The Cinema Cafe

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End Credits #14: Cinema's 2012 Lost Treasures Chad Everett, Larry Hagman, Susan Tyrrell, Ben Gazzara, Phyllis Thaxter

Character and Supporting Actors Lost to Us in 2012  Part 3

There are a large number of films with important contributions from often overlooked supporting, and character actors, some of whom were sadly lost to us in 2012.

 

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Chad Everett made his acting debut in the popular TV series Maverick (1961), as Lieutenant Gregg in a couple of episodes. He then performed in numerous television shows before landing supporting movie roles in The Singing Nun starring Debbie Reynolds, and Made in Paris starring Ann-Margaret (both 1966). Everett played the title role as an American Indian in Johnny Tiger starring Robert Taylor (also 1966), and starred in the following year's First to Fight as the sole survivor of a Japanese attack on his squad at Guadalcanal. That same year he made strong and memorable supporting turns in Return of the Gunfighter as Lee Sutton (pictured), again with Robert Taylor, and The Last Challenge with star Glen Ford. After some TV and several film parts, Everett starred in what would become his most famous role as Joe Gannon in TV's Medical Center (1969-1976). From 1978-1979 he appeared in the mini-series Centennial as Major Maxwell Mercy. In his later career after numerous other TV assignments, he took supporting roles in Gus Van Sant's re-make of Psycho (1998), and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001). He performed on episodes of Cold Case (2006), and Without a Trace (2007). Everett's final appearance was on an episode of Castle (2012). He was lost to us on July 24, 2012 at age 75.

 

 

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Like Everett, Larry Hagman was known primarily for his Television work, first as Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), and later as the immensely colorful and conspiring J.R. Ewing on Dallas (1978-1991). He also portrayed Ewing in the series Knot's Landing (1980-1982), and the Dallas TV movies, one in 1986, another in 1996, and still another in 1998. Finally the series along with Hagman's character had a re-birth in a newly created Dallas (2012-2013). Hagman began his career in Broadway plays and musicals in 1950. He was the son of legendary stage actress Mary Martin. In addition to his popular television work, Hagman should be remembered for his dedication to the craft on display in films such as Fail-Safe (1964), In Harm's Way (1965), Harry and Tonto (1974), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), S.O.B. (1981), and especially for his brief but highly effective performance as the menacingly powerful corporate big shot Jack Jones (pictured), in Nixon (1995). Aside from his other numerous film and television appearances throughout the years, Hagman portrayed Gov. Fred Picker in 1998's Primary Colors, and the recurring character Burt Landau on the TV series Nip/Tuck (2006). In his personal life he was known for being very appreciative of his many fans. Larry Hagman passed away on November 23, 2012 at age 81.

 

   

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Often cast as very strong characters of an unsavoury nature, was actress Susan Tyrrell. In only her fourth film role as the cynical barfly Oma (pictured), in John Huston's Fat City  (1972), she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. She was a member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Theater during the late 1960s through early 1970s, performing on and off Broadway in productions such as Cactus Flower, and The Time of Your Life. Throughout the 1970s she portrayed mostly strange misfits in films like The Killer Inside Me (1976), Andy Warhol's Bad (1977), and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977). She was probably the only actress who could have so convincingly played Vera and prove an equal in moral and sexual depravity to the character of Charles Serking in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981). Tyrrell continued to depict weird outcasts, appearing in Forbidden Zone (1982), Angel (1984), and its sequel Avenging Angel (1985). She really stood out as the medieval mercenary Celine in Paul Verhoeven's aptly titled Flesh + Blood (1985), Midge Montana in Big Top Pee-wee (1988), Ramona Ricketts in John Waters' Cry Baby (1990), and in many other movies and TV series. Her last performance was in 2012's Kid-Thing. She died on June 16, 2012 at age 67.

 

 

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Appearing with Tyrrell in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981), as Charles Serking (an ever-so-thinly disguised real life beat poet Charles Bukowski), was the supremely talented actor Ben Gazzara who passed away on February 3, 2012 at age 81. Gazzara had an uncanny ability to transmit a deeply profound emotional resonance without saying a word. After making some distinguished TV appearances, he made his motion picture debut in The Strange One (1957), as pathological cadet Jocko De Paris. He had been a member of the Actors Studio and played the same part in a Broadway play based on the novel End as a Man by Calder Willingham, winning a Theatre World Award. After some distinguished TV roles between 1957 and 1958 in Playhouse 90 and Kraft Theater, he more than held his own acting alongside James Stewart and George C. Scott in perhaps the greatest courtroom drama ever made, 1959's Anatomy of a Murder as defendant Lt. Fredrick Manion (pictured). Gazzara enjoyed memorable parts in The Young Doctors (1961), and Convicts 4 (1962), amongst others before creating one of his more notable characters, starring as Paul Bryan on Television's Run For Your Life (1965-1968). He acted in If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (a fortuitous performance with fellow actor John Cassavetes), and The Bridge at Remagen (both 1969), before portraying Harry so vividly in Cassavetes' penetrating character study Husbands (1970). Gazzara then made some TV movies before taking the role of Al Capone in 1975's Capone. He starred again for Cassavetes in the strikingly original The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), and in the following year's Opening Night. Gazzara also acted for Peter Bogdanovich starring in 1979's Saint Jack, and 1981's They All Laughed. His exceptional work continued in 1989's Road House, The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Buffalo '66 (1998), and the same year's The Big Lebowski. He also appeared in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam (1999), and Lars Von Trier's Dogville (2003).

 

 

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Phyllis Thaxter understudied Dorothy McGuire in the hit play Claudia, eventually landing the title role on Broadway but losing the film role to McGuire. She made her film debut in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), and was highly effective in a number of important film noirs including Bewitched (1945), Robert Wise's 1948 western noir Blood on the Moon, the same year's Act of Violence for Fred Zimmerman, and 2 others in 1950: No Man of Her Own and The Breaking Point. She played the female lead with Randolph Scott in Fort Worth, and Jim Thorpe - All American (both 1951), opposite Burt Lancaster. Thaxter appeared in many fine TV programs at the time including Lux Video Theatre, Studio 57, Climax!, Playhouse 90, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, RawhideThe Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, The Defenders, and The F.B.I. Several other important film roles included The World of Henry Orient (1964), as Mrs. Avis Gilbert with Peter Sellers and Angela Lansbury. She also notably played Ma Kent in 1978's Superman (pictured), with Glen Ford as Pa Kent. Her last appearance was again with Lansbury in an episode of TV's Murder She Wrote in 1992. She died August 14, 2012 at age 92.

 

Next time:  5 more important actors lost to us in Part 4