MOVIES


Charlton Heston, Epic Film Star and Voice of N.R.A., Dies at 83

Charlton Heston, who appeared in some 100 films in his 60 year acting career but who is remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben~Hur and Michelangelo, died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 83.

Charlton Heston had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Charlton Heston posed with his Oscar statuette after winning the 1959 Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of Ben~Hur.

His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the family, Bill Powers, who declined to discuss the cause. In August 2002, Mr. Heston announced that he had been diagnosed with neurological symptoms “consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“I’m neither giving up nor giving in,” he said.

Every actor dreams of a breakthrough role, the part that stamps him in the public memory, and Mr. Heston’s life changed forever when he caught the eye of the director Cecil B. De Mille. De Mille, who was planning his next biblical spectacular, “The Ten Commandments,” looked at the young, physically imposing Mr. Heston and saw his Moses.

When the film was released in 1956, more than three and a half hours long and the most expensive that De Mille had ever made, Mr. Heston became a marquee name. Whether leading the Israelites through the wilderness, parting the Red Sea or coming down from Mount Sinai with the tablets from God in hand, he was a Moses to remember.

Writing in The New York Times nearly 30 years afterward, when the film was re-released for a brief run, Vincent Canby called it “a gaudy, grandiloquent Hollywood classic” and suggested there was more than a touch of “the rugged American frontiersman of myth” in Mr. Heston’s Moses.

The same quality made Mr. Heston an effective spokesman, off screen, for the causes he believed in. Late in life he became a staunch opponent of gun control. Elected president of the National Rifle Association in 1998, he proved to be a powerful campaigner against what he saw as the government’s attempt to infringe on a Constitutional guarantee, the right to bear arms.

In Mr. Heston, the N.R.A. found its embodiment of pioneer values, pride, independence and valor. In a speech at the N.R.A.’s annual convention in 2000, he brought the audience to its feet with a ringing attack on gun-control advocates. Paraphrasing an N.R.A. bumper sticker (“I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands”) he waved a replica of a colonial musket above his head and shouted defiantly, “From my cold, dead hands!”

Mr. Heston’s screen presence was so commanding that he was never dominated by mammoth sets, spectacular effects or throngs of spear waving extras. In his films, whether playing Buffalo Bill, an airline pilot, a naval captain or the commander of a spaceship, he essentially projected the same image muscular, steely eyed, courageous. If critics regularly used terms like “marble monumental” or “granitic” to describe his acting style, they just as often praised his forthright, no~nonsense characterizations.

After his success in “The Ten Commandments,” Mr. Heston tried a change of pace. Another legendary Hollywood director, Orson Welles, cast him as a Mexican narcotics investigator in the thriller “Touch of Evil,” in which Welles himself played a murderous sheriff in a border town. Also starring Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich, the film, a modest success when it opened in 1958, came to be accepted as a noir classic.

But the following year Mr. Heston stepped back into the world of the biblical epic, this time under the director William Wyler. The movie was “Ben~Hur.” Cast as a prince of ancient Judea who rebels against the rule of Rome, Mr. Heston again dominated the screen. In the film’s most spectacular sequence, he and his co~star, Stephen Boyd, as his Roman rival, fight a thrilling duel with whips as their horse drawn chariots careen wheel~to~wheel around an arena filled with roaring spectators.

“Ben~Hur” won 11 Academy Awards, a record at the time, including those for best picture, best director and, for Mr. Heston, best actor.

He went on to star opposite Sophia Loren in the 1961 release “El Cid,” battling the Moors in 11th century Spain. As a Marine officer stationed in the Forbidden City in 1900, he helped put down the Boxer Rebellion in Nicholas Ray’s 1963 epic “55 Days at Peking.” In “Khartoum” (1966), he played Gen. Charles (Chinese) Gordon, who was killed in a desert uprising led in the film by Laurence Olivier’s Mahdi. When George Stevens produced and directed “The Greatest Story Ever Told” in 1965, there was Mr. Heston, back in ancient Judea, playing John the Baptist to Max von Sydow’s Jesus.

He portrayed Andrew Jackson twice, in “The President’s Lady” (1954) and “The Buccaneer” (1958). There were westerns (“Major Dundee,” “Will Penny,” “The Mountain Men”), costume dramas (“The Three Musketeers” and its sequel, “The Four Musketeers,” with Mr. Heston cast as the crafty Cardinal Richelieu in both) and action films aplenty. Whether playing a hard bitten landowner in an adaptation of James Michener’s novel “The Hawaiians” (1970), or a daring pilot in “Airport 1975,” he could be relied on to give moviegoers their money’s worth.

In 1965 he was cast as Michelangelo in the film version of Irving Stone’s novel “The Agony and the Ecstasy.” Directed by Carol Reed, the film pitted Mr. Heston’s temperamental artist against Rex Harrison’s testy Pope Julius II, who commissioned Michelangelo to create frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Mr. Heston’s performance took a critical drubbing, but to audiences, the larger than life role seemed to be another perfect fit. Mr. Heston once joked: “I have played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses. If that doesn’t create an ego problem, nothing does.”

Mr. Heston was catapulted into the distant future in the 1968 science fiction film “Planet of the Apes,” in which he played an astronaut marooned on a desolate planet and then enslaved by its rulers, a race of anthropomorphic apes. The film was a hit. He reprised the role two years later in the sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.”

    Son of the Midwest

It was all a long way from Evanston, Ill., where Charlton Carter was born on Oct. 4, 1924, and from the small town of St. Helen, Mich., where his family moved when he was a small boy and where his father ran a lumber mill. He attended a one room school and learned to fish and hunt and to savor the feeling of being self reliant in the wild, where his shyness was no handicap.

When his parents divorced in the 1930s and his mother remarried, his stepfather’s surname was Heston, the family moved to the Chicago suburb of Winnetka. He joined the theater program at his new high school and went on to enroll at Northwestern University on a scholarship. By that time, he was convinced he had found his life’s work.

Mr. Heston also found a fellow drama student, Lydia Clarke, whom he married in 1944, just before enlisting in the Army Air Force. He became a radio gunner and spent three years stationed in the Aleutian Islands. After his discharge, the Hestons moved to New York, failed to find work in the theater and, somewhat disenchanted but still determined, moved to North Carolina, where they spent several seasons working at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Theater in Asheville.

When they returned to New York in 1947, Mr. Heston got his first big break, landing the role of Caesar’s lieutenant in a Broadway production of Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” staged by Guthrie McClintick and starring Katharine Cornell. The production ran for seven months and proved to be the high point of Mr. Heston’s New York stage career. He appeared in a handful of other plays, most of them dismal failures, although his performance in the title role of a 1956 revival of “Mr. Roberts” won him praise.

If Broadway had little to offer him, television was another matter. He made frequent appearances in dramatic series like “Robert Montgomery Presents” and “Philco Playhouse.” The door to Hollywood opened when the film producer Hal B. Wallis saw Mr. Heston’s performance as Rochester in a “Studio One” production of “Jane Eyre.” Wallis offered him a contract.

Mr. Heston made his film debut in 1950 in Wallis’s “Dark City,” a low grade thriller in which he played a small time gambler. Two years later, he did his first work for De Mille as a hard driving circus boss in “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Throughout his career he studied long and hard for his roles. He prepared for the part of Moses by memorizing passages from the Old Testament. When filming began on the sun baked slopes of Mount Sinai, he suggested to De Mille that he play the role barefoot, a decision that he felt lent an edge of truth to his performance.

    Filmography: Charlton Heston

Preparing for “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” he read hundreds of Michelangelo’s letters and practiced how to sculpt and paint convincingly. When filming “The Wreck of the Mary Deare” (1959), in which he played the pilot of a salvage boat, he learned deep-water diving. And he mostly rejected stunt doubles. In “Ben-Hur,” he said, he drove his own chariot for “about 80 percent of the race.”

“I worked six weeks learning how to manage the four white horses,” he said. “Nearly pulled my arms right out of their sockets.”

As the years wore on, the leading roles began to go to younger men, and by the 1980s, Mr. Heston’s appearances on screen were less frequent. He turned to stage work again, not on Broadway but in Los Angeles, at the Ahmanson Theater, where he played roles ranging from Macbeth to James Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” He also returned to television, appearing in 1983 as a paternalistic banker in the miniseries “Chiefs” and as an oil baron in the series “The Colbys.”

Rifles and a ‘Cultural War’

Mr. Heston was always able to channel some energies into the public arena. He was an active supporter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., calling him “a 20th century Moses for his people,” and participated in the historic march on Washington in 1963.

He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966 to 1971, following in the footsteps of his friend and role model Ronald Reagan. A registered Democrat for many years, he was nevertheless selective in the candidates he chose to support and often campaigned for conservatives.

In 1981, President Reagan appointed him co-chairman of the President’s Task Force on the Arts and Humanities, a group formed to devise ways to obtain financing for arts organizations. Although he had reservations about some projects supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. Heston wound up defending the agency against charges of elitism.

Again and again, he proved himself a cogent and effective speaker, but he rejected suggestions that he run for office, perhaps for a seat in the Senate. “I’d rather play a senator than be one,” he said.

He became a Republican after Democrats in the Senate blocked the confirmation of Judge Robert Bork, a conservative, to the Supreme Court in 1987. Mr. Heston had supported the nomination and was critical of the Reagan White House for misreading the depth of the liberal opposition.

Mr. Heston frequently spoke out against what he saw as evidence of the decline and debasement of American culture. In 1992, appalled by the lyrics on “Cop Killer,” a recording by the rap artist Ice T, he blasted the album at a Time Warner stockholders meeting and was a force in having it withdrawn from the marketplace.

In the 1996 elections, he campaigned on behalf of some 50 Republican candidates and began to speak out against gun control. In 1997, he was elected vice president of the N.R.A.

In December of that year, as the keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary gala of the Free Congress Foundation, Mr. Heston described “a cultural war” raging across America, “storming our values, assaulting our freedoms, killing our self-confidence in who we are and what we believe.”

    A Relentless Drive

The next year, at 73, he was elected president of the N.R.A. In his speech at the association’s convention before his election, he trained his oratorical artillery on President Bill Clinton’s White House: “Mr. Clinton, sir, America didn’t trust you with our health care system. America didn’t trust you with gays in the military. America doesn’t trust you with our 21 year old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.”

He was in the news again after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999, when he said that the N.R.A.’s annual membership meeting, scheduled to be held the following week in Denver, would be scaled back in light of the killings but not canceled.

In a memorable scene from “Bowling for Columbine,” his 2002 documentary about violence in America, the director, Michael Moore, visited Mr. Heston at his home and asked him how he could defend his pro~gun stance. Mr. Heston ended the interview without comment.

In May 2001, he was unanimously re~elected to an unprecedented fourth term by the association’s board of directors. The association had amended its bylaws in 2000 to allow Mr. Heston to serve a third one year term as president. Two months after his celebrated speech at the 2000 convention, it was disclosed that Mr. Heston had checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation program after the convention had ended.

Mr. Heston was proud of his collection of some 30 guns at his longtime home in the Coldwater Canyon area of Beverly Hills, where he and his wife raised their son, Fraser, and daughter, Holly Ann. They all survive him, along with three grandchildren.

Never much for socializing , he spent his days either working, exercising, reading (he was fond of biographies) or sketching. An active diarist, he published several accounts of his career, including “The Actor’s Life: Journals 1956~1976.”

In 2003, Mr. Heston was among the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Bush. In 1997, he was also a recipient of the annual Kennedy Center honors.

Mr. Heston continued working through the 1990s, acting more frequently on television but also in occasional films. His most recent film appearance found him playing a cameo role, in simian makeup, in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes.”

He had announced in 1999 that he was receiving radiation treatments for prostate cancer.

He had always hated the thought of retirement and once explained his relentless drive as an actor. “You never get it right,” he said in a 1986 interview. “Never once was it the way I imagined it lying awake at 4 o’clock in the morning thinking about it the next day.” His goal remained, he said, “To get it right one time.”

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Thank you AP news and ROBERT BERKVIST
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I am sure that all of you Baby Boomers out there have seen all of Charlton Heston’s movies and it would be hard to pick out one that was truly your favorite. AS they were all so good and he was a master at his craft.

Mr. Heston was a Civil Rights advocate and was very Philanthropic work through out his life time.
I will miss him and will continue to re~watch his movies.

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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Most Wednesday and Saturdays are card night and a movie, here at the house. I promised my friends that I would post tonights results…still reigning Card Champion of the World as we know it on 40th drive….ME!

Snacks for the championship game were jelly beans left over from Easter, burittos, and kettle popcorn.

The beverages included green tea, Merlot Wine and lemon/lime soda mixed with diet black cherry soda.

A good time was had by all even the LOSERS!

BUT, it would not surprise me if we all got stomach aches and bad dreams tonight.

The movie tonight was “The Cat in The HAT” with Mike “the insane” Myers.

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

In from SAN FRANCISCO, California, after nearly 19 years of marriage, Robin Williams and his wife are getting divorced.

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Robin Williams and Marsha Garces Williams have two children together.

Marsha Garces Williams filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on March 21 in San Francisco Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences.

The two met when Garces Williams worked as a nanny for Williams’ son Zachary, whom he had with his previous wife, Valerie Valardi.

Robin and Garces Williams also have two children together, Zelda and Cody.

Williams, 56, won an Academy Award for his role in the film “Good Will Hunting.” He also starred in the 1980s sitcom “Mork & Mindy,” and has acted in a number of movies including “Dead Poets Society” and “Patch Adams.”

Williams’ agent Mara Buxbaum confirmed that the couple is splitting, but had no further comment. An attorney for his estranged wife would not comment on the case.

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Thank you AP News
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Richard Widmark, who made a sensational film debut as the giggling killer in “Kiss of Death” and became a Hollywood leading man in “Broken Lance,” “Two Rode Together” and 40 other films, has died after a long illness. He was 93.

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Richard Widmark was known for performances in films such as “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Widmark’s wife, Susan Blanchard, says the actor died at his home in Roxbury on Monday. She would not provide details of his illness and said funeral arrangements are private.
“It was a big shock, but he was 93,” Blanchard said.

After a career in radio drama and theater, Widmark moved to films as Tommy Udo, who delighted in pushing an old lady in a wheelchair to her death down a flight of stairs in the 1947 thriller “Kiss of Death.” The performance won him an Academy Award nomination as supporting actor; it was his only mention for an Oscar.

“That damned laugh of mine!” he told a reporter in 1961. “For two years after that picture, you couldn’t get me to smile. I played the part the way I did because the script struck me as funny and the part I played made me laugh. The guy was such a ridiculous beast.”

A quiet, inordinately shy man, Widmark often portrayed killers, cops and Western gunslingers. But he said he hated guns.

“I know I’ve made kind of a half-assed career out of violence, but I abhor violence,” he remarked in a 1976 Associated Press interview. “I am an ardent supporter of gun control. It seems incredible to me that we are the only civilized nation that does not put some effective control on guns.”

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Two years out of college, Widmark reached New York in 1938 during the heyday of radio. His mellow Midwest voice made him a favorite in soap operas, and he found himself racing from studio to studio.

Rejected by the Army because of a punctured eardrum, Widmark began appearing in theater productions in 1943. His first was a comedy hit on Broadway, “Kiss and Tell.” He was appearing in the Chicago company of “Dream Girl” with June Havoc when 20th Century Fox signed him to a seven-year contract. He almost missed out on the “Kiss of Death” role.

“The director, Henry Hathaway, didn’t want me,” the actor recalled. “I have a high forehead; he thought I looked too intellectual.” The director was overruled by studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, and Hathaway “gave me kind of a bad time.”

An immediate star, Widmark appeared in 20 Fox films from 1947 to 1954. Among them: “The Street With No Name,” “Road House,” “Yellow Sky,” “Down to the Sea in Ships,” “Slattery’s Hurricane,” “Panic in the Streets,” “No Way Out,” “The Halls of Montezuma,” “The Frogmen,” “Red Skies of Montana,” “My Pal Gus” and the Samuel Fuller film noir “Pickup on South Street.”

In 1952, he starred in “Don’t Bother to Knock” with Marilyn Monroe. He told an interviewer in later years:

“She wanted to be this great star but acting just scared the hell out of her. That’s why she was always late…couldn’t get her on the set. She had trouble remembering lines. But none of it mattered. With a very few special people, something happens between the lens and the film that is pure magic. … And she really had it.”

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After leaving Fox, Widmark’s career continued to flourish. He starred (as Jim Bowie) with John Wayne in “The Alamo,” with James Stewart in John Ford’s “Two Rode Together,” as the U.S. prosecutor in “Judgment at Nuremberg,” and with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas in “The Way West.” He also played the Dauphin in “St. Joan,” and had roles in “How the West Was Won,” “Death of a Gunfighter,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Midas Run” and “Coma.”

“Madigan,” a 1968 film with Widmark as a loner detective, was converted to television and lasted one season in 1972~73. It was Widmark’s only TV series.

He also was in some TV films, including “Cold Sassy Tree” and “Once Upon a Texas Train.”

Richard Widmark was born December 26, 1914, in Sunrise, Minn., where his father ran a general store, then became a traveling salesman. The family moved around before settling in Princeton, Illinois.

Widmark’s film “Madigan” became a short-lived TV series in the early ’70s.

“Like most small-town boys, I had the urge to get to the big city and make a name for myself,” he recalled in a 1954 interview. “I was a movie nut from the age of 3, but I don’t recall having any interest in acting,” he said.

But at Lake Forest College, he became a protege of the drama teacher and met his future wife, drama student Ora Jean Hazlewood.

In later years, Widmark appeared sparingly in films and TV. He explained to Parade magazine in 1987: “I’ve discovered in my dotage that I now find the whole moviemaking process irritating. I don’t have the patience anymore. I’ve got a few more years to live, and I don’t want to spend them sitting around a movie set for 12 hours to do two minutes of film.”

When he wasn’t working, he and his wife lived on a horse ranch in Hidden Valley, California, or on a farm in Connecticut. Their daughter Ann became the wife of baseball immortal Sandy Koufax.

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Thank you AP News

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What a great life and one that will be surely missed.

Richard Widmark was one of those actors that made you wonder what was he like in real life…to me, that is what makes an actor real.

I think that Broken Lance was my favorite Richard Widmark film.

R.I.P.

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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FAMOUS WOMEN in MOVIES…

I thought you might like this…

Some times the world is just messed up and I just like to look at beautiful things…NO ugliness or sorrow…today is one of those day!
~The Baby Boomer Queen~

Roy Scheider, of ‘Jaws’ fame, dies at 75

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Roy Scheider, a one time boxer whose broken nose and pugnacious acting style made him a star in “The French Connection” and who later uttered one of cinematic history’s most memorable roles in “Jaws,” has died.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said. He was 75.

The hospital did not release a cause of death, but Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

Scheider earned two Academy Award nominations, a best-supporting nod for 1971’s “The French Connection” in which he played the police partner of Oscar winner Gene Hackman, and a best-actor nomination for 1979’s “All That Jazz,” the semi~autobiographical Bob Fosse film.

But he was perhaps best known for his role as a small-town police chief in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film “Jaws,” about a killer shark terrorizing beachgoers, as well as millions of moviegoers.

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In 2005, one of Scheider’s most famous lines in the movie , “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was voted No. 35 on the American Film Institute’s list of best quotes from U.S. movies.

Widely hailed as the film that launched the era of the Hollywood blockbuster, “Jaws” was the first movie to earn $100 million at the box office.

“I’ve been fortunate to do what I consider three landmark films,” he told The Associated Press in 1986. “‘The French Connection’ spawned a whole era of the relationship between two policemen, based on an enormous amount of truth about working on the job.”

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‘”Jaws’ was the first big, blockbuster outdoor adventure film. And certainly ‘All That Jazz’ is not like any old MGM musical. Each one of these films is unique, and I consider myself fortunate to be associated with them.”

Born into a working class family in Orange, N.J., he was stricken with rheumatic fever at 6. He spent long periods in bed, becoming a voracious reader. Except for a slight heart murmur, he was pronounced cured at 17. He acquired the distinctive shape of his nose in an amateur boxing match.

After three years in the Air Force, Scheider sought a New York theater career in 1960. His debut came a year later as Mercutio in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” He also played minor roles in such films as “Paper Lion” and “Stiletto.” Then he made a breakthrough in 1971 as Jane Fonda’s pimp in “Klute.”

“He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call ‘a knockaround actor,'” Richard Dreyfuss, who co-starred with Scheider and Robert Shaw in “Jaws,” told The Associated Press on Sunday.

“A ‘knockaround actor’ to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional actor and doesn’t’ yell and scream at the fates and does his job and does it as well as he can,” Dreyfuss said.

He also appeared in the films “Marathon Man,” as Dustin Hoffman’s brother, “Klute,” with Jane Fonda, and “Naked Lunch,” David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s novel. He starred in “Jaws 2,” which turned out not to be as successful as the original.

TV roles included “SeaQuest DSV” and “Third Watch.”

More recently, he played the slick CEO of an insurance company that denies coverage to a young man dying of leukemia in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rainmaker,” and appeared in the direct to video “Dracula II: Ascension” and “Dracula III: Legacy.”

Scheider was also politically active. He participated in rallies protesting U.S. military action in Iraq, including a massive New York demonstration in March 2003 that police said drew 125,000 chanting activists.

Scheider had a home built for him and his family in 1994 in Sagaponack in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, where he was active in community issues. Last summer, Scheider announced that he was selling the home for about $18.75 million and moving to the nearby village of Sag Harbor.

Although “Jaws” frightened some moviegoers out of the water for years, Scheider told the AP in 1986 that he considered his role somewhat comedic.

“If you go back and look at the way it’s developed and built, that is really a funny character,” he said. “He’s a fumbler with all kinds of inhibitions and fears, that’s the way we built that character.”

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Thank you AP News, JILL ZEMAN, Associated Press Writer and AP Press writer Jacob Adelman in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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Beach goers were never the same after “JAWS.” Even the music stayed in your head…

In the “Rainmaker,” Roy Scheider was very believeable…I know…he made me hate him in that movie!

Rest in Peace Roy, you will be missed. But, not by the sharks!

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~The Baby Boomer Queen~