The veteran actor Hal Holbrook has died at the age of 95. Holbrook played the good guy informer “Deep Throat” in All the President’s Men (1976) but is better remembered for his more devious roles such as playing a NASA villain in space conspiracy thriller Capricorn One (1978) & the police villain Briggs, and nemesis of “Dirty Harry” in Magnum Force (1973).
Holbrook often appeared in historical epics in films and on stage and was famous for playing the US writer Mark Twain in over 2,000 performances since he first played him as a teenager. We give Hal Holbrook our salute and our condolences to his family and friends.
With respect to talented actors we also note the passing of Canadian actor Christopher Plummer who has died at the age of 91. To his partial irritation, Plummer is most famous for his role as the too strict Naval Captain widowed father of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music (1965). With its combination of good music – mainly via the vocal talents of Julie Andrews and the children actors – and a plot involving nuns and Nazis, it became a major hit.
However, Plummer’s acting career was more varied than that. His filmography is too long to list here but this writer enjoyed his quirky portrayal of the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo (1970) which was an amusing counterpoint to Rod Steiger’s Napoleon. Plummer was also very good as Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would be King (1975). Plummer also starred as an RAF Squadron Leader pilot in The Battle of Britain (1969) although he was was, by then, about 15 years older than he would have been had he been a real fighter pilot in the battle.
While noted as a “difficult” actor whose temper sometimes got the better of him, his talent usually showed though. Even late his his life Plummer was getting good “old man” roles including playing the infamously miserly multi-millionaire J Paul Getty in All The Money in the World (2017). By the way, this writer can indirectly attest to his tightness. Getty ran into his house and thus got out of paying his taxi fare to this writer’s much irritated London black cab-driving grandfather.
Plummer also appeared as the “victim” in the well regarded whodunnit Knives Out (2019). He won several awards including an “Oscar” Academy Award for best supporting actor in Beginners (2011).
We give our salute to Christopher Plummer and our condolences to his family and friends.
The world of real spacefarers was mourning one of its own. While NASA noticeably lagged the Soviet Union in launching women into orbit – cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova’s flight in 1963 being the first – by 1983 NASA had finally caught up via Sally Ride’s flight and now it is Russia that looks embarrassingly sexist in its cosmonaut selections. One of NASA’s female astronauts of that era was Millie Hughes-Fulford who was the first woman to fly as a NASA payload specialist and we are sad to report that she has passed away at the age of 75.
As a science graduate in chemistry, biology and later plasma chemistry, she flew in June 1991 aboard the space shuttle Columbia on the STS-40 Spacelab Life Sciences (SLS 1) mission. Millie Hughes-Fulford carried on researching space effects on human biology and especially on the immune system from experiments flown on other space missions and published significant papers of the causal effect that microgravity had on T-cell dysfunction. We give our tribute to Millie Hughes-Fulford and our condolences to her family and friends.
We also note the passing of The Supremes’ singer Mary Wilson, who, along with Diana Wilson and Florence Ballard, produced music which was a backdrop to the early US space programme during the 1960s. We give our salute to her and to her friends, family and fans. Here are The Supremes in action with “You Keep Me Hanging On”.
We also briefly note the passing of Bruce Blackburn, who with Richard Danne, designed of the 1970s’ NASA “worm logo”. It replaced the original NASA “meatball” logo in 1975 but was then dropped in 1992 when the Meatball came back. However, last year, NASA decided to let the pair co-exist with each other.
Former Saudi Oil Minister, Sheik Yamani (Ahmed Zaki Yamani), has died at the age of 90. Jokingly dubbed by some as “Sheik Yamani or your life” he became famous for his role in convincing OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to raise the oil price and embargo the USA in response to US support of Israel during and after the Yom Kippur War in October 1973. While the world is now turning away from a carbon economy and becomes increasingly less dependent on oil as it does so, nevertheless in that gas guzzling era OPEC’s induced quadrupling of the oil price is thought to have triggered the world economic downturn of the 1970s. Yamani and Saudi Arabia later had a change of heart and became more dovish, opposing further oil price rises. We give our condolences to his family and friends.
Finally we also give our tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore who has passed away from Covid-19 at the age of 100. Moore gained recent fame in accidentally managing to raise millions for medical charities related to the Coronavirus pandemic. His simple sponsored walk outside, which he hoped to gain £1000 for charity, eventually raised £35 million after interest in it ballooned.
Moore who styled himself using his relatively minor Army Captain rank after being proud of his service in Burma during World War II, was upgraded to a full knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen last year for his services to charitable fundraising.
Tom Moore was noted for his kindness and for his sunny disposition by all that knew him. We give our salute to this national treasure, and give our condolences to his family and friends.