NASA engineer John C. Houbolt (b.1919) died on April 20. Houbolt proposed the idea of a lunar orbit rendezvous to NASA rather than having a single rocket make the trip from Earth to the Moon, land on the Moon, and return. When Houbolt’s ideas were dismissed by his supervisor, he sent a letter outlining them to an incoming administrator in 1961.
Author Alexander Malec (b.1929) died on January 20. Malec began publishing with “Project Inhumane” in 1964, wihch appeared in Colorado Quarterly and was picked up by Judith Merril for The 11th Annual of the Year’s Best S-F. He published twelve additional stories over the next couple of years, many of which appeared for the first time in his collection Extrapolasis. After collecting his stories, Malec ceased to publish science fiction.
Fan Cal Cotton (b.1948) died on April 17. Cotton was active in the SCA as “The Moor Tarik” The Black King in the SCA and at Ren Faires in California since 1968. In addition to Ren Faires, Cotton was also an active Civil War reenactor. Cotton was diagnosed with brain cancer in February.
Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez (b.1927) died on April 17. García Márquez helped popularize the magic realism school of literature with novels including One Hundred Years of Solitude. García Márquez, who started as a journalist, also wrote Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and The General in His Labyrinth. In 1982, García Márquez received the Nobel Prize in Literature for “his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.”
British fan and editor Andy Robertson (b.1955) died on April 17. Robertson was involved with Interzone, serving as Assistant Editor, from an early stage and contributed reviews and interviews. Robertson also published a handful of stories and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson.
Actor Mickey Rooney (b.Ninian Joseph Yule Jr. 1920) died on April 6. Rooney began acting in 1926 and recently one of his lost early shorts, Mickey’s Circus was recovered. He appeared in numerous films with Judy Garland and had an infamous appearance in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Some of his genre appearances included roles on The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, as well as the films Night in the Museum, Pete’s Dragon, and Erik the Viking and voice work for many cartoons.
Actor Dane Witherspoon (b.1957) died on March 29. Witherspoon was best known for his role on the soap opera Santa Barbara, but also appeared in the science fiction films Seedpeople and Asteroid. He was married to his first wife, Robin Wright, when she was filming The Princess Bride.
Actress Kate O’Mara (b.1939) died on March 30. O’Mara is best known to science fiction fans for her portrayal of The Rani, a Time Lord, in two Doctor Who serials. Other genre roles included Adam Adamant Lives!, The Avengers, The Vampire Lovers, and The Horror of Frankenstein. O’Mara was best known outside the genre for her role on Dynasty.
Director Derek Martinus (b.1931) died on March 27. Martinus directed numerous episodes of Doctor Who, beginning with Galaxy 4, the first serial of the third season, and ending with Spearhead from Space, the first serial of the seventh season. He went on to direct episodes of Z Cars and Blake’s 7.
Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (b.1923 died on March 28, one day after his 91st birthday. Semple wrote screenplays for Papillon, Never Say Never Again, the 1976 King Kong and the 1980 Flash Gordon among other projects. He may have been best known for his role in creating and writing for the 1960s television show Batman. Semple wrote the first four episodes and the series’ Bible, acted as a consultant for the rest of the series, and came up with the idea of the graphics indicating fights, named everything Bat-whatever, and came up with Robin’s Holy ___ catch phrase.