Categotry Archives: Actors

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In Memoriam: A Look Back At The People We Lost in 2013

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Categories: Actors, Extraordinary People, Government, Hollywood, Media, Politicians, Politics, Writers/Editors

hourglass.jpgSome people view obituaries as morbid stories, but in truth only one line of an obit deals with death. The rest of the story focuses on the amazing lives people lead. In 2013, these 13 obituaries were the stories that most resonated with me:

* Helen Thomas, reporter, columnist and dean of the White House Press Corps

* Abigail Van Buren, advice columnist

* Roger Ebert, movie critic

* Elmore Leonard, author

* Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the first black president of South Africa

* Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Britain

* Ed Koch, former New York City mayor

* Gary David Goldberg, TV producer

* Ray Harryhausen, special effects pioneer

* Tom Clancy, author

* Peter O’Toole, actor

* James Gandolfini, actor

* Jean Stapleton, actress

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Cory Monteith

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Categories: Actors

Cory MonteithCory Allan Michael Monteith, a Canadian actor best known for playing Finn Hudson on the hit Fox TV show “Glee,” was found dead on July 13 in a Vancouver hotel room.

He was 31.

Monteith’s body was discovered at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel shortly after noon. According to the Vancouver Police Department, he checked into the hotel on July 6 and was due to check out on Saturday. When he failed to do so, the staff went into the room and found him. Paramedics declared him dead on the scene.

The authorities said Monteith was alone at the time of his death, and there appeared to be no foul play. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

“…On behalf of the Vancouver Police, I want to pass on our condolences to the family, friends, castmates and millions of fans of Mr. Monteith,” acting police chief Doug LePard said in a statement. “As was the case in countless homes, I watched ‘Glee’ regularly with my daughters, and I know there will be shock and sadness in many households with the news of his tragic death.”

Born in Calgary, Alberta and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Monteith was the youngest son of Joe Monteith, who served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and Ann McGregor, an interior decorator. His parents divorced when he was very young, and Monteith struggled to deal with the change in his family life. That struggle led him to attend 16 different schools — including one for troubled teens — and abuse drugs and alcohol. To support his habit, he eventually dropped out of school and began stealing.

When Monteith was 19, his family and friends held an intervention. He checked into rehab, got clean and eventually received his high school diploma. He also launched an acting career, playing minor roles in the films “Final Destination 3″ and “Deck the Halls,” and guest-starring on several TV shows, including “Smallville,” “Supernatural” and “Stargate SG-1.”

Monteith’s big break came in 2009 when he landed the role of Finn Hudson, a football player-turned glee club singing star on the show “Glee.” The part earned him a legion of fans known as “Gleeks” and a Teen Choice Award in 2011. The show’s cast also won a Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble in a comedy.

When Monteith wasn’t working on the show, he and the cast performed live shows in the U.S., Canada and Europe. In his spare time, he enjoyed hockey, basketball, surfing and playing the drums. He also stars in the upcoming independent film “All the Wrong Reasons.”

Monteith returned for another stint of rehab in March, but appeared to be healthy and in good spirits last month.

Adam Shankman, who frequently directed episodes of “Glee,” took to Twitter to express his sadness at Monteith’s death.

“Goodbye my amazing and beautiful friend. The lights in my world just grew dimmer. The world just lost one of our best. I love u so much…”

Monteith is survived by his parents, older brother Shaun and girlfriend, actress and co-star Lea Michele.

Photo by Eva Rinaldi. Used with permission.

Story originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

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Peter Moore

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Categories: Actors, Media

pmoore.jpgPeter Moore, London’s official town crier for 31 years, died on December 20. Cause of death was not released. He was 70.
Town criers have a long history of serving the English citizenry with vocal proclamations. The first known broadcast occurred in 1066, when town criers shared news about the Battle of Hastings. Since literacy rates amongst the majority of the populace was low well into the late 19th century, town criers served as “talking newspapers” for the public, announcing the king’s edicts, advertising market days and generally spreading the news of the realm.
Although Moore was raised in central England, he ran away to London as a young man with dreams of becoming an actor. Bit parts came his way, including the role of the undertaker Mr. Sowerberry in the original stage production of the musical “Oliver!” in 1960, but steady acting work eluded him until 1978 when he was asked to serve as a town crier for an event. He took the job and found his niche.
Moore was a familiar sight on the streets of London, where he promoted the city’s attractions to tourists and residents alike. Clad in red and gold robes, white breeches, black boots and a feathered tricorn hat, he was easily recognizable in any crowd. Those who were too busy or distracted to see Moore certainly heard him for he would heartily begin every announcement with a boisterous “Oyez, Oyez” (roughly translated as “hark” or “listen”) and a ring of his bell, which was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the company that made Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.
Among his many titles, Moore was town crier to the mayor of London, the Greater London Authority, the city of Westminster and the London borough of Merton. He was also a freeman and liveryman of the city of London, deputy macebearer and town crier for the London borough of Southwark and tipstaff and town crier to the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames.
Moore’s motto was: “Have Bell, Will Travel,” and he took it to heart. In his role as the official town crier of London, Moore appeared at hundreds of public events, charity balls, openings and ceremonies in the United Kingdom and in countries all over the world. Friends described him as “larger than life,” “a workaholic” and a “people person,” attributes that served him well as the most recognized town crier in England. When asked about his proudest moment on the job, Moore said it was when he announced the 1982 birth of Prince William of Wales outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Although his later years were spent in poor health, Moore had no interest in retiring. He performed his last official engagement on Dec. 19 at a Christmas reception given by the mayor of Southwark. Moore was due to receive a lifetime achievement award during the New Year’s Day Parade in London, which he lead every year since 1987. With Moore gone, parade organizers decided to posthumously honor him with the award.
–Photo by Tony Clarke.

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Maila Nurmi

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Categories: Actors, Artists, Hollywood

mnurmi.jpgMaila Nurmi, an actress and artist who became the queen of the B-movie scene in Los Angeles, died on Jan. 10. Cause of death was not released. She was 85.

Born Maila Elizabeth Syrjaniemi in Petsamo, Finland, Nurmi immigrated to America when she was just a toddler. Although she grew up in Ohio, Nurmi moved to New York in her late teens to try and break into show business. The actors and artists she met in Manhattan persuaded her to change her name and head to Hollywood. For Nurmi, the trappings of stardom were simply too enticing to pass up.

While auditioning for roles, Nurmi worked as a chorus girl and pin-up model. In 1953, she won a costume contest at the annual Bal Caribe Masquerade, an event that brought her to the attention of KABC-TV Channel 7 program director Hunt Stromberg Jr. He tracked her down months later and offered her a job as the host of a late-night horror program.

That’s how Nurmi became Vampira, a gothic enchantress reminiscent of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons. Each week, the Black Madonna of Hollywood would appear on camera wearing a slinky black dress, blood-red lipstick and darkly mascaraed eyes, and introduce fright films like “Revenge of the Zombies” and “Devil Bat’s Daughter.”
Although “The Vampira Show” was canceled after about a year, Nurmi became a cult figure among B-movie buffs. Her legions of admirers launched fan clubs in her honor all over the world. Many felt she inspired the character of Morticia Addams on “The Addams Family,” which premiered about a decade later. Nurmi, however, believed her dark persona was stolen by Cassandra Peterson, an actress who created the horror movie hostess Elvira. She even filed a $10 million lawsuit against Peterson for pirating her trademark image, but lost the court battle.

Nurmi later appeared in several B-movies, including “Sex Kittens Go to College,” “The Beat Generation,” “The Magic Sword” and “The Big Operator.” She also made a memorable appearance in Ed Wood’s 1959 cult classic, “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” But these pictures didn’t pay the bills, and Nurmi was forced to support herself as a linoleum-layer, carpenter, housekeeper, clothing designer and antique shop owner. More recently, she painted pictures of Vampira that she sold on the Internet.

Privately, Nurmi was a self-described psychic with a talent for clairaudience, and a passionate advocate for animals rights. Her life story was chronicled in the 2006 documentary “Vampira: The Movie.”

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Lillian Ellison

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Categories: Actors, Sports, Writers/Editors

lellison.jpgMary Lillian Ellison, the first woman inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, died on Nov. 2 from complications of shoulder-replacement surgery. She was 84.

Born in the tiny community of Tookiedoo, S.C., Ellison was the youngest of 13 children and the only girl in the family. After her mother died when she was 10 years old, Ellison and her father began spending Tuesday evenings attending local professional wrestling matches. These nights away from her 12 brothers gave Ellison the opportunity to develop a relationship with her father; they also inspired her to conquer the male-dominated world of professional wrestling.

Ellison was just a teenager when she began working as a valet, a job that involved serving as both helper and eye candy to the male wrestlers. She worked her way up through the ranks, from wrestling promoter to trainer to manager, always demanding top dollar for her boys, most notably “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers.

In the late 1940s, Ellison decided to enter the ring herself. After training with Mildred Burke, a champion female wrestler, Ellison took to the squared circle. She adopted the name “The Fabulous Moolah” because the moniker perfectly described why she became a wrestler. “I want to wrestle for the moolah!” she’d often declare. When Burke retired in 1956, Ellison defeated Judy Grable in a tournament and won the “women’s world title.” She would retain her championship status for 28 years.

Although female wrestling used to be illegal in many states, Ellison was a star on the circuit. In the ring, the 5-foot-4-inch, 118 lb. wrestler had a huge personality and a vast repertoire of kicks and holds. Her signature move was called a “backbreaker,” but she would also do scissor kicks, monkey flips and clotheslines to keep her opponents from getting the upper hand. On her own, or alongside her partner in crime Mae Young, Ellison’s antics earned her the love — and enmity — of wrestling fans.

“Used to be, the crowd would always cheer for whoever I was going against. That was okay; I loved for the fans to hate me. It made me put on a better show. I’ll show you, I’d say to myself when I’d hear them call me ‘Bitch!’ or ‘SOB!’ — two fo my favorite, uh, nicknames,” she wrote in her 2002 autobiography, “The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle,” written with Larry Platt. The memoir also provided candid insights about the times she spent hanging out with celebrities such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Ellison became a mother at 14. She married and divorced five times, and once turned down a proposal from long-time boyfriend and country music singer Hank Williams. She never officially retired from the fighting circuit, despite suffering numerous broken bones over the years, and even wrestled a match on her 80th birthday. In 1995, she became the first woman to be inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame. Her career was later profiled in the 2004 documentary, “Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling.”

When she wasn’t performing or appearing at special events, Ellison was busy training generations of wrestlers at her school on Moolah Drive in Columbia, S.C. One of her most notable students was Katie “Diamond Lil” Glass, a professional midget wrestler who became Ellison’s adopted daughter. Ellison also had six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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