Sadly we lost a brilliant mind today. Stephen Hawking, who has fought an amazing battle against ALS for decades, passed away this morning.
Hawking, despite being trapped in his body and only able to communicate via a computer speech synthesizer, was the world’s preeminent theoretical physicist, postulating many new models of physics including reconciling general relativity and quantum mechanics. At the same time, he tried to bring advanced physics to the masses as a best-selling author, his most famous work being A Brief History of Time. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years, from 1979-2009.
Hawking was also a friend of the science fiction community, making cameo appearances in various shows including The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Futurama. SYFY has already announced that they will air seven episodes of Futurama including several that feature Stephen’s electronic voice tonight starting at 11pm ET.
He leaves behind three children and three grandchildren. His children released a statement: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”
The condolences and memories on Twitter are too great to cover here…but fellow physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s seemed appropriate:
His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018. pic.twitter.com/nAanMySqkt
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 14, 2018
Highly recognized fantasy and speculative fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin passed away yesterday at the age of 88, her son confirmed to the New York Times.
Le Guin, whose fiction spans multiple subgenres over 20+ novels and 100+ short stories, was full of rich visuals and anti-stereotyping, shying away from white male-led stories and being all inclusive. This earned her many accolades over the years, including being named the sixth Gandalf Award Grand Master by the World Science Fiction Society in 1979, the 20th Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2003, and a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2003.
Actor John Dunsworth, best known for his role as the trailer park manager Jim Lahey in the Canadian series Trailer Park Boys and my readers would remember him as Dave Teagues in Haven, passed away yesterday according to his daughter Susan.
— Sarah Dunsworth (@SarahDunsworth) October 16, 2017
Dunsworth was a big part of the Nova Scotia acting community, where he was born.
His fellow Haven stars posted about him:
Probably most know recently for playing Hallyne the Pyromancer in a couple episodes of Game of Thrones in 2012, his acting career spans many years on stage, small and large screen, and he won a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role in A Moon for the Misbegotten, and held the Guinness World Record in 2004 for most voiced characters in an audio book for his reading of A Song of Ice and Fire. He was also awarded the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008.
Dotrice was no stranger to genre roles either. He was originally set to play Grand Maester Pycelle in Games of Thrones but withdrew for medical reasons (the role went to Julian Glover.) He made two memorable guest appearances in Space: 1999 as Commissioner Simmonds, which sticks in my head for the horrible death he (presumably) suffered. He also had a starring role in the Beauty and the Beast series in the 80s. He had other guest appearances in Babylon 5, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (as Zeus, no less!), Earth 2, and Sliders among many, many roles. He also had a starring role in one of my favorite Olympics-based movies as the Russian skating coach Anton Pamchenko in The Cutting Edge.
Dotrice was married to his wife, actress Kay Dotrice, for just short of 60 years when she passed away in 2007. His three daughters were also actresses – Michele Dotrice (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em), Karen Dotrice (best known as the young Jane Banks in Mary Poppins), and Yvette Dotrice (Crossroads).
I cam across him in so many ways over the years, although we never had the chance to meet in person. I remember his columns in Byte magazine, one of my favorite parts of the magazine, where he discussed using the various things he was sent to review. And like Larry Niven he provided world building in his fiction stories. I was particularly enthralled by the CoDomunium setting, which I discovered through his collaboration with Niven in The Mote In God’s Eye and the sequel The Gripping Hand, where each author played off each other’s strengths.
I’d later encounter Pournelle again in the tech world through the This Week In Tech podcasts, where he was an occasional panel member.
We will certainly miss him.
Actor Richard Anderson, best known as the head of a secret government organization who oversaw The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, passed away yesterday at the age of 91 at his home in Beverly Hills.
Anderson rose to prominence when he was cast in the 1957 film Paths To Glory by Stanley Kubrick, a year after a smaller role but in the genre classic Forbidden Planet as Chief Engineer Quinn. A character actor who often presented as an authority figure, he played a number of military roles. But it was in 1973 in a series of TV movies and later a series on ABC about an astronaut rebuild with bionic parts after a crash where he became ingrained in our memories. That series then had a spinoff in The Bionic Woman, in which Anderson reprised his role on both series simultaneously. When The Bionic Woman shifted networks to NBC, he was the first actor to play the same role simultaneously on two different networks.
When both series ended in 1978, he was reappear in the role in a series of TV movies through 1994, after which he was largely retired.
Thomas Meehan, who wrote many various Broadway productions and book adaptations, passed away on Monday at the age of 88.
Meehan was best known as the writer of the musical Annie with songwriter Charles Strouse, was also a collaborator with Mel Brooks and helped to bring the latter’s 1967 movie The Producers to Broadway. He also worked on the book for Hairspray, making him the only person to have written three productions that each ran for more than 2,000 performances.
Another collaboration with Brooks resulted in the screenplay for Spaceballs, the standard for science fiction spoofs. He won three Tony Awards for Best Book from a Musical.
A few quick tidbits…
The first TV series as part of he multimedia mega-production based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series has officially named its showrunner as former The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara. We also understand that Idris Elba, who plays The Gunslinger in the feature film that opened today, will also be involved at some level.
The series takes place many years previous to the film and tells the origin story of Roland Deschain – a.k.a. the Gunslinger. It takes mostly from the fourth book, Wizard and Glass, with flashbacks to the first book, The Gunslinger.
We had a passing…actor Robert Hardy, best known as the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in several Harry Potter films and Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great And Small, passed away yesterday at the age of 91. His career spanned 70 years, including playing Winston Churchill in 6 separate productions due to the accuracy of his portrayal. I remember seeing him in his first film role, 1958’s Torpedo Run.
Lastly, Mr. Robot‘s return for Season 3 has been announced for October 11th at 10/9c on USA Network, and also that Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man) will join the cast. See the trailer below…
Another passing in the Doctor Who family…actress Deborah Watling, who played Victoria Waterfield at the end of the fourth season and most of the fifth season of Doctor Who as a companion to the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, passed away yesterday at the age of 69.
Watling, remembered for her frequent screaming when confronted with aliens, first appeared in the second episode of “The Evil Of The Daleks”, and through “Fury from the Deep”, the second-to-last serial of the fifth season. Most of her appearances, however, have been lost due to the wiping of tapes at the BBC. Her first appearance is the only part of that serial that currently survives, and only “The Tomb of the Cybermen” and “The Enemy of the World” exist in their entirely today, the latter of which only had one part until 2013 when several episodes were recovered at a Nigerian TV relay station.
Watling reprised the role in the 1993 Children In Need special Doctor Who: Dimensions In Time among many former Doctors and companions, and also appeared in the 50th Anniversary spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
She was also known for roles in the 1958-1959 series The Invisible Man and Take Me High.
We lost two amazing individuals this weekend.
Oscar winner Martin Landau, who came to prominence among television audiences as the master of disguise Rollin Hand in Mission: Impossible for which he received 3 Emmy nominations and won a Golden Globe, and then followed up with Moonbase Alpha Commander John Koenig on Space: 1999, passed away Saturday at the age of 89 after unexpected complications while hospitalized for a short length of time.
Landau always put all in when playing a role. This helped earn him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Ed Wood for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. I was also impressed by his portrayal of the President after a limited nuclear exchange in By Dawn’s Early Light. But after Space: 1999, roles for himself and then-wife and costar Barbara Bain disappeared, and they both turned to the corny roles of evil rich guy J.J. Pierson and evil scientist Dr. Olga Schmetner in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, the last attempt to revive that franchise. Landau persevered though, until he peaked yet again with his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood.
Landau became a member of the Actors Studio in 1955 when he and Steve McQueen were the only two accepted out of 2000 applicants. He learned under Lee Strasberg himself, and later taught acting there. Landau and Bain were married in 1957, and divorced in 1993. They had two daughters, Susan (who works in film and theater production), and actress Juliet.
Legend George A. Romero, the “Father of Zombie films” and “Godfather of the Dead”, passed away on Sunday at the age of 77 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Romero would change the horror film forever with his writing and directorial debut of Night Of The Living Dead. He would follow that with many other shocker monster films, including several more “… Dead” films and Creepshow, and executive produced the 1990 remake of Night Of The Living Dead. His use of black and white film and maximizing low budget productions showed it didn’t take money and gore to make scary. We can thank Romero for helping ignite the flame that has resulted in the current explosion in zombie-related productions.
Romero’s wife Suzanne and daughter Tina were by his side when he died peacefully listening to the soundtrack of The Quiet Man.