Log Entries: 12/31/2015 (Part 1)

AS THE YEAR 2015 HAS UNFOLDED, and the world has turned, I have neglected to properly pay respect to the loss of many notable, talented people, who contributed in the genres of science fiction and fantasy.  This is primarily because there have been so many notable individuals to pass away, over the previous year.  And as a result, I now find myself backed-up with a looooong list, that truly needs to be addressed.  Therefore, out of respect for these talented entertainers, I present Part 1 of a special 2-part blog post. 

May they live forever among the stars and the many realms of the fantastic … Grace 2LADIES FIRST … TWO ALUMNI OF THE ORIGINAL STAR TREK have passed away.  The First, Grace Lee Whitney, played Janice Rand from the 1960’s to the 1990’s.  But she began her career in entertainment in her teens, as a singer on a Detroit radio show, thereafter moving on to Chicago and opening for Billie Holiday, and later touring with bandleader Spike Jones.  Controlled ExperimentEventually, she found her way to Broadway, and stared in the show, Top Banana; reprising her role in the movie adaptation.  Moving to L.A., she had scenes with Jack Lemon in Some Like it Hot, and uncredited roles in House of Wax and Pocketful of Miracles.  And segueing into Television, she secured memorable roles in The Outer Limits, and westerns like The Virginian and The Rifleman.  In time, Gene Roddenberry would cast her in roles in The Lieutenant and Police Story.  And that led to him casting her in the role of Janice Rand for the first season of Star TrekGrace Lee Whitney Star Trek Pilot promoAccording to Roddenberry, her character was designed to be a nod to Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films.  Other more contemporary comparisons would be the David Addison & Maddy Hayes relationship, as seen on Moonlighting, and the Fox Mulder & Dana Skully relationship, as seen on The X-Files.  Her character, Yeoman Janice Rand, and Captain James Kirk would be attracted to one another, but never actually act on those feelings.  And although it was her character in photographs that was used to promote the show before it initially aired, Whitney was eventually let go after only a handful of episodes, and her character was gone from the original series show, for good.  Her ex-boyfriend Harlan Ellison attempted to get her back on the show by writing her character into his teleplay for City on the Edge of Forever, but it didn’t gel with Rodennberry, or NBC.  Rand stayed gone.  She was given the explanation that there was no room for her character.  The ‘too many blondes on the show’ excuse.  “They didn’t want to give the fans the idea he (Kirk) was in love with Janice Rand. That would limit him. They wanted him to go out and fool around. So, I was axed.”  Whitney commented.  But her firing had also followed on the heels of her having been sexually assaulted by an executive, who had some presence on the show.  And the show was also having budget problems, and needed to cut costs.  Whitney herself later offered that an another possible explanation may have been her drinking, and her addiction to amphetamines; which she was taking to keep her weight down so she could fit into Rand’s tight uniform.Grace TMP In 1976, DeForest Kelley, having felt bad that his character became more popular than hers (which was not intended,) and that he had essentially swallowed up her salary with a pay increase, spotted her on the employment line in Los Angeles, and advised her that fans had been asking for her at conventions.  She seized the opportunity, and her character was eventually included by Roddenberry in the development of a new Star Trek show, subtitled, Phase II.  When that fizzled out, she was brought aboard Star Trek: The Motion Picture to reprise the role of Janice Rand, who was no longer a ‘Yeoman’ in Starfleet, but now a ‘Chief Petty Officer.’  She again played Rand (this time a mere cameo role,) in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.  Not RandSporting new red locks, Janice Rand shakes her head at the damage done to the Enterprise (re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) from a Spacedock observation lounge.  Apparently, Director Leonard Nimoy intended this to be seen as ‘another’ character, and not Rand.  But fans had other ideas.  Nimoy later invited her to return for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  This appearance made Rand, like Christine Chapel, somewhat more of a utility to the plot.  The position of ‘Communications Officer’ gave her character more of a presence than she had had in the previous film, and her role and dialogue were more ‘plot-centric,’ and therefore, memorable.  Grace 3Her next appearance in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country found her functioning as a ‘Lieutenant Commander’ aboard the Excelsior, for Captain Sulu.  A role and function she repeated for an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, titled ‘Flashback.’  Whitney’s son stated to the media that she wanted to be known more as a survivor of addiction than as a cast member of Star Trek, but Janice Rand’s gonna be hard to forget.  She died in her home on May 1st.  She was 85 years old.Grace 4THE SECOND STAR TREK ALUM, ARLENE GRETA SAX (MARTEL,) was born in The Bronx in 1936.  As a teen she attended the Performing Arts High School, in New York, and later studied at The Actors Studio.  Arlene DemonMoving to L.A., and residing on ‘Martel Ave.’ in West Hollywood, she took the street name as her stage name, and soon got roles on Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, Bewitched, Hogan’s Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie, The Fugitive, Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, The Monkees, The Outler Limits (Demon With a Glass Hand,) The Six Million Dollar Man, Columbo, The Rockford Files, and Battlestar Galactica.  But it was Star Trek that left her with a permanent imprint in pop-culture.  Season 2’s, ‘Amok Time,’ was an episode written by noted science fiction author Theodore (Ted) Sturgeon.  And it is considered one of the best of the entire series.  Arlene STIn it, Spock convinces Captain Kirk to return to his home world of Vulcan for a mating ritual, that his race requires to maintain sanity.  After beaming down, he is faced with his intended bride, T’Pring, played by Martel — and suddenly, things get complicated.  Once Star Trek conventions became a thing, Martel became a regular, and never stopped making the occasional appearance.  Right up to her death from a heart attack in August of last year, in Santa Monica, California.  Martel was not only an actor, but also an author, and reportedly lifelong friends with the likes of Anthony Quinn and Sidney Lumet — and dated both James Dean and Carey Grant.  She worked hard and had adventures here and there.  Arlene Martel was 78 years old.  Rest well, and in peace, T’Pring.Arlene 1PETER (NIGEL) TERRY was reportedly the first baby born in Bristol, England, following the end of the Second World War.  Nigel 2He developed an interest in acting, drawing, and painting, while in grade school, and eventually joined the National Youth Theater.  In the early 60’s, he attended London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, and later joined the Oxford Meadow Players.  Mostly a stage actor, he made a handful of film and TV appearances, including: The Lion in Winter, Doctor Who, Highlander: The Series, Troy, and most notably … he played King Arthur in John Boorman’s Excalibur, in 1981.  He passed away from emphysema in April.  He was 69. Nigel Terry as King Arthur in the 1981 film Excalibur.YOU KNOW WHO RICHARD DYSART IS.  You may not know that you know — Nope, don’t argue.  If you see a photo of him, you will hear his voice, and that voice will say, ‘Mac!‘  That’s right, he’s that guy from John Carpenter’s The Thing: ‘Copper.’  DysartDysart was born in Boston in 1929, and attended Gould Academy in Maine, before serving four years in the Air Force during the Korean War.  Arriving in Los Angeles in the early 1960’s, he made many film and television appearances.  The mere mention of many of them brings his face and particularly, his voice, into your immediate memory.  Meteor, Pale Rider, The Terminal Man, Warning Sign, Wall Street, Hard Rain, Mask, The Hospital, The Hindenburg, Back to the Future Part III,  Batman: The Animated Series, L.A. Law … but specifically, John C’s The Thing (From Another World.)Dysart 2Sometimes you just wish you could thank these people in person for all the work they do that entertains you.  Thespian Richard Dysart died at his home in Santa Monica, in April, following a long illness.  He was 86 years old … AND GEOFFREY LEWIS IS ANOTHER STRONG ACTOR we lost recently.  Geoff 2A favorite of director Clint Eastwood, Geoffrey Bond Lewis was born in 1935, in Plainfield, New Jersey.  You will recognize him from Dillinger, High Plains Drifter, Every Which Way But Loose, Salem’s Lot, Bronco Billy, Night of the Comet, Fletch Lives, Tango & Cash, etc., etc., etc. Clint Eastwood offered the following condolence: “I was very saddened by the news of Geoffrey’s passing.  I worked with him on many films and thought he was a wonderful actor and terrific performer. He had the most expressive face—which made working with him so fun. Geoffrey will be greatly missed.”  Lewis was also a father of 10, count ’em, TEN !  With actress Juliette Lewis, being his most well known off-spring.  He was a terrific actor who died in April, at his home in Woodland Hills, California.  Probably with a smile on his face.  Whenever fans recognized him, he always smiled.  I can testify to that.  Geoff was 79.Geoff 1AND SADLY, LOUIS JOURDAN HAS ALSO passed away.  Born Louis Robert Gendre in Marseille, France, in 1921, Jourdan’s family moved to Cannes in 1931, and there he learned English by communicating with the tourists.  He fell into acting at the age of fifteen, and began performing in Paris, just before the Second World War.  Soon after, the Germans had him digging ditches, and he was ordered to cooperate and act in German propaganda films.  He refused, and joined the French Resistance, instead.  Jourdan the Paradine CaseAfter the War ended, Jourdan was spotted by Producer David O. Selznick in a French film, and was put under contract, immediately.  His first American film was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case.  His looks led to him often being cast as a leading man, and as a direct result, he was routinely confused with the characters he portrayed.  Said Jourdan, “People look at me, as if I were a naughty weekend.”  In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Jourdan was an introvert by nature, and remained happily married for fifty years.  Swamp ThingHe also loved classical music.  Said Jourdan, “I need music every day.  If I could not act any more I should be unhappy, but I would survive.  I could not go on, though, without music.  It is more important to me than work.”  Jourdan was top-billed in a number of American and UK releases in the 1950’s and 60’s, before finding his way to Broadway and the London Stage, and then American Television and the BBC.  He had a long resume, filled with work from France, the UK, and the U.S.  Jourdan OctopussySome of his more notable performances to American viewers, include: Letter From an Unknown Woman, Gigi, Columbo (Murder Under Glass,) Swamp Thing, and the Roger Moore James Bond outing, Octopussy.  A versatile actor, Jourdan is one of the only entertainers to ever have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  He died as his home in Beverly Hills, in February.  He was 93.Jourdan 4EDWARD HERRMANN was an actor’s actor.  Herrmann 3He did comedy, he did drama, he did narration, he did it all.  And he never stopped working, bouncing from theater to screen, and genre to genre.  And throughout it all, he maintained his creative integrity.  Edward Kirk Herrmann was born in July of 1943. He grew up in Michigan, attending Bucknell University, before transferring to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, on a Fellowship.  His career began in theater in the early 1970’s, and segued into film and television in the late 70’s.  Herrmann 2He played a law student in James Bridges’, The Paper Chase, Roosevelt in two TV movies, Herman Munster in a made-for-TV film, and made appearances in The Great Waldo Pepper and The Great Gatsby (both with Robert Redford,) an episode of M.A.S.H., The Betsy, Warren Beatty’s Reds, the Kurt Russel/Goldie Hawn comedy, Overboard, a made-for-TV version of Ray Bradbury’s The Electric Grandmother, Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, The Man With One Red Shoe, Nixon, The Practice, Law & Order, RKO 281, Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock, and The History Channel show, Automobiles.  He passed away in December of last year, while hospitalized at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  The head vampire from the 80’s pop-culture classic, The Lost Boys, was 71 years old.Herrmann 1 ANOTHER STAR TREK ALUM, JOSEPH SARGENT worked best as a journeyman director.  He was one of the best, in fact.  ColossusBorn in 1925 as Giuseppe Danielle Sorgente, in New Jersey, Sargent fought during the Battle of the Bulge, in World War II.  Returning, he attended The Actors Studio, wishing to become an actor.  Unfortunately, he only garnered roles as a basic background extra.  But somehow, he managed to break into directing in the 50’s, and garnered credits such as Lassie, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, Kojak, The Invaders, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Star Trek (The Corbomite Maneuver.)  His breakthrough as a film director, however, came with helming the classic, Colossus: The Forbin Project.  And from there, he went on to take credits directing films such as The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (a project developed by Steven Spielberg,) White Lighting (another project that began as a Steven Spielberg film,) the Nicholas Meyer written TV film, The Night that Panicked America (based on Orson Welles’ infamous ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast,) the 1985 TV miniseries, Space, MacArthur, and Miss Evers Boys.  CorbomiteHe was nominated several times for his work in television, and won for 1973’s, The Marcus-Nelson Murders.  J. SargentAnd eventually, he was nominated, and won the Director’s Guild of America’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement award, twice.  First in 2005, for Something the Lord Made, and again in 2006 for Warm Springs.  And when he retired in 2010, he accepted an appointment as the Senior Filmmaker-in-Residence for the Directing program at the A.F.I. Conservatory in L.A.  Taking into account the best of the above mentioned achievements, we will forgive him for Jaws: The Revenge.  He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in Malibu, in December of last year.  He was 89 … ROBERT KINOSHITA IS NOT A NAME MANY WILL KNOW.  However, if you are sci-fi film and TV savvy — and I tell you he was the primary designer of ‘Robby’ in the film Forbidden Planet, and later, ‘Robot’ from the 1960’s TV show, Lost in Space — I bet I have your attention.  Robert 1Kinoshita was born in 1914 in L.A., and studied architecture as USC.  While there, he saw an exhibit of work by school alumni who were working for the movie studios.  And he knew instantly that’s what he wanted to do.  But with the outbreak of WWII, Kinoshita and his new wife were interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, in Arizona.  After the War, the designer spent several years studying further, and honing his talent for just the job he wanted.  And he got it.  Now, it should be stated that Kinoshita didn’t build ‘Robby the Robot’ all by himself.  In fact, he had a team of professionals working to construct his most famous creation.  But the design was Kinoshita’s.  F.P.At the time, he was head draftsman at the MGM art department, and had his whole department generating drawings and general designs on behalf of the film’s art director.  But according to Kinoshita himself, he upped the bar on his own behalf.  “We had five guys designing, and we just knocked out, must have been a couple thousand drawings.  So I said, ‘The hell with it, I’m going to make me a model.'”  Little did he know then …   In 1965, Irwin Allen hired him to be the overall art director for his show, Lost in SpaceLost in SpaceHe designed the ship’s ‘Robot.’ (Based almost entirely on his earlier design for ‘Robby.‘)  And that creation, now well-known for uttering the phrase, “Danger, Will Robinson !  Danger !” wasn’t his only noteworthy design on Lost in Space.  He also designed the ‘Jupiter 2’ spacecraft, along with a whole host of other sets and accoutrements, along the show’s multiple season path.  He was also art director on Highway Patrol, Bat Masterson, Science Fiction Theater, Men Into Space, Sea Hunt, Hawaii Five-O, and Kojak.  And in 1961, he contributed to the design of the film The Phantom Planet.  In 2004, Kinoshita was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame by the Carnegie-Mellon Institute.  He died last December at the age of 100.  Poet George Herbert said living well is the best revenge.  Looks like Mr. Kinoshita exemplified that statement.Robert KinoshitaWHENEVER ANY TRUE SCIENCE-FICTION FAN THINKS OF ROD TAYLOR, they think of one specific film.  George Pal’s production of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.  The Time MachineRodney Sturt (Rod) Taylor was born in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, in 1930.  This surprises many people.  Especially since his accent never betrayed an Australian tongue.  And for most of his career, his Australian accent was nowhere to be heard.  Twilight ZoneIn fact, many of his friends and colleagues have reported that he simply lost it.  (His first performance as an Australian, would come along in 1963, acting alongside Louis Jourdan, in The V.I.P.’s.)  In fact, Taylor did a volume of work in Australian theater and radio, before he really broke into show business, in Hollywood.  He made his official film debut in King of the Coral Sea, in 1954, and played Israel Hands in a sequel to Disney’s Treasure Island, called Long John Silver.  Soon after, Taylor was on TV in the States, racking up roles, and preparing for his career in film.  GiantStrong supporting roles in various television shows and films (including a part in Raintree County, another in Giant, and a showstopping performance in an episode of the Twilight Zone,) led to his debut as a lead, in features.  The film The Time Machine was a huge hit, and ‘Rod Taylor’ quickly became one of those ‘household name’ actors, that everybody hears about, regardless of whether they watch movies, or not.  He segued into a variety of roles, including playing opposite Doris Day in The Glass Bottom Boat, voicing a character in Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmations, and thereafter found himself working with Alfred Hitchcock on the classic suspense film, The Birds.The Birds  In the early 1970’s, he was reportedly up for a role opposite Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.  But his height was taken into consideration, and suddenly he had lost the role to actor John Savage.  As time passed, Taylor amassed a longer list of television and film appearances, including The Train Robbers with John Wayne, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point.  The great Rod Taylor ended his career with a sly and very successful cameo as Winston Churchill, in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious BastardsRod Taylor as ChurchillThe Time Traveler suffered a fatal heart attack in January, only days away from his 85th birthday.  Here’s to you, Mr. Taylor !  May your travels continue Rod 1