2019 In Memoriam: May – June

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Chris Reccardi (November 24, 1964 – May 2, 2019)

Growing up in the 80s was a wonderful time for Kids cartoons, something which carried over into the 90s as we marched towards teen years. Reccardi was a major contributing force towards the quality of these shows, directing, animating, writing, and scoring on a variety of classics including Ren And Stimpy, Tiny Toon Adventures, The Lego Batman Movie, The Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants, and The Powerpuff Girls.

Freddie Starr ( 9 January 1943 – 9 May 2019)

Freddie Starr was for a while Britain’s most popular stand-up comedian with an energy and physical style unmatched in the early 70s. His career continued throughout the next couple of decades with highs and low, appearing on gameshows and his own TV shows. Like many performers of the period, allegations involving his personal life began to surface in his later life which seems to have resulted in a withdrawal to Spain and near bankruptcy. He will be remembered as an influence on many of Britain’s physical comedians and his virtuoso performances.

Peggy Lipton (August 30, 1946 – May 11, 2019)

Man, this one hurt. Peggy Lipton was one of the most beautiful people to ever grace our screens and lives, inside and out, and a terrific actress too. The extended Twin Peaks family has lost a few big names in the last couple of years so it seems all the more bittersweet that we got The Return at all. Her Norma Jennings was one of the most grounded characters in the show and someone who was always a pleasure to see, set against the darkness and weirdness elsewhere. Lipton also one a Golden Globe for another cult show – The Mod Squad, was married to Quincy Jones for almost twenty years, and her kids Kidada and Rashida are now popular actresses.

Machiko Kyo (March 25, 1924 – May 12, 2019)

Machiko Kyo was one of the last surviving performers from Japan’s Golden Age, most famous for her breakthrough lead in Rashomon. Elsewhere, she was nominated for a GOlden Globe working alongside Brando in The Teahouse Of The August Moon and also appeared in Floating Weeds and Bad Obsession. 

Doris Day (April 3, 1922 – May 13, 2019)

From the Golden Age of Japan to the Golden Age of Hollywood, Doris Day was one of the biggest draws of radio and screen in the 50s and 60s, as well as being one of the most high profile animal rights activists of the 20th Century. She was only nominated for a single Oscar, but won 5 Golden Globes and four Grammys. She will be remembered for Que Sera SeraPillow Talk, Calamity Jane, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. 

Ashley Massaro (May 26, 1979 – May 16, 2019)

Beyond being a model, DJ, and TV host, Massaro will be most remembered for her time with the WWE. She was a winner of WWE’s Diva Search around the time I was winding down from watching it again – the Company was branching out into reality TV ventures which I only watched in passing. She feuded on and off with Mickie James and Vince’s Devils and later Melina before leaving to look after her daughter.

Niki Lauda (22 February 1949 – 20 May 2019)

As a bloke from Great Britain, at some point in your life you’re going to be exposed to Formula 1 – it’s like Nascar, but with skill. I watched on and off for a very short window when I was young before admitting to myself that it was boring and that the technology in the car was more important than the skill of the driver. While I was always much more of a motorcycle fan, there was no getting away from Niki Lauda, unquestionably one of the finest drivers the sport has scene and someone who was always mentioned even though I grew up after his heyday.

Judith Kerr OBE (14 June 1923 – 22 May 2019)

Again, you don’t grow up in GB without being exposed to Judith Kerr’s books. Fleeing Nazi Germany just as their power was rising, Kerr began writing when her children were young and kept going until close to her death, giving us numerous classics including The Tiger Who Came To Tea, and the delightful Mog series.

Mou Tun Fei ((May 3, 1941 – May 25, 2019)

An infamous Chinese Director known for some ‘extreme’ movies which are generally seen as a badge of honour for horror viewers and fans of Cinema which pushes the boundaries of decency. While he dabbled with other genres while working at Shaw Brothers, he remains most known for Men Behind The Sun.

 

Jose Antonio Reyes (1 September 1983 – 1 June 2019)

For lack of a better word, it’s always strange… tragic, when someone the same age or younger than you dies. Dying under the age of forty now is still considered too young to go and while Reyes was nearing the end of a football career which saw him picking up the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Spanish League, and a record five Europa League titles, his enduring popularity in Spain and England likely meant a continuing career as a pundit, commentator, or manager.

Sylvia Miles (September 9, 1924 – June 12, 2019)

In a career spanning eight decades, Miles was a frequent figure on stage and screen often selecting challenging roles in a variety of genres and tackling material many of her peers would have sniffed at. A two time Academy Award nominee, she will be remembered for Midnight Cowboy, Funhouse, and the Wall Street series.

Franco Zeffirelli (12 February 1923 – 15 June 2019)

Say what you will about his politics – serving as a Senator for a right wing party and aligning himself with the Roman Catholic Church on a number of divisive issues, yet coming out as gay himself late in life, Zeffirelli was a producer and director on some of the most notable works of European film and opera of the 20th Century. He will  be remembered for Tea With Mussolini, Jesus Of Nazareth, and Romeo And Juliet. 

Billy Drago (November 30, 1945 – June 24, 2019)

Billy Drago was never quite as big as his performances shown he should have been. Usually cast, often brilliantly, as a villain, Drago’s trademark snarl and accent meant he had a tendency to steal scenes from much larger names. Never afraid to take on challenging roles across the world and in any genre, Drago featured in gangster epics, martial arts movies, horror series, Westerns, and more. For me, he’ll always be the dastardly hitman Frank Nitti in The Untouchables but he will also be remembered for Pale Rider, Charmed, Masters Of Horror, and the infamous China White.

Share your memories and thoughts on any of the people above in the comments.

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