This year saw the deaths of several beloved stars,
both of movies and television.
On January 1st Donna Douglas, known as Elly May in The Beverly Hillbillies passed away. You can read my post on her here.
I hardly recognize her without her signature hairstyle!
A few days later, on the 7th, Rod Taylor died. We all know him from The Birds and as the voice of Pongo in Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). After his death I sought out more of his films, including the film that started his career, The Time Machine (1960). Other films that I greatly enjoyed were Sunday in New York (1963) with Jane Fonda and 36 Hours (1964) with James Garner and Eva Marie Saint. You can read my post on him here.
Anita Ekberg, who died January 11th, may not be a name that everyone knows. The only film I have seen with her in it was Paris Holiday (1958) starring Bob Hope. It is hilarious and I highly recommend it. She is also in La Dolce Vita (1960).
Lizabeth Scott, an icon of Film Noir, passed away on the 31st of January. I have not yet seen any of her films (note to self: MUST CORRECT SOON!).
Louis Jourdan, known as a romantic leading man, died on Valentine's Day. His films include Gigi (1958), Letter to an Unknown Woman (1948), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), and Grace Kelly's final film The Swan (1956).
One of my favorite child stars, George 'Foghorn' Winslow died on June 13th. Known for his deadpan delivery and deep voice, you can see him in the 1953 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (he has some hilarious lines in that one), Monkey Business (1952), and Room For One More (1952).
A star that I just discovered this year, Omar Sharif, died on July 10th. I have only seen two of his films so far, The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) and Funny Girl (1968) - look for my post on that film in mid-January, but more of his films are definitely on my "to watch" list. He also appears in Lawrence on Arabia (1962) and Dr. Zhivago (1965).
Coleen Gray died August 3rd. The day before I had watched Kansas City Confidential (1952) starring her and John Payne as my last assignment for TCM's Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir class. Coleen Gray died at her home in Bel Air at the age of 92. I found it... odd is not the word but I can't think of another, that at the close of TCM's Summer of Darkness which showed film noirs every Friday, one of the final stars of film noir passed away. Coleen Gray starred in numerous film noirs such as Nightmare Alley (1947) and Kansas City Confidential. She is also known for her small role at the beginning of Red River (1948) and plays William Holden's love interest in Father is a Bachelor (1950). Click here to watch Kansas City Confidential.
Some of Coleen Gray's television appearances:
- Have Gun, Will Travel S05E10 Ben Jalisco (1961) - Lucy Jalisco
- The Adventure's of Ozzie and Harriet S11E21 Decorating Dave's Office (1963) - Mrs. Kelley, the bosses wife
- My Three Sons S05E23 Hawaiian Cruise (1965) - Miss Lovett (the gym teacher part near the end is kind of embarressing)
- S07E25 Melinda (1967) - Natalie
On August 18th we lost Yvonne Craig, known most for her role as Batgirl in the third and final season of Batman (1966-68). She also makes an appearance in Gidget (1959).
Dean Jones, star of so many Disney films, passed away September 1st at the age of 84. The first film with Jones that I saw was That Darn Cat (1965). We watched that many a Saturday morning growing up. He also appears in The Ugly Dachshund (1966) and The Love Bug series.
Just a few days later, on the 7th, Martin Milner, star of television shows Route 66 and Adam 12 died.
Joan Leslie, the girl next door, died Oct. 12th. I have seen several films with her. She was a frequent costar of Dennis Morgan and appeared in the famous Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) with James Cagney. You can read my post on her passing here.
October 24th - the biggest death of the year, and the star that all classic movie fans will miss, was that of Maureen O'Hara, the Queen of Technicolor. With her gorgeous red hair and Irish temper, she was a match for any leading man. Her most famous pairing was with John Wayne, whom she regarded as one of her closest friends. You can read my posts on this legendary woman here and here.
The last death was Betsy Drake, 3rd wife of Cary Grant on October 27th. You can read my post on her here.
With George Winslow and Cary Grant in Room for One More (1952)
UPDATE: And one more death slipped in before the year ended. Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John on the extremely popular 70s TV show M*A*S*H, died December 31st at the age of 82. I've seen M*A*S*H on TV all my life but it was just recently that I actually sat down and watched the first five seasons (I stopped because I can't stand Frank's replacement). And of course, being a normal girl and Rogers being an extremely attractive guy, he was a favorite on the show. I will be writing a post on him tomorrow.
Also, singer Natalie Cole, daughter of the legendary Nat King Cole, died unexpectedly at the age of 65.