Part two of our look back at those we lost during the last year.
One of the inevitabilities of life is death and every year, we will lose people who, for one way or another, are noteworthy figures. Some of them will make headlines when they die, others slip away barely noticed – as viewers of Academy Award obituary segments can tell you, we are as unequal in death as we are in life. Our Reprobate list is also, by necessity, selective and certainly not automatically respectful – people who were awful in life do not become saints the moment they die and if it is required, we’ll happily speak ill of the dead. But all the people here made some sort of impact and their deaths are worth noting.
Norm Macdonald was a popular, much-loved Canadian comedian who was noted for a relaxed, dead-pan style and an ability to deliver biting humour that made him a chat show darling. In the early 1990s, he was a writer on Roseanne before joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, where he stayed for five years before being fired. His humour could be brutal and righteous – he attacked both O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson, referring to the latter as a “homosexual paedophile” on the show and this rubbed their establishment friends up the wrong way. Macdonald blamed his firing from SNL and Weekend Update on the fact that NBC president Don Ohlmeyer was a friend of Simpson’s. Macdonald had his own TV series over the years – most recently Norm Macdonald Has A Show on Netflix – but found himself cancelled by some colleagues when he criticised the excesses of the #metoo movement. He died of acute leukaemia, aged 61.
Bernie Madoff was one of America’s biggest fraudsters – perhaps the biggest, as his elaborate Ponzi scheme was worth $64.8 billion. He employed many people in an elaborate asset trading fraud where he pretended to invest other people’s money and paid his early investors off with the money given to him by later investors. Essentially, it’s pyramid trading on a grand scale. The scheme was so extravagant that you have to wonder how successful Madoff might have been if he actually put all that effort into a legitimate business. The scheme ran from the early 1990s according to Madoff but many believe that his investment company was never a legitimate business and the scheme might have dated back to the 1970s. It all fell apart when his sons alerted the authorities in 2008 and the FBI arrested him the next day; he’s told his sons – both employed by him – that he could no longer keep up the payments required to make the business seem legit. His company had been investigated for years and several people had alerted the authorities that his financial figures were mathematically impossible, while major derivatives firms refused to work with him because they didn’t believe his numbers – yet no one listened. In 2009, Madoff was handed a 150-year prison sentence, the longest allowed. He died in prison of kidney disease, aged 82.
Freddy Marks was probably one of the first musical heroes for many a British child. As part of the trio Rod, Jane and Freddy, he appeared in the popular lunchtime show Rainbow from 1980 – when he joined as a replacement for Roger Walker and was teamed with Rod Burton and Jane Tucker – until 1989. The trio also had their own spin-off series that lasted for several seasons. Before Rainbow, Marks had a career as a jobbing actor, appearing in everything from TV shows like The Sweeney and Z-Cars to The Rocky Horror Show in the theatre. He was also a writer for other children’s shows like The Sooty Show. He and Jane Tucker became a real-life couple in 1985, eventually marrying in 2016. Marks famously saved Bill Oddie from drowning in the Seychelles when their families were holidaying together. He died of cancer, aged 71.
Gerry Marsden was the leader of Gerry and the Pacemakers, one of the leading bands of the Mersey Beat boom in the early 1960s. The band had a number of hits – I Like It, How Do You Do It, Ferry Cross the Mersey and their version of You’ll Never Walk Alone – but they were very much of their time and by the middle of the decade, they were already looking and sounding rather dated. Still, Marsden managed to ride the nostalgia wave for the rest of his life and recorded a couple of grim charity versions of his old hits in the 1980s to benefit the victims of the Bradford and Hillsborough football disasters. He died of a heart infection, aged 78.
Eugenio Rolando Martínez Careaga was one of the five men recruited in 1972 for the Memorial Day burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington. Weeks after the initial break-in, the five men returned to the scene of the crime, to correct mistakes made the first time around, and were arrested by the police. All five were convicted during the ensuing political scandal, their actions effectively setting into motion the events and investigations that would ultimately lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Martinez – a former CIA operative in the anti-Castro movement, would be pardoned by President Reagan in 1983. After his release from prison, he worked in real estate. He died aged 98.
Barry Mason was an English songwriter who, often alongside Les Reed, wrote numerous hit singles in the 1960s. Among his best-known titles are three chart-toppers: Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse, The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck and I Pretend by Des O’Connor, as well as middle of the road hits like Delilah, Here It Comes Again, There Goes My First Love, Winter World of Love, A Man Without Love and others. The pair wrote I’ll Try Not to Cry for Kathy Kirby as an unsuccessful Eurovision contender and novelty hit Who’s Doctor Who? for Frazer Hines. He died aged 85.
Jackie Mason was an American stand-up comedian who built his public persona around his Jewishness and his quick-witted insult comedy, a form of humour that he helped pioneer in the 1950s. His comedy was old-fashioned one-liners that kept his live shows snappy and he became a regular guest on talk shows in the early 1960s, his style adding a certain edginess to the shows that was nevertheless acceptable to wide audiences. In the mid-Sixties, he was banned from the Ed Sullivan Show for allegedly flipping the host off mid-routine – he denied doing it and sued for libel, which seems an interesting reaction for an edgy comic. He probably knew what would happen, and sure enough, he found TV work hard to come by for the next couple of decades. However, he built a reputation as a live performer with one-man shows and also had roles in films like Caddyshack II and The Jerk (he may have played the same character in both) and an appearance as Krusty’s father in The Simpsons. He was a fervent supporter of Israeli nationalism and although a Democrat through most of his life became a registered Republication in 2007 and voiced support for Donald Trump. He died aged 93.
Luisa Mattioli was an Italian actor who made a handful of film and TV appearances from 1956 to 1963, including The Night of the Great Attack, Romulus and the Sabines, Eighteen in the Sun and Love and Faith, as well as an appearance in the 1960 TV series Giallo Club. She is perhaps better known as the wife of Roger Moore – the pair moved in together in 1961 and had two of their three children before their marriage in 1969, something that was quite daring at the time. They split in 1993, eventually being divorced in 2002. She died aged 85.
Greg Mayne was the bass player with doom metal pioneers Pentagram from 1971 to 1976, and then again from 1988-89. The former was arguably the band’s peak period, though they had little success at the time, struggling with legal issues and public and industry indifference. The band are now seen as one of the pioneers of the genre and an influence on many future bands. He died aged 67.
John McAfee was a computer programmer, businessman, Libertarian Party Presidential candidate (unsuccessful), tax avoider and accused murderer. He was the man behind the McAfee anti-virus software and more recently was an advocate of cryptocurrency and blockchains as well as a determined free-marketeer and refused to pay tax because he thought that tax was illegal. Accused of murder in Belize, he went on the run and eventually ended up being deported back to the USA from Guatemala. he then went on the run again, this time from the US authorities who wanted him on tax evasion charges. He was arrested in Spain, pending extradition back to America and was found dead in his cell. The official cause of death was suicide by hanging – of course, his death was jumped on by QAnon supporters as evidence of deep state murder. He was 75.
Helen McCrory was an English actor who made her film debut in 1994 in Interview with a vampire in a small part and who then built a respectable career in film and television. Depending on your tastes, she is best known either for her appearances in three Harry Potters films, a role in Peaky Blinders or appearances in Penny Dreadful. Her other noteworthy appearances include Skyfall, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, a 2007 revisionist take on Frankenstein and His Dark Materials. She also worked extensively on the stage. She died of breast cancer, aged 52.
William ‘Biff’ McGuire was an American actor who worked mostly in the theatre, but in a sixty-year career collected some interesting film and TV credits: several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Station Six-Sahara, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Paradise Lost, The Werewolf of Washington, Serpico and Midway among them. He died aged 94.
Les McKeown was the lead singer for the Bay City Rollers during the peak of their 1970s success. He replaced the original frontman in 1973 and his arrival saw the band changing their image to adopt the classic tartan, half-mast trousers and platform boots look that helped propel them to fame. McKeown was often the only member of the band to perform on their hit records as the band dominated the charts in 1974 and 1975 – the rest were replaced by session players. His time with the band was not an easy one – he claimed that manager Tam Paton had raped him (Paton was convicted of gross indecency with two teenagers in 1982 – both were over the age of heterosexual consent but under 21, then the age of gay consent – and was arrested for historical child abuse in 2003 but acquitted; Rollers guitarist Pat McGlynn also accused him of attempted rape) and in 1975 he killed an elderly neighbour while drunk driving. By 1978, the band’s fame was over – back then, teenybopper bands had a very short lifespan. McKeown left and released a solo album that was reasonably successful (and, as the saying goes, Big in Japan). He would continue with a solo career for the next fourteen years with less success – though he released eight albums. He joined a reformed Rollers in 2015. He would struggle with alcohol issues for much of his life and appeared on the celebrity addiction show Rehab in 2009. His years of addiction contributed to his death of heart disease and hypertension, aged 65.
Marilyn McLeod was a songwriter for Motown Records, often working alongside lyricist Pam Sawyer. Their best-known song is Diana Ross’ Love Hangover in 1976. Her other hits include You Can’t Turn Me Off (In The Middle of Turning Me On) for High Inergy. She was also a recording artist, though with less success. She died aged 82.
Larry McMurty was an American novelist and antiquarian bookseller, known for his novels – and the movies made of them – The Last Picture Show, Horseman Pass By (filmed as Hud), Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. His work tended to feature either tales of the Old West or modern-day Texas. He was president of the free speech organisation PEN America during the Satanic Verses outrage. He died aged 84.
Maria Mendiola was one half of Spanish pop dup Baccara, who – for a brief but memorable period in the late Seventies – was huge, with two massive hits – Yes Sir I Can Boogie and Sorry I’m a Lady. Their Euro-disco sound seemed to reflect the post-Franco Spain’s new freedoms and, for a couple of years, was hugely popular – Yes Sir sold 16 million copies in 1977. But tastes change, and after an unsuccessful entry in the Eurovision Song Contest and declining sales, Mendiola and partner Mayte Mateos split in 1980. Inevitably, they would then go on to found their own versions of the band by the end of the decade; both versions of the band were still going in 2021 when Mendiola died, aged 69.
Thomas Mensforth was the vocalist for the Angelic Upstarts, a punk band that formed in 1977. He stayed with the band for most of their career, briefly leaving in 2006 before rejoining a year later. He was the only original member left in the band until his death. The band were pioneers of the less middle-class, more yobbish Oi punk movement that appealed to more working-class audiences. He died of Covid-19, aged 65.
John Miles was a British rock musician who was best known for his 1976 hit single Music. The song was the high spot in a long career that included other hit singles and four albums in the 1970s, as well as later work alongside Tina Turner – with whom he toured from 1987 – and Jimmy Page, who he performed with on the album Outrider and the subsequent tour. Miles also performed on several Alan Parsons Project albums in the Seventies and Eighties. He died aged 72.
Diana Millay was a model turned actress, who cut her performing teeth on the stage before becoming a prolific TV guest star, starting out in the days of live TV on shows like Robert Montgomery Presents, Kraft Television Theatre, Playhouse 90 and other anthology shows. throughout the late 1950s and across the next decade, she appeared in all the big series – Father Knows Best, The Tab Hunter Show, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Rawhide, 77 Sunset Strip, Wagon Train, Route 66, Hawaiian Eye, Maverick, Boris Karloff Presents, Perry Mason, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and others. But she was best known for her regular part in gothic soap Dark Shadows, where she became the show’s first supernatural character. During the 1970s, she was a star on the more conventional soap The Secret Storm. Her few feature films include Street of Sinners, Tarzan and the Great River and Dark Shadows spin-off Night of Dark Shadows. In the 1970s, she left acting and became a writer, with the books I’d Rather Eat Than Act, How to Create Good Luck and The Power of Halloween. She died aged 85.
Maria Ilva Biolcati, popularly known as Milva, was an Italian singer, actor and celebrity, often referred to as ‘the redhead’. She launched her career in 1960 with a recording of Edith Piaf’s Milord and a couple of years later was performing the Piaf repertoire in Paris. 1962 also saw her film debut in La bellezza di Ippolita and a year later she was hosting a popular TV variety show. Her choice of songs was bold – she would perform and record Brecht, Italian revolutionary songs and other Leftist numbers, Kurt Weill numbers and an album of Japanese-language songs. She worked with Ennio Morricone, Francis Lai and Vangelis. Her career is too remarkable to sum up here – she’s definitely worthy of further investigation by The Reprobate at some point. She died aged 81.
Ron Miscavige was the father of David Miscavige, who happens to be the leader of the Scientology cult. Ron was also a member of the cult for many years, joining in 1971 and relocating to England to be close to L. Ron Hubbard for some time. David quickly rose through the ranks and became a confidant of Hubbard’s and when the Scientology founder died, he took over as leader. Ron, meanwhile, had started to read about the cult online and found out things that appalled him; he quit in 2012. He was then put under 24/7 surveillance by church investigators and when he had a heart attack, his son reportedly told the investigators not to call for help (he denies this). This seemed to be the final straw – Ron wrote a book called Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me and became a vocal critic of the cult. His niece Jenna has also written an exposé of the cult. Ron died aged 85.
Mike Mitchell was a founding member of The Kingsman, joining the garage rock band in 1959, playing guitar with the band throughout their various incarnations right up until his death. The Kingsmen, of course, became legendary – some might say notorious – because of their definitive 1963 version of Louie Louie, a slurring, grinding rendition of the track that hinted at all manner of salaciousness and was investigated by the FBI over suspicions that the infamously incoherent lyrics masked all manner of obscenities. The band could never quite match the success of this single again, though they continued to record into the late Sixties and – after break-ups and reunions – briefly in the early 1970s. Mitchell died aged 77.
Paul Mitchell, alongside brother James, was a founding member of R&B group The Floaters – an unfortunate band name by any standards. They had a huge hit in 1977 with Float On, an inadvertently hilarious song that drips with an authentically cheesy insincerity as each band member introduces themself to the listening Lady, complete with star signs and descriptions of what they are looking for in a woman. It’s like the world’s worst dating site and gives out serious Looking for Mr Goodbar vibes. It was a track ripe for parody and there are numerous comedy versions – from Cheech and Chong to the Barron Knights – out there. The Floaters never managed to repeat this triumph and broke up after four albums. Mitchell’s age at death is unknown.
On December 16th 2004, Lisa Montgomery entered the home of Bobbie Jo Stinnet, then eight months pregnant. The pair had met through dog shows and built a friendship in chat rooms. Montgomery told Stinnet that she two was pregnant, and the pair swapped tips and experiences over email. But Montgomery wasn’t actually pregnant at all. She just wanted Stinnet’s child. After turning up for what seemed to be a pre-arranged visit, Montgomery strangled Stinnet and then cut the unborn child from her womb. Montgomery was arrested, with the child, a day later. The baby had survived the premature removal; its mother did not. Montgomery was charged with federal kidnapping and murder, with her defence being a series of mental illnesses that caused her to be unaware of what she was doing. It was a rather desperate last-minute attempt by defence lawyers – who had initially tried to put the blame on Montgomery’s brother. Unsurprisingly, Montgomery was found guilty and sentenced to death. She was on death row from 2007, going through various appeals and medical assessments. She was the first woman to be executed in America since 2015, part of a number of federal executions pushed through in the final days of Donald Trump’s reign. She died of lethal injection, aged 52.
Inés Morales was a Spanish actress who worked primarily in television. During the 1980s, she worked on several Mexican telenovelas. her movie work includes some interesting horror and exploitation films: Las Amantes del Diablo, Necrophagus, Cannibal Man, La Llamada del Vampiro, Curse of the Devil, The Witches Mountain, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, Watch Out We’re Mad, The Voyeur and Climax. She died aged 69.
John Morgan was the drummer with The Wurzels, one of those odd British novelty bands that popped up in the 1970s and somehow outlived what should – by any standards – have been a one-shot at fame. For those not familiar with them – and they are an ingrained part of British culture – the band performed as West Country yokels – and had a big 1976 hit with The Combine Harvester, a comedy reworking of Melanie’s Brand New Key. This was followed with another hit, I Am A Cider Drinker (a spoof of Paloma Blanca) and for a while, the Wurzels were everywhere – a fixture of light entertainment TV for the rest of the decade. The band – who had formed in the 1960s – never stopped recording and touring even after their heyday and reached the level of national treasures for people who believe in that sort of nonsense. Mogan drummed for the band throughout – he was often called the oldest drummer in the land, which was possibly – but not definitely – a comedy exaggeration. He died of Covid-19, aged 80.
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Gianni Nazzaro was an Italian pop singer who had some domestic success in the 1960s and 1970s, his career perhaps peaking in 1970 when he won the Napoli Music Festival with his song Me chiamme ammore. He also worked as an actor from time to time, mostly in television though he did appear in the sexy comedy Scandal in the Family in 1976. He died aged 72.
In 1965, Michael Nesmith was a struggling folk-rock singer-songwriter when someone told him about auditions for a new TV series inspired by The Beatles. he went along, passed the audition and became one of The Monkees – a decision that he would sometimes regret in later years. The Monkees became a huge hit show and the group had several hit records – however, they were rarely allowed to actually play on the records that bore their names and were generally treated as a fraudulent joke by the industry and serious rock fans. Eventually, the band rebelled with the trippy satire film Head and broke up in 1970. Nesmith then embarked on a solo career that was more critically admired than commercially successful – he’s now seen as a pioneer of country-rock, but at the time had to sit and watch as other acts like The Eagles reaped the rewards of the genre’s explosion in popularity. For much of the decade, he struggled financially but things eased up when he came into his inheritance – his mother had invented Liquid Paper and sold the business for $48 million dollars just before her death. In the 1980s, Nesmith became a music video pioneer – his TV show PopClips would eventually become MTV. He produced the movies Repo Man, Tapeheads and Timerider and became a respected musician and businessman. The widely-held belief – one not discouraged by Nesmith – was that he was deeply embarrassed by The Monkees and did not take part in the band’s 20th-anniversary reunion tour. However, he did appear during the encore at their 1986 LA show and subsequently would drop in and out of various reunion tours and recordings depending on health and other commitments. The reunions seemed to help put any resentment to bed and allowed him to see just how loved the group was. He died less than a month after his final show with the band – now just him and the only other surviving member Mickey Dolenz – aged 78.
Roger Newell was the bass player with short-lived British psychedelic band Rainbow Ffolly, who recorded one album before splitting up in 1968; the band would reunite for a second album in 2015. Newell also worked as a session musician with, amongst others, Rick Wakeman. He died aged 73.
June Newton was an Australian model and photographer, perhaps always overshadowed by the success of her husband Helmut Newton but just as significant a figure. They married in 1948 when she was working as an actress and model and she first began to work as a photographer when her husband fell ill and could not complete an assignment – he instead gave her a crash course in photography and she finished the job. She then adopted the name ‘Alice Springs’ for her photographic work to separate it from her husband’s. While she began in fashion, she became much more successful as a portrait photographer. She would also continue to work as Helmut’s art director and editor, and after his death in 2004, she established the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. She died aged 97.
Masanari Nihei was a Japanese actor best known for his appearance in the Ultraman TV series and later film revivals between 1966 and the late 1990s. He also appeared in predecessor Ultra Q and various spin-offs, as well as the series Mighty Jack (later re-edited into a feature film for Western audiences). He had small roles in the Ishiro Honda sci-fi movies Mothra and Gorath, and Akira Kurosawa’s Dodes’ka-den. He died of aspiration pneumonia, aged 80.
William F. Nolan
William F. Nolan was an American author who worked prodigiously in the science fiction and fantasy genres as well as writing horror and crime fiction. His best-known work is Logan’s Run, written in 1967 and filmed in 1976 – he would expand the novel into a trilogy after the film’s release and then wrote another three Logan books – some of which remain unpublished – in the 2000s. He wrote countless other novels, often as series, as well as dozens of short stories that appeared in everything from Playboy to Sports Illustrated, and was also a prolific biographer. As a screenwriter, he wrote Burnt Offerings, The Norliss Tapes, Turn of the Screw, Trilogy of Terror and Terror at London Bridge. He seems never to have paused from writing. He died aged 93.
Denis O’Brien became George Harrison’s manager in the mid-1970s and then became his business partner in 1979 when the pair formed HandMade Films to produce Monty Python’s Life of Brian after other producers had turned the project down. The company would go on to be a leading British movie production company during a particularly bleak time for British cinema, making films like The Long Good Friday, Time Bandits, The Missionary, A Private Function, Mona Lisa, Withnail and I, Track 29 and Nuns on the Run. Unfortunately, things fell apart between Harrison and O’Brien, after a series of flops that Harrison had effectively underwritten – the former Beatle sued his ex-partner for £16 million, claiming financial mismanagement of the company. O’Brien was ordered to pay Harrison £6.7 million but filed for bankruptcy. He died aged 80.
Tom O’Connor was a British comedian and game show host who for many years was a ubiquitous figure on television. His game shows were never the biggest, but Name That Tune, Crosswits and Gambit were all popular in their time. O’Connor also had his own comedy and chat shows and appeared as a guest on other quiz shows like Countdown and Pointless. He was one of the regulars on the popular 1970s stand-up show The Comedians, which is unlikely ever to be shown again. He died of Parkinson’s, aged 81.
Denis O’Dell was a British film producer who had involvement – mostly as an associate producer – in The Playboy of the Western World, A Hard Day’s Night, The Bedford Incident, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die, The Deadly Affair, How I Won the War, Magical Mystery Tour, Petulia, The Magic Christian, The Offence, Juggernaut, Royal Flash, Robin and Marion, Cuba and Heaven’s Gate. Before producing, he worked as an assistant director on films like Valley of Eagles, Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire and Svengali. As a quick glance at his credits suggests, he became part of the Beatles inner circle for a while as one of the heads of Apple Corps, where he tried unsuccessfully to produce a Lord of the Rings film starring the band. His last credit was as supervising producer on Get Back. He died aged 98.
Rynagh O’Grady was an Irish actress who was best known for a recurring supporting role in the sitcom Father Ted but who had a rather more interesting career before and afterwards. Her film and TV appearances include (mostly small, sometimes uncredited) roles in Within These Walls, Yanks Go Home, The Stud, The Commitments, Far and Away, The Bullion Boys, Moll Flanders, Night Train, Ultimate Force and Breakfast on Pluto. She died aged 69.
Orestes Ojeda was a Filipino actor who made his debut in comic book spoof Zoom Zoom Superman in 1973 and went on to have a steady career in Filipino commercial cinema, appearing in everything from action to horror to erotic dramas like Scorpio Nights. He worked fairly consistently until the early 2000s. When not acting, he ran an art gallery. He died of pancreatic cancer, aged 65.
Walter Olkewicz was an American actor who had a long career playing supporting roles. He’s perhaps best known for his role of Jacques Renault (and his brother) in Twin Peaks, but his filmography is vast: Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses?, Futureworld, The Greatest, The Rockford Files, Summer Camp, Hart to Hart, 1941, Hot T-Shirts, Circle of Power, Comedy of Horrors, Barney Miller, The Executioner’s Song, The Blue and the Grey, Wizards and Warriors, Taxi, Cheers, The Love Boat, Newhart, Trapper John M.D., The A-Team, Riptide, Falcon Crest, Family Ties, Married with Children, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, Murder She Wrote, Matlock, The Flash, Who’s the Boss?, Night Court, Seinfeld, Grace Under Fire, Dharma and Greg and ER to name but a few. He died aged 72.
Yasuo Ōtsuka was a Japanese animator who began his career in 1956 after replying to a job advertisement by Toei. He learned his craft on the first colour anime movie The Tale of the White Serpent and his work on Magic Boy in 1959 helped hone his style of exaggerated realism. His other films include Alakazam the Great, Arabian Nights: Sinbad’s Adventures, Wolf Boy Ken, Samurai Kid, Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon, The Wonderful World of Puss ‘n Boots, Moomin, Panda! Go Panda, Lupin III, Sherlock Hound, Little Nemo and The Unbeatable Delivery Girl. He died aged 89.
Nicola Pagett was a familiar face on British screens from the 1960s through to the 1980s. Best known for a three-year stint in drama series Upstairs Downstairs and an appearance in Frankenstein – The True Story, her work also included appearances in TV shows like The Avengers, Gideon’s Way, Man in a Suitcase, Softly Softly, The Persuaders, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, The Sweeney, Anna Karenina, A Woman of Substance, A Bit of a Do and Ain’t Misbehavin, while her films include Some Like It Sexy, The Viking Queen, There’s a Girl in My Soup, Anne of a Thousand Days, Oliver’s Story and Privates on Parade. Her life in the 1990s was blighted by mental illness – she developed a delusional obsession with Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s right-hand man and the father of the Iraq War. She bombarded him with letters, sent him a cheque for £6 billion and accused her husband of abusing their fifteen-year-old daughter and hooking her on heroin, believing that Campbell had told her to make the false accusation. She later recovered and wrote a book about her manic depression. She died of a brain tumour, aged 75.
Victoria Paris was an adult movie actor who was a prominent figure in the industry for a decade, her career coinciding with – and seemingly representative of – the second Golden Age of X-rated moviemaking. While her work runs the gamut from sophisticated feature films to gonzo, she brought a class and sophistication to her films that matched the new confidence and ambition of the genre in the 1990s, working with directors like Andrew Blake, Alex de Renzy and Michael Ninn. her more notable movies include The Adventures of Buttman, The Chameleon, Pretty Peaches 3, Night Trips, The New Barbarians, Vogue, Strange Curves, House of Dark Dreams, Deep Throat IV and V, Party Doll, Two Sisters, All the Girls Are Buttslammers, Slave to Love and Decadence. She died aged 60.
Doug Parkinson was an Australian rock singer who performed with Strings and Things, The Questions, Fanny Adams and various bands bearing his own name. He had moderate local success with psych-pop and heavy rock singles, often cover versions of songs like Dear Prudence. By the mid-1980s, Parkinson’s rock music career was fizzling out and he began to focus more on musical theatre as well as playing the club circuit. He died aged 74.
Trevor Peacock was an English actor and songwriter who spent much of his career in the theatre, often performing in Shakespeare plays. He appeared on TV from time to time in dramas, Eastenders and BBC Shakespeare productions, but became best-known to audiences for a featured role in the inexplicably popular sitcom The Vicar of Dibley. As a songwriter, he wrote Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, which was a big hit for Herman’s Hermits and his other songs were recorded by the likes of Jess Conrad, Adam Faith, Joe Brown, Billy Fury and Bernard Cribbins. He died aged 89.
See Lizzie Bravo.
Dino Pedriali was an Italian photographer, noted for both his work with male nudes and his portraiture of people like Federico Fellini, Man Ray, Rudolph Nureyev, Andy Warhol and Pier Paolo Pasolini. He died aged 71.
John Pelan was an American editor, publisher and writer working in the horror and weird fiction small press world. He set up several imprints – Axolotl Press, Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and Midnight House – to publish classic and new horror fictions and edited anthologies for other publishers. His own fiction appeared in several collections and online sites. He died of a heart attack, aged 63.
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was a Jamaican singer and record producer who is credited as one of the pioneers of dub music after his work remixing instrumental or newly vocalised versions of existing reggae tracks. In 1968 he formed his own record label, Upsetter Records, to release his own work and in the 1970s built his own studio where he would produce artists like Bob Marley and the Wailers. During the 1980s he struggled to find direction but by the end of the decade had been given a new lease of life by a generation of musicians who had grown up under his influence and he would collaborate with various artists and work on new dubstep projects. He died aged 85.
Lars Göran Petrov
LG Petrov was the singer with the Swedish death metal band Entombed. He actually began his musical career as a drummer with the band Morbid, but switched roles when he joined Nihilist, the band that would eventually evolve into Entombed. He would stay with the band until 2014 (barring a year off after he tried to seduce the drummer’s girlfriend) and then formed Entombed A.D. after a legal dispute over ownership of the name. Back in the day, Swedish death metal bands tended to settle such differences in more ‘dramatic’ fashion, so this is definitely progress. He also sang with death metal ‘supergroup’ Firestorm. He died of bile duct cancer, aged 49.
Ronald Pickup was a British actor who had his career start on the stage, where he preferred to perform. He nevertheless had an extensive career in film and TV, beginning in 1964 with Doctor Who and subsequently including Day of the Jackal, Three Sisters, Mahler, Joseph Andrews, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Zulu Dawn, Never Say Never Again, The Mission, The Fourth Protocol, Fortunes of War, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Jekyll and Hyde, A Time to Dance, Black Hearts in Battersea, Ivanhoe, Lolita, Waking the Dead, Holby City, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Young Dracula and The Coming of the Martians. He died aged 80.
Giuseppe Pinori was an Italian cinematographer who began his career in the early 1960s, working on Mondo documentaries like Italia Proibita, Italiani Come Noi and Slave Trade in the World Today and would then have a long career shooting titles such as Here Comes Robin Hood, Forbidden Canterbury Tales, Decameron’s Jolly Kittens, Contamination, Order of Death, Rome 2033 – Fighter Centurions, Murder Rock and Karate Warrior. He died aged 92.
Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer was a Canadian actor who moved between stage and screen over several decades. He was notable for bringing a certain class and dignity to even the most unsavoury characters. Plummer began his career in the Montreal Repertory Theatre alongside William Shatner, who he would later work with on Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, and worked up to a successful career in the theatre, performing on Broadway by the mid-1950s and working with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England by 1961. His film career began in 1958 with Stage Struck but didn’t really get going until he starred in The Sound of Music in 1965. It was not a film he had much time for but it established him as a star. he followed with Inside Daisy Clover, Triple Cross and Night of the Generals and in the 1970s did some of his most interesting work: Waterloo, The Pyx, The Man Who Would Be King, Jesus of Nazareth, Return of the Pink Panther, Aces High, Starcrash, Somewhere in Time, The Silent Partner and Murder By Decree. His later work includes Malcolm X, Wolf, Dolores Clairborne, 12 Monkeys, The Insider, A Beautiful Mind and The New World. In 2017, he refilmed all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes for the completed movie All the Money in the World after the sexual assault accusations against Spacey. He died aged 91.
Wakefield Poole was an American filmmaker who was one of the pioneers of gay porn – his 1971 feature film The Boys in the Sand is generally seen as the first gay hardcore movie to have any sort of release – and was the first to include credits. Poole, a former dancer and choreographer, would then make the equally impressive Bijou. His attempt at a crossover film for the straight market was the ambitious Wakefield Poole’s Bible, a collection of Old Testament stories that would’ve caused outrage if anyone had actually noticed it – but the film was not a success. He would make a handful of critically-acclaimed gay porn movies during the remainder of the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, often pushing boundaries against what he saw, even then, as the bland, middle-class aspirations of many gay couples – his films included extensive fisting scenes. Like many of his contemporaries, straight and gay, e gave up filmmaking in 1985 as AIDS hit and the market shifted from film to video production. A documentary about him, based on his 2000 autobiography and titled I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole, was released in 2013. He died aged 85.
Dee Pop was the drummer with the American post-punk band Bush Tetras between 1979 and 1983, and then again from 1995 – 1998 and 2005 until his death, his membership depending on whether or not the band had broken up or not at any particular time. He died aged 65.
If you’ve ever bought a gimmicky kitchen product based on a TV sales pitch, Ron Popeil is the man to blame. Popeil was the founder of Ronco, the pioneer in ‘as seen on TV’ products. He started his career selling his father’s inventions – the Chop-O-Matic and the Veg-O-Matic, using video sales pitches rather than live demonstrations and from there it was just a small step to late-night TV infomercials. Ronco distributed, manufactured and invented a seemingly endless amount of unnecessary ‘time saving’ products and had its own record label – back when compilation albums still qualified for the charts, the label had three number one hits in the UK, including the soundtrack album for That’ll Be The Day. Like all the best inventors, Popeil was his own greatest salesman and often appeared in his TV pitches. He died of a brain haemorrhage, aged 86.
Markie Post was a prolific American actress, best known for her appearance on US sitcom Night Court, which she joined in its third season and stayed with for the next eight years. In a career reaching back to 1979, she also had recurring roles in Cheers, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Semi-Tough, The Love Boat and The Fall Guy, which she appeared in for four years as a supporting player. Her other TV work included The Incredible Hulk, Hart to Hart, B.J. and the Bear, Cheers, Fantasy Island, The A-Team, Scrubs, Ghost Whisperer, 30 Rock and the game show Hollywood Squares, where she made several appearances. She died of cancer, aged 70.
Ricky Powell was an American photographer who rose to prominence when he toured with childhood friends The Beastie Boys in 1986, documenting their tour with Run-DMC – he then worked as official photographer on the band’s subsequent US tours until the group began to become serious and pompous, disowning their raucous former selves – Powell was less willing to reinvent himself and was out of the picture as a result, though he remained on friendly terms with the band. As well as the Beasties, Powell photographed numerous other hip-hop acts, New York street scenes and celebrities. He died of heart failure, aged 59.
Trinidad Rosa Quintana Muñoz was a Mexican nightclub singer and tango vocalist who appeared in several movies in the 1950s, most notably Luis Buñuel’s Susana in 1951 where she took the title role. Her other works were generally musicals, comedies and dramas aimed at the domestic market. She died aged 96.
Writer, director and celebrity gardener, Joel Rapp’s career saw him shooting a pair of Roger Corman’s lesser productions – High School Big Shot and Battle of Blood Island in the 1950s before going on to be a prolific sitcom writer in the next decade, working on Bewitched, Topper, Gilligan’s Island, Lassie, The Patty Duke Show and more. In later years, he turned a passion for gardening into a second career, writing numerous books on the subject and becoming the gardening expert on daytime TV show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. He died aged 87.
James Michael Guffey was an American wrestler who made his debut as ‘Jimmy Rave’ in 1999 and in the 2000s had a fair amount of success in both the independent circuit and with Ring of Honor before working, on-and-off, with TNA for six years where he formed heel team The Rock ‘n’ Rave Connection with Lance Rock and Christy Hemme. He would then return to Ring of Honor and the indies, where he continued to work until 2020. His last few years seemed to be a living hell. Like many a wrestler, he’d struggled with drug addiction, finally checking into rehab and cleaning up. But in 2020, his career was suddenly cut short when he picked up an MRSA infection that resulted in the amputation of his arm. Overnight, not only was his career over but he found himself facing huge medical bills. Things got worse – in October 2021, he had both legs amputated for the same reason. While supporters rallied to help with his bills, you can only imagine the psychological impact that all this would’ve had. He died in December aged 39.
Peter Rehberg was a British-Austrian electronic musician who transcended the cliches and limitations of the genre. His work for experimental label Mego (which he later revived as Editions Mego) ranged from electronica and dance beats to drone and ambient music on various projects over the years. He died after a heart attack, aged 53.
Judith Reisman was an American conspiracy theorist and self-styled academic who was a leading moralising figure in the 1980s, leading a war against both pornography and homosexuality with a series of zombie statistics, invented nonsense, emotively twisted facts and nasty bigotry that is still quoted today as being the truth by right-wing (and left-wing) bigots and religious moralisers. her most notable achievement in this field is the invention of the notion of ‘porn addiction’, claiming that ‘erototoxins’ – something she made up without any evidence – were created by porn viewing and caused brain damage. She claimed that Alfred Kinsey was a child abuser without any evidence beyond her personal distaste for his work – again, her baseless and libellous claims still have traction with those who continue to resent Kinsey’s research into sexual behaviour. In 1983, she was given $734,371 by the Department of Justice to research if magazines like Playboy had a link to violence by juveniles. Her subsequent report claimed that “2,016 cartoons that included children apparently under the age of 17 and 3,988 other pictures, photographs and drawings that depict infants or youths” appeared in “372 issues of Playboy, 184 issues of Penthouse and 125 issues of Hustler“ – however, the American University refused to publish the research over concerns about its validity and others have pointed out that her definition of ‘children’ was so vague as to be meaningless and her research was nothing more than biased, unscientific propaganda. One of Reisman’s claims was that by publishing nude images of Madonna, Playboy and Penthouse were encouraging child pornography. She also claimed that the Nazi Party in Germany was started by homosexuals and that gay organisations recruited people in much the same way as the military. Her obsessions often collided: she called Robert Mapplethorpe a Nazi and a child molester in the 1990 obscenity trial of his work in Cincinnati – she was the prosecution’s only ‘expert’ witness despite complaints that she had no expert qualifications. Asked about her views on homosexuality, she replied “anal sodomy is traumatically dysfunctional and is definitely associated with AIDS.” The case ended with an acquittal. She remained unbalanced and obsessed until the end – in 2017 she was part of a group finding pornographic content in YouTube Frozen videos and violently opposed gay marriage. Her death was mourned by far-right groups and radical feminists (two groups increasingly hard to tell apart) but no one else. She died aged 86.
Anne Rice was catapulted to fame in 1976 with the novel Interview with the Vampire, which was one of the seminal works in romanticising the vampire – it was, if nothing else, a revolutionary book in gothic literature and led to many sequels – the series eventually ran to ten novels. She also wrote historical fiction, other (non-vampiric) gothic horror novels, erotic fiction with a BDSM slant that she published under pseudonyms and most oddly, two novels about the life of Christ – essentially her own reworking of the books of the Bible – during a revival of her Catholic faith. Her writing a definitely divisive – critics (your Reprobate editor amongst them) find her essentially unreadable but fans are utterly devoted and quick to defend her. She pretty much invented what became to be known as ‘dark fantasy’, the genre that effectively replaced horror fiction in many bookshops and is still a major influence on the modern authors in that scene. She died aged 80.
John Richardson was a British actor who achieved fame in the 1960s and had a long career in horror and cult cinema. His most notable roles were in the middle of the decade when he had the male leads in Hammer’s version of She and One Million Years BC; he also appeared opposite Barbara Steele in Mario Bava’s The Mask of Satan. He returned for Hammer in The Vengeance of She and then went to Italy to make spaghetti westerns, before a move to America with wife Martine Beswick, where he took a role in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. In the early 1970s, he returned to Italy where he appeared in several Giallo, crime, horror and science fiction movies: Frankenstein ’80, Eyeball, Reflections in Black, Torso, Nine Guests for a Crime, War of the Planets, Battle of the Stars, Murder Obsession and The Church. He died of Covid-19, aged 86.
Marilyn Roberts is best known for her role as the older dominant woman at the heart of the twisting, complex menage-a-trois that makes up Radley Metzger’s extraordinary film version of Jean de Berg’s The Image. Her film career beyond this is brief but includes the film version of the outrageous and bizarre theatrical show Futz, which she’d originally performed on stage with the LaMaMa Theatre Group, an experimental organisation that she’d formed in 1961. Theatrical work would be the bulk of her acting career, with film roles reduced to small parts in Looking for Mr Goodbar and Skateboard. She died aged 81.
Tanya RobertsTanya Roberts, born Victoria Leigh Blum, was one of the sexiest stars of the 1980s, emerging from Charlie’s Angels (where she had been a replacement for Shelley Hack in the final season) to become – though no one really acknowledged it at the time – the queen of fantasy cinema. Beastmaster, Sheena and Hearts of Armour were all dismissed as movies and Roberts mocked as a film star, but these are fantastic, slightly kitsch movies that remain beloved of fans – and not just because these PG-rated films could be relied upon for a scene where she goes skinny-dipping; both Beastmaster and Sheena were probably the most paused VHS releases of the decade. She began her career with the sleazy Forced Entry (not the adult movie, though both share the same plot) and T&A comedy The Yum Yum Girls, had a better role in the weird horror film Tourist Trap and had small roles in California Dreaming and Racquets, alongside guest slots in TV productions before the Charlie’s Angels gig came along, and after that and the fantasy films, she got the alleged ‘big break’ as a Bond Girl in A View to a Kill. We say ‘alleged’ because as with many of the Bond starlets, the role didn’t really lead to much, simply because those characters were seen as disposable and interchangeable by most people. And indeed, her post-Bond career consisted of low budget horror and erotic thrillers like Inner Sanctum, Night Eyes, Sins of Desire and Purgatory, alongside more TV work. Nevertheless, Roberts remained a firm fan favourite, especially amongst men who were teenagers in the mid-1980s. She died aged 65.
Mick Rock was a British photographer known for his work shooting rock acts, particularly his seminal 1970s work where he captured the changing face of rock music, particularly in the glam and pre-punk era. His work includes some years as David Bowie’s official photographer and he shot some of the classic album covers of the time – Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs, Lou Reed’s Transformer, The Stooges’ Raw Power, Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack and Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. The list of bands that he worked with is extensive but some of his more impressive assignments include work with Blondie and Iggy Pop. he directed several Bowie videos – John, I’m Only Dancing, Jean Genie, Space Oddity and Life on Mars – and was chief still photographer on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He died aged 72.
Clifford Rose was a British actor who was best known for his role of SS officer Kessler in the TV series Secret Army and its sequel Kessler; he also played another SS officer in War and Remembrance. His other TV appearances include guest slots in Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War and GBH and he also appeared in several films – Marat/Sade, Callan, Work is a Four-Letter Word, The Girl and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He died aged 92.
John Rossall was a founding member of The Glitter Band, formed in 1973 as a backing band for Gary Glitter, who was then at the height of his fame. The Glitter Band was essentially a re-badging of Rossall’s Boston Showband and they would back Glitter in live performances (though they did not play on his records). Rossall then approached Glitter’s manager Mike Leander with the idea of the band recording without Glitter and their 1974 single Angel Face proved to be a big hit. Rossall, however, chose to leave the band shortly afterwards. However, he would continue to trade on the Glitter name, much to the annoyance of the actual Glitter Band and in 1983, an injunction was granted banning him from using the word in his own band name. He would flagrantly ignore the ruling and in 1997, was taken to court again where he was given a one year suspended prison sentence that would be activated if he ever tried to pass himself off as the Glitter Band again; he was, however, allowed to refer to his part work in promotional materials. In 2008, presumably hoping that the ruling had been forgotten, he recorded an album called Glitteresque – it was quickly pulled from sale. Nevertheless, he would continue touring for the rest of his life, continuing to push the legal restrictions to the limit. He died aged 75.
Giuseppe Rotunno was an Italian cinematographer who worked with some of the greats of Italian cinema – among them Federico Fellini (Boccaccio 70, Spirits of the Dead, Satyricon, Roma, Armacord, Casanova, City of Women, And the Ship Sails On), Vittorio De Sica (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) and Luchino Visconti (Rocco and His Brothers, The Leopard, The Stranger). The rest of his career is like a checklist of great 1960s and 1970s cinema and beyond – On the Beach, The Bible: In the Beginning, The Witches, Caprice Italian Style, Anzio, Candy, The Battle of Santa Vittoria, Sunflower, Carnal Knowledge, Love and Anarchy, All Screwed Up, Erotomania, The Divine Nymph, A Night Full of Rain, China 9, Liberty 37, All That Jazz, Popeye, Rollover, American Dreamer, The Assisi Underground, Haunted Summer, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, Regarding Henry, Wolf and The Stendahl Syndrome amongst many others. He died aged 97.
Richard Rush was an American film director who never quite made it to the big leagues despite undoubted ability. His movies are generally left-field action films, often with social commentary and somewhat to the side of commercial cinema. His career was plagued with bad luck – films that struggled with distributions, incompleted projects and critical dismissal (though invariably, his work has been reassessed in subsequent years). In the 1960s, he began his film career with the exploitation movie Too Soon to Love and followed with a handful of counter-culture films – Thunder Alley, Hells Angels on Wheels, The Savage Seven and Psych-Out. He moved into more mainstream commercial cinema with Getting Straight and Freebie and the Bean and spent years making The Stunt Man only for the film to barely get released. He was fired from Air America (which he also wrote) and made erotic drama The Color of Night in 1994, which was predictably rubbished by critics. He then withdrew from filmmaking altogether. He died aged 92.
Barry Ryan will forever be remembered as the singer of the overwrought pop classic Eloise, which reached number 2 on the UK charts in 1968 and was later covered by The Damned. But his career is a more fascinating one than the (inaccurate) label of ‘one-hit-wonder’ suggests. His musical career started in the mid-Sixties as half of a duo with his brother Paul, who found the pressures of showbiz a bit much and stepped back into a songwriting role after the pair had scored a handful of top twenty hits. Eloise was the solo Ryan’s biggest hit, but the follow-up also reached number 25 and eventually sold a million copies. The pop world was a fickle one in the late Sixties though, and by 1970, Ryan’s brief flirtation with the charts was over. However, he remained popular across Europe and recorded several German-language songs that were hits in Germany. By the mid-1970s, he had retired from music and started a new career as a photographer, eventually leading to him becoming a successful fashion shooter from trendy magazines like Ritz. He also married Miriam binti al-Marhum Sultan Sir Ibrahim, the daughter of Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, which probably sounds more impressive than it was; the pair divorced after four years of marriage in 1980. Ryan would return to live performance in the 1990s, playing the Sixties nostalgia circuit. He died aged 72.
Antonio Sabato (Sr) was a busy Italian actor whose fame was eclipsed by his more successful son, but who nevertheless contributed to an impressive number of movies. His biggest role was probably that of an Italian racing driver in John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix in 1966 – a film made at the start of his career. He would go on to appear in Barbarella (uncredited), numerous spaghetti westerns in the 1960s (Beyond the Law, One Dollar Too Many, Twice a Judas, Hate for Hate) and then broadened his Italian exploitation work to take in The Awful Story of the Nun of Monza, The Man with Icy Eyes, When Men Carried Clubs and Women Played Ding Dong, Seven Bloodstained Orchids and crime movies like Crime Boss, Where The Bullets Fly, Gang War in Milan, The Last Desperate Hours, Poliziotti Violenti, Violence for Kicks, Canne Mozze, The New Godfathers and many more. In the 1980s, he appeared in action films like Escape from the Bronx, Thunder, The Desert Warrior and The Wild Team before the Italian exploitation boom began to decline. In later years, he would have a recurring role in US soap The Bold and the Beautiful. He died of Covid-19, aged 77.
Sumiko Sakamoto was a Japanese actress, best known for her work with director Shohei Imamura on The Pornographers, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge and The Ballad of Narayama. She also starred in a series of crime dramas throughout the 1960s. She died of a stroke, aged 84.
Antonio Salines was an Italian actor who mostly worked in the theatre, though he appeared in films like the western Matalo!, Pasquale Festa Campanile’s The Gamecock and others. In the 1990s, he began working with Tinto Brass, appearing in The Voyeur, Monella, Cheeky, Senso ’45 and Fallo! He died aged 84.
Sompote Saengduenchai was a Thai film director who specialised in monster and superhero movies. His best-known film in the West is probably the barely-watchable 1980 film Crocodile but his more interesting work includes the TV series Jumborg Ace and Giant and The 6 Ultra Brothers vs the Monster Army, both of which were part of the Ultraman series. Other films include the fantasy films Tah Tien, Ka Ki, Phra Rod Meree, Khun Chang Khun Phaen: Prab Chorakhe Tan Kwand, Noble War, Space Warriors 2000 and Magic Lizard, none of which have seen much of a release outside Thailand. In the mid-1990s, he tried to claim ownership of the Ultraman property based on a document that was later declared in a Los Angeles court to be a forgery. This stopped the broadcast of his final production, Project Ultraman. He died of cancer, aged 80.
Giancarlo Santi was an Italian filmmaker who rose to prominence as an assistant or second unit director for Sergio Leone on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West, and on several films for Marco Ferrari in the 1960s. He was Leone’s choice to direct A Fistful of Dynamite/Duck You Sucker, but the decision was overruled by producers. He eventually made his directorial debut in 1972 with The Grand Duel, but only directed two more films, neither of them much seen outside Italy. In the 1980s, he would return to assistant directing for a pair of Hercules films made by Luigi Cozzi. He died aged 81.
Dan Sartain was an American rock musician who was more respected by peers than popular with the public. His music would range from blues and punk to rockabilly and he recorded several albums for different labels over the years, working with Jack White and touring with The Hives. He died aged 39.
Roy Scammell was an English actor and stuntman, with a career that took in some impressive titles: as an actor, he was in The Champions, Space: 1999, Circus of Fear, The Gladiators, The Magic Christian, Psychomania, O Lucky Man, The Best of Benny Hill, Sexplorer, Golden Rendezvous, The World is Full of Married Men and Flash Gordon. His stunt work included The Great Escape, Our Man in Marrakesh, A Clockwork Orange, Once a Jolly Swagman, From Russia With Love, Casino Royale, Monte Carlo or Bust, The Italian Job, Horror Hospital, Papillon, The Sweeney, The Professionals, Rollerball, Barry Lyndon, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Alien, Saturn 3, The Dogs of War, Venom, Greystoke, Sheena and Goldeneye amongst others. He died aged 88.
Renato Scarpa was an Italian actor who had roles in numerous films, most notably Don’t Look Now, Somewhere Beyond Love, Flatfoot in Hong Kong, Suspiria, Il Mostro, The Icicle Thief, Il Postino, The Talented Mr Ripley and The Tourist, alongside a lot of Italian comedy movies. He died aged 82.
Italian film poster artist, died aged 76.
Peter Scolari was an American actor who made his film debut in the adult movie classic Take Off in 1978 (he did not take part in any sex scenes). he is best known for co-starring with Tom Hanks in the sitcom Bosom Buddies and for the six years he spent as part of the Newhart cast. He also appeared in the TV version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Gotham. He was in the films Ticks, Amazons, The Rosebud Beach Hotel, Camp Nowhere, That Thing You Do, Sorority Boys and The Polar Express, and TV shows like Remington Steele, Happy Days, The Love Boat, the 1980s Twilight Zone, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Touched By an Angel, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, American Dad, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and much more. He died of leukaemia, aged 66.
George Segal was a prolific American actor who dallied with stardom for a while in the 1970s but ultimately seemed more at home as a character actor. He was one of those perpetually laid-back performers who seemed relaxed, amused and often rather perplexed by events, making him very enjoyable to watch. His work was extensive: in the 1960s he had roles – both supporting and leading – in major films like The Longest Day, Ship of Fools, King Rat, Lost Command, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Quiller Memorandum, The St Valentine’s Day Massacre and No Way to Treat a Lady. By the 1970s, he was becoming a big name and appeared in The Owl and the Pussycat, The Hot Rock, Blume in Love, A Touch of Class, The Terminal Man, California Split, Fun with Dick and Jane, Rollercoaster and The Last Married Couple in America. He stepped back from movie stardom in the 1980s, focusing more on the stage and TV work, and then re-emerged as a popular supporting player and character actor. He also had a regular role in the long-running sitcom Just Shoot Me and later was in The Goldbergs from 2013 – 2021. He died aged 87.
Dean Shek was a Hong Kong actor, writer and director who appeared in numerous classic martial arts, action, comedy and horror movies – The Fists of Vengeance, Master with Cracked Fingers, The Kung Fu Monks (which he also directed), The Young Dragons, Hong Kong Superman, Chinese Superior Kung Fu, A Queen’s Ransom, The Iron-Fisted Monk, Broken Oath, Warriors Two, Spiritual Kung Fu, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu, Drunken Master, Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog, Deadly Strike, His Name is Nobody, The Fearless Hyena, Emperor of Shaolin Kung Fu, Aces Go Places, Till Death Do We Scare, Espirit D’Amour, A Family Affair, Happy Ghost, City Hero, A Better Tomorrow 2, City War and Angel Hunter to name but a few. He died of cancer, aged 72.
Barbara Shelley was Hammer Films’ first Scream Queen – while the company had used other actresses in several films before, it was Shelley who was the first one to have some of the status of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee with fans, even though she made far fewer films. In fact, her Hammer career began in 1958 with Camp on Blood Island, but only encompassed five horror movies – Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Gorgon, Rasputin The Mad Monk, Quatermass and the Pit, plus the Hammer-under-another-name production Shadow of the Cat, the war film sequel Secrets of Blood Island and Sexton Blake drama Murder at Site 3. But she had already set herself up as a genre star by the start of the 1960s with roles in the lurid Hammer imitation Blood of the Vampire, Cat Girl and Village of the Damned, and she would later star in the oddball 1974 British film Ghost Story. Her other films included an episode of the Edgar Wallace Mysteries and assorted low budget thrillers, melodramas and comedies during the 1960s. her career after that decade was primarily focused on TV, with appearances on Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, The Hanged Man, Crown Court, Blake’s 7, Doctor Who and the gothic mini-series The Dark Angel. She died of Covid-19, aged 88.
Dick Sheppard was a British stuntman who specialised in car-based stunt work. Just how many films he worked on is unknown, as he was rarely credited – but he was definitely involved in The Italian Job, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever. The Guinness Book of Records lists him as the world’s most prolific Auto Stuntman so clearly, this is the tip of the iceberg. He died aged 90.
Antony Sher was a South African-born British actor whose career was mostly based in the theatre, though he was a familiar face on the screen too. On stage, he was a long-time member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and on film, his work included Yanks, Superman II, Shadey, Erik the Viking, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown and The Wolfman. He also had the lead role in the controversial BBC drama series The History Man. He was one of the first gay people in the UK to enter into a civil partnership in 2005 and later married his partner Gregory Doran once gay marriage was legalised. He died of cancer aged 72.
Wong Shu-Tong was a Hong Kong actor who appeared in numerous martial arts and action films. Some of his better-known movies are The Chinese Boxer, The New One-Armed Swordsman, Hands of Death, King Boxer, Man of Iron, Shatter, Man from Hong Kong, Challenge of the Masters, The Butterfly Murders, Revenge: A Love Story and Sex and Zen 3D. He died aged 77.
Felix Silla was an Italian actor and stuntman who played a pair of iconic TV characters: Cousin Itt in The Addams Family and Twiki in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He also had both significant and fleeting parts in interesting films: She Freak, Justine, Planet of the Apes, SSSSnake, The Black Bird (where he played a miniature Hitler), Black Samurai, Demon Seed, Kentucky Fried Movie, The Brood, Under the Rainbow, Return of the Jedi, Spaceballs, Ragewar, Meatballs Pt II, House and Batman Returns. He had a regular part in HR Pufnstuf and the film offshoot as well as recurring roles in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Lidsville and Battlestar Galactica. His best role as far as we are concerned is that of Misquamacus in The Manitou. At 3′ 11″, he also worked as a double for child actors in films like The Towering Inferno and The Hindenberg and had his own Las Vegas musical combo The Original Harmonica Band. He died of pancreatic cancer, aged 84
Clive Sinclair was an English inventor and entrepreneur who fell victim to that most pervasive of British diseases – a press that can’t bear success and sit waiting for the opportunity to tear someone down a peg. In his case, it was his ill-considered electric motor vehicle the C5 that did him in. While certainly a mad folly – it launched with no market research, looked like a toy and was way too expensive – in retrospect, the C5 was simply ahead of its time and mismarketed. It’s certainly no more ludicrous than many a mobility scooter, E-scooter or other novelty transport device, though you probably wouldn’t want to sit in traffic in one. But in 1985, Sinclair was seen as a bit of an upstart by many in the press and the mockery was ruthless. The vehicle bombed and Sinclair’s business and reputation never really recovered. yet Sinclair’s ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum computers had revolutionised home computing just a few years earlier – cheap enough to be mass-market and a great entry point into programming for what would become the entire British video games industry. While these computers arrived at just the right moment, Sinclair was too far ahead of the curve with other projects – he tried to launch a flatscreen mini TV in 1983, a business computer in 1984 just as the market declined and an electric bike at the start of the 1990s. He died of cancer, aged 81.
Lauren Kaye Scott, aka Dakota Skye, was a popular adult movie star between 2013 and 2019, making over 300 movies and becoming a much-loved figure in the industry. Unfortunately, she was plagued with both mental illness, substance abuse issues and a lot of tragedy in her life, especially in her final years – her mother was an addict who died in 2019, she lost two grandparents to Covid in 2020 and her dog died – she also became homeless as work dried up due to her increasing unreliability. She began abusing various drugs around 2015 and went into rehab no less than six times in a two-year period. She was one of the women who claimed that Ron Jeremy had raped her, though she was perhaps an unreliable witness – she also claimed to be related to the Kennedys and so a target for assassination as well as being under surveillance by the government, the FBI and the Mafia. She was arrested more than once for violently abusing her ex-husband and her boyfriend. On the day of her death, she entered a stranger’s RV, smoked an unknown substance, lay on his couch and died. She was 27.
Lonnie Smith was an American jazz organist who was active in music from the late 1950s, first having success as part of the George Benson Quartet in the mid-Sixties before signing to Blue Note Records as a solo artist. In the 1970s, he began to call himself ‘Dr’, a reference to his ability to ‘operate’ on other people’s music while working as a session player. He died of pulmonary fibrosis, aged 79.
Wilbur Smith was a South African-born novelist who specialised in historical adventure fiction about the African experience from the early 1960s to the late 2010s. His work is extensive and often ran to series of novels. Smith aimed to tell his stories from both sides of the South African racial divide, though of course, he had rather more experience of one. How successful he was at capturing that national conflict is debatable and his critics have noted that he liked to set his work in the colonial past rather than confront the current situation in the country. However, his work proved very popular. Several of his novels were filmed, including Gold Mine (as Gold), Shout at the Devil and The Dark of the Sun. He died aged 88.
Paolo Bucinelli, who used the stage name Solange, was an Italian psychic and serial reality TV star. he released a couple of pop singles in the mid-1980s but was best known as a celebrity palm-reader and TV personality whose nonsensical beliefs were indulged thanks to his flamboyant style. In 2014, he protested against the government and in favour of same-sex marriage, while wearing a wedding dress. He died of natural causes, aged 68.
Paul Soles was an American voice actor, best known as the voice of Spider-Man in the classic 1967 animated series. For many, he was the voice of the character – everything else feels like a poor imitation, and his different tones for Peter Parker and Spider-Man helped make the idea that no one connected the two characters all the more believable. Soles also worked on Marvel Superheroes as various characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rocket Robin Hood, Iron Man, the King Kong Show and Spider-Woman amongst others. His on-screen appearances included the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, The Gunrunner and Terminal City. He died aged 90.
Stephen Sondheim was one of the giants of American musical theatre – something that we concede is not exactly to our tastes. He began his career as the lyricist for the shows West Side Story and Gypsy and then wrote both words and music for hugely popular shows – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. Most of these have been filmed after long international theatrical runs. Throughout much of the 2010s, he was working on a musical based on Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, the mere thought of which makes me feel ill – fate or good taste intervened and the project was never completed. He died aged 91.
Anthony Edward Sowell was an American serial killer, convicted of the murders of eleven women. We can argue about nature vs nurture forever, but Sowell seems to be almost a textbook example of a dysfunctional, damaged childhood turning someone bad. His mother Claudia – who had seven children of her own and another seven who were born to her late sister – seems to have been an abusive monster who encouraged her sons and the other boys in the household to rape their female siblings. At the age of eighteen, Sowell joined the Marines, which probably didn’t help him become a productive member of society. In 1989, he was convicted of kidnapping and choking a pregnant woman who had been trying to leave his house – he served fifteen years in prison. In 2009, he did much the same to another woman and when the police came to arrest him, the smell of decay alerted their suspicions. A search revealed eleven bodies buried in and around his property. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2011. However, he died of natural causes, aged 61.
Phil Spector is perhaps the prime example of the need to separate the art from the artist. Even without his murder conviction, Spector appears to have been a complete monster and psychopath. But the music that he created remains among the best of the 1960s, his Wall of Sound immediately recognisable (even amongst a sea of imitators) and his work marking the point where record production became an art form rather than a perfunctory technical requirement. His work for his own Philles Records and beyond with artists like Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes and Ike and Tina Turner remains extraordinary, contemporary-sounding singles even now, and his 1963 Christmas album is the most iconic festive recording ever made. In the 1970s, Spector did the controversial and whitewashed post-production on the Beatles‘ Let It Be, and while Paul McCartney was rightfully aghast at the results, John Lennon and George Harrison were happy and asked Spector to produce albums for them, including Imagine, All Things Must Pass and The Concert for Bangladesh. As the 1970s progressed, he made controversial recordings with Leonard Cohen and The Ramones, in both cases adding his lush production method to acts noted for their stripped-back minimalist sound. It was during the recording of the Ramones LP that stories of Spector’s eccentricities really took hold – the claim, either confirmed or denied by band members depending on when you ask them, is that he was waving a gun around in the studio, threatening them when they tried to leave the studio. By this time, Spector had taken to wearing the outlandish wigs that were so notable in his later trial, possibly as a result of a 1974 car crash that almost killed him. In 2003, Spector shot actress Lana Clarkson in the mouth, killing her. It took until 2007 for him to come to trial, and despite the wealth of evidence against him, it ended with a hung jury – unlike Britain, America still clings to the idea that if you can’t get twelve randomly selected people to all agree on guilt, then the case is hardly ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Spector would continue to be lauded by the music industry, even as his trial took place. In December 2007, he attended Ike Turner’s funeral and took the opportunity to attack Tina Turner and defend wife-beater Ike; somehow, this did little to rebuild Turner’s reputation. In 2008, the retrial took place, and this time – possibly because there were no Spector fans on the jury – he was found guilty of murder. Subsequently, stories emerged of Spector’s abusive behaviour in relationships – which ran from spousal abuse to forcing his kids to have sex with his girlfriend. Remarkably – or perhaps not – he still had his defenders in the music industry, not just as an artist but as a person. He died of Covid-19, in jail, aged 81.
Margo St James
Margo St James was an American sex work campaigner and sex-positive feminist, who first rose to prominence during the Summer of Love in 1967 when her Haight-Ashbury home became a cultural salon, visited by the likes of Frank Zappa, Paul Krassner and Ken Kesey. In 1973, she formed COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), a sex worker rights organisation, and would go on to become an international campaigner for civil rights. She was married to journalist Paul Avery, one of the leading reporters on the Zodiac murders. She died aged 83.
Robby Steinhardt was the frontman, singer and violinist in the American lightweight prog rock band Kansas between 1974 and 1982, being a seminal part of the band’s most successful era with hits like Carry On My Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind. He then formed his own band and worked on various prog tribute projects before rejoining Kansas in 1997. He would leave again in 2006, exhausted by the band’s relentless touring schedule. At the time of his death, he was completing a solo album called Not In Kansas Anymore/A Prog Opera, which was eventually released posthumously. He died of acute pancreatitis, aged 71.
Jim Steinman was an American composer and musician who rarely did things by half. His 1977 album with Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell is one of rock’s most extraordinary works, an operatic, theatrical epic that was at odds with pretty much everything happening musically at the time. It sold 43 million copies (and counting) and remained in the UK album charts forever. Is it rock music? I’ll be damned if I know. Steinman emerged out of musical theatre and the album is as much the score for an (at the time) unproduced musical as anything. Both Steinman and Meat Loaf could never quite match it again – 1981’s Dead Ringer and 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back to Hell were both pitched as follow-ups but feel like half-baked imitations. Steinman would become a producer rather than songwriter for Bonnie Tyler’s Faster Than the Speed of Night – he only wrote two of the album’s songs, the title track and Total Eclipse of the Heart. He would go on to work with an eclectic collection of people – Air Supply, Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, Sisters of Mercy and Hulk Hogan amongst them. He wrote the music for the film Streets of Fire and at one point was working on a theatrical version of Broan De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise. He did, however, turn Roman Polanski’s Dance of the Vampires into a 1997 musical, Tanz der Vampire. He died of aspiration pneumonia, aged 73.
Tom Stevens was an American musician, best known as part of The Long Ryders, one of the leading lights of the Paisley Underground movement during the mid-1980s. The band took a Byrds-inspired country-rock approach, blended with punk and were seen as the group most likely to break into the mainstream; they were a bloody fantastic live experience. But like the rest of the bands in the scene, they couldn’t turn critical acclaim and a cult following into commercial success. He left the band in 1987, occasionally hooking up with them for reunions over the years. In 1985, he teamed up with fellow Paisley Underground musicians Dan Stuart from Green on Red and Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate to record the Dan and Dusty LP, much admired at the time. In the years after The Long Ryders, he concentrated on session work and production and recorded several solo projects. He died aged 64.
Dean Stockwell was an American actor with a career that was long enough to allow him to redefine himself several times. In the 1940s he was a successful child actor, appearing in The Green Years, Home Sweet Homicide, The Mighty McGurk, Gentlemen’s Agreement, The Boy with Green Hair and The Secret Garden. He took a university break at the end of the decade and then returned to acting as an adult, securing roles on TV and in films like Sons and Lovers, Compulsion, A Long Day’s Journey into Night and Rapture. He then dropped out of acting and dived into the emerging Topanga Canyon hippy scene. The new countercultural Stockwell subsequently starred in Psych-Out, The Dunwich Horror, Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie, The Loners, Tracks and The Werewolf of Washington while paying the bills with regular TV work and more commercial movie projects. By the end of the 1970s, his career was at a bit of a crossroads – the counterculture was long since older and he was now middle-aged. But he once again reinvented with roles in Paris, Texas, Dune, Blue Velvet and To Live and Die in L.A. In 1989, he joined the cast of Quantum Leap, which ran for five seasons and he had a solid career as a supporting actor throughout the 1990s. He was also a successful artist, designing the cover to Neil Young’s American Stars ‘n Bars and producing impressive collage art and sculpture throughout the last few decades. He died aged 85.
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Julie Strain was an American model and actress, known as the Queen of the Bs, thanks to her extensive career in low budget softcore and horror movies. She was a little removed from the Scream Queen world, having started her career several years after that phenomenon rose to prominence, but she was nevertheless one of the most beloved of the exploitation movie stars of her era. She first came to prominence as a 1991 Penthouse Pet, and in 1993 became Pet of the Year. This was still a time when that could propel a model to bigger things, and her good looks and statuesque figure made her a popular model for artists like Boris Vallejo and Olivia De Berardinis as an Amazon warrior and barbarian queen. She was the basis for the main character of Heavy Metal 2000 and the video game Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. (and was married to Heavy Metal publisher Kevin Eastman). She had small, often nude parts in films like Repossessed, Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, Beverly Hills Cop III and Out for Justice at the start of the 1990s before her acting career began to take off, initially as a Scream Queen in films like Mirror Images, Witchcraft IV: The Virgin Heart, Love Bites, Psycho Cop Returns and The Unnameable II. She became best known for erotic thrillers, comedies and spoofs like Virtual Desire, Victim of Desire, Sorceress II: The Temptress, Lethal Seduction, Bikini Hotel, The Bare Wench Project series, Thirteen Erotic Ghosts, Planet of the Erotic Ape, Tales from the Crapper and the Playboy TV series Sex Court, where she was Judge Julie. In her twenties, she had a horse fall that wiped out most of her childhood memories, and this injury would later come back in the form of early dementia – by 2018, she was in the late stages of the illness and receiving hospice care at home. She died aged 58.
Una Stubbs was a British actor who was best known for her work on the edgy sitcom Till Death Us Do Part in the late 1960s, as well as its 1980s sequel series In Sickness and In Health. but she also had a long career that took in work with Cliff Richard on a couple of his twee films (Summer Holiday and Wonderful Life) and his 1970 TV series, the role of Aunt Sally in Wurzel Gummidge and a long-running spot on the favourite TV game show of theatrical luvvies Give Us A Clue. Her film career was brief – including The Bargee, Mr Ten Per Cent and Bedtime With Rosie – but she worked extensively on TV, with appearances in The Strange World of Gurney Slade, Fawlty Towers, Midsomer Murders and Sherlock amongst her more notable roles. She died aged 84.
Sylvain Sylvain was a founding member of The New York Dolls, the significance of whom in the history of rock music can’t be much overstated. While they didn’t sell many records in their peak, the band helped inspire the British punk movement, even though they emerged from – and in many ways encapsulated – the glam-rock swagger, attitude and disregard for musical prowess that came out of New York (and the UK) in the early Seventies. The dolls were notoriously shambolic live, but they had the look and the self-belief in their own brilliance that was needed. Sylvain played with the band from 1971 until 1977 when they collapsed; he then launched a solo career, backed by the leading lights of New York punk. Through the 1980s and 1990s, he floated through various projects before the inevitable Dolls reunion in 2004. In 2019, he announced that he had cancer. He died aged 69.
Billy Joe Thomas was an American singer who rose to fame at the end of the Sixties with a couple of major hit singles – Hooked on a Feeling and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head. His MOR, country-tinged sound made him popular with audiences around the world and he continued to have success during the 1970s with hits like (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song and Rock ‘n’ Roll Lullaby. In the mid-Seventies, he became a born-again Christian and began recording and performing gospel songs alongside his more secular hits. His last hit was with the theme song from the TV series Growing Pains in 1985. He died of lung cancer aged 78.
Frank Thorne was an American comic book artist, best known for his late Seventies work on Marvel’s Red Sonja, a character spun off from a Conan the Barbarian tale into becoming one of the most iconic female fantasy figures of the era. Both powerful and sexy (her costume was essentially little more than chainmail underwear), Red Sonja is today both hailed as a groundbreaking strong female and dismissed as a teenage masturbatory fantasy, depending on who you ask and what the current cultural fashion is. Thorne increasingly focused his work on erotic fantasy figures, working for Playboy, Heavy Metal, Hustler, National Lampoon, High Times and Vanity Fair and creating graphic novels for Fantagraphics. Thorne died on the same day as his wife, aged 90.
Stacy Title was an American film director and screenwriter. She directed Down on the Waterfront, Let the Devil Wear Black, The Last Supper, The Hood of Horror and The Bye Bye Man, and co-wrote a 2003 TV version of The Lone Ranger. She was also behind an aborted King Kong TV series in 2017. She died of motor neurone disease aged 56.
Bertrand Tavernier was a French film director who managed to combine social commentary with historical, thriller and mystery narratives to impressive effect. He began his career in the 1960s as an assistant director to directors like Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Doulos) and Jean-Luc Godard (Le Mepris) and would subsequently work in that role or as a writer on a curious variety of films that included The Terror of Rome Against the Sons of Hercules, A Question of Honour and Umberto Lenzi’s Orgasmo. He made his feature film debut as a director in 1974 with crime thriller The Clockmaker and would go on to direct Let Joy Reign Supreme, The Judge and the Assassin, Spoiled Children, Death Watch, Coup de Torchon, A Week’s Vacation, A Sunday in the Country, Round Midnight, Life and Nothing But, These Foolish Things, L.627, Revenge of the Musketeers, The Bait, Captain Conran, It All Starts Today, Safe Conduct, The French Minister and others. He died aged 79.
Ray Teret was a British DJ and convicted rapist, known – in the former instance – for his work alongside Jimmy Savile in the 1960s, the two sharing a house at one point as Teret worked for Radio Caroline North. He would later work for Picadilly and Signal Radio until a 1999 conviction for unlawful sex with a fifteen-year-old brought his career to a halt. In the wake of the Savile revelations, Teret found himself facing more charges – some thirty in total – in 2014. Among the charges were eighteen counts of rape and a charge that he and Savile raped a girl together. The charges dated back to the 1960s and the youngest victim was twelve. Teret was convicted of all eighteen charges, and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Given that he was 72 at the time, the likelihood of him ever being released was slim, and he died in prison aged 79, of cancer.
Peter Ventantonio, who performed as Jack Terricloth, was the frontman of The World/Inferno Friendship Society, a punk-cabaret-lounge act where image was everything. Terricloth was a dapper dresser and was an advocate of rebellious behaviour at all times – though how much he actually walked the walk is a matter of debate. Still, in a world of anodyne rock stars preaching conformity and victimhood, he was a breath of fresh air. He also performed with the band Sticks and Stones and published two chapbooks. He died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, aged 50.
Mikis Theodorakis was a Greek music composer who has been credited with over a thousand works, writing chamber music, ballets, operas and classical pieces as well as film scores – his movie work includes Shadow of the Cat, Phaedra, Zorba the Greek, The Day the Fish Came Out, Z and Serpico. His work The Ballad of Mauthausen was much-praised as a hugely moving musical memorial to the Holocaust. In later years, though, he claimed that “Jews are the root cause of evil in the world” and declared himself an anti-semite, though he would later attempt to qualify this as only applying to Israel – this has, of course, long been the go-to excuse for people who get a little-loose-tongued with their hatred of Jews. His politics were a mix of Leftist ideals and fervent nationalism. He was a member of the Greek Communist Party, which led to him being imprisoned and having his music banned by the Greek Junta in 1967. He was an MP for the party between 1981 and 1990, but then joined the centre-right New Democracy party to help the country have a new start after years of political corruption, forming a cross-platform coalition that attracted support across the political divide. He died of cardiopulmonary arrest, aged 96.
Kartel Tibet was a prolific Turkish actor from the mid-Sixties until the early 1970s, best known for his appearances in the Tarkan series of action films based on Sezgin Burak, playing the titular Tarzan-like character. In 1976, he moved into film directing, specialising in comedy titles and working steadily into the mid-2000s. He died aged 83.
Sandra Timmerman first achieved fame posing, with her sister, for the Dutch version of Playboy. This would be the launchpad for a career in music with bands like He He and the She Devils and Sandra and Sheila before moving into acting on the stage. In 2015 she published the book Circuskind and also appeared in the stage show based on it, both dealing with childhood, parental abuse and religion. She died of a brain haemorrhage aged 57.
Ruthie Tompson was an American animator who first started working for Walt Disney at the age of eighteen. She worked as an inker and was involved in the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. She moved through the ranks, from animation checker to work in the camera department, shooting the animation frames – all in all, she worked at Disney for 40 years. She died aged 111.
James Michael Tyler
James Michael Tyler was an American actor, best known as the most frequently-seen supporting player in the sitcom Friends – he played Gunther in 148 episodes of the show. He was also in the 1999 thriller Motel Blue. He died of prostate cancer aged 59.
Ciceley Tyson was an American actor who had a long and successful career that saw her win many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. She began her career as a fashion model before moving into acting in 1956. Much of her early career was on the stage and television, culminating in a regular role in the TV series East Side/West Side and soap opera The Guiding Light. In the latter half of the 1960s she appeared in The Comedians, A Man called Adam and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and this led to bigger success in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, Roots, King, Fried Green Tomatoes, Sweet Justice, Hoodlum, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Help and The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia. She appeared on the cover of Miles Davis’ album Sorceror – she was in a relationship with Davis at the time and later married him. She died aged 96.
Terry Uttley was the long-time (from 1966 until his death) bassist with British rock band Smokie, who had some chart success in the mid-to-late 1970s, working with songwriters and producers Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. Their biggest hit was the country-rock number Living Next Door to Alice in 1976, which they bizarrely reworked as a potty-mouthed collaboration with Roy Chubby Brown in 1995 – Living Next Door to Alice (Who the Fuck is Alice?) reached number 3 on the UK charts, two places higher than the original version. Their last recording was in 2010 but they remained active on the live nostalgia circuit. Uttley was the only remaining founding member of the band by 2021. He died aged 70.
Melvin Van Peebles
Melvin Van Peebles will forever be known for his extraordinary, challenging and incendiary 1971 movie Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song, a movie that helped launch – but was removed from – the 1970s blaxploitation boom. Sweetback is a film that takes no prisoners and is overtly political and revolutionary and is a seminal work in both the history of black cinema and cult movies. Van Peebles had already been working in film since 1957 but had found it hard to get a break in America – after a couple of short films, he relocated to Paris where he edited a magazine and wrote novels, one of which he then filmed as The Story of a Three-Day Pass. The film was good enough to get him back to Hollywood where he wrote and directed the racially-charged satire Watermelon Man. The success of that film gave him the freedom to make Sweetback, which he not only wrote and directed but also starred in. The success of the film did not open the doors of Hollywood studios to him, though – he was considered far too dangerous. For the rest of the 1970s, he wrote Broadway musicals (one of which, Don’t Play Us Cheap, he also filmed) and the occasional movie screenplay as well as acting in other people’s movies. In the 1980s he worked in the stock exchange between movie gigs. His son, Mario van Peebles, made a movie about the making of Sweetback in 2003. Melvin died aged 89.
Isela Vega was a Mexican actor who made over 150 movies, most of which were barely seen outside Mexico. Her best-known work internationally was Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (for which she also wrote a song) and significant other movies include Rage, Fear Chamber, La señora Muerte, Las luchadoras contra el robot asesino, Pacto diabólico, Three Ruthless Ones, The Deadly Trackers, Drum, Midnight Dolls, Barbarosa, The Greatest American Hero, Nana, Las Amantes del Señor de la Noche, Blood Screams, Conan the Adventurer and Killer Snake. Her later career saw her appearing in several telenovela – Mexican soap operas. From the 1980s, she also wrote, produced and directed several films. She appeared nude in the June 1974 edition of Playboy. She died of cancer, aged 81.
Marie Versini was a French actress who had an impressively international career over three decades, working on films in France, Germany, the UK and the USA, often multinational co-productions. Her career highlights include The Brides of Fu Manchu, Is Paris Burning?, Roger Corman’s The Young Racers, Apache Gold and Paris Blues. From the end of the Sixties on, she worked mostly in German TV. she died aged 81.
Hank Von Hell
Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby was the frontman for high-camp Norwegian punk band Turbonegro, which formed in the 1980s but didn’t really hit their stride until after they had disbanded in 1998. The band broke up because of Von Hell’s heroin addiction; once he cleaned up, they reunited in 2002 and had their biggest international success at this time. The band once again came to a halt in 2010 – this time, ironically, because Von Hell’s new lifestyle clashed with the requirements of rock ‘n’ roll excess (they would later continue with a new line-up). He would go on to form a new band, work as a solo artist and become a celebrity in Norway, appearing as a judge on the Idol series and writing the Norwegian Eurovision entry of 2019. he credited Scientology with helping him kick drug addiction, which raised a few eyebrows. His death remains a mystery – he was found in a public park and rumours spread that he had taken his own life, something his manager denied, instead blaming his years of drug abuse even though they were long in the past. He died aged 49.
Bunny Wailer was a Jamaican musician, one of the original members of The Wailers alongside Bob Marley and Peter Tosh back in 1963. He carried on with various incarnations of the band into the 1970s, when he began his own solo career that ran concurrently with the group. However, as the band increasingly came to be seen as Marley’s backing group, he left in 1973. As a solo artist, he mixed reggae with soul and disco but maintained a traditional sound through much of his career. He died of complications from a stroke, aged 73.
Carla Wallenda was the daughter of daredevil Karl Wallenda and a part of the family circus troupe popularly known as The Flying Wallendas, who were known for their risky – sometimes fatal – stunts carried out without any sort of net or other safety equipment. Less famous than other family members, Carla nevertheless played a major part in the family shows and at the age of 81 was still climbing poles and performing acrobatics on the top of them. She died – of natural causes – aged 85.
Jessica Walter was an American actor who was probably best known for her appearance as the obsessive stalker in the 1971 film Play Misty for Me, where she managed to be both terrifying and sympathetic as the deranged fan fixated on Clint Eastwood’s radio DJ. She’d already had a long career at that point, working extensively in television with guest spots on shows like Flipper, The Fugitive, Naked City, Route 66, The Defenders, Mission: Impossible and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour since 1962. Her Sixties films included Grand Prix, Lilith and The Group, but it was the Eastwood film that was her biggest role. In the 1970s and 1980s, she worked extensively on television, appearing on Columbo, Alias Smith and Jones, Cannon, Banecek, Mannix, The Magician, Wonder Woman, Scruples, Knots Landing, Three’s a Crowd, Murder She Wrote, Amy Prentiss and Trapper John, M.D. amongst others, as well as the movies Home for the Holidays, Victory at Entebbe, Vampire, Airport 79 The Concorde, Spring Fever, The Flamingo Kid, Tapeheads and Ghost in the Machine. She was the original voice of Chucky in Child’s Play before being replaced by Brad Dourif. Her relentless TV work continued through the 1990s and 2000s and in 2003 she became one of the stars of Arrested Development and in 2009 joined the cast of animated show Archer. She died aged 80.
Norman J. Warren
Rusty Warren was known as ‘the mother of the sexual revolution’ due to her risque comedy songs, recorded on a series of albums issued between 1959 and 1969. She began as a regular lounge singer before developing her comedy persona, where she would discuss sex from a female perspective – daring stuff in the 1950s. Her most famous record is Knockers Up! from 1960 and this set the scene for her career – raunchy but never blue, with humorous observations on sex and relationships. Her other recordings include Songs for Sinners, Sex-x-ponent and Bounce Your Boobies. She made a few other recordings in the mid-1970s, though times by then had changed and her once-controversial humour now seemed rather quaint. She continued to perform live in Las Vegas well into the 1980s, however. She died aged 91.
Peter Watson-Wood was a British film producer who was involved in a curious assortment of films, most of which came and went without anyone noticing – did you know that there had been a live-action feature film reboot of Tales of the Riverbank with Stephen Fry, Steve Coogan and Jim Broadbent in 2008? He was a producer on Dream Demon and The Wicker Tree and also worked on Robin Hardy’s obscure film The Bulldance, assorted bad British comedy films, some terrible ‘geezer’ movies and two TV movies about Princess Diana. He died aged 92.
Charlie Watts was the drummer with the Rolling Stones from their formation in 1963 until his death. He’d already been playing with Blues Incorporated when he joined the band and brought his jazz influences to their blues sound, which made him stand out from the powerhouse drummers that began to emerge in the late 1960s. Watt’s influence within the band should not be underestimated – as well as drumming, he contributed artwork to album covers, designed stage sets and came up with promotional ideas. Jazz remained his passion throughout his career and he was renowned as a snappy dresser and a steadying influence on the rest of the band – less the rock ‘n’ roll wildman and more the consummate musician. he married Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964 and the couple remained together for the rest of his life. In 2021, illness forced him to leave the band’s tour – while existing dates had to be filled with another drummer, you might think that the loss of such an important and much-loved founding member might be a sign to finally bow out with dignity. Watts died aged 80.
George Wein was a fairly unsuccessful jazz musician, with several unremarkable recordings to his name. His real talents lay in promotion. In 1954, he organised the first Newport Jazz Festival and the event would go on to become one of the biggest and most important events on the jazz music calendar. He was also involved in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles during the 1960s. He became one of the leading figures in the jazz scene and both a tireless promoter and historian of the music. He died aged 95.
Lina Wertmüller was, despite what her name might make you think, an Italian filmmaker. Her work in the 1960s and 1970s straddled the boundary between arthouse and commercial cinema, though in truth her work mostly leaned towards the latter, with many of her ideas being influenced by her mentor Federico Fellini, with whom she worked as an assistant. Her early movies like I Basilischi and Let’s Talk About Men were serious dramas while Rita the Mosquito and its sequel Don’t Sting the Mosquito were musical comedies and The Belle Starr Story was a western. She began to find her style in the early 1970s working with actor Giancarlo Giannini on dramas like The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy, All Screwed Up and Swept Away – lighthearted romantic dramas that explored relationships. She’d make a similar film with American backing in 1978 – A Night Full of Rain was not a commercial success and did not lead to a Hollywood career. Her film Seven Beauties is her most controversial but also perhaps most interesting and daring work, transposing her usual narrative to a WW2 Nazi concentration camp. Her post-Seventies work is less interesting, with only Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) attracting the same attention as her earlier work. Nevertheless, all her movies are worth a look. She died aged 93.
Kurt Westergaard was one of the cartoonists working for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten who drew cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 2005. Westergaard’s image, rather crassly showing Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, was one of the most controversial of all the images, which led to outrage, violence and murder by Islamist fanatics. His life after this was under constant and genuine threat – in 2008, three Muslims were arrested for plotting to kill him and in 2010, a Somali would-be assassin broke into his house armed with an axe and a knife – Westergaard fled to a panic room with his five-year-old granddaughter and the man was shot by police as he hammered on the room door. That same year, Al-Qaeda issued a hit-list of people deemed to have offended Islam, which he appeared on. Despite all the threats against him, Westergaard eventually died peacefully in his sleep, aged 86.
Betty White was an American actor and comedian who had a staggeringly long career – she made her radio debut aged eight in 1930 and was still working in 2019, making her (according to the Guinness Book of Records) the person with the longest career in entertainment. Listing her projects would be a fool’s errand – she was best-known for long stints on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls but she worked non-stop in TV as well as making movies. As she got older and defied death, she became something of a national treasure in America – plans were afoot for a huge celebration of her life on her one-hundredth birthday next year. She died aged 99.
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams was an American actor best known for his work on the TV series The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. During the production of the former show, he took method acting a little too seriously, using his drug-dealer character’s name instead of his own and becoming hooked on cocaine. His film work includes Bringing Out the Dead, Mercenary for Justice, Gone Baby Gone, The Road, Snitch, 12 Years a Slave, Inherent Vice, the Robocop remake, the 2016 Ghostbusters, Assassin’s Creed and the Superfly remake, while his extensive TV work included appearances in Law & Order, The Sopranos, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Lovecraft Country. He died after overdosing on a combination of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine, aged 54.
Clarence Williams III
Clarence Williams III was an American actor who built his career on the stage but first achieved fame on the TV series The Mod Squad that he starred in for five years. After a return to the stage for much of the 1970s, he returned to film and TV with roles in Purple Rain (where he played Prince’s father), Twin Peaks, 52 Pick-Up, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Sugar Hill (the 1994 version), Tales from the Hood, The Legend of 1900, Reindeer Games, American Gangster, Hill Street Blues, The Cosby Show, Miami Vice, Tales from the Crypt, Law & Order, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Empire. He also appeared in ten instalments of Hallmark‘s Mystery Woman film series. He died of colon cancer, aged 81.
Mary Wilson was a founding member of The Supremes and the last original member of the group until it disbanded in 1977. After a slow start, they became one of the most successful Motown acts of the 1960s and would continue to have hit singles after the 1970 departure of Diana Ross. By the mid-Seventies, the group had effectively become Wilson’s solo project and when she left in 1977, attempts to keep the band going were unsuccessful. Her solo career was not as successful and for much of the 1980s she focused on musical theatre – and a large chunk of her 1990s career was consumed with legal battles over the use of the Supremes name and became a leading campaigner in the ‘Truth in Music Advertising’ campaign that saw the majority of US states enacting legislation to ensure that no act can use a group name without at least one original member – a nice idea but one fraught with issues about what the ‘authentic’ line-up of a band might be. She also wrote four autobiographies. She died aged 76.
S. Clay Wilson
S. Clay Wilson was one of the greats of the underground comic scene. He was a regular contributor to Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix and other underground publications of the 1960s through to the 1980s. His work was noted for its extreme content, both sexual and violent – sometimes both. Wilson never compromised his work in search of more commercial success – his lack of restraint inspired others to let loose and explore their wildest fantasies. In the 2000s, Wilson provided illustrations for German editions of William Burroughs novels and produced books based on the work of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, exploring the darkness of fairy tales. His career was curtailed in 2008 by a mysterious brain injury – he was unconscious on the street with no explanation for his head injuries – he relapsed in 2012 and never really recovered. He died aged 79.
Olli Wisdom was a goth pioneer in the early 1980s, being the frontman of Specimen and co-founding legendary club night The Batcave in London. Like several other people in the goth scene of the time, Wisdom had distinct hippy leanings that came out later in the decade as he discovered early techno-psych parties in Thailand. He relocated to Goa and during the 1990s he moved into DJing and recording dance music, most frequently under his Space Tribe banner (which also encompassed a record label and clothing company). He died aged 63.
Jane Withers was an American actor who was pushed into show business at the age of two when her archetypal stage mother signed her up for ballet lessons. Even her name had been picked so it would fit on a marquee easily and by the age of three, she was on the radio with her own show. Her mother then took her off to Hollywood when she turned six and in 1932 secured a brief film role, the first of many extra roles she had over the next few years. W.C. Fields picked her out of the pack to a featured moment in It’s a Gift in 1934 and soon after that, she had a supporting role in the Shirley Temple vehicle Bright Eyes. This led to a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox and extensive – if very forgettable – film work for the rest of the decade in which she was often the top-billed star. She was a precocious child, offering her input to writers and directors and making casting suggestions. In fairness, she probably knew more about what worked than they did. In the 1940s, as she grew older, the studio struggled to find more mature roles for her – in 1941 she wrote the screenplay for Small Town Deb and as payment asked the studio to set up fifteen $1500 art scholarships for children. While her on-screen persona was often that of the spoilt brat, in real life she was clearly rather different and seemed to have handled the pressures of her ambitious mother and early stardom well. She was also a pioneer of licensing – as early as 1936, you could buy Jane Withers Dolls and was the fictionalised heroine of several children’s mystery novels. In 1947, aged 21, she retired from acting but a decade later returned to Los Angeles with the idea of becoming a director. Instead, she was drawn back into acting with a role in Giant. She then worked regularly in film and TV but became best-known for her role as Josephine the Plumber in a series of commercials that ran from 1963 to 1974. She had one of the world’s largest doll collections and planned to open a museum in the 1980s, though this never came to fruition. She died aged 95.
Henry Woolf was one of those actors who you recognise immediately, even if you can’t quite place a name to him. He was often cast as rather seedy characters like Steptoe and Son‘s Frankie Barrow – but he always played them with a certain twinkle in his eye. He was a lifelong friend of Harold Pinter, having commissioned Pinter’s first play The Room in 1957 and the two would collaborate on several projects over many years. His film work includes roles of varying sizes in A Home of Your Own, San Ferry Ann, Marat/Sade, The Lion in Winter, The Bed Sitting Room, Alfred the Great, Figures in a Landscape, The Ruling Class, Savage Messiah, The Love Pill, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rogue Male, Joseph Andrews, Paul Morrissey’s Hound of the Baskervilles, Superman III, Gorky Park and Maid to Order. He had a knack for comedy and worked on Rutland Weekend Television and The Rutles film with Eric Idle, as well as hosting educational show Words and Pictures. In 1978, he relocated to Canada and took a job teaching drama at the University of Alberta. He would continue to act and direct theatrical productions (including an all-female Twelfth Night). He died aged 91.
Martin Wright was the guitarist with Intastella, a Manchester band that had the misfortune of emerging in the wake of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays without really having any musical connection to them – lumped into an artificial ‘Madchester’ scene by the music press, they were always doomed to be dropped (as indeed they were from a major-label contract with MCA) as soon as tastes changed. A pity, as much like World of Twist, they were more interesting than many of the copycat bands they were placed alongside. His age at death is unknown.
Saadi Yacef was an Algerian independence fighter, becoming one of the leaders of the National Liberation Front during the battle against French occupation in the 1950s. He was captured in 1957 and sentenced to death but was later pardoned by the French government in 1958. He would be dogged by accusations that he became an informer for the French military while in prison, though the stories were never confirmed and many have suggested that the claims were simply French propaganda aimed at undermining his reputation. He wrote his memoirs in prison and would go on to play himself in the film The Battle of Algiers. He died aged 93.
Rusty Young was an American musician, known for playing steel guitar as the frontman for country-rock band Poco, from the band’s founding in 1968 until his death of a heart attack, aged 75.
Wanda Young was a singer with Motown girl group The Marvelettes, who had a big hit in 1961 with Please Mr Postman (a song subsequently covered by The Beatles and The Carpenters). Young took over lead vocals in 1965 and fronted hits like Don’t Mess with Bill and The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game. The band broke up in 1970 and she began a solo career that was dogged by substance abuse issues and scandal – she witnessed her sister being shot dead in the family home, Motown tried to pass her debut album off as a Marvelettes LP leading to friction with the other band members and she faded from view during the decade. She made an unsuccessful comeback in the 1990s and in 2015, her biological daughter – who had been adopted by an aunt – was also murdered. Her life would seem to have been a difficult one. She died aged 78.
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