Saturday, January 17, 2009

R.I.P. x 3

I grew up and currently live in the Delaware Valley, so I am very familiar with Chads Ford. In elementary school, I went on field trips to the Brandywine Battlefield and some of the old DuPont estates. As a cyclist, I think I've bicycled 80% of the roads there (at least it feels that way). And of course, I'm familiar with the artwork of Andrew Wyeth. With the exception of the Helga collection, Wyeth's art has been a part of my life since childhood. I remember, as a child, how it seemed that everybody and their grandmother had a print of Christina's World in their home. Even today, there's something about that painting that speaks out to me, although the meaning has changed.

R.I.P. Andrew Wyeth (1917 - 2009)

One of my favorite detective shows has always been Columbo. The writing and acting was always first class. But the best thing about the series was what separated it from other series in the genre. The shows always began with a murder. You got a hint of what motivated the murder; you got to see the planning and execution of the murder; you got to see how the killer set himself/herself up with the perfect alibi; and you got to see all that before the detective--brilliantly played by Peter Falk--even made his first appearance. This was not your typical whodunnit?--you already knew that. The thrill was in watching how Columbo solved the crime.

One episode of Columbo that will always stick in my mind is By Dawn's Early Light. It starred a young Bruno Kirby (as well as his father, Bruno Kirby Sr.) as a cadet at a military institute. The murderer in this episode was the head of the school who killed one of the board members who was planning on making the academy co-ed. The actor who played the villain was the great Patrick McGoohan (who also starred in and/or directed several other Columbo episodes). This was also the first time I became aware of this actor. He is well known as #6 in The Prisoner, but I will always remember him from Columbo and from his portrayal of the unsympathetic King Edward I (Longshanks) in Braveheart.

R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan (1928 - 2009)

I thought perhaps I was the only one who remembered Patrick McGoohan from Columbo, so I was glad to see that Jason Rosenhouse also remembered him from there. Jason also reminded me of the bullfighter episode of Columbo, where the killer was played by Ricardo Montalban. As a kid, I watched Montalban as Mr. Rork on Fantasy Island. However, what I remember him best as today are his roles as Vincent Ludwig in The Naked Gun and Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. His performance in ST2 was phenomenal and included some memorable quotes such as

Revenge is a dish that is best served cold.

You are in a position to be making no demands.

I stab at thee! I stab at thee! I stab at thee!

R.I.P. Ricardo Montalban (1920 - 2009)

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