2018 Sci-fi & Fantasy Artist Deaths

Once again we come to that time of year when we remember & honor those #SciFi & #Fantasy artists that we lost over the past year. 2018 has proven to be a rather deadly year as the deaths began on Jan 1 and continued through to Dec. 30. A total of 25 deaths were recorded, making it a much higher number of deaths than the past 2 years.

While these artists may be gone, their legacies will never be forgotten.

The sci-fi & fantasy franchises impacted by these deaths are listed below. A lot more different franchises were touched this year than in past ones that we have recorded.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Babylon 5
  • Batman
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Bewitched
  • Big
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • D.C. Comics (Batman, The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman)
  • Doctor Who
  • Earthsea
  • Earth Final Conflict
  • Fantasy Island
  • Godzilla
  • Harry Potter
  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • Marvel Comics (Ant-Man, Black Panther, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-man, Thor, X-Men)
  • Mork & Mindy
  • RoboCop
  • Sid & Marty Krofft (Bugaloos, Lidsville, Pufnstuf)
  • Six Million Dollar Man
  • Space 1999
  • Spirited Away
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Total Recall
  • Tron
  • V
  • The Wizard of Oz

Our condolences to all of the families, friends & fans of the following artists that we lost in 2018.

January

Jon Paul Steuer died on Jan. 1 at the age of 33. He was the 1st actor to portray Alexander Rozhenko (Worf’s son) in #StarTrek #TNG. He was also known as the musician Jonny P. Jewels in Portland, OR, where he formed the band Soda Pop Kids.

Jon Paul Steuer

Jon Paul Steuer (1984-2018)

Donnelly Rhodes (1937-2018) died at age 80 on Jan. 8, 2018. He played Dr. Sherman Cottle in #BattlestarGalactica, Grandpa Flynn in #TronLegacy, Father Simon / Mr. Shaw in #Supernatural, Agent Smith in #TheFlash, Milash in #Smallville, Gen. Eiger / Senator in #TheOuterLimits, & much much more. Fans of the sitcom #Soap will remember him as Dutch Leitner.

Donnelly Rhodes

Donnelly Rhodes (1937-2018)

Acclaimed #SciFi & #Fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) has died at the age of 88 on Jan. 23, 2018. She wrote more than 20 novels (including her acclaimed novel “The Left Hand of Darkness” & the #Earthsea series), as well as a dozen books of poetry, over 100 short stories (collected in multiple volumes), seven collections of essays, 13 books for children & five volumes of translation, including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by the Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. He works also include a guide for writers.

Her novels were translated into more than 40 languages and often delved into themes of sorcery & dragons, or spaceships & planetary conflict. Her novels include the following:

From the Earthsea series:

  • “A Wizard of Earthsea”, 1968 (Lewis Caroll Shelf Award list in 1979)
  • “The Tombs of Atuan”, 1971 (Newbery Silver Medal Award)
  • “The Farthest Shore”, 1972 (National Book Award)
  • “Tehanu: the Last Book of Earthsea”, 1990 (Nebula Award)
  • “Tales from Earthsea”, 2001
  • “The Other Wind”, 2001 (World Fantasy Award)

From the Hainish science fiction series:

  • “Rocannons World”, 1966
  • “Planet of Exile”, 1966
  • “City of Illusions”, 1967
  • “The Left Hand of Darkness”, 1969 (Hugo Award, Nebula Award)
  • “The Dispossessed”, 1974 (Nebula Award)
  • “The Word for World is Forest”, 1976 (Hugo Award)
  • “Four Ways to Forgiveness”, 1995
  • “The Telling”, 2000

Miscellaneous:

  • “The Lathe of Heaven”, 1971
  • “The Winds of Twelve Quarters”, 1975
  • “Orsinian Tales”, 1976
  • “The Eye of the Heron”, 1978
  • “The Beginning Place”, 1980
  • “The Compass Rose”, 1982
  • “Always Coming Home”, 1985
  • “Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand”, 1991
  • “Animals of the Western Shore”, 2004-2007 (Nebula Award)
  • “Lavinia”, 2008

 

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

February

Actor Mickey Jones died on Feb. 7, 2018 at the age of 76. He played Chris Farber in #V, Donzo in #Galactica1980, trucker in #Starman, burly miner in #TotalRecall, & more.

Mickey Jones

Mickey Jones (1941-2018)

Actor Reg E. Cathey died on Feb. 9, 2018 at age 59. He played Morag in #StarTrek #TNG, Dr. Franklin Storm in #FantasticFour (2015), & much more.

Reg E. Cathey

Reg E. Cathey (1958-2018)

March

David Ogden Stiers (1942-2018) died at age 75 on Mar. 3, 2018. He played Timicin in #StarTrek #TNG, Oberoth in #StargateAtlantis, Kamaji (voice, English version) in #SpiritedAway, the announcer (voice) in #THX1138, & much more, including a lot more voice work. He also played the character Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester, III in the long-running sitcom #MASH.

David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers (1942-2018)

Brilliant physicist & cosmologist Sir Stephen Hawking (Jan. 8, 1942 – Mar. 14, 2018) passed away at the age of 76. He played himself in #StarTrek #TNG, #BigBangTheory & more.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

Debbie Lee Carrington (1959-2018) died on March 24, 2018 at the age of 58. She played Romba Ewok in “#StarWars VI: #ReturnOfTheJedi”, a drone in #InvadersFromMars, Thumbelina in #TotalRecall, Emperor Penguin in #BatmanReturns, alien father in #MenInBlack, a creature in #BuffyTheVampireSlayer, & much more.

Debbie Lee Carrington

Debbie Lee Carrington (1959-2018)

April

Actor Tim O’Connor died on April 5, 2018 at the age of 90. He played Dr. Elias Huer in #BuckRogersInThe25thCentury, Ambassador Briam in #StarTrek #TNG, Andros / Col. Robert Elliot in #WonderWoman, Kogen in #Sssssss, Paul Tanner / voice in enemy helmet / Maj. Clint Anderson in #TheOuterLimits, Col. Sloane in #TheTwilightZone, & more.

Tim O'Conner

Tim O’Conner (1927-2018)

Verne Troyer died on April 21, 2018 at the age of 49. While he played Griphook in “#HarryPotter and the #SorcerorsStone“, he will likely be mostly remembered for playing Mini-Me in the #AustinPowers films.

Verne Troyer

Verne Troyer (1969-2018)

May

Actress Margot Kidder died at the age of 69 on May 13, 2018. She played Lois Lane in #Superman & appeared in #EarthFinalConflict, #Smallville & much more.

Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder (1948-2018)

Actor Jerry Maren has died at 98 on May 24, 2018. He was the world’s last living Munchkin from #TheWizardOfOz, having played a member of the Lollipop Guild (the green one). He also played a gremlin in #Bewitched, a child ape in #PlanetOfTheApes, Boris / Rah-Rah in #Lidsville, & had uncredited roles in #Tron, #Spaceballs; & much more.

Jerry Maren

Jerry Maren (1920-2018)

June

#ScienceFiction author Harlan Ellison died on June 28, 2018 at the age of 84. He wrote the Emmy Award-winning #StarTrek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”. He was also a creative consultant on #Babylon5 and wrote 2 of its episodes, as well as #TheTwilightZone TV series and #TheSixthSense TV series. (He also wrote several Twilight Zone episodes.) He also created the short-lived TV series #TheStarlost under the name “Cordwainer Bird” and wrote one of its episodes. He also wrote several comic book issues of #Daredevil along with an issue of Detective Comics, and contributed ideas to several #Avengers stories written by Roy Thomas. He also curated Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor, a comic book anthology series which adapted his short stories.

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

Steve Ditko, the comic-book writer & illustrator who co-created #SpiderMan with Stan Lee in 1961, died at age 90 at the end of June, 2018. He was born on Nov. 2, 1927. Spider-Man’s look — the costume, the web-shooters, the red and blue design — all came from Ditko. Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy No. 15. and was an unexpected hit, which lead to the spin-off The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko also helped create such Spider-Man characters as Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the Lizard and Green Goblin.

In 1963, Ditko created Doctor Strange, who debuted in Strange Tales No. 110. Ditko continued on that series until issue No. 146 in 1966.

After a dispute with Stan Lee in 1967, Ditko left Marvel Comics and worked for DC Comics and several others before returning to Marvel in 1979. where he worked on Machine Man and the Micronauts. Among his last creations was Squirrel Girl in 1992.

During his period away from Marvel, Ditko created Mr. A in 1967. He also created The Question, Hawk and Dove and the Creeper for DC Comics.

Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko (1927-2018)

August

Actor Fredd Wayne died at the age of 93. He played Benjamin Franklin in #Bewitched; Ben Franklin in #Voyagers; J.J. MacConnell in #WonderWoman (TV series); Paul Malloy / Barney Kamener in #TheTwilightZone; & more.

Fredd Wayne

Fredd Wayne (1924-2018)

September

Actor Bill Daily died on Sept. 4, 2018 at the age of 91. He will likely be best remembered for his portrayal of Major Roger Healy in the 1960’s fantasy sitcom #IDreamOfJeannie, as well as his for being in 140 episodes of the “The Bob Newhart Show”.

Bill Daily

Bill Daily (1927-2018)

Legendary actor Burt Reynolds died at the age of 82 on Sept. 6, 2018. Born Feb. 11, 1936, most of his work was not in #SciFi or #fantasy, but he did play Rocky Rhodes in an episode of #TheTwilightZone, and Mentor in two #UniversalSoldier TV movies.

Burt Reynolds also turned down the opportunity to portray Han Solo in #StarWars: the role was offered to him before Harrison Ford. While Burt Reynolds said later that he regretted not taking the role, it is interesting to speculate how different the “Star Wars” franchise would be had he been part of it.

We will, however, acknowledge some of his other works for which he will likely always be remembered:

  • Quint in “Gunsmoke” (1962-1065).
  • Lewis in “Deliverance” (1972).
  • Paul Crewe in “The Longest Yard” (1974).
  • The Bandit in “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977).
  • J. J. McClure in “Cannonball Run” (1981).
  • Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (1982).
Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds (1936-2018)

Actress Zienia Merton died on Sept. 14, 2018 at the age of 72. She played Sandra Benes in #Space1999, Ping-Cho in #DoctorWho & more, a registrar in #TheSarahJaneAdventures, a teacher in #Dinotopia, and much more.

Zienia Merton

Zienia Merton (1945-2018)

October

Actress Celeste Yarnall died at the age of 74. She played Yeoman Martha Landon in #StarTrek #TOS, a student nurse in #Bewitched, Miss Devine in #TheWildWildWest, & more.

Celeste Yarnall

Celeste Yarnall (1944-2018)

November

Actor Douglas Rain died on Nov. 12, 2018 at the age of 90. He voiced the computer HAL-9000 in #2001ASpaceOdyssey, and later reprised the role in #2010TheYearWeMadeContact. He also voiced several robot butlers & the evil computer in the sci-fi comedy #Sleeper, & more.

Douglas Rain

Douglas Rain (1928-2018)

#MarvelComics legend Stan Lee died on Nov. 12, 2018 at the age of 95. In addition to the many cameo appearances he in Marvel films, he the co-created  a significant number of Marvel characters, including:

  • #BlackPanther
  • #SpiderMan
  • #XMen
  • #Thor (The Mighty Thor)
  • #IronMan
  • #FantasticFour
  • #IncredibleHulk
  • #Daredevil
  • #AntMan
  • #DoctorStrange
  • And many more.

His huge impact on the worlds of science fiction, fantasy & comic books will never be forgotten.

Stan Lee

Stan Lee (1922-2018)

December

Actor Ken Berry died on Dec. 1, 2018 at the age of 85. He played 7 different characters in 7 episodes of #FantasyIsland, Frank in #TheCatFromOuterSpace, and much more, including numerous roles in multiple TV sitcoms.

Ken Berry

Ken Berry (1933-2018)

Actress & director Penny Marshall died on Dec. 17, 2018. She played Laverne DeFazio in #MorkAndMindy, and directed the movie #Big, among her many accomplishments.

Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall (1943-2018)

Composer & lyricist Norman Gimbel died on Dec. 28, 2018 at the age of 91. He composed music & song lyrics used in a significant number of films & TV series, including (but not limited to) “V for Vendetta”, #Logan, #WonderWoman (TV series), #Pufnstuf, #DarkCity, #TheLastAmericanHero, #TheBugaloos, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, and much more. Many of his credits are for the use of the song “The Girl from Ipanema”, for which Gimbel wrote the English lyrics. The song has been used in the following films & TV series (but not limited to): #PacificRimUprising, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, #MyLittlePony, #TheBigBangTheory, #TheInvasion, #TheCatInTheHat, #IDreamOfJeannie, and more.

Norman Gimbel

Norman Gimbel (1927-2018)

Actress Dame June Whitfield has died at the age of 93. While mostly a comedic actress, she appeared in 2 episodes of #DoctorWho as Minnie Hooper; but she’ll likely be remembered primarily for portraying the mother of Edina Monsoon in the British TV sitcom #AbsolutelyFabulous (#AbFab).

June Whitfield

June Whitfield (1925-2018)

 

RIP Dame June Whitfield

#RIP: actress Dame June Whitfield has died at the age of 93. While mostly a comedic actress, she appeared in 2 episodes of #DoctorWho as Minnie Hooper; but she’ll likely be remembered primarily for portraying the mother of Edina Monsoon in the British TV sitcom #AbsolutelyFabulous (#AbFab).

Our condolences to her family, friends and fans. May she rest in peace.

June Whitfield

June Whitfield (1925-2018)

References

RIP Norman Gimbel

#RIP: the Oscar and Grammy-winning composer & lyricist Norman Gimbel has died at the age of 91 on Dec. 28, 2018. He composed music & song lyrics used in a significant number of films & TV series, including (but not limited to) “V for Vendetta”, #Logan, #WonderWoman (TV series), #Pufnstuf, #DarkCity, #TheLastAmericanHero, #TheBugaloos, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, and much more. Many of his credits are for the use of the song “The Girl from Ipanema”, for which Gimbel wrote the English lyrics. The song has been used in the following films & TV series (but not limited to): #PacificRimUprising, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, #MyLittlePony, #TheBigBangTheory, #TheInvasion, #TheCatInTheHat, #IDreamOfJeannie, and more.

Our condolences to his family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace.

Norman Gimbel

Norman Gimbel (1927-2018)

Video of his song “The Girl from Ipanema”:

Video of the “Wonder Woman” theme song:

Video of the “Pufnstuf” theme song:

Video of “The Bugaloos” theme song:

References

“Star Wars Resistance”: Is it Too Lighthearted, Comedic and Juvenile?

With “Star Wars Resistance” now on a holiday hiatus, let’s take a look at how well this new #StarWars animated series is doing as compared with its highly successful and well-loved predecessors: #TheCloneWars and #Rebels. For many, #Resistance is a departure from what many longtime franchise fans expected. For comparison, let’s recap its animated predecessors.

  • “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (which aired from 2008-2013 on the Cartoon Network, then had a shortened sixth season on Netflix) was created by George Lucas with supervising director Dave Filoni. The series focused on primarily upon Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka Tano, various clone troopers, other Jedi, Separatists, etc. during the Clone War between movies II and III. The series featured many battles and encounters between the Jedi and various Sith and other dark Force users.
  • “Star Wars Rebels” (which aired from 2014-2018 on the DisneyXD network) was co-created by Dave Filoni, who was also an executive producer until season 3 when he was promoted to a higher position within LucasFilm Animation. This series began 15 years after the end of the Clone War and start of the Galactic Empire and featured a brand new set of characters to the “Star Wars” franchise: Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus (a former Jedi), Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren (a Mandalorian), Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios and their older droid known as Chopper. The group begins to fight the Empire and helps to create the Rebel Alliance.

While the animation styles for “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” were different, both used high-quality animation. Both series also featured a lot of elements common to the “Star Wars” franchise: fighting with light sabers, space battles, fighting the Sith, the more scummy elements, etc. Thus, both series attracted both children and adults viewers alike.

Both “The Clone Wars and “Rebels” have high ratings from viewers:

  • “The Clone Wars”: 8.1 out of 10 (over 38,000 votes) on IMDb; 94% Tomatometer with 89% audience score on RottenTomatoes.
  • “Rebels”: 8.0 out of 10 (over 21,000 votes) on IMDb; 100% TomatoMeter with 83% audience score on RottenTomatoes.

Now let’s look at “Star Wars Resistance” and what makes it so different:

  • “Star Wars Resistance” (which began airing in 2018 on the DisneyXD network) was created solely by Dave Filoni. The series takes place decades after the events of “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi” and 6 months before the events of “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” occur. Thus, there is no current war. Part of the galaxy is governed by the New Republic, and part of it under the control of the First Order. Cameron Poe (who is not a regular character) assigns a young pilot named Kazuda Xiono to spy on possible First Order sympathizers. on the independent refueling station named Colossus on the outer rim planet of Castilon. Kazuda is young (maybe early 20’s), but acts more like a teenager. He spends much of his time with mechanics & pilots working on their own ships.

Given that this animated series is supposed to occur only 6 months before the events of “Star Wars VII”, its overall lightheartedness and tendency towards comic relief is inconsistent with the seriousness and grave threat that is present at the beginning of “Star Wars VII”. This lightheartedness & overuse of comic relief has given the impression that the series is geared towards a very young audience. It’s use of Japanese-style animation supports this impression. Additionally, the apparent lack of adults discussing this series on social media (unlike when its predecessors were airing) also suggests that the series has low appeal to adults who are long-time fans of the franchise.

Taking a look at the show’s ratings may give more clues:

  • “Resistance”: 4.7 out of 10 (over 1400 votes) on IMDb; 92% TomatoMeter and 77% audience score on RottenTomatoes.

While the scores on RottenTomatoes are not significantly lower for “Resistance” as compared with “The Clones Wars” and “Rebels”, its IMDb rating is and the total number of voters is also significantly low. This low number of voters on IMDb implies fewer adults watching the series than its predecessors.

This reduced viewership by adults can be demonstrated by the average number of viewers watching the first season episodes of “Resistance”: approximately 400,000 viewers per episode. By comparison, “Rebels” had an average number of 825,000 viewers per episode for its first season, and “The Clone Wars” had an average number of 2.75 million viewers per episode for its first season. Thus, the first season of “Resistance” has 48.5% of the viewers that “Rebels” had and only 14.5% of the viewers that “The Clone Wars” had.

Thus, it does seem that the more lighthearted, comedic and juvenile approach that has been applied to “Star Wars Resistance” as compared with its predecessors has not benefitted the series. Had the series applied the same seriousness as its predecessors, it would probably have more viewers and a higher rating on IMDb. Only time will tell how long this series will last.

Star Wars Rebels

References

“Mortal Engines” is a Box Office Failure, but “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a Huge Hit

While the dystopian #SciFi film #MortalEngines was a box office failure on its opening weekend (earning disastrous $7.5 million domestically), the animated “#SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse” earned the largest December animated opening with $35.4 million at the box office. Also, while “Mortal Engines” earned more outside of the U.S., its total box office take for opening weekend globally was only $42 million. This is a far cry from the film’s budget of $100 million, which is now what its estimated loss is going to be.

“This is a true Christmas disaster and a lump of coal for Universal,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “They took a big swing, and they struck out.”

The question is, why did “Mortal Engines” do so poorly? In spite of the fact that the CGI spectacle was co-written and co-produced by Peter Jackson (who directed all of the highly successful #LordOfTheRings and #Hobbit films), the film earned a very poor 27% Tomatometer score by film critics from #RottenTomatoes, and audience ratings were equally poor at 58%. Audience ratings on IMDb are also rather mediocre at 6.5.

“Mortal Engines” has been a marketing challenge for its distributor, Universal, and it’s based on author Philip Reeve’s book series that’s not that widely known in the U.S. With the exception of Hugo Weaving, the movie lacks any major movie stars and has a plot that’s difficult to convey in a television spot or a poster. “Mortal Engines” focuses on “predator cities,” which are mobile urban centers on wheels that roam around the planet preying on smaller cities, robbing them of resources in order to sustain themselves. This hard-to-comprehend plot was one reason several studios (including Warner Bros. and Fox) passed on the project.

On the flip side, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the 13th time this year that a film based on a Marvel property has been top at the box office. The critically-acclaimed animated film received a 97% Tomatometer score from film critics on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as an audience rating of 95%. Similarly, the film has a rating of 8.8 on IMDb.

Mortal Engines Spider-Man

References

Theme & Score for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Disqualified from Oscar Consideration

Though “#Solo: A #StarWars Story” did not do well at the box office earlier this year, many fans had hoped that it could get some recognition from the #AcademyAwards. Unfortunately, that is not going to be case.

The Academy’s deadline for submissions to be considered for Best Original Song and Best Original Score was November 15, 2018; and there was no submission for “Solo” for either of these categories was received before the deadline.

Variety described the disqualification as follows:

Solo: A Star Wars Story,” composed by John Powell with themes by John Williams, was nixed by the board as having been entered too late for the competition (deadline was Nov. 15).

References

No New “Doctor Who” in 2019; Show on Hiatus until 2020

The #BBC announced several hours ago that the very popular #DoctorWho TV series will not have a new season in 2019. Instead, it won’t return until 2020. The apparent reason for this was reported by Lizo Mzimba, the BBC’s entertainment correspondent, who said that while there was “a recognition that fans might want a series every single year, Doctor Who has almost uniquely complex filming requirements and a lengthy post-production period”.

Also, instead of a Christmas special as has been done since the show returned in 2005, a New Years Day show will be broadcast instead.

Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor Who

References