Friday, March 8, 2019

Godspeed Katherine Helmond

Katherine Helmond, perhaps best known for her roles in Soap and Who's the Boss?, died on February 23 2019 at the age of 89.

Katherine Helmond was born on July 5 1929 in Galveston, Texas. Her parents divorced while she was young, and her mother eventually remarried. In junior high and high school she was involved in local community theatres. Once she graduated from high school she went to work for a professional theatre in Houston and then moved to New York City. She did summer stock, and ran a summer theatre in the Catskills with friends. Katherine Helmond made her film debut in a role in the film Wine of Morning in 1955. She made her television debut in an episode of Car 54, Where Are You? in 1962. She worked a good deal on the stage in New York, working with the Trinity Square Repertory Company in the mid-Sixties. She made her Broadway debut in Private Lives in 1969.

In the Seventies she appeared in such films as The Hospital (1971), The Hindenburg (1975), Family Plot (1976), and Baby Blue Marine (1976). In the Seventies she was cast in the role of Jessica Tate on the hit TV show Soap. She remained with the show for the entirety of its run. She also guest starred on such shows as Gunsmoke, The F.B.I., The Bob Newhart Show, The Snoop Sisters, Hec Ramsey, Mannix, Medical Center, Barnaby Jones, The Rookies, Harry-O, The Six Million Dollar Man, Petrocelli, and The Bionic Woman. She appeared on Broadway in The Great God Brown and Don Juan.

In the Eighties she continued to star on the TV show Soap. She also began a long run on the sitcom Who's the Boss?. She guest starred on such shows as Benson, Fantasy Island, Comedy Factory, and The Love Boat. She appeared in the films Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), Shadey (1985), Overboard (1987), and Lady in White (1988).

In the Nineties she continued to appear on Who's the Boss. Miss Helmond had recurring roled on the sitcoms Coach and Everybody Loves Raymond. She was a guest voice on Batman: The Animated Series. She guest starred on such shows as The Elvira Show, Providence, and Strong Medicine. She appeared in the films Inside Monkey Zetterland (1992), Amore! (1994), The Flight of the Dove (1995), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and The Perfect Nanny (2000). She appeared on Broadway in Mixed Emotions.

In the Naughts and the Teens Katherine Helmond appeared in the films Black Hole (2002), Collaborator (2011), and Frank and Ava (2018). She was the voice of Lizzie in the Pixar animated films Cars (2006), Cars 2 (2011), and Cars 3 (2017). She guest starred on the TV show The Glades, Melissa & Joey, True Blood, and Harry's Law.

Katherine Helmond was a talented actress with a particular gift for comedy and playing off-the-wall characters. She was great as the naive and sweet Jessica Tate on Soap and the man-crazy Mona Robinson on Who's the Boss?. She was incredible as socialite Ida Lowry in Brazil, a role for which she had to wear a great deal of makeup. Over the years Miss Helmond played a number of remarkable roles on both television and in film, and she always gave a good performance. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Godspeed Luke Perry

Luke Perry, who starred on the TV shows Beverly Hills 90210 and Riverdale, made numerous guest appearances on other shows, and appeared in such films as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) and The Fifth Element (1997), died on March 4 2019. The cause was complications from a massive stroke.

Luke Perry was born Coy Luther Perry III in Mansfield, Ohio. His parents got a divorce when he was six years old. His mother remarried and he moved with his mother to Fredricktown, Ohio. It was after he graduated from high school that he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He made his television debut in an uncredited part on an episode of the show Voyagers! in 1982. In 1985 he appeared in the video for the Twisted Sister video "Be Chrool to Your Scuel". He then moved to New York City where he appeared in an episode of the soap opera Loving and had an extended run on the soap opera Another World from 1988 to 1989. It was in 1990 that he began playing Dylan McKay on the TV series Beverly Hills 90210. He appeared in the movie Terminal Bliss (1990).

In the Nineties Mr. Perry continued to appear on Beverly Hills 90210. He provided voices on the animated TV shows Biker Mice from Mars, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, The Legend of Calamity Jane, and The Incredible Hulk. He was a guest voice on the animated shows The Simpsons, Pepper Ann, and Johnny Bravo. He guest starred on the show Spin City and appeared in the mini-series Invasion. He appeared in the movies Scorchers (1991), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), 8 Seconds (1994), Vacanze di Natale '95 (1995), Normal Life (1996), American Strays (1996), The Fifth Element (1997), Lifebreath (1997), The Florentine (1999), and Attention Shoppers (2000). He appeared on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Show.

In the Naughts Luke Perry had a recurring role on the TV show Oz in its fourth and fifth seasons. He was the star of the short-lived TV series Jeremiah and Windfall, and he had a recurring role on the shows John from Cincinnati and FCU: Fact Checkers Unit. He guest starred on the shows Night Visions, Will & Grace, What I Like About You, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Leverage. He appeared in such films as The Enemy (2001), Dirt (2001), Fogbound (2002), Alice Upside Down (2007), Upstairs (2001), Good Intentions (2010), Redemption Road (2010), and Hanna's Gold (2010).

In 2016 Luke Perry began playing Fred Andrews, father of the lead character Archie Andrews, on the TV show Riverdale. In the Teens he had recurring roles on the Body of Proof and Detective McLean. He guest starred on the shows Raising Hope, Community, Major Crimes, and Hot in Cleveland. He appeared in such films as Red Wing (2013), A Fine Step (2014), Black Beauty (2015), Dragon Warriors (2015), and The Griddle House (2018).

Luke Perry was an actor of considerable talent. Much of the success of Riverdale is largely due to the fact that he was very convincing as father Fred Andrews. And while Mr. Perry may be best known for playing a teen rebel and a loving father, he played a wide variety of other roles. On Oz he played somewhat shady preacher Jeremiah Cloutier. In the Leverage episode "The Future Job" he played crooked, phony psychic Dalton Rand. He played a gay birdwatcher and nature nerd on Will & Grace. The roles played by Mr. Perry were wide and varied: slacker Oliver Pike in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, professional bull rider Lane Frost in the movie 8 Seconds, and CDC Officer Dr. Charlie Stafford on the TV show Body of Proof, among other roles. He was equally capable of playing a hero or a villain or anything in between.

Of course, in addition to Fred Andrews on Riverdale, Luke Perry may be best known for playing Dylan on Beverly Hills 90210. Those too young who remember or those who were not born yet might not realise just how wildly popular Luke Perry as Dylan was in the early Nineties. His popularity dwarfed even that of Justin Beiber and One Direction in more recent years. It was not unusual for riots among young, teenage fans to break out at shopping malls where he appeared. Mr. Perry was not comfortable with his status as a teen idol. For one thing, he was not a teenager. He was 24 when he began playing on Beverly Hills 90210. For another, he always regarded himself simply as an ordinary guy who just happened to star on a TV show.

Despite not particularly liking his role as a teen idol, Luke Perry was always known for his kindness to his fans. In fact, he was known for his kindness to everyone. Upon most actors' deaths it is not unusual for the former co-stars to tweet tributes to them. In the case of Luke Perry, however, his fans tweeted stories of his many acts of kindness through the years. Many actors told how Mr. Perry always went out of his way to make them feel welcome on sets on which he was the star. When Riverdale co-star Hayley Law was having trouble buying a car, he offered to co-sign for it. If Luke Perry has been mourned so, it is perhaps not because he was a former teen idol or even a very talented actor. It was because he was a true gentleman who believed in treating everyone with dignity.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Beverley Owen Passes On

Beverley Owen, best known for playing Marilyn Munster for the first 13 episodes of The Munsters, died on February 21 2019 at the age of 81. She had battled ovarian cancer for the past two years.

Beverley Owen was born in Ottumwa, Iowa on May 13 1937.  She made her television debut in the soap opera As the World Turns in 1961. She guest starred on The DoctorsKraft Mystery Theatre, Wagon Train, and The Virginian. She was cast in the role of Marilyn, the beautiful blonde among a family of monsters, on the sitcom The Munsters. She played the role for 13 episodes before leaving to get married. The role of Marilyn Munster was taken over by Pat Priest. She returned to television in 1972 for a nine month run on the soap opera Another World. Afterwards she returned to school to study early American history. She earned a masters degree in American history in 1989.

I have no doubt that there are many younger Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers who had huge crushes on Beverly Owen as little boys. She was wonderful as Marilyn Munster, and not simply because she was blonde and beautiful. Miss Owen brought the right amount of wholesomeness, sweetness, and even  sex appeal to the role. Beverly Owen was perfectly suited to playing the girl next door, and it was a role she also played in her guest appearances.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Charles de Lauzirika's In Memoriam Video

Many people, particularly classic film buffs, were both disappointed and angered by the In Memoriam segment that aired during the telecast of the Oscars ceremony last Sunday. Omitted were several big names, including Julie Adams, Mary Carlisle, Carol Channing, Stanley Donen, Aretha Franklin, Dick Miller, and many others. Despite a petition that eventually surpassed 10,000 signatures, as well as many phone calls and letters, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences still did not include my beloved Vanessa Marquez. Despite all the well known actors, actresses, directors, writers, and cinematographers omitted from the In Memoriam segment, the Academy somehow still had time to include publicists and agents that even the majority of people in the auditorium that night had probably never heard of.

Among those who missed many in the In Memoriam segment last Sunday was filmmaker Charles de Lauzirika, who created his own In Memoriam video during lunch. Featured in Mr. Lauzirika's video are many that the Academy missed, including Carol Channing, Kaye Ballard, Sondra Locke, Julie Adams, Donald Moffat, Dick Miller, Stanley Donen, and many others. While I don't think Mr. Lauzirika realised that my dearest Vanessa was possibly the world's biggest Star Wars fan, I like that she appears right before Gary Kurtz, who produced both Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). I know that would make her very happy.

Mr. Lauzirika posted the video to Twitter on February 25 and has also shared it elsewhere. For those of you who would like for it to be uploaded to YouTube, he replied to me in a tweet that he is considering that, but he would like to add even more names before he does so! Anyhow, many, including myself, are very grateful for this In Memoriam video, which everyone regards as superior to the one that the Academy created.

Without further ado, here is Charles de Lauzirika's In Memoriam video.