Actors, Writers and Others We Lost in 2019

Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr.

Every year we lose people, sometimes ourselves, here, there and everywhere. Trying to count up and track the losses is a sorry task but also an uplifting one. You know you will leave people out, for reasons of taste or carelessness, and include others just because. In any event, it makes you miss people in every choice and word.

But here are some, nonetheless.

For instance, because we like them a lot, here are some actors, because they never really leave you, they can be found anytime at the usual gathering place: TCM, YouTube, AMC and so on, forever.

“These our actors.” Shakespeare or Prospero in “Twelfth Night” dubbed them all spirits, “melted into air, into thin air.” Well, maybe not quite. In 2019, we lost a number of memorable actors, the sum of their parts departed, but we retain their voices, the fragments recalled and images remembered.

DORIS DAY — America’s sweetheart before there was one, balancing appealing but wholesome sexiness with charm, humor, a sunshine quality that hid dark parts of her life. A great singer in the Big Band era — “Que Sera,” “Once I Had a Secret Love” — she starred in “Calamity Jane,” “On Moonlight Bay,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “Pillow Talk” and “Love Me or Leave Me.”

PEGGY LIPTON — The mod in “Mod Squad” on television, cool as television allowed.

PETER MAYHEW — He was Chewbacca, just in time as the last “Star Wars” installment rolls across the world.

CAROL CHANNING — She was a force, uniquely herself, in person and on screen and most decidedly onstage in “Hello, Dolly!” and, before Marilyn, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” We saw her as Dolly and in “Legends” with Mary Martin. The title was absolutely right.

DIAHANN CARROLL — She literally defied category as an African American actress, playing a single working mom in the series “Julia” and in “Claudine,” portraying genuineness on a big screen and a small one, as well as, on Broadway, a small but bright presence in “Porgy and Bess” and a big star in “No Strings.”

ALBERT FINNEY — A standout always, especially in the film adaptation of Henry Fielding’s “Tom Jones,” bringing a new sexiness to dinner scenes. Plus: “Logan’s Crossing,” “Two for the Road,” the remarkable film “Under the Volcano,” the glorious “Big Fish” (“shoulda got an Oscar”), “Annie” and “Scrooge,” not to mention Winston Churchill and the groundbreaking sample of British New Wave cinema, “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.”

PETER FONDA — Captain America in the Dennis Hopper movie “Easy Rider,” a potent portent of the sixties, with two boys riding. Also a member of a royal cinema family with dad, the king of decency, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, still protesting, and Bridget Fonda.

MICHAEL POLLARD — He was the sidekick and betrayer of “Bonnie and Clyde,” a frozen homeless man in “Scrooged” and a sidekick to Steve Martin’s modern Cyrano in “Roxanne,” often with the warm appeal of someone you wanted to adopt.

DANNY AIELLO — New York and neighborhood grown, he stood out in Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” and in “City Hall.”

ROBERT FORSTER — Tough guy in cities and out West, he owned a little-known mystery movie about “Hammett” (as in Dashiell of “The Maltese Falcon” fame).

CAROL LYNLEY — A not quite demure American blond beauty in “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Blue Denim,” “The Last Sunset.”

RENE AUBERJONOIS—In every aspect, Auberjonois was nothing less than authentic. He was a mainstay at Arena Stage and the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and played alongside Mel Gibson in the star’s take on the American Revolution, ”The Patriot,” as a valiant preacher toting a musket.

LUKE PERRY — Dylan McKay, “Beverly Hills 90210,” ’nuff said.

VALERIE HARPER — Friend to Mary Tyler’s Mary and, on her own, a sparkling personality in comedy and a warm conversationalist over the phone, as in you could talk for hours.

BIBI ANDERSSON AND ANNA KARINA — These were two of the ladies who fascinated us in foreign films (not movies), Andersson’s cool and penetrating blond heroines (along with Liv Ullman) in master Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces, Karina as the mysterious, magnetic female focus of the films of upstart French director Jean-Luc Godard.

RUTGER HAUER — From the future to the past, an eloquent, dynamic replicant in “Blade Runner” and a wolf-knight in “Ladyhawke.”

ROBERT EVANS — The Hollywood boy, from his “The Sun Also Rises” bullfighter role rising to ambitious and powerful Paramount head, launching “The Godfather” and “Love Story.”

On to poets, literati and other wordsmiths …

TONI MORRISON — Nobel Laureate, from eloquent, poetic, rough and real and impassioned novelist, beloved for the “Beloved” trilogy, of which “Jazz,” for its sheer power of language both dreamed and spoken, is unsurpassed.

ROBERT MASSIE — Biographer par excellence, especially on “The Romanovs” and “Nicholas and Alexandra.”

EDMUND MORRIS — A biographer with style, depth and breadth, with his three-parter on Theodore Roosevelt, his one of a kind and quirky “Dutch” on Reagan and, at the last, Thomas Edison.

ERNEST GAINES — “A Lesson Before Dying,” “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” a twofer hall of literature fame.

HAROLD BLOOM — Erudite, wordy, confident, scholarly and, also, somehow, fun to read about literature, Shakespeare especially and last poems.

Finally, in other categories …

GAHAN WILSON — Creepy, spooky, funny netherworld cartoons in The New Yorker.

ELIJAH CUMMINGS — One of the great spiritual, moral and political souls of the civil rights movement and political giants of the country, and a beloved citizen of Baltimore.

BART STARR — Green Bay Packer quarterback in Lombardi’s heyday, in the snow, beating the Cowboys.

I. M. PEI— The designer of the East Building, the modern soul of the National Gallery of Art.

ROBERT FRANK — In “The Americans,” this Swiss-born modernist photographer touched the people of America’s heart and soul and pinned it to a negative.

GLORIA VANDERBILT AND LEE RAZIWILL — They would have dazzled F. Scott Fitzgerald, for sure, not just the rest of us, embodying family, style, fashion, beauty, grace and the best part of the one-percent.

FRANCO ZEFFIRELLI — Movie and opera director, the best “Romeo and Juliet” ever.

COKIE ROBERTS — What defines class and manners and warm intelligence and depth, among the best of television commentators and reporters and giants.

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