Some more talented individuals left us this month. It’s amazing how so many people have contributed so much to the medium of television.
Comedic actor Dom DeLuise passed away in his sleep on May 4th in Southern California. He was 75 years old. DeLuise was a staple of variety shows in the 1960s and hosted his own from 1983 until 1990. With his seemingly endless enthusiasm, DeLuise was also a frequent guest on talk shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a co-star in many Mel Brooks movies, and hosted The New Candid Camera in the 1990s. Frequent co-star and close friend Burt Reynolds told Entertainment Tonight, “I was dreading this moment… Dom always made everyone feel better when he was around. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much.”
On May 7th, Linda Dangcil died in Los Angeles at the end of a seven year battle with throat cancer. She was 67. An actress and dancer, Dangcil appeared with Mary Martin in both the TV and Broadway versions of Peter Pan. She went on to be a principal dancer in the West Side Story movie and several other stage musicals. On television, Dangcil guested on shows like Dynasty, Quincy M.E., 3rd Rock from the Sun, and played Sister Ana on The Flying Nun, opposite Sally Field. She also voiced a number of cartoon characters, most notably on Jem.
Character actor Frank Aletter died at the age of 83 on May 13th at his home in Tarzana, California. He had been suffering from cancer. Aletter worked on Broadway for many years during the 1950s. He moved to television from there and starred in short-lived series like Bringing Up Buddy and Nancy. He was best known to audiences however for his guest roles in more than 100 television series like M*A*S*H, All in the Family, Dallas, Kojak, and Murder, She Wrote. He was married to actress Lee Meriwether for more than a dozen years and was married to his second wife until his passing.
Wayne Allwine died on May 18th from complications due to diabetes. He passed away at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and was 62. Allwine was an Emmy-winning sound effects editor for many years, working on films like Splash, Three Men and a Baby, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. For the past 32 years, he’s also been the voice of Mickey Mouse for Disney. He took over the role from Jimmy Macdonald in 1977. Macdonald had assumed the role 30 years earlier from Mickey’s creator, Walt Disney. Allwine was married to fellow voice artist Russi Taylor for 20 years. Taylor provides the voice to Minnie Mouse, among other characters, and was at Allwine’s side when he passed.
Michael Ross passed away on May 26th in Los Angeles. He was 89 and died from complications of a heart attack and a stroke. Ross was a longtime TV writer, producer, and director. He worked on such classic shows as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Three’s Company.
Veteran producer Jack Reilly died on May 27th at the age of 84 from complications of a fall. Reilly was president of Group W Productions and was executive producer for both The Mike Douglas Show and the David Frost Show in the 70s. He worked on ABC’s Good Morning America for eight years. Under his leadership, the program’s audience grew and briefly beat the Today Show in the ratings. He went on to work at CNBC and had also helped establish Entertainment Tonight. Former GMA anchor Charlie Gibson wrote, “One of the finest people I ever had the good fortune to work with and for. Modest, shy, self-effacing, not an ounce of inflated ego, and yet a cracker jack producer who understood when he should intrude, and when to stand back and let others do their work.”