Adam West, TV’s Batman, Dies at 88!

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LOS ANGELES, Kalifornia (PNN) - June 10, 2017 - Adam West - an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series Batman - died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

West became known to a new generation of TV fans through his recurring voice role on Fox’s “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West, the horribly corrupt, inept and vain leader of Quahog, Rhode Island. West was a regular on the show from 2000 through its most recent season. West in recent years did a wide range of voice-over work, on such shows as Adult Swim’s R” and Disney Channel’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

But it was his role as the Caped Crusader in the 1966-68 ABC series Batman that defined West’s career.

With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, Batman became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. The half-hour action comedy was such a hit that it aired twice a week on ABC at its peak. But within two seasons, the show’s popularity slumped as quickly as it soared.

West’s portrayal of the super hero and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.

West also chafed against the darker versions of Bob Kane’s hero that emerged in more recent years, beginning with the Michael Keaton-starring, Tim Burton-directed adaptations that began in 1989, and followed by Christopher Nolan’s enormously successful Dark Knight trilogy.

In February 2016, the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which had hosted a number of geek favorites over the years, celebrated its 200th episode - and marked the 50th anniversary of Batman - with an appearance by West.

Asked by Variety what the character of Batman has come to mean to him over five decades, West said, “Money. Some years ago I made an agreement with Batman. There was a time when Batman really kept me from getting some pretty good roles, and I was asked to do what I figured were important features. However, Batman was there, and very few people would take a chance on me walking on to the screen. They’d be taking people away from the story. So I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to reengage myself with Batman; and I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it.”

West made his feature debut in 1959’s The Young Philadelphians, starring Paul Newman. Before he donned the mask and cape, West was a rising star in late 1950s and early 1960s TV series, notably westerns and cop shows. He logged roles on Lawman, Cheyenne, The FBI Story, Colt .45, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Hawaiian Eye, Bonanza, The Rifleman, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, The Real McCoys, Bewitched, The Outer Limits, and The Virginian, among other programs. He was a series regular on the 1959-62 drama series The Detectives (which aired on ABC and later NBC), playing a police sergeant.

His film roles in this period were few and far between but included a part in the 1965 Three Stooges vehicle The Outlaws Is Coming.

The origins of the Batman series are actually quite complex, but the project eventually landed at 20th Century Fox, which handed it to producer William Dozier, who devised the show’s camp comedy sensibility.

Both West and Lyle Waggoner were considered for the part of Batman before West was cast, playing alongside Burt Ward as his sidekick Robin.

In a PBS special that touched on the show, Ward noted that West’s slow, portentous delivery was occasionally designed to eat up screen time, thus cutting into his co-star’s dialogue.

With actors like Cesar Romero (Joker) and Burgess Meredith (Penguin) comprising Batman’s rogue’s gallery of villains, the show became an almost instant success, urging viewers to tune in for the next episode at the “Same Bat-time.” The series spawned a movie - pitting the Dynamic Duo against a team-up of villains - before being canceled after three seasons due, primarily, to its high production costs.

The show came to be viewed with some contempt in comic book circles, especially after the darker vision of Batman became dominant in the ’70s and ’80s.

West found serious film work scarce following the series, though he remained in demand for personal appearances as the character and voice work, including a recurring stint on F”, and animated versions of Batman. Other roles ranged from The Happy Hooker and Hooper to the Michael Tolkin-directed movies The Rapture and The New Age.

By many accounts, West maintained a good sense of humor about his fame and his caped alter-ego. He remained a favorite of many producers for comedy guest shots, logging roles in recent years on such shows as 30 Rock, George Lopez, The King of Queens, and this year’s short-lived NBC comedy Powerless.

West was also prolific as a voice actor. He worked on dozens of animated series during the past 40 years, from numerous incarnations of the Batman character to Kim Possible, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Oddparents, The Boondocks, and Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero.

West wrote two books, one titled Back to the Batcave and published in the mid-1990s, in which he said that he was “angry and disappointed” not to have been offered the chance to reprise the role in the Burton movies, despite being 60 at the time. The attendant publicity seemed to put West back on the cultural radar, at least as a source of nostalgia.

Born William West Anderson in 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington, the actor later adopted his stage name, and began his career in earnest when he moved to Hawaii in the 1950s to star in a local children’s program.

He is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

James Bond actor Roger Moore dead at 89!

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BERN, Switzerland (PNN) - May 23, 2017 - Roger Moore, the suavely insouciant star of seven James Bond films, has died in Switzerland. He was 89.

The British actor died Tuesday after a short battle with cancer, according to a family statement posted on Moore’s official Twitter account.

“We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF, which he considered to be his greatest achievement,” the statement said.

Moore’s relaxed style and sense of whimsy, which relied heavily on the arched eyebrow, seemed a commentary on the essential ridiculousness of the Bond films, in which the handsome British secret agent was as adept at mixing martinis, bedding beautiful women, and ordering gourmet meals as he was at disposing of super-villains trying to take over the world.

“To me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous,” he once said. “I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet, everybody knows he’s a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It’s outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well.”

While he never eclipsed Sean Connery in the public’s eye as the definitive James Bond, Moore did play the role of secret agent 007 in just as many films as Connery did, and he managed to do so while “finding a joke in every situation,” according to film critic Rex Reed.

The actor, who came to the role in 1973 after Connery tired of it, had already enjoyed a long career in films and television, albeit with mixed success.

He was remembered warmly by fans of the popular U.S. 1950s-60s TV series Maverick as Beauregarde Maverick, the English cousin of the Wild West’s Maverick brothers, Bret and Bart. He also starred in the 1959 U.S. series The Alaskans.

In England, he had a long-running TV hit with The Saint, playing Simon Templar, the enigmatic action hero who helps put wealthy crooks in jail while absconding with their fortunes. By the time the series, which also aired in the United States, ended in 1969, his partnership with its producers had made him a wealthy man.

Such success followed a Time magazine review of one of his earliest films, 1956’s Diane, in which his performance opposite Lana Turner was dismissed as that of “a lump of English roast beef.”

In the 1970s, film critic Vincent Canby would dismiss Moore’s acting abilities as having “reduced all human emotions to a series of variations on one gesture, the raising of the right eyebrow.”

Born in London, the only child of a policeman, Moore had studied painting before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He played a few small roles in theater and films before his mandatory army duty, then moved to Hollywood in the 1950s. He appeared opposite Elizabeth Taylor in 1954’s The Last Time I Saw Paris and with Eleanor Parker in Interrupted Melody the following year.

In 1970, he became managing director for European production for Faberge’s Brut Productions. With the company, he co-starred with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders for British television and was involved in producing A Touch of Class, which won a best-actress Oscar for Glenda Jackson.

Three years later, he made his first James Bond film, Live and Let Die.

He would make six more, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, and A View to a Kill over the next 12 years; and while the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels that the films were based on was generally described as being in his 30s, Moore would stay with the role until he was 57.

He continued to work regularly in films after handing over Bond to Timothy Dalton, but never with the same success. His post-Bond films included such forgettable efforts as The Quest with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Spice World with the Spice Girls.

In 1991, Moore became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, having been introduced to the role by the late actress Audrey Hepburn. As Hepburn had, he threw much of his energy into the task.

“I felt small, insignificant and rather ashamed that I had traveled so much making films and ignored what was going on around me,” he said in describing how the work had affected him.

In 1996, when his UNICEF job took him to the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, he disclosed that he too had been a victim.

“I was molested when I was a child - not seriously - but I didn’t tell my mother until I was 16, because I felt that it was something to be ashamed of,” he told The Associated Press.

He gave no details, but said it was important to encourage young victims not to feel guilty.

“They’re being exploited. We have to tell them that,” Moore said.

Moore received the Dag Hammarskjold Inspiration Award for his work with UNICEF and was named a commander in France’s National Order of Arts and Letters in 2008, an award he said was worth “more than an Oscar.” That same year he published an autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, which included details about his work on the Bond films, his friendship with Hepburn, his encounters with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and other stars, and his health struggles -including a bout with prostate cancer, which he beat.

Moore was divorced three times, from skater Doorn Van Steyn in 1953, English singer Dorothy Squires in 1969,and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli, the mother of his children Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian, in 2000.

He married a fourth time, in 2002, to Swedish socialite Kristina Tholstrup.

Debbie Reynolds dead at 84!

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BEVERLY HILLS, Kalifornia (PNN) - December 28, 2016 - Debbie Reynolds, who rose to stardom in Singin’ in the Rain and quickly became a staple among Hollywood royalty, died Wednesday as a result of a stroke, just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away.

Debbie was rushed to a hospital shortly after 1:00 p.m. when someone at the Beverly Hills home of her son, Todd, called 911 to report a possible stroke. We're told Debbie and Todd were making funeral plans for Carrie, who died Tuesday of cardiac arrest.

Debbie famously divorced Eddie Fisher in 1959 after his affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Debbie married 2 more times, in 1960 and 1984.

She played iconic roles in Tammy and the Bachelor and The Unsinkable Molly Brown - for which she earned an Oscar nomination.

Carrie's relationship with Debbie was the focus of Carrie's semi-autobiographical book, Postcards from the Edge, which was later adapted for the big screen, starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

Debbie is survived by her son Todd, who said, "She's with Carrie."

She was 84.

Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher dead at 60!

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LOS ANGELES, Kalifornia (PNN) - December 27, 2016 - Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher is dead at age 60. The actress and writer suffered a massive heart attack while on a flight from London to LAX, and went to cardiac arrest. Days later, she was decleared dead.

Fisher is best known for her role as Princess Leia Organa/Skywalker in George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy - a role she had recently reprised for the smash hit sequel Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII in 2017.

Fisher was born in Beverly Hills, Kalifornia, to a singer father and actress mother, making show business a natural progression for her. She made her movie debut in the Warren Beatty/Goldie Hawn 1975 comedy Shampoo before breaking into stardom with Star Wars in 1977 as Princess Leia - a role that would carry her through the '80s as the Star Wars trilogy became a worldwide phenomenon. Her status as a pop-culture icon would live on for the rest of her life and career, as she popped up for cameos in many famous projects (Austin Powers, Scream 3, 30 Rock, Family Guy), often mocking her own Star Wars persona.

She was also a frank and fearless author who would use her own personal struggles with things like drugs and bi-polar disorder as means of creating discourse and helping others. If that wasn't enough, she was also a playwright and performer, as well as a script writer/doctor, who even helped George Lucas with projects like Young Indiana Jones and the Star Wars prequels. Her written work recently thrust her into the limelight again, when her recent memoir, The Princess Diarist, provided surprising details of her life - such as a brief affair with co-star Harrison Ford

Our thoughts go out to Fisher's family and friends during their time of grieving - as well as the entire Star Wars fan and filmmaking community, to whom Carrie Fisher will always be royalty.

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