Monday, January 26, 2015

RIP Demis Roussos

Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68
Greek singer Demis Roussos, who sold more than 60 million albums worldwide, has died aged 68 the Hygeia Hospital in Athens has confirmed to the BBC.
He was best known for his solo hits in the 1970s and 80s, including Forever and Ever, Goodbye and Quand je t'aime.
He was also a member of progressive rock group Aphrodite's Child.
Roussos was renowned for his off-screen role in Mike Leigh's 1977 TV play Abigail's party, having provided the party's soundtrack.
Roussos was as famous for his outfits as his music
He had been in the private hospital with an undisclosed illness for some time.
Greek singer Nana Mouskouri paid tribute on French radio RTL: "He had a superb voice, he travelled in the world ... he loved what he was doing.
"He was an artist, a friend. I hope he is in a better world."
The singer was born Artemios Ventouris Roussos in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1946, to a Greek father and Egyptian mother of Italian origin.
He was raised there until his parents moved to Greece in the early 60s after losing their possessions during the Suez Crisis.
Roussos began his music career at 17, when he joined the a band called The Idols, where he met his future Aphrodite's Child bandmate Vangelis.
Aphrodite's Child produced three albums including It's Five O'Clock and The Apocalypse of St John, and enjoyed huge success in Europe in the late 1960s, especially France.
Roussos went on to enjoy a successful solo career, topping the charts in several countries with Forever And Ever in 1973, before doing the same in the UK in 1976.
The 1970s were a prolific time for the singer who talked about his UK success during that time in an interview with The Guardian in 1999.
"This country was one of my most important territories," said Roussos.
"Back in '75 I had five albums in the top 10. Simultaneously. And among them the number one album and the number one single. And my name was mentioned twice or three times in the Guinness Book of Records."
He continued: "In 1975 I had the award for the top male artist, the award for top single, the award for top album. The Abba and me we took everything. Hahahaha!"
Other solo hits include My Friend the Wind, My Reason, Someday Somewhere and Happy To Be On An Island In The Sun.
Roussos' fondness for kaftans saw him dubbed "the Kaftan King" and he often wore them for his performances on shows such as Top of the Pops.
He was also famous for his vocal adaptation of the score from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, which had been composed by Vangelis.
In 1978 he decided to keep a lower profile and moved to Malibu Beach in the US.
Plane hijack
On 14 June, 1985, Roussos boarded TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome - and found himself at the mercy of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, who hijacked the plane.
The men, who had smuggled a pistol and grenades through airport security, held the passengers at gunpoint.
The militant group demanded the release of 17 members of Hezbollah and the Iraqi Islamic Daawa Party, who had been detained in Kuwait for attacks that killed six people in 1983.
Roussos spent his 39th birthday in captivity, before being released in Beirut on 18 June - but most of the remaining 153 passengers spent 17 days on the plane.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency at the time, the singer said he had been "treated quite well".
"They gave me a birthday cake and they gave me a guitar, to sing," he said. "They have been very polite and very nice with us."
Return to music
Over the years, his quote became misinterpreted and distorted. Some papers said he had serenaded the hijackers. Others claimed he had pledged allegiance to Hezbollah.
Roussos, who rarely spoke about the incident, admitted he was riled by the exaggerations in an interview with Australia's Daily Telegraph in 2006.
"It is not every day that a pop superstar gets involved with terrorism as a victim, so the press takes advantage of that to say things they think are funny.
"I would like to see the journalist [who first reported the claim] in front of gunpoint like I was. Believe me, if he was there he would be so scared he wouldn't care about writing such stupidities like that.''
The experience changed his life and afterwards he decided the best way he could help others and promote understanding in the world was by returning to music.
He released his album The Story of Demis Roussos not long after.
ROUSSOS, Demis (Artemios Ventouris Roussos)
Born: 6/15/1947, Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 1/25/2015, Athens, Greece
Demis Roussos’ western – singer:
The Man from Cher (TV) – 1969 [member of the singing group Aphrodite’s Child]

Sunday, January 25, 2015

RIP Robert Boon

RIP Robert Boon
Los Angeles Times
January 24, 2014
October 26, 1916 - January 13, 2015 Robert Boon, Actor, born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, passed away, peacefully, after a heroic struggle with medical challenges, in West Hills Hospital, CA, at the age of 98. Robert Boon was a member of the Motion Picture Academy for over 50 years and for a number of years a member of the Foreign language Nominating Committee. He appeared as an actor in well known movies, and productions. Just one day short of making that long anticipated move to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Home in Woodland Hills, Robert left a long and colorful life. In 1943 Robert Boon volunteered for the Netherlands India oil battalion, went for training to the USA, and from there to Australia. Attached to the Australian Army he joined for the invasion of Borneo and after VJ day, went to Java and Sumatra and then back to the Netherlands. While studying in Amsterdam he got interested in theatre, but because of financial necessity left for Curacao to work for BPM (Shell Oil), in the Dutch West Indies where he joined a "Little Theatre" co. and did work for the local radio station as an actor and writer. Robert first landed in NYC where he quickly found work in Radio / Live T.V. He soon settled in Los Angeles in 1947, and worked in his first movie "Berlin Express". Robert would be working in Films /TV right into his eighties. His Family and all of his Friends, who had the privilege to share his Friendship, humor and stories, will truly miss him. His ashes will be scattered/Ocean. A Celebration of Roberts' life with Family and Friends will be hosted by one of his Friends, Ans E.,in July 2015.
BOON, Robert
Born: 10/26/1916, Haarlem, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Died: 1/13/2015, West Hills, California, U.S.A.
Robert Boon’s westerns – actor:
The Alaskans (TV) – 1959
Tate (TV) – 1960 (Otto)
Rawhide (TV) – 1960, 1962 (Ernst Zwahlen, Siegfried)
The Virginian (TV) – 1964, 1970 (Hans Jungman, Steiner)
Laredo (TV) – 1965 (Paul)
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1982 (Sven Johanssen)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

RIP Richard McWhorter

RIP Richard McWhorter
Los Angeles Times
January 24, 2015
1914 - January 18, 2015 Richard F. McWhorter passed away on Jan 18, 2014 at the age of 100, peacefully in his home in the Los Angeles area. He began his movie industry career at Columbia Studios as a messenger boy in 1933. By 1937 he was working as a First Assistant at Paramount Studios, and was one of the original members of Directors Guild of America. His career eventually evolved into directing and producing. He worked with producers and directors including King Vidor, Sir Carol Reed, Hal Wallis and Frank Capra: Actors such as Burt Lancaster, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. A few of the most notable films he worked on are Rose Tattoo, Taming of the Shrew and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. When he was not working he could be found on the links of Wilshire Country Club, a 50 plus year avid golfer. In 1944 he started Studio Process Body Company which provided break-away auto and truck bodies for rent to studios for use in close up scenes. He is proceeded in death by Loreine McWhorter loving mother of his children, Adrian McWhorter, beloved wife of his later years, and his son Richard Dennis McWhorter. He is survived by his daughter Nancy Lord, son-in-law Michael Lord, daughter-in-law Francesca McWhorter, 8 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. No memorial service is planned.
McWHORTER, Richard (Richard F. McWhorter)
Born: 6/6/1914, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 1/18/2015, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Richard McWhorter’s westerns – assistant director, production manager:
Arizona – 1940 [assistant director]
Desert Fury – 1947 [assistant director]
Unconquered – 1947 [assistant director]
The Paleface – 1948 [assistant director]
Red Mountain – 1951 [assistant director]
Silver City – 1951 [assistant director]
Broken Lance – 1954 [production manager]

Thursday, January 22, 2015

RIP Gene Lasko

RIP Gene Lasko
New York Times
January 19, 2015
LASKO--Gene, was a producer-director who worked with such esteemed actors as Dustin Hoffman and Marlon Brando. An Emmy Award winner, he directed and associate produced over 150 daytime television shows. Mr. Lasko was active in founding The National Theatre of the Deaf. He taught at NYU and SUNY Purchase, and chaired the Directing Department at the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School. He is survived by his nieces Joan Friedland and Margaret Crastnopol.
LASKO, Gene (Eugene V. Lasko)
Born: 193?, U.S.A.
Died: 1/19/2015, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Gene Lasko’s westerns – producer, creative consultant:
Little Big Man – 1970 [associate producer]
When Legends Die – 1972 [producer]
The Missouri Breaks – 1976 [creative consultant]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

RIP Frank Mazzola

Frank Mazzola, Film Editor and ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ Actor, Dies at 79
By Kevin Noonan
January 21, 2015
Frank Mazzola, longtime film editor and actor and technical consultant for the James Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause,” died Jan. 13. He was 79.
The Hollywood native began his career as a child actor, with parts in films including “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Always in My Heart,” “Casablanca” and “The Boy with the Green Hair.” After an extra role in Elia Kazan’s “East of Eden,” Mazzola worked in the most high-profile film of his career, “Rebel Without a Cause.”
In addition to playing the character of Crunch, Mazzola provided technical assistance on the film, advising director Nicholas Ray on creating the reality of rebellious teens from middle class families. He aided in the choosing of the film’s 1949 Mercury 8 Coupe as well as the red jacket worn by Dean in the film, and even helped stage the knife duel between Dean and Corey Allen.
Mazzola transitioned into a career as a film editor, working throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, on films including “Macho Callahan,” “Stiletto,” “Performance,” “The Hired Hand” and “The Second Coming of Suzanne.” In 1999, Mazzola completed work on a director’s cut of “Wild Side,” from the late director Donald Cammell, who died in 1996.
He is survived by four daughters and three grandchildren. Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 31 at Blessed Sacrament church in Hollywood.
MAZZOLA, Frank (Francisco Mazzola)
Born: 3/7/1935, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 1/13/2015, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Frank Mazzola’s westerns – film editor:
Macho Callahan – 1970
The Hired Hand - 1971

Sunday, January 18, 2015

RIP Walt Peregoy

Walt Peregoy, ’101 Dalmatians’ Color Stylist, RIP
Cartoon Brew
By Amid Amidi
January 17, 2015
Walt Peregoy, the legendary artist who was the color stylist of Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians and headed up Hanna-Barbera’s background department for a time during the late-Sixties, passed away yesterday at the age 89. The news was first reported by Disney’s official D23 Twitter account, which misidentified Peregoy as an animator.
Born Alwyn Walter Peregoy in Los Angeles in 1925, and raised on a small island in San Francisco Bay, Peregoy often described his background as “American white trash.” As a teenager, he attended Saturday art classes at Chouinard Art Institute. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, and was hired at Disney at the age of 17 in the position of “traffic boy,” the lowest-rung employees at the studio who ferried artwork and supplies between offices. He quit after just a few months, saying that the studio felt too much like a factory, and wouldn’t return for another eight years.
Following a short stint as a cowhand on the Irvine Ranch and a tour with the Coast Guard during World War II, Peregoy moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he studied painting and sculpture at the Escuela de Bellas Artes “under the influence of [David Alfaro] Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and [José Clemente] Orozco.” Later in the 1940s, he lived in Paris where he studied painting. A key influence on him at this time was the French painter Fernand Léger.
He was rehired at Disney in 1951 where “he started at the bottom again.” Peregoy worked for four years in the animation department as an inbetweener, assistant animator and clean-up artist, before production designer Eyvind Earle recruited him to become the first background painter on Sleeping Beauty in 1955.
The studio’s next feature, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, was the project that allowed Peregoy to apply his fine art training on a Disney film. As the film’s color stylist, Peregoy worked closely with production designer Ken Anderson to devise a new way of painting backgrounds. With the background linework printed on a separate cel level (thanks to the innovation of the Xerography process) and overlaid on top of the painted artwork, Peregoy designed the paintings as broad flat areas of color “with the awareness that it was not necessary to go in and render the hell out of a doorknob, or a piece of glass, or a tree.”
“Peregoy in the 1950s was a true ‘Modernist’—a talented fine art painter who brought Modernism to Disney with strong abstractions in both layout and painting technique,” Pocahontas art director Michael Giaimo told me when I wrote the book Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation. “His work was a purer abstraction of reality as opposed to, say, the beautifully designed but more grounded work of Eyvind Earle.”
Peregoy made significant contributions to other films at Disney including Paul Bunyan, (1958), The Saga of Windwagon Smith (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), Mary Poppins (1964) and The Jungle Book (1967). While at Disney, he appeared in the famous Disney documentary 4 Artists Paint 1 Tree alongside artists Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle and Joshua Meador:
After being let go from the studio in the mid-Sixties, he started working in television on Format Film’s The Lone Ranger. On that show, he used a daring combination of grease pencil-on-cel with torn-construction paper underneath. Below, you can see a de-constructed background from the series that shows the grease pencil cel level and the separate color level underneath. “Powerful for Saturday morning, but you couldn’t say the backgrounds were Saturday morning crap because they weren’t,” Peregoy told interviewer Bob Miller.
His innovative work on The Lone Ranger led to being hired at the TV powerhouse Hanna-Barbera in 1968, where he headed the background department for five years. He either styled or supervised the background designs of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Scooby Doo Where Are You!, The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, and Where’s Huddles?, among other series.
In the late-1970s, he returned to Disney’s theme park division WED, working on attractions for EPCOT such as Kraft’s The Land pavilion and Kodak’s Journey into Imagination. He continued freelancing in the animation industry during the Eighties and Nineties on projects that included My Little Pony: The Movie, Foofur, Tiny Toon Adventures, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, and The Specialists (below), a segment on MTV’s Liquid Television:
In later years, Peregoy was known as much for his colorful profanity-laced tirades against the industry as he was for his art. He was honored with an ASIFA-Hollywood Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement in 2012.
PEREGOY, Walt (Alwyn Walter Peregoy)
Born: 1925, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 1/16/2015, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Walt Peregoy’s westerns – background artist:
The Saga of Windwagon Smith (TV) – 1961
The Lone Ranger (TV) – 1966-1969
The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (TV) – 1968-1969
Davy Crockett on the Mississippi (TV) – 1976

Saturday, January 17, 2015

RIP Don Harron

Don Harron, Canadian entertainment icon, dead at 90
Harron created comedic alter ego Charlie Farquharson, brought Anne of Green Gables to the stage.
CBC News
January 17, 2015
Don Harron, who created the Canadian comedic icon Charlie Farquharson during a decades-long career in show business, has died at his Toronto home. He was 90.
His eldest daughter Martha told the Canadian Press her father died Saturday morning surrounded by family at his Toronto home after choosing not to seek treatment for cancer.
"He was still sharp. He was still capable of being funny even though his voice was barely above a whisper," she said in a telephone interview from Toronto. "It's horribly sad, but it's beautiful too."
Harron entertained generations of Canadians with his comic alter ego Farquharson and helped bring the Canadian classic novel Anne of Green Gables from the page to the stage.
During CBC’s 1952 television revue The Spring Thaw , the relatively unknown Harron took to the stage for a four-minute set. Few people watching knew they were about to witness a marquee moment in Canadian show business.
That evening he introduced Canada to Farquharson – the country bumpkin from rural Ontario known for his incessant puns and decrepit grey cardigan sweater – a character that would solidify Harron’s place among the nation’s great entertainers.
Starred on Hee Haw
Harron achieved international success in the late 1960s when he began an 18-season stint performing as Farquharson on the hit U.S. variety show Hee Haw.
His list of accomplishments extends far beyond Charlie.
Harron was a seasoned theatre performer, acting in a half-dozen Broadway plays and three shows in London’s West End. He also featured during the inaugural 1953 season of the Stratford Festival. It was in Stratford that he struck up a friendship with Oscar and Tony winner Christopher Plummer.
Harron also enjoyed considerable success behind the scenes as a writer and director.
He wrote the lyrics for five musicals, including the 1965 on-stage version of Anne of Green Gables, which was adapted from a television version he co-wrote nine years earlier. The show is performed every year during the Charlottetown Festival in P.E.I., a province where Harron has spent considerable time.
In between stints on the stage, Harron was the host of CBC Radio’s flagship program Morningside from 1977 to 1982, for which he won an ACTRA award for best radio host. He later helmed CTV’s The Don Harron Show from 1983 to 1985.
He also authored 17 books – most of them in character as Farquharson.  Perhaps his most personally revealing work came in 2012, when Harron published the 440-page memoir My Double Life: Sexty Years of Farquharson Around With Don Harn.
The release of the memoir roughly coincided with his retirement from the stage.
In a February 2012 interview with CBC’s Island Morning, Harron said he decided to walk away from performing after his short-term memory began to fade and he could no longer remember his set material in front of a live audience.
Gemini for lifetime achievement
Harron was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1980, and named as a member of the Order of Ontario in 2000 for his contributions to the Canadian entertainment industry. In 2007, he was given the Gemini Award for Lifetime Achievement in Radio and Television.
Born in Toronto in 1924, Harron got an early start as an entertainer, earning $10 or $15 per night doing ‘chalk-talks’ – drawing caricatures in chalk as he told stories to audiences at banquet halls during the Great Depression.
As a teenager,  he spent time working on farms in rural Ontario in the early 1940s and briefly attended the University of Toronto before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 as the Second World War raged in Europe and the Pacific.
Harron told CBC host Peter Gzowski in a 1977 television interview that he developed the Farquharson character during those early years working as a farm hand.
He eventually returned to U of T after the war, earning a Bachelor of Arts.
Harron's granddaughter, freelance journalist Zoe Cormier, said Harron's intellectual passions nearly led him down a very different career path than the one that made him famous.
His passion for philosophy won him scholastic awards at the University of Toronto, she said, adding his confidence in both academic and entertainment arenas foreshadowed the range of roles he would take on during his performing career.
"He's one of the few people that I would describe as a true polymath," Cormier said. "Anything he ever put his hand to he excelled at."
Harron was married four times, most recently to French-Canadian comedian Claudette Gareau. He previously spent 34 years with Canadian singer Catherine McKinnon before divorcing in 2003.
In his memoir, Harron wrote openly about multiple extramarital love affairs and the impact they’ve taken on his personal life and family.
He is survived by three children and Gareau.
HARRON, Don (Donald Hugh Harron)
Born: 9/19/1924, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died: 1/17/2015, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Don Harron’s western – actor:
The Texan (TV) – 1958 (Julian Dowd)