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


One of the last remaining Hollywood legends has left us.

Paul Newman passed away yesterday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 83. It’s truly a sad day for film fans everywhere.

Amazingly, after over 50 years in film, Newman never lost that classic movie star glow. His presense on the screen was undeniable, whether he was 21 years old, playing a boxer in Somebody Up There Likes Me, or 77 years old, playing the againg mentor/enemy to Tom Hanks’ gangster in Road to Perdition. He personified the legacy of classic Hollywood.

In the 1950s, he was part of a new breed of actors, men who dared to their naturalistic style to Hollywood, who weren’t afraid of turning away from refined, pretty boy rolesin favor of rough, complicated characters. And Newman was one of the bravest of all, not shying away from the really harsh stuff, like the latent homosexuality of his role in 1958’s Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.  His characters were raw, real, and showed emotion that the generation that came before him hadn’t.

And he was a shining example off-screen as well. While some of his contemporaries were immersed in scandal, or allowed their personal demons to destroy their lives and careers, Newman led a life of generosity. He was married to his wife, Joanne Woodward for 50 years, living a quiet life out of the spotlight. He was also a humanitarian, always mindful of those who weren’t fortunate to have all the things he did. The proceeds from the food business he began all went to charity, and he was the founder of several groups for terminally ill children.

And he will, of course, always be remembered for his films. He will forever be the embodiment of the rebellious anti-hero of the 1960s. His films and images will live on forever. I know I’ll never be able to think of “some place like Bolivia” without thinking of the great Paul Newman.

When something like this happens, you want kind of want to say something like, “Let’s not remember him in death. Let’s remember him in his youth. When he was young, untouched, and rebellious. Let Cat On a Hot Tin Roof be the way we remember him”. But that’s just not fair with Paul Newman. Because he didn’t just get old and decide to quit. He kept going. And somehow, he managed to stay just as incredible, cool, awesome, rebellious, charming, funny, and entertaining as he was in those early film. He was just as cool at 80 as he was at 25. And that deserves to be remembered. He will always be that carelessly sexy, beautiful blue eyed man who made who made smoking a cigarette look like a kiss, who made a slouch seem like a battle stance, and who made bad boys have heart. But he’ll also always be the man who wasn’t afraid to age, who wasn’t afraid to take on different kinds of roles and change his image as the years went on. He’ll always just be Paul Newman. One of the coolest guys ever.

This has already been a really tough year on Hollywood, with the loss of legends like Richard Widmark and Anita Page, and the tragic and unexpected death of Heath Ledger. You would think that maybe with so much death this year it would start to get easier, but it doesn’t. And especially not when it’s Paul Newman. When it’s someone like this, someone who is a LIVING legend, who has been alive and active in film throughout your whole life, but was also around before then, during the golden age… even with the knowledge that they’re getting older and they will die soon, it’s almost impossible to think about what the film world will be like without them. Especially someone as important as Paul Newman. His absence will be felt for a very long time.

A few sites (including, usually pretty reliable) have reported overnight that Paul Newman has died. I can’t find any news sources confirming the story yet. I’ll update this post as information becomes available.

This is definitely a sad day.