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Bowing Out

This year the world mourned for such venerated artists as AudreyHepburn and Dizzy Gillespie, Lillian Gish and Federico Fellini,Rudolf Nureyev and Helen Hayes. And with the deaths of RiverPhoenix and Brandon Lee, there was also grief for those far tooyoung to have given their final performances.

STELLA ADLER (b. 1901) Mentor of Method acting to twogenerations of stagestruck youth, Adler coached Marlon Brando,Warren Beatty, Ellen Burstyn, Robert De Niro, and Harvey Keitelin her New York school. ”Life is boring. The weather is boring,”she once advised a student. ”Actors must not be boring.”

DON AMECHE (b. 1908) The actor reached out and touchedmoviegoers in The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939) and wasa delightful farceur in Midnight (1939) and Heaven Can Wait(1943). When the film roles vanished, Ameche switched to TV andBroadway before finding new recognition in Trading Places (1983)and Cocoon (1985), for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

MARIAN ANDERSON (b. 1902) A contralto whose career had as muchimpact on the civil fights movement as on classical music,Anderson became the first African-American to perform at theWhite House (in 1939) as well as the first to appear as asoloist at the Metropolitan Opera (in 1955). Arturo Toscaniniconsidered Anderson’s voice ”such as one hears in a hundredyears.”

EMILE ARDOLINO (b. 1943) The director brought his passion fordance to the screen in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Sister Act(1992) as well as the Oscar-winning 1983 documentary about danceteacher Jacques d’Amboise, He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’. Justout are his George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, released daysbefore his death last month, and Gypsy, which aired on CBS onDec. 12.

BILL BIXBY (b. 1934) ”I’ve tried to give my characters a certaindignity,” Bixby said, and he did, endearing himself to TVviewers with his creations’ sensitive reactions to extraordinarycircumstances. He took in Ray Walston’s alien in My FavoriteMartian (1963-66), raised a 6-year-old in The Courtship ofEddie’s Father (1969-72), and coped with the beast inside in TheIncredible Hulk (1978-82). Most recently, he directed the NBCseries Blossom.

ANTHONY BURGESS (b. 1917) Composer and librettist, critic andessayist, the author of some 50 novels and dozens of nonfictionworks, Burgess is best known for 1962’s A Clockwork Orange – thefuturistic tale of teenage sadists that Stanley Kubrick put onfilm. Evelyn Waugh, whose work Burgess considered a model, oncesaid, ”He was bewilderingly, terrifyingly knowledgeable, andwasn’t shy of showing it, either.”

RAYMOND BURR (b. 1917) The heavyset actor appeared in about 90movies (including Hitchcock’s Rear Window, as the murderer)before becoming permanently identified as TV’s Perry Mason(1957-66). After a successful detour as Det. Robert Ironside,Burr returned as Mason in 1976, courting the role through ashort-lived new series and a decade-long string of TV movies.

SAMMY CAHN (b. 1913) One of the last great Tin Pan Alleysongwriters, Cahn wrote such hits as ”Three Coins in theFountain,” ”High Hopes,” and ”Call Me Irresponsible.” Proud ofhis own professionalism, he once said, ”I don’t need to beinspired. I just have to be hired.”

PIERRE CULLIFORD (b. 1928) The true Papa Smurf, the Belgianartist created the comic-strip clan of blue forest gnomes in1957 under the pen name Peyo. The American TV series rose to thetop of the Saturday cartoon lineup in 1981 and lasted nineyears. Today, kids overseas still devour Culliford’s books onthe Smurfs, who are known in their native country as Schtroumpfs.

AGNES DE MILLE (b. 1905) The grande dame of Americanchoreography, de Mille was equally at home in the worlds ofballet and Broadway. Her 1942 Rodeo is deemed the first greatAmerican ballet; she followed it with brilliant work forOklahoma!, Brigadoon, and Carousel. The author of 12 books, deMille said of dance and her determination to drive it forward,”Partly it’s greed, but mainly it’s curiosity.”

THOMAS A. DORSEY (b. 1899) Known as the father of gospel music,Dorsey composed more than a thousand songs that mixed piety withthe down-and-dirty sound of the blues. At age 12 he was playingpiano in a Georgia bordello. After his first wife and baby diedin 1931, he wrote ”Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” which securedits place in history and hearts when Mahalia Jackson sang thehymn at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

BILLY ECKSTINE (b. 1914) With a jacket slung over one shoulderand his honey-rich baritone voice, Mr. B defined cool for anyonewho listened to ”Fools Rush In.” After shining in Earl Hines’orchestra in the early ’40s, Eckstine fronted his own band,which over time included Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, ArtBlakey, and Sarah Vaughan. And while Hollywood promised to makehim ”the black Sinatra,” he declined all movie offers because hefound the parts demeaning.

FEDERICO FELLINI (b. 1920) The Italian director of suchcinematic landmarks as La Strada (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960), 81/2 (1963), and Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Fellini conjured auniverse in which the comic, tragic, and grotesque werefascinatingly mingled. He was largely responsible for making theforeign film an American fetish in the ’60s, and though out offashion by the ’80s, the five-time Oscar winner never lost hiscreative impulse. ”When I am not making movies I feel I am notalive,” he once said, later adding, ”Making movies is myvacation.”

DIZZY GILLESPIE (b. 1917) With his signature upswept trumpet andcartoonishly puffed-out cheeks, John Birks Gillespie was themost likable of jazzmen, as well as one of music’s signalrevolutionaries. Unchaining jazz from the constraints of melody,the Diz invented bebop in the ’40s with saxophonist CharlieParker, penning new standards like ”A Night in Tunisia” and”Salt Peanuts.” In later years he fused Afro-Cuban rhythms withbop and again changed American tastes.

LILIAN GISH (b. 1896) The actress gave startling, timelessperformances in such silent films as Broken Blossoms (1919) andThe Wind (1928) – and later, in The Night of the Hunter (1955),in which she matched Robert Mitchum’s devilish preacher in abattle of wills. Off screen, Gish championed film preservation.”I never approved of talkies,” she said. ”[Silent] movies werewell on their way to developing an entirely new art form. It wasnot just pantomime, but something wonderfully expressive.”

WILLIAM GOLDING (b. 1911) The 1983 Nobel laureate never wroteanother work as successful as his 1954 debut, Lord of the Flies,but like that chilling allegory about marooned schoolboys whorevert to brutality, his subsequent 11 novels explored humannature’s darker corners. ”Man produces evil,” Golding said, ”asa bee produces honey.”

STEWART GRANGER (b. 1913) There were ”50 girls for every man,and it seemed the good life,” Granger said of his career as aHollywood swashbuckler. Born James Stewart but denied the stagename by that other guy, Granger made his mark in more than 60films, including Scaramouche, The Prisoner of Zenda, and RogerCorman’s The Secret Invasion.

FRED GWYNNE (b. 1926) In 1978 The New York Times dubbed him ”TheKing of Curmudgeons” for his Broadway characters. Still, therewas something winning about Gwynne, with his 6’5” frame andextra-square jaw – an ideal physique for his most famous role, asHerman Munster, the bewildered Frankenstein of TV’s The Munsters.

HELEN HAYES (b. 1900) The First Lady of the American Theater,she won fame for her portrayals of regal women – most notablyEngland’s queen in Victoria Regina, a part that sped her fromgirlhood to widowhood in two hours. In her 1990 memoirs, thediminutive Tony, Oscar, and Emmy winner was modest about her80-year career: ”I seem always to have reminded people ofsomeone in their family. Perhaps I am just the triumph of PlainJane.”

AUDREY HEPBURN (b. 1929) She won an Oscar playing a princess inRoman Holiday, and that’s just how Hollywood saw her. Hepburn’spersonality was impossible to separate from those of herspirited characters – Holly Golightly, Gigi, Eliza Doolittle inMy Fair Lady. In recent years she acted rarely, devoting herselfto UNICEF. ”Here is class,” director Billy Wilder said. ”Thereis nobody else.”

JOHN HERSEY (b. 1914) The outspoken, incisive journalist andnovelist believed writing was a moral pursuit. In 1945, he won aPulitzer Prize for fiction for A Bell for Adano, his unsanitizedportrayal of U.S. troops occupying an Italian village duringWorld War II. That same year his reporting in Hiroshima shockedand enlightened Americans about the horrors of atomic attack.

RICHARD JORDAN (b. 1937) A jack-of-all-theatrical-trades, Jordanwrote and directed plays and appeared on stage and in scores ofmovies, including Woody Allen’s Interiors and The Hunt for RedOctober. Asked why he chose to be an actor, Jordan – whose mostrecent project was starring in Gettysburg – replied, ”Aspreposterous as it sounds, I wanted to be an artist.”

RUBY KEELER (b. 1909) As the plucky ingenue of ’30s moviemusicals, the actress tapped and sang her way to stardom in 42ndStreet, Footlight Parade, and Gold Diggers of 1933, then retiredfor three decades, returning only to play the title role onBroadway in 1971’s No, No, Nanette. ”I couldn’t act,” theunpretentious Keeler once said. ”I had that terrible singingvoice, and now I can see I wasn’t the greatest tap dancer,either.”

ALBERT KING (b. 1923) A blues giant, King wrung a dark Southernsound full of wailing bends from his guitar, a sound thatpowerfully influenced Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, and EricClapton (who copied King’s ”Personal Messenger” solo note fornote on ”Strange Brew”). ”Every time you hear a rock guitarplayer,” said the Memphis Horns’ Wayne Jackson, ”he’s playingAlbert King licks.”

BRANDON LEE (b. 1965) Heir apparent to his father’s action-starmantle, Bruce Lee’s son was supposed to make his breakthrough inThe Crow, a dark fantasy based on a comic book. But only daysbefore filming was completed, Lee was killed by an accidentalbullet fired from a stunt gun, leaving his family in mourningonce again.

MYRNA LOY (b. 1905) For her witty banter with William Powell inThe Thin Man, she was dubbed ”the perfect wife” in the ’30s, arole she played to compassionate perfection in The Best Years ofOur Lives (1946). In 1991 she was presented with an honoraryOscar as a star who ”could communicate more with a delicatelyraised eyebrow than most performers can with a raised voice.”

SPUDS MACKENZIE (b. 1983) Born Honey Tree Evil Eye (and a girl!)to a suburban Chicago family, the bull terrier unleashed a mediablitz following the 1987 Super Bowl but Anheuser-Busch’s”Original Party Animal” soon ended up in the doghouse throughthe efforts of MADD, SADD, and Sen. Strom Thurmond.

JOSEPH L. MANKIEWICZ (b. 1909) A Tinseltown Renaissance man,Mankiewicz wrote and directed some of the cinema’s mostsophisticated dialogue for A Letter to Three Wives (1949), AllAbout Eve (1950), and People Will Talk (1951), which togetherwon him four Oscars. Also a successful producer, he summed uphis career with typical cynical wit: ”I think it can be saidfairly that I’ve been in on the beginning, rise, peak, collapse,and end of the talking picture.”

SPANKY MCFARLAND (b. 1928) Discovered at age 3 by Hal Roach,George ”Spanky” McFarland appeared in 95 Our Gang shorts,trading wisdom with Carl ”Alfalfa” Switzer. He quit showbiz at16 in favor of business, selling TV sets for Philco, and viewedhis Our Gang years as a mixed blessing. ”I wouldn’t take amillion dollars for the experience,” he said, ”and I wouldn’ttake a penny to do it again.”

CARLOS MONTOYA (b. 1903) The Spanish-born guitarist and grandsonof gypsies first toured the U.S. during the Spanish Civil War,romancing listeners with virtuosic improvisations that turnedflamenco – once regarded as mere dance accompaniment – into asuccess on its own.

GARRY MOORE (b. 1915) He got Boris Karloff to admit he wasafraid of mice, but that was only one of Moore’s successes ashost of The Garry Moore Show, I’ve Got a Secret, and To Tell theTruth over more than two decades. His variety and game showshelped launch the careers of such comedians as Carol Burnett andJonathan Winters.

RUDOLF NUREYEV (b. 1938) Fiery on stage and off, this excitingdancer and exacting choreographer was said to drop from his gripthose dancing partners who disappointed him. ”The only critic isa full house,” he once said, and in October 1992, at his lastpublic appearance – for his Paris Opera Ballet production of LaBayadere – he got an eloquent review: a 10-minute standing ovation.

RIVER PHOENIX (b. 1970) The star of Stand by Me, Sneakers, andMy Own Private Idaho proved himself a remarkable young actor,but a lethal combination of drugs cut short his life. Afterdirecting him in 1988’s Running on Empty, Sidney Lumet said,”He’s so talented I don’t know where he’s going to go. The worldis open to him.”

VINCENT PRICE (b. 1911) As the cult star of such Grand Guignolfare as House on Haunted Hill (1959), The House of Usher (1960),and Theatre of Blood (1973), Price always projected adelightful, urbane charm, no matter how heinous his villains. ”Idon’t play monsters,” he said, ”I play men besieged by fate andout for revenge.”

RAY SHARKEY (b. 1953) ”I stepped on a lot of friends to getahead,” Sharkey once said. ”I just kept saying, ‘Hey, I’m anactor, I can get away with it.”’ And quite an actor hewas – notably, as mobster Sonny Steelgrave on TV’s Wiseguy – untilhis life was derailed by drugs and alcohol.

CONWAY TWITTY (b. 1933) After starting out in rock & roll withhis 1958 hit, ”It’s Only Make Believe,” Twitty became a countryphenom, scoring more than 40 No. 1 hits with his emotionaldelivery and sensual croon. His secret: ”I say things that womenwant to hear – things that men want to say but have troublesaying.”

HERVE VILLECHAIZE (b. 1943) Despite being 3’11” and in chronicill health, which led him to suicide, Villechaize rose tomemorable stature in American pop culture. He made his mark in1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun, then achieved cult status in1978 as Ricardo Montalban’s sidekick, Tattoo, whose trademarkline, ”The plane, the plane,” opened TV’s Fantasy Island.

FRANK ZAPPA (b. 1940) ”On the fringe is where my type ofentertainment lies,” claimed the musical satirist, yet he wasinfluential across the pop spectrum. A true Mother of Invention,Zappa created fusions of rock, jazz, and opera that sometimesblew up in his face, but he always bounced back. And in 1985, inthe war over rock lyrics, he became a respected spokesmanagainst censorship.

WINNER OF THE YEAR

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WINNER OF THE YEAR

Toni Morrison (Beloved, Song of Solomon, Jazz), who became thefirst African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize forliterature.

LOSER OF THE YEAR

Mafia Cookbook author Joseph ”Joe Dogs” Iannuzzi, who quit thefederal Witness Protection Program to plug the book on Letterman,only to be struck from the lineup at the last minute.

BEST REBUTTAL

First novelist Scott Smith (A Simple Plan) got hammered by ahandful of critics, but Stephen King jumped to his defense,lambasting the reviewers on Good Morning America.

REVENGE OF THE NERD AWARD

”Writing a book just might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,besides trying to get laid in college.” – Howard Stern, Private Parts

EAGER TO SLEAZE

Christopher Andersen (Jagger Unauthorized), who revealed that MickJagger hates the smell of Jerry Hall’s breast milk, and RandallRiese (Her Name Is Barbra), who noted that Barbra Streisand wasa teenage shoplifter.

MOST EUPHEMISTIC DEDICATION

”This book is for any woman who has steadfastly resisted thefrequent urge to feloniously resolve her relationship with ourhormonally challenged counterparts.” – Jennifer Berman, Why Dogs Are Better Than Men

SEXIEST BOOK JACKET ALIVE

Prince Charming: The John F. Kennedy Jr. StoryDutton relegated the book’s title to the back cover so itwouldn’t mar John-John’s mug on the front.