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Tag: In Memoriam (27-39 of 87)

James Gandolfini: A subtle, versatile star who left TV in better shape than he found it

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It is a fate common to great actors whose most enduring success comes on television that the highest praise they receive is actually a trap concealed inside a compliment. Referring to someone’s “iconic role” or “indelible performance” can be a way of saying that a performer could really do only one thing, and his legacy is that he did it perfectly. With the sudden death of James Gandolfini at the horribly young age of 51, all of us who loved and admired his work are, naturally, going to spend a lot of time thinking about The Sopranos, 86 hours of television that was not simply the perfect marriage of actor and role, but the exceedingly rare instance of an actor expanding the possibilities of the medium by the sheer force of his talent, daring, and commitment.

There were many great TV performances before HBO chose Gandolfini over Michael Rispoli and Steven Van Zandt, the other contenders to play New Jersey waste management consultant Tony Soprano, but when viewers saw what Gandolfini was doing with the part that David Chase had given him, it was, in a way, news: The fact that television could accommodate a character like Tony, and a performance like Gandolfini’s made the medium feel bigger, less constrained, more dangerous and exciting. And it wasn’t an illusion:  James Gandolfini left television in better shape than it was in when he found it.

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James Gandolfini dead at 51

Actor James Gandolfini, best known for playing Tony Soprano on the Emmy-winning series The Sopranos, has passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was 51.

HBO said in a statement: “We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family. He was special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

The actor was on vacation in Rome, Italy at the time, a statement from his managers added.

The three-time Emmy winner, who most recently appeared in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Zero Dark Thirty, was set to star in upcoming HBO series Criminal Justice. 

UPDATE: David Chase on James Gandolfini: ‘He was a genius’

Read more:
James Gandolfini: A subtle, versatile star who left TV in better shape than he found it
James Gandolfini’s best ‘Sopranos’ lines: The Tao of Tony

REPORT: 'Leave It to Beaver' actor Frank Bank dead at 71

Frank Bank, best known for playing Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the classic TV series Leave It to Beaver from 1957-1963, died April 13, according to numerous published reports.

Beaver star Jerry Mathers posted a message of condolence to his Facebook page on Saturday, writing, “I was so sad to hear today of the passing of my dear friend and business associate Frank Bank, who played Lumpy on Leave it to Beaver. He was a character and always kept us laughing. My deepest condolences to Frank’s family.” READ FULL STORY

'Homeland' executive producer Henry Bromell dead at 65

Homeland executive producer Henry Bromell has died at 65, EW has confirmed.

The veteran television writer/producer worked on shows such as Northern Exposure, Homicide: Life on a Street, Chicago Hope, Rubicon and Showtime’s Brotherhood, in addition to Homeland.

“Henry was a profoundly decent and generous man,” the Homeland production team said in a statement. “A great writer and a great friend.  No matter how crazy things got, when he was in the room, you knew everything was going to be okay.  Everybody here at Homeland is grieving, and we will miss him beyond  words.”

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of our dear friend Henry Bromell, who has been a part of the Showtime family for over a decade,” Showtime said. “Henry was an immensely talented and prolific writer, director and showrunner, and his work on Brotherhood and Homeland was nothing short of brilliant. His passion, warmth, humor and generosity will be greatly missed. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his wife and family.”

Read more:
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'Dallas' opening credits honor Larry Hagman and J.R. Ewing -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Dallas‘ iconic theme song will sound a little different tonight as the TNT series says goodbye to J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) with a memorial and funeral. Watch the revised opening credits below, and make sure you have a tissue handy. Exec producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael R. Robin spoke to EW.com about honoring Hagman, the wonderful last image of him captured on film, and how they orchestrated J.R.’s final act. READ FULL STORY

Bonnie Franklin, 'One Day at a Time' star, dies at 69

Bonnie Franklin, the pert, redheaded actress whom millions came to identify with for her role as divorced mom Ann Romano on the long-running sitcom One Day at a Time, has died.

She died Friday at her home in Los Angeles due to complications from pancreatic cancer, family members said. She was 69. Her family had announced she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September.

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'Diff'rent Strokes' star Conrad Bain dead at 89

Conrad Bain – most famously know as Phillip Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes – has passed away, EW has confirmed. He was 89.

TMZ spoke with Bain’s daughter, Jennifer, who said, “He was an amazing person. He was a lot like Mr. Drummond, but much more interesting in real life. He was an amazing father.”

In addition to acting opposite Gary Coleman on Diff’rent Strokes, Bain also played Arthur Harmon on Maude.

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Gary Coleman’s ex-wife, ex-girlfriend battle over estate

Larry Hagman to appear posthumously on CBS reality show 'I Get That A Lot'

Dallas star Larry Hagman, who died in November, will appear on CBS’ reality special I Get That a Lot. The actor filmed his segment — in which he masquerades as a Costco employee shilling free samples of barbeque sauce — in September. Hagman “was a prankster at heart,” I Get That A Lot executive producer Eric Schotz said in a statement, adding that “the fans’ reactions when they found out it was him are priceless.”

Cheech Marin (who plays a guy behind the counter at a party store), Jane Seymour (inept home goods store employee), Jeff Gordon (automotive supplies salesman), Bruce Jenner (high-end shoe salesman), and Phil Keoghan (outdoor apparel salesman) also appear in the special, which airs Wednesday, Jan. 9.

Read more:
Larry Hagman, ‘Dallas’ star, dies
How Larry Hagman’s death impacts ‘Dallas’

'Odd Couple' actor Jack Klugman dies at 90

Jack Klugman, the prolific, craggy-faced character actor and regular guy who was loved by millions as the messy one in TV’s The Odd Couple and the crime-fighting coroner in Quincy, M.E., died Monday, a son said. He was 90.

Klugman, who lost his voice to throat cancer in the 1980s and trained himself to speak again, died with his wife at his side.

“He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same,” son Adam Klugman said.

Adam Klugman said he was spending Christmas with his brother, David, and their families. Their father had been convalescing for some time but had apparently died suddenly and they were not sure of the exact cause.

“His sons loved him very much,” David Klugman said. “We’ll carry on in his spirit.”
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Alan Kirschenbaum, co-creator of 'Yes, Dear,' dead at 51

Comedy writer Alan Kirschenbaum, whose vast TV credits include the co-creation of CBS’ long-running sitcom Yes, Dear as well as writing for the laughers My Name is Earl and Raising Hope, has died. He was 51.

Pending examination, the Los Angeles County Coroner on Sunday called it an apparent suicide.

Kirschenbaum most recently created the new comedy Friend Me with Ajay Sahgal for possible inclusion in CBS’ midseason schedule. It stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad). The son of comedian Freddy Roman, Kirschenbaum’s earlier credits include Coach, The Gregory Hines Show, and Stark Raving Mad.

“We are stunned and devastated to hear the news this morning of Alan’s passing,” according to a CBS statement. “We have lost a long-time colleague, a valued friend and truly one of the most well liked individuals in our midst.  We will remember a gifted and successful comedy writer/producer who shared generously of his time beyond his show duties to help the network and studio in a variety of ways; a kind and gentle man; and a warm and witty conversationalist who could always be seen chatting up many on our lot ranging from assistants to senior
executives.  Everyone at CBS truly loved Alan and he will be deeply missed.  Our hearts grieve for his wife Vicki, daughter Molly, sister Judi, mother Ethel and his father, comedian Freddie Roman, and all of Alan’s family and friends.”

Greg Garcia, Kirschenbaum’s co-creator on Yes, Dear and longtime collaborator, released the below photo from Yes, Dear (featuring Mike O’Malley, center, Kirschenbaum, left, and Garcia, right). His statement follows. READ FULL STORY

Steve Sabol, the pioneer behind NFL Films, dies at age 69

Steve Sabol, who revolutionized the way sports are covered in America as the president of NFL Films, died on Tuesday from brain cancer, according to NFL.com. He was 69.

In the early ’60s, Sabol joined his father Ed Sabol in creating a new style of looking at the sport of football — it was intimate, passionate, and brought fans used to watching from the stands, or their living-room La-Z-Boys, closer to the field than they had ever been. It was one thing to watch a game on TV on Sunday, it was quite another to relive it the following week thanks to the Sabols, who brought an almost-mythic level of drama to the gladiatorial combat on the gridiron. Sabol worked as a cameraman, editor, writer, director, and producer for NFL Films, sharing a passion for the game that developed while playing football at Colorado College.

Over the next decade, the Sabols’ NFL Films segments became an institution. They were instantly recognizable to fans, not only for their on-the-field view of the plays and the players (who they often put tiny microphones on), but also for the stentorian narration of John Facenda — a man whose voice seemed to rumble down from the fog-shrouded peak of Mt. Olympus. READ FULL STORY

'General Hospital' star John Ingle dies at age 84

John Ingle, of General Hospital fame, has died, People reports. The actor, who had been on the long-running soap for over two decades, was 84 years old.

Ingle is best known as Edward Quartermaine on Hospital, a role he has played since 1993. He also appeared on Big Love and The Drew Carey Show. Prior to his acting career, Ingle was a high school drama teacher. His students included David Schwimmer, Nicolas Cage and Albert Brooks, who remembered his former teacher on Twitter: “R.I.P John Ingle. General Hospital star and my high school drama teacher. Wonderful guy.”

His wife, Grace-Lynn Martin, died in February of 2012. He is survived by his five daughters, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Phyllis Diller dies at 95

Comedian, actress, artist, and author Phyllis Diller died Monday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 95.

“She was a true pioneer,” Diller’s longtime agent Fred Wostbrock told EW. “She was the first lady of stand up comedy. She paved the way for everybody. And she conquered television, movies, Broadway, record albums, nightclubs, books, and radio. She did it all. A true pioneer.”

The housewife-turned-advertising copywriter and mother of  six got her big showbiz break in 1955 at the age of 37 when the owner of San  Francisco’s now-defunct Purple Onion nightclub gave her a substitute stand-up  spot one night. “When I went on, the room went totally quiet and I knew that I  had this magnetic thing that you had to be born with,” Diller told EW in 2005.  “You can’t buy it or even learn it.” Diller’s shtick — often revolving around  her pathetic fictional husband “Fang” and her less-than-gorgeous looks (“I love  to go to the doctor. Where else would a man look at me and say, ‘Take off your  clothes?’”) — quickly made her famous. She became a legend to generations of  female comics (“To a lot of us she was better than Bob Hope,” Roseanne Barr told  EW).

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