Sunday, April 11, 2010

This week's passings

I thought I would take advantage—this being Sunday—to highlight a few celebrity deaths that made the blogs this week but that I held off commenting on because I couldn’t think of anything substantive to say:

Dixie Carter, the actress best-known for her portrayal of bitchy Julia Sugarbaker on the hit CBS sitcom Designing Women (1986-93), has left us at the age of 70. As much I hate to admit this, I was never a fan of Carter or her Designing character (or the show, come to think of it), whom I found a bit on the preachy side—and the fact that she had a Southern accent didn’t make things any better, either. (I thought the coolest thing about Carter was that she was married to Hal Holbrook—nevertheless, my thoughts are with Mr. Holbrook and I’m truly sorry for his loss.) Your best bet would be to read Eddie Copeland’s tribute, which can be found here.

Carter’s television work wasn’t just limited to Designing Women—she also co-starred in a number of series including On Our Own (1977-78; a sitcom featuring TDOY fave Bess Armstrong), Filthy Rich (1982-83; a sitcom that teamed her with her Designing “sister” Delta Burke and Designing creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason), Diff’rent Strokes (1984-85; as Philip Drummond’s girlfriend) and Out of the Blue (1979), a fantasy comedy that was on ABC for about 12 minutes…and fittingly so.

After her success on Designing, Carter was showcased on the 1999 sitcom Ladies’ Man and the dramatic series Family Law (1999-02). Her seven-episode story arc appearance as Gloria Hodge on ABC’s Desperate Housewives in 2006 and 2007 was also quite popular, earning her an Emmy nomination.

Eddie Carroll is a name revered by OTR fans due to his first-rate impression of comedy great Jack Benny, whom he impersonated in a series of one-man tribute shows beginning in 1983 with “A Small Eternity with Jack Benny.” But he also provided the voice of one of the most endearing of the Disney cartoon characters—Jiminy Cricket—becoming only the second actor to take over the part, which he did in 1973. He’s no longer with us, shuffling off this mortal coil at the age of 76.

Meinhardt Raabe passed away this week at the age of 94. He was working his way through college when he landed the role that would make him famous—the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz (1939) who assures Dorothy and her new friends that the Wicked Witch of the East is “really most sincerely dead.”

Christopher Cazenove, a British actor who appeared in such U.K. series as The Regiment and The Duchess of Duke Street has died at the age of 64. He was well-known on this side of the pond as black sheep brother Ben Carrington on the nighttime soap Dynasty, and Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings has a nice tribute here.

Malcolm McLaren, the London-born impresario who—for better or worse—introduced music fans to the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, has also gone on to his rich reward at the age of 64. The story of McLaren and the Sex Pistols is told (loosely) in the 1980 “rockumentary” The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

Shirley Mills Hanson, who charmed audiences in 1940 as Ruthie Joad in the film classic The Grapes of Wrath, has passed away at the age of 83. Among Hanson’s other films: The Under-Pup (1939), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Reveille with Beverly (1943), Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour (1943), Nine Girls (1944) and The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951).

And Corin Redgrave, son of Sir Michael Redgrave (brother of Vanessa and Lynn), has taken his last bow at the age of 70. Though he’s best-remembered for his work on stage, he appeared in a number of TV series and films—notably In the Name of the Father (1993) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), as well as The Forsyte Saga and Trial & Retribution.

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