Thursday, October 31, 2013

Actor River Phoenix Collapses on Viper Room Sidewalk 1993

River Jude Phoenix (August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993) was an American film actor. He was listed on John Willis's Screen World, Vol. 38 as one of twelve "promising new actors of 1986," and was hailed as highly talented by such critics as Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. He was also well known for his animal rights activism. He died of a drug overdose on Halloween morning 1993 at age 23.[1] He was the oldest sibling of actors and actresses Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix and Summer Phoenix.

Early life

Phoenix was born River Jude Bottom in a two-room log cabin in Metolius, Oregon,[2] on August 23, 1970, the oldest child of Arlyn Sharon Dunetz and John Lee Bottom. His parents named their first child after the river of life from novel Siddhartha.[2]

In an interview with People, River Phoenix described his parents as "hippieish".[2] His mother was born in The Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents from Hungary and Russia.[3][4][5][6] His father was a lapsed Catholic from Fontana, California.[3] In 1968, Phoenix's mother left her family in New York and moved to California, meeting Phoenix's father while hitchhiking. They married in June 1969 and joined the religious cult the Children of God, working as missionaries and fruit pickers in Venezuela.[2] Phoenix was the oldest of five and had four younger siblings: one brother, Joaquin, and three sisters, Rain, Summer, and Liberty. He also had an older half-sister from his father's previous relationship, Jodene (who later changed her name to Trust).

In an interview with Details magazine in November 1991, Phoenix stated that he lost his virginity at age four.[7][2] The magazine quotes him as saying "But I've blocked it out ... I was completely celibate from 10 to 14."[7] His representatives reportedly pressured him to later recant the comment, claiming it was "a joke."

In March 1994, Esquire magazine quoted River as speaking angrily of the Children of God cult: "They're disgusting ... they're ruining people's lives."[8] After the family left the cult and returned to the United States in 1977, they officially adopted the surname "Phoenix" on April 2, 1979, to reflect their rebirth to a new life, just like the mythical sacred firebird Phoenix arising from the ashes.

In 1977, the family returned to United States, and lived with Phoenix's maternal grandparents in Florida before moving to California and eventually settling back in Micanopy near Gainesville, Florida, in 1987.[2]

Phoenix often made different and conflicting accounts of his life to reporters. He told reporters "I have lied and changed stories and contradicted myself left and right, so at the end of the year you could read five different articles and say 'This guy is schizophrenic.'"[9]


Phoenix pursued a career in show business, encouraged by his parents. He had significant juvenile roles in Joe Dante's Explorers (1985); Rob Reiner's coming of age picture Stand By Me (1986) which first brought Phoenix to public prominence; Peter Weir's The Mosquito Coast (1986), where Phoenix played the son of Harrison Ford's character; A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988); and Little Nikita (1988) with Sidney Poitier.

In 1989, at the age of 18, Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (as well as for a Golden Globe) and received the Best Supporting Actor honor from the National Board of Review for his role in Sidney Lumet's Running on Empty (1988).

At the suggestion of Harrison Ford, Phoenix portrayed the teenage Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and was offered the role of the young Indiana Jones in the TV series, which he turned down. Phoenix met actor Keanu Reeves while Reeves was filming Parenthood with Phoenix's brother, Joaquin. River later went on to star opposite Reeves (along with Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman and Joan Plowright) in 1990's I Love You to Death and again in Gus Van Sant's avant-garde film My Own Private Idaho. For his role in My Own Private Idaho, Phoenix won Best Actor honors at the Venice Film Festival, the National Society of Film Critics and the Independent Spirit Awards. The film and its success solidified Phoenix's image as an actor with edgy, leading man potential. At a press screening for My Own Private Idaho at the New York Film Festival Phoenix correctly predicted a large number of gay-themed films were "on the horizon."[10] (His friendship with Reeves and Van Sant continued until his death). Just prior to My Own Private Idaho, he filmed an acclaimed independent picture called Dogfight co-starring Lili Taylor and directed by Nancy Savoca, in which Phoenix portrayed a young U.S. Marine on the night prior to his being shipped off to Vietnam in November 1963.

After losing out on the Brad Pitt role in Robert Redford's film A River Runs Through It, Phoenix teamed up with Redford and again with Sidney Poitier for the conspiracy/espionage thriller Sneakers (1992). He then appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's country music-themed film, The Thing Called Love (1993); it was his last completed picture before his death. Phoenix and co-star in the film, Samantha Mathis, became an item in real life.

“It's not about career. It's about believing in something, it's about prosperity. And it's about caring and empathizing and wanting to create the best, the most true to life, the most real. ”

After his death in 1993, his last picture, Sam Shepard's art-house, ghost western Silent Tongue (1994), was released; it had been filmed prior to The Thing Called Love. Phoenix was still working on George Sluizer's post-apocalyptic Dark Blood which was three weeks from completion at the time of his death. 90% completed, the film was never released, as Phoenix's death made it impossible for the filmmakers to film several key scenes. Director George Sluizer now owns the material and has been reported to be considering releasing some footage material about Phoenix embedded in a documentary on River's life.

Phoenix was being considered for the role of Jim Carroll, the drug addicted teen in the 1995 drama The Basketball Diaries and Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse. After his death, Leonardo DiCaprio was cast in both roles. Author Anne Rice had originally wanted Phoenix cast in the role of Lestat in the film version of Interview with the Vampire and Phoenix became attached to the project; however, when the producer wanted a more consistently bankable actor for the part, Tom Cruise was hired (against Rice's initial outrage). Phoenix remained with the picture and was to appear as the interviewer, Daniel Molloy, a role that ultimately ended up going to Christian Slater following Phoenix's death. The film was dedicated to him and Slater donated his salary from the film to Phoenix's favorite charities.

Generally regarded by critics at the time as the most promising young actor on the cusp of the '80s and '90s, River and younger brother Joaquin would later go on to become the first brothers in Hollywood history to be nominated for an Oscar in the acting categories.


“I've been wanting to go into music ever since I can remember. I mean even before I became an actor. I just thought it would be a tough field to break into, so I became an actor instead.”

Although Phoenix's movie career was generating most of the income for his family, it has been stated by close friends and relatives that his true passion was music. Phoenix was a singer, song writer and an accomplished guitarist. He had begun teaching himself guitar at the age of five and had stated in an interview for E! in 1988 that his family's move to Los Angeles when he was nine was made so that he and his sister "..could become recording artists. I fell into commercials for financial reasons and acting became an attractive concept..." Prior to securing an acting agent, Phoenix and his siblings had attempted to forge a career in music by playing cover songs on the streets of the Westwood district of LA; often being moved along by police because of the gathering crowds who obstructed the pavement.

Whilst working on A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon in 1986 Phoenix had written and recorded a song, "Heart to Get," specifically for the end credits of the movie. 20th Century Fox cut it from the completed film, but director William Richert put it back into place for his director's cut some years later. It was during filming that Phoenix met Chris Blackwell of Island Records, this meeting would later secure Phoenix a 2 year development deal with the label. Phoenix disliked the idea of being a solo artist and relished collaboration and so focused on putting together a band. Aleka's Attic were formed in 1987 and the line up included his sister Rain. Phoenix was committed to gaining credibility by his own merit and so he maintained that the band would not use his name when securing performances that were not benefits for charitable organizations. Phoenix's first release was 'Across the Way,' co-written with bandmate Josh McKay, which was released in 1989 on a benefit album for PETA entitled "Tame Yourself." In 1991 River wrote and recorded a spoken word piece called "Curi Curi" for Milton Nascimento's album TXAI. Also in 1991 the Aleka's Attic track "Too Many Colors" was lent to the soundtrack of Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho a film which included Phoenix in a starring role.

Due to Phoenix having to take numerous breaks to fulfill movie obligations the two year deal was frozen repeatedly and, subsequently, it was over four years before the final demos were completed. With the refusal to compromise his music to gear it towards a more 'mainstream' audience the deal eventually fell through. Around this time, Phoenix's friend John Frusciante had left his band Red Hot Chili Peppers and, with Phoenix spending more and more time in LA, the two began collaborating frequently; recording material on 4 and 8-track recorders in Frusciante's home.

In 1992, Phoenix worked with producer and friend T-Bone Burnett on some songs for his final completed film The Thing Called Love. Phoenix performed all his character's songs himself and wrote the song "Lone Star State of Mine" especially for the movie. In 1996, a second Aleka's Attic track was released, "Note to a Friend" was included on a PETA compilation album In Defense of Animals Volume II. The track included friend Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass. Two tracks collaborated on with John Frusciante were intended for release on his first solo album Niandre Lades and usually just a t-shirt(1994) but were pulled by request of the Phoenix family. They were released instead on Frusciante's second solo record, Smile from the streets you hold (1997) under different titles, "Height Down" (originally titled 'Soul Removal') and "Well, I've Been" (originally titled 'bought her soul').

Phoenix, along with friend Dan Aykroyd and other musically inclined celebrities, was an investor in the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts which opened its doors to the public after serving a group of homeless people on Thanksgiving Day 1992.[11] Phoenix was also close friends with Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M.. At the time of his death Phoenix had been working on an album with Aleka's Attic (then consisting of a different line-up). The album, although close to completion, was shelved after Phoenix's death due to two of the musicians declining to sign artistic releases.


“If I have some celebrity, I hope I can use it to make a difference. The true social reward is that I can speak my mind and share my thoughts about the environment and civilisation itself. There's so much shit happening with people who are exploiting their positions and creating a lot of negativity.”

Phoenix was a dedicated animal rights, environmental and political activist. He was a prominent spokesperson for PETA and won their Humanitarian award in 1990 for his fund-raising efforts.[12] Also in 1990, for Earth Day, Phoenix wrote an environmental awareness essay targeted at his young fanbase, which was printed in Seventeen magazine. He financially aided a slew of environmental and humanitarian organizations and bought 800 acres (3.2 km2) of endangered rainforest in Costa Rica.

As well as comparing and giving speeches at rallies for various groups, he and his band often played environmental benefits for well known charities and also that of local ones around Gainesville, Florida. Phoenix was renowned for using his power within the media to voice his beliefs and opinions on issues he felt important, with his fanclub newsletters excluding the typical teen idol fodder to include information about issues such as the arms race, nuclear testing and climate change.


“For a long time, I've said the opposite of what I really thought. In interviews, I've also played characters that I wasn't. I've lied and often contradicted myself to dumbfound people. It's all over now, because I have nothing left to hide. Eventually, I'm quite an ordinary person.”

Prior to his death, River Phoenix's image — one he bemoaned in interviews — had been squeaky-clean, due in part to the public discussion of his various social, political, humanitarian and dietary interests not always popular in the '80s; as a result, his death elicited a vast amount of coverage from the media at the time. To this day, most family and friends remain silent on the subject.

Shortly before his 1993 demise, Phoenix, whose drug habits were still unknown to the public, said in an interview, "...drugs aren't just done by bad guys and sleaze-bags; it's a universal disease."[13][14]

Phoenix once said in an interview, "I wish sometimes that I wasn't as conscious as I am."[15]

Viper Room Sunset SidewalkDeath

On October 31, 1993, Phoenix collapsed from a drug overdose of heroin and cocaine (known as a speedball) outside the Viper Room, a Hollywood night club partially owned, at the time, by actor Johnny Depp. Phoenix had returned to Los Angeles early that week from Utah to complete the three weeks of interior shots left on his last (and, uncompleted) project Dark Blood. His younger sister Rain and brother Joaquin had flown out from Florida to join him at his hotel. River's girlfriend Samantha Mathis had also come to meet him, and all would be present at the scene of River's death.

On the evening of October 30, River was to perform onstage with his close friend Michael "Flea" Balzary from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. At some point in the evening Phoenix went to the bathroom to take drugs with various friends and dealers.[16] It is reported that an acquaintance offered him some Persian Brown (a powerful form of methamphetamine mixed with opiates, which is then snorted) and soon after consuming the drug he became ill.[16]

Upon leaving The Viper Room, River Phoenix collapsed onto the sidewalk and began convulsing for eight minutes. Joaquin dialed 911; during the call Joaquin was unable to determine whether River was breathing. River had, in fact, already stopped breathing. Rain proceeded to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. During the episode, Johnny Depp and his band P (featuring Flea and Phoenix's friend Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers) were onstage. According to Haynes the band was in the middle of their song, "Michael Stipe" (which includes the line "but we didnt have a part, not a piece of our heart, not Michael, River Phoenix or Flea or me."), while Phoenix was outside the venue having seizures on the sidewalk.[17] When the news filtered through the club, Flea left the stage and rushed outside. Paramedics had arrived on the scene and found Phoenix in asystole (flatline), when they administered drugs in an attempt to restart his heart. He was rushed to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, accompanied by Flea, via an ambulance. Further attempts to resuscitate Phoenix (including the insertion of a pacemaker) were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 1:51 a.m. PST on the morning of October 31, 1993.[18] The following day the club became a make-shift shrine with fans and mourners leaving flowers, pictures and candles on the sidewalk and graffiti messages on the walls of the venue. A sign was placed in the window that read, "With much respect and love to River and his family, The Viper Room is temporarily closed. Our heartfelt condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. He will be missed". The club remained closed for a week. Johnny Depp continued to close the club every year on October 31 until selling his share in 2004.

A local paparazzo chose not to photograph Phoenix dying on the street, however, the day before his cremation in Florida, a reporter broke into the funeral home and took a picture of Phoenix resting in his casket; this picture was later to be sold to the tabloids for $1,000,000. It has now been published by the National Enquirer three times since the initial publishing in 1993.

References in popular culture

River Phoenix first gained references in music with Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento writing the song "River Phoenix: Letter to a Young Actor" about him after having seen Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast (1986). The song appears on the 1989 release Miltons. Phoenix's friends, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wrote a few lines for him in the song "Give It Away" from the 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik: "There's a River born to be a giver, keep you warm won't let you shiver, his heart is never gonna wither..."

Phoenix has been the subject of numerous tributes in song and other media. The band R.E.M. dedicated their album Monster to Phoenix, and their song "E-Bow the Letter" from 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi is said to have been written from a letter Michael Stipe wrote to Phoenix but never sent because of the actor's death. Musician Sam Phillips has the dedication "For River" on her album Martinis and Bikinis. Again, Red Hot Chili Peppers, paid tribute with the song "Transcending" on 1995's One Hot Minute being written about him. Other songs inspired by Phoenix include Dana Lyons' "Song For River Phoenix (If I Had Known)," Grant Lee Buffalo's "Halloween," Natalie Merchant's "River" for her 1995 album Tigerlily, Ellis Paul's song "River," found on his 1994 release Stories,[19] Rufus Wainwright's "Matinee Idol", Nada Surf's "River Phoenix" and Stereophonics's "Chris Chambers." In her 1996 album Woman & A Man, Belinda Carlisle referenced River in the song "California". The song opens and closes with the line "I remember I was in a tanning salon, when I heard that River Phoenix was gone." In Jay-Z's album, Kingdom Come, the lyrics of "Hollywood" list him as one of the many fatalities of the pressures of Hollywood. New York band Japanther featured a song on their album Skuffed up my Huffy (2008) entitled "River Phoenix," which is about certain events in his life and delivers the chorus "River Phoenix didn't mean it". In the song "The Viper Room," Wesley Willis takes an abrupt turn from an otherwise glowing account of the club by noting Phoenix's death, stating that he "...collapsed and died like a Doberman." UK indie-singer/rapper TRIP (aka Alex Child) also recorded a song entitled River Phoenix in 2009, about the night that he died. The song "Jude' from ambient musician Hypnic Jerk's album "Martorell" is a tribute to Phoenix and contains sampled audio from Phoenix's performance in My Own Private Idaho. Hannah Marcus recorded a song titled "River Phoenix," with lyrics about his death, on her 1998 album Faith Burns.

Gus Van Sant, with whom Phoenix worked in the film My Own Private Idaho, dedicated his 1994 movie Even Cowgirls Get The Blues as well as his 1998 novel Pink to him. The film Phoenix was due to start shooting shortly after his death, Interview With The Vampire, features the dedication "In memory of River Phoenix, 1970-1993" at the end of the closing credits. Experimental Santa Cruz filmmaker Cam Archer also produced a documentary called Drowning River Phoenix as part of his USA Fame series.

During performances on November 13[20] and November 15, 1993[21] February 12, 1994,[22] and one of Nirvana's last USA shows in Seattle on January 7, 1994,[23] Kurt Cobain of Nirvana dedicated the song "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam" to Phoenix (among other celebrities who died young), just a few months before Cobain's death. Tom Petty dedicated "Ballad of Easy Rider" to Phoenix when he played in his and Phoenix's hometown of Gainesville, Florida in November 1993.

The British band Manic Street Preachers mentions River in their song "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart" (from the album The Holy Bible, 1994) in the following line:"...I'm thinking right now of Hollywood tragedy; big mac; smack; Phoenix.R; please smile y'all..."

Phoenix was the subject of a controversial song by Australian group TISM. Titled "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" the single originally featured a mock-up of River Phoenix' tombstone as its cover art in 1995. The chorus features the line, "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix."

On the song "Love Me, Hate Me" by rapper Ja Rule, he numerates different ways he could die as a celebrity, and one of the lyrics says "I might OD in a club off drugs like River Phoenix."

In the 1997 musical, The Fix, Phoenix is alluded to in the song "Mistress of Deception" in the lines, "Hot young actor died last night at an L.A. club./ecstasy and booze/and too much nyquil./had the sweetest face,/warm and shy and innocent; sexy in that careless kinda way./the newsman said his heart just stopped like that...."

The scene of River Phoenix's death merits several mentions in William Gibson's book Spook Country.

A lesser known reference to River Phoenix was Final Fantasty VIII's main protagonist Squall Leonhart. Tetsuya Nomura, the lead character designer for the game, stated he modelled Squall on River's visage during development, and even gave Squall the same birthdate.[24]

The Family Guy episode Three Kings, which was parodying Rob Reiner's Stand By Me ended in a synopsis of what the actors who originally played the characters in the movie went on to do. When he gets to Quagmire, who was parodying the character who was originally played by Phoenix, the narrator states, "Quag grew up to become a famous Hollywood actor. Unfortunately, about a week ago, he took an overdose of designer drugs at the Viper Room. He died, on the curb outside. And now we are left with a harelipped reminder of what might have been." A picture of Joaquin Phoenix, River's brother, fills the screen, accompanied by a Benny Hill-style trumpet sound. After the commercial break, Peter's first line is, "Joaquin Phoenix, if you are still watching, you're a good sport, and a trooper. And you passed our test. And you can be our friend." On the controversial episode, "I Dream of Jesus," Jesus says he raised Phoenix from the dead, only to have him overdose again in front of the Viper Room.

In 2004 Phoenix was voted #64 greatest movie star of all time in a poll by channel 4 television in the UK. The poll was made up wholly of votes from prominent figures of the acting and directing communities.

Phoenix's life and death has been the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story, an A&E Biography and an episode of Final 24, which contains a dramatic reconstruction of his final hours and death.*


1.^ Remembering 1993 Gary Kirkland Gainesville Sun - December 26, 1993
2.^ River's Untimely Death from People (November 15, 1993)
4.^ Summer Phoenix: articles (part 1)
5.^ - 'Walk the Line' Star Won't Campaign for Oscar - Celebrity Gossip Entertainment News Arts And Entertainment
6.^ Ten American showbiz celebrities of Russian descent - Pravda.Ru
7.^ Details, November, 1991[1]
8.^ Esquire magazine, March, 1994
9.^ Gone Too Soon. People. 2007. 37.
10.^ Esquire magazine, March, 1994
11.^ [2]
13.^ People Magazine November 1993
14.^ Chatter:
15.^ Catherine Elsworth. "Ledger death recalls River Phoenix". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
16.^ "The Untimely Death of River Phoenix". Reel Reviews article. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
17.^ Aaron, Charles. "They Came from Hollywood", Spin, 30 July 2007.
18.^ Weinraub, Bernard (1993-11-02). "Death of River Phoenix Jolts the Movie Industry". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
19.^ Ellis Paul website. Lyrics and audio to "River" from the album Stories. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
20.^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 11/13/93 - Bender Arena, American University, Washington, DC, US
21.^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 11/15/93 - Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY, US
22.^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 02/12/94 - Zénith Omega, Toulon, FR
23.^ LIVE NIRVANA TOUR HISTORY: 01/07/94 - Seattle Center Arena, Seattle, WA, US
24.^ Staff (2000-09-21). "The Bouncer Team Talks About Its Mysterious Game". IGN. Retrieved 2009-06-24.

Further reading

Glatt, John. Lost in Hollywood: The Fast Times and Short Life of River Phoenix. ISBN 1-55611-440-0.
Furek, Maxim W.. The Death Proclamation of Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of Goth, Grunge and Heroin. ISBN 978-0-595-46319-0.
Lawrence, Barry C.. In Search of River Phoenix: the Truth Behind the Myth. ISBN 0-9672491-9-8.
Robb, Brian J.. River Phoenix: a short life. ISBN 0-06-095132-X.

Viper Room Sunset Sidewalk

Producer/Director/Dean Gilbert Cates 2011 Hillside Cemetery

Gilbert “Gil” Cates (June 6, 1934 – October 31, 2011), born Gilbert Katz, was an Award winning American film director and television producer, director of the Geffen Playhouse, and founding dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. He was probably best known for the annual Academy Award shows he produced 14 times between 1990 and 2008.[1]

Personal life

Cates was born Gilbert Katz in New York City, the son of Jewish parents Nina (née Peltzman) and Nathan Katz,[2] who was a dress manufacturer. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School,[3] and majored at Syracuse University.[1] According to the Jewish Journal, Cates stumbled into his profession by accident: As a pre-med student at Syracuse University, he was in the fencing team and was asked to instruct student actors in a production of Richard III on how to handle swords. He was so taken by the experience that he changed his major to theater.[2]

Cates was a member of the Reform Jewish Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The Jewish Journal quotes him as saying that he only attended services on the High Holy Days, but felt “very proud to be Jewish”.[2]

Cates was first married to Jane Betty Dubin and then to gynecologist Judith Reichman.[4] He had four children from his first and two stepchildren from his second marriage, and five grandchildren. He was the younger brother of Joseph Cates, also a director and producer, and the uncle of actress Phoebe Cates.[2]



Cates was a producing director and president of the board at the Geffen Playhouse.[5] He directed a number of feature films including I Never Sang for My Father (1970), and Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973), both nominated for Oscars, Oh, God! Book II (1980) and The Last Married Couple in America (1980). He also produced and directed Broadway and off-Broadway plays,[1] including I Never Sang for My Father and You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running.[3]

Cates is credited with re-energizing the Academy Awards shows he produced 14 times between 1990 and 2008, recruiting Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart as hosts. He served on the Academy's Board of Governors from 1984 to 1993, winning an Emmy in 1991 for the 63rd annual Oscars. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005. From 1983 to 1987 he served as president of the Directors Guild of America.[1] On April 8, 1991 he became dean of UCLA's newly combined School of Theater, Film and Television,[3] a post he held until 1998, and was on the faculty of the school as a professor.[1] In 2005 Cates received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[5]


Gilbert Cates died in Los Angeles on October 31, 2011 at age 77. He is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Culver City, California.


1.^ Johnson, Reed; King, Susan (November 1, 2011). "Gil Cates: Consummate Hollywood professional." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2011.

2.^ Berrin, Danielle (November 1, 2011). "Gil Cates, longtime Oscar producer, dead at 77." Retrieved November 8, 2011.

3.^ Champlin, Charles (February 26, 1991). "Another Year, Another Oscar Strategy - Movies: Gilbert Cates finds a different set of circumstances for this year's Academy Awards, his second as producer of the annual awards show." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 14, 2009. "He started fencing at Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and, he says, you spent three months of exercise just getting in shape to fence."

4.^ "Gilbert Cates Biography (1934-)." Retrieved November 8, 2011.

5.^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (November 1, 2011). "Oscar Producer Gilbert Cates Dead at 77." The Wrap. Retrieved November 8, 2011.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Further Reading: Images of America: Los Angeles

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"To Serve Man "Actor Lloyd Bochner 2005 Westwood Village Cemetery

Lloyd Wolfe Bochner (July 29, 1924 – October 29, 2005) was a Canadian actor, usually playing the role of suave, rich leading men.


At age 11, Bochner began his acting career on Ontario radio programs. He went on to garner two Liberty Awards, the highest acting honour in Canada, for his work in Canadian film and theatre. In 1951 he moved to New York City and appeared in early television series such as One Man's Family and Kraft Television Theatre. In 1960, ABC called with a starring role in the series Hong Kong with co-star Rod Taylor. A few years later, Bochner appeared in one of his most famous roles, that of the scientist attempting to decipher an alien text in the classic 1962 Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man," a part he himself spoofed years later in the comedy The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.

He was a member of the repertory cast of The Richard Boone Show (1963-1964). In 1964 he guest starred in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Season One episode "The Fear-Makers." In 1965, he guest starred on ABC's western series The Legend of Jesse James starring Christopher Jones in the title role. Two years later, he appeared on the ABC military-western Custer starring Wayne Maunder in the title role. He appeared twice on the long-running television western The Virginian in the 1960s. Bochner is also memorably smooth and malicious as the gangster Carter up against Lee Marvin in John Boorman's seminal 1960s film noir Point Blank.

Over the years, Bochner continued to portray a variety of roles in television and film, from a warlock on Bewitched to a homosexual doctor coming out at middle age in the 1977 television-movie Terraces, to Pia Zadora's abusive screenwriter husband in the camp classic film The Lonely Lady. In 1960, he starred in an adaptation of A. J. Cronin's The Citadel along with Ann Blyth. His son Paul said he "almost always played a suave, handsome, wealthy villain."

Famous roles

A typical and very famous Bochner role was that of the scheming Cecil Colby on Dynasty, in part due to his notorious death scene (the character suffered a heart attack while having sex with Alexis Carrington (Joan Collins), and later died in his hospital bed seconds after marrying her). A few years later, Bochner planned to star as C.C. Capwell on the daytime drama Santa Barbara, but a heart attack caused his departure from the series. Bochner continued to appear in television series for the next few decades, doing frequent voiceover work for the animated cartoon version of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. In 1998 Bochner co-founded the Committee to End Violence, a panel designed to study the impact violent images had on culture. He was also active in Association of Canadian Radio and Television Artists and was a licensed amateur radio operator. He joined the Stratford Festival of Canada in its first season in 1953 and spent six years there, playing Horatio in Hamlet, Orsino in Twelfth Night, and Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure opposite James Mason.

Television roles

He appeared in the episode "The Pisces" of the short-lived TV show The Starlost (1973), and was Commandant Leiter in the Battlestar Galactica original series episode "Greetings from Earth". Also in the 1960s he appeared on Combat! as either a German or an English officer and on Twelve O'Clock High as an Englishman or as a British army or air force officer.

Hart Bochner

Personal life and death

Bochner was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to a middle-class Jewish family.[1] He was married to Ruth Roher Bochner, a concert pianist,[2][3] until his death of cancer on October 29, 2005, at the age of 81 at home in Santa Monica, California. He left behind three children — Hart Bochner (actor, who also did voices for Batman), Paul[4] and a daughter, Johanna.

Lloyd Bochner is interred at Westwood Village Cemetery.


Bochner received an ACTRA Award in 2004.[5]


1.^ Reed, Christopher (November 5, 2005). "Lloyd Bochner." The Guardian (London).

2.^ "Births." The Globe and Mail. October 5, 1956. p. 26. "at Women's College Hospital"

3.^ "On The Air." Drummondville Spokesman. 1950-03-24. pp. 4. Retrieved 2010-08-29.


5.^ ACTRA to give Eugene Levy Award of Excellence in Los Angeles

Musician Woody Herman 1987 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Woodrow Charles "Woody" Herman (May 16, 1913 – October 29, 1987), was an American jazz clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and big band leader. Leading various groups called "The Herd," Herman was one of the most popular of the 1930s and '40s bandleaders. His bands often played music that was experimental for their time. He was a featured halftime performer for Super Bowl VII.[1]

Early life and career

Herman was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herrman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 16, 1913.[2] His parents were Otto and Myrtle Herrman.[3][4] His father had a deep love for show business and this influenced Woody Herman at an early age.[5] As a child he worked as a singer in vaudeville, then became a professional saxophone player at age 15. In 1931, he met Charlotte Neste, an aspiring actress;[6] they married on September 27, 1936.[7] Woody Herman joined the Tom Gerun band and his first recorded vocals were "Lonesome Me" and "My Heart's At Ease".[8] Herman also performed with the Harry Sosnick orchestra,[9] Gus Arnheim and Isham Jones.[10] Isham Jones wrote many popular songs, including "It Had To Be You" and at some point was tiring of the demands of leading a band. Jones wanted to live off the residuals of his songs; Woody Herman saw the chance to lead his former band,[11] and eventually acquired the remains of the orchestra after Jones' retirement.

The Band That Plays The Blues and the First Herd 1936-1946

Woody Herman's first band became known for its orchestrations of the blues and was sometimes billed as "The Band That Plays The Blues". This band recorded for the Decca label, at first serving as a cover band, doing songs by other Decca artists.[12] The first song recorded was "Wintertime Blues" on November 6, 1936. In January 1937, George T. Simon closed a review of the band with the words: "This Herman outfit bears watching; not only because it's fun listening to in its present stages, but also because its bound to reach even greater stages."[13] After two and a half years on the label, the band had its first hit, "Woodchopper's Ball" recorded in 1939.[14] Woody Herman remembered that "Woodchopper's Ball" started out slowly at first. "[I]t was really a sleeper. But Decca kept re-releasing it, and over a period of three or four years it became a hit. Eventually it sold more than five million copies—the biggest hit I ever had."[15] Other hits for the band include "The Golden Wedding" and "Blue Prelude".[16] Musicians and arrangers that stand out include Cappy Lewis on trumpet and Dean Kincaide, a noted big band arranger.[16]

In jazz, swing was gradually being replaced by bebop. Dizzy Gillespie, a trumpeter and one of the originators of bop, wrote three arrangements for Woody Herman, "Woody'n You", "Swing Shift" and "Down Under". These were arranged in 1942.[17] "Woody'n You" was not used at the time. "Down Under" was recorded November 8, 1943. The fact that Herman commissioned Dizzy Gillespie to write arrangements for the band and that Herman hired Ralph Burns as a staff arranger, heralded a change in the style of music the band was playing.[18]

In February 1945, the band started a contract with Columbia Records.[19] Herman liked what drew many artists to Columbia, Liederkrantz Hall, at the time the best recording venue in New York City. The first side Herman recorded was "Laura", the theme song of the 1944 movie of the same name.[20] Herman's version was so successful that it made Columbia hold from release the arrangement that Harry James had recorded days earlier.[21] The Columbia contract coincided with a change in the band's repertoire. The First Herd's music was heavily influenced by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Its lively, swinging arrangements, combining bop themes with swing rhythm parts, were greatly admired. As of February 1945 the personnel included Sonny Berman, Pete Candoli, Billy Bauer (later replaced by Chuck Wayne), Ralph Burns, Davey Tough and Flip Phillips.[22] On February 26, 1945 in New York City, the Woody Herman band recorded "Caldonia".[23]

Neal Hefti and Ralph Burns collaborated on the arrangement of "Caldonia" that the Herman band used.[24] "Ralph caught Louis Jordan [singing "Caldonia"] in an act and wrote the opening twelve bars and the eight bar tag."[23] "But the most amazing thing on the record was a soaring eight bar passage by trumpets near the end." These eight measures have wrongly been attributed to a Dizzy Gillespie solo, but were in fact originally written by Neal Hefti.[22] George T. Simon compares Neal Hefti with Dizzy Gillespie in a 1944 review for Metronome magazine saying, "Like Dizzy [...], Hefti has an abundance of good ideas, with which he has aided Ralph Burns immensely [...][.]"[25]

In 1946 the band won Down Beat, Metronome, Billboard and Esquire polls for best band, nominated by their peers in the big band business.[26] Along with the high acclaim for their jazz and blues performances, classical composer Igor Stravinsky wrote the Ebony Concerto, one in a series of compositions commissioned by Woody with solo clarinet, for this band. Woody Herman recorded this work in the Belock Recording Studio at Bayside New York.[27]

Throughout the history of jazz, there have always been musicians who sought to combine it with classical music.[28] Ebony Concerto is one in a long line of music from the twenties to the present day that seeks to do this. Woody Herman said about the Concerto: "[The Ebony Concerto is a] very delicate and a very sad piece."[29] Stravinsky felt that the jazz musicians would have a hard time with the various time signatures. Saxophonist Flip Philips said, "During the rehearsal [...] there was a passage I had to play there and I was playing it soft, and Stravinsky said 'Play it, here I am!' and I blew it louder and he threw me a kiss!"[30] In his own original way Stravinsky noticed the massive amount of smoking at the recording session: "the atmosphere looked like Pernod clouded by water."[31] Ebony Concerto was performed live by the Herman band on March 25, 1946 at Carnegie Hall.[2]

Despite the Carnegie Hall success and other triumphs, Herman was forced to disband the orchestra in 1946 at the height of its success. This was his only financially successful band; he left it to spend more time with his wife and family. During this time, he and his family had just moved into the former Hollywood home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. One reason Herman may have disbanded was his wife Charlotte's growing problems with alcoholism and pill addiction. Charlotte Herman joined Alcoholics Anonymous and gave up everything she was addicted to. Woody said, laughing, "I went to an AA meeting with Charlotte and my old band was sitting there."[32] Many critics cite December 1946 as the actual date the big-band era ended, when seven other bands, in addition to Herman's, dissolved.[33]

The Second Herd and other bands 1947-1987

In 1947, Herman organized the Second Herd. This band was also known as "The Four Brothers Band". This derives from the song recorded December 27, 1947 for Columbia records, "Four Brothers", written by Jimmy Giuffre.[34] "The 'Four Brothers' chart is based on the chord changes of 'Jeepers Creepers', and features the three-tenor, one-baritone saxophone section[...]."[35] The order of the saxophone solos is Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward, and Stan Getz.[35] Some of the notable musicians of this band were also Al Cohn, Gene Ammons, Lou Levy, Oscar Pettiford, Terry Gibbs, and Shelly Manne.[36] Among this band's hits were "Early Autumn," and "The Goof and I". The band was popular enough that they went to Hollywood in the mid-nineteen forties. Herman and his band appear in the movie New Orleans in 1947 with Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong.[37] From the late 1940s to the end of his life, record labels Herman recorded for include RCA,[38] Capitol,[38] MGM[39] and Verve.[40]

Herman's other bands include the Third Herd (1950–1956) and various editions of the New Thundering Herd (1959–1987).[41] In the 1950s, the Third Herd went on a successful European tour.[42] He was known for hiring the best young musicians and using their arrangements.[43] In the early and mid 1960s, Woody gained a wider recognition by fronting one of the most exciting Herds to date that featured future stellar names like drummer Jake Hanna, tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, trombonists Phil Wilson and Henry Southall and trumpeters like Bill Chase, Paul Fontaine and Dusko Goykovitch. By 1968, the Herman library came to be heavily influenced by rock and roll.[44] He was also known to feature brass and woodwind instruments not traditionally associated with jazz, such as the bassoon, oboe or French horn.

In 1974, Woody Herman's "Young Thundering Herd" appeared without their leader for Frank Sinatra's television special The Main Event and subsequent album, The Main Event – Live. Both were recorded mainly on October 13, 1974 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.[45] On November 20, 1976, a reconstituted Woody Herman band played at Carnegie Hall in New York City, celebrating Herman's fortieth anniversary as a bandleader.[46] By the 1980s, Herman had returned to straight-ahead jazz, dropping some of the newer rock and fusion approaches.[47] Woody Herman signed a recording contract with Concord Records around 1980, now called the Concord Music Group.[48] In 1981, John S. Wilson warmly reviewed one of Herman's first Concord recordings "Woody Herman Presents a Concord Jam, Vol. I". Wilson's review says that the recording presents a band that is less frenetic than his bands from the forties to the seventies. Instead it takes the listener back to the relaxed style of Herman's first band of the thirties that recorded for Decca.[49]


Herman continued to perform into the 1980s, after the death of his wife and with his health in decline, chiefly to pay back taxes caused by his business manager's bookkeeping in the 1960s.[50] With the added stress, Herman still kept performing. In a December 5, 1985 review of the band at the Blue Note jazz club for The New York Times, John S. Wilson pointed out: "In a one-hour set, Mr. Herman is able to show off his latest batch of young stars — the baritone saxophonist Mike Brignola, the bassist Bill Moring, the pianist Brad Williams, the trumpeter Ron Stout — and to remind listeners that one of his own basic charms is the dry humor with which he shouts the blues." Wilson also spoke about arrangements by Bill Holman and John Fedchock for special attention. Wilson spoke of the continuing influence of Duke Ellington on the Woody Herman bands from the nineteen forties to the nineteen eighties.[51] Before Woody Herman died in 1987 he delegated most of his duties to leader of the reed section, Frank Tiberi.[3] Tiberi leads the current version of the Woody Herman orchestra.[4] Frank Tiberi said at the time of Herman's death that he would not change the band's repertoire or library.[52]

Woody Herman was buried in a Catholic funeral, November 2, 1987 in West Hollywood, California.[53] He is interred in a crypt outside the west end of Cathedral Mausoleum in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA.

Concord Music Group's website mentions these awards won by the various Woody Herman orchestras: "Voted best swing band in 1945 Down Beat poll; Silver Award by critics in 1946 and 1947 Esquire polls; won Metronome poll, band division, 1946 and 1953; won NARAS Grammy Award for Encore as best big band jazz album of 1963; won NARAS Grammy Award for Giant Steps as best big band jazz album of 1973."[5] Woody Herman was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.[6]


1.^ "1973 Super Bowl VII". Retrieved 21 September 2012.

2.^ Lees, Gene (1997). Leader of the Band. Oxford University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-19-511574-0.

3.^ Lees 5

4.^ Woody Herman changed the spelling of the familial name.

5.^ Visser, Joop (2000). The Woody Herman Story liner notes. Kent, England: Proper. p. 7. ISBN No ISBN.

6.^ Clancy, William D (1995). Woody Herman: Chronicle of the Herds. Music Sales Corp. p. 4. ISBN 0-8256-7244-9.

7.^ Visser 12

8.^ Clancy 15

9.^ Clancy 16

10.^ Clancy 17

11.^ Clancy 20

12.^ Visser 14

13.^ Simon, George T. (1971). Simon Says: The Sights and Sounds of the Swing Era. New York: Galahad Books. p. 73. ISBN 0-88365-001-0.

14.^ Visser 14-15

15.^ "Woody Herman Biography". Net Industries. 2009.

16.^ Visser 17

17.^ Visser 19

18.^ Visser 19-21

19.^ Visser 25

20.^ "Soundtracks For Laura". Internet Movie Data Base. Unknown date.

21.^ Visser 24-25

22.^ Lees 109

23.^ Clancy 68

24.^ McLellan, Dennis (October 15, 2008). "Ex-big band trumpeter, arranger and composer". Los Angeles Times.

25.^ Simon Says 201

26.^ Clancy 90

27.^ Liner notes of the re-release by the Everest Recording Group Inc. in 1959, and released in January 1959 as SDBR 3009. The recording has been released on a CD by Everest EVC 9049.

28.^ "Jazz and Stravinsky". BBC. 2009.

29.^ Clancy 88

30.^ Clancy 89

31.^ "Jazz and Stravinsky"

32.^ Lees 147

33.^ "Finally, in December, 1946, almost a dozen years after Benny Goodman had blown the first signs of life into the big band bubble, that bubble burst with a concerted bang. Inside of just a few weeks, eight of the nation's top bandleaders called it quits-some temporarily, some permanently[...]." George T. Simon The Big Bands Schirmer Books, New York. 1981. p.32 ISBN 0-02-872420-8.

34.^ Clancy 120

35.^ Clancy 121

36.^ [1] Yahoo Woody-Herman biography


38.^ "Woody Herman Biography"

39.^ "MGM Album Discography, Part 1 10-inch LPs". Mike Callahan, David Edwards and Peter Preuss. 2000.

40.^ "Woody Herman 'Songs For Hip Lovers' 1957". Verve Music Group. 1999-2009. 41.^ "Woody Herman". Verve Music Group. 1999-2009.

42.^ Clancy 192

43.^ Clancy 275

44.^ Clancy 271

45.^ Clancy 291

46.^ Clancy 299

47.^ Clancy 312-313

48.^ Wilson, 1981

49.^ Wilson, John S. (March 15, 1981). "Woody Herman Jamming As Old". The New York Times.

50.^ Lees 272

51.^ Wilson, John S. (December 5, 1985). "Jazz: Woody Herman's Band". The New York Times.

52.^ Clancy 397

53.^ Lees 368

Studio Mogul Louis B. Mayer 1957 Home of Peace Cemetery

Louis Burt Mayer (July 12, 1884 – October 29, 1957) born Lazar Meir was a Canadian American film producer. He is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in its golden years. Known always as Louis B. Mayer and often simply as "L.B.," he believed in wholesome entertainment and went to great lengths so that MGM had "more stars than there are in the heavens."

Louis B. Mayer died of leukemia on October 29, 1957. He was interred in the Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles, California. His sister, Ida Mayer Cummings, and brothers Jerry and Rubin are also interred there.

"The Front Page" Actor Adolphe Menjou 1963 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies, appearing in such films as The Sheik, A Woman of Paris, Morocco, and A Star is Born. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.

Early life

Menjou was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a French father and an Irish mother from Galway. He was raised Catholic and attended the Culver Military Academy, graduating from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. Attracted to the vaudeville stage, he made his movie debut in 1916 in The Blue Envelope Mystery. During World War I, he served as a captain in the ambulance service.


Returning from the war, he became a star in such films as The Sheik and The Three Musketeers. When he starred in 1923's A Woman of Paris, he solidified the image of a well-dressed man-about-town. Menjou was famous for wearing fine clothing in many of his films. His career stalled with the coming of talkies, but in 1930, he starred in Morocco, with Marlene Dietrich. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page (1931).

McCarthy era

In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities in its hunt for Communists in Hollywood. Menjou was a leading member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group formed to oppose Communist influence in Hollywood. Other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom he co-starred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.

Because of his political sympathies, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn. Menjou appeared with her in the films Stage Door and State of the Union, which also starred Spencer Tracy. Hepburn was strongly opposed to Americans co-operating with the McCarthy hearings. It was reported by William Mann in his biography of Hepburn, Kate, that during the filming of State of the Union, she and Menjou only spoke to each other when required to in the film script.

Later years

Menjou ended his film career with such roles as French General George Broulard in 1957's Paths of Glory, and as the town curmudgeon in Pollyanna in 1960.

He guest starred as Fitch, with Orson Bean and Sue Randall as John and Ellen Monroe, in an 1961 episode, "The Secret Life of James Thurber," based on the works of the American humorist James Thurber, of the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson.

In 1948, he published his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors. He died on October 29, 1963 of hepatitis. He is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Menjou has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6822 Hollywood Blvd.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Dick Van Dyke Show" Comedian Morey Amsterdam 1996 Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills

Morey Amsterdam (December 14, 1908 – October 28, 1996) was an American television actor and comedian, best known for the role of Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 1960s.

Amsterdam died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California on October 28, 1996 at age 87, and was survived by his wife Kay Patrick and their children, Gregory and Cathy. He was entombed at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

GWTW Actress Hattie McDaniel 1952 Hollywood Forever Cemetery Cenotaph

Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1895 – October 25, 1952) was an American actress and the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939).

McDaniel was also a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer, and television star. Hattie McDaniel was in fact the first black woman to sing on the radio in America. Over the course of her career, McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only about 80. She gained the respect of the African American show business community with her generosity, elegance, and charm.

McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one for her contributions to radio at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for motion pictures at 1719 Vine Street. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.

McDaniel died at age 57 from breast cancer, in the hospital on the grounds of the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, on October 26, 1952. She was survived by her brother, Sam McDaniel, a film actor. Thousands of mourners turned out to remember her life and accomplishments. It was her wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, along with her fellow movie stars, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, and others. McDaniel wrote: "I desire a white casket and a white shroud; white gardenias in my hair and in my hands, together with a white gardenia blanket and a pillow of red roses" I also wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery." The owner, Jules Roth, refused to allow her to be interred there, because they did not take blacks. Her second choice was Rosedale Cemetery, where she lies today.

In 1999, Tyler Cassity, the new owner of the Hollywood Cemetery, who had renamed it Hollywood Forever Cemetery, wanted to right the wrong and have McDaniel interred in the cemetery. Her family did not want to disturb her remains after the passage of so much time, and declined the offer. Hollywood Forever Cemetery instead built a large cenotaph memorial on the lawn overlooking the lake in honor of McDaniel. It is one of the most popular sites for visitors.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"F Troop" Actor Forrest Tucker 1986 Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills

Forrest Tucker (February 12, 1919 – October 25, 1986) was an American actor in both movies and television from the 1940s to the 1980s. Tucker, who stood 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weighed 200 pounds (91 kg), appeared in nearly 100 action films in the 1940s and 1950s.

His most famous role was starring as frontier capitalist Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke in F Troop (1965–1967). Though F Troop lasted only two seasons on ABC, the series has been in constant syndication since, reaching three generations of viewers. (Ironically, two of his Gunsmoke episodes feature Tucker in his cavalry uniform again, as the comic "Sergeant Holly," (1970) who in one scene "marries" and spends a hectic night with Miss Kitty.) He appeared in many television series, including ABC's Channing a drama about college life during the 1963-1964 season. In 1961, he appeared on NBC in Audie Murphy's short-lived western series Whispering Smith.

Following F Troop, Tucker returned to films in character parts (Barquero and Chisum, both 1970) and occasional leads (1975's The Wild McCullochs). On television, Tucker was a frequent guest star, including a total of six appearances on Gunsmoke and the recurring role of Jarvis Castleberry, Flo's estranged father on the 1976-1985 TV series, Alice and its spinoff, Flo. Tucker was a regular on three series after F Troop: Dusty's Trail (1973) with Bob Denver; The Ghost Busters (1975–76) which reunited him with F Troop co-star Larry Storch; and Filthy Rich playing the second Big Guy Beck. (1982–83). He continued to be active on stage as well, starring in the national productions of Plaza Suite, Show Boat, and That Championship Season.

Tucker suffered from severe alcoholism in his final years, but returned to the big screen after an absence of several years, in the Cannon Films action film Thunder Run (1986), playing the hero, trucker Charlie Morrison. His final film appearance was Outtakes, a low-budget imitation of The Groove Tube.

His feature film comeback unfortunately was short-lived. He died from lung cancer and emphysema on October 25, 1986, five months after the film's theatrical release. He was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Tucker married three times: to Sandra Jolley (1919–1986), divorced in 1950, daughter of the character actor I. Stanford Jolley (who also died of emphysema) and the sister of the Academy Award-winning art director Stan Jolley, to Marilyn Johnson on March 28, 1950, and after her death in 1960 to Marilyn Fisk on October 23, 1961. He had a daughter (Pamela "Brooke" Tucker) by his first marriage, and a daughter (Cindy Tucker) and son (Forrest Sean Tucker) by his third.