In Memoriam 2017 (Movies & TV)

Last Updated on June 23, 2023

As 2017 draws to a close, we here at would like to 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 2017. These talented people will always be remembered for their impact on the world of film and television.

In Memory Of…

William Peter Blatty

When you think of William Peter Blatty, you more than likely think of THE EXORCIST, but before the writer became known for one of the best horror movies of all-time, he was already a well established voice in another genre – comedy. In 1961, William Peter Blatty appeared as a contestant on You Bet Your Life, Groucho Marx‘s TV quiz show, and, along with a fellow contestant, wound up winning $10,000, which was enough money for him to quit his job in public relations and begin writing full-time. He later began a collaboration with director Blake Edwards, penning the scripts for A SHOT IN THE DARK, WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY?, GUNN, and DARLING LILI, but after the enormous success of THE EXORCIST, William Peter Blatty’s comedic past was seemingly swept away. “The sad truth is that nobody wants me to write comedy,” Blatty said in an interview. “The Exorcist not only ended that career; it expunged all memory of its existence.” Blatty would once again adapt one of his own novels, Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane, into THE NINTH CONFIGURATION, which he also directed. After the embarrassment which was EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, which Blatty had no involvement with, the franchise lay dormant for over a decade until the arrival of THE EXORCIST III, a surprisingly decent film which Blatty wrote and directed based upon his 1983 Exorcist sequel novel, Legion. After battling multiple myeloma, William Peter Blatty died on January 12th at the age of 89.

Miguel Ferrer

After battling throat cancer, Miguel Ferrer passed away on January 19th at the age of 61, but the prolific actor left behind several projects which insured that we would get to enjoy his magnificent work for just a little while longer. Notably, Ferrer reprised his role of FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield for David Lynch‘s recent revival of Twin Peaks after appearing in both the original series and the 1992 feature-film TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. His scenes, often shared with Lynch’s Gordon Cole, were certainly a highlight of the revival. In addition to Twin Peaks, Miguel Ferrer also played main characters on both Crossing Jordan and NSCI: Los Angeles, but also frequently lent his gravelly voice to animated shows such as Superman: The Animated Series, Jackie Chan Adventures, Robot Chicken, American Dad, Young Justice, Adventure Time, and more. On the big-screen side of his career, Ferrer appeared in STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, ROBOCOP, DEEPSTAR SIX, THE NIGHT FLIER, TRAFFIC, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, and IRON MAN 3.

John Hurt

On January 25th, the great John Hurt passed away at the age of 77, leaving behind six-decades worth of appearance in some of the biggest and most celebrated movies of our time. Even from a young age, John Hurt knew that he wanted to be an actor, despite his parents pushing him towards a career as an art teacher and his headmaster at the time telling him that he “wouldn’t stand a chance in the profession.” After winning an acting scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, John Hurt would soon gain critical acclaim and recognition with roles in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS as well as the BBC’s miniseries I, Claudius, in which he played Caligula. The decades which followed brought some of Hurt’s most well known characters, with roles in ALIEN, THE ELEPHANT MAN, 1984, SPACEBALLS, CONTACT, HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, HELLBOY, V FOR VENDETTA, THE PROPOSITION, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, SNOWPIERCER, and countless others. His rich, distinctive voice and undeniable talent will remain a part of cinema history forever, and he will certainly be missed.

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore passed away on January 25th at the age of 80, but thanks in part to her roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she will continue to live on as a beloved icon as well as an inspiration for generations of women. Moore had already been active in the industry for several years when she was recommended to Carl Reiner as he was casting for The Dick Van Dyke Show and Moore quickly won the role. I can’t imagine that it would have been easy for anyone to hold their own against Dick Van Dyke, but Mary Tyler Moore succeeded, and in the process, formed a wonderful comedic partnership. The actress’ next project, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, would prove to be even more successful, racking up an impressive 29 Emmy wins, a record which would go unbroken for decades until Frasier won its 30th Emmy in 2002. Although she was primarily a television actor throughout her career, Moore also impressed on the big-screen, particularly in Robert Redford‘s ORDINARY PEOPLE, in which she played a frosty suburban mother grieving over the loss of her favourite son.

Richard Hatch

I’d imagine that it can be tough for an actor when it seems as though they will be forever known for one role, but it seemed like Richard Hatch came to embrace his place in the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The actor starred as Captain Apollo during the original series, but as the expensive show found its rating declining after the course of its first season, ABC cancelled the show. Much like Star Trek, fans kept the series alive, but it was Richard Hatch who got the ball rolling on bringing Battlestar Galactica back. During the 90’s and well into the 2000’s, Hatch wrote a series of Battlestar Galactica novels as well as produced Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, a pilot film which picked up where the original series left off and starred several of the original Battlestar Galactica actors. It was Richard Hatch’s hope that the pilot would lead to Universal Studios producing a new series, and it did, eventually, just not the one Hatch had envisioned. Developed by Ronald D. Moore, the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica proved to be a huge success, and despite his initial criticisms of the series, Hatch developed a respect for Moore and later accepted the role of Tom Zarak, a terrorist turned politician. In addition to Battlestar Galactica, Richard Hatch also appeared in many classic 70’s and 80’s series, including Hawaii Five-O, The Waltons, The Streets of San Francisco, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, T.J. Hooker, Dynasty, The Love Boat, and MacGyver. Richard Hatch died on February 7th at the age of 71 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton passed away on February 25th at the age of 61 due to complications following heart surgery, and upon learning of his passing, Paxton’s long-time friend and frequent creative partner James Cameron said, “The world is a lesser place for his passing.” I couldn’t agree more. With stand-out appearances in THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS, PREDATOR 2, TOMBSTONE, TRUE LIES, APOLLO 13, TWISTER, TITANIC, EDGE OF TOMORROW, and NIGHTCRAWLER, Bill Paxton has more than made his mark on cinema and cemented his legacy, but it’s hard to imagine the future of movies without Bill Paxton in it. Paxton also tried his hand at directing on occasion as well, making his feature directorial-debut with the highly underrated FRAILTY (in which he also starred) as well as THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED. The actor was no stranger on the small-screen either, appearing in Miami Vice, Tales from the Crypt, Frasier, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Training Day, and Hatfields & McCoys, but it was his starring role as Bill Henrickson on HBO’s Big Love which stands out in my mind. Playing the head of a polygamous family would score Bill Paxton three Golden Globe nominations over the course of the series.

Don Rickles

Known as Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles could always be counted upon for a cutting insult and witty comeback, which makes me wish that I had one locked and loaded in order to honour the comedian. Instead, I’ll leave you with his own story, told to Vanity Fair, of how he blew off Frank Sinatra.

“It’s a true story, so help me God,” he began obligingly. “Sinatra was headlining at the Sands, and I was with this girl having dinner in the lounge. She wasn’t anybody I would bring home to my mother, but I really wanted to score big. Frank was in the lounge at his table with Lena Horne and some other celebrities and all his security guards. And my date says, ‘My God, there’s Frank Sinatra! Do you know him?’

“I said, ‘Sure, he’s a friend of mine.’ Which he was. But I made it sound like my whole life. ‘We’re like brothers!’ She didn’t believe me. So I said, ‘Wait here, sweetheart,’ and I went over to Frank’s table. ‘What do you want, Bullethead?’ he said. That was his nickname for me. I told him I was trying to impress this girl and would he do me a very big favor and come over and just say hello. He said, ‘For you, Bullethead, I’ll do it.’”

Five minutes later, Sinatra strolled over and said, “Don, how the hell are you?”

And Don Rickles looked up and replied, “Not now, Frank. Can’t you see I’m with somebody?”

Over the course of his lengthy career, Don Rickles was always a popular guest on talk and variety shows, but he made more than a few appearances in film and television in other roles as well, including KELLY’S HEROES, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Get Smart, CASINO, Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie, and of course, TOY STORY, in which he voiced Mr. Potato Head. Don Rickles died of kidney failure on April 6th at the age of 90.

Jonathan Demme

Only three films in Oscar history have taken home the so-called Big Five Academy Awards, which would be Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. The last film to  achieve this honour was Jonathan Demme‘s SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, one of the most chilling horror-thrillers of all time which introduced us to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter for the first time. Like several other big directors, Jonathan Demme got his start with Roger Corman and would make his directorial-debut on one of Corman’s women-in-prison exploitation flicks, CAGED HEAT. After directing several more features for Corman, Demme finally burst into the Hollywood scene with MELVIN AND HOWARD, which was inspired by Melvin Dummar, a man who was listed as the beneficiary of $156 million in a will allegedly handwritten by Howard Hughes. The film nabbed several major awards and as a result, Jonathan Demme signed on to direct SWING SHIFT starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. However, Demme famously clashed with his stars as both Hawn and Russell saw the film as more of a conventional lighthearted love-story while Demme was attempting to craft something more serious. Jonathan Demme would follow the success of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS with PHILADELPHIA, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, and RACHEL GETTING MARRIED. Jonathan Demme died on April 26th due to complications from esophageal cancer and heart disease at the age of 73.

Michael Parks

After roaming from job to job during his teenage years, such as picking fruit, digging ditches, driving trucks, and fighting forest fires, Michael Parks soon found a home in the film industry, appearing on TV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, The Real McCoys, Perry Mason, Twin Peaks, as well as starring in his own short-lived series, Then Came Bronson. Parks was also featured on the big-screen as well, with roles in THE EVICTORS, THE RETURN OF JOSEY WALES, which he also directed, CAGED FURY, and DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH, but the actor experienced a late-career surge when he began working with directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and Kevin Smith in KILL BILL, GRINDHOUSE, RED STATE, DJANGO UNCHAINED, and TUSK. Parks also appeared in one of my favourite movies, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, as well as ARGO, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, and BLOOD FATHER. Michael Parks passed away on May 9th at the age of 77.

Powers Boothe

In April of this year, the long-awaited Deadwood revival took a step forward when series creator David Milch submitted his script for the two-hour movie to HBO. I was excited, but that excitement was dampened considerably when Powers Boothe, who played Cy Tolliver on the series, died on May 14th at the age of 68. His verbal sparring with Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) and the other residents of Deadwood was always a highlight, and I’m finding it difficult to imagine that world without his presence. Powers Boothe was already well established by the time Deadwood came calling, with roles in RED DAWN, TOMBSTONE, NIXON, and FRAILTY, but the series certainly boosted his profile. In years following, Powers Boothe took part in SIN CITY, MACGRUBER, THE AVENGERS, and SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR, with appearances on television as well on 24, Hatfields & McCoys, and Nashville.

Roger Moore

For many, the first James Bond you’re introduced to becomes “your” Bond. Unfortunately for Roger Moore, my father started me off on the Sean Connery Bond films, and by the time we got around to the Roger Moore-era, I couldn’t help but feel that everything had gotten rather silly. Years later, I grew to appreciate Moore’s take on Bond more and more, his easy-going nature and sophisticated style contrasted nicely with Connery’s more dangerous approach, but when push came to shove, Moore’s Bond could more than hold his own. Roger Moore appeared in seven Bond films during his time with the franchise, including LIVE AND LET DIE, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, MOONRAKER, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, OCTOPUSSY, and A VIEW TO A KILL. Before Roger Moore became James Bond, he was best known for playing Simon Templar on The Saint and Lord Brett Sinclair on The Persuaders!, in which he starred alongside Tony Curtis. Following a brief battle with cancer, Roger Moore passed away on May 23rd at the age of 89.

Peter Sallis

Although Peter Sallis appeared on screen many times over his lengthy career, it’s possible that you may not know the man by looking at him, but you would likely recognize him as the voice of Wallace, the eccentric, cheese-loving inventor from Aardman Animations WALLACE AND GROMIT series. While creator Nick Park was still an animation student, he wrote to Peter Sallis asking him to voice Wallace, and to his surprise, Sallis agreed to do it in exchange for a £50 donation to his favourite charity. Peter Sallis would wind up voicing the character for several more shorts, TV series, video-games, as well as a feature-film, WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT.  “It is pleasing knowing millions are going to see your work and enjoy it,” Sallis said of his involvement in the franchise. “To still be involved in a project like this at my age is heartwarming.” Sallis is also known for his role of Norman Clegg on the long-running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine, as well as appearance in The Persuaders!, Doctor Who, THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, and TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA. Peter Sallis passed away on June 2nd at the age of 96.

Glenne Headly

Glenne Headly died of complications from a pulmonary embolism on June 8th at the age of 62, leaving family, friends, and fans saddened by the sudden loss. Glenne Headly got her start as an originating member of Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, but soon made the leap to film and television, with her role in DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS opposite Steve Martin and Michael Caine launching her to new heights. Headly would go on to appear in DICK TRACY, MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS, SGT. BILKO, THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN, and EULOGY, along with TV roles on Lonesome Dove, Frasier, ER, Monk, The Night Of, and Future Man.

Adam West

For three seasons (Same Bat-time! Same Bat-Channel!) Adam West brought Batman to life in the colourful, campy 60’s TV series of the same name, and for many, Adam West is Batman. “I didn’t need molded plastic to improve my physique,” West said in his first appearance on The Simpsons. “Pure West.” However, upon the cancellation of the series, Adam West had difficulty finding work as he found himself the victim of typecasting. West supported himself and his family by making personal appearances as Batman, and would later return to voice the character on animated TV shows such as The New Adventures of Batman, Legends of the Superheroes, and Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show. Adam West would achieve success once again, as well as a new generation of fans, when he played  a fictionalized version of himself, who happens to be the Mayor of Quahog, on Seth MacFarlane‘s Family Guy, a role he would continue playing until his death on July 8th at the age of 88. Adam West‘s career wasn’t all caped crusaders and off the wall mayors however, as he also made appearances on Bonanza, Perry Mason, Betwitched, The Outer Limits, The Detectives, Gunsmoke, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote, and Mannix.

John G. Avildsen

Together with Sylvester Stallone, John G. Avildsen crafted one of the greatest sports dramas of all time with ROCKY, but the director nearly didn’t take the project as he had little interest in boxing. After a friend begged him to read the script, Avildsen found he was charmed by the beautiful love story and excellent character study. When the film grew into a huge success, the producers were anxious to make a sequel and asked Avildsen to return, but the director was busy with other projects at the time and declined, a choice he later said was “one of my greatest mistakes.” Avildsen would return for what, at the time, was expected to be the final film in the series, ROCKY V. Having one iconic sports franchise under your belt seems like enough, but Avildsen would later bring us another underdog sports saga with THE KARATE KID, and this time, he returned to helm THE KARATE KID PART II and THE KARATE KID PART III. John G. Avildsen passed away on June 16th at the age of 81.

Michael Nyqvist

After battling lung cancer, Michael Nyqvist passed away on June 27th at the age of 56. Although likely best known for his starring role in Stieg Larsson’s MILLENNIUM series, which included THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, the Swedish actor had also broken into America film as Kurt Hendricks in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL opposite Tom Cruise, and as Viggo Tarasov in JOHN WICK with Keanu Reeves. Adopted from an orphanage as a baby, Michael Nyqvist seemed to have caught the acting bug during his teenage years when he spent time in Omaha, Nebraska as an exchange student. It was there that he took his first acting classes, and, upon his return to Sweden, he would later be accepted to the Malmö Theatre Academy. Nyqvist’s first big-break came in 2000 with a starring role in Lukas Moodysson’s TOGETHER, in which he played the role of a misguided husband with anger issues. From then on, he starred in AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, SUDDENLY, ABDUCTION, EUROPA REPORT, COLONIA, FRANK & LOLA, and many others. Michael Nyqvist put his talents towards the written word as well, publishing “Just After Dreaming,” an autobiographical memoir which detailed his life from the time of his adoption to tracking down his biological parents at the age of 30.

Nelsan Ellis

We lose so many talented members of the entertainment industry each and every year, that’s just how it goes, but ideally, those losses come at the end of a long and fruitful career, but sadly, that can’t always be the case. Nelsan Ellis passed away on July 8th at the age of 39 of heart failure due to alcohol withdrawal complications. In a statement released by his family, it was revealed that Ellis had suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years, and after many stints in rehab, the actor had attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. “According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.” In sharing the circumstances of his death, Nelson Ellis’ family hopes that his life will “serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.Nelsan Ellis is best known for playing the fantastic Lafayette Reynolds throughout all 7 seasons of HBO’s True Blood, but Ellis also appeared in Without a Trace, Veronica Mars, and Elementary, as well as taking on roles in THE SOLOIST, THE HELP, THE BUTLER, GET ON UP, and THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT.

Martin Landau

Martin Landau has appeared in some truly fantastic movies, such as NORTH BY NORTHWEST, CLEOPATRA, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM, ED WOOD, and many others, but which film served as my introduction to the late actor? X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE. That’s right. Martin Landau played Alvin Kurtzweil in the first X-FILES feature film, one of many in a long line of informants to FBI Agent Fox Mulder. It wasn’t a huge role, but it was certainly memorable and led me to seek out more of Landau’s work. In addition to his roles on the big-screen, Martin Landau appeared in many popular TV shows, such as The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, Columbo, Space: 1999, Entourage, Without a Trace, and The Simpsons, but one of the best examples of Martin Landau‘s talent was Mission: Impossible, the 60’s TV series in which he played Rollin Hand, the master of disguise who could impersonate just about anyone, and often did. Martin Landau passed away on July 15th at the age of 89.

George A. Romero

You need only to take a brief glance at the vast amount of zombie related entertainment produced over the decades to see the influence of George A. Romero, the man who gave birth to the entire genre. Sure, there had already been several zombie films by the time Romero scrounged together $114,000 to make NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in 1968, but Romero’s film was the one which truly launched the zombie phenomenon. George A. Romero would follow up the original film with several sequels, including DAWN OF THE DEAD, DAY OF THE DEAD, LAND OF THE DEAD, DIARY OF THE DEAD, and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, but countless writers and directors took his ideas and ran with them, crafting the wide variety of zombie entertainment at our fingertips today. When he wasn’t dealing with zombies, Romero also directed SEASON OF THE WITCH, THE CRAZIES, MARTIN, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW, and MONKEY SHINES. The Godfather of Zombies died on July 16th at the age of 77.

June Foray

Acclaimed animator Chuck Jones was quoted as saying, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.” With countless credits to her name, including Lucifer the Cat in CINDERELLA, Witch Hazel and Granny from Looney Tunes, Cindy Lou Who in HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, and of course, Rocky J. Squirrel and Natasha Fatale from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, I certainly can’t argue with Jones’ statement. By the age of 15, June Foray was already doing regular voice-work on radio, and her career continued until nearly the very end of her life with roles in just about every animated project you can think of, including The Flintstones, Heathcliff, The Smurfs, The Jetsons, The Simpsons, and more. In addition to the incredible body of work she leaves behind, June Foray is also credited with establishing the Annie Awards, after noted that there had been no awards to celebrate accomplishments in animation. June Foray passed away on July 26th at the age of 99.

Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard died on July 27th from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 73, but he achieved quite a lot during his time, all while exuding a supreme sense of coolness. Best known for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in THE RIGHT STUFF, Sam Shepard also appeared in DAYS OF HEAVEN, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, THE PELICAN BRIEF, SWORDFISH, BLACK HAWK DOWN, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, KILLING THEM SOFTLY, MUD, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, and many more. Shepard was also an acclaimed American playwright and was one of the leading figures of the Off-Off-Broadway movement that flourished in New York beginning in the early 1960’s. Over the decades, Sam Shepard would win a record-setting 10 Obie Awards (the Off-Broadway Theater Awards) for writing and directing.

Jerry Lewis

Nicknamed the “King of Comedy,” Jerry Lewis was born into a show business family and began performing at just five years of age, but it wasn’t until he met a young singer by the name of Dean Martin that he truly exploded onto the comedy scene. The pair formed a comedy team and their highly popular nightclub act grew to include a radio variety show and a deal with Paramount Pictures. Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin churned out a large number of comedies together during this time, including THE ARTIST, THE STOOGE, and SCARED STIFF, but their relationship soured and the team split after their last film, HOLLYWOOD OR BUST. Although initially uncertain of the direction of his career after his partnership with Martin ended, saying that he was “completely unnerved to be alone,” Lewis quickly bounced back and grew into one of Paramount’s biggest stars with films like THE BELLBOY, THE LADIES MAN, THE ERRAND BOY, and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. Outside of his film work, Jerry Lewis also supported research into muscular dystrophy throughout his career by hosting The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon for almost 50 years and helping to raise $2.6 billion in donations. Jerry Lewis passed away on August 20th at the age of 91.

Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper‘s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE has been called one of the most influential horror films in history, but I didn’t get around to watching it until earlier this year. I know. For shame. With over forty years of hype behind it, what would my reaction to the film be? To my surprise, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE more than lived up to my expectations thanks to its simplistic and gritty approach, proving that Hooper’s work will continue terrifying audiences for generations to come. Tobe Hooper would go on to direct other memorable horror films, including THE FUNHOUSE, POLTERGEIST, LIFEFORCE, INVADERS FROM MARS, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. The director brought his talents to television with an excellent mini-series adaptation of Stephen King‘s Salem’s Lot, as well as helmed episodes of Amazing Stories, Freddy’s Nightmares, Tales from the Crypt, Dark Skies, Taken, and two installments in Mick Garris‘ Masters of Horror anthology series. Tobe Hooper died on August 26th at the age of 74.

Frank Vincent

Although I certainly knew Frank Vincent from his memorable roles in RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS, CASINO, and The Sopranos, I didn’t know all that much about his life outside those characters, but when I came across this photo, I knew I had to find out more. It turns out that before he caught the acting bug, Frank Vincent was very active in the music scene as a drummer, playing at clubs and performing as a session musican, and it was around this time when he first met Joe Pesci after hiring him as a guitarist for the band. Due to their great chemistry on stage, Frank Vincent and Joe Pesci eventually formed a comedy duo and spent a number of years on the road before splitting up. The pair were very close during this period, but Vincent himself compared their relationship to that of a husband and wife as they “broke up many times.” Nonetheless, it was Pesci who got Frank Vincent his first acting gig as a gambler who gets killed by the mob in THE DEATH COLLECTOR, which just so happened to have been seen by Robert De Niro who then recommended the pair to Martin Scorsese for RAGING BULL. On September 13th, Frank Vincent passed away due to complications from heart surgery at the age of 80.

Harry Dean Stanton

The late Roger Ebert once said that “No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad,” and with close to two hundred credits to his name, Harry Dean Stanton has proven that rule to be true far more often than not. After serving in the Navy as a cook in the Pacific during World War II, the call of the entertainment industry soon came calling and Harry Dean Stanton began his lengthy career with an appearance in Inner Sanctum, a horror and mystery anthology series. From that moment on, Stanton frequently stole the show with roles in THE WRONG MAN, COOL HAND LUKE, ALIEN, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, REPO MAN, PARIS, TEXAS, PRETTY IN PINK, THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, THE GREEN MILE, THE AVENGERS, and so much more. Harry Dean Stanton also made plenty of appearances on some classic TV shows such as The Texan, The Rifleman, Have Gun – Will Travel, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, Bonanza, The Fugitive, The Wild Wild West, The Virginian, and Laverne & Shirley. In more recent years, Stanton won praise for his role of Roman Grant on HBO’s Big Love, as well as reprised his TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME role for David Lynch‘s recent revival of the series. In addition to his acting work, Stanton was also an accomplished musician, and quite a number of his roles feature the great actor singing a tune or strumming on his guitar. On September 15th, Harry Dean Stanton passed away at the age of 91, but take one look at his filmography and you’ll be blown away by the types of movies he’s done and the people he was fortunate enough to work with over his long career, or, better put, the people who were fortunate enough to work with him.

Bernie Casey

Before breaking into acting, Bernie Casey played in the NFL for eight seasons, six with the San Fransico 49ers and two with the Los Angeles Rams, before retiring from the sport. Casey’s first acting gig was in GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, the second sequel to the John Surges classic, in which he played one of the titular seven. With his career now taking off, Casey would go on to appear in BOXCAR BERTHA, which just so happened to be the second feature-film from one Martin Scorsese, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, SPIES LIKE US, I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, ANOTHER 48 HOURS, UNDER SEIGE, and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. On the TV side of things, Casey made memorable guest appearances in Babylon 5, Bay City Blues, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Bernie Casey passed away on September 19th at the age of 78.

Rance Howard

In an interesting bit of cinematic trivia, both Rance Howard and Ron Howard, who was two at the time, made their feature-film debuts on the same movie, a western by the name of FRONTIER WOMAN. Upon his death on November 25th at the age of 89, Ron Howard commented that his father’s passion for acting “changed the course of our family history,” and it certainly did. After appearances in movies like COOL HAND LUKE and CHINATOWN, as well as TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, and The Waltons, Rance Howard would soon begin making appearances in many of his son’s movies, such as SPLASH, COCOON, APOLLO 13, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, FROST/NIXON, and ANGELS & DEMONS. These films are only the tip of Rance Howard’s filmography, as he also had roles in INNERSPACE, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, ED WOOD, PSYCHO, NEBRASKA, THE LONE RANGER. Rance Howard’s final movie, BROKEN MEMORIES, premiered the week before his death. Ron Howard commented that his father’s role, that of a man suffering from Alzheimer’s desease, was “the role of his career.

Other notables we lost this year include Mike Connors, star of Mannix, Perry Mason’s Barbara Hale, Looney Tunes producer Hal Geer, Frank Pellegrino of The Sopranos, SCARFACE actress Míriam Colón, Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne, Chappelle’s Show’s Charlie Murphey, Molly Peters of THUNDERBALL, Babylon 5 and St. Elsewhere actor Stephen Furst, HOME ALONE’s John Heard, HARRY POTTER actor Robert Hardy, TRUE GRIT’s Glen Campbell, PREDATOR actor Sonny Landham, Game of Thrones and AMADEUS actor Roy Dotrice, THE LION KING’s Robert Guillaume, Magnum P.I. actor John Hillerman, Touched by an Angel actress Della Reese, The Partridge Family’s David Cassidy, The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. actor Jim Nabors, and FARGO actor Steve Reevis.


About the Author

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.