Sunday, May 20, 2018

RIP Bill Gold

The Hollywood Reporter
By Mike Barnes
May 20, 2018

Bill Gold, who revolutionized the art of the movie poster over a seven-decade career that began with Casablanca and included A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and dozens of Clint Eastwood films, has died. He was 97.

Gold died at his home in Old Greenwich, Conn. on Sunday, according to family spokeswomen Christine Gillow.

The Brooklyn native began at Warner Bros. in the early 1940s and had a hand in more than 2,000 posters during his iconic career, working on films for everyone from Alfred Hitchcock (1954's Dial M for Murder), Elia Kazan (1955's East of Eden) and Federico Fellini (1963's 8 1/2) to Sam Peckinpah (1969's The Wild Bunch), Robert Altman (1971's McCabe & Mrs. Miller) and Martin Scorsese (1990's GoodFellas).

Gold, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Hollywood Reporter during its 1994 Key Art Awards ceremony, had a way of setting the mood for a movie using a less-is-more philosophy.

"We try not to tell the whole story," he told CBS News in March. "We try to tell a minimum amount of a story, because anything more than that is confusing."

Gold's fruitful relationship with Eastwood began with Dirty Harry (1971), and he gave the actor a gun or a gritty countenance on posters for such films The Enforcer (1976), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), The Gauntlet (1977), Pale Rider (1985) and Unforgiven (1992).

Gold retired after working on the Eastwood-directed Mystic River (2003) but re-emerged to do the poster for the filmmaker's J. Edgar (2011).

"With Bill, I knew he would bring great ideas, and the poster he created would be one less thing we had to think about," Eastwood writes in the introduction to the 2010 book Bill Gold PosterWorks. "He respected the film, he respected the story, and he always respected what we were trying to accomplish.

"Four of the films he worked on won best picture Oscars, including Unforgiven. The first image you have of many of your favorite films is probably a Bill Gold creation."

Movie critic Leonard Maltin once noted that each of Gold's posters is "as individual as the movies they are promoting. I can't discern a Bill Gold style, which is a compliment, because rather than trying to shoehorn a disparate array of movies into one way of thinking visually, he adapted himself to such a wide variety."

Gold "started drawing at age 8 and never stopped," he said in a 2016 interview. After graduating from Pratt Institute in New York City, he approached the art director of the poster department at Warner Bros.' offices in New York.

"He sent me away on a trial to design posters for four earlier films: Escape Me Never and [The Adventures of] Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, The Man I Love with Ida Lupino and Bette Davis' Winter Meeting," he recalled.

Gold passed the test and was hired at age 21, and his first assignment was Casablanca (1942).

As he told CBS News, Gold laid out the poster for Casablanca and placed a gun in Humphrey Bogart's hand at the last minute: "Somebody suggested, 'This is Bogart. Let's put a gun in his hand. That's the way he acts, the way he exaggerates his action. We don't want just a head of him. It's too boring!' "

The gun was taken from another Bogie film, High Sierra (1941). Gold also was assigned work on Warners' Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) around this time.

After enlisting and serving three years during World War II, when he made training films for the U.S. Army Air Force, Gold returned to Warner Bros. and in the late 1950s moved west to work on the studios' Burbank lot. He started his own company in the early 1960s back in New York.

Gold's poster for William Friedkin'sThe Exorcist (1973) — showing the priest played by Max von Sydow under a shaft of light outside the Georgetown home of the possessed young girl (Linda Blair) — was created after he was told not to "show anything that had any hint of religious connotation."

Gold also worked on posters for The Searchers (1956), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Funny Girl (1968), My Fair Lady (1968), Bullitt (1968), Woodstock (1970), Klute (1971), Deliverance (1972), The Sting (1973), Blazing Saddles (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), On Golden Pond (1981), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser (1988).

In 2011, producer Sid Ganis, who headed advertising at Warner Bros. during the 1970s, told THR that Gold was "the maestro. He was the one directing his art directors and directing his copy writers on what to do, which was a great thing. He was also the one who communicated with the studio. He was the guy in charge of the symphony."

Survivors include his wife, Susan, son Bob, daughter in-law Joanne, daughter Marcy, grandson Spencer, granddaughter Dylann and her fiancé Justin, great nephew Jaaron and "man's best friend" Willoughby.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation at

GOLD, Bill (William Gold)
Born: 1/3/1921, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 5/20/2018, Old Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Bill Gold’s westerns – movie poster artist, designer:
Giant – 1956
The Lone Ranger – 1956
The Searchers – 1956
Soldier Blue – 1970
The Wild Bunch - 1969
There Was a Crooked Man – 1970
McCabe and Mrs. Miller – 1971
Jeremiah Johnson – 1972
Joe Kidd – 1972
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean – 1972
High Plains Drifter – 1973
Oklahoma Cruse – 1973
Blazing Saddles - 1974
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid – 1974
Zandy’s Bride – 1974
Rooster Cogburn – 1975
The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox - 1976
The Outlaw Josey Wales – 1976
Bronco Billy – 1980
Heaven’s Gate – 1980
The Long Riders – 1980
Pale Rider - 1985
Unforgiven - 1992

RIP Patricia Morison

Patricia Morison, Star of the Original ‘Kiss Me, Kate,’ Dies at 103

The Hollywood Reporter
By Mike Barnes
May 20, 2018

Patricia Morison, the glamorous star who originated the role of the shrewish actress diva in the delightful 1948 Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate, has died. She was 103.

Morison, who also appeared on stage opposite Yul Brynner in The King and I in such films as The Song of Bernadette (1943), died Sunday at her home in Los Angeles of natural causes.

With a mane of exuberant, dark hair that reached her hips, Morison often was cast as a villainess or “the other woman” on the big screen. She notably played Sherlock Holmes’ smiling adversary Mrs. Hilda Courtney, who is desperate to collect three matching musical boxes, in Dressed to Kill (1946), the 14th and last installment in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce series.

With Morison as its centerpiece, the first staging of Kiss Me, Kate — a musical-within-a-musical centered on a production of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew — ran for 2 1/2 years and 1,077 performances on Broadway. It reeled in six Tony Awards, including the very first one for best musical.

A real knockout, Morison portrayed movie star Lilli Vanessi, who plays the character of Katherine in the show; Kate’s ex-husband, Fred Graham (Alfred Drake), stars opposite her and also produces. It was Morison who introduced such memorable songs as “So in Love” and “I Hate Men” and, in a duet with Drake, “Wunderbar.”

(The two would reprise their roles for a 1958 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV version of the musical.)

“When I first heard ‘So In Love,’ when Cole Porter played it for me, it just knocked me out. It was a beautiful gift,” she told Los Angeles magazine in March 2015. As for “I Hate Men” she said, “I could do a lot of things in character that I would never do in real life. I would never throw plates around and bang tankards.”

Kathryn Grayson starred as Lilli/Kate in the 1953 film version for MGM.

You won’t see Morison in the 1947 film noir classic Kiss of Death, even though she did some of her best work as the wife of Nick Biano (Victor Mature), a crook who refused to rat out his partners and is sent up the river. A henchman hired to look after her and her baby rapes her, and she’s so ashamed, she puts her head in an oven and commits suicide.

“I got a wire from [Fox studio chief] Darryl Zanuck: ‘Pat, this is a breakout performance, you were so wonderful. I would not be surprised if you got a supporting actress Oscar nomination for this,’ ” she told THR’s Scott Feinberg in a 2013 interview.

Audiences, however, never witnessed her performance. “The whole thing got cut out,” Morison said. “The censor said you could not show a rape, and you could not show a suicide.”

Morison was born in 1915 in New York. Her father was a playwright and actor who showed up as a servant in Mervyn LeRoy’s Little Women (1949), and her mother served in British intelligence operations during World War I.

She graduated from Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, took acting classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse (she met Edmond O’Brien there), studied dance with Martha Graham and made her Broadway debut at age 18 in the short-lived 1933 comedy Growing Pains.

Later, she served as Helen Hayes’ understudy in the drama Victoria Regina, also starring Vincent Price, but never made it to the stage. (When Hayes couldn’t make it, the show, in this case, did not go on.)

In 1938, Morison made an impression when she starred in the operetta The Two Bouquets opposite Leo G. Carroll and future Kiss Me, Kate co-star Drake. That got the attention of Paramount, which signed her to a contract and brought her to Hollywood, nicknaming her “The Fire and Ice Girl.”

She made her film debut in Persons in Hiding (1939), playing a bad woman who pushes her man (J. Carrol Naish) to commit murder.

In addition to appearing as Empress Eugenie opposite Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette, Morison appeared with Ray Milland in the comedy Are Husbands Necessary? (1942), with John Garfield in the thriller The Fallen Sparrow (1943) and with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in the romantic comedy Without Love (1945).

Her other films included Night in New Orleans (1942), Lady on a Train (1945), Song of the Thin Man (1947), Queen of the Amazons (1947), Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan and the Huntress (1947) and Song Without End (1960) — as writer George Sand in the Franz Liszt biopic — and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976).

When Tony-winning actress Gertrude Lawrence died of liver cancer just months into the original Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, Morison stepped in to play widowed British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens opposite Brynner. She also toured with him in a road production, all the while refusing his advances (“he was a naughty boy”).

On television, she played a psychiatrist in 1952’s The Cases of Eddie Drake and appeared on a 1989 episode of Cheers.

Morison, who turned 100 on March 19, 2015, celebrated the occasion at a private party at the Pantages Theatre and an event at the Pasadena Playhouse.

MORISON, Patricia (Eileen Patricia Augusta Fraser Morison)
Born: 3/19/1915, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 5/20/2018, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Patricia Morison’s westerns – actress:
Rangers of Fortune – 1940 (Sharon McCloud)
Romance on the Rio Grande – 1941 (Rosita)
The Roundup – 1941 (Janet Allen/Payson)
The Return of Wildfire – 1948 (Pat Marlowe)
Have Gun – Will Travel (TV) – 1958 (Victoria Vestris / Desdemona)

Friday, May 18, 2018

RIP Jim Nickerson

Deadline Hollywood
By David Robb
May 18, 2018

Jimmy Nickerson, a veteran Hollywood stuntman who performed and/or coordinated stunts on more than 70 films and TV shows spanning 30-plus years, has died. He was 68. He died May 4, but no other details were available.

A 1985 inductee into the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame, Nickerson’s long list of stunt credits includes Rocky, Rocky II, Raging Bull, Lethal Weapon, Gladiator, Waterworld, Fight Club, True Lies, Last Action Hero, Batman & Robin, Con Air, Volcano, Crimson Tide, Dante’s Peak, Star Trek: First Contact, Fantasy Island, M*A*S*H and Dynasty.

Born on September 18, 1949, in Pittsburgh, Nickerson was 7 when his family moved to San Fernando, CA. There he began riding horses and was on the pro rodeo circuit by 15. He also found success as amateur lightweight boxer, racking up an 18-1 record by age 18. Those skills were serve him well as he began his stunt career on such TV Westerns as Lancer, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and The Big Valley.

After working on fight scenes for the first two Rocky films and Raging Bull, Nickerson was Hollywood’s go-to boxing coordinator. He later was the subject of a 1991 Sports Illustrated profile titled “Tough Guys Do Dance,” which focused on his work choreographing fight sequences. But stunt work was his calling, and he returned to it.

Nickerson was one of the last surviving key players in one of the worst car crashes in movie history. It happened in 1980 on the set of The Cannonball Run, when he was the driver of an Aston Martin that crashed head-on into another car in the desert outside Las Vegas. The stunt called for him to weave through a line of speeding oncoming cars, but the Aston Martin had bald tires, defective steering and a faulty clutch. When he tried to get it running on the day of the stunt, another car had to push it to get it started, and even then he couldn’t get it going faster than 8 mph.

Director Hal Needham had a mechanic work on the car for a while, and stunt coordinator Bobby Bass then took it out for a test run. He said it was fine, but it wasn’t, and it didn’t even have seat belts. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

When it came time to film the stunt, Nickerson still didn’t think it was ready. He wanted more repairs but was told that the parts from Los Angeles had not arrived and that he’d have to “make do.”

Nickerson’s passengers that day were Cliff Wenger, a special effects man who would be operating a smoke machine while hiding on the floor in the backseat, and Heidi von Beltz, Bass’ 24-year-old girlfriend, who was doubling for Farrah Fawcett. As the Aston Martin sped toward the oncoming line of cars, the last thing she remembered hearing was someone yelling to Nickerson on the walkie-talkie: “Faster! Faster!”

The Aston Martin swerved past the first oncoming car but crashed head-on into the second, slamming von Beltz into the windshield and breaking her neck. She survived, paralyzed from the next down, and would later win a $4.5 million wrongful injury judgment. Nickerson suffered a serious head injury, a shattered hip and compound fractures of the left arm.

Wenger was thrown from the car but suffered no serious injuries. James Halty, the driver of the van that hit them, was wearing a seatbelt and harness and suffered a few cracked ribs. Of all those directly involved in the crash that day, he was the last survivor. Wenger died in January at age 91. Von Beltz died in 2015, Bass committed suicide in 2001, and Needham died in 2013.

In the wake of the accident, the industry adopted new safety guidelines that made seat belts mandatory on all stunt cars.

Nickerson, who also directed three features in the 2000s including boxing pic From Mexico with Love, is survived by his wife of 24 years, Deborah; his daughters Kimberly Reddick and Natalie Nickerson; and one grandson.

NICKERSON, Jim (James Nickerson)
Born: 9/18/1949, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died: 5/4/2018

Jimmy Nickerson’s westerns – actor, stuntman:
Lancer (TV) – 1970 (Dunn)
Alias Smith and Jones (TV) – 1971 [stunts]
Bite the Bullet – 1875 [stunts]
The Long Riders – 1980 [stunts]
Guns of Paradise (TV) 1991 (wagon driver)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

RIP José Lavat

Beloved ‘Dragon Ball Z’ Narrator Jose Lavat Has Passed Away

Comic Book
By Megan Peters

Today, the Dragon Ball fandom is coming together to mourn the loss of one of its own. According to reports, a beloved narrator from one of Dragon Ball Z’s most iconic dubs has passed away.

Not long ago, Toei Animation confirmed José Lavat’s passing with a touching tribute on social media. Over on Twitter, the company honored the vetted actor by thanking him for the work he did on making Dragon Ball Z the global phenomenon it has become.

“Rest in peace José Lavat, an amazing dubbing actor who lended his voice talent to many famous characters for Hispanic audiences including the narrator in Dragon Ball Z. Thank you #PepeLavat for everything,” the message reads.

Lavat’s death is a difficult one for fans to process, and audiences who grew up with Dragon Ball Z’s Latin America Spanish dub will remember the actor fondly. Ever since the anime was brought abroad, Latin America has welcomed Son Goku warmly, and Dragon Ball Z developed a massive following in countries such as Mexico. It was Lavat who helped bring that show to life for Spanish-speaking audiences, and fans are paying tribute to the actor on social media to share their thanks.

While Lavat may be best known by anime fans for his work on Dragon Ball Z, the actor did voice work on plenty of other titles. Not only did Lavat do the Spanish dub of Soichiro Yagami in Death Note, but he also did dubs for Tarzan, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and Street Fighter.

What is your favorite narration from Lavat in Dragon Ball Z? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime.

LAVAT, José (José Francisco Lavat Pacheco)
Born: 9/28/1948, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
Died: 5/15/2018, Mexico

José Lavat’s Westerns – voice actor:
Rio Grande – 1950 [Mexican voice of Ben Johnson]
Bend of the River – 1952 [Mexican voice of James Stewart]
Shane – 1953 [Mexican voice of Alan Ladd]
Bonanza (TV) – 1959-1972 [Mexican voice of Lorne Greene]
Hombre – 1967 [Mexican voice of Paul Newman]
High Chaparral (TV) 1967-1971 [Mexican voice of Myron Healey, Jonathan Goldsmith, Wes Bishop, Monte Markham, Pat Renella, Richard Gates]
Hang En’ High – 1968 [Mexican voice of Clint Eastwood]
Silverado – 1968 [Mexican voice of Kevin Costner]
The Wild Bunch – 1969 [Mexican voice of William Holden]
Wyatt Earp – 1994 [Mexican voice of Kevin Costner]

RIP Greg Blair

Gregory Blair
August 24, 1960 - May 5, 2018

Los Angeles Times
May 8, 2018

Gregory Blair of Sherman Oaks, CA, was a loving father to Nathan and Grant and brother to Colleen Hamburger, Colin Blair and Deirdre Blair. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he was an award-winning Production Designer known for his work on movies including "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and on countless commercials. Greg loved photography, skiing, hiking, music, and spending time with his sons. This requiem honors a man who was not only beloved by family, colleagues and friends, but who was also an expert Scrabble player that would appreciate the use of a word containing a "q." A memorial service will be held on May 9th, 6:30 p.m, at Church of the Chimes, 14115 Magnolia Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.

BLAIR, Greg (Gregory Blair)
Born: 8/24/1960, U.S.A.
Died: 5/5/2018, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.

Greg Blair’s western – production designer:
Pathfinder - 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

RIP Joseph Campanella

Veteran Character Actor Joseph Campanella Dies at 93

By Kirsten Chuba
May 16, 2018

Joseph Campanella, a character actor who appeared in more than 200 TV and film roles over his 50-year career, died at his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home on Wednesday, his daughter-in-law told Variety. He was 93.

Campanella appeared across five seasons of late ’60s and early ’70s crime drama “Mannix,” for which he earned a supporting actor Emmy nomination in 1968, and six seasons of ’70s sitcom “One Day at a Time.” He had a number of other co-starring roles on the small screen, including ’60s hospital drama “The Doctors and the Nurses,” the ’70s medical series “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” and ’80s primetime soap story “The Colbys.” In more recent years, the actor held a recurring role on daytime soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” from 1996 to 2005 and worked on “The Practice” and “That’s Life.”

Along with his on-screen roles, Campanella also built a career as a voice actor, voicing characters in ’90s animated shows “Spider-Man” and “Road Rovers,” along with narrating the “Discover” science series on Disney Channel. He appeared in three Broadway plays, with “The Captains and the Kings” in 1962, “A Gift of Time” in 1962, and “Hot Spot” in 1963. He was nominated for a Tony for his performance in “A Gift of Time.”

Campanella is the younger brother of fellow actor Frank Campanella, who died in 2007. He was born in New York City and attended Columbia University before moving to Hollywood. He is survived by Jill Campanella, his wife of 53 years, as well as his seven sons and eight grandchildren.

CAMPANELLA, Joseph (Joseph Anthony Campanella)
Born: 11/21/1924, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 5/15/2018, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.

Joseph Campanella’s westerns – actor, narrator:
The Virginian (TV) – 1963, 1964, 1968 (Pedro Lopez, Corbett, Walker)
The Road West (TV) – 1966 (Tom Burrus)
Shane (TV) – 1966 (Barney Lucas)
The Big Valley (TV) – 1966, 1967 (Francisco De Navarre, Martinson)
The Wild Wild West (TV) – 1967 (Talamantes)
Gunsmoke (TV) – 1968, 1972 (Amos McKee, Jack Naorcross)
Lancer (TV) – 1969 (Douglas Blessing)
Alias Smith and Jones (TV) – 1971 (Jake Carlson)
Barbary Coast (TV) – 1975 (Austin Benedict)
Mission to Glory: A True Story - 1977
Guns of Paradise (TV) – 1990 (The Horseman)
Walker, Texas Ranger (TV) – 1996 (Victor DeMarco)
Grizzly Adams and the Legend of Dark Mountain – 1999 (Professor Hunnicut)
The Legend of God’s Gun – 2007 (narrator)