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The year 2008 brought many cinematic achievements into our homes and our hearts. Some made us laugh; some made us cry; some caused us to reflect upon our own lives and situations, perhaps encouraging us to come to terms with our own mortality; we were dazzled by special effects and shocked by true stories brought to light. All in all, we were *entertained*.

Often we become so enthralled by their on-screen brilliance (and so disgusted by the rag-sheet rabble) we may forget that these phenomenal films are actually made up of real life, flesh and blood people, both in front of and behind the cameras. Although their off-screen antics may actually rival the performances we pay to see, we just can’t help but recognize bits of ourselves in our favorite actors, and are simply grateful that we don’t have cameras following us around to catch the gaffes as we operate without a script, too.

Sadly, just like in the movies, all good things must come to an end. We lost some amazing performers this year, perhaps some who held a particularly special place in our own hearts. Although death is as natural as life, I speak from experience when I say that it still catches me off-guard when one of my favorites is taken from us.

This week, although we‘re already a few days into the new year, I would like to dedicate my Friday five to a handful of magic-makers who have brought much to my life over the years. The fact that I love movies is no big surprise. Many of the people who helped to foster that love in me were lost this year, and I was very sad to see them go.

Harvey Korman, 2/15/27 - 5/29/08 As a very young child, I was captivated by The Carol Burnett Show and Mr. Korman's contributions to it. Much of the humor was beyond me, but watching the antics of this man on-stage taught me so much about comedic timing. Although he was at his ad-libbing best in his sketch comedy, his performances in such films as Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety were true credits to the brilliance of his craft.  

Sydney Pollack, 7/1/34 - 5/26/08 Mr. Pollack, as a successful director, producer, writer and actor, was a true-blue movie magician with over 40 films to his credit. Among his blockbusters were Out Of Africa (director) , Tootsie (director/actor) , The Talented Mr. Ripley (producer) and Cold Mountain (producer). He directed twelve different actors in roles that garnered Academy Award nominations and was presented with an award for being an advocate of artists' rights. He was a tribute to his profession and one hell of a good man.

Paul Newman, 1/26/25 - 9/26/08 What can I say about this man that you wouldn't already know? He was a legendary screen presence, with legendary blue eyes and a marriage that is the stuff of legends. His resume is also full of not just acting, but writing, direction and production credits, with many awards and innumerable recognitions. He's even well-known for his embarrassment over the first film he ever made, The Silver Chalice , which was an absolute stinker. He was a man whose talent was only exceeded by his heart. He shied away from the fanfare of the Hollywood scene for most of his career and reserved his passions and enthusiasms for his job and his family.

Suzanne Pleshette, 1/31/37 - 1/19/08 Although Suzanne Pleshette was best known for her television role as Bob Newhart's wife, I was most affected by her film roles, mainly opposite Jerry Lewis in The Geisha Boy and as the dusky school teacher in Alfred Hitchcock's classic The Birds . Ms. Pleshette had a successful, long-running career on television and Broadway and was a favorite amongst her fellow actors for her eagerness and ability to tell a bawdy tale. She was also a regular guest of Johnny Carson's, which is rumored to have directly contributed to her role of Emily Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show .

Eartha Kitt, 1/17/27 - 12/25/08 Born Eartha Mae Keith, Ms. Kitt was an on-screen force to be reckoned with. I first encountered her on Batman and I was just young enough to believe she really was Catwoman. I mean, how could someone look like that and sound like that and not be Catwoman? Through the years I continued to enjoy her enigmatic presence on television and in films, and forever appreciated the unique qualities she brought to each role. Not only was she timeless, for a period of time she seemed ageless as well, which is just the way she liked it.

“I’m so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, ‘So long‘.”

****

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