The ones I miss the most

by mattleger | created - 10 Feb 2012 | updated - 01 May 2015 | Public

All of the actors and actresses I love and miss who have gone from us.

1. Robin Williams

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford ...

One of the tiny handful of stand-up comedians who can make me laugh out loud several times in one sitting...and a tremendous acting and writing talent as well. Had more of us known the desperate misery behind that manic façade, we might have saved him. A loss to make the angels weep.

2. Jim Henson

Actor | The Muppet Show

Jim Henson never thought that he would make a name of himself in puppetry; it was merely a way of getting himself on television. The vehicle that achieved it was Sam and Friends (1955), a late-night puppet show that was on after the 11:00 news in Washington DC. It proved to be very popular and ...

A genius of a storyteller and performer, taken from us far too soon.

3. Marty Feldman

Actor | Young Frankenstein

"I am too old to die young, and too young to grow up," Marty Feldman told a reporter -- a week before he died.

This beloved comedian, who poked fun at himself, as well as others, was born Martin Alan Feldman on July 8, 1934, in London, England. His parents were of Ukrainian Jewish heritage (from ...

The eyes had it!

4. Madeline Kahn

Actress | Paper Moon

Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda (Goldberg) (later known as Paula Kahn) and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She was of Russian Jewish descent. Madeline began her acting career in high school and went on to university ...

Beauty, brains, talent and a wicked sense of humor - all lost to cancer far too soon.

5. DeForest Kelley

Actor | Star Trek

Jackson DeForest Kelley was born on January 20, 1920 in Toccoa, Georgia, to Clora (Casey) and Ernest David Kelley. He graduated from high school at age 16 and went on to sing at the Baptist church where his father was a minister. At age 17, he made his first trip outside the state to visit an uncle...

Karl Urban had some mighty big scrubs to fill. But De played so many other roles long before he became "Bones," chiefly in movie and TV Westerns. And he was far and away the warmest, most polite, friendly, patient and accessible of STAR TREK's ever-growing family of stars.

6. Ricardo Montalban

Actor | Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Handsome Ricardo Montalban was the epitome of continental elegance, charm and grace on film and television and in the late 1940s and early 1950s reinvigorated the Rudolph Valentino / Ramon Novarro "Latin Lover" style in Hollywood without achieving top screen stardom. Moreover, unlike most minority ...

Mr. Roarke (the original), Khan Singh and a world of other fine characters...and a legacy of groundbreaking and activism for Hispanic actors in the US. These are what he left us.

7. Leo McKern

Actor | Ladyhawke

Although he sounded very British, Leo McKern was an Australian. By the time he was 15 years old, he had endured an accident that left him without his left eye. A glass eye replaced it - one might conjecture for the better, as far as making McKern a one-day actor of singular focus (no pun intended; ...

Rumpole, Number Two, Father Imperius and many others had life breathed into them by this singular man.

8. John Houseman

Actor | The Paper Chase

Academy Award-winning actor John Houseman's main contribution to American culture was not his own performances on film but rather, his role as a midwife to one of the greatest actor-directors-cinematic geniuses his adopted country ever produced (Orson Welles) and as a midwife to a whole generation ...

I can still hear that plummy English-sounding voice (he was actually born in Romania!) saying, "Mr. Hart, your brain is STILL mush!" or "They make money the old-fashioned way: they EARRNNN it!"

9. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was six) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr. ...

Auteur, actor and pitchman - whatever he did, he gave it his best.

10. Gilda Radner

Actress | Saturday Night Live

Gilda Radner was one of the great comic geniuses of the 20th century, ranked up with Lucille Ball and other comedy legends of the highest caliber. She was born on June 28, 1946, in Detroit, Michigan, the younger of two children of Henrietta (Dworkin), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner, a ...

Another beautiful and funny lady taken from us by cancer before her time.

11. Anita Morris

Actress | Ruthless People

Anita Rose Morris was born on March 14, 1943 in Durham, North Carolina, to Eloise (Chappell), who worked in the theater, and James Badgett Morris, a doctor. Among her many roles, the most prominent film role was as Carol Dodsworth in Ruthless People (1986), and for her sensual performance as Carla ...

Just as she was really beginning to hit it big, we lost her.

12. Jerry Orbach

Actor | Law & Order

Jerry Orbach was born in the Bronx, New York, the only child of Leon Orbach, a former vaudevillian actor, was a German Jewish immigrant, who was born in Hamburg, Germany, and Emily (nee Olexy), a radio singer, was born in Pennsylvania to immigrant Polish-Lithuanian Roman Catholic parents, Alexander...

The single best thing about NBC's LAW & ORDER, and a great Broadway song-and-dance man to boot. He kept doing what he loved almost right up to the end.

13. Elisabeth Sladen

Actress | Doctor Who

Elisabeth Sladen was born in Liverpool, England. She attended drama school for two years before joining the local repertory theatre in her home town of Liverpool. She met actor Brian Miller during her first production there and they were later married after meeting again in Manchester, three years ...

Probably the best-loved companion in DOCTOR WHO history, and a classy lady in real life. Only her old friend and castmate Tom Baker knew how sick she was in her last days.

14. Nicholas Courtney

Actor | Doctor Who

Nicholas Courtney was born in Egypt, the son of a British diplomat. His early years were spent in Kenya and France and he was called up for National Service at the age of 18. After 18 months of duty in the British forces, Courtney joined the Webber Douglas drama school. He spent two years there and...

The Brigadier, AKA Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, OBE. The best friend any Doctor ever had...and many of them did!

15. Burgess Meredith

Actor | Clash of the Titans

One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century, who often suffered lesser roles, Burgess Meredith was born in 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts, before joining Eva Le Gallienne's stage company, Civic Repertory Company, in New York City in 1933...

From THE TWILIGHT ZONE to BATMAN to SEARCH, from the original CLASH OF THE TITANS to the ROCKY series, he made every character he played one you couldn't take your eyes off. And then there was that voice that graced so many cartoons and TV commercials (Sargento cheese, anyone?).

16. Mel Blanc

Actor | Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Mel Blanc, known as "The Man of Thousand Voices" is regarded as the most prolific actor to ever work in Hollywood with over a thousand screen credits. He developed and performed nearly 400 distinct character voices with precision and a uniquely expressive vocal range. The legendary specialist from ...

The man who gave most of the Warner Bros. stable of cartoon characters their original voices...and many others as well.

17. Lucille Ball

Actress | I Love Lucy

The woman who will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo was born Lucille Desiree Ball on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their ...

The funniest lady TV ever saw, bar absolutely none...and another ground-breaker in the industry, the first truly powerful woman in television.

18. Jack Klugman

Actor | The Odd Couple

As a film character actor, Klugman was the epitome of the everyman. He was one of the pioneers of television acting in the 1950s, and is best remembered for his 1970s TV work as Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple (1970) and as the medical examiner on Quincy M.E. (1976).

He was so much more than just Oscar Madison and Dr. Quincy...and kept at it even after throat cancer robbed him of most of his voice. His episodes of the classic TWILIGHT ZONE series rank with the best of any series ever produced.

19. Charles Durning

Actor | Dog Day Afternoon

WWII veteran, dance instructor and diversely talented stage & screen actor were all inclusions on the resume of this perpetually busy US actor who didn't get in front of the cameras until around the time of his fortieth birthday. The stockily built Charles Durning was one of Hollywood's most ...

One of the finest character actors ever to grace either the big or the small screen...and an actual war hero, who stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day.

20. Phyllis Diller

Actress | A Bug's Life

Diller put out an autobiography in 2005 in her late 80s, and entitled it "Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse", which pretty much says it all when recalling the misfit life and career of the fabulous, one-of-a-kind Phyllis Diller. It may inspire all those bored, discouraged and/or directionless ...

Probably the first female stand-up comic to actually be successful in what until then had been overwhelmingly a man's field. Every female comic since, from Tomlin and Boosler to Silverman and Cho, owes her an un-repayable debt for blazing the trail.

21. Andy Griffith

Actor | The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Griffith is best known for his starring roles in two very popular television series, The Andy Griffith Show (1960) and Matlock (1986). Griffith earned a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the 1950s, he became a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) and ...

North Carolina's favorite son and Mayberry's leading well as crack lawyer Ben Matlock, space salvager Harry Broderick and many other characters only he could have brought to life.

22. Harry Morgan

Actor | M*A*S*H

Harry Morgan was a prolific character actor who starred in over 100 films and was a stage performer. Known to a younger generation of fans as "Col. Sherman T. Potter" on M*A*S*H (1972). Also known for his commanding personality throughout his career, he tackled movies and television in a way no ...

From HIGH NOON to INHERIT THE WIND, from DRAGNET to M*A*S*H, this lovely old gent entertained me and mine for many years. He classed up anything he appeared in, always.

23. Harvey Korman

Actor | Blazing Saddles

Harvey Korman was a lanky, popular TV comedy veteran with a flair for broad comic characterizations, who shone for a decade as leading man and second banana par excellence on The Carol Burnett Show (1967).

Harvey Herschel Korman was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Ellen (Blecher) and Cyril Raymond ...

Straight man for decades to Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and Mel Brooks, who could hold his own opposite every one of them in both TV and films.

24. Bob Hoskins

Actor | The Long Good Friday

Bob Hoskins was described by the director John Mackenzie as "an actor from the British tradition but with an almost American approach, an instinctive approach to acting and knowing how to work with the camera". He was born on October 26, 1942, in Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk, where his mother was ...

If all he'd ever done was breathe world-weary life into ROGER RABBIT's hard-bitten L.A. gumshoe Eddie Valiant, he'd be worth remembering...but he played so many other roles, including some I hadn't even known about until his death. (Would you believe Nikita Khrushchev? Yep, in ENEMY AT THE GATES.) He made the most of even minor roles, gleefully committing shameless grand larceny on every scene he was in. And he was a kind and generous mentor to his younger co-stars as well. I miss him already.

25. Mickey Rooney

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. He first took the stage as a toddler in his parents vaudeville act at 17 months old. He made his first film appearance in 1926. The following year, he played the lead character in the first Mickey McGuire short film. ...

From a vaudeville debut at 18 months to his death at 93 (!!), Mickey left a career spanning nine decades and a life almost as eventful and tumultuous...and a genius for reinventing himself over and over. You could spend days watching all his performances before turning up a single lemon--and I'd bet real money you wouldn't find one. When no less than Cary Grant, Anthony Quinn and Sir Laurence freakin' Olivier ALL name you as the best actor they know in Hollywood, you must have had something going for you besides longevity and perseverance -- though the Mick had both and to spare.

26. Elizabeth Taylor

Actress | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was considered one of the last, if not the last, major star to have come out of the old Hollywood studio system. She was known internationally for her beauty, especially for her violet eyes, with which she captured audiences early on in her youth and kept the world hooked ...

Actress and AIDS/HIV activist before it was fashionable...or safe.

27. John Candy

Actor | Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Candy was one of Canada's greatest and funniest character actors. His well-known role as the big hearted buffoon earned him classics in Uncle Buck (1989) and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987). His career has handed him some dry spells but Candy always rebounded.

Born in Newmarket, Ontario, in ...

A vastly underrated talent in both comedic acting and writing, one of the many distinguished alumni of the comedy-star factory that is Chicago's Second City troupe, Toronto branch. One of the greatest gifts Canada ever gave us...and one of the most missed. Without him, Chris Farley, John Goodman, Horatio Sanz and a lot of other plus-sized funny guys would have had a way tougher time breaking big.

28. Stan Freberg

Actor | Lady and the Tramp

Stan Freberg grew up in Los Angeles, California. From an early age he was a big fan of radio and sound. He was blessed with the double abilities of being an amazing mimic and possessing a razor-sharp satirical mind. In the early 1940s he began to do voice work for both the Warner Brothers' cartoons...

Probably the greatest gift the radio, advertising and recording industries wish to hell they'd never gotten. A truly gifted satirist, songwriter and ad man, Stan spent decades gleefully biting the corporate hands that fed him every chance he got...and often paying for it big-time. If you can find a copy of his autobiography, "It Only Hurts When I Laugh," read it and learn more about his amazing career. And if you're a fan of Weird Al Yankovic, you have Stan to thank in part as one of Al's early influences.

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