Friday, 20 May 2011

Jeffrey Catherine Jones R.I.P.

Renowned fantasy and science fiction illustrator Jeffrey Catherine Jones passed yesterday at the age of 67. The causes were complications from emphysema and heart disease.

Jeffrey Catherine Jones was born Jeffrey Jones in Atlanta, Georgia on 10 January 1944. She attended Georgia State College and moved to New York City following graduation. She did some minor work for Gold Key Comics and also provided illustrations for Warren Publications, and the science fiction magazines Amazing and Fantastic. She also provided work for the comic book companies DC and Charlton.

Miss Jones would not remain in the world of comic books and magazine covers for long, as she would be occupied for most of the Seventies with painting covers for Ace paperbacks, including ones for Fritz Leiber's "Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser" series. In all Jeffrey Catherine Jones would do over 150 covers for Ace. It was in the early Seventies that her comic strip "Idyl" first appeared in the National Lampoon. From 1975 to 1979 she worked alongside artists Bernie Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Michael William Kaluta as part of The Studio. In the early  Eighties Jeffrey Catherine Jones's comic strip "I'm Age" first appeared in the magazine Heavy Metal. The Eighties also saw her do work for the various independent comic book companies as well as Marvel's magazine Epic Illustrated.

 After the Eighties Jeffrey Catherine Jones's work would take on a more expressionistic bent and she would leave paperback illustration and comic books entirely.  In 1998 Miss Jones underwent sex reassignment surgery and lived the last years of her life as a woman.

None other than Frank Frazetta called Jeffrey Catherine Jones "the greatest painter in the world." I am not sure I would entirely agree, but Miss Jones was definitely one of the greatest. Even in her early years, Miss Jones's work had an expressionistic quality that set it apart from the work of other artists at the time.  One could easily identify the artwork of Miss Jones, something that could not be said of many of the fantasy and science fiction artists of the Seventies and the Eighties. Original and different, Jeffrey Catherine Jones was one of the greats illustrators of the 20th Century.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Edward Hardwicke Passes On

Actor Edward Hardwicke, perhaps best known for playing Watson opposite Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Return of Sherlock Holmes, passed on 16 May 2011. He was 78 years old. The cause was cancer.

 Edward Hardwicke was born in London on 7 August 1932, the son of actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Helena Pickard. He made his film début when he was only ten years old, in 1943 in the movie A Guy Named Joe. He attended Stowe School and spent his National Service in Royal Air Force as a Pilot Officer. Afterwards he trained in acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He would have a very successful career in the theatre, appearing at the Bristol Old Vic, the Oxford Playhouse, the Nottingham Playhouse, and Sir Laurence Olivier's National Theatre.

In 1954 Edward Hardwicke appeared in the films Hell Below Zero and The Men of Sherwood ForestFrom the late Fifties into the Sixties he appeared in such TV shows as ITV Television Playhouse, Invisible Man, Danger Man, ITV Play of the Week, Sherlock Holmes (a different series from the one in which he starred with Jeremy Brett), Journey into the Unknown, and Biography. He appeared in the films Othello (1965), A Flea in His Ear (1968), and Otley  (1968).

The Seventies saw Mr. Hardwicke became very active on television. He starred as Captain Pat Grant in the series Colditz, appeared as Arthur on the series My Old Man, and as Enrico Fermi in Oppenheimer. He also appeared on such shows as Crown Court, Edward the King, Against the Crowd, Holocaust, and Tycoon. He appeared in such films as The Reckoning (1971), The Day of Jackal (1973),  The Black Windmill (1974), and The Odd Job (1978).

In the Eighties Edward Hardwicke played Sir Hector Rose in the series Strangers and Brothers. He appeared in such shows as The Bell, Lytton's Diary, and The Disctrict Nurse. It was in 1984 that he first played Dr. Watson, appearing in the series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He would once more play Watson in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. He appeared in the film Venom (1981).  In the Nineties Edward Hardwicke once more played Watson in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. He appeared on the shows Lovejoy, Peak Practice, and Verdict. He appeared in the movies Let Him Have It (1991), Shadowlands (1993), The Scarlet Letter (1995), Hollow Reed (1996), Elizabeth (1998), and Ain't Misbehavin' (2000). He appeared as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Photographing Fairies (1997), making one of the few actors to have played both an actor and a character he had created. In the Naughts he appeared in the films She (2001), Enigma (2001), Love Actually (2003), and Oliver Twist (2005).

There are those who believe Edward Hardwicke was the best Dr. Watson to appear on television or film. Having a soft spot for Nigel Bruce (not to mention Jude Law), I am not sure I agree, but there can be no doubt Edward Hardwicke was very, very good, not just as Watson, but in many other roles. He played everything from Mr. Bronlow in Oliver Twist to Marcus in Titus Andronicus. Like many British actors trained on the stage, he seemed capable of playing anything and being convincing doing it. Few actors were ever as good as Edward Hardwicke at his craft.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Godspeed Dana Wynter

Dana Wynter, the female lead of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), passed on 5 May 2011 at the age of 79. The cause was congestive heart failure. Her co-star, Kevin McCarthy, had just died last year.

Dana Wynter was born on 8 June 1931 in Berlin, Germany. Her father was an English surgeon. She was raised in England and attended Rhodes University in South Africa with the intent of becoming a doctor. While there she discovered the theatre. She returned to England to take up acting.

Miss Wynter made her début on the screen in an uncredited role in the film Night Without Stars in 1951. Her first credited role was the same year, playing Marjorie Brewster in White Corridors. Over the next few years she appeared in such films as The Woman's Angle (1952), the classic action movie The Crimson Pirate (1952) and Knights of the Round Table (1953). She made her television début in 1953 in an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents. She would spend most of her career in television. In the Fifties she appeared on such shows as Suspense, The United States Steel Hour, Studio One, The 20th Century Fox Hour, and Playhouse 90. The latter half of the Fifties saw Dana Wynter do many films as well. Aside from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, she also appeared in  In Love and War (1958), Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), and Sink the Bismark (1960).

The Sixties saw Miss Wynter appear in the films On the Double (1961), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), If He Hollers, Let Him Go (1968), and Airport (1970). She was a regular on the TV series The Man Who Never Was, playing Eva Wainwright. She also guest starred on the TV shows The Virginian, Burke's Law, Wagon Train, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, 12 O'Clock High, Ben Casey, The Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, and Get Smart.

In the Seventies Dana Wynter appeared on such shows as Marcus Welby M.D., The F.B.I., Hawaii Five-O, Ironside, Cannon, Ellery Queen, and The Rockford Files. She appeared in such films as Santee (1973) and Le Sauvage (1975).  From the Seventies into the Eighties she was a regular on the series Bracken, after which she appeared only in two episodes of Magnum P.I. and the reunion movie The Return of Ironside in 1993. In the Eighties she wrote a gossip column for the British newspaper The Guardian.

Dana Wynter was an exceedingly talented actress. Indeed, perhaps no better proof of this is to be had than her role in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Miss Wynter convincing played an American divorcee, with no trace of her English accent. In the movie Fräulein in 1958 she once more played with an accent other than her own--a light German accent. Over the years Miss Wynter would play a variety of roles in both movies and television, from her typical American divorcee in Invasion of the Body Snatchers to a rich, alcoholic, self confessed tramp in In Love and War (1958) to various English ladies and other nobility in many TV shows (an example being Lady Beatrice Marquand-Gaynesford in The Wild Wild West Episode "Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo). Although never a major movie star, Dana Wynter had the talent of one.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Actress Mary Murphy Passes On

Actress Mary Murphy, perhaps best known for her role in The Wild One (1953), passed on 4 May 2011 at the age of 80. The cause was heart disease.

Mary Murphy was born in Washington, D.C. on 26 January 1931. She was only six months old when her family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Following her father's death, her mother moved the family to Southern California. She was a package wrapper at Saks at the time that Paramount Pictures discovered her in a café. She made her film début in an uncredited part in The Lemon Drop Kid (1951). She appeared in bit parts in such films as When Worlds Collide (1951), My Favourite Spy (1951), The Atomic City (1952), and Houdini (1953). Her first major role and her breakthrough role would be Katie Bleeker, the small town love interest of Marlon Brando's biker in The Wild One.


Over the next few years Miss Murphy appeared in such films as The Mad Magician (1954), Sitting Bull (1954), The Desperate Hours (1955), and The Maverick Queen (1956). From the late Fifties onward, her career would mostly spent on television. Miss Murphy only appeared in three more films after 1956: Live Fast, Die Young (1958),  The Electronic Monster  (1958), and Crime and Punishment U.S.A. (1959). On television she appeared in such shows as Cavalcade of America, Wagon Train, The Restless Gun, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, and The Millionaire.

The Sixties Mary Murphy spent mostly in television. She guest starred on such shows as The Rebel, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, Dr. Kildare, The Fugitive, Honey West, and I Spy. She appeared in the films as Two Before Zero (1962) and 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962). In the Seventies she appeared in the  films Junior Bonner (1972) and I Love You...Goodbye (1974).. She appeared on the shows Circle of Fear and The Streets of San Francisco. She retired in the Seventies and worked in a Los Angeles art gallery.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The New PC

For those of you who don't know (and given I boasted of it on Facebook and tweeted it as well, I doubt there are many), I bought a new computer this weekend. This brings me to an interesting observation (well, interesting to me), despite their importance in modern society, you almost never see individuals in movies or TV shows dealing with replacing an old PC with a new one. Indeed, I could see where it would at least make for a good episode of a sitcom.

The plain fact is that many of us keep much of our lives (if not all of it) on our computers. This is particularly true for me, as I am a writer. When I get a new computer, I then have to back up any projects on which I am working so they can be moved to the new machine. Above all else, I had to remember to transfer the file for my book on power pop, as well as the files of notes I have. Of course, we also use computers for entertainment, so I had to back up all of my music. I kid you not, it took three hours to completely back up everything (I have around 3000 songs). I also had to move my pictures over to the new machine, those I use on this blog and on Retrophilia (my Tumblr blog), as well as my personal ones . Curiously, I discovered I have far more pictures of classic actresses than classic actors...

Of course, even once one has transferred everything he or she needs to the new computer, he or she might find they don't have the programmes to utilise the files. At one time a common complaint was that PCs came bundled with too much software, programmes one would never use. My old computer came with both Quicken and Microsoft Money, two programmes that do the same thing...and two programmes I would never use. Today things are very different. PCs don't come bundled with enough software.  I had to dig out my Microsoft Word disc so I would have a decent word processing programme (the PC came with nothing but Wordpad and Notepad...). I also had to download Napster so I could play my music (in all fairness, the PC did come with Windows Media Player, but I much prefer Napster).


Anyhow, here it is, 10:42 PM my time and I still haven't finished the process of moving from one machine to another. The new PC has most of what I need now, but there are some files I forgot and are still on the old computer. I also need to install a few more programmes that I don't use that often, as well as the printer. As to the new computer, itself, it is a very nice machine. While it is a lower end Hewlett Packard, it is very fast, even compared to my nephew's more high end machine. It also runs very, very smoothly.  In fact, the only complaint I have is that it came bundled with Norton for its security programme. Mind you, I have had very bad experiences with Norton. It seems that when it updates or scans it robs memory and/or bandwidth. And my PC would still be infected by viruses or Trojans. It has since been my policy to uninstall Norton and install McAfee. McAfee coes not rob memory or bandwith when updating or scanning. And I have never had a machine attacked or infected which had McAfee for security

So what does any of this have to do with pop culture? Not much really. It does have a lot to do with this blog. With a new computer I will no longer have to worry that the machine is going to shut down midway through blog entries, which means I can go back to writing more and longer blog entries. I don't know about my readers, but I know that makes me happy.