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Remembering Curtis Hanson, Jon Polito, Bill Nunn and More Reel-Important People We Lost in Sept…

Reel-Important People is a monthly column that highlights those individuals in or related to the movies that have left us in recent weeks. Below you’ll find names big and small and from all areas of the industry, though each was significant to the movies in his or her own way.

Edward Albee (1928-2016) – Playwright. He’s best known for writing the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which was turned into the classic 1966 movie. Other movies adapted from his plays include A Delicate Balance and The Ballad of Sad Cafe. He died on September 16. (NYT)

Alexis Arquette (1969-2016) – Transgender Actress. Her movies include Last Exit to BrooklynPulp FictionDown and Out in Beverly HillsThe Wedding Singer (see below), Lords of DogtownThreesome and Bride of Chucky, plus the documentary Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. She died of complications from HIV on September 11. (THR)

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George Barris (1922-2016) – Photographer. He took many famous photos of Marilyn Monroe just before she died, and he appears in the documentary Love, Marilyn. He died on September 30. (THR)

Terence Bayler (1930-2016) – New Zealand Actor. He played Bloody Baron in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (see below) and Macduff in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth and appears in the Terry Gilliam films Brazil and Time Bandits and in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. He actually died on August 2. (THR)

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Bobby Breen (1927-2016) – Child Actor and Singer. He starred in the RKO musicals Way Down SouthMake a WishFisherman’s Wharf, Rainbow on the River (see below), Escape to Paradise and Let’s Sing Again. He died on September 19. (THR)

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Prince Buster (1938-2016) – Jamaican singer and songwriter. A ska and reggae icon, Prince Buster appears in The Harder Tehy Come and the recent documentary Legends of Ska, and his songs can be heard in numerous movies, many of them covered by others. He died on September 8. (The Guardian)

Charmian Carr (1942-2016) – Actress and Singer. She played the eldest of the Von Trapp children, Liesl, in The Sound of Music (see below). She died on September 17. (THR)

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Lady Chablis (1957-2016) – Transgender Performer. She was an icon in Savannah, featuring prominently in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and she appears in Clint Eastwood’s movie adaptation. She died of pneumonia on September 8. (THR) 

Peter Collingwood (1920-2016) – Australian Actor. He co-starred in Picnic at Hanging Rock and the 1958 comedy Up the Creek and its sequel, Further Up the Creek. He died on September 23. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

C. Martin Croker (1962-2016) – Animator, Actor. He was best known as an animator and the voice of Brak and Moltar for the cartoon series Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and he also worked as an animator and the voice of Dr. Weird for Aqua Teen Hunger Force and its feature film spinoff, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (see below). He died on September 18. (

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Fred Goodich (c.1939-2016) – Cinematographer. He shot Fear No Evil and worked on the second units for Bustin’ Loose and For the Love of the Game. He actually died on August 30. (THR)

Rick F. Gunter (1951-2016) – Cinematographer. He mostly shoots TV shows but he also worked on the second unit for the movies Fletch Lives and Duets. He actually died on August 31. (THR) 

Curtis Hanson (1945-2016) – Director, Writer, Producer. He won an Oscar for co-writing the adapted screenplay for his film L.A. Confidential (see below) and was nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. His other movies include 8 MileWonder BoysThe Hand That Rocks the CradleIn Her ShoesLucky You and Chasing Mavericks, which he had to quit midway when his health deteriorated. He also acted once, in Adaptation. He died on September 20. See our full obituary and tribute here.

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Jerry Heller (1940-2016) – Manager. He appears in documentaries about N.W.A. and Easy E, acts he managed. He is portrayed by Paul Giamatti in the biopic Straight Outta Compton (see below). He died of a heart attack on September 2. (THR)

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John Hostetter (1946-2016) – Actor. Best known as a regular on TV’s Murphy Brown, his movie credits include Beverly Hills Cop IIStar Trek: InsurrectionHeartbreak Ridge and No Way Out. He was also a notable voice actor, maintaining the role of Bazooka in the G.I. Joe series and the animated movie plus voicing characters in the English-language dubs of Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the SkyKiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. He died of cancer on September 2. (THR)

William Johnson (c.1924-2016) – New Zealand Actor. He co-starred in Peter Jackson’s King Kong and appears in the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as well as Coming Home and The Water Horse. He died on September 23. (The New Zealand Herald)

Russ Kavanaugh (1952-2016) – Producer. His movies include Money Train, Under Siege 2: Dark TerritoryMy Fellow Americans and Boys on the Side. He died of glioblastoma brain cancer on September 8. (THR)

W.P. Kinsella (1935-2016) – Author. His book Shoeless Joe was turned into the movie Field of Dreams. He died on September 16. (THR)

Herschell Gordon Lewis (1926-2016) – Director, Writer, Producer. Known as “the godfather of gore,” his classic horror movies include Blood Feast (see below), Two Thousand Maniacs!The Wizard of Gore and The Gruesome Twosome. He also appears as himself in the documentaries Divine TrashAmerican Grindhouse and Make Your Own Damn Movie! He died on September 26. (THR)

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Leslie H. Martinson (1915-2016) – Director. He mostly worked in TV, but he directed Batman: The Movie, spun-off from the show, plus The Atomic Kid and PT 109. Early in his career he was a script supervisor on such movies as The Asphalt Jungle and Easter Parade. He died on September 3. (THR)

Kim McGuire (1955-2016) – Actress. She played saxaphonist “Hatchet-Face” in the John Waters movie Cry-Baby (see below) and also appears in Serial Mom and the horror film Disturbed. She died of complications from pneumonia on September 14. (Variety) 

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Bill Nunn (1953-2016) – Actor. He played Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing and Robbie Robertson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and he appears in School DazeSister ActGloryThe Legend of 1900Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and He Got Game. He died on September 24. (THR)

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Hugh O’Brien (1925-2016) – Actor. Best known for TV’s The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, he also appears in the movies TwinsThe ShootistGame of DeathIn Harms Way and the original D.O.A. He died on September 5. (Variety)

Shimon Peres (1923-2016) – Former President and Prime Minister of Israel. He appears in numerous documentaries, including Above and BeyondBlessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh and Rabin, the Last Day. He’s also been played in movies, including by Burt Lancaster in Victory at Entebbe. He died on September 28. (NYT)

Jon Polito (1950-2016) – Character Actor. He was a regular in Coen Brothers movies, appearing memorably in The Big LebowskiMiller’s CrossingBarton Fink (see below), The Hudsucker Proxy and The Man Who Wasn’t There. His other movies include American GangsterGangster SquadThe CrowFlags of Our FathersHighlander and Stuart Little. He died of cancer on September 1. (Facebook)

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Dennis Shryack (1936-2016) – Screenwriter. He wrote the screenplays for Turner & HoochThe CarCode of SilenceRunRent-a-Cop and Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider and The Gauntlet. He died of congestive heart failure on September 14. (THR)

James Stacy (1936-2016) – Actor. Best known for TV work, he also appears in the movies South PacificSomething Wicked This Way Comes and F/X 2. He died September 9. (Variety)

James Westmoreland (1935-2016) – Actor. He starred, mostly under his old stage name Rad Fulton, in the movies No My Darling DaughterStaceyDon’t Answer the Phone! and The Undertaker and His Pals and appears in No Time for SergeantsThe Young Philadelphians and The Last Sunset. He died of colon cancer on September 14. (THR)


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