About half of my life was spent on watching movies and TV. I am sure that all these writers, directors and actors shaped my life in more ways than I could have imagined.
The year 2010 took away many of these great artists. Here are some of those that in one way or another influenced me along the way.
TONY CURTIS. He was one of my idols when I was a kid. He was funny and handsome while most of the comedy actors like Jerry Lewis and Walter Matthau were just funny.
When the Hollywood studios fell, its stars fell with them. I find it such a great disservice to the public and to Art itself that the new producers and directors refused to get the stars of the Hollywood studios even if they were great actors and actresses. Thus, from the 70s, these stars were considered relics of a bygone era. Tony like his colleagues Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, etc. were bypassed for younger actors like Pacino or Nicholson or older actors who were not stars like Walter Matthau.
Fortunately, The Persuaders TV series came along which co-starred him with Roger Moore. The show was popular in Europe, Australia and elsewhere. It won awards in Australia, Germany and Spain. But the Americans didn’t appreciate it so the series did not have a second season. Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste.
I loved The Persuaders. It had high production values, good scripts and two dashing heroes. When I was a kid, I was so excited when it was time for The Persuaders. I still remember some of its episodes. In England, it went on re-runs in the 1990s and 2000s. In Germany, it was re-run in 2007.
Later, Curtis starred in another TV series McCoy, a 2-hour telefilm series like Columbo, McCloud and MacMillan and Wife. Unfortunately, it also did not click with the American audience and so it was cancelled in the first season.
In the late 70s, he was in the TV series Vega$. This lasted for 3 seasons but he was really more like a permanent guest star in the Robert Urich show.
Even after the fall of the studios, he still got to star in a few films. I saw Lepke (1975) and The Manitou (1978). In The Count of Monte Cristo (1975), he was the villain to the hero Richard Chamberlain, another of my favorite actors. In 1993, he was one of the star-studded cast of Scorsese’s Naked in New York.
I’ve read that one of his great disappointments was that he never won an Oscar. But he is not alone there. So many great actors never won an Oscar. His contemporary and co-star in Spartacus, Kirk Douglas, never won an Oscar, too. I remember when I told my mother that her favorite actor Kirk Douglas never won an Oscar, she couldn’t and wouldn’t believe it.
Tony was married to Janet Leigh. Jamie Lee Curtis is Tony and Janet’s daughter.
BLAKE EDWARDS. He is the director of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, one of my favourite films. He is most famous for directing The Pink Panther series, which I had seen all except for the first part that starred David Niven. I loved this series when I was in high school and college. And of course, The Party with Peter Sellers was one of the funniest comedies I have seen.
In the movie 10, I fell in love with Bo Derek. And there are the movies with his wife and one of my favourite actresses, Julie Andrews, – The Tamarind Seed, SOB and Victor Victoria.
LESLIE NIELSEN. Who has not seen The Naked Gun and its sequels? I was pleasantly surprised that a has-been actor, aged 65, suddenly became a blockbuster star. It reminded me that miracles do happen. His deadpan acting is incomparable.
PATRICIA NEAL. She won the Oscars for her role in Hud opposite my favourite actor, Paul Newman. When my mother told me that Roald Dahl was Patricia Neal’s husband. I remember wondering how a Hollywood superstar could fall for a nondescript writer of children’s books.
RUE McCLANAHAN. I loved the TV Series Maude where she co-starred with Bea Arthur and of course, The Golden Girls with Bea Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty.
DENNIS HOPPER. He was one of the new wave Hollywood directors who overthrew the studio system. He directed and co-starred in Easy Rider. He is such a great actor. He was an iconoclast. I saw many of his films including Blue Velvet and Carried Away.
GARY COLEMAN. He was so lovable in Different Strokes. Too bad he never grew up, literally.
LYNN REDGRAVE. I first saw her in the film Georgy Girl when it was re-released in Manila theatres in 1972. As a birthday present, my eldest brother Jun brought me along to the show. Realizing the film’s mature content (no nudity), Jun asked me if I understood the movie. I said yes. Perhaps to erase the movie from my mind, he decided that we should go watch another film, The Planet of the Apes.
A few weeks later, Marcos’s men “arrested” my brother for political reasons. When we visited him at Camp Aguinaldo, we were interrogated separately by the military. When the military asked me when I last saw my brother, I answered that it was on my birthday and we saw two films. The military guy couldn’t believe that we saw two films in one day. Geez, I sometimes watched three films in one day!
Lynn’s sister Vanessa was my number one favourite actress when I was a kid. Later, I was amused that the sisters never got along because of their political views. Lynn was a conservative while Vanessa was a Trotskyite.
I also liked Lynn’s TV series House Calls where she was nominated for Best Actress. She was also nominated for the Oscars for Georgy Girl (Best Actress) and Oscar’s Best Supporting Actress for Shine (1996) and Gods and Monsters (1998).
CORIN REDGRAVE. Corin is the brother of Lynn and Vanessa. They are the children of Sir Michael Redgrave, one of the three shining lights of English theater in the 20th century. Corin wrote the biography of his father. Unlike his sisters, he made a few Hollywood films. His film credits include Excalibur, In the Name of the Father and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He died in April while Lynn died in May. In 2009, Vanessa’s daughter Natasha Richardson, wife of Liam Neeson, died in a skiing accident.
PETER GRAVES. As a kid, Mission Impossible was one of my favourite TV series.
J.D. SALINGER . His novel Catcher in the Rye remains as one of my favourites. I wonder why I like so many Jewish writers.
JEAN SIMMONS. One of the angelic beauties of the Hollywood studios. Her first husband was Stewart Granger, another of my favourite actors. She starred in the original The Blue Lagoon movie. She became a big star at a young age. At 19, she played Ophelia to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet. Some of her more memorable films are The Robe (1953), Young Bess (1953), Désirée (1954), The Egyptian (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), The Big Country (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), Spartacus (1960), and The Happy Ending (1969).
DINO DE LAURENTIIS – great Italian movie producer. I’ve seen so many of his films including Ulysses (1954), War and Peace (1956), The Valachi Papers (1972), Serpico (1973), Mandingo (1975), King Kong (1976), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Dune (1984), U-571 (2000), and Red Dragon (2002). He was married to Italian actress Sylvana Mangano.
JILL CLAYBURGH – She was THE star in the last half of the 70s. She lived in with Al Pacino from 1970-75. After Pacino, she became a superstar. She starred in Silver Streak (1976), Semi Tough (1977), An Unmarried Woman (1978), La Luna (1979), and Starting Over (1979). Back then, I regarded her as the classic example of the “Modern Woman”. She symbolized the Feminist movement.
But like a meteor, she shot up and was gone. With the ascendancy Ronald Reagan and the Far Right, the feminist movement collapsed and so did Jill Clayburgh’s career.
I saw her guest starring in some TV show like The Practice. She appeared in Love and Other Drugs (2010) with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.
JOHN FORSYTHE. “Mr. Dynasty”. And the voice of Charlie in Charlie’s Angel. Who can ever forget the elegant Blake Carrington? I really admired Forsythe for insisting that in his contract, no other actor/actress in Dynasty shall have higher pay than him. That’s class!
ARTHUR PENN. He directed Bonnie and Clyde, another of my favourite films. I think it’s his best work. I also saw Missouri Breaks (1976) starring Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando. He also directed The Miracle Worker (1962) which garnered Oscars for its two leads – Anne Bancroft (Best Actress) and the young Patty Duke (Best Supporting Actress).
TOM BOSLEY. He was Richie Cunningham’s (Ron Howard) father in Happy Days. He was also Sheriff Amos Tupper in Murder She Wrote.
ROBERT CULP. I liked him in the I Spy TV series with Bill Cosby. His best film was Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. He was Raymond’s father-in-law in Everybody Loves Raymond. He was married for three years to France Nuyen.
FESS PARKER. He was Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. I still remember my Davy Crockett cap when I was 6 or 7 years old.
JULIET ANDERSON. Also known as Aunt Peg, she was a star during the so-called Golden Age of Porn. She entered the adult movie industry at the ripe old age of 39!
BOB GUCCIONE – the publisher of Penthouse magazine and producer of CALIGULA. What more can I say?
KEVIN McCARTHY. He was novelist Mary McCarthy’s younger brother. I’ve seen him in countless movies and TV shows. He is best known for starring in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which was before I was born.
JAMES MACARTHUR. “Book ‘em, Danno!” was Steve McGarret’s weekly command. James MacArthur was Danno in the original Hawaii Five-O (1968-80). He was the son of Hollywood legend Helen Hayes.
All these artists led long and full lives. Only Gary Coleman was young (42) but he always had health problems. Goodbye to all these actors, directors, and writers. I thank them for the entertainment and joy they have given me through the years.