Thursday, July 30, 2020

Justice for Vanessa Marquez

"When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something." John Lewis

"You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty." Jessica Mitford

Vanessa Marquez was an actress best known for playing Ana Delgado in the classic movie Stand and Deliver (1988) and Nurse Wendy Goldman on the hit television show ER. She appeared in such movies as Twenty Bucks (1993) and Blood In, Blood Out (1993), as well as such television shows as Wiseguy, Culture Clash, Seinfeld, and Nurses. Vanessa also happened to be the dearest friend I ever had. We were in daily contact on various social media sites, and regularly talked on the phone and texted. Sadly, on August 30 2018 Vanessa was shot in the back and killed by Gilberto Carrillo and Christopher Perez, officers of the South Pasadena, California Police Department.

It was on March 2 2020 that the Los Angles District Attorney's Office released their report on Vanessa Marquez's death in which it was concluded that the officers acted in self defence. To say that I have serious issues with that report would be an understatement. It was on June 24 2020 that a Complaint for Damages was filed with the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Central District on June 24, 2020 on behalf of Vanessa's mother. The complaint has brought to light further facts regarding Vanessa's death and sheds further doubt in my mind that the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office's report was fair or unbiased.

To begin with, I have to question why armed police officers were sent to Vanessa's apartment to begin with. On August 30 2018 I called Vanessa Marquez and when I didn't receive an answer I texted her, thinking she could answer when she wanted. Vanessa texted right back and she asked me to call the paramedics as she was having severe seizures. I then called the paramedics at 11:48 AM Pacific Time. In the Los Angeles District Attorney Office's report it claims that a woman from Alabama. who identified herself as a friend of Vanessa, called the paramedics and said that Vanessa was "not acting right." It has since come to my attention that apparently they were confused and this "woman from Alabama" is actually me. Now I don't think my voice sounds the least bit feminine and, given the fact that I had to give them my home address (which is in Missouri), I don't understand how they could get that I am from Alabama, but what upsets me is that at no point did I say that Vanessa was "not acting right." I stated in no uncertain terms that Vanessa was having severe seizures and asked that they send paramedics over to give her medical assistance. I did not ask for police officers to perform "a wellness check." I would have protested if I had known that they would send police.

It is for that reason that I want to stress that at no point was I connected to the South Pasadena Police Department and at no point did I ever speak to a police officer. Despite the fact that I had asked for paramedics to be sent to Vanessa's apartment,  my call was apparently referred to the South Pasadena Police Department. According to the Los Angeles District Attorney Office's report, the officers arrived at 11:49 AM Pacific Time. I find this curious as I had made my call at 11:48 AM Pacific Time. I can only guess one of two things. Either someone called before I did and that call has yet to be acknowledged by the City of South Pasadena, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, or the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, or their timeline is wrong. Anyway, you can see from this screenshot from my phone's call log exactly when I called (the times here are in Central Time). For obvious reasons, I have blurred my bank's name.



If someone else had not called before me, not only do I have to question when the police officers arrived at Vanessa's door, but why they were sent there at all. I stated that she was having severe seizures and I asked that they send paramedics. Given Vanessa was having a medical emergency, it seems fairly obvious to me that she needed paramedics, not cops. Obviously paramedics have training to deal with medical emergencies, whereas the average police officer does not. Even if I had asked for a welfare check to be made on Vanessa, it would have made more sense to have sent paramedics than police officers. Indeed, I believe that if paramedics had initially been sent to Vanessa's apartment instead of police officers, she might still be alive today.

Here I must digress and discuss Vanessa's mental state at the time of her death. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report on the death of Vanessa Marquez seems written so as to give the impression that she was suicidal. Let me say this as adamantly as I possibly can--Vanessa was not suicidal. In our last conversation Vanessa and I discussed an X-Files marathon that BBC America was holding in conjunction with that show's 25th anniversary, a John Williams concert that was being held in Los Angeles County, and the day that I could one day visit her. With another friend she discussed a sale at Sephora that weekend. People who are suicidal do not discuss the future, because as far as they are concerned they do not have a future. Vanessa was still very much enthusiastic about life and still maintained her sunny disposition, despite having been ill much of the summer of 2018. Vanessa had refractory coeliac disease and regularly had seizures, among other medical problems, yet she was cheerful more often than not.

This brings me to the matter of how the police officers in Vanessa's apartment on August 30 2018 comported themselves. It is my firm belief that they behaved neither professionally nor appropriately. To begin with, they entered Vanessa's apartment without her consent, and they were heavily armed when they did so. Vanessa had committed no crime and did not present a danger to herself or others. She was having a medical emergency that none of them were qualified to treat. Vanessa was quite naturally startled, as anyone would be who was expecting paramedics instead of heavily armed police officers.

As further proof of the police officers' unprofessional conduct, they remained in the apartment even after Vanessa had declined to be taken to the hospital, as is her right under California law. They did this even after a paramedic had informed Vanessa that it was her right to refuse medical treatment. The moment that Vanessa declined to be taken to the hospital, the police officers were then obligated to leave. That they remained shows to me that their conduct was not only unprofessional and inappropriate, but in violation of California law.

As if the police officers remaining in Vanessa's apartment after she refused to be taken to the hospital was not bad enough, apparently someone at the South Pasadena Police Department, who was not present in her apartment and had not even spoken to her, placed Vanessa on a 5150 hold. For those of you wondering what a 5150 hold is, it refers to Statute 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code whereby  a peace officer or other professional so designated under the law can involuntarily place someone in a mental institution for 72 hours for evaluation and treatment if they believe that person to be a danger to themselves or others. The person  placing an individual under a 5150 hold must have spoken to the individual in person and at length. This means that the 5150 hold placed upon Vanessa was entirely unlawful, as it was applied by someone who had not spoken to her in person and was not even in her apartment at the time. Furthermore, the 5150 hold was unlawful because Vanessa was not a threat to herself nor anyone else. I would be willing to swear to that under oath in a court of law.

As if the police officers remaining after Vanessa refused to be taken to the hospital and the unlawful 5150 were not enough, it seems to me that the police officers showed little interest in de-escalating the situation. According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report, Vanessa informed two of the police officers that in her last stay at the hospital she had been sexually assaulted. While the report does not say so, it seems to me that the officers must have dismissed her claim. Knowing Vanessa as I did, I have no doubt that Vanessa's claim was true. Earlier in the summer she had gone to the hospital to be treated for heatstroke. Her experience was such that afterwards she refused to go to the hospital, even after I begged her to go to the hospital if she ever had another instance of heatstroke. While Vanessa never told me that she had been sexually assaulted, it would explain why she did not want to go to the hospital. That the police officers present in her apartment that day apparently did not seem to take her claim of being sexually assaulted seriously shows to me that they had little concern in de-escalating the situation.

As further proof that the police officers present in Vanessa's apartment that day showed little concern in de-escalating the situation I also have to point out that at no point did it occur to any of the police officers to call one of Vanessa's friends to talk to her. I would think that they would have the phone number of her emergency contact and, having called the South Pasadena Fire Department, I would think they would have my number as well. I do not know if one of Vanessa's other friends or I could have accomplished anything in talking to her, but I know I would have liked to have at least had the opportunity to do so. It would have been much better than having her simply gunned down by police officers.

According to the Complaint for Damages filed on June 24 2020, Gilberto Carrillo falsely claimed that Vanessa pointed a BB gun at the officers and used that as a pretext to open fire on her. I find it notable that in the Los Angles District Attorney Office's report on Vanessa's death that while other individuals present in Vanessa's apartment that day heard Carrillo yell, "Gun! Gun! Gun!, " Carrillo is the only person who claims to have actually seen Vanessa point a gun. As far as I am concerned, if Carrillo's claim that Vanessa pointed a BB fun a officers is indeed false, not only does it bring the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office's claim that the officers acted in self defence into question, but every single thing that Carrillo has said regarding Vanessa's death. Curiously, in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office's report, Carrillo also claimed that Vanessa told him that she was having suicidal ideation, a claim that no one else made, not even the paramedics or the mental health professional present that day (whom one would think would be the most likely people Vanessa would have told if she was having suicidal thoughts, given they are medical professionals).

As I pointed out above, if the claim that Vanessa pointed a BB gun at the officers is indeed false, then it would put the conclusion that the officers acted in self defence in serious doubt. Putting this further in doubt is the fact that the Los Angles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner's autopsy report as of September 3, 2018 makes it clear that Vanessa was shot in the back. Both the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report and the Complaint for Damages make it clear that she was shot at from a distance. Given Vanessa was shot in the back and from a distance, I then find it incredulous to claim that the officers acted in self defence and in defence of others.

Not only do I find it impossible to believe that the officers acted in self defence, but I firmly believe that they used excessive force in dealing with Vanessa. Vanessa was only 5'3" and weighed all of 87 pounds at the time of her death. As near as I can tell, the officers shot fifteen times, six of those shots going into Vanessa and nine of them into the wall. I seriously have to question why the officers saw fit to fire so many times at a petite, disabled, non-threatening woman. Of course, for that matter, if the officers truly felt threatened by Vanessa, then why did they not use non-lethal measures to deal with her? Today's police officers have access to more non-lethal weapons than ever before. They could have used pepper spray. They could have used a Taser. They could have used BolaWrap.  Now many of these non-lethal alternatives could have seriously injured Vanessa or may have even killed her, but they would have shown that the police officers were trying to preserve Vanessa's life. As it is, it looks to me as if the officers had absolutely no concern for Vanessa's life, that they were intent on killing her.

Here I want to say that even if the police officers present in Vanessa's apartment that day felt threatened by her, that is insufficient reason for them to have opened fire on her. Quite simply, being "scared out of one's mind" is not sufficient reason to shoot someone. If a civilian shot someone and used the excuse that they were "scared out of their mind," that civilian would find themselves arrested and charged with murder. Given they should have the training to deal with such situations, police officers should be held to a higher standard than civilians. "I was scared out of my mind" is not sufficient grounds for a police officer to even draw their weapon, let alone fire upon someone with it.

Of course, this points to one of my many problems with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report on Vanessa's death. Quite simply, it relies too much upon the words of police officers who would have a lot to lose if it were decided that they did not act in self defence, while omitting evidence that would contradict one of the report's foremost claims. Quite simply, it appears to me that a good deal of effort was put into the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report on Vanessa's death to make it appear that she was suicidal. Despite this, I know for a fact that in the course of their investigation the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department interviewed some of Vanessa's friends. Insofar as I know, not a one of them said that Vanessa was suicidal. On August 31, 2018 at 6:12 PM Central Time and again at 8:26 PM Central Time, I was interviewed by a sergeant with the Los Angles County Sheriff's Department. Among the questions he asked me was whether Vanessa had ever expressed a desire to kill herself and whether she had ever expressed a desire to harm herself. In each instance I said, "NO," so strenuously that the sergeant was taken aback.  Curiously, none of these interviews are referenced in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office report. Here I have to point out that if Vanessa had truly been suicidal, she could have simply taken an overdose of her seizure medication at any time  She would not have chosen "suicide by cop." I also have to point out that if Vanessa had intended to commit suicide, she would have told someone first, if not me, then someone else.

While the Los Angles County District Attorney's Office's report does not include interviews with Vanessa's friends who denied that she was suicidal, it does include specifically chosen social media posts (apparently all from Facebook) taken entirely out of context to give the appearance that she wanted to end her life. With the exception of one I cannot deny that Vanessa made these posts, but I can explain them. As noted above, Vanessa was not a very physically healthy woman. On those days when she felt particularly unwell and she was having seizures, she might well complain. Most people complain when they are feeling unwell. They might even say something to the effect of "I just want to die."  I have done exactly that when I've had a severe toothache or a severe case of the norovirus. Did I want to kill myself? No. And neither do most people.  Neither did Vanessa. As I pointed out above, Vanessa was not suicidal, and I would be willing to state that under oath.

This brings me to a Facebook post that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's report claims Vanessa made that I do not believe that she in fact did. The report claims that at 1:48 PM Pacific time, right before the officer involved shooting began, Vanessa posted, "there shooting me pour ashes over Hollywood sign." Now on Facebook I had it set so that I received a notification any time Vanessa posted. I also have to point out that on the afternoon of August 30, 2018 I was frequently checking Vanessa's Facebook profile as I was worried about her. Somehow I never saw this alleged post. Furthermore, none of Vanessa's other friends I have talked to remember seeing this post either. It is not now nor has it ever been visible on Vanessa's profile. Now it seems very unlikely that any of Vanessa's other friends or I would not have seen this post. Furthermore, I find the post's grammar rather curious. Even under duress I am convinced Vanessa would have written the correct, "They're shooting me" and not "there shooting me."

Because I, nor Vanessa's other friends to whom I have talked, ever saw this post and because of its improper grammar, I find the claim that this was Vanessa's final Facebook post very dubious. Now I know some might question how the actual author of this post would have known that Vanessa wanted her ashes scattered at the Hollywood sign. Quite simply, this was pretty much public knowledge. I had known about it for years, as had many of Vanessa's other friends. I do believe she even posted about it to social media, so it would not take much research for someone to discover this. At any rate, until I see a screenshot of that post and can have it definitively verified as not being a forgery, I am always going to have serious doubts as to whether she posted it at all.

Ever since her death, I have written a great deal about Vanessa Marquez. It is no secret that Vanessa and I were very close, and that I have very strong feelings for her. She was both my dearest friend and a woman I adore. For that reason there may be those that would argue that I am so consumed by grief and anger that I cannot see things clearly. That having been said, I think the evidence of misconduct on the part of the City of South Pasadena and the police officers present in Vanessa's apartment is so great that anyone can see.

Indeed, it seems very clear to me that the City of South Pasadena and the South Pasadena Police Department showed very little concern for the life of Vanessa Marquez. When I called and asked for paramedics to be sent to Vanessa's apartment because she was having seizures, they sent police officers instead, individuals who are not qualified to deal with a medical emergency. Once there it appears that those police officers showed little concern for Vanessa's life and made no real effort to de-escalate the situation. Sadly, one of those officers decided to yell "Gun! Gun! Gun!" and fire upon Vanessa, after which another officer fired upon her as well. They killed Vanessa Marquez by shooting her in the back. In sending police officers instead of paramedics to respond to a medical emergency and afterwards taking no responsibility for those officers' actions, the City of South Pasadena should be held accountable. As for the officers who killed her, it is my firm belief that Gilberto Carrillo and Christopher Perez belong in prison. It is my firm belief that they did not act in self defence.

Sadly, the death of Vanessa Marquez at the hands of police is not an isolated case. Latinos, Native Americans, and African Americans are killed at disproportionately higher rates by police officers than whites or Asian Americans. And while some of these cases have generated a great deal of outrage on a national level, as of yet Vanessa's death has not. As far as I am concerned, it is time for people nation-wide to begin speaking out about the death of Vanessa Marquez. It is time for people to boycott the City of South Pasadena, California until they assume responsibility for her death. It is time for people to protest that Vanessa Marquez, a petite, non-threatening Latina who had committed no crime, was shot in the back and killed by heavily armed police officers in her own home. It is time for people to write the Attorney General of California, the Governor of California, and anyone else willing to listen so that those who killed her might be held responsible for her death. Vanessa was a warm, loving, kind-hearted, intelligent, and beautiful woman who was dealt an injustice by the very people sworn to serve and protect her. It is time that Vanessa Marquez received justice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Film Noir During TCM Summer Under the Stars 2020

Like most Turner Classic Movies fans, I love Summer Under the Stars, the annual, month long programming block in which each day is devoted to a different star. That having been said, like most Noir Alley fans, I don't like being without Noir Alley for a whole month. Fortunately, during most Summers Under the Stars TCM shows a good number of film noirs, and this Summer Under the Stars is no different.

I went through the schedule and found every film noir that is airing next month. Please let me know if I have missed any! Also, August 31 is devoted to French star Alain Delon. While I wouldn't consider any of his films to be purely noir, some of his movies are close enough that most film noir fans will probably enjoy them

All times are Central.

Saturday, August 1
10:00 AM Crime of Passion (1957)
1:00 PM East Side, West Side (1949)
9:00 PM Double Indemnity (1944)

Monday, August 3
7:00 PM The Lady from Shanghai (1948)
9:00 PM Gilda (1947)

Thursday, August 6
12:15 PM Brute Force (1947)

Wednesday, August 12
12:00 AM The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Saturday, August 15
9:15 PM My Name is Julia Ross (1945)
10:30 PM Illegal (1955)

Friday, August 21
10:30 AM Man Bait (1952)
11:00 PM The Unholy Wife (1957)

Monday, August 24
8:30 AM Johnny Angel (1946)
10:00 AM Race Street (1948)
1:30 PM Red Light (1949)
3:15 PM A Dangerous Profession (1950)
10:45 PM Nocturne (1946)

Friday, August 28
11:15 AM Hollow Triumph (1948)

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Late Great Olivia de Havilland

Dame Olivia de Havilland was not the last star remaining from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Ann Blyth, Rhonda Fleming, Norman Lloyd, June Lockhart, Margaret O'Brien, and a few others are still alive. That having been said, she was the last major star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, the last one whose name the average person might recognise. And there is little wonder why. Even when one does not count Gone with the Wind, she starred in movies that in their day were the equivalent of Star Wars (1977) or Titanic (1997) in terms of their success. Captain Blood (1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), and To Each His Own (1946) were box office hits, and critically acclaimed as well. Even after she retired Olivia de Havilland remained very much in the public eye. Sadly, Olivia de Havilland died yesterday, July 26 2020, at the age of 104.

Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1 1916 in Tokyo to British parents. Her mother, Lilian Fontaine, had studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and had appeared on stage. Her younger sister, Joan de Havilland, was born on October 22 1917 and would gain fame as Joan Fontaine. Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine remain the only sisters to have both won major Academy Awards.

It was in 1919 that Olivia de Havilland's parents decided to return to England because of both of their daughters' health. They sailed from Japan to San Francisco where they stopped in order to have Olivia treated for tonsillitis. While in San Francisco, Joan developed pneumonia, after which Lilian Fontaine persuaded her husband to let them remain in California. Their father eventually deserted the family.

From an early age Lilian Fontaine raised her daughters in the arts. Olivia began ballet lessons at age four and piano lessons at age five. Olivia learned to read before she was six years old. Lilian divorced Olivia and Joan's father. She later married George Fontaine, who managed an O. A. Hale & Co. department store in San Jose, California. Olivia de Havilland attendd Los Gatos High School, where she took part in school plays. She attended attended Notre Dame Convent in Belmont, California as well.

It was in 1933 that Olivia de Havilland made her stage debut in a production of Alice in Wonderland by the Saratoga Community Theatre. She later appeared in the theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as Puck. Not long afterwards legendary director Max Reinhardt was in California staging a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Hollywood Bowl and he offered Miss de Havilland the position of second understudy for the role of Hermia. When  Gloria Stuart, set to play Hermia, and then the first understudy, Jean Rouverol, quit, the role then went to Olivia de Havilland. Afterwards Max Reinhardt and film producer Henry Blanke convinced Olivia de Havilland to sign with Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland made her film debut in the Joe E. Brown comedy Alibi Ike in 1935. It was a little over a month later that she appeared in the James Cagney comedy The Irish in Us. While it was in production before both comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, was released later in 1935. Late in the year Olivia de Havilland starred with Errol Flynn in Captain Blood. The film catapulted both Miss de Havilland and Mr. Flynn to stardom, and in the next several years they would be frequent co-stars. Olivia de Havilland would see a good deal of success in the late Thirties, appearing in some of the biggest films of the era, including The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), and, the biggest of them all, Gone with the Wind (1939). In the Thirties, she also appeared in the films Anthony Adverse (1935), Call It a Day (1937), It's Love I'm After (1937), The Great Garrick (1937), Gold Is Where You Find It (1938), Four's a Crowd (1938), Hard to Get (1938), Wings of the Navy (1938), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Raffles (1939), My Love Came Back (1940), and Santa Fe Trail (1940). It was with Call It a Day in 1937 that Miss de Havilland first received top billing.

Olivia de Havilland would continue to have success in the Forties. She appeared in such films as The Strawberry Blonde (1941), Hold Back the Dawn (1941), The Male Animal (1942), In This Our Life (1942), Princess O'Rourke (1943), and Government Girl (1943).  She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Hold Back the Dawn.  It was in 1943 that Miss de Havilland's contract with Warner Bros. ended. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. decided to extend her contract by six months to make up for those times when she had been suspended for refusing certain roles. While many actors would have simply accepted the situation, Olivia de Havilland mounted a lawsuit against Warner Bros. In 1943 the Superior Court decided in Miss de Havilland's favour. Warner Bros. immediately appealed. A little over a year passed before the California Court of Appeal for the Second District ruled in her favour, making Olivia de Havilland the first actor to take a major studio on in court and win. The court's opinion of California Labor Code Section 2855 would afterwards become known as the de Havilland Law.

While the lawsuit was underway, Olivia de Havilland was unable to make movies. She returned to film with To Each His Own in 1946 for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for To Each His Own. She would see a good deal of success in the late Forties. She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for  The Snake Pit (1948) and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Heiress. She also appeared in the films Devotion (1946), The Well Groomed Bride (1946), and The Dark Mirror (1946).

Olivia de Havilland gave birth to her son Benjamin in 1949 and took a break from making movies. She made her Broadway debut in Romeo and Juliet in 1951 and appeared the following year in Canada. She returned to film with My Cousin Rachel in 1952. In the Fifties she appeared in such films as That Lady (1955), Not as a Stranger (1955), The Ambassador's Daughter (1956), The Proud Rebel (1958), and Libel (1959).

Miss de Havilland began the Sixties by appearing on Broadway in A Gift of Time in 1962. This would lead to her television debut when a scene from the play was performed in The Ed Sullivan Show that same year. She appeared in the movies Light in the Piazza (1962), Lady in a Cage (1964), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and The Adventurers (1970). Olivia de Havilland appeared on television in episodes of the TV show The Big Valley, ABC Stage 67, and The Danny Thomas Hour. She appeared in the TV movie The Screaming Woman.

In the Seventies Olivia de Havilland appeared in the films Pope Joan (1972), Airport '77 (1977), The Swarm (1978), and The Fifth Musketeer (1979). She appeared on television in the mini-series Roots: The Next Generations. In the Eighties she guest starred on the TV show The Love Boat and the mini-series North and South, Book II and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. She appeared in the TV movies Murder is Easy, The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, and The Woman He Loved. She retired in 1988.

While Olivia de Havilland had retired from acting, she remained very active in the film community. She did many interviews in the next several decades. She was a presenter at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003. In 2004 she appeared in the Turner Classic Movies documentary Melanie Remembers in which she was interviewed about Gone with the Wind. She also appeared at tributes to her on the occasion of her 90th birthday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2006. In June 2016 she was appointed appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. Olivia de Havilland became the oldest woman to ever have the honour bestowed upon her.

As mentioned above, Olivia de Havilland appeared in some of the biggest movies of all time, but that is not the only reason she has remained one of the most beloved actresses of all time. Miss de Havilland was an actress of immense talent, talent that was obvious even early in her career. What is more, she could play a wide variety of roles and was equally adept at comedy as she was at drama. While she is best known as Melanie in Gone with the Wind and Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood, she gave a number of great performances in her career. She shined as heiress and starstruck fan Marcia West in the comedy It's Love I'm After.  Her Oscar for her turn as Jody Norris in To Each His Own was well deserved. Olivia de Havilland also deserved to win the Oscar for which she was nominated for The Snake Pit, in which she played Virginia Cunningham, a woman whose descent into schizophrenia leads to a stay in a mental hospital. The movie was so influential that it led to changes in the conditions of mental hospitals throughout the United States. I have no doubt that Olivia de Havilland's powerful performance was much of the reason for the film's impact. Throughout her career Olivia de Havilland gave a number of great performances, including It's Love I'm After, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Gone with the Wind, Hold Back the Dawn, To Each His Own, The Snake Pit, The Heiress, and more.

While I never had the opportunity to meet Miss de Havilland myself, I know plenty of people who have met her, interviewed her, and corresponded with her. They have all said the same thing, that Olivia de Havilland is one of the kindest, warmest most gracious people one could meet. She was clearly an actress who appreciated her fans. Of course, while Miss de Havilland was among the nicest of people, she also had a will of steel. Olivia de Havilland succeeded at something that even James Cagney and Bette Davis had failed at, she fought Warner Bros. and won. Olivia de Haviland's lawsuit against Warner Bros. was instrumental in breaking the power of the major studios and forever changed the relationship actors had with studios ever since. While many might remember Olivia de Havilland best as Melanie in Gone with the Wind, her legacy is so much greater than a single performance in a single movie. Olivia de Havilland leaves behind many great performances and broke the power of the major studios.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Godspeed John Saxon

John Saxon, who appeared in movies from Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) to Enter the Dragon (1973) to Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), made numerous guest appearances, and was a regular on the TV show The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, died yesterday, July 25 2020, at the age of 83. The cause was pneumonia.

John Saxon was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York on August 5 1936. As a teenager he worked as a barker for a Coney Island archery concession. He soon became very skilled as an archer. It was while he was attending New Utrecht High School that he was discovered by an agent for male models. John Saxon then found himself appearing on the covers of such magazines as True Romance. One of his photo shoots attracted the attention of Hollywood agent Henry Wilson, the legendary Hollywood agent who had discovered Guy Madison, Tab Hunter, and Rock Hudson, among others.

John Saxon was only 17 years old when he signed with Henry Wilson. He studied acting under Betty Cashman at Carnegie Hall for six months before flying to Hollywood. There he was signed to Universal. He attended the studio's workshop for 18 months before receiving his first credited role in Running Wild (1955), starring Mamie Van Doren.

John Saxon was very busy in the Fifties. He appeared in The Unguarded Moment (1956) before receiving his breakout role in Rock, Pretty Baby! (1956). Although it was a low budget movie, Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) proved very successful. He reprised his role in the sequel, Summer Love (1957).  John Saxon was established as a teen idol, receiving around 3,000 fan letters a week. Mr. Saxon appeared in the films This Happy Feeling (1958), The Reluctant Debutante (1958), The Restless Years (1958), The Big Fisherman (1959), and Cry Tough (1959). In the late Fifties John Saxon found himself increasingly cast in Westerns and other genre films. He appeared in the Western The Unforgiven (1960), the thriller Portrait in Black (1960), and the Western The Plunderers (1960). During the Fifties, John Saxon also made his television debut in an episode of Medic in 1955.

In the Sixties, John Saxon had the recurring role of Dr. Theodore Stuart on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. He guest starred on the TV shows General Electric Theatre, The Dick Powell Show, Another World, Burke's Law, Gunsmoke, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Dr. Kildare, The Time Tunnel, Cimarron Strip, Garrison's Gorillas, The Viriginian, It Takes a ThiefThe Name of the Game, Bonanza, and Ironside. He appeared in the TV movies Doomsday Flight, Winchester 73, and Istanbul Express. He appeared in the movies Posse from Hell (1961), War Hunt (1962), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), Agostino (1963), La ragazza che sapeva troppo (1963),  The Cardinal (1963), Sette contro la morte (1964), The Ravagers (1965), The Night Caller (1965), Queen of Blood (1966), The Appaloosa (1966), For Singles Only (1968), I tre che sconvolsero il West (Vado, vedo e sparo) (1968), and Death of a Gunfighter (1969).

In the Seventies John Saxon continued to appear in The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. He also appeared in the mini-series Once an Eagle. He guest starred in the TV shows Kung Fu, Banyon, Norman Corwin Presents, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Police Story, Banacek, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gunsmoke, Petrocelli, The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man,. The Bionic Woman, Starsky and Hutch, Wonder Woman, Most Wanted, Quincy M.E., Hawaii Five-O, and Vega$. He appeared in the television pilots Planet Earth and Strange World. John Saxon appeared in some significant movies in the Seventies, including the classic Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon (1973), the early slasher movie Black Christmas (1974), The Electric Horseman (1979), and the cult sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He also appeared in such films as Mister Kingstreet's War (1971), House Made of Dawn (1972), Joe Kidd (1972), Mitchell (1975), The Swiss Conspiracy (1976), Moonshine County Express (1977), The Bees (1978), Shalimar (1978), Fast Company (1979), Beyond Evil (1980), Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), and Running Scared (1980).

In the Eighties John Saxon has recurring roles on the shows Dynasty and Falcon Crest. He guest starred on such shows as Hardcastle and McCormick, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Magnum P.I., Masquerade, Fantasy Island, Finder of Lost Loves, American Playhouse, The A-Team, Half Nelson, Glitter, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hotel, and The Ray Bradbury Theatre. He appeared in such movies as Wrong is Right (1982), Desire (1982), Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983), The Big Score (1983), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Fever Pitch (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), Death House (1988), Criminal Act (1989), My Mom's a Werewolf  (1989), The Last Samurai (1990), and Crossing the Line (1990).

In the Nineties John Saxon had a recurring role on the TV show Melrose Place. He guest starred on such shows as Monsters; Matlock; In the Heat of the Night; Murder, She Wrote; Kung Fu: The Legends Continues; and California. He appeared in such movies as The Arrival (1991), Maximum Force (1992), Hellmaster (1992), The Baby Doll Murders (1993), No Escape No Return (1993), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), The Killers Within (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Party Crashers (1998), and Criminal Minds (1998).

From the Naughts into the Teens, John Saxon appeared in the movies Night Class (2001), Outta Time (2002), The Road Home (2003), The Craving Heart (2006), Trapped Ashes (2006), God's Ears (2008), Old Dogs (2009), The Mercy Man (2009), Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen (2010), Genghis Khan: The Story of a Lifetime (2010), and The Extra (2017).  On television he guest starred on the shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Masters of Horror.

John Saxon was very much a part of my childhood. When I was growing up, he seemed to everywhere. If he wasn't guest starring on a then current television show, he was appearing in a movie aired by one of the local stations. John Saxon may not have numbered the biggest stars of the late 20th Century, but I would be surprised if every single member of Generation X does not know who he is.

If John Saxon was so prolific in his long career, it was because he was just so very good. He started his career as a teen idol, playing two musicians (Jimmy Daley in Rock, Pretty Baby and Summer Love and David Parkinson in The Reluctant Debutante) and a juvenile delinquent in Cry Tough. He matured into an action star, appearing in such films as The Plunderers and War Hunt. Over the years he played everything from medical doctors to police officers to journalists. He also appeared in a wide variety of movie genres, including comedies (Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation), horror movies (La ragazza che sapeva troppo), science fiction movies (Battle Beyond the Stars), and dramas (The Cardinal). He played both heroes and villains. Ruggedly handsome, John Saxon appealed to men and women in equal measure. While he may be best known for his work in television and B movies, there can be no doubt that John Saxon will always be remembered.