Sunday, December 12, 2010

And Then They Were Gone

With end-of-the-year tributes and “best books” lists now proliferating on the Web, it seems the appropriate time to remember some of the fine crime-fiction-related folk we’ve lost over the last 12 months:

Albert Cornelis “A.J.” Baantjer, 86, the creator of a long-running series of novels featuring Amsterdam police inspector Jurriaan DeCock (aka DeKok) and his sidekick, Sergeant Vledder.

Eleanor Taylor Bland, 65, the author of 13 police procedurals featuring African-American Chicago police homicide detective Marti MacAlister.

Tom Bosley, 83, who starred as Howard Cunningham on the TV sitcom Happy Days, and as Father Frank Dowling on Father Dowling Mysteries.

Knox Burger, 87, a magazine editor turned book editor turned literary agent who assisted the writing careers of John D. MacDonald, Martin Cruz Smith, Max Allan Collins, Robert Terrall, Donald E. Westlake, and others.

Stephen J. Cannell, 69, the TV writer and producer behind such popular programs as The Rockford FilesCity of AngelsThe A-TeamWiseguy, and Hardcastle and McCormick. He also composed the detective Shane Scully series of novels (The Prostitute’s Ball).

Maury Chaykin, 61, who starred as Rex Stout’s most famous sedentary sleuth in the A&E-TV drama A Nero Wolfe Mystery.

Ernest Chiriaka, 96, an American artist who--using the moniker “Darcy”--became famous during the mid-20th century for his often sexually suggestive but consistently captivating cover illustrations for paperback crime novels.

Jon Cleary, 92, Ned Kelly Award-winning Australian novelist who wrote a long-running series starring Scobie Malone, a detective with the New South Wales police force.

Robert Culp, 79, who co-starred with Bill Cosby in the small-screen series I Spy and appeared in three episodes of Columbo.

Tony Curtis, 85, who is remembered best for his film roles in Some Like It HotThe Defiant Ones, and The Boston Strangler, but also featured in a trio of TV crime dramas: The Persuaders! (1971), the short-lived NBC Mystery Movie component McCoy (1975-1976), and the Robert Urich detective series Vega$ (1978-1981).

Clare Curzon (née Eileen-Marie Duell Buchanan), 88, a British novelist best known for writing the Superintendent Mike Yeadings mysteries, including Three-Core Lead (1988).

Kenn Davis, 77, a California painter and the creator of black San Francisco private eye Carter Bascombe.

Dino De Laurentiis, 91, Italian-born film producer responsible for such hits as Serpico (1973), Death Wish (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975), and Hannibal Rising (2006). He was also behind the 1976-1977 TV version of Serpico.

A.S. “Sid” Fleischman, 90, a writer who first became known for producing sexually suggestive mystery novels such as Danger in Paradise (1953) and The Venetian Blonde (1963), but later penned children’s books on the order of The Whipping Boy (1987).

John Forsyth, 92, who played the wealthy patriarch in Dynasty and provided the voice of unseen private-eye agency chief Charlie Townsend on the 1970s series Charlie’s Angels.

Dick Francis, 89, the British jockey turned crime writer, who turned out more than 40 novels, mostly with horse-racing backdrops.

James Gammon, 70, the gravelly voiced American character actor who played a miserable baseball club manager in the film Major League (1989), was often cast in Sam Shepherd plays, and portrayed Don Johnson’s father on the 1996-2001 TV crime drama Nash Bridges (even though he was only nine years older than Johnson).

Jackson Gillis, 93, a novelist (Killers of Starfish and Chain Saw) as well as a longtime TV screenwriter who contributed to The Adventures of Superman, Perry Mason, ColumboMannixIronsideThe Snoop Sisters and many more shows.

Harold Gould, 86, who played con man Kid Twist in The Sting and starred, with Stefanie Powers, in the short-lived ABC-TV mystery series The Feather and Father Gang (1976-1977).

Peter Graves, 83, who starred as spy chief Jim Phelps on Mission: Impossible, but also appeared in the role of Los Angeles private eye Lew Archer in the 1974 TV pilot film The Underground Man.

Raymond Hawkey, 80, a graphic designer for Britain’s Daily Express and Observer newspapers, who created covers for the novels of Len Deighton, Ian Fleming, and Richard Stark (aka Donald E. Westlake). Hawkey also wrote three thrillers, as The Gumshoe Site recalls: “Wild Card (Cape, 1974; with Roger Bingham); Side-Effect (Cape, 1979); and It (NEL, 1983; retitled End Stage, Sphere, 1988).”

Lesley Himes, 82, journalist and the widow of Chester Himes, “the father of black American crime writing.”

Laura Hruska, 74, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Soho Press.

Elliott Kastner, 80, the film producer behind such pictures as Where Eagles Dare (1968), Harper (1966), and The Long Goodbye, the 1973 big-screen adaptation of what may be Raymond Chandler’s finest novel.

James MacArthur, 72, who played cop Danny “Danno” Williams on the original Hawaii Five-O TV series.

David Markson, 82, post-modern novelist, author of Wittgenstein’s Mistress, This Is Not a Novel, and a pair of crime-based works, Epitaph for a Tramp (1959) and Epitaph for a Dead Beat (1961).

Kevin McCarthy, 96, perhaps best known for his feature role in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), but also a guest star on such TV crime dramas as The DefendersHoney West, Burke’s LawThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., Judd for the Defense, and Columbo.

Ralph McInerney, 80, author of the Father Dowling mysteries, which became the basis for the aforementioned 1987-1992 TV series starring Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson.

Don Meredith, 72, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Monday Night Football broadcaster, and a recurring star on the anthology series Police Story.

Len Moffatt, 87, who with his wife, June, founded and edited the JDM Bibliophile, “the fanzine and journal dedicated to the study and discussion of the works of John D. MacDonald.”

Leslie Nielsen, 84, the actor who made a name for himself on the small-screen shows The Bold Ones and Bracken’s World, as well as in dramatic films such as Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), before turning to comedic roles in television’s Police Squad! and the Naked Gun film series.

Peter O’Donnell, 90, the British-born comic-strip writer and creator of troubleshooter/action heroine Modesty Blaise.

Robert B. Parker, 77, who created the character of Boston private eye Spenser and led him through a series of adventures (notably 1980’s Looking for Rachel Wallace and 1981’s Early Autumn) that spawned a TV series in the mid-1980s, Spenser: For Hire.

Alan Plater, 75, a writer “with over two hundred assorted credits in radio, television, theater, and film--plus six novels,” explains the International Movie Database. Plater penned scripts for such TV series as Z Cars, Cribb, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Kerry J. Schooley, 61, a Canadian author who co-edited (with Peter Sellers) the noir anthologies Iced (2001), Hard-Boiled Love (2003), and Revenge (2004), and under the pseudonym John Swan wrote noir fiction, including the novel Sap (2004).

David Thompson, 38, the co-owner of Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas, and publisher of Busted Flush Press.

David L. Wolper, 82, a TV and film producer who gave us the 1997 film L.A. Confidential as well as the 1970s TV crime drama Get Christie Love!, which starred Teresa Graves.

Is there anybody of significance we have missed naming? Additions are certainly welcome in the Comments section of this post.

READ MORE:In Memoriam: TV Stars We Lost in 2010,” by Bob Sassone (TV Squad); “But That’s Not All, Folks ...,” by Ivan G. Shreve Jr. (Thrilling Days of Yesteryear).


Jerry House said...

They will be missed, one and all.

Anonymous said...

Was David Thompson's cause of death ever revealed? I'm still shocked by that.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I hadn't heard Baantjer had died. At least some of his English translations called his protagonist DeKok rather than DeCock, which robbed the character of one of his catchphrases. The usual Dutch spelling would be DeKok, so the character would have to introduce himself as "DeCock, met C-O-C-K." It was a signature line in the Dutch TV series based on the books, and I presume in the books, too. Why some of the translations spelled the name DeKok, I don't know.

The books and TV series were phenomenally popular in the Netherlands, and there was even a board game based on them. One can't say the same for many crime series.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

PokerBen said...

Does Leslie Nielsen count on the list, for his Naked Gun movies?

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Yes, Leslie Nielsen most certainly counts, and his name is already on the list.


Andi Shechter said...

I know it's pointless and pretty dumb to be mad but i'm still mad that we lost Eleanor Taylor Bland this year. She was a long time friend, a fine writer, and a good person in so many ways it can't be measured. She deserved more time. Not like others didn't, don't get me wrong, but with Eleanor it was really personal and I'm mad as hell.