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Category: RIP

RIP – Bernie Wrightson

It was announced today that Bernie Wrightson has passed away after a long battle with brain cancer.  Mr. Wrightson was 68.

Known best for his drawings and paintings in the horror genre, Mr. Wrightson was a humble and soft-spoken man who appreciated his fans.  Wrightson was an artist’s artist.  Not only was his work loved by fans, but professional artists were also in awe of his talent.  Best known as the co-creator (with Len Wein) of Swamp Thing, Wrightson was also known for…

  • Being one of the young upstart talents of “The Studio” (along with Barry Smith, Michael Kaluta, and Jeff Jones)
  • His horror work at Warren Publishing
  • His Frankenstein project (beautiful pen and ink illustrations for Mary Shelley’s classic tale)
  • His work with Stephen King – creating the poster for the movie Creepshow and illustrating King’s Cycle of the Werewolf novella, illustrations for The Stand (restored version), and art for the hardcover editions of From a Buick 8 and Dark Tower V.
  • His comics at Marvel (Punisher, Spider-Man), DC (Swamp Thing, Batman) and IDW (The Ghoul and Doc Macabre – both with co-creator Steve Niles)
  • His conceptual art for films such as The Faculty, Spiderman, and George Romero’s Land of the Dead, and The Mist.
  • So much more

I was fortunate enough to meet Berni Wrightson a couple of times at HeroesCon.  He was kind and humble and appreciative of the praise fans (myself included) gave him.  On the first occasion, when my wife learned that Mr. Wrightson was a guest at the con she came into the show to meet him.  She wasn’t a real comics fan, but she did love Mr. Wrightson’s art, appreciated his talent and wanted to meet him.  When she spoke to him, he seemed genuinely touched. As we were leaving his area other fans were coming over to share their appreciation.  I’m glad Bernie Wrightson was aware of how much his art positively impacted so many people.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Berni Wrightson’s family, friends and fans.


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RIP – Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton died today from complications from surgery.  Mr. Paxton was just 61.

I first took notice of Bill Paxton in his role as Chet in Weird Science.  Not long after that I realized that I’d seen Paxton in small but memorable roles in Streets of Fire and The Terminator.  Paxton followed Weird Science with a small role in Commando.  He then landed his breakout role as Private Hudson in Aliens.

Paxton went on to a have a career that spanned over 40 years appearing tv shows and movies.  A few of my favorite Bill Paxton performances include:

  • Weird Science – Chet
  • Aliens – Private Hudson
  • Near Dark – Severen
  • Tombstone – Morgan Earp
  • True Lies – Simon
  • Twister – Bill
  • A Simple Plan – Hank
  • Frailty – Dad Meiks

Paxton also appeared in Miami Vice, Next of Kin, Navy Seals, Predator 2, One False Move, Trespass, Apollo 13, Titanic, Mighty Joe Young, U-571, Spy Kids 2 & 3, Frasier and so many other shows and movies.  He was currently starring in the tv series Training Day.  Anything Mr. Paxton appeared in, he made better.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bill Paxton’s family, friends and fans.

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George Michael – R.I.P.

George Michael died yesterday.  He was 53.

Like most folks, I first became aware of George Michael when “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” hit the charts back in the 1980s.  At the time Michael was part of the duo Wham.  The song was an upbeat, fun tune and featured Michael dancing as he sang giving us no insight into the artist we were viewing.

It wasn’t until Michael left Wham and began recording on his own that we would see his true talents emerge.  Michael sold more than 100 million records worldwide, had seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Billboard ranks him the 40th-most successful artist to ever live.

Michael was a generous man performing in many concerts with the proceeds designated for charities,  donating all of the proceeds from the single “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” among ten different charities for children, AIDS and education. Michael also supported the Elton John AIDS Foundation and gave to other charities anonymously.

George Michael always seemed to me the perfect example of a troubled artist.  A good looking guy, who wanted to be seen as more than just another handsome face.  A man who appeared to have it all but struggled with private issues.  A generous man with talent and financial resources that he shared with the world.

Rest in Peace, George Michael.  Your music and memory will live on.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to George Michael’s family, friends and fans.

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Muhammad Ali – Rest in Peace

Muhammad Ali, Olympic Boxing Gold Medal winner, three time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and world icon passed away yesterday.  Ali had suffered for 32 years with Parkinson’s disease.  He was 74.

Before I went to bed Friday night the reports were coming in that Ali was in the hospital on life support.  Things didn’t sound good, but Muhammad Ali had overcome great odds before.

I can’t say I was shocked (that would come later) when my wife woke me at about 2am to say that Ali had died.  We had fallen asleep with the bedroom tv on and she woke up to the news.

The next morning reports and rememberances of Muhammad Ali were all over the tv and internet.  And rightly so.  Muhammad Ali was the self-proclaimed “Greatest” who later was ready to give up the braggadocio title, but could not because the world had accepted it as reality.  Muhammad Ali transcended boxing.  Especially to those of us old enough to remember his start as Cassius Clay.

In 1960, at the young age of 18, Cassius Clay won the Gold Medal in Olympic boxing.  He was an American Hero and ready to become a professional boxer.  Yet when Clay returned to the states, he was refused service at a diner because he was black.  In 1963, Clay became a American Muslim but kept it a secret.

In 1964, the undefeated Clay (19 – 0) got a title shot against the Heavyweight Champ, Sonny Liston.  Liston was heavily favored because of his knockout power, his intimidating presence and reputation as a thug.  Liston would be a man fighting a boy.  Clay taunted Liston prior to the fight and backed up the taunts with a 6th round TKO.

After winning the title, Clay announced his conversion to the Muslim faith and his name change to Muhammad Ali.  Although this didn’t sit well with some of his fans, Ali stayed true to his beliefs.

Ali gave Liston a rematch and knocked him out in the first round. Ali then went on to win 8 more title matches before being stripped of his title in 1967 for refusing to comply with the draft due to religious reasons.  Ali was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.  Although released on appeal, Ali was not allowed to fight or leave the country, so he took to the lecture circuit to speak out for civil rights.  In 1971, Ali won his appeal and could once again box.  Still, he had lost 4 years of his prime.

Ali’s comeback fight was against Jerry Quarry.  I remember watching the fight on tv with my dad.  Ali won in by TKO in 3 rounds.  Ali had another fight which he won before challenging Joe Frazier for the title.

The fight against Frazier was the first of their 3 meetings.  It went 15 rounds in what some called the “Fight of the Century” and ended with a unanimous decision for Joe Frazier.  It was Ali’s first loss.

Between 1971 and 1973, Ali reeled off 10 more wins.  Then he fought Ken Norton and lost on a split decision.  Ali went through most of the fight with a broken jaw.  Seven months later Norton and Ali fought again, but this time Ali won the split decision.

In 1974, Ali and Frazier II took place.  I remember listening to the radio for round-by-round updates to learn that Ali won on a split decision.  Ali and Frazier were now 1 and 1.  Ali’s win put him in line for the title shot against George Foreman.

Foreman was 40 – 0 with most of his wins by KO or TKO.  Ali was the underdog, but as we all know won by 8th round KO.  Ali defended his title 3 more times and then was ready for the rematch with Frazier.

The fight went 12 brutal rounds before Ali won by a unanimous decision.  Ali jumped into another brutal battle when 9 months later he took on George Foreman in a bout Ali won by KO in the 8th.

Ali’s next fight (which he won by TKO in the 15th), against Chuck Wepner, inspired Sylvester Stallone to create Rocky.  Ali racked up two more wins and then it was time for the rubber match with Frazier.

Dubbed, by Ali, “The Thrilla in Manila,” the fight went 14 brutal rounds before Ali won by TKO.  Ali would fight six more times including wins over Ken Norton and Ernie Shavers before Ali signed to fight Olympic Gold Medalist Leon Spinks.

The fight was televised and I remember watching it.  Ali didn’t look to be in the best of shape perhaps taking Spinks too lightly.  As the fight went the 15 rounds it became obvious that it would be a close decision… and it was.  Spinks won via split decision and became the new Heavyweight Champion.

The Spinks – Ali rematch was set up 7 months later and Ali came back in much better shape winning a unanimous decision.  Ali retired after that fight only to come back two years later to lose by TKO in the 10th to Champion, Larry Holmes.  The following year Ali lost a 10 round decision to Trevor Berbick and then retired for good.

Most fighters when they finally retire slowly drift away from the public’s consciousness.  Not so with Muhammad Ali who over the years had increased his popularity through displays of his wit and charm with appearances on many entertainment programs.  So people were shocked to learn just a year after Ali had retired from boxing that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

That didn’t stop Ali from traveling the world to promote humanitarian causes.  In 1985 Ali went to Lebanon and in 1990 to Iraq to broker the release of American hostages. When the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, Ali was chosen to light the Olympic flame.  In 2005, President George W. Bush honored Ali with the Presidential Medal of Freedom which is the highest award a civilian can achieve.

Muhammad Ali was a boxer who transcended boxing. Ali’s popularity wasn’t limited to the United States or people that shared his same faith.  Ali was a man of the world, a true people’s champion.  And it will be a long time before we ever see another like him.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Muhammad Ali’s family, friends and fans.

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Tony Burton – R.I.P.

Tony Burton best known as Duke Evers, Apollo Creed and later Rocky Balboa’s trainer died last night at the age of 78.

Although Duke Evers was my favorite of all the roles, Mr. Burton played, I was also partial to his portrayal of Wells in the original Assault on Precinct 13.  Any movie or tv show was improved with a Tony Burton appearance.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Burton’s family, friends and fans.

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R.I.P. Roderick Tombs aka “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

I was shocked and saddened to ready that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has passed away from a heart attack at just 61 years of age.

Wrestling and movie fans appreciated Mr. Piper’s skills before a camera.  What I liked even more were the things Rowdy Roddy did when the camera was off and he was back to being Roderick Tombs.

By all accounts he was a humble, family man who was gracious with everyone he met.  Funny that most of his wrestling career he played a heel.  Mark Evanier wrote a nice tribute to Roderick Tombs aka Roddy Pipper that will show you the kind of person he was.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Roderick Tombs family, friends and fans.

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R.I.P. Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. aka Dusty Rhodes

Virgil Riley Runnels Jr. passed away today.  Perhaps you knew him better as Dusty Rhodes aka  The American Dream.

Pro Wrestling fan or not, I’ll bet you knew of him.

Dusty began his career in 1968 in the AWA as a bad guy.  That’s when I first saw him wrestle on late night tv.  Dusty was a bad guy and partnered with Dirty Dick Murdock.  They were a couple of cowboys chasing the tag team title.

I was a kid living deep in WWA territory that was run by Dick the Bruiser and we considered the AWA a lesser organization.  I knew who Dusty was but since I never saw him in “my” territory, going against my champs, I didn’t give him much thought.

In 1973, I moved to Florida and into NWA territory.  Remember this was when pro wrestling wasn run by several smaller organizations with no national company like the WWE Dusty showed up as a singles wrestler.  He was still a cowboy but definitely a more modern man of the people.

Given the mic, Dusty shined.  He didn’t look like the typical champion, but once he dropped his atomic elbow and did a little victory dance, he became the people’s champ.  Dusty’s career flourished and he went on to great success not only in the NWA, but also Vince McMahon’s WWF (later the WWE), the WCW and ECW.

Dusty Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007 and continued to be a force behind the scenes as a writer and creative director.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dusty Rhodes’ family, friends and fans.

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Remembering Leonard Nimoy – RIP

Leonard Nimoy died today at the age of 83 from the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Although best known for his role as Spock [which spanned the Star Trek  tv and movie series], Leonard Nimoy was not only an actor, but also a director, author, and photographer.

Had Mr. Nimoy only been known for his role as Spock, that would have been enough to merit a post in my blog. Spock as played by Leonard Nimoy was one of my first and longest-lasting heroes. I wasn’t alone in that thinking. I was able to convince my mom to let me have a Spock haircut, but thankfully, she drew the line when I asked for my ears to be made pointed.

After the original Star Trek  series went off the air I continued to be a Leonard Nimoy fan enjoying his performances on new television shows and movies, and discovering his past performances in both media as well.

It’s cliché but true for many baby-boomers when we lost Leonard Nimoy, we also lost a big piece of our childhood.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Leonard Nimoy’s family, friends and fans.

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R.I.P. – James Garner

James Garner, star of movies and tv, was found dead in his Los Angeles home yesterday.  Mr. Garner was 86.

If you are a child of the 50’s then James Garner is probably best known to you for the role of Brett Maverick [the role that launched him to stardom] in the series Maverick.  Garner played a new kind of hero, one that preferred to use his wits rather than his guns or fists to get him out of trouble.

If you grew up in the 60’s then you probably know James Garner the movie star.  Movies like The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily, Duel at Diablo, Support Your Local Sheriff, and Marlowe all come to mind.

The 70’s saw a combination of movies and tv.  The early 70’s included the movies Support Your Local Gunfighter, and Skin Game as well as the short-lived tv series Nichols.  Then in 1974, James Garner’s other cornerstone character, Jim Rockford began appearing when the Rockford Files premiered  (which ran until 1980).

James Garner went on to star in many more movies [Victor/Victoria, Murphy’s Romance, Space Cowboys,  and The Notebook are just a few], but time and time again he would return to Brett Maverick [tv series and movies] and Jim Rockford [tv movies].

My favorite James Garner roles include the two Support Your Local… movies, Marlowe [Bruce Lee appears and Garner plays Phillip Marlowe!], Nichols [watched and enjoyed the series as a kid and would love to see how it holds up] and of course Jim Rockford.

Many actors are called legendary.  James Garner embodied what it takes to get that designation.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

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Rest in Peace: Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem died today.  Mr. Kasem was 82 and had been in failing health for some time.

Mr. Kasem was best known as the host of his American Top 40 Countdown which appropriately enough counted down Billboard’s best selling records each week.  Casey Kasem also did voice work for commercials, and cartoons (most notably as the voice of Shaggy on the long-running Scooby Doo series).

I was a big fan of the Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Countdown when I was a kid.  In the last few years I made rebroadcasts of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Countdown: The 70’s a part of my Sunday morning routine.  I listened to it as I updated the StalloneZone.

Casey Kasem usually ended his show by saying, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”   Sage advice from a man who did just that.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Casey Karem’s family, friends and fans.

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RIP – Bruiser

Bruiser Zablo
June 22, 1997 – March 11, 2014

The best friend anyone could want.  He lived a great long life.   Bruiser went out peacefully surrounded by people who loved him.  Who could ask for more?

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R.I.P. – Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin’s family announced via his website that Mr. Laughlin passed away on Thursday.  Mr. Laughlin was 82.  Tom Laughlin was a writer, director, producer and actor.

Best known for his role as Billy Jack, Laughlin played the character in four films.  Billy Jack was a half-white/half native American, former Green Beret solider looking for a peaceful way through life who more often than not found himself in violent situations not of his making.

Although Tom Laughlin has over 35 acting credits it was Billy Jack that made him an international superstar.

Laughin first played the role in the 1967 film The Born Losers.  Billy Jack found himself the only person willing to make a stand against a violent motorcycle gang.

In 1971, Laughlin returned as Billy Jack in the film of the same name.  This time out Billy Jack finds himself going against corrupt city officials, including cops as he tries to find justice for a rape victim and protect the students of the Freedom School.

The Trial of Billy Jack was released in 1974.  After his release from prison Billy Jack returns to the Freedom School only to find things are worse than ever.  Corrupt cops and politicians decide to put a permanent end to Billy Jack and the school.

In 1977, Billy Jack Goes to Washington received a couple of showings but was never given a widescreen release.

After the Billy Jack series Tom Laughlin starred in The Master Gunfighter and played a few small roles, but he never found another character that resonated with the viewing public like Billy Jack.

How could he?  Billy Jack had became an American icon and Tom Laughlin was Billy Jack.

Tom Laughlin is survived by his wife of 60 years, Delores [who co-starred in the Billy Jack films], his three children, and his five grandchildren. His family has asked that in lieu of flowers or gifts, please make donations to: Friends of Pine Ridge in Tom’s honor or the Alzheimer’s Foundation in honor of  Delores Laughlin.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom Laughlin’s family, friends and fans.

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R.I.P. Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, arguably the most popular movie reviewer of our time, and unarguably the first film critic to win a Pulitzer prize, passed away today after a long battle with cancer.

Just two days ago Mr. Ebert had posted that he was taking a Leave of Presence from his role as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.  While Mr. Ebert was stepping away due to his health and treatments for the cancer that had returned, he was far from retiring.  Mr. Ebert spoke about more movie reviews and writing he planned to do, a redesigned website, and digital presence as well a Roger Ebert video game or app.

So it was a surprise to learn that today Roger Ebert passed on.

Of course it wouldn’t have surprised him.  As Mr. Ebert wrote in his piece, I Do Not Fear Death:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear…

R.I.P. Roger Ebert.

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