The Watchers

The Watchers

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

In Memoriam 2014

The world of film and entertainment have lost several luminaries this year. Whilst we wrote full tributes to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Robin Williams, and Lauren Bacall throughout the year, there were several deaths we were unable to pay tribute to at the time. Here then are tributes to several of those stars, from in front of and behind the camera, who sadly passed away this year.

One of the best poets to ever use the English language, Maya Angelou wrote of identity, love and passion and produced some of the most stirring, moving poetry around. Her poems 'On The Pulse Of Morning' and 'A Brave And Startling Truth' are just two of her best. Angelou also appeared in films such as Poetic Justice, How To Make An American Quilt and Madea's Family Reunion

Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park (1993)
Richard Attenborough was a true icon of British cinema. His acting roles spanned seven decades, in films as diverse as Brighton Rock, I'm All Right Jack, The Great Escape, Seance On A Wet Afternoon, 10 Rillington Place, Jurassic Park, Miracle On 34th Street and Elizabeth. He was also a talented director, directing A Bridge Too Far, Chaplin, A Chorus Line and Gandhi for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director. 

If you ever had nightmares after watching one of the Alien films, there's one man to thank/blame: H.R. Giger. He worked in the art department and designed the iconic Xenomorph look that has since become synonymous with horror. He and his team won the Best Visual Effects Oscar for their work on Alien.

Richard Kiel as Jaws
The towering 7ft 2in Richard Kiel played one of the most iconic Bond villains. He played the menacing metal-teethed Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and returned for Moonraker, making him one of the few recurring characters in Bond movies. Away from Bond, Kiel went on to appear in Cannonball Run II, Pale Rider and Happy Gilmore

While Rik Mayall may best be known for his television work- in The Young Ones, Filthy Rich And Catflap, The Comic Strip Presents..., The New Statesman, Blackadder, and Bottom- he also appeared in several films, including Guest House Paradiso, Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis and the utterly brilliant Drop Dead Fred. His appearance on Jackanory, performing George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl, remains one of the highlights of my childhood. 

Mike Nichols worked with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, making his feature film debut in 1966 directing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. He went on to direct over 20 films, including The Graduate (for which he won the Best Director Oscar), Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Working Girl, The Birdcage, Primary Colors, Closer and Charlie Wilson's War.

Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters (1984)
Harold Ramis will always be known as one of the Ghostbusters. He played Dr. Egon Spengler in the 1984 classic and its 1989 sequel. Other acting roles included Seth Rogen's dad in Knocked Up and Dr. Bettes in As Good As It Gets. Ramis also directed several of the best comedies ever to hit the silver screen, including Caddyshack and Groundhog Day.  

Mickey Rooney was a child star, performing in films from the age of six. He appeared in nearly 20 Andy Hardy films before teaming up with Judy Garland for a series of musicals. He was nominated for his first Oscar at the age of 19 and would be nominated a further three times. He was married 8 times, firstly to Ava Gardner. He has one of the longest careers in cinema history, with film credits spanning an impressive ten consecutive decades. 

Elaine Stritch in Romance & Cigarettes
Broadway legend Elaine Stritch, known for her work with Stephen Sondheim, was one hell of a woman. Outspoken, no-nonsense, a great raconteur and actress, she originated several roles in Sondheim stage musicals and appeared in several films, including a scene-stealing cameo in Romance & Cigarettes, Monster-in-Law and Small Time Crooks. A recent documentary of her life- Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me- has been released, giving a glimpse into her extraordinary life.

One of the biggest child stars Hollywood has ever seen, Shirley Temple will always be known for singing 'On The Good Ship Lollipop'. However, there was so much more to her life than just being a child star. The first recipient of the Juvenile Academy Award (at the age of 6), she went on to retire from showbiz at the age of 22 and focused on politics, acting as US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Billie Whitelaw in The Omen (1976)
On stage, Billie Whitelaw is known for her collaborations with absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett, performing as a disembodied mouth in Not I and as a woman buried up to her waist (then neck) in sand in Happy Days. On film, Whitelaw gave a frankly terrifying performance as the nanny Mrs Baylock in The Omen, appeared in Hitchcock's Frenzy, starred as Violet Kray in The Krays and was the voice of Aughra in The Dark Crystal. Her last film role was as Joyce Cooper in Hot Fuzz.

Others who passed away this year include:

  • British actress Lynda Bellingham
  • British actress Dora Bryan
  • American actress Marilyn Burns
  • British actor Warren Clarke
  • Civil rights activist and Oscar-nominated actress Ruby Dee 
  • British writer P.D. James
  • Screenwriter and director Paul Mazursky
  • British actress Kate O'Mara
  • Comedienne and actress Joan Rivers
  • Oscar-winning actor Maximilian Schell
  • Former President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Tom Sherak
  • Make-up artist Dick Smith
  • American actress Misty Upham
  • American actor Eli Wallach
  • Cinematographer Gordon Willis
  • Producer Saul Zaentz

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