This Day in Death

8.29.16: Gene Wilder – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:31 pm September 6, 2016

GENE_WILDERMan, John Cena always looks so weird when they have to put him a suit.

 

Gene Wilder, star of such beloved comedies as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, has passed away at the age of 83 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s. And now you all see what a lifetime of this comedy stuff will get you. Personally I’ve been ramping down the humor around here for some time in order to wean you guys off the stuff. Don’t worry; Stick with me and soon the most amusement you’ll be able to tolerate is nodding politely to Spalding Gray monologues before getting a good night’s rest.

Wilder made perhaps his most lasting impact as the titular star of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a film about a small-business owner who, apparently not giving any kind of a shit about the sanitary requirements of manufacturing consumables, let a bunch of filthy kids run roughshod through his candy factory with their sticky fingers just a-grabbin’ at everything within reach. They were literally swimming around in it at one point, that’s just gross. Unless the real villain of the film turns out to be Typhoid fever you’re just sending a bad message.

Notably, when velour hat enthusiast Tim Burton rebooted the film in 2005 to a somewhat more controversial reception, Wilder himself called it an “insult” and didn’t care for its darker tone. Far be it from me to jump to Burton’s crushed-velvet-ensconced aid, but if you wanna talk cynical Hollywood cash grabs it’s worth noting that Wilder’s film only got funding in exchange for the rights to create actual molar-raping, diabetes-baiting candy as a synergistic tie to the film. Say what you will about modern cinema, but at least nowadays we can go to the movies without anyone trying to convince us that gobs of sugar will fill the dull ache in our mortal souls. Nope, now science has proven that that can only be accomplished by the luxurious yet bold engineering of a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. That’s Mercedes-Benz: The Best or Nothing!

Mr. Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once.

With his haunted blue eyes and an empathy born of his own history of psychic distress, he aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”

Hey, did you guys know Wilder was once married to fellow yukchucker Gilda Radner? As a public service announcement, I have to say I highly advise against that kind of thing. You don’t want to marry someone in the same profession as you; It just gets competitive and will likely speed up your already-assured divorce, and you really gotta stick together at least long enough to get on their insurance and have some stuff checked out. See, if you want a strong marriage, what you really need is a mate that does something complementary to what you do without it being too similar. Like let’s say you’re a professional bank robber. Well, see if you can’t find yourself a sleepy security guard to marry. Doomsday prepper? Meet Sam’s Club floor manager. Veterinary tech for an at-capacity animal shelter? Bam! Chef at a fledgling South Korean bistro. Hey, I know it’s not always pretty, but building a stronger society isn’t about aesthetics. It’s like I’ve been saying for years: It’s time to take love out of marriage. And out of our schools, too, come to think of it. When I send my hypothetical children to a public facility I don’t want them coming back with all sorts of twisted ideas about this “compassion” stuff in their heads. It’s against nature, it is!

 

Source: The NY Times

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6.24.14: Eli Wallach – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:42 pm June 29, 2014

ELI_WALLACHI don’t claim to know the reason behind the downturn in Westerns being produced nowadays, but if it has anything to do with budgetary constraints you could probably save a few bucks by filming all of the desolate, ghost town scenes in the ruins of what we used to call Detroit. Just make sure to crop out all those “cash for gold” storefronts.

 

Stage and screen actor Eli Wallach passed away last week at the age of 98. Well, technically, 98 and a half. Impressed now? I thought so. Let’s move on.

Wallach is remembered for playing the titular “ugly” in 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He also starred in 1960’s The Magnificent Seven as Calvera, one of the decidedly non-magnificent characters. Not, uh, not the most ego-flattering of billings during that decade for Mr. Wallach, it would seem. Later, he could be seen in The Godfather Part III: Still ‘Fatherin’, Chinatown follow-up The Two Jakes (released in America as Chinatown 2: The Sequeling) and more recently in Wall Street: The Bad One.

Unlike his Method brethren, Wallach didn’t go for tragic grandeur; he was not one to mumble or mope. The men he played could be evil — sometimes pure evil, like his psycho-killer Dancer in Don Siegel’s 1958 crime drama The Lineup — but they usually enjoyed their venality, revealing a smile behind the scowl. […] For all his Method training, Wallach had the born showman’s gift of communicating to audiences the pleasure he got from acting.

Plus, if the 21 inhaler salute I just heard is any confirmation, Wallach also portrayed the villainous Mr. Freeze in the 60s Batman television show. Again: Mr. Freeze. Because the character’s birth name is Victor Fries and he’s big on cryogenics, you see. Awful, yes, but that’s goddamn Tolstoy compared to naming a character E. Nygma because he loves riddles, or having a William Tockman be really into… clocks, which is stupid on a couple different levels. With a roster that weak you’d really think DC Comics would take my proposed new character, The Blogger, a bit more seriously. He threatens the world by trolling WordPress forums and forgetting to pay the rent, gradually weakening the world’s economic infrastructure. He’s sorta working the long con that way.

 

Source: Time

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4.6.14: Mickey Rooney – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:14 am April 14, 2014

MICKEY_ROONEYRooney, seen here mere seconds before the midnight deadline that would revert his head back into a pumpkin.

 

Legendary diminutive actor/aged Chucky doll Mickey Rooney has died, but I don’t think I have to explain to you guys why I just can’t seem to relate to that news. I mean, I’m a hip, young playa, as evidenced by the fact that I just did a pretty bangin’ Alta Vista search for “current slang terms.” Rooney was representative of Old Hollywood, and that’s an era that just can’t keep step with us young go-hards and our Pinterested hashtavism. That’s why I feel it’s my cultural duty to finally unveil my new Movie Poster Modernizer, a precision-engineered algorithm guaranteed to twerk the shit out of your old boring promotional materials long enough to trick millennials into parting with their sweet, sweet endlessly-disposable income. Just look at this upgrade to the poster for Gone With the Wind:

GONE_WITH_THE_WIND_NEW_HOTNESS

Aww yeah, son! Those clutch shades let you know Clark Cable is a baller, and the 45 degree tilt is worth the loss of information. It’s a pretty good fix, but that poster really didn’t need too much work, what with the awesome fire going on in the background and some major cleave spillin’ out all front and center. But Rooney’s films were some class ‘A’ snorefests. Just look at this poster for one of his best-known works, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World:

MAD_WORLD

I mean, seriously? Look at that lineup: Spencer Tracy? Bro, are you even trending? And Sid Caesar’s social media presence seems to have completely dropped off since late February. If you’re not gonna commit to the form then don’t dip your toes in, Caesar! No, this one is basically gonna have to be rebuilt from the ground up, but I think the Modernizer’s up to the task. Let’s see what things looks like with the swerve all turnt up or something:

MAD_WORLD_SWAGGIN(Enlarge)

It looks like this new swaggin’ version’s got all your favorite 2014 Q2 search terms. There’s the Maroon 5 guy, the princess from Frozen, and both ironically-popular triple-named Neils; deGrasse Tyson and Patrick Harris. Plus Nicki Minaj because feminism, and somehow Riddick got in there too, which was probably a bit of a wildcard, if I’m being honest. Truly, this one is a masterpiece of lowest common denomination. I tell you, this technology pays for itself. Now all I need is the address for the Captain of Hollywood and I should be on easy street from now on. This will probably end up being my last post, actually.


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8.24.13: Broadway Star Julie Harris – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:55 pm August 29, 2013

Tarzan - Season 1Harris, on the set of Tarzan in 1966. Pfft. I don’t see what the big deal is; I could’ve played that role, if producers weren’t so close-minded about a Tarzan who keeps his shirt on the whole time.

 

Famed theater actress Julie Harris died over the weekend, although if you live in a town populated by 18th century fops you probably already knew about it and I’m just reopening wounds right now. Sorry about that, but in my defense, your town sounds awful.

Over the years, Harris’ portrayals of historical women led to her being celebrated as one of the most esteemed performers in the history of Broadway, even surpassing such household names as That One Guy Who Was Most Likely Gay and That Lady Who Died (You Know Who I’m Talking About, the Lady). Wow, wouldn’t it have been amazing to have seen all three of them together in something?!

Sometimes called the first lady of the American theater, she made her first Broadway appearance while she was still in college, and over the next half century-plus earned 10 Tony nominations, more than any other performer. The last was in 1997 for a revival of “The Gin Game,” D. L. Coburn’s mordant comedy about the contentious friendship between two isolated denizens of an old age home that emerges over a card table.

Harris was also an accomplished film star, appearing in films such as 1955’s East of Eden, where she had the honor of sucking serious face with superhunk/white cotton t-shirt aficionado James Dean. I hear, if you do it right, it gives you the power to see in six dimensions.

 

Source: The NY Times

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9.27.12: Herbert Lom of “The Pink Panther” Film Series – DEAD!

Filed under: Uncategorized —James @ 5:10 pm October 1, 2012

“And I’M telling YOU: Kitty cats are WAY cuter than puppy dogs!”

 

Herbert Lom, best known for playing Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the original Pink Panther film series, died on Thursday at the age of 95. Well, maybe if they didn’t put that fuck-up Clouseau on every goddamn case he wouldn’t have been so stressed out all the time. Christ, stop hiring that guy, you know he’s gonna do something stupid. He does EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is really starting to bother me on a personal level.

Onstage, Mr. Lom originated the role of the king in the original London cast of the musical “The King and I” in 1955. On television, he appeared in the British series “The Human Jungle” in 1963 and 1964 and on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” in 1967.

Hey! He was also a serious stage actor, just like you swore you were gonna be back in high school! I mean, you know, before you graduated and realized that it was going to be hard to balance school and work and your boyfriend *and* pursuing an acting career, so you decided to take a little time off to clear your head. Then, when you had your first child you figured that the acting career would have to be put on hold for just a couple years, while you worked your way up the ladder at Barnes & Noble and got your footing as a parent. School was going to be way too tough to find room for, but that’s okay. An actor doesn’t need a college degree, and this will make sure you have some extra time for auditions and rehearsals once you land that first real role, and then you can finally move out of this go-nowhere town. Then, around the time of your second child (which was met with significantly less enthusiasm from your friends for some reason), as you entered your late 20s, your looks started to go and guys on the street stopped looking at you so much and you found yourself surprised by how much you needed that shallow validation. Sadly, you realized you should’ve spent more time learning some legitimate skills instead of preening about your appearance so much, and that you’re just not sure how you function in the world without others constantly asserting how talented you are like they used to. You began to wonder if all of those flattering things people used to tell your younger self were true at all. What *are* you in this world, anyway? Do you serve a function, do you even matter in any valid way? Would the world be even a hair different if you were dead, if your whole family just… ceased to exist one dark night? So you updated your Facebook profile with baby pictures and posted about how your life is turning out so wonderfully and waited for the “like”s to come rolling in, because that always helped. For a little while, at least. When you finally bought the gun it wasn’t that you thought you’d ever use it, you just liked feeling like you were in *control* of something for once. But when you walked the empty hallways of your suburban 3-bedroom home in the middle of the night, unable to sleep from the vague existential tugging you didn’t want to tell anyone about and that you couldn’t even seem to articulate anyway (should’ve developed a deeper grasp of language, dammit), it just felt so right in your hands. And then, one night, as tears fell down and splattered on the cold steel resting in your mouth, and you’d resigned yourself to the fact that you had been born nothing and somehow had become infinitely less, you finally accepted the truth; That the only warmth you’d ever truly felt in your life was nothing but the hot, stale breath of Death on the nape of your neck, waiting patiently for as long as it took for you to turn around and come crawling into His endless arms of despair and ultimate release. But, you know, before all that you thought it would be fun to be an actor.

Source: The NY Times

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6.18.12: Beatles’ Film Actor Victor Spinetti – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:35 pm June 22, 2012

Take THAT, vaguely-defined authority figure! You’ve just been playfully lampoon’d!

 

Oh man, nothing spells increased traffic like obscure actors dying under not uncommon circumstances.

Welsh actor and author Victor Spinetti is dead today at the age of 82. Spinetti was probably best known for appearing in bit roles in several of the Beatles’ films, playing the straight man to the band’s capering. Could Spinetti’s brief appearances have been the reason the films were receiving diminishing returns, leading to frustration among the band and therefore being the real reason they broke up? It’s not my place to say, but you’d have to admit that all of the pieces fit pretty well. It’s a good thing I’m writing all of this down.

Born in the Welsh town of Cwm in 1933, Spinetti’s grandfather was an Italian immigrant to Wales, a fact which was evident in his full name: Victorio Giorgio Andrea Spinetti. Educated in Cardiff at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Spinetti began a lifelong career in theatre, but was catapulted to international fame for his role as the slightly eccentric and humourless TV director in Alun Owen and Dick Lesters’ hugely successful and ground breaking rockumentary; A Hard Days Night(1964).

For those of you who never saw A Hard Day’s Night, it’s basically the proto-Spice World of the 60s. How far we’ve come. Hey, did you guys know that Scary Spice had Eddie Murphy’s illegitimate child? Man. It seems like that kid should really be able to ask for a do-over.



 

Source: Seattle PI

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