May 24, 2013

Steve Forrest, Performer on Film and TV’s ‘S.W.A.T.,’ Dies at 87

Steve Forrest, a strapping actor known to television viewers as Lt. Dan Harrelson on the 1970s action series “S.W.A.T.,” died on Saturday in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 87.

A younger brother of the actor Dana Andrews, Mr. Forrest divided his career between the large and small screens. His early film credits include “So Big” (1953), based on the Edna Ferber novel, in which he played the adult son of Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden; “Heller in Pink Tights” (1960), directed by George Cukor, in which he portrayed Anthony Quinn’s rival for Sophia Loren’s affections; and “The Longest Day” (1962), in which he played an American captain confronting D-Day.

William Forrest Andrews was born in Huntsville, Tex., on Sept. 29, 1925, the 12th of 13 children of Charles Andrews, a Baptist minister. After Army service in World War II, in which he fought at the Battle of the Bulge, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a major in theater and a minor in psychology.

He took the stage name Steve Forrest early in his career to distinguish himself from his brother.

Mr. Forrest, who lived in Westlake Village, Calif., is survived by his wife, the former Christine Carilas, whom he married in 1948; three sons, Michael, Forrest and Stephen, all of whom use the last name Andrews; and four grandchildren.

His other film credits include “Prisoner of War” (1954), opposite Ronald Reagan; “Flaming Star” (1960), in which he played Elvis Presley’s half-brother; “North Dallas Forty” (1979); and “Mommie Dearest” (1981).

On Broadway, Mr. Forrest portrayed an Ivy League-educated aspiring prizefighter in the musical comedy “The Body Beautiful,” which ran for 60 performances in 1958.

For British television, he starred in “The Baron,” a well-received espionage series of the mid-1960s in which he played an antiques dealer moonlighting as an undercover agent.

May 07, 2013

Ray Harryhausen dies at 92; special-effects legend

Ray Harryhausen pioneered stop-motion animation, creating classics such as 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,' and 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.' Without his work, 'there never would have been a "Star Wars" or a "Jurassic Park,''' Steven Spielberg said.

Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animation legend whose work on "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms," "Jason and the Argonauts" and other science fiction and fantasy film classics made him a cult figure who inspired later generations of filmmakers and special-effects artists, has died. He was 92.

Harryhausen died Tuesday in London, where he had lived for decades. His death was confirmed by Kenneth Kleinberg, his longtime legal representative in the United States.

In the pre-computer-generated-imagery era in which he worked, Harryhausen used the painstaking process of making slight adjustments to the position of his three-dimensional, ball-and-socket-jointed scale models and then shooting them frame-by-frame to create the illusion of movement. Footage of his exotic beasts and creatures was later often combined with live action.

Working with modest budgets and typically with only two or three assistants -- if any -- to keep costs down, Harryhausen created innumerable memorable big-screen moments.

In "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" (1953), a dinosaur thawed out by A-bomb testing in the Arctic goes on a Big Apple rampage in which it devours a New York cop before meeting its demise at Coney Island.

In "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963), the mythological hero Jason, played by Todd Armstrong, slays a seven-headed hydra guarding the Golden Fleece, then Jason and two of his men battle seven sword-wielding warrior skeletons that spring from the hydra's scattered teeth.

In "The Valley of Gwangi" (1969), a group of turn-of-the-20th-century cowboys on horseback attempt to lasso the movie title's namesake, a 14-foot Tyrannosaurus rex, to capture it for a Wild West show.

And who can forget the prehistoric flying reptile that scoops up and carries off Raquel Welch, clad in an animal-skin bikini, in "One Million Years BC" (1966)?

In 1992, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Harryhausen with the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technical achievement.

Harryhausen's survivors include his wife of 50 years, Diana, and a daughter, Vanessa.

May 01, 2013

Deanna Durbin, Plucky Movie Star of the Depression Era, Is Dead at 91

Deanna Durbin, who as a plucky child movie star with a sweet soprano voice charmed American audiences during the Depression and saved Universal Pictures from bankruptcy before she vanished from public view 64 years ago, has died, a fan club announced on Tuesday. She was 91.

In a newsletter, the Deanna Durbin Society said Ms. Durbin died “a few days ago,” quoting her son, Peter H. David, who thanked her admirers for respecting her privacy. No other details were given.

Ms. Durbin had remained determinedly out of public view since 1949, when she retired to a village in France with her third husband.

From 1936 to 1942, Ms. Durbin was everyone’s intrepid kid sister or spunky daughter, a wholesome, radiant, can-do girl who in a series of wildly popular films was always fixing the problems of unhappy adults.

And as an instant Hollywood star with her very first movie, “Three Smart Girls,” she almost single-handedly fixed the problems of her fretting bosses at Universal, bringing them box-office gold.

In 1946, Ms. Durbin’s salary of $323,477 from Universal made her the second-highest-paid woman in America, just $5,000 behind Bette Davis.

After moving to France in 1949 and settling outside Paris in the village of Neauphle-le-Ch√Ęteau, Ms. Durbin devoted most of her time to keeping her home, cooking and raising her children. In addition to Peter, her son from her marriage to Mr. David, Ms. Durbin had a daughter, Jessica, from her second marriage. Mr. David died in 1999, a few months before their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr. David once said that he and Ms. Durbin had made a deal that he would protect her “from spiders, mosquitoes and reporters.”