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Damien Bona: A Remembrance

I’ve known Damien through his books for more than twenty-five years and personally for about half that time although I met him in person just once, almost ten years ago.

Damien was passionate about many things, from the San Francisco Giants to the Broadway Theatre; from liberal politics to good food. Most of all he was passionate about the movies and did something about it.

Before Inside Oscar, which he co-wrote with Columbia University classmate Mason Wiley, information on the Oscars was hard to come by. Until the mid-1960s there were no reference books on Oscar nominees and winners. Annual almanacs listed winners in the major categories, but that was it. The first books on Academy history listed just the winners in the top three categories. Eventually this changed and by the 1970s we had picture books of winners with nominees listed in the top five or six categories with winners in other categories noted.

It wasn’t until Damien and Mason’s exhaustively researched book was released in 1986 that we had something that told with living, breathing detail the Oscar story of each year from the release of the major contenders to the campaigns to the “big night” with all the juicy tidbits added for good measure. The book, which took them four years to write, was updated annually through 1988 and again in 1993 by Damien and Mason and once again in 1996 by Damien after Mason’s death. Damien later wrote Inside Oscar 2 published in 2002, covering the awards through 2000.

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Frequent Oscar Telecast Producer Gil Cates Has Died at 77

Through much of my formative Oscar viewing years, Gil Cates produced the Academy Awards telecast (14 of the 22 years I've watched the Oscars), so his passing is something of an important event for me. I may not have loved many of his choices, but the best telecasts were frequently under his wizened hand. He will be missed.

Hollywood Reporter - He produced a record 14 Academy Awards telecasts in the span of 18 years.

Gilbert Cates, who produced a record 14 Oscar telecasts during an 18-year span, has died, TMZ reported Tuesday. He was 77; his body was reportedly discovered in a parking lot at UCLA. A spokesperson for the Academy could not confirm the report early Tuesday.

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Steve Jobs, tech giant, has died at 56

His most important contribution to society and culture is in co-founding Apple computers and building it into one of the most popular and well known computer companies in history, but he has also been an important part of film history. He purchased a computer graphics studio from George Lucas' Lucasfilms, which he spun off and which became known as Pixar Animation Studios, one of the most consistent film production studios in history. He was also a majority shareholder at Disney. He may have been better recognized at Apple, but there's no denying his impact on modern film history. Here's the obituary from CNN. (On the delay, I heard the news with everyone else shortly around 7pm last night, however, I did not have a chance to post this until this morning.)

By Brandon Griggs, CNN (CNN) -- Steve Jobs, the visionary who led a mobile computer revolution with the creation of wildly popular devices such as the iPhone, was mourned Thursday by admirers and competitors as much of the world awoke to news of his death.

Jobs' death was announced Wednesday by Apple, the Silicon Valley company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak. He was 56.

"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being," Apple said in a statement on its website.

"Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor."
Steve Jobs was a 'visionary' Steve Jobs is diagnosed with cancer Jobs' pitch for a new Apple campus Wozniak: Jobs made 'people happy'

The hard-driving executive pioneered the concept of the personal computer and of navigating them by clicking onscreen images with a mouse.

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Oscar Winner Cliff Robertson Has Died at 88

Cliff Robertson who won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1968 for the film Charly. Although he would never receive another Oscar nomination, his career was productive and he was always a compelling actor to watch. Below is the obituary from Hollywood Reporter.

The "Charly" and "Spider-Man" actor died Saturday, one day after his birthday.

Hollywood Reporter, by Duane Byrge
Cliff Robertson, who won a Best Actor Oscar for “Charly” (1968), and who blew the lid of a check-forging scandal at Columbia Pictures in 1977, has died.

Although he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as the mentally-impaired Charly, Robertson’s best-know role was, perhaps, in real-life. He was touted as a “profile in courage” for reporting that Columbia studio head David Begelman had forged his name on a $10,000 check in the late ‘70s. Begelman, who misappropriated more than $60,000 in studio funds, was later convicted in what the press deemed “Hollywoodgate.” Robertson was considered a hero by many for, essentially, putting his career on the line by taking on a powerful studio head. He was outspoken in his criticism of the whole situation, telling the “Washington Post,” “There’s a small percentage of corrupt people in Hollywood. Only one percent represents the pinnacle of power. They’ve been frightening people for years, and now they’re frightening others into `ipso facto’ blacklisting me… I hear there’s a very powerful person in Hollywood saying I’ll never work again.”

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Film Engineer Takuo Miyagishima Has Died at 83

The Academy has lost another luminary. Gordon E. Sawyer Award and John A. Bonner Medal winner Takuo Miyagishima has died. Below is the obituary from Hollywood Reporter.

Takuo 'Tak' Miyagishima Dies at 83

One of the most esteemed design engineers in the motion picture industry, he made first mechanical drawing for Panavision in 1954.

by Carolyn Giardina - Hollywood Reporter
Takuo "Tak" Miyagishima, one of the most esteemed design engineers in the motion picture industry, has died, Panavision said Friday. He was 83. No details of his death were immediately available.

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Oscar-nominated Director Michael Cacoyannis Has Died at 89

Three-time Academy Award nominee Michael Cacoyannis (Zorba the Greek) has died at age 89. Two of his foreign language pics were nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards: Iphigenia and Elektra. Below is an obituary from The Guardian.

The Guardian - Ronald Bergen

Although the first Greek films appeared in 1912, long periods of war and instability crippled any attempts at forming a national film industry. This meant that few features were produced until the 1950s, when the director Michael Cacoyannis, who has died aged 90, became the embodiment of Greek cinema, giving it an international reputation which reached a peak of popularity with his Zorba the Greek (1964).

Based on Nikos Kazantzakis's novel, the film burst on to the screen with extraordinary energy and visual splendour. It brilliantly combined the rhythmic music of Mikis Theodorakis and the Oscar-winning black-and-white cinematography of Walter Lassally with indelible performances by Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Irene Papas and Lila Kedrova (who won the Oscar for best supporting actress).

The film celebrated joie de vivre, yet there was an underlying pessimism and an echo of Greek tragedy in its tale of a salt-of-the-earth peasant (Quinn) trying to teach the life force to an uptight Englishman (Bates), partly through dance and drink. Two years earlier, Cacoyannis had brought a full-blown classic Greek play to the screen with Electra, the first of his Euripides trilogy starring Papas, which included The Trojan Women (1971) and Iphigenia (1977). The trilogy proved that the ancient myths could still grip modern audiences.
Michael Cacoyannis obituary Michael Cacoyannis. Photograph: Katerina Mavrona/ANA MPA

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Emmy Winner Peter Falk Passes Away at Age 83

Peter Falk, who marshaled actorly tics, prop room appurtenances and his own physical idiosyncrasies to personify Columbo, one of the most famous and beloved fictional detectives in television history, died on Thursday night at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 83.

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Sidney Lumet Has Died at 86

(Hollywood Reporter) 11:32 AM 4/9/2011 by Gregg Kilday - Sidney Lumet, who directed such gritty classics as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network, died Saturday morning of lymphoma at his home in New York City. He was 86.

Lumet, who received five Oscar nominations for his work, was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2005 for his “brilliant services to screenwriters, performers and the art of motion pictures.”

Born in Philadelphia on June 25, 1924, Lumet grew up in New York, where his father Baruch joined the Yiddish theater. He got his start by directing live TV, and as a film director, he preferred filming in the streets of New York.

His first feature film was the 1957 courtroom drama 12 Angry Men, which followed Henry Fonda and other actors into the jury room.

In the ‘70s, he collaborated with Al Pacino on movies that burrowed into the reality of of New York street life -- the cop drama Serpico and the bank heist tale Dog Day Afternoon.

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Screen Legend Elizabeth Taylor Has Died at 79

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Elizabeth Taylor, the legendary actress famed for her beauty, her jet-set lifestyle, her charitable endeavors and her many marriages, has died, her publicist told CNN Wednesday. She was 79.

Taylor died "peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles," said a statement from her publicist. She was hospitalized six weeks ago with congestive heart failure, "a condition with which she had struggled for many years. Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be."

Though a two-time Oscar winner -- for "Butterfield 8" (1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966) -- Taylor was more celebrated for simply being Elizabeth Taylor: sexy, glamorous, tempestuous, fragile, always trailing courtiers, media and fans. She wasn't above playing to that image -- she had a fragrance called "White Diamonds" -- or mocking it.

"I am a very committed wife," she once said. "And I should be committed too -- for being married so many times."

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Legendary Film Composer John Barry Has Died at 77

by Haroon Siddique
guardian.co.uk, Monday 31 January 2011 09.37 GMT

York-born composer scored 11 Bond films and won five Oscars in an illustrious career. In these clips from award ceremonies in later life, he reflects on his success Link to this video

John Barry, who composed the score for 11 James Bond films, has died aged 77.

Barry won five Oscars and was awarded an OBE in an illustrious career that saw him work on a number of other acclaimed film scores, including Born Free, Midnight Cowboy and Out of Africa. He died of a heart attack, having suffered from poor health for some time.

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Susannah York Has Died at 72

Michael Billington
The Guardian, Friday 14 January 2011

Susannah York, who has died aged 72, was a vibrant, energetic personality with a devouring passion for work, strong political opinions and great loyalty to old friends. Her international reputation as an actor depended heavily on the hit films she made in the 1960s, including Tom Jones (1963) and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), for which she received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. But, even when her movie career waned, she worked ceaselessly in theatre, often appearing in pioneering fringe productions. It was typical of her that, although diagnosed with cancer late in 2010, she refused chemotherapy and fulfilled a contractual obligation to do a tour of Ronald Harwood's Quartet.

In her early years York was often cast as an archetypal English rose. But, although born in Chelsea, south-west London (as Susannah Yolande Fletcher), she was raised in a remote Scottish village and educated at Marr college, Troon. I suspect that the inbuilt Scottish belief that the devil makes work for idle hands stayed with her throughout her career. From school, she progressed to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, in London, where she won the Ronson award for most promising student. With her piercing blue eyes and gamine appearance, she quickly found work. She was Abigail to Sean Connery's John Proctor in a TV version of Arthur Miller's The Crucible in 1959. But it was in cinema that she found herself cast as the perfect ingenue.

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Director Peter Yates Has Died at 82

Ben Child
guardian.co.uk, Monday 10 January 2011 11.40 GMT

Peter Yates, the four-time Oscar-nominated British director of Bullitt, Breaking Away and The Dresser, has died in London after a long illness. He was 82.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art whose first film as a director was the lightweight Cliff Richard and the Shadows vehicle Summer Holiday, Yates made his name with the action-packed 1967 crime thriller Robbery, a dramatisation of the great train robbery. Hollywood beckoned, and Yates's first US effort, Bullitt, featured the first car chase in the modern style, with star Steve McQueen himself taking the wheel for a large part of a bravura extended sequence in which his Ford Mustang slaloms and chicanes through the streets of San Francisco.

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Oscar Nominee Pete Postlethwaite Dies at 64

Matthew Weaver and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 January 2011 11.25 GMT

The actor Pete Postlethwaite has died at the age of 64. Friends said he passed away peacefully in hospital in Shropshire yesterday having suffered from cancer for some time.

Postlethwaite was once described by the film director Steven Spielberg as "probably the best actor in the world today".

He worked with Spielberg on two films in 1997 – the fantasy adventure film The Lost World: Jurrassic Park, and Amistad, about a slave mutiny on a ship.

The craggy-featured actor received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Guiseppe Conlon in the 1993 film In The Name Of The Father, about the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four.

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Blake Edwards Has Died at 88

Writer-director created 'Pink Panther'

By Richard Natale

VARIETY: Writer-director Blake Edwards passed away this morning at age 88. The filmmaker was regarded as a modern master of contemporary film comedy via such movies as "The Pink Panther" series and "10."

Edwards has been compared favorably to other outstanding comedy auteurs such as Leo McCarey, Preston Sturges and Frank Tashlin. His slapstick visual style combined the best elements of silent comedy and a post-Freudian storyline, with an undercurrent of pain. "I would not be able to get through life had I not been able to view its painfulness in a comedic way," he once told a reporter. "So when I put life up there on the screen, quite often it resembles things that happen to me or at least comic metaphors for those things."

While the quality of his 50 or so films as writer, director and producer, was irregular, critical champions found good even in his most indifferent projects such as the then financially disastrous musical "Darling Lili" starring his wife Julie Andrews. They also point to early films such as "Days of Wine and Roses," "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Experiment in Terror," as demonstrating an often overlooked versatility.

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Irvin Kershner Has Died at 87

(Hollywood Reporter) -- Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner died at his home in Paris after suffering from illness, his goddaughter Adriana Santini confirmed to the AFP Monday. He was 87.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, he lamented that he should have directed one of the Star Wars prequels.

He also directed Sean Connery as James Bond in 1983's Never Say Never Again and Peter Weller in 1990's Robocop II.

He was born in Philadelphia in 1923, and trained as a musician and in photography before creating documentaries and moving into feature films.

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