Saturday, January 20, 2018

Godspeed Bradford Dillman

Actor Bradford Dillman died on January 16 2018 at the age of 87. The cause was complications from pneumonia.

Bradford Dillman was born on April 14 1930 in San Francisco. He began acting while still young, spending his summers in Santa Barbara, California performing in local theatre productions. He attended the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut and later received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University. Afterwards he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He received an honourable discharge in 1953 with the rank of first lieutenant. He then studied at the Actors Studio.

Bradford Dillman made his television debut in 1953 in an episode of Kraft Television Theatre. In the Fifties he guest starred on the shows Omnibus, Climax!, and Matinee Theatre. He made his film debut in A Certain Smile in 1958. In the late Fifties he appeared in the films In Love and War (1958), Compulsion (1959), Crack in the Mirror (1960), and A Circle of Deception (1960).  He appeared on Broadway in the original production of Long Day's Journey Into Night from 1956 to 1958.

In the Sixties Bradford Dillman had a recurring role on the TV show Dr. Kildare and was one of the stars of the show Court Martial. He guest starred on such shows as The Eleventh Hour, Naked City, Alcoa Premiere, Wagon Train, The Nurses, Ben Casey, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Hawk, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Big Valley, The Wild Wild West, The Name of the Game, Marcus Welby M.D., and Ironside. He appeared in the films Sanctuary (1961), Francies of Assisi (1961), A Rage to Live (1965), The Plainsman (1966), Jigsaw (1968), The Bridge at Remagen (1969), and Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970).  He appeared on Broadway in The Fun Couple.

In the Seventies Mr. Dillman guest starred on such shows as The Men from Shiloh, Longstreet, The F.B.I., Bonanza, Night Gallery, Mission: Impossible, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Sixth Sense, The Mod Squad, Columbo, McCloud, Medical Centre, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, Wonder Woman, Barnaby Jones, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, and Charlie's Angels. He appeared in such films as Brother John (1971), The Mephisto Waltz (1971), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), The Way We Were (1973), The Iceman Cometh (1973), Bug (1975), The Enforcer (1976), The Swarm (1978), Piranha (1978), and Running Scared (1980).

In the Eighties Bradford Dillman was a regular on the TV show King's Crossing and had a recurring role on Falcon Crest. He guest starred on the shows Matt Houston, The Love Boat, Hot Pursuit, Dynasty, Hotel, and Murder, She Wrote. He appeared in the films Sudden Impact (1983), Treasure of the Amazon (1985), Man Outside (1987), Lords of the Deep (1989), and Heroes Stand Alone (1989). In the Nineties he guest starred on the shows Christine Cromwell and Murder, She Wrote.

Bradford Dillman was an extremely talented actor who could play a variety of roles. He could be a shady character who may be an outlaw instead of the sheriff he claims to be (as on The Men from Shiloh), a religious figure (something he played a few times, on everything from Dr. Kildare to The Nurses), or a military officer (a role he played on the show Court Martial and in various other shows and movies). Over the years he played a wide variety of roles, everything from heroes to villains. He could be a cold blooded murderer (as in Compulsion) or a sympathetic scientist (as in Escape from the Planet of the Apes). If Bradford Dillman was very much in demand on TV shows and in films, it was perhaps because he had the talent to play nearly any role offered him.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Late Great Peter Wyngarde

Peter Wyngarde, the actor best known for playing Jason King in the TV show Department S and its spinoff Jason King, as well as making notable guest appearances on shows from The Avengers to The Prisoner, died on January 15 2018. He was reportedly 90.

Peter Wyngarde's early life is a bit of a mystery. While August 23 is generally agreed upon as his birthday, the year in which he was born, where he was born, and even his given name tend to vary depending upon  the account. Peter Wyngarde long maintained he was born Peter Paul Wyngarde in Marseilles, France to a French mother and a father who worked in the British Diplomatic Service with the surname of Wyngarde. Peter Wyngarde also gave his place of birth as Singapore. According to another account Peter Wyngarde was born Cyril Louis Goldbert in Singapore. His father may have been Henry Goldbert. Author J. G. Ballard claimed to have known Peter Wyngarde as Cyril Goldbert in Shanghai and the two of them were imprisoned in the Japanese internment camp Lunghua. Mr. Wyngarde gave 1933 as his year of birth, but J. G. Ballard said that Mr. Wyngarde was four years older than he was, which would place his birth year closer to 1926 or 1927. In an interview published in The Observer in 1993, Peter Wyngarde claimed that he did not know his real age.

Regardless, Peter Wyngarde made his acting debut on stage at the Buxton Playhouse in 1946. His first role of note would be in Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the Theatre Royal in Birmingham in 1947. He made his film debut in 1949 in an uncredited part as a soldier in Dick Barton Strikes Back. He made his television debut in 1952 in an adaptation of The Dybbuk. On television he appeared in such TV productions as Leibelei and The Gambler. He played Sidney Carton in the mini-series A Tale of Two Cities and Long John Silver in the series The Adventures of Ben Gunn. He appeared as John the Baptist in the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. He guest starred on such shows as Stage by Stage, Terminus, Nom-de-Plume, Assignment Foreign Legion, Sword of Freedom, ITV Television Playhouse, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, and On Trial. He appeared in the films Alexander the Great (1956) and The Siege of Sidney Street (1960).

In the Sixties Peter Wyngarde starred as Rupert of Hentzau in the TV mini-series Rupert of Hentzau. Towards the end of the decade he starred in what may be his most famous role, Jason King, in the TV series Department S. He made two guest appearances on The Avengers, the most notable being that of the Honourable John Cleverly Cartney in the notorious episode "A Touch of Brimstone". He also guest starred on such shows as One Step Beyond, BBC Sunday-Night Play, Armchair Theatre, R3, Sherlock Holmes, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour, ITV Play of the Week, The Saint, I Spy, The Troubleshooters, The Prisoner, and The Champions. He appeared in the films The Innocents (1961) and Night of the Eagle (1962).

Peter Wyngarde began the Seventies playing Jason King in the TV series Jason King. He appeared in the films Himmel, Scheich und Wolkenbruch (1979) and Flash Gordon (1980).  A 1975 arrest for gross indecency in a bus station loo seriously damaged his career, and he saw little work for much of the decade.

In the Eighties he guest starred on Doctor Who, Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, The Two Ronnies, Bulman, and The Comic Strip Presents... He appeared in the film Tank Malling (1989).

In the Nineties Peter Wyngarde guest starred on The Lenny Henry Show and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Quite simply, Peter Wyngarde was an incredible actor. If the character of Jason King developed a cult following in late Sixties and early Seventies Britain, it was largely because of Mr. Wyngarde's performance in the role. Jason King was a womanising author who loved the high life, but still found time to have several adventures. While Peter Wyngarde's best known character was decidedly a hero, he had a gift for playing villains. No better proof of this can be found than The Avengers episode "A Touch of Brimstone", in which he played the aristocratic John Cleverly Cartney, the head of a modern revival of the infamous Hellfire Club. He also did an interesting turn as No. 2 in The Prisoner episode "Checkmate". Such was Peter Wyngarde's talent that he could play a wide array of characters, from Sydney Carton to Long John Silver to Ming the Merciless's aide Klytus in the movie Flash Gordon. Few actors had quite the talent of which Peter Wyngarde could boast.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Godspeed Hugh Wilson

Hugh Wilson, the creator of the classic television shows WKRP in Cincinnati and Frank's Place, died on January 14 2018 a the age of 74.

Hugh Wilson was born in Miami, Florida on August 21 1943. He attended the University of Florida and graduated in 1965 with a degree in journalism. For a time he worked at Armstrong World Industries' in-house advertising department, where he met Jay Tarses and Tom Patchet, who went onto write for The Bob Newhart Show. Mr. Wilson was later a radio sales executive in Atlanta. In 1966 he went to work at the Burton-Campbell Agency as a copywriter. He became the advertising agency's creative director in 1970 and then its president in 1973.

In 1972 Hugh Wilson wrote and directed the film The Bagel Report. In 1976 he wrote his first of five episodes of The Bob Newhart Show. He went onto produce the short-lived sitcom The Tony Randall Show. He also wrote several episodes of the show. It was while he was working on The Tony Randall Show that he approached Grant Tinker of MTM with his idea for a sitcom based around his experiences as a sales executive at a radio station. WKRP in Cincinnati debuted on 1978 on CBS. Hugh Wilson produced the entire run of the show and wrote many of its episodes, including such classic episodes as "Jennifer and the Man" and "Venus and the Man". Because CBS insisted on moving WKRP in Cincinnati  around their schedule (it was moved 14 times), the show rarely had good ratings. That having been said, WKRP in Cincinnati had a cult following and it would prove to be an incredible success as a syndicated rerun. In fact, it was MTM's most successful show in syndication,beating out such classics as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show.

In the Eighties Hugh Wilson directed and co-wrote the movie Police Academy (1984). He also wrote and directed the movies Rustler's Rhapsody (1985) and Burglar (1987). He created the short-lived show Easy Street, and he created and produced the cult classic TV series Frank's Place. He wrote several episodes of Frank's Place. He created the short-lived series The Famous Teddy Z.

In the Nineties Hugh Wilson wrote and directed the movies Guarding Tess (1994), Blast from the Past (1999), and Dudley Do-Right (1999). He wrote the film Down Periscope (1996) and directed the film The First Wives Club (1996). He wrote two episodes of the mini-series The Rough Riders. In the Naughts he directed the film Mickey (2004).

As a writer Hugh Wilson was an incredible talent. He did not simply create WKRP in Cincinnati, but he also wrote several of the show's best episodes. If the show received great reviews when it was on the air and has maintained a large following to this day, it was largely because of Hugh Wilson's writing. Of course, WKRP in Cincinnati was not his only achievement. While Frank's Place is not as well remembered, it also received good notices and was nominated for several Emmy Awards, including the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.  Hugh Wilson had a capacity for creating characters who were at the same time believable and very funny. Such characters as Johnny Fever and Les Nessman might be somewhat exaggerated, but they are also people one could actually believe existed somewhere. Even if WKRP in Cincinnati was the only thing Hugh Wilson had done, he would be remembered. As it is, he did much more.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dolores O'Riordan Passes On

Dolores O'Riordan, best known as the lead vocalist for Irish band The Cranberries, died unexpectedly on January 15 2018. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Dolores O'Riordan was born on September 6 1971 in Ballybricken, County Limerick.  Reportedly she was singing before she could even talk. By the time she was a teenager Miss O'Riordan was already writing songs, inspired by such bands as Duran Duran and The Smiths. While her talent developed at an early age, she was also a terribly shy person. Performing on stage frightened her.

Regardless, it was in 1989 that Dolores O'Riordan responded to an advertisement looking for a lead singer placed by local Limerick band The Cranberry Saw Us. Miss O'Riordan then became the lead vocalist of the band, which was soon renamed The Cranberries. One of their early demo tapes, featuring the songs "Linger" and "Dreams" came to the attention of the recording industry. They eventually signed with Island Records.

Their first single, "Dreams", was released on September 29 1992. Their first album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, was released on March 1 1993. Initially neither the single nor the album did particularly well on the charts, nor did their second single "Linger". The Cranberries went on tour supporting Suede, which brought them to the attention of MTV. The channel then put the videos for "Dreams" and "Linger" in heavy rotation. This ultimately propelled Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? to the top of the Irish and British album charts. It would peak at a very respectable no. 18 on the Billboard album chart.

The Cranberries' next few albums  (No Need to Argue, To the Faithful Departed, and Bury the Hatchet) all did very well, topping the British chart and performing respectably in North America and Europe. In 1994 they had an international success with the single "Zombie". Sadly, their fifth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, would not do nearly as well as their previous efforts. It only peaked at no. 61 on the British album chart and no. 46 on the Billboard album chart. It did perform well in both Ireland and Europe.

It was in September 2003 that The Cranberries decided to go on hiatus. During the hiatus Dolores O'Riordan was featured as a guest vocalist on Italian artist Zucchero's album Zu & Co. on the song "Pure Love" and on German duo Jam & Spoon's album Tripomatic Fairytales 3003 on the song "Mirror Lover". Her first solo album, Are You Listening?, was released in May 2007. It was followed by a second solo album, No Baggage, in 2009.

It was in 2009 that The Cranberries reunited. Their sixth album, Roses, was released in February 2012. It was in 2014 that Dolores O'Riordan began working with Andy Rourke of The Smiths and Olé Koretsky as part of Jetlag, eventually renamed D.A.R.K. D.A.R.K. released a single album, Science Agrees, in September 2016. In April 2017 The Cranberries released the album Something Else.

Dolores O'Riordan was both a remarkable songwriter and a remarkable vocalist. She was blessed with a rather singular mezzo-soprano voice, and her Limerick accent could be heard in nearly every one of her songs. Her haunting voice fit her songs well, which were blatantly emotional during a decade, the Nineties, which was supposed to be all about being cool and aloof. Even on topical songs, such as "Zombie" and "Free to Decide", Miss O'Riordan's songs were about feelings. Dolores O'Riordan might have been cool, but she was never aloof. As both a singer and a songwriter, that was her strength.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jean Porter R.I.P.

Actress Jean Porter, who appeared in such films as Bathing Beauty (1944), Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945), and Cry Danger (1951), died on January 13 2018. She was 95 years old.

Jean Porter was born on December 8 1922 in Cisco, Texas. She entered the entertainment industry at a very young age. When she was only 10 she was the host of her own radio show on Forth Worth station WRR. She had a summer job singing with Ted Lewis's vaudeville band. When she was 12 her mother won an all expenses paid trip to Hollywood. Jean Porter accompanied her mother and studied at the Fanchon and Marco dance school. It was there that she was discovered by director Allan Dwan. He cast her in an uncredited role in his musical Song and Dance Man (1936).  In the late Thirties she appeared in uncredited roles in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), The Under-Pup (1939), and One Million B.C. (1940). 

In the early Forties Miss Porter appeared in uncredited roles in such films as Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), Henry Aldrich for President (1941), and Hellzapoppin' (1941). She received her first credited role in the movie Fall In (1942). In the Forties she appeared in such films as The Youngest Profession (1943), Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble (1944), Bathing Beauty (1944), San Fernando Valley (1944), Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood (1945), What Next, Corporal Hargrove? (1945), Till the End of Time (1946), Little Miss Broadway (1947), That Hagen Girl (1947), and Two Blondes and a Redhead (1947). In 1948 she married director Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten. Jean Porter and Edward Dmytryk left for England and remained there until 1951. Upon their return Mr. Dmytryk was imprisoned for six months for contempt of Congress.

In the Fifties Miss Porter appeared in the films Cry Danger (1951), Kentucky Jubilee (1951), G. I. Jane (1951), The Clown (1953), Racing Blood (1954), and The Left Hand of God (1955). She made her television debut in 1953 in an episode of The Abbott and Costello Show. In the Fifties she guest starred on such shows as Climax!, The People's Choice, and The Red Skelton Show. In the early Sixties she appeared on the shows 77 Sunset Strip and Sea Hunt. She retired from acting in 1961.

Jean Porter appeared in everything from musicals to Westerns, and she was always a pleasure to see on the screen. Miss Porter was pretty, lively, and entirely charming. While she always played supporting roles throughout her career, her characters always remained memorable. Whether in a big budget MGM film or a low budget Columbia B-movie, Jean Porter left an impression.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Donnelly Rhodes Passes On

Donnelly Rhodes, a Canadian actor who played Dutch Leitner on the sitcom Soap and Detective Leo Shannon on Da Vinci's Inquest as well as made numerous guest appearances on other shows over the years, died on January 8 at the age of 80. The cause was cancer.

Donnelly Rhodes was born on December 4 1937 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he did his first acting. Mr. Rhodes studied at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the National Theatre School. He made his film debut in a bit part in the movie Reprisal! (1956). In the late Fifties he also appeared in the film The 27th Day (1957).  He made his television debut in an episode of Man with a Camera. He guest starred Maverick, Cheyenne, Bonanza, and Two Faces West.

In the Sixties Donnelly Rhodes guest starred on such shows as Tallahassee 7000, Mister Ed, Hazel, Wagon Train, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Dr. Kildare, Convoy, The Virginian, Laredo, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Mannix, Tarzan, Ironside, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Insight, and Here Come the Brides. He appeared in the film Gunfight in Abilene (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and Change of Mind (1969). 

In the Seventies Donnelly Rhodes starred on the Canadian police drama Sidestreet and was a regular on the hit American sitcom Soap. He guest starred on such shows as O'Hara, U.S. Treasury; Mission: Impossible; The Starlost; Police Story; Switch; Wonder Woman; and The Littlest Hobo.  He appeared in the films The Neptune Factor (1973), The Hard Part Begins (1973), Goldenrod (1976), and Oh Heavenly Dog (1980).

In the Eighties Donnelly Rhodes starred on the American sitcom Double Trouble and the Canadian adventure series Danger Bay, and was a regular on the American sitcom Report to Murphy. He guest starred on such shows as It's a Living, Cheers, Taxi, Hill Street Blues, Amanda's, Alice, The Hitchhiker, The Golden Girls, Airwolf, and Empty Nest.

In the Nineties Mr. Rhodes began his run as Detective Shannon on Da Vinci's Inquest. He was a regular on the show The Heights and Street Legal. He guest starred on such shows as Murder, She Wrote; Profit; Sliders; The X-Files; The Sentinel; and Call of the Wild. He appeared in the films Showdown at Williams Creek (1991) and Urban Safari (1996).

In the Naughts Donnelly Rhodes continued to appear on Da Vinci's Inquest. He was a regular on Battlestar Galactica (2004) and Always a Bridesmaid. He guest starred on such shows as The Chris Isaak Show, The Dead Zone, Psych, Smallville, and Human Target. He appeared in the films Snow Dogs (2001), Pressure (2002), Damage (2009), Ramona and Beezus (2010), Hunt to Kill (2010), Tron: Legacy (2010). In the Teens he guest starred on such shows as Heartland, Supernatural, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. He appeared in the film Barricade (2012).

Donnelly Rhodes truly was a great character actor. And while many character actors play a specific sort of role, Mr. Rhodes played a wide variety of roles. He could be anything from escaped convict Dutch Leitner to veterinarian Doc Cottle. Over the years he played military officers, police officers, outlaws, fathers, judges, and many more sorts of roles. He truly was very versatile.