John Hurt January 22, 1940—January 27, 2017 (Image via 20th Century Fox)
John Hurt, the gravel-voiced British star of stage and screen whose performance in The Elephant Man (1980) became one of the most gut-wrenching in movie history, has died at 77.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.
Hurt's first film was 1962's The Wild and the Willing. He made a splash in the acclaimed A Man for All Seasons (1966) and received his first of five BAFTA Award nominations for 10 Rillington Place (1971).
He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Midnight Express (1978), in which he played a heroin addict. The following year, he was terrifically memorable as the first to go down in Alien (1979) — and he would parody his unforgettable death scene a decade later in Spaceballs (1987).
Everybody Hurts — the actor as Joseph Merrick. (GIF via Universal)
In 1980, Hurt's turn in The Elephant Man earned him a second Oscar nomination, but he lost to perhaps the only man who could have beaten him — Robert De Niro, for Raging Bull.
Ater appearing in misses like Heaven's Gate (1980), he rebounded and was acclaimed in roles in Champions (1984), The Hit (1984), Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), Aria (1987) and The Field (1990).
Hurt's character's scrapbook in Love and Death on Long Island (Image via Imagex)
Two of Hurt's gay-themed film contributions could not have been less alike — he minced in the distressingly homophobic Partners (1982) alongside a gay-panicked Ryan O'Neal, but he was mesmerizingly layered in Love and Death on Long Island (1997), in which he played an aged fanboy lusting after a teen heartthrob (Jason Priestley).
No. Just no. Hurt & O'Neal in Partners (Image via Paramount)
His most important contribution to LGBTQ cinema would be his dual performances as the inimitable dandy Quentin Crisp, first in the British telefilm The Naked Civil Servant (1975), for which he won the British Academy Television Award, and in more than 40 years later, in An Englishman in New York (2009).
To a Crisp! Playing the same person decades apart. (Images via ITV)
Hurt's calling cards were his expressively wizened face and his deep voice, the latter of which proved searingly effective in the animated films Watership Down (1978), The Lord of the Rings (1978) and the unsuccessful Disney effort The Black Cauldron (1985).
He never stopped working, and will be familiar to younger audiences for performances in three Harry Potter films.
Hurt is survived by his fourth wife and by two children.
Barbara Hale: April 18, 1922—January 26, 2017 (Image via Columbia)
William Katt, the onetime star of The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983), announced on Facebook today that his actress mom Barbara Hale died yesterday at 94.
Acknowledging the longevity of his mom — and, later, his co-star — Katt wrote:
We’ve all been so lucky to have her for so long. She was gracious and kind and silly and always fun to be with. A wonderful actress and smart business woman she was most of all a treasure as a friend and mother!
Hale is best-known for playing no-nonsense girl Friday Della Street more than 300 times, first in the original run of the classic TV series Perry Mason (1957—1966) and later in dozens TV movies that revived the intensely popular story.
Hale's career began in the '40s, when she was a contract player in B and eventually A movies, often westerns, including starring roles in Lorna Doone (1951) and The Jackpot (1951). A later film appearance that made an impression was a featured part in Airport (1970), one of the biggest (and most parodied) hits of the '70s.
Hale was hearty into her nineties, making spirited appearances at autograph shows.
She is survied by three children, including Katt. Her husband of 46 years, Bill Williams, died in 1992.
Don't try it. (Image via CBS)
I was pleased to meet Hale twice, first at the Hollywood Show, and then at the Cinecon awards ceremony. She was vivacious and kind, eating up the attention from fans and doling it right back out.
Hale signs four and a half years ago. (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)
Looking amazing at 90 (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)
Funnily enough, when she canceled an appearance at one show, I mailed her an original movie still to sign. I never got it back. When I met her at the next show, she was sitting there with copies of it for sale! I forgave her immediately.
She was dazzling in person! (Image via Matthew Rettenmund)
My video of Hale has become one of my most popular celebrity videos on YouTube, with well over 120,000 views:
Mike Connors: August 15, 1925—January 26, 2017 (Image via Desilu)
The year was looking slow on big names passing away, but 2017 looks to be playing catch-up — hot on the heels of the death of Mary Tyler Moore, long-lived TV star Mike Connors has died of leukemia at age 91.
Connors was best known for his star turn on the long-running drama Mannix (1967—1975), on which he played the tough-guy title character and for which he won a Golden Globe. Mannix was the last Desilu TV series, and as such Lucille Ball was an early champion of Connors', singlehandedly ensuring the low-rated show was given a shot at finding an audience — which it certainly did.
Connors posing with a fan, my buddy Mike Stern, within the past couple of years.
Connors started in the movies, and appeared in guest spots on numerous early TV shows.
The actor was fairly off the radar since the late '90s, but came out of retirement for a surprise appearance on Two and a Half Men in 2007.
Mary Tyler Moore, who died today just a few weeks after her 80th birthday, was remembered online by countless fans, not a few celebrities and most of her most famous co-stars.
Notably absent from the list of people offering remembrances: Valerie Harper, who had been handed a death sentence thanks to a rare form of cancer more than three years ago but somehow extended her stay on the planet; and Betty White, who just turned 95 and who, via press agent, said she was too upset to comment. (She has commented on the deaths of all her Golden Girls co-stars, so you know she must've held Moore in even higher regard.)
Following is a list of many of Moore's co-stars and other celebs she's influenced who couldn't stop from singing her praises on the day of her passing ...
Mary Tyler Moore — December 29, 1936-January 2017 (Image via) (GIF via MTM)
Mary Tyler Moore, whose showbiz career began as Happy the Hotpoint Elf in the early '50s and went on to help define quality entertainment on TV in the '60s and '70s, has died of complications from pneumonia. She had just turned 80 last month.
Today, beloved icon, Mary Tyler Moore, passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine. A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile.
Moore's biggest early break came mostly off-screen, playing sultry Sam on Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957—1960), a role she held in 1959, and which required only her killer legs and suggestive voice — she was never seen.
(Image via NBC/CBS)
Along with many early-TV guest spots, Moore moved on to the role of Laura Petrie on the classic The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961—1966). Embodying pluck, a fresh face on traditional femininity and comic chops that kept up with veterans like Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, Moore became America's sweetheart, and made bank, allowing her to move forward in the future as a woman calling the shots.
Thoroughly modern Mary (Image via CBS)
Though hard to believe comparing the style and subject matter of the two shows, it was only four years later that her The Mary Tyler Moore Show aka Mary Tyler Moore debuted.
Tattletales was one of my all-time fave game shows, though I liked it better when it switched formats to all questions and no buzz-ins.
Watching it now is an odd experience because so many of the relationships — it was all husbands/wives or longterm relationships — crumbled spectacularly.
In this episode, it's hard to simply enjoy the banter without thinking: Amanda Blake got HIV from her next husband and died of AIDS, Shatner divorced his wife and his next one drowned mysteriously in their pool and poor Bobby Van died young and Elaine Joyce remarried, to Neil Simon (a fact I just learned).
Oh, and Van and host Bert Convy both died of brain cancer — two out of the seven people in the episode!