This column is not supposed to be a full blown obituary column. It is this writer’s way of saluting those who have been inspirational in the world of space or entertainment or another field. Unfortunately, when there are a lot of passings to note – as sadly there are this month with Coronavirus becoming rampant – each mention gets a little shorter. Please do not think that this devalues any of the achievements of the departed mentioned here.
First to leave us was the actress Honor Blackman who died of natural causes at the age of 94. She rose to fame originally via her empowered female Cathy Gale character in 1960s British TV adventure series called The Avengers, before playing the goddess Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). However, she is most famous for playing the lesbian (toned down for the movie) double agent pilot in the James Bond movie Goldfinger (1964).
Honor Blackman’s line on awaking a drugged 007: “My name is Pussy Galore,” followed by Bond’s reposte: “I must be dreaming”, has become famous. Ms Blackman’s subsequent career was less famous, although she continued to appear in many films and comedy television series. We give her family and friends our condolences and we would like to honour Honor.
We also note the passing from natural causes of actor Brian Dennehy. He was a big man with a cheeky smile. In a long career as a character actor, he memorably played a villainous police sherrif in First Blood (1982), and a good-guy alien in Cocoon (1985). We salute him and give our condolences to his family and friends.
Sir Stirling Moss has passed a way of natural causes at the age of 90. He was a famous British Formula 1 driver of the 1950s and early 1960s who had the misfortune of driving at the same time as the master Juan Manuel Fangio who had a tendency to win a lot of the championships in that era.
Nevertheless, Moss was regarded as the best driver never to have one the championship – even once giving up a championship to fellow Brit Mike Hawthorn in 1958 due to his own sportsmanship. Nevertheless, his win in a damaged car in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix is regarded as one of the best F1 drives of all time. His career was cut short by a serious race crash in 1962 but he continued to be a celebrity on the circuit. We give our salute to Stirling Moss and our condolences to his family and friends.
Sadly, the Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak has caused some sad deaths in the world of comedy. Eddie Large was a comedian who appeared with Syd Little as part of the famous duo “Little and Large”. The pair had television success in the 1970s and early 1980s before they acrimoniously split, although the pair had become friends again before Eddie Large’s death at the age of 78. Large had been suffering from heart failure before finally succumbing to the Covid-19 virus.
Comedian and comedy writer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, has also died from Coronavirus at the age of 79. Tim Brooke-Taylor began his career as a student with the Cambridge footlights with Monty Python’s John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Brooke-Taylor later co-wrote one of Monty Python’s famous sketches The Four Yorkshiremen which was originally run on the At Last The 1948 Show. The sketch amusingly has each character trying to outbid each other on just how bad their childhood was. Here it is in its original version (Tim is on the left with John Cleese, Graham Chapman, and Marty Feldman).
Tim Brooke-Taylor later became famous for appearing with Graeme Garden (whom he also met at Cambridge Footlights) and Bill Oddie as The Goodies BBC TV comedy show. While it has to be admitted that most of this show has not aged well, The Goodies was in that 1970s era, required watching for British schoolkids of the time.
Tim Brooke-Taylor had another string to his bow in being one of the original and continued line-up in the BBC Radio 4 comedy spoof quiz show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Despite attempted interference by the modern pro-political correctness agenda of the BBC, this radio show, which uses a combination of risque double-entendres, funny wit and plain tomfoolery, remains as brilliant today as the day it started in 1972.
Tim, who often liked to make fun of British politicians on the show, would no doubt appreciate that given their incompetent delays on taking effective action on coronavirus probably killed him (along with thousands of others), it could definitely be described as a case in which of one of The Goodies was got by some of the “baddies”.
By the way, this writer saw Tim Brooke-Taylor in one of his last public appearances in Worthing, England, in late January, in the stage tour version of the show. Yes, scripted elements were, in part, re-runs of the best bits of the radio show. But there was a lot of very funny off-piste humour to be had as well – led by Tim and the team.
The inscrutable Mornington Crescent game just won’t be the same without him. We give our warmest salute to Tim Brooke-Taylor, and our condolences to his family and friends.
And finally, as we start to sadly sing “Ain’t no sunshine” at this time of crisis…we salute its soulful singer and songwriter, Bill Withers, who has passed away at the age of 81. That said, we still hope for a “Lovely Day” (another song favourite from his repertoire), both for his family and friends, and for us all.
Late News: Bollywood and Hollywood actor, Irrfan Khan has died of a colon infection complications related to a cancer at the age of 53. Khan became a very famous leading actor in India’s film industry but had also gained international acceptance as a result of starring in films such as Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Life of Pi (2012) and Jurassic World (2015). We salute him, his work and give our condolences to his family and friends. We do the same for the friends and family of Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor from cancer at the age of 67.
We also say goodbye to British actress Jill Gascoine, 83, who has died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She became well known in the UK during the 1980s for her TV role in police series The Gentle Touch. We give our condolences to her husband, the accomplished actor Alfred Molina, and to her family and friends.