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Monday, February 22, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

It seems we've had a number of high-profile deaths of some of our favourite celebs so far this year.

Most recent was the death three days ago of Lionel Jeffries, a fine English actor noted for playing eccentric characters and probably best remembered in the role of Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He was 83. I always loved that song he did in the film, "Travelling Light". 'Port out, starboard home, Posh with a capital P. P-O-S-H, Posh!'

Famous for acting of a different kind was Jamie Gillis.
He died three days ago of melanoma, at age 66. One of the most recognizable faces of  70s and 80s erotica, he appeared in over 470 movies. But of course, I wouldn't know anything about that. I don't watch those kind of movies. Honest.

Before him was fashion designer Alexander McQueen,  who had been in charge of Givenchy's design department before launching his own label, and was awarded the CBE in 2003 for his services to the fashion industry. He died aged 40 just a few days after the death of his mother.

On February 6th John Dankworth,  venerable jazz musician and married to jazz vocalist Cleo Laine since 1958, died aged 82. John was a master of the sax and clarinet. he founded the London Symphony Orchestra's Pops Program and was the Pops' Musical Director.

Another recent death was that of veteran British actor Ian Carmichael. Ian was perhaps best known for his archetypal "silly ass" characters in such wonderful films as Private's Progress, Double Bunk, I'm All Right Jack, and the superb School For Scoundrels which co-starred the great Terry-Thomas. In the '60s Ian, true to type, portrayed another silly ass, Bertie Wooster, in TV's The World Of Wooster. In the later part of the '60s and throughout the '70s he played Dorothy L. Sayers' aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey.

Dick Francis, novelist and ex-jockey recently passed away also. He was jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from 1953 to 1957, when a serious fall forced him to retire from racing. He started to write crime novels centered around the sport and wrote over 40 international bestsellers.

More recent notables who are no longer with us:

  • Pernell Roberts - Bonanza's Adam Cartwright
  • J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher In The Rye
  • Jean Simmons, actress
  • Teddy Pendergrass
  • Kate McGarrigle, folk singer and sister of Anna
  • Erich Segal, author of Love Story
  • Juliet Anderson, aka Aunt Peg, another actress from the golden age of erotica
  • Bob Blackburn, voice of the Seattle SuperSonics for many years
  • Art Clokey, pioneer stop-motion animator responsible for Gumby
  • Thomas Sam Davis, better known as Eric Shark, singer with legendary art-rock band Deaf School
  • Doug Fieger, lead singer of The Knack
  • Jennifer Lyon, Survivor:Palau contestant and breast cancer awareness advocate
  • Robert B. Parker, author of the Spenser detective novels
  • Kathryn Grayson, actress (Show Boat, Kiss Me Kate)
  • Justin Mentell, actor, Boston Legal
  • Charlie Wilson, inspiration for the movie Charlie Wilson's War
To all of them, I say, God speed.

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