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Obituaries for August 2005


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Character Actor Ford Rainey Dead at 96;

Performed on Stage, TV, and Movies


Ford Rainey, a horseman, logger and fisherman who grew up to portray King Lear, Macbeth and Abraham Lincoln, died Monday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica. He was 96. Rainey died of complications from a series of strokes, said his son, James Rainey.

A highly experienced stage actor, Ford Rainey was also a familiar face in motion pictures, including "The Sand Pebbles" with Steve McQueen and "Two Rode Together" with James Stewart and Richard Widmark.

He was even better recognized by television viewers as a guest star on such popular series as "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Route 66," "Perry Mason" and "The Untouchables." The craggy-faced actor played guardian to "The Bionic Woman," a general in "MASH" and a judge in "The Waltons" and "Matlock," and worked well into his 90s, appearing in such recent series as "ER" and "The King of Queens."

In 1961 and 1962, Rainey co-starred with Robert Young in the series, "Window on Main Street," with Young as a famous writer returning to his hometown and Rainey as the folksy editor of the local newspaper.

Television perhaps best showcased the depth of Rainey's talent in theatrical anthology series of the 1950s and early '60s, including "U.S. Steel Hour," "Kraft Television Theater," "Goodyear Playhouse" and "Robert Montgomery Presents."

Rainey first portrayed Lincoln, a character he would often reprise, in a 1953 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "Miss Curtis Goes to Washington." The actor was one of 10 who joined host Richard Boone in the critically praised television repertory theater series "The Richard Boone Show" in 1963 and 1964, along with Robert Blake, Harry Morgan and Guy Stockwell.

Born Aug. 8, 1908, in Mountain Home, Idaho, to a schoolteacher mother and a jack-of-all-trades father, Rainey grew up in the Northwest and graduated from Centralia Junior College in Washington state and the Cornish Drama School in Seattle. He worked at odd jobs including logger, fisherman, fruit picker, carpenter, clam digger and oil tanker roustabout before he was able to make a living as an actor. The wide experience, added to growing up in the rugged outdoors, where he learned to ride horses and to fence, served him well in western and action roles. It also enriched his personal life as he raised a family at his Malibu ranch house, tending beehives, building his own solar heater and earning the nickname "The Wizard" from neighborhood children.

Shy as a youngster, Rainey was first coaxed onto the stage by a high school drama teacher. He gained dramatic experience at the Cornish school, on Seattle radio stations and in repertory theater, performing in every state in the country. He joined the Michael Chekhov Theatre Studio in Connecticut and in 1939 made his Broadway debut with the repertory troupe in Dostoevski's "Possessed." Two years later, he appeared as Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and took the title role in a touring production of "King Lear."

After serving as Coast Guard boatswain's mate on a patrol boat off the coast of Oregon during World War II, Rainey joined other Chekhov associates to create a farm and theater, "The Ojai Valley Players." The troupe tended horses and vegetables by day and presented "Macbeth" by night, often with such figures as director John Huston in the audience. In 1949, Rainey made his motion picture debut in an uncredited role in "White Heat," starring James Cagney as a mother-obsessed hoodlum.

Back to Broadway in the 1950s, Rainey understudied Fredric March in "Long Day's Journey Into Night," a role he assumed in subsequent productions, and succeeded Pat Hingle in the title role of "J.B." He also appeared in "Between Two Thieves" and "The Crucible," renewing his Broadway success in "Crucible" at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theater in 1972. Rainey relished Shakespeare, and in one three-day sprint in 1985 dashed about Los Angeles with his own wigs and makeup, performing the ghost in "Hamlet," Malvolio in "Twelfth Night" and Lear in "Robert Wilson's 'Exploring King Lear' "

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Associated Press

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings

by David Bauder, AP Television Writer


Peter Jennings

NEW YORK - Peter Jennings, the suave, Canadian-born broadcaster who delivered the news to Americans each night in five separate decades, died Sunday, August 7. He was 67. Jennings, who announced in April that he had lung cancer, died at his New York home, ABC News President David Westin said late Sunday. "Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him," Westin said.

With Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, Jennings was part of a triumvirate that dominated network news for more than two decades, through the birth of cable news and the Internet. His smooth delivery and years of international reporting experience made Jennings particularly popular among urban dwellers. Jennings was the face of ABC News whenever a big story broke. He logged more than 60 hours on the air during the week of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, offering a soothing sense of continuity during a troubled time.

"There are a lot of people who think our job is to reassure the public every night that their home, their community and their nation is safe," he told author Jeff Alan. "I don't subscribe to that at all. I subscribe to leaving people with essentially

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Broadcaster Peter Jennings dies at 67

CTV.ca News Staff

Canadian-born Peter Jennings, the anchor of ABC News World News Tonight, has died of lung cancer Sunday at age 67.

"Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him,'' said ABC News President David Westin said late Sunday in New York.

Along with Tom Brokaw of NBC and Dan Rather of CBS, Jennings occupied one of the "Big Three" pinnacles in American TV journalism, presenting the news to millions of viewers.

His smooth delivery and impeccable sense of personal style were trademarks, making him especially popular with urban audiences.

Other top ABC News personalities had the following to say about him.

"He was a warm and loving and surprisingly sentimental man,'' said Ted Koppel.

"No one could ad lib like Peter,'' added Barbara Walters. "Sometimes he drove me crazy because he knew so many details. He just died much too young.''

Jennings loved to be front and centre during a major story.

During the week of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack on the United States, he spent more than 60 hours on air.

"There are a lot of people who think our job is to reassure the public every night that their home, their community and their nation is safe," he told author Jeff Alan.

"I don't subscribe to that at all. I subscribe to leaving people with essentially -- sorry it's a cliche -- a rough draft of history. Some days it's reassuring, some days it's absolutely destructive."

Genetics may have had something to do with Jennings' passion for journalism.

His father, Charles Jennings, was the first nightly anchor in Canadian television journalism and later headed the CBC.

He always kept a picture of his dad prominently displayed in his office at ABC News.

His start

At the age of nine, Peter Jennings had a radio show in Ottawa on Saturday mornings.

He never finished high school or college -- something Koppel said his friend always regretted.

"I have never spent a day in my adult life where I didn't learn something,'' Jennings told the Saturday Evening Post. "And if there is a born-again quality to me, that's it.''

The drop-out is the co-author, with Todd Brewster, of two books: The Century and In Search of America.

Instead of getting a formal education, Jennings entered the working world of broadcasting as a news reporter in Brockville, Ont.

Jennings quickly became an anchor at CTV. But while covering the U.S. Democratic national convention in 1964, his work caught the eye of ABC's news president, who offered him a job.

ABC gambled on making him an anchor -- at age 26. His first broadcast was Feb. 1, 1965. In retrospect, even Jennings thought that was a bit much, seeing as he was competing against CBS's Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley at NBC.

Critics pounded on him. He lasted three years before being reassigned as a foreign correspondent -- an area in which he thrived, covering stories like the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

The Middle East became his special bailiwick. He earned a Peabody Award for a 1974 profile of Anwar Sadat.

In 1978, Jennings returned to the anchor desk as part of a three-person team. He was based in London.

But when, Frank Reynolds, one of the other anchors, died from cancer, Jennings was made sole anchor, starting Sept. 5, 1983.

Rising to the top

1986 was a very good year for Jennings. He rose to the top of the ratings and stayed there for a decade. His foreign experience shone through. Even the show's name, World News Tonight, suggested a more sophisticated approach.

Fans responded to his intelligent, controlled style. Jennings said in one interview the anchor should keep his or her emotions under control.

Not only fans recognized Jennings' approach. A 1993 survey by Broadcasting and Cable magazine found Jennings to be the best anchor. Washington Journalism Review named him anchor of the year three straight years.

Times, however, change. Americans lost interest in the world, and NBC's Tom Brokaw surpassed Jennings in the latter 1990s. But Jennings was always close.

Brokaw retired in November 2004 and Rather stepped down in March -- a move seen as prompted by a journalistic scandal.

When Jennings, a long-time smoker, announced he had lung cancer, he said: "I will continue to do the broadcast.

"On good days, my voice will not always be like this," he said, referring to how husky and strained it sounded.

He would never appear on air again.

"He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones,'' Westin said. "In the end, he was not.''

In retrospect, one clue Jennings' health could have been deteriorating was when he didn't travel to Asia to cover the tsunami disaster from the field.

While Jennings was always proud of being Canadian, he became a dual citizen in 2003.

He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, and his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23.

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Renee Roy Dead at 74;

Soap star 'Love of Life'


Renee Roy, perhaps best known as the tough-as-nails nightclub owner on the 1960s daytime soap opera "Love of Life," died Saturday. She was 74.

Roy, who also had a successful career in television commercials, died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Esther Napolitano said Tuesday.

Her son, David Steinhardt, said the cause of death was colon cancer, according to The Hartford Courant, which first reported her death.

After being crowned Miss Television, she began working steadily on the small screen: modeling on "The Big Payoff" quiz show and playing a dancing girl on "The Jackie Gleason Show," the Courant said.

But her biggest claim to fame was in the role of the temperamental nightclub owner Clare Bridgeman on "Love of Life" from 1967 to 1970, in the days when the Daytime Emmy Awards had not yet been created.

Roy also appeared in more than 300 commercials, pitching such products as Tide detergent, Chux diapers, Armstrong floors, Lanacane itch cream and Air Wick air fresheners. In a 1974 Courant article, Roy said she had to tone down her looks as a products spokeswoman.

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This one really affected me, even more then when doc baker and scotty died.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Miss Ellie of 'Dallas,' dies at 82


Wednesday, August 10, 2005; Posted: 4:38 p.m. EDT (20:38 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Barbara Bel Geddes, the winsome actress who rose to stage and movie stardom but reached her greatest fame as Miss Ellie Ewing in the long-running TV series "Dallas," has died. She was 82.

The San Francisco Chronicle said she died Monday of lung cancer at her home in Northeast Harbor, Maine. Jordan-Fernald Funeral Home in Mount Desert, Maine, confirmed the death Wednesday, but owner Bill Fernald said the family asked that no further information be given out.

Bel Geddes, daughter of renowned industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes, was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the 1948 drama "I Remember Mama" and was the original Maggie the Cat on Broadway in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

"Dallas" came late in her career. She had retired to take care of her husband, Windsor Lewis, after he fell ill with cancer in 1966. He died in 1972.

Her earnings depleted by his long illness, she found work scarce for a middle-aged actress and said she was "flat broke" in 1978 when she accepted the role as matriarch of a rambunctious Texas oil family.

Though castigated by critics, "Dallas" hurtled to the top of the audience ratings and spawned copycat shows. Bel Geddes won an Emmy in 1980 as best lead actress in a drama series and remains the only nighttime soap star to be so honored.

Bel Geddes called "Dallas "real fun," but it was also marked by tragedy. In 1981, Jim Davis, who played Miss Ellie's husband, Jock Ewing, died.

"It was like losing her own husband again," said "Dallas" producer Leonard Katzman. "It was a terribly difficult and emotional time for Barbara."

In March 1984, Bel Geddes was stricken with a major heart attack. Miss Ellie was played by Donna Reed for six months, then Bel Geddes returned to "Dallas," remaining until 1990, a year before CBS canceled the show.

Screen actress

In 1945, Bel Geddes made a splash on Broadway at 23 with her first important role in "Deep Are the Roots," winning the New York Drama Critics Award as best actress.

She announced to a reporter: "My ambition is to be a good screen actress. I think it would be much more exciting to work for Frank Capra, George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock or Elia Kazan than to stay on Broadway."

Hollywood was quick to notice. In 1946 she signed a contract with RKO that granted her unusual request to be committed to only one picture a year. In her first movie she costarred with Henry Fonda in "The Long Night," a disappointing remake of a French film.

Her second film was a hit playing a budding writer in George Stevens' "I Remember Mama," the touching story of an immigrant family in San Francisco starring Irene Dunne as Mama. With her delicate features and patrician manner, Bel Geddes became a popular leading lady in films.

"I went out to California awfully young," she remarked. "I remember Lillian Hellman and Elia Kazan telling me, 'Don't go, learn your craft.' But I loved films." After four movies, Howard Hughes, who had bought control of RKO in 1948, dropped her contract because "she wasn't sexy enough."

Bel Geddes was devastated. But it turned out to be a good happenstance. She had time to return to the stage, and she scored a triumph in 1955 as Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Yet her biggest Broadway success was "Mary, Mary," a frothy marital comedy by Jean Kerr, which opened in 1961 and ran for more than 1,500 performances.

In her film career, Bel Geddes was able to work with great filmmakers such as Kazan ("Panic in the Streets") and Alfred Hitchcock ("Vertigo"). She also costarred with Danny Kaye in "The Five Pennies" and with Jeanne Moreau in "Five Branded Women."

"By Love Possessed" in 1961 was her last film for 10 years. She made her final films in 1971 -- "Summertree" and "The Todd Killings."

Among Bel Geddes' other major theater credits were roles in Terence Rattigan's "The Sleeping Prince" (1956); Robert Anderson's "Silent Night, Holy Night" (1959), which co-starred Henry Fonda; and Edward Albee's "Everything in the Garden" (1967). Her last Broadway appearance was in 1973, when she starred in another Kerr comedy, "Finishing Touches."

She was born in New York City on October 31, 1922. Her father, born Norman Geddes, and mother, maiden name Helen Belle Sneider, coined Bel-Geddes as the title for a magazine they were planning. He took the name without a hyphen as his name. The couple divorced when Barbara was 3.

"I didn't see much of my father," she said, "but I absolutely adored him." After her education in private schools, he found her a job at a summer theater and used his connections with stage people to help her get work.

Her first role was a walk-on with Ethel Barrymore in "The School for Scandal" at a summer theater. Her father helped land her Broadway debut in the 1941 "Out of the Frying Pan," for which a critic called her "plump, pleasing and amusing." She dropped 20 pounds and continued in a variety of roles until her breakthrough in "Deep Are the Roots."

Early in her stage career Bel Geddes married Carl Schreuer, an electrical engineer, and they had a daughter, Susan. The marriage ended after seven years in 1951, and that year she married director Lewis. They had a daughter, Betsy.

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Associated Press and imdb.com

Oscar-Winning Art Director Alexander Golitzen


'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Alexander Golitzen, an art director and production designer who shared Academy Awards for his work on 1943's "Phantom of the Opera," 1960's "Spartacus" and 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird" during a career that spanned decades, has died at the age of 97. His daughter, Cynthia Garn released a statement on August 13 that Golitzen died July 26 of congestive heart failure at a health care center in San Diego.

Golitzen worked on more than 300 movies. He earned more than a dozen Oscar nominations for art direction, beginning with the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie "Foreign Correspondent" and ending with "Earthquake" in 1974. Others included 1961's "Flower Drum Song" and 1969's "Sweet Charity." Golitzen was art director on many other memorable films.

Golitzen was art director on a few of Cary Grant's movies including 1964's "Father Goose," 1959's "Operation Petticoat" He was a popular art director of filmmaker Douglas Sirk's brand of 50's and 60's tear jerkers including 1966's "Madame X," 1958's "Imitation of Life" and 1955's "There's Always Tomorrow." Other Sirk/Golitzen projects featured Rock Hudson in 1957's "Battle Hymn," 1956's "Written on the Wind" and 1955's "All That Heaven Allows."



Golitzen also set the tone on many other Rock Hudson light-hearted romantic comedies such as 1964's "Send Me No Flowers," 1963's "Man

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  • 2 weeks later...

E! Online

Mourning 'Toy Story' Storyteller Joe Ranft


Joe Ranft was one of the story artists on 'Toy Story'

in addition to the voice of Wheezy the Penguin.

The story artist's blog might have said it all: "It is the saddest day at Pixar." The production home of "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life" was in mourning following the death of Joe Ranft, 45, a leading creative force behind those two hit films and more than a dozen other major animated releases since the late 1980s.

Ranft, a member of "Toy Story's" Oscar-nominated writing team, and the voice of Wheezy the penguin in "Toy Story 2" and Heimlich the caterpillar in "A Bug's Life," was killed August 16 afternoon when the 2004 Honda Element he was riding in veered off a California coastal highway, and plunged 130 feet into the water below.

The driver, a 32-year-old Elegba Earl of Los Angeles, also was killed. A second passenger, a 39-year-old Eric Frierson, survived with what were described as "moderate" injuries. He managed to climb out through the vehicle's moon roof. According to the Marin (California) Independent Journal, Ranft and the two men had been on their way to Mendocino, California, to take part in a retreat for a mentoring organization.


'A Bug's Life' caterpillar, Heimlich's personal trainer, Joe Ranft at the

Grand Opening of 'A Bug's Land' at Disney's California Adventure.

News of Ranft's death hit the animation community hard. Easily, it hit hardest at Pixar, where Ranft had spent the past decade-plus as head of story at its animation studio, storyboarding, storytelling and lending voices to everything from "The Incredibles" to "Finding Nemo" (he was Jacques, the cleaner fish) to "Toy Story 2."

"Joe was an important and beloved member of the Pixar family," the company said in a statement. Wrote Ronnie del Carmen, the blogging Pixar story artist, in a tribute to Ranft: "Mighty big shoes." Ranft's studio career began in 1980 with Disney. There, he worked on the breakthrough films, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," among others.

Director John Lasseter, Pixar's creative chief, hailed Ranft's knack for stories. "He told them better than anyone," Lasseter said in a Los Angeles Times interview. "He was funny, poignant, original; and he had an infallible sense for how to structure a story." Ranft was a contributing writer to the story of 1987's "The Brave Little Toaster." He was also the directing animator and the voice of character, Elmo St. Peters.


Joe Ranft was a contributing writer to 'The Brave

Little Toaster' and the voice of Elmo St. Peters.

A 1999 www.Salon.com profile described Ranft simply as "a story man." Ranft told the web site that he loved how Pixar films took shape in freewheeling story meetings. "I imagine it's what it must have been like in the Mack Sennett silent clown days, with a bunch of guys selling ideas, then going off and making the movie," he said.

At Pixar, he had a hand, or voice, in every one of its hit features: "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles." According to the Times, he supervised the story on Pixar's latest, "Cars," scheduled for summer 2006, and rated an executive producer credit on Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride," a Warners release due out in September.

Ranft is survived by his wife, Su, and two children, Jordy, 13, and Sophia 9. A private memorial service, for close friends and family, was held Sunday, August 21, in Mill Valley, California. A 'Friends and Colleagues' Memorial Service will be held Saturday, September 17.

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Associated Press

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Actor Brock Peters


Brock Peters

LOS ANGELES, California - Actor Brock Peters, best known for his heartbreaking performance as the black man falsely accused of rape in "To Kill a Mockingbird," died August 23 at his home after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 78.

Peters was diagnosed with the disease in January and had been receiving chemotherapy treatment, according to Marilyn Darby, his longtime companion. His condition became worse in recent weeks. He died peacefully in bed, surrounded by family, she said.

Peters was born George Fisher on July 2, 1927 in New York. His long film career began in the 1950s with the landmark productions of "Carmen Jones" in 1954 and "Porgy and Bess" in 1959.


Recently, Brock Peters played

Admiral Cartwright in two 'Star

Trek's' feature films.

In recent years, he played Admiral Cartwright in two of the "Star Trek" feature films. He also appeared in numerous TV shows. His distinctive deep bass voice was often used for animated characters.

He was perhaps best known for portraying accused rapist Tom Robinson, defended by Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch in the 1962 film "To Kill a Mockingbird." Peters paid tribute to Peck after he died in 2003.

"In art there is compassion, in compassion there is humanity, with humanity there is generosity and love," Peters said. "Gregory Peck gave us these attributes in full measure."


Gregory Peck and Brock Peters in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Peters recounted how shortly before he was to start filming, he was awakened early on a Sunday morning by a phone call from Peck to welcome him to the production. He was so surprised, he recalled, that he dropped the telephone.

"I worked over the years in many, many productions, but no one ever again called me to welcome me aboard, except perhaps the director and the producer, but not my fellow actor-to-be."

In May, Peters was on hand as Harper Lee, the reclusive author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," made a rare step into the limelight to be honored by the Los Angeles Public Library.


A Young Brock Peters

In "Carmen Jones," Peters worked with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. Otto Preminger's production of "Porgy" starred Sidney Poitier and Dandridge, and featured Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll as well as Peters.

Among Peters' other films were "Soylent Green," "The L-Shaped Room" and "The Pawnbroker." His accolades include a National Film Society Award, a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and a Tony Award nomination for his performance on Broadway in "Lost in the Stars."

In a 1985 story by The Associated Press on blacks in the movies, Peters said there had been a string of recent hits involving blacks, but "I have been here a long time, and I have seen this cycle happen before. I'll wait awhile and see if this flurry of activity leads to anything permanent."

Peters was a widow and has one daughter, Lise Jo Peters.

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