Saturday, September 12, 2020

They Walked Too Briefly Among Us

• I was saddened to learn about the death, this last Thursday, of British actress Diana Rigg at age 82. Like so many people, I first became acquainted with her talents through her three-year stint as clever, cat-suited spy Emma Peel on The Avengers. Later I encountered Rigg again in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which she played espionage agent James Bond’s ill-fated bride, and later still in the 1973 American TV sitcom, Diana, and the 1998-2000 BBC-TV series, The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries. In between and since, there were other motion-picture roles, other small-screen appearances (notably in HBO’s Game of Thrones), and assorted theater performances. Yet, as I remarked in this tribute to Rigg on the occasion of her 70th birthday, back in 2008, “it’s as [Mrs. Peel] a woman in her 20s and 30s that I recall Diana Rigg best.” Not surprisingly, Emma Peel figures prominently into the obituaries published since Rigg’s demise, including those from The New York Times, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, and the blogs Comfort TV and The Spy Command. Her passing follows those of two other Avengers standouts in recent years: her bowler-topped former co-star, Patrick Macnee, in 2015; and Honor Blackman, who played Macnee’s second partner on that show, Cathy Gale, and went to her grave this last April.

• Rigg recalled her years on The Avengers in this entertaining clip from a British Film Institute interview filmed in 2015.

• Attracting somewhat less attention was the passing, on September 6, of New York-born actor Kevin Dobson. After appearing in the daytime TV drama One Life to Live, Dobson scored roles on The Mod Squad, The Rookies, Emergency!, Ironside, and Cannon, before winning the prize part of Detective Bobby Crocker on Kojak (1973-1978), playing opposite Telly Savalas. An obit on the MeTV Web site says, “Dobson auditioned three times before he was cast. He credits his experience in the Army with helping him land the role. ‘I was a military policeman in the Army, so I knew how to hold a gun and throw somebody against a wall.” After Kojak went off the air, Dobson played Mickey Spillane’s famous Manhattan gumshoe, Mike Hammer, in an unsuccessful 1981 pilot film, Margin for Murder, and starred as in the 1981-1982 CBS-TV crime drama Shannon (see the opening here). He finally secured a regular, longtime slot on the prime-time soap opera Knots Landing (1982-1993). Dobson died at age 77.

• Although he lived in Kent, Washington, not far south of where I reside in Seattle, I never met Gary Alexander. But I did correspond with him occasionally, and I enjoyed a few of his books, including Interlock (2012) and Damn Near Broke (2017). We were also “Facebook friends,” though that means little. I was surprised to hear that he’d passed away on August 17 “at the ripe young age of 79, after a mercifully short battle with brain cancer,” according to his funeral home obituary. Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site provides this additional information:
The former auto insurance appraiser wrote 24 novels and more than 200 short stories (mostly for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine) as well as travel articles. He created mainly three series: the Bamson Kiet series features a police superintendent in an imaginary kingdom of Luong, beginning with Pigeon Blood (Walker 1988); the Luis Balam series features an ex-traffic cop turned tour operator in the Yucatan, Mexico, beginning with Blood Sacrifice (Doubleday, 1993); and the Buster Hightower series features a stand-up comic entangled in international intrigue, beginning with Disappeared (Five Star, 2010). His latest novel is Harry Saves the World Again (Encircle Publications, 2020), featuring amateur spy Horatio Alger “Harry” Antonelli.
I offer my condolences to Alexander’s family.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

I remember Gary Alexander's work...goodness. And Dobson's and Rigg's, as well as her fellow AVENGERS stars' (a real pity it took so long for Honor Blackman-era episodes to finally get some clearance in the US). Blues.