We lost a lot of talented people in the year 2008.
I wanted to share with you some of my feelings about these people I never had the privilege to meet. I didn’t want to leave any one off the list, but at the same time wanted to focus on the ones that had a bigger impact on my life. I’ve listed those people first. The others in the list still left an impression on me and I want to make sure they are remembered as well. Their list is second.
The first big hit for me in 2008 was January 15th when I received a text message from my friend Sam telling me Brad Renfro had died. I couldn’t believe it. I remember seeing The Client when I was younger and his performance is actually what pushed me in to wanting to become an actor. I wanted to do what he did. It was astonishing to me.
January 22nd started off as a really good day for me. I met up with my friend Sam and we were going to see three movies that day. We started off with Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. We then proceeded to a different theater to see The Bucket List. Originally we were going to follow up The Bucket List with Into The Wild. A film I’d seen but Sam hadn’t. In the middle of The Bucket List my phone vibrated. Although the theater wasn’t very crowded (it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday), I didn’t want to check my phone. I usually don’t. Normally it’s just a text message or something that can wait another hour or so. Then my phone vibrated again a few minutes later. I began to wonder if something was wrong. I told myself if it vibrates one more time, I’ll check it and, if need be, excuse myself from the theater to answer. Very soon after I had that thought, it vibrated again. I pulled out my phone and, being sure not to light up the whole theater, checked to see who needed me so badly. The first thing I saw was a text message from my roommate that said “Ledger’s dead, dude.”
My heart sank.
I refused to believe it. He must have heard wrong. What kind of sick person would start a rumor like that? I checked to see if anyone else had sent me a text. I had one other one from my friend Brodie that said “Heath Ledger died?!?” I then knew it was real. Brodie and Daniel don’t even have each other’s phone numbers. They couldn’t be pranking me. I decided not to tell Sam until the movie was over but, needless to say, my attention could no longer remain on the The Bucket List.
As soon as the movie was over and we were walking out of the theater I told Sam that “apparently Heath Ledger has died.” She turned to me and said “What??” I don’t talk about things like this easily and I remember laughing. I feel bad about that but I realized then that it’s my way of dealing with things like this. I get uncomfortable and I laugh. I don’t mean to. I did the same thing during a really difficult family problem I went through the year before. I wish that’s not what I do but…
Anyway, I’m getting off on a tangent. We didn’t really feel like sitting through another movie after that so we went to MovieStop and I purchased a few of his movies that I didn’t already own. Sam felt like going home after that and we went our separate ways.
When I got home my sister and I talked through text messaging and I told her how sad I was. She said she understood and then she told me something that really hit me. “I guess you’ll just have to honor him with your acting.” Unfortunately, ever since my senior year of high school, I’ve gone back and forth on pursuing acting. Not because I think of something else I’d rather do but more so because it’s a fear of failure I think. If I don’t try, I can’t fail. But I realized that life really is short and I love acting and movies more than anything else I’ve tried my hand at. Acting is where I belong.
It’s been almost a year and the death of Heath Ledger still makes me sad. I plan on watching one of his movies on the 22nd this year, raising a glass of beer and saying “Thanks for inspiring me. I wish you were still here. I wish I could have gotten to work with you. We miss you.”
I can’t remember if I heard about the passing of Roy Scheider before or after I got Sam’s text. (I’m beginning to think she’s cursed) but I do remember I was sad. The man from Jaws had died. When I was in the 6th grade a television show came on that really appealed to me. It was called SeaQuest DSV. Roy Scheider played the captain of a submarine-type ship set in the not-so-distant future. I’m not sure exactly why I liked it so much. It was fun, sci-fi and cool. I enjoyed it. Roy Scheider was an excellent captain. I would have loved him as a boss.
I’m fairly confident I didn’t hear from Sam on this one. The first Anthony Minghella film I saw was Cold Mountain. As I recall I was dragged to see it in the theater. And as I recall, I ended up liking it more than the person who dragged me. It was years later when I’d get around to seeing another Anthony Minghella movie. It was only a few years ago that I saw The Talented Mr. Ripley. And I’m not certain if I saw it or Breaking and Entering first. Both excellent movies by the way. In a way, I saved the best for last. It was only last year (or perhaps the beginning of this year) that I finally watched The English Patient. It was beautiful. If you haven’t seen it, I truly recommend it. Anthony Minghella won the Best Director Oscar and the film won Best Picture. He died much too early. It’s unfortunate we’ll never see another of his films.
Charlton Heston was an icon. I’ll admit I haven’t seen very many of his movies (not even Planet of the Apes I’m ashamed to say) but I will say The Ten Commandments is one of the first films I remember. I think it was shown to me in elementary school. Charlton Heston lived a long life with a long filmography and he will be missed. If you haven’t seen Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (in which Heston has a small, but excellent role) I suggest you do.
Here’s another guy with a terriffic career taken from us much too soon. Sydney Pollack was not only a great director, but a wonderful actor as well. Check him out in Michael Clayton. He’s superb. My friend Athena really wanted to see Made of Honor when it came out (you know that silly movie where Patrick Dempsey was the Maid of Honor for his friend’s wedding?) and I’m kind of glad I went with her because it was the last acting role of Sydney Pollack’s. He’s directed movies like The Firm and The Interpreter and I haven’t even seen his most famous ones: Out of Africa and Tootsie (although I own both of them.) Out of Africa won Sydney the Best Director Oscar and the film also took home the Best Picture Oscar.
Also it should be pointed out that he and Anthony Minghella were good friends and produced several films together.
Stan Winston was an effects guru. He’s responsible for the make up and animatronic effects for such films as The Terminator movies, Jurassic Park and most recently he developed the Mark 1 suit for Iron Man. Jurassic Park was HUGE for me. It was the first movie I remember seeing more than once in the theater. It was the first movie I remember being obsessed with. That’s when I really figured out who this Steven Spielberg guy was. If not for Stan Winston, whose animatronic dinosaurs were so realistic, it may not have been as huge to me. It was so real. It was literally like nothing I’d ever seen before.
For someone my age, George Carlin is one of those guys who you’ve always heard of. You can’t figure out when the first time you heard his name was. He’s just always been around. As I got older, I was able to see more of his stand up. Just this past year I watched the first episode of Saturday Night Live, which he hosted. But as cheesy as it is, George Carlin will always hold a special place in my heart as Rufus from the Bill and Ted series. I loved those movies as a kid and George Carlin was great. I look back on those movies now and wonder if he felt silly making them. If he did, he never once showed it. He’s admired by every comic and fortunately, through his stand up and movies will continue to make us laugh.
I remember first seeing Bernie Mac on The Kings of Comedy. He was the only one I’d never heard of and he ended up being the funniest one. I never kept up with his career too much but I did enjoy him in the Ocean’s movies and Bad Santa. He always made me laugh in those and he was taken way before his time.
A day after Bernie Mac passed, the news hit that Isaac Hayes had also been taken from us. Other than the theme from Shaft, I couldn’t name an Isaac Hayes song. I can however, tell you he was excellent as The Duke in Escape From New York. While I don’t regularly watch South Park, I’ve heard many of Chef’s songs and they are hilarious. Isaac Hayes was only 66 when he passed away.
Don LaFontaine is best known as “the movie trailer voice”. You’d recognize it anywhere. Just imagine a movie trailer that opens with “In a world…” That’s him. Pablo Francisco had a great bit in his stand up where he did an impression of him. His voice was probably one of the most recognizable in the world and he was also considered one of the most successful actors. He did voice over work for over 5,000 movie trailers. His voice has become as much a part of cinema as trailers themselves and no one will ever be like him.
There’s so much to say about Paul Newman. The news of his passing was heart breaking. How can a legend like Paul Newman die? It’s weird to think that when my parents were teenagers they probably went and saw “the new Paul Newman movie” in the theaters. The only movie of his that I can recall seeing in the theaters was Road to Perdition. I’m glad I got to see a performance of his on the big screen. He was one of those actors with such immense talent, he made it seem easy. Like he wasn’t acting at all. He just showed up and was so cool they just pointed the camera at him and then printed the film. I don’t remember the first Paul Newman movie I ever saw but I know he’s been a huge inspiration and is one of the best actors to ever grace the silver screen. Even though he wasn’t acting those last few years of his life, I really wish I could have had the privilege to work with him. He will continue to inspire me in the films I’ve already seen and those I haven’t and he will be truly missed.
The first piece of material written by Michael Crichton that I ever encountered was not a novel. It was the movie Jurassic Park. He not only wrote the novel, but co-wrote the script with David Koepp. As I said before when talking about Stan Winston, Jurassic Park changed my life. I had never seen anything like it and I was obsessed. After seeing the movie (I only got to see it three times in the theater. Apparently the parents thought that was enough) I bought the novel and couldn’t put it down. I was only 10 years old. I’m sure I couldn’t wrap my brain around the science of the book but I loved the movie so much, I didn’t care. I was going to read it and I was going to love it. I don’t think I read another of his novels until the movie Sphere came out. Again, loved the movie, read the book, loved the book. There are actually a lot of Crichton books I’ve yet to read. Another movie he had a hand in was the film Twister. He co-wrote the script with Anne-Marie Martin. It was another summer blockbuster that I absolutely loved. One day I noticed my friend Cameron McAllister reading the Twister book. I asked him about it and to my surprise it wasn’t a novelization of the film but the original screenplay itself. I had no idea they published scripts! Needless to say I ran out and bought it right away. It was the first of many scripts that I’d buy and I still have it to this day. I just recently re-purchased Jurassic Park (lost my first copy) and also bought The Lost World (never read it.). Two years ago, I read Rising Sun for the first time. I enjoyed it immensely. I might be mistaken, but I believe he had one last book written and it should be published soon. I look forward to reading it.
That list consists of the people who really inspired me, made me laugh, made me smile, made me want to pursue my dreams and whom I will remember forever.
The following list consists of people who also have inspired me, made me laugh, made me smile, and made me want to pursue my dreams even if I didn’t realize it while they were still here. I will also remember them forever.
This is the best picture I could find of Vampira and I find it creepy that she is sitting next to a coffin that says “Rest In Peace”. I’ve only seen one thing of Vampira’s and that is the movie Plan 9 From Outer Space. A wonderfully bad film from director Ed Wood. I remember the first time I was shown Plan 9. I was at GHP and my theater teacher showed it to us and followed it up with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, which has become one of my favorite films and possibly my favorite Johnny Depp film.
I’ll be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Suzanne Pleshette movie but I know her name. In fact, the main reason I know her is because I believe she’s referenced in the film That Thing You Do! I’m sorry to all Suzanne Pleshette fans for not being able to share a good story during this section.
Arthur C. Clarke is the famed science fiction writer behind the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. A novel I’ve never read. And a movie (I’m extremely ashamed to admit) I’ve never seen. But I do know the movie has had a huge impact on cinema goers and filmmakers alike. I need to try and sit down and watch it one of these days.
I mainly remember Harvey Korman for his hilarious performance in Blazing Saddles. I recently read somewhere about how he was such a fine actor with a brilliant understanding of comedy. He always wanted to be truthful in whatever he was doing, no matter how silly. I think that’s amazing. I really enjoyed reading that article on him. It really made me want to watch Blazing Saddles again.
I only know Robert J. Anderson for one role. Little George Baily from It’s a Wonderful Life, one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a movie I try and watch every Christmas and I still get choked up at the end every time. I’ve always enjoyed Anderson’s performance. The scene where Gower hits him in the ear for not delivering the medicine and George tearfully tells him he couldn’t because he accidently poisoned it is wonderfully acted by both parties. Whenever I have children, I plan on showing them It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas and hopefully they’ll show their children. And hopefully Robert J. Anderson’s performance (among the rest of the superb cast) will be forever remembered.
I remember watching Bozo the Clown when I was a child. I don’t believe it was Larry Harmon behind the make-up but if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the show. I watched it very young and don’t remember much about it other than the bucket game. Where you tossed a ball in to the row of buckets. I don’t remember. But I do remember that Bozo the Clown brought entertainment and laughter to a bunch of kids. Including me.
I don’t think I ever watched The Golden Girls but it was without a doubt, a huge hit. I read a small article about Getty written by Golden Girls costar Bea Arthur. She talked about how funny she was and how her and Arthur could play off each other as if they were linked some how. They just knew each other and each other’s comedy that well.
LeRoi Moore was the extremely talented saxophone player for The Dave Matthews Band. He was tragically taken before his time due to injuries sustained from an automobile accident and will be greatly missed. Listen to some of The Dave Matthews Band’s greatest hits. His saxophone is prominent and soulful. You can’t help but tap your foot, bob your head or (if no one’s looking) play air saxophone to it. I don’t think anyone’s made the saxophone as cool as LeRoi Moore did.
I don’t know much about Estelle Reiner other than the fact that she was the mother of Rob Reiner and the “I’ll have what she’s having” woman from When Harry Met Sally. Rob Reiner directed the film and gave his mother what was probably considered the funniest line in the film. It’s a classic line and still brings laughter not only to those watching it for the first time but those watching it again and again.
Paul Benedict is one of those “that guy” actors. You’ve seen him before but you might not necessarily remember from what. He was in many different films and had a great resume. A truly successful actor.
Bettie Page (Dec 11)
(I’ll upload a photo later. I’m a little scared of searching for a Bettie Page picture at work)
I’m gonna be honest. I don’t know anything about Bettie Page which makes it difficult to say something. But I will say everyone knows of Bettie Page. When you hear the name you know exactly who it is.
I did not realize Eartha Kitt was a singer until after she passed away. I will always remember her as Catwoman from the old campy Batman tv show. As a kid I don’t think I ever saw her in anything else until I saw Ernest Scared Stupid. I’m fairly confident the first thing I thought when I saw her on screen was “It’s Catwoman!” She’ll be missed.