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.

Friday, 12 June 2015

RIP continues

Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015) at the great age of 93, gentleman, hero, titan of British and international cinema and always good value no matter how dire the film - in his very long and prolific career he did some classics as well as the occasional dross (AIRPORT '77?). He will be my generation's DRACULA, THE MUMMY, RASPUTIN, FU MANCHU in all those Hammer movies (like HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, SHE) along with his great friend and fellow great actor Peter Cushing). He was hissably evil in the 1958 A TALE OF TWO CITIES, a great Bond villain as Scaramanga in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, he led the '70s horror classic THE WICKER MAN, then off to STAR WARS as Count Dooku and of course his magnificent Saruman in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.- above with Sir Ian's Gandalf. Thats only a thumbnail view of his great career. I liked him in the Lester MUSKETEER films as the bumbling Rochfort (plotting with Milady, Faye Dunaway, right) and that final terrific duel with Michael York's D'Artagnan. 
He also played JINNAH - and nobody else could have brought what he did to Saruman in the LOTR and HOBBIT films. He was a very effective MUMMY in 1959 where he did it all with his eyes and his great height was just right and of course a terrifying DRACULA. Good to see him so respected in his later years. He was also a war hero, he served with the Special Operations Executive and the SAS, and had a long happy marriage. What a great life and career. 

Ron Moody (1924-2015), aged 91. Alec Guinness may have been the defining early Fagin in David Lean's 1948 classic OLIVER TWIST, but Ron Moody certainly made the part his own in Carol Reed's 1968 OLIVER! where Moody was nominated for an Oscar and has delighted generations ever since as the most delightfully engaging musical villain of all time, with that leering smirk and devilish grin. He also played Fagin on the stage, just one highlight of a distinguished career. He was one of the most original comic talents of his post-war generation (others: Barry Humphies  [who also did a stint as Fagin], the Goons, the Pythons, Pete and Dud).  He did not start acting until he was 29, and was also a memorable Uriah Heep in the 1969 all-star DAVID COPPERFIELD. He turned down being a DR WHO. Television roles included EASTENDERS, MURDER SHE WROTE and more. 

Richard Johnson (1927-2015), aged 87. Another stalwart of stage and screen, Johnson's good looks got him movie roles in films like THE HAUNTING and THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS in 1965 (when he briefly married its star Kim Novak), as Duncan Sandys he holds the various strands of OPERATION CROSSBOW together (far right, with fellow thesps John Fraser, Trevor Howard, Richard Todd, John Mills). Like Christopher Lee was was also in the 1951 CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER. Other films include KHARTOUM, HENNESSEY (where he devised the storyline), ACES HIGH and much more. 

Also: Ornette Coleman (1930-2015), aged 85, jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. 
James Last (1929-2015), aged 86, music man and big band leader.
Marguerite Patten (1915-2015), aged 99 - the first post-war cookery writer and broadcaster.

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