Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Undertaker & His Pals: Gone But Not Forgotten III

The last entry from the Undertaker was 2011. Many genre actors have left this world since then. As before, this third requiem for the deceased features the newly departed and some who have gone well before.

SHANE RIMMER (May 28th, 1929--March 29th, 2019)

Shane Rimmer was a character and voice actor who appeared in dozens of movies and television programs. Something of a Canadian Dick Miller, Rimmer was one of those actors whom you may not know his name but you know his face and voice. It's his voice that fans of the popular marionette series THUNDERBIRDS (1965-1966) will remember him best. He had a sizable, memorable role in a personal favorite, THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977)--acting alongside Patrick Wayne, Sarah Douglas, and Thorley Walters. That same year he appeared with Roger Moore in one of the best Bond's THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977). He returned to monster pictures in 1978 with another crucial role in WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS. He passed away at his home in England at 89 years of age.

JOSEPH PILATO (March 16th, 1949--March 24th, 2019)

As good of an actor as he was, Joe Pilato had a surprisingly small amount of credits, and even fewer roles of substance. This was unfortunate as his iconic portrayal of Captain Rhodes was the best thing about DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) next to Tom Savini's spectacular zombie gore. He had small roles in other Romero movies like the original DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and KNIGHTRIDERS (1981). EFFECTS (1980) was another major role for the actor. You can also spot him in flicks like ALIENATOR (1990) and WISHMASTER (1997). Always seeming to have a genial rapport with his fans, Pilato died in his sleep eight days after his 70th birthday.

LARRY COHEN (July 15th, 1941--March 23rd, 2019)

Writer, producer, and director Larry Cohen's name is attached to a varied list of movies and television spanning many genres. He's most widely associated with horror films, particularly those he directed. The most famous of these would be the IT'S ALIVE trilogy--those being IT'S ALIVE (1974), IT LIVES AGAIN (1978), and IT'S ALIVE 3: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE (1987). Other cult faves bearing the Cohen name as director are the monster movie Q (1982) and the gory blob flick THE STUFF (1985). The director contributed to the Black Action genre, delivering a heavy duty classic starring Fred Williamson titled BLACK CAESAR (1972) and a sequel, HELL UP IN HARLEM (1973). Occasionally dealing in provocative themes like GOD TOLD ME TO (1976), Cohen's quirkiness was his signature style. His first writing credit was on RETURN OF THE SEVEN (1966), the sequel to the western classic THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960). Cohen was prone to write his own films, owing to his uniqueness as a filmmaker. He died of undisclosed causes at 77 years of age.

JOHN CARL BUECHLER (June 18th, 1952--March 18th, 2019)

It's not unusual for a special effects makeup artist to branch out into directing and John Carl Buechler was one of the first to do so. Getting his start with Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Buechler eventually found himself toiling away on numerous Charles Band's Empire Pictures productions (DUNGEONMASTER, RE-ANIMATOR, DOLLS, etc) prior to directing his own feature films. Possibly best known for his 'little rubber creature' work on pictures like the GHOULIES series and TROLL (1986), he stunned a lot of fans with his radical design for Jason Voorhees in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD (1987), a film he also directed. Buechler worked on the Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers horror franchises as well. Prostate cancer took his life at 66 years of age.

MORGAN WOODWARD (September 16th, 1925-February 22nd, 2019)

An old-school Tough Guy, the Texas WWII and Korean War veteran became one of Hollywood's most prolific and well liked actors. Appearing in numerous westerns, some of his best appearances were on GUNSMOKE (1955-1975). The cast and crew were so fond of Woodward, he ended up being a guest star on 19 occasions; the most of any actor guesting on the show. Some of his other famous TV work was as recurring characters in 81 episodes of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WYATT EARP (1955-1961) and 55 episodes of DALLAS (1978-1991). Two appearances on STAR TREK (1966-1969) are beloved by fans of the original series. Arguably his most famous portrayal onscreen was as 'The Man With No Eyes' in the Paul Newman favorite COOL HAND LUKE (1967). Woodward lent his talents to several Drive-in movies like A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS (1976); FINAL CHAPTER: WALKING TALL (1977); and MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS (1977). Morgan Woodward died at home of natural causes at age 93.

BEVERLEY OWEN (May 13th, 1937--February 21st, 2019)

The beautiful Iowa native did very little in the industry, but her 13 episodes of THE MUNSTERS (1964-1966) solidified her popularity. The series only lasted two seasons, but has remained an American staple ever since. The original Marilyn Munster, Owen left the series to get married. She was replaced by Pat Priest, who looked so much like Owen, you'd think she never left the show. Aside from several TV appearances outside of her Munster Family, she did one movie, BULLET FOR A BADMAN (1964) starring Audie Murphy, Darren McGavin, and Ruta Lee. Dying from ovarian cancer, Beverley Owen was 81.

CHELO ALONSO (April 10th, 1933--February 20th, 2019)

Cuban dancer/actress/singer Chelo Alonso (Isabel Apollonia García Hernández) was famous for performing sensual dances and or playing Queens and seductive rulers in numerous Italian muscleman and gladiator movies beginning in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Europe's version of Debra Paget, some of Chelo Alonso's best work can be seen in GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS (1959) with Steve Reeves and MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS (1961) with Mark Forest. Her sexually-charged gyrations could hypnotize the hardest of men to succumb to her charms. She left the film world for the small screen in the mid-60s and briefly returned to the big screen a few years later before retiring in 1968 to take care of her family. Making her home in Italy after the Castro/Che takeover of Cuba, Ms. Alonso died aged 85, leaving behind over a dozen exotic, often strong, and very sexy performances.

JAN MICHAEL VINCENT (July 15th, 1945--February 10th, 2019)

A promising young actor who found success and lost it due to self-destructive impulses, Jan Michael Vincent had all the signs of greatness in the making. Constant battles with alcohol and drugs, and a string of near-fatal car accidents nearly killed him. A well-rounded actor, he showed a penchant for action roles. His most famous was as Stringfellow Hawke on AIRWOLF (1984-1987), an action-oriented television series co-starring Ernest Borgnine. Other worthy roles came opposite Charles Bronson in THE MECHANIC (1972); headlining the WALKING TALL (1973) trucker movie WHITE LINE FEVER (1975); the hero to Kris Kristofferson's villain in the modern day western VIGILANTE FORCE (1976); and alongside Burt Reynolds in the stuntman action comedy HOOPER (1978). Vincent was dead a month before it was reported. He died aged 73 from cardiac arrest.

JULIE ADAMS (October 17th, 1926--February 3rd, 2019)

The star of dozens of westerns and television programs, the prolific Julie Adams (sometimes billed as Julia) is most famous for being the object of the Gill Man's affection in the 1954 Uni-horror classic, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Out of all the imagery of monsters carrying women, the Gill Man hauling off a screaming Julie Adams is among the most iconic. She appeared in a few other horror pictures and worked opposite Elvis in TICKLE ME (1965) but CREATURE is what she is forever associated with. She was married to actor Ray Danton from 1954-1981 (he died in 1992). Julie Adams was 92.

DICK MILLER (December 25th, 1928--January 30th, 2019)

One of Horror-SciFi cinema's most celebrated and recognizable faces, the immensely popular character actor Dick Miller was one of those guys you may not know by name, but his face and voice is unmistakable. Famous for countless supporting roles and cameos, he had a handful of leads back in the good ole days headlining low budget Roger Corman flicks like WAR OF THE SATELLITES (1958) and A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959). Some of his fan-favorite roles were as the lake resort owner in PIRANHA (1978); the librarian in THE HOWLING (1981); the gun shop salesman in THE TERMINATOR (1984); and Mr. Futterman, the WWII vet who encounters GREMLINS (1984). Miller passed from natural causes aged 90.

PETER WYNGARDE (August 23rd, 1927--January 15th, 2018)

The eccentric actor with the stylish fashion sense had a convoluted past what with his birth place and age having never been officially verified. Wyngarde acted on both the stage and on the big and small screens. He's famous for playing Jason King on two British spy programs DEPARTMENT S (1969-1970) and JASON KING (1971-1972). Genre fans will likely know him best from the witchcraft favorite NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (1963), aka BURN, WITCH, BURN!; and as the golden-masked Klytus in the cult classic FLASH GORDON (1980). He died in a London hospital from undisclosed causes at 90 years old.

BRADFORD DILLMAN (April 14th, 1930--January 16th, 2018)

Dillman starred in an abundance of film and television work including a steady stream of fan favorites during the 1970s. He was one of the few friends to Cornelius and Zira in ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971); was one of the CHOSEN SURVIVORS (1974) battling bats in an underground bomb shelter; communicated with fire-breathing roaches in BUG (1975); played John Wilkes Booth in THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY (1977); and confronted violent nature again in THE SWARM and PIRANHA (both 1978). He also starred in two of Eastwood's DIRTY HARRY epics, THE ENFORCER (1976) and SUDDEN IMPACT (1982). Pneumonia took Bradford Dillman at age 87.

LEWIS GILBERT (March 6th, 1920--February 23rd, 2018)

Director, producer and writer of dramas and war pictures, Lewis Gilbert found himself directing some of the best James Bond movies--first with YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE in 1967. After directing Connery's Bond joining forces with ninjas, Gilbert guided two of Roger Moore's best in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and MOONRAKER (1979). The director was very vocal about his disdain for having helmed THE ADVENTURERS in 1970. A critical and box office misfire, it has since been embraced as one of the best bad movies ever made. Aside from his Bond endeavors, his other recognized works are SINK THE BISMARK! (1960) and ALFIE (1966). Lewis Gilbert died of undisclosed causes at 97 years of age.

MARGOT KIDDER (October 17th, 1948--May 13th, 2018)

While she did a variety of roles during her career, Ms. Kidder will always be remembered as the feisty Lois Lane in the four SUPERMAN movies from 1978-1987 starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. Her horror work includes SISTERS (1973), the innovative proto-slasher classic BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974), THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979), and HALLOWEEN 2 (2009). Margot Kidder took her own life after overdosing on a combination of drugs and alcohol at age 69.

CLINT WALKER (May 30th, 1927--May 21st, 2018)

Standing 6'6", old-school Tough Guy Clint Walker was an imposing force on both the big and small screen. He became famous for playing Cheyenne Bodie on seven seasons of CHEYENNE (1955-1963). He starred in several westerns, the most notable being NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY (1966) where Walker took on both Leo Gordon and a rampaging grizzly bear. The actor played Samson Posey, a big man who didn't like to be pushed, in his biggest hit THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967). Walker did some small screen SciFi and Horror with the cult favorite KILLDOZER and the obscure Dan Curtis spooker SCREAM OF THE WOLF (both 1974); and then as a Colorado sheriff with a Bigfoot problem in SNOWBEAST (1977). He nearly died in 1971 when he fell off a ski lift impaling himself on a ski pole. Congestive heart failure took the big man at the ripe old age of 90.

DEANNA LUND (May 30th, 1937--June 22nd, 2018)

The beautiful Ms. Lund appeared in both mediums but it's her small screen work on the Irwin Allen SciFi series LAND OF THE GIANTS (1968-1970) that she is best remembered. In movies, she had minor or small roles in movies like DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965); the Elvis flick PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE (1966); the obscure SciFi-Spy picture DIMENSION 5 (1966); the Made For TV thriller REVENGE FOR A RAPE (1976); and the action-drama, STICK (1985) directed by and starring Burt Reynolds. Deanna Lund even ended up in two Italian pictures in the late 1980s--Enzo Castellari's HAMMERHEAD (1987) and Alessandro Capone's SUPERSTITION 2 (1989). A few weeks after her 81st birthday the actress died at home from pancreatic cancer.

ROGER PERRY (May 7th, 1933--July 12th, 2018)

Roger Perry may have been resigned to the small screen for much of his career, but he left an indelible image in three AIP theatrical motion pictures; those being COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970), THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971), and THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972). The two YORGA's afforded him lead roles while the third saw Perry acting as support to Ray Milland and Rosey Grier. Unfortunately, that was the extent of his Horror/Fantasy work on the big screen. Still, fans also know him from THE MUNSTERS (1964-1966) episode, 'A Man For Marilyn'; and a memorable STAR TREK (1966-1969) episode, 'Tomorrow Is Yesterday'. Prostate cancer took Roger Perry from the world at age 85.

BURT REYNOLDS (February 11th, 1936--September 6th, 2018)

One of the most popular actors in the world, Burt Reynolds will forever be identified with his string of Southern Fried movies--the biggest being the race car/chase pictures of the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and CANNONBALL RUN series'. One of Hollywood's most versatile leading men, Reynold's worked behind the camera as well; directing numerous productions, one of which is among his best works--SHARKEY'S MACHINE from 1981. He did a lot of action movies, but never became an action hero, Burt Reynolds worked in virtually every genre. Some of his own favorite work includes DELIVERANCE (1972), THE LONGEST YARD (1974), SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977), and his three seasons of GUNSMOKE (1955-1975) where he played Indian half-breed, Quint Asper from 1962-1965. Burt Reynolds died from a heart attack in a Florida hospital at age 82.

TOMAS MILIAN (March 3rd, 1933--March 22nd, 2017)

One of Europe's best-loved actors, Cuban American Tomas Milian is famous for a healthy stream of Italian westerns and crime pictures in the 1960s and 1970s. The temperamental film star brought something different to his roles--whether through costumes or character quirks--that made him stand out from everyone else. Some of his comedic roles like Monnezza and Nico Giraldi became iconic in Italy. Attaining cult status in America, some of his work in the US include REVENGE (1990), JFK (1991), FOOLS RUSH IN (1997), AMISTAD (1997), and TRAFFIC (2000). Eugenio Martin's THE BOUNTY KILLER (1966) put him on the map as a western star. Several of his best titles include THE BIG GUNDOWN (1966), FACE TO FACE (1967), DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972), THE COUNSELLOR (1973), ALMOST HUMAN (1974), SYNDICATE SADISTS (1975), ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH (1976), THE COP IN BLUE JEANS (1976), and THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (1977). Tomas Milian was found dead at his Miami, Florida home having suffered a stroke. He was 84 years old.

TOBE HOOPER (January 25th, 1943--August 26th, 2017)

Texas-born Tobe Hooper will always be remembered for helming one of horror cinema's most ferocious pictures, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). It's his greatest accomplishment, but one of a handful of genre-worthy pictures bearing his name as director. His Made For TV adaptation of Stephen King's SALEM'S LOT (1979) remains the scariest vampire movie ever made; THE FUNHOUSE (1981) was a unique slasher experience tapping into the dark recesses of carnival life; POLTERGEIST (1982) was the director's biggest production up to that point--an elaborate ghost story that became a big hit in 1982. Hooper sequelized his own chainsaw classic in 1986 with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. It divided fans at the time but has since become highly regarded as a worthy sequel. EATEN ALIVE (1977) isn't a great film, but it's worth mentioning as it feels like a followup to his 1974 Texas-lensed favorite. Granted, Hooper's career in the late 80s saw a decline in quality, but his early films have a sophistication about them that earns him a spot alongside the greatest directors of horror. Tobe Hooper would die from natural causes aged 74.

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