Friday, May 30, 2008

In Passing

Over the last few days, we have lost some great ones. Individuals like Dick Martin, who at a time of political tumult, teamed with Dan Rowan and forged a great variety show.
“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” the hyperactive, joke-packed show that Mr. Martin and Mr. Rowan rode to fame, made conventional television variety programs seem instantly passé and the sitcom brand of humor seem too meek for the times.

The show was a collage of one-liners, non sequiturs, sight gags and double-entendres the likes of which prime time had rarely seen, and it proved that viewers were eager for more than sleepily paced plots and polite song-and-dance.
There was Sydney Pollack, who for as great of a director he was, there was also a great actor.
A former acting teacher who became an in-demand character actor, Pollack had memorable on-screen turns in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives and his own Tootsie, in which he played Hoffman's exasperated acting agent.
And just the other day, another Comic genius left us in Harvey Korman. The venerable straight man who struggled keeping a straight face:

"Give me something bizarre to play, or put me in a dress and I'm fine," Korman jokingly said in a 2005 Chicago Sun-Times interview.

Korman and Conway developed an uncanny rapport that made them arguably one of television's most lethal comic teams; Conway's on-camera ad-libs often made Korman crack up; producers wisely kept them in the show.
But buried in all the big names, was a man that many of us grew up with. The director of some of the best Star Trek episodes passed away. Joseph Pevney was 96:
Pevney directed 14 episodes of the 1960s series, including "The City on the Edge of Forever," in which Capt. Kirk and Spock travel back in time to the Depression, and "The Trouble With Tribbles," in which the starship Enterprise is infested with cute, furry creatures.

. . .

Pevney directed with precision and was highly organized "but he was very relaxed -- in fact, jovial -- in the way he directed," said George Takei, who played Sulu. "I enjoyed working with him."

. . .

In the 1960s and '70s Pevney turned to television, directing dozens of episodes of series such as "Wagon Train," "Fantasy Island," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Trapper John, M.D."

UPDATE: Another Trek tie's obit obit noticed. The composer of the perpetual earworm Star Trek TV Theme, Alexander "Sandy" Courage:
Over a decades-long career, Courage collaborated on dozens of movies and orchestrated some of the greatest musicals of the 1950s and 1960s, including "My Fair Lady," "Hello, Dolly!" "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Gigi," "Porgy and Bess" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

But his most famous work is undoubtedly the "Star Trek" theme, which he composed, arranged and conducted in a week in 1965.

"I have to confess to the world that I am not a science fiction fan," Courage said in an interview for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television in 2000. "Never have been. I think it's just marvelous malarkey. ... So you write some, you hope, marvelous malarkey music that goes with it."

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