Categotry Archives: Actors

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Charles Rocket

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Categories: Actors

crocket.jpgCharles Claverie, a comedic actor who appeared on the big and small screens, committed suicide on Oct. 7. He was 56.

Born in Bangor, Maine, Claverie studied filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. A love of the limelight and an electrifying presence on-camera helped him to break into broadcast journalism — even though he had no media experience.

Claverie spent the 1970s working as a reporter for WPRI-Channel 12 in Rhode Island, as a weekend anchor for WTVF-Channel 5 in Nashville and as an anchor/weatherman for KOAA-Channel 5 in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also hosted “Super Show,” a daily afternoon program that featured reruns of classic TV shows from the 1950s.

Claverie’s big break came in 1980 when he joined the cast of the NBC show “Saturday Night Live.” He appeared in numerous skits during the 1980-1981 season and provided news commentary on “Weekend Update.” His trademark sign-off was: “I’m Charles Rocket. Good night and watch out.”

While performing in a spoof of the famous “Who Shot JR?” plotline from the soap opera “Dallas,” Claverie uttered the phrase, “I’d like to know who the fuck did it” on the air. When viewers complained about the use of profanity on the show, NBC apologized for the incident. Claverie was also terminated the following week, though he did appear in one last telecast.

Claverie adopted several stage names during the course of his three-decade career in show business — such as Charles Hamburger and Charles Kennedy — but he was best known as Charles Rocket. Claverie acted in more than 30 TV shows, including “Moonlighting,” “Max Headroom,” “Touched by an Angel,” “The X-Files,” “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He also appeared in the films “Earth Girls Are Easy,” “Dumb and Dumber” and “Dances With Wolves,” and did voice work for the video games “Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter” and “Age of Mythology.”

Claverie was found on Oct. 7 in a Canterbury, Conn., field. His throat was slit, and a knife was found next to the body. The state medical examiner determined the cause of death to be self-inflicted.

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Bob Denver

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Categories: Actors

bdenver.jpgRobert Denver, the star of the classic TV show “Gilligan’s Island,” died on Sept. 2 of complications related to cancer treatment. He was 70.
A native of New Rochelle, N.Y., Denver studied law and political science at Loyola University. He taught private school in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and worked as a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service, but dreamed of becoming an actor.
Denver trained with the Del Ray Players in Los Angeles and made his first theatrical appearance in the play “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.” He acted in the Jimmy Stewart/Sandra Dee vehicle, “A Private’s Affair,” then landed the role of Maynard G. Krebs, the bearded beatnik best friend of the lead character in the TV show, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”
Denver attained celebrity status in 1964 when he was tapped to lead an ensemble cast in “Gilligan’s Island,” a situational comedy about seven people shipwrecked on an uncharted tropical island. As the bumbling first mate of the S.S. Minnow, Denver served as the straight man to Alan Hale Jr., who played the ship’s skipper, Jonas Grumby. The pair’s slapstick interactions frequently drew comparisons to Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, and Laurel and Hardy.
Although “Gilligan’s Island” was critically panned and canceled by CBS after its third season, the show’s 98 episodes have been broadcast in nearly continuous reruns for the past 40 years. “Gilligan’s Island” also spawned two animated series, with Denver providing his character’s voice, and three made-for-TV movies.
Denver also appeared in the TV shows “The Good Guys,” “Dusty’s Trail” and “Far Out Space Nuts,” but never quite managed to separate himself from his Gilligan persona. In later years, he starred in the Broadway production of “Play It Again, Sam,” published an autobiography and co-hosted a syndicated radio show with his third wife, Dreama Perry. Denver’s first two marriages ended in divorce. He also fathered four children.
“Bob was my greatest teacher, my everything. The tapestry of the life we created together will fill my heart forever. Everything good in my life is a result of living with this intelligent, gentle man. I am so proud to have been his wife,” Dreama said, in a statement published on the Web.
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Matthew McGrory

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Categories: Actors, Extraordinary People, Hollywood

mmcgrory2.jpgMatthew McGrory, an actor who starred in nearly a dozen Hollywood pictures, died on Aug. 9. He was 32.

A native of West Chester, Pa., McGrory weighed 15 pounds and was 24 inches long at his birth. By the time he reached the first grade, he was over 5 feet tall. From that point on, all of his clothes and shoes had to be handmade at great expense to accommodate his growing dimensions.

McGrory played the drums and attended law school at Widener University, then broke into show business on Howard Stern’s radio show in the 1990s. His deep voice was a hit with listeners — and with people in the industry who hired him to appear in music videos for Iron Maiden and Marilyn Manson.

Acting offers followed as well. McGrory played a human Sasquatch in “Bubble Boy,” Tiny Firefly in “House of 1000 Corpses” and its sequel “The Devil’s Rejects,” an alien in “Men in Black II” and Karl the Giant in the box office hit “Big Fish.” He also did guest appearances on the TV shows “The Pretender,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Charmed.”

McGrory was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world’s largest feet (size 29 1/2) and for being the world’s tallest actor (7 feet, 6 inches). At the time of his death, he was working on a biopic of wrestler-turned-actor Andre the Giant.

“Like Andre, sometimes he just wanted to be able to walk around and be a regular guy and not have people ask him how tall he is or how much he weighs. He wanted to ride in a sports car, and he loved making movies, but it made him sad that he couldn’t even go to theaters to watch them because he was too big for the seats,” director Drew Sky said.

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Eddie Bunker

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Categories: Actors, Criminals, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

Edward Bunker Jr., a career criminal and author, died on July 19 from complications of surgery. He was 71.
The Hollywood, Calif., native was the son of stagehand Edward Bunker Sr., and dancer/chorus girl Sarah Bunker. A born troublemaker, Eddie was only three years old when he destroyed a neighbor’s incinerator with a claw hammer. The following year, he set fire to his family’s garage.
Bunker spent the rest of his childhood attending reform schools and running away from foster homes. By the time he reached his teens, Bunker had become an accomplished thief, drug dealer and thug. He would eventually serve up to 18 years behind bars for various crimes, such as extortion, assault, forgery and armed robbery.
Using his experiences as the backdrop for fiction, Bunker began writing hard-boiled crime novels in prison. He sold his blood to pay for postage and submitted his manuscripts to dozens of magazines and publishers. When his first novel, “No Beast So Fierce,” was released in 1973, Bunker decided to reenter mainstream society as a professional writer. He was paroled two years later.
Over the next three decades, Bunker wrote screenplays (“Straight Time,” “Animal Factory”) and books (“Little Boy Blue,” “Dog Eat Dog” and “Education of a Felon”), and befriended authors William Styron and James Ellroy. He received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay “Runaway Train,” which was based on a story by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, and won a Macallan Dagger Prize for his autobiography, “Mr. Blue: Memoirs of a Renegade.”
Bunker also acted in more than 20 movies, including “The Running Man,” “Tango and Cash” and “The Longest Yard.” In Quentin Tarantino’s violent debut, “Reservoir Dogs,” he played the character Mr. Blue.

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James Doohan

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Categories: Actors, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

jdoohan.jpg James Montgomery Doohan, the veteran actor who spent several decades saving the U.S.S. Enterprise from disaster, died on July 20 of pneumonia. He was 85.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Doohan attended the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School. His father, William Doohan, was an abusive alcoholic who made life miserable for his wife Sarah and their four children. To escape the old man’s wrath, James left home at 19 and enlisted in the Canadian Army at the outbreak of World War II. He attained the rank of captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery, and on June 6, 1944, landed with Allied forces on Juno Beach, Normandy. Doohan was struck by seven bullets in the D-Day battle, and doctors later amputated the middle finger of his right hand.
Upon his return to Canada, Doohan enrolled in a drama class. His commanding presence and ear for dialogue earned him a two-year scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where he studied the craft alongside Leslie Nielsen and Tony Randall. For the next decade, Doohan found steady work as a character actor in films and television, but his big break came in 1966 when he adopted a Scottish accent and landed the role of Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the classic science fiction series, “Star Trek.”
As the chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise, Doohan kept the crew from getting blown up, captured by aliens or trapped on uncharted planets. His frazzled demeanor in the midst of crisis never stopped him from efficiently working the ship’s particle beam transporter whenever Capt. Kirk or one of the other crew members demanded (in some variation): “Beam me up, Scotty.”
Doohan remained on the show for its three-season run, provided dozens of voices to characters on “Star Trek: The Animated Series” and appeared in seven “Star Trek” movies. His dramatic exploits made him a popular speaker on the science fiction/fantasy convention circuit and inspired the Milwaukee School of Engineering to award him an honorary degree in 1993. Doohan’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
Married three times, Doohan was also the father of nine children. In his spare time, he collaborated with author S.M. Stirling on three science fiction novels (“The Rising,” “The Privateer,” “The Independent Command”), and wrote his 1996 autobiography, “Beam Me Up, Scotty.” He retired from public life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004. Per his request, Doohan’s ashes will be blasted into outer space later this year.
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