As another year draws to a close we bid heartfelt farewells to those we have loved and lost. I, as you no doubt have too, have suffered some personal losses this year, but the purpose of this post is to remember and say goodbye to those from the world of Sport, of Show Business, or who spent some part of their life in a spotlight. Many of you reading this are likely reaching an age where the people you looked up to in your younger years, whether they be actors, musicians, writers, athletes, or experts in their discipline, are nearing the end or have drawn their last breath. It sucks, but never forget what they achieved and what they meant to you. This list is by no means complete and merely represents those who meant something to me and that I know have died in these past twelve months.
Michel Legrand (24 February 1932 – 26 January 2019)
Legrand was primarily a composer of movie and TV scores, but may be most readily remembered for some of his hit songs – including the Oscar winning Windows Of Your Mind. His songwriting work netted him five further Oscar nominations while his Musical Scores garnered an additional five Oscar nominations, including 2 more wins for Yentl and Summer Of ’42.
Gene Okerlund (December 19, 1942 – January 2, 2019)
‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund was every bit as iconic a part of the WWF throughout the 1980s as Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and The Ultimate Warrior were. The straight man in the midst of the surrounding macho insanity, Gene always has a poker-faced quip in his pocket and continued that success in a mid-nineties stint with WCW. In recent years he became a WWE Hall Of Famer and worked behind the scenes on many of their Network programming.
Andrew G Vajna (1 August 1944 – 20 January 2019)
In terms of Producers, Vajna was an underrated heavyweight and his name also seemed to be attached to many of my most favourite movies growing up. Cynically left out of the Academy Memoriam, he helped create and release many classics including the Rambo series, Total Recall, Tombstone, The Changling, Die Hard With A Vengeance.
Dick Miller (December 25, 1928 – January 30, 2019)
Dick Miller was another one of those faces who consistently popped up in the movies and TV I adored in my youth. With a career starting in the mid 1950s, he has appeared in Gremlins, The Terminator, The Dirty Dozen, New York New York, The Howling, InnerSpace, Pulp Fiction, and over twenty Roger Corman movies.
Clive Swift (9 February 1936 – 1 February 2019)
Known most widely as Rrrrichad (Richard), the long suffering husband of Hyacinth Bucket in the ever so English sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, Swift had appeared on stage and screen since the 1960s he also appeared in successes including A Passage To India, Frenzy, and Excalibur.
Albert Finney (9 May 1936 – 7 February 2019)
One of the great English actors of stage and screen, Finney never picked up an Oscar despite receiving five nominations. His most notable performances include Tom Jones, Scrooge, Murder On The Orient Express, and Erin Brockovich as well as memorable appearances in Skyfall, Wolfen, Big Fish, and The Gathering Storm.
Gordon Banks (30 December 1937 – 12 February 2019)
Frequently named England’s finest goalkeeper, and one of the greatest of all time, Banks played over 70 times for England, winning the World Cup once. At League level he played mainly for Stoke and Leicester, becoming the six time winner of FIFA’s Goalkeeper Of The Year.
Carmen Argenziano (October 27, 1943 – February 10, 2019)
While never a household name, Carmen has featured in many notable movies and series, typically in a tough guy supporting role, but it wasn’t until his recurring performances in SG1 that he cemented his status as a respected cult performer. During his career he appeared in Melrose Place, The Godfather 2, Don Juan De Marco, and Angels & Demons.
Jan Michael Vincent (July 15, 1944 – February 10, 2019)
Sadly, there was to be no triumphant ending to another of Hollywood’s tragic tales. Vincent was frequently said to be the next big thing in his early days at the tail end of the 1960s but in spite of a string of hits both cult and legitimate, his reliance on alcohol saw a promising career fall to the wayside. Most loved for his portrayal of Stringfellow Hawk in Airwolf, Vincent also appeared in The Mechanic, Big Wednesday, The Winds Of War, and Going Home.
Bruno Ganz (22 March 1941 – 16 February 2019)
While he has certainly been immortalized in memes thanks to his wonderful turn as Adolf Hitler in Downfall, Ganz had been performing for more than fifty years on stage and screen as one of Europe’s most respected actors. He will be remembered for performances in films including Nosferatu The Vampyre, Wings Of Desire, and The House That Jack Built.
Stanley Donen (April 13, 1924 – February 21, 2019)
Donen may not be a household name but he has been responsible for many of Cinema’s most iconic moments. While I am in now way a fan of Musicals, Donen is one of a handful of figures to truly revolutionize the genre, making the movies more than mere stage adaptations. He is remembered for directing On The Town, Singin In The Rain, Funny Face, and Charade.
Andre Previn KBE (April 6, 1929 – February 28, 2019)
Previn was one of the most successful composers in the early sound days of Hollywood, before embarking on both off screen and small screen adventures. He picked up four Academy Awards on his travels, along with ten Grammy Awards before receiving a Knighthood. Some of his most notable work includes My Fair Lady, Gigi, and Bad Day At Black Rock.
Aron Tager (June 30, 1934 – February 28, 2019)
Long time readers of everything I write will no doubt be familiar with Aron Tager – appearing as he did in Are You Afraid Of The Dark. It only seems fitting that we mention his passing. Tager was a renowned voice performer beyond his appearances in front of the camera and also carved his own career as an artist and poet. He will be remembered for Donkey Kong Country, Universal Soldier Series, and Richard Scarry.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and memories of any of the people mentioned above or anyone else who passed away Jan-Feb 2019.