Film and television stars lost in 2013

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Fallen movie stars have the fascinating ability to receive the most attention from the public when they are gone.

They are the faces we see and identify with on a regular basis.  We have grown up with them in our lives, making them almost feel like family.  But an equally infallible impact has been left by those behind the scenes, those writers, directors, and artists who have made the films we value into the iconic pieces they are today.  They created the movie lines we quote, the scenes we picture first when a film’s name is spoken, and the technical achievements that have laid the groundwork for infinite possibilities in entertainment.  Here is a glimpse at some from both camps who we have lost this year.

Eileen Brennan

Eileen Brennan
(September 3, 1932 – July 28, 2013)

After getting her big break in The Last Picture Show, Eileen Brennan shot to fame thanks to her star-making performance as the caustic Captain Doreen Lewis is Private Benjamin, a role she would recreate in the spinoff television series.

Roger Ebert
(June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013)

Possibly the most recognizable and influential critic of our time, Roger Ebert was revolutionary in creating a televised version of film critique with the late Gene Siskel (and later Richard Roeper) called At the Movies, the source of his trademark “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” commentary.

Dennis Farina
(February 29, 1944 – July 22, 2013)

Dennis Farina is known for his roles in Midnight Run, Get Shorty, and Saving Private Ryan.  He was often cast as law enforcers because of his background as a former Chicago police officer.

Joan Fontaine
Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine
(October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013)

The Alfred Hitchcock darling Joan Fontaine created the role of the unnamed heroine in Rebecca, as well as giving an Academy Award-winning performance as Lina in Suspicion.  She is survived by her older sister, Academy Award-winner Olivia de Havilland.

Bryan Forbes
(July 22, 1926 – May 8, 2013)

British filmmaker Bryan Forbes wrote and directed the iconic Whistle Down the Wind, but even that would not be as well-recognized as his mainstream adaptation of Ira Levin’s science-fiction thriller, The Stepford Wives.

James Gandolfini
(September 18, 1961 – June 19, 2013)

While Tony Soprano made him a television star on The Sopranos, the star of stage and screen James Gandolfini would start getting meatier film roles after the series had ended, including Not Fade Away, In the Loop, and his critically acclaimed performance in this year’s Enough Said.

Richard Griffiths

Richard Griffiths
(July 31, 1947 – March 28, 2013)

Known to  audiences as Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series, Richard Griffiths was a go-to British character actor, whose performance in the stage play The History Boys would lead to his BAFTA-nominated recreation in the film version.

Ray Harryhausen
(June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013)

Leaving an indelible mark on the world of visual effects, Ray Harryhausen was creator of the stop motion animation technique known as “Dynamation”, a tool used in iconic films such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
(May 7, 1927 – April 3, 2013)

The German-born novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala became the go-to screenwriter for the films of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, writing Oscar-winning adaptations of A Room with a View and Howard’s End, among others.

Peter O'Toole
Peter O’Toole

Fay Kanin
(May 9, 1917 – March 27, 2013)

American playwright and screenwriter Fay Kanin co-wrote her Oscar-nominated screenplay of Teacher’s Pet, but she would become invaluable to the film community after becoming president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1979.

Peter O’Toole
(August 2, 1932 – December 14, 2013)

One of the most recognizable and influential actors of the 20th century, Peter O’Toole’s performances in films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter, and Becket would lead to him earning the most Oscar nominations (eight) without a win.

Don Payne
(May 5, 1964 – March 26, 2013)

Screenwriter Don Payne primarily became influential as a writer for the television series The Simpsons, but he would later move into writing for Marvel’s films Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Thor, and this year’s Thor: The Dark World.

Paul Walker
(September 12, 1973 – November 30, 2013)

The star-powered Paul Walker became an invaluable action film asset for his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and Furious series, so much so that his unfortunate death this year brought the future of the enormously successful franchise into question.

Jonathan Winters
Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters
(November 11, 1925 – April 11, 2013)

The iconic comedian and television star created some of the greatest film comedy performances of the 20th century, including It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming.

They will be missed but their films will live forever.