filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Oh.

Oh.

There's an ache in my soul.

Something is lost.

There's a person-sized hole.

For ninety-four years, he was here.

Now he's gone,

But his life and his music live on
.

Crude, perhaps, as a chorus. But you can all sing it with me. And maybe come up with some verses to go with it.

For Pete.
filkertom: (Default)
Incredible sadness.

Not many people can be said to have changed the world, especially for the better. Nelson Mandela was one of them. Rest well, sir, and thank you.

filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness. Elmore Leonard has passed away at the age of 87. He wrote remarkable works, vivid and exciting, many of which were translated to film.

I will never forget the first time I saw Get Shorty. There's this remarkable moment with John Travolta and Dennis Farina, where Farina -- oh, just watch:



I was about to go crazy when Farina incorrectly used "e.g.", and Travolta corrected him, and I loved this movie and everything about it, and especially I loved Elmore Leonard.

Rest well, sir, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness -- one of the legends has fallen. Richard Matheson has passed away at the age of 87.

It isn't really possible to overstate Matheson's influence on the genres of fantasy and science fiction. His works include:
  • I Am Legend (adapted to film at least three times, starring the minor, unimportant actors Vincent Price, Charlton Heston, and Will Smith)
  • The Shrinking Man (also adapted to film, another minor, unimportant Effing Classic of horror)
  • Bid Time Return (you might have seen the film adaptation of this -- Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour)
  • Hell House (adapted to film as The Legend of Hell House)
  • a bunch of classic Twilight Zone episodes (and when I say classic, I mean "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" classic).
He wrote the short story "Duel", which Spielberg adapted to film, and the screenplays for The Night Stalker, The Martian Chronicles, and the excellent Jack Palance TV adaptation of Dracula. His short story "Button, Button" was adapted (not to his liking) on The New Twilight Zone, and also into the movie The Box.

He wrote the screenplays for three of Corman's Poe movies, including The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven, fer cryin' out loud.

I will never forget one of his Night Gallery scripts (from his own short story), "Big Surprise". You can watch it here. Such a simple story, such a great payoff.

The upshot of which is: Go down his list of works, and you will find a lot of things you know and love.

Rest well, sir, and thank you so much.
filkertom: (jawdrop)
The big shocker for the day is the sudden passing of actor James Gandolfini at the age of 51. Gandolfini is, of course, best known for his multiple-Emmy-winning portrayal of Tony Soprano on HBO's The Sopranos. He was also in a bunch of movies, and produced two documentaries for HBO, focusing on American war veterans.

Condolences to his family and friends.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Sadness. Cowboy crooner and yodeler Slim Whitman has passed away at the age of 90. An international recording star for decades, with recordings spanning from 1954 to 2010, he had a smooth-as-whiskey voice, an amazing falsetto, and a unique, haunting style:





Of course, it could have a somewhat discordant effect on the unwary:


Rest well, sir, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Sadness. Actress and athlete Esther Williams has passed away at the age of 91. Lovely lady, decent actress, and a lot of us had aquatic fantasies over the years because of how she looked in a swimsuit.

Rest well, gentle lady, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Sadness. Actress Jean Stapleton, best known for playing Archie Bunker's wife Edith on All In The Family, has passed away at the age of 90. She had a long, award-winning career on stage, screen, and television, and was pretty much universally beloved.

Rest well, Ms. Stapleton, and thanks. We'll miss ya, ya dingbat.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness -- one of the legends has fallen. Filmmaker Ray Harryhausen has passed away at the age of 92.

I'm not even going to bother listing his technical accomplishments, or all the filmmakers he inspired; you can read 'em at the Wikipedia link above. What Ray really did was make our dreams visible, right up there on the movie screen. We saw moving skeleton warriors and a raging Cyclops and the horrific Medusa and a woman transformed into a snake and men transformed into birds and dinosaurs being herded by cowboys and flying horses and RELEASE THE KRAKEN and and and and and.

No one had really done that before. Certainly not on the scale that Harryhausen did. It was literally his life's work, and the result is... well, in one way or another, many of the films of the fantastic we've enjoyed for the past seventy years.

Rest well, sir, and thank you for making our dreams live.

So what's your favorite Harryhausen film, or animation sequence? Even though the skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts is considered better, I have an undying love for The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness. Folk music legend Richie Havens has passed away at the age of 72.

Havens first came to real prominence by performing at Woodstock. As in, opening the show. With a nearly two-hour set. After that, well, he only stopped touring last year.

If, by chance you haven't heard his work, here's a YouTube mix of 41 Havens songs. Bluntly, start anywhere.

Rest well, sir, and thanks for all the music.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Sadness. Actor Richard LeParmentier has passed away at the age of 66.

For those of you who don't recognize him, here's a little reminder:



Yep, good ol' loudmouth Admiral Motti was the first guy we ever saw get Force-choked.

LeParmentier worked in a number of other movies and TV shows (most notably Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but without doubt that scene will always be his most famous, and most iconic. Rest well, sir, and may the Force be with you.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Incredible sadness -- we have lost a member of the fannish Family. Writer Nick Pollotta has succumbed to the cancer he's been fighting for some time now. Condolences and hugs and gentle songs and strength to his lovely wife Melissa.

Nick and I didn't see each other much, but we counted each other as friends. We were silly at each other, we talked about books and comics and Just Stuff, and he was a sharp and funny guy with a lot of stories in him.

Rest well, my friend, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Damn, damn, damn.

Great sadness -- one of the funniest men alive has passed. Comic actor Jonathan Winters has passed away at the age of 87.

If you don't know of Winters and his work, I'm not sure where to start. Comedy movies, variety shows, dramatic roles... but he was best known for his stand-up, and especially his improv. The only performer I can think of who came close to him is Tim Conway. Robin Williams and Jim Carrey were inspired to comedy by Winters, and you can see it in almost everything they do. (My idle fantasy of the ultimate Whose Line Is It Anyway? pay-per-view with Winters, Conway, Williams, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and Mike McShane is now ashes. Sigh.) Winters hammered out funny lines, odd voices, and various sound effects faster than anybody. He was a hero of mine, and I hope a little of that shows in my stage work.

For longer than many of us have been alive, Jonathan Winters made us laugh. That's a pretty damn good legacy.

Rest well, sir, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)


Disney Legend Annette Funicello has passed away at the age of 70.

Why? Because we love you.

-----

Who's your favorite Disney cartoon character from the 1950s or earlier? Mine's Professor Ludwig Von Drake, voiced by Paul Frees.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness. One of the all-time legends of comic art, Carmine Infantino, has passed away at the age of 87.

Infantino was an amazing artist. Where Kirby made things almost unnaturally epic, and Gil Kane brought fierce power, Infantino's forte was movement. He did his best work on The Flash, where he brought to life the sheer speed of a man who could outrun light. Not incidentally, he also co-created many of the villains who became Flash's Rogues' Gallery, including Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, the Mirror Master, and Grodd.

As an editor, as a mentor, and especially as an artist, Carmine Infantino was one of the icons of the Silver Age, and his impact is still felt throughout comics. Rest well, sir, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness. Writer and movie critic Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70.

I suppose we could all say a lot about Ebert, but I think the best thing to say is: we trusted him. His movie reviews were always fair (and he loved a lot of genre movies other reviewers didn't); his writing was always skilled and passionate; and he just seemed to care about what he did and about the people he wrote for. He transcended a lot of borders and boundaries, becoming (much as has George Takei) a sort of elder statesman for American popular culture. Straight-up, Ebert liked what he did, and he liked to share it with us, and he never seemed to be mean about it.

Thumbs up on a well-spent life, Mr. Ebert. Rest well, and thanks.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Great sadness. Jane Henson, widow of Jim Henson, has passed away at the age of 78. She helped Jim create the Muppets. What more need be said?

Rest well, Ms. Henson, and thanks.
filkertom: (Default)
Sadness. Actor Richard Griffiths, best known to our part of the universe for playing the execreble Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 65. He had a long and distinguished (as in Tony- and other-award-winning) career on state, screen, radio, and television, and was even up for the part of The Doctor a couple of times.

Rarely has someone become so beloved for portraying such a rotter. Rest well, sir, and thanks.
filkertom: (Default)
Great sadness for wrestling fans. William Moody has passed away at the age of 58.

Moody originally portrayed Percival Pringle III, but his career really took off when he appeared as Paul Bearer, the second manager to The Undertaker (and, later, 'Taker's "brother" Kane). One of the all-time great gimmick managers, Paul Bearer just plain creeped people out. He knew his role, and played it to perfection. When he was a face, Bearer was a latter-day Sir Graves Ghastly, a horror-movie-show host who could hang out with little kids and stay in character. When he was a heel, often in conflict with the Undertaker himself, Bearer was completely over the top in his madness. In a lot of ways, he was nearly as popular as 'Taker himself, and not merely because he was the harbinger to The Dead Man.

Oh, and, a thing? He actually was a funeral director and embalmer, with a degree in mortuary science.

Farewell, Mr. Moody, and thank you for decades of entertainment.

Rest... in peace.
filkertom: (i_has_a_sad)
Sadness. Pianist Harvey Levan "Van" Cliburn has passed away at the age of 78.

As classical musicians go, he was a rock star. His breakthrough came at the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, held in Moscow in 1958. The event was one of many intended to demonstrate Soviet superiority, in this case culturally.

Small problem: a 23-year-old from Texas who ended up getting an eight-minute standing ovation. His performance at that competition, of Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto, is available on YouTube.

Rest well, Mr. Cliburn, and thanks.

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