Tag Archives: Obituary

Richard Matheson, Author, Screenplay Writer & Science Fiction Legend, Dies At Age 87

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Author Richard Matheson has passed away at the age of 87 at his home in Calabasas, California his family announced in a private Facebook post Monday.

Matheson’s novels include iconic works like I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come, Hell House and A Stir of Echoes while his short story output has been adapted as everything from episodes of “The Twilight Zone” to the recent big screen sci-fi tale Real Steel. Among his countless contributions to genre storytelling, Matheson penned the original “Star Trek” episode “The Enemy Within” and supplied the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s early telefilm Duel.

Matheson, who was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010, inspired many of the major names in science fiction, fantasy and horror writing. The 1995 reprint of “I Am Legend” featured praise from Ray Bradbury, “Psycho” author Robert Bloch, and Stephen King, who called Matheson “the author who influenced me the most as a writer.” King’s 2006 novel, “Cell,” is dedicated to Matheson.

King paid tribute to Matheson his site today:

“We’ve lost one of the giants of the fantasy and horror genres. From The Beardless Warriors, his brilliant (and largely unread) World War II novel, to The Incredible Shrinking Man and all the wonderful Twilight Zone scripts and stories, Matheson fired the imaginations of three generations of writers. Without his I Am Legend, there would have been no Night of The Living Dead; without Night of The Living Dead, there would have been no Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, or World War Z. 

Matheson wrote the script for Steven Spielberg’s extraordinary film, Duel, and created one of the most brain-freezingly frightening haunted
house novels of the 20th century in Hell House. He fired my imagination by placing his horrors not in European castles and Lovecraftian universes, but in American scenes I knew and could relate to. “I want to do that,” I thought. “I must do that.” Matheson showed the way. In addition to that, he was a gentleman who was always willing to give a young writer
a hand up. I will miss his kindness and erudition. He lived a full life, raised a fine family, and gave us unforgettable stories, novels, TV shows, and movies. That’s good. Nevertheless,

I mourn his loss. A uniquely American voice has been silenced.”

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Ray Harryhausen, Stop Motion Animation Pioneer (1920-2013)

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The family of Ray Harryhausen has announced that he has died at the age of 92. Ray Harryhausen is well regarded as a pioneer in the stop-motion animation world, known for creating a technique called Dynamation.

Here’s the statement from his family:

Raymond Frederick Harryhausen
Born: Los Angeles 29th June 1920
Died: London 7th May 2013.

The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK’s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.

Harryhausen’s fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis O’Brien’s creations in King Kong with his boyhood friend, the author Ray Bradbury in 1933, and he made his first foray into filmmaking in 1935 with home-movies that featured his youthful attempts at model animation. Over the period of the next 46 years, he made some of the genres best known movies – Mighty Joe Young (1949), It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955), 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957), Mysterious Island (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Valley of Gwangi (1969), three films based on the adventures of Sinbad and Clash of The Titans (1981). He is perhaps best remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven skeletons in Jason and The Argonauts (1963) which took him three months to film.

Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.

Today The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a charitable Trust set up by Ray on the 10th April 1986, is devoted to the protection of Ray’s name and body of work as well as archiving, preserving and restoring Ray’s extensive Collection.

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R.I.P. Roger Ebert

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Roger Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago after a long battle with cancer.

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Only a day before legendary film critic Roger Ebert passed away, he tweeted a final farewell at the Chicago-Sun Times:

“So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies”

Read more HERE.

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R.I.P. Maine Author Rick Hautala

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It is with heavy heart that I post the news that Rick Hautala died earlier this afternoon at age 64 from an apparent heart attack. I’m stunned, as I know all of his fans, friends and family are.

Rick Hautala had more than thirty published books to his credit, including the million copy, international best-seller Nightstone, as well as Twilight Time, Little Brothers, Cold Whisper, Impulse, and The Wildman. He has also published four novels—The White Room, Looking Glass, Unbroken, and Follow—using the pseudonym A. J. Matthews. His more than sixty published short stories have appeared in national and international anthologies and magazines. His short story collection Bedbugs was selected as one of the best horror books of the year in 2003.

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A graduate of the University of Maine in Orono with a Master of Art in English Literature (Renaissance and Medieval Literature), Hautala lived in southern Maine with author Holly Newstein. Combined, they have five sons.

I first met Rick when he was the Manager of Bookland at the Maine Mall and we became immediate friends. We attended NECON in its early days and he even made me a character in one of his books. He allowed me to read his manuscripts and provide him with feedback and when I was studying English at USM, he would do the same for me. We would talk about the weeks events and grab General Tso’s chicken at a local Chinese restaurant. I have since moved away from Maine and our contact became less frequent over the past few years but we would still catch up on the phone or chat via email.

Rick was kind, funny and generous and I am truly sad to hear of his passing. My thoughts go out to Rick’s family during this very sad time.

How To Help Rick Hautala’s Loved Ones:

Rick’s sudden death could not have been more untimely. The life of a freelance writer is often one lived on the fringes of financial ruin, and Rick struggled mightily to stay afloat in recent years. Just within the last couple of months, that struggle became difficult enough that he could not afford to continue paying his life insurance bill, and allowed it to lapse.

To make matters worse, Rick’s social security benefits are not available to his wife, author Holly Newstein Hautala, until three years from now. If you were a fan of Rick’s work, or perhaps an author who he inspired, and you’d like to help the family with his final costs, you can donate directly via PayPal to holly_newstein@hotmail.com.

A celebration of Rick Hautala’s life will take place on Sunday, May 5, 2013, at the American Legion Hall on Dunn Street in Westbrook, Maine, from 3 to 7 PM. All who can make it are cordially invited to come and share their memories and laughter with Rick’s friends and family.

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Tom Hanks Shares A Funny Story At Michael Clarke Duncan’s Memorial Service

Tom Hanks shared a funny story at Michael Clarke Duncan’s memorial service, about the time Duncan joined a gang. Michael Clarke Duncan passed away on 9/3/12 at the age of 54. The two actors appeared in the film, The Green Mile.

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Steven Spielberg, Damon Lindelof, Stephen King & Others Remember Ray Bradbury

Steven Spielberg, Barack Obama, Stephen King, and Damon Lindelof were among the well-known figures paying tribute to Ray Bradbury, the author of such classics as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles who passed away today at 91.

“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,” Spielberg said in a written statement. “He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.”

The two men were mutual fans. Bradbury called Spielberg’s 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind “the best film of its kind ever made.” He later visited the young director “to tell [him] what a genius he was. Spielberg told him that seeing the 1953 sci-fi classic It Came From Outer Space, which was adapted from a Bradbury story, inspired Close Encounters.

Stephen King, in a statement, noted Bradbury’s prolific output and praised the power of his works. “The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant’s footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.”

Neil Gaiman wrote on his blog that Bradbury’s death had “knocked me for a loop,” and he promised a longer statement later. He also posted an essay he wrote that was originally printed in an edition of Bradbury’s The Machineries of Joy. “If you want to quote me, you can take anything you like from this, and add that he was kind, and gentle, and always filled with enthusiasm, and that the landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had him in our world.

Prometheus and Lost writer Damon Lindelof tweeted, “Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which my heart aches. We will miss you, Ray.”

But the tributes were not just confined to Hollywood writers and directors.

President Obama issued a statement saying, “His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world.  But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values.  There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing.

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Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 And Other Classics, Dies At 91

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury, whose imagination yielded classic books such as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” has died at 91, his publisher said Wednesday.

Bradbury “died peacefully, last night, in Los Angeles, after a lengthy illness,” the HarperCollins statement said.

Bradbury’s books and 600 short stories predicted everything from the emergence of ATMs to live broadcasts of fugitive car chases.

“In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create,” the statement said. “A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time.”

He wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s classic film adaptation of “Moby Dick,” and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Bradbury adapted 65 of his stories for television’s The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of “The Halloween Tree.”

“In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.” he wrote in a book o essays published in 2005. “Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”

Bradbury moved to Los Angeles from his native Waukegan, Illinois, during the Great Depression.

He is survived by his four daughters, Susan Nixon, Ramona Ostergren, Bettina Karapetian, and Alexandra Bradbury, and eight grandchildren. His wife of 57 years, Marguerite, died in 2003. (From CNN)

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Maurice Sendak, Author of Where the Wild Things Are, Dies at 83

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, passed away on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn.

The cause was complications from a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor.

He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

Among the other titles he wrote and illustrated, all from Harper & Row, are “In the Night Kitchen” (1970) and “Outside Over There” (1981), which together with “Where the Wild Things Are” form a trilogy; “The Sign on Rosie’s Door” (1960); “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” (1967); and “The Nutshell Library” (1962), a boxed set of four tiny volumes comprising “Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and “Pierre.”

In September, a new picture book by Mr. Sendak, “Bumble-Ardy” — the first in 30 years for which he produced both text and illustrations — was issued by HarperCollins Publishers. The book, which spent five weeks on the New York Times children’s best-seller list, tells the not-altogether-lighthearted story of an orphaned pig (his parents are eaten) who gives himself a riotous birthday party.

A largely self-taught illustrator, whose visual style could range from intricately crosshatched scenes that recalled 19th-century prints to airy watercolors reminiscent of Chagall to bold, bulbous figures inspired by the comic books he loved all his life, with outsize feet that the page could scarcely contain. He never did learn to draw feet, he often said.

Mr. Sendak’s companion of a half-century, Eugene Glynn, a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of young people, died in 2007. No immediate family members survive.

Read more HERE.

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Comic Book Artist Moebius Dies

French comic-book artist and designer Jean Giraud, known as Moebius, died overnight aged 74 after a long illness, an associate and work colleague said.

Jean Henri Gaston Giraud was one of France’s leading cartoonists who also found fame in Japan and the United States.

Born at Nogent-sur-Marne east of Paris on May 8, 1938, he began after art school training as an illustrator for advertisers and the fashion industry before turning to comic strips.

He found fame when he created the Lieutenant Blueberry western character and adopted the pseudonym Moebius for illustrations of science fiction books and magazines.

As well as being published in top French magazines, he worked with Japanese manga artists and co-produced an adventure of US comic-book superhero The Silver Surfer with Stan Lee.

Giraud also contributed to a number of blockbuster movies, and in 2010 France’s Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art staged a major retrospective of his work.

 

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Jerry Robinson, Key Contributor to Batman Mythos, Dies at 89

Jerry Robinson, the legendary comic book artist who helped create pillars of the Batman mythos like Robin, Joker, Alfred Pennyworth and Two-Face, died in his sleep Wednesday in New York at the age of 89.

“Jerry Robinson illustrated some of the defining images of pop culture’s greatest icons,” DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee said in a statement. “As an artist myself, it’s impossible not to feel humbled by his body of work. Everyone who loves comics owes Jerry a debt of gratitude for the rich legacy that he leaves behind.”

Robinson, who settled down in New York since his Columbia days, is survived by a wife, Gro, a son, Jens, and a daughter, Kristen, as well as two grandchildren.

Read more HERE.

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Apple Posts Video of Steve Jobs Tribute Event

Apple has posted a video of its special event celebrating the life of Steve Jobs. The video, which runs over 80 minutes in length, was recorded at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA on October 19th, and features speeches and remembrances from Apple CEO Tim Cook, former Apple employee and Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell, former U.S. Vice President and Apple board member Al Gore, and Apple senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive, and musical performances by Norah Jones and Coldplay.

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Steve Jobs, Apple Founder, Dies At 56

Steve Jobs, the Apple Inc. chairman and co-founder who pioneered the personal computer industry and changed the way people think about technology, died Wednesday October 5, 2011.

“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” Apple said in a statement. “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”

During his more than three decade-long career, Mr. Jobs transformed Silicon Valley as he helped turn the once sleepy expanse of fruit orchards into the technology industry’s innovation center. In addition to laying the groundwork for the modern high-tech industry alongside other pioneers like Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, Mr. Jobs proved the appeal of well-designed intuitive products over the sheer power of technology itself and shifted the way consumers interact with technology in an increasingly digital world.

Unlike those men, however, the most productive chapter in Mr. Jobs’ career occurred near the end of his life, when a nearly unbroken string of innovative and wildly successful products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad fundamentally changed the PC, electronics and digital media industries.

The way he marketed and sold those products through savvy advertising campaigns and its retail stores, in the meanwhile, helped turn the company into a pop culture icon.

At the beginning of that phase, Mr. Jobs once described his philosophy as trying to make products that were at “the intersection of art and technology.” In doing so, he turned Apple into the world’s most valuable company.

Mr. Jobs was 56 years old. After exhibiting significant weight loss in mid-2008, he took a nearly six month medical leave of absence in 2009, during which he received a liver transplant. He took another medical leave of absence in mid-January without explanation before stepping down as chief executive in August. Mr. Jobs is survived by his wife, Laurene, and four children.

Although his achievements in technology alone were immense, Mr. Jobs played an equally groundbreaking role in entertainment. He turned Apple into the largest retailer of music and helped popularize computer-animated films as the financier and CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, which he later sold to Walt Disney Co. He was a key figure in changing the way people used the Internet and how they consumed music, TV shows, movies, books, disrupting industries in the process.

Mr. Jobs also pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in modern business history, returning to Apple after an 11-year absence during which he was largely written off as a has-been and then reviving the then-struggling company by introducing products such as the iMac all-in-one computer, iPod music player and iTunes digital music store.

The company produces $65.2 billion a year in revenue compared with $7.1 billion in its business year ending September 1997. Apple has become one of the world’s premier designers of consumer-electronics devices, dropping the “computer” in its name in January 2007 to underscore its expansion beyond PCs.

Mr. Jobs officially handed over the reins of the company to long-time deputy Tim Cook in August 2011.

Steve, you will be missed and the world is immeasurably better because of you. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences, please email rememberingsteve@apple.com.

Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself — at the university’s 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.

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Jimmy Kimmel Live – Uncle Frank Tribute

Jimmy Kimmel Live pays tribute to his uncle, Frank Potenza, a JKL regular, who sadly passed away two weeks ago at 77.

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Cheez Doodles Creator Morrie Yohai R.I.P.

Wise Foods took out this full page ad in today’s New York Post to honor the deceased Cheez Doodles creator Morrie Yohai.

Yohai developed the snack in the 1950s for Old London Foods, based in New York City. The company founded by his father already was selling Dipsy Doodles rippled corn chips, which were made with a machine that spit them out under pressure.

His son Robbie Yohai said his father applied a similar concept for Cheez Doodles, adapting the machine to extrude liquefied cornmeal into a tubular shape. The shapes were then coated with seasoning and cheese.

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Michael Jackson: Rolling Stone Commemorative

Rolling Stone brings you the definitive tribute to the King of Pop, with a dazzling 96 page special issue ($9.99) chronicling the thrilling highs and chilling lows of Michael Jackson from Motown to Thriller to Neverland Ranch. The vast majority of the material here is new, thanks to essays from Will.i.am, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, Sheryl Crow, Slash, Adam Lambert, Usher, L.A. Reid, Akon, Brooke Shields, Gamble and Huff, Wyclef Jean, Ne-Yo, Weird Al, Martin Scorsese, Glen Ballard, John Landis, plus the Rolling Stone staff. Also included are reprints of two classic Rolling Stone cover stories, one from 1973 by Ben Fong Torres, and a 1983 piece by Gerri Hershey. The issue can be pre-ordered HERE or purchased at newsstands on July 10th.

RS MJ

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TV pitchman Billy Mays Dies

Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman known for his boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays was found unresponsive by his wife Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m.

There were no signs of a break-in, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn’t answer any more questions about how Mays’ body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner’s office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

“Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days,” said Mays’ wife, Deborah. “Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times.”

Tampa area media outlets reported that Mays was a passenger on a U.S. Airways flight that made a rough landing on Saturday afternoon at Tampa International Airport, apparently blowing its front tires in an incident that left debris on the runway.

Tampa Bay’s Fox television affiliate interviewed Mays after the incident.

“All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping,” MyFox Tampa Bay quoted him as saying. “It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.”

U.S. Airways officials said Sunday they could not immediately confirm that Mays was a passenger.

Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other “as seen on TV” gadgets on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.

After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.

Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it’s done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, “Long live your laundry!”

Recently he’s been seen on commercials for a wide variety of products and is featured on the reality TV show “Pitchmen” on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs. He’s also been seen in ESPN ads.

His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans. People line up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stop him in airports to chat about the products.

“I enjoy what I do,” Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. “I think it shows.”

Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel (“powered by the air we breathe!”) on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.

Discovery Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Hillman released a statement Sunday extending sympathy to the Mays family.

“Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth,” Hillman’s statement said. “Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend.”

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Michael Jackson’s Death: The Talent and the Tragedy

The tragedy of Michael Jackson’s death at age 50, reportedly from cardiac arrest, pales in comparison to the tragedy of his life. To understand all that Jackson had and lost requires wiping away three decades of plastic surgeries that deformed him, erratic behavior that made his name synonymous with the warping powers of fame, and a 2005 trial for sexually abusing a child that, even though he was spared of any finding of wrongdoing, made him a pariah to all but the most brainwashed of fans.

But if you can forgive or forget all that, underneath was one of the most talented entertainers of the 20th century. Quincy Jones who produced Jackson’s quintessential solo albums was devastated by the news of his passing. “I’ve lost my little brother today,” Jones said in a statement, “part of my soul has gone with him.” Said Jones: “Divinity brought our souls together… and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the 80’s. To this day, the music we created together on Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all….”

Jackson was born in 1958, the seventh of nine Jackson children, and before he reached age six he had joined his brothers in the Jackson Five. By the age of eight he had taken over lead singing duties with brother Jermaine, but there was no question who was the star of the group. Little Michael was the best dancer and singer of the bunch, but he also had the mysterious thing that record bosses and studio chiefs crave: star power. Michael appeared to be his best and most interesting self when everyone in the world was watching.

As Michael aged into adolescence the Jackson Five, renamed The Jacksons after their departure from Motown Records, inevitably lost some of its charm. A solo career followed, and after a steady stream of middling hits that attempted to milk the last bit of innocence from Jackson’s voice, Jackson had the good fortune to hook up with Quincy Jones while filming The Wiz. The two shared a vision for what Jackson’s career as an adult might be and on 1979′s Off The Wall they executed it beyond even Jackson’s dreams. With songwriting help from Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, Off the Wall spun off four Top 10 hits and two number-ones — “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You.”

At 22, Jackson not only became one of the most admired pop musicians in the world, but one of the globe’s most famous people. And his fame only increased with the 1981 release of Thriller, which was to become the best-selling album of all-time (until it was eclipsed in the late ’90s by The Eagles Greatest Hits, 1971-1975.) Seven of the record’s nine tracks made the Top 10, and the Quincy Jones-produced hooks remain awe-inspiring. In a cover story about Jackson and Thriller, TIME described him as “a one-man rescue team for the music business. A songwriter who sets the beat for a decade. A dancer with the fanciest feet on the street. A singer who cuts across all boundaries of taste and style and color too.”

While Jackson had few ambitions at the time beyond global domination, it’s worth noting that “The Girl is Mine” established interracial love as a pop music theme and “Beat It” (with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo) bridged arena rock and soul four years before Run DMC met Aerosmith. On March 25, 1983, Jackson may have reached the very peak of his fame when he unveiled his signature dance move, the moonwalk, live on the “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” television special.

The years after Thriller, however, were marked by a slow descent into what was first dismissible as eccentricity. Jackson attended the Grammys on a triple date with Emmanuel Lewis and Madonna, purchased a chimpanzee named Bubbles and was diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that he said was responsible for the steady lightening of his skin. But his songwriting genius remained undeniable. With Lionel Richie Jackson, he co-wrote “We Are the World,” a 1985 charity single that raised an estimated $50 million for famine relief in Africa and ushered in the era of celebrity philanthropy.

After the release of 1987′s Bad, a disappointing follow-up to Thriller, Jackson purchased the 2,800-acre Neverland Ranch in California, and his public weirdness became almost aggressive. In his biography, Moonwalk, Jackson wrote of childhood abuse at the hands of his father and multiple plastic surgeries, subjects he returned to in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey that was one of the most watched non-sports programs in American history.

Shortly after, Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in a suit brought by Evan Chandler on behalf of his then 13-year-old son Jordan. Chandler told a psychiatrist and police that he and Jackson had engaged in sexual acts that included oral sex; the boy gave a detailed description of Jackson’s genitals. The case was settled out of court for a reported $22 million, but the strain led Jackson to begin taking painkillers. Eventually he became addicted.

To counteract the stigma that came with the allegations of pedophilia, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in a relationship Elvis’ only daughter later dismissed as a sham. Two years later they divorced.

Given the tumult in his personal life, it’s no surprise that the 1990s were a barren period for Jackson creatively. In 2001 he managed to pull himself together enough to release Invincible and stage two concerts celebrating his 30th anniversary as a performer at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The shows, held a few days before Sept. 11, were a capsule of all Jackson had become. There were bizarre cameos from friends Marlon Brando, Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor. Macaulay Culkin sat next to Jackson in a royal box. But several hours after the proceedings began, when Jackson finally took the stage, all the years of Wacko Jacko melted away. Then in his early 40s, he could still dance and sing better than almost anyone in the world, and he still had star power. The Jackson on display in those concerts was one the world admired and the one that will be missed. (Reprinted from Time Magazine)

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David Carradine Dies

Kung Fu and Kill Bill star David Carradine has been found dead in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. He was 72. Carradine was in Thailand filming his latest film Stretch, according to his manager Chuck Binder, who said the news was “shocking. He was full of life, always wanting to work… a great person.” Binder said he believed Carradine’s death was from natural causes, and not from a suicide as reported in the Thai press. Carradine became famous in the 1970s when he starred in the television series Kung Fu. Modern audiences may best know him as Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. His career included more than 100 feature films, two dozen television movies and theater work.

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Joe Ades, Sidewalk Potato Peeler Pitchman, RIP

His was a particular kind of street theater in a city that delights in in-your-face characters who are, and are not, what they seem. For he was the sidewalk pitchman with the Upper East Side apartment. The sidewalk pitchman who was a regular at expensive East Side restaurants, where no one believed his answer to the “So what do you do?” question: “I sell potato peelers on the street.” Mr. Ades (pronounced AH-dess) died on Sunday at 75, said his daughter, Ruth Ades Laurent of Manhattan. She said he never talked about how many peelers he sold in a year, or how many carrots he had sliced up during demonstrations. She said he stashed his inventory in what had been the maid’s room of the apartment. You can read his obituary HERE.

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Forrest J Ackerman, Writer-Editor Who Coined ‘Sci-Fi,’ Dies At 92

Forrest J Ackerman, who influenced a generation of young horror movie fans with Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and spent a lifetime amassing what has been called the world’s largest personal collection of science fiction and fantasy memorabilia, has died. He was 92.

Ackerman, a writer, editor and literary agent who has been credited with coining the term “sci-fi” in the 1950s, died Thursday of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles, said John Sasser, a friend who is making a documentary on Ackerman.

As editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Ackerman wrote most of the articles in the photo-laden magazine launched in 1958 as a forum for past and present horror films.

“It was the first movie monster magazine,” Tony Timpone, editor of Fangoria, a horror movie magazine founded in 1979, told The Times in 2002.

Primarily targeted to late pre-adolescents and young teenagers, Famous Monsters of Filmland featured synopses of horror films, interviews with actors such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price, and articles on makeup and special effects.

Famous Monsters reflected Ackerman’s penchant for puns, with features such as “The Printed Weird” and “Fang Mail.” Ackerman referred to himself as Dr. Acula.

“He put a lot of his personality into the magazine,” said Timpone, who later became friends with Ackerman. “It was a pretty juvenile approach to genre journalism, but as kids that’s all we had.”

Among those who reportedly grew up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland was author Stephen King. Other childhood readers included movie directors Joe Dante, John Landis and Steven Spielberg, who once autographed a poster of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for Ackerman, saying, “A generation of fantasy lovers thank you for raising us so well.”

Ackerman was a celebrity in his own right, once signing 10,000 autographs during a three-day monster movie convention in New York City.

This, after all, was the man who created and wrote the comic books “Vampirella” and “Jeanie of Questar” and was the ultimate fan’s fan: a man who actually had known Lugosi and Karloff and whose priceless collection of science fiction, horror and fantasy artifacts ran to some 300,000 items.

For years, Ackerman housed his enormous cache of books, movie stills, posters, paintings, movie props, masks and assorted memorabilia in his 18-room home in Los Feliz.

He dubbed the house the Ackermansion.

The jam-packed repository included everything from a Dracula cape worn by Lugosi to Mr. Spock’s pointy ears; and from Lon Chaney Sr.’s makeup kit to the paper plate flying saucer used by director Ed Wood in “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

For Ackerman, a native Angeleno born on Nov. 24, 1916, it all began at age 9 in 1926.

That’s when he stopped at a drugstore on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood and bought his first copy of the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.

From then on, Ackerman was helplessly hooked.

By his late teens, he had mastered Esperanto, the invented international language. In 1929, he founded the Boys Scientifiction Club. In 1932, he joined a group of other young fans in launching the Time Traveler, which is considered the first fan magazine devoted exclusively to science fiction and for which Ackerman was “contributing editor.”

Ackerman also joined with other local fans in starting a chapter of the Science Fiction Society — meetings were held in Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown L.A. — and as editor of the group’s fan publication Imagination! he published in 1938 a young Ray Bradbury’s first short story.

During World War II, Ackerman edited a military newspaper published at Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro. After the war, he worked as a literary agent. His agency represented scores of science fiction writers, including L. Ron Hubbard, Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, H.L. Gold, Ray Cummings and Hugo Gernsback.

In 1954, Ackerman coined the term that would become part of the popular lexicon — a term said to make some fans cringe.

“My wife and I were listening to the radio, and when someone said ‘hi-fi’ the word ‘sci-fi’ suddenly hit me,” Ackerman explained to The Times in 1982. “If my interest had been soap operas, I guess it would have been ‘cry-fi,’ or James Bond, ‘spy-fi.’ “

At the time, Ackerman already was well-known among science fiction and horror aficionados for his massive collection.

After a couple from Texas showed up on his doorstep in 1951 asking to view the collection, Ackerman began opening his home up for regular, informal tours on Saturdays.

Over the years, thousands of people made the pilgrimage to the Ackermansion.

The Dracula/Frankenstein room featured a casket as a “coffin table” and the cape Lugosi wore in the stage version of “Dracula.” A case displayed one of the horror film legend’s bow ties, which, Ackerman would gleefully note, contained a drop of blood.

Among the collection’s other highlights: the ring worn by Lugosi in “Dracula,” the giant-winged pterodactyl that swooped down for Fay Wray in “King Kong,” Lon Chaney’s cape from “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Metropolis” director Fritz Lang’s monocle.

The affable Ackerman would escort his visitors through the priceless warren of books, posters and memorabilia, settling into a chair in each room and answering questions.

“He was always just a big kid,” said Fangoria’s Timpone. “I really cherished all the times I’ve been with him.”

Ackerman wrote more than 2,000 articles and short stories for magazines and anthologies, sometimes under his pseudonyms Dr. Acula, Weaver Wright and Claire Voyant.

He also wrote what has been reported to have been the first lesbian science-fiction story ever published, “World of Loneliness.” And under the pen name Laurajean Ermayne, he wrote lesbian romances in the late 1940s for the lesbian magazine Vice Versa.

As an editor, Ackerman edited or co-edited numerous books, including “A Book of Weird Tales,” “365 Science Fiction Short Stories” and “The Great Science Fiction.”

Over the years, he made numerous cameo appearances in films, including Dante’s “The Howling” and Landis’ “Innocent Blood.” Landis also had Ackerman eating popcorn behind Michael Jackson in the movie theater scene in his “Thriller” video.

Famous Monsters of Filmland ceased publication in 1983. But the magazine returned a decade later with Ray Ferry as publisher and Ackerman as editor. Ackerman, however, reportedly had a falling out with Ferry and left the magazine. Years of litigation followed. In 2000, after a civil trial, Ackerman won a trademark infringement and breach-of-contract lawsuit against Ferry, though he said a year later that he not yet collected a penny of the judgment.

In recent decades, Ackerman slowly sold pieces of his massive collection in order to survive. Because of health problems and his still-unresolved legal battle, he put up all but about 100 of his favorite objects for sale in 2002.

The same year, he moved out of the Ackermansion and into a bungalow in the flats of Los Feliz. But he continued to make what was left of his collection available for viewing by fans on Saturday mornings.

“I call it the Acker Mini-Mansion,” he said.

Ackerman’s wife, Wendayne, died in 1990; he had no surviving family members. (From the L.A. Times)

 

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