TCM Remembers the Greats of 2009


At the end of every year, Turner Classic Movies always does such a classy job of saluting the movie folks who have passed away over the past 12 months. They’ve done it again in the above clip, saluting such luminaries as Karl Malden, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine and Natasha Richardson. Great writers such as Larry Gelbart and Dominck Dunne are on the list, as are directors such as John Hughes. This year`s moving tribute is set to “To Live Is To Fly,“ by Steve Earle.
A few names on the TCM list made more of an impact on television, such as Gale Storm, Bea Arthur, Henry Gibson and Patrick McGoohan, and, arguably Ricardo Montalban. Some TV-only names, such as Walter Cronkite and Soupy Sales were left off, as was Michael Jackson, to the consternation of many who left comments at YouTube.
The recent passing of Edward Woodward (left) caught me by surprise because he’s one of those actors I always think has been dead for years. I remember being at a press tour in the mid-80s where CBS was promoting The Equalizer and Woodward–already suffering from a bad ticker–was only there via satellite. Woodward was so bloodlessly good in that role, a deadly daddy figure who could fix any situation, maybe just with that voice. It was a shock and a kick to see him turn up in Hot Fuzz two years ago.
Missing from the above memorial clip is Jennifer Jones but TCM has updated the salute and included her at their site; you can find the updated clip here. The network has also scheduled several Jennifer Jones films as a tribute for Jan. 7.
Also missing is Brittany Murphy. Some stars who die late in the year wind up on next year`s tribute (Eartha Kitt, on the above clip, is a hold over from last year).
A few other TV names are missing from the TCM list, some who have also just passed away, including Arnold Stang, composer Vic Mizzy and Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse the past 32 years. Not Mickey`s Golden Age, certainly, but Allwine was a fine Mick and earned the job, as did his predecessor, sound effects man Jimmy MacDonald (above left, with Allwine), by hanging around the Disney Studio and working there in some other capacity (also sound effects). Allwine went on to voice Mickey longer than either MacDonald or original voice Walt Disney.
Allwine told me he actually got to meet Walt Disney just before the great man passed away late in 1966. Allwine, a native Californian, landed a job in the Disney Studio mail room that summer. He heard the boss coming down the hall (unfortunately, Disney was already dying from lung cancer and his stubborn cough was giving him away). Allwine politely greeted him with a “Hello Mr. Disney.“
Disney immediately told the kid–as he apparently told every employee–to always call him Walt. That was Allwine`s Disney moment.
I met Allwine and MacDonald several years ago and snapped this shot; MacDonald was then in his 80s. Both were wearing–wait for it–Mickey Mouse watches.
Alwine had an enchanted life, meeting and marrying the woman who provided the voice of Minnie Mouse, Russi Taylor. That`s a true story: the voice of Mickey Mouse was married to the voice of Minnie Mouse. Imagine the fights at that house. “Gosh darn!`Ha ha!“

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