Tuesday, January 16, 2018

RIP Hugh Wilson

Hugh Wilson, Creator of ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ and Director of ‘Police Academy,’ Dies at 74

The Hollywood Rporter
By Mike Barnes

His résumé also includes the films 'The First Wives Club,' 'Guarding Tess' and 'Stroker Ace' and TV's 'Frank's Place.'

Hugh Wilson, who created the acclaimed sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and directed and co-wrote the first Police Academy movie, launching a Warner Bros. franchise, has died. He was 74.

An Emmy winner and seven-time nominee, Wilson died over the holiday weekend at his home in Albemarle County, Virginia, family friends told CBS News 19 in Charlottesville. No other details were immediately available.

Wilson also directed The First Wives Club (1996), starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton as women seeking revenge on their ex-husbands, and co-wrote and helmed Guarding Tess (1994), featuring Shirley MacLaine as a first lady and Nicolas Cage as a Secret Service agent trying to protect her.

Wilson wrote and directed two 1999 films that starred Brendan Fraser, Blast From the Past and Dudley Do-Right, and penned the screenplay for Hal Needham's Stroker Ace (1983), starring Burt Reynolds and his future wife Loni Anderson, one of the breakout stars of WKRP.

WKRP in Cincinnati, set at a rock radio station in the Ohio city, ran for four seasons on CBS from 1978-82. It starred Howard Hesseman and Tim Reid as deejays Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, respectively; Gary Sandy and Gordon Jump as station execs; Richard Sanders as the mousey newsman Les Nessman; and Anderson as WKRP's comely receptionist. The station call letters were a pun on "W-crap."

Wilson was a writer at MTM Enterprises and at work on The Tony Randall Show when he approached MTM head Grant Tinker about an idea for another comedy, one that was based on his experience as a sales executive at a Top 40 radio station in Atlanta.

"I told Grant, and we went over to CBS, and they all said, 'Yeah, hey, great,'" Wilson said in a 2012 oral-history discussion about one of the series' finest episodes, "Turkeys Away," on the Classic TV History blog.

"What was lucky for me was that most of those guys … had at one time or another been in the radio business. I hadn’t counted on having that kind of built-in affection for the idea.

"The character of Johnny Fever, he was based on a guy I knew in Atlanta called Skinny Bobby Harper. That was funny, because he was the morning guy, so Skinny had to get up at 4 in the morning to get in there. But he also loved being in the bars at night. He was like Fever. In the pilot, I said [to Hesseman], 'You've got to play it like you're sleepwalking, because you should be asleep by 8, but 8 is just when you're going out."

Probably because it was shifted 12 times on the CBS schedule, WKRP — always a critical darling — had trouble finding a sizable network audience. However, it became a huge hit in first-run syndication after its original airing and spawned The New WKRP in Cincinnati, which aired another two years on local stations.

In 1983, Wilson was asked to rewrite a screenplay for a movie about a group of misfits in training to join the police force.

"I got this script, and it was such a lousy piece of junk," he recalled in a 2015 interview for the Archive of American Television. "I told my agent that I was in no way interested.

"He came back to me and said, 'This is The Ladd Co., it's an important company, part of Warner Bros., a lot of important people are attached — and they're saying that if you do a rewrite, they'll let you direct it.' I said, 'That's a whole different story.'"

Police Academy (1984), starring Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, George Gaynes and Michael Winslow, was made for $3.8 million, according to Wilson, and grossed about $100 worldwide, one of most financially successful movies released that year. Six sequels, none involving Wilson, followed.
"He was a writer first," Winslow, the comic famous for making sound effects, said Tuesday in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "He taught me that if the script is funny, don't force it to be funny. Let it play, let it play."

Hugh Hamilton Wilson was born on Aug. 21, 1943, in Miami. He attended the University of Florida and graduated in 1964 with a degree in journalism.

A year later, Wilson got a job with Armstrong World Industries' in-house advertising department in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he and others would stage shows for salesmen that sold ads for flooring products to network TV shows.

It was there that he met Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett. While Wilson would eventually become a radio exec and then a partner and creative director at the Burton-Campbell advertising agency — for whom he wrote and directed TV commercials — Tarses and Patchett went on to write on series like MTM's The Bob Newhart Show.
With an assist from the writers, Wilson came to Los Angeles ready to shuck his current career and start a new one in Hollywood, and Tinker gave the ad exec, then 30, a low-level job for $200 a week as a gofer.

"I got to sit up in the stands and watch as the week progressed on The Mary Tyler Moore Show [and other MTM series,]" he recalled. Wilson then wrote his first episode of Newhart in 1976.

He also created three other series: Frank's Place, starring Reid as an Ivy League professor who inherits a New Orleans restaurant; The Famous Teddy Z, with Jon Cryer as a Hollywood agent; and Easy Street, starring Anderson as a wealthy young widow. All lasted just one season.

Wilson won his Emmy for writing an episode of Frank's Place (the show was rare in that it was nominated for best comedy in its lone season). He also was nominated three times for his work on WKRP.

Wilson also worked on such films as Rustlers' Rhapsody (1985), Burglar (1987), Down Periscope (1996), Southie (1998) and Mickey (2004).

WILSON, Hugh (Hugh Hamilton Wilson)
Born: 8/21/1943, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
Died: 1/14/2018, Charlottesville Virginia, U.S.A.

Hugh Wilson’s westerns – director, writer, actor:
Rustlers’ Rhapsody – 1985 (complaining John) [director, writer]
Rough Riders (TV) – 1997 [writer]

Sunday, January 14, 2018

RIP Jean Porter

Jean Porter, Petite Starlet of MGM Films in the 1940s, Dies at 95

The Hollywood Reporter
By Mike Barnes

She appeared in such movies as 'Bathing Beauty' and 'The Youngest Profession' before marrying blacklisted filmmaker Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten.

Jean Porter, a petite and vivacious supporting player in such 1940s MGM movies as Bathing Beauty, The Youngest Profession and Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble, has died. She was 95.

Porter died Saturday of natural causes in Canoga Park, California, her daughter Rebecca Dmytryk told The Hollywood Reporter.

Porter was married to writer-director Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten, from May 1948 — shortly after he had landed in trouble with the blacklist — until his death in 1999 at age 90.

The two met after Porter had replaced Shirley Temple in his film Till the End of Time (1946), and they also worked together on her final feature, The Left Hand of God (1955), starring Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney.

A native of Texas, Porter appeared in such Westerns as Home in Wyomin' 1942) and Heart of the Rio Grande (1942) with Gene Autry and in San Fernando Valley (1944) opposite Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

She was Lou Costello's manicurist girlfriend in Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945) and Richard Erdman's ill-fated love interest, Darlene, in the great Bunker Hill-set film noir Cry Danger (1951), starring Dick Powell.

Born Bennie Jean Porter on Dec. 8, 1922, in Cisco, Texas, Porter was named the "Most Beautiful Baby" in Eastland County when she was 1. At age 10, she had her own half-hour radio show on Saturday mornings on the WRR station in Fort Worth and landed a summer vaudeville job headlining with Ted Lewis and his band.

Porter came west when her mother, a piano teacher, won an all-expense-paid trip to Hollywood, and she took lessons at the Fanchon and Marco dancing school (Rita Hayworth was one of the teachers.) There, Porter was discovered by director Allan Dwan, who gave her an uncredited role in his Fox musical Song and Dance Man (1936), starring Claire Trevor.

Small parts in such films as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), the sci-fi classic One Million B.C. (1940), Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) and Hellzapoppin' (1941) followed.

The perky 5-foot-tall, 98-pound Porter eventually was signed to a contract at MGM, and she played an autograph hound in The Youngest Profession (1943), which was laden with cameos made by the studio's top stars.

Porter then portrayed a co-ed and the daughter of Margaret Dumont in Bathing Beauty, starring Esther Williams and Basil Rathbone, and appeared as one the young lovelies in another film released in 1944, the Mickey Rooney comedy Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble.

After she decided to leave MGM, Porter signed with Columbia and had the lead in the "B" pictures Betty Co-Ed (1946) and the 1947 films Little Miss Broadway, Sweet Genevieve and Two Blondes and a Redhead.

Edward Dmytryk scored a best director Oscar nomination for Crossfire (1947) and helmed such notable films as Murder, My Sweet (1944), Cornered (1945), The Sniper (1952), The Caine Mutiny (1954), Raintree County (1957) and The Carpetbaggers (1964).

MGM had loaned out Porter to RKO so she could step in for Temple in Till the End of Time. She had been dating singer Mel Torme when met Dmytryk.

Porter and her husband had fled to England in the late 1940s after he was blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten for refusing to answer charges that he was a communist. They returned to the U.S. in 1951, and he served six months in prison for contempt of Congress.

Dmytryk then decided to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. He admitted that he had been a member of the American Communist Party and named other members. That enabled him to resume his career in Hollywood.

While she was making Cry Danger, Dmytryk was in jail, she told the Western Clippings website in an undated interview. "Dick Powell, who was wonderful, gave me a part," she said. "[It was] very little, but at least I was working."

Her last onscreen appearances came in 1961 episodes of Sea Hunt and 77 Sunset Strip.

Porter wrote several books, including the unpublished The Cost of Living, about family members of those who were blacklisted; Chicago Jazz and Then Some, about her L.A. neighbor, jazz pianist Jess Stacy; and, with Dmytryk, On Screen Acting.

Survivors include her daughters Victoria and Rebecca and stepson Michael, an assistant director on such TV shows as Falcon Crest and Touched by an Angel.

PORTER, Jean (Bennie Jean Porter)
Born: 12/8/1922, Cisco, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 1/3/2018, Canoga Park, California, U.S.A.

Jean Porter’s westerns – actress:
Heart of the Rio Grande – 1942 (Pudge)
Home in Wyomin’ – 1942 (young fan)
Calaboose – 1943 (Major Barbabara)
San Fernando Valley – 1944 (Betty Lou Kenyon)

RIP Bob Claver

RIP Bob Claver

Los Angeles Times
January 14, 2018

Robert (Bob) E. Claver, passed away on December 14, 2017. Born May 22, 1928 in Chicago, Ill. to Louis and Sara (Sosna) Claver, Bob attended Senn High School and earned a Journalism degree from the Univ. of Ill., Champaign. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Bob moved to New York City for his first job in the entertainment industry - a career that ultimately spanned four decades. Bob began his career in television as a writer and producer then as a director. He worked on over 50 TV series including; Captain Kangaroo, The Farmer's Daughter, The Partridge Family, Here Come the Brides, Welcome Back Kotter, Mork and Mindy, Small Wonder and Out of This World. For a complete career retrospective in his own words view the 2004 American Academy of Television interview: Bob considered himself extremely lucky because he loved what he did for a living. He also loved to read, spend time with family and friends and listen to music while walking Chicago's Miracle Mile. Upon retirement, Bob returned to Chicago, then spent his final years in Redding, CA near his daughter Nancy, son-in-law Dan Witherell, grandsons; Evan, Donald, Justin & Daniel and great-grandson; Brayden. He will also be remembered forever by best-friend, Katy Dowdalls; close extended family, Nancy & Jeff Zimmerman, Lynn Welt, Steven and David Seinfeld; and life-long friends, Edith DeMar, Howard Blum and Edgar Gettleman. Bob enjoyed a life well-lived. A memorable individual, his presence, wit, wisdom and infectious laugh will be missed. Memorial donations may be made to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation http://www.alzinfo.org/ or a charity close to your heart.

CLAVER, Bob (Robert E. Claver)
Born: 5/22/1928, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 12/14/2017, Redding, California, U.S.A.

Bob Claver’s westerns – executive producer, director:
Here Come the Brides (TV) – 1968-1970 [executive producer, director]
Cat Ballou (TV) [executive producer, director]
Young Maverick (TV) – 1980 [director]

Saturday, January 13, 2018

RIP Dolores Rubin

Dolores Rubin Levin

San Francisco Chronicle
January 14, 2018

Dolores was born June 5, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois. She died on January 12, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The cause of her death was pneumonia following a broken hip.
 Her father was Benjamin Rubin, owner of dress stores, and her mother was Vera Kunin, a home-maker. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1939. She spent 3 years at UCLA.

 She began her career as a messenger girl with MGM in the summer of 1943. Enchanted by motion pictures, she trained to be a Script supervisor. She made a total of 80 films, with prominent directors and producers, including John Ford, John Huston, and Arthur Hiller, with whom she made 9 films including the blockbuster: "Love Story."

 She made 4 films with Frank Sinatra, who was so impressed with her that he employed her as his Executive Assistant. For 2 years she managed his 4 households while he was between wives. He introduced her to Hubert Humphrey as his "irreplaceable right arm". He introduced her to Bennett Cerf as his "Jewish Mother." She was elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1960. She was a member of the Foreign Language Committee for the Oscars for over 40 years, most of them on the Executive Committee.

 In 1972 she married Dr. Sheldon Levin, a widower. She is survived by her loving husband, step children Jonathan, Jeremy and Elise, 5 step-grandchildren, 3 step-great grandchildren, sisters Evelyn and Claire and many nieces and nephews.

 Her burial will be in Los Angeles. Final details will be announced. A memorial service will be scheduled later in San Francisco.

RUBIN, Dolores
Born: 6/5/1923, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 1/12/2018, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Dolores Rubin’s westerns – script supervisor:
Ten Wanted Men – 1950
The Roy Rogers Show (TV) - 1951
Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (TV) - 1953
The 7 Cities of Gold – 1955
Sergeant Rutledge - 1960
One-Eyed Jacks - 1961
A Gunfight - 1971
The White Buffalo – 1977

RIP Sean Mulachy

RIP Sean Mulachy

Toronto Star
January 13, 2018

MULCAHY, Sean, on Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 7:10 p.m., I lost my beloved husband, Sean Mulcahy. Words cannot express my grief. Actor, Director, Teacher and fighter for the rights of all in the Performing Arts, in front of the lights and behind; standing up for the labour rights of artists but at all times an independent thinker. Passionate, articulate, literary, funny and interested in everyone. Born in Bantry, Ireland, a Gaelic scholar, arrived in Toronto in the late 1950s. As a Performing Artist, he worked in every province in Canada. He worked in radio, TV and the theatre. He was a TV panelist on CBC and CTV. Director of the Beaverbrook Playhouse in Fredericton, First Associate Director of The Shaw Festival, Artistic Director of The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Director of "The Picture of Dorian Grey" for Columbia TV. Also, the world premiere of Elie Wiesel's "The Madness of God." As H.G. Wells in "The Panther of The Jaguar" for CBC Radio, he won the Andrew Allan Award. For "Philadelphia, Here I Come," CBC Radio, he won the ACTRA award. He hosted The Music Library for CBC Radio, appeared in "Mass Appeal," "The Apple Cart," "Dear Liar," "Stepdance," "Moon for The Misbegotten" and "Brass Rubbings," loved Sean O' Casey's plays and directed and appeared in such plays as "The Shadow of A Gunman." Recipient of The Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal for his outstanding contribution to the Arts. His credits are too numerous to list entirely. He served with the Royal Air Force from 1948 - 1952. The list goes on. He was the devoted and wonderful husband of Catherine Vaneri. There is no one like him. Donations in his name may be sent to The Joan Theatre Company.

Born: 9/5/1930, Cork, Ireland
Died: 12/30/2017, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sean Mulachy’s western – actor:
Hudson’s Bay (TV) - 1959

Friday, January 12, 2018

RIP Terence Marsh

Oscar-winning UK production designer Terence Marsh dies aged 86

Screen Daily
By Tom Grater
January 12, 2018

Across a more than 50-year career, the UK-born Marsh worked on a host of award-winning films with directors including David Lean, Sydney Pollack, John Huston, Carol Reed, Fred Zinnemann and Frank Darabont.

He won two Oscars for his work as an art director on David Lean’s romantic epic Doctor Zhivago and Carol Reed’s 1968 musical Oliver!, and was nominated for three Baftas.

Marsh began his career as a draughtsman at Pinewood Studios, where he honed his talents in production design. In 1960, he was hired to work as assistant art director on Lawrence Of Arabia.

After re-locating to Los Angeles in 1975, his credits included A Bridge Too Far, Spaceballs, The Hunt For Red October, and Basic Instinct. He then teamed up with Frank Darabont for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

In a varied career, Marsh also co-wrote two features, 1984’s Finders Keepers, starring a young Jim Carrey, and 1986’s Haunted Honeymoon, directed by Gene Wilder.

In 2010, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Directors Guild.

Marsh passed away on Tuesday (Jan 9). He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Sandra Marsh, and three daughters. His passing was confirmed by agency Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Limited.

MARSH, Terence
Born: 11/4/1931, London, England, U.K.
Died:  1/9/2018, Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.A.

Terence Marsh’s westerns – draughtsman, production designer:
The Singer Not the Song – 1961 [draughtsman]
The Frisco Kid – 1979 [production designer]

Thursday, January 11, 2018

RIP Doreen Tracey

Doreen Tracey Dies: Original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Was 74

Deadline Hollywood
By Patrick Hipes
January 11, 2018

 Doreen Tracey, one of the nine original Mouseketeers on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club who later starred in movies and TV, became the publicist for Frank Zappa and worked at Warner Bros, has died. She was 74. Tracey died Wednesday of pneumonia in Thousand Oaks, CA, after a two-year battle with cancer.

 Tracey was born on April 3, 1943 in London to American vaudeville performers. The family returned to the U.S. soon after and her father opened a dance studio in Hollywood, where Doreen learned to sing and dance. At age 12 she landed a role on Mickey Mouse Club, the Disney variety series that first aired on ABC in 1955, weeks after Disneyland opened.

 She was on the show its entire four-year run, in a group that included Annette Funicello (she later appeared on Funicello’s spinoff series Annette). The gig led to a role in Disney’s 1956 film Westward Ho the Wagons! that starred a pre-Daniel Boone Fess Parker. In the 1960s she had several TV guest-starring roles and also toured American military bases in South Vietnam and Thailand with her own act.

 Later, Tracey became a publicist to Zappa and had a long career in administration at Warner Bros. But she remained close to her Disney roots, appearing at conventions and performing in reunion shows including the series’ 60th anniversary celebration in 2015.

“Our Dodo, as we lovingly nicknamed her, always had a smile on her face,” fellow Mouseketeer Tommy Cole said. “She never failed to make us all feel good, and we will miss her.”

Tracey is survived by her son, Bradley; and grandchildren Gavin and Autumn.

TRACEY, Doreen (Doreen Isabelle Tracey)
Born: 4/3/1943, London, England, U.K.
Died: 1/10/2018, Thousand Oaks, California, U.S.A.

Doreen Tracey’s western – actress:
Westward Ho, the Wagons – 1956 (Bobo Stephen)