Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Every Day A Little Death

In the past month or so, a number of theater greats have passed on and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge their losses here.

Tony Martin, the operatic and debonair baritone singer who had an 80-plus year career in film, theater, and the nightclub scene, passed away on June 27th at his home in West Los Angeles at the age of 98.  The cause appears to have been natural causes.  Mr. Martin's biggest claim to fame in theatrical circles is that he was married to dancer Cyd Charisse, who died back in 2008.

Sherman Hemsley, most famous for his role on television's The Jeffersons as the curmudgeonly George Jefferson, and who also starred on Broadway in the musical comedy Purlie, passed away on July 24th. He died at his home of natural causes at the age of 74.

Theatrical costume designer Martin Pakledinaz, who won Tony awards for his designs of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Kiss Me, Kate, died on July 8th of brain cancer at age 58.

Ernest Borgnine, a character actor in both TV and film, died on July 8th at the age of 95.  He died of renal failure at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.  Borgnine is best known for his roles in McHale's Navy, From Here To Eternity, and his Oscar-winning turn in Marty.

Among the more diverse of experience in this set of deaths is Gore Vidal, the playwright, novelist, essayist, and all around witty aphorist, died on July 31st at the age of 86.  He died at home of complications from pneumonia.  Vidal's best known work is the play The Best Man.

Lastly, today came the news of the passing of Marvin Hamlisch, the prolific composer for film, television, and theater who is one of only 12 people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony -- and only one of two individuals to have won those four awards plus a Pulitzer Prize.  He also won two Golden Globe Awards.  Hamlisch became noted early on when he won three Oscars in one night at the young age of 29 in 1973.  His most famous scores are for the films The Sting and The Way We Were, as well as the Broadway musical A Chorus Line.  He died at 68 "after a brief illness" (according to wikipedia).

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