As we prepare to ring in the New Year, DMG would like to honor some of the legendary film actors, actresses, directors, designers and businessmen that passed away in 2014. Here is our tribute to some of the entertainment icons who have left a lasting impression on the global entertainment/media landscape.
Joan Rivers June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014
Birthplace: New York, NY, USA
The brash comedian and E! TV show host passed away this year at the age of 81. Considered the real “Queen of Mean,” Rivers is best known for her red carpet put-downs, turning down “The Tonight Show” host job and winning “Celebrity Apprentice” at the ripe old age of 79. But she also inspired female comedians worldwide to address social and political issues with sharp wit and a sharper tongue.
Robin Williams July 21, 1951- August 11, 2014
Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA
Robin Williams’ explosive energy and compulsive improvisational skills made him one of the funniest and versatile actors of his generation. After a whirlwind ride through the comedy club circuit, Williams landed on TV with “Mork & Mindy” and Hollywood soon called. Williams showed his versatility and talent as an actor in a wide-range of roles in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, MRS. DOUBTFIRE, HOOK, JUMANJI, ALADDIN, THE FISHER KING and THE BIRDCAGE. In 1997, Williams won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of a Boston psychologist in GOOD WILL HUNTING.
Lauren Bacall September 16, 1924- August 12, 2014
Birthplace: New York, NY, USA
The seductive Lauren Bacall passed away this year at the age of 90. Bacall started her career as a model, however she quickly caught Hollywood’s eye. After being featured on the cover of a Harper’s Bazaar, Bacall was flown to Hollywood for a screen test. She ended up landing the lead opposite Humphrey Bogart in TO HAVE OR HAVE NOT. The film not only launched Bacall’s professional career, but also ignited an onscreen-off screen relationship between Bacall and Bogart that included marriage, and roles together in classics THE BIG SLEEP, DARK PASSAGE and KEY LARGO. Bacall won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for the film, THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES. In 2009, Bacall was awarded an Honorary Academy Award for her contribution to the golden age of film. Although considered a great actresses, Bacall will likely most be remembered for this line to Bogie from her first film; “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and . . . blow.”
Li Xianglan (李香兰) February 12, 1920 – September 7, 2014
Birthplace: Fushun, China
The Chinese-born Japanese actress and singer, Li Xianglan, passed away this year at the age of 94. Trained in Mandarin and classical vocal education, Li launched her career in the 1938 film HONEYMOON EXPRESS. Following World War II, Li was allowed to leave China after being accused of treason for making propaganda films for the Japanese during their occupation of China. She continued her acting and singing career in Japan, Hong Kong and the United States. She was featured in two Hollywood films, SCANDAL and ESCAPE AT DAWN. Li later joined the Japanese Parliament, where she helped improve relations between Japan and China by spearheading awareness and reparation programs for the wartime comfort women. Despite her checkered beginnings, Li came full circle by using her celebrity status to give back to the Chinese community.
Mickey Rooney September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Veteran of stage and screen, Mickey Rooney was an entertainer for almost his entire 93 years, performing in his first vaudeville act at 15 months old. Making the leap from vaudeville to the big screen, Rooney performed in over 300 films, including BREAKFAST AT TIFFAY’S, NATIONAL VELVET, A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUMAN COMEDY, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and the beloved Andy Hardy film series. In his later years, Rooney had cameos on several TV shows including “The Twilight Zone”, “The Golden Girls”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Full House” and “The Simpsons”. Rooney earned an Emmy, two Golden Globes and two Oscars (at nineteen he was the first teenager to be nominated for an Oscar, for his leading role in , co-starring Judy Garland, and was awarded a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1939). Rooney was also considered the top male money-maker in Hollywood from 1939 to 1941. Although Mickey Rooney has passed on, his entertainment legacy will transcend time.
Mike Nichols November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
A director for all seasons, Nichol’s early life could be considered anything but privileged, between a severe case of whooping cough and a narrow escape from pre-war Nazi Germany. Nichols and his family immigrated to New York City and it was here that he developed a Broadway show and Grammy winning album with comedic partner Elaine May. In 1963, Nichols was chosen to direct Neil Simon‘s play Barefoot In The Park, which went on to be a big hit, running for 1,530 performances and earning Nichols the first of nine Tony Award wins. His success on stage led Warner Bros. to offer Nichols WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1968, Nichols won an Oscar for directing the classic hit THE GRADUATE. Other notable Nichols films include THE BIRDCAGE, SILKWOOD, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR and the HBO miniseries ANGELS IN AMERICA. Nichols is one of a select group of people who have earned all of the major entertainment awards – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Nichols’ strength under adversity and outstanding artistic vision has made him an idol for aspiring film/theater directors.
George Ho (何佐芝) November 3, 1919 – June 4, 2014
Hong Kong media mogul, George Ho, passed away this year at the age of 94. The fifth son of influential industrialist Sir Robert Hotung, Ho found himself overshadowed by his siblings and father. After Ho attended King’s College and UCLA, he founded Commercial Radio Hong Kong. Ho’s business thrived in Hong Kong, allowing him to open a television branch as well. In 2001, Ho’s was given the Gold Bauhinia Star in recognition for his involvement with Hong Kong’s general public. As the honorary chairman of Commercial Radio Hong Kong, Ho kept himself involved with his company’s strategic growth until he passed away. George Ho’s business acumen and selfless dedication sets the gold standard for all young entrepreneurs eager to declare themselves media tycoons.
Shirley Temple April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014
Birthplace: Woodside, CA, USA
The silver screen’s biggest little star, Shirley Temple, had been groomed for greatness from infancy. Her family taught her how to sing, dance, and act as a toddler and she was soon discovered by casting director Charles Lamont, who signed Temple to do a variety of short films, which were quickly noticed by major studios such as Fox, Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. Shirley lit up the screen with her bright smile and signature curls in such films as, LITTLE MISS BROADWAY, BRIGHT EYES, and CURLEY TOP. However, Temple became forever imprinted in the history of film through her mesmerizing staircase dance duet in the film THE LITTLE COLONEL. Although Temple is arguably the greatest child star of all time, her life did not fall into oblivion like many other child celebrities. Temple became heavily involved with politics, ultimately becoming the U.S ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. Temple’s childhood glory has been preserved digitally and in the syrupy, non-alcoholic cocktail that bears her name.
Philip Seymour Hoffman July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014
Birthplace: Rochester, NY, USA
Philip Seymour Hoffman was a gifted character actor who became infatuated with acting as a teenager. After studying at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Hoffman peppered in appearances in a variety of entertainment platforms, including film, television and off-Broadway plays. Appearing in over 50 films, Hoffman will be best remembered for his roles. sometimes as bad guys, in SCENT OF A WOMAN, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, THE MASTER, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 and BOOGIE NIGHTS. In 2005, Hoffman won a BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Actor for his turn as author and playwright Truman Capote in CAPOTE. Although Hoffman’s career ended too soon, his captivating talent has made him an iconic actor.
Wu Tianming (吴天明) December 5, 1939 – March 4, 2014
Birthplace: Sanyuan County, Shaanxi, China
Called “The godfather of modern Chinese film”, Wu Tianming’s film career started in 1960 when he was accepted into the Xi’an Film Studio’s trainee program. Wu also studied at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. Wu went on to direct and produce some of the most influential movies in China. Wu’s work include such classics as OLD WELL, THE KING’S MASK, and RED SORGHUM, all of which earned him Golden Rooster awards. Wu also won the Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear award for RED SORGHUM. Wu’s contribution to film has been chiseled into China’s cinematic history.
Oscar de la Renta July 22, 1932 – October 20, 2014
Birthplace: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The internationally renowned fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta, passed away this year at the age of 82. De la Renta’s big break came when his wedding dress designed for the daughter of Henry Cabot Lodge was featured on the cover of Time Magazine. De la Renta rapidly developed a reputation, working for such fashion institutions as Arden, Jane Derby and Balmain, and in 1965, de la Renta launched his own brand and started a long association with Hollywood and celebrities. Anyone who is anyone has probably worn a de la Renta gown on the red carpet at some point including Amy Adams, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Park and First Ladies Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.
Richard Attenborough August 29, 1923 – August 24, 2014
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
The eloquent British actor and director was a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II whose first exposure to cinema was filming a wartime propaganda film. After the war, he pursued a career in stage acting, starring in the world’s longest running stage production, The Mousetrap. Attenborough soon set his eyes on the big screen, acting in such movies as THE GREAT ESCAPE, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET and JURASSIC PARK. Attenborough also produced and directed the Oscar-winning films CHAPLIN and GANDHI, for which he won two Academy Awards. Attenborough went on to accept numerous honors outside of cinema as well, such as the Padma Bhushan, the Shakespeare Prize, the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolence Peace Prize and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
James Garner April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014
Birthplace: Norman, OK, USA
The gun slinging actor with the big grin may be best known for his TV roles, but Garner starred in many great films too. After serving in the Korean War, Garner’s good looks got him small roles for Broadway plays and television commercials, but he transcended to celebrity status when he took the lead role of Bret Maverick in the 1950’s series “Maverick”. Garner appeared in dozens of films in the 50s and 60s including GRAND PRIX, THE GREAT ESCAPE, and DUEL AT DIABLO. Garner again rose to TV prominence as lovable but messy, PI Jim Rockford in the “Rockford Files”. The show earned Garner a best actor Emmy and in 2002, was ranked #39 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 1985, Garner received his only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor MURPHY’S ROMANCE. Later in his career, Garner appeared in numerous movies including TWILIGHT, SPACE COWBOYS, VICTOR/VICTORIA, THE NOTEBOOK and the big screen version of MAVERICK. Garner’s notable career earned him two Emmy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.
Eli Wallach December 7, 1915 – June 24, 2014
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY, USA
The adaptable method actor’s skills were crafted by the stage and Wallach brought that power and emotion to his film performances, making him one of the greatest character actors. When Wallach returned from World War II, he stormed into Broadway and earned a Tony award for his first Broadway performance in the play “The Rose Tattoo”. In 1967, Wallach played Mr. Freeze in the “Batman” TV series, a role that Wallach once said he got more fan mail from than any of his other iconic roles. Wallach showcased his talent in film and TV in a career that spanned 60 years, including THE MISFITS; THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (He was ‘the Ugly’); THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE HUNTER and MYSTIC RIVER. Wallach’s acting career has been honored with an Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award and an Academy Honorary Award. Considered the chameleon of the silver screen, Eli Wallach leaves behind the blueprint for aspiring character actors.
Ruby Dee October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014
Birthplace: Cleveland, OH, USA
An inspiring actress, Ruby Dee was also an early proponent for racial equality, joining the American Negro Theater and performing in Broadway plays with other notable African-American actors like Harry Belafonte, Hilda Simms and Sidney Poitier. After receiving widespread recognition for her performance in 1950’s THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY, Dee acted in numerous politically charged films and television series, such as THE INCIDENT, GONE ARE THE DAYS, A RAISIN IN THE SUN, DO THE RIGHT THING, “Roots: The Next Generation” and “Peyton Place”. In 2007, Dee was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for AMERICAN GANGSTER. Her abilities as a performer also earned her an Emmy Award, Grammy Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. Dee continued her excellence off the screen as well, earning her the Fredrick Douglass Award, the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award and an honorary degree from Princeton University.
Bob Hoskins October 26, 1942 – April 29, 2014
Birthplace: Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, England
The prominent English actor was best known for his mix of intensity and humor on screen and his warmth off. Hoskins was a fixture in British television and films during the 80’s after first making waves in the TV-movie “Pennies From Heaven”; films followed like THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, BRAZIL, and MONA LISA, which garnered him an Oscar nomination, a Cannes Award, a Best Actor Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award, along with wide critical acclaim. Hollywood came calling and in 1988’s WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, Hoskins, usually known for playing gangsters and tough guys, let his comedic skills shine. The film went on to make US$329 million at the box office (making it the 20th highest grossing film, at the time) and Hoskins a recognized face worldwide. Hoskins went on to star in dozens of other movies including HOOK, MERMAIDS, NIXON, and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN.
Harold Ramis November 21, 1944 – February 24, 2014
Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA
The prolific writer and actor found his comedic calling in college, writing parody plays. While working as a part-time newspaper writer and joke editor for Playboy magazine, Ramis also began cutting his comedic chops at Chicago’s famous Second City improve group, where he worked with other great Chicago comedians like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and frequent collaborator Bill Murray. Ramis went on to be a writer and performer for the late-night sketch-comedy series “SCTV”, which he left to pursue his film ambitions after co-writing the screenplay for NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE. He went on to write, star and/or direct in some of comedy classics including CADDYSHACK, the GHOSTBUSTERS movies, GROUNDHOG DAY, STRIPES, ANALYZE THIS, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, AS GOOD AS IT GETS, HIGH FIDELITY and KNOCKED UP.
Sid Caesar September 8, 1922 – February 12, 2014
Birthplace: Yonkers, NY, USA
The gifted sketch comedian and actor passed away this year at the age of 91.The youngest of three brothers, it was waiting tables in his parent’s restaurant that Caesar picked up many of the accents and funny mannerisms that he’d use throughout his career. as a waiter. After a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II, Caesar moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in entertainment. He quickly established himself in the television industry, best known for the pioneering 1950s series Your Show of Shows, a 90-minute weekly show watched by 60 million people, and its successor Caesar’s Hour, both of which influenced later generations of comedians and shows. His success in television carried over to film, as he made appearances in such films as IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and GREASE. His outstanding contribution to television wasn’t overlooked, as he was the recipient of two Emmy Awards, a Television Critics Association Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Caesar’s lasting legacy can be summed best by some other comedy greats who knew and worked with him…Carl Reiner said, “He was the ultimate, he was the very best sketch artist and comedian that ever existed”; while Mel Brooks commented, “Sid Caesar was a giant, maybe the best comedian who ever practiced the trade.”
Chan Kwok-hung (陳國雄) 1963 – December 17, 2014
Birthplace: Hong Kong
Chinese cinematographer, Chan Kwok-hung, passed away this year at the age of 91. Chan Kwok-hung, a beloved man throughout Hong Kong, was a cinematographer for over twenty years. Some of his features include, TOKYO RAIDERS, FLY ME TO POLARIS, INVISIBLE TARGET, SEOUL RAIDERS and SUMMER HOLIDAY. Chan Kwok-hung’s work was nominated for two Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Cinematography. Chan Kwok-hung left a lasting mark on Hong Kong cinema.
Joe Cocker May 20, 1944 – December 22, 2014
Birthplace: Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, UK
Cocker, the youngest son of a civil servant, started his musical pursuit at the age of twelve with his band The Cavaliers. Despite the rocky beginnings of his musical career, Cocker found his big break when he formed The Grease Band. The band drew attention from the music community after their distinct remake of The Beatles’ hit song, “With a Little Help from My Friends”. The remake was a signature hit for the band, not only performed at Woodstock and featured in the festival’s concert movie, but also used as the theme song to 80’s hit TV show, “The Wonder Years”. Cocker also produced the hit songs, “Feelin’ Alright”, “The Letter”, “Cry Me a River”, “High Time We Went”, and “You Are So Beautiful”. Outside of Woodstock, Cocker also performed in the Newport Rock Festival, Denver Pop Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Madison Square Garden, and on shows like “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “This is Tom Jones.” In 1976, Cocker and John Belushi performed an iconic duet of the single “Feelin’ Alright” on “Saturday Night Live” becoming an instant comedy classic (that’s Cocker on the left).