2002 Yearend: Hollywood In Memoriam

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  Dec. 10, 2002 at 4:40 PM
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(Part of UPI's Special Report reviewing 2002).

LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- From screen legends to journeymen, death claimed its share of Hollywood professionals in 2002, most notably comedian Milton Berle, comic actor Dudley Moore, Oscar-winning writer-director Billy Wilder, singers Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney, and one of the last of the movie moguls, Lew Wasserman.

Whenever the death of a celebrity is announced, old-timers in the entertainment business are given to say, "It always happens in threes" -- and then wait for subsequent death notices in short order. In the case of Berle, Moore and Wilder, death all came on the same day, March 27.

Lee, best known for her hit records "Is That All There Is?" and "Fever" was also nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for her performance in the 1955 movie "Pete Kelly's Blues."

Clooney was a 1950s pop star and actress with hit records including "Come On A My House," who achieved a new round of success when a new generation of fans discovered her in the '80s and '90s.

Wasserman was one of the most influential players in the history of the movie business. He transformed the agency business and pioneered business deal techniques that included syndicating programs and compensating performers with "back-end" participation in profits.

Hollywood also mourned the death of Vernon Scott, who covered the entertainment for more than five decades for United Press International.

Among the Oscar-winning actors and actresses who died were Eileen Heckart ("Butterflies Are Free"), Harold Russell ("The Best Years of Our Lives"), Rod Steiger ("In the Heat of the Night"), Kim Hunter ("A Streetcar Named Desire") and James Coburn ("Affliction").

Russell, a disabled World War II veteran, won two Oscars for his movie debut in the 1946 best picture Oscar winner "The Best Years of Our Lives."

Some of the more colorful Hollywood figures who died this year included Julia Phillips, Hildegard Knef, Kevyn Aucoin and Joshua Ryan Evans.

Phillips, the Oscar-winning producer of "The Sting," "Taxi Driver" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" became a Hollywood pariah in 1991 with the publication of "You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again" -- a memoir that dished inside dirt on many of the movie business' top names and earned Phillips a one-way ticket out of Hollywood's inner circle.

Knef began her career in propaganda films during the final days of the Third Reich and scandalized the Roman Catholic Church in 1951 by appearing nude in a movie.

Aucoin, known as makeup artist to the stars, counted Cher, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Britney Spears and Oprah Winfrey among his clients.

Evans was best known as Timmy the living doll on the NBC daytime drama "Passions," and played the Grinch as a boy in "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Hollywood also mourned the deaths in 2002 of actors Avery Schreiber, Bill McCutcheon, George Nader and Guy Stockwell.

Some famous newscasters died in 2002.

Howard K. Smith, a broadcasting pioneer, worked in the United Press bureau in Berlin before moving to CBS and was the last American reporter to leave Berlin at the start of World War II. He was one of (Edward R.) "Murrow's Boys" on CBS radio and left CBS-TV for ABC after management edited one of his reports on the civil rights movement. Forrest Boyd was a former White House correspondent for the Mutual Broadcasting Network and had been a commentator on the UPI Radio Network in the '90s.

Two legends of sportscasting -- Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn and St. Louis Cardinals baseball play-by-play man Jack Buck -- were remembered as two of the best their business had ever produced.

A number of top entertainment executives died in 2002.

Roone Arledge transformed television as president of ABC Sports and ABC News. Sylvester (Pat) Weaver was also one of the most influential figures in TV history, credited with the creation of the "Today" and "Tonight" shows while he was president of the NBC TV network. Walter Annenberg made billions -- and gave billions to charity -- after launching TV Guide and turning it into one of the most successful publications of all time.

Among the other notable losses in Hollywood this year:

Adolph Green, the screenwriter-lyricist whose six-decade collaboration with Betty Comden resulted in such classic Broadway and movie musicals as "Singing' in the Rain," "On the Town" and "The Will Rogers Follies."

John Frankenheimer, the director of such Hollywood classics as "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Birdman of Alcatraz," who won directing Emmys for "Against the Wall," "The Burning Season," "Andersonville" and "George Wallace."

Film and TV director Ted Demme ("Blow"); actor John Agar; Emmy-winning TV director Dave Wilson ("Saturday Night Live"); actress Katy Jurado ("High Noon"); and long-time daytime drama star Mary Stuart ("Search for Tomorrow").

Other well-known actors who died in 2002 were:

Richard Harris, the star of "Camelot," and the first two "Harry Potter" movies.

Robert Urich, the popular star of the TV hits "Vega$" and "Spenser: For Hire."

Eddie Bracken, best-known for the Preston Sturges movies "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" and "Hail the Conquering Hero," and the more recent comedies "National Lampoon's Vacation" and "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York."

Parley Baer, who played Chester on the radio version of "Gunsmoke," Mayor Stoner on TV's "The Andy Griffith Show," and next door neighbor Darby on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

Leo McKern, who starred in the BBC TV series "Rumpole of the Bailey" and served as a comic foil for the Beatles in "Help."

Keene Curtis, best-known to TV viewers as John Allen Hill on "Cheers."

Jonathan Harris, who entertained TV viewers as the low-down Dr. Smith on "Lost in Space."

Spike Milligan, a major figure in the development of modern British comedy as a member of The Goons, with Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine and Harry Secombe.

Jackie Gayle, comedian and actor who appeared in such movies as "Broadway Danny Rose" and "Tin Men."

James Gregory, the gravelly-voiced, craggy-faced actor best known for his work on the TV comedy "Barney Miller."

Nightclub comedian Buddy Lester, who appeared in such '60s movies as "Ocean's Eleven" and "The Nutty Professor."

Linda Boreman, better known as Linda Lovelace, the star of the infamous 1971 porn movie "Deep Throat."

Tony Martinez, the bandleader-turned-actor who played Pepino on the TV comedy "The Real McCoys."

Legendary animators Chuck Jones and Ward Kimball died this year. The Oscar-winning Jones created -- or helped create -- such legendary cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner and Pepe Le Pew. Kimball created the character Jiminy Cricket for the Disney classic "Pinocchio" and worked on such classics as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia" and "Alice in Wonderland."

Other notable losses in 2002 included:

Reginald Rose, the writer-producer of "Twelve Angry Men" -- first an Emmy-winning TV play, and then an Oscar-nominated movie in 1954.

Roy Huggins, writer-producer-creator of such TV hits as "The Fugitive," "The Rockford Files" and "Maverick."

Bruce Paltrow, the father of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who created or produced such TV series as "White Shadow" and "St. Elsewhere."

J. Lee Thompson, the British director of such movie classics as "Cape Fear," "The Guns of Navarone" and nine Charles Bronson movies.

George Sidney, the director of the MGM musicals "Anchors Aweigh," "Kiss Me Kate" and "Annie Get Your Gun," who won three Oscars for directing short subjects.

Andre de Toth, director of such noir B-movies as "Pitfall" and "Crime Wave," several memorable Westerns and the 3-D classic "House of Wax."

Richard "Dick" Sylbert, two-time Oscar-winning production designer ("Chinatown," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "Dick Tracy").

Jeff Corey, a Hollywood actor who became a leading acting teacher after he was blacklisted in the 1950s.

Some of America's best-loved musicians died this year:

Jazz legend Lionel Hampton, who pioneered the vibraphone as a jazz instrument.

Waylon Jennings, a country music star who sang the theme to TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard."

John Entwistle, the bass player for The Who.

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of the R&B trio TLC.

Otis Blackwell, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who wrote "Don't Be Cruel" and "Great Balls of Fire."

Oscar-winning composer Norman "Buddy" Baker, who scored many of Disney's best-loved movies and TV shows, including the original "Mickey Mouse Club."

Derek Bell, the harpist who spent more than 30 years with the Celtic music group The Chieftains.

Songwriter-lyricist-producer-author Jules Leonard "Buddy" Kaye, whose hits included "Till the End of Time" and "'A' You're Adorable."

Ray Conniff, the arranger, composer, trombone player and bandleader who won a Grammy for his recording of "Somewhere My Love," the love theme from "Dr. Zhivago."

Jam Master Jay, a hip-hop pioneer as a member of Run DMC.

Tom Dowd, a music producer and recording engineer whose résumé provided a virtual roadmap of pop, rock, jazz and R&B music over the past half century, as he worked with such recording legends as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers.

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