Arlene Martel 1936-2014

Arlene Martel, best known as Spock’s intended bride T’Pring on Star Trek, died this week, joining a list that is way too long. Besides Star Trek, her other roles in genre include Battlestar Galactica [1978], Dracula’s Dog, The Six Million Dollar Man, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favorite Martian, The Outer Limits and Twilight Zone.

Ed Nelson, 1964-69. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved

Ed Nelson 1928-2014

Most people who remember Ed Nelson will know his role on Peyton Place as Dr. Michael Rossi, the big city doctor moving into the small town full of drama, or more accurately melodrama.  Like so many actors on 1960s TV, his career took off in 1950s monster movies. When roles got scarce later in his career, he had no qualms about working in genre again. From most recent to oldest, his roles in sci-fi and fantasy include The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything, Salvage 1, Logan’s Run [TV], Gemini Man, The Bionic Woman, Houston, We’ve Got a Problem, The Sixth Sense [TV], The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, A Bucket of Blood, Night of the Blood Beast, Teenage Cave Man, Invasion of the Saucer Men and Attack of the Crab Monsters. Unlike some other actors best known for low budget work before finding steady work on the small screen, he was in some big budget movies in uncredited roles such as Judgment at Nuremburg and Elmer Gantry.

The career path from 1950s monster movies to 1960s TV series regulars is very common, the best known example being William Schallert, remembered as Patty Duke’s dad on her 1960s sitcom. The difference between TV star and movie star was considered vast back in the 1960s, which is not the case this century. The best counterexample  is James Gandolfini, known as one of the best actors of his generation largely from his virtuoso work on The Sopranos.

Ed Nelson did his job and when one job was done, he took another, just as anyone trying to make a living would. He was never virtuoso like Gandolfini (almost no one was in the 1960s) and he was just remarkably handsome instead of drop dead gorgeous like Steve McQueen. That said, he did his job and he did it well. If guys like Ed Nelson didn’t exist, show business would vanish overnight.

Game of Thrones

JJ Murphy

The Irish actor JJ Murphy was cast for season 5 of Game of Thrones as Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night’s Watch. He shot his first few scenes for the show but died a few days later. The show’s producers have decided not to recast the role. “We will not be recasting J.J. Murphy. He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended.”

He only had ten roles on film total, and his other genre work was in Dracula Untold. I couldn’t find Mr. Murphy’s birth year online, but he was 86 when he died.

Robin Williams

Never to be forgotten:
Robin Williams 1951-2014

Along with the rest of the world, this blog is reporting on the suicide of Robin Williams, dead at the age of 63 from asphyxia, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s department.

The stand-up comic came to national prominence in the sitcom Mork and Mindy (pictured here), but his acting career grew and he won an Oscar for his dramatic portrayal of a psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting. Among his genre roles are Night at the Museum, The Final Cut, Bicentennial Man, What Dreams May Come, Flubber [1997], Jumanji, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Faerie Tale Theatre. A favorite role of mine is in a movie where reincarnation is a major plot device, Kenneth Brannagh’s Dead Again. I admit my criteria are completely arbitrary in these cases, but I don’t quite consider this genre.

I must admit I am in a state of shock over the news, much the same way I felt about Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini. I still don’t quite believe it.


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