Saturday, September 25, 2010

Actress Grace Bradley R.I.P.

Actress Grace Bradley, best known as the wife of William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy himself) passed on September 21, 2010. She was 97 years old.

Grace Bradley was born on September 21, 1913 in Brooklyn. She studied to be a concert pianist. Despite this she took up modelling and started studying dance. She was discovered by a Paramount Pictures director while dancing at the floor show at the Paradise club in Manhattan in 1933. She received a contract from the studio.

Grace Bradley made her film debut in an uncredited role as a salesgirl in Tip Tap Toe (1932). She appeared in such movies as Too Much Harmony (1933) with Bing Crosby, Come On Marines (1934) with Richard Arlen and Ida Lupino, The Cat's Paw (1934) with Harold Lloyd, The Gilded Lily (1935) with Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, Anything Goes (1936), The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938), and Taxi Mister (1943).

Miss Bradley met William Boyd in 1937 through a mutual friend. The two remained married until Mr. Boyd's death in 1972. From Mr. Boyd's retirement from the screen in 1953 to her own death, Miss Bradley worked tirelessly to keep the legend of William Boyd and Hopalog Cassidy alive. She also worked as a volunteer for 35 years  at the hospital in Laguna Beach, California where Mr. Boyd spent his last days.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Screenwriter Irving Ravetch R.I.P.

Irving Ravetch, who wrote the screenplays for such films as Hud (1963) and The Cowboys, passed on September 12, 2010 at the age of 89. The cause was pneumonia.

Irving Ravetch was born on November 14, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey. Suffering from asthma as a child, Mr Ravetch was sent to live in the warmer climate of Los Angeles to live with an aunt for five years. Mr. Ravetch attended Long Beach City College and the University of California. He served a short stint in the United States Army, but was given a medical discharge because of his asthma. His first screen credit was for the MGM musical Living in a Big Way (1947) as co-writer with Gregory La Cava. His first sole writing credit was on The Outsiders (1950), a lavish War Between the States epic. He would write or co-write  the Western Vengeance Valley (1951) and  The Lone Hand (1953). It was while at MGM that Mr. Ravetch met his wife and the collaborator with whom he wrote many of his films, Harriet Frank Jr. Their first credit together would be Ten Wanted Men (1955).

The two would adapt the Faulkner novel The Hamlet into the film The Long, Hot Summer (1958). They would go onto write The Sound and the Fury (1959), Home From the Hill (1960), The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960), Hud (1963), Hombre (1965), House of Cards (1968), The Reivers (1969), The Cowboys (1972), Norma Rae (1979), and Murphy's Romance (1985).

There can be no doubt that Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr.  were among the best screenwriters in Hollywood of their time. Together they wrote two films that were nominated for writing Oscars--Hud and Norma Rae. Arguably they should have been nominated for more. They did notable work on The Long, Hot Summer, The Reivers, The Cowboys, and Conrack. Although largely snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the two of them wrote films now recognised as classics.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ad Man Gene Case Passes

Advertising executive Gene Case, who worked on campaigns from Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign for president to ones for Skin Bracer and Tums, passed September 9, 2010 at the age of 72. The cause was a heart attack.

Gene Case was born on December 6, 1937 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He attended Cornell University where he majored in architecture. In 1961 he joined the field of advertising when he became a copywriter with the J. Walter Thompson agency. By 1964 he was working for Doyle Dane Bernbach. It was there that he was part of the team that conceived the notorious "Daisy ad" for the Johnson presidential campaign, which capitalised on fears regarding Barry Goldwater without even mentioning his name. Mr. Case wrote the copy for another notable commercial for the Johnson campaign, in which a young Republican discussed his fears of Barry Goldwater being over eager to use nuclear weapons. In 1966 Mr. Case was largely responsible for the ads for the campaign to re-elect Nelson Rockefeller as governor of New York. It theme was simply "Governor Rockefeller for Governor." After he and others founded the agency Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, he worked on ads for Robert F. Wagner's New York mayoral campaign.

Of course, not all of Gene Case's work in advertising was in political campaigns. It was at Jordan McGrath Case & Partners that he conceived the famous campaign for Skin Bracer in which various men in commercials would either slap themselves or be slapped across the face only to respond, "Thanks, I needed that (among the men was a young John Goodman)." He also conceived the famous campaign for Tums which used a musical tag of "tum-ta-tum-Tums" to the tune of the "Dragnet Main Title."  It was in 2002 that he re-entered politics by founding the agency Avenging Angels, which specialised in campaigns for liberal causes.

Regardless of what one thinks of Gene Case's politics (this blog is not the place for such discussions), one must admit that he was a great ad man. Although not one of the major figures to work on the infamous "Daisy ad," he was one of the team who worked upon it. And the ads we know he wrote for Lyndon B. Johnson and Nelson Rockefeller were pure genius. Although best known for his work on political ads, it will perhaps be his work in the commercial sphere that will be best remembered. The "thanks, I needed that" campaign for Skin Brace and the "Dragnet Main Title" campaign for Tums were two of the best known campaigns of the past twenty five years. Many ad men are lucky to work on even one campaign that is memorable. Gene Case worked on several.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cellist Mike Edwards & Actor Glenn Shadix Pass On

Mike Edwards

Mike Edwards, who was a cellist with the Electric Light Orchestra from 1972 to 1975, passed on 3 September 2010. He was killed in an automobile accident when the van he was driving collided with a large hay bale that had rolled into the road.

Mike Edwards was born Ealing in London on 31 May 1948. While very young he sung in the school choir. At age 12 he took up the cello. In 1968 he attended the Royal Academy of Music. Surprisingly for a musician who would become famous as a member of a rock group, at the time Mr. Edwards owned very few popular music albums. He was working as a session musician for the rock group Barclay James Harvest when he heard that the Electric Light Orchestra was looking for a cellist for their tours.

Mike Edwards first performed with ELO in in Croydon in April 1972. While he performed live with the band, much it was Hugh McDowell who play much of the cello parts in the studio. Regardless, it was Mr. Edwards who insured that the cellos were properly miked and amplified for the band's concerts. It was also Mr. Edwards who contributed to ELO's string section's status as entertainers. Mike Edwards was known for his outlandish costumes and fingering his cello's strings with an orange or a grapefruit. At the end of many of his cello solos (such as Bach's Air), his cello would often literally explode. Mike Edwards would contribute to the Electric Light Orchestra albums ELO II, On the Third Day, The Night the Light Went On (In Long Beach), and Eldorado.

Mike Edwards left after the first part of the United States tour to support Eldorado. Over the years he lived in different communes. He would travel throughout the United States, Germany, and India. Eventually he converted to Buddhism and changed his name to Deva Pramada. In 1990 he moved to Devon where he taught cello, bass viol, tremble viol, and other stringed instruments. He founded the classical ensemble Baroque. He also played with the medieval music and dancing troupe Daughters of Elvin. He was also a member of the baroque trio L'Ardito.

Glenn Shadix

Character actor Glenn Shadix passed on September 7, 2010 at the age of 58. He was bound to a wheelchair because of mobility of problems and had apparently fallen in his kitchen and struck his head.

He was born William Glenn Shaddix in Bessemer, Alabama on April 15, 1952. He attended Birmingham Southern College for two years. While young he performed in local theatre productions. Mr. Shaddix moved to Hollywood  in the late Seventies. He made his movie debut in bit part in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) . His big break would be in the film Beetlejuice (1988), in which he played Otho, the interior designer. He would go onto appear in such films as Sunset (1988, playing Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle), Heathers (1989), Meet the Applegates (1990), Demolition Man (1993), Dark Side of Genius (1994), Love Affair (1994), Chairman of the Board (1998), Red Dirt (2000), Planet of the Apes (2001), Confessions of a Florist (2003), and Tom Cool (2010). He also guest starred on such shows as The Golden Girls, Roseanne, Seinfeld, Empty Nest, Night Court, Cheers, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Carnivale.

Mr. Shaddix also did extensive voice work. He provided the voice of the mayor in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). He would go onto provide voices for such television series as Dinosaurs, Life with Louie, The Mask, Jackie Chan Adventures, The Batman, and Teen Titans.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Director Claude Chabrol Passes On

Claude Chabrol, one of the earliest directors of the French New Wave, passed on 12 September 2010 at the age of 80.

Claude Chabrol was born in Paris on 24 June 1930. Much of his time when he was growing up was spent in the village of Sardent. During World War II he spent much of his time running a film club. After the war he returned to Paris to study law, but later switched to pharmacology and finally to literature, in which he earned a degree. He became a publicist for 20th Century Fox and went onto write both interviews and articles for such publications as Art and Les Cahiers du Cinéma. In 1955 he and Éric Rohmer co-wrote their study of Alfred Hitchcock films.

Mr. Chabrol made his feature film debut in 1958 with Le beau Serge. The film is often regarded as the first movie in La Nouvelle Vague. The following year Mr. Chabrol would follow it with Les Cousins, one of the earliest New Wave films to see success at the box office. Like many of his films, Mr. Chabrol's next three films would be odes to Hitchcock: À double tour (1959), Les bonnes femmes (1960), and Les godelureaux (1961).  Claude Chabrol would go onto make such films as Landru (1963), Code Name: Tiger (1964), Les Biches (1968), The Beast Must Die (1969), Le boucher (1970), Les noces rouges (1973), Violette Nozière (1978), Les fantômes du chapelier (1982), Masques (1987), Une affaire de femmes (1988), Madame Bovary (1991), La cérémonie (1995), Au coeur du mensonge (1999), Rien ne va plus (1997), Merci pour le chocolat (2000), La fleur du mal (2003), La demoiselle d'honneur (2004),  L'ivresse du pouvoir (2006), La fille coupée en deux (2007), and Bellamy (2009). He was extremely prolific, directing at least one film a year from 1958 to 1980.

Claude Chabrol also worked in television, directing episodes of Nouvelles de Henry James, Histoires insolites, Il était un musicien, Fantômas, and Au siècle de Maupassant: Contes et nouvelles du XIXème siècle. Mr. Chabrol also made cameos in films and took small roles as an actor, appearing in many of his own films as well as Saint Tropez Blues (1961), Paris nous appartient (1961), Les ennemis (1962), Brigette et Brigette (1966), La femme écarlate (1969), and Gainsbourg (2010). He also wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for most of his films.

Although not as well known as Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, or Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol deserves credit for being one of the men to start the French New Wave. Indeed, he was among the first directors of the New Wave, making his first feature film before Mr. Truffaut had even made his. Indeed, with the other New Wave directors Mr. Chabrol was heavily influenced by Hitchcock. This is shown in his most famous films, such as Le boucher (in which a series of Jack the Ripper style killings grip a French town) . At the same time Mr. Chabrol's films often attacked the attitudes of the middle class and the elite, with the theme of class distinctions recurring again and again in his movies. Although best known for his Hitchcockian thrillers, Mr. Chabrol also worked in other genres, from costume dramas (Madame Bovary) to even joining in the Sixties spy craze with a Euro-spy film (Code Name: Tiger, not one of the high points of his career). He was a prolific director who directed polished films and worked in several different genres. In this respect, although not as well known as some of his colleagues from La Nouvelle Vague, Claude Chabrol was every bit one of the best directors to emerge from the New Wave.