Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lost Genius

Late though I am to attending to this matter, I want to acknowledge the passing on Thursday of British novelist Ariana Franklin. Born in Devon and a former Fleet Street journalist, she was the author of four books featuring 12th-century English coroner-investigator Adelia Aguilar (including Mistress of the Art of Death, which won the 2007 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award). Her most recent entry in that series was A Murderous Procession (originally published as The Assassin’s Prayer), which came out in the States last year. In addition, Franklin wrote almost a dozen historical novels under her real name, Diana Norman. Earlier this year, she received the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger in the Library Award, given “to an author for a body of work, not one single title.”

Norman/Franklin was married to renowned UK film critic Barry Norman and had apparently been “seriously ill” for some while. She was 77 years old when she perished at her home in Hertfordshire, England.

* * *

A fond farewell is due Charlie Callas as well. As The New York Times recalls in its obituary, the fast-talking comedian and actor with the “Cyrano-size nose ... appeared on virtually every television variety and talk show in the days of Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Merv Griffin, and Johnny Carson. He was a regular on The Andy Williams Show and The ABC Comedy Hour, a semi-regular on The Flip Wilson Show, and a co-host of The Joey Bishop Show.” Callas made further guest appearances on The Munsters, Hart to Hart, The Fall Guy, and L.A. Law, and in the 1972 pilot for NBC’s The Snoop Sisters.

But I remember Callas best for his regular role as “small-time thief" and restaurateur Malcolm Argos in Switch. That 1975-1978 CBS-TV series starred Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert as, respectively, a con man and an ex-bunco cop who brought criminals to justice using a combination of smarts and complicated schemes.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in December 1927, Callas died on Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada, at age 83.


Yvette said...

Jeff, I am most upset to read about the passing of one of my very favorite writers, Ariana Franklin. Gosh, what a shock. I had no idea she was ill. Jeez. I love those historical mysteries featuring Adelia Aguilar. A MURDEROUS PROCESSION was a great book. I was so looking forward to finding out what happened next.
This is the first I'm hearing about this awful news. Thanks for posting about it, though it saddens me.

Greg M said...

So sorry to hear about her. I was also a great fan of her Mistress of the ARt of Death novels, and will miss her work. She also had a very noirish sounding book called City of Shadows, which I have not yet read. Such a loss.
My condolences go out to her family.