Thursday, July 27, 2017

RIP Russell Durham Comegys

Jones-Stewart Funeral Home
July 27, 2017

Mr. Russell "Rowdy" Comegys, age 45, of Vidalia died Sunday afternoon, July 23, 2017 in Bulloch County from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while traveling to Savannah with his close friend to watch a movie. Russell was a native of Cedartown, GA and moved with his family to Vidalia in 1976.
He quickly made an impact upon the hearts of people in Vidalia as Russ was crowned Little Mr. Vidalia in 1978. He graduated from Vidalia High School in 1991 where he was voted best looking of his class, played on the high school football team where he earned several varsity letters; and then attended Brewton Parker College where he studied Science Literature. He then followed his dream and went to the University of Georgia where he graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor's Degree in Drama with a minor in Spanish. In 2001 Russell attended the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York City. Russell was an actor who passionately followed his dream.
He lived for many years in New York City, Los Angeles and also Atlanta where he was always looking for the next acting opportunity. He was a member of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and was represented by The People Store Talent Agency of Atlanta. He appeared in over 33 movies and television shows including, Rectify, The Walking Dead, Solace, The Lucky One, Necessary Roughness, Vampire Diaries, Dead Birds, The Gift, Sun Records and The Punisher. Although he was always called "Rowdy" he had a giving soul who loved all people as he truly never met a stranger.
He had a genuine heart for people in need and homeless animals. He recently devoted nearly two years of his life taking care of and raising two homeless dogs until he found the perfect family to adopt them in Maine. Russell is survived by his mother, Gayle Comegys of Vidalia; his father, Alex Comegys (Vicki) of Vidalia; his sister, Robyn Comegys Parson of Vidalia; his two nieces, Kailee and Cassidy Parson, both of Richmond Hill; his girlfriend of ten years, Lauren Boyle of Los Angeles CA and his step-son Jahsua Johnson of Los Angeles CA; his uncle Maylon Lane (Oleria) of Roopville GA; his step-brother, Neil Persohn of Lakeland FL and his step-sister, Lindsay Persohn (Chris) of Lakeland FL. He is also survived by many other relatives and numerous special friends all over the country. Funeral Services for Mr. Russell "Rowdy" Comegys will be held Thursday July 27, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Stewart-Rosier Funeral Service Vidalia Chapel with Reverend Don Moye officiating.
Entombment will follow at Lakeview Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends Wednesday evening at Stewart-Rosier Funeral Service Vidalia Chapel from 4:00 to 8:00 pm.

COMEGYS, Russell Durham
Born: 5/21/1972, Cedartown, Georgia, U.S.A.
Died: 7/23/2017, Bulloch County, Georgia, U.S.A.
Russell Durham Comegy’s westerns – actor:
Dead Birds – 2004 (Kormer)
The Work and the Glory II: American Zion – 2005 (ruffian)
Here The Vulture Waits – 2014 (Steel Eyes)
The Clinch Mountain Tracker - 2017

RIP Eddie Kafafian

Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2017

Eddie passed away at the age of 90 on July 9, 2017. Born in New Jersey, Eddie was a Voting Member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Eddie received two honorable discharges from the Navy and the Marine Corps. After WWII, Eddie became an actor and appeared in films including Shake Rattle And Rock with Fats Domino. Eddie segued into reporting for Daily Variety which included his own music column Clef Dwellers. After leaving Variety, he went into publicity for several studios including Warner Bros., Universal, MGM and retired as Director of Publicity and Promotion at 20th Century Fox working with Studio Head Alan Ladd, Jr. During his studio years, among the people Eddie worked with are John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Anthony Hopkins, James Garner, Charlton Heston and Mel Brooks. After retiring, Eddie joined the Los Angeles Police Dept. as a sworn Reserve Officer for 26 years. He leaves his wife Leah, a son, a grandson, a daughter in law and two nieces.

KAFAFIAN, Eddie (Edward Eugene Kafafian)
Born: 9/24/1926, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 7/9/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Eddie Kafafian’s western – actor:
Flesh and the Spur – 1956 (Bud)

RIP June Foray

June Foray, Voice of ‘Bullwinkle Show’s’ Natasha and Rocky, Dies at 99

By Terry Flores
July 26, 2017

June Foray, the voice of “The Rocky and  Bullwinkle Show’s” Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his nemesis Natasha Fatale of Boris and Natasha fame in the early 1960s and a key figure in the animation industry, died Thursday. She was 99.

Her close friend Dave Nimitz, confirmed her death on Facebook, writing “With a heavy heart again I want to let you all know that we lost our little June today at 99 years old.”

Foray was also the voice behind Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel, Nell from “Dudley Do-Right,” Granny in the “Tweety and Sylvester” cartoons and Cindy Lou Who in Chuck Jones’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” among hundreds of others.

The first lady of voice acting, one of the original members of animation organization ASIFA-Hollywood and founder of the annual Annie Awards, was also instrumental in the creation of the Oscars’ animated feature category.

“We are all saddened by the news of June’s passing,” said ASIFA-Hollywood executive director Frank Gladstone, who noted that she would have celebrated her 100th birthday in September. “Although it didn’t come as a shock, it has really taken us back a bit.”

Gladstone noted her instrumental role in starting the Annie Awards. “It was part of her legacy and a testament to her enduring love for animation and the animation industry.”

Said ASIFA president Jerry Beck: “On behalf of ASIFA-Hollywood, of which June was a founder, we are mourning the passing of animation’s best friend. She has touched so many lives: with her voice that of so many classic cartoon character, her efforts to create ASIFA, to maintain the Academy’s Oscar for Best Animated Short and her leadership in crafting the category of Best Animated Feature. She was one of a kind. A trailblazer, a great talent and a truly wonderful person. We will never forget her.”

Recently elected Academy board member and animation veteran Tom Sito said of Foray: “She was a mainstay of the animation community in Hollywood and the queen of voice talent.”

Foray continued to work late in life, reprising her role as Rocky in director Gary Trousdale’s short “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” released by DreamWorks Animation in 2014. In a 2013 interview with Variety, Foray said: “I’m still going. It keeps you thinking young. My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old.”

Foray is credited with coming up with the idea for the Annie Awards, which started out as a dinner honoring the year’s best in animation in 1972, and she presided over what has become a gala event in the animation industry every year since. The Annies created a juried award named for Foray in 1995 that honors individuals who have made significant or benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and she was its first recipient.

Foray told Variety that she had been working in the animation business for about 20 years before the group that would eventually become ASIFA-Hollywood casually came to be. “We never did anything. Sometimes we’d have lunch together and call each other on the phone,” she said. Foray was a founding member of what was then called ASIFA West Coast in the early 1960s with fellow animation professionals Les Goldman, Bill Littlejohn, Ward Kimball, John Wilson, Carl Bell and Herbert Kasower.

In the early 1970s Foray pitched the idea for an awards show. “I was thinking that there were the Grammys, the Tonys, the Oscars, but nobody recognizes animation,” Foray said. So she suggested the board host a dinner, and though other board members said no one would show up to such an event, they rented space in the Sportsmen’s Lodge in the San Fernando Valley to honor animation pioneers Max and Dave Fleischer. “And 400 people showed up,” boasted Foray.

A longtime cheerleader for the animation industry, Foray lobbied for many years to have animated films recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. “I was on the board of governors for 26 years and I tried for 20 years” to convince the Academy to have a category for animated features, she told Variety. Finally the Academy created the category in 2001, and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek” won the first Oscar for animated feature. Afterward, Foray said, “Jeffrey Katzenberg called me to thank me because he was aware of what I had done.”

Though not a superstar in the traditional sense, Foray had an impressive list of fans, as Leonard Maltin relayed in his forward to Foray’s 2009 autobiography “Did You Grow Up With Me, Too?” He wrote: “When I was fortunate enough to attend the Oscar nominees’ luncheon in 2007, I asked director Martin Scorsese who he was excited to have met that day, among the hundred-or-so contenders and Academy guests. He smiled and said, ‘June Foray.’”

Foray was born June Lucille Forer in Springfield, Mass., and she was doing vocal work in local radio dramas by the time she was 12. She continued working in radio after her family moved to Los Angeles after she graduated from high school, following her dream of becoming an actress. She even had her own “Lady Make Believe” radio show that showcased her vocal talents, and she appeared regularly on network shows such as “Lux Radio Theater” and “The Jimmy Durante Show.”

She met her future husband, writer and director Hobart Donavan, while working on “Smilin’ Ed’s Buster Brown Show,” then moved on to work with Steve Allen on morning radio show “Smile Time,” in which she’d play “everyone and everything. It was there that I perfected my Spanish accent and where my booming Marjorie Main-type voice got a good workout,” she recalled in her autobiography.

After “Smile Time,” Foray found work with Capitol Records, where she recorded many children’s albums and where she first met and worked with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler, with whom she recorded several comedy records, including “Dragnet” parody “St. George and the Dragonet.” Later she was a regular cast member of “The Stan Freberg Show” on CBS Radio.

Foray got her start in the animation business when someone from the Walt Disney studio called her to ask if she could do the voice of a cat. “Well, I could do anything,” recalled Foray in an interview with Variety. “So he hired me as Lucifer the cat in ‘Cinderella,’ and then I started to work for Disney.” Much of her work for Disney was uncredited, including work as a mermaid and squaw in “Peter Pan.” But she starred as the voice of Hazel the Witch in the 1952 Donald Duck short “Trick or Treat,” using a voice that would later morph into “Looney Tunes” character Witch Hazel. She would often say that she voiced a long litany of cartoon witches, many of them named Hazel.

About the same time, the 1950s, Foray worked on a series of cartoons by such animation pioneers as Tex Avery and Walter Lantz. For Warner Bros., she became Granny in the “Tweety and Sylvester” cartoons and Alice Crumden in the cartoon parody of “The Honeymooners,” “The Honey-Mousers.” At Warner Bros. she met Chuck Jones, for whom she worked on several “Looney Tunes” cartoons, starting with “Broom-Stick Bunny” in 1956. She would later star as Cindy Lou Who in Jones’ cartoon adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

She also voiced Mother Magoo in the “Mister Magoo” series.

But her greatest fame came with Jay Ward’s satirical “Rocky and His Friends,” which would later become “The Bullwinkle Show,” eventually known collectively as “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” which ran from 1959 through 1964. Foray did most of the female voices for the show, including the voice of Russian villain Natasha Fatale, as well as that of Rocket J. Squirrel. She also voiced characters for other Jay Ward cartoons, such as “Dudley Do-Right” (Nell Fenwick), “George of the Jungle” (Jane) and “Tom Slick” (Marigold).

It wasn’t only in animation that Foray got to use her myriad vocal talents. She voiced the demonic doll Talky Tina in “The Twilight Zone” episode entitled “Living Doll” in 1963.

Despite her prolific career, she had to wait until 2012 for an Emmy nomination; she went on to win a Daytime Emmy for her performance as Mrs. Cauldron on Cartoon Network’s “The Garfield Show.”

A documentary about her life, “The One and Only June Foray,” was produced in 2013.

Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945. She was married to Donavan from 1954 until his death in 1976.

FORAY, June (June Lucille Foray)
Born: 9/18/1917, Springfield, Massachusetts, California
Died: 7/26/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

June Foray’s westerns – voice actress:
Rawhide (TV) – 1960 [voice of Raymond (Kim Hector)
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1974 [girls voices in play]

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

RIP Carol Vnuk

Pioneer Press

She was born in the Clay Pits (her words) near Zumbrota, MN on August 19th, 1933. She passed away peacefully on July 22, 2017 surrounded by her family. Carol was a beautiful, fantastic, awesome mom who deeply loved her children, their spouses, grandchildren, Karen Vnuk (Denny Baker), Dionne Ledesma grand daughter, Brianne Trujillo great granddaughter, Karla (Wayne) Vogel, Kevin (Kerry) Vnuk, Kent (Heather) Vnuk, and Reese Vanderwilt grandson. Carol was a multi-talented woman with a bit of quirkiness that added to her endearing personality. In her early years she was a waitress, worked at Buckbee Mears in manufacturing, and then a realtor for 30 years before retiring in her 60's. During her "retirement" years she took acting and comedy classes and quickly became an accomplished actor and comedian, even doing work in an Off Broadway play in New York City (where she won the best actress award), won a trip to Las Vegas for her comedy routine, performed in and held comedy shows across MN, WI and IA, and she was especially proud of performing at The Comedy Store in CA. She loved to travel and made trips with her family to St. John USVI, Germany, London, Mexico, Savannah, Washington DC, Branson, Las Vegas, The Black Hills, Yellowstone National Park, Catalina Island and many other places. While not always understanding it, she embraced technology. She loved staying in touch with family and friends on Facebook, via e-mail, liked to Google and was a budding photographer who loved taking pictures. She also loved her trips to the cabin, playing cards, puzzles, tending gardens (tulips and daisies were her favorite flowers), raising plants and doing thoughtful things for her children. She was preceded in death by her parents Christie and Marie Lother, sisters Eunice Quast and Audrey Nichols, brother Dale Lother, and ex-husband Donald Vnuk. She will be very missed but will always be in our hearts. Funeral Service 11 AM Friday, July 28, 2017 at ROSEVILLE MEMORIAL CHAPEL (2245 N. Hamline Ave., Roseville) 651-631-2727. Visitation 5-8 PM Thursday at the funeral home and also one hour prior to service. Interment at Roselawn Cemetery.

VNUK, Carol (Carol Faye Vnuk)
Born: 8.19.1933, Clay Pits, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Died: 7/22/2017, Roseville, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Carol Vnuk’s western – actress:
The Disinherited – 2010 (Mary T. Preston)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

RIP Jimmy Clem

Hillcrest Memorial Park
July 23, 2017

James Melvin “Jimmy” Clem, age 84, of Texarkana, Texas, passed peacefully at his home on Saturday, July 22, 2017.

Mr. Clem was born December 13, 1932, in Redwater, Texas, and was a lifetime resident of Texarkana. Jimmy was a Cattle Rancher, where he owned and bred one of the most respected and revered Brahman cattle herds in the world for several decades. He was also a Movie Star, where he appeared in twelve movies, the most notable, the Town that Dreaded Sundown. He was in the oil business and was a road contractor. Mr. Clem was a veteran of the United States Air Force having served his country proudly in the Korean War. His biggest accomplishment in life was his family. He loved his family and enjoyed spending time with them. He was a devoted and proud father, grandfather and great grandfather. Jimmy lived life to the fullest and was a connoisseur of many of life’s pleasures. He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild, a lifetime member of the Brahman Association and the National Cattleman’s Association. He was of the Baptist Faith and graduate of Texas Tech University.

Jimmy was preceded in death by his parents, Eric Melvin Clem and Mary Florence Clem, his two wives, Mary Catherine “Kitty” Clem and Eddie Lou Slider Clem, two sisters, Mary Dell Clem Parker and Jerry Clem.

He is survived by his two sons and daughters-in-law: Burt and Jan Clem of Simms, Texas; Sam and Telka Clem of Texarkana, Texas; one sister: Cean Clem Bonner of Genoa, Arkansas; two stepdaughters: Kathy Constantine of Leary, Texas; Donna Welch of Dallas, Texas; one stepson: Bo Slider of Leary, Texas; one brother-in-law; Mark Parker of the Wamba Community; numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

In lieu of flowers please make contributions to the Runnin WJ Ranch, 4802 South Kings Hwy. Texarkana, Texas 75501 or to the American Cancer Society, 1301 S. Broadway Ave. Tyler, Texas75503.

CLEM, Jimmy (James Melvin Clem)
Born: 12/13/1932, Redwater, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 7/22/2017, Texarkana, Texas, U.S.A.

Jimmy Clem’s westerns – actor:
Winterhawk – 1975 (Little Smith)
The Winds of Autumn – 1976 (Hog Hankins)
Grayeagle – 1977 (Abe Stroud)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

RIP John Heard

Home Alone and Sopranos Star John Heard Has Died

By Dave Quinn
July 22, 2017

John Heard — the actor known for his role in several iconic ’80s and ’90s movies including Big, Beaches, and Home Alone — died Friday in Palo Alto, California, the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office confirms to PEOPLE. He was 71.

The Palo Alto Police Department confirmed to PEOPLE that a man fitting Heard’s description was found dead at a local hotel.

“I can confirm that our officers responded with the Fire Department to a hotel in our city yesterday on a report of a person in need of medical aid,” The police spokesperson said. “The person was determined to be deceased. While still under investigation, the death is not considered suspicious at this time.”

Heard’s rep did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to TMZ, the Washington, D.C. native was reportedly recovering from a “minor back surgery” he had on Wednesday at Stanford Medical Center.

With a four-decade career in Hollywood and more than 200 credits on stage and screen, Heard appeared in a number of well-known projects — including Gladiator, The Pelican Brief, White Chicks, NCIS: Los Angeles, and The Trip to Bountiful.

His most popular role perhaps came in 1990’s Home Alone, where he stared as Peter McCallister — the living (yet forgetful) dad to Macaulay Culkin‘s Kevin. Heard would reprise the role in the 1992 sequel.

The Sopranos would give Heard another recognizable role, as Vin Makazian — a New Jersey police detective who fed information to Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). He appeared in five episodes in the hit HBO series.

He made his Broadway debut in 1973’s Warp and would return to the Broadway stage three more times —including in the 1983 revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, where he played the famed Gentleman Caller alongside Oscar winner Jessica Tandy.

Born: 3/7/1945, Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Died: 7/21/2017, Palo Alto, California, U.S.A.

John Heard’s western – actor:
Saddle Up - 2018

Friday, July 21, 2017

RIP Ross Loney

reat Falls Tribune on July 23, 2017 Great Falls Tribune
July 23, 2017

Tucson, AZ — Ross Loney passed away May 1, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. He was the son of Laurie and Madeline Loney, and was born December 1, 1939 in Choteau, Montana. He grew up on the family ranch in Highwood, Montana and attended school there. Riding and breaking horses on the ranch, naturally, led him to the rodeo world.

He joined the RCA in 1963 and became the Rookie of the Year in saddle bronc, and, eventually ended up with a Gold card from the PRCA.

In 1965, he married Shirley Butterfield. They had two children, Renee Forbes and Josey Loney. Together they ran a branding crew out of Sahuarita, AZ, and at one point, he had an all-women crew.

He lived in California for many years and worked in the entertainment industry as an actor, wrangler, and stuntman. His credits included Little Big Man, Pocket Money, Ice Pirates, Silverado, Pale Rider, The Patriot, and many more.

He later married Marilla Lilore (Clinton). They relocated back to Great Falls where he became a hatmaker with Montana Hat Peaks.

He relocated to Tucson and continued making hats.

He had a passion for horses, guns, and telling stories. He was a talented horseman, gunsmith, and working with leather. He was kind, big-hearted man that was fun-loving. He never knew a stranger, no matter if he had known you for years or had just met you.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Madeline Edgar Loney; father, Laurie Loney; step-mother, Wilma Loney; and sister, Mary Perry.

He is survived by his daughters, Renee Forbes of Sierra Vista, AZ, and Josey Loney of Bozeman; grandchildren, Ashley Anderson (Andrew) of Grand Forks, ND, Gregory Forbes of Sierra Vista, AZ, and Jess and Hayden Roethle of Bozeman; siblings, Bill Loney (Pam), who has since passed, of White Sulphur Springs, Sharon Ruple of Great Falls, Clay Loney (Cherry) of Great Falls, and Cleve Loney (Cyndi) of Great Falls.

A celebration of life will be held on July 29 at the Eagles Lodge, 1501 9th Street South, Great Falls. Please come prepared to share any stories/pictures you might have of him.

Born: 12/1/1939, Choteau, Montana, U.S.A.
Died: 5/1/2017, Tucson, Arizona U.S.A.

Ross Loney’s westerns – actor:
Ulzana’s Raid – 1972 (rider)
Pale Rider – 1985 (horseman)
Silverado – 1985 (Red)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

RIP Red West

Red West, Memphis actor and friend of Elvis, dead at 81

Commercial Appeal
By John Beifuss
July 19, 2017

Red West, the longtime and sometimes critical confidante and bodyguard of Elvis Presley who became a successful film and television actor after the singer's death, died Tuesday night after suffering an aortic aneurysm at Baptist Hospital. He was 81.

Born in Bolivar,  Tennessee, the athletic Robert Gene "Red" West befriended Elvis at Humes High School, where the 6-foot-2 redhead protected the smaller pre-fame Elvis from bullies on at least a couple of occasions, according to Presley lore. He worked for Elvis for some 20 years, occasionally taking small roles in such films as “Flaming Star” and writing or co-writing such memorable Elvis songs as the 1972 hit "Separate Ways," the holiday favorite "If Every Day Was Like Christmas" and the 1975 masterpiece of infidelity, "If You Talk in Your Sleep," recorded at Stax.

West also composed or contributed to songs recorded by other artists, including Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone and Johnny Rivers. 

An ex-Marine, Golden Gloves boxer, karate instructor and genuine tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold (at least in his later years), West said it was his protective streak that motivated him to co-write "Elvis: What Happened?," a tell-all best-seller published only two weeks before Elvis' death on Aug. 16, 1977, that documented the singer’s drug dependency and unhealthy lifestyle,. West and his co-authors, fellow “Memphis Mafia” members and Elvis bodyguards Sonny West (a cousin) and David Hebler, assisted by Steve Dunleavy, a journalist, said the book was an attempt to encourage Elvis to give up his dangerous ways, but some outraged fans said the memoir was written out of spite, since the three men only a year earlier had been fired from Elvis’ employ by Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley.

As Elvis' friend, driver and bodyguard, West was among Presley's closest associates during the singer's meteoric rise, Army tour of duty, Hollywood stardom, late 1960s so-called comeback and 1970s decline. West's father, Newton West, died the same day as Elvis' mother, Gladys Presley, which only strengthened the men's bond. When Elvis was in the Army, West traveled to Germany to be nearer the singer, at Presley's request.

West, Elvis and others would frequently spar at the old Tennessee Karate Institute in Midtown, co-owned by West. "He was a tough son of a gun," said former kickboxing world champion Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, one of the studio's co-owners.

Prior to being fired, West and some of Presley's other bodyguards had received criticism for what the reference book "Elvis: His Life from A to Z" describes as "heavyhanded tactics" involving "too much physical persuasion," in an attempt "to keep the weirdos away from Elvis." West always defended his work for Elvis, while Vernon Presley said the firings were an attempt to cut Presley's expenses.

Post-Elvis, West became a full-time actor, earning a regular role opposite star Robert Conrad in the late 1970s series “Black Sheep Squadron" (originally titled "Baa Baa Black Sheep"), about a squadron of World War II fighter pilots.

West's most famous role was in the 1989 Patrick Swayze cult classic “Road House,” but major critical acclaim eluded him until late in life, when he landed his first top billing and the first lead role of his career in the acclaimed independent drama “Goodbye Solo” (2008), which critic Roger Ebert labeled "a masterwork" and The New York Times called "a near perfect film." 

“It took me 59 years to be an overnight success,” West told The Commercial Appeal, in a 2009 interview timed to the local release of the movie, in which he portrayed a taciturn old-timer contemplating suicide.

“I started out in this business as a stuntman, and it’s taken its toll on me,” West added. “I’ve had knee replacements, and I’ve got big calcium deposits in my neck from falling on my head so many times. So this is just in time.”

According to The Commercial Appeal, the mature West onscreen was “a sort of deglamorized Robert Mitchum -- a weary but tolerant tough guy, with Sad Sack saucer eyes that try but fail to conceal a lifetime of hard-won wisdom and painful lessons." Said “Goodbye Solo” director Ramin Bahrani of West: "I wish Clint Eastwood would quit casting himself and realize that this guy's better." 

Eastwood never called, but others did. West appeared in such movies as Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rainmaker” and Ira Sachs’ “Forty Shades of Blues,” both shot in Memphis, as well as Robert Altman’s made-in-Mississippi “Cookie’s Fortune,” Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers,” Bahrani’s “At Any Price” (with Dennis Quaid), the horror sequel “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” and the true-sports story, “Glory Road.” 

On TV, he could be found in episodes of “Mannix,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,””Magnum P.I.” and  “The A-Team.” A 2015 appearance in the series “Nashville” was his final credit.

In a 2011 episode of "Memphis Beat," a TNT crime series set but not shot in Memphis, West played a cancer-stricken inmate serving time for the murder of the father of the series' star, an Elvis-impersonating police detective played by Jason Lee.

Red West and his wife, acting coach Pat West, had celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on July 1. A Messick graduate who met her husband while she was working as a secretary for Elvis, Pat West said Red had complained of pains Sunday afternoon and was taken to Baptist Hospital. Early in the evening, he died after suffering what she described as an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“From the very start, we had a bond that was just unusual,” Pat West said of her husband. “He was just a straight shooter.”

Pat West said she and her husband usually skipped "Elvis Week," but they had been planning to participate in some activities organized this year by friend and longtime Elvis associate George Klein. "We wanted to go this year, this special year," she said, referring to the 40th anniversary of Presley's death.

According to most sources (including Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database), Red West was born on Nov. 20, 1936, which would make him 80 at the time of his death. But Pat West said his actual birthday was March 8, 1936.

In addition to his wife, West is survived by two sons, actor John Boyd West, of Tampa, Florida, and Brent West, of Memphis; a brother, Harold West of Olive Branch; and six grandchildren.
Memorial Park Funeral Home will handle services.

WEST, Red (Robert Gene West)
Born: 3/8/1936, Bolivar, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Died: 7/18/2017, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Red West’s westerns – actor:
Flaming Star – 1960 (Indian)
Bonanza (TV) – 1960 (townsman)
Maverick (TV) – 1960 (hotel doorman)
The Rebel (TV) – 1960 (townsman)
Tickle Me – 1965 (Mabel’s boyfriend)
Hondo (TV) – 1967 (townsman)
The Wild Wild West (TV) – 1967, 1968, 1969 (pistolero, guitar player, hooded attacker, Carl, 
Something for a Lonely Man (TV) – 1968 (townsman)
The Wild Wild West Revisited (TV) – 1979 (barfly)
The Alamo: Thirteen Day to Glory (TV) – 1987 (Cockran)
Once Upon a Texas Train (TV) – 1988 (Bates Boley)
Billy the Kid - 1989

Sunday, July 16, 2017

RIP Martin Landau

Martin Landau, Oscar Winner for 'Ed Wood,' Dies at 89

The Hollywood Reporter
By Mike Barnes

His résumé includes 'Mission: Impossible,' 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' and 'North by Northwest.' It does not, however, include 'Star Trek.'

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor who showcased his versatility as a master of disguise on the Mission: Impossible TV series and as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, has died. He was 89.

Landau, who shot to fame by playing a homosexual henchman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest, died Saturday of "unexpected complications" after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

After he quit CBS’ Mission: Impossible after three seasons in 1969 because of a contract dispute, Landau’s career was on the rocks until he was picked by Francis Ford Coppola to play Abe Karatz, the business partner of visionary automaker Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988).

Landau received a best supporting actor nomination for that performance, then backed it up the following year with another nom for starring as Judah Rosenthal, an ophthalmologist who has his mistress (Angelica Huston) killed, in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

Landau lost out on Oscar night to Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, respectively, in those years but finally prevailed for his larger-than-life portrayal of horror-movie legend Lugosi in the biopic Ed Wood (1994), directed by Tim Burton.

Landau also starred as Commander John Koenig on the 1970s science-fiction series Space: 1999 opposite his Mission: Impossible co-star Barbara Bain, his wife from 1957 until their divorce in 1993.

A former newspaper cartoonist, Landau turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series Star Trek, which went to Leonard Nimoy (who later effectively replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible after Trek was canceled).

Landau also was an admired acting teacher who taught the craft to the likes of Jack Nicholson. And in the 1950s, he was best friends with James Dean and, for several months, the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe. “She could be wonderful, but she was incredibly insecure, to the point she could drive you crazy,” he told The New York Times in 1988.

Landau was born in Brooklyn on June 20, 1928. At age 17, he landed a job as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, but he turned down a promotion and quit five years later to pursue acting.

“It was an impulsive move on my part to do that,” Landau told The Jewish Journal in 2013. “To become an actor was a dream I must’ve had so deeply and so strongly because I left a lucrative, well-paying job that I could do well to become an unemployed actor. It’s crazy if you think about it. To this day, I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, ‘You did what?!’ ”

In 1955, he auditioned for Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio (choosing a scene from Clifford Odets’ Clash by Night against the advice of friends), and he and Steve McQueen were the only new students accepted that year out of the 2,000-plus aspirants who had applied.

With his dark hair and penetrating blue eyes, Landau found success on New York stages in Goat Song, Stalag 17 and First Love. Hitchcock caught his performance on opening night opposite Edward G. Robinson in a road production of Middle of the Night, the first Broadway play written by Paddy Chayefsky, and cast him as the killer Leonard in North by Northwest.

In Middle of the Night, “I played a very macho guy, 180 degrees from Leonard, who I chose to play as a homosexual — very subtly — because he wanted to get rid of Eva Marie Saint with such a vengeance,” he recalled in a 2012 interview.

As the ally of James Mason and nemesis of Saint and Cary Grant, Landau plummets to his death off Mount Rushmore in the movie’s climactic scene. With his slick, sinister gleam and calculating demeanor, he attracted the notice of producers and directors.

He went on to perform for such top directors as Joseph L. Mankiewicz in Cleopatra (1963) — though he said most of his best work on that film was sent to the cutting-room floor — George Stevens in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), John Sturges in The Hallelujah Trail (1965) and Henry Hathaway in Nevada Smith (1966).

Landau met Bruce Geller, the eventual creator of Mission: Impossible, when he invited the writer to an acting class. Bain was in the class as well, and Geller wrote for them the parts of spies Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter. Landau earned an Emmy nomination for each of his three seasons on the series.

He could have starred in another series.

“I turned down Star Trek. It would’ve been torturous,” he said during a 2011 edition of the PBS documentary series Pioneers of Television. “I would’ve probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me. It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny (Nimoy) was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear or was affected on a visceral level. Who wants to do that?”

Landau found a kindred spirit in Burton, who also cast him in Sleepy Hollow (1999) and as the voice of a Vincent Price-like science teacher in the horror-movie homage, Frankenweenie (2012).

“Tim and I don’t finish a sentence,” Landau told the Los Angeles Times in 2012. “There’s something oddly kinesthetic about it. We kind of understand each other.”

Landau played puppet master Geppetto in a pair of Pinocchio films and appeared in other films including Pork Chop Hill (1959), City Hall (1996), The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), Rounders (1998), Edtv (1999), The Majestic (2001), Lovely, Still (2008) and Mysteria (2011).

On television, he starred in the Twilight Zone episodes “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” and “The Jeopardy Room,” played the title role in the 1999 Showtime telefilm Bonnano: A Godfather’s Story and could be found on The Untouchables, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, I Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

More recently, Landau earned Emmy noms for playing the father of Anthony LaPaglia’s character on CBS’ Without a Trace and guest-starring as an out-of-touch movie producer on HBO’s Entourage. He portrayed billionaire J. Howard Marshall, the 90-year-old husband of Anna Nicole Smith, in a 2013 Lifetime biopic about the sex symbol, and starred for Atom Egoyan opposite Christopher Plummer in Remember (2015).

And Landau appeared opposite Paul Sorvino in The Last Poker Game, which premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Landau worked as director, teacher and executive director at the Actors Studio West. He has been credited with helping to guide the talents of Huston, Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton in addition to Nicholson.

A documentary about his life, An Actor's Actor: The Life of Martin Landau, is in the works.

Survivors include his daughters Susie (a writer-producer) and Juliet (an actress-dancer) from his marriage to Bain; sons-in-law Roy and Deverill; sister Elinor; granddaughter Aria; and godson Dylan.

LANDAU, Martin
Born: 6/20/1928, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 7/15/2017, Westwood, California, U.S.A.

Martin Landau’s westerns – actor:
Gunsmoke (TV) – 1958, 1966 (Thorp, Britton)
Lawman (TV) – 1958 (Bob Ford)
Maverick (TV) – 1958 (Mike Manning)
Sugarfoot (TV) – 1958 (Jim Kelly)
Rawhide (TV) – 1959 (Cort)
Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) – 1959 (Doc Holliday)
Johnny Ringo (TV) – 1960 (Wes Tymon)
Tate (TV) – 1960 (John Chess)
Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV) – 1960 (Khorba)
Wagon Train (TV) – 1960 (preacher)
Bonanza (TV) – 1961 (Emeliano)
Outlaws (TV) – 1961 (Ranklin)
The Rifleman (TV) – 1961 (Miguel Patrone)
The Tall Man (TV) – 1961, 1962, Francisco Valdez, Father Gueselin)
Stagecoach to Dancer’s Rock – 1962 (Dade Coleman)
The Travels of Jaime McPheeters (TV) - 1963 (Cochio)
The Big Valley (TV) – 1965 (Mariano Montoya)
A Man Called Shenandoah (TV) – 1965 (Jace Miller)
Hallelujah Trail – 1966 (Chief Walks-Stooped-Over)
The Wild Wild West (TV) – 1965 (General Grimm)
Branded (TV) – 1966 (Edwin Booth)

Nevada Smith – 1966 (Jesse Coe)
A Town Called Hell – 1971 (The Colonel)
Kung Fu: The Movie (TV) – 1986 (John Martin Perkins III)