As with each New Year's Eve, the close of another year
brings the final
curtain call for a cast of Actors, Directors,
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 2003.
They will not be
Charles Bronson (d: Aug 30)
Born Charles Buchinski, he changed his stage name in
the early 50s in the midst of the McCarthy "Red
One of 15 children, he worked in the PA coal mines to
support the family. After serving as a tailgunnner during WW II, he used his G.I. Bill rights to study art in
Characterized as a "tough guy," some of his films
include: The Magnificent
Seven (1960), The Great Escape
(1963) and The Dirty Dozen (1967) - however it was 1974's Death Wish which
secured Bronsan's fame. He was 81.
Art Carney (d: November 9)
"...Heyyyyyy Ralphie boy!"
Veteran of radio, stage and film, Carney (85) is
immortalized in rerun heaven as the goofy but lovable
Ed Norton - Jackie Gleason's neighbor/ sidekick on the
In 1965, he originated the role of Felix Unger for
Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" on Broadway though also
suffered a nervous breakdown over the end of his
25-year marriage. He would eventually recoup, win the
Oscar for Harry and Tonto (1974) and re-marry his former wife in
1980; whom he is survived by.
Richard Crenna (d: January 17)
Born in 1926, the Emmy-Award winning actor started his
career in radio at the age of 11. Crenna went on to
star in two early television hits, "The Real McCoys"
and "Our Miss Brooks" and appeared in features such as
The Sand Pebbles (1966) and Wait Until
For modern audiences, he is best known as Col. Samuel
Trautman - the man who built "Rambo." He received his
1985 Emmy for Best Performance by an Actor for The Rape of Richard Beck. Crenna, whose Walk of Fame star is just
two away from Sly (Rambo) Stallone's, passed away from
Hume Cronyn (d: June 15)
Canadian born actor who worked in radio, film and the
stage was married for 50+ years to actress Jessica
Tandy; until her death in 1994.
Cronyn made his film debut in Hitchcock's 1943
thriller, Shadow Of A Doubt. He received an Oscar nom for The Seventh Cross
(1944) and won a Tony (1964) for his performance in
the Broadway production of "Hamlet."
Additional credits: The Postman
Always Rings Twice (1946), Cocoon (1985) and
"Broadway Bound" which won him an Emmy in 1992.
Cronyn was 91.
Kinji Fukasaku (d: January 12)
Japanese filmmaker and Head of the Director's Guild of
Japan, he was best known for his "War Without a Code"
yakuza movie series.
Born in 1930, he joined the Toei Co. film studio in
1953. His film best known to western audiences is the
Japan-U.S. collaboration, Tora!
Tora! Tora! (1970) in which he
replaced Akira Kurosawa. In 2000, he directed the
controversial Battle Royale which depicted killings between junior
high students. Recipient of the government's Medal
with Purple Ribbon for his accomplishments in film, he
died in Tokyo.
Buddy Hackett (d: June 30)
This film, television and stage comedian began his
career in showbiz after serving in the Army with an
antiaircraft unit during World War II.
Born in Brooklyn as Leonard Hacker, he was to replace
the ailing Curly Howard as a member of The Three
Stooges in 1952 but backed out of the deal after
witnessing their "violent" antics.
Film credits include: It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), Muscle Beach
Party (1964) and The Love Bug (1968).
Hackett, 78, passed away of natural causes.
Katharine Hepburn (d: June 29)
"Box-office poison" or "First Lady of Cinema?" In any event,
the fact remains Hepburn holds the record for most Oscar noms (12) and wins (4)
for Best Actress.
Born in 1907, Hepburn was a star of both stage and
reel. She paired up with Spencer Tracy for a total of
nine films and their relationship lasted for over 25
years; both professionally and privately.
Some of her credits include: The
Philadelphia Story (1940), The African Queen
(1951), Guess Who's Coming to
Dinner (1967) and On Golden Pond
Gregory Hines (d: August 9)
Winner of a 1992 Tony Award for the Broadway musical
"Jelly's Last Jam." Hines, born in NYC in 1946, began
his professional career at the age of five when he was
part of "Hines, Hines and Dad" - a tap dancing act
that included his brother, Maurice, and their father.
An accomplished tap dancer, many of his films
featured his dancing including White Nights (1985)
and Tap (1989).
Hines abandoned the role of Axel Foley in 48 Hrs. due to
scheduling conflicts with The
Cotton Club (1984) -- a film set
in the Harlem club where his grandmother had once been
a performer in the 20s/30s.
Bob Hope (d: July 27)
"Thanks for the Memory."
Hope was an entertainment icon: Vaudeville. Broadway.
Radio. Television. Film.
His most successful films were the Road to ... comedies
(1940-1952) in which he teamed up with Bing Crosby.
Hope entertained troops overseas in every war from
WWII to the Gulf War, 11 different presidents and has
four stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame
He is listed the Guinness Book Of World Records for
being the "most honored entertainer" - with over 1500
awards. Hope was 100.
Gordon Jump (d: September 22)
Predominantly a television actor, Jump began his
career behind-the-scenes in television and radio
stations in the mid-West.
Moving to LA in 1963, he became involved in stage
productions but within a few years, he began to appear
in numerous TV shows: "Green Acres," The Brady Bunch,"
"Lou Grant," "Soap" and "Seinfeld." Starting in 1989,
he portrayed the lonely Maytag repairman in
commercials that ran for several years.
For many though, he will be fondly remembered as radio
station manager Arthur Carlson in the TV sitcom "WKRP
in Cincinnati." He was 71
Elia Kazan (d: September 28)
Born to Greek parents in 1909, he emigrated to the US
as a child and began his career on Broadway, directing
such hits "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Death of a
His film credits equally impressive: Gentleman's Agreement
(1947), A Streetcar Named
Desire (1951), On the Waterfront
(1954) and East of Eden (1955). He received 5 Oscar noms
and two Academy Awards.
Despite his success, some may never forgive his
testimony to the House Un-American Activities
Committee that led to the infamous "Blacklist."
John Ritter (d: September 11)
Son of legendary country singer/actor, Tex Ritter, he
appeared in a series of stage plays throughout Europe
in the late 60s.
Ritter's role as Jack Tripper on the 70s hit sitcom,
"Three's Company" made him a star. Though he appeared
in many other productions after the series'
eight-year run, he never enjoyed similar success.
"8 Simple Rules" changed that by bringing him back to
the limelight - though tragedy struck during one of
the show's rehearsal when he suffered a fluke heart
ailment. He was only 54.
Gregory Peck (d: June 12)
One of Hollywood's A-list talents during the 40s-60s, Peck originally had
plans to be a doctor, studying pre-med at Berkeley, before he turned to the stage.
He received his first (of 5) Oscar noms for his second film,
The Keys of the Kingdom (1944).
In The Yearling(1946), he
was again nominated for the Academy Award and won the Golden Globe.
He finally won the Oscar for his role as lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).
AMPAS Chairman during the late 1960s, Peck supported many charitable and political causes. He was 87.
John Schlesinger (d: July 25)
British born filmmaker, he served with the Royal Engineers during World War 2.
During the 50s he worked as an actor in films, radio and TV as well as directing documentaries for the BBC.
A three time Oscar nominee, his "X-rated" Midnight Cowboy won him the Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture in 1969.
Working in both the US and UK, Schlesinger's credits include: Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971), Marathon Man (1976), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and Pacific Heights (1990). He was 77.
Visit this link for a complete listing of those in the
film industry who
passed in 2003