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James Gandolfini (Sept. 18, 1961?June 19, 2013) By Jamie-Lynn Sigler
My earliest memory from filming The Sopranos was when we shot the college episode. At the time, I was a fragile 17-year-old who tried to pretend to know what I was doing, but the truth was I was terrified. The show felt so huge and so important, and I was a kid from Long Island who had only done community theater. So one would think I would be the most scared when I was working with Jim. It was the exact opposite. He made it real. He made it authentic. He made it easy. He taught me how to be an actor in front of a camera, to ask for extra takes, and to make sure I always did a take ''for me.'' I remember when I walked into the conference room where we would have our read-throughs, his big hands grabbed mine and he led me to the chair at the head of the table where he always sat, and he said, ''Sit here — this episode is yours, Jamie.''
The first scene we shot later that week was the one in the car where I ask him if he's in the Mafia. I remember him asking me how I was doing, how I was feeling, over and over again before we started. Here was this man who could have only cared about his own process (and rightfully so), yet he was so concerned about mine. When Jim looked you in the eye, my God, you felt so safe. He was so genuine. I wanted to hug him. I still think to this day that that was my favorite scene I have ever acted in my life, and that was all because of the trust Jim taught me to have in someone else. He gave me countless gems of advice, my favorite one being ''When you audition, just f--- 'em, Jamie. Do it for you.''
Even behind the scenes, Jim always let you know that he was looking out for you. He probably never even knew the impact he had on so many of us. He was such a reluctant hero. That's one of the things that made him so special. He worked so hard on his craft, and worked just as hard, if not harder, on being a good person. And he was.
The last time I saw him was in March. A bunch of us got together at a casino, and he seemed so happy. We talked about my pregnancy, his new baby girl, the pilot he was working on. He was beaming, the happiest I had ever known him to be.
I've missed Jim since the moment we stopped shooting The Sopranos. I miss him being my dad, I miss the drunken food fight we had at the SAG Awards one year, I miss his bear hugs. He was a gift to this industry and an angel to me throughout my early career. I only hope to make him proud with my choices from here on out.
Gandolfini died of a heart attack in Rome.
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Paul Walker (Sept. 12, 1973?Nov. 30, 2013) By Dwayne Johnson
When I first met Paul, I think in our late 20s, we were young kids in the business. Then years later, when I did Fast Five, we had an opportunity to spend a lot of time together and become reacquainted. At that time, we had both been in the business for over a decade, and the most important thing that we had in common was the importance of family time and being great fathers to our daughters. We bonded over that.
I hope that Paul will be remembered for exactly what he was: a great guy, a caring man, and an exceptional father who loved and adored his daughter and would do anything to help out someone in need. He was passionate and very selective about roles he took, but he also relished his private time and was never motivated by money, fame, glory, or being a movie star.
There's that old expression you've heard: ''The camera doesn't lie.'' In Paul's case, you certainly saw his spirit always come through on screen. Whether he was involved in heavy action, or more of a tender moment, or more of a comedic moment — on screen his genuine care and his light as a human being would always shine through.
Walker died in a car accident in Santa Clarita, Calif.
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Roger Ebert (June 18, 1942?April 4, 2013) By Martin Scorsese
Roger Ebert meant a great deal to many people. For me, he was an anchor. We met in 1967, after he wrote a positive review of the early version of my very first feature, Who's That Knocking at My Door? The effect of the review was incalculable, and the fact that someone immediately recognized what I was trying to do in that picture meant everything to me. It still does. And over the years, whenever I needed help, when I was at the lowest moments in my career, Roger was there for me. I never even asked — he was just there. Even though he maintained a kind of professional distance, we got to know each other very well. In all honesty, I have rarely met anyone who loved movies as much as Roger, or who cared about them as deeply. He was a wonderful critic and a rare human being, and I'm proud to say that he was my friend.
Ebert died of thyroid cancer in Chicago.
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Lou Reed (March 2, 1942?Oct. 27, 2013) By Mick Rock
Lou Reed was my friend for more than 40 years. He was a gladiator, fearless and uncompromising. He pandered to no one. Personally, he was a very sweet soul and a loyal, caring friend. I took some wonderfully intimate photos of him and [model and Velvet Underground collaborator] Nico at Blakes Hotel in London in the autumn of 1975 when she was purring in his ear to write more songs for her.
Another set I cherish is of him in a pet shop tenderly nursing a puppy. He already had one miniature dachshund called The Baron, and decided that he needed a pal, called The Duke. But when he got him home, The Duke kept growing and growing. Not that he loved him any less. After that, there were always small dogs in his life.
Lou tended to shy away from publishing any photos that showed his sensitive, more human side. He liked to be seen as invulnerable, mysterious, implacable in the public eye. And I never published anything that he didn't approve. He was my friend. I wanted him to be happy. Although I do think now that he's passed it would be okay to reveal a little more of the sweetness of this great artist. I believe now he would give his blessing to it.
Reed died of liver disease in Amagansett, N.Y.
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Cory Monteith (May 11, 1982?July 13, 2013) By Ryan Murphy
For me, Cory was both the beginning and the ending of Glee...literally.
The first scene of the pilot was Cory's Finn and Matt [Morrison]'s Mr. Schu. None of us really knew what we were doing. Glee was a musical, musicals had never worked on television, and we were figuring it out as we went along. At the end of his first take, Cory could see I, his director, was a little unsure. He came up to me with a big grin and said, ''This is going to be fun.'' He was terribly right, and terribly wrong.
The ending of Glee is something I have never shared with anyone, but I always knew it. I've always relied on it as a source of comfort, a North Star. At the end of season 6, Lea [Michele]'s Rachel was going to have become a big Broadway star, the role she was born to play. Finn was going to have become a teacher, settled down happily in Ohio, at peace with his choice and no longer feeling like a Lima loser. The very last line of dialogue was to be this: Rachel comes back to Ohio, fulfilled and yet not, and walks into Finn's glee club. ''What are you doing here?'' he would ask. ''I'm home,'' she would reply. Fade out. The end.
That ending, and that beginning, speaks deeply of my personal feelings for Cory. Despite his troubles, he always felt deeply rooted — dependable, sweet, someone you return to for comfort. He was big, oafy, oversize — which is why during the pilot I gave him the nickname Frankenteen, a nickname that, much to his horror, stuck. But he was also the biggest surprise for me personally, and in many ways reaped the most respect.
When we started, he alone had never danced. He had never really sung. And yet from his audition tape — where he tried out banging on Tupperware — he became a singer. A great one. And he became a dancer. He gave both his heart, and that is what Cory was to me — all heart. Ultimately his body, through his terribly sad and frustrating addiction, won out over that big, strong beating heart.
On Glee, Cory was the quarterback. He was a natural leader and, always, a welcome embrace. When new cast members joined the show — and that choir room can at first be a chilly one — Cory was the first to speak to them, welcome them, show them the ropes.
From the beginning Cory and I had a father-son relationship, which at that time I have to admit I did not want. I didn't know how to do that. But Cory — from a broken home, a lost boy — needed a male figure to provide guidance, support, a direction. In retrospect, Cory was kind of my training wheels for becoming the father I am today with my own child.
One of the most difficult things about the death of a young person is the loss of potential. Of what could be. Cory had a lot of unfulfilled dreams. He longed for more adult material, to prove himself as an actor. And he wanted to direct. He wanted to get better, he wanted to evolve.
And so he is frozen in a moment. For generations of children, future impressionable young people who will watch his indelible character of Finn Hudson, he will always be that quarterback — a person who champions the underdog, fights the bullies, loves for the exact right reasons. Cory will continue to change lives for the better. It is a rare gift to touch the lives of one person, let alone millions.
Monteith died of a lethal mix of heroin and alcohol in Vancouver. Murphy, the co-creator of Glee, delivered an expanded version of this eulogy at a private memorial service in July.
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Jean Stapleton (Jan. 19, 1923?May 31, 2013) By Sally Struthers
Not many have the uncommon blessing of two sets of parents. I did. My friendship with Jean began 43 years ago. I was young, and she was wonderful. The best human being on the set of All in the Family, our resident saint. She radiated goodness, artistry, humor, gentleness, and her perfect relationship with God. I am left with so many memories of Jean's laughter. Giggling, actually. And it was all the time. No one worked more diligently than Jean. She perfected each moment of her role as Edith Bunker. She led by example. I'll carry her with me always. Actually, I think she is now carrying me.
Stapleton died of undisclosed causes in New York City.
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George Jones (Sept. 12, 1931?April 26, 2013) By Brad Paisley
He's the greatest singer country music has ever had, ever will have. It's really a rare thing in any style of music to be able to say that. He was like Sinatra for us. George Jones during his lifetime was probably aware that he was regarded as the best singer in country music. It wasn't like he didn't know people said that. But the minute that you start to sense that people are listening to other music and they're not interested in what you're doing, there's always a feeling of, Did what I do matter or not?
I think he knew that we all adored him. He knew his wife just loved him beyond what's typically possible for human beings. And in our case, as artists, we all regarded him as if he were in line for sainthood. But he left here probably wondering if people would still be listening to his music. If you're one of these people going, ''I don't know much about this guy,'' go figure it out, because there's a reason we're making this ruckus.
Jones died of respiratory failure in Nashville.
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Annette Funicello (Oct. 22, 1942?April 8, 2013) By Paul Anka
From the very moment in the fall of the late '50s when I met Annette and her family, my admiration, love, and respect for all of them was quickly established and never waned. Annette was America's sweetheart. She handled it well, she wore it well, and she was humbled by it. At first we had a professional relationship, which became a personal one. There was love, respect, and, most of all, there was a unique friendship unlike any that I knew in my younger years.
I was always so impressed by her professionalism, her hardworking approach to everything, and her caring for everyone. One day I finally convinced her that she could indeed sing and that I was prepared to write and create an album for her, and from that moment on she totally immersed herself into being the best that she could be. She was one of a kind.
Funicello died of complications from multiple sclerosis in Bakersfield, Calif.
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Dennis Farina (Feb. 29, 1944?July 22, 2013) By Michael Mann
Dennis was my dear friend. His loss is inconceivable. I keep forgetting he's absent, and I have to remind myself of the void that's there where he used to be. I will never not miss him, his generosity, his outrageous humor and values. When Dennis decided somebody was a ''bad guy,'' it was nonnegotiable. He was a man of character and fine qualities. He lived in a cultural niche that was uniquely his own, with unwavering loyalty to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, pocket handkerchiefs, and manicured nails. What a pleasure it was to be around him — from the bars and streets of Chicago on Thief in 1980, where he told me he might have a career as an actor if he could become known as ''Dennis the dream to work with,'' through the years to Luck. On Luck, for Dennis, Dustin Hoffman, and me, working together with the rest of that incredible and familial ensemble, it was the best of times.
Farina died of a blood clot in his lung in Scottsdale, Ariz.
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Jonathan Winters (Nov. 11, 1925?April 11, 2013) By Jimmy Kimmel
My father named me after himself and my brother, Jonathan, after his favorite comedian. I was on vacation in Mexico the first time I spoke to my brother's namesake. My Palm Treo surprised me by ringing in a foreign land, and I had to think hard about answering it for fear of international roaming charges. The man calling sounded like a cross between Ricky Ricardo and Speedy Gonzales. It was Jonathan Winters, pretending to be my TV sidekick, Guillermo. I understood exactly none of what he said but remember every bit of it.
Most young people would probably deem Jonathan's act to be corny, but it was anything but. His was a wild and imaginative brain hidden inside a round, friendly head. You never knew what he'd do next. I'm pretty sure he never knew what he'd do next. I was lucky enough to spend time with his many personas both on TV and off, and I've never felt more like a real-life talk-show host than when he was sitting in my guest chair.
When I told him how much he meant to our family, Jonathan was kind enough to invite my dad to his home. He answered the door dressed head-to-toe as a German U-boat commander, shared many great stories using many different voices, then invited my dad into a room full of hats. Jonathan selected an Indiana Jones-style fedora for my father and changed into a Civil War cavalry outfit. At lunch, the restaurant manager said, ''Welcome, Mr. Winters!'' Jonathan growled. The manager said, ''Welcome, General Custer!'' He smiled. He was a nut in the best possible way.
At the end of the day, Jonathan insisted that my dad take some of his many toys ''for your grandkids.'' If there is such a thing as a comedy genius, Jonathan Winters qualified for sure — but he was also a kind and lovely man who gave my dad one of the best days of his life.
Winters died of undisclosed causes in Montecito, Calif.
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Bonnie Franklin (Jan. 6, 1944?March 1, 2013) By Mackenzie Phillips
Bonnie was very tiny. She was like 5 foot 2, and I'm 5 foot 8. I was like the giraffe around her. She was very brash, very loud, very New York. I fell in love with her immediately. Bonnie was the driving force every Monday at the table read for One Day at a Time. She would fight for quality and funny. She was a bit of a bulldozer when it came to what she wanted, where she wanted the show to go. It rubbed some people the wrong way, but ultimately she was a huge part of keeping the show on for nine seasons.
She was very protective of me. People didn't really know how to help an addict back then. She wanted me to get help. Many years went by, but whenever we saw each other, we'd either hold hands or have our arms around each other. To this day, I have a framed photo of me and Bonnie on my dining-room table. I say good morning to her every day.
Franklin died of complications from pancreatic cancer in L.A.
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Elmore Leonard (Oct. 11, 1925?Aug. 20, 2013) By Dennis Lehane
The reason Hollywood usually got it wrong when adapting Elmore Leonard was because they mistook plot for story. At his peak, Leonard told better stories than anyone. And those stories were always evangelically focused on character — crazy characters, greedy ones, often sociopathic (even the ''hero'' cops), sometimes staggeringly stupid or deceptively smart, but always alive. His characters were placed on the page with a pitiless joy; he never sentimentalized them, but that didn't make him (or us) love them any less. He was the least moralistic moral writer of our time. When the movies tried to transpose the plot to the screen without giving the characters their full due, they always effed it up. But when they reveled in those characters — in Justified, Get Shorty, and Out of Sight — they unlocked the secret to the man's work: All Leonard asked of plot was that it be a serviceable vehicle, but the journey and the people who took it — i.e., the story — that was everything.
Leonard died of complications from a stroke in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
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Peter O'Toole (Aug. 2, 1932?Dec. 14, 2013) By Mariel Hemingway
I was 22 years old and had just been cast opposite the legendary Peter O'Toole in a movie called Creator. We had both been put up in the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood, and I was meant to meet him in the lobby at noon. I sat nervously watching actors, people with busy showbiz lives, go in and out of the bustling Chateau. I was feeling smaller and smaller as the minutes ticked by and Peter was nowhere in sight. I couldn't bring myself to call his room, but he finally showed up 99 minutes late — no apology. He was posturing, showing me he was a man you waited for.
He was a spectacle, way too loud for my shy interior. But I smiled, looked him right in the eye, and said, ''If you plan on being late all the time, no problem. Just let me know and I too will show up late and no one ever has to know but us.'' Peter laughed for a solid minute and embraced me, saying I was okay and we were going to have fun.
He never showed up late again, and we were inseparable while filming. He was a movie star and a pro. He told me that so much of what you do as an actor is create someone who is bigger than life, and your life is a mini-reflection of the character you are playing. Peter was an eccentric, a genius, and as kind and honest as any man could be. He will be missed for his grand persona and his over-the-top, admirable characters.
O'Toole died of undisclosed causes in London.
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Julie Harris (Dec. 2, 1925 ? Aug. 24, 2013) By Calista Flockhart
Julie Harris was magical. Not only was she an unusually gifted actress [who earned an Oscar nod for her first film, The Member of the Wedding, and five Tonys for her work on Broadway], she possessed a profound, instinctive understanding of people, and was full up with compassion and humanity. When I worked with her on [a 1994 Broadway revival of] The Glass Menagerie, she was also insanely wicked and playful. Julie was a tiny woman with beautiful hair and a sparkle in her eyes. Quick to laugh and quick to cry, Julie felt very deeply. Her intelligence permeated her every performance, along with her unquestionable charm.
And in spite of all her success, it was so Julie to remain surprisingly humble, unbelievably humble. I loved her very much and I will miss her, as we all will. I am blessed that I had the opportunity to work with her, but especially blessed that I knew her.
Harris died of congestive heart failure in West Chatham, Mass.
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Karen Black (July 1, 1939?Aug. 8, 2013) By Bruce Dern
I was lucky enough to run into Karen for the first time on the set of Drive, He Said, a 1971 movie directed by Jack Nicholson. Having seen her performance in Five Easy Pieces, which absolutely knocked me out, I felt she just might be the female live wire of our generation — and, as far as I'm concerned, when you throw in several other performances, especially in The Day of the Locust, I was right. Karen was underappreciated, and the industry lacked the understanding that she had genius potential, particularly as a comedian. She is without a doubt the best actress I ever worked with who could touchingly play a mess time after time. Barbara Harris, Diane Ladd, and Ellen Burstyn are still out there, but we all miss Karen's ability to raise a movie to a whole higher ground.
Black died of ampullary cancer in West Hills, Calif.
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Ray Harryhausen (June 29, 1920?May 7, 2013) By Guillermo del Toro
Growing up with Ray Harryhausen on screen allowed my generation to dream of a monster-filled future. He legitimized fantasy as a medium for true artistic creation. Through the years, this man and his creatures became part of my family and felt closer than many of my blood relatives. He was a true pioneer, a man who picked up the mantle of stop-motion straight from Willis O'Brien and Marcel Delgado and, single-handedly, carried the torch for two or three generations. It is impossible to imagine Star Wars, Jurassic Park, or The Lord of the Rings without the work that Ray did.
He was a minister of monsters. He was a designer, technician, sculptor, painter, and cinematographer all at once. His creatures made millions of lonely children smile and hope for a better world — a world populated by cyclopses and griffins and the children of the hydra. No one will ever fill the void left by Ray Harryhausen. He was a precious anomaly, a comet passing by...
Harryhausen died of undisclosed causes in London.
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Tom Clancy (April 12, 1947?Oct. 1, 2013) By David Baldacci
There can be only one originator of a genre or subgenre, and Tom Clancy was most definitely the creator of the military technothriller, or at the very least the man owned the space. From The Hunt for Red October to his last novel, Command Authority, the former insurance salesman who had a passion for all things military — from the hardware to the pulse of patriotism that resided inside each uniformed chest — entertained and enlightened millions with his storytelling skills. His best-known character, Jack Ryan, has had the distinction of four different actors portraying him on the big screen.
It was said that Ronald Reagan made Clancy a best-selling author by proclaiming his first novel one of the best yarns he'd ever read. But I think Clancy would have managed to get there without that endorsement. Those who read his books were stunned that he had never worn the uniform himself, or that he wasn't actually a clandestine agent for the CIA. He was just that good.
Clancy died of an undisclosed illness in Baltimore.
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Joan Fontaine (Oct. 22, 1917 ? Dec. 15, 2013) By Owen Gleiberman
She was gorgeously proper — the girl next door with patrician bones and a smile that held the sunniest trust. Yet it was the fate of this British-American beacon of slightly sad-eyed niceness to be cast, at 22, in a delicious tale of darkness: Rebecca (1940), Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood film. As the wife of a brooding aristocrat (Laurence Olivier), who finds herself driven to delirium by the memories of his first wife, Fontaine became the image of love torn by doubt, neurosis, even madness. In Hitch's Suspicion (1941), the husband (Cary Grant) has all the makings of a cold killer; Fontaine took the Oscar for her trembling-through-tears performance. Did she draw on her bitter, lifelong rivalry with her sister, Olivia de Havilland, to play these distressed good girls? After that Hitchcock double bill, her career went on (highlight: the 1948 romantic tragedy Letter From an Unknown Woman), but her mythology was complete. She was our domestic damsel in distress, capturing the heartbreak lurking beneath feminine devotion.
Fontaine died of undisclosed causes in Carmel, Calif.