on the following link:

When George Lucas remastered the films, he added a sound effect, and there's even a callback to it in Attack Of The Clones, when Jango Fett ducks to avoid pulling his own Michael Leader after a big fight scene with Obi-Wan.
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Robert Vaughan:


Date of death: 11.11.2016, aged 83.

Cause of death: Acute leukemia.

About: Robert Vaughan was an American actor noted for his stage, film and television work. His best-known TV role is as suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E with notable film roles in The Magnificent Seven, The Bridge at Remagen, Bullitt, Superman 3 and The Young Philadelphians which earned him a 1960 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
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Peter Sumner:


Date of death: 22.11.2016, aged 73

Cause of death: Not disclosed, beyond it being noted on his bio that he had been suffering from an illness for some time.

About: Peter Sumner was an Australian actor, director, and writer. His credits include parts in such films as Color Me Dead (1969), Ned Kelly (1970), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), The Survivor (1981) and Bush Christmas (1983), as well as a starring role in television series Spyforce along with his portrayal of Bill Hayden in The Dismissal. Sumner also stood in for John Hamblin at times on Playschool and had an uncredited role as Lt. Pol Treidum in Star Wars: A New Hope (see above).
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Andrew Sachs:


Date of death: 23.11.2016, aged 86.

Cause of death: Not disclosed. Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012, which eventually left him unable to speak and forced him to use a wheelchair.

About: Andrew Sachs was a British actor. Born in Berlin, he and his family emigrated to London in 1938 to escape persecution under the Nazis. He made his name on British television and rose to fame in the 1970s for his portrayals of the comical Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers, a role for which he was BAFTA-nominated. He went on to have a long career in acting and voice-over work for TV, film and radio. In his later years, he continued to have success with roles in films such as Quartet (a wonderful movie, I recommend it), and as Ramsay Clegg in Coronation Street. “Ees not a rat, ees a hamster.”
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Florence Henderson:




Date of birth: 14.02.1934.

Date of death: 24.11.2016, aged 82.

Cause of death: Heart failure.

About: Florence Henderson was an American actress and singer with a career spanning six decades. She is best remembered for her starring role as matriarch Carol Brady on the ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch from 1969 to 1974. Henderson also appeared in film as well as on stage and hosted several long-running cooking and variety shows over the years.
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Fidel Castro:



Date of death: 25.11.2016, aged 90.

Cause of death: not disclosed. 

About: Castro governed Cuba as prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and as President from 1976 to 2008. Under his rule , Cuba became a one-party socialist state; industry and business were nationalised, and state socialist reforms were implemented. Critics of Castro view him as a dictator whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses, the exodus of a large number of Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country's economy. Supporters see him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary regime advanced economic and social justice while securing Cuba's independence from American imperialism.
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Peter Vaughan:


Date of death: 06.12.2016, aged 93.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Peter was a British character actor, known for many supporting roles in British film and television productions. He also worked extensively on the stage. He was best known for his role as Grouty in the sitcom Porridge (despite appearing in only three episodes and the 1979 film) and also had a recurring role alongside Robert Lindsay in Citizen Smith, written by John Sullivan. He also had parts as Tom Franklin in Chancer (1990–1991), playing the father of Anthony Hopkins's character in The Remains of the Day. In recent years, he’d also starred in Albatross, Doc Martin, Is Anybody There?, Death at a Funeral and Care. Fans of Game of Thrones will know him as Master Amon, the role that made him best known.
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John Glenn:


Date of death: 08.12.2016, aged 95.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: John Glenn was the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth, in 1962, and was aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1998 at age 77, making him the oldest person to fly in space. He was also a decorated Korean War fighter pilot and U.S. senator for 24 years.
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Mario Milano:


Date of death: 09.12.2016, aged 81

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Mario Bulfone, better known by his ring name Mario Milano, was born in Italy and came to Australia in 1967 at the request of promoter Jim Barnett to take part in World Championship Wrestling. The stint was to be “for a few months” and Milano was one of the good guys. Barnett intended that Milano would fill the Italian void left by Domenic De Nucci, who had gone back to the States, the Italian community in Sydney putting many bums on seats at the Friday night wrestling at the Sydney Stadium (my dad used to take me from 1964, when WCW started), and the equivalent in Melbourne on Saturday nights. To the delight of his fans, he became the International Wrestling Alliance's world heavyweight champion in 1967 by defeating Killer Kowalski. The memories . . . Mario Milano and his abdominal stretch, Mark Lewin and his sleeper hold, Killer Kowalski and his clawhold, Killer Karl Cox, Spiros Arion,, Buddy Austin, Brute Bernard, Waldo Von Erich, Skull Murphy. . . Anyway, Mario Milano never did go home, he settled in Melbourne and did the occasional wrestling match even into old age.
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Anne Deveson:


Date of death: 12.12.2016, aged 86.

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Anne Deveson was an Australian writer, broadcaster, filmmaker and social commentator. In the 1950s Deveson was a presenter for radio station 2GB and was one of the first people in Australia to use talkback radio. Deveson was also known to many Australians as "the Omo lady" after appearing in television commercials for that brand of soap powder. Later in her career, she held a number of leadership positions in the industry: she chaired the South Australian Film Corporation from 1984 to 1987 and from 1985 to 1988, she was Executive Director of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Deveson was also an active lobbyist for the rights of women, children and the disabled. Following the diagnosis of her son Jonathan with schizophrenia and his death from a drug overdose, she helped to start the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW in 1985. In 1986 she worked with Dr Margaret Leggatt to launch the national body Schizophrenia Australia Foundation, now named SANE Australia. She was also a member of the Royal Commission into Human Relationships (1974–77), NSW Medical Tribunal (1999–2010), Expert Advisory Group on Drugs and Alcohol (1999–2007) and the NSW Mental Health Tribunal (2002–07). She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014. Her daughter Georgia Blain died on 09.12.2016 from brain cancer.
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Alan Thicke:


Date of death: 13.12.2016, aged 69.

Cause of death: Rupture of aortic artery.

About: Alan Thicke was a Canadian actor, songwriter, and game and talk show host who played the father in the ’80s sitcom “Growing Pains”.
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Bernard Fox:


Date of death: 14.12.2016, aged 89.

Cause of death: Heart failure.

About: Bernard Fox, was a Welsh actor and is best remembered for his roles as Dr. Bombay in the comedy fantasy series Bewitched (1964–1972), Colonel Crittendon in the comedy series Hogan's Heroes (1965–1971), Archibald Gracie IV in the epic romance-disaster film Titanic (1997), and Captain Winston Havlock in the action-adventure fantasy horror film The Mummy (1999).
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Henry Heimlich:


Date of death: 17.12.2016, aged 96.

Cause of death: Choking Complications from a heart attack.

About: Henry Heimlich was an American thoracic surgeon and medical researcher who invented the Heimlich maneuver, a technique of abdominal thrusts for stopping choking. According to some press reports and obituaries, it is believed that during the course of his lifetime, the Heimlich Maneuver may have saved the lives of at least 100,000 people in the United States alone.

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Zsa Zsa Gabor:


Date of death: 18.12.2017, aged 99.

Cause of death: Heart attack, had been on life support for 5 years.

About: ZsaZsa Gabor was a Hungarian-American actress and socialite. Her sisters were actresses Eva (Green Acres) and Magda Gabor. Outside her acting career, Gabor was known for her extravagant Hollywood lifestyle, her glamorous personality, and her many marriages. In total, Gabor had nine husbands, including hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and actor George Sanders. 
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Richard Adams:


Date of death: 24.12.2016, aged 96

Cause of death: Not disclosed.

About: Adams was an English novelist who is best known as the author of Watership Down, Shardik and The Plague Dogs. He studied modern history at university before serving in the British Army during World War II. Afterwards, he completed his studies, and then joined the British Civil Service. In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author. Watership Down, the name of a real hill in England, began as stories that Adams told his daughters at bedtime. They insisted he write them down and publish. Along with Catch 22, it remains one of my favourite 2 books.
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George Michael:


Date of death: 25.12.2016, aged 53.

Cause of death: Not disclosed although his manager stated “heart failure”.

About: English singer, songwriter, and record producer who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! He is best known for his work in the 1980s and 1990s, including hit singles such as "Last Christmas" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", and albums such as Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990). Michael sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
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Carrie Fisher:


Date of death: 27.12.2016, aged 60.

Cause of death: Fisher died after going into cardiac arrest during a transatlantic flight four days earlier.

About: Carrie Fisher was an American actress, writer, producer, and humorist, the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds and best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars film series. Other film roles included Shampoo (1975), The Blues Brothers (1980), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The 'Burbs (1989), and When Harry Met Sally... (1989). 

Byter Graham E sent me an email:
Seeing the pic of “Expansion” today reminded me of a quote in today newsfeed re Carrie Fisher . . . . 
In her book Wishful Drinking, Fisher told a story about how director George Lucas explained to her why she could not wear a bra under her iconic white dress in A New Hope. "(In space) your body expands but your bra doesn't, so you get strangled by your own underwear," Fisher recalled him telling her. 
"I think that this would make for a fantastic obituary," she went on. "I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra."
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Debbie Reynolds:


Date of death: 28.12.2016, aged 83.

Cause of death: Stroke. Her son has said that his mother's stress from the death of her daughter was partly responsible for her stroke. "Reynolds told him she missed her daughter and wanted to be with her," according to news reports.

About: Debbie Reynolds was an American actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian. She was the mother of Carrie Fisher, who died one day earlier. Her husband, Eddie Fisher (the father of Carrie) left her for Elizabeth Taylor. Think of Eddie Fisher as Brad Pitt, Debbie as Jennifer Aniston and Liz Taylor as Angelina Jolie. Her first leading role in 1952 at age 19, as Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain, set her on the path to fame. By the mid-1950s, she was a major star. Other notable successes include The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), Susan Slept Here (1954), Bundle of Joy (1956 Golden Globe nomination), The Catered Affair (1956 National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress Winner), and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), in which her rendering of the song "Tammy" reached number one on the music charts. She starred in How the West Was Won (1963), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), a biographical film about the famously boisterous Molly Brown. Her performance as Molly Brown earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her other notable films include The Singing Nun (1966), Divorce American Style (1967), What's the Matter with Helen? (1971) and Mother (1996 Golden Globe nomination). If you haven’t seen her in In and Out with Kevin Kline, do so, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a very funny movie and well worth viewing.
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RIP




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