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James Karen, a veteran actor with an extensive big screen resume, passed away this week at his home in Florida, according to multuple outlets.
He was 94 years old.
Karen died with over 200 movies to his credit, but he’s probably best known for his role as the developer Mr. Teague in the modern horror classic Poltergeist.
The long-time star also appeared in Return of the Living Dead, Invaders from Mars, China Syndrome, and Wall Street — among MANY other films.
One of the best known character actors of all-time, Karen once joked that nobody knew his name, yet everybody knew his face because he “did so much damn work.”
Actually, he may not have been joking about that.
Mostly known for his work in the movie world, Karen also played a key part on the finale of Little House on the Prairie and he worked with director Oliver Stone on three occasions:
1. As Lynch, the office manager at Jackson Steinem, where Charlie Sheen’s stockbroker character works, in Wall Street.
2. As Secretary of State William Rogers in Nixon.
2. As a Miami Sharks executive in Any Given Sunday.
Karen was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and served in the United States Air Force during World War II.
Following a stint on Broadway, Karen moved to the land of television when he starred as Dr. Burke on As the World Turns and was the original Lincoln Tyler on All My Children.
Along with starring in thousands of commercials, Karen also worked as the TV and radio spokesman (“Why pay more?”) for Pathmark, an East Coast supermarket chain that was liquidated in 2015.
On the personal front:
Karen was married to the late Susan Reed, the beloved folk singer and zither player, from 1958 until their divorce in 1967.
The couple shared a son named Reed, whose godfather is the legendary Buster Keaton, a very close friend of Karen’s throughout his adult life.
In the horror genre, other notable movies in which Karen played a part include:
Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, Poltergeist, Invaders from Mars, The Willies, The Unborn, Piranha, Apt Pupil and Mulholland Drive.
And other television roles include:
Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, Dallas, The Golden Girls, L.A. Law, Murphy Brown and The Waltons.
In the cult classic The Return of the Living Dead, Karen starred as the manager of a medical warehouse who inadvertently releases a gas that re-animates the dead.
He said it was the most fun he ever had in making a movie, saying in 2006 that he had some say in how the character died:
“It was the deal where he figures out he’s becoming a zombie and decides to incinerate himself in the crematorium.
“He kisses his wedding ring as he goes in. It was a very emotional scene, but it also got me out of being one of the rain-drenched zombies milling around outside the place at the end of the film.
“I didn’t really want to do all that muddy stuff.”
The Hollywood Reporter first confirmed Karen’s death.
May he rest in peace.
Jon James McMurray, a rapper well known and well respected in his native country of Canada, died Saturday while filming a stunt for his latest music video.
He was 34 years old.
The musician’s management team has confirmed the sad news, saying McMurray lost his life after plunging to the ground while walking on the wing of a plane.
“He died filming a project he had been working on for months,” reads this team’s statement, adding:
“His final act included performing an airplane stunt that included rapping while walking on the wing. He had trained intensely for this stunt.
“However, as Jon got further out onto the wing of the plane, it caused the small Cessna to go into a downward spiral that the pilot couldn’t correct.
“Jon held onto the wing until it was too late, and by the time he let go, he didn’t have time to pull his chute. He impacted and died instantly.”
What a tragedy.
The incident took place in Vernon, British Columbia.
McMurray, who was also an accomplished skier, pursued music after a back injury prevented him from continuing his ski career.
He released an album titled Rex Leo in 2016.
Jon was an incredibly passionate person and was always smiling. He filled everyone around him with positivity, and never spoke poorly about another person. He truly had a heart of gold,” the statement continues.
“Jon would want to be remembered as a beacon of light to follow your dreams, and would want everyone to continue to be inspired through his music and life message.”
According to Newsweek, McMurray’s previous stunt performances involved numerous serious injuries — including seven surgeries, two of which were for a fractured neck and broken back.
Rory Wayne Bushfield, a skier who was featured in McMurray’s video, paid tribute to the late rapper on Instagram Monday.
He wrote the following:
The sun is not as bright today as it was yesterday when it was shinning on my homies last moments.
Jon James Mcmurray, my very best, dearest and oldest friend passed yesterday evening in a skydiving accident.
He was living his ultimate dream, free and full. May he Rest In Peace. I’m gonna miss him so much.
Thanks for all the lessons over the years fee. You where such a good man, you brought up everyone around you and I promise to try my best to live as free as you did.
Jon is survived by his parents, Doug McMurray and Jen McMurray, his wife, Kali James, and his brother Jarred McMurray.
A GoFundMe account has been set up in the rapper’s honor to help fund his celebration of life, as well as to help get his material “out there to the world in the right way.”
“We lost Jon James McMurray yesterday,” the page reads.
“He touched and lifted so many people in his brief stay here. He also documented everything he did relentlessly.
“His close friends and family want to make something incredible with what fee left us. It’s what he would have wanted most of all.”
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