Today we remember some of the greats of Hollywood who died in 2011.
Probably the most notable and talked about movie star who died this year was Elizabeth Taylor. Her Guest Book was the second most popular one we published in 2011, as fans mourned her passing and praised her award-winning acting talent. But she wasn't the only award-winning actor who died this year. Cliff Robertson was in dozens of movies and won a Best Actor Oscar for his work in Charly. Peter Falk was Oscar nominated for Murder, Inc. and Pocketful of Miracles, and he took home five Emmys and a Golden Globe for his TV work – most notably as detective Columbo. For his 1931 role in Skippy, Jackie Cooper was the youngest actor ever to receive an Oscar nomination – an honor he held for almost 50 years. And although Pete Postelthwaite never won an award, he went from a quiet early career to an Academy Award nomination for In the Name of the Father and was called "the best actor in the world" by Steven Spielberg.
Among the lovely ladies of Hollywood who died this year was Jane Russell, the brunette bombshell who found fame with The Outlaw and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And Anne Francis played teenager-in-space Altaira in Forbidden Planet and TV detective Honey West.
No less lovely was Annette Charles, one of two stars of the classic movie musical Grease who died this year. As Cha Cha DiGregorio, she danced a mean hand-jive. Her costar Jeff Conaway played clueless-but-caring Kenickie, and gained further fame on TV's Taxi and Babylon 5.
Many great talents from the other side of the camera also died this year. Director Sidney Lumet brought us 12 Angry Men, Network, The Verdict, and more. Screenwriter Arthur Laurents wrote scripts for movies such as Rope and The Way We Were, as well as Broadway greats West Side Story and Gypsy. Producer Laura Ziskin was behind a fantastic list of films, including Murphy's Romance, Pretty Woman, and the Spider-Man series. And the multi-talented Polly Platt produced films such as Say Anything…, did art direction for Terms of Endearment and more, and she helped to conceive longtime TV fave The Simpsons.
And then there's the man who defies categorization, but just might be our favorite… Karl Slover, the Munchkin trumpeter from The Wizard of Oz. His Munchkin was also a soldier, a sleepy head, and one of the singers of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."
Written by Linnea Crowther