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Entries in RIP (64)

Wednesday
Jun252014

Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

The great character actor Eli Wallach didn't quite make it to his centennial, dying at 98½ but at least he lived long enough to get an Honorary Oscar a few years back. The Academy honored him for "a lifetime's worth of indelible screen characters" even though they'd never nominated him.

I'm sure AMPAS didn't mean to include "Mr Freeze" on the Batman TV series as one of those characters but that's the one that's indelible for me. Is that wrong? When I was a child that show was always on through the magic of syndication. But Mr. Freeze was recast frequently (curiously enough two other Oscar favorites also played the chilly bad guy: three time nominee Otto Preminger and Oscar winner George Sanders). They rarely showed episodes in order so the memories of the faces get all jumbled up. 

He made a lot of career noise with his onscreen debut in Baby Doll (1956) for which he was Golden Globe nominated. But several fine characters and classics would follow like The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, How the West Was Won, The Moon Spinners, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and The Godfather Pt. III.


What do you remember most about this actor?



Saturday
Jun142014

Two "Dracula" Actresses

The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the last remaining silent era actors has passed away. The actress in question, Carla Laemmle, had an easy in to the movies: her uncle Carl Laemmle founded Universal Studios and invited her family to live in a bungalow on the lot.  Carla only had a small part in the horror classic Dracula (1931) but a key one: she uttered the first line of dialogue. She didn't appear in many pictures in her long life, dying at 104 years of age, but she apparently just recently filmed a role in a new horror film Mansion of Blood (2014) starring Gary Busey.

In happier news - this is not a double RIP -  Lupita Tovar, a Mexican beauty who starred in the Spanish language version of Dracula that same year (in those early days of sound they made simultaneous alternative versions for other markets with the same sets and costumes) is still with us at 103 years of age. Lupita also comes from a movie family or, rather, began one. She is the mother of Oscar nominee Susan Kohner (Imitation of Life) and grandmother to the directors Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz (of About a Boy fame)

Related: Oldest Living Screen Stars of Note

Thursday
Jun122014

Ruby Dee (1922-2014)

We've lost another showbiz legend.

Ruby Dee photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1962

Ruby Dee, the showbiz legend and awards magnet -- the list is seriously long and includes an Emmy & Grammy -- rose to fame on stage and screen in the 1940s. Her feature debut was That Man of Mine (1946) but her best remembered roles came later with The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), the screen adaptation of the oft-revived play A Raisin in the Sun (1961, which just netted yet more Tony Awards) opposite Sidney Poitier, and the first Off Broadway production of "Boesman and Lena" with James Earl Jones on stage in 1970.

Ruby Dee during her victory lap of events honoring her in the Aughts. This one is from 2008Younger audiences undoubtedly know her best from her screen return in the classic Do The Right Thing (1989, with her longtime husband Ossie Davie who passed away nine years ago), her political activism, and that round of lifetime achievement prizes in the Aughts starting with SAG in 2001.

That victory lap arguably peaked when she gave Denzel Washington the slap he deserved in American Gangster (2007). The resulting Oscar nod was surely a recognition of a sturdy cross-media showbiz career that stretch all the way to 1939 (gasp) with a stage debut at 17. She died in her home at 91 yesterday after a full, vibrant and influential life. 

Thursday
Jun122014

Some Came Linking

Vulture dreams up sequels for The Fault In Our Stars. We'll obviously take the Laura Dern one
The Awl "The Tortured History of Entertainment Weekly" - god I was so in love with that magazine when it debuted in the 1990s. The first issue I remember buying was #5 with Jamie Lee Curtis on the cover for Kathryn Bigelow's Blue Steel
Pixar Times Pixar teases the first five minutes of Inside Out their June 2015 release
Theater Mania Laura Benanti auditions for Peter Pan Live

Boy Culture RIP supporting actress Martha Hyer, Oscar-nominated for Some Came Running (1958) 
Kenneth in the (212) teases a new stage production with the music of the The Go-Gos?
Comics Alliance a giant statue of Spider-Man in Korea is causing a stir thanks to its Spider-Manhood
Empire there's a new trailer for The Boxtrolls
Variety expects crazy ladies to dominate the Guest Actress race at the Emmys 
THR has a lengthy cover story on the suicide of the director of Searching For Sugar Man 

Foreign Film Oscar Watch
The Great Beauty, Italy's Oscar winner just lost its home-field Oscar race to a film called Human Capital which also won three acting gongs. Human Capital wasn't eligible for submission by Italy last year (since it hadn't yet opened by the cutoff date) so it could well be Italy's submission this year.

P.S.
I'm not sure how I missed this excellent interview with Lori Petty over at The Daily Beast on Sunday but it's a must read if you have any affection at all for Lori or the 1990s when she just kept doing her inimitable thing all over now classic movies like A League of Their Own, Point Break, and... well, the interview weirdly neglects Tank Girl but what can you do? She talks working with Jodie Foster, Madonna, discovering Jennifer Lawrence and how she got her cameo part in Orange is the New Black despite definitely being off the radar in recent years. 

Lori Petty & Naomi Watts in Tank Girl (1995)

Why do you think the roles started drying up after Tank Girl?

Well, because I was thirty-something and I hadn’t married my agent, married any guy co-stars, or gotten fake titties or Botox. I never wanted to be a bombshell; I wanted to be an actor. I would much prefer to be a woman than a man, but if I was a dude, maybe I’d have Johnny Depp’s island because women in this industry after a certain age definitely don’t get to do Pirates of the Caribbean. Poor Keira [Knightley], they even airbrushed huge tits on her on the poster, and she’s flawless! I was trying to play football with a baseball, and you can’t really do that.

Monday
May192014

RIP: Gordon Willis, cinematography of "The Godfather", "Manhattan", "All the President's Men"...

Here's one of my personal favorite critics, Tim Brayton, with a gracious crossposting of his lovely obituary for one of the greatest cinematographers who ever lived. - Nathaniel


It’s not tragic when an 82-year-old man, who had been happily retired for 17 years, following an incredibly strong and well-regarded career, dies. Any of us would be lucky and blessed to have that kind of live and that kind of death. But the loss of Gordon Willis on May 18 is heartbreaking anyway: it’s always heartbreaking when a true genius, visionary, and leader of his field passes away.

Willis was the most important cinematographer of the last 50 years of cinema. I don't know of any clearer or more concise way of putting it. If he'd only shot The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, a pair of films that fundamentally altered the way people used lighting and focus and the peculiar film stock of '70s American filmmaking, he would be one of the great masters of his field, and his passing a day of mourning for all cinephiles.

A beauty break featuring some of his greatest achievements after the jump...

Click to read more ...