Cal Cotton Passes Away

Cal Cotton The Moor Tarik the Black King

Cal Cotton as “The Moor Tarik,” The Black King.

Cal Cotton, aka “The Moor Tarik” The Black King, died of cancer April 17. He was a popular figure around Southern California’s sf, Ren Faire and SCA fandoms.

He first connected with the Faire in 1968 while on home leave during the Vietnam War. He served his country as a Navy Seal.

At Faire, he…participated over the years as a member of the Queen’s Guard, the Black King in the epic Living Chess Game, a Sergeant in Stoddard’s Company of Foot, as an assistant falconer, and finally the owner of the well-known Hornsmythe Booth.

He also participated in Civil War reenactments and other living history events. If the occasion didn’t call for his Moorish attire, he was likely to be wearing his Buffalo Soldier hat.

He is survived by his wife, Theresa.

Cal Cotton. Photo by Morgan Hagar.

Cal Cotton. Photo by Morgan Hagar.

[Thanks to Tom Udo for the story.]

Roseanne Di Fate (1945-2014)

Ro and Vincent Di Fate at Lunacon in New York City in the 1970s. Photo by and  copyright © Andrew Porter.

Ro and Vincent Di Fate at Lunacon in New York City in the 1970s. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter.

Roseanne Di Fate died March 30 at the age of 68. She is survived by her husband, sf artist Vincent Di Fate, and her two sons, Christopher and Victor.

Roseanne and Vincent married in 1968. Roseanne, who held a degree in Childhood Education from Lehman College, taught in the Mount Vernon (NY) School District until her first child was born. When her sons were grown, she became head teacher for Community Nursery School of Poughkeepsie United Methodist Church. She finished her career teaching at Wimpfheimer Nursery School at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie retiring due to illness in 2010.

The family suggests memorial donations in Roseanne’s name may be made to the American Heart Association, 301 Manchester Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603, or American Cancer Society, 2678 South Rd # 103, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601,

Bhob Stewart Update

The Bhob Stewart memorial in New York will convene Sunday, May 4, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Columbia University’s Butler Library, room 523. Details come from Brad Verter, who says his e-mail can be freely shared.

The format will be open mike with people welcome to speak ex tempore.  Verter expects there will be A/V equipment available for those who need it, as he intends to present a slideshow of materials from Bhob’s archives.

There is likely to be a Boston memorial for Bhob in the fall, while another at the San Diego Comic-Con is under discussion.

Verter’s other exciting news for friends of Bhob is that he located an original 16mm print of Bhob’s 1961 short The Year The Universe Lost the Pennant. A copy has been transferred to DVD for use at the New York memorial. Mike Russo also has exhumed a copy of Joe Marzano’s film Man Outside (1965), which many of believed to be lost: Bhob is one of the stars of the film, which also features Calvin T. Beck (publisher of Castle of Frankenstein) in a supporting role: clips of this film also will be shown at the memorial. Verter hopes it will be possible to make both generally available afterwards.

Finally, Verter assures that Bhob’s papers are being preserved. He is organizing them for eventual deposit in a “worthy archive that will make them available for the benefit of future generations of cultural historians.”

Contact Brad Verter at —

[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]

Lorenzo Semple Jr. (1923-2014)

By Chip Hitchcock: Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who adapted Batman for television, died March 28 at his home in Los Angeles, age 91. Per the New York Times obituary, the ABC executives who hired him had intended a drama but Stemple “immediately saw the absurdity in the character of a wealthy bachelor who enjoyed dressing up as a bat to fight crime,” giving us the high-camp version that premiered on ABC in 1966.

And Wikipedia notes he also wrote de Laurentiis’s wretched 1976 remake of King Kong and the 1980 Flash Gordon (as far as I know, the first SF movie to spawn a pinball machine).

Mickey Rooney (1920-2014)

Rooney in 1945.

Rooney in 1945.

Mickey Rooney: American actor, died April 6, aged 93. He made his screen debut in 1926 and genre appearances include The Atomic Kid (1954), the 1963 Twilight Zone episode “The Last Night of a Jockey,” Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (“Rare Objects,” 1972), Journey Back to Oz (1974), Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989, adapted from Windsor McCay’s classic newspaper strip), Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991), The Magic Voyage (1992), the 1997 tv series Kleo the Misfit Unicorn, Sinbad: the Battle of the Dark Knights and Babe: Pig in the City (both 1998), The Happy Elf (2005), Night at the Museum (2006), The Muppets (2011), The Voices From Beyond (2012).

Rooney as Puck in 1935.

Rooney as Puck in 1935.

As a teenager he appeared as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Warner Brothers. The shooting schedule had to be rearranged after he broke his leg in a skiing accident. According to Rooney’s memoirs, Jack Warner was furious and threatened to kill him and then break his other leg…

His career lasted more than 80 years. Indeed, Rooney was filming a new version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the time of his death.

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]

The Age of Lucius Shepard

How old Lucius Shepard was when he died proved to be a controversial question here.

Shepard’s Wikipedia entry and the obit posted at the SFWA Blog listed 1947 as the year of his birth. However, I followed the Science Fiction Encyclopedia’s lead and reported he was born in 1943.

Which is right?

The 1947 date was favored by Shepard. It appears in his official bio. He also did not demur when Jason S. Ridler posed a question in a Clarkesworld interview that stated the writer was 33 when he went to Clarion – assuming a 1947 birth date.

However, with Dave Langford’s help I was able to learn more about the SF Encyclopedia’s preference for 1943, based on Mike Ashley’s search of the public record.

  • The 1945 Florida census includes a Lucius Shepard, age 2, listed as born in Virginia. (Shepard’s official bio states he was born in Lynchburg, VA.)
  • The US Public Records Office lists Lucius T. Shepard as living in Seattle in 1993, with a birth year of 1943.
  • Finally, Shepard said he attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill — and a Lucius T. I. Shepard is listed as attending there in 1962 aged about 20.

So there’s persuasive support in official records for a 1943 birth date, in which case Shepard was 70 years old when he died.

Copyright 2014 by File 770

Kate O’Mara (1939-2014)

Kate O-Mara

Kate O’Mara as The Rani in Doctor Who.

By James H. Burns: It was always the eyes I thought of, and perhaps that smile, of Kate O’Mara, whenever I heard her name, the way she portrayed the title adversary of Doctor Who’s  “Rani” episodes…

Which was intriguing, since no doubt I had already seen her in Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers or The Horror of Frankestein, or perhaps one of her guest roles in Danger Man, The Saint, and The Avengers.

But there was simply something remarkable about O’Mara’s turn on those otherwise generally unremarkable Colin Baker years of Doctor Who

O’Mara starred in the British teleseries The Brothers, Triangle, as well as a season of the American hit, Dynasty.

She also worked on the British stage, and authored books.

But how is it now, I keep seeing that videotaped visage…?

NASA’s Kinzler Passes Away

Jack A. Kinzler, the man who saved Skylab and gave us golf on the moon, died March 4 at the age of 94.

For 16 years Kinzler was chief of the Technical Services Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

When Skylab lost its heat shield after launch in 1973, he devised a shade tree to ward off the rays of the Sun that could be deployed without a hazardous spacewalk. His legendary prototype was made from a set of collapsible fishing rods — the finished parasol was built from telescoping aluminum tubes and silver-and-orange fabric of nylon, Mylar and aluminum. Kinzler received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal for his work.

He oversaw the design of the American flags astronauts planted on several Moon missions and of the commemorative plaques attached to lunar landing vehicles which stayed on the Moon.

Kinzler’s department also made astronaut Alan Shepard’s golf club, used to tee off two balls on the lunar surface – attaching a 6-iron head to the handle of a lunar-sample scoop.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock for the story.]

James Rebhorn (1948-2014)

James Rebhorn, American character actor, died 21 March aged 65, after a lengthy battle with skin cancer. Genre appearances include Cat’s Eye (1985), Heart of Midnight (1988), Independence Day (1996, as the Secretary of Defence), From the Earth to the Moon (tv miniseries, 1998), The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) and The Box (2009).

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]