2003 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 2003. They will not be forgotten.
Charles Bronson (d: Aug 30)
Born Charles Buchinski, he changed his stage name in the early 50s in the midst of the McCarthy "Red Scare."

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 Philadelphia.

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 "The Honeymooners."

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 Dark (1967).

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 pancreatic cancer.

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 (1981).

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 Salesman."

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

THIRD MILLENNIUM entertainment