Haruo Nakajima, the stunt actor who stomped to fame as the original Godzilla, has died from pneumonia at 88. A kind of low-tech predecessor to Anthony Serkis, Nakajima played the Monster King in 12 movies, and also performed a number of other famous Japanese feature creatures.
Leaving behind a massive filmography, June Foray has died just weeks short of her 100th birthday. Foray is best known for her work as Granny and Witch Hazel on “Looney Tunes” and as Rocky and Natasha on “Rocky & Bullwinkle.” Her spanned decades and genres and included:
- Various Characters (and the voice of Betty in the pilot) on The Flintstones
- Lucifer in Walt Disney’s Cinderella
- Magica De Spell on DuckTales
- Granny Gummi on Gummi Bears
- Grandmother Fa on Mulan
- Talky Tina on The Twilight Zone (The Living Doll)
- Jokey Smurf on The Smurfs
- Aunt May on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
A tireless advocate for animation, she helped establish the Annie Awards as well as getting the Academy Awards to add the Full-Length Animated Feature award in 2007. Her autobiography, “Did You Grow Up with Me?” was published 2009.
George Romero died this week. His most noteworthy film, Night of the Living Dead, combined Afro-Caribbean zombies with Middle Eastern ghouls and his own concepts and invented the modern zombie.
May he Rest in Peace.
Joan Lee, wife of Marvel mastermind Stan Lee, has died at 93.
This week we lost Adam West, the actor best-known for his deliberately wooden, comic turn as Batman in the 1960s. While many bat-fans find the series an embarrassment, its runaway success helped revitalize the superhero comic, and demonstrated that superheroes could work in mainstream media. Only Superman, really, had achieved that status beforehand, on radio and television.1
The Harry Potter Festival organized for Goderich, Ontario, has had to move to nearby Blyth. Those who booked accommodations in scenic Goderich will receive shuttlebus service. The festival will see the small town transformed into some Harry Potter-verse equivalent over the three-day festival, which has attracted ticket-buyers from around the world.
Japan’s Softbank is buying Boston Dynamics, Google’s robot company:
SpaceX update and a couple of Cons, below:
Richard Hatch, the man who originated the role of Apollo on the 1978 version of Battlestar Galactica, has passed away at age 71. He joined the cast of the 2003 reboot as terrorist/political leader Tom Zarek.
He was no stranger to genre film (particularly the B-grade variety) and had appeared in the legally questionable Prelude to Axnar (and was set to appear in the full version, had that gone through).
In addition to acting, Hatch wrote a number of novels set in BSG universe. In 1999 he attempted his own reboot of the show that made him famous, producing a trailer for Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming.
He is survived by his son, Paul.
Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon (so far) and the second man to walk in space, died January 16 at the age of 82.
Peter Blatty, a writer who was best-known for his comedy work until he penned The Exorcist, died on Thursday, January 12 at the age of 89.
UPDATE: We have also lost Dick Gautier. The actor, nominated for a Tony as the original “Conrad Birdie” in Bye Bye Birdie, is best known to TV viewers as “Hymie the Robot” from Get Smart. He was 85.
Richard Adams, best-known as the author of Watership Down, died at the age of 96 on Christmas Eve, 2016. He joins Carrie Fisher and a host of other beloved and celebrated individuals to leave before the end of this problematic year.