Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (b.1967) was found dead in his New York apartment on February 2. Hoffman, who won an Academy Award for Capote, appeared in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, portrayed a character based on L. Ron Hubbard in The Master, and appeared in The Invention of Lying.
Oscar winning actor Maximilian Schell (b.1930) died on February 1. Schell won the Oscar for his role in Judgment at Nuremberg, but appeared in several genre films, including The Black Hole, Vampires, Phantom of the Opera, and Deep Impact. Schell’s first Hollywood role occurred by accident, when the producers of The Young Lions reached out to his sister, Maria, and connected with him by mistake.
Author Stepan Chapman (b.1951) died on January 27. Chapman began publishing short fiction in 1969 when his story “Testing…One, Two, Three, Four” appeared in Analog. He continued to publish short fiction and an occasional poem throughout his career, collected in Danger Music and Dossier. Chapman published his only novel, the Philip K. Dick Award winning The Troika, in 1997.
Comic store owner Gary Arlington (b.1938) died on January 16 of heart failure. Arlington opened the San Francisco Comic Book Company in 1968 and it quickly became a focal point for up-and-coming underground comic book authors and artists, including R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Ron Turner. Arlington’s store may have been the first store dedicated to selling only comics.
Producer Arthur Rankin, Jr. (b.1924) died on January 30. Rankin partnered with Jules Bass to form Rankin/Bass, an animation company known for their Christmas specials, including Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Some of their more standard SF/F fare included adaptations of The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. He also produced Thundercats.
Director Gordon Hessler (b.1930) died on January 19. Hessler got his start working for Alfred Hitchcock and went on to direct The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, a couple episodes of Wonder Woman, Cry of the Banshee, Murders in the Rue Morgue, and an episode of Tales of the Unexpected. He also served as a producer on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Japanese voice actor Ichirō Nagai (b.1931) died on January 27. Nagai provided voices for numerous television shows, video games, and films, including Kinnikuman: Showdown! The 7 Justice Supermen vs. The Space Samurais, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Space Battleship Yamato, and Kingdom Hearts.
Actress Alexandra Bastedo (b.1946) died on January 12. She appeared in The Champions, The Starlost and Batman Begins as well as the 1967 version of Casino Royale.
Actor Jerome Willis (b.1928) died on January 11. Willis portrayed Captain Rexton Podly in Space Precinct and Stevens in the Doctor Who serial “The Green Death.” He also had roles in the films Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and Lifeforce.
Actor Luis Avalos (b.1946) died on January 22. Avalos appeared in the films The Butcher’s Wife, Wishcraft, and Ghost Fever, as well as an episode of The Incredible Hulk. Avalos was best known for his long-running stint on the kid’s show The Electric Company from 1972-1977. Avalos also appeared on both the comedy E/R and the later drama ER.