They touch our hearts, they shape our lives, they show us new worlds, and when they die, we sometimes mourn them as a friend, even if we’ve never met. The people we encounter on the pop culture journey can have a huge impact on our lives, and Sam pays tribute to the stars and characters who’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.
In the role of Reuben Kincaid on the hit sit-com The Partridge Family, comedian Dave Madden became the personification of the perfect rock n’ roll manager. A popular presence on the pop culture radar, Madden had a long career behind the camera and on stage in roles where he had to be just a bit hip, and just a bit square.
Although he had a rick career in Hollywood playing b-western villains and appearing in classic sci-fi favorites, actor Russell Johnson will always be remembered to audiences as The Professor on Gilligan’s Island where he played the straight man and voice of reason to an eclectic cast of eccentrics. Although he would suffer from typecasting and admit openly his initial dislike of the series, Russell Johnson eventually accepted his place in pop culture history, becoming one of the most accessible stars from one of the silliest, yet most loved, TV series of all time.
Actor, director, writer and family man, revolutionary Tom Laughlin broke all the rules and challenged the Hollywood establishment via his kick boxing Indian character Billy Jack in a series of films that ran between 1967 and 1977. Part film franchise, part political manifesto, Laughlin became a counter culture hero that continues to inspire a new generation today. A personal tribute to Laughlin by one of his devotees and followers.
One of rock n’ roll’s most innovated legends, Lou Reed gained a massive cult following of devotees by writing bleak and honest songs about sex, drugs, death and the brutal streets of New York. Like a twisted troubadour of a lost generation, Lou Reed’s body of work is amongst some of the best music that rock had to offer. A personal tribute explaining the power and legacy of Lou Reed.
Best known for her role of deadly lesbian Rosie in the cult classic Faster Pussycat!…Kill!….Kill!, Canadian born exotic dancer Haji was a mainstay of Russ Meyer films, appearing in more of his movies than any other woman and working as a casting agent for the legendary exploitation director. However, despite having a devoted fan base, Haji remains to be as much of a mystery in death as she was in life. PCA attempts to put together the Haji story only to find that those who knew and loved her weren’t willing to talk.
Wisely stepping into the background to allow enigmatic front man Jim Morrison to become the fact and the voice of The Doors, keyboardist Ray Manzarek was the man running the show and the heart and soul of the band. Bringing the group together and piloting them through stardom, Manzarek’s feverish devotion to creating the Jim Morrison myth ensured The Doors position of one of the legendary rock bands of all time.
As front woman for Australian punk band The DiVinyls, singer Chrissy Amphlett became a cultural role model for an entire generation of misfit girls that didn’t relate to Olivia Newton John. Truly ahead of her time and never embraced by the North American public like she was in Australia, her fashion and attitude would be imitated for decades by performers including Madonna, T.A.T.U and Miley Cyrus. Amphlett continues to be one of the most over looked female rock goddesses which needs to be rediscovered.
One of the most beloved pop culture icons of all time, Annette Funicello lived the life of America’s teenage dream queen throughout the 50′s and 60′s via The Mickey Mouse Club and AiP’s Beach Party films. Beloved by all who met her, Funicello gained the reputation of the sweetest and kindest woman ever to hit the pop culture radar. However, a crippling battle with MS destroyed her life and happiness, turning her into a shell of the woman that the world remembered her as. PCA gives a few thoughts on the appeal of Annette, and her horrifying struggle.
Once called “The Most Dangerous Filmmaker in Europe” by the Catholic Church, Jess Franco pushed the boundaries of European censors by writing, directing, acting and scoring over two hundred films in his long career becoming one fo the legends of Eurotrash cinema. However, by being a truly talented filmmaker who crafted his films with elegance and style and brought together an eclectic group of cult film legends to create his vision of sex and death. A true visionary, Frano’s work was to good to be pornography, but to sleazy to be art. The result was cult film gold.
A personal friend to PCA, Bob Crowder never became a household name, but his career as a drummer had him placed firmly into the pop culture journey. Most famous for playing the “human” version of Pete Jones on Filmation’s short lived Hardy Boy’s cartoon, Crowder was not only the model for TV’s first African American cartoon character, but also performed as a session drummer for many of music’s legends including Minnie Ripperton, Marvin Gaye and The Bee Gees.
Canadian stage actor Conrad Bain became a familiar face on television when he played Norman Lear’s WASP archetype Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude and Manhattan single father Mr. Phillip Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes. But while he was beloved by both fans and co-stars, Bain was forced to watch on the sidelines as the lives of his television family fell apart.
One of television’s most important actors, Larry Hagman found fame as astronaut Tony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie, but became a television icon as “the man you love to hate” J.R. Ewing on the groundbreaking night time drama Dallas. In a very personal tribute to the television legend, Sam Tweedle reflects on coming face to face with Hagman in 2011, and their short interview that followed.
One of America’s most prolific go-go dancers of the 1960′s, night club performer Candy Johnson toured the world with her own frantic and high energy show. Known by the moniker “Miss Perpetual Motion,” Candy thrilled audiences, and secured her place in pop culture history during her scene stealing appearances in AiP’s Beach Party movies. However, when Candy passed away during the 2012 American Election, every major news source passed on the story saying it wasn’t “news worthy.” PCA was pleased to be the first source to do a comprehensive look at Candy’s life and career with the help of the people who knew her.
Most famous for playing Robbie Douglas, one of Fred MacMurray’s sons on My Three Sons, Don Grady was also well remembered as a popular Mousketeers in the third and final season of the original Mickey Mouse Club. However, for the majority of his career Don Grady pursued a successful career in music. A friend of PCA’s, we reveal our personal memories of Don, and the lost interview that we left to late.
As one of communist Russia’s most beloved singers during the age of the iron curtain, Eduard Khil became an unlikely internet sensation in 2010 when a video of him singing a wordless song called Tro lo lo had the whole world singing along. Embracing his notoriety, Eduard Khil had one last chance of fame before his death.
Canadian thespian Jonathan Frid began his career on the Shakespearean stage, but found fame in the horror genre as television’s first vampire anti-hero Barnabas Collins. Yet, despite his genre bending performance, which would be the basis of vampire lore to come, the eccentric and reclusive Frid spent the rest of his life trying to elude fame, and step out of the shadow of the vampire which haunted him.
A regular in the films of Brian de Palma, character actor William Finley played an assortment of creepy roles in horror films and thrillers throughout the 70′s and 80′s including Sisters, Silence Rage and The Black Dahlia. However, his most famous role would be as William Leech, aka The Phantom of the Paradise in de Palma’s musical cult favorite.
One of the most important teen idols of the 1960′s, everybody loved Monkee front man Davy Jones, who scored huge in 1966 as lead vocalist to the classic pop song Daydream Believer. However, Davy Jones would prove to be a major part in the early development of PCA when he was one of the very first celebrities to agree to talk to us for a feature interview. Sam Tweedle writes a personal tribute to Davy, and reflects on the Sunday morning he spent with this beloved entertainer.
As Degrassi Junior High’s original “bad luck kid,” teen actor Neil Hope touched the lives of an entire generation of kids in the role of Derek “Wheels” Wheeler – a good kid who seemed to be in a vortex of tragedy. However, despite his popularity with audiences, his real life would prove to be the same. Struggling with alcohol and depression, Hope drifted through various menial jobs and Canadian cities until his body was found in a flop house in 2007. His death would not be discovered by his family or fans until five years later in 2010, shocking a public who still adores this classic Canadian television character.
Although a self inflicted gun shot ended his life, it could not silence the music, nor stop the dancing, of a generation of North Americans who grew up watching Soul Train. One of the often overlooked innovators of popular culture, Don Cornelius brought the music, the fashion and the dancing of black America into the mainstream for nearly three decades as producer and host of his daily music show, changing the way that America looked at black culture forever.
With her long dark hair, large eyes and soft skin, beautiful Cynthia Myers became the Viet Nam War’s version of Betty Grable. One of Playboy Magazine’s most popular Playmates, Cynthia Myers became a popular pin-up for an unpopular war. Also remembered for her powerful performance as the Carrie Nations’ lesbian bassist in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Cynthia Myers was every man’s fantasy at the end of the 60′s, but had a hidden tragedy behind her eyes, which added to her mystique.
From the films of Russ Meyer, to cult favorites like The Blues Brothers and Rambo, to Oscar winning features such as Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, square jawed actor Charles Napier was Hollywood’s most popular “tough guy for hire.” From space hippies to honky tonk killers, PCA pays tribute to one of Hollywood’s favorite character actors.
Lead singer for the 90′s hair metal band Warrant, Jani Lane’s most important contribution to the world of pop culture was writing the group’s anthem Cherry Pie which dominated the Billboard charts in the summer of 1990 despite its questionable quality. In memory of Jani Lane’s sudden death, we pay homage to the former rock front man with a look at his career, and most importantly, tell the story of Cherry Pie!
One of the most talented, yet troubled, singers of recent years, the world wasn’t very shocked when they learnt that songstress Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home at age 27. However, fans across the world were filled with a sense of sadness at the loss of one of the most unique and dynamic artists of the last decade, who lived a self destructive life filled with drugs, liquor, mental illness, self mutilation and depression. Sam Tweedle offers a very personal tribute to one of his favorite performers.
Candadian icon Elwy Yost shared his love, and enthusiasm, of classic Hollywood with three generations of viewers as the host of TVOntario’s long running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Via his unassuming and light hearted personality and respect for the stories and legacies of his subjects, Yost went into the homes of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, extracting candid and comfortable interviews, creating one of the most extensive, and important, oral histories of the classic era of film in existence.
As the lead singer for the 1960′s rock group The Grass Roots, Rob Grill helped create the sound for some of the era’s most famous hits such as Midnight Confessions, Lets Live For Today and Temptation Eyes. Suffering from a number of ailments, PCA’s Sam Tweedle conducted what would be Grill’s final interview in the summer of 2010. Sam reflects on his interview with Rob Grill and explains why it was never published, in a look at a rock n’ roll icon at the edge of his own mortality.
One of the nicest guys in Hollywood, James Arness made Hollywood history for portraying Sheriff Matt Dillon for a record twenty seasons on the classic Western Gunsmoke. Famous for his roles in both sci-fi thrillers and westerns, James Arness became a living legend, earning his place in both the television and western hall of fame.
Despite a successful career as a song writer and personal manager, Dolores Fuller will always be beloved by cult film fans as notorious director Ed Wood’s angora clad leading lady and muse in his early films such as Glen or Glenda? and Jail Bait where she receieved the honorary title of being “The Worst Actress in Hollywood.”
Beautiful Yvette Vickers headted up the screen in 1950′s cult films such as Reform School Girl, Attack of the 50 Ft Woman and Attack of the Giant Leeches playing homewreckers, sluts and “girls gone wild.” Slipping into obscurity by the end of the 1960′s, it took her abandoned mummified body to found in her home to bring her back to the imaginations of the public.
British actress Elisabeth Sladen joined the cast of Doctor Who in 1971 as spunky reporter Sarah Jane Smith. Possibly the most popular of all of the Doctor Who girls, Elisabeth Sladen would return to the role multiple times over a forty year period and recieve her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, in 2006. A favorite to multiple generations of fans, the Doctor Who community was shocked when Lis Sladen passed away from a secret battle with cancer.
One of the most beautiful leading ladies of the golden age of cinema, Jane Russell shocked the censors for being “too sexy” in films such as The Outlaw, Son of Paleface and The Tall Man. However it was as Marilyn Monroe’s “straight man” in Gentlemen Perfer Blondes that Jane Russell acheived pop culture super stardom.
As the authoritive and beloved Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, British actor Nicholas Courtney was a fixture in the Doctor Who franchise, appearing on the long running program in more episodes then nearly any other actor, and being the only actor to act alongside the original seven Doctors.
In the role of the villanous she-devil Varla in Russ Meyer’s independent classic Faster Pussycat!..Kill!…Kill! Tura Satana became one of the most beloved femme fatals of Grindhouse cinema. Although Varla was just a character, Tura’s own life was more colourful then any of the exploitation films she appeared in, full of sex, passion, love and violence.
The last of the legendary Nelson family, actor/director grew up before America’s eyes by appearing on his parent’s family sit-com “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” on the radio and television from the age of nine until thirty. Living in younger brother Rick Nelson’s shadow, David Nelson was never America’s favorite son, but remained an important part of the history of pop culture.
Regularly featured in beach films during the 1960′s, Hollywood stud Aron Kincaid was a man of many talents. Artist, actor, male model and voice actor, Aron was a private and eccentric man. Furthermore, Aron Kincaid was a personal friend of Sam Tweedle’s. Read Sam’s personal memories of Aron Kincaid as he retells some of the stories that Aron told him about living his own adventures in pop culture.
When Toronto anchorman Mark Dailey, known throughout Ontario for his distinct voice, passed away from a battle with cancer, people throughout Toronto and beyond were stricken with grief over the loss of the voice that was as recognizable as their own mother’s. One of CITY TV’s most recognizable personalities, Dailey was called “the voice of Toronto” for his signature catchprase “This is CITY TV….everywhere. “
Best known for her appearances in Hammer Horror films during the 1970′s, screen vixen Ingrid Pitt had a real life of horror and adventure that her films could never reproduce. A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp during her youth, Ingrid Pitt escaped East Berlin, conqured Hollywood and sexed up the horror screen as the first lady of European horror during her incredible life.
One of televisions most beloved “TV dads” Tom Bosley was a entertainment staple for six decades in programs such as “Love American Style,” “Wait Until Your Father Gets Home,” “Murder She Wrote” and “Father Downing Mysteries.” However, he will always be remembered best as Howard Cunningham on the iconic 70′s sit-com “Happy Days.”
The patron saint of all TV moms, Barbara Billingsley will forever be remembered for her portrayal of June Cleaver on “Leave it to Beaver.” Although her performance would be considered a throwback by the end of the 1960′s, her popularity would maintain itself through multiple generations who wished that she was thier Mom.
Academy award winning Patricia Neal gained critical attention for her performances in classic films such as “The Fountainhead,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” “A Face in the Crowd,” “Breakfast at Tiffanies” and “Hud.” However, the real drama was in her life where she fought back against heartbreak, betrayal and crippling illness.
One of comics oldest franchises, “Little Orphan Annie,” Harold Grey’s optomistic little poor rich girl, ends her 86 year run in newspapers. A historic run, the cancellation of “Annie” is a symbol of the death of syndicated comic strips, and a bleak indication of things to come.
With his cheeky smile and his catchphrase “Whatcho talkin’ ’bout Willis?” Gary Coleman delighted audiences as Arnold Jackson on “Diff’rent Storkes.” However, as a result of his stunted growth and lack of aging due to a biological disase, Gary Coleman grew up to be an angy man due to years of exploitation and ridicule. One of Hollywood’s most tragic stars, Coleman died suddenly from a fall, ending a life of pain and betrayal.
Since the 1940′s artist Frank Frezetta has inspired generations of illustrators and comic book artists with his fantasy paintings. Through his work on “Conan the Barbarian,” Tarzan” and “John Carter of Mars” amongst hundreds of other iconic paintings and images, Frank Frezetta single handedly revoltionized fantasy imagery.
Best-known and beloved for his role as Davy Crockett, Parker went on to star in several memorable films and become an inspiration to men fighting in Vietnam. Out of the public spotlight for decades, working as a real estate agent, Parker died at age 85, having celebrated 50 years of marriage with his wife Marcella.
With his rugged good looks and deep voice, Pernell Roberts was a natural in a 1950s Hollywood where Westerns were at the peak of their popularity. Best known as eldest son Adam Cartwright on Bonanza, Roberts was also an accomplished singer with a strong social conscience.
Rarely recognized even by his fans, Andy Hallet’s role as Lorne the singing demon on the television show Angel was a fan favourite. After a series of lucky breaks, Hallet’s luck ran out when he died of heart failure in his early thirties. A talent who never had a chance to realize his full potential, he will always be remembered for his warmth, skill, and energy.
Born into a showbiz family, David Carradine lived weird and died weird. His work in Kung Fu kicked off a martial arts craze in North America, and created a new type of hero which alienated kids could identify with. Despite critical acclaim in later roles, Carradine’s popularity faltered and though he was working, it was a string of B films and sequels until being cast in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. His unusual and tragic death after resurgence of his acting career only serves to add to his mystique.
Despite the fact that she may have drifted out of the public spotlight for decades, during her prime Jennifer Jones was one of the most highly acclaimed actresses in Hollywood, and lived a life full of love, luck, tragedy, madness and redemption. Jennifer Jones’ life was a true life Hollywood drama.
Alegend, a madman, an idol, a prodigy, a genius, a train wreck and a controversial figure: Michael Jackson needs no introduction. In the public eye from a young age, Jackson’s death from accidental overdose ends the story, but not the speculation.
This 1960s childrens’ show host captured the hearts and minds of kids and adults alike with his unpredictable nature on live television. Soupy Sales was smarter and far more cutting edge then the competition, and his show drew special guests from across the Hollywood spectrum.
One of the infamous Manson Family convicted of the brutal 1969 Tate/Labianca murders, Susan Atkins later converted to Christianity and became a model prisoner, speaking out against Manson. The longest-served woman in California history, Atkins’ death closes a chapter on this tragic and fascinating story.
One of Hollywood’s most debonaire actors, Ricardo Montalban went from playing Latin lovers in 40′s and 50′s to finding cult superstardom as Khan on Star Trek, and pop culture iconisim as Mr. Rourke on Fantasy Island while being a crusader and inspiration to multiple generations of Latin-American actors. PCA pays tribute to Ricardo Montalban by exploring his life via his “Five Stages of an Actor”
Regarded as one of the true intellects of pop culture, British actor Patrick McGoohan created the prototype for the secret agent in the 60′s action series Danger Man. Turning down the role of James Bond in Dr. No due to moral concerns, Patrick McGoohan went on to baffle the imaginations of fans by creating, directing and starring in the cult television series The Prisoner.
One of the most recognizable pin-ups in pop culture history, model Bettie Page never achieved mass attention in her prime. However, after decades of living in seclusion, the reclusive Bettie Page achieved massive cult following in the 1990s. Sam Tweedle, a die hard Bettie Page collector, remembers Bettie in a highly personal and emotional tribute.
One of European cinema’s biggest studs, John Phillip Law ignited the screen in the 1960′s playing characters such as Sinbad and Diabolik. However, it was as Pygar the Angel in the cult classic Barbarella that John Phillip Law sealed his place in the history of pop culture.
As antagonist Lt. Phillip Gerard on the classic action/drama series “The Fugitive” Canadian thespian Barry Morse chased David Janssen across America for four years, leaving no bush unturned. Star of stage and radio in Canada, Morse became a staple on American television via “The Fugitive” and “Space 1999″ as well as anthology programs from the golden age of television.
Pop culture’s first goth queen, LA eccentric Maila Nurmi found fame in the 1950′s as television horror hostess Vampira. However, despite an Emmy nomination and a Life Magazine pictorial, fame and fortune proved fleeting and desperate to make money, Nurmi took a part in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outerspace, securing her spot in pop culture history.
Reckless daredevil or dangerous mad man? It didn’t really matter because for an entire generation of little boys growing up in the 1970′s, stuntman Evel Kenievel was the symbol of bravery and machoisim by risking his life by jumping cars, buses, rings of fire, sharks, rattlesnakes and other imaginative death traps. But in his real life, Knievel was a troubled man searching for redemption.
As the quietest member of the Rat Pack, comedian Joey Bishop never really fit in, and as result has always been a neglected member of the fabled boys group. Former talk show host, game show contestant and night club comedian, Joey Bishop had a colorful career. However, as the last surviving member of the Rat Pack, Joey Bishop’s passing marks the true end of an era.
Television journalist and talk show host Tom Snyder gained the reputation of being the best of his contemporaries by giving respectful and intelligent interviews with some of the 20th Century’s most famous individuals through his conversational method of interviewing. Sam Tweedle writes an emotional tribute to then man that inspired him to do the work that he does at PCA.
Aliens? Bigfoot? Hitler’s brain in a jar? The Bat Boy? Satanic Cults? Holy crap! Does the FBI know about this? When North American’s wanted to read about the bizarre happenings taking place in the world for over 25 years all they had to do was turn to the Weekly World News for hilarious stories of the unbelievable and strange.
In 2006 Sam Tweedle partcipated in an interview with Bobby “Boris” Pickett who, in 1961, wrote and recorded the smash one hit wonder and seasonal hit The Monster Mash. A year after the interview Bobby Pickett was dead, leaving PCA’s interview with Mr. Pickett the final interview he gave. A complicated man, Sam Tweedle reflects on his dealins with Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
As Mister Humpheries on the British comedy staple Are You Being Served, comedian John Inman was the first openly gay man to play an openly gay character on television, endearing himself to the mass audience during an era when homosexuality was still a taboo subject. However, Inman remained controversial amongst the gay community who were split on if he was a negative stereotype or a gay icon.
As part of the 60′s pop group The Cowsills, Barry Cowsill became the group’s teen heartthrob as he and his family score hits such as “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” and “Hair” as well as providing the inspiration for “The Partridge Family. Sadly, Barry Cowsill lost his life in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, putting a face and name on this terrible tragedy for pop culture and music fans.
As one part of the classic animation duo Hanna-Barbera, Joseph Barbera, along with his partner William Hannah, created and/or produced hundreds of cartoons in their lifetime, including classics such as Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and Scotty Doo, and were responsible for popularizing cartoons on television. Upon his death in 2006, Joseph Barbera was the last of the classic cartoon innovators.
As the “Scotty” refered to in the popular catch phrase “Beam me up Scotty,” Star Trek’s James Doohan will forever be a part of the cultural lexicon. In a different sort of tribute, Sam Tweedle recalls his personal encounter with an ailing James Doohan in 2000, and how Doohan’s strength, positivity and his devotion to his fans taught what Star Trek fandom is all about.
One of the pioneering black actors in television and theatre, actor William Marshall had a varied career on stage, television and film doing a wide range of roles such as Othello, Star Trek’s Dr. Daystrom and The King of Cartoons on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. However, his most iconic role will always be as “Dracula’s soul brother” Blacula in the 1972 horror classic, making him one of the few black actors in the horror hall of fame.
With a career spanning over seven decades, actor Buddy Ebsen lived many stages of his long career. From The Wizard of Oz to Breakfast at Tiffanys, Ebsen acted with some of Hollywood’s most famous icons. However, it would be in the role of Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies that Buddy Ebsen would become a pop culture icon of his own.