In Memoriam: 2017
It is time for our annual rolecall of the men and women of the film industry we lost in 2017. It is always a sad thing to lose people whose talents we have loved and admired on screen, but we hope that you will take this also as an opportunity to rediscover their work, or perhaps discover it for the first time. Needless to say even though their work lives on in the movies they will be missed.
Please share your favourite movie memories of the people we lost in 2017 in the comments field below.
John Hurt (22nd January 1940 – 25th January 2017)
Born in a coal mining village in Darbyshire in 1940, this prolific English actor achieved great fame on both sides of the Atlantic over the course of his long career. Hurt had his stage premiere in 1962 and his screen début the same year in the poorly received Romantic drama The Wild and the Willing (1962). During his career, Hurt was nominated twice for an Oscar, first for a supporting role in Midnight Express (1978) and secondly for his great performance as the title character of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980). His big popular breakthrough was without doubt in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and he won a new generation of fans as the wand maker Olivander in the Harry Potter series. A versatile and respected actor with his distinctive voice died at his home on the Norfolk coast from pancreatic cancer three days after his 77th birthday.
John Hurt as the wand maker Olivander in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Bill Paxton (17th May 1955 – 25th February 2017)
Another actor to get a popular breakthough in the Alien franchise, Paxton rose to wide awareness as Private Hudson in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). The Texan-born American actor appeared in memorable suporting roles in a number of popular films throughout the 1980s including The Terminator (1984), Weird Science (1985), the aforementioned Aliens (1986), and Predator 2 (1990). During the 1990s he moved to meatier supporting roles in film such as Tombstone (1993) and Apollo 13 (1995) as well as moving in to directing and writing with his crime thriller Frailty (2001). Loved by fans and remembered for his versatile but always memorable performances. Paxton died at the age of 61 from complications after back surgery.
Bill Paxton as Private Hudson in Aliens (1986)
Roger Moore (14th October 1927 – 23rd May 2017)
The English actor Roger Moore’s fame rests on some memorable television series and his portrayal of Ian Fleming’s famous spy James Bond in a total of six films from 1973 to 1985. Taking over after Sean Connery, the man who defined the character for the silver screen, Moore had big shoes to follow, but managed to bring his own fun-loving and easy charm to the role. The James Bond films of the Moore era range from the good, such as Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) to the silly, such as Moonraker (1979) and Octopussy (1983). Although Moore continued to work post Bond, mainly voice work, his career never reached the same heights against. He died at the age of 89 in Switzerland after having suffered from cancer.
Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy (1983)
Martin Landau (20th June 1928 – 15th July 2017)
This Oscar-winning Brookynite’s film career spanned 58 years and his first noticable role was in none other than Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller North by Northwest (1959). However, an acting was not the profession Landau started in, in fact, in his youth he worked as a newspaper cartoonist. But the dream of acting would not die and when he applied to Lee Strasberg’s acting studio along with 2000 others only two were accepted: Landau and Steve McQueen. His striking appearance and great talent gave him work in a variety of areas, from Broadway to television sci-fi, but he is best rememembered for his most critically acclaimed work, especially his Oscar-nominated role in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and his Oscar-winning portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994). Landau died at the age of 89 after a brief period of illness.
Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994)
June Foray (18th September 1917 – 26th July 2017)
Not a familiar face to many, legendary voice actress June Foray was certainly a familiar voice. With a filmography that includes Lucifer in Disney’s Cinderella (1950), Grandmother Fa in Disney’s Mulan (1998), and Wheezy / Leena Hyena in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), as well as voicing Magica de Spell, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Grammi Gummi, and many more voice roles for television, June Foray’s career is one of the greatest in the history of animation acting. The June Foray Award giving at the annual Annie Awards “in recognition of a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation” was named in her honour. Foray’s health had been declining since an automobile accident in 2015 and she passed away peacefully two months before her 100th birthday.
A small selection of June Foray’s voices.
Sam Shepard (5th November 1943 – 27th July 2017)
Sam Shepard was not only a gifted actor, but an acclaimed playwright with a Pulittzer prize and 10 Obie Awards (Off-Broadway) for writing and directing. Yet Shepard also had an impressive acting career marked by a number of great supporting performances, one of which in The Right Stuff (1983) earned him an Oscar nomination. The standout performance in the latter part of his career was as Tom in Jeff Nichol’s moody Southern drama Mud. Apart from writing and acting Shepard was a teacher for many years but was plagued in his final years by schleorsis. He died in his Kentucky home at the age of 73.
Sam Shepard as Beverly Weston in August: Osage County (2013)
Jerry Lewis (16th March 1926 – 20th August 2017)
Jerry Lewis was one of the greats of American comedy. Remembered best for his slapstick humour, Lewis wrote directed and starred in a number of comedy classics, including Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Ladies Man (1961), and The Nutty Professor (1963). Lewis’s fame on television, the big screen, and stage was so great that he was given the nickname “The King og Comedy”. He happily performed in nightclubs, on radio, on stage, on film, and television, although his cinematic career declined after the 1960s. Jerry Lewis was an inspiration to comedians such as Jim Carrey and Steve Martin, as well as fellow filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. Lewis died at the age of 91 in his Las Vegas home.
Jerry Lewis as the title character in The Nutty Professor (1963)
Harry Dean Stanton (14th July 1927 – 15th September 2017)
The final name on our list is yet another actor to appear in the Alien franchise. Kentucky-born Harry Dean Stanton began his career in the 1950s in television and first appeared in movies in the late 1950s, but his best remembered early role is as Brett in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). Since then his weatherbeaten appearance has lend itself to a vast number of small roles, including The Godfather, part II (1974), Pretty in Pink (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Wild at Heart (1990), and The Green Mile (1999), making him one of America’s great character actors. Stanton last appeared in the television revival of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and will appear in the upcoming film Frank & Ava (2018). Harry Dean Stanton died at the age of 91.