Wednesday, August 22, 2012

William Windom and Tony Scott Pass On

William Windom

Prolific actor William Windom died on 16 August 2012 at the age of 88. He was  a regular on the shows The Farmer's Daughter and Murder, She Wrote, and guest starred in series ranging from Star Trek to Newhart.

William Windom was born on 28 September 1923 in New York City. He was named for his great grandfather, Congressman and United States Secretary of the Treasury William Windom. He attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. During World War II he served in the United States Army as a  paratrooper with Company B, 1st Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in the European Theatre. During the Allied occupation of Germany, Mr. Windom enrolled in the Biarritz American University in France. It was there that he became interested in drama. After being demobilised and returning to the United States, William Windom attended Fordham University, where he studied theatre.

Afterwards William Windom found work on stage in New York City. He made his Broadway debut in 1946 in King Henry VIII. He would return to Broadway several times, appearing in such productions as What Every Woman Knows (1946), Alice in Wonderland (1947), A Girl Can Tell (1953), Mademoiselle Colombe (1954), The Grand Prize (1955), Double in Hearts (1956), The Greatest Man Alive (1957), and Viva Madison Avenue! (1960).

William Windom made his television debut in a The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production of Romeo and Juliet in 1949 as Tybalt. In the Fifties he guest starred on such shows as Lights Out, Masterpiece Playhouse, Omnibus, Robert Montgomery Presents, Westinghouse Desliu Playhouse, and Play of the Week

In the Sixties Mr. Windom made his film debut in To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962. He appeared in the films Cattle King (1963), For Love or Money (1963), One Man's Way (1964), The Americanization of Emily (1964), Hour of the Gun (1967), The Detective (1968), The Angry Breed (1968), The Gypsy Moths (1969), and Brewster McCloud (1970). On television he played the lead role in the sitcoms The Farmer's Daughter and the short lived, but critically acclaimed My World and Welcome to It. He guest starred on such shows as The Detectives, Checkmate, Cheyenne, Bus Stop, The Donna Reed Show, Thriller, Combat, The Twlight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, Star Trek, The Wild Wild West, The Invaders, Bonanza, The Virginian, and The Mod Squad. He appeared in the historic television film Prescription: Murder, the first appearance of Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo.

In the Seventies he appeared on such shows as That Girl, Alias Smith and Jones, All in the Family, Cannon, Cade's County, The Waltons, Columbo, Ironside, Night Gallery, Banacek, Gunsmoke, Love American Style, Mission: Impossible, The F.B.I., Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan & Wife, Quincy M.E., Kojak, and Dallas. He was a regular on the show Brothers and Sisters. He appeared in such films as The Mephisto Waltz (1971), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Fools' Parade (1971), Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972), Echoes of a Summer (1976), Mean Dog Blues (1978), and Goodbye, Franklin High (1978).

In the Eighties William Windom was a regular on both Murder, She Wrote and Parenthood. He appeared on such shows as The Incredible Hulk, Barney Miller, Fantasy Island, Trapper John M.D., The A-Team, Simon & Simon, Airwolf, Newhart, and Amen. He appeared in such films as Separate Ways (1981), Last Plane Out (1983), Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), Means and Ends (1985), Prince Jack (1985), Welcome Home (1986), Street Justice (1987), and Funland (1987).

From the Nineties into the Naughts William Windom appeared on such shows as L.A. Law, Murphy Brown, Burke's Law, Providence, and JAG. He appeared in such films as Committed (1991), Sommersby (1993), The Thundering 8th (2000), Raising Dead (2002), Dismembered (2003), and Just (2006).

William Windom has often been described as playing Everyman characters, but in truth the roles he played throughout his career were a bit more diverse. Certainly the characters he played in his three best known television series (The Farmer's Daughter; My World and Welcome to It; and Murder, She Wrote) were Everymen, but he could also play characters who were much darker. One of his best performances was in the Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine," in which he played Commodore Decker, a 22nd Century Captain Ahab willing to do anything to destroy a weapon capable of destroying planets. In To Kill a Mockingbird he made an impressive film debut as the prosecuting attorney willing to convict an innocent man despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence. Mr. Windom also did admirable turns in TV shows ranging from The Twlight Zone (on which he guest starred multiple times) to Columbo. Over the years he played everything from a priest to medical doctors to gunfighters. He was a very versatile actor and one who gave a great performance every time, whether he was in a sitcom or major motion picture. It is little wonder William Windom was so prolific. He was so very talented.

Tony Scott

Tony Scott, who directed such films as Crimson Tide (1995), True Romance (1993), and Spy Game (2004), committed suicide on 19 August 2012 by leaping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge into the Los Angeles Harbour. He was 68 years old.

Tony Scott was born on 21 June 1944 in North Shields, North Tyneside, Northumberland. One of his two older brothers was famous director Ridley Scott. He was educated at Stockton-on-Tees. He was still a boy when he had his first professional experience in film, appearing in Ridley Scott's first short film, "Boy on a Bicycle." Mr. Scott studied painting at Sunderland Art School, Leeds College of Art and Design and the Royal College. With doubts in his mind about being able to make a living writing, Tony Scott went to work for his brother Ridley Scott's film and television production company Ridley Scott Associates (RSA). Tony Scott would spend the next many years directing commercials for RSA.

It was in 1969 that Tony Scott directed his first film, the short subject "One of the Missing." That same year he served as cinematographer on Mireille Dansereau's short "Forum." In 1971 Tony Scott directed the short "Loving Memory." Most of the Seventies he would spend directing commercials, with the exception of an episode of Nouvelles de Henry James.

It was in 1983 that Tony Scott made his feature film debut as a director with the film The Hunger. In the Eighties he would follow it with some of his most successful films, if not the best received by critics: Top Gun (1986), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Revenge (1990), and Days of Thunder (1990). In the Nineties Mr. Scott directed the films The Last Boy Scout (1991), True Romance (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), The Fan (1996), and Enemy of the State (1998). He also directed two episodes of the show The Hunger. In the Naughts he directed Spy Game (2001), Beat the Devil (2002), Man on Fire (2004), Agent Orange (2004), Domino (2005), Deja Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009), and Unstoppable (2010).

I cannot say that I was a huge fan of Tony Scott's films. In fact, I actually dislike what may be his two most popular films, Top Gun and Days of Thunder. That having been said, it was not because of Mr. Scott's direction. Tony Scott was technically a very good director and one who was particularly suited to the action genre in which he worked. His high energy camera work often made his films more exciting than if they had been directed by someone else. Indeed, when he had the proper script, Tony Scott was capable of turning out some very fine action films. The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, and Crimson Tide, all very well done action movies, were perhaps the pinnacle of his career. At least they were the films he made that I enjoyed the most. He would also make one of my favourite spy movies of the past 25 years, Spy Game, notable for its very realistic portrayal of espionage. Tony Scott was capable of producing some very good work when he had the right script and the right actors. It is very sad to know that he is gone.

1 comment:

Mythical Monkey said...

I first became aware of William Windom through My World and Welcome to It, which was very funny and then pretty much vanished. I also saw him on stage doing a one-man show based on the writings of Ernie Pyle, the journalist who covered American soldiers at the front during World War II. And then of course his guest turn on Star Trek was classic. Great, under-appreciated actor.