28th December 2012 – Mark Crispin
Creator of IMAP (a vital proponent of email systems), who died before New Year but the death of whom was only announced in early January
1st January – Patti Page, 85
American singer, best known for “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?”
1st January – Christopher Martin-Jenkins, 67
Radio commentator on Test Match Cricket on the BBC for forty years.
2nd January – Jon Fromer, 66
American folk singer/songwriter and friend of Anne Feeney.
2nd January – Charles Chilton, 95
Writer and producer of Journey into Space.
2nd January – Ian McKeever, 42
Irish mountaineer who held the world record for fastest scaling of all of the Seven Summits. Died in a lightning strike up Kilimanjaro.
3rd January – Sir Robert Clark, 88
WW2 Navy officer who worked for the SOE. He was captured in 1944, but avoided execution. Throughout his time in the war and captivity, he was accompanied by a teddy bear named Falla. Became involved in the Mirror Group later in life, and stayed on board to steady the ship after Maxwells downfall.
““Blowing up railway engines”, he recalled, “was very great fun.” He went on to conduct beach reconnaissance from a canoe, reporting to Baker Street via an onshore SOE wireless operator, Marjorie Lewis. Clark’s war ended when he and four partisans were discovered in a haystack by a German patrol. He became “an expert on the state jails of northern Italy” before being moved to a PoW camp in Germany. Marjorie had no idea if he was alive until, months later, a message came in plain English (in total breach of the rules): “Bob sends love to Marjorie.” Freed as the war ended, Clark wired her: “Arriving London from Germany. Meet me.” They met, shook hands — and later married.”
3rd January – Alfie Fripp, 98
Longest held British POW during WW2, and one of the real life Great Escapees.
"He was marching past the Cenotaph in November 2012 - I was with him. He walked four miles a day. He was a ladies' man, full of humour and wit and up for anything, and that spirit - he had an amazing spirit."
Pat Jackson, family friend.
3rd January – Jimmy Halliday, 75
Leader of the SNP from 1956-60.
3rd January – Ivan Mackerle, 70
Cryptozologist known for his attempts to discover the Mongolian Death Worm and the Loch Ness monster. He was a self made man who defied a Communist government to look for monsters.
““I sacrifice everything for this,” he says while recounting his trips, leafing through the photos and maps that pepper a book he’s written on the subject. He’s dressed in the self-conscious clothing of a field man, all khaki with multi pocketed vest. His gray hair is tousled and his round sunglasses tinted red.“Most people, when they’re adults, they marry and their lives begin,” he says, with a hint of wistfulness. “They have children and make money, they have their careers. But I wanted to stay in my dreams, with these adventures.” “I didn’t only want to read about [mysteries],” he says “I wanted to search, to try and find out if it was true or only fiction.”
from The Prague Post, 2007.
4th January – Derek Kevan, 77
English international footballer nicknamed “The Tank” whose clubs included West Brom, Chelsea, Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Luton Town. He scored two goals in the 1958 World Cup.
5th January – Reg Dean, 110
Remarkable long lived reverend, who was the oldest man in the UK when he died. He achieved a retirement over thirty years long when he retired aged 80! He mischievously referred his longevity to an event that happened when he saved some men in Burma during the war.
“The Reverend Reg Dean, who has lived to see 26 prime ministers, received seven telegrams from the Queen and was alive when the Wright brothers piloted the first powered plane in 1903, instead attributes it to a 'mysterious brown-looking' elixir of life given to him by a doctor when he was an army chaplain in India. 'He said to me, "I have concocted a drink that will make you live for ever", or something like that, and would I like to take it?" the Daily Mail quoted him as saying. "Well I'm very naive, I can't say no, so I drank it and here I am," he said.
Asian News International, Nov 2012
5th January – Gwendoline Butler, 90
British Mystery fiction author.
5th January – TS Cook, 65
Screenwriter of The China Syndrome and Airwolf.
7th January – Richard Cramer, 62
Pulitzer Prize winner journalist who wrote books on presidential races.
“Mr. Cramer was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his coverage of the Middle East as a correspondent for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and he wrote a best-selling biography of Joe DiMaggio (“Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life,” 2000), but he was most known for “What It Takes: The Way to the White House,” published in 1992. At 1,047 pages, the book uses exhaustive research and vigorous, detailed reporting to delve into the passions, idiosyncrasies and flaws of George Bush, Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis, Joseph Biden and other candidates as they fought for the presidency in 1988. As he reported for the book, Mr. Cramer spent time with the candidates’ relatives, college roommates and sometimes even their elementary-school teachers. He grew close to the candidates themselves and in some cases formed friendships that endured after the election. Mr. Biden later gave him tips on fixing up an old farmhouse that he purchased in Maryland, Mr. Cramer said.”
New York Times obit
7th January – Stanley Cohen, 70
“From the time he was diagnosed with the degenerative condition in 1996, he displayed a fortitude consistent with his academic concern about emotional validity and his abhorrence of sentimentality and overreaction.This concern with overreaction informed Folk Devils and Moral Panics (1972), his influential study of the 1960s battles between mods and rockers. What sociological explanation could be given for the way these seafront skirmishes between scooter riders and motorcyclists came to be seen as attacks upon the moral core of the nation? Stan often used to joke in later years that if he had a penny for every time the concept of moral panic had been misused, he would have long previously been able to take early retirement.Emotional management was also at the heart of Psychological Survival (1972), the book we wrote together about the closed emotional world of the maximum-security wing in Durham prison. How did men who had been sentenced to a lifetime in prison preserve their identity, and resist physical and mental deterioration?”
Laurie Taylor, Guardian obit
8th January – Percy White, 96
Scientist involved in the creation of the British nuclear bomb.
8th January – Alasdair Milne, 82
BBC director-general from 1981-7, who was hit by the continuing feud among the top brass of the BBC, and government issues.
“Immediately following the Real Lives debacle, Milne and his team had to grapple with the Peacock Committee, set up by Margaret Thatcher’s government with the primary aim of making the BBC take advertising. Not all its members were out-and-out marketeers, and they finally rejected the idea. Peacock, however, came out strongly in favour of compelling both the BBC and ITV to take up to 40 per cent of their programmes from independents, believing that this would cut costs. Milne thought this idea was “wholly unrealistic ... a fantasy”. He was soon proved wrong, though he was right in supposing that the other main Peacock recommendation — tying future licence increases to the retail price index — would prove an albatross around the BBC’s neck. Responding to Peacock, which took up much management time, at least gave Milne the opportunity to set out some of his most profound beliefs about public service broadcasting — notably that it should never be content merely to give the viewer more of what he or she already liked, and that its services should be universally available at a universal price.”
8th January – Jeanne Manford, 92
American gay rights activist, and founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
9th January – James M Buchanan, 93
Economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1986.
9th January – Brigitte Askonas, 89
Immunologist who specialised in immune deficiencies.
10th January – Lucien Poirier, 94
French WW2 general who became a POW, and was later involved with the Foreign Legion in Indochina.
10th January – Claude Nobs, 76
Founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, whose actions in saving the lives of several people during a fire at a Frank Zappa concert in 1971 were immortalised in the Deep Purple classic, Smoke on the Water. Funky Claude, alas, died this year, suffering complications from a skiing accident last Christmas.
10th January – Daniel McCarthy, 86
TV producer involved with Sesame Street.
11th January – Billy Varga, 94
Professional wrestler who had a forty year career in the ring, and who starred outside it in films alongside the likes of Abbott and Costello, and even made a later appearance, as a ring announcer, in Raging Bull.
11th January – Tom Parry Jones, 77
Welsh inventor of the electronic breathalyser.
“In 1972 Parry Jones began examining the possibility of developing a fuel cell alcohol sensor as the basis of a more reliable screening instrument. His portable “Alcolmeter”, an electronic device the size of a cigarette packet, transformed the process of screening by providing police with a more reliable kerbside test, removing the need for a follow-up blood or urine test. However, it took some time to catch on, and Parry Jones recalled that he found “inventing the device the easy part, but producing it, developing it and selling it was the challenge”. Parry Jones’s new device was approved for police use in Britain only in 1979; but the following year it won Lion Laboratories the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement, and the product is now marketed worldwide.”
11th January – Nguyen Khanh, 85
General who briefly lead South Vietnam in 1964 after a coup (one of his many).
“Although General Khanh had played a role in deposing President Diem, he was not selected to be on the 12-man Military Revolutionary Council that took control of the government. General Khanh, one of many Vietnamese officers who picked up a love of poker from the French, bided his time before playing his hand. On Jan. 30, 1964, he seized control of South Vietnam’s government without a shot being fired, throwing his old poker buddy Gen. Ton That Dinh in jail along with several other leaders of the military junta. “The bloodless coup d’état executed by the short, partly bald general apparently took Saigon by surprise,” The New York Times reported at the time. General Khanh had “a deserved reputation as a brilliant and driving field commander, but also as a ‘lone wolf,’ ” The Times wrote, adding, “He has no truly intimate associates among the other generals.”
New York Times obit
11th January – James Charles Macnab, 86
23rd chief of the Clan Macnab.
11th January – Robert Kee, 93
Historian, TV presenter, journalist, writer of WW2 Prisoner of War experiences. Presenter of the fine Ireland: A Television History, which somehow managed to walk the tightrope between the differing opinions on the Irish situation without giving a preference to either side. One of the famous five, alongside David Frost, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Michael Parkinson, that launched TV-am. Studied under the peerless AJP Taylor. Once noted that “attending an English public school was a great training for survival in a prison camp”! (Spartacus online) His novel on his war experience, A Crowd is Not Company, was disguised as fiction but was actually a truthful account of Kee’s war time.
“Kee specialised in strife. For television he reported on conflicts in Algeria and the Congo, as well as the Prague Spring; as a historian, he also chronicled the key years of the Second World War. His interest in the troubled history of Ireland developed in the 1950s, when he embarked on a three-volume study which eventually saw the light of day in 1972 as The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism. Kee was not one of those writers who use Ireland as a projection of their own dreams and insecurities. Instead, he maintained a studied moderation and even-handedness that won him acclaim from both sides of the sectarian divide. The Green Flag remains essential reading for anyone attempting to understand the complex historical forces that have shaped modern Ireland.”
“During the Falklands war of 1982 he interviewed in what many thought was an unfair and brutal way the foreign secretary who appeared to have fumbled the warning signs of imminent war, Lord Carrington. But when a documentary he made on the Falklands was edited by the producer in such a way as to give what Kee considered disproportionate coverage to the minority opponents of the war, he split with the BBC. Nothing that transformed the writer into a glove puppet of the manipulators of the media was acceptable to him.”
Dennis Barker, Guardian obit
He was the witness at George Orwell’s wedding, and one of those who successfully campaigned for the release of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six.
“That his long career was marked by frequent switches of post, across all the main terrestrial channels, was in part a product of his stubborn refusal to depart from strongly held principles, leading to clashes with more pragmatic employers and colleagues.”
“Kee became an established figure in current affairs journalism, for ITV’s First Report and Channel 4’s Seven Days and his success saw him awarded Bafta’s Richard Dimbleby Award in 1976.”
“Kee had nothing to gain professionally or financially by devoting months of his life to championing 11 very ordinary people (and three of the Guildford Four were self-confessed petty criminals). But he cared passionately about truth and justice for their own sake. Because he was a famous journalist, broadcaster and historian rightly revered for his objectivity, the book was taken seriously by the powerful.And because he had an exceptional gift for bringing clarity and coherence to complex stories, no open-minded reader could doubt that the people he was defending had been appallingly served by the police and the law.”
Sampled are just a few of the newspaper tributes (Ruth, the sister of mum’s colleague Owen Dudley-Edwards, wrote hers in the Irish Independent) out of the hundreds that appeared on the news of his death. A fine life, long lived.
11th January – D Brainerd Holmes, 91
Former director of the NASA space flight programme.
13th January – Stanley Caine, 76
Younger brother of Michael Caine, who appeared opposite him in The Italian Job.
14th January – Conrad Bain, 89
Canadian TV actor best known for his long running role as the father in Diff’rent Strokes.
16th January – Abigail Van Buren, 94
One of the first Agony Aunts.
16th January - Gussie Moran, 89
American tennis player active in the 1950s who got to the Semis of the US Open in 1948. She caused a sensation in 1949 with an outfit at Wimbledon deemed too revealing for that time period.
“Seeded seventh in the [1949 Wimbledon], Gussie Moran crashed out in her first round singles match, though she made it to the finals in the women’s doubles, where she and her partner lost. But that was hardly the point. As photographers fought to secure the perfect (ground level) spot to show Gussie at her best, with the 84-year-old dowager Queen Mary due to attend, the All England Club committee went into panic mode, castigating Gussie and her outfit for bringing “vulgarity and sin into tennis”. Questions were asked in Parliament. Her Wimbledon appearance turned her, overnight, into a celebrity. She was dated by millionaires, played tennis with Charlie Chaplin, had a ship, a racehorse and a sauce named after her, and even appeared as herself alongside Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in their 1952 tennis comedy Pat And Mike.”
17th January – Sophiya Haque, 41
Actress who played Poppy Morales in Coronation Street from 2008 to 2009.
17th January – Robert Chew, 52
American actor best known for The Wire.
21st January – Michael Winner, 77
“The only way to hold a decent dinner party in Hollywood now is to have a seance.”
Director of films such as Death Wish, Scorpio and Appointment with Death. Became famed in later life for star in a series of car insurance TV adverts. He wrote restaurant critics, and was a big fan of the Fade to Black series on thespian obits – indeed, my copy of Donnelly’s book has Winner writing the foreword, with his only regret being “he wont live to see what is written about him after he dies”!
“Certainly Winner was always larger-than-life. He drove a Rolls-Royce, paid no attention to his appearance (he was notorious for his jumble sale jackets and single pair of battered shoes) and was rarely seen without an enormous Montecristo cigar. Portrayed as “offensive, loud and bumptious”, Winner provoked comparison with Genghis Khan. Even close friends found him “cherubic, cheerful and dreadful”. Flamboyant, often boorish, he was, in many ways, his own worst enemy. The veteran critic Barry Norman (who, in an earlier incarnation as a gossip columnist on the Daily Mail, had been ordered to fire Winner, then one of his underlings) considered him entertaining enough, “but he can also be rude and a bully, as if it amuses him to confront the world in the guise of a self-made shit ... Perhaps what gripes him is that he wanted to be a great director and never became one.”
A hard man to pin down, his films and right wing view points, as well as a bizarre public incident on Twitter involving Victoria Coren, painted a rather disturbing picture, yet alongside that you had moments, such as the widely appraised time he dressed down Littlejohn on TV for his treatment of some LGBT guests, and was involved in the creation and funding of the Police Memorial Trust following the murder of Yvonne Fletcher.
“"When I die, it’s going to be ‘Death Wish director dies’. I don’t mind though – Death Wish [Winner’s 1974 film starring Charles Bronson and Hope Lange] was an epoch-making film. The first film in the history of cinema where the hero kills other civilians. It had never been done before. Since then it has been the most copied film ever. Tarantino put it in his top 10 films ever made."
Winner, 2012, to the Big Issue
He’s a hard man to get one’s head around. Much as I dislike the ideals and voyeurism of Death Wish, it would be churlish not to admit there is a talent behind it, and that talent shows in the final Peter Ustinov Poirot film. His seemingly casual Victorian conservative views and general grumpiness seemed to have been a man a century out of time. Yet many people, including Sam Ashurst of Total Film and John Cleese, have noted that Winner was a man who would play up his own ridiculousness to get a reaction.
And in that he certainly succeeded, but then in his patronage of charities and apparently legit support for gay rights, he almost certainly, however flawed he was, provided more to society than the likes of a Richard Littlejohn ever would dream of.
21st January – Jake McNiece, 93
US Paratrooper in WW2 who lead the outfit which inspired The Dirty Dozen.
“McNiece and his men subsequently joined the main invasion, and on one occasion were on the winning side of a firefight that saw 700 German soldiers killed in just 20 minutes. Paratroopers did not take prisoners, as he later explained. McNiece believed that the group had been selected because their task was regarded as a “suicide mission” and, as notorious troublemakers, the men were seen as expendable. “The average lifetime of a paratrooper was one and a half jumps,” he recalled. “They gave you one day’s food supply when you left the plane, and they figured you wouldn’t eat all of that.” Lee Marvin played McNiece’s character in Aldrich’s 1967 film, though McNiece objected to the portrayal of him and his men as murderers and psychopaths when in reality they were “misfits” who had done nothing worse than violate military regulations. Asked how he had managed to survive when so many others lost their lives, McNiece replied: “ The Lord had two places for putting people, heaven or hell. He was afraid to put me in either of them because he was afraid I’d goof them up.”
21st January – Donald Hornig, 92
“Donald F Hornig, who died on 21 January at the age of 92, was a scientist who worked on the atomic bomb and was a scientific adviser to three US presidents. He was the president of Brown University from 1970 to 1976 and also taught at Princeton and Harvard.”
23rd January – Jimmy Payne, 86
Footballer who played for both Liverpool and Everton, and was part of the Liverpool side which got to the 1950 FA Cup final. After twelve years at Anfield, finally made the move to his boyhood heroes at Goodison Park, but after only six appearances, injuries forced him to retire at the age of thirty.
23rd January – Tom Jankiewicz, 49
American screenwriter who wrote Grosse Pointe Blank.
24th January – Jim Wallwork, 93
25th January – Frank Keating, 75
Sports journalist known for his books on cricket.
“His writing mainly appeared in The Guardian, which he first joined briefly in 1963 and rejoined in 1972 after a nine-year stint in television. His byline also appeared over the years in The Times, Punch, the New Statesman, The Spectator and, more recently, in The Observer and The Oldie. In the late 1970s and 1980s he was always on the move, covering the world’s great sporting events; but later, after he had settled in his birthplace, Herefordshire, with his second wife, he described his role in characteristic terms: “Although less frenetically passport-stamped, I remained a scribbler and swankpot around the babel-babbling stadiums of the world.”
26th January – Acer Nethercott, 35
Olympic rowing silver medallist for Great Britain in 2012.
29th January – David Taylor, 78
“His patients included elephants with toothache, a frostbitten killer whale, a giant panda with stomach ulcers and an egg-bound emu. Known for his flair for developing new treatments, Taylor performed the first-ever caesarean on a zebra, fitted a hornbill at Chessington Zoo with a prosthetic beak and once successfully treated a haemorrhaging whale by feeding it black puddings.”
29th January – Bernard Horsfall, 82
(first appeared in Whotopia issue 26)
Bernard Horsfall, genius actor, died in January this year aged eighty-two. He had planned to be at the Gallifrey convention a fortnight after his death. It was not to be. All of Who fandom feels this loss of this great actor, who contributed to not one but four Doctor Who stories. In all manner of roles, Horsfall nailed it in Who, just as he cemented a fearsome legacy of quality in his lifes work.
He actually played the role of Albert Campion on TV nearly thirty years before Peter Davison did the same. He had three roles in The Avengers. In The Cybernauts, widely acclaimed as one of the finest episodes of the MacNee/Rigg era, he plays Jephcott, the karate expert. This is played upon in The Fear Merchants when his character chops a block of wood in half when he thinks he sees a mouse. Finally, in the Tara King episode They Keep Killing Steed, he played Captain Smythe. Presumably no relation to the chap from The War Games! He was also in the untelevised episode of Doomwatch, Sex and Violence, about a Mary Whitehouse group sponsored by the government to create such a fuss it distracts the general public from the unemployment figures.
For an actor of growing acclaim, the secret service could only come calling next. The Bond Franchise, to be more precise. Despite a stellar cast, On Her Majestys Secret Service perhaps doesn’t get the credit it deserves due to a lacklustre Bond performance. Yet the fate of the service man, Campbell, is one of the gorier moments in the film, its famously fatal ending notwithstanding. Horsfall’s man aids Bond in Switzerland, and pays for it with his life. He is tortured (and unlike in the book, does not give Bond away) and left swinging from a rope to act as a warning for Bond. It might be a low key villain plan, but James comes away from it two key allies down. And Horsfall is, as he always is, brilliant in the role.
"Whether appearing as Chancellor Goth (twice perhaps?), Gulliver, or Taron in DOCTOR WHO or in films as varied as ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE to GANDHI, Horsfall was always a welcome and reliable presence whose chiseled features managed to convey both strength and - when necessary - a certain inner turmoil that revealed greater depths to even the smallest character parts."
Arnold T Blumberg
His role in Enemy at the Door was spoken of highly. He also had a remarkable tour de force of an appearance in The Dummy, one of the Nigel Kneale Bests plays, about an actor who takes method acting to the extreme during a mess split from his wife, and winds up becoming the monstrous horror film villain he was playing.
“However, he was perhaps most celebrated for several guest starring roles in Doctor Who and for one in particular: the villainous Time Lord Goth in the Tom Baker story The Deadly Assassin. One scene, in which Goth appeared to drown the Doctor and the camera zoomed in on the face of the Doctor under water, attracted the wrath of the campaigner Mary Whitehouse and was edited out of repeats. The part of Goth, and others in Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee stories, meant Horsfall was popular with Doctor Who fans. Indeed, although he had retired to Breakish on Skye, he was due to fly to a Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles later this month.”
Scottish Herald obit
His four Who performances, in four David Maloney stories, hold up as fine as they did on first broadcast. In The Mind Robber, that strange acid trip of a story, he plays Gulliver from Gullivers travels. The man is neither an adversary nor an aid to the Doctor and his companions, as he seems to happily wander around in his own fictional constraints, not seeing the Land of Fiction robots, nor able to speak dialogue except that written by Swift centuries before. Like Philip Madoc, they clearly liked him so much, he got brought back for the finale! And what a role that was, as one of the first acknowledged Time Lords seen on screen, Horsfall helps end the Troughton era and black and white Doctor Who with a bang. Compared to his genial yet unknowing Gulliver, this Time Lord (sometimes thought to be his Deadly Assassin character, though played differently) is all knowing and has what we call presence. Even when the other two Time Lords are talking at the trial, we get the impression that the Bernard Horsfall one is the boss of the trio. In possibly the only time this phrase will ever be used in the English language, he carried himself as a Time Lord well!
“ He was best as Gulliver for me. A character from an 18th century novel beats some dull Time Lord. Taron is notable in Planet as being the only likeable Thal, which is down to him. He's also excellent as Wendy Padbury's husband in the 6th Doctor Big Finish play Davros.”
Steve Atkins, Doctor Who fan
It was The Deadly Assassin that was to bring Horsfall his greatest Doctor Who notoriety, in being a part of the famous Episode 3 freeze-frame cliffhanger that so drew the ire of Mary Whitehouse. The slow drowning of the Fourth Doctor (who got better, don’t worry) was so intense it was feared children would imitate the villain of the piece and start drowning each other. This comes at the end of one of the more surreal episodes of Doctor Who, essentially a two-hander for most of it, between Tom’s Doctor and Bernard’s adversary, disguised so we don’t know who the traitor is. (Though why he needs disguised at this point, given there is only four living characters it could be, and of the other three, two are seen watching over the Doctor at the same time, while Borusa is far too old to be moving about like he is!) Borusa aside, Chancellor Goth is the stand out guest character in The Deadly Assassin, and in a cast with Eric Chitty and George Pravda (both fine actors), that is no small feat. He is the mover and shaker of the story. As the villain and the titular Deadly Assassin (well , he got the job done!), he is quick to make use of political precedent to speed up the election of the dead President’s successor, as well as attempt to get the Doctor as patsy out of the way as quickly as possible. It’s very clear Goth is a very shrewd operator, it’s just unlucky for him (and lucky for the rest of the universe, given the black hole subplot) that the Doctor is just as smart and as able to bend the system.
Goth has some great moments before all the scenes in the Matrix, though. I love his wish to speed up the Doctor’s execution, as “it is the custom of incoming Presidents to pardon political rivals”. This is in the midst of a brilliant two-hander with him and Angus MacKay, one of the finest scenes in all of Doctor Who, as the two characters discuss political responsibility. “It is by their decisions Presidents are judged” is MacKays line, not Horsfalls, but Horsfalls reaction to it is sublime. He is so flustered he makes the terminal villain mistake of giving the Doctor time to talk his way out of execution by running for the Presidency in the very next scene.
It could be claimed that how the story pans out - Goth and the Doctor are the only Presidential candidates, who then wind up having a fight to the death inside a computational matrix, and after having died as a villain, Goth winds up resurrected as the hero of the piece in the official story told to the masses – is one of Robert Holmes’ finest public commentaries disguised as a Doctor Who story. The parting comment, “if heroes do not exist, it is necessary to invent them, good for public morale” is both a witty finish to that strand of the tale, and a poignant reminder for the tricks of the media and politicians in everyday life.
In the hands of a lesser actor, Goth would be a one bit part. It’s not exactly the most multi-layered on the page: card carrying flunkie to the villain who gets some good lines, then is killed. What raises it to the levels of Who superstardom, is the performance of Bernard Horsfall. Goth’s villainry is not in question. Horsfall clearly signposts his dubious nature long before the script does with his delivery and reaction choices. But in doing so, what we wind up with is not a card carrying villain, but the supreme politician, a man willing to do anything to hold onto power, even make a pact with the Devil. Horsfall plays Goth as a mixture of Faust, von-Lettow Vorbeck and George Osborne, and the character becomes all the more fascinating and horrifying for that.
It is a career performance in a career full of fine performances.
“Bernard Horsfall I’d used before as Gulliver, and just as for that part, he was what I needed in ‘The Deadly Assassin’ – big, tough and with range.”
David Maloney, 1980s
In losing Bernard Horsfall this January, we didn’t just lose one of the finest Doctor Who guest actors the show ever had the privilege of enjoying. We didn’t just lose one of the finest actors Britain produced in the 20th Century. We lost a fine man, and the world is poorer immeasurably for his passing.
29th January – Malcolm Brodie, 86
Glasgow born journalist who covered 14 World Cups, worked for several newspapers (including the Telegraph and News of the World) and wrote several books on several facets of Irish football. He earned many plaudits for his writing, as well as an MBE in the 1970s.
“Quality sports reporting is essential to sports organisations such as FIFA, thanks to its ability to transmit all the colour and emotions of major competitions such as the FIFA World Cup to the fans back home. There was none better at this than Malcolm, who covered an incredible 14 FIFA World Cups and whose contribution to the sport was deservedly recognised with the bestowal of the FIFA Jules Rimet Award on him in FIFA’s centennial year of 2004. May his legend continue to inspire today’s sports reporters to promote our game and its spirit with the same passion and commitment that he did.”
““My father died as he would have wished — still checking the football results and arranging coverage of matches from his hospital bed,” said his son Iain, an accountant.“Right until the end he was studying the Irish League tables.”Malcolm, a Scot who came to Northern Ireland as an evacuee in 1939 because his parents in Glasgow thought he would be safer in Belfast if Hitler bombed the Clyde, never lost his home town accent.“The family forgot that Harland & Wolff could be a target, too,” he once told me. “But I didn’t mind. I fell in love with Belfast and Northern Ireland and knew for sure, even as a little boy, that I would never go back.”
Eddie McIlwaine, Beflast Telegraph
30th January – Patty Andrews, 94
Last of the Andrews sisters legendary singing group.
1st February – Cecil Womack, 65
Singer songwriter and R&B star who sang Teardrops.
1st February – Robin Sachs, 61
Actor who was known for his roles in Buffy, as well as playing the villain in Galaxy Quest.
1st February – Ed Koch, 88
US politician who worked in the House of Representatives as well as having a three term shot as Mayor of New York.
2nd February – Chris Kyle, 38
Highly successful US army sniper.
3rd February – David Oates, 50
Long time serving BBC sports commentator.
3rd February – Peter Gilmore, 81
Actor best known for playing the lead role in The Onedin Line. Was also in several Carry on Films (Doctor, Henry, Camel, Khyber), Oh What a Lovely War, The Abominable Dr Phibes and Doctor Who (in Frontios) among other credits.
4th February – Reg Presley, 71
Lead singer and song writer for The Troggs, with their hits such as “Wild Thing”, “With a Girl like you” and “Love is all Around”. The royalties from Wet Wet Wet’s cover of the latter allowed him to fund Fortean subjects of interest in later life. Presley died from a combination of a succession of strokes, pneumonia, and lung cancer.
5th February – Derek Yalden, 72
British zoologist who specialised in mammals., writing The Mammals of the British Isles.
“Derek Yalden was one of the pillars of British mammalogy (the study of mammals) and one of the outstanding zoologists of his generation. He was president of The Mammal Society for 16 years from 1997 and editor of its journal, Mammal Review, for 22, from 1980 to 2002. He published over 200 papers in refereed journals on subjects ranging from the ecology of mountain hares to the flight ability of the first bird, Archaeopteryx. Fit, tireless and regarded as a zoological polymath, he was completely dedicated to his subject while never over-intellectualising it and remaining down to earth; hence, as well as a leading academic, he was also a very good ambassador for mammal study. A paper in British Wildlife, on the decline to extinction of our little-known feral wallabies and based on many years of patient fieldwork in the Peak District, was published a few days after his death while he was on a short holiday in the Forest of Dean.”
5th February – Stuart Freeborn, 98
Make up artist known for his work on the Star Wars films (especially Yoda). Was also involved in the production of The Life and Death of Colonol Blimp, the 1948 Oliver Twist, The Dam Busters, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Mouse That Roared, Dr Strangelove, 2001, Oh! What a Lovely War, Young Winston, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Omen, Superman and The Great Muppet Caper, to name but a few of his more famous credits.
8th February – Alan Sharp, 79
Scottish writer who wrote the scripts for The Long Distance Piano Player, The Osterman Weekend and Rob Roy.
“Sharp once explained the precepts on which he based his work: "With a screenplay, there's no point spending time describing the characters because you'll have an actor … there's also no point in describing landscapes and places … A screenplay is a blueprint. I am not a visual writer. I write dialogue and don't spend much time envisaging how things should look so I'm very sparing with camera instructions."
Ronald Bergan, Guardian obit
8th February – Patricia Hughes, 90
BBC radio announcer.
10th February – Petro Vlahos, 96
The creator of chroma key (aka CSO, or green screens, the grandfather of motion overlay SFX). Vlahos was one of the two men (with Ray Harryhausen) who changed camera SFX in the 50s and 60s entirely, and every film creator who lived thereafter is in his debt. [He refined the earlier blue screen, which had been used for such effects in the 1940s.]
“The technology Mr. Vlahos perfected, earning him Oscar and Emmy awards, creates the illusion that actors or settings filmed separately are in the same place. It has made it possible for young actors to play their own twins and share scenes with them; for princesses in galaxies far, far away to send hologram messages; and for nonexistent, distant worlds and their wildlife to appear real in convincing detail. “His inventions made a whole genre of film possible — a genre that seems to make more money than any other,” said the visual-effects supervisor Bill Taylor, speaking at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event the day before Mr. Vlahos died. “He created the whole of composite photography as we know it.”
Anita Gates, New York Times obit
12th February – Reginald Turnill, 97
Duncan Lunan ends this part with some words on his late friend, the BBC space correspondent Reginald Turnill.
Reginald Turnill, who died in February aged 97, was the BBC’s official space correspondent for 40 years, having joined them in 1956 as an industrial correspondent after 30 years with the Press Association, interrupted by war service. His involvement with space began with Sputnik 1 in 1957, and was complemented by his lifetime interest in aviation, including the commentary on the maiden flight of Concorde. Sent to Moscow in 1961 to cover Yuri Gagarin’s return, and rightly suspicious about the vagueness in Soviet accounts of the landing system, he received the classic reply, “It works very well, thank you”, which has since been used by Paramount for the warp drive on the Enterprise and more recently by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck for the interplanetary propulsion in The Expanse.
Having covered most of the Mercury and Gemini flights live, many of them from the USA, Reg was frustrated to be displaced by James Burke for much of the Apollo coverage. Nevertheless he covered the launch of Apollo 11 live from the Cape (not from Houston as some of his obituaries stated), with interpolations from Arthur C. Clarke, and in the scoop of his career, he was the only broadcaster present at Mission Control when the Apollo 13 crisis broke. His Observer’s Books of Unmanned Spacecraft and Manned Spacecraft (two editions), later combined into the giant Observer’s Spaceflight Directory, remain invaluable references for the period up to the Space Shuttle programme, and The Moonlandings is an equally useful personal memoir of the events and personalities.
He was still more annoyed to be compulsorily retired from the BBC at age 65, in 1980 just before Shuttle missions began. He continued to appear on Newround and Blue Peter as a guest, inspiring a new generation of enthusiasts, and if he was remembered for nothing else it would be for eating a ‘Space Tomato’, grown in the Blue Peter Garden from a seed carried on the Shuttle, and eaten in defiance of orders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
On top of all that, Reg and his wife Margaret were two of the nicest people you could meet. I became friends with them as regular attendees at the annual British Rocketry Oral History Programme conference at Charterhouse school (later the UK Space Conference), where Reg was always happy to pose for photographs – driving past an inflated half-scale Ariane 5 in a pre-1910 racing car on one occasion, and in a Sinclair C-5 the next time. In their 90s they twice came up to Scotland to take part in the North Lanarkshire Astronomy Project – driving from the south of England, the second time! We took them to several primary schools and also to the Museum and Flight at East Fortune, where Reg renewed his acquaintance with numerous classic aircraft including the Comet 4, which he and I went through together. In 2006, when he received the Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award, the conference laid on a large-screen link with Sir Arthur in Sri Lanka. As he stood there smiling and nodding during the presentation, only those in know would have suspected that the infirmity of age kept him from standing still. Sure enough, immediately on leaving the stage, he asked me, “What did he say? I was so close to the speakers, I couldn’t hear a word!” A true gentleman, and another of the recent losses which leave the world a less interesting place.
14th February – Reeva Steenkamp, 29
South African womens and charity activist who was shot dead by her boyfriend.
14th February – Peter Olver, 95
Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot.
15th February – Ian Fowler, 73
“Fowler wrote a feature on the disappearances of Pauline Reade, 16, John Kilbride, 12, Lesley Anne Downey, 10, and Keith Bennett, 12, which was published in the Manchester Evening News on February 19 1965 — eight months before Ian Brady and Myra Hindley claimed their last victim, 17-year-old Edward Evans, and precipitated their arrest. In those days, before the setting up of Greater Manchester Police, individual police forces were dealing singly with each case, with no cross-referencing between the forces. Fowler looked at the pattern and concluded that the cases must be linked. He used the article to call for the setting up of a central missing persons bureau. He went on to cover the court appearance of Brady at Hyde magistrates’ court and later corresponded with Hindley, visiting her several times in Durham jail with his wife, Patricia Roberts, also a Manchester Evening News journalist, for a series of features – the first journalists to do so.”
16th February – Tony Sheridan, 72
English rock musician known by fans of the Beatles for being an early collaborator with the Fab Four.
“Tony was a good guy who we knew and worked with from the early days in Hamburg. We regularly watched his late night performances and admired his style. He will be missed."
17th February – Mindy McCready, 37
Troubled American singer, who mixed country music success with a range of personal demons, bad partners and health issues. That she went as she did is of no surprise, but no less tragic it becomes.
17th February – Richard Briers, 79
“We need more theatres, more art and more culture in this country.”
“[The Good Life] seemed a far cry from Briers’s earnest portrayal of the Dane in a student production at Rada of Hamlet, when his naturally rapid delivery led WA Darlington of The Daily Telegraph to liken him to “a demented typewriter”. Yet with his sense of timing, air of hapless innocence and his ability to keep the straightest of faces amid the mayhem typical of his brand of embarrassed humour, it was no great surprise that Briers went on to become one of Britain’s leading practitioners of farce and light comedy.”
The name Richard Briers immediately brings up, as word association, the role of Tom Good in the Good Life. He was the lead and anchor around which that acclaimed comedy worked. It was but one role in a career that spanned over fifty years. He had an early role in the Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple adapation (and that as loose a definition of that word as one can possibly find) of 450 to Paddington, “Murder She Said”, as ‘Mrs Binster’, a role for which he earned £25 for one days filming.
“He taught me more than anyone about comedy and timing. He taught me the importance of feeding a line to a fellow actor so they will get the desired laugh; it’s vital in comedy. He taught me how to work as a team and still be a lead player. He taught me to laugh at myself as he did, and not take myself too seriously. He wasn’t always that sweet – there was a very acerbic side to him and he really did not suffer fools at all, let alone gladly, and he hated anything that was not dedicated and professional. He took his work very seriously, though not himself doing it.”
Felicity Kendall, Telegraph
Briers made himself a regular face on TV in the 1960s, appearing with Tommy Cooper and in Dixon of Dock Green, as story teller on Jackanory, and as the lead in two sitcoms – Brothers in laws and Marriage Lines – to name but a few of those earlier credits.
“He was kind, generous, a real gentleman and also someone to look up to as an actor.”
Penelope Keith, in the Radio Times
By the mid 70s, he became known for the role I was first accustomed to him as. That’s right! The narrator of Roobarb, the cartoon series by Bob Godfrey!
“Richard Briers was the perfect narrator for the series. His chirpy, breathy, energetic delivery brought Roobarb to life, and he proved the ideal narrator for the eccentric shenanighans on screen. I often think what Richard must have thought about narrating this series, how the first conversation went between himself and Grange Calverley… "ok, well, it's a cartoon about an aspirational green dog that lives next door to a cynical pink cat, called Custard…" Only in Britain.”
Mark Doyle, Tribe Magazine
“] I love doing kids’ stuff, always have done. I’ve recently done Big Toe Little Toe on Radio 7. Reading kids’ stories for them. So I’m still doing all that kids’ stuff, which is nice – I’ve always liked doing it.”
Richard Briers, TV Cream interview
“He was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man. He was greatly loved and he will be deeply missed."
Kenneth Brannagh, to ITV
The late 70s and 80s saw Briers as lead in a number of TV series – The Other One, One Upmanship, All in Good Faith – as well as the unfairly forgotten WW2 alt-history The Aerodrome, and a curious performance in Doctor Who. He’d mix Twelfth Night with a heartbreaking performance (as a verger sacked as he cannot read) in Tales of the Unexpected with an experience in Minder. There was Ever Decreasing Circles, and Peter’s Friends, and The Adventures of More, and Inspector Morse, and Top Gore, and Monarch of the Glen, and nearly everything else too. He appeared in Torchwood (despite not enjoying its night shoot) and was a big fan of The Simpsons.
“I think the nation has lost one of its most favourite, favourite, favourite actors of all time - he's sort of up there with Ronnie Barker and Alan Bennett, you know, the people you're always pleased to see doing anything on television or in the theatre.”
Michael Grade (in rare talking sense mode)
“I prefer theatre but TV keeps you well known.”
For as many tv and film credits as he seemed to possess, he had even more stage credits, appearing in everything from Ayckbourn to Shaw, and being acclaimed for his role as Lear.
“When I was very, very young somebody bought me the book of the life of Henry Irving – it was written by his grandson, and it's called The Actor and His World. It had a great influence on me.”
Richard Briers, Independent, September 2012
He did radio work, narrated adverts, and was the voice of Noddy and Fiver from Watership Down.
“Many years ago, when I started out on my career as a young and very callow actor, I was lucky enough to get into RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), where I very soon learned that some people are born naturals and know how to walk, talk and hold themselves. I realised I didn’t know anything at all and had to learn everything. But it didn’t do me any harm and, like the Empress of Blandings, I even won a Silver Medal – though that was probably for ‘effort’ rather than for skill (and certainly not for fatness). From then on I was very, very lucky and I have rarely been out of work, which is about the best anyone can hope for.”
Richard Briers in an address as President of the PG Wodehouse Society.
He was married to actress Ann Davies for 57 years, and supported cancer and Parkinsons charities due to the results those horrid illnesses had on his good pals Paul Eddington and Terry-Thomas respectively. He also supported Greenpeace, and a numerous other good causes he never made a big show of ego about.
“Richard Briers was a keen and committed campaigner for Alzheimer's Society. In his role as an ambassador Richard has used his high profile and wit to support other families facing their own battles with the condition. From lobbying MPs on the injustice of charging for life-enhancing dementia treatments to delivering some of the most entertaining after lunch speeches, Richard always sought to raise the profile of dementia whenever he could.”
Alzheimers Society statement
He was an OBE, a smoker of a million cigarrettes, a racounteur, an actors actor, a national treasure, a man for whom no one who worked with him in over fifty years had a bad word to say, and one of those rare class acts for whom we ought to have invented immortality.
Ah, but what a legacy he leaves behind.
“I think Roobarb and Custard to King Lear is a good range. I wouldn’t give it back.”
Richard Briers, TV Cream interview
18th February – Damon Harris, 62
18th February – Elspet Gray, 83
Scottish actress. She was the mother in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Chancellor Thalia in the Doctor Who story Arc of Infinity, and the Queen in the first Season of Blackadder. She was Phyllis in Tenko and Lady Collingford in Catweazle.
21st February – Bruce Millan, 85
Former Labour secretary of state for Scotland from 1976-79, whose work in the 90s on regional powers influenced Labour policy on those matters.
“One of his great strengths was an ability to apply a forensic eye to every piece of paper in search of the facts and figures that mattered. Those who saw only the accountant's demeanour risked failing to understand the depth or integrity of his beliefs. One victim of this error was Roy Jenkins, then the deputy leader of the Labour party, who admitted to taking Millan to be "nice but pedestrian" before being skewered by him at a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party in 1971 over future voting intentions on Europe, which eventually led to Jenkins's departure from Labour politics. Jenkins conceded to having learned a lesson about "the danger of taking a patronising view of colleagues".
Brian Wilson, Guardian obit
21st February – Bob Godfrey, 91
“"On the day I met Bob he took me to a greasy spoon cafe in Wardour Street – to make plans. On the way to the cafe, he stopped and ripped off the flapping sole from one of his shoes and said, “Remind me to buy some glue on the way back to 84.”
The animator of Roobarb and Henry’s Cat.
“Roobarb is in fact, the ultimate embodiment of the British eccentric - that breed of man that finds himself continually at a loose end, unable to settle, always experimenting, always wanting to be or do 'something else'. The man that spends more time in the garden shed than in his own home. We are a nation of shed lovers, and Roobarb is a rather affectionate tribute to that spirit - it's something I can appreciate now but missed when I was watching it as a child. What appealed to me as a child was the fact that the Roobarb & Custard looked and sounded like nothing else on television. It really was a one-off, a unique creation.”
Mark Doyle, Tribe Magazine
21st February – Raymond Cusick, 84
(First published in Whotopia)
“It continues to surprise me that after all this time there is still such a strong interest in Doctor Who, and especially my contribution. It is all very flattering. It has meant that much of what I did for the show from 1963 to 1966 is very sharp in my memory. But when it comes to other productions that I have worked on since, much more ambitious and prestigious productions, my memory is blank. I look at tapes of these shows now and I often have no recollection of ever designing some of the sets."
Ray Cusick, quote from Independent’s obit
Without Ray Cusick, there might not even be a Doctor Who for us to celebrate the 50th anniversary of. It would have become a thirteen week wonder produced by the BBC long ago, probably lost, starring a film actor well regarded in British film circles, and a forgotten TV star of the 1950s. And the divergent strands that rise out of this What If are incalculable to understand. Not just that so many of our creative minds were inspired by this low budget British TV show, but so many careers too. The incredibly influential career of Verity Lambert, to name but one.
A world without Doctor Who, beyond those thirteen weeks, is clearly quite a scary one. And had The Masters of Luxor been produced, that’s possibly what we’d have had. Unlucky Anthony Coburn, who lost his spot over revisions. Instead we had to go with a script by a former Tony Hancock script writer that Sydney Newman personally disliked, as it betrayed one of his key commandments about the show. No bug eyed monsters.
Bug eyed, you say?
The script for The Mutants asked for things that looked like creatures inside a machine. Production designer Raymond Cusick went to work.
“"Before rehearsals started the cast and other members brought their children along and they were shown the Daleks and talked to the Dalek Operators, but then when rehearsals started the Operators got into the Daleks and started moving, and at that point all the children screamed and ran out of the studio!”
Ray Cusick, Television Heaven interview
You can almost hear the delight in his voice!
The results were iconic. Cusick’s Dalek design was timeless, as stirring now as it was when it first smashed onto television screens back in 1963. And to think he was second choice designer, Ridley Scott (slightly better known now) having to pull out due to a scheduling issue.
“There's a world of difference between film and TV as any cameraman will tell you, and Ridley Scott was only going to do the studio work, but when Verity Lambert, the producer, heard this she was a bit put out because of continuity. She thought it would be wiser to have the same designer, but Ridley wasn't free to do any of the one's after that."
Ray Cusick, Television Heaven interview
“According to Cusick, Terry Nation, the Doctor Who writer who created the Daleks, suggested they should make a gliding movement "like the Georgian state dancers", but there was little other visual description in the script. There was a general consensus among the production team that the cliched "man in a suit" look be avoided in favour of something more otherworldly. Cusick demonstrated the creature's style of movement by grabbing a pepperpot and sliding it across the table to the model maker Bill Roberts (whose company Shawcraft built the Daleks).”
Toby Hadoke, Guardian obit
The bumps on the lower half of the Daleks are there because my original idea was to have light behind them which would flash when the Dalek got emotional. But this idea had to be abandoned as being too expensive. We have a limited budget for these things, and the cost had to be kept down to £250. Another idea that had to be scrapped on the grounds of economy in the first Dalek story last year was to mount them on tricycles so that the men inside them could operate them smoothly, but the tricycle idea had to brought back for the current story because some of it was shot on outside locations where the Daleks had to manoeuvre up and down kerbs and other obstacles."
Ray Cusick, 1964, Yorkshire Evening Press
The issues between Terry Nation and Ray Cusick from that time, and the little recognition Cusick received for his role in the Daleks creation or royalties gathered are well documented. I don’t want to get too bogged down in a rather sad tale when it is so easily read everywhere else.
Daleks were not the man’s sole Doctor Who legacy, though. Much of the strength of Keys of Marinus is down to his wonderful production work on the story. As was the designwork of the Sensesphere in The Sensorites, as well as design work in The Romans (for which he put hours of research into to be as accurate as possible, history being one of his great joys) and The Dalek Master Plan (with Barry Newbery). He also designed Sandy the Sand Monster from the Rescue, Vicky’s rather cute looking pet which Barbara shoots down in cold blood assuming its a monster. (Yes, the show introduced a new companion by announcing both her parents were murdered, and then killing her beloved pet on screen. The 1960s were a harsher time...)
His finest Who work, Daleks aside, however, was Planet of Giants. If you haven’t seen that story, you really ought to. I admit it’s a fairly pedestrian Hartnell adventure (though really, it’s got William Hartnell in it, that’s good enough for me) about environmental issues (hang on, in 1964?). What sets it apart is the stunning design work. The concept of making the Doctor and companions appear mouse sized next to everyday objects on a Doctor Who budget would have made most designers cry in their sleep, yet Ray Cusick took the challenge head on, and the result is some of the finest Doctor Who FX we still have in the archives. The fly, the matchbox and the sink are all fine pieces of design work. The sink in particular leads to one of the most bizarrely brilliant cliffhangers in all of Doctor Who.
Doctor Who was not the only show to benefit from this humble genius. The Pallisers, The Duchess of Duke Street, and To Serve Them All My Days benefited from his hand. He was also designer on the seminal TV series Connections, hosted and written by James Burke.
“When Mr Cusick’s local museum asked for help with an exhibition celebrating the bicentenary of the world’s first rifle regiment, which mustered in Horsham in 1800, he offered minute knowledge of the sharpshooters’ uniforms, training and barracks, based on decades of his private scholarly research.”
Ray Cusick, production designer par excellence, died on the 21st February 2013, aged 84. The world of British visual arts is sadder for his passing, but so is the world of Doctor Who fandom, who owes Ray Cusick a great debt. Without him, we wouldn’t be here.
24th February – Denis Forman, 95
Former Chairman of Granada TV, responsible for bringing to the screens Coronation Street, Jewel in the Crown and World in Action.
“In 1978, while on holiday in Greece, Forman read Paul Scott’s Staying On, the Booker Prize-winner of the previous year. It struck him that it would make a good television play and he went on to read the Raj Quartet, Scott’s rambling four-volume masterpiece. He wondered whether that too might be made into television and decided to find out by unravelling Scott’s story. This he did by fixing strips of paper round the walls of his room and writing down each event in its proper time sequence. He felt certain it would be a winner.”
25th February– Dan Toler, 64
Allman Brothers guitarist.
25th February– C Everett Koop, 97
Surgeon and writer whose evangelical writings influenced Ronald Reagan. Despite many rather unpleasant sides to his nature, he was the right man at the right time, spreading AIDS (as a virus) awareness and that of second hand smoke.
“Koop turned out to be a scientist who believed in data at least as deeply as he believed in God. And he proceeded to alienate nearly every supporter he had on the religious and political right. To fight the growing epidemic of AIDS, Koop recommended a program of compulsory sex education in schools, and argued that, by the time they reached third grade, children should be taught how to use condoms. He did not consider homosexuality morally acceptable—and he never changed his view about that. But he understood that viruses have no religion or sexual orientation and that H.I.V. was a virus. He campaigned vigorously against smoking in public spaces, saying that tobacco should be eliminated from American society by 2000. He was the first public official to state categorically that second-hand smoke causes cancer. Tobacco companies—and Jesse Helms, their biggest congressional ally—could hardly believe Koop’s treachery.”
New Yorker obit
He was a man who refused to allow his own personal views get in the way of the science he championed, and would refuse to champion his own views if they were disproved by the stats he found, and for that he can be acclaimed, when too many would rather fit the facts to their view instead.
“You know, I never changed my stripes during all that time, and I still haven’t. What I did in that job was what any well-trained doctor or scientist would do: I looked at the data and then presented the facts to the American people. In science, you can’t hide from the data.”
C Everett Koop
27th February – Stephane Hessell, 95
French Resistance fighter, and left wing social protest writer.
“I'm using the time to throw out some messages”
A German by birth, he was imprisoned in Nazi camps during World War II for his activities in France. In Time for Outrage, he called for a new form of "resistance" to the injustices of the modern world. He expressed outrage at the growing gap between haves and have-nots, France's treatment of illegal immigrants and damage to the environment.The Indignados protest movement in Spain was inspired by Hessel's manifesto, according to Spanish media. The 95-year-old's name was the top trending term on Twitter in Spain and France on Wednesday morning, as admirers paid tribute with quotes such as: "To create is to resist, to resist is to create."
27th February – Van Cliburn, 78
American pianist who played in Moscow at the height of the Cold War in 1958.
28th February – Bruce Reynolds, 81
Mastermind of the Great Train Robbery.
28th February – Donald Glaser, 86
Scientist who won the Noble Price in Physics for 1960 for his invention of the bubble chamber.
28th February – Theo Bos, 47
Long time Dutch defender for Vitesse Arnhem and manager of Vitesse and Den Bosch, who died of pancreatic cancer.
1st March – Sir Alan Smith, 95
WW2 spitfire pilot who was the wingman to Douglas Bader.
“Smith joined 616 Squadron at RAF Tangmere in West Sussex in December 1940, barely a month before Bader, whose legs had been amputated after a flying accident 10 years before, arrived to command it. Bader asked the 23-year-old's name, and announced: "Right, you'll do. Fly as my No 2, and God help you if you let any Hun get on my tail." It was a job Smith proved to be spectacularly good at, being described by colleagues as "leech-like" , and "a perfect No 2 who never lost sight of his leader".The four and their fellow pilots developed the idea of the "big wing", a formation of as many as 60 aircraft with its leaders flying positioned like the four spread fingers of a hand. This way, Bader argued, the pilots could see what was happening around each other and so all were protected. The concept won the support of Air Vice Marshal (later Air Chief Marshal Sir) Trafford Leigh-Mallory, but was criticised by some including Air Vice Marshal (later Air Chief Marshal Sir) Keith Park, as too cumbersome to be fast into action.Smith took Bader's part, arguing many years later that the "big wing" was "logical and sensible," and declared of Bader and the tactic: "He didn't just save my life, he saved a hell of a lot of lives."”
Anne Keleny, Independent obit
1st March – Pat Keen, 79
Irish actress who played Mrs Hudson in Without a Clue. She also had roles as a Nurse in The Prisoner, Virginia in an episode of Fawlty Towers, and in Clockwise, among other roles. Among fans of cult TV, she is perhaps best recalled for a chilling performance in The Fly Paper, one of the best Tales of the Unexpected, and the only one of the non-Roald Dahl stories he said he regretted not having written first.
2nd March – Peter Harvey, 68
Australian journalist of renown, who worked for the BBC, Telegraph and Guardian, as well as a range of Australian TV shows. The Guardian named him Journalist of the Year once, but failed to give him any obit when he died, much like the rest of the British press.
“The newsman with the rich baritone voice was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October last year and died today with his family by his side. In timing that would have appealed to his journalistic sense, the news broke just in time for the 6pm TV bulletins. Harvey was best known for his 37-year career with the Nine Network and enjoyed cult status for his sign-off with the famous pause: ‘‘Peter Harvey ... Canberra’’.Ray Martin lamented the loss of a great character. ‘‘Journalism, like politics and life, is full of bland, colourless people,’’ he said. ‘‘He is full of colour.’’”
Sydney Morning Herald
3rd March – Luis Cubilla, 72
Uruguayan footballer who played for Barcelona, and played for Uruguay in the 1962, 1970 and 1974 World Cups, one of the select few to play in three World Cups.
5th March – Paul Bearer, 58
Pro-wrestling manager, who worked the territories in the 80s as Percy Pringle, but became known as millions world wide as the manager of The Undertaker. He was later linked with wrestling legends Mick Foley, Vader and Kane. [The part of a pro-wrestling manager is to help with the promotion of the act. Some might not be able to talk in front of big audiences, so need a chatter box to sell their stories, and some add to the presentation of the act, by getting involved in the show.] Born William Moody, Bearer was a part of a double act with Taker throughout the 90s, until a memorable double cross in the Summer of 1996. [And then a reunion, followed by another double cross, followed by attempted murder, followed by reunion, followed by doublecross, thus fulfilling pro-wrestling soap opera like qualities!] His deliberately OTT mannerisms he would use to try and make other performers corpse on live TV, and often the camera would pan away before he himself collapsed into giggles. Outside of the ring, Moody was a well loved soul, adored by his millions of fans and not a bad word said by his colleagues in over thirty years. Time had not been kind to his health, the WWE personally helped with some surgery that saved his life in 2004. He lost his wife to cancer some years later, but never lost his passion for life or his fans.
He was a performer of the highest echelon, and a premature loss – though not entirely unexpected due to his health – that hurt even in an industry seemingly numb to premature loss.
One note that might amuse folk though: William Moody, the WWF’s Paul Bearer, was a real life mortician!
5th March – Hugo Chavez, 58
Venezuelan president, mentioned in full detail here.
5th March – Nigel Forbes, 95
Scotland minister from 1958 to 59.
5th March – Robert Relyea, 82
Production President at MGM/UA from 1997 to 2001. Was the producer for Bullitt, Day of the Dolphin (a film with the best tagline ever) and one of my favourite action flicks, Last Action Hero. Relyea was also Assistant Director on The Magnificent Seven, West Side Story and The Great Escape.
7th March – Kenny Ball, 82
English jazz musician.
7th March – Peter Banks, 65
British guitarist for Yes.
11th March – Tony Gubba, 69
BBC sports commentator, known for Match of the Day.
12th March – Clive Burr, 56
Drummer for Iron Maiden.
13th March – Malachi Throne, 84
American actor who appeared in the Adam West Batman as False Face.
13th March – Wladyslaw Stachurski, 67
Former manager of Legia Warsaw.
14th March – Norman Collier, 87
15th March – Peter Worsley, 88
British anthropologist who coined the term “Third World”.
“The course of Worsley's career was decisively shaped by the interventions of MI5, on account of his communist associations. They snooped on his Swahili teaching in east Africa and spiked his plan to do fieldwork in central Africa, despite the support of the formidable Max Gluckman, professor of social anthropology at Manchester University, where Worsley had a postgraduate studentship. So Gluckman suggested he go to the new department of anthropology at the Australian National University, Canberra, where he completed his PhD thesis on Aboriginal kinship on an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.When, back home, he was yet again blocked by MI5 from doing African fieldwork, he decided that he had no choice but to move sideways from anthropology into sociology, and in 1956 he was appointed to his first teaching post, a lectureship in sociology at Hull University. The eight years he spent at Hull were perhaps the most creative – personally, politically and professionally – of Worsley's life.”
JDY Peel, Guardian obit
16th March – Frank Thornton, 92
Actor who appeared both in Are You Being Served and in Last of the Summer Wine, in a vast and lengthy career. As Captain Peacock in the former and Truly of the Yard in the latter, he produced too long lasting characters that stood the test of time both in longevity and in public affection. He also appeared in Fall of Eagles, Gosford Park and a number of Shakespeare and Dickens adaptations.
20th March – James Herbert, 69
British horror writer who sold fifty-five million books (nearly unheard of numbers for a genre writer), and was best known for The Fog and The Rats.
“Despite the commercial success of The Rats and his later novels, Herbert remained dissatisfied with his literary status, feeling that the “literary snobs” should take him more seriously. “I’ve always suffered from being labelled a horror writer — just because I didn’t go to university, just because I still talk in my natural voice, just because I’m not as articulate as Martin Amis. We like to kid ourselves that we’re in an equal society, but we’re not.”
21st March – Chinua Achebe, 82
African writer best known for the novel Things Fall Apart, about colonisation meeting an African village and the fight between conversion and the old ways. Tellingly, Achebe could see the flaws in both approaches, and by refusing to deify either, makes his message all the starker.
26th March – Don Payne, 48
American screen writer who wrote My Super Ex-Girlfriend and several episodes of the Simpsons.
28th March – Richard Griffiths, 65
Instantly recognisable Yorkshire actor who was Uncle Monty in the cult classic Withnail and I, and played Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films. He chalked up tv and film appearances in five decades, after an early (and unrecognisable) role in Village Hall. He was Dubienkin in the wonderful TV version of Whoops Apocalypse, and was also in Gandhi, Britannia Hospital and Gormenghast.
30th March – Phil Ramone, 79
Music producer who worked with Billy Joel, Andre Previn and Paul McCartney.
1st April – Dr Karen Muir, 60
South African swimmer who broke the world record in the 110 yards backstroke when she was twelve.
1st April – William H Ginsburg, 70
American lawyer who represented Monica Lewinski during those issues in the 1990s.
1st April – Moses Blah,65
Former Vice President and President of Liberia following Charles Taylor’s reign.
2nd April – Milo O’Shea, 86
Actor best known for his appearance as Duran Duran in Barbarella.
2nd April – Jane Henson, 78
The widow of Jim Henson and a puppeteer in her own right.
3rd April – Basil Copper, 89
Much novelised British horror writer. His first short story was published in 1938, and he was still writing well into the 21st Century, a career longer than some writers are even alive. His most well known and most anthologised story was Camera Obscura (about a collector with a hell of a prize collective) saw a fan in Rod Serling, and was adapted, fairly faithfully if memory serves, in Night Gallery.
“I try to maintain a fairly high quality to whatever I write, but I think that probably ‘Camera Obscura’ is my best one. Actually, I thought that Night Gallery should have filmed all of my short stories!”
Basil Copper, to Johnny Mains in 2009 (the rest of which can be read here)
“Basil Copper might be described as one of the last great gentlemen of the supernatural. Born in 1924, he took part in the D-Day landings and returned to edit a Kent newspaper. His first story, "The Spider", was published in the Fifth Pan Book of Horror Stories for £10, and took half an hour to write. After that, he fluctuated between tales of the macabre in the vein of M R James and HP Lovecraft, and 52 volumes featuring the hard-boiled Los Angeles P I Mike Faraday. Copper never went to California, but recreated its topography from old films.”
Christopher Fowler, Independent
“Seven years after the death in 1973 of the US author August Derleth, Copper took Derleth's Solar Pons detective series in hand. Derleth had begun writing about Pons in the late 20s, after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said there would be no further tales of Sherlock Holmes. Derleth's Pons, a consulting detective, was closely modelled on Holmes – he lived in London, at 7b Praed Street, not far from Paddington station; his own Watson was Dr Lyndon Parker; and Mrs Johnson was their long-suffering landlady. Unfortunately, Derleth's research left much to be desired and Copper was asked to revise and edit the entire series of 70 short stories and one novel. The task took almost 18 months, and the result was published in 1982 as The Solar Pons Omnibus. Then, Copper was invited to continue the Pontine canon himself, and he produced seven collections of novellas and the novel Solar Pons Versus the Devil's Claw (2004). Copper's Pons stories have been collected by various publishers, although the author has disowned some editions after unauthorised rewriting by inhouse editors.”
Stephen Jones, Guardian obit
4th April – Roger Ebert, 70
“This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels. Many years ago, when surrealism was new, Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali made "Un Chien Andalou," a film so shocking that Bunuel filled his pockets with stones to throw at the audience if it attacked him. Green, whose film is in the surrealist tradition, may want to consider the same tactic. The day may come when "Freddy Got Fingered" is seen as a milestone of neo-surrealism. The day may never come when it is seen as funny.”
Roger Ebert, starting his review of Freddie Got Fingered, an awful film from 2001. One of the finest savagings of godawfulness preserved by the internet.
“The other one [I respect], alas now he’s dead, is an old mate of mine: Roger Ebert...his stuff in the Chicago Sun Times, which I thought was excellent.”
One of the men who invented modern film criticism. Without Stanley Kaufmann, there might not have been a Roger Ebert, but without Roger Ebert, there wouldn’t be any of the thousands of blogs, podcasts and professional writers who have followed in his footsteps and tried to view the art of the critique as an art form in itself. Like sports writing, it is a form of the nobel art literature which, whilst there is no reason for it, tends to fall easily to what one might uncharitably call hack-work. Not so with Roger Ebert, whose opinions and insights were so far reaching, one could enjoy them even if they were the polar opposite of ones own views on the particular film in question.
“"Even when he hated a picture, as was the case with mine, there was still a joy in dissecting it's [sic] faults. However, what separated Roger Ebert from so many in the cottage industry that followed in his wake, was Roger never rooted for a film to fail."
“In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win a Pulitzer prize for criticism. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and received honorary degrees from various institutions of learning. In 2007, Forbes magazine named Ebert "the most powerful pundit in America".Why all the accolades? As a race, film critics rarely arouse affection. However, the rotund and bespectacled Ebert had a way of ingratiating himself with his readers even when they disagreed with his lucid and fair reviews. He had a popular touch without ever dumbing down. He would approach every film, whether a masterpiece of world cinema or the latest Hollywood abomination, with the same acuity.”
Ronald Bergan, Guardian obit
He had a partnership with Gene Siskel until the latters death in 1999.
“There's an interesting pattern going on. When I write a political column for the Chicago Sun-Times, when liberals disagree with me, they send in long, logical e-mails explaining all my errors. I hardly ever get well-reasoned articles from the right. People just tell me to shut up. That's the message: "Shut up. Don't write anymore about this. Who do you think you are?"
Ebert, interview with the Progressive.
(Spoiler for 1970s film warning....)
“In the much-discussed final sequence of "Being There,'' Chance casually walks onto the surface of a lake. We can see that he is really walking on the water, because he leans over curiously and sticks his umbrella down into it. When I taught the film, I had endless discussions with my students over this scene. Many insisted on explaining it: He is walking on a hidden sandbar, the water is only half an inch deep, there is a submerged pier, etc. "Not valid!'' I thundered. "The movie presents us with an image, and while you may discuss the meaning of the image it is not permitted to devise explanations for it. Since Ashby does not show a pier, there is no pier--a movie is exactly what it shows us, and nothing more,'' etc.”
Ebert on “Being There” and philosophy on film critique ie lift your reading from the art, do not force your reading onto the art.
“Movies absorb our attention more completely, I think. If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen. Since we're all locked inside ourselves, and since we're given the hand we were dealt when we were born, it's a way to empathize: to try to understand what it would be like to live in a different time, to be a member of a different group, and that's important. It makes us more broad-minded. A lot of people just go to movies that feed into their preexisting and not so noble needs and desires: They just go to action pictures, and things like that. But if you go to foreign films, if you go to documentaries, if you go to independent films, if you go to good films, you will become a better person because you will understand human nature better. Movies record human nature in a better way than any other art form, that's for sure.”
Roger Ebert, Progressive interview.
8th April – Margaret Thatcher, 87
Ah, err, yes.
British prime minister who split opinion right down the middle. Beloved by the Hayek and Freidman followers who control most modern governments even today, and despised by her enemies and those her policies harmed. There was very little middle ground, seemingly, in fact one might say there was no alternative. Let’s just leave it at that, to avoid any unpleasantries.
8th April – Annette Funicello, 70
American child actress.
8th April – Alain de Weck, 84
Immunologist who specialised in the area of preventing drug allergies.
10th April – Robert G Edwards, 87
Pioneering scientist who came up with IVF treatment.
“Working with Dr. Patrick Steptoe, Dr. Edwards essentially changed the rules for how people can come into the world. Conception was now possible outside the body — in a petri dish. The technique has resulted in the births of five million babies, many in multiple births, according to the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, an independent nonprofit group. Yet, like so many pioneers of science, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe achieved what they did in the face of a sceptical establishment and choruses of critics, some of whom found the idea of a “test tube baby” morally repugnant. Denied government support, the two men resorted to private financing. And they did their work in virtual seclusion, in a tiny, windowless laboratory at a small, out-of-the-way English hospital outside Manchester. It was there, after outwitting a crowd of reporters, that they delivered their — and the world’s — first IVF baby, Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978. Her parents, John and Lesley Brown, had tried for nine years to have a child — a period that virtually coincided with Dr. Edwards’s research.”
New York Times obit
Dr Edwards had been in poor health for a number of years, and was awarded the Nobel Price (for Medicine) in 2010.
11th April – Jonathan Winters, 87
American comic actor who had a long list of credits in American comedy films and animations over the last 50 years, as well as his own TV show. He also showed up in The Twilight Zone episode A Game of Pool, as the legendary dead pool player Jack Klugman sets out to challenge.
10th April – Gordon Jackson, c. 79
Long time member of the Strathclyde University History department. I have a copy of the copyright details on one of his books which lists his DOB as 1934, which seems a bit off by a few years, but then, it is hard to double-check the details as the newspapers all ignored him. He taught Economic History, specialised in ports and trading history, and had a deep interest in how cultural trends could be explained by ecomics and social history: ie, the fall in the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland over the 20th Century. He was a strong supporter of the Argyll area, which he lived for a number of years after his retirement. (Not keeping in the best of health, he joked it “was prime location for all the best Scottish hospitals”!) He was involved with the Inveraray History Society, and helped run the Friends of Crarae Garden charity. He wrote a Book on the British Whaling Trade (first published 1978, by A&C Black Limited).
“The author has had access to a wide variety of private, national and international records which have enabled him to trace the fortunes of individual British companies, the fluctuations of business according to supply and demand — or to political considerations — and the effect of the growth of new technology. His book will appeal to conservationists, food scientists and geographers as well as to those interested in economic, imperial and marine history. He has previously written Grimsby and the Haven Company, 1796-1846 and Hull in the Eighteenth Century.”
Publishers blurb on said book.
After this, he wrote the History and Archaeology of British Ports (published 1983) and further maritime history books.
“Despite Reformation and Civil War, Glasgow was still in 1660 more ancient than modern. The local economy was built on simple collection and distribution functions and an ecclesiastical status which was, to say the least, precarious. The Clyde was the pivot of coast trade, but the Highlands and Islands were served principally by their own fishing boats bartering produce for Glasgow goods...”
Beginning of “Glasgow in Transition c 1660- c1740”, found in Glasgow: Beginnings to 1830.
He was a contributor to many collections of historical essays too. Aberdeen before 1800 (published 2002, by which time he was the Honorary Researcher at Strathclyde) was one, as was the book he co-edited with Tom Devine, Glasgow: Beginnings to 1830, published in 1995. A well respected academic, his name would show up everywhere from conference papers to book reviews in Harvard’s Business History Review.
''We weren't looking for what happened but for the way things happened. It is the difference between history as everything that happened and history as explaining change. Glasgow is the only British port that was a major industrial city. That's because the city was built on coal and developed an iron industry and a cotton industry within the port structure. Liverpool never did. Liverpool was a port and nothing but a port, apart from small industries. There is a commonly held belief, especially on the Continent, that new cities are not built on the foundations of old cities. That is to say, the economic advantages of one period do not sustain a city in the next period. But Glasgow in the eighteenth century (a big part of what's covered in this volume) is a very peculiar place in that what had been a run-down ecclesiastical township became a great trading city. And on top of a great trading city there came an industrial city. In that regard Glasgow is not particularly similar to other cities. One of the reasons is that it was a port. It was an industrial city in the grand sense and a major port. So, yes, it reinvented itself in a way that few other cities have done.'And this, I think, makes a case for Glasgow's being unique.''
Gordon Jackson, interviewed by the Herald, 25 February 1995
The Herald, cheerily pointed out in 1995 that folk who start long volumes of academic work don’t tend to live long enough to finish them, a macabre thought only a historian’s mind could notice! Volume 2 of the Glasgow history arrived in 1997 (via the steady hands of one Hamish Fraser!). I’m not too sure on the third volume!
Gordon was a long time friend, colleague and aide of my mothers, and would happily grant us the use of his caravan by Castle Sween on the banks of that Loch. We would go up there and cycle around the caravan park, or look at the ruins, or get stuck in the cattle grid on the road into the camp.
He was a good chap, and will be sadly missed in Scottish history circles.
12th April – Michael France, 51
Screenwriter who wrote the film Cliffhanger.
13th April – Stephen Dodgson, 89
15th April – Richard LeParmentier, 66
British actor best known for his roles in Star Wars (as Admiral Motti) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (as the sympathetic police chief). He also had roles in the mini-series Lillie and the Bond film Octopussy.
16th April – George Beverly Shea, 104
Long lived singer.
17th April – Paul Ware, 42
English footballer who played for Stoke, Stockport County and Rochdale.
18th April – Anne Williams, 62
Bereaved mother in the Hillsborough tragedy whose fight for justice helped spark the campaign for the truth behind the coverup involved in the disaster.
19th April – Francois Jacob, 92
French biologist who won the 1965 Noble Prize (for Medicine) for his work on enzyme levels, and gene functions of bacteria.
“Built upon the hypothesis of the coded helical structure of genetic material, DNA, put forward by Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, Jacob's scientific work provided the first experimental confirmation of the existence and exacting role of the messenger RNA (mRNA), which carries the negative print of information from the genes to the cell's protein factories (ribosomes) for the production of specific proteins. The cells of living organisms throb with dynamic and complex functions involving many proteins, enzymes and biochemical steps, whose production sequence is critical.This implies an elegantly controlled co-operative triggering of many individual genes which create a sequence of different specific but temporary messenger RNAs that, in turn, are translated into the correct sequence of enzymes needed for a required biochemical process. Jacob set out to unravel these complexities for a single important biochemical change.
Anthony Tucker, Guardian obit
19th April – Allan Arbus, 95
Actor best known for his role in MASH as Dr Sidney Freedman.
20th April – Nosher Powell, 84
Long time actor and stuntman, who also acted as the sparring partner for many boxing greats like Ali.
21st April – Chrissy Amphlett, 53
Singer of the Divinyls, best known for their song “I Touch Myself”.
22nd April – Richie Havens, 72
23rd April – Jim Mortimer, 91
Regarded as being “to the left of Michael Foot”, General secretary of the Labour party between 1982 and 1985. He had previously been the inaugural chairman of ACAS. A loyal supporter of Michael Foot, he found himself frozen out by Kinnock.
“The appointment paid off, Mortimer and his team using their tact, experience, contacts and good offices to resolve all but the most intractable of disputes. The first major strike he settled was by 33,000 bakery workers, and his first major failure the year-long shutdown of Times Newspapers over pay and manning levels. Newmarket stable lads and Playboy bunnies were among those workers who benefited from his mediation.”
23rd April – Norman Jones, 81
Actor who stole the show three times in Doctor Who: as the monk Khrisong in The Abominable Snowmen, as Major Baker in The Silurians, and as Heironymous in Masque of Mandragora. He was also a standout in the 1980 A Tale of Two Cities as the scheming Defarge, and to stand out in a cast of that magnitude (Cushing et all) is no small feat. He had roles in Oh What a Lovely War and The Abominable Dr Phibes, and played Chief Inspector Bell in the Jon Thaw Morse adaptations.
25th April – Sean Caffrey, 73
‘Unsung character actor’ is part of the Belfast Telegraph’s obituary headline for Sean Caffrey, so let’s start by singing...
Bloody hell! He’s still terrifying in Edge of Darkness!
In the 1985 miniseries Edge of Darkness, Caffrey plays the IRA murderer of Bob Peck’s daughter. So much of that show is done with silence, and facial reactions, and it take a fine man to beat an actor of the calibre of Bob Peck when it comes to acting with the eyes alone. Caffrey’s villain terrified the beejesus out of me when I first saw it, and even now, there is an unnerving quality to his stillness, as the rain pours down on him as he silently stalks the house. It’s all in those eyes.
I never twigged, till the obituaries, that this killer was the same actor who played Lord Palmerdale in Horror of Fang Rock. Two dislikeable characters – for different reasons – but played so differently as to be unrecognisably the same actor.
His talent, in other words, was so strong it makes you wonder what happened to prevent him making a bigger breakthrough as was promised in the youth of his career. The Belfast Telegraph is so diplomatic on the subject, one suspects the personal demons, alas.
25th April – Brian Adam, 64
1st May – Stuart Wilde, 66
British philosophy writer.
1st May – Chris Kelly, 34
Rapper for the band Kriss Kross, who had an international hit with “Jump” in the 1990s.
2nd May – Allen McKay, 86
British Labour MP from 1978-1992.
2nd May – Jeff Hanneman, 49
Guitarist for the rock band Slayer.
3rd May – Cedric Brooks, 70
4th May – Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles, 99
Award winning WW2 Navy officer with a 30 plus year career in the Navy.
“He was mentioned in despatches four times and, in September 1941, awarded the George Medal for “gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty” during bomb and mine disposal work while serving at HMS Nile, the naval base at Ras el-Tin Point, Alexandria. At the end of a war during which he was recruited by Fitzroy MacLean to run arms to Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia, Morgan-Giles was awarded a DSO for “courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty” – notably during an attack on the Croatian island of Lussino.”
“As a fellow-member of the Ministry of Defence Parliamentarians' visit to Borneo and Singapore in summer 1965 he told me of his reservations about confrontation with Indonesia in Sabah and Sarawak and his deep scepticism about the American cause in Vietnam. I am told that as a nonagenarian he was disdainful of politicians who would embark on war without a clear military objective. DSO and George Medallist, Morgan-Giles knew what was involved. Unlike many of his future colleagues of senior rank he did not go to Dartmouth but entered the Navy at the age of 18 in 1932. He told me that by not having experienced the camaraderie of the Royal Naval College in his early teens he was never quite accepted as a member of the Navy's highest echelons.”
Tam Daylell, Independent.
He became Tory MP for Winchester from 1964-79.
6th May – Giulio Andreotti, 94
Seven times Italian Prime Minister.
“He was said to have met his first pope, Pius XI, as a boy when he smuggled himself into a papal audience. He provided advice—some of it unsolicited, much of it heeded—to all Pius’s successors, at least until John Paul II. So close was he to the papacy that John XXIII informed him of the most momentous decision in modern Catholicism, the calling of the Second Vatican Council, three days before the official announcement.”
“He was accused by a supergrass of sharing a "kiss of honour" with the Mafia's "boss of bosses", Toto Riina, at a secret meeting in 1987. And he was tried for allegedly ordering the murder of a journalist who had threatened to publish details of his alleged Mafia involvement. His acquittal was subsequently overturned by an appeals court, which sentenced him to 24 years in prison - before that ruling, too, was overturned. However, in 2004, Italy's top appeals court did uphold a verdict that he had "consciously and deliberately cultivated a stable relationship" with Mafia bosses. But he was not formally convicted because the offence had lapsed under Italy's statute of limitations.”
“In the early 1960s he was a pillar of the party's right, whose main objective was to prevent the formation of a coalition government with the Socialist party – the centro-sinistra (centre-left). At the last minute, the swift-footed Andreotti switched his support and rallied round Moro and Fanfani, the architects of the new coalition whose aim was to reform the country while isolating the communists. Andreotti had thrown his weight behind the new centre-left coalition in 1963 only after ascertaining that it was acceptable to those whose assent he regarded as crucial: the US and the Vatican. He knew them well. As minister of defence, Andreotti was the politician closest to the Americans. As a personal friend of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who was about to become pope as Paul VI, he was intimately acquainted with Vatican thinking. Andreotti backed novelties only after he had secured the maximum consensus. For some, politics is the art of bold decisions, striving forward, changing the landscape and making a difference. But for Andreotti, politics was about caution and prudence. It was the art of managing human affairs in an imperfect world. People were fallible and corrupt, flawed and sinful, and one had to accept them as they were. They might be changed by divine intervention, but not by human intercession.”
Donald Sassoon, Guardian obit
7th May – Aubrey Woods, 85
Instantly recognisable British character actor who went via a RADA scholarship into a 50 year career on film, tv and stage. By the time of his appearances in many of the acclaimed 70s cult films and TV shows – Doctor Who, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Abominable Dr Phibes – Woods already had a 30 year career under his belt.
“. While he was still a student, Calvalcanti cast him as a nervy Smike in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1946). From Rada he repped in Leatherhead, Worthing and Richmond while courting Gaynor, whom he married in 1952 and remained with all his life. While there was always something pleasantly old-fashioned about Woods, his London debut was at the sharp end of theatrical innovation, in Peter Brook's production of Sartre's existential Men Without Shadows at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1947. The study of Gestapo torture was early evidence of Brook's fascination with theatrical violence but aroused fury from some critics, including Harold Hobson, who said it achieved "as much aesthetic effect as a street accident". Hobson was delighted, however, by Woods's scene-stealing turn as a messenger to Ralph Richardson's Macbeth in Gielgud's production in 1952, by which time he was well established with the RSC and the same year had been Le Beau in As You Like It and Peregrine in Volpone.”
Simon Farquhar, Independent obit
In the Doctor Who story Day of the Daleks, Woods shows up as a Vidkun Quisling type in an alternative future Earth (even into the 1970s, the Daleks as Nazis analogies were still part of the show). Not content to simply play the card carrying villain, Woods fills the role – which has limited screen time – with as much pathos as one can fit into a delivery. And he has a wonderful ‘redemption equals death’ final last line, allowing the Doctor to escape and facing his imminent execution with the words: “Who knows? Perhaps I have helped exterminate you!” To be the most memorable thing on screen when you are sharing screen time with the Daleks and Jon Pertwee is no small feat, but then this was an actor of the finest calibre.
“For three years in the 1960s Woods was a memorable Fagin in the musical Oliver!, having taken over the part from Ron Moody . For BBC radio, Woods wrote and appeared in numerous plays. A vice-president of the EF Benson Society, he adapted Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels for the Corporation, narrating a radio version of Queen Lucia which was released as an audio tape.”
“In Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory, the 1971 movie version of the Roald Dahl story starring Gene Wilder, he was the candyman who hands out the scrumdidilyumptious sweets to the children – all but Charlie who has his face pressed up against the window. "Who can take a sunrise," he sang, "sprinkle it with dew, cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two? The candy man can."
Scottish herald obit
Woods would later show up in the 1982 adaptation of Witness for the Prosecution.
“His last command performance – of The Candy Man – was given informally, and quite often, for the nurses in the hospital in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, where he was a much-loved patient.”
Michael Coveney, Guardian obit
7th May – Ray Harryhausen, 92
The creator of cinematic magic.
““We’re joined at the hip and we’re joined at the brow and joined in our imagination. I’m so glad that all these years have been filled with friendship and love with my dear Ray.”
Ray Bradbury (in 1990)
A thirteen year old child watches the latest SFX, becomes enthralled, goes into that field. We could speak the story today. Only this was 1933, the film was King Kong, and the child was Ray Harryhausen. He would go on in his 20s to be taken under the wing of Willis O’Brien, the animator of King Kong, and the pre-eminent in his field.
“"King Kong" haunted me for years, I came out of the theatre in another world. I'd never see anything like that before in my life. I didn't know how it was done and that was half the charm. I didn't just say "Eureka, I've found what I want to do", that came over a period of time. But I'd done a few dioramas in clay of the La Brea tar pits and I saw in "King Kong" how you could make them move. Luckily a friend of my father's worked at RKO and he knew all about stop-motion, so I started experimenting in my garage.”
“Though his on-screen credit was often simply “technical effects” or “special visual effects,” Mr. Harryhausen usually played a principal creative role in the films featuring his work. He frequently proposed the initial concept, scouted the locations and shaped the story, script, art direction and design around his ideas for fresh ways to amaze an audience. Mr. Harryhausen made use of many different photographic effects and often combined several in the same film. But he was best known for stop-motion animation, a painstaking process using three-dimensional miniature models that are photographed one frame at a time, with tiny, progressive adjustments made by hand to the models between frames to produce the illusion of movement.”
Patrick J Lyons, New York Times obit
Stop motion has been around nearly as long as cinema itself, Melies was playing with it as early as 1902, and J. Stuart Blackton was pioneering it while Queen Victoria was still alive. It has moved onto modern day Star Wars, Wallace and Gromit, etc.
The trick was that Harryhausen’s model work didn’t look like models. Even in King Kong, there is the element of what my grandfather George called “knowing there’s a model or a man in a suit there, but getting on with it.” Harryhausen’s skeletons move! The effort and precision that went into the creation of each character, and the craft with which they were created, gave a lifelikeness to the films not seen before. And – for the most – they were done without the aid of Vlahos’s green screen.
“I got tired of being in a dark room while the rest of the crew went off making another two or three films while I was still on one! But I don't regret it. People ask me if I would have used computer graphics today. I may have, I don't know. There's a lot of technology now that allows you to view instantly the film you've just shot. But I never cared what I had done, I only cared where I was going.”
“My early exposure to all the leviathans of the Saturday matinee creature features inspired me, when I grew up, to make Jurassic Park. And the artist magician who breathed life into clay figures and wire armatures and made us, as kids, happily fear for our lives, was the dean of special effects, Ray Harryhausen. All those so called “B movies” were the A movies of my childhood. He inspired generations.”
Steven Spielberg, to TIME magazine
“I think of Ray more as a magician than a man of immense imagination and a brilliant technician. There we were, we thespians, acting our socks off in the ordinary world while he was holed up in his studio of magic, weaving his spells, hoping that we were all doing him justice.”
8th May – Ernie Winchester, 68
Footballer who played for Hearts and Aberdeen, among other clubs.
“ERNIE Winchester was one of those footballers for whom the term cult hero was invented. A big tough centre-forward he scored some spectacular goals in the 1960s and 70s, but also had fans shaking their heads at some equally spectacular misses. He will always be remembered, however, for his wholehearted commitment, and that is why his death some 40 years after his retirement from football has saddened so many.”
Martin Hannan, Scotsman obit
8th May – Bryan Forbes, 86
Director behind the Stepford Wives and Whistle down the Wind, who was also responsible for great 60s black comic film, The Wrong Box.
11th May – Arnold Peters, 87
Actor who played Jack Wooley in the Archers.
11th May – Joe Farman, 82
Scientist who uncovered the hole in the Ozone layer at the Antarctic.
13th May – Joyce Brothers, 85
American TV personality and agony aunt.
16th May – Paul Shane, 72
Actor best known for his role in Hi-De-Hi.
16th May – Countess of Arran, 97
“Although an unlikely champion powerboater, in October 1971, at the age of 53, Lady Arran followed in the wake of her hero Donald Campbell, racing her speedboat Highland Fling across Windermere in a hailstorm to lift the Class 1 record to 85.63mph. In her next 12 races, contending against all comers, she won three times and was never placed lower than third. In 1979, at the helm of her 26ft powerboat Skean-Dhu, she set a new Class II world record of 93mph.”
20th May – Ray Manzarek, 74
Members of the Doors. His keyboard sections provided some of the more memorable bits of the Doors back catalogue.
21st May – Trevor Bolder, 62
Member of David Bowie’s backing band, The Spiders from mars.
21st May – Eddie Braben, 82
Comic scriptwriter whose work with Morecambe and Wise led to many of the best loved British comic sketches.
“Eddie wrote for Morecambe and Wise from the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies. What came from his imaginings whilst huddled over a typewriter, with a pen between his mouth as he tapped anxiously away in his office at home in remote Wales, will have made you laugh. You probably know some of his lines. And that is what kept him going. Knowing he was making us laugh. And he did need a reason to keep going. He confided in me that he wanted to give up every day. Every day it was all too much. He would sit at his desk with the weight of the nation on his shoulders. As Eric Morecambe said: “He has the difficult job… he sits in front of a blank sheet of paper… we couldn’t do that.”
Miranda Hart, Telegraph
22nd May – Richard Thorp, 81
Actor who played Alan Turner in Emmerdale.
22nd May – Mick McManus, 93
British wrestler. See obit here.
22nd May – Brian Greenhoff, 60
Former England international footballer who played for Manchester United.
23rd May – Hazel Hawke, 83
Wife of former Australian PM, Bob Hawke.
24th May – Ed Shaughnessy, 84
Drummer from the Tonight Show.
25th May – Jimmy Wray, 75
Glasgow Labour MP who was outspoken on many controversial issues.
26th May – Jack Vance, 96
Highly regarded SF author.
“His output was vast: he published more than 60 books, some under pseudonyms, among them 11 mystery novels, three of them as Ellery Queen. In addition, he wrote some of the first, and perhaps best, examples of "planetary adventures". He, along with Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early years of the 20th century, and his contemporaries Leigh Brackett, Philip José Farmer and Edmond Hamilton, helped to create the idiom, and his novel Big Planet (which first appeared in a magazine in 1952, and was subsequently revised and expanded) is probably his best of this kind. Vance's lasting impact may lie in the influence he had on other writers. Many have spoken of the way in which his imagery freed their own imaginations, while others may be argued as having come under Vance's thrall. These include writers as diverse as Ursula K Le Guin, Jack L Chalker, Michael Moorcock, George RR Martin and Gene Wolfe. The critic John Clute has even suggested that JG Ballard's "peneplainal venues" might be traced back to Vance.”
Christopher Priest, Guardian obit
26th May – Hector Garza, 43
Mexican wrestler who had short stints in WCW (where he had a famous shock win over Scott Hall) and WWF, but who was best known for stints in his homeland and in TNA for their World X Cup. Died after a battle with lung cancer.
27th May – Bill Pertwee, 86
Member of the legendary Pertwee acting family, who became famous for his role as the ARP Warden Hodges (Mainwaring’s main antagonist) in Dad’s Army. He also had a role in You Rang, M’Lord.
“Throughout the Seventies, Pertwee became a staple of British comedy culture, appearing in Love Thy Neighbour, The Dick Emery Show, Man About the House, and three Carry On films in as many years.He also wrote three books, including an autobiography entitled A Funny Way to Make a Living, and in 2007 was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to charity. But it is as the argumentative air raid warden Hodges, that the comedy actor will be most fondly remembered. Pertwee appeared in sixty episodes of the BBC’s Dad’s Army from 1968 to 1977, regularly coming to blows with Captain Mainwaring and barking: “Put that light out!” His son, Jonathan, led the tributes: “He would give everything a go. He was very dedicated to the people around him and to his charity work. But also he was very humble about the whole thing. “He’d say ‘marvellous, isn’t it, to be in this business, because I’m not really a proper actor’, but he was extraordinarily versatile.”
Oliver Duggan, Independent obit
29th May – Andrew Greeley, 85
“Why should I practice contraception on my ideas?”
American Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and popular novelist. He published sixty-six books in just over two decades, including Cardinal Sins, which sold around 3 million copies in America. His works were often of a rather more erotic nature than one might expect for a man of the cloth. Survived a nasty accident in 2008 when his clothes caught on a cab door, leaving him with a fractured skull.
“Asked to explain his prolific output, Greeley said: "I suppose I have an Irish weakness for words gone wild. Besides, if you're celibate, you have to do something." His 12-novel series about Nuala Anne McGraill, an Irish detective with sixth sense, began with Irish Gold (1994) and always had Irish in the title. Greeley's fictional concerns stayed close to his own life, which was centred on the church, Irishness and Chicago.”
Michael Carlson, Guardian obit
29th May – Nino Baragli, 88
Film editor for some 200 features and films, including: Once Upon a Time in America, Caligula, Once upon a Time in the West, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
30th May – Vina Mazumdar, 86
Indian feminist activist.
“In the introduction to her memoirs published by Zubaan in 2010, she described herself as a “women’s activist”, a “feminist,”, a “trouble-maker”, but the one she liked best was that described herself as a “recorder and chronicler of the Indian Women’s Movement” and a “grand-mother of women’s studies in South Asia.” Her association with women’s studies and the women’s movement were well known. What was less known was that she lived through the last phases of the Indian Independence movement and participated in various mass protests. In that sense, she was among the last of that generation of women who personally witnessed the transition to free India. One such incident was that she personally witnessed the transfer of power, watching the Union Jack being brought down on the midnight of 14th August in Delhi and listening to Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” speech. Even as she was inspired by the transition to freedom, she was greatly disturbed by the Great Calcutta killings, which she escaped because she was in Delhi at the time. She saw herself as a link between the unfulfilled ideals of the freedom struggle and the women’s movement that emerged in the seventies.”
The Hindu obit
30th May – Jayalath Jayawardena, 59
Sri Lankan human rights campaigner.
31st May – Jean Stapleton, 90
2nd June – John Gilbert, 86
Labour MP who served in government under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, at Transport and Defence.
5th June – Helen McElhone, 80
Glasgow MP who served Queens Park from 1982-83 after her husband, who previously held the seat, died. The Labour party office for the constituency was based in the Gorbals Linen Bank, which still stands.
6th June – Maxine Stuart, 94
Actress immortalised for her lead role in one of the best Twilight Zone episodes, Eye of the Beholder.
6th June – Tom Sharpe, 85
Novelist of Porterhouse Blue.
6th June – Jerome Karle, 94
1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner.
7th June – David Lyon, 72
Actor who was best known as the Prime Minster Collingridge, whom Francis Urquhart successfully plots to depose in House of Cards.
8th June – Angus MacKay, 86
Well loved actor who showed up in everything from The Wednesday Play to Budgie. Memorably in The Way up to Heaven (Tales of the Unexpected). Made two appearances in Doctor Who, the latter as a Headmaster in Mawdryn Undead. But it as the original incarnation of Borusa, the Doctor’s dry witted, ever political minded mentor, that he is better recalled.
9th June – Iain Banks, 59
“What Iain brought to his writing was himself. He brought a wonderful combination of the dark and the light side of life, and he explored them both without flinching.”
Ken McLeod, to the BBC
One of Britain’s finest novelists of the last thirty years, able to traverse the line between genres and become respected in multiple fields. The Wasp Factory is visceral, funny, and somehow gets us to root for the least sympathetic of characters. The Crow Road, a wonderful outlook on life, love, religion and death, with the finest opening in modern literature: “'It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'
“His work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent. In person, he was funny and cheerful and always easy to talk to. He became a convention bar friend, because we saw each other at conventions, and we would settle down in the bar and catch up.”
“His first published novel, The Wasp Factory, appeared in 1984, when he was 30 years old, though it had been rejected by six publishers before being accepted by Macmillan. It was an immediate succès de scandale. The narrator is the 16-year-old Frank Cauldhame, who lives with his taciturn father in an isolated house on the north-east coast of Scotland. Frank lives in a world of private rituals, some of which involve torturing animals, and has committed several murders. The explanation of his isolation and his obsessiveness is shockingly revealed in one of the culminating plot twists for which Banks was to become renowned.”
John Mullan, Guardian obit
For a man to operate for so long in the literature circles, and for no bad words to be said about him, even in death, shows the nature of the man. Such a person is a rare beast, that such a person could be seen by so many of his contemporaries as the ‘first among equals’ more so. Banks was a writer, and a man, who treated every person as best he could, from colleagues to acquaintances.
A strong politic mind, Banks publicly supported Scottish independence and other causes.
“I wont miss waiting for the next financial disaster because we still haven't dealt with the underlying causes of the last one. Nor will I be disappointed not to experience the results of the proto-fascism that's rearing its grisly head right now. It's the utter idiocy, the sheer wrong-headedness of the response that beggars belief. I mean, your society's broken, so who should we blame? Should we blame the rich powerful people who caused it? No, let's blame the people with no power and no money and these immigrants who don't even have the vote, yeah, it must be their fucking fault."
Iain Banks, in his last Guardian interview with Stuart Kelly
Banks last novel, The Quarry, came out this year.
“Almost absurdly neatly, it’s a book about a terminal cancer victim saying goodbye to people he knew, a wake whilst the dead man’s still with us...And yet Banks was almost disappointed that this was the note he was to end his career on (though notes for a further Culture novel were apparently made). Typically he’d rather have gone out with a grand flourish, something as wild and mad as Transition, rather than the literary fiction he’d used to infiltrate the world of books. Sometimes writers can be wrong though, given his final skiffy novel, The Hydrogen Sonata, was about subliming (the equivalent of death in the Culture) and The Quarry is very much about mortality it’s difficult not to wonder if his subconscious was trying to tell him something. But that’s writing history in retrospect, bending the facts to fit a convenient narrative, assuming characters speak for an author and making a neat story of it as humans are wont to do. Banks didn’t receive his diagnosis until the book was virtually finished. Even if with Banks you can often assume some characters are being given leave by the author to air his frustrations with the world it’s just as likely these are the sort of mortal thoughts that get more prevalent as you get older and – with or without a medically diagnosed deadline – become more and more aware of how short and fragile life is. But if that diagnosis did colour the book – and I’m not saying it did – the final sentiment is an apt and truthful one to go out on.”
Jon Arnold, Winterwind “Quarry” review
In tribute to his death, an asteroid was named after him.
11th June – Sir Henry Cecil, 70
Horse racing magnate.
11th June – Robert Fogel, 86
Co-winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize (Economics), and an expert in the economics of slavery in the US.
“Fogel used quantitative methods to explain economic and institutional change. His work often challenged conventional wisdom and was, at the time, controversial. His research showed that the economic impact of railroads in the 19th century was far less than generally assumed.”
Ethan Grove, University of Chicago obit
12th June – Jiroemon Kimura, 116
Oldest man who ever lived.
13th June – Mohammed Al-Khilaiwi, 41
Saudi Arabian footballer who participated at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
14th June – Al Green, 57
Former WCW wrestler.
15th June – Kenneth G Wilson, 77
Winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize (Physics).
“Phase transitions can be characterized by an abrupt change in the value of some physical property or by a smoother transition from one phase to another. However, many previous theories – most notably Lev Landau's 1937 general theory of phase transitions – failed to predict the behaviour close to the transition, known as the critical point. That problem was finally solved by Wilson in 1971. He realized that one has to deal with fluctuations over widely different length scales – taking into account short- and long-range fluctuations. Such transitions are then almost totally determined by the collective effects of every other object in the system. Modelling this behaviour near the critical point would require vast computing power but Wilson developed a method to divide the problem into a sequence of simpler ones based on renormalization group theory, which had been previously developed in the 1950s. Wilson's theory for critical phenomena gave a complete theoretical description of the behaviour close to the critical point proving that many seemingly unrelated systems – liquids or mixtures of liquids and ferromagnets – show identical behaviour.”
Michael Banks, Physics World obit
15th June – Heinz Flohe, 65
German footballer who was a near everpresent in the team which won the 1974 World Cup, and that got to the 1976 European Championship finals and played in the 1978 World Cup.
16th June – Ottmar Walter, 89
The younger of the two Walter brothers who won West Germany’s first World Cup in 1954. Ottmar scored four goals in that tournament, and later survived several injuries and overcame mental demons to live on into old age.
19th June – Slim Whitman, 90
US country singer, whose tunes became known to a young audience after their use in the film Mars Attacks.
19th June – James Gandolfini, 51
Actor forever known for his lead role in hit TV series, The Sopranos.
19th June – Vince Flynn, 47
American political thriller novelist.
20th June – John David Wilson, 93
British cartoonist who owned the Fine Arts production company, and helped create Lady and the Tramp.
21st June – Diane Clare, 74
Actress with roles in many of the finer films of the 50s and 60s: Ice Cold in Alex, The Wrong Box, Whistle down the Wind, etc.
22nd June – Lord Peter Fraser, 68
Scottish advocate known for his investigations and reports into the Lockerbie Bombing and the financing of the Scottish Parliament building.
23rd June – Richard Matheson, 87
“I think we’re yearning for something beyond the every day. And I will tell you that I don’t believe in the “supernatural,” I believe in the “supernormal.” To me there is nothing that goes against nature. If it seems incomprehensible, it’s because we haven’t been able to understand it yet.”
“You don’t read a Matheson story — you experience it.”
American FSF writer who wrote I Am Legend, and also worked on The Twilight Zone. Of his Twilight Zone stories, which tended to focus on the more SF heavy elements of the show, his most famous are Little Girl Lost (the one with the child who falls into another dimension in her bedroom), The Invaders (the old woman fighting off alien invaders in her house), and, of course, Nightmare at 20000 feet. His short story Duel, he later adapted into a screenplay for Steven Speilberg’s debut film.
“"Richard Matheson's ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break when he wrote the short story and screenplay for Duel. His Twilight Zones were among my favourites, and he recently worked with us on Real Steel. For me, he is in the same category as [Ray] Bradbury and [Isaac] Asimov."
Steven Speilberg, Independent
He also wrote the Hammer Horror Classic, The Devil Rides Out.
“Well, nobody is going to imitate Macbeth today. Nobody’s going to look for a king and kill him. You’re right though, it’s been all throughout history. As I said, terror and horror are venerable genres that have existed from way back when, and I’m certainly not going to say that “oh no, they shouldn’t exist!” You can hardly do that. But I never liked horror. As for the horror films today, they are so gross. They are hideously gross!”
Richard Matheson, in interview with William P Simmons for Cemetery Dance
(Note - Matheson recorded a 6 hour interview some years ago for the American Institute, which is available in its entirety on YouTube, and highly recommended)
24th June – Mick Ashton, 66
Archaeologist who worked on Time Team.
24th June – Jackie Fargo, 82
American pro-wrestler who helped train Jerry Lawler.
27th June – Stefano Borgonovo, 49
AC Milan star who had suffered from Motor Neurone Disease.
28th June – Matt Borne, 55
American pro-wrestler who wrestled at the first WrestleMania, and became later known in the 90s as Doink the Clown.
29th June – Jim Kelly, 67
Martial artist who starred in Enter the Dragon
1st July – Charles Foley, 82
Co-inventor of the game Twister.
2nd July – Douglas Engelbart, 88
Computing inventor who created (independently of work in Britain at the same time) the first computer mouse. He was also a key figure in the creation of hypertext and computer word processing.
3rd July – Iain McColl, 59
Scottish actor best known for his role in Rab C Nesbitt.
4th July – Bernie Nolan, 52
6th July – Kay Matheson, 84
One of the students who helped steal the Stone of Scone.
7th July – Anna Wing, 98
Actress who starred as Lou Beale in Eastenders, and had a role in the Doctor Who story Kinda, among many roles in a career lasting several decades.
8th July – Norman Atkinson, 90
Labour MP for Tottenham from 1964-87.
9th July – Masao Yoshida, 58
Nuclear chief of the Fukishima plant, whose efforts after the 2011 Japanese tsunami helped to limit the effects of the crippled nuclear plant, at the cost of his own health.
9th July – Toshi Seeger, 91
Wife of Pete Seeger.
9th July – Kirsty Milne, 49
12th July – Alan Whicker, 87
British BBC journalist who travelled the world for Panorama and Whickers World, giving equal time to the eccentrics as much as to the unreported dangerous men of the world. For the latter, he was the first British journalist to speak to, and expose the crimes of, Haitain dictator Duvalier.
12th July – Pran, 93
12th July – Elaine Morgan, 92
12th July – Ray Butt, 78
Producer of Only Fools and Horses
12th July – Paul Bhattacharjee, 53
13th July – Cory Monteith, 31
16th July – Jack Gillespie, 87
Former Vice-President of Rangers, who warned about the financial issues at the club.
16th July – T Model Ford, 93
American blues musician.
17th July – Davie White, 80
Former manager of Dundee and Rangers.
19th July – Bert Trautmann, 89
German goalkeeper who had moved to Manchester City shortly after the Second World War, and whose gentlemanly conduct and high quality of play helped to ease bad feeling about Germans in Britain after the war. Played through an FA Cup final with a broken neck.
““My education only began the day I arrived in England,” Trautmann recalled. “People were so kind and decent, they didn’t see an enemy prisoner, they saw a human being. The British made me what I am ... When I visit Germany, they say to me: 'Be honest, you’re English through and through’. And I’m mighty proud so to consider myself. I come back four or five times a year and always think 'Great, I’m home.’” In 2000 the Football League voted Trautmann one of its 100 Players of the Century, and in 2004 he was appointed OBE for his work encouraging Anglo-German relations. Days later he was presented to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Berlin Sinfonia, where 66 years earlier he had been honoured by Hitler’s sports minister for coming second in athletics in the whole of the Reich.”
19th July – Mel Smith, 60
Comic actor, writer, producer, director, composer... One half of Smith and (Griff Rhys) Jones, both as a duo and as the team behind Not the Nine O’Clock News. As well as roles in films like The Princess Bride, Smith helped found Talkback with Jones, the comedy production unit which produced classics such as The Day Today, Alan Partridge, QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Helped give folk such as Graham Linehan (co-creator of Father Ted) their break in TV, as well as countless others. Combined appearances in Kenny Everett with appearances in Shakespeare. Directed the Mr Bean film, and High Heels and Low Lives.
20th July – Helen Thomas, 92
Long time US White House political correspondent.
20th July – David Spenser, 79
Actor who appeared in the Doctor Who story The Abominable Snowman but was best known for his role as Just William on radio in the 1940s.
22nd July – Lawrie Reilly, 84
Scottish footballer who was part of the Famous Five of Hibs which won two league titles in the 1950s. Scored 185 league goals for Hibernian, and twenty-two for Scotland. Missed out on the 1954 World Cup through illness.
22nd July – Dennis Farina, 69
American actor who played Joe Fontana in Law and Order. Also had a memorable role as a crooked jeweller, Cousin Avi, in Snatch.
23rd July – Djalma Santos, 84
Brazil footballer, and as a right back, one of the few men to play in four World Cups, winning two of them.
23rd July – Rona Anderson, 86
Scottish stage and film actress, and the widow of Gordon Jackson (the actor).
25th July – Hugh Huxley, 89
Biologist who specialised in how muscles work.
26th July – JJ Cale, 74
27th July – Pete Tunstall, 94
“Tunstall was captured in August 1940, and when a German officer reminded him that his war was over, he responded: “It damn well is not.” He later observed: “As far as I was concerned, a different type of war had started. My first duty was to escape, my second was to be as big a bloody nuisance as possible to the enemy.” Tunstall was so successful in his aim to create trouble that, in March 1942, the Germans transferred him to Colditz, where he was to spend the next three years refining his skills in the art of “goon baiting”.”
28th July – Eileen Brennan, 80
Actress who had roles in The Sting, Private Benjamin and Jeepers Creepers. Had cult recognition for her roles as Mrs Peacock in Clue, and Tess Skeffington in Murder by Death.
29th July – Christian Benitez, 27
Ecuadorian footballer who had played in the English Premier League.
30th July – Berthold Beitz, 99
German who became head of Krupps in the 1950s and steered them from a dubious war record into an international industrial conglomerate.
“Mr. Beitz’s reputation for integrity, earned during the war, gained him the confidence of leaders beyond Germany’s industrial backbone in the Ruhr River Valley and placed him in a position after the war to renew business and restore diplomatic ties to countries in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer sent him on an exploratory mission to Poland in the 1960s, paving the way for Willy Brandt’s normalization of relations with East Germany and its allies a decade later. “With the death of Berthold Beitz, Germany has lost one of its most eminent and successful corporate personalities, who helped to shape the country in important ways,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said.”
Melissa Eddy, New York Times obit
That integrity stemmed from being one of the Righteous Among the Nations during Hitler’s regime. Working for the oil industry during WW2, Beitz was able to declare people as “essential war workers” (akin to the protected industries in the UK, coal and the like). He used this ability to go into the concentration camps and declare people his workers, even forging work permits proving ‘suitable ancestry’ to get Jewish people out of the camps.
“World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder called Beitz "one of the great Germans of the past century," for his actions during the holocaust which included demanding Jews be released because they were essential employees, secretly providing Jews with food, and issuing them fake work permits. He was awarded the honorary title of "Righteous among the Nations" in 1973. "For many Jews he was a beacon of hope in a sea of despair," Lauder said. "He was a hero of the Holocaust at a time when it was a crime to be a humane person. He will never be forgotten for his tremendous acts of kindness."
Ofer Aderet, Haaretz obit
He continued to do this even after undergoing a personal investigation from the Gestapo.
“A practitioner of sailing, shooting and rowing, Mr Beitz enjoyed a long association with the IOC and Olympic Movement. He was an IOC Member for 16 years (1972-1988), after which he became an Honorary Member. An IOC Vice-President and Executive Board Member from 1984-1988, he was also member of the following Commissions: Finance, New Sources of Financing, Olympic Movement, Preparation of the XII Olympic Congress, and Council of the Olympic Order. He was also an Honorary Chairman of the Olympic Museum Foundation from 1989.Mr Beitz was a Member of the Board of the West German NOC (1972-1988), a Member of the Board of Directors of the Organising Committee for the XX Olympiad in Munich in 1972, and President of the Administrative Council of the Olympic sailing events in Kiel, Germany (1966-1972).The IOC expresses its deepest sympathies to Berthold Beitz’s family.”
IOC official statement
“Asked later about his motivation, he said, "There was no anti-Fascism, no resistance. We watched from morning to evening, as close as you can get, what was happening to the Jews ... When you see a woman with her child in her arms being shot, and you yourself have a child, then your response is bound to be completely different."”
31st July – Michael Donnet, 96
Belgian pilot who served in the RAF during WW2.
1st August – John Amis, 91
Classical music journalist and performer.
1st August – Colin McAdam, 61
Former Partick Thistle and Rangers football player.
3rd August – Dutch Savage, 78
American pro-wrestler who toured the territory system in the 1960s and 70s.
3rd August – John Coombs, 91
Former F1 driver.
4th August – Sir Sandy Woodward, 81
Commander of the British forces in the Falklands War.
4th August – Dominick Harrod, 72
Former BBC economics correspondant
4th August – Art Donovan, 89
American football legend, who became a bit of a cult figure in wrestling circles for his performance as guest commentator during the 1994 King of the Ring, in which his knowledge proved limited but his enthusiasm shown through. (As did the question “How much does this guy weigh?” asked 700 times.)
[And hey, that performance raises more fondly remembered smiles than many politicians managed in their entire lives, and I hear his American football career was HOF worthy, so RIP Art Donovan, and thanks!]
5th August – George Duke, 67
American jazz musician
7th August – Elisabeth Maxwell, 92
Widow of Robert Maxwell.
8th August – James Sterling Young
8th August – Karen Black, 74
American actress who appeared in Easy Rider.
12th August – David McLetchie, 61
Former leader of the Scottish Tories.
12th August – Prince Frisco, 44
Member of the Dutch Royal Family, who died over a year after a skiing accident from which he never recovered.
12th August – Robert Trotter, 83
Scottish stage actor who appeared in Take the High Road, and was Drama Lecturer at Glasgow University during the 1960s. He also appeared as Dr Nelson in the St Anthonys Fire episode of The Omega Factor.
13th August – Jean Vincent, 82
French Footballer. He played in the 1954 and 1958 World Cups for France, in the fine team of Just Fontaine and company, playing club football for Lille and Stade de Reims. He played in the 1959 European Cup final, though even the combined efforts of Vincent, Fontaine and Roger Piantoni couldn’t prevent Real Madrid’s 4th European Cup win of the 1950s. After retiring from playing, Vincent managed a number of football clubs, and took FC Nantes – then one of the biggest clubs in France – to two league titles in 1977 and 1980.
In 1982, Jean Vincent managed Cameroon to their debut appearance in the World Cup. African national teams had only just started to become a permanent fixture at the World Cup in the 1970s, and the long shadow of Zaire (who went to the 1974 Cup and were duly thumped by all, even Scotland) held long over the rest. As it was, Cameroon weren’t expected to grace the 1982 tournament long. They were in a group with permanent title threats Italy (who indeed, won that years Cup), Poland (one of the strongest sides in Europe at the time) and Peru (who had qualified for the latter stages at the previous tournament). And...it was true they didn’t grace the tournament long, but they went out undefeated! Goalless draws with Peru and Poland were followed up by a 1-1 draw with Italy, and Cameroon went out on goals scored. Vincent’s team had shown that African football was a lot stronger than the armchair pundits thought (together with Algeria’s strong showing at the same Cup, one must add), and subsequent performances from Morocco and Cameroon again in the next two World Cups added to that.
13th August – Sir Michael Stoker, 95
“After moving from Cambridge to Glasgow to take up the first Chair of Virology in Britain, Stoker began with his colleague Ian Macpherson to look at the polyoma virus, which causes cancerous tumours in rodents, isolating a line of rodent kidney cells, known as BHK21, which could be transformed by polyoma into cells which behave like cancer cells. Not only was this the first cell line to be isolated that enabled the study of the operation of a cancer virus and the behaviour of cancer cells, BHK21 cells went on to prove useful in other areas, including the development of a vaccine for foot and mouth disease. Stoker discovered that, while normal cells cease to grow in high-density cultures, cancer cells continue to multiply and can grow even when they are not attached to a solid support, which normal cells require for growth. He went on to discover that normal cells can suppress the growth of neighbouring cancer cells — a process which is yet to be completely understood by scientists but which represents a mechanism that could potentially be used to halt the initial growth of tumours.”
14th August – Allen Lanier, 67
Original member of the Blue Oyster Cult.
14th August – Mark Sutton, 42
British stuntman who performed in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
15th August – Beatrice Kozera, 92
Jack Kerouac’s inspiration for a character in On the Road.
18th August – Christopher Barton, 85
British rower who competed in the 1948 Olympics.
19th August – Johnny Howard (aka Rasputin the Mad Monk), 70
World of Sport wrestler.
20th August – Elmore Leonard, 87
American writer whose works became well regarded films: Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Jackie Brown.
20th August – Ted Post, 95
American TV director who, among hundreds of credits, directed four Twilight Zone episodes.
21st August – Sid Bernstein, 95
American music producer who fought to get the Beatles known in America, back when they were unknowns.
21st August – C Gordon Fullerton, 76
NASA astronaut who was one of the support crew for four Apollo missions, and was later pilot of the space shuttle test flight in 1982.
23rd August – Gilbert Taylor, 99
Legendary British cinematographer. Known for his stylish camera work, he was responsible for the shots on the following films: Seven Days to Noon, The Dam Busters, Ice Cold in Alex, A Hard Days Night, Dr Strangelove, The Omen, Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Frenzy and many more. A hell of a legacy.
23rd August – David Watkins, 87
Labour MP for COnsett from 1966-83.
24th August – Mike Winters, 82
25th August – William Froug, 91
American producer who produced the final series of The Twilight Zone, and went onto produce Gilligans Island and Bewitched.
25th August – Gylmar dos Santos, 83
Brazilian goalkeeper who appeared in three World Cups, winning two of them.
26th August – Gerard Murphy, 64
Irish actor often in demand on stage or tv. He had memorable tv roles as the pilot of a doomed plane in Father Ted, Father Doyle in the Taggart episode “Prayer for the Dead” and as time travelling Cavalier in Doctor Who’s Silver Nemesis.
27th August – Michael Goldie, 86
Actor who appeared in 2 Doctor Who stories, Dalek Invasion of Earth (as Craddock, a Doctor ally killed by the Daleks) and The Wheel in Space. Also appeared as Kenneth of Cowfall in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, in several episodes of Coronation Street, and in everything from Inspector Morse to Secret Army.
28th August – John Bellany, 71
29th August – Cliff Morgan, 83
Welsh rugby player who became a BBC sports commentator.
30th August – Seamus Heaney, 74
“Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.”
Seamus Heaney, Blackberry-Picking
Irish poet, translator, academic, analyst, thinker, and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize (Literature). Heaney was a colossus of modern writing – few if any British children go through school without studying his work. His poem “Digging” is a standard text. The Nobel Prize was for his translation of Beowulf.
“The presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy - a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours from all over the world. His careful delving, translation and attention to the work of other poets in different languages and often in conditions of unfreedom, meant that he provided them with an audience of a global kind and we in Ireland gained from his scholarship and the breadth of his reference.
Michael D Higgins
31st August – Sir David Frost, 74
He didn’t waste much time.
(Frost’s own suggestion for the first line of his obit, from conversation with Mark Lawson.)
David Frost – from That Was the Week that Was, to the interview with Nixon, to breakfast TV. A lot was encapsulated into the career of David Frost. A man who Private Eye’s considered opinion, on death, was that he was “a stealer of others joke who rose without trace and did little of achievement.” (Strangely, that’s exactly my opinion of Ian Hislop – and at least Frost didn’t propagate MMR myths.)
1st September – Ken Wallis, 97
Inventor of the autogyro and WW2 RAF bomber.
2nd September – Alain Testart, 67
French anthropologist who specialised in hunter-gatherers, slavery and evolution of society.
2nd September – Frederick Pohl, 93
2nd September – David Jacobs, 87
BBC radio presenter.
2nd September – Ronald Coase, 102
Long lived British Nobel Prize winning economist.
3rd September – Lewis Morley, 88
Photographer best known for a famous photo of Christine Keeler.
5th September – Geoffrey Goodman, 91
Journalist who worked for the Daily Mirror, Tribune, The Sun and the Herald.
“Goodman had wanted to become a journalist ever since hearing a shopkeeper say before the Abdication that the newspapers were refusing to print the truth “despite most of us knowing exactly what is going on”. Demobilised in 1946, he worked briefly on the Manchester Guardian and the Mirror (being sacked in a purge of Left-wingers at Christmas 1948). He worked with Bevan and Foot at Tribune, and also became a fixture on the News Chronicle. Crucially in 1956, he backed the paper’s editor, Michael Curtis, in opposing the Suez operation, over which the staff were deeply divided. A year later, Goodman sat through a “wake” of a dinner with a tearful Foot after Bevan broke ranks with the Left to insist that Britain must not abandon its nuclear weapons. Months before the Chronicle closed in 1960, Goodman moved to the Labour-supporting Daily Herald as its industrial editor. He was a key member of the team that in 1964 relaunched the Herald as the Sun, and at the Sun he secured his greatest scoop, breaking the story that the combatants in the Vietnam War were meeting in Paris to search for a peace formula. Goodman returned to the Mirror in 1969 just before Rupert Murdoch captured the Sun. The paper then was innovative and progressive, and expected the Labour government to be the same. But its opinionated chairman Cecil King saw Wilson as a busted flush and was machinating for a coalition or even a military junta. Again Goodman alerted Benn.”
6th September – Ann C Crispin, 63
SF author who also founded the Writers Beware website, a site dedicated to rooting out scam publishers and agents.
7th September – Marek Spilar, 38
Slovakian football player.
12th September – Ray Dolby, 80
American inventer of the Dolby sound system.
12th September – William A Graham, 87
Director who had a lengthy TV career, including 2 episodes of Batman in the 1960s, and 3 episodes of The X-Files in the 1990s (including the well regarded first series episode “Space”).
13th September – Larry Stewart, 42
Doctor Who fan and friend of many on several online forums and real life. Had suffered ill health his entire life but never let it rancour his many friendships. A supporter of West Ham, and a man of great comic timing, Larry’s death was unexpected by most of his friends, but he never stopped being good old Larry to the bitter end. Last I spoke to him, about a month before his death, he was bemoaning various government policies designed to “fleece the poor and sick”!
16th September – Kim Hamilton, 81
18th September – Ken Norton, 70
Boxer, and one of only two men (the other being Joe Frazier) to beat Mohammed Ali in his prime.
20th September – Angelo Savoldi, 99
Long lived pro-wrestler.
22nd September – Luciano Vincenzoni, 87
Italian script-writer of For A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
22nd September – Gary Brandner, 83
Horror writer who wrote The Howling.
23rd September – Annette Kerr, 93
24th September – Anthony Lawrence, 101
BBC foreign correspondent who covered the Vietnam War.
1st October – Tom Clancy, 66
1st October – Peter Broadbent, 80
Footballer who played for Wolves and Aston Villa, and turned out for England in the 1958 World Cup.
2nd October – Hilton A. Green, 84
Producer who started off as an assistant director on TV, before hooking up with Alfred Hitchcock, first on his TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and then as the Assistant on Pyscho. Green later went on to produce the sequels to Pyscho, as well as Home Alone 3.
4th October – Vo Nguyen Giap, 102
Vietnamese general who fought against the French in the 1950s, and the Americans in the Vietnam war, and was undefeated against both.
5th October – Hugh Jackson, 95
Doctor who spent his life warning of medical dangers to children.
“His tenacity, charm and persuasive skills persuaded government to introduce many regulations to improve safety. The first, following on from his seminal case, was the introduction of child-resistant packaging for medications. This had dramatic effects: within two years the number of children admitted annually with salicylate poisoning fell from 7,000 to fewer than 2,000. In 1976, with the help of his old colleague Donald Court, who was in the throes of writing his report on child health services, he founded the Child Accident Prevention Trust. Through research, lobbying and the involvement of professionals across many sectors, huge improvements were made; these included safety glass in doors, bannisters that children could not climb through, and the wider use of smoke alarms. Changes he instituted are all around us, but Hugh was very modest about his contribution.
Jo Sibert, Guardian obit
8th October – Akong Rinpoche, 73
Tibetan monk who opened the first retreat in Britain, and organised the ceremony in which Duncan and Linda Lunan got married.
8th October – Jose Faria, 80
Football manager who took Morocco to the 1986 World Cup, where they became the first ever African side to qualify for the second round.
8th October – Phil Chevron, 56
Singer/songwriter best known for his long period in The Pogues, and their song “Thousands are Sailing”, which he wrote.
9th October – Stanley Kaufmann, 97
The original film critic and analysist. Without him, there’d be no Roger Ebert or Barry Norman, nor anyone to follow in eithers footsteps
“Mr. Kauffmann went from being an actor and a stage manager with a Manhattan repertory company to a book editor and a writer of vaguely philosophical novels before becoming a film critic at The New Republic in 1958. His reflective, highly wrought essays appeared weekly for the next 55 years, with a break in 1966, when he was, briefly, the chief theater critic for The New York Times. He also doubled as the theater critic for The New Republic from 1969 to 1979, but it was as a film critic that his influence was felt, even if it was hard to define, since he belonged to no camp. His abiding interest in theatrical givens like theme, story, dramatic construction and character could make him seem old-fashioned, and set him in direct opposition to the auteur school, with its emphasis on the formal aspects of film. Readers came to him for reviews that read like mini-tutorials, the product of a deeply literary mind and a graceful pen. Although resolutely high-minded, with a strong bias toward foreign art films, he was not elitist. He championed Jane Fonda early in her career and preferred Britain’s lightly satirical Ealing comedies, like “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” to the kitchen-sink realism of the British New Wave. He forgave many sins in otherwise negligible films if they had a progressive social message.”
William Grimes, New York Times obit
10th October – Norrie Martin, 74
Former Rangers goalkeeper.
10th October – Scott Carpenter, 88
Astronaut who was one of the original Project Mercury members, and the fourth American to travel in space.
11th October – Maria de Villota, 33
Formula one driver who died as a result of injuries suffered in a car crash the previous year.
14th October – Bruno Metsu, 59
Football manager who took a little known Senegal side to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, shocking World champions France 1-0 and Sweden along the way.
16th October – Ed Lauter, 74
Well known American TV and film actor, who appeared in the Hitchcock film Family Plot, the X-Files episode “Space” and had a recurring role in ER as the fire safety chief, among many, many roles.
16th October – Bernard Aspinwall, 70s
Well liked academic who spent many a year in the Glasgow University history department.
17th October – Rene Simpson, 47
French tennis star who reached the third round of the womens draw at the French Open in 1989, reached a high ranking of 70th in the world, and went on to coach the Canadian Fed Cup team.
17th October – Lou Scheimer, 84
American founder of Filmnation, the company that produced He-Man.
18th October – Tom Foley, 84
Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1989-95.
18th October – Vincent Tilsley
Script writer who wrote the famous episode of The Prisoner, The Chimes of Big Ben. Went onto write for several other TV shows of that ilk, including The Guardians.
18th October – Felix Dexter
Well liked comic actor who was part of the Fast Show team.
19th October – Noel Harrison, 79
Singer best known for “Windmills of your Mind”
20th October – Lawrence Klein, 93
The economist who invented the statistical models for which we predicted global economies growth. For this, he earned the Nobel Prize (Economics) in 1980.
20th October – Jovanka Broz, 88
Widow of Tito, the Yugoslav leader during the Cold War. At first his secretary, and then his wife, she was one of the most powerful figures in 50s and 60s Yugoslav. Some allies of her husband plotted against her, convincing the ailing leader she was planning his downfall. Estranged as a result, when Tito died, she was placed under house arrest. Later she fell into poverty, before being allowed a state pension in modern Serbia. When she died, there was state mourning – which felt a bit hollow, given how worthlessly they treated her when she were alive these last 30 odd years.
24th October – Frank Perconte, 96
Member of the WW2 Band of Brothers.
24th October – Antonia Bird, 62
British film director and producer who directed Ravenous, The Village and epsidoes of Morse and Eastenders.
25th October – Marcia Wallace, 70
American actress and voice actor, known across the world for her role in the Simpsons as Edna Krabappel.
25th October – Nigel Davenport, 85
British actor who was a familiar site in film and TV>
25th October – Hal Needham, 82
American stuntman and film actor.
27th October – Lou Reed, 71
Singer/songwriter, known for The Velvet Underground, his solo career, his collaborations... His most famous songs may well be “Perfect Day” or “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”
29th October – Graham Stark, 91
Actor who played Inspector Closeau’s straight man deputy in the Peter Sellers films.
30th October – Dave McFarlane, 46
2nd November – Jack Alexander, 77
7th November – John Cole, 85
BBC political correspondent in the 1980s, and a familiar figure on Spitting Image. Beyond the humour, Cole was a shrewd political mind, being the first to call the downfall of Margaret Thatcher in 1990
9th November – Steve Prescott, 39
9th November – Helen Eadie, 66
12th November – Sir John Tavener, 69
12th November – Hetty Bower, 108
Life long regarded peace activist from the 1920s on, who became more publicly known due to her affiliation with all the anti-war demonstrations of the past decade.
14th November – Jim McCluskey, 63
Former Scottish referee.
14th November – Grace Jones, 113
Oldest British woman alive, and one of the two surviving Brits who were subjects of Queen Victoria.
15th November – Glafcos Cleridies, 94
Twice Cypriot President. He had served in WW2, been captured as a Prisoner of War twice, and escaped both times. He stood down an invasion, took his country into the EU, and nearly managed to unite the two parts.
“Glafcos Clerides, former President, former House speaker, World War II hero, interlocutor, political party founder, lawyer, sea dog and author may fondly be remembered by the international community as the sparring partner of long-time nemesis Rauf Denktash. Paradoxically, he was also probably the closest thing to a Greek Cypriot friend that Denktash ever had. But Clerides` commitment to Cyprus went much deeper than merely negotiating a settlement with the ‘enemy’. Politics was not a career for him. It was his whole life. From the EOKA struggle for independence when he was fresh from the bar in London until he bowed out of politics shortly after his defeat to Tassos Papadopoulos in the 2003 presidential elections after two five-year terms.”
Jean Christou, Cyprus Mail
15th November – Sheila Matthews Allen, 84
Widow of Irwin Allen who made several appeareances in his films.
17th November – Doris Lessing, 94
Nobel Prize winning novelist
17th November –Syd Field, 77
Writer of Screenwriting how to books.
19th November – Charlotte Zolotow, 98
19th November – Frederick Sanger, 95
Two time Nobel Prize winning scientist, who won the Chemistry Prize in 1958 for his work in sequencing insulin creation, and then again in 1980 for his work in encoding RNA.
19th November – Ray Gosling, 74
Documentary maker and gay rights activist.
19th November – Marc Breaux, 89
The choreographer for Mary Poppins, Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, among other films.
20th November – Peter Griffiths, 85
Former Tory MP who fought a dubious campaign in 1964 to win the Smethwick seat from Patrick Gordon Walker. IN return, Harold Wilson claimed Griffiths should serve out his term as a “parliamentary leper”. Griffiths lost in 1966, but returned in 1974 in Wolverhampton, where he remain MP until the Labour landslide of 1997.
20th November – Slyvia Browne, 77
21st November – Mad Dog Maurice Vachon, 84
Former Hall of Fame pro-wrestler
21st November – Michael Weiner, 51
MLB players association executive.
25th November – Bill Foulkes, 81
Survivor of the Munich plane crash, and long time football player for Manchester United.
26th November – Stan Stennett, 88
26th November – Araucaria, 92
27th November – Nilton Santos, 88
Brazilian footballer regarded as one of the finest of all time.
27th November – Lewis Collins, 67
Actor best known for his lead role in The Professionals.
30th November – Paul Walker, 40
American actor best known for his role in the Fast and the Furious films.
30th November – Jean Kent, 92
2nd December – Mary Riggans, 78
Scottish actress, known for Balamory and Take the High Road.
3rd December – Ida Pollock, 105
3rd December – Ronald Hunter, 70
4th December – Charles Grigg, 97
Artist who worked at the Dandy for over 30 years, creating Korky the Kat, and writing the Desperate Dan strips during that time.
5th December – Colin Wilson, 82
British true crime writer who collected peoples stories of the supernatural.
5th December – Nelson Mandela, 95
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for his role in activities against the racist apartheid state. His imprisonment became a beacon for political activism against South Africa in the 1980s. Released in 1990, he could have easily taken up a Mugabe like stance in South African politics. Instead, he showed the world forgiveness and a strong degree of shrewd understanding about politics. Mandela became a world icon, not just for civil rights but for peace and understanding.
5th December – Barry Jackson, 75
7th December – Edouard Molinaro, 85
French director and screenwriter of Las Cage aux Folles.
7th December – Jozef Kowalski
Alleged oldest living man, who was the last living soldier of the Polish/Russia war of 191.
8th December – Edward Williams, 92
British composer who wrote the music for Life on Earth.
8th December – Don Mitchell, 70
Actor best known for his role in ironside.
8th December – John Cornforth, 96
Chemist who won the Nobel prize (1975) for his understanding of cholestoral structures and enzyme/catalyst reactions.
9th December – Lloyd Pye, 67
Cryptozologist who was famed for his promotion of the ‘Starchild’.
9th December – Eleanor Parker, 91
Actress best known for her role as the Baroness in The Sound of Music.
9th December – Norman Harding, 84
English trade unionist.
12th December – Audrey Totter, 94
14th December – Peter O’Toole, 81
Actor, last of a breed of great actors which contained Richard Harris and Richard Burton. Nominated 8 times for the Acting Oscar, that he never won it is a mark on that Academy and not his sublime talents. Be he in Lawrence of Arabia, his stellar Jeffrey Barnard on stage, or appearing in random TV, from The Ray Bradbury Theatre (“the Banshee”) to the David Tennant Casanova series, his talent seemed effortless.
15th December – Harold Camping, 92
End of the world specialist who had a propensity for predicting the oncoming Rapture...several times.
15th December – Joan Fontaine, 96
Actress. Her role in Rebecca is of worthy note, and was justly nominated for the Oscar for it. The following year, another Hitchcock film appearance, another nomination, and the win for her performance in Suspicion. Reclusive for the last few decades of her life, she is outlived by her elder sister, Olivia de Havilland, whom she had a long lasting feud with.
16th December – Ray Price, 87
“His musical career - which spans some 60 years - began in local establishments and radio stations. It is at one of those stations where Price earned his nickname "The Cherokee Cowboy". It was after joining the Big D Jamboree that Price made music his full time profession. Price had his first Billboard hit in 1952 with "Talk to Your Heart".Price met Hank Williams Sr. in 1951 and the pair became friends until Williams' death in 1953. Price also called Williams the only mentor he ever had.Along with his two Grammy Awards, Price has earned two Academy of Country Music Awards, and a Country Music Association Award. For a time he was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Sherrill Fulghum, AllVoices
18th December – Paul Torday, 67
“Mr. Torday launched his writing career in his late 50s, publishing “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” in 2007. It was the story of a rich sheik who dreams of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his desert country. The novel was adapted for a 2011 film starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, with Blunt as the sheik’s representative and McGregor as a cynical fisheries expert who begrudgingly accepts the challenge.”
18th December – Ronnie Biggs, 84
Criminal who was involved in The Great Train Robbery, though his role was rather limited. He later escaped prison, and toured South America as the British ambassador for ‘not being in prison’. This long run on the lam made him more famous than the masterminds of the robbery (or indeed, the violent ones) and Biggs somehow became a bit of a punk icon. Later, he returned to Britain severely ill, and went to jail, being released in 2009 on compassionate grounds.
I’ve never quite understood the cult status Biggs got. The closest I can get to understanding it is to think he might have been a (relatively) safe figure, in terms of the robbery: having merely supplied a rogue train driver, and been in the getaway car when the violence broke out, Ronnie could be seen by a “stick to the man” type public (rightly or wrongly) as a sort of Del Boy character. If he had been involved in the coshing of the driver who died young later, perhaps the iconoclasts wouldn’t have jumped to his side quite so quickly. But then, perhaps his “frankly my dear, I couldn’t give a damn” approach to life (he was a one man promotional device for that black humoured/deeply sick – delete as applicate – Deathlist, being photographed with all their merchandise and celebrating his near-perma status on their list) , mixed in with this “safeness” (inverted commas deliberately used) combines to make a myth of a man which is endearing.
All I know is that in terms of the robbery, he was largely an irrelevant figure. And in terms of punishment, for all he ran from the law, he wound up spending more time in jail for his crimes than most of the folk who meant something to the crime. (And indeed, the chap known for the violence allegedly got away scot free entirely.) But then, when the facts don’t live up to the myth, print the myth.
21st December – John Eisenhower, 91
American historian and son of Dwight Eisenhower.
21st December – David Coleman, 87
THE British sports TV broadcaster.
24th December – Ron Noades
Former owner of Crystal Palace FC.
“The outspoken former owner had also been vocal on a number of subjects in recent years, including the redevelopment of Selhurst Park and the future of former star Wilfried Zaha. But Eddie McGoldrick, who was bought – and then sold – by Noades, said most people would always be thankful for his time in charge of the club. McGoldrick said: “Ron has been a big part of my life. He oversaw the best period of success the club ever had. He was very hands-on as a chairman.“He and Steve Coppell were both Mr Crystal Palace. I saw him about a month ago and he was still laughing and joking.”In a close working relationship with manager Steve Coppell, Noades oversaw promotion to the First Division as well as a club-best third place finish in the old First Division in 1991.In 1990, the club reached Wembley for its first ever – and only – FA Cup Final against Manchester United.”
Croydon Advertiser obit
25th December – Wayne Harrison, 46
Former Liverpool footballer whose career ended early, despite great promise, due to a tragic injury.
“A promising striker, he completed a move to Liverpool after just five appearances for Oldham. Joe Fagan.. saw off competition from Everton, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest to sign the teenager. “You hear reports about a special player perhaps once in 20 years,” Fagan said at the time. “That’s why we bought him.”... He was on the verge of a first-team debut when he fell through a greenhouse and, with the local ambulance service on strike at the time, almost died through loss of blood before back-up Army medics could get him to hospital. Harrison then suffered a number of serious injuries -- including one caused by a fall through his loft -- needing no fewer than 23 football-related operations. He looked to have put those problems behind him as he scored 17 goals in 28 games for the reserves as they won the Central League title in 1989-90. But his then tore his cruciate knee ligament during a reserve game against Bradford in May 1990, and was forced to retire the following year.”
Mike Whalley, ESPN
26th December – Marta Eggerth, 101
Actress who played opposite Judy Garland in a number of films, but was best known for her Opera appearances.
“Once upon a time, there was an 11-year-old Hungarian girl, with blond curls and big dark eyes and a beautiful singing voice and a singer mother who taught her how to use it. She was discovered, as such girls often are, and toured as a child prodigy; and she had staying power, which such girls often do not. At 17 she landed a role in a hit show written by one of the biggest names in show business. A great opera conductor tried to secure her services, but so did the film studios, and she became a movie star — all the more starry after falling in love with her handsome leading man. They married; made films together; starred together on Broadway; were known as the Love Couple all over Europe. They had two children. They lived happily ever after.Their castle is still there. On the grounds of a country club north of New York City, the stone house stands like a fortress of memory. Walk through the iron gate and up the steps and into the long living room, filled with chairs set at conversational, slightly informal angles, as if a party had recently been given there, among the tables laden with framed black-and-white photos. And there she is: the same delicate figure, the same big eyes, the same fluting, melodious voice. Sharply dressed in an elegant knit jacket, she makes her entrance. Her name is Marta Eggerth.”
Anne Midgette, Washington Post, 12 April 2012