Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

RIP continued ....

Lauren Bacall (1924-2014), aged 89. Bacall often got a bad press as being "difficult" - she was though the woman who knew everyone (Angela Lansbury is merely the woman who worked with everyone) . Bacall popped up everywhere, like lighting up a cigarette next to Judy and Jack Warner at the premiere of A STAR IS BORN. I love that 1959 photo of her, Vivien Leigh and Kay Kendall (who died that year) out having late drinks with their gay best friend Noel Coward - imagine the gossip! - here it is again, belowShe positively glared at me when signing books in London as it seemed she hated being there. I also saw her signing her later volume (bascally the same book with a new chapter) about a decade ago. Its a great tale - how Hawks and his wife discovered the teenage model Betty Perske from the Bronx, her visit to her idol Bette Davis, later in Africa with Bogart and Hepburn and Huston, and so much more .... as she became a Broadway star with WOMAN OF THE YEAR, GOODBYE CHARLIE, CACTUS FLOWER as well as APPLAUSE ... She was one legend who kept working: from Hawks and Huston to Lars Von Trier, not to mention Barbra Streisand, via Paul Schrader and Robert Altman.
I love TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, where she is Hawks' creation, but she grew a persona of her own in those '50s items I like: Minnelli's DESIGNING WOMAN (where she and Peck are an ideal couple), Sirk's WRITTEN ON THE WIND, Negulesco's WOMAN'S WORLD and her Schatze in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, plus that evergreen rousing adventure NORTH WEST FRONTIER. She is touching too with Wayne in THE SHOOTIST, his last film in 1976, AND she visited Dirk Bogarde the day before he died. 
I did not care for APPLAUSE at all though, the worst stage version of a movie ever, and she had played the role too long by the time she brought it to London in 1973, as per my report at Bacall label. Her coffee commercials (available on YouTube) are a scream too ...
Robin Williams (1951-2014) aged 63, actor and comedian. Starting as a stand-up comedian he soon rose to fame as Mork in the TV series MORK & MINDY (1978–82). Williams went on to establish a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting, with giant comedy hits like MRS DOUBTFIRE (which we loved at the time) and those other era-defining films like THE FISHER KINGGOOD MORNING VIETNAMDEAD POETS SOCIETY etc. as well as providing hilarious voices for animation like Disney's ALADDIN, he was hilarious in THE BIRDCAGE too. 
The newspapers here though have gone into overkill with pages and pages on him, as though he was the greatest star ever. He was of course a comic genius and left a great legacy, but his career had been in the doldrums of late, as like John Cleese and those Monty Pythons reforming purely for money, he worked harder and harder in lesser fare to pay off divorces. He was terrific in items like ONE HOUR PHOTO and INSOMNIA, so he did not have be funny all the time. Perhaps the press see it as a change from all the serious stuff going on - every bullletin brings more on the horrors in IraqGazaUkraine, Syria etc. Like Tony Hancock ending his life back in the '60s, Williams shows us the dark side of being a comedian .... like Peter Sellers he could become so many characters even when being interviewed. Perhaps he wanted to get back to a simpler life rather than having to work harder and harder in films he did not want to make (it seems he did not want to do the proposed MRS DOUBTFIRE 2) to support a lavish lifestyle ... RIP indeed to a troubled genius.
(Regarding those current news stories and desperate situations in Iraq and elsewhere, Joni Mitchell's 1971 lyric (for "California") comes to mind: "Sitting in a park in Paris, France, reading the news and it sure looks bad, they won't give peace a chance, that was just a dream some of us had" ....

Kenny Ireland (1945-2014), aged 68. British TV viewers will be familiar with Kenny Ireland. The actor and comedian was a staple of the popular BENIDORM series since its first season, as part of the insatiable swingers couple Donald and Jacqueline, who had lots of comic moments. Kenny was also in films like LOCAL HERO and lots of other tv series like Victoria Wood's ACORN ANTIQUES. RIP to a fine comic talent. 

Noel Black (1937-2014), aged 77. Prolific  film and television director, screenwriter, and producer, best known to me for his dynamic 1968 film PRETTY POISON  (Anthony Perkins/Tuesday Weld labels).


  1. I can't remember if I had heard that Noel Black had died (losing one's memory is a terrible affliction). I am sure I didn't or I would have done one of my obits on him. I agree that APPLAUSE isn't much of a musical and something of a travesty of ALL ABOUT EVE but I thought Lauren was fine and I loved the opening and her final 'encore' (a quick entrance from the back of the stage while our attention was distracted by that nasty Eve, one bow and off), was one of the best closing moments of any show I've seen.

  2. APPLAUSE looks dreadfully dated and cheap now, on that 1973 recording of it.