Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2017
Scott R. Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France


The world’s gone crazy. The Academy Award nominations and the Golden Globe awards have happened before I’ve even gotten around to my annual tradition of looking back at some of the movie and entertainment people who left us during the previous calendar year.

Actually, things have gotten even crazier than that. I’m not doing an annual list of tributes anymore. I hope that doesn’t upset anybody. But if it does (probably doubtful), don’t worry. I’ve just decided that I’m going to make my tributes a monthly feature rather than an annual one. With each year, they get progressively longer and unwieldy, so monthly makes more sense.

The good news is that this means I am now not two weeks behind on doing my tributes. The bad news is that this means I am now eleven months behind. Oh well.

So, let’s get to it. I will keep doing my monthly tributes until I get caught up—probably sometime in 2019. But to start off, I have six people to remember who died prior to 2012 but whose deaths we only learned of after the beginning of last year.


  • Neil Hope: As an actor, you basically played only one role. And that role was basically you. After guest starring as a character named Griff on the Canadian TV series The Kids of Degrassi Street, you became a regular for the five-year run of Degrassi Junior High. The show’s producers were candid about the character of Derek “Wheels” Wheeler and his unfortunate life and slide into alcoholism being largely based on your own life. You reprised the role in the 1992 TV movie School’s Out and the 2001-2003 series Degrassi: The Next Generation. In between and after, you were off the radar. Found dead in a Hamilto, Ontario, boarding house, in 2007 at the age of 35, your body was buried without being claimed. Your family only learned of your death four years later. (25-XI-2007, at 35)

  • Nicol Williamson: A Scotsman sometimes described as tempestuous, you had a great stage career. But let’s remember your movies. You were the Prince of Denmark to Anthony Hopkins’s Claudius and Marianne Faithfull’s Ophelia in Tony Richardson’s Hamlet. You were Little John to Sean Connery’s Robin Hood in Robin and Marian. You were Sherlock Holmes in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. You were Jill Clayburgh’s boyfriend in I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can. You were one of Theresa Russell’s ill-fated husbands in Black Widow. You were the exorcising Father Morning in The Exorcist III. And you were Cogliostro in the adaptation of Todd McFarlane’s comic book Spawn. But to me you will always be Merlin in John Boorman’s classic Excalibur. (16-XII-2011, at 75)

  • William Duell: A puckish New York actor, your career spanned Broadway, TV and Hollywood. Your supporting roles ran from The Hustler in 1961 to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in 2003. Having portrayed an array of salesmen, clergymen, clerks and doctors, you are probably best remembered for Sefelt, the epileptic inmate in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the snitch Johnny in the short-lived TV laugh riot Police Squad! (22-XII-2011, at 88)

  • Denise Darcel: A sultry French import to Hollywood, you added sex appeal to a number of films and TV shows from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. The best known were Battleground, Westward the Women and Vera Cruz. Other intriguing titles in your c.v.: Tarzan and the Slave Girl, Young Man with Ideas and Dangerous When Wet. (23-XII-2011, at 87)


  • Joel J. Tyler: As a judge in Manhattan, you made a major contribution to cinematic history—and probably to the coffers of certain low-budget movie producers. It was you who ruled that the film Deep Throat was obscene, thereby guaranteeing that flick a fortune in free publicity. Phrases in the appendix to your opinion practically begged to become blurbs for the poster: “this feast of carrion and squalor,” “a nadir of decadence” and “a Sodom and Gomorrah gone wild.” I’m ready to go buy a ticket right now. (9-XI-2011, at 90)

  • Ronald Searle: Your witty cartoons and illustrations for books, magazine covers and newspapers lampooned many members of the British class system. But it was your 1948 book Hurrah for St. Trinian’s and its successors, about the outlandish behavior at a girls’ school, that were your main contribution to the movies. A series of films inspired by the cartoons appeared from 1954 to 1980. Your fictional school found new life in 2007 with Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson’s St. Trinian’s, featuring the cream of young British female talent, aided and abetted by Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. A sequel, that added David Tenant, followed. (30-XII-2011, at 91)

    -S.L., 16 January 2013

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