Editorials, Obituaries


By • Jul 6th, 2009 •

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What a month. We’re waving at a whole host of audio-visual luminaries after a period of relative quiet. It’s as if the heavens have been saving up for a group reaping, but to what purpose… Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Among those who have left us in recent weeks are:

MICHAEL JACKSON – (June 25th, aged 50) What can one say that hasn’t already been said, and with vastly different shadings of empathy or condemnation. There’s a really great read coming from the right biographer, because absolutely everyone seems willing and eager to talk. I spent some bedazzled time with Ludmila Tcherina in the mid-90s, who was certain that either Jackson or John Landis had stolen visual artifacts for THRILLER from her remarkable (and sorely missing on DVD) THE LOVERS OF TERUEL. I asked Landis, who had never seen her film. I’ve never been able to find out if Jackson had. My favorite of his videos was SMOOTH CRIMINAL. I’ve watched it enough that if it were a 78, 45, or 33 rpm platter, it would be worn to a frazzle. And as to the pedophile charges, after all the footage I’ve seen this past week, I wonder if Jackson himself, whatever the truth of the charges, ever really believed he’d done anything bad.

GALE STORM – (June 27th, aged 87). She was a wonderfully sexy, innocent, effervescent presence in the 50s on MY LITTLE MARGIE on TV (available on DVD) and later on the Gale Storm Show, even featuring Robby the Robot in a guest appearance. She sang some wonderful songs, did TV, then dropped into obscurity, but I wish she’d been dredged up by the likes of Tarantino, or even a lesser talent who loved finding actresses in retirement and providing them with a vehicle.

Gale Storm gets an assist from Lee Bonnell with her earring at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

KARL MALDEN – (July 1st, aged 97) 97 years of age, ladies and gentlemen. I met Malden on the set of THE CINCINNATI KID, which filmed in New Orleans while I was eating po-boys and going to college at Tulane University. That was quite a coup for a college newspaper Entertainment Editor – meeting him, Edward G. Robinson, Terry Southern, Ann Margaret, and Steve McQueen, all in the space of a few days. Oddly enough, I never got to talk with Norman Jewison, but the others, to greater or lesser degrees, were hospitable and accessible. When I sat down to interview Malden, and started up my reel-to-reel tape recorder, he looked at it admiringly, then patted me on the knee and said “You must be a wealthy college student.” His almost naïve, good-natured attitude was my predominant memory of the interview. Whether working with Kazan, Argento, Brando, or on TV, he was a solid, predictable, reliable actor.

On the CINCINNATI KID shoot - FIR editor, Karl Malden, and Miss Tulane, in the French Quarter, New Orleans.

ALLEN KLEIN – (July 4th, aged 77) The obits are mentioning his relationship with the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but for me, it was his withholding from release of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN for over 35 years for which he’ll always be remembered. Only a few years ago he finally relented and allowed them back into distribution, and on the commentary tracks, Jodorowsky (for whom I wrote a script a decade ago which, like most of his projects, has yet to get off the ground) claimed Klein was a different man after all these years and that their reunion was painless. The obits mention Alzheimers. I wonder if Jodorowsky was being euphemistic, or if he really didn’t notice, and just took Klein’s personality change as eccentric, like his own has always been.

DAVID CARRADINE – (June 3rd, aged 72) I never met him, but always heard him described as cold and condescending to interviewers. Considering the conditions of his demise, perhaps he and those interviewers just never had the right subject matter to discuss. I loved him in Q, and KILL BILL. He was a good actor, and his gifts were under-used by filmmakers.

ED MACMAHON – (June 23rd, aged 86) On a DVD collection of Johnny Carson highlights, the infamous drunken-Ed harangue about going to the zoo is excerpted, and it’s wonderful TV. He was the penultimate embodiment of the straight guy TV co-host.

FARRAH FAWCETT – (June 25th, aged 62) Never got into her myself, but her poster made her iconic, her cancer battle – particularly in that she was so beautiful and it had to be anal cancer – gave her a new, hard-to-define status, for which she’ll be remembered.

JANE RANDOLPH – (May 4th, aged 93) Ms. Randolph’s death closes the book on the Val Lewton team’s first RKO triumph – CAT PEOPLE. She joins Lewton, Jacques Tourneur, DeWitt Bodeen, Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Elizabeth Russell, Mark Robson, Roy Webb, and Nick Musuraca in the great beyond. In interviews, she felt that Simone never liked her, but Simone never told me anything to support that. However, Simone was pretty focused on herself, and possessive of the men around her, and it might have come across as cold and off-putting.

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4 Responses »

  1. We can never hear enough about these people and FILMS IN REVIEW is of course they can be presented best. Hopefully there will be no sad news coming up yet in the near future!

  2. I never thought I would be channeling Winona Ryder but as her character says in Coppola’s DRACULA…….”take me away from all this DEATH”

    I for one would like to see more of young Mr. Frumkes onset doing interviews…….it takes me back….

  3. Wow Roy, what a handsome figure you cut back then – Not that you don’t now of course! But that’s a great picture.

  4. Nice Mug, I must agree. I had a small crowd gather around the screen and played, “Guess Who” It was unanimous, they all agreed upon Ray Romano. congratulaziˡoni

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