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News & Cast Updates(News section last update July 12, 2018)
Denise Nickerson Dies: ‘Willy Wonka’, ‘Dark Shadows’ Actress Was 62(7/12/19) Denise Nickerson, who played the bratty, bloated Violet Beauregarde in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and a sweet-natured orphan bedeviled by ghosts and werewolves on the classic ’60s supernatural soap Dark Shadows, died Wednesday night at a hospital near her home in Colorado. In declining health since suffering a stroke last year, Nickerson was removed from life support by her family earlier that day. She was 62.
Nickerson’s son Josh Nickerson posted news of his mother’s death on Facebook after keeping friends and fans apprised of her health issues. Denise Nickerson was a longtime attendee at fan conventions for both Wonka and Dark Shadows.
“She’s gone,” Nickerson’s family posted on Facebook.
Born in New York City in 1957, Nickerson began acting on shows including The Doctors and Flipper before landing her breakthrough role in 1968 as little Amy Jennings on Dan Curtis’ gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Teamed with young David Henesy, the two child actors were at the center of a wildly popular storyline inspired by Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, in which the kids were haunted and eventually possessed by a ghost named Quentin Collins (David Selby, in his own breakthrough role).
Nickerson, along with the rest of the cast, was soon appearing on covers of teenybopper magazines, with fans waiting outside ABC’s Hells Kitchen studio each day for autographs.
But the soap’s outsize popularity vanished as quickly as it arrived, and upon its cancellation in 1971 Nickerson soon found herself one of the few cast members to land a role that would prove as durable in memory and pop culture as the Collins family curse.
But first there was a flop – and a big one: Nickerson played the title role in 1971’s Lolita, My Love, a notorious stage musical failure by John Barry and My Fair Lady’s Alan Jay Lerner, based on the Nabokov novel. Co-starring John Neville, Dorothy Loudon, and The Boys In The Band‘s Leonard Frey, Lolita, My Love played pre-Broadway engagements in Philadelphia and Boston, ravaged by critics and closing before hitting New York. With a reported loss of $900,000, Lolita, My Love would quickly enter the annals of infamous Broadway flops.
Fortunately for Nickerson, then 13, a better booking soon followed when she was cast as Violet Beauregarde, the gum-chewing mean girl of 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Giving star Gene Wilder’s exasperated Wonka plenty to play against, Nickerson stole some gum (and each of her scenes), paying a hefty price: As her skin turns purple, she swells to the size of a giant, round blueberry. As she’s rolled to the “juicing room” by the Oompa-Loompas, Nickerson’s ready-to-blow Violet has become the film’s most memorable villain and kids movie cautionary tale.
A few roles followed – Search For Tomorrow, The Brady Bunch, Allison in The Electric Company, in Michael Ritchie’s Smile. Nickerson would later say in interviews that she auditioned for the role of the possessed Regan in 1973’s The Exorcist but her parents thought the material too disturbing. After appearing in Don Weis’ 1978 film Zero To Sixty opposite Darren McGavin and Sylvia Miles (who died last month), Nickerson retired from acting to pursue a nursing career.
Nostalgia conventions and cast reunions kept her in touch with fans of both Willy Wonka and Dark Shadows, and last summer her son Josh shared news on social media that Nickerson had suffered a severe stroke. Her health deteriorated throughout the year, and, according to a Go Fund Me page set up by her son to pay death expenses, she had recently been in a “coma-like state” after suffering a seizure and pneumonia. She was removed from life-support Wednesday.
Nickerson is survived by her son Josh Nickerson and daughter-in-law Jasmine.
Eddie Jones Dies: ‘Lois & Clark’ Regular, Theater Veteran Was 84(7/9/19) Eddie Jones (Bailiff Henry Evans, Dark Shadows) who played Jonathan Kent on ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as part of a five-decade career that spanned TV, movies and theater, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Jones was a longtime member of Los Angeles’ Interact Theatre Company, which confirmed the news of his death.
“An actor of keen wit and sharp instinct, when Eddie was on stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off him,” the group said on its website. “When he was off-stage, his broad, bright smile would light up the room.”
Jones’ film credits included Seabiscuit in 2003 and Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal the next year. Other movies included A League of Their Own, The Grifters, Cadillac Man, The Rocketeer and Sneakers.
On TV, he appeared as a series regular on Sci Fi Channel’s The Invisible Man as well as in Dark Shadows and The Equalizer, along with numerous guest roles on the likes of Judging Amy, Matlock and Cheers. He was maybe best known though for playing adoptive father to Dean Cain’s Superman on Lois & Clark, which ran for four seasons from 1993-1997. More recently, he guest starred on an HBO’s Veep and NBC’s Aquarius.
Interact Theatre Company said Jones, who was married to Anita Khanzadian Jones, also appeared in more than 250 plays including on Broadway playing George Sikowski in That Championship Season and Sheriff McKinstry in Devour the Snow. He also co-headlined a national tour with of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as Nick, with Nancy Kelly as Martha.
My Sundays Spent Chatting With Actor Jonathan Frid and Remembering DARK SHADOWS(1/23/18) Read the article here.
Susan Sullivan on The Real O'Neals(2/28/17) “The Real Secrets” – VP Murray is nervous to tell Pat about his plans to ask Eileen to marry him and is relieved to receive Pat’s blessing to do so. Meanwhile, Eileen and Kenny realize how far they’ve come when they help Allison deal with her close-minded parents. Shannon and Jimmy discover a pregnancy test and prepare for life with another sibling, on ABC’s “The Real O’Neals,” airing on TUESDAY, MARCH 14 (9:30–10:00 p.m. EST).
Guest starring Matt Oberg as VP Murray, Ramona Young as Allison, Susan Sullivan as Victoria Murray, Jeremy Lawson as Jesus, Elizabeth Pan as Mrs. Adler – Wong, Keong Sim as Mr, Adler – Wong, Andrea Rosen as Savannah Kincade and Roxana Ortega as Sherry.
“The Real O’Neals” stars Martha Plimpton as Eileen, Jay R. Ferguson as Pat, Noah Galvin as Kenny, Matt Shively as Jimmy, Bebe Wood as Shannon and Mary Hollis Inboden as Aunt Jodi.
“The Real Secrets” story by Stacy Traub, written by Casey Johnson and David Windsor directed by Todd Holland. Executive producers of the series are Casey Johnson, David Windsor, Stacy Traub, Dan Savage, Brian Pines, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Dan McDermott and Todd Holland. The series is produced by ABC Studios.
Alice Drummond Dies; Veteran Character Actress Was 88(12/4/16) Alice Drummond, a prolific character actress nominated for a Best Featured Actress Tony in 1970 and known for appearances in films like Awakenings, Synecdoche, New York, and Ghostbusters among many others died on November 30 from complications following a fall in her home. She was 88. The news was confirmed by Drummond’s friend, June Gable, to the New York Times.
Born in 1928 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Drummond was a 1950 graduate of Pembroke College (now Brown University). She began her acting career following a move to New York with her husband, Paul Drummond whom she married in 1951. (The couple divorced in 1976). A regular on Broadway in the 1960s and 1970s, Drummond was nominated for a Tony for her performance in Murray Schisgal’s The Chinese.
Drummond also held a slew of memorable and sometimes iconic character roles on film and television. Among them, in the 1960s she appeared on the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, in the role of Nurse Jackson; as a New York City librarian in the beginning of the original Ghostbusters; and as a a patient in the 1990 Robin Williams film Awakenings. She was a regular on the CBS soap Where the Heart Is, appearing on the show until it ended its run in 1973, and later appeared briefly on As the World Turns, another CBS soap.
Among many television guest spots, she appeared on Spin City, Boston Legal, Ed, Law & Order, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, and Grace Under Fire.
Her most recent film appearance was in the family comedy Furry Vengeance in 2010.
An original cast member and an original fan talk 'Dark Shadows' at 50(10/21/16) (scpr.org)(Poster) When we heard cast, crew, and fans of the groundbreaking ABC show, which ran from 1966 to 1971, are gathering in Hollywood Oct. 29 to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary, and that we could interview one of the stars, I asked Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson if he knew any fans of the show we could bring in.
"My mom. She'd love to do that. I don’t even need to ask her."
And so, two women whose lives were changed by one of the oddest shows ever broadcast met at the Mohn Broadcast Center this week.
At its peak, 20-million people tuned in every weekday afternoon. Mason saw the promos on ABC and knew she had to rush home from school to see it. "It was just different, and I was different. I was not a normal, cheerleader, rah-rah. I was weird." Scott says it wasn't just schoolkids watching. "A wide audience. Professors, nurses, housewives." And the show's short length and airtime made a difference: "People could take an afternoon coffee break at 3:30 or 4pm."
What drew them in? Both women agree: It wasn't a traditional soap opera about who is sleeping with who; nor was it a scary vampire story. It was an old fashioned Gothic romance, often based on classics of literature, like Jane Eyre. "Of all of the incarnations of these vampire stories, what so many people miss, and what (creator) Dan Curtis totally got, is that so much of this hinges on romance. It's not the gore and the horror. That's not the story. The central theme of Dark Shadows is that love triangle and unrequited love."
And for a young actor, it was perfect. "We were like a repertory company," Scott says. "There were about twenty of us on the show, and we all played different characters. I played four, and the thing is that Dan Curtis trusted the audience -- including 13-year-old Susan Mason -- not to get confused. Instead of hiring different actors to play different roles, we all got to play in different time periods."
Make sure to listen to the audio to hear a wonderful conversation between star and fan, and the tune of a music box that played a critical role in the series.
Next Saturday's "Dark Shadows" event at the Hollywood Women's Club includes actors Scott, Lara Parker, John Karlen, Roger Davis, Nancy Barrett, James Storm, and Lisa Richards, as well as composer Roger Cobert. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids, and they're available at the door on online.
Castle's Susan Sullivan Lands a Mother of a Role on ABC's The Real O'Neals(8/17/16) Like her TV son, Susan Sullivan’s first aprés-Castle role is on an ABC sitcom.
TVLine has learned exclusively that Sullivan is set to guest-star on a Season 2 episode of The Real O’Neals, as the mother of the politically correct Vice Principal Murray (played by Matt Oberg).
In addition to her eight-season run as Castle‘s Martha Rodgers, Sullivan’s TV credits include The Nine, Dharma & Greg and Falcon Crest. Earlier this summer, Castle‘s aforementioned Nathan Fillion booked an arc on Modern Family, while Jon Huertas joined NBC’s This Is Us and Stana Katic’s indie film The Sister Cities landed a Lifetime premiere date.
The Real O’Neals opens Season 2 on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 9:30/8:30c, where it will now air between Fresh Off the Boat and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Rebecca Staab Joins Alison Sweeney In New Hallmark ProjectRebecca Staab (ex-Elizabeth, PORT CHARLES, et al) will play Alison Sweeney’s (ex-Sami, DAYS) mother in a new movie for the Hallmark Channel, BLUEBERRIES. “Crack the champagne! I just booked a @hallmarkchannel movie, “Blueberries,” with @Ali_Sweeney!!! Details to come. Cheers, everyone!!! :)” tweeted Staab. Sweeney tweeted in response, “we must join in this bubbly toast! @MelSalNY (our writer) & I are SO thrilled to have you!!” Melissa Salmons, who penned the script, is a former writer for DAYS.
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