British writer-director Bryan Forbes has died in Surrey, England, after a long illness. He was 86. His credits include helming 1975’s The Stepford Wives and writing Chaplin and The Angry Silence, earning an Oscar nomination for the latter. He scored a WGA nom for 1980’s Hopscotch and received a Special Award from BAFTA in 2007.
Veronique Passani Peck, the widow of actor Gregory Peck and longtime arts patron, died Friday of heart failure at her Los Angeles home. She was 80. Born in Paris, the French journalist met the actor when she interviewed him for the newspaper France Soir. She moved to the U.S. at 23 and married the movie star. Their marriage lasted 48 years until his death in 2003. Veronique Peck helped create the Inner City Cultural Center in South Los Angeles, was a founder of the Los Angeles Music Center, and a longtime fundraiser for the Los Angeles Public Library.
Longtime producer, publicist and father of two high-ranking entertainment industry executives Edward Harbert II died of natural causes Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 88. Harbert, father of NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert and CAA agent Chris Harbert, had a long career that ranged from handling publicity for MGM films starring Elizabeth Taylor and others, producing talent segments for The Tonight Show in its early years and as executive producer of the New York Times’ NYT Productions. He also served stints at the Kenyon & Eckhardt advertising agency and was a producer for Professional Gold Association broadcasts throughout the ’70s. His burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetary in Los Angeles.
Popular prop master for a number of big films and television series, Scott Getzinger was killed Friday night in a head-on collision in Stamford, Conn, when his truck was struck by a car driven by an 18-year-old. Getzinger’s credits include Shutter Island, Salt, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, and such upcoming films as The Dark Knight Rises and Men In Black III. He was also the property master on Showtime’s series pilot Masters & Johnson and AMC’s Rubicon.
The rugged leading man and 1968 Best Actor Oscar winner for Charly passed away today after a career that began as a handsome young thesp and continued well into his dotage. He was 88. But Cliff Robertson may well be remembered for bringing down one of the most powerful Hollywood moguls, David Begelman. In 1977, Robertson discovered that his name had been forged on a $10,000 check which he realized he had not earned. He soon discovered it was a forgery carried out of Begelman and triggered one of the biggest studio scandals of the 1970s. Begelman resigned, and Robertson couldn’t get acting work until the early 1980s. Robertson’s long movie career began with Picnic in 1955 and continued through Spider-Man and its first two sequels as Uncle Ben Parker. But he may be best remembered for playing John F Kennedy in the biopic PT 109 and was chosen personally by the president. He was also a familiar face in television dramas from the earliest days of the small screen.
Screen and TV writer, author and playwright Arthur Marx, the son of legendary comedian Groucho Marx, died this week at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. He was 89. Marx had a prolific career that spanned more than 60 years. Born in New York in 1921, he spent some of his early years on the road with his father and uncles, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo, during the Marx Brothers’ tours of Vaudeville. By the early 1930s, with the Marx Brothers established as film stars, the family moved to Los Angeles. Following a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II where he served in the Philippines, Marx began his Hollywood career working at MGM as a reader. Eventually, he became a screenwriter, working on the popular Pete Smith shorts and several films in the Blondie series, including Blondie In The Dough.
While continuing to write for film and TV, Marx published his first novel, The Ordeal Of Willie Brown in 1951, loosely based on his own experiences as a nationally ranked junior tennis player. In 1954, he wrote Life With Groucho, the first of several books that dealt with his father and their sometimes tempestuous relationship. Marx also turned out a number of Hollywood biographies, including Goldwyn: The Man Behind the Myth, Red Skelton, The Nine Lives of Mickey Rooney, and The Secret Life of Bob Hope. His 1974 book on Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime (Especially Himself), was adapted into the 2002 made-for-TV movie Martin And Lewis.
It is a sad day in Hollywood. Elizabeth Taylor’s publicist is telling news organizations that she has passed away at 79 from congestive heart failure. The British-born child star who grew up to become one of the world’s most famous actresses and great beauties and dedicated AIDS activists, whose complex personal life often overwhelmed her Oscar-winning professional career, was admitted last month to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for treatment of congestive heart failure.
Taylor missed a scheduled appearance at an amfAR benefit gala last month in New York, where she was to receive an award alongside President Bill Clinton and designer Diane von Furstenberg, celebrating their dedication to AIDS research. Elton john accepted the honor on her behalf and read a message from her: “I am there in spirit and I join you in saluting my fellow honorees and all these extraordinary leaders. I am inspired by their example, exhilarated by their vision, and encouraged by their compassion and love. And I love them in return.” Taylor appeared in more than 50 films and won Academy Awards for her performances in Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) as well as an Honorary Oscar in 1993 for her AIDS activism. She had eight marriages, most famously to the love of her life Hollywood producer Mike Todd and two times to actor Richard Burton.