Thursday, September 18, 2014

RIP Johnny Rotella

RIP Johnny Rotella
Los Angeles Daily News
By Doug McIntyre
September 18, 2014
 
Johnny Rotella never missed this column, but this column will miss Johnny Rotella. Johnny died Thursday just days shy of his 94th birthday.
 
Ninety-four years is a lot of living, yet in Johnny’s case, it wasn’t quite enough. Until the last week of his life, Rotella enjoyed remarkable health. He was a fixture at jazz clubs and civic events. How can he be gone when there’s still so much music to play, music to write, music to hear?
 
How can Johnny Rotella be gone when his friend Phil Poulos was saving a chair for him Friday at the monthly Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters’ luncheon?
 
How can Johnny Rotella be dead when he still found so much joy in life?
 
Born into a musical family in Jersey City, Johnny Rotella had one passion: music.
 
That is, until he met and married his second passion, Ann Graziano, who remains Mrs. Johnny Rotella 67 years later.
 
After serving with the 389th Army Service Forces Band during World War II, Rotella hooked on with the Raymond Scott Orchestra, launching a prolific musical career that continued to his last breath. He quickly moved on to the superstar bands, Tommy Dorsey’s and Benny Goodman’s as well. Goodman brought Johnny west and he decided to make L.A. his home. That was one lucky day for Los Angeles.
 
A triple-threat instrumentalist, Rotella, a longtime Van Nuys resident, was a master of the saxophone, clarinet and flute, playing with and recording for music icons from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa.
 
“My father loved good music, period,” says Bill Rotella, Johnny’s son and a professional musician himself.
 
In addition to his work as a studio musician, playing on the soundtracks to countless movies and hit TV shows such as “The Sonny and Cher Show” and “The Andy Williams Show,” Rotella wrote more than 200 songs including compositions with giants like Abbey Lincoln, Johnny Mercer and Sammy Cahn, with whom Rotella wrote his signature song, “Nothing But the Best,” recorded by Sinatra in the 1960s.
 
But “Nothing But the Best” was more than a song title and the title track to a Sinatra compilation CD issued in 2008; it was Rotella’s personal mantra, his salutation to everyone he met, friend and stranger alike.
 
He meant it.
 
As his beloved Ann vanished into the fog of Alz- heimer’s disease, Johnny’s devotion deepened into something far greater than that of kindly caregiver. His love became an inspiration for everyone who was lucky enough to witness it.
 
Of the hundreds of songs he wrote, none is more personal than the simple ballad for piano and voice he wrote just two weeks ago.
 
“Every Time I See You” was performed by Johnny for an audience of one at Ann’s bedside.
 
Music is often the last thread connecting an Alz-heimer’s sufferer with this world. In Johnny and Ann’s story, music was also the first connection.
 
By his 91st year, Johnny had begun to slow down a bit. But with Johnny, “slow” was a relative term. Bill Rotella had moved back home to keep an eye on his dad but came home one night to discover Johnny’s car gone from the driveway.
 
Around midnight Johnny walked through the door in a suit sharp enough to slice tomatoes.
 
“Where have you been?” Bill asked his dad, their roles reversed.
 
“Freda Payne was at Catalina’s. I know some of the boys in the band. I thought I’d say hello.”
 
At 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 24, the boys in the band will say goodbye to Johnny Rotella at St. Charles Borromeo in Toluca Lake.
 
Nothing but the best, Johnny.
 
 
ROTELLA, Johnny
Born: 9/?/1920, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 9/11/2014, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
 
Johnny Rotella’s western – songwriter:
Sergeants 3 – 1962 [song "And the Night Wind Sang"]

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

RIP Lee Maddux

Lee Madddux, Writer on ‘Night Court,’ Dies at 68
 
Variety
By: Carmel Dagan
September 17, 2014
 
Lee Maddux, a television writer who did stints as executive story consultant for the NBC sitcom “Night Court” and the CBS spy dramedy “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” died on September 9. He was 68.
 
Maddux served as executive story consultant on “Scarecrow” for 31 episodes from 1985-87 (also writing seven episodes) and for “Night Court” for 22 episodes in 1991-92.
 
He was credited as co-producer on 13 episodes of “In the Heat of the Night” and penned three episodes.
 
Maddux also wrote episodes of “Benson,” “Simon & Simon,” “Crime Story,” “Hunter” and “MacGyver.”
 
In 1999 he penned “The Coronation,” a German-language short that spoofed film noir. In 2002, still working in German, he penned a series, the animated Western spoof “WinneToons”; it was followed by (still German) the short “**** Me? **** You!,” and then a feature version of “WinneToons,” “WinneToons – Die Legende vom Schatz im Silbersee,” which he co-wrote.
 
MADDUX, Lee (Lee L. Maddux)
Born: 1946, Lyons, Rhône-Alpes, France
Died: 9/9/2014, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
 
Lee Maddux’s westerns – screenwriter:
WinneToons (TV) – 2002
WinneToons - Die Legende vom Schatz im Silbersee - 2009

RIP Buster Jones

Buster Jones, an actor on Hanna-Barbera’s “Super Friends” cartoon, which ran on ABC on Saturday mornings from 1973-76, died on Sept. 16 in North Hollywood, Calif. He was 71.
 
He is probably best known from his role as Black Vulcan in “Super Friends” (the 1980-2 version, which was the fifth incarnation of the series).
 
The actor also played Blaster in “The Transformers,” Doc in “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” and Winston Zeddemore in “The Real Ghostbusters” (subbing in for Arsenio Hall) and later in “Extreme Ghostbusters.”
 
While “Super Friends” featured the superheroes of the DC comicbook world, Jones’ character Black Vulcan was a creation of Hanna-Barbera.
 
Edward L. “Buster” Jones was born in Paris, Tennessee. “I got out of Paris by playing music,” he told Marc Tyler Nobleman in a 2011 interview.
 
Jones went to Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, then played in a series of bands, including in London.
 
He was a disk jockey in Washington, D.C., before he got into acting.
 
Jones did live-action work when he could, appearing in 1972 film “The Marshal of Windy Hollow,” a 1974 episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” the 1979 TV Movie “Captain America” and a 1987 episode of “Hill Street Blues.” He also did voice work for the video film “G.I. Joe: The Movie.”
 
 
JONES, Buster (Edward L. Jones)
Born: 1943, Paris, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Died: 9/16/2014, North Hollywood, California, U.S.A.
 
Buster Jones’ western actor:
The Marshal of Windy Hollow – 1972 (outlaw)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

RIP Del Roy

Del Roy 1921 – 2014
 
Eugene Register-Guard
By Staff
Sept. 13, 2014
 
A wonderful and truly special man has left us. Del Roy, born Roy Weinedel Jr. on September 24, 1921 in Louisville, Kentucky, died Friday, September 5, 2014, just shy of his 93rd birthday.
 
He served in the Merchant Marine as a tugboat captain in Marseilles during World War II. After the war, he attended The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, returning to Kentucky to begin a career in broadcasting. After a move to California and years working in the record business and real estate, he returned to his first loves, acting, television and movie voice-overs and reading books on tape. His distinctive voice can be heard on a "Hire a Vet" commercial still airing on KVAL and on several audio books available at the Eugene Public Library. He and his wife moved to Eugene in 2010 to be near his daughter and grandchildren.
 
A man of great intellect and integrity, charm and wit, he loved reading, music, film, the arts, and anything French. He was an avid supporter of public libraries and vocal advocate for women's rights. Maintaining his great sense of humor, he recalled, on one of his last days, a favorite New Yorker cartoon depicting these words on a tombstone, "I told you I was sick." In the words of the great Frank Sinatra, he "did it his way."
 
He leaves behind his best friend and wife of 46 years, Fran Roy; his daughter, Beverly Roy and son-in-law, Ned Forman of Eugene; a son, Roy Weinedel and grandson, Tony Weinedel of Mississippi; brother, Jim Weinedel of North Carolina; sister, Pat Denny (pre-deceased); granddaughter, Kim Fulton Menjou and husband, Richie; and grandson, Zane Fulton and his fiancée, Stephanie Dizikes. Great-granddaughter, Bryce Menjou, will also miss her Grandpa Del, but will have the pleasure of hearing his voice on taped bedtime stories as she gets older.
 
Del was loved by his family and many friends. He will be missed and remembered by all. He requested that his ashes be sprinkled over wine country. A private gathering for family and friends will be held at a later date.
 
 
ROY, Del (Roy Weindel, Jr.)
Born: 9/24/1921, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.
Died: 9/15/2014, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.
 
Del Roy’s western – actor:
Wild Bill – 1995 (gambler)

RIP Theodore J. Flicker

R.I.P. Theodore J. Flicker, Creator of ‘Barney Miller’
 
Deadline Hollywod
By: The Deadline Team
September 13, 2014
 
Known for its deadpan comedy banter and one act play-like structure, Barney Miller, which Flicker co-owned, took place in a fictional 12th precinct Greenwich Village police station, with the action largely occurring between two sets: the detective’s squad room and Captain Barney’s Miller’s office. The series grew out of an unsold TV pilot that Flicker wrote titled The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller, that aired on August 22, 1974 as part of an ABC summer anthology series Just for Laughs. Barney Miller ran from 1975 to 1982 on ABC and finally won an outstanding comedy series Emmy during its final season on the air.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor have cited Barney Miller in several interviews as a big inspiration for their Fox comedy series, which is going into its second season. Flicker’s creative part.
 
Born in Freehold Borough, New Jersey on June 6, 1930, Flicker attended the Admiral Farragut Academy in Tom’s River, New Jersey from 1947-49, before studying at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts alongside such notables as Joan Collins and Larry Hagman.  During the early ’50s, Flicker was one of the early members of the improv comedy troupe, Chicago’s Compass Players, where he performed alongside Elaine May. By the end of the decade, Flicker wrote the book and directed the Broadway “beat”musical The ner on Barney Miller, Danny Arnold, died at the age of 70 on Aug. 19, 1995.
 
Prior to a big career in TV as both a director and a writer, Flicker helmed and co-wrote the film The Troublemaker in 1964, followed by his 1967 political satire The President’s Analyst starring James Coburn which earned him a WGA nomination for best original screenplay. As a TV writer and director he was involved with episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Streets of San Francisco. Flicker also had the occasional acting gig in 1971’s Night Gallery, 1972’s Beware! The Blob, and as Buffalo Bill Cody in The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
 
Flicker retired from film and TV and for the last 20 years has worked as a sculptor in Santa Fe.  He wrote extensively on expressionism and penned the epic novel The Good American, about a Jewish boy during the 19th century, who conceals his identity while working for a German general, ultimately making his way onto the Civil War battlefield.
 
 
FLICKER, Theodore J.
Born: 6/30/1930 Freehold Borough, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 9/12/2014, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
 
Theodore J. Flicker’s western – screenwriter:
Nichols (TV) - 1971

RIP Vivienne Chandler

British actress Vivienne Chandler died in London, England on June 6, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. Chandler made her first appearance on TV in ITV Playhouse in 1970 but she immediately began acting in minor parts in a number of major early 1970s films including “Lust for a Vampire”, “Duck You Sucker” and Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (all 1971). She made several small appearances in the 1980s, including the music video for "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" by the British super group ASIA in 1983, and appeared in Babies in 1997 but since then she had become a professional photographer working in the U.S. and many countries across Europe including France, Italy and the U.K.. She went to University Paris Diderot between her film and television roles but during that time was always interested in the process of image-making.
 
As a photographer she reinvented her name and went by Holly Bush and later Holly Bund as her career changed direction. Photographing mainly children, she had exhibited in London, Oxford and Kent and sold to private collectors in France, England and Japan. Battling cancer, she lived in the new millennium in Paris, where she continued to work until her return to London where she died last June.
 
Vivienne was married and had two sons and a daughter Oonagh Bush, who is a photographer and designer in London.
 
 
CHANDLER, Vivienne
Born: 11/6/1947, Abington, Oxfordshire, England, U.K.
Died: 6/6/2013, London, England, U.K.
 
Vivienne Chandler’s western – actress:
Duck You Sucker - 1971 (Coleen)

Friday, September 12, 2014

RIP Darrell Zwerling

RIP Darrell Zwerling
 
American character actor Darrell Zwerling died in Hollywood, California in May 2014. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1929 Darrell appeared in over 50 films and TV appearances. His first film appearance was an uncredited role as a fan in The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968). His last as a doctor in TV’s Murder She Wrote in 1991. His most famous role was Hollis Mulwray, the unfortunate water authority commissioner in Roman Polanski's "Chinatown".
 
ZWERLING, Darrell
Born: 1929 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died: 5/?/2014, Hollywood, California, U.S.A.
 
Darrell Zwerling’s westerns – actor:
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1977 (Horace)
Father Murphy (TV) – 1982 (Prosecuting Attorney)
Best of the West (TV) – 1982 (Fredericks)