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Madeleine Christie

Madeleine Christie

Madeleine Christie was born in Edinburgh in 1904 and is the mother of actress Amanda Walker. She died in London in 1996.

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Michael Petrovitch

Michael Petrovitch

Michael Petrovitch’s first television was in an episode of the British TV series “Jason King” in 1972.   That same year he had the leading role opposite Susan Hampshire in “Neither the Sea nor the Sand”.   Most of his acting career was concentrated on television and he seems to have stopped acting in 1986

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Alexandra Stewart

Alexandra Stewart

Alexandra Stewart left for Paris, France, in 1958, to study art. Within a year, she made her film debut in Les Motards, and has since then enjoyed a steady career in both French- and English-language films.

Alexandra Stewart

Besides her cinema career, she regularly appeared on television in shows such as Les Jeux de 20 heures and L’Académie des neuf. She has also appeared in the 1981 cartoon Space Stars and had cameos in Highlander: The Series, The Saint, Danger Man (TV Series) and the pilot episode of The X-Files. She was part of the jury of the 2004 Chicago International Film Festival.

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John Heard

John Heard

John Heard obituary in “The Guardian” in 2017.

John Heard, who has died aged 71, was an engaging, intelligent character actor in American film, television and theatre from the mid-1970s onwards. In Big (1988), his slyly funny turn as a resentful executive provided a welcome antidote to the sweetness of a comedy about a boy transformed overnight into a man.

In the smash hit Home Alone (1990), he mistakenly leaves behind his son while taking the rest of his family on holiday, contriving to repeat the oversight in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992). He was Goldie Hawn’s duplicitous husband, who fakes his own death, in the thriller Deceived (1991) and was nominated for an Emmy in 1999 for the first season of the HBO drama The Sopranos, in which he played a self-loathing detective in the pocket of the mafia.

His finest hour, though, came near the start of his film career, when he was cast as the snarling, self-destructive but deeply principled Alex Cutter in Cutter’s Way (1981), directed by Ivan Passer, a key figure of the Czech New Wave. The alcoholic Cutter has lost an eye, an arm and half a leg in Vietnam, and spends much of the picture lashing out with his cane or his tongue. But in his determination to hold to account a local businessman he believes to be guilty of murder, he becomes the film’s motor and its conscience.

“The world lacks heroes,” he tells his charming but complacent friend (Jeff Bridges). The two men make an odd couple, strongly reminiscent of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, but many of the film’s most indelible moments belong solely to Heard. Refusing booze straight after identifying his girlfriend’s body in the morgue, he says: “The routine grind drives me to drink. Tragedy I take straight.”

The studio had wanted Richard Dreyfuss for the part. “I went to see Dreyfuss in Othello in Shakespeare in the Park,” said Passer. “The noisy audience was not paying much attention, lying on the grass making love and smoking drugs. Suddenly an actor came on stage and quietened the audience with his voice. It was John Heard as Cassio.”

Heard immersed himself in the role of Cutter. “He was walking around with a cane for three weeks before the picture, and he stayed into it throughout shooting. But also, somehow the character was very close to something real in John.” By his own admission, Heard was not an easy man to work with at the time. “Cutter’s Way was a real test of my stupidity. Every day it was like, who did I think I was?… I considered myself an alcoholic, so I had the inside track on how an alcoholic would do this or that…” He was only too aware, though, of how important the role was to his career. “I’m a pretty lightweight guy, and it gave me a chance to play somebody who had a little more strength.”

Heard was born in Washington DC, the son of Helen (nee Sperling), who performed in community theatre groups and worked as a museum guide, and John, who was in charge of installations and properties in the office of the Secretary of Defense. He was educated at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. He left the latter before graduating in order to take up work in regional theatre and off-Broadway.Advertisement

At the Long Wharf theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1976 he originated the role of Billy, the gay soldier, in the first staging of David Rabe’s controversial play Streamers, and was disappointed not to have been retained for Mike Nichols’s subsequent New York production. He won an Obie award in 1977 for his performance in G.R. Point, in which he played a man processing dead soldiers from Vietnam before burial, and won another three years later for his combined work in Othello and Split.

His first notable film role was as a disillusioned journalist in Between the Lines (1977), a drama about the fortunes of an underground paper in Boston. He was Jack Kerouac opposite Nick Nolte as Neal Cassady in the Beat Generation drama Heart Beat (1980) and fell for Nastassja Kinski in the flashy remake of Cat People (1982).

He acted prolifically thereafter, with highlights including the subterranean chiller C.H.U.D. (1984), the coming-of-age story Heaven Help Us, released in the UK as Catholic Boys, and Martin Scorsese’s nocturnal screwball comedy After Hours (both 1985). In the same year he starred in the BBC version of Tender is the Night, adapted by Dennis Potter, and played Geraldine Page’s son in the Oscar-winning drama The Trip to Bountiful. He was an FBI agent in Betrayed, a thriller about white supremacists, and a theatre director who becomes romantically involved with two friends in the tearjerker Beaches (both 1988).

Other notable films included Awakenings (1990), with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, the deep south-set drama Rambling Rose (1991), the Clint Eastwood thriller In the Line of Fire and the John Grisham adaptation The Pelican Brief (both 1993). He also had a recurring role in the television spin-off of the film of Grisham’s novel The Client (1995-96).

He never stopped working, although in later years he moved increasingly into television, in series such as CSI: Miami and Prison Break: Resurrection, and in the doggedly trashy made-for-TV horror-disaster film Sharknado (2013).

His private life was beset by difficulties. His first marriage, to the actor Margot Kidder, in 1979, lasted six days. His third, to Lana Pritchard, in 2010, made it to seven months. In 1997 he was found guilty of trespassing at the home of a former partner, the actor Melissa Leo.

He is survived by Annika, his daughter by his second wife, Sharon, whom he married in 1988 (their son, Max, died last year), and by another son, Jack, from his relationship with Leo.

• John Matthew Heard, actor, born 7 March 1946; died 21 July 2017

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Lamont Johnson

Lamont Johnson

New York Times obituary from 2010:

Lamont Johnson, an Emmy-winning television director known for bringing an understated touch to delicate subjects, died on Sunday at his home in Monterey, Calif. He was 88.

The cause was heart failure, his son, Chris, said.

Mr. Johnson, the director of more than 150 television shows, miniseries and movies of the week, received 11 Emmy nominations during his 45-year directing career. 

He won critical acclaim for “My Sweet Charlie” (1970), a look at tensions in interracial relationships; “That Certain Summer”(1972), one of television’s first attempts to explore homosexuality;and “Crisis at Central High” (1981), about the civil rights movement.

His 1975 television movie, “Fear on Trial,” examined the blacklisting of the 1950s, a subject with which Mr. Johnson identified, having once found himself on such a list. 

One of Mr. Johnson’s specialties was epic accounts of historical figures. In 1986 he won a directing Emmy for “Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story” (1985), a miniseries about Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of approximately 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. Three years later he won another Emmy for “Gore Vidal’s Lincoln,” starring Sam Waterston, which examined the Civil War through Abraham Lincoln’s eyes as he contended with generals who balked at going into battle and politicians who undermined him. 

“In most cases, I’ve chosen projects that have to do with an individual who has faced seemingly insuperable obstacles to deal with an extraordinary challenge,” Mr. Johnson once said.

That could include Eddie Slovik, an Army private during World War II. Facing combat, he decided that he could not kill and became the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the Civil War. Mr. Johnson’s direction of “The Execution of Private Slovik” (1974) was nominated for an Emmy.

Lamont Johnson Jr. was born in Stockton, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1922, the only child of Lamont and Ruth Fairchild Johnson. While attending Pasadena City College he performed in radio dramas — one of his roles was the voice of Tarzan — while studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. A hip injury kept him from serving in the military during World War II, so he joined the U.S.O. While performing for the troops in Europe, he re-met Toni Merrill, a U.S.O. actress he had known in college. They married in 1945.

Mrs. Johnson died in 2009. Besides his son, Mr. Johnson is survived by a daughter, Carolyn Bueno; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

In 1955, Mr. Johnson, who had acted on stage and television for a decade, turned to directing. His first assignment: piece together a one-hour adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” for NBC’s noontime “Matinee Theater” in just four days. It was the first of 78 live productions Mr. Johnson would direct for “Matinee Theater” in a little more than two years.

As television moved from live to taped productions, Mr. Johnson worked on shows that would become classics. He directed episodes of “Have Gun — Will Travel,” “Peter Gunn,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Naked City” and “The Defenders.” He also directed several theatrical films, including “The Last American Hero” (1973), in which Jeff Bridges played a bootlegger’s son who rises to become a stock-car-racing champion.

In The New Yorker, Pauline Kael praised “The Last American Hero,” writing that it would be simplistic to see it as only an action film. It “isn’t about stock-car racing,” she wrote, “any more than ‘The Hustler’ was only about shooting pool.” 

In 1990 Mr. Johnson directed a four-hour television miniseries, “Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase,” starring Shelley Long. The drama was based on the true story of a woman whose personality fractured into numerous identities because of vicious sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

“I find a great many things that never make it to the big screen because they’re controversial wind up on television, and done with a considerable amount of daring,” Mr. Johnson told The Miami Herald in 1992. “That seems surprising in a medium that’s supposed to be timid or anxious.”

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Maura O’Connell

Maura O’Connell

MEikipedia – Maura O’Connell (born 16 September 1958) is an Irish singer and actress. She is known for her contemporary interpretations of Irish folk songs, strongly influenced by American country music.

O’Connell was born in Ennis, the main town in County Clare, in the west of Ireland. Born into a musical family, O’Connell was the third of four sisters. Her mother’s family owned Costello’s fish shop in Ennis where O’Connell worked until music became her full-time career. She grew up listening to her mother’s light opera, opera, and parlor song records. Her father’s interest leaned towards the ballads. Despite the presence of classical music in the house, O’Connell got very involved in the local folk club scene and together with Mike Hanrahan, who later fronted trad/rock outfit Stockton’s Wing, they performed a country music set, as a duo called ‘Tumbleweed’.

O’Connell attended St Joseph’s Secondary School in Spanish Point from 1971 to 1974, where she took part in the school choir. She was also part of the “Cúl Aodha Choir”, led by Peader Ó Riada, that sang at the funeral of Willie Clancy in 1973.

O’Connell began her professional musical journey during a six-week tour of the US in 1980, as vocalist for the traditionally-based Celtic group De Dannan. The following year, she was featured on the band’s landmark album, The Star Spangled Molly, (where she has the lead vocals on four tracks) which became something of a national phenomenon in her homeland.[2] However, not long after joining the group she became very interested in the experimental roots music of America‘s New Grass Revival when the bands’ paths crossed, and moved to the US in 1986, settling in Nashville, Tennessee. There she met newgrass pioneers Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas, with whom she’d work on most of her records.

She recorded her first solo album in 1983, however, it didn’t make any impact in Ireland or in the United States. O’Connell received a Grammy nomination for her 1989 album, Helpless Heart (originally released in Ireland in 1987 as Western Highway), which was her first record released under Warner Bros. RecordsReal Life Story (1990), and Blue is the Colour of Hope (1992), registered a move toward a pop synthesis. O’Connell’s versions of “Living in These Troubled Times” and Cheryl Wheeler‘s “Summerfly” became standout tracks on the 1993 album A Woman’s Heart, on four all-female overseas tours and on the 1994 follow-up album in her homeland. A Woman’s Heart Vol. 2 features her heartfelt renditions of Nanci Griffith‘s “Trouble in the Fields” and Gerry O’Beirne’s “Western Highway.” After numerous album heavily inspired by American newgrass music, O’Connell returned to her Irish roots with the 1997 release, Wandering Home.

As the new millennium approached, O’Connell signed with the Sugar Hill label in late 2000 and began working on her seventh album. Instead of working with her longtime producer Jerry Douglas, O’Connell had Ray Kennedy (who worked with Steve EarleLucinda Williams) produce Walls and Windows, which was released in 2001, and featured an eclectic collection of songs, including work by Kim RicheyVan MorrisonJohn PrineEric Clapton and Patty Griffin. Her 2004 album, Don’t I Know, contained musical textures added by everything from fiddles, to clavinets, to lap steel and B-3 organ.

The 2009 album, Naked With Friends, is Maura’s first a cappella album. Guest vocalists include Mary BlackPaul BradyMoya BrennanJerry DouglasAlison KraussMairéad Ní MhaonaighTim O’BrienDolly Parton, Sarah Dugas, Kate Rusby and Darrell Scott. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 2013 O’Connell announced the end of her solo career. 

In addition to her solo work, O’Connell has collaborated with a number of Celtic, folk, pop and country artists, including Van MorrisonBrian KennedyMoya BrennanMary BlackJohn PrineJerry DouglasTim O’BrienJohn GorkaBela FleckRobert Earl KeenDolly Parton and Shawn Colvin. She has also sung background vocals for a number of artists, including Van Morrison‘s 1988 project with the ChieftainsIrish Heartbeat and Stockton’s Wing on Take A Chance.

Aside from the music world, Martin Scorsese cast O’Connell, scruffed up for the role, as an Irish migrant street singer in his 19th-century epic Gangs of New York, released in 2002.

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Glynn Grain

Glynn Grain

Glyn Grain appeared on Coronation Street between November 1996 and March 1997 as crooked businessman Fraser Henderson.

With an acting CV dating back to the late 1960s, his other credits include roles in The Jazz Age, Crown Court, Travelling Man, Rockcliffe’s Folly, Spender, Cracker, The Chief, Wycliffe, Peak Practice, Heartbeat, Burnside, Casualty, The Bill, Spooks, Ultimate Force and Holby City.

On stage he appeared in a 2007 production of Not A Game For Boys at the Library Theatre in Manchester and a 2011 production of That’s Love at the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe – alongside Leslie Grantham and Vicki Michelle.

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Eddie Grant

Eddie Grant
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James Garner

James Garner

James Garner obituary in “The Guardian” in 2014

Through many films and two influential television series, Maverick and The Rockford Files, James Garner, who has died aged 86, developed a persona with a subtly different appeal. It began as original and accrued familiarity over the course of four decades: a coward who was the soul of honour, a hero likely to ride away, stick his finger up the barrel of his opponent’s gun or get winded in a fight and complain of damage to his dentistry.

James Garner

When Polaroid cameras commissioned some ads to be shown on American television at the height of its 1970s popularity, it needed a household face, an actor comfortable with the intimacy of the small screen, yet with an edge. Garner was the natural choice.

In 1955, Warner Brothers hired him for small roles in Cheyenne, one of the western series infesting television, and advanced him to Marlon Brando’s buddy in the movie Sayonara (1957). Garner was on contract, on lower television pay rates, when he met Roy Huggins, a writer/producer on Cheyenne, about to script a new show. Huggins shaped it to star Garner, who shared his wry humour, and in his draft pilot, Huggins tried to break as many TV western rules as possible. Garner’s Bret Maverick was to be free of the “irritating perfection” of small-screen cowboys: he would be a greedy, pragmatic conman, for all the charm.

The defining moment, the transition to comedy, happened when the scriptwriter Marion Hargrove added the stage direction: “Maverick looks at him with his beady little eyes.” With that, irony arrived on primetime TV, followed by parody, self-parody, and the theft of any plot or style (including stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and episodes of Dragnet) not actually nailed to the studio floor.

“We nearly killed the cowboy shows,” said Garner. “It was hard after Maverick to see those guys go around being brave without laughing.” Maverick was the hottest show from 1957 to 1959; it reinforced ABC when the network was struggling, and won a 1959 Emmy.Advertisement

In breaks from the series, Garner took leading roles in Warner Brothers feature films, but was still paid only TV rates. When he was suspended in 1960 during a writers’ strike, he walked off Maverick and out of his contract (“contracts are one-sided affairs; if you click, the studio owns you.”) He sued Warners for breach: Warners claimed that the strike was beyond its control, but the court was told that the studio had got 100 scripts under the table and had 14 writers working under the pseudonym W Hermanos (Spanish for brothers). The judge found for Garner.

Released – he thought for ever – from his gambling man’s fancy waistcoat, Garner became a box-office name; he was at his most interesting – the smile cold, or on hold – in two second world war films, the sober comedy The Americanisation of Emily (1964), and a psychological thriller, 36 Hours (1965). In other comedies he took the sort of roles that might have gone to Rock Hudson, but with sharper moves and delivery (The Wheeler Dealers, 1963). His identity as a natural fixer was important to The Great Escape (also 1963) – he drew on his Korean war memories of being the company scrounger.

The films that determined the rest of his long working life were made as his big screen career declined, after he realised that he needed his own company – Cherokee Productions – to control material. They were Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969, followed by the less fresh 1971 Support Your Local Gunfighter), in which he developed his contrary hero: “I make no secret,” his drifter drawled, unimpressed by the wildness, or indeed the westernness, of a frontier town, “of the fact that I’m on my way to Australia.”

His other crucial movie was Marlowe (1969), an adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s private-eye novel The Little Sister. The script wasn’t vintage noir – there was a martial arts scene – and Garner was not exactly Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, but he was droll and melancholy. Garner returned to TV in 1971 (Cherokee Productions partnering Warner Bros), with Nichols, a western set in 1914, harder and more elegiac than TV had tried before; his Arizona sheriff rode a motorbike. It was Garner’s favourite series, but it had low ratings and was soon withdrawn.

His second breakthrough came in 1974, when Huggins still in the business, assigned a pilot script to the writer Stephen J Cannell, who decided to break as many rules of the TV private-eye genre as he could. The obvious casting was Garner: Jim Rockford, the ex-prisoner hero of The Rockford Files, was a downmarket Marlowe, with no office but his mobile home at the beach, an answering machine instead of a secretary. His gun was stored in the biscuit jar. Rockford had a paunch from tacos and beers; he was lazy; and, except for his retired trucker dad, he knew mostly bums, losers and put-upon LAPD cops.

As Maverick had done, the series pushed the televisually possible further. Storylines could be serious – Garner was proud of an episode based on a New Yorker investigation into the grand jury system, so acute that it helped change the law. But it was the sense of a weird Los Angeles, sundried as a lizard up canyon roads, that was new and different. Critics panned it, but the first season was a ratings hit; then Huggins was pushed out, and Garner confronted Universal Television over an enforced change in tone. Rockford lost 20% of its audience but continued for five seasons (Garner won his Emmy in 1977); then it ended suddenly in the sixth season, when Garner told the crew on location that he was exhausted and had no intention of dying early, and walked out.

Universal sued for breach of contract; Garner countered with a $22.5m suit; Universal settled years later for an undisclosed multimillion sum. After the 118 episodes of the original run (1974-80), there were some TV reunion films in the 1990s. Garner was at a loss for a project, and “leerily, because I don’t think you can beat nostalgia” he agreed to revive Maverick for NBC, acknowledging time by making Bret owner of a saloon – “when you get older you’re not out there shootin’ and ridin’ and carryin’ on with the Indians”. But “the westerns had been dead for a long time – we didn’t have anything to poke fun at”; the show’s audience was too old to appeal to advertisers. It was cancelled.

He made occasional movies, unfazed by a cross-dressing Julie Andrews in Victor Victoria (1982), and in facing his age in Murphy’s Romance (1985), his Oscar nomination. He had one more try at series TV, in 1991, in a half-hour comedy Man of the People – a conman in elected office – but it was cancelled midseason.

Garner was never snobby about TV and he began to use mini-series not as a pension, but as a chance to do offbeat material. There were proper notices and Emmy nominations for Heartsounds (1984), where he was a doctor accepting death – his own; he played a corporate executive in the takeover drama Barbarians at the Gate (1993), HBO’s early attempt to use its cable freedom to create tough work.

Just how skilled was his projection of ease could be seen in the movie incarnation of Maverick (1994) – Mel Gibson played Bret, and Garner Bret’s pappy. Relaxing in a bath with a cigar, he stole the film – he did the same to Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys (2000), and he had done it to Bruce Willis in Sunset (1988) playing Wyatt Earp, an aged consultant to silent movies. That was his second Earp: his humourless portrayal in Hour of the Gun (1967) was against the run of his usual persona.

The Notebook (2004) showed his capacity for veteran romance, with Gena Rowlands. And he continued on TV, most suitably as that voice of American tale-telling, Mark Twain, in Roughing It (2002). As David Thomson wrote, on TV Garner delivered good-natured wit an hour a week for so long over the decades that “If a screen actor did that, he’d be Cary Grant”.

The name of Garner’s production company reflected the fact that his mother, Mildred, was part-Cherokee; he was born in Norman, Oklahoma, and she died when he was four. His father, Bill, ran a hardware store. Seasickness made the Merchant Marine hard going for him, but Korean war service brought him two Purple Hearts. His first stage experience came in bit parts touring in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.

In 1956, he married Lois Clark. She survives him, as do his daughter Gigi and stepdaughter Kimberly.

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Ed Fury

Ed Fury

Fury (born Rupert Edmund Holovchik; June 6, 1928) is an American bodybuilder, actor, and model. He is best known for starring in a number of “sword-and-sandal” films in the 1950s and 1960s.

Born in Long Island, New York, Fury moved to Los Angeles, California in the late 1940s and competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, such as “Mr. Muscle Beach” in 1951 and 1953, coming in third and second respectively. In addition, he worked as a physique model for photographers Bob Mizer and Bruce Bellas, and also made a couple of loops for Mizer’s male erotica studio Athletic Model Guild (AMG). Fury began his acting career as a stage actor. After appearing in a handful of uncredited parts in films, he received his first bigger role in The Wild Women of Wongo (1958).

In the 1960s, Fury travelled to Italy and took advantage of the popularity of “sword-and-sandal” films. Led by Steve Reeves, who starred in Hercules (1958), the popularity of those films allowed Fury to star in films such as Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960), The Seven Revenges (1961), and Maciste Against the Sheik (1962). He also starred as Ursus in the film trilogy Ursus (1961), Ursus in the Valley of the Lions (1961), and Ursus in the Land of Fire (1963), before the popularity of “sword-and-sandal” films waned.[1] Fury returned to acting in the early 1970s and appeared mostly in small parts in television series. Ed Fury also appeared in Barnaby Jones; episode titled, “See Some Evil…Do Some Evil” (04/08/1973).