In Memoriam 2013
Paul Walker was not the kind of person who saw a problem and said, “Somebody should do something.” He was the somebody who did something.
Walker was an actor all his life. Starting at the age of two, he was constantly in front of the camera, though not always the leading man. That was until 2001, when he became the central character in the first movie of The Fast and the Furious franchise. The popularity of the series gave him the freedom to do other things, among them charitable works. It was as a volunteer after the Haitian earthquakes that he and some friends started the Reach Out WorldWide organization. ROWW teams travel all over the United States and the world, giving support to those devastated by natural disasters.
Last week, after a fund-raising event for ROWW, Paul Walker died in a car crash. Friends and co-stars have paid tribute to him, noting his generous nature. He’s an actor who will be greatly missed.
We lost other beloved actors and actresses during 2013. Annette Funicello was another who started a career at an early age. As a teenager, she was a star on TV’s The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s. As she grew older, she became the leading lady in such Disney films The Shaggy Dog and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones and then in several beach/surfer movies with Frankie Avalon.
James Gandolfini was a natural in front of the camera. He played many supporting roles, but it was a star-making turn as Tony Soprano that made him a leading man and a multiple Emmy winner. Like Walker, he left us far too soon.
Julie Harris began her career on the stage and brought her talent to film in the 1950s. Best known for playing women who were sweet and vulnerable, she was also capable of portraying much tougher women. And while I loved her in The Member of the Wedding and East of Eden, she also starred in one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen – The Haunting.
Jean Stapleton came to our attention on All in the Family. She won three Emmy Awards as sweet, kind, patient Edith Bunker. She went on to star on stage and in other movies such as Michael and You’ve Got Mail. But we’ll always love her for Edith.
Esther Williams swam to stardom in several of movies in the 1940s and 50s. Extravagant musical numbers in and around the water were the norm in her films, but always as a part of the story. She was equally adept on land in these romantic comedies and could handle dramatic roles as well.
Below are others who have left us this year. If there are some listed you’ve not seen in a while or others you’re not familiar with, please check out some of their work.
Actors and Actresses
Lee Thompson Young
Ray Dolby – Inventor of the Dolby NR noise-reduction and surround system. The man who made our DVD watching more fun.
Jane Henson – With her husband Jim Henson, Jane helped create The Muppets – the characters we love to watch with our kids – and even without kids.