Saturday, December 31, 2011

And So Comes the End

As 2011 slips into the darkness, to be replaced by a fresh new year, we look back at some of the people--all significant to the world of crime and mystery fiction--who passed away during the last 12 months.

Gilbert Adair, 66, Scottish-born novelist, poet, and critic, who penned three Agatha Christie-ish whodunits--The Act of Roger Murgatroyd (2006), A Mysterious Affair of Style (2007), and And Then There Was No One (2009)--starring the “formidable” Evadne Mount.

Dick Adler, 74, a former magazine and newspaper editor in New York, and a contributor to TV Guide, who became the crime-fiction critic of the Chicago Tribune and much later jointed The Rap Sheet as a frequent blogger. In 2006, Adler received the Ellen Nehr Award for Best Mystery Reviewer from the American Crime Writers League.

James Arness, 88, who not only starred as Marshal Matt Dillon on the long-running Gunsmoke, but led the casts of two other small-screen dramas: How the West Was Won (1976-1979) and McClain’s Law. Arness was the elder brother of Mission: Impossible star Peter Graves.

John Barry, 77, a British film and television composer who developed the music for 11 James Bond films. He also created scores for the movies Born Free (1966), Out of Africa (1985), and Dances with Wolves (1990), and the theme for the 1971-1972 Tony Curtis/Roger Moore TV series The Persuaders!

Lilian Jackson Braun (Bettinger), 97, who for four decades wrote the popular Cat Who series of mystery novels, beginning with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966).

Alfred Burke, 92, who played Frank Marker, the lonely, unglamorous star of Public Eye, a 1965-1975 British TV series.

Milton T. Burton, 64, the author of four Texas-set crime novels: The Rogues’ Game (2005), The Sweet and the Dead (2006), Nights of the Red Moon (2010), and the forthcoming The Devil’s Odds (2012).

Charlie Callas, 83, a fast-talking and elastic-faced comedian who regularly appeared on The Andy Williams Show and The ABC Comedy Hour, and co-hosted The Joey Bishop Show. Callas played a small-time thief in the 1972 pilot for NBC’s The Snoop Sisters and a con man in the CBS private-eye drama Switch (1975-1978).

Ruth Cavin, 92, who distinguished herself for many years in the role of crime-fiction editor at St. Martin’s Press.

Jackie Cooper, 88, a child star turned TV director who portrayed Metropolis newspaper editor Perry White in the Superman films of the 1970s and ’80s, but also made appearances in such shows as Hawaii Five-O, McCloud, Ironside, Hec Ramsey, Police Story, and The Rockford Files. Cooper won Emmy Awards for his directorial efforts.

Peter Falk, 83, who starred as a disheveled but brilliant Los Angeles police detective in the TV series Columbo.

Gerald Perry Finnerman, 79, who served as the primary director of photography for the original Star Trek series, and later worked on The Bold Ones, Hec Ramsey, Kojak, Police Woman, The New Mike Hammer, and Moonlighting.

Robert Foster, 73, a television writer and producer whose credits included episodes of Run for Your Life, The Bold Ones, The Snoop Sisters, Nichols, Kate McShane, and Chicago Story. He was also executive producer of the 1980s action series Knight Rider.

Anne Francis, 80, who co-starred (with Leslie Nielsen) in the 1956 science-fiction film Forbidden Planet before capturing the sexy title role in Honey West, a 1965-1966 ABC-TV series based on characters created by Forrest E. “Skip” Fickling and his wife, Gloria. Francis later guest-starred in such shows as Banacek, Ellery Queen, Search, Assignment: Vienna, and Riptide.

Ariana Franklin (aka Diana Norman), 77, a Fleet Street journalist turned author who composed four novels featuring 12th-century English coroner-investigator Adelia Aguilar, including Mistress of the Art of Death, which won the Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2007.

Joe Gores, 79, a onetime private eye and repo man who wrote the Dan Kearney and Associates (DKA) detective series, the 1975 novel Hammett (based on the life of Dashiell Hammett), and 2009’s Spade & Archer, a prequel to The Maltese Falcon. During his career, Gores won three Edgar Awards as well as the Maltese Falcon Award (Japan’s highest commendation in the mystery-fiction field), and he served for a time as president of the Mystery Writers of America.

Martin H. Greenberg, 70, a prolific editor-anthologist whose mystery and crime-fiction works included Holmes for the Holidays (1998), The Big Book of Noir (1998), Purr-Fect Crime (1997), and Murder Most Irish (1996). Greenberg was given the 1995 Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Edward Hardwicke, 78, who for many years played Doctor John Watson opposite Jeremy Brett in the memorable British TV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Joyce Harrington, 79, the author of No One Knows My Name (1981), Family Reunion (1982), and Dreamz of the Night (1987). She was given an Edgar Award in 1973 for her first short story, “The Purple Shroud.”

Clark Hulings, 88, a Florida-born painter who, early in his career, produced a wide variety of paperback fronts for mainstream, historical, and crime-fiction works.

William Johnston, 86, the author of numerous movie and TV tie-in novels, including Get Smart! (1965), Banyon (1971), and Klute (1971). In 2010, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers’ gave Johnston The Faust, its Grand Master Award for excellence.

H.R.F. (Henry Reymond Fitzwalter) Keating, 84, the British crime novelist and scholar who concocted standalone thrillers as well as a prominent series of books featuring Indian detective Inspector Ganesh Ghote. In 1996 the Crime Writers’ Association gave Keating its Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement.

Paul Lindsay, 68, a former Detroit-based FBI agent who--under the pseudonym Noah Boyd--penned the broadly acclaimed novels The Bricklayer (2010) and Agent X (2011).

Sidney Lumet, 86, an American film producer whose work included 12 Angry Men (1957), Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Prince of the City (1981), and Paul Newman’s The Verdict (1982).

Arthur Marx, 89, the only son of comedian Groucho Marx, who--in addition to writing TV scripts, biographies, and memoirs--penned three mystery novels, beginning with Set to Kill (1993).

James McKimmey (aka James Earl McKimmey Jr.), 87, a once-prominent, Nebraska-born author of the Gold Medal paperbacks era, who is remembered for such books as The Perfect Victim (1958), Winner Take All (1959), The Long Ride (1961), and Squeeze Play (1962). McKimmey reportedly died in Nevada on January 19, 2011. An excellent, two-part interview with the author can be found in Allan Guthrie’s Noir Originals (part I is here, part II is here).

Harry Morgan, 96, who was cast as Los Angeles Police Officer Bill Gannon in Dragnet 1967, opposite Jack Webb. Morgan went on to co-star with Robert Conrad in The D.A., appear as Doctor Amos Coogan in Hec Ramsey, join the M*A*S*H cast as stern but soft-hearted Colonel Sherman T. Potter, and play Hal Linden’s con man father in Blacke’s Magic. In addition, Morgan portrayed New York Police Inspector Richard Queen in the unsold 1971 TV pilot film Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You, opposite former Rat Pack member Peter Lawford.

Francesco Quinn, 48, the son of film legend Anthony Quinn. He appeared earlier this year as Gilberto Nieddu, police detective Aurelio Zen’s private-eye friend, in the Masterpiece Mystery! mini-series Zen. But Quinn had been previously featured in The Glades, The Shield, CSI: Miami, and Miami Vice.

Stanley Robertson, 85, a former Ebony magazine associate editor who became NBC-TV’s manager of film program operations on the West Coast and later that same network’s vice president of motion pictures for television. Robertson helped bring the now-famous NBC Mystery Movie “wheel series” to the air in the 1970s.

Pietro “Pete” Rugolo, 95, a onetime chief arranger for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, who later became the music director of Capitol Records and a composer for films and television series. The Sicilian-born Rugolo counted among his credits the themes to such TV shows as The Thin Man, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, The Fugitive, The Outsider, Run for Your Life, and Cool Million.

Enid Schantz, 72, a Colorado book critic and bookseller, and the co-founder (with her husband, Tom Schantz) of The Rue Morgue Press. The Schantzes received the Mystery Writers of America’ Raven Award in 2001 by for their contributions to the genre.

Leonard B. Stern, 88, a Hollywood screenwriter and the producer behind such familiar TV series as Get Smart, McMillan & Wife, The Snoop Sisters, Faraday and Company, and Rosetti and Ryan.

Craig Thomas (aka David Craig Owen Thomas), 68, the Welsh author of such thrillers as Firefox (1977), Snow Falcon (1980), and Jade Tiger (1982). Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site describes Thomas as “the inventor of the techno-thriller genre.”

George J. “Rhino” Thompson, 69, the author of Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion (1993) and Hammett’s Moral Vision (2007).

Newton Thornburg, 81, who is certainly remembered best as the author of Cutter and Bone (1976).

Michael Van Rooy, 42, the Canadian author of An Ordinary Decent Criminal (2005) and A Criminal to Remember (2010), who died of an apparent heart attack in Montreal while on a book tour.

Barbara Whitehead, 80, an ex-chair of England’s York Family History Society, who started out writing historical romances but switched to mysteries with Playing God (1988). She went on to produce eight novels about York Police Chief Inspector Robert Southwell. As fellow author Martin Edwards writes, “she was especially good at evoking the atmosphere of York Minster and the wonderful old city around it.”

Peter Yates, 81, a British film director best known for making the 1968 cop thriller Bullitt, which starred Steve McQueen and his GT V8 Ford Mustang. Yates also gave us The Hot Rock (1972), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), The Dresser (1983), and The House on Carroll Street (1988). And in the 1960s he directed episodes of the TV programs The Saint and Danger Man.

Have we forgotten anyone in our accounting? Feel free to suggest additions in the Comments section of this post.

READ MORE:Passages,” by Linda L. Richards (January Magazine); “The Ones We Lost,” by David Abrams (The Quivering Pen).


Austin Carr said...

When I knew Dick Adler, he worked and wrote out of Los Angeles, not New York.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Yes, by then he must have moved to L.A. During his career, he also lived in London, according to his obituary:


Anonymous said...

How about George Baker who played Inspector Wexford in the Ruth Rendell


J. Kingston Pierce said...

Good catch, Anonymous!