Actor Leo McKern, The Prisoner’s #2, dies

Leo McKernActor Leo McKern, best known for starring as Horace Rumpole in Rumpole Of The Bailey as well as being the more frequently recurring face of “Number Two” in The Prisoner, dies at a nursing home in Bath, England at the age of 82. Born in Australia, Mr. McKern made his mark in British television and in film, with appearances in Lawrence Of Arabia and the Beatles’ Help!.

Actress Kim Hunter dies

ZiraActress Kim Hunter, who played Zira in Planet Of The Apes and two of its sequels, dies of a heart attack at the age of 79. She won an Oscar in 1952 as best supporting actress in A Streetcar Named Desire. Her career also included the legendary topical TV comedy That Was The Week That Was, guest shots on numerous episodes of Playhouse 90, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, Mission: Impossible, and many other films and TV appearances.

Actor Jonathan Harris dies

Jonathan HarrisJonathan Harris, made famous by his role as the villainous Dr. Smith in the ’60s sci-fi classic Lost In Space dies due to complications from a blood clot in his heart. Harris’ career featured some notable film work, chiefly in the area of voicing cartoon characters (including, most recently, A Bug’s Life), but most of his career was spent on television, with appearances in golden-age anthology shows like Lights Out, General Electric Theater, The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, as well as other classics like Bonanza, Zorro, Bewitched, and even Fantasy Island and Love, American Style.

SF writer Jerry Sohl dies

Corbomite ManeuverLegendary SF writer Jerry Sohl dies at the age of 88. Aside from writing a number of seminal novels in the genre including “The Lemon Eaters”, Mr. Sohlalso wrote The Corbomite Maneuver episode of the original Star Trek series, as well as installments of Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He was also a member of the “Green Hand” collective of golden-age SF writers (including such august members as Rod Serling, George Clayton Johnson, Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson) who threw their lot in with the fans to save Star Trek from cancellation by NBC after its first season.

Wah Chang, Star Trek FX designer, dies

BalokOscar-winning sculptor, artist and model maker Wah Ming Chang was probably best known in SF circles for creating elaborate creatures for Star Trek (including the Horta, the alien face of Balok, and the tricorder props) and The Outer Limits. Chang also won the Oscar for special effects for George Pal’s film adaptation of The Time Machine. He also created costumes on such non-SF movies as The King And I and Cleopatra, for which he sculpted Elizabeth Taylor’s headdress. He was 86 years old.

Cecily Adams, DS9’s “Moogie”, dies

Cecily AdamsActress and casting director Cecily Adams, known to fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Quark’s mother, Ishka (also known affectionately as “Moogie”), dies due to lung cancer. The daughter of Get Smart! star Don Adams, Ms. Adams had made appearances on DS9, Total Recall: 2070, Murphy Brown and Home Improvement. Behind the scenes, she lent her casting expertise to such series as Third Rock From The Sun, That 70s Show, Eerie, Indiana, and many others. She is survived by her husband and a two-year-old daughter.

Paul Winfield, actor, dies

Paul WinfieldActor Paul Winfield, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1978 TV miniseries King, dies of a heart attack at the age of 62. In genre circles, Mr. Winfield won praise for his portrayal of Captain Terrell of the Reliant in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan and as General Richard Franklin in the GROPOs episode of Babylon 5, but perhaps his best genre outing was in a 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Darmok. He received Emmy nominations for his work in King and Roots: The Next Generation, as well as an Oscar nomination for Sounder; he finally took home an Emmy for a guest role on Picket Fences in 1995.

Anthony Ainley, Doctor Who actor, dies

Anthony AinleyAnthony Ainley, the actor who revived the role of the villainous Master in the BBC’s long-running series Doctor Who, dies at the age of 71. Picking up the role originally played by the late Roger Delgado during the Pertwee years, Mr. Ainley first appeared in 1981’s The Keeper Of Traken as the benevolent Consul Tremas, father to series regular Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), whose body was taken over by the Master late in the story. He was born into an acting family and got his first film role at only five years old, though he later studied to be an insurance agent. Finally returning to the family vocation, he appeared in movies such as You Only Live Twice and Inspector Clouseau, and television series ranging from the 1960s police series It’s Dark Outside to Upstairs, Downstairs.

Richard Biggs, Babylon 5 actor, dies

Richard BiggsActor Richard Biggs, best known to Babylon 5 fans as Dr. Stephen Franklin, dies of a ruptured aorta at the age of 43. An actor perhaps better known to the general public for numerous long-running soap opera roles, Biggs played Dr. Franklin for all five seasons of Babylon 5, but also enjoyed long runs on Guiding Light (a show on which he was still currently appearing at the time of his death) and Days Of Our Lives. At one point before pursuing acting, Biggs actually studied to become a real doctor. Throughout his acting career, he also actively taught acting, and most recently had embarked on a touring acting workshop with his friend and former B5 co-star Jason Carter. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

James Doohan diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

James DoohanBest known to Star Trek fans around the world as the original Enterprise’s tireless chief engineer, actor James Doohan and his family reveal that the actor is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. In an interview given to British satellite channel Sky News, Doohan’s wife says that thus far, the problem has only manifested itself as a frustrating loss for words. Doohan, now 84 years old, is due to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and plans to make one final convention appearance in late August alongside a rare reunion of the entire original surviving cast of Star Trek at an event titled “Beam Me Up, Scotty…One Last Time”.

Jerry Goldsmith, Hollywood composer, dies

Jerry GoldsmithVeteran television and film composer Jerry Goldsmith dies at the age of 75, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Known to genre fans and soundtrack listeners for an almost countless number of classic scores, his works range from Planet Of The Apes to Logan’s Run to The Omen to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and beyond. His television work includes the themes for such TV series as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Perry Mason, The Waltons, and of course Star Trek: Voyager. His work earned 17 Oscar nominations, including a win for 1976’s The Omen, and five Emmy Awards (including one for Voyager). He began his classical music studies at the age of six, and studied under legendary composer Miklos Rozsa, eventually getting into the business as a typist in CBS’ music department and then beginning his career by creating music for CBS Radio Workshop, the music for which was usually performed live during broadcast. He then moved on to episodic TV work, including The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Playhouse 90, Thriller, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, Amazing Stories, and many others.

Elmer Bernstein, movie composer, dies

Airplane!Renowned composer Elmer Bernstein dies at the age of 82. Best known for his non-genre work on such classic films as The Ten Commandments, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Magnificent Seven (and its numerous sequels), Animal House, True Grit and Airplane!, he also racked up quite a few genre credits, ranging from Ghostbusters to Heavy Metal to Saturn 3 and beyond. He also scored numerous specials and documentaries for National Geographic, IBM, and even the United Nations. He was nominated for 11 Oscars with one win (for Thoroughly Modern Millie), and was instrumental in the formation of the Varese Sarabande label, which deals almost exclusively in soundtrack releases.

Dr. Maxime Faget, spacecraft designer, dies

MercuryDr. Maxime “Max” Faget, one of NASA’s original employees dating back to the Space Task Group, dies at the age of 83. In 1946, he joined Langley Research Center where he contributed to pilotless aircraft research and became head of the center’s performance aerodynamics division. In 1958, he designed the original Mercury space capsule as a member of NASA’s Space Task Group, charged with finding ways to help America lead in the cold-war-era space race. He was one of the chief architects of the basic mission design for the Apollo lunar program. He was responsible for designing or contributing to the design of every U.S. manned spacecraft from Mercury through the shuttle, and retired from NASA in 1981 following the second flight of the shuttle Columbia. In 1982, he was a founding member of Space Industries, a company which designed experiments which were flown aboard the shuttle. He held patents on the Mercury capsule itself, as well as the vehicle’s escape tower and “survival couch.” He is survived by four children and their families.

Christopher Reeve, Superman actor, dies

Christopher ReeveThe man who went from an unknown actor to man of steel to activist, Christopher Reeve dies at the age of 52 after falling into a coma a day earlier. He was best known to most as the star of 1978’s Superman and its three sequels, but he also distinguished himself with roles in other films such as Somewhere In Time. He was picky with his roles, turning down the lead parts in such films as The Running Man, Total Recall and American Gigolo. In 1995, he was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from a horse, and he took on a new role of a tireless campaigner for spinal injury research (and, more recently, stem cell research). He had recently been seen in the recurring role of the mysterious Dr. Swann in the TV series Smallville.

Gil Melle, TV & film composer, dies

Andromeda StrainGil Melle, the composer who created the sound of several seminal ’70s supernatural series, dies at the age of 72. He was responsible for the main title music of such shows as Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, as well as scores for individual episodes of shows like Kolchak, Columbo and The Six Million Dollar Man. On the big screen, he created the memorably abstract electronic soundtrack for The Andromeda Strain, and he was also consistently employed to write music for TV movies, including Gene Roddenberry’s pilot movie The Questor Tapes.

Frank Kelly Freas, SF/fantasy artist, dies

News Of The WorldRenowned SF artist (and 11-time Hugo winner) Frank Kelly Freas dies at the age of 82. Perhaps best known to the general public for his painted cover art that adorned Mad Magazine from 1955 through 1962, “Kelly” Freas painted the cover art for such pulp SF magazines as Planet Stories, Science Fiction Quarterly, Weird Tales and especially Analog, to which he contributed cover art many times over five decades. He painted book covers for the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Joe Haldeman, A.E. Van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Frederik Pohl, Poul Anderson and Ursula Le Guin, among others. He was commissioned by the crew of the first Skylab mission to design their mission patch, and painted the cover of the hit album News Of The World for the rock group Queen.

Paul Hester, Crowded House drummer, dies

Paul HesterPaul Hester, former drummer for Split Enz and Crowded House, is found dead at the age of 46 in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Though police say the death is not “suspicious,” they rule it a suicide. Hester was a mainstay of the Melbourne music scene in the 80s when he auditioned to fill the vacant drum seat in Australian/New Zealand supergroup Split Enz. He joined the group for its 1984 tour, and only recorded one album, 1985’s See Ya Round, in the studio with Split Enz before the band broke up. He joined Neil Finn in a quest to launch a new band which, with the addition of bassist Nick Seymour, was eventually christened Crowded House and scored a #2 on the Billboard charts in early 1987 with “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. He recorded and toured with Crowded House until 1994, when the rigors of touring – and impending fatherhood – convinced him to return to Melbourne with his family.

Jack Kilby, integrated circuit inventor, dies

Jack KilbyComputer pioneer Jack Kilby, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in creating the integrated cicruit, dies of cancer at the age of 81. A long-time employee of Texas Instruments, he co-invented the integrated circuit, which made the current advances in miniturization of computer technology possible. (Prior to that, even minimal computing power often occupied an entire room.) He also counted the handheld calculator among his inventions. Though he retired from TI in the early 80s, he continued to consult for the company until the time of his death.

Joe Harnell, composer, dies

V soundtrackProlific film and TV composer Joe Harnell, whose memorable themes introduced audiences to such shows as The Incredible Hulk, the original V miniseries and The Bionic Woman, dies of heart failure at the age of 80. Before breaking into film music, he toured America and Europe with the Glenn Miller Air Force Band, and then landed numerous gigs as a musical director for such legendary talents as Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Beverly Sills, Judy Garland, and Lena Horne. He also released over a dozen albums of his own piano compositions. A three-time Emmy nominee for Best Dramatic Score, his atypical choice of a somber solo piano for the main titles of The Incredible Hulk was the beginning of a long partnership with writer/producer Kenneth Johnson, who also utilized his talents in V and Alien Nation, among other shows. He was also a film scoring lecturer and teacher in residence at the University of Southern California.

James Doohan, Star Trek actor, dies

James DoohanJames Doohan, the actor known to millions as the original Star Trek’s Chief Engineer Scott, dies at the age of 85. A veteran TV and radio actor who also led Canadian troops during D-Day in World War II, he tried out a number of accents for what was originally a rather non-specific engineer character for Star Trek’s first season before settling on a Scottish accent; even after the series ended, his involvement with Star Trek continued, and he provided nearly every male voice outside of the show’s regular characters in the short-lived animated Star Trek series before reprising the role of Scotty in the first seven Star Trek films and a fan-favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease last year, and made a farewell appearance at Star Trek convention a few months later, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well.

David Jackson, Blake’s 7 actor, dies

David Jackson as GanBritish actor and music hall performer David Jackson, best known to genre fans as Gan from Blake’s 7, dies of a heart attack at the age of 71. A veteran of the stage, film and many TV appearances (including two heavily-costumed roles in Space: 1999), he played the role of Gan for the first two seasons of Terry Nation’s space epic, only relinquishing the role when Nation decided that one of the characters needed to be killed off to lend the series some gritty reality. He was also an expert on Victorian theater and created a one-man stage show recreating the atmosphere of the Victorian music hall. He continued to appear at science fiction conventions and reunions of the Blake’s 7 cast as recently as 2004.

Michael Piller, Star Trek producer, dies

Michael PillerTelevision writer and producer Michael Piller, credited by many for the success of the revived Star Trek franchise (and co-creator of spinoff series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager) dies at the age of 57 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Piller, who had previously been a producer on Simon & Simon and the SF series Probe, joined Star Trek: The Next Generation as the head of the writing staff for the third season in 1990, replacing Maurice Hurley. Piller was generally credited with bringing a more friendly vibe to the show’s writing sessions and with finding new talent, such as fan writer Ronald D. Moore. Piller also wrote the popular two-part episode The Best Of Both Worlds and many others, and went on to create Deep Space Nine with Rick Berman and Voyager with Berman and fellow Next Generation veteran Jeri Taylor. Piller created the short-lived series Legend for UPN, starring Richard Dean Anderson (pre-SG-1) and John de Lancie, and later formed a production company with his son Shawn, where he developed the recent version of The Dead Zone for TV, as well as ABC Family Channel’s Wildfire, starring DS9 alumnus Nana Visitor.

Akira Ifukube, Godzilla composer, dies

GodzillaA self-taught composer whose scores for the original Toho Studios Godzilla films have become cult favorites, Akira Ifukube dies at the age of 91. He trained in the lumber industry and served as a forestry office during World War II, but he explored his interest in music in his spare time and became a university music instructor in 1946. In 1954, he scored the first Godzilla movie, and that music was tracked into later films in the series and has been re-recorded, covered and sampled by numerous artists since then. Aside from his film scoring work, he has been credited with hundreds of musical compositions since then and served as president of the Tokyo College of Music from 1976 to 1987.

More about Godzilla soundtracks in Music Reviews

Phil Brown, Star Wars actor, dies

Phil BrownActor Phil Brown, who secured a permanent place in SF lore with the role of Uncle Owen in Star Wars, dies at the age of 89. After spending the early years of his career working in stage productions in New York, he moved to Hollywood and co-founded the Actors’ Laboratory. He was only one film into a directing career when he was blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings, and left America to work in London in 1952 as both an actor and director, not to move back to the US until 1993. He found that his Star Wars role, even as brief as it was, won him a place of honor at many SF conventions, and he spent recent years making the rounds and meeting his fans. He also appeared in Superman, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, the TV miniseries The Martian Chronicles, and played a brief part in a trailer assembled by Richard Hatch to pitch a revival of the original Battlestar Galactica series.

Andreas Katsulas, Babylon 5 actor, dies

Andreas Katsulas as G'KarActor Andreas Katsulas, known to SF fans as Babylon 5′s eloquent Ambassador G’Kar, dies of lung cancer at the age of 59. After making a mark with Star Trek fans as Next Generation’s feisty recurring Romulan, Commander Tomalok, he landed the part of Babylon 5′s resident Narn ambassador and stayed with it from the 1993 pilot movie through the most recent Babylon 5 project to date, the 2002 TV movie Legend Of The Rangers. He also made appearances in Max Headroom, Alien Nation, Star Trek: Enterprise, Millennium, NYPD Blue, and movies such as the big-screen adaptation of The Fugitive.