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The Obituary Thread (to acknowledge and honor entertainment figures and classic movie stars who we've lost recently)

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Initial post: Jul 13, 2009 2:02:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2012 11:32:28 AM PST
When a classic film star passes away, we will have a place to appreciate them, right here. We can express our loss and we can reminisce about their contributions to the world.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2009 9:58:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 6, 2012 10:52:05 PM PDT
It's only right that we pause to honor fallen entertainers and behind-the-camera folks
who have all enriched our lives in so many ways.

Posted on Jul 13, 2009 10:07:37 PM PDT
Thanks to you, too-- it was your idea.

Posted on Jul 13, 2009 10:35:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 13, 2009 10:37:36 PM PDT
Although not an actual entertainer, one notworthy July 4th passing was ALLEN KLEIN, manager of both the Beatles and Rolling Stones. He died of Alzheimer's at age 77.

On July 1st, the same day we lost Karl Malden and Mollie Sugden, ANNA KAREN (Morrow) died of natural causes at age 94. She was married to actor Jeff Morrow and had a small role in Hitchcock's great film noir THE WRONG MAN (1956).

Anna Karen was primarily a TV actress, guesting on such shows as THE REBEL, classic STAR TREK, MARCUS WELBY M.D. and WAGON TRAIN. She was also a regular on PEYTON PLACE.

Posted on Jul 15, 2009 9:48:00 PM PDT
DALLAS (Dal) MCKENNON died on July 14th, just five days shy of his 90th birthday.

McKennon was an actor/comedian who also did cartoon work. He was the voice of Gumby, Buzz Buzzard and Archie Andrews. McKennon can also be heard in the Disney features LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) [Toughy/Professor/Pedro], SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959) [owl], 101 DALMATIONS (1961), MARY POPPINS (1964) [fox], and BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971) [bear]. In the English language versions of the chaptered TINTIN cartoons, Dal was the voice of Prof. Calculus.

The bewhskered actor cameoed as the chef in Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, but he's best known in the '60s NBC-TV series, DANIEL BOONE for portraying Cincinattus.

PHOTO ss Cincinattus:

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2009 10:02:41 PM PDT

Thanks for that post. I hadn't heard about McKennon.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 17, 2009 8:53:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 17, 2009 9:43:18 PM PDT
This one really saddens me:
WALTER CRONKITE died at age 92 after years of batlling a vascular disease that's often related to strokes.

Those of a certain age remember Cronkite's many important CBS News broadcasts: his near-tearful announcement of JFK's death; the news report where Walter said the Vietnam War was unwinnable (fallout from this was LBJ deciding not to seek re-election in 1968), and on a happier note, his elation with Apollo 11's landing and Neil Armstrong's moonwalk.

But I thought some coverage here of Mr. Cronkite's more entertainment-related work is approprate.

He moderated many TV series:
"It's News to Me" (1951)
"Facts We Face" (1951)
"You Are There" - a great half-hour documentary series (directed by John Frankenheimer) that ran from 1953 to '57.
"Eyewitness to History" (1960)
"The Twentieth Century" (1957-66) - excellent weekly program with a great theme song that the A&E channel often reran in the 90s under a different title.
"The Twenty-First Century" (1967) - I remember one chapter of this short-lived science-related show. Cronkite showed clips of an upcoming movie that had a unique vision of the future. The film: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968).

Addiionally, Cronkite did special reports for CBS, appeared often on the 1981 show "Disneyland," hosted several "Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts" in the '80s and '90s, and played host to "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration" between 1988 and 2008.

There's plenty of others, like "American Masters," "ESPN Sports Century" etc., but perhaps Walter's most celebrated non-news TV appearance was a cameo as himself on a 1974 episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, where inept newsanchor Ted Baxter ("Good night and good news!") finally gets to meet his idol, when Walter himself visits WJM.

He was once called "the most trusted man in America."
Walter Cronkite will truly be missed.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 17, 2009 9:17:10 PM PDT
BreeInAZ says:
Apollo 13???? I think you mean Apollo 11... he was like a little boy at Christmas.

All I remember from Cronkite's expressions in Apollo 13 was a lot of tension, worry and relief once they landed. I was 11 at the time.

Walter WAS news... I loved "You Are There" and "The Twentieth Century" - it's too bad Rather could not have followed in his footsteps and kept his personal political leanings out of his reporting.

To quote Hannity "Journalism IS dead" now. Walter's passing is the end of an era we will never see or revisit again.

He has already been missed. I loved Walter as a kid... and that was ALWAYS the news we watched... the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite." When he retired and turned over the desk to Rather, I watched intently. I had such high hopes for Dan, but Dan was and is no Walt... and sadly, learned very little from him... too bad for his sake.

Walter will always be the king of broadcast journalism, period - "and that's the way it is..." or was - and always will be.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 17, 2009 9:33:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 17, 2009 9:41:51 PM PDT
Thanks Ted--
My proofreading missed that one.
"Uncle Walter" wouldn't be too thrilled with me right now, I guess.

I said elsewhere on these forums that I make more mistakes than anybody-- and the above was proof. In fact, the Firesign Theatre dedicated a 1974 LP to me:


PS-- On Dan Rather, one thought:
"What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

Posted on Jul 18, 2009 5:53:08 AM PDT
Yes, Cronkite was the face of journalism in the second half of the 20th Century. He was probably one of the most trusted and respected figures in the media.

He was nothing like today's news 'celebrities'... (like Larry King) who ask people the most heartless or clueless questions during interviews.

Oddly enough, in June people were wondering if Walter Cronkite was going to be one of those celebrities who seemed to be passing away in bunches. I suppose it was because of his advanced age. Anyway, a legend is gone.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2009 10:40:12 AM PDT
His death was caused by advanced cerebral vascular disease.

Posted on Jul 18, 2009 11:22:27 AM PDT
Oh, yes, I know. I meant, people assumed he would be passing away before long because he was 92. I didn't mean he died because of his age. Just to clarify.

Posted on Jul 18, 2009 1:44:12 PM PDT
John Larrick says:
I wonder how successfull Walter Cronkite would be today in television news? His solid journalism and no nonsense reporting wouldn't be enough anymore. Today there has to be an "entertainment" factor and Cronkite just wouldn't be "cool" enough.

It's hard to believe that it has been over 28 years since Walter Cronkite left the evening news, and in other way's maybe not. It is hard to recognize news broadcasts today compared to the first 30 years of my life. I trusted the news figures of that era because they told you what you needed to know in a no nonsense fashion. There was also a certain sense of dignity about Walter Cronkite as he did not aspire to be a celebrity.
My family watched "The Huntley Brinkley Report" on N.B.C., I don't know why but I started watching C.B.S. after Chet Huntley retired.

I shudder to think about how President Kennedy's assassination would be covered today as opposed to the simple announcement by Walter Cronkite ,with a lump in his throat ,that "President Kennedy died today at 1:00 c.s.t.". I think a large part of true journalism died with Walter Cronkite yesterday.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2009 9:07:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 18, 2009 9:14:53 PM PDT
There are no classic-style news anchors left. I think if Cronkite, Jennings, Reynolds, Blair, Brinkley or Huntley were around now, they'd do just fine.

On JFK--
What's really interesting is the NBC broadcast tape for that terrible Friday afternoon. A soap is interrupted and there's immediate chaos in the newsroom. Bill Ryan has the main chair, with Frank McGee at his right.

No one knows exactly what's happened, just that "shots rang out in Dallas."

McGee takes a phone call from an on-scene reporter. Their studio audio link malfunctions, so a primitive listening device, where a phone's earpiece rests in a miked cradle, is given to him. THAT gadget doesn't work either (it squeals), so McGee resorts to repeating what he hears over the phone-- almost.

As he listens and relays the info from Parkland Hospital, suddenly the studio link starts working. McGee and Ryan aren't yet aware of this and it's instantly evident that Frank is busily REWRITING what the reporter at the other end tellshim! There's that annoying BEEP they used to play every 15 seconds (to let a person know the call is being recorded), and eventually, someone cues Ryan that Frank's repetitions are no longer necessary. McGee ignores Bill's telling him to stop and for a full minute he continues the parroting, intently tuned to the call.

The rumors and incorrect information floating around that first crazy hour are revealing about how breaking news is hardly ever understood when it happens. The telephoning reporter says that a Catholic priest has just exited the hospital after giving JFK the Last Rites and he says that Kennedy is dead. It was treated as rumor until the official announcement came 20 minutes later.

Bill Ryan read the official AP wire with absolutely no show of emotion. That man had ice water in his veins! But I always liked him. Ryan's reports a few years later from Vietnam were always the most believeable.

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 5:22:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 19, 2009 5:23:55 PM PDT
John Larrick says:
I will never forget that day. Sister Ann Miriam came in and told us that the President had been shot and that we need to pray for him and she led us in the Lord's Prayer. Then we went to Church at Sacred Hart and they told us that Presient Kennedy was dead. We stayed there doing the rosary until our parents came to get us. I remember getting home and the T.V. was on and my dad was watching the coverage.I had never seen him like that as he was just in a transe. My Mom had been watching "As the World Turn's" with my grandma at her house and she saw it when Walter Cronkite broke in with the news and they came over to school to get us. It was a terrible day.

All we did was watch T.V. for the next three day's and mourn. When the funeral procession was shown and the drum's played constantly with the funeral march, I knew it was real. I have heard people say that's when Television News came of age and Walter Cronkite was at his best.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2009 8:58:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 19, 2009 10:19:16 PM PDT
My memory of that November day is an eerie one.

Just after 1:30 in the afternoon, our grammar school principal, Mrs. Sullivan came up from the first floor and whispered something to our teacher. The two left the room together.

While the other kids giggled and chatted, I looked to my right. As a back row student, I had a view out of the room's fire door, which had a large pane of glass with diamond-grid patterned chicken wire embedded in it (remember those?)

All of the second floor teachers stood in a circle as Mrs. Sullivan talked. Their body language suggested worry. I couldn't hear what was being said by them out in the hall as I was in at least ten feet from the door, yet I turned to the girl on my left (her name was Debra) and remarked: "The way they're acting, you'd think the President was shot!"

Mrs. Petrosemblo came back into the room to dismiss class for the day. She told us that JFK had been shot and killed. Debbie started crying hysterically. (When I bumped into her in the neighborhood some ten years later, Debbie commented: "You always scared me." Some legacy.)

That was a weekend from hell. My parents were upset and I was bummed cuz I'd seen JFK a year before in a parade that originated at Tweed New Haven Airport. His open limo passed slowly up Woodward Avenue, and there he sat waving to our entire school as we stood at the curb, a brilliant October sun making his hair glow like fire. I thought him the most beautiful man I'd ever seen.

Kennedy's visit to Yale that morning occurred right at the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis, before anything had been announced publicly about the situation. (See the film 13 DAYS for its New Haven reference.)

Anyway, Saturday was a blur. Sunday morning I tuned into Channel 5-WNEW to watch WONDERAMA with Sonny Fox. The show was pre-empted for a special report from Dallas. And that's when I saw Lee Oswald murdered on live TV.

As a child of 9, that moment pushed me off of an emotional cliff. I wandered around the neighborhood during JFK's Monday funeral looking for somewhere to hide, and spent the next several years living in private terror that my folks or siblings or I would be murdered by assailants unknown. With Lyndon Johnson in the White House and an ever-worsening war in Vietnam, plus the seven day Arab-Israeli conflict, there was no end to my paranoias.

And then MLK and RFK were assassinated within two months of each other. That summer of 1968, I watched and smelled the distant smoke of inner-city race riot fires and wondered who was coming for me in the middle of the night? It was a tense dark summer of sleepless worry.

For all these reasons, when younger people talk fondly of the '60s, the music, the drugs etc., a time they never lived through, I tell them that they're lucky to have missed those god-awful years. I wish I had.

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 10:58:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 19, 2009 11:00:04 PM PDT
John Larrick says:
That event really affected me and my family as well as our nation. My parents had been big supporters of President Kennedy during his campaign and they met him twice during local campaign events. I also have a picture from a newspaper (Des Moines Register) showing my dad with J.F.K. at an event in Chicago. My two aunts lived in D.C. and were career civil servants at the Pentagon and they practicly worshiped the man, (Irish and Catholic!). Both Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Mary called to give us up dates from D.C.periodicly that weekend. They stood in line all night to get into the Capitol to pass his casket. They sent me the "Prayer card's" from his funeral that I have to this day.

The next summer (64) we went to D.C. just to visit his grave, as did million's of other Americans. I left a prayer card and my confirmation rosary beads at the small fence surrounding the grave with the eternal flame. I have pictures of our family, mom,dad, my sisters and aunts at Arlington and we were all dressed as if we were going to a funeral. It was the saddest trip I ever took in my life but it was a real learning experience for me.
I didn't worry nor was I scared about death after this event as I think we were taught a lot about death at an early age; and I was old enough to understand what had happened. Also I think the huge ceremony of the funeral with it's infinite details helps some people like me to maintain a sense of order. One really good thing about my religous training was being prepared for death and asking for forgiveness every day.

Any way, I appreciate you sharing your memories of a very sad time that had such a huge impact on so many lives. Someone could make a very interesting movie about all these personal stories surrounding this time in our history. Have a good night!

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 8:43:08 PM PDT
Dead at age 84 is JILL BALCON, a British actress of minor note who is best known as mother of Daniel Day-Lewis.

Her screen debut was in NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (1947) as Madeline Bray, where Balcon was 17th billed behind such actors as Cedric Hardwicke, Stanley Holloway, Alfred Drayton, Derek Bond, Sally Ann Howes and Fay Compon.

Beginning in 1950, Balcon appeared in several BBC TV productions and series. In 1972 she portrayed Dr. Catherine Eliot on the American soap, GENERAL HOSPITAL.

Cause of death was not disclosed.

Posted on Jul 23, 2009 8:48:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 24, 2009 12:56:00 AM PDT
Sad news: GIDGET died recently.
Not Sandra Dee, who passed in February of '05, and not Sally Field either.

Gidget was a TV celebrity of sorts in the 1990s-- as the diminutive chihuahua who said, "Yo quiero TACO BELL™."

She died of natural causes at age 15, which is of course 105 in human years.

Posted on Jul 23, 2009 9:12:51 PM PDT
This deserved a post here? rofl

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2009 10:00:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 23, 2009 10:02:04 PM PDT
Look at this thread's title.
"Entertainment figures" clearly doesn't preclude actor pooches.
Besides, I thought it a witty post (you laughed, yes?).

Posted on Jul 23, 2009 11:28:11 PM PDT
Fine. I will abide. We'll honor the chihuahua.

... ...

Okay, that's long enough.

Posted on Jul 26, 2009 2:21:13 PM PDT
In honor of the late "Gidget," the Taco Bell
chihuahua, I suggest that at high noon on July 30th,
to mark a week of her passing, all male fans of Gidget
visit the nearest fire hydrant and in a strictly honorary
and dry gesture raise a leg just for a symbolic second.

Or we can have a syncronized tail wag in.


Posted on Jul 26, 2009 4:27:34 PM PDT
I salute my taco.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2009 9:28:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 26, 2009 9:30:15 PM PDT
Yah yah--
Well, Gidget's death is noted at Wikipedia, and days after her passing, a TV news report said that she was (and I quote): "probably the most popular four-legged female actor ever."

I kinda figgered that honor goes to Lauren Bacall (a real dog), but all kidding aside, what entertainment B-word (canine, that is) enjoyed more notoriety at fame's height than our "Yo quiero TC" friend?

Speaking of that company, here's a fun foto:
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