CHICAGO – Chris Rock isn’t a huge writer/director, but when he does make a film, it’s an event to consider. For example, he made black president tale “Head of State” long before then-senator Barack Obama was even considered for the real-life role, and whether behind the stand-up mic or in an interview, he’s a voice to be reckoned with.
LOS ANGELES – The suave, Australian-born Rod Taylor may have been a leading man footnote in the early to mid-1960s, but he did star in a notable classic: the Alfred Hitchcock-directed “The Birds”. His chiseled good looks and sincere acting style were also memorable in a career that spanned more than 50 years. Rod Taylor passed away of a heart attack in Los Angeles on Jan. 7 2015, according to his daughter, Felicia Taylor. He was 84.
NEW YORK CITY – He was an immigrant kid from Germany who directed the most American of stage plays and films. Mike Nichols uplifted the culture with his art, and along the way won the famed EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Nichols passed away suddenly at his home. He was 83.
LOS ANGELES – He was 7 foot 2 inches tall, an imposing figure that made for one of the most memorable James Bond villains. Richard Kiel portrayed “Jaws” in two Bond films – “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker” – and left an unforgettable mark as a character actor with a distinctive look and persona. Richard Kiel died at age 74 on September 10th, 2014.
NEW YORK CITY – There are legends, and then there is Joan Rivers. The comedian and show business survivor had a life journey as an influential star from the 1960s all the way to the end of her life. Joan Rivers died on September 4th, 2014, in New York City after suffering respiratory failure last weekend.
NEW YORK – She had it all. Just like Bogie and, well, her. Lauren “Betty” Bacall accidentally became a movie actress, but that accident led to stardom, two marriages to famous actors and a long life of award winning performances. The 89-year-old star died of a stroke in New York City on August 12th.
SAN FRANCISCO – He blazed bright as lightning at his peak, but also had struggles with addiction and depression. The cosmic and comic Robin Williams died on August 11th, apparently of suicide due to asphyxia, according to authorities, although complete details are still pending. The Academy Award winner was 63 years old.
LOS ANGELES – He was the guy that could take care of things for you, with a wink of the eye and a slightly cynical air. Handsome star James Garner distinguished himself in both film and television, and passed away on July 19th, 2014, in Los Angeles after a long stretch of health problems. He was 86.
HOLLYWOOD – He was the biggest star the world, the box office champion from 1939 to 1941. “Wow, spanning two decades,” Bart Simpson said. Mickey Rooney lived long enough to work on silent films, be the biggest star in the world and do a voiceover on “The Simpsons.” Not bad for one lifetime. Mickey Rooney died of natural causes in his North Hollywood home on April 6th. He was 93.
CHICAGO – He was a Ghostbuster, and Bill Murray’s sidekick in “Stripes.” He co-wrote classic modern comedies like “Animal House” and “Caddyshack.” He directed the legendary absurdist comedy, “Groundhog Day.” He is Harold Ramis, and he died on February 24th, according to his wife Erica Mann Ramis.
LOS ANGELES – It’s a pioneering TV show practically lost to history. Sid Caesar hosted and performed in “Your Show of Shows,” a 90 minute live 1950s sketch comedy program, and also helped to launch a who’s who of 20th Century comedy. Coming out of his writer’s rooms were such comic greats as Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner and Woody Allen. Sid Caesar died February 12th at his home near Los Angeles, according to a newsfeed from Larry King on Twitter.