Each Oscars ceremony always includes an ‘In Memoriam’ segment, paying tribute to those in the movie world who have passed away in that particular year. Rarely mentioned are those fringe-dwellers, those faces you recognise but can’t put a name to, those people who have never been invited to the world’s largest smugfest.
Well, maybe a few have when they’ve somehow managed to push through the barrier separating the A from the B and Z. Regardless, I’d like to pay my own respects to ten fringe-dwellers that are memorable at least to me, who passed away in 2012.
To many people, Alex Karras will always be the adoptive father of that precocious Webster kid from 80s TV. But to many others like myself, Karras will always be Blazing Saddles‘ Mongo, who was just a pawn in game of life. Still to others, Karras was a wrestler and NFL player, having lived a very full life when he passed away at age 77 on October 10th.
Dick Anthony Williams
Certainly no household name, Williams had one of those faces that would make you wonder in the middle of a movie just where you’d seen him before. He was ‘Pretty Tony’ in The Mack, or you may recognise him as the limo driver from Dog Day Afternoon. Williams died February 16th, aged 77.
Askew died on March 26th at the age of 80. He appeared in many classic films of the 1960s and 70s including Cool Hand Luke, The Green Berets, Easy Rider, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid and Rolling Thunder.
After dropping acid in 1967, Richard Lynch accidentally set himself on fire. Let that be a lesson to you, kids. Still, the actor’s scarred face served him well in his many film and television roles as a villain. 1980s alumni will recognise Lynch from B-movies such as The Sword and the Sorcerer, Invasion U.S.A. and Bad Dreams, and from the Blue Thunder TV series. He also appeared in William Peter Blatty’s cult classic The Ninth Configuration. Lynch continued working right up to the year of his death, passing away on June 19th at age 72.
A legion of grown men who were teenagers in the 1980s would fondly remember Sylvia Kristel. She was the soft-core star of films such as the Emmanuelle series, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Mata Hari. Despite the fond memories, the reality of Kristel’s life was tragic, having endured multiple unhappy relationships and addictions to cocaine and alcohol. She died prematurely at age 60 on October 19th.
British actor John Clive died at age 79 on October 14th. He is best known from the original The Italian Job alongside Michael Caine, and to cultists he was the actor berating Alex towards the end of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Russell Means was a fierce political activist and former national director of the American Indian Movement, and famously, he was the running mate of Larry Flynt for the US Presidency. Means was also a musician and writer, and got into acting late in life, most memorably as Chingachgook in Michael Mann’s definitive telling of The Last Of The Mohicans. He died at age 72 on October 22nd.
A friend and collaborator of legendary actor/writer/director John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara was a prolific actor throughout a career spanning over fifty years. To younger audiences he’s best remembered as Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski, and for other films such as Roadhouse, Buffalo ’66, Happiness and Summer Of Sam. He died aged 81 on February 3rd.
An actor, writer, director and producer, Zalman King died on February 3rd at the age of 69. Most who were teens or young men in the late 1980s/early 1990s will thankfully pay tribute to King for such campy erotic fare as Two Moon Junction and Wild Orchid; notable was his adaptation of Anais Nin’s Delta Of Venus in 1995.
And finally, allow me to pay tribute to the artist better known as Moebius, Jean Giraud. He was the French comic book artist behind the legendary Arzach. He contributed concept designs and storyboards for many films including Alien, Tron and The Empire Strikes Back. He died on the 10th of March, aged 73.
by Wadrick Jones