2002 Final Curtain Call
As with each New Year's Eve, the close of another year brings the final curtain call for a cast of Actors, Directors, Screenwriters and Celebrities. Hollywood veterans whose contributions will now only be enjoyed via the memories they left behind; be it print, screen, etc. What follows is a roll call for the Class of 2002. They will not be forgotten.
Milton Berle (d: March 27)
Best known and beloved for his groundbreaking work on "the tube" - where his pioneering success in the 1940's & early 50's earned him the nickname "Mr. Television."

Educated at New York Professional Children's School, "Uncle Miltie" began performing at age 5. Veteran of both Vaudeville and Broadway, Berle was cast in films starting in the 40's as the wisecracking character he developed on stage. Berle, 93, died of colon cancer.

Rosemary Clooney (d: June 29)
Clooney made her singing debut on a Cincinnati radio station at 13 and sang at multiple venues with her sister. In 1949 she went solo and later appeared in White Christmas. She was also the host of her own TV show in the 50's; The Rosemary Clooney Show.

Best known to modern audiences as the 'aunt' of film and TV actor George Clooney, the elder Clooney died of lung cancer in Beverly Hills. She was 74.

James Coburn (d: November 18)
Academy Award winning actor who gained fame for his sophisticated characterizations and action leads.

Achieved his greatest success as super agent Derek Flint in the James Bond spoof Our Man Flint (1966) and the sequel In Like Flint (1967).

A student of legendary Bruce Lee, he was in various Sam Peckinpah films of the 60's/70's plus Charade (1963) and The Great Escape (1963). Coburn was 73.

John Frankenheimer (d: July 6)
Began TV career in 1953 with CBS as an ass't director after a stint in the USAF's Motion Picture Squadron.

He had a successful television career, directing a total of 152 live television shows between 1954 and 1960.

Though he disliked "film" directing (at first), he would eventually direct such films as: The Manchurian Candidate (1962); Birdman of Alcatraz (1962); Black Sunday (1977) and Reindeer Games (2000).

Richard Harris (d: October 25)
Two time Oscar nominee and graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he spent several years on the British stage before turning to film in 1958.

A Man Called Horse (1970) rejuvenated a slumping film career and, after years of mediocre success, made another dramatic comeback in The Field (1990).

Recent films include: Patriot Games (1992); Unforgiven (1992); Gladiator (2000) and Harry Potter (2001-02). Harris, 72, died of Hodgkin's disease in London.

George Roy Hill (d: December 27)
Oscar-winning director who helped turn Paul Newman and Robert Redford into one of Hollywood's most celebrated buddy combinations with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973).

Born in 1921, Hill was a Marine aviator during WW II and the Korean War. Hill died at his home in New York City of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 81.

Other films: Hawaii (1966); Great Waldo Pepper (1975); Slap Shot (1977); The World According to Garp (1982).

Kim Hunter (d: September 11)
"Stell-aaaaa" in A Streetcar Named Desire captured an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1951.

Blacklisted for several years during the McCarthy era, her testimony against the publishers of "Red Channels" helped pave the way for clearance of many performers unjustly accused of Communist connections.

Played the sympathetic simian scientist in the 1968 scifi classic, Planet of the Apes & the next two sequels. Hunter, 79, died in New York City from heart failure.

Chuck Jones (d: February 22)
Born in 1912, Jones is one of the grand masters of animated cartoons. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner & Coyote are just a few of the many "Looney Tunes" Jones was responsible for.

At Warner Bros., he made such cartoon classics as Rabbit Seasoning (1952), Duck Dodgers in the 24th Century (1953) and What's Opera, Doc? (1957). Jones also supervised a series of Tom & Jerry shorts, created an Oscar-winning short film, and the perennial holiday TV classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Dudley Moore (d: March 27)
Born 1935 in Dagenham, Essex (UK), Moore entered movies following a successful career writing and performing in British satirical revues.

He studied music while at Oxford and was an accomplished pianist who composed the scores for several films in the 60's. His career sky-rocketed when cast as the lovably drunk millionaire in 1981's Arthur which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Moore, 66, died in New Jersey from pneumonia as a complication of progressive supranuclear palsy.

Rod Steiger (d: July 9)
Academy Award winning actor who was a NYC stage veteran before starring in a host of high profile films.

Steiger's breakthrough role came in 1954 with the classic On the Waterfront. He also appeared in Doctor Zhivago (1965) and starred in the 1966 TV version of his stage play, Death of a Salesman.

It was his portrayal as the redneck sheriff in 1967's In the Heat of the Night that snagged him the Oscar; after nods in 1964 and 1965. Steiger, 77, died in LA after suffering pneumonia and kidney failure.

Robert Urich (d: April 16)
Vegas and Spencer: For Hire star, he received an M.A. at MSU but got his big acting break from Burt Reynolds when he played Burt's younger brother in a stage production of "The Rainmaker" (1972).

Urich holds the record for having the most series-regular roles on TV (13) starting with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1973). His 1996 TV series The Lazarus Man was canceled when he was diagnosed with cancer but, after it went into remission, he briefly returned to television. Emmy Award winner Urich was 55.

Billy Wilder (d: March 27)
One of the legends of Hollywood, Wilder was nominated for 21 Oscars - winning a total of six for his roles as screenwriter and director. Born in Poland in 1906, he sold his first story to Paramount in 1937 and enjoyed a 25+ year heyday from the early 1940's to late 60's.

His resume includes: Double Indemnity (1944); The Lost Weekend (1945); A Foreign Affair (1948); Sunset Blvd (1950); Stalag 17 (1953); Sabrina (1954); The Seven Year Itch (1955); The Spirit of St. Louis (1957); Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960).

Visit this link for a complete listing of those in the film industry who passed in 2002

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