With each passing year, we lose more and more of the creative talent that contributed so much to so many classic films over the years. 2012 was no exception, as we lost some great ones, some of them much too soon:
Ernest Borgnine: From his stellar character work in films like “From Here to Eternity,” “The Wild Bunch,” and “Marty” (for which he won 1955’s Best Actor Oscar) to his television work as the star of “McHale’s Navy” (and later as Mermaid Man on “SpongeBob Squarepants”), Borgnine never stopped working for over 60 years. The Austin Classic Movies Examiner offers up a rundown of Ernie’s career highlights in “Ernest Borgnine’s greatest hits.”
Dick Clark: In addition to his television empire, Dick also ventured into film as an actor and producer (See “Dick Clark’s greatest movies”). It was a tough year for actor/TV hosts: Richard Dawson and Gary Collins also passed in 2012.
Phyllis Diller: The groundbreaking comedian and comic actress worked occasionally in films, more often than not with Bob Hope. See “Phyllis Diller’s Greatest Hits.”
Michael Clarke Duncan: The 6’5″ Duncan created several iconic characters in his all-too-brief career, in films such as “The Green Mile,” “Sin City,” and “The Punisher.”
Charles Durning: Stocky character actor played dozens of cops, crooks, and working class Joes in his 60 year career, in such classics as “The Sting,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” to name but three.
Nora Ephron: The writer-director was probably best known for romantic comedies like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” but she was also a novelist and essayist who was capable of writing serious, politically-charged material. See “Nora Ephron’s greatest hits.”
Ben Gazzara: Gazzara was the actor’s actor, and left behind some indelible performances, especially his work with directors John Cassavetes and Peter Bogdanovich. See “Ben Gazzara’s greatest hits.”
Andy Griffith: Griffith lives on as the paternal voice of reason Sheriff Andy Taylor on TV Land; On film, he was capable of playing bad men brilliantly, as in “A Face in the Crowd” and “Hearts of the West.”
Larry Hagman: Between his TVs roles as Major Nelson on “I Dream of Jeannie” and legendary rascal J.R. Ewing on “Dallas,” Hagman worked in films ranging from “The Group” to “Mother, Jugs, & Speed.”
Levon Helm: Known primarily as the drummer/vocalist of the Band, Helm also excelled in character roles, starting with “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in 1980.
Celeste Holm: The elegant, intelligent stage actress worked selectively on film, most notably in “Gentlemen’s Agreement” and “All About Eve.”
Whitney Houston: Her mysterious death and long-running downward spiral aside, Houston lit up the screen in 1992’s “The Bodyguard,” going on to “Waiting to Exhale” and a couple of other decent credits (the less said about “The Preacher’s Wife,” the better).
Davy Jones: Diminutive pop star of Monkees fame makes the list for 1968’s “Head,” still a fave of the A.C.M.E.
Jack Klugman: While best known for his television work on “The Odd Couple,” “Quincy M.E.” and “The Twilight Zone,” Klugman also did fine work on film in such classic films as “12 Angry Men,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Goodbye, Columbus.”
Herbert Lom: The Prague-born actor appeared in over 100 films from the ’30s through the ’00s. Best known as the long-suffering chief inspector driven mad by Peter Sellers’ Inspector Closeau in the “Pink Panther” series. See “Herbert Lom’s greatest hits”
Tony Martin: Big band singer in many movie musicals of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, died July 27th at the age of 98.
Tony Scott: The veteran action director (“Top Gun,” “True Romance”) committed suicide August 19th, leaving behind an influential but under-appreciated body of work. See “Tony Scott’s greatest hits.”
Susan Tyrrell: “Susu” was a fixture on the Austin scene, and played memorable roles in cult films after her Oscar-nominated breakthrough role in John Huston’s “Fat City.” See “Susan Tyrrell’s greatest hits.”
Richard Zanuck: Second-generation movie mogul Zanuck was a prolific producer of such classics as “The Sting,” and “Jaws,” and more recently, worked with Tim Burton on numerous projects.
Also passing this year: NFL Films’ Steve Sabol; director Ulu Grosbard; Cinematographer Bruce Surtees; “Emmanuelle” star Sylvia Kristel; actors Norman Alden, R.G. Armstrong, Luke Askew, Peter Bergman, Turhan Bey, Peter Breck, Philip Bruns, Frank Cady, Janet Carroll, Chad Everett, James Farentino, William Finley, Steve Franken, Al Freeman Jr., Jonathan Frid, Sherman Hemsley, Richard Lynch, Cliff Osmond, Joyce Redman, Simon Ward, and Dick Anthony Williams.
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J.M. Dobies, Austin Classic Movies Examiner Facebook Page