While this year has been rather hard on famous people, I wanted to write some kind of year-end tribute to some lesser known folk who passed this year. And since science-fiction has been so much a part of my life, I decided to give a retrospective of people, famous and lesser-known, who figured in science-fiction performances I hold dear.
Alan Young – Remember “Mister Ed”? Yes, Alan Young was Wilbur in that show – and he appeared in “The Time Machine”, the stunning 1960 film with Rod Taylor, as his friend Filby.
Ron Glass – The wise-cracking cop in the TV show “Barney Miller”. For me, though, he’ll always be the Preacher who rode with Nathan Fillon and the rest of the crew of Serenity on the TV show “Firefly”.
Gareth Thomas – You probably don’t know him. From the British sci-fi TV show “Blakes’ 7”, a huge part of my fandom days. The only license plate my 1987 Cavalier ever carried was “TREK B7”, a tribute to the two great sci-fi shows in my life.
Yes, we just lost Carrie Fisher. But we also lost Kenny Baker, who “played” R2-D2 throughout the film series.
Alan Rickman. So many films, so much talent, such a wide variety of roles. But always, to me, his role in “Galaxy Quest”. You can read my farewell to him here: https://windycitywonderer.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/by-grabthars-hammer-by-the-suns-of-worvan/
A personal favourite of mine, Jerry Doyle, the equally tortured and hilarious security chief on “Babylon 5”. I loved the fact that Jerry brought his love of “Looney Tunes”, especially Donald Duck, into the show, and that the great J. Michael Straczynski not only permitted it but encouraged it.
And let’s not forget Van Williams who played the Green Hornet in the 1960’s show of the same name. Or Noel Neill from the TV series “Superman” in the 1950’s. While hoaky today, they were cutting-edge sci-fi in their day, and can still evoke a thrill or two even 50-60 years later.
Finally, three special notes. First, though I abhor what J.J. Abrams has done to Star Trek with his film series, I will salute Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov. He was a talented young man, lost all too soon. Second, Ronnie Corbett, of the British TV comedy show “The Two Ronnies”. Nothing to do with sci-fi, save that my PBS station in Chicago ran them for a while prior to “Doctor Who” episodes every Sunday night. I loved that show. And finally, Glen Frey. Again, nothing to do with sci-fi, but a very talented musician and a surprisingly good actor on “Miami Vice”, in the episode (for which he sang the title tune of the same name) “Smuggler’s Blues”.
This is far from a comprehensive list, but I really didn’t want to write a thousand-page post just to cover this year’s passings. Let’s hope that 2017 will be a lot easier on the world of the famous.
To close, a Happy New Year to all my readers, and a fervent hope and prayer that 2017 will turn out a lot better than 2016 for all of us. And thank you for staying with me through all my ups and downs – I’ll work on putting out stuff more frequently to properly reward your patience. Once again, thank you, and Happy New Year!