It’s been a really tough year on Hollywood. We’ve lost many, many people who were so important to the film industry. So many that I couldn’t possibly write about them all here. From the legends like Arthur C. Clarke and Jules Dassin, to the young ones who still had their best years ahead of them, like Heath Ledger and Brad Renfro. Some stars, like Evelyn Keyes, were quite old, so while their deaths hurt, the weren’t surprising. But some, like Sidney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, George Carlin and Michael Crichton, took me completely off guard.

Like I said, there’s no way I can write something up for everyone. Here are the ones whose careers meant the most to me, whose deaths effected me the most.

First foremost, the great Richard Widmark. Certainly one of the most underrated actors of all time, and one of my absolute favorites. He was 93 years old, and just days before his death I had mentioned in a thread on Rotten Tomatoes that he was still alive an kicking. Handsom in a troubled and smoldering way, Widmark was the face of cynical, jaded Americans in a post-WWII, cold-war era country. His villains were vicious and frightening, unparralleled in their ferociousness. Even his heroes were conflicted, complicated, and cynical.

In Kiss of Death he created a giggling, sociopathic maniac, and earned his sole Academy Award nomination for it. One of Widmark’s greatest strengths was that he wasn’t afraid of being disliked by the audience. That gave him the freedom to create a truly snarling, terrifying character. I don’t think any other actor could have tied a woman to a chair and thrown her down the stairs as convincingly as Widmark.

In Pickup on South Street he played one of his most morally ambiguous characters. He was some sort of hero, but his first obligation was to himself. No other actor could have pulled off that combination of moral ambiguity and conflict.  Widmark was truly one of a kind. His filmography is really just a string of excellent, diverse movies. Night and the City, Judgement at Nuremburg, The Law and Jake Wade, No Way Out, Panic In the Streets, Murder on the Orient Express.

The death of actress Anita Page hit me pretty hard. She was 98 years old, and I was really hoping she’d make it to 100. She was the last known person living who attended the first Academy Awards Ceremony in 1929, and one of the few silent film actors to live into the 21st century.

Anita Page’s initial career was fairly short, and it seemed like she stopped making films just as her celebrity was on the rise. Though she was in mostly supporting roles, in 1930 she was the most photographed actress in Hollywood (yes, even moreso than Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer). Page’s sweet face made her perfectly suited for the good girl, sweet heart roles. And she was great at playing a broken heart, because that was a face that truly hurt you to see sad. She perfected this kind of role in films like Our Blushing Brides, playing the sweet best friend to Joan Crawford, who falls in love with a rich man and allows herself to be kept by him, only to find out he has no intention of marrying her.

She was Buster Keaton’s leading lady in two of his sound films, Free and Easy and Sidewalks of New York. Initially, it seems like an odd pairing, but Page’s genuine vibrancy gave Keaton’s stone faced, comically morose performances the perfect light and balance.

As sweet as she usually was, the were a few times where she excelled at playing the bad girl. She was a downright bitch in Our Dancing Daughter. She used her angelic face to be deceptive and sneaky. Her character in Skyscraper Souls wasn’t quite as bad and evil, but she gave a really fantastic performance (one of the best in the movie) as the charismatic and slightly slutty best pal to Maureen O’Sullivan.

Cyd Charisse was one of my favorite dancers, and one of my favorite Astaire partners. She was extremely gorgeous, talented, and had tremendous screen presense. Even in films like Singin’ In the Rain, where she didn’t have a speaking role and only dance, she completely electrified the screen

Her most famous films are those made with Astaire and Gene Kelly. The Band Wagon is one of the all time great musicals, and one of the best films about show business. She and Astaire had amazing chemistry and just fit so well when they danced. The Girl Hunt Ballet is an incredible number, with Charisse giving the film a huge amount of sex appeal. Silk Stockings, another pairing with Astaire and a remake of Ninotchka, is also a lovely film.

As evidenced in Singin’ In the Rain, she also had wonderful chemistry with Gene Kelly when they danced. Brigadoon isn’t a particularly great film, but Charisse gave it so much class. It’s Always Fair Weather is a better effort from them.

She even proved that she had acting chops outside of dancing. She was an extremely beautiful woman, which made her perfect for films like Party Girl, a noir in which she gave a smoldering, sexy performance opposite Robert Taylor.

And then, of course, there’s Paul Newman. I wrote an article for the site after his death, and there’s really not much more I can say than that. He was more than just one of tehfinest actors ever. He was also a truly good human being, with a generous soul. His contributions to both film and humanity will be greatly missed. With his passing, the earth is a little more empty, and heaven is a little bit cooler.

By Katie Richardson

Cyd Charisse, actress, dancer, and all around class act, died yesterday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angelas on Tuesday from an apparent heart attack.

Charisse became famous in Hollywood for her dancing ability and fantastic legs, beginning her career as a featured dancer in films like Ziegfeld Follies and Till the Clouds Roll By. She then made several films with Ricardo Montalban in the late 1940s, including Fiesta and On an Island With You. During this time she also made a few non-musical films, such as Tension and East Side, West Side.

It was 1952’s Singin’ In the Rain, in which she appeared as a specialty dancer alongside Gene Kelly in the epic Broadway Rhythm Ballet, that shot Charisse to fame. Through the 1950s, she was one of the most popular dancing actresses in film. She danced alongside Fred Astaire in the essential classic The Bandwagon, as well as the musical remake of Ninotchka, Silk Stockings. She also starred again with Gene Kelly in Brigadoon and It’s Always Fair Weather.

Late in the 1950s, Charisse began to show her skill for dramatic role by making non-musicals such as Twilight for the Gods, the fantastic noir Party Girl, and Two Weeks in Another Town.

Charisse was one of the few remaining legends of Classic Hollywood. She is survived by husband Tony Martin and her sons Nicholas and Tony, Jr.

Here are some clips of Charisse’s most memorable dances.

The Broadway Rhythm Ballet from Singin’ in the Rain

Frankie and Johnny from Meet Me in Las Vegas

Orchids in the Moonlight Tango from On an Island With You

Fated to be Mated from Silk Stockings

From Silk Stockings

The Flaming Flamenco from Fiesta

Dance of Fury from The Kissing Bandit

Dancing in the Dark from The Bandwagon

Sun Dance from Mark of the Renegade

Baby You Knock Me Out from It’s Always Fair Weather

The Girl Hunt from The Bandwagon

La Bamba from Fiesta

The Heather on the Hill from Brigadoon

All of You from Silk Stockings

By Katie Richardson