Legacies '09: Stars Pay Tribute to the Legends Who Left Us
Aug. 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009
It became clear to me after working with Michael the first time, on his Dangerous tour, that every time I said yes to one of his adventures, at the journey's end I always ended up someplace I had never been before. From the ground up, he always enjoyed the process of creating with me, and made me feel that.
I remember getting a telephone call at three or four in the morning when we were preparing the This Is It concerts. ''It's Michael, are you awake?'' ''Yeah, I'm awake.'' ''No, you're not!'' ''Michael, I'm awake, really. What do you need?'' ''Victoria Falls.'' That's all he said. Michael spoke in haiku. He would just throw things at you like that. He wanted [footage of] Victoria Falls to be gushing over the band behind him on stage, as a reminder to the audience of the majesty and wonderment and brilliance of the world. I remember the next day saying to him, ''You know, it's in Africa. That's far!'' And he'd say, ''That's why we have to have it.'' He knew no limitations creatively, which was so much fun. Everything was possible.
I'm going to miss the phone calls inviting me on the next journey. I'm going to miss going over to the house and hanging out with him. There's a part of Michael that will always be there with me. My love for him, I know, will be forever. The hard part is going to be not having him in the room, laughing with him, smiling with him, searching him out, and wondering, ''What is that wild mind of yours going through right now?'' Most of all, I shall miss his unconditionally loving heart. He was a deep and profoundly soulful human being. —Kenny Ortega
Michael Jackson (Continued)
''I have been listening to Michael Jackson since the day I was born. His music was as essential to me as oxygen. Working with Michael in the studio on 'You Are Not Alone' was like going to a session in heaven. It was like hope meeting faith, faith introducing hope to belief, and belief introducing them to love. They all become the best of friends and now hang out at a club called achievement.'' —R. Kelly
Jackson died of cardiac arrest in L.A.
Aug. 18, 1952-Sept. 14, 2009
Most of the people who were close to Patrick called him ''Buddy.'' He was maybe 30 when we did The Outsiders. And Buddy played the older brother, but he really was the older brother. He was always setting the example of what we should be doing. He always had a guitar slung over his shoulder. The one thing that was great about him was also the most irritating fact about him: He was always somehow better than you, no matter what it was you were doing. It didn't matter if you were on horseback, shooting weapons, roller-skating, or reciting Shakespeare. He was a tough f---er and a free spirit. —C. Thomas Howell
Swayze died of pancreatic cancer in L.A.
Feb. 2, 1947-June 25, 2009
I think what made Farrah work was that she was so sexy, yet there was that girl-next-door quality about her, so she didn't alienate people. Girls loved her, guys loved her. Farrah was an original, always her own person in her personal life as well as in her career. Her choices were unexpected. I am in awe of the bravery she showed in facing her disease. Her strength, her resilience, her utter lack of self-pity. Her disease did not kill her spirit. She will live in my heart forever. —Jaclyn Smith
Fawcett died of cancer in Santa Monica.
Dec. 8, 1936-June 3, 2009
My brother had a peripatetic creative force: music, painting, writing, acting, dancing. He was a complete artist. As an actor, from his explosive portrayal of the Incan Sun King Atahualpa in Broadway's The Royal Hunt of the Sun, through his establishment as a bona fide pop culture icon in Kung Fu, to his quintessentially American Woody Guthrie in Bound for Glory, to the vengeful romantic Bill of Kill Bill, he was always true.
His paintings evoked a Picasso-esque sense of line filtered through a North Beach beatnik's eyes. His songwriting reflected his love of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. His dance training enabled him to finesse the fights in the first season of Kung Fu while he studied the actual Shaolin discipline, which he would deftly perform thereafter. His prose was, simply, his.
But there was also the nonpublic David, who was a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and brother. He was unstinting in his love. He was no saint — and yet he could be utterly saintly. He would literally give you the shoes off his feet — if he was wearing any. You couldn't embarrass him. The word shame did not exist in his lexicon. The Fool was his favorite tarot card. And he could play the fool as only a genius can. He was a seeker of truth who spent a lifetime walking on the edges of cliffs. He never seemed more at home than when he was on the brink. Perhaps because he knew that to step off didn't mean falling — for him it meant flying. —Keith Carradine
David Carradine died of asphyxiation in Bangkok, Thailand.
May 11, 1963-March 18, 2009
Tasha's laugh is what I remember most. That throaty, smoky laugh that was unmistakably hers. And how better to remember someone than when they were having fun, and happy? She and I starred together on Broadway in Cabaret in 1998, and I admired her in so many ways — obviously as an amazing actress, fearless and raw and yet so skilled and eloquent. But also because of her loyalty and thoughtfulness to her friends, and her devotion to raising awareness and cash for the Foundation for AIDS Research. Her dad, Tony Richardson, died of an AIDS-related illness, and when she won her Tony for Cabaret in 1998 she dedicated it to him (''It is a Tony after all,'' she said). As Auntie Mame said, ''Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!'' Well, Tasha enjoyed the banquet. Hell, she probably cooked it. —Alan Cumming
Richardson died in NYC of head injuries sustained in a skiing accident in Quebec.
Feb. 18, 1950-Aug. 6, 2009
He was unique. He really brought a whole style of film that was just him. We were very good friends for a while. I used to hang out at his house for a few years after we did Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He was very private and quiet, but also very funny. And he loved the Jacuzzi. I can remember observing the bubbles collecting in our large shorts. We thought that was amazing. I was very shocked and affected when he died. I had pretty much lost touch with him, like a lot of people had. It appeared to us that he disappeared, but that's not really the whole story. He became very much the family man and patriarch. In a way, I think he went back to what he always wanted. He had a different second act than we all would have expected. —Matthew Broderick
Hughes died of cardiac arrest in New York City.
May 13, 1922-April 25, 2009
Bea's persona was very strong — she was usually the one who would be the last to laugh at a joke. But you never knew what would set her off into hysterics. We had a lot of fun on The Golden Girls and we would get the giggles from time to time. We were all pigeons for cracking up midscene, but Bea was the one to keep us together. When Bea went, she went so completely that she couldn't pull herself back. One day we literally had to stop rehearsing and go home because we got to the same spot in the script and she would just crack up. And of course that sent us all crazy. When they have to send you home, you know it's a breakup nobody can get through. —Betty White
Arthur died of cancer in L.A.
Oct. 25, 1956-May 1, 2009
He belongs up there with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross, and all those who have made such a mark in Vegas. He was the consummate entertainer. Danny and I used to text each other before our shows, passing jokes back and forth, and trying to one-up each other. He always beat me. One time, I did an interview with him for Entertainment Tonight, and he says, ''I'm working on a new voice.'' And he sang ''Puppy Love,'' trying to sound like me. I found out later that he had worked on it over and over again, even with his band. He would constantly be rehearsing, not resting on his laurels. —Donny Osmond
Gans died of accidental prescription-drug toxicity in Henderson, Nev.
Nov. 9, 1936-Sept. 16, 2009
Peter, Paul, and Mary was the first folk record I listened to, and it helped inspire me to pick up an acoustic guitar. I can't underestimate the influence of Mary Travers on me, a fledgling folkie kid with a guitar who wanted to sing protest songs. Her social message was unwavering and true, her voice clear and strong, and the fact that she was a woman made her a role model for me and countless others finding our voices in social activism through music. —Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls
Travers died of leukemia-related complications in Danbury, Conn.
Jan. 8, 1926-Oct. 22, 2009
I lived in Detroit when Lunch With Soupy Sales was on. When I was 6, I would go to school in the morning, come home for lunch, watch Soupy, then go back to school. Later on, he invited me on the show. Getting hit with a pie by Soupy, that's right up there with getting your star on Hollywood Boulevard. There's an art to taking a pie. He said, ''You can't flinch. If a pie hits you out of nowhere, it's really funny.'' You really had to work at not closing your eyes. It was, honestly, one of the most fun things I ever did. Soupy's show was two-dimensional: It was for little kids, then it had another layer for the adults. —Alice Cooper
Sales (né Milton Supman) died of cancer in the Bronx, N.Y.
July 2, 1946-March 15, 2009
When Ron was preparing to play me in Reversal of Fortune, he came up to Harvard, sat in on my classes, came to court, and watched me argue cases. He focused very hard on trying to learn as much as he could about my style. He was a very good lawyer in the film — so good that a death-row inmate wrote and asked him to defend him. When he wrote back and said, ''No, no, I'm just an actor, I play Dershowitz,'' the inmate said, ''No, I want you.'' He insisted on having input in every aspect of the film. ''No, don't do it this way,'' he would tell the director. ''Who wrote those lines? Come on, we can improve on that.'' —Alan Dershowitz
Silver died of esophageal cancer in New York City.
Nov. 25, 1920-Jan. 14, 2009
Ricardo Montalban has been a hero of mine since I was a child, when I witnessed his striking presence in movies (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and TV (Fantasy Island). When I first started in the business, Ricardo went out of his way to support my work and taught me that there are two purposes to what we do: the integrity of the work itself and the doors that one could open for others, not just Latinos. He blazed a path that was truly his own, fighting to break down stereotypes, and taught a generation that anything was possible. It was an honor to direct him in my Spy Kids movies, and a greater honor to be his friend. —Robert Rodriguez
Montalban died of congestive heart failure in L.A.
Aug. 1, 1933-May 4, 2009
Dom was everybody's second banana. He was a great foil, he didn't compete, he knew comic timing brilliantly. He was funny in a very outrageous way. He was the one who would come screaming into the party. He was the kind who would wear the old-fashioned bathing suits down to the beach. He was always the one who threw the doughnuts. He was always the clown, on stage and off. —Joan Rivers
DeLuise died of undisclosed causes in Santa Monica.
Oct. 23, 1940-Aug. 26, 2009
Ellie Greenwich was such a huge singer, songwriter, and producer extraordinaire. She crafted every part of her life around music and her passion. To write or produce for everyone from Nona Hendryx (''Keep It Confidential'') to the Crystals (''Then He Kissed Me,'' ''Da Doo Ron Ron'') to Neil Diamond (''Cherry, Cherry'') and be so diverse — I know how hard it can be to successfully do that, and she did it effortlessly. —Keri Hilson
Greenwich died of a heart attack in New York City.
March 22, 1912-July 1, 2009
He was my lifelong mentor, both professionally and personally. I worshipped the man. He took me under his wing and helped me understand the whole acting process in a way that I never would have, as far as learning how to listen. You understand why he was a costar of Marlon Brando's for so many years, in movies like On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire: He was a great listener. He had a phenomenal work ethic. The writers on The Streets of San Francisco would hate us because we would rehearse so much that we would pick up the pace. So the scripts had to be six or seven pages longer. And he had a great sense of humor — he loved a dirty joke as much as anyone I knew. —Michael Douglas
Malden died of undisclosed causes in Los Angeles.
June 9, 1915-Aug. 12, 2009
I met Les in 1988. Bon Jovi were in the studio, working on our New Jersey album. I was beat up, exhausted, having a hard time getting all the guitar work done. The band took a break to celebrate my 29th birthday. Imagine my shock when Les Paul (Les Paul!) walked into my house. He handed me a white guitar with gold pickups he'd strung for me himself and told me, ''Son, here's a sword — now go cut through that s---.''
From that moment, Les Paul became an ever-present part of my life. Les had a bit of the vampire in him: He slept during the day and stayed awake all night. At the oddest hours, he'd ring me up just to chat. There was a father-son element to our friendship, but mostly we shared a bond through music that defied age. Anyone who has ever picked up a guitar and created music has been influenced by this man. —Richie Sambora
Paul died of pneumonia in White Plains, N.Y.
March 18, 1932-Jan. 27, 2009
The first John Updike story I read was A&P. Narrated by a teenage supermarket cashier named Sammy, it sounded like nothing else in my starchy high school anthology: ''In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I'm in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don't see them until they're over by the bread.'' The story's a sneaky gem, an apparently simple anecdote booby-trapped with complicated questions about sex and class, culminating in an act that is heroic and stupid at the same time. It was my introduction to a giant, a writer so alive on the page that it's hard to believe he's gone. Updike's body of work is so prolific and varied that it can be daunting to get his achievement into focus. I'll always think of him as the great chronicler of the Sexual Revolution, not just for the randy upscale suburbanites of Couples, but for working-class characters like Sammy in A&P and Harry ''Rabbit'' Angstrom, hero of the monumental four-novel cycle that began with Rabbit, Run in 1960. Harry was an Everyman who managed to embody small-town America in all its contradictions — he's lustful and guilt-ridden, nostalgic and restless, small-minded and bigger-than-life, overstuffed and still wanting more. Like his creator, he won't soon be forgotten. —Tom Perrotta
Updike died of lung cancer in Danvers, Mass.
Nov. 4, 1916-July 17, 2009
Walter Cronkite once said, ''Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy.'' That wry sense of humor was classic Cronkite. But beneath the witty comparison, there's evidence of his unwavering commitment to reporting the news accurately, fairly, and responsibly. His children told me at his memorial service that he didn't even share his opinions with them, lest he put them in a compromising position at some point. And on the rare occasions he did express his opinions, as he did when he spoke out against the Vietnam War or explained the intricacies of Watergate, they had a tremendous impact. It's easy to look back on his time in the anchor chair as the halcyon days of broadcast news, but I'm not sure that's how Walter would see it. Undoubtedly, the proliferation of opinion shows on cable and online would give him pause, but Walter was never one to dwell on ''the good old days.'' Instead, he would likely call on those of us who are carrying his torch to see the power and potential of all the new tools of our trade, but never lose sight of the primary objective: a search for truth. —Katie Couric
Cronkite died of cerebrovascular disease in NYC.
March 6, 1923-June 23, 2009
I first had the pleasure of meeting Ed McMahon when I was a contestant on Star Search, which he hosted, in 1984. I was 23 and had grown up idolizing The Tonight Show, so you can imagine what a thrill it was. The genuine kindness he showed to all of the performers, most of whom were making their television debuts, was a testament to his true character. I will never forget Ed's sincerity and accessibility; the jovial, fun-loving man I had seen on The Tonight Show was exactly that. —Brad Garrett
McMahon died of undisclosed causes in L.A.
Aug. 19, 1930-July 19, 2009
A friend of mine sent me Frank's manuscript for Angela's Ashes, and you came across this completely authentic voice, and all this humor and magic that he brought to the language. And the psychological insight capturing the point of view of a child, which is fearless. I told him, ''You could sell snow to an Eskimo. You're going to sell some damn books.'' And he did! What a triumph. Here's a guy from abject poverty, who spent the vast majority of his life teaching children. Here's somebody who — unlike most of us writers, who sit around braiding our hair — has actually done something profoundly just. He made everybody else want to write a memoir. That's the thing about certain kinds of books. You read Crime and Punishment, and suddenly you have a different view of the inner workings of your own head. And that's the way it was with Angela's Ashes. It raised the standard. The truth is, a good memoir is not about whoever had the worst ass-whipping. It's about voice; it's about language and how the reader enters into it. A memoir voice is the diamond in the sack of glass. —Mary Karr published Lit, a new memoir, in November.
McCourt died of melanoma in NYC.
July 7, 1934-Nov. 10, 2009
The most intractable challenge my dad faced in a 43-year career may have been finding parts for the manual typewriter he used until the end. He wrote over 150 scripts, 84 for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, Cheers, and Frasier alone. He brought us Chuckles the Clown's funeral, Alex Rieger's trip to a gay bar on Taxi, Frasier's disastrous radio play, Woody's wedding on Cheers, among many others. It's a sound that will forever echo through our home: my dad typing and stopping occasionally to laugh at something he'd written — he was the first to do so, but far from the last. —Christopher Lloyd, one of the creators of Modern Family
David Lloyd died of prostate cancer in L.A.
Dec. 14, 1922-Aug. 19, 2009
All serious journalists are in his debt. He always said, ''Tell me a story.'' He never said, ''Oh, it's foreign, we aren't interested.'' That's important right now, when you hear that Americans aren't interested in foreign news. 60 Minutes has lasted 42 seasons, and it doesn't speak down to viewers. He was able to parlay quality into commercial success. —Christiane Amanpour
Hewitt died of pancreatic cancer in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
March 19, 1928-Jan. 13, 2009
He was kind of an enigma. He had a great sense of mystery about him. I grew up watching that guy on television. I'd watch Danger Man or The Prisoner, which I was addicted to, and I just thought he was the epitome of cool. They wanted him to be James Bond, before Sean Connery. Apparently he turned them down. When I first approached him to play the king in Braveheart, I thought, ''Wow, I'm going to meet Pat McGoohan.'' He came into the restaurant, and it was kind of like meeting your father for the first time. I said, ''What do you think of the character?'' He said, ''He's diabolical!'' And I said, ''Yeah, he's a bad dude. Do you want to play it?'' He said, ''Yeah!'' He was quite serious but had this interesting wit that came at you kind of sideways. The things he found funny were just a couple of degrees off. He did a great job for me. I didn't say anything; he just did it. —Mel Gibson
McGoohan died of undisclosed causes in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Sept. 4, 1918-Feb. 28, 2009
There has never been a broadcaster who could convey the emotion and intensity of a news story like Paul Harvey. When he spoke, you could see the pictures he painted more vividly than anything you can see with your own eyes. And yet his most powerful tool was silence. When he paused, you were instinctively drawn in. —Glenn Beck
Harvey died of undisclosed causes in Phoenix.
Feb. 25, 1928-Sept. 11, 2009
Larry Gelbart couldn't stand the laugh track on M*A*S*H. ''Who are all those people laughing?'' he once asked. ''The Swiss?'' When he asked that question, it was 1972. There was no such thing as a comedy without a laugh track.
Comedies had three jokes per page, not real blood and real dying or a mixture of horror, heartbreak, and moral ambiguity. As the creator of M*A*S*H, Gelbart was the uncommon genius behind the most important show in the history of television. And when you watch Mad Men, The Office, The West Wing, and countless others, know that the writers are walking in the footprints left by Larry Gelbart and reaching to graze the bar he set so high. —Aaron Sorkin
Gelbart died of cancer in L.A.
Sept. 13, 1924-March 28, 2009
I see him turning to me, studying my face. He'd just played the barn-raising cue in Witness and mistook my silence for disapproval. Far from it — he'd transformed the scene into something transcendent. Quite apart from the music he composed for five of my films, I miss him as a friend. —Peter Weir
Jarre died of undisclosed causes in Malibu, Calif.
Jan. 13, 1922-Sept. 8, 2009
They said of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire that she gave him sex appeal and he gave her class. The same was true for Daily Variety and Army Archerd. A classy columnist? He was always the kinder, gentler, and more accurate Walter Winchell. You could depend on this guy. Army's work ranged from one-sentence items separated by three dots to large pieces. When Hollywood began its Red witch hunts, Army took a courageous stand against the blacklist. He got the scoop that Rock Hudson had AIDS and brought compassion to the story. And for 47 years, Army worked the red carpet at the Academy Awards. He made it mean something. He wasn't just commenting, ''Who did your dress?'' When Marlee Matlin was nominated for an Oscar, Army learned sign language so he could talk to her. He was Mr. Nice Guy until you proved you were a bum. Even Marlon Brando spoke to him. —Liz Smith
Archerd died of mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer, in L.A.