In Memorium: JoBlo.com's tribute to the people from film and television we lost in 2013
"We are meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?" ~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
As 2013 draws to a close, we here at JoBlo.com want take a moment to honor some of the people who sadly passed away this year. Our deepest respect goes out to everyone in the industry we have lost, and our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of those who died in 2013. It is said that the dead do not live in coffins or urns, but in our hearts and in our minds, and these people will always be remembered for how they impacted the world of film and television.
In Memory Of...
English actor Robin Sachs appeared in several movies during his career (THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, GALAXY QUEST, OCEAN'S ELEVEN), but he is probably more known for his work in television. Sachs starred in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as Ethan Rayne, portrayed multiple characters in "Babylon 5" and was General Valen on "Star Trek: Voyager." Robin Sachs was also the voice of Zaeed Massani from the Mass Effect series, and contributed his unique voice to other video games as well, including Dragon Age: Origins, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Rainbow Six: Lockdown. Robin Sachs died of a heart attack on February 1.
Richard Griffiths had a tremendous career in theater and radio, but movie buffs will remember him as Harry Potter's dreadful uncle Vernon Dursley, the Shakespeare quoting Monty in WITHNAIL AND I, and as the voice of Jeltz in THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Griffiths was one of those actors who made good films even better with his presence, regardless of the size of the role. He also appeared in SLEEPY HOLLOW, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, and HUGO, and his last film was this year's ABOUT TIME. Richard Griffiths died after having heart surgery complications on March 28.
Roger Ebert was the first movie critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, and was also the first to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He and long time working partner Gene Siskel (who passed away in 1999) hosted various movie review programs for 23 years, where they became famous for their "thumbs up/thumbs down" reviews. Sarcastic and sharp, but fair, Ebert also wrote for the Chicago-Sun Times and online, and his style of writing earned him many fans during his career (including JoBlo himself). Roger Ebert was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and after an 11-year battle against the disease, sadly passed away at the age of 70 on April 4.
Considered a pioneer in comedy and one of the funniest people ever, Jonathan Winters died at the age of 87 on April 11. He contributed to film, television and radio, and inspired many comedians with his impersonations and style of humor, including Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Jimmy Kimmel and Johnny Carson. Most fans will remember Jonathan Winters from 1963's IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, as Mearth on "Mork & Mindy," and his many appearances on late-night shows during his long career. His last film was this summer's THE SMURFS 2, as the voice of Papa Smurf.
STAR WARS fans will remember Richard LeParmentier as Admiral Motti, the officer force choked by Darth Vader (who found his lack of faith in the force disturbing) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE. But he also played Lt. Santino in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, and starred in ROLLERBALL (1975), OCTOPUSSY, and SUPERMAN II. Richard LeParmentier unexpectedly died on April 15 at the age of 66.
Ray Harryhausen inspired many future filmmakers and earned the respect of countless fans with his visual effects work in films like MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, and CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981). After Harryhausen's death on May 7, George Lucas said, "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS," and Terry Gilliam also commented that, "What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits." An incredibly talented stop-motion artist and a legend in his field, Ray Harryhausen will be missed by cinephiles worldwide.
James Gandolfini will forever be known as Tony Soprano from the landmark HBO series "The Sporanos," but fans of the actor will also remember him as Virgil from TRUE ROMANCE, Big Dave in THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE, and as the voice of Carol in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. Although he played untamed characters very well, Gandolfini once described himself as a "260-pound Woody Allen." One of his last roles was in this year's ENOUGH SAID, and he recently received a nomination by the SAG for Best Supporting Actor for that performance. James Gandolfini unexpectedly died of a heart attack while vacationing in Italy on June 19. He was 51.
Martial artist and actor Jim Kelly was known for his athleticism, having a fantastic afro in ENTER THE DRAGON, and for starring in multiple blaxploitation films, like THREE THE HARD WAY, BLACK BELT JONES and TAKE A HARD RIDE. By starring in the classic Bruce Lee movie, Kelly became the first African-American martial arts film star. He also taught karate to celebrities in his own dojo, and played professional tennis on the USTA Senior Men's Circuit. On June 29, Jim Kelly died of cancer at the age of 67.
"Glee" fans were shocked when Cory Monteith tragically died of a drug overdose on July 13. The actor had a long history of substance abuse problems, but many were hopeful that he had turned a corner when he entered rehab in March. After he died, the Fox show paid tribute to the actor with the episode "The Quarterback," which focused on the passing of Monteith's character, Finn Hudson. Cory Monteith also appeared in "Kyle XY," FINAL DESTINATION 3, MONTE CARLO, and SISTERS & BROTHERS. Cory Monteith was 31 at the time of this death.
Dennis Farina was on the Chicago Police Department for 18 years before being hired as a consultant by Michael Mann for THIEF. Realizing he enjoyed acting, Farina worked at the local theater until leaving the force to focus on acting. He found great success and plenty of work using his experience as an officer of the law to land roles as mobsters and cops in films such as MIDNIGHT RUN and MANHUNTER. The busy actor appeared in numerous film and television series during his career, like SNATCH, GET SHORTY and NBC's "Law & Order." Dennis Farina died of a blood clot on July 22 at the age of 69.
90's kids will remember August Schellenberg as Ned Dodd in IRON WILL, and as Randolph Jonson in FREE WILLY and its sequels. The Mohawk/Swiss-German actor received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Sitting Bull in the television movie BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE, and he also played the tribal chief in 1996's CRAZY HORSE. He voiced a couple of characters in HEAVY METAL (Norl and Taarak), and had roles in TRUE HEART, THE NEW WORLD, and EIGHT BELOW. After a long struggle with lung cancer, August Schellenberg died on August 15. He was 77.
Lee Thompson Young
Lee Thompson Young's big break was as the titular character in "The Famous Jett Jackson," and he followed up his starring role on the Disney Channel series with appearances in "The Guardian" and "FlashForward," and most recently was the lead on TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles." The actor was also in FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, AKEELAH AND THE BEE, and THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2. Lee Thompson Young had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and was suffering from depression before he took his own life on August 19 at the age of 29.
Actor and director Richard Sarafian died of pneumonia on September 18 at the age of 83. Although Sarafian had a long career in film and television, the biggest imprint he left on cinephiles was with his 1971 cult hit VANISHING POINT. It was released to mixed reviews at the time, but later found an audience. including Quentin Tarantino. Besides being called, "one of the best American movies ever made," by one of the characters in Tarantino's DEATH PROOF, the famous chase scene in it was also inspired by the iconic one in Sarafian's film. As an actor, his credits include Jack Dragna in BUGSY, Paul Castellano in the television movie GOTTI, and Sunny Ventura in THE CROSSING GUARD. Sarafian also directed episodes of "Gunsmoke" and "I Spy," and other films like 1984's THE BEAR, 1986's EYE OF THE TIGER, and 1990's SOLAR CRISIS.
Character actor Ed Lauter appeared in over 200 films and television series during his 40 year career, including THE LONGEST YARD, REAL GENIUS, CUJO, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, "ER," and many more. In 2012 the recognizable actor told the Los Angeles times, "A lot of people say, 'I know you,' but they don’t know my name. But I’ve had a great run." Ed Lauter passed away on October 16 (several months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma), and while some may not know his name, they do remember his familiar face, and how he contributed to television and film.
"The Simpsons" and "The Bob Newhart Show" fans were devastated when Marcia Wallace passed away on October 25. She starred on the CBS show as receptionist Carol Kester, and was the voice of elementary school teacher Edna Krabappel on Fox's long-running animated series. Wallace won an Emmy for her work on "The Simpsons" in 1992, and voiced the character in the 2007 feature length film. She also appeared in television's "That's My Bush!" "Full House," "7th Heaven," and "Murphy Brown," and voiced characters in "Darkwing Duck" and this year's MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. She was 70 at the time of her death.
Hal Needham was one of the top stuntmen of the 1960s (television's "Have Gun, Will Travel", HOW THE WEST WAS WON, IN HARM'S WAY) and was the highest paid stuntman in the world, although he deserved it, considering he had broken 56 bones and his back twice during his career. Needham went on to direct the classic Burt Reynolds action comedy SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (and its follow-up), as well as HOOPER, THE CANNONBALL RUN, and RAD. Hal Needham's most underappreciated contribution to film though might be his designs, tools and methods that helped make the art of stunts safer. The revolutionary stuntman was introduced by Quentin Tarantino in 2012 when he was awarded the Governors Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures for his work. Hal Needham was diagnosed with cancer shortly before he died on October 25 at the age of 82.
Paul Walker's death on November 30 shocked fans and stunned Hollywood. The actor was the passenger in a tragic car accident that occurred as he was leaving an event for his charity, Reach Out Worldwide. Walker was filming FAST AND FURIOUS 7 at the time of his death, and Universal just recently announced that footage with the late actor will be used for the film. Although he'll always be remembered for his role in the action series (as well as other films like PLEASANTVILLE, VARSITY BLUES, JOY RIDE, and fan favorite RUNNING SCARED), people shouldn't forget about his generous work with Reach Out Worldwide, and of his love for marine biology. Paul Walker passed away at the age of 40.
Called "The Woman of a Thousand Faces" due to her talents as an actress, Eleanor Parker died on December 9 at the age of 91. Parker's most famous role was as Baroness Elsa Schrader in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, but before appearing in the classic film she had received Oscar nominations for Best Actress for her work in CAGED and THE DETECTIVE STORY, and for her portrayal of opera singer Marjorie Lawrence in INTERRUPTED MELODY. Eleanor Parker's other film credits include THE NAKED JUNGLE, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS, and WARNING SHOT, and she appeared in multiple television series during her career.
Tom Laughlin wrote, directed and starred in all four of the popular BILLY JACK movies in the 1970s, but his biggest impact on the film world might be how he released the third one, THE TRIAL OF BILLY JACK. Instead of opening in limited theaters before getting a wide release, Laughlin's film hit theaters in cities across the nation on the same day, and commercials for it aired during the national news. Described as "the first blockbuster," it redefined the way films are marketed and promoted. Tom Laughlin also starred in others movies like LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE, SOUTH PACIFIC, and THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, and appeared in several television series as well, including "The Millionaire," "The Silent Service," and "M Squad." Laughlin spent his later years focusing on politics (he ran for president in 1992, 2004, and 2008), and was also known for his work in psychology and domestic abuse counseling. Tom Laughlin passed away on December 12 at the age of 82.
One of the most critically acclaimed actors of all time, Peter O'Toole died on December 14 at the age of 81. O'Toole won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA and an Emmy during his career, however he never won an Oscar (he did receive an Honorary Academy Award in 2003), even though he was nominated seven times for his work in BECKET, THE LION IN WINTER, GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS, THE RULING CLASS, THE STUNT MAN, MY FAVORITE YEAR and VENUS. The actor's most famous role was probably playing the titular character in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, a movie many consider to be one of the greatest films ever created. Peter O'Toole also appeared in other movies like CALIGULA, KING RALPH, TROY, and STARDUST, and was the voice of restaurant critic Anton Ego in Pixar's RATATOUILLE.
Joan Fontaine was the only actress to ever win an Oscar in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1941's SUSPICION), and her and Olivia de Havilland were the first set of sisters to win Academy Awards for Best Actress. Fontaine also starred another Hitchcock flick (REBECCA), as well as other movies such as THE CONSTANT NYMPH, JANE EYRE, LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, IVANHOE and BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. Although siblings, Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland were known for having rocky relationship, and in a 1978 interview commented that, "I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!" But like many, De Havilland was "shocked and saddened" by Joan Fontaine's death from natural causes on December 19. She was 96.