Sunday, December 29, 2013

Notable Passing, 2013, H-L

This group of obits runs the gamut from a former stripper to the greatest actress of her generation (Julie Harris) to one of my favorite comic book artists to Trixie Norton (who was also a former stripper). Jane Kean played Trixie of "The Honeymooners" when Jackie Gleason recast the wives of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton with musical actresses so he could incorporate elaborate production numbers and comedy songs; Sheila MacRae was the new Alice. We would watch the Gleason show every Saturday night. It used to come on right after "Sea Hunt" with Lloyd Bridges ("By now my lungs were aching for air.") I saw Kean play Sally in a summer stock production of "Follies" at the Valley Forge Music Fair with Robert Alda, Vivian Blaine, and Selma Diamond. I was about 12 years old and had saved up my allowance to pay for the ticket (It had to be $10 or so.)Gleason's variety show ran until the early 1970s and CBSthen replaced the middlebrow humor exemplified by Gleason, Lucille Ball, and shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction," and "Green Acres" to be replaced by more sophisticated sitcoms like "All in the Family," "MASH," and the Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore shows. These shows were much more adult, but I did miss the innocent silliness of Ralph and Ed, Alice and Trixie arguing in that tiny Brooklyn apartment. (There were many jokes about Trixie's past as an exotic dancer.)Harris was also a sitcom actor, appearing in an awful piece of tripe about a family that made pickles. It was ridiculous, but she was brilliant of course and I suppose she had to pay the rent. I only met her once, when she was appearing Off-Broadway in a play called "The Fiery Furnace" and I got her autograph. She was charming and gracious. HAJI, 67, Canadian actress and former exotic dancer who starred in several Russ Myers sexploitation films including "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" and "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," as well as John Cassavettes' "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie," her last film was the memorably titled "Killer Drag Queens on Dope."HELEN HANFT, 79, leading actress of the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement of the 1960s and '70s, best known for Tom Eyen's "Why Hanna's Skirt Won't Stay Down," also appeared in such plays as "Women Benhind Bars," "In the Boom Boom Room," and "Gus and Al," and the films "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" and "Manhattan."

Julie Harris and James Dean in "East of Eden"

JULIE HARRIS, 87, winner of five Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Play ("I Am a Camera," "The Lark," "Forty Carats," "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln," "The Belle of Amherst"), one of the American theater's treasures, she also starred in "Member of the Wedding," "Marathon 33," "Skyscraper," "The Au Pair Man," "Lucifer's Child," "The Fiery Furnace," "The Glass Menagerie," "The Gin Game," and the film version of "Member of the Wedding" (Oscar nomination), other films include "East of Eden," "The Haunting," "Harper," "Reflections in a Golden Eye," Emmy Awards for "Little Moon of Alban" and "Victoria Regina," played Lilimae Clements on "Knots Landing" and made several guest shots including "Columbo," "Medical Center," "The Big Valley," and "The Virginian."

NOEL HARRISON, 79, British actor-musician who topped the charts with "The Windmills of Your Mind," from "The Thomas Crowne Affair," which won the Oscar for Best Song, starred opposite Stefanie Powers in the series "The Girl from UNCLE," a short-lived spinoff from "The Man from UNCLE," son of Rex Harrison.

RAY HARYHAUSEN, 92, special effects wizard, created the stop-motion effects for such film fantasies as "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms," and "Jason and the Argonauts."

SEAMUS HEANEY, 74, Nobel-Prize winning Irish poet.

SHIRLEY HERZ, 87, theater publicist, worked with such notables as Josephine Baker, Rosalind Russell, Tallulah Bankhead, Truman Capote, Angela Lansbury, and Jerry Herman, winner of a special Tony Award in 2009.

One of Carmine Infantino's

dynamic covers for Batman comics

CARMINE INFANTINO, 87, comic-book artist and editor, co-created Deadman, Animal Man,The Elongated Man, and Batgirl, drew such iconic superheroes as Batman, The Flash, Adam Strange, and many others.

DAMON INTRABARTOLO, 39, coauthor of the pop opera "Bare" which played Off-Broadway in 2004 and 2012.

CORINNE JACKER, 79, playwright who won Obie Awards for "Bits and Pieces" and "Harry Outside," served as head writer for the daytime drama "Another World," and wrote scripts for the PBS series "The Adams Chronicles" and "The Best of Families."

RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA, 85, Oscar-winning screenwriter closely associated with the team of director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, won herAcademy Awards for adaptations of the E.M. Forster novels "Howard's End" and"Room with a View," additional screenplays include "Heat and Dust" (based on her own novel), "The Golden Bowl," "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," "The Remains of the Day," "The Bostonians," "Jefferson in Paris," "Roseland," "Madame Sousatzka," and "Le Divorce."

FAY KANIN, 95, writer for stage, film and TV, her 1948 play "Goodbye My Fancy" ran for a year on Broadway, with her husband Michael Kanin, she penned the screenplay for "Teacher's Pet" with Clark Gable and Doris Day and the Broadway play "Rashomon," based on the Kurosawa film, she won an Emmy in 1974 for "Tell Me Where It Hurts" with Maureen Stapleton and was nominated the next year for "Hustling" with Jill Clayburgh as a prostitute and Lee Remick as a journalist writing about the oldest profession, she also wrote the teleplay for "Friendly Fire" (1979) starring Carol Burnett and Ned Beatty as a couple dealing with the death of their son in Vietnam, the second woman to serve as president of the Motion Picture Academy.

JANE KEAN, 90, musical-comedy performer who rose to fame when Jackie Gleason recast the wives in "The Honeymooners" sketches in the 1960s version of his variety show, she replaced Joyce Randolph as Trixie Norton, starred with her sister Betty in vaudeville and nightclubs as the Kean Sisters, appeared on Broadway in "Carnival," "Ankles Aweigh," and "Call Me Mister," played Sally in a summer-stock touring version of "Follies."

JIM KELLY, 67, starred in martial-arts pictures, most notably opposite Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon," other films include "Three the Hard Way," "Black Belt Jones," and "Black Samurai."

JOHN KERR, 81, handsome actor known for playing sensitive juveniles such as the sexually confused student in "Tea and Sympathy" both on Broadway (Tony Award) and on film, and Lt. Cable in the film version of "South Pacific," also had an extenseive TV career with recurring roles on "Arrest and Trial" and "Peyton Place," as well as guest shots on "Gunsmoke," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Mod Squad," and "The Streets of San Francisco."

GAIL KOBE, 82, actress and producer, appeared in "The Ten Commandments" and such TV shows as "Maverick," "Bewitched," and "Gunsmoke," produced over 210 episodes of "The Bold and the Beautiful" as well as several segments of "Guiding Light."

TOM LAUGHLIN, 82, star and co-producer of four "Billy Jack" films about an ill-tempered Vietnam vet, bucked the Hollywood studio system in the 1960s and '70s by promoting and distributingthe films himself.

ED LAUTER, 74, prolific character actor with dozens of movies to his credit including "Family Plot," both versions of "The Longest Yard," "Born on the Fourth of July," "Seabiscuit," "Trouble with the Curve," and "The Artist," as well as numerous TV guest shots such as "Mannix," "Kojak," "Miami Vice," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Shameless."

RICHARD LEPARMENTIER, 66, actor-screenwriter best known for his role in the original "Star Wars" as a Death Star commander who irks Darth Vader into choking him.

ELMORE LEONARD, 87, crime novelist whose works inspired such hit films as "Get Shorty," "Be Cool," and "Jackie Brown," as well as the TV series "Justified."

DORIS LESSING, 94, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, her most famous work was "The Golden Notebook."

DAN LURIE, 90, bodybuilding star and promoter, arm-wrestled Ronald Reagan in 1984 and let the president win, publisher of Muscle Training Illustrated, made apperances on early TV shows such as "The Sealtest Big Top Variety Circus Show" and "Captain Video."
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