Actress Angela Lansbury is set to be named a Dame in the New Year’s Honors bestowed by Queen Elizabeth. Lansbury has a wide body of stage and film work, including roles in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Court Jester, Beauty and the Beast, The Last Unicorn, and a revival of the play Blithe Spirit. For the first time in history, more than half of the honorees are women.
Actor Joseph Ruskin (b.Joseph Schlafman, 1924) died on December 28. Ruskin appeared on several versions of Star Trek, including the original series, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise as well as the films Star Trek: Insurrection. Other genre work includes episodes of Wonder Woman, Twilight Zone, The Planet of the Apes, and The Wild Wild West. He played Galt in the original Star Trek episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.”
The Specsaver Award for Book of the year was awarded to Neil Gaiman for his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Gaiman’s novel also won the award for best Audiobook of the year. The Specsaver Award is a publicly selected award open to all readers in the United Kingdom. Gaiman was also shortlisted for Author of the Year and his novel Fortunately The Milk was shortlisted for Children’s book of the year. He lost in those categories to Kate Atkinson and Demon Dentist, by David Walliams, respectively.
Editor Anthony J. Bryant (b.1961) died on December 25. Bryant served as the fifth editor of Dragon Magazine from issue 222-229 in 1995 and 1996. Bryant also was a specialist on Japanese military history, publishing four volumes on the Samurai period.
Fan Nancy Kemp (b.1923) died on December 22 of uterine cancer. Nancy had been married to fan Earl Kemp for several years, although the two divorced more than 40 years ago. She worked with Earl on his one-shot HUgo Award winning fanzine Who Killed Science Fiction? in 1960 and also produced children with Earl. She was active in conventions and fannish gatherings in the Midwest into the early 70s.
Fan Ruth Speer (b.1923) died on December 11. Ruth married fan Jack Speer, the author of Up to Now, one of the first histories of SF fandom, in 1951.
YA author Ned Vizzini (b.1981) committed suicide on December 19. Vizzini’s first book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, was a semi-autobiographical look at a teenager whose suicide attempt landed him in an institution. His second novel, Be More Chill, has science fictional elements in it and his third novel, The Other Normals, was an alternative fantasy. He also published a collection of essays and was working on a multi-book series with Chris Columbus.
J. K. Rowling has announced plans to produce a stage play based on her Harry Potter series. The play will focus on Harry’s life as an orphan growing up with the Dursley’s in the years before he was brought to Hogwarts. Rowling’s co-producers are Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender, and although she says she’ll collaborate with the as yet unnamed author, she has said she will not be the play’s author.
marvel Studios has announced that Paul Rudd will portray Ant-Man in the upcoming film based on the comic book character, who was one of the original Avengers in 1963. The film, whose plot and script are under wraps, is scheduled for release on July 31, 2015, three months after the second Avengers film. It is being directed by Edgar Wright.
Comics artist Janice Valleau Winkleman (b.1923) died on December 15. Winkleman was one of the first female artists to work in the comics field, working on Archie Comics as well as detective Toni Gayle. She began working in comics in the late 1930s and her last work appeared in Nyoka the Jungle Girl in 1955. Winkleman was also credited as Ginger Valleau, Janice Valleau, and Janice Winkleman.