Thursday, August 28, 2014

RIP Bill Stratton

William (Bill) Stratton, 83, Faria Beach, Ventura. The world lost one of its most creative minds on August 20, 2014. Bill Stratton, aka Kahuna to his grandchildren, paddled out from his beach house one last time, with his children by his side, the sound of classical music in his ears and the taste of a martini on his lips.
 
An original ad man of the early 1960's, Bill was responsible for developing the persona of characters like Tony the Tiger for television advertising. The leaden skies of Chicago and the high mortality rate of the advertising business led him to California and screen writing for television. He wrote several movies-of-the-week, including Voyage of the Yes, collaborating with Johnny Cash on The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James and The Baron and the Kid, writing and producing American Harvest, writing A Son's Promise and the final installment of the Gunsmoke series: The Long Ride. Bill was the longest standing writer for the original Hawaii Five-0 television series, worked as a staff writer for Aaron Spelling on shows such as Vegas and Hart to Hart, and contributed dozens of scripts to other shows including Rockford Files, Harry O, Blue Knight, Mod Squad, and Storefront Lawyers. He created the pilot and wrote scripts for the series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, starring Stacey Keach. He continued writing manuscripts and memoirs in his retirement. He received the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe award for mystery writing in 1983.
 
Bill was popular in the television industry for his ability to create original stories with authentic dialogue, repudiating the trite and formulaic. The well spring for his creativity was the Pacific Ocean where he surfed or swam almost daily at his beloved Pitas Point for the past 5 decades. He was an avid tennis player -- one of the original founders of the Ojai Valley Racquet Club. For those who knew him, his door was always open: with wickedly strong coffee brewing, he was open to frank discussions on topics including history, politics and personal development.
 
Born in 1930 in Kansas City, Missouri, Bill served in the Korean War, was a journalism major at Kansas State University, was married to Donna Lee MacDougall and then Sandra Freeman. His surviving family comprises Hall and Alicia Stratton of Oak View, their sons Layne and Robert; Anna Stratton of Washington DC; Shelby and Emily Fleming of Alexandria VA, their son Nathan; and Sheryl Stratton of Falls Church VA, her children, Jay, Sarah and Sabrina; Doug and Liz Freeman of Basalt CO and Ventura; and Bob and Debbie Freeman of Salt Lake City UT, their sons Jacob and Andrew.
 
He requested his obituary state: The curmudgeon of Faria Beach succumbed after a long heroic struggle with poison oak during which he learned that "that man is rich who has a scratch for every itch."
 
A memorial service will be held this fall. Please contact sheryl.stratton@verizon.net for details.
 
 
STRATTON, Bill (William Stratton)
Born: 11/11/1930, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 8/20/2014, Faria Brach, Ventura, California, U.S.A.
 
Bill Stratton’s western – screenwriter:
Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (TV) – 1993

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

RIP Stephen Lee

Stephen Lee, Character Actor in ‘Burlesque,’ ‘The Negotiator,’ Dies at 58
 
Variety
Carmel Dagan
August 27, 2014
 
 
Stephen Lee, a talented character actor who spent more than three decades in the business, died of a heart attack on August 14. He was 58.
 
Some of his more notable credits include the films “Burlesque” (2010), with Cher and Christina Aguilera; “The Negotiator” (1998), with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey; and, much earlier, 1983’s “WarGames” with Matthew Broderick.
 
Lee also did a great deal of TV work, with credits dating back to “Hart to Hart” in 1981 and “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Who’s the Boss?” in 1984.
 
The actor’s more recent TV credits include “NCIS,” “Numbers,” “Bones” and “Ghost Whisperer,” and he worked last in 2010.
 
On the way he appeared on such TV shows as “thirtysomething,” soap “Santa Barbara,” “Family Ties,” “Night Court,” “Roseanne,” “Quantum Leap,” “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Grace Under Fire,” “Babylon 5,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Seinfeld.”
 
Other films in which he appeared included “La Bamba” and “RoboCop 2.”
 
 
LEE, Stephen
Born: 11/11/1955, Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 8/14/2014, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
 
Stephen Lee’s westerns – actor:
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (TV) – 1983 (Jimmy
Dream West (TV) – 1986
Guns of Paradise (TV) – 1989 (Jacob Brandt)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

RIP Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘Gandhi,’ Dies at 90

Variety
Carmel Dagan
August 24, 2014
 
Richard Attenborough, who was honored for his helming and production of the 1982 Oscar best picture “Gandhi” but was best known to American audiences for his role in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and its first sequel as park creator John Hammond, died on Sunday, his son tells BBC News. He was 90.
 
The stocky British filmmaker was awarded a life peerage by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 for his stage work and for his efforts behind and in front of the camera to promote British cinema.
 
While Attenborough had been a prominent character actor in his native country since the early 1940s, he also achieved much as a producer, motion picture executive and cultural impresario. At various times he was chairman of the British Film Institute, Channel 4, Goldcrest Films, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Capital Radio and a director of the Young Vic and the British Film Institute. In the late ’70s, he helped preserve and restore London’s Duke of York Theater.
 
A career in film directing began in 1969 with an adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s biting musical satire “Oh! What a Lovely War.” Few of his directing efforts achieved the stature of “Gandhi,” which he had championed for more than 20 years. But there were noteworthy attempts to deal with historical and biographical subjects including “Cry Freedom,” about South African apartheid; “Chaplin,” a biography of the immortal screen comic; and “Shadowlands,” based on William Nicholson’s play focusing on British writer C.S. Lewis.
 
“I have no interest in being remembered as a great creative filmmaker,” he once said. “I want to be remembered as a storyteller.”
 
Despite more than 50 years as a stage and screen actor — including supporting roles in adventure pics “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965) and “The Sand Pebbles” (1966) and “Doctor Dolittle” (1967) — it was only in 1992 that Attenborough achieved widespread international recognition for his starring role in “Jurassic Park,” the largest-grossing film ever at the time. (Later acting credits included Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” and the Cate Blanchett starrer “Elizabeth.”)
 
In the late 1950s, in an effort to enhance the quality of his movie assignments, Attenborough united with writer-director Bryan Forbes to create Beaver Films. Their first effort, 1960’s “The Angry Silence,” was a sharply defined working-class drama, part of the new generation of realistic British films. In addition, Beaver produced “The League of Gentlemen,” “Whistle Down the Wind,” “The L-Shaped Room” and “Seance on a Wet Afternoon” between 1961 and 1964. The last film, in which Attenborough co-starred with Kim Stanley, brought him the British Academy Award along with his work in “Guns at Batasi.” The positive reception for “Seance” in the U.S. coupled with his supporting role in hit WWII actioner “The Great Escape” in 1963 led to a career as a Hollywood character actor starting with “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965) and “The Sand Pebbles” (1966).
 
In 1967 he appeared in the big-budget musical “Doctor Dolittle,” which brought him a Golden Globe for supporting actor.
 
With the help of British actors including Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, John Mills and Michael Redgrave, Attenborough was able to persuade Paramount Pictures to bank his debut directing effort, an adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s WWI fantasia “Oh What a Lovely War.” Though not a financial success in the U.S., the film was honored with a Golden Globe and six British Academy Awards.
 
Attenborough continued to act in films through the early ’70s in such efforts as “David Copperfield,” “A Severed Head,” “Loot” and the chilling “10 Rillington Place,” in which he played a mass murderer. By 1972 he had the money to shoot biographical adventure “Young Winston,” based on the early life of Winston Churchill. The pic was well received, but his next film, 1977’s “A Bridge Too Far,” sported an international name cast but was a $25 million flop.
 
To produce and direct his next film, a biography of the life of Indian pacifist leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, Attenborough beat the bushes for 20 years and redoubled his efforts only after Lean abandoned a similar project. He turned down an offer to be associate director of Britain’s National Theater, mortgaged his house, sold his cars, pawned his paintings, took on a number of subpar roles in films such as “Brannigan,” “Rosebud” and “Ten Little Indians” and made a poor directing choice in “Magic” for producer Joseph E. Levine, basically done as a favor to interest Levine in financing “Gandhi.”
 
With the help of Goldcrest Films and Indian’s National Film Development Corp., Attenborough had financing in hand by the end of the 1970s. He passed on several prominent actors such as Alec Guinness and Dustin Hoffman to cast a highly regarded Royal Shakespeare Company actor, Ben Kingsley, who was part Indian.
 
The film copped eight Oscars, including two for Attenborough as best director and for producing the best picture. Attenborough detailed his struggle to make the film in a book, “In Search of Gandhi,” published in 1982.
 
In 1985, he was named chairman of Goldcrest just after he completed work on a failed film adaptation of the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line.” His next film, also a personal project, was “Cry Freedom,” the story of British journalist Donald Woods (played by Kevin Kline) and South African activist-martyr Steven Biko (a role for which Denzel Washington received a supporting actor Oscar nomination).
 
His 1992 biopic “Chaplin” was less successful, though Robert Downey Jr. drew a deserved Oscar nomination for best actor. The following year Attenborough directed Anthony Hopkins and Oscar nominated Debra Winger in “Shadowlands,” which proved both a commercial and critical success.
 
That was the same year Attenborough’s face finally become familiar across America (and the world) in “Jurassic Park,” Spielberg’s monumental blockbuster based on Michael Crichton’s novel. It was his first acting assignment in 13 years and led to further work in front of the camera: He played Kris Kringle in John Hughes’ remake of “The Miracle on 34th Street” for the Fox Network, and over the
next several years appeared in roles in Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet,” the Cate Blanchett starrer “Elizabeth” and telepic “The Railway Children” (2000). In 2006 he appeared in “Welcome to World War One,” a documentary about the making of “Oh! What a Lovely War.”
 
Attenborough was still directing, too. In 1996 he helmed “In Love and War,” starring Chris O’Donnell and Sandra Bullock in the story of the young Ernest Hemingay and a nurse he loved after he was injured in WWI. His 1999 film “Grey Owl” starred Pierce Brosnan as a Canadian fur trapper who became a conservationist. Attenborough attempted a film that, like “Gandhi,” carried a sociopolitical message, but Variety called the direction “old fashioned.”
 After an absence of eight years, Attenborough directed the sentimental tale “Closing the Ring” (2007), starring Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine.
 
In May 2012 Attenborough teamed with Martin Scorsese and Anthony Haas to develop the film “Silver Ghost,” a drama based on the true story of the founding of Rolls Royce. Attenborough was to direct, but he was in rapidly declining health after suffering a stroke in 2008 that left him in a wheelchair.
 
The oldest son of an Anglo-Saxon scholar and university administrator, Attenborough was the eldest of three sons. (Brother David is a naturalist behind many acclaimed BBC documentary series). His mother, the former Mary Clegg, was the daughter of art historian Samuel Clegg.
 
Born in Cambridge, he was already involved in amateur theatrics by his teens. In 1940 Attenborough won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, making his professional debut while still a student in a production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah Wilderness!” In 1942 he made his screen debut in Noel Coward’s “In Which We Serve,” directed by David Lean.
 
RADA honored him with the Bancroft Medal for fine acting in 1942 and, upon leaving school, he made his West End debut in Clifford Odets’ “Awake and Sing.” Significant roles in productions of “Twelfth Night” and “Brighton Rock” followed before Attenborough enlisted in the Royal Air Force, becoming part of its film unit. He also flew film reconnaissance missions over Germany during the war.
 
In 1946 he signed a contract with producers John and Ray Boulting. He reprised his stage role in the film version of “Brighton Rock,” followed by “The Guinea Pig” in 1948 and “The Gift Horse” in 1952.
 
His film career sputtered in the 1950s: Projects like “Eight O’Clock Walk” and “The Baby and the Battleship” were abysmal. So he returned to the stage in “To Dorothy, a Son,” “Double Image” and Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” (appearing in the original cast as Detective Sergeant Trotter), which became England’s longest-running show.
 
Beginning in 1956, the film side picked up when he appeared for the Boultings in a series of social satires including “Private’s Progress” and “I’m All Right, Jack.”
 
His autobiography “Entirely Up to You, Darling” was published in 2008.
 
Attenborough was married in early 1945 to actress Sheila Sim, with whom he had three children, Jane, Charlotte and Michael, all of whom worked in the performing arts.
 
ATTENBOROUGH, Richard Lord (Richard Samuel Attenborough)
Born: 8/29/1923, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, U.K.
Died: 8/24/2014, West London, England, U.K.
 
Richard Attenborough’s western – director:
Grey Owl – 1999

RIP Florian Flicker

Filmmaker Florian Flicker deceased
 
Der Standard
August 24, 2014
 
The award-winning Salzburg filmmaker died shortly after his 49th birthday in Vienna to severe disease
 
Vienna -. Austrian writer and director Florian Flicker is dead Prism Film Production Company announced, Flicker died on Saturday afternoon, just two days after his 49th birthday, in Vienna after a short bout with a severe cancer.
 
Born in Salzburg Flicker known for his award-winning feature film "The Raid" (2000) with Roland Daeringer, Josef Hader and Joachim Bißmeier. Last time was his "Devil Woman" –an adaption of a "frontier" for the cinema, which was awarded three times by the Austrian Film Prize 2013, including that which won for best screenplay.
 
Flicker’s beginnings were in experimental film and expanded cinema, with "Half the World" in 1993 he put out his first feature film. In 1998, he released his road movie "Suzie Washington" which was awarded the Best Austrian film. In 2000 he followed with "The Raid" his best-known film.
 
Flicker was successful not only in feature films, but also made himself a name as a documentarian. In 2006 his listed at the Hof Film Festival, as well as diagonal-opening documentary about the Lower Austrian town of Western tourist attraction "No Name City". And flicker in 1997 had submitted a work off of fictional paths with a film about the New Folk Music Group Attwenger.
 
Also at the theater it led flicker, so he staged twice in 2008 at the Vienna Schauspielhaus ("July" and "The Strudlhofstiege, Episode 8"). He also taught in the new millennium, among others at the Vienna
Film Academy, compiled reports and written with Dolphins also a radio play for the NDR.
 
The movie was resting at this time. Only twelve years after "The Raid" put Flicker with "frontier" again in 2012 before a full-length feature film. In addition to the Austrian Film Prize this was after its local premiere at the film festival awarded Sarajevo and landed on the long list of European Film Awards later.
 
Flicker had two more movies, a comedic and political, in preparation before now overtook him cancer. On the Saturday afternoon Florian Flicker succumbed at just 49 years of his suffering.
 
FLICKER, Florian
Born: 8/21/1965, Salzburg, Germany
Died: 8/23/2014, Vienna, Austria
 
Florian Flicker’s western – director, screenwriter, actor:
No Name City -  2006

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RIP Michael A. Hoey

RIP Michael A. Hoey
 
Michael A. Hoey, who wrote the screenplays for a pair of Elvis Presley films and was the architect behind the 1966 cult science-fiction movie The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, has died. He was 79.
 
Hoey, the son of English actor Dennis Hoey — who played the bumbling Inspector Lestrade in the 1940s Universal Pictures series of Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce — died Sunday of cancer at his home in San Clemente, Calif., his son Dennis told The Hollywood Reporter.
 
Michael Hoey also produced, wrote, directed and edited several episodes of the 1980s music drama series Fame, based on the Alan Parker box-office hit. He earned two Emmy Award nominations for his work on the show and wrote a behind-the-scenes book about the series that was published in 2010.
 
Hoey penned the scripts for the Presley films Stay Away, Joe and Live a Little, Love a Little, both released in 1968. For the latter, he worked with director Norman Taurog, who also helmed the teen comedy Palm Springs Weekend (1963), a film that Hoey produced.
 
In The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, a staff manning a weather station on an isolated island fights for survival against a carnivorous plant-like species that spews acid, moves around at night and reproduces quickly.
 
The cast included Anthony Eisely, Mamie Van Doren, Bobby Van and Billy Gray, best known as the son on Father Knows Best. Jack Broder produced (with an uncredited assist from Roger Corman) and gave the movie what Hoey once called its “abominable” title.
 
“I remember the day when I was rehearsing and Jack Broder walked in and announced what the new title was going to be,” Hoey told author Tom Weaver. “The entire cast was ready to walk out. They were furious.”
 
In the interview with Weaver, Hoey said the film had a 10-day shooting schedule and cost $178,000 to make.
 
Born in London and raised in Beverly Hills, Hoey began his Hollywood career as an editor, working for such top-notch directors as John Ford, George Cukor and Fred Zinnemann. Studio head Jack Warner made him a producer for Palm Springs Weekend, which starred Troy Donahue, Robert Conrad, Stefanie Powers and Connie Stevens.
 
Hoey later would direct episodes of Dallas, Falcon Crest, Murder, She Wrote and Crossroads Café; wrote for the shows The Rat Patrol, Get Christie Love! and McCloud; and served for years as executive producer of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
 
He also wrote the books Elvis, Sherlock and Me: How I Survived Growing Up In Hollywood; Sherlock Holmes and the Fabulous Faces: The Universal Pictures Repertory Company; and Elvis’ Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Year Career of Norman Taurog.
 
He served two four-year terms as a governor on the board of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the WGA honored him with its prestigious Morgan Cox Award in 1997.
 
Hoey asked that his film books be donated to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he taught editing as an adjunct professor.
 
In addition to his son Dennis, a former Hollywood makeup artist and producer of TV commercials,
survivors include his daughters Lauren and Karin.
 
The family plans a small memorial service, with his ashes scattered at sea.
 
 
HOOEY, Michael A.
Born: 9/8/1934, London, England, U.K.
Died: 8/17/2014, San Clemente, California, U.S.A.
 
Michael A. Hooey’s westerns – writer, assistant film editor, dialogue coach:
Sergeant Rutledge – 1960 [assistant film editor]
Tickle Me – 1965 [dialogue coach]
Stay Away Joe – 1968 [writer]
The North Star – 1996 [film editor]

RIP Brian G. Hutton

Brian G. Hutton, Director of ‘Where Eagles Dare,’ ‘Kelly’s Heroes,’ Dies at 79
 
Variety
By Carmel Dagan
August 20, 2014
 
Brian G. Hutton, who directed Clint Eastwood in the WWII actioners “Where Eagles Dare” (1968) and “Kelly’s Heroes” (1970) and also directed Elizabeth Taylor in two films, has died. He was 79.
 
“Where Eagles Dare,” a thriller based on the Alistair McLean novel, also starred Richard Burton, while “Kelly Heroes,” a heist film masquerading as a war film, sported a large ensemble cast that included Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor and Donald Sutherland.
 
Hutton’s 1972 drama “X, Y and Zee” starred Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine and Susannah York concerned an an architect, his mistress, and the wife intent on breaking them at all costs. Follow-up film “Night Watch,” starring Taylor and Laurence Harvey, was a thriller.
 
Hutton did not direct again until 1980’s Lawrence Sanders adaptation “The First Deadly Sin,” starring Frank Sinatra as a New York police detectice and Faye Dunaway as his dying wife.
 
His final directorial effort was the 1983 adventure romance “High Road to China,” starring Tom Selleck and Bess Armstrong.
 
Hutton made his feature directorial debut with 1965’s “Wild Seed,” a sensitive romantic drama. The following year he helmed “The Pad and How to Use It,” a comedy based on a play by Peter Shaffer.
 
While Hutton directed nine films, he actually spent more of his career as an actor. He appeared in the John Sturges Westerns “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, and “Last Train from Gun Hill,” starring Douglas; the Roger Corman movie “Carnival Rock”; Elvis Presley pic “King Creole”; the 1958 crime drama “The Case Against Brooklyn,” starring Darren McGavin; and Frank Borzage’s “The Big Fisherman.”
 
Hutton also guested on a number of Western-themed TV series including “Gunsmoke,” “Have Gun — Will Travel,” “Rawhide,” “Wagon Train,” as well as on “Playhouse 90″ and “Perry Mason,” among other shows.
 
Hutton was born in New York City, and in addition to his own acting and directing, he also ran an acting class at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. In the mid-’80s he left showbiz for a career in real estate.
 
 
HUTTON, Brian G.
Born: 1935, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 8/19/2014, Los Angeles, California
 
Brian G. Hutton’s westerns – actor:
Gunsmoke (TV) – 1956 (Joe Trimble)
Gunfight at O.K. Corral – 1957 (Rick)
The Sheriff of Cochise (TV) – 1957 (Sam)
Sugarfoot (TV) – 1958 (The Kid)
Last Train from Gun Hill – 1959 (Lee Smithers)
Black Saddle (TV) – 1959 (David Trench McKinney)
Law of the Plainsman (TV) – 1959 (Johnny Q)
Rawhide (TV) – 1961 (Chandler)
Have Gun – Will Travel (TV) – 1961 (Adam/Sam Marakian)
The Rifleman (TV) – 1961 (Billy Benson, Deecie)
Wagon Train (TV) – 1961 (wagon train member)
Shotgun Slade (TV) – 1961
Frontier Circus (TV) – 1961 (Greg Andrews)
Geronimo – 1962 (Indian scout)
Laramie (TV) – 1962 (Ross)

RIP Tom Pevsner

RIP Tom Pevsner
 
Thomas ‘Tom’ Pevsner a British producer, director and assistant director died on August 19th 2014. Pevsner was born in Dresden, Germany and began his career in the film industry as an assistant director at the beginning of the 1950s. As such, he worked until 1970. In 1962, made his directional debut with the German comedy film “Finden sie, daß Constanze sich richtig verhält?”. Lilli Palmer and Peter van Eyck starred in the film.
 
From the mid-1960s Pevsner operated as a producer, which he invariably became an Associate Producer in appearance. An example of this is the film adaptation Dracula. From 1979 to 1981 he was involved in this function on several James Bond films, his first film was James Bond 007 “For Your Eyes Only”. This was followed by “Octopussy” (1983), “A View to a Kill (1985) and two films with Timothy Dalton in the lead role: “The Living Daylights” (1987) and “License to  Kill” (1989). For the 1995 Bond film “Goldeneye” Pevsner served as executive producer. After he retired from the film business he was only seen in documentaries about the James Bond films.
 
 
PEVSNER, Tom (Thomas Pevsner)
Born: 10/12/1926, Dresden, Saxony, Germany
Died: 8/19/2014, U.K.
 
Tom Pevsner’s westerns – production manager:
Doc – 1971
The Spikes Gang - 1974