Robin Williams, 1951-2014. See also: David Simon’s remembrance: “I encountered him only once, twenty years ago, but the memory is distinct. I found Mr. Williams good-hearted, hilarious, talented, and remarkably, indescribably sad.”
Must-see Williams: The World According to Garp, Moscow on the Hudson, The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Aladdin.
Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014. More from RogerEbert.com’s Balder and Dash: “The most touching thing about Bacall’s autobiography is her bewilderment about having been given so much at such a young age and then having it all taken away from her…But she did keep going, and going, for more than half a century…Her interviews were always salty, brassy, forbidding. She claimed often that she was more vulnerable than she appeared, and maybe that was true.”
Must-See Bacall: To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep.
R.I.P. James Garner, 1928-2014. “Mr. Garner, a lifelong Democrat who was active in behalf of civil rights and environmental causes, always said he met his wife, the former Lois Clarke, in 1956 at a presidential campaign rally for Adlai Stevenson.”
R.I.P. Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, best known as the creator of the Lovecraftian Xenomorph from Alien (which, along with The Shining twins, Freddy Krueger, and the final shot from Carrie, is responsible for a goodly percentage of my nightmares over the years), 1940-2014. “My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy. A good many people think as I do. If they like my work they are creative…or they are crazy.”
Best known for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Long Good Friday, and Mona Lisa (also featuring a young Clarke Peters) stateside, Hoskins had a number of memorable supporting turns over the years — Pink’s manager in The Wall, J. Edgar Hoover in Nixon; Jet Li’s handler in Unleashed, and one of the two Central Services guys in Brazil — and was always a touch of class in a production, even in drek like Super Mario and Snow White and the Huntsman. He will be missed.
Actor, writer, and director Harold Ramis, 1944–2014. Whether it’s Groundhog Day Ghostbusters, Stripes, Animal House, Caddyshack or some other film in his roster, at some point he probably made you laugh.
“These comedies have several things in common. They attack the smugness of institutional life, trashing the fraternity system, country clubs, the Army — even local weathermen — with an impish good will that is unmistakably American. Will Rogers would have made films like these, if Will Rogers had lived through Vietnam and Watergate and decided that the only logical course of action was getting wasted or getting laid or — better — both.”
Related from The New Yorker, 2004: Why Ramis’s comedies are still funny today. “The voice that Ramis originated — a defanged sixties rebelliousness that doesn’t so much seek to oust the powerful as to embolden the powerless — remains the dominant mode in comedy today.”
Update: “The ones who cultivate an inner calm while others are dropping around them might well have the tougher job. He was a straight man on and off the screen. But oh, what timing.” David Edelstein on Ramis.