Not a good week. Now we mourn the loss of another Star Trek icon, Nichelle Nichols, who passed away at the age of 89. Nichols played Uhura in the original series. Well respected by and respectful of the fans, she once planned to quit the series, but was convinced to stay on by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr., who told her, “You cannot….for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers.” After Star Trek, she actually consulted with NASA to help recruit minorities and females, and was the inspiration of many engineers and astronauts.
Alas, she retired from the convention circuit before I could meet her owing to her deteriorating health, but she visited with the fans as long as she could. She was a true pioneer who will be missed.
This week we lost two great British actors, David Warner and Bernard Cribbins.
David Warner played a number of memorable roles, from pure villains like the brutal Pomponius Falco in Masada (for which he won an Emmy) and the Evil Genius in Time Bandits, to sympathetic enemies like Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Always a memorable actor in every role, he did guest spots on many shows including Babylon 5 and Star Trek: The Next Generation and many animation voice roles. He was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and played many classic roles on stage.
When I first had access to cable and the movie channels, there were a few movies I would watch over and over – two of them were Time Bandits and Time After Time, where he played Dr. John Stevenson, who in fact was Jack the Ripper, who escapes from 1893 London in H.G. Wells time machine to 1979 San Francisco. They were followed by Tron, where he played the dual role of Ed Dillinger/Sark – END OF LINE.
Bernard Cribbins is perhaps best known for his role as Wilfred Mott, Donna Noble’s grandfather, during David Tennant’s run in Doctor Who. He originally appeared in the Christmas episode, “Voyage of the Damned”, and was later retconned as Donna’s grandfather when he became a recurring character. His emotional pleas in Tennant’s final episode could really be felt. Cribbins also appeared in the 1966 theatrical movie Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., a film adaptation of the William Hartnell episode The Dalek Invasion of Earth” which starred Peter Cushing as wholly human Dr. Who. He even interviewed for the part of the Doctor in 1974…but lost to Tom Baker.
An actor since he was 14, he is also well known in Britain as the most frequent storyteller in the children’s series Jackanory, as well as appearing or narrating many other children’s programs, and received a special award from the British Academy Children’s Awards in 2009 and in 2011 received an Officer of Order of the British Empire (OBE) honor for services to drama. In 2014 he received the J.M. Barrie award for contribution to the children’s arts.
Just got work that actor Paul Darrow, best known for the role of Kerr Avon in BBC sci-fi series Blake’s 7, passed away after a short illness.
The actor made many appearances on British TV over 5 decades, including most recently a recurring role on Law & Order: UK, as well as many stage appearances, but the role he is most associated with is the computer expert and thief who became the reluctant rebel in Roj Blake’s resistance against the oppressive Federation. He was always looking to score some quick money, but would always do the right thing in the end.
Darrow was always a big proponent of the show and worked hard to try and bring the show back, going as far as to purchasing the rights to the show back in 2003 from the estate of creator Terry Nation. While any sort of reboot remains in the depths of Development Hell, the loss of such a champion of the show is certainly a blow, but perhaps might finally provide the impetus to get a new version off the ground.
It is with great sadness that we learned a few minutes ago that actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga, passed away in April 30th at home in Texas surrounded by his family.
His family released a statement on Facebook and Twitter:
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.
Peter was the man behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy. He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also consulted on The Last Jedi in an attempt to teach his successor. He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.
The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come. As the films released and became more well-known he had his eyes opened to the possibilities of what he could achieve with his role in the Star Wars universe. For more than 30 years Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends. Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions. As he realized over the years the impact he could have, he became heavily involved with the 501st legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish, and other non-profit organizations.
To this end, he established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom. He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported.
As he grew older he continued to “soldier on” as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters. He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.
He is survived by his wife Angie and three children. His kindness, generosity and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice.
There will be a memorial service for friends and family held on June 29th and in early December in Los Angeles there will be a memorial for fans set up with his family in attendance, personal effects, and collection at EmpireConLA.
For additional information, information on the memorials or to offer condolences email ryan@ReelAppearances.com
Rather than gifts and flowers the family asks that you consider donating to the foundation so that they can continue his efforts to help the community. You can donate at http://petermayhewfoundation.org/make-a-donation.php
I met Peter briefly back in 2014, and he was as always gracious and thankful for the fans. He had just a couple weeks ago met up with fans at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.
Suffering from physical issues owing to his immense frame – he needed knee replacements but had to wait until they built a machine large enough to create the parts large enough – he was often wheelchair bound but managed to stand tall again for scenes in The Force Awakens, but worked as a consultant on The Last Jedi to help train his replacement.
May the Force be with you, Peter…always.
Award-winning Science Fiction author Vonda N. McIntyre, perhaps best known for her work in Star Trek including giving the characters of Sulu and Uhura first names as well as being just the third woman to win a Hugo Award, passed away yesterday at the age of 70 from pancreatic cancer.
McIntyre wrote the first original Star Trek novel (and second overall, after the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture), “The Entropy Effect”, in which she gave first names to a couple of the original characters, Hikaru Sulu and Nyota Uhura. The former became canon after fellow author Peter David visited the set of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and convinced the director, Nicholas Meyer, to use the name. The latter didn’t become canon until 2009’s Star Trek movie reboot.
She also won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards for Best Novel in 1979 for Dreamsnake.
You can read her official obituary here.
Actor Carmen Argenziano, probably best known for his role in The Godfather, Part II but better known in these circles as General Jacob Carter, Sam’s father in Stargate SG-1, who became a host for the Tok’ra Selmak to save Jacob’s life.
Argenziano had many acting credits in film and TV dating back to 1969, and was easy to spot in many guest roles, many on procedural dramas but with an occasional comedy, such as an appearance on Cheers as an angry husband who comes to the bar with a gun looking for the man who slept with his wife.
He is survived by his wife and three children.
We are very saddened to learn of the passing of actor W. Morgan Sheppard, father of fellow actor Mark Sheppard, yesterday per an instagram post by his son.
View this post on Instagram
We went to spend some time with my father today. Though he couldn’t speak, we held hands, he laughed and was so happy to see us. We left and came home. A good day. He was rushed to hospital and passed at 6:30pm, my mother by his side. I am so grateful that he didn’t have to suffer any longer. Thank you for all your kind thoughts, love and prayers.
Sheppard appeared in many genre shows…I first saw him that I recall in Shogun, but what I most remembered him from originally was in the role of Blank Reg, the mohawked pirate radio operator in Max Headroom. He also played the memorable and eponymous “Soul Hunter” on Babylon 5, and even played the older version of his son’s character of Cantor Everett Delaware III in the Doctor Who episode “The Impossible Astronaut”. More recently he appeared in an episode of The Librarians. His jovial face and white beard also earned him the the title role in Farewell Mr. Kringle, and he voiced “The Big Guy” in the Prep & Landing specials.
Legendary comic creator Stan Lee, who created Marvel Comics with Jack Kirby in 1961 and launched Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Black Panther and many many more, passed away early today, according to TMZ. He was 95.
In failing health in recent years he still did his best to meet with the fans, even coming to Boston Comic Con in 2017 not long after the passing of his wife, Joan. Questions surfaced more recently, however, about his managers and allegations of elder abuse, which more recently seemed to be resolved.
It is with great sadness that we mourn the godfather of the current cinematic era. Tears will be shed when we see his final cameo. Excelsior!
I woke up this morning to this sad news: actor Scott Wilson, who played Hershel Greene, the father and calming voice in the group in The Walking Dead for a few seasons, passed away last night at the age of 76.
We are deeply saddened to report that Scott Wilson, the incredible actor who played Hershel on #TheWalkingDead, has passed away at the age of 76. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in paradise, Scott. We love you! pic.twitter.com/guNI7zSqDZ
— The Walking Dead (@TheWalkingDead) October 7, 2018
Wilson played many other roles over the course of 50 years, most recently in the series Damien and The OA. The role I remember him most aside from The Walking Dead was a Pa, the patriarch of the Angel family, scavengers and cannibals in the Cursed Earth in 1995’s Judge Dredd.
He was at a convention in Rhode Island a few years back. I didn’t get to meet him because his line was so long, the convention staff had no idea how to handle it, as it was longer than most of their headlining guests, but he greeted everyone with a smile and will remembered as a very kind and friendly person.
We are sad to learn of the passing yesterday of actress Zienia Merton, most known for her role as Analyst Sandra Benes in Space: 1999, per her publicist and friend Barry Langford. Merton also appeared in an early episode of Doctor Who, “Marco Polo”, which is unfortunately one of the remaining “lost” episodes.
Anyone who follows me knows I was a big fan of Space: 1999, and there was something about Merton’s character that despite the relatively minor role was memorable, and was one of the few carried into the severely retooled second season of the show. And she even took part in the fan-produced “conclusion” of the series, “Message From Moonbase Alpha”, which featured her alone in a recorded message to Earth telling that the crew of Moonbase Alpha were finally forced to abandon the moonbase and make a new life on a planet.
And the irony of the date of Merton’s passing was not lost on me…September 13th, 2018 – 19 years after the moon was blasted out of orbit…