Herb Ellis, Actor and Jack Webb Collaborator on 'Dragnet,' Dies at 97
Herb Ellis, a veteran character actor who helped Jack Webb create the legendary cop show Dragnet, has died. He was 97.
Ellis died Dec. 26 in San Gabriel, Calif., his daughter, Karen, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Ellis played bistro owner Wilbur on the NBC-ABC crime drama Peter Gunn, created by Blake Edwards, and was the film director in the opening scene that sees Peter Sellers create havoc on his set in Edwards' 1960 comedy, The Party (1968). He also appeared in the filmmaker's What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966).
Other notable big-screen appearances came in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) and Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie (1966), and Ellis also had regular roles in the 1960s on the series Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper, and Peter Loves Mary.
Webb starred as LAPD Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet, which began on the radio in June 1949. He got the idea for the police procedural after working as a lab technician on the documentary-style film noir classic He Walked by Night (1948), starring Richard Basehart.
He and Ellis then wrote a pilot script called Joe Friday, Room 5. That show was not made, but it led to another series. "Dragnet was created at my dining room table," Ellis said in Gerald Nachman's 1998 book Raised on Radio.
"There were a lot of good actors that Jack made very unhappy. He didn't want actors, he wanted readers," Ellis continued. "Actors want to act, and they couldn't stand the show's monotone acting style. They didn't get it."
'Star Trek,' 'Doctor Who' Actor William Morgan Sheppard Dies at 86
British actor William Morgan Sheppard has passed away. He was 86.
Sheppard is best known for playing four different roles across Star Trek television and movies. He played the Rura Penth commandant in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He played Cmdr. Data’s “grandfather” Ira Graves in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Schizoid Man.” He also played a Qatai in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Bliss.” His final Star Trek role was that of the Vulcan Science Council minister is the 2009 Star Trek reboot movie.
He also appeared in the Doctor Who Season Six episode “The Impossible Astronaut.” He played an older version of the character Canton Everett Deleware III. His son, popular character actor Mark Sheppard (Crowley on Supernatural), played the younger version. Both Sheppards are among the few actors to appear in both the Star Trek and Doctor Who franchise.
The Sheppards also played the older and younger versions of the same character in an episode of NCIS. They played Marcin Jerek, a Polish-born former interrogator for the CIA, in the season six episode “Broken Bird.”
Don Lusk, Animator on 'Pinocchio,' 'Fantasia' and Charlie Brown Specials, Dies at 105
He served during Disney's 'Golden Age' and later worked on episodes of 'The Smurfs.' Don Lusk, the prolific animator whose pencil drawings brought to life Pinocchio, Fantasia and 11 other classic films during Disney's Golden Age, has died. He was 105.
Lusk died Sunday at a retirement home in San Clemente, California, his son, Skip Lusk, told The Hollywood Reporter.
From 1933-60, Lusk was one of the many animators employed by Walt Disney to work on shorts and feature films, and his output was staggering. He drew Geppetto's pet goldfish Cleo and pet tuxedo cat Figaro for Pinocchio (1940), the Arabian Fish Dance to the "Nutcracker Suite" for Fantasia (1940), the dog chase for Bambi (1942), the mice for Cinderella (1950) and the title character floating down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland (1951).
After leaving Disney, he joined Bill Melendez Productions and animated such films as A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy, Come Home (1972) and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977). He worked on 10 Peanuts primetime specials through the 1970s, including the enduring classic A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
At Hanna-Barbera, Lusk directed 136 episodes of The Smurfs as well as installments of Challenge of the GoBots, Pound Puppies, The Addams Family cartoon series and a Jetsons-Flintstones TV movie before retiring in 1993 at age 80.
He appeared in 'Pulp Fiction,' on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and as a Mighty Carson Art Player on 'The Tonight Show.' Robert Ruth, an actor who appeared in Reservoir Dogs, on Everybody Loves Raymond and as a Mighty Carson Art Player on The Tonight Show, has died. He was 82.
Ruth died Dec. 29 of complications of pneumonia in Torrance, California, his son Monty Ruth said.
For Quentin Tarantino, Ruth appeared as a cop in Reservoir Dogs (1992) and as a sportscaster in Pulp Fiction (1994), and on Everybody Loves Raymond, he played pizzeria owner Nemo on a couple of 2001 episodes.
Ruth also was heard as a boxing announcer in Rocky (1976) and as a cockroach in A Bug's Life (1998).
Born on New Year's Day in 1936, Ruth was raised on the South Side of Chicago. He boxed in the Golden Gloves tournament, entered the Marine Corps at age 17 and became a demolitions expert during the Korean War.
After studying acting at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Ruth was on an episode of Route 66 and had a small part in Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses Don’t They? (1969) before moving to Manhattan Beach to pursue a career in Hollywood.
He went on to appear in such films as Dogpound Shuffle (1975), Swashbuckler (1976), The Sleeping Car (1990) and Catch Me if You Can (2002) and on TV shows including Green Acres, Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Frasier and Veronica Clare.
Ruth appeared 65 times doing comedy skits with Johnny Carson as a member of The Mighty Carson Art Players, his son noted.
Carlos Sánchez, 83, Dies; Embodied Colombian Coffee as Juan Valdez
Carlos Sánchez, who for nearly four decades played Juan Valdez, the embodiment of Colombian coffee and one of the most recognizable pitchmen in the world, died on Dec. 29 in Medellín. He was 83.
His death was confirmed in an email from Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers, which did not specify the cause.
Mr. Sánchez first donned Valdez’s signature wide-brimmed hat in 1969. He took over for Jose F. Duval, a Cuban actor who had played the character since it was created by the New York advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1959.
Mr. Sánchez was Colombian and grew coffee as a youth before turning to painting and acting. As Valdez, an indefatigable farmer with a warm expression, a lush mustache and a mule named Conchita, he became an avatar for the farmers who harvested Colombia’s coffee beans and a positive depiction of a country that was often equated with terrorism and drug trafficking.
“I presented the image of the Colombian coffee grower, an honest man, hard-working, traditional,” Mr. Sánchez told The New York Times in 2001. “Juan Valdez would get up early, pick coffee, and what happened in time is the character became mythologized.”
Valdez picked beans on a Colombian hillside while a narrator described the laborious process behind what an early commercial called “the richest coffee in the world.”
Bloom, who currently lived in Bar Harbor, Maine, passed away at the age of 80 years old. Her family confirmed the cause was complications with dementia, though no further details were released. She is survived by her husband Jay Cocks and her son Sam (via Variety).
Bloom is known by many for her role in Animal House, the John Landis 1978 classic as Marion Wormer. She also worked with Martin Scorsese on several projects, including 1970's Street Scenes, 1985's After Hours, and 1998's The Last Temptation of Christ. She also worked on two films with Clint Eastwood, including 1973's The High Plains Drifter and 1982's Honkytonk Man.
Over the years Bloom also appeared in Cagney & Lacey, The Equalizer, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and The West Wing.
Bloom was born in 1938 in Lynn, Massachusetts, and graduated from Boston University. She would start in the local theater before eventually hitting Broadway, but her first film was 1969's Medium Cool. She also starred alongside Frank Sinatra in the television special Contract on Cherry Street, which hit in 1977, and followed that up with a part alongside Peter Fonda in The Hired Hand in 1981.