exordia

"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"


"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Charley Martin

Radio deejay -- via the Denver Post. As morning drive-time host, with many partners (Charley and Barney, Hal and Charley), on KHOW-AM in Denver, Martin ruled the airwaves. Listening to the show was part of my mornings as a schoolboy. A long-running humor series, "Pomp & Circumstance," was a special, surrealistically funny treat!

Harry Harrison aka Henry Maxwell Dempsey

Science fiction writer -- via the Guardian. Best know for his novel, "Make Room! Make Room!," the basis for the film "Soylent Green," and for his Stainless Steel Rat series.


Biff Elliot aka Leon Shalek

Actor -- via the Hollywood Reporter. The first actor to play Mike Hammer!

Phyllis Thaxter

Actress in film and on television -- via the Hollywood Reporter. Though only 21 of her 67 credits are in films, she worked in many significant ones, and with many important figures. She debuted in "30 Seconds over Tokyo"; she worked with Elia Kazan ("The Sea of Grass"), Gregory La Cava ("Living in a Big Way"), John Sturges ("Sign of the Ram"), appeared in Robert Wise's great noir Western, "Blood on the Moon" and  Fred Zinneman's  "Act of Violence," Michael Curtiz ("The Breaking Point" & "Jim Thorpe - All-American."







Her last film role was as the iconic Martha Kent in the 1978 "Superman."




Ashok Mehta

Cinematographer and director -- via Yahoo India News.



Jack Fertig aka Sister Boom Boom

Astrologer, activist, and member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence -- via the San Francisco Chronicle.



Sancho Gracia

Actor -- via westernsallaitaliana.blogspot.com.


Justin Tarr aka Jet Tarr aka John Howard Kenneth Brnes

Actor -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com. Best known for his role as Tully on "The Rat Patrol" --




Gene Smith

Writer and historian -- via the New York Times.


Lucille Gallardo

Actress -- via the Hollywood Reporter.

Earle Levon "Von" Freeman Sr. aka the Great Vonski

Tenor saxophonist -- via the L.A. Times.





Bruce Guerin

Child actor who became a long-time cocktail pianist -- via the Independent. A penetrating and thorough obit by the wonderful film historian Kevin Brownlow. He made his biggest impression in Josef von Sternberg's "Salvation Hunters" in 1925.






Jean Merrill

Children's author, and editor -- via the New York Times.

Jan Sawka

Artist and architect -- via the L.A. Times.


Karl Fleming

Journalist -- via the L.A. Times. He covered all of the significant moments in the Civil Rights struggle -- and here's a very personal take on his life from Susan Estrich.


Sid Waddell

Sports commentator, known as "The Voice of Darts" in Britain -- via the Guardian.

Carl Davis

Music producer -- via the Chicago Sun-Times. Known as the architect of the Chicago Sound, the hits he helped happen include "Duke of Earl," "Higher and Higher," "Monkey Time," "Oh Girl," "Turn Back the Hands of Time," and "Stay in My Corner." Trivia: He recorded Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) singing "Stand By Me," which was pressed, but never never released, due to Ali's subsequent conversion to Islam.













Paul Steed

Video game artist and modeller -- via venturebeat.com.

Adam Niswander

Short-story writer and novelist -- via locusmag.com.


Ghita Hager

Director with the Portland Opera -- via oregonlive.com.

James Naughton

Writer and editor -- via the New York Times.


Richard Cragun

Dancer -- via the New York Times.

Donald Liu

Surgeon -- via ABC. He died saving two young children's lives.

Kom Akkadej

Film actor, producer, and director -- via thaifilmjournal.com.


R. Peter Straus

Radio executive -- via the New York Times. As head of WMCA, he pioneered talk radio, on-air editorials and political endorsements, and early rock 'n' roll.

Kurt Maetzig

Film director -- via Reuters.

Pyotr Fomenko

Theater director -- via the New York Times.


Stuart Swanlund

Guitarist with the Marshall Tucker Band -- via Spinner. Active with them from 1985 to 1993.

Kevin O'Hare

Music writer -- via The Republican.


Giovanni Lucchi

Violin-bow maker -- via The Strad.


Joan Roberts

Actress -- via theatermania.com. She originated the part of Laurey in the original production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!"

Ron Palillo

Actor -- via Yahoo News. Best remembered for his role as Arnold Horshack in the TV sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter."

Satwant Singh Kaleka

Sikh priest and president of the Skih Temple of Wisconsin -- via foxnews.com. He died trying to save the lives of his congregants from the attack of a racist killer.

Helen Gurley Brown

Writer and editor -- via the New York Times.

Nan Merriman

Mezzo-soprano -- via triblive.com. A stellar career -- she sang for the Leigh/Olivier "romeo and Juliet," and extensively with Toscanini -- "Rigoletto," "Otello," "Falstaff," "Orfeo ed Eurydice." Also noted for her Dorabella in "Cosi Fan Tutte."










Magnus Isacsson

Documentary filmmaker -- via the CBC.

Gilbert Prouteau

Writer, poet, and film director -- via ouest-france.fr.


Johnny Pesky aka John Michael Paveskovich aka The Needle

Red Sox great -- via Ron Bostwick and NESN.






Joe Kubert

One of the comic book artist masters -- via nj.com. Best known for his work on "Hawkman" and "Sgt. Rock." We lived for Sgt. Rock every month down at the drugstore. THANKS, JOE!


Al Freeman Jr.

Actor and director on stage, in film and on television -- via Playbill. A solid and versatile pro, he worked extensively in theater at the beginning of his career, culminating in his role as Jamie in "Long Day's Journey into Night" in 1981. He was a long-time player on the soap opera "One Life to Live"; and he did many films, most notably in the role of Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee's "Malcom X."

He had to overcome two sets of stereotypes. He was old enough to have played some subservient "Negro" types early in his career; then, in the wake of growing opportunities for black actors, he was often typecast in the mold of the articulate, examplary "noble Negro" of the 1960s, in the wake of Sidney Poitier's dominant screen persona.

He was vastly more talented than that, and proved it often. Would have loved to see him do more work. Thanks, Al!

Carlo Rambaldi

Oscar-winning special effects master -- via the New York Times. Also made memorable movie monsters and extraterrestrials in "Alien," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Dune," "Conan the Barbarian," and many more. He also did a lot of Bava films, including "Planet of the Vampires" and gialli (Italian slasher/horror films) such as "Twitch of the Death Nerve" and "Deep Red."

David Wages



Editor for film and television -- via westernboothill.com.

Severino Araujo

Bandleader -- via oglobo.globo.com.