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Where those associated with Western films from around the world are laid to rest.

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  • 05/27/17--13:06: RIP Gregg Allman

  •  Gregg Allman, Soulful Trailblazer of Southen Rock, Dies at 69

    By Deborak Wilker

    Gregg Allman, the soulful singer-songwriter and rock n' blues pioneer who founded The Allman Brothers Band with his late brother, Duane, and composed such classics as "Midnight Rider,""Melissa" and the epic concert jam "Whipping Post," has died at age 69, Billboard has learned. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999 and underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

    He "passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia," according to a statement on Gregg Allman's official website, noting that the family planned to release a statement soon. "Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times."
    Gregg’s longtime manager and close friend Michael Lehman said, “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard. His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him.”
    With his long blond hair, cool facade and songs that chronicled restless, wounded lives, Allman came to personify the sexy, hard-living rock outlaw in a life marked by musical triumph and calamitous loss.

    Billboard will have more information about the specifics behind Allman's death as the story develops.
    Allman fronted his band for 45 years, first alongside Duane and then as its sole namesake, after his older brother -- regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in rock history -- was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1971, just as their trailblazing Southern rock tracks were taking hold on the charts.

    Soldiering on through grief and then the eerily similar death of bassist Berry Oakley just one year and 10 days after Duane died, Allman and the band became as well known for their stoic survival as they were for their freewheeling concerts.

    The Allman Brothers Band first reached the Billboard 200 albums chart with its self-titled debut in 1970. Over the next 34 years, the group charted 24 more albums, including four top 10 sets. It topped the list once, with Brothers and Sisters, which reached No. 1 for five weeks in 1973.

    The group also landed 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits between 1971-1981. It earned its best showing with “Ramblin Man,” which reached No. 2 in October 1973, and reached the top 40 two more times with “Crazy Love” (No. 29, 1979) and “Straight From the Heart” (No. 39, 1981). The band also logged a No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart in 1990 with “Good Clean Fun.” In total, since Nielsen Music began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991, Allman Brothers Band have sold 9.3 million albums in the U.S.

    As a soloist, Allman notched seven charting albums on the Billboard 200, including one top 10 set: the No. 5-peaking Low Country Blues in 2001. On the Hot 100, he claimed a pair of entries with “Midnight Rider” (No. 19 in 1974) and “I’m No Angel” (No. 49 in 1987). The latter also topped the Mainstream Rock Songs chart that same year.

    After years of tragedy, dramatic breakups and tense reconciliations, a reconstituted Allman Brothers Band engineered a renaissance starting in the mid-'90s that put their fiery brew of old-time blues, jazz and country rock squarely at the forefront of music's thriving jam scene.

    The Allmans' annual rite of spring -- a three-week run of shows typically held every March at the historic Beacon Theatre on New York's Upper West Side -- remade the band into a formidable commercial force in recent decades, long after many in the music industry had written them off.
    A gentle and at times fierce balladeer, Allman would spend the majority of these shows behind his Hammond organ, taking center stage only briefly, usually with his acoustic guitar for "Melissa," which would start quietly and then blossom into a freeform jam.

    With 238 concerts at the Beacon from 1989-2014, the Allmans had become such an important tenant that when the theater's new owner, The Madison Square Garden Co., announced plans for a renovation in 2006, Allman was consulted. His plain-spoken advice to executives: "Just don't screw it up."

    Gregory LeNoir Allman was born in Nashville on Dec. 8, 1947, slightly more than a year after Duane. Tragedy struck early for the brothers when their father, Willis Turner Allman, an Army captain who had just returned home, was shot and killed in 1949 while helping a hitchhiker.
    The family moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., but Allman returned to Nashville often to visit relatives, developing an interest in music while there, particularly after seeing a concert featuring Otis Redding, B.B. King, Jackie Wilson and Patti LaBelle on one life-changing bill.

    He bought his first guitar for $21.95 at Sears, but soon Duane was demanding to play it. The brothers became so consumed by their music, and so intent on continuing, that Gregg deliberately shot himself in one foot to gain a medical exemption from the Vietnam draft. (He had studied a skeletal chart to find the least damaging place to shoot.)

    One of their early bands, The Escorts, evolved into the moderately successful Allman Joys. They toured the South relentlessly, endured an ill-fated label deal in California and were signed -- along with Oakley, guitarist Dickey Betts and drummers Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson and Butch Trucks -- as The Allman Brothers Band by Macon, Ga.-based Capricorn Records in 1969.
    The guys were enjoying a first rush of mainstream fame with the release of their third album, the landmark live set At Fillmore East, when Duane was killed in Macon after the motorcycle that he was piloting swerved to avoid a truck and crashed. He was 24.

    Still in shock, the band quickly resumed work on 1972's Eat a Peach, highlighted by its haunting opening track, "Ain't Wasting Time No More," Allman's enduring tribute to his brother. They summoned their strength once again after Oakley's death -- also from a motorcycle crash just blocks from where Duane had been fatally injured -- adding new members and recording 1973's Brothers and Sisters. That disc remained No. 1 on Billboard's album chart for five weeks and featured the Betts classics "Jessica" and "Ramblin' Man."

    The Allmans' fame grew exponentially, and in 1973 they played before a record-breaking 600,000 fans at The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, N.Y., alongside the Grateful Dead and The Band. But in 1976, the group would endure the first of several rancorous splits, which saw Allman clashing most intensely with Betts for control. (The guitarist would be fired in 2000.)

    In 1975, Allman, then 27, was downing a quart of vodka a day, hooked on heroin and already on his third marriage — this time to Cher, the '60s pop icon who was then a star of CBS variety shows, first with former husband Sonny Bono and then on her own. But just nine days into the new union, Cher, distressed by Allman's drug use, walked out.

    They reconciled, had a son, Elijah Blue Allman, and briefly became a recording duo, billing themselves as Allman and Woman. Their one record together, 1977's Two the Hard Way, was disparaged by critics and their divergent fan bases and was a particularly tough sell given Cher's professional reunion with Bono for a new CBS show at the time. Allman and Cher divorced in 1979.
    During this era, Allman also was something of a grassroots political activist, helping put a little-known Jimmy Carter into the White House with an endless run of fundraising concerts. (When Macon's Mercer University bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Allman in May 2016, it was Carter who presented it.)

    In a 2015 interview with Dan Rather, Allman detailed his many failed attempts at rehab and how the stage could numb just about any kind of pain.

    "I've walked onstage with an abscessed tooth and as soon as you get out there, it goes away," Allman said. "Walk offstage, it comes back. It's the land of no pain."

    His determination to rebuild The Allman Brothers Band dovetailed with his first long stretch of sobriety, finally accomplished at age 47, soon after he saw a replay of his incoherent appearance during the group's 1995 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They received Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

    By the time The Allman Brothers Band had added 20-year-old guitar prodigy Derek Trucks (nephew of the founding drummer) in 2000, they were finally settling into their most stable groove in three decades -- a 15-year finale of sorts that lasted until the younger Trucks and fellow guitarist Warren Haynes decided to leave. The band called it day with one final Beacon run in 2014.

    That same year, Allman was again linked with tragedy: The movie-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, who was working on the indie biopic Midnight Rider, based on Allman's 2012 autobiography, My Cross to Bear. After Jones was killed and six others injured, director Randall Miller wanted to continue with the film, but Allman begged him to drop the project.

    A prolific solo artist who also toured and recorded through the decades with his own Gregg Allman Band, he had his biggest solo radio hit in 1987, the catchy "I'm No Angel," which reached the top spot on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart.

    His nine solo albums included All My Friends, recorded at a 2014 tribute concert to him at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and 2015's Live: Back to Macon, GA. A new studio album, Southern Blood, is scheduled to be released this year.

    Allman canceled a round of concert dates in 2016 but got back on the road briefly last fall, performing his last known shows at his own Laid Back Festivals -- Sept. 25 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver and Oct. 29 at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. He endured yet more heartbreak in January when Butch Trucks committed suicide at age 69.

    In March, Allman announced that he was canceling all shows in 2017 and offered refunds to fans. His last song on stage appears to have been "One Way Out."

    In addition to Elijah Blue, his survivors include his other children Michael, Devon, Delilah and Layla.

    ALLMAN, Gregg (Gregory LeNoir Allman)
    Born: 12/8/1947, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/27/2017, Savannah, Georgia U.S.A.

    Gregg Allman’s western – songwriter:
    Brokeback Mountain - 2014

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  • 05/28/17--13:12: RIP Dragomir Stanojevic

  • In memoriam: Dragomir Stanojevic - Bata Kameni (1941-2017)

    Film Center Serbia
    By Djordje Bajic
    May 24, 2017

    RTS reports that after 76 years Dragomir Stanojevic has died, a famous Serbian stuntman, better known as Bata Kameni.  Stanojevic’s filmography has several hundred films, in which he appeared as a stuntman and or supporting actor.  He worked with numerous national and international greats of the seventh art, among others with John Huston, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Richard Burton ... He made his film debut in 1964 in the film “The Long Ships”, after which his stunt skills were demonstrated in films: “March or Die, “Kelly's Heroes”, “Ekspers Balkans” ... Among the many awards he received is noted for his Lifetime Achievement Award at the film festival in Nis and a plaque for outstanding contribution to the Yugoslav cinema awarded by the Yugoslav film Archive.

    STANOJEVIC, Dragomir
    Born: 7/30/1941, Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia
    Died: 5/24/2017, Belgrade, Serbia

    Dragomit Stanjevic’s westerns – actor, stuntman:
    Apaches Last Battle – 1964 [stunts]
    Treasure of the Aztecs - 1965 [stunts]
    Ballad of a Gunman – 1967 (Wheeler)

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  • 05/28/17--19:38: RIP Bret Davidson

  • Island Funeral Service

    Bret was born on February 28, 1959 in Glendale, California.

    He passed away on April 19, 2017 on Vashon Island, WA.

    Growing up in a racing family, he was already riding motorcycles at the age of 5. By 15 he had become the state champion in the 125 Pro Class in Arizona and received a factory ride from Bultaco which lead him to a 29th National Ranking. He then took his talents to the screen and in his first film he was cast to play a young Desperado in The Kid and the Gun Fighter in 1980. Upon finishing 2nd in a National Stuntman's Competition in 1983, Judge, Jocko Mahoney said, "Bret, go to LA and pursue your dream, you have what it takes". This was just the beginning of Bret's career as an actor/stunt man.

    Bret moved to Vashon Island 5 ½ years ago to be with his girlfriend, Kitty English. He enjoyed life on the island and made many friends. He was a huge fan of the 49’s until the Rams moved back to LA, he then rooted for them. He also enjoyed Frisbee golf, spending time at Point Robinson Lighthouse and crabbing in the summer.

    He is preceded in death by his Mother, Shirley, and Father, Clifton, They were his biggest mentors.

    Bret is survived by his girlfriend, Kitty English, of Vashon Island, his son Bradley, his daughter Desi, his son Johnathan nee Dustin, his sister Desiree, his brother Aaron and his wife Liesa, as well as several nieces and a nephew.

    Please remember him by becoming an organ donor at

    DAVIDSON Bret (Bret Lane Davidson)
    Born: 2/28/1959, Glendale, California, U.S.A.
    Died: 4/19/2017, Vashon Island, Washington, U.S.A.

    Bret Davidson’s westerns – assistant director, stunt coordinator, stuntman, actor:
    The Kid and the Gunfighter – 1980 (young desperado)
    The Gunfighter – 1983 [desperado]
    The Young Riders (TV) – 1986 [stunts]
    Lucky Luke – 1991 [assistant stunt coordinator]
    Lucky Luke (TV) – 1992 [assistant director]
    Outlaws: The Legend of O.B. Taggart – 1994 [stunts]
    Troublemakers - 1994 
    The Avenging Angel (TV) – 1995 [stunts]

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  • 05/29/17--07:17: RIP Vince Deadrick Sr.

  • Remembering TOS Stuntman Vince Deadrick, Sr., 1932-2017 is saddened to report the passing of Vince Deadrick, Sr. The veteran stuntman and stunt actor, who worked on Star Trek: The Original Series and was the father of Star Trek: Enterprise stuntman/stunt coordinator Vince Deadrick, Jr., died on Saturday, May 27 at the age of 84. At the behest of his son, during a visit to the Enterprise set, the elder Deadrick performed an uncredited stunt in the episode "Borderland."

    Among the TOS episodes in which the St. Louis-born Deadrick appeared were "Balance of Terror,""What Are Little Girls Made Of?,""Shore Leave,""The Doomsday Machine,""The Apple" and "Mirror, Mirror." His dozens of non-Trek stunt and/or acting roles included Dirty Harry, The Towering Inferno, The Lady in Red, The Beastmaster, Beverly Hills Cop, Commando, Lethal Weapon 4, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, CSI: Miami and Numbers.

    Deadrick would have turned 85 in August. Please join in offering our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and fans.

    DEADRICK, Vince (Vincent Paul Deadrick)
    Born: 8/8/1923, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
    Dead: 5/27/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    Vince Deadrick’s westerns – stuntman, actor:
    Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV) – 1960, 1961 (Norman, Ken, Sy Benton, Ken)
    The Big Valley (TV) – 1969 (guard)
    Gunsmoke (TV) – 1970 (trooper)
    Lancer (TV) – 1970 (drover)
    Skin Game – 1971 [stunts]
    Avenging Angel (TV) – 1985 [stunts]
    North and South (TV) – 1985 (graybeard fighter) [stunts]
    Glory – 1989 [stunts]

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  • 05/29/17--10:40: RIP Jean-Marc Thibault

  • Actor Jean-Marc Thibault is dead

    Mainly known for his duet to the theater with Roger Pierre and for his role in the series "Maguy", the actor passed away Sunday in Marseille at the age of 93 years.


    The comedian Jean-Marc Thibault, who has long formed with Roger Pierre one of the most famous comic duos of French theater, died Sunday May 28 in Marseille at the age of 93, announced his family to Agence France- Press (AFP).

     "He was a great father and man, an actor I loved a lot and who helped me a lot in my life ," said Alexandre Thibault, son of the comedian also known for his role in the television series Maguy .

     "A very popular actor has just left us, " said Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen.  "Jean-Marc Thibault had formed with Roger Pierre, for decades, one of the comic duos most appreciated by the French.  Their complicity worked wonders on stage and in movies, and on television screens, "she added in a statement.

    Mimes and songs

    Born on August 24, 1923 in Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, Yvonne, Jean-Marc Thibault grew up in Montreuil, Seine -Saint-Denis , then went to secondary school in Paris before joining the Simon course.  His school will be mostly the cabaret, next to Roger Pierre, met in the studios of Radio- Luxembourg .  In the aftermath of the Second World War, they began at the Caveau de la Republique and then at my cousin's and they would not leave each other for three decades.

    The two fantasists combine texts, mimes and songs and use a multitude of accessories.  Their success led them into the whole of France.  Their popularity is still growing with the creation of variety programs for television, including "La Grande Farandole" and "Deux sur la 2".

    Their association goes on in feature films for films such as La Vie est belle (1956), Vive les vacances (1958), Les Motards (1959), Enjoy the Friends (1969) or En grands pompes.  The duo, became very famous in the 1960s, separated in 1975, before reforming briefly in 1984 than again in 1990.

    Jean-Marc Thibault also pursued a career as a soloist in the cinema, shooting in 70 films, and on television in particular from 1983 to 1994 in the famous series Maguy, which will earn him a great popularity with a younger audience.

    THIBAULT, Jean-Marc
    Born: 8/14/1923, Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux, Yvonne, Bougogne, France
    Died: 5/28/2017, Marseilles, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

    Jean-Marc Thibault’s western – voice actor:
    Lucky Luke: The Ballad of the Daltons – 1978 [French voice of Dr. Aldous Smith]

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  • 05/30/17--15:02: RIP Sonny West

  • WMC Action News
    May 30, 2017

    One of the original members of Elvis' Memphis Mafia died from cancer.

    Delbert B. "Sonny" West, Jr., of Hendersonville, Tennessee, died May 24 in Nashville.

    Sonny West was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the tonsil in April 2012. He fought the diagnosis with chemotherapy and radiation; he was pronounced cancer free later in 2012.

    Since then, West underwent triple bypass heart surgery, contracted pneumonia, and developed lung cancer--which eventually took his life.

    West was considered Elvis' Head of Security. He toured throughout the United States with Elvis and even appeared in several films with him.

    West eventually landed some television and movie roles without Elvis--perhaps most notably as Ellie Mae's boyfriend in The Beverly Hillbillies.

    West's funeral will be held at Crestview Funeral Home in Gallatin, Tennessee. There will be two public visitations: One Wednesday, May 31, between 4-8 p.m. and another Thursday, June 1, between 12-3 p.m.

    West funeral is also open to the public. It will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 1st.

    WEST, Sonny (Delbert B. West Jr.)
    Born: 7/5/1938, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
    Died: May 24, 2017, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

    Sonny West’s westerns – actor, stuntman:
    Tickle Me – 1965 [stunts]
    Daniel Boone (TV) – 1967 (Indian brave)
    Stay Away Joe – 1968 (Jackson He-Crow)

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  • 05/30/17--15:40: RIP Pat Ridley

  • San Jose Mercury News
    June 1, 2017

    Patrick Leslie Ridley Sr. ,82, of Shingle Springs, California, suffered a stroke and passed away on May 25, 2017 at 3:30 AM at Marshall Medical Center in Placerville, California. His wife Richenda Ridley was by his side.

    Pat was born in El Paso, Texas on August 3, 1934 to Stanford and Katherine Ridley. At an early age, Pat was an Eagle Scout. He served in the US Navy from 1952- 1956 as an EM3 on the USS Queenfish (SS-393) submarine. He returned to El Paso where he attended Texas Western College. He moved to San Jose, CA in 1958 and received a BS in Industrial Technology from San Jose State University. Pat worked at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA for 31 years as a Quality Engineer on Special Programs. After he retired from Lockheed, he and Richenda moved to Alpine, TX and then settled in Shingle Springs, CA. His favorite hobby was to be an extra in films with his best friend of 50 plus years Frank Bednarz. They appeared in westerns such as Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 and Rough Riders and other popular films such as Bee Season, Rocky V, and Moneyball.

    Pat was a kind, loving, devoted husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, and father-in-law. He was loved by all and will be dearly missed.

    Pat is survived by wife Richenda Ridley, brothers Michael Ridley and Ray Ridley, daughter Penny Ridley, stepsons Richard Tetley and Christopher Tetley, granddaughter Christina Ridley and daughter-in-law's Katie Marshall and Judy Ridley, two nephews and five nieces.

    He was preceded in death by wife Beverley Ridley, sister Marilyn Bailey, and sons Prentice Mayer and Patrick Leslie Ridley Jr.

    A Celebration of Pat's Life will be announced at a later date.

    "We will carry in our hearts the memory of your laughter and kind loving soul."
    "Matthew 8:28 Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

    RIDLEY, Pat (Patrick Leslie Ridley)
    Born: 8/3/1934, El Paso, Texas, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/25/2017, Shingle Springs, California, U.S.A.

    Pat Ridley’s westerns – actor:
    Dead Man’s Walk (TV) – 1996 (banker)
    Rough Riders (TV) – 1997 (townsman)
    Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 – 1998 (townsman)

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  • 05/30/17--17:02: RIP Michael Ogiens

  • Michael Ogiens, Producer and Former CBS Exec, Dies at 69

    By Mike Barnes

    He also served as president of MTM Productions and co-created the Robert Urich drama 'The Lazarus Man.'

    Michael Ogiens, a television producer and former programming executive at CBS and MTM Productions, has died. He was 69.

    Ogiens, who co-created the 1990s TNT series The Lazarus Man, starring Robert Urich, died Thursday in his sleep in Los Angeles, his daughter Emma said.

    Most recently, Ogiens developed and produced movies for the Hallmark Channel, including Hannah's Law, All of My Heart, A Country Wedding and Love You Like Christmas. He was in preproduction on a sequel to All of My Heart at the time of his death.

    In 1995, Ogiens was named president of MTM Productions and charged with leading efforts to revive the company founded by Grant Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore. Under his watch, MTM greenlighted series including The Pretender (NBC), Bailey Kipper's P.O.V. (CBS) and Sparks (UPN).

    A native of Los Angeles, Ogiens worked at CBS for 14 years.

    As vp daytime programs, he was responsible for scheduling, affiliate relations, development and supervising production on programs including The Price Is Right and The Young and the Restless, After a promotion, Ogiens oversaw animation and live-action Saturday morning series as well as a slate of young people's specials.

    Moving into primetime as vp programs, he helped revitalize production of shows out of New York, and that yielded the sitcoms Kate & Allie, Charles in Charge and Foley Square.

    Returning to L.A., Ogiens became vp comedy development, where his slate included My Sister Sam and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's Designing Women.

    With former CBS colleague Josh Kane, Ogiens then co-founded the Ogiens/Kane Co., which developed The Lazarus Man and other projects like The Young Riders (ABC), Trenchcoat in Paradise (CBS), Into the Badlands (USA) and The Lot (AMC).

    Ogiens was a board member and past president of the Friends of the Los Angeles Free Clinic (now known as the Saban Community Clinic), where he was instrumental in fundraising activities.

    Survivors include his wife of 28 years, Renee, and another daughter, Kate. Donations in his memory can be made to the Saban Community Clinic.

    Michael Ogiens
    Born: 1948, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/25/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    Michael Ogiens’ westerns – executive producer:
    The Young Riders (TV) – 1989-1990 [executive producer]
    Into the Badlands (TV) – 1991 [executive producer]
    The Lazarus Man (TV) – 1992 [writer]
    Hannah’s Law (TV) – 2012 [executive producer]

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  • 05/31/17--13:35: RIP Elena Verdugo

  • Elena Verdugo, Emmy-Nominated Actress on 'Marcus Welby, M.D.,' Dies at 92

    The Hollywood Reporter
    By Mike Barnes

    She also sang with Xavier Cugat and played a gypsy girl who befriends Lon Chaney Jr. in 'House of Frankenstein.'

    Elena Verdugo, who portrayed the devoted office assistant and nurse Consuelo Lopez opposite Robert Young on the 1970s ABC drama Marcus Welby, M.D., has died. She was 92.

    Verdugo died Tuesday in Los Angeles, a representative for actress Sharon Gless told The Hollywood Reporter. Early in her career, Gless had a recurring role as hospital worker Kathleen Faverty on Marcus Welby, M.D., and she and Verdugo had been extremely close ever since.

    On Facebook, Gless called Verdugo "my dearest, longest-time friend … wonderful actress, funniest woman I ever knew. She was mischief till the end. It is not just the end of an era. It is the end of an epoch. The world is a less interesting place."

    Verdugo replaced Audrey Totter as the star of the CBS Radio comedy Meet Millie and continued to play the wisecracking Brooklyn secretary Millie Bronson on the CBS television version — one of the first shows to be broadcast live from Hollywood — that ran for four seasons, from 1952 through 1956.

    On the big screen, Verdugo appeared opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in the 1945 Universal horror films House of Frankenstein (as the sympathetic gypsy girl Ilonka) and The Frozen Ghost and in the adventure tale Thief of Damascus (1952).

    Verdugo also was a singer and dancer. She performed in the 1940s with the Xavier Cugat Orchestra and handled the vocals on his hit "Tico Tico," which was used in the finale of the 1945 Sonja Henie film It's a Pleasure!.

    The 5-foot-2 Verdugo received supporting actress Emmy nominations in 1971 and 1972 for playing the warmhearted Consuelo, whom many consider to be the first working-professional Latina woman to be portrayed on series television. Marcus Welby aired for seven seasons, from 1969-76.

    Early in the medical drama's run, Consuelo would pour Dr. Welby a cup of coffee when he arrived at the office, but Verdugo said that changed after working women wrote in to complain.

    "[They said,] 'You stop getting him coffee in the morning, we are sick of it, now all doctors want us to get a cup of coffee for them in the morning,'" she once recalled. "And I said, 'I got it, I got it! I will cut it down.'"

    A native of Los Angeles, Verdugo was a descendant of Jose Maria Verdugo, a Spanish army officer who in 1784 was granted grazing rights to a 36,000-acre area that included much of what is now Glendale, Burbank, Eagle Rock and La Crescenta.

    Verdugo finished high school on the Fox studio lot and appeared as a dancer in the Don Ameche-Betty Grable studio musical Down Argentine Way (1940).

    Her film résumé also included Rainbow Island (1944), starring Dorothy Lamour; Song of Scheherazade (1947), with Yvonne De Carlo; Gene Autry's The Big Sombrero (1949); the Charlie Chan mystery The Sky Dragon (1949); and Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), starring Jose Ferrer.

    Before running Dr. Welby's office, Verdugo had recurring roles on the short-lived TV series Redigo, The New Phil Silvers Show, Many Happy Returns and the Juliet Prowse starrer Mona McCluskey.

    While filming the Abbott & Costello comedy Little Giant (1946), she met screenwriter Charles R. Marion, who also wrote for the comedy team's radio show, and they married. After a divorce, she wed Charles Rosewall, a doctor, in 1972, and they were together until his death in 2012.

    Verdugo's son, actor Richard Marion (Pharmacist's Mate Williams on TV's Operation Petticoat), died at age 50 of an apparent heart attack in 1999.

    VERDUGO, Elena
    Born: 4/20/1925, Hollywood, California, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/30/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    Elena Verdugo’s westerns – actress:
    Cavalier West – 1931 (little girl)
    Belle Starr – 1941 (young girl)
    El Dorado Pass – 1948 (Dolores)
    Snow Dog – 1950 (Andree Blanchard)
    Gene Autry and the Mounties – 1951 (Marie Duval)
    The Big Sombrero – 1953 (Estella Estrada)
    The Pathfinder – 1952 (Lokawa)
    The Marksman – 1953 (Jane Warren)
    Law of the Plainsman (TV) – 1959 (Connie Drake)
    Rawhide (TV) – 1959 (Maria Carroyo)
    Redigo (TV) – 1963 (Gerry)
    Iron Horse (TV) – 1967 (Abigail Bennett)
    Daniel Boone (TV) – 1969 (Violet Morton)

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  • 05/31/17--16:28: RIP Anne Kimbell

  • Wet Mountain Tribune

    A celebration of life will be held later this summer for Anne Kimbell Relph who over the past quarter century founded and developed the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts in Westcliffe. Her efforts placed the Wet Mountain Valley on the map as a small-town center for the performing arts. Ms. Relph died May 16, 2017. She was 84. She was born June 28, 1932 in Louisiana to Andrew and Kathryn (Collins) Banks. At the age of three, she and her family moved to Hollywood, Calif., and a year later, at the age of four, she began her career in radio with “The Children’s Radio Workshop” in Los Angeles. At the age of 12, she joined the Screen Actors Guild, and worked continuously in film, television, and on the stage. Most notably, she played Rosalind Russell’s daughter in “Roughly Speaking,” and John Garfield’s sister in “Growing Up.” As an adult, she starred in Roger Corman’s first film, “Monster from the Ocean Floor,” and “Girls at Sea” with Guy Rolfe. Both films were quite popular when shown over the years at The Jones Theater in Westcliffe.

    Ms. Relph’s real love was the stage, and she studied with Lee Strasberg in New York and starred on Broadway opposite Eddie Bracken in ‘The Seven Year Itch,” and in London in “Roar Like a Dove,” produced by Vivien Leigh. She also played opposite Marlon Brando in “Arms and the Man” in the eastern U.S. touring production. She first came to Colorado in the 1950s as leading lady at the famed Elitch Garden Theater in Denver, and at that time fell in love with the state. While on stage in London she met and married James F. Relph, a Foreign Service Officer. Together they lived in Switzerland, Germany, and in the African nations of Chad and Tunisia. She founded a school for women in the Republic of Chad, and developed cross-cultural programs for women in Tunisia. Ms. Relph loved traveling the world and was always open-minded about people from other cultures and religions. She had written several books about her life as a spouse of a Foreign Service Officer, After returning to California in the early 1980s, Ms. Relph served as an executive director of the University of Southern California’s Orange County Center. She founded the “Enterprising Woman” organization to provide education and support to women who were going into business for themselves. During that period, in 1992, she came to Colorado to buy a small horse ranch, and ended up purchasing the historic Jones Theater in Westcliffe which was going to be turned into a laundromat. Her goal was to preserve the theater for the Wet Mountain Valley, and she always considered Westcliffe to be her home, though she continued to return seasonally to Laguna Beach, Calif. Ms. Relph always enjoyed the friendly people who lived in Custer County, and was always gratified when people would be inspired by what they saw at the Jones Theater. She had a passion for keeping the arts alive in a small community, and especially loved seeing local kids pursue the arts. She was the founder of the Westcliffe Center for the Arts, and over the years served as its president, producer and artistic director up until the time of her death. She and her long-time partner, the late Tom Stagg, helped grow the WCPA and spearheaded the building of Studio 2 addition to the Jones Theater. She also was instrumental in developing the annual Shakespeare in the Park festival here. Ms. Relph held a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Virginia, and a master’s degree in women’s studies from George Washington University. She also spoke French and German. Ms. Relph is survived by a daughter, Christiane Kimbell Relph (and husband, Mark Maloney) of rural Westcliffe. Also surviving are a granddaughter, Kathryn Kimbell Potts, step granddaughters Cassidy Maloney and Hayley Maloney; and her beloved dachshund, Snoopy. A happy celebration of life will be held later this summer in Westcliffe. Those wishing may make memorial contributions to the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts at P.O. Box 790 in Westcliffe.

    KIMBELL, Anne (Anne Banks)
    Born: 6/28/1932, Louisiana, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/16/2017, Westcliffe, Colorado, U.S.A.

    Anne Kimbell’s westerns – actress:
    Fort Osage – 1952 (Annie Winfield)
    Wagons West – 1952 (Alice Lawrence)
    The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (TV) – 1952 (Sally)
    The Cisco Kid (TV) – 1952, 1953 (Alice Fleming, Jennifer Kellin)
    The Adventures of Kit Carson (TV) – 1954, 1955 (Mary Jordan)

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  • 05/31/17--19:01: RIP Margaret Ann Garza

  • Joe Jackson Funeral Parlor

    Margaret Ann Garza was born on March 21st, 1986 to Fred and Carmen Garza. She was the epitome of love, and she was so very loved by all. Besides God, her family and close friends were always first. She was a loving daughter and a true friend. Margaret was thoughtful, kindhearted, unselfish, and genuine. She had a beautiful smile, but beyond that, a beautiful heart. She always gave her time to anyone who needed her. She was either sharing a good time celebrating friends, comforting friends, or just there when someone needed a friend.

    Margaret dared to dream big. She did things most people only aspire to. She loved pageantry, singing, acting, and modeling. Margaret was crowned Ms. Texas Belleza Latina in 2007 and Ms. Belleza Latina International in 2008. She appeared in various ads in television and in print. She had several acting roles and most recently appeared in the nationally televised series, “The Son”, as well as Mercury Plains with Scott Eastwood and Pizza Joint, which will premiere this June.

    She enjoyed life and worked hard to achieve her goals. Margaret attended Alexander High School in Laredo. She graduated from TAMIU with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies. She was a driven, motivated and dedicated professional who believed in self-discipline and hard work. She recently obtained her broker’s insurance license.

    Margaret enjoyed the simple things in life and knew their worth. Everything big and small was worth its weight in gold to her. She was beauty without presumption, intelligence with humility, and unyielding perseverance without rest.

    Margaret was a self-proclaimed “Daddy’s Girl” who loved every moment with him. She gained her love of nature, riding horses, shooting guns, and all things cowboy from her #1 Cowboy, her Daddy. And from her mama, it was having pride in a nice clean home, her love of cooking, and her respect for others. Margaret had a lovely bond with her mother. Above all, she and her mother were best friends. Both her parents loved, cared, and nurtured Margaret. Their love made Margaret the beautiful human being she was inside and out.

    Margaret touched our hearts, empowered us, and inspired many people. She was a “Once in a Lifetime Kind of Woman” who left us too soon. We celebrate her life, and mourn her passing. Margaret Ann Garza passed away on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 in Round Rock, TX.

    She is preceded in death by her paternal grandmother: Alicia Garza; maternal grandparents: Frank and Margarita Wolter.

    Left behind to cherish her memory are her beloved parents: Juan A. “Fred” & Carmen W. Garza; paternal grandparents: Alfonso (Isabel) Garza; aunts and uncles: Beto (Kathy) Garza, Rene (Margaret) Garza, Mario (Amada) Garza, David (Dane) Garza, Cesar (Gwen) Garza, Daniel (Debra) Garza, Carlos (Alma) Garza, Ana Maria (Marco Tulio) Cruz, Tere (Jose Luis) Resendez, Martha (+Bernie) Cortez, Vicente J. (Johanna) Leija, as well as an extended number of cousins, relatives and beloved friends.

    The family will receive condolences on Friday, June 2, 2017 at Joe Jackson North Funeral & Cremation Services, 1410 Jacaman Rd., from 5 to 9 in the evening; where a Vigil for the Deceased and Rosary will be recited at 7.

    Funeral cortege will depart the funeral chapel at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, 2017 to St. Patrick Catholic Church where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m.

    Rite of Committal and Interment will follow at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

    You may extend your condolences online at:

    GARZA, Margaret Ann
    Born: 3/11/1986, Harlingen, Texas, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/30/2017, Round Rock, Texas, U.S.A.

    Margaret Ann Garza’s western – actress:
    The Son (TV) – 2017 (Carmen)

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  • 06/01/17--12:44: RIP Wendell Burton

  • Wendell Burton, Who Starred With Liza Minnelli in ‘The Sterile Cuckoo,’ Dies at 69.

    The Hollywood Reporter
    By Mike Barnes

    He also played Charlie Brown on TV and toured with Eve Arden in ‘Butterflies Are Free.’
    Wendell Burton, who starred with Liza Minnelli in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, a tale about two college kids in love, has died. He was 69.

    Burton died Tuesday at his home in Houston after a 3 1/2-year battle with brain cancer, his daughter, actress Haven Burton, told The Hollywood Reporter.

    Burton also starred as America's lovable loser in the 1973 NBC/Hallmark Hall of Fame special You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. That was adapted from the stage, and Burton had played Charlie in a San Francisco production while he was a college student in the area.

    In Paramount's The Sterile Cuckoo, which marked the directorial debut of Alan J. Pakula, Burton portrayed Jerry Payne, who meets the eccentric Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams (Minnelli). Both are freshmen at nearby colleges in upstate New York and fall in love for the first time.

    Minnelli, who has a memorable telephone scene in the movie in which she implores her boyfriend to remain with her, received an Oscar nomination for best actress in her first starring role for the big screen.

    After The Sterile Cuckoo, Burton played the blind man opposite Eve Arden as his controlling mother in a national production of the Broadway hit Butterflies Are Free and starred in the prison-set MGM release Fortune and Men's Eyes (1971).

    Also in the '70s, Burton starred in the romantic comedy Goodnight Jackie(1974); had guest-starring turns on such series as Young Dr. Kildare, Medical Center, Room 222, Kung Fu, Love, American Styleand The Rookies; and appeared opposite William Shatner in the 1973 ABC telefilm Go Ask Alice.

    Burton later had roles in the 1981 miniseries East of Eden and in the 1986 Burt Reynolds film Heat.

    He went on to work in ad sales for the Christian Broadcasting Network/Family Channel, help launch a TV station in Houston and work with the Joel Osteen Ministries. Burton also recorded four albums of faith-based music.

    His daughter Haven provided the voice of Serena on English-language TV versions of Pokemon and appeared on Broadway in Rent, Shrek the Musical and Kinky Boots.

    Survivors also include his wife Linda, son Adam, grandson Hudson and son-in-law Denny.

    BURTON, Wendell
    Born: 7/21/1947, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/30/2017, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.

    Wendell Burton’s westerns – actor:
    Kung Fu (TV) – 1974 (Martin Crossman)
    The Red Badge of Courage (TV) – 1974 (Private Wilson)

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  • 06/02/17--06:54: RIP Maury Dexter

  • Ventura County Star
    June 2, 2017

    Maury Dexter died on 5/28/2017. Born Morris Gene Poindexter 6/12/1927 in Paris, Arkansas. Preceded in death by his mother Emma Foster Poindexter, father William Henry Poindexter and brothers Foster , William and James. He is survived by his niece Constance Durkin of Arkansas. A member of the Director's Guild since 1936, he once directed 20 films in a year's time for 20th Century Fox. By the 60's , he had his own production company, but the apex of his career came when he became a director for Michael Landon's "Little House on the Prairie" and " Highway to Heaven"

    DEXTER, Maury (Morris Gene Poindexter)
    Born: 6/12/1928, Paris, Arkansas, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/28/2017, Simi Valley, California, U.S.A.

    Maury Dexter’s westerns – producer, production manager, director, assistant director:
    Frontier Gun – 1958 [assistant producer]
    Lone Texas – 1959 [production manager]
    Walk Tall – 1960 [producer]
    The Purple Hills – 1961 [producer, director]
    The Firebrand – 1962 [producer, director]
    Young Guns of Texas – 1962 [producer, director]
    The Outlaw of Red River – 1965 [director]
    Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1979-1983 [assistant director
    Father Murphy (TV) – 1981-1983 [assistant director]
    Little House: The Last Farewell (TV) – 1984 [assistant director]

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  • 06/02/17--10:20: RIP Tino Insana

  • Second City
    June 1, 2017

    The Second City is sad to learn that beloved alum Tino Insana passed away last night in California at the age of 69. Tino was “discovered” by producer Joyce Sloane when he and his friends Steve Beshekas and John Belushi were doing shows under the name of the “West Compass Players.” Apparently, the trio was performing entire scenes that they had seen at Second City as part of their act. Instead of sending a cease and desist, Joyce and Bernie Sahlins hired John and Tino to be part of The Second City ensemble.

    Tino would go on to have a lengthy career in Hollywood as an actor, writer and voice artist. He appeared in such films as “Neighbors,” “Three Amigos,” “Who’s Harry Crumb?” and “Beverly Hills Cop III,” as well as television shows such as “Night Court,” “Mad About You” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He wrote for the television series “Police Squad” and “Sledgehammer” and had an extensive list of credits as a voice actor.

    “Tino was adored by every generation of Second City,” noted Second City owner and CEO Andrew Alexander. “He was always an ensemble player who had the respect and adoration of his peers. He will be deeply missed.”

    Tino is survived by his wife of 42 years, Dana, his brother Craig, and two other siblings.

    INSANA, Tino
    Born: 2/15/1948, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
    Died: 5/3/2017, California, U.S.A.

    Tino Insana’s western – actor:
    Three Amigos – 1986 (studio guard)

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  • 06/02/17--10:34: RIP José Greci

  • RIP José Greci

    Italian actress José Greci died on June 1st. She was 76.Her death was confirmed by her friend actress Martine Brochard on her Facebook page. Giuseppina Greci on January 10, 1941 in Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, the daughter of the journalist and television writer Luigi Greci, in 1956 at just fifteen years old Greci enrolled the Silvio D'Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art; after two years she left the Academy to debut on stage. She made her film debut in 1959, playing the Virgin Mary in William Wyler's “Ben-Hur”. From there she started appearing in dozens of genre films, soon becoming one of the most prolific actresses in the 1960s Italian cinema, particularly becoming a star in the sword-and-sandal and euro-spy genres. She was also active on television before she gradually abandoned her career in 1974. Greci appeared in one Euro-western 1968’s “Bury Them Deep” as Consuelo/Pepita and starring Craig Hill.

    GRECI, José (Giuseppina Greci) 
    Born: 1/10/1941, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
    Died: 6/1/2017, Rome, Lazio, Italy

    José Greci's western - actress:
    Bury Them Deep – 1968 (Consuelo/Pepita)

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  • 06/04/17--07:17: RIP Vassili Lambrinos

  • The New York Times
    June 4, 2017

    Artist, Actor, Director, Choreographer died May 12 at age 91. Born in Suez of Greek Parents. He lived and studied in Paris. Then Buenos Aires to direct and act in several films, and Ballet Director of Teatro Colon. Coming to the US in the 50's, he had a successful acting career in Film and TV in Los Angeles and New York. His Paintings of the Greek sea brought joy to worldwide collectors.

    LAMBRINOS, Vassili
    Born: 1/30/1926, Suez, Egypt
    Died: 5/12/2017 New York City, New York, U.S.A.

    Vasili Lambrinos’ western – actor:
    The Unsinkable Molly Brown – 1964 (Prince Louis de Laniere)

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  • 06/11/17--18:50: RIP Tom Lutz

  • Moore Chapel
    March 30, 2017

    Tom Lutz rode on ahead March 28, 2017 from the Willard Walker Hospice Home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was born in Wichita, Kansas on February 19, 1939, to Scott T. Lutz and Mary Ruth Courtney Lutz. Tom graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1961 and moved west to purse his acting career. He left acting to partner in a cue card business in Los Angeles and later became a writer for 15 years for Hee Haw, the weekly television comedy show.

    After leaving show business, he learned the oil business from his father and successfully drilled wells in western Kansas. This allowed him to pursue his passion for architecture and design. He built and remodeled over a dozen homes for friends and family in Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas and Arizona. He is survived by his wife Lisa Morgan Lutz and his sister, Marguerite Jean Lutz of Fayetteville.

    Tom's wishes were for no services to be held at his passing. Besides being a wonderful friend, loving husband and brother and all-around great guy, he always left a smile behind. He cherished and nurtured his many friendships from his school days to as recently as last week.
    Special thanks must go to his closest friend, Eric Sherwood for always being there for Tom and to the excellent care he and his family received from the Willard Walker Hospice Home.

    In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials may be sent to the Fay Jones School of Architecture and design (checks payable to the University of Arkansas Foundation), 120 Vol Walker Hall, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701 and the Willard Walker Hospice Home, 325 E Longview St. Fayetteville, Arkansas 72703.

    LUTZ, Tom (Thomas Lutz)
    Born: 2/19/1939, Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A.
    Died: 3/28/2017, Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.

    Tom Lutz’s westerns – actor:
    Gunsmoke (TV) – 1963 (cowboy)
    Bonanza (TV) – 1968 (Emmett Carver)

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  • 06/11/17--19:04: RIP Fred J. Koenekamp

  • Fred Koenekamp, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer on 'The Towering Inferno,' Dies at 94

    The Hollywood Reporter
    By Mike Barnes

    His long list of credits also includes 'Patton,''Papillon,''Islands in the Stream' and 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'

    Fred Koenekamp, the Oscar-winning cinematographer known for his work on such films as Patton, Papillon and The Towering Inferno, has died. He was 94.

    Koenekamp, who spent more than a decade at MGM, where he served as director of photography on several films and the stylish TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died May 31, a representative from the International Cinematographers Guild told The Hollywood Reporter.
    The innovative Koenekamp won his Oscar (shared with Joseph F. Biroc) for the disaster-film classic The Towering Inferno (1974) and also was nominated for Patton (1970) and Islands in the Stream (1977), a pair of George C. Scott starrers directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.
    He also collaborated with Schaffner on Papillon (1973), Yes, Giorgio (1982) and Welcome Home (1989).

    Koenekamp served as a DP on more than 40 features, including Live a Little, Love a Little (1968), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Billy Jack (1971), Kansas City Bomber (1972), Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Fun With Dick and Jane (1977), The Champ (1979), The Amityville Horror (1979), First Family (1980) and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension (1984).

    Koenekamp served a 16-year apprenticeship before he became a director of photography, and he retired in the late 1980s. The American Society of Cinematographers honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

    His father was H.F. Koenekamp, an Oscar nominee who began his career as a cinematographer at Mack Sennett Studios in 1913 and did special effects work on films including High Sierra, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, White Heat and Strangers on a Train. He died in 1992 at age 100.

    “It didn’t mean that much as a young kid that my dad worked in pictures,” Koenekamp recalled in a 2005 interview with American Cinematographer magazine. “But every once in a while, he would take me to the studio on Saturdays. He was in special effects at Warner Bros., and Stage 5 housed the camera and special effects department. There was a balcony that overlooked the stage where they had all the miniatures. I used to just love to go up there and look around.”

    A native of Los Angeles, Koenekamp spent 3 1/2 years in the Navy, serving in the South Pacific. He landed a job as a camera loader at RKO in 1947, and "all of a sudden I was totally fascinated by the picture business," he recalled.

    He became an assistant cameraman on Underwater! (1955), starring Jane Russell, where he learned to do underwater work. MGM then hired him to work a camera on an Esther Williams movie.

    At the studio, he graduated to camera operator and worked on Raintree County (1957), The Brothers Karamazov (1958) and such TV shows as The Lieutenant, created by Gene Roddenberry, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., for which he did nearly 100 episodes and earned Emmy nominations in 1965 and 1966.

    “I was on The Great Bank Robbery [at Warner Bros.] when I got my really big break,” he said in the 2005 interview. “My agent called and said Fox wanted me to interview with a director. It turned out to be Frank Schaffner, and the picture was Patton."

    After he and Irwin Allen collaborated on The Towering Inferno, the producer hired him again for The Swarm (1978), When Time Ran Out … (1980) and the 1985 CBS telefilm Alice in Wonderland.

    Survivors include his daughter Kathy.

    KOENEKAMP, Fred J.
    Born: 11/11/1922, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A
    Died: 5/31/1927, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    Fred J. Keonekamp’s westerns – cameraman, director of photography, cinematographer:
    Raintree County – 1957 [cameraman]
    Gunsmoke (TV) – 1963 [cameraman]
    Stay Away Joe – 1968 [director of photography]
    The Great Bank Robbery – 1969 [cinematographer]
    Heaven With a Gun – 1969 [cinematographer]
    Billy Jack – 1972 [director of photography]
    Skin Game – 1971 [cinematographer]
    The Magnificent 7 Ride! – 1972 [director of photography]
    Kung Fu (TV) – 1972-1973 [director of photography]
    Posse – 1975 [cinematographer]

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  • 06/11/17--19:22: RIP Roger Smith

  • Roger Smith, '77 Sunset Strip' Star and Husband of Ann-Margret, Dies at 84

    The Hollywood Reporter
    By Chris Koseluk

    After a debilitating illness ended his days as an actor, he managed his wife's career. "Roger had tremendous confidence in me, much more than I did," she once said.

    Roger Smith, the suave leading man of television who starred on the popular 1950s-'60s ABC private eye series 77 Sunset Strip before a neuromuscular disease ended his acting career in his 30s, has died. He was 84.

    Smith, who went on to manage the career of Ann-Margret, his wife of 50 years, died Sunday at Sherman Oaks Hospital, a representative for the actress told The Hollywood Reporter. No cause of death was announced.

    On 136 episodes of 77 Sunset Strip, Smith portrayed Jeff Spencer, one-half of a breezy detective pair who solved crimes and chased women while working out of their ultra-hip offices on the Sunset Strip. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. played his partner, Stu Bailey.

    Also lending a hand in the adventures was Kookie (Edd Byrnes), who parked cars next door at Dino's Lodge. (The real-life Hollywood nightclub, owned by Dean Martin, served as the actual backdrop in the show.)

    From its jazzy, finger-snapping theme by Mack David and Jerry Livingston to the teen idol popularity of Byrnes' character, 77 Sunset Strip captured the cultural zeitgeist of the era during its six-season run from 1958-64. Ironically, the 77 address didn't exist as Sunset Boulevard has only four-digit street numbers. An engraving on the sidewalk at 8524 Sunset between La Cienega Boulevard and Alta Loma Road commemorates the location where the series' offices supposedly were.

    Smith's career in front of the camera, however, was cut short by medical issues. He left 77 Sunset Strip in 1963 after five seasons when a blood clot was discovered in his brain. Surgery successfully corrected the problem and Smith was able to resume performing, but in 1965, Smith was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, which causes extreme weakness.

    But by that time, Smith was entering a new phase. Having finalized his divorce from his first wife, Australian actress Victoria Shaw, Smith was dating Ann-Margret. He proposed to the Swedish sex kitten in 1966 on a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park, and they married in May 1967 in a hotel room at The Riviera in Las Vegas.

    Roger LeVerne Smith was born on Dec. 18, 1932, in South Gate, Calif., to Dallas and Leone Smith. By age 6, his parents had already enrolled him in singing, dancing and elocution classes.

    The family relocated to Nogales, Ariz., when Smith was 12. Throughout high school, he was a fixture on the stage as well as on the football field. When he wasn't starring in school productions or serving as president of the acting club, he was anchoring the defense as the team's star linebacker.

    Smith attended the University of Arizona on a football scholarship. But when the opportunity arose, he grabbed his guitar and entered amateur talent contests as a singer and appeared on television's Ted Mack & The Original Amateur Hour in 1948.

    After graduation, Smith signed on with the Naval Reserve. While stationed in Hawaii during his 30-month tour of duty, he had a chance encounter with James Cagney. The legendary actor saw a star quality in Smith and encouraged him to come to Hollywood. When he hung up his uniform, Smith followed Cagney's advice.

    Smith showed up in 1956 on an episode of The Ford Television Theatre. Over the next year, he would land roles on Damon Runyon Theatre, Celebrity Playhouse, Sheriff of Cochise, West Point and The George Sanders Mystery Theater.

    Smith also married Shaw in 1956. The couple had children Tracey, Jordan and Dallas before divorcing in 1964. (He had no children with Ann-Margret.)

    In 1957, Columbia Pictures put Smith under contract. This led to a string of film appearances, including No Time to Be Young (1957), Operation Mad Ball (1957), Crash Landing (1958) and Auntie Mame (1958), in perhaps his most notable film role as the adult Patrick Dennis.

    Smith got the opportunity to work with Cagney twice. In 1957, Cagney played Lon Chaney and Smith his son in the biopic Man of a Thousand Faces, and they appeared in Never Steal Anything Small (1959).

    During this time, Smith continued to pop up on the small screen on Father Knows Best, Wagon Train and Sugarfoot.

    And then came the role that made him a star. Created by Roy Huggins, 77 Sunset Strip began as a 77-minute episode of the series Conflict. Smith wasn't in it and Byrnes played an icy hitman named Smiley. When Warner Bros. decided to go to series, Smith was featured as the former government agent Spencer, who also was a non-practicing attorney. Byrnes was recast as the wannabe investigator Kookie.

    The freewheeling, wisecracking style of the characters, combined with their sophisticated lifestyle, was something TV viewers had never seen before.

    "The heroes of 77 Sunset Strip were far removed from the stifled officers of Dragnet and Gangbusters," Douglas Snauffer wrote in his 2006 book Crime Television. "They had a French secretary in the office and often hung out next door at Dino's, a hip L.A. eatery. Their cases would often take them to exotic locations around the globe."

    Snauffer noted that 77 Sunset Strip also was TV's first hourlong private eye series.

    In 1960, at the height of the show's popularity, Warner Bros. Records released Beach Romance, featuring 11 songs sung by Smith. He also penned seven episodes of the series (including "The Silent Caper," a clever installment without dialogue) and wrote for Studio 4, Teletale and Surfside 6.

    Smith's last 77 Sunset Strip episode, the fifth-season finale "Our Man in Switzerland," aired May 24, 1963. He also appeared earlier as Spencer in two episodes of Hawaiian Eye and on an episode of Surfside 6. Both Warner Bros. shows were created to cash in on the popularity of 77 Sunset Strip.

    In 1964, Smith, well enough to return to acting, toured the country in a production of Sunday in New York. He showed up on TV's The Farmer's Daughter and Kraft Suspense Theatre and had an uncredited role in the feature For Those Who Think Young.

    Smith took another shot at a series in 1965, signing on to play the title role in a version of Mr. Roberts. The half-hour comedy lasted one season. After that, he made only two more acting appearances, both in 1968, in Rogue's Gallery and in Criminal Affair, an Italian caper comedy that starred Ann-Margret.

    Smith in 1964 had struck up a friendship with Allan Carr, who agreed to be Smith's manager. As Smith decided to leave acting, the duo formed Rogallan Productions. The company produced The First Time (1969) starring Jacqueline Bisset, and CC & Company (1970), starring Ann-Margret and Joe Namath. Smith wrote the screenplay for both.

    Soon the lion's share of Smith's duties were as Ann-Margret's manager. He produced many of her stage shows and TV specials, including Ann-Margret: From Hollywood With Love (1969), Ann-Margret: When You're Smiling (1973) and Ann-Margret … Rhinestone Cowgirl (1977), and co-produced her 1994 telefilm Nobody's Children.

    "Roger had tremendous confidence in me, much more than I did," his wife said in a 1985 interview. "I can be hurt very easily, but he can't. He gradually brought me out of my shell."

    As the years went on, Smith made fewer and fewer public appearances because of his failing health. When he was seen, it usually was in support of his longtime love at such events as the Golden Globes or Emmy Awards.

    The funeral service will be private.

    SMITH, Roger (Roger LeVerne Smith)
    Born: 12/18/1932, South Gate, California, U.S.A.
    Died: 6/4/2017, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.

    Roger Smith’s westerns – actor:
    The Sheriff of Cochise (TV) – 1957 (Jim)
    Sugarfoot (TV) – 1958 (Gene Blair)
    Wagon Train (TV) – 1958 (Dr. Peter H. Culver)

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  • 06/11/17--19:40: RIP Rita Riggs

  • Rita Riggs, Costume Designer for Alfred Hitchcock and 'The Jeffersons,' Dies at 86

    The Hollywood Reporter
    By Mike Barnes

    She worked on films with Edith Head and on several series for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin.
    Rita Riggs, the costume designer and wardrobe specialist who worked on Psycho and The Birds for Alfred Hitchcock and on TV's All in the Family and The Jeffersons for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, has died. She was 86.
    Riggs died Monday in Los Angeles, a family spokesperson said.

    In 2003, Riggs received the Career Achievement Award in Television from the Costume Designers Guild, and last year, the guild's legacy committee honored her with another lifetime award.

    Riggs' estimable resumé for the big screen also included work for directors John Frankenheimer (1966's Seconds), Richard Lester (1968's Petulia), Jacques Demy (1969's Model Shop), Richard Brooks (1969's The Happy Ending), William Friedkin (1983's Deal of the Century), Peter Bogdanovich (1990's Texasville), Franklin Schaffner (1982's Yes, Giorgio), Mark Rydell (1973's Cinderella Liberty) and Lear (1971's Cold Turkey).

    Born in the mining town of Lead Hill, Arkansas, Riggs came to California in 1943 at age 13 with her family. She attended Santa Ana High School and then the University of Arizona.

    She landed a job at CBS Studios, and her first assignment was for the variety show Shower of Stars. That was followed by stints on Climax!, the live anthology show Playhouse 90 and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

    Her association with Hitchcock led her to jobs on the director's Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), the latter two working under the legendary costume designer Edith Head.

    For Lear and/or Yorkin, Riggs also served on Maude, Sanford & Son, Good Times, One Day at a Time and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman at The Loft, her studio in Hollywood.

    As the family on The Jeffersons moved on up from their middle-class home in Queens to a Manhattan high-rise, Riggs turned Sherman Hemsley's character into a "dandy," putting him in conservative three-piece suits in unusual colors, she recalled in a 2003 interview for the Archive of American Television.

    She also contributed to the sepia-toned "photo album" look to All in the Family.

    A service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Olive Lawn Memorial Park in La Mirada, California.

    RIGGS, Rita
    Born: 9/2/1930 Lead Hill, Arkansas, U.S.A.
    Died: 6/5/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

    Rita Riggs’ westerns – costume designer:
    Bite the Bullet – 1975
    Cattle Annie and Little Britches – 1981
    The Last Outlaw - 1993

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