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 News Briefs 1997:

Here's an archive of the classic-movie related news items for 1997. All have been verified by reliable news sources, but if you have any updated information about any of these stories, feel free to pass it along.

January 1997:

  • 10- Sheldon Leonard, who played in over 70 Hollywood films in the 1940s and '50s, including a role as Nick the bartender in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), and later produced such TV hits as "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show," dies at age 89.
  • 17- Laurence Austin, film preservationist and owner of nation's only theater devoted exclusively to silent films is shot to death.
  • 19- Adriana Caselotti, voice of Disney's young heroine in SHOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937), dies of cancer at age 80.

February 1997:

  • 1- Marjorie Reynolds, actress who spent most of the 1930s in bit-parts (as she did in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)), but who by the 1940s was being wooed by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in HOLIDAY INN (1942), dies at age 79.
  • 2- Sanford Meisner, legendary acting teacher whose students included Gregory Peck, Grace Kelly, and Robert Duvall, dies of cancer at age 91.

March 1997:

  • 14- Fred Zinnemann, the Oscar-winning director of films like HIGH NOON (1952) and JULIA (1977), dies of a heart attack at age 89.

April 1997:

  • 2- Tomoyuki Tanaka, creator of the fearsome giant lizard Godzilla and a pioneer in Japan's influential monster movie industry, dies of a stroke at age 86.
  • 20- Jean Louis, Oscar-winning costume designer for films throughout the 1940s, '50s and '60s including GILDA (1946), A STAR IS BORN (1954) and THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC (1956), whose fashions for his wife, Loretta Young, and other stars like Ginger Rogers made him a Hollywood favorite, dies at age 89.
  • 26- John Beal, film and TV actor whose career spanned more than 60 years including juvenile leads opposite Katharine Hepburn and Helen Hayes, dies at age 87.

May 1997:

  • 28- Sydney Guilaroff, Hollywood hairdresser to some of the world's most celebrated beauties who is credited with creating Judy Garland's braids in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) and dyeing Lucille Ball's hair red, dies of pneumonia at age 89.

June 1997:

  • 23- Rosina Lawrence, actress who played a number of small roles in films throughout the 1930s including as foil to Laurel and Hardy in their classic WAY OUT WEST (1937), dies at age 84.
  • 24- Brian Keith, actor who made his movie debut at age 3 but was best known for his roles in THE PARENT TRAP (1961), THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (1959) as well as the TV sitcom "Family Affair," commits suicide at age 75 after battling cancer and emphysema.
  • 29- William Hickey, Oscar-nominated actor whose forty year film career included roles in LITTLE BIG MAN (1970) and PRIZZI'S HONOR (1985), dies at age 69.

July 1997:

  • 1- Robert Mitchum, blunt-spoken actor who starred in more than a hundred movies including THE STORY OF G.I. JOE (1945) and OUT OF THE PAST (1947), dies of cancer and emphysema at age 79.
  • 2- Jimmy Stewart, lanky "everyman" actor who embodied decency and moral courage in films such as IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), dies at age 89.
  • 16- William Reynolds, film editor for six decades who won Oscars for THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) and THE STING (1973), dies of cancer at age 87.
  • 20- Linda Stirling, star of 1940s and 1950s adventure film serials such as "The Tiger Woman" and "Zorro's Black Whip," dies of cancer at age 75.

August 1997:

  • 20- Leo Jaffe, film executive who oversaw Columbia Pictures' rise in the 1970s from near-bankruptcy to Hollywood dominance, dies at age 88.
  • 27- Sally Blane, sister of actress Loretta Young, but who also appeared in more than 60 films of her own throughout the 1920s and '30s, dies at age 87.

September 1997:

  • 9- Burgess Meredith, character actor whose sixty-year career included roles in OF MICE AND MEN (1939) and TOM, DICK AND HARRY (1941) as well as ROCKY (1976), dies of melanoma and Alzheimer's disease at age 89.
  • 17- Red Skelton, gentle clown-comedian who appeared in more than 30 movies including HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME (1938) and THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950), dies at age 84.

October 1997:

  • 13- Joyce Compton, actress in late silents and early talkies who specialized in comic bubble-headed blondes, dies at age 90.
  • 28- Paul Jarrico, screenwriter who received an Oscar nomination for 1941's TOM, DICK, AND HARRY but was later a victim of the Hollywood blacklist, dies in a car wreck at age 82.
  • 30- Samuel Fuller, actor, writer, producer and director who contributed to films such as PICK UP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) and THE BIG RED ONE (1980), dies at age 86.

November 1997:

  • 15- Saul Chaplin, composer and arranger who shared in three Oscars for scoring the musicals AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951), SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954) and WEST SIDE STORY (1961), dies at age 85.
  • 21- Teresa Wright, Oscar-winning star of such films as MRS. MINIVER (1942), SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), returns to the big screen for the first time in almost a decade in Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAINMAKER (1997).

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