Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.
When the people who inspire and entertain us pass away, it's like we've lost a member of our own family. These remarkable people will live on in our hearts and minds as we introduce the new generations to the legacies they left behind.
Steve McQueen - November 7, 1980
Steve McQueen had a truly traumatic life as a young man. His biological father left when his wife Julia was six months pregnant. After giving birth, Julia became a severe alcoholic and sent Steve off to live with his grandparents. The Great Depression soon set in and the three had to move in with Steve's Uncle Claude who lived on a farm. Steve had good memories of the farm and enjoyed his time there. At age 4, his Uncle Claude gave him a red tricycle which was an early influence on Steve's love for racing. At age 8, Steve's mom came to pick him up, telling him he would come back home with her. His Uncle Claude gave him a going away present, a golden pocket watch with an inscription that read: "To Steve, who has been a son to me." What neither of them realized was that Steve's life was about to hit a decline that no one should have to endure. His mother had remarried but her new husband was abusive. Steve was dyslexic and partially deaf in one ear due to a childhood ear infection, disabilities that his new stepfather got annoyed with. Steve wasn't adjusting well to his new life and his stepfather abused him for it. Steve was abused so much, in fact, that he left home at age 9 to live on the streets. Pretty soon, he started running with a street gang and was committing acts of petty crime. Steve was shipped back to his Uncle Claude. Three years later, Steve's mom wrote Claude and asked Steve to be returned to her. She was now living in Los Angeles, having married a third time.
Steve butted heads with his new stepfather immediately. This man was abusive as well, even more so than the last one. In his memoirs, Steve referred to this man as a "prime son of a bitch" who would use his fists on him and his mother any chance he got. Steve began to rebel again and he was sent right back to Claude.
At age 14, Steve left Claude's farm without saying goodbye and joined the circus. He slowly drifted back to Los Angeles where he once again lived with his mother and stepfather, also resuming his life of petty crime. Police caught him stealing hubcaps off a car once and handed him over to his stepfather who threw Steve down the stairs. Steve didn't scream or cry. He just got up, looked his stepfather dead in the eyes, and said, "You lay your hands on me again and I'll kill you." His stepfather convinced Steve's mother that she should sign a court order which would send him to California Junior Boys Republic. He left the Republic at age 16.
He went to New York where he met two sailors from the Merchant Marine and volunteered to serve on a ship bound for the Dominican Republic. Once there, he abandoned his post and worked in a brothel. He made his way to Texas, moving from job to job. He would work as a roughneck, a carnival barker, and a lumberjack. He eventually joined the US Marine Corps.
In the military, Steve was promoted to Private First Class and was assigned to an armored unit. He reverted to his previous rebelliousness and was demoted to Private seven separate times. He took an unauthorized absence, staying with his girlfriend for two weeks before he was caught by the Shore Patrol. He resisted arrest and spent 41 days in the brig. After this, he decided it was time for a change and focused his energy on self-improvement. During an Arctic exercise, he saved the lives of five other Marines by pulling them from a tank before it broke through the ice and fell into the sea. He was assigned to the Honor Guard and was responsible for protecting President Truman's yacht. In 1950, Steve was honorably discharged.
Under the G.I. Bill, Steve was able to study acting in New York at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. On the weekends, Steve competed in motorcycle races to earn money. After he saved up enough, he purchased his first motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson. He became an outstanding racer and would come home with $100 every weekend. Mind you, this was 1952 so $100 then would be the equivalent of $900 now.
Steve began getting minor roles in stage productions and made his Broadway debut in 1955. In late 1955, Steve moved to California and began searching for acting jobs in Hollywood. After appearing in the two-part TV miniseries The Defenders, manager Hilly Elkins took note of him and decided he'd be best fit for B-movies. His first film role was a small part in Somebody Up There Likes Me, which starred Paul Newman. His first leading role soon followed in The Blob. Steve wasn't truly noticed by the masses until a television role in the western series Tales of Wells Fargo. Steve soon starred in his own series called Wanted Dead or Alive. It aired on CBS for three seasons. As a result of the series, he became a household name. During this time he married Neile Adams and had two children with her, one of which was Chad McQueen. Chad would grow up and have a son of his own named Steven R. McQueen, famous for his role on The Vampire Diaries.
At the age of 29, Steve McQueen was cast in Never So Few by the great Frank Sinatra. His very next film, possibly his most famous one, was The Magnificent Seven. The film catapulted his career, leading to 1963's The Great Escape which secured his status as a superstar.
Warner Brothers had a seven-film contract with Steve, one of them being Bullitt. The film went so far over budget that Warner Brothers cancelled the contract. Bullitt became a massive success and Warner Brothers immediately regretted their actions.They tried to get Steve back but he refused and went with United Artists.
In 1969, after the deaths of his close friends Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, the media reported that the police had found a hit list with Steve's name on it. It was discovered that this was the result of Steve turning down a screenplay written by Charles Manson. Steve carried a handgun with him at all times after that.
Steve and Neile Adams divorced in 1972 after having a tough time for the past year or so. Neile had an abortion in 1971 because she felt their marriage was too unstable to bring another child into the mix. In 1973, Steve married Ali MacGraw who many friends claimed to be the one true love of his life. Several people have said that he was madly in love with her until the day he died.
In 1973, Steve was one of the pallbearers at friend Bruce Lee's funeral.
After 1974's The Towering Inferno, Steve disappeared from the entertainment world to focus on racing and traveling. In 1978, shortly after his divorce with Ali MacGraw, he returned to film with An Enemy of the People. His final two films, Tom Horn and The Hunter were both released in 1980. In the same year, he married Barbara Minty. Steve became a Christian during this time and attended Ventura Missionary Church with Barbara.
In late 1979, Steve was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Steve believed the movie studios, who at the time used asbestos in the insulation in drivers' helmets and suits, was partly the cause but he thought the true cause of his condition dated back to his time in the Marine Corps as he had to clean asbestos off of pipes while aboard a troop ship. By early 1980, Steve had widespread metastasis. In July of the same year, he traveled to Mexico for unconventional treatments. He sought the help of controversial doctor William Donald Kelley who scientists referred to as a quack. Steve returned to the US in October and Kelley made a huge public announcement that Steve was cured. Steve's condition worsened and soon developed huge tumors on his abdomen. That next month, he flew back to Mexico to have a five-pound tumor on his liver removed. Steve went into cardiac arrest 12 hours after the surgery, dying in his sleep. He was 50 years old.
Stieg Larsson - November 9, 2004
Stieg was born in Umea, Sweden on August 15, 1954. His father and grandfather worked in the smelting plant, which is an industrial location where metal is removed and obtained from raw ore. Stieg's father was forced to resign from his job after suffering from arsenic poisoning. His family moved to Stockholm, but their new home was too cramped for the three of them so Stieg moved in with his grandparents until he turned nine years old. He attended school in Bjursele village, having to use skis to get back and forth during winter. His grandfather died of a heart attack so Stieg and his parents moved back to Umea, this time in the more urban area. Here, he celebrated his 12th birthday, on which his parents gave him a typewriter as his gift.
At the age of 15, Stieg witnessed three people that he personally knew brutally beating and raping a young woman. This scarred him for life, vowing to be an anti-extremist and a feminist. He carried guilt for the rest of his life because he felt he could have helped her but didn't out of fear.
In 1971, Stieg began writing science fiction for various magazines and quickly became a fan favorite. In fact, by the very next year he attended his first sci-fi convention. From 1972-74 he published several fanzines and was co-editor or editor of several of them. He would submit some of his short stories to amateur magazines as well.
In 1974 he was drafted into the Swedish military where he spent 16 months in compulsory military service, training as a mortarman.
After returning from the military, he resumed his writing and by 1978 he became the president of Sweden's largest sci-fi fan club.
After he saw that he was becoming a household name in the sci-fi community, Stieg had to change his name. His birth name was Stig and, since he had a close friend who was also an author and also named Stig Larsson, he figured that by adding the 'e' to his own name would ease any confusion between the two. Both names are still pronounced the same even with the spelling difference.
For a while, Stieg worked as a photographer. During this time, he became part of far-left political activism and joined the Communist Workers' League and edited the Swedish journal Fourth International and wrote regularly for the weekly newspaper.
Throughout 1977, Stieg trained a squad of female guerrillas in the use of mortars. He contracted a kidney disease and was forced to quit that work. Once he recovered, he worked as a graphic designer for the largest Swedish news agency for 22 years.
His political convictions led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, which was established to fight against the growth of the extreme right and the white power culture. He also became the editor of the foundation's magazine. When he wasn't at his day job, he did extensive independent research into right-wing extremism which resulted in his first book Extremhögern (The Extreme Right). Stieg quickly became influential in documenting and exposing the extreme right and racist organizations. He was a strong lecturer and debater on the subject, living his life under death threats from his political enemies.
In 1991, Stieg got word that his mother had died. She was suffering from breast cancer but ultimately died from an aneurysm.
In 2004, Stieg died from a supposed heart attack. There is still much speculation that he was murdered, either by his political enemies or by the people he planned to expose in his Millennium series which had not yet been published. After his death, the three manuscripts were found and published. In America, these three books are knows as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The first two books won Best Swedish Crime Novel Awards in 2005 and 2006. Longtime partner Eva Gabrielsson stated that these books were a product of Stieg's guilt for failing to help the girl he witnessed being raped when he was 15. She stated that he never forgave himself for it. She said the books allowed Stieg to express a view of the world that he never could as a journalist and that the fundamental narratives were portraits of a Sweden that nobody knew. Eva went on to say, "Everything of this nature described in the Millennium trilogy has happened at one time or another to a Swedish citizen, journalist, politician, public prosecutor, unionist, or policeman. Nothing was made up."
Stieg also had about 3/4 of a fourth book written and synopses of a fifth and sixth but these remain unpublished and unfinished. David Lagercrantz was contracted to continue the series in 2013. In 2015, the book The Girl in the Spider's Web was released and the sequel The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye was released in 2017.
In 2009, the Swedish film production company Yellow Bird produced film versions of the books. They starred Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist.
Harvey Milk - November 27, 1978
As a child, Harvey Milk endured a lot of bullying from his fellow classmates because of his big ears and feet. He overcame the bullying, however, by putting his looks to use and becoming the class clown. Instead of hating his classmates, he made them laugh and learned to laugh at himself and keep a positive attitude. He played football in school and developed a taste for opera. He knew even at such a young age that he was gay but he kept it a closely guarded secret.
After graduating, Harvey signed up for the US Navy during the Korean War. He served as a diving officer aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake. He eventually transferred to Naval Station, San Diego to serve as a diving instructor. In 1955, he was honorably discharged at the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.
After leaving the military, he began teaching at George W. Hewlett High School on Long Island. In 1956, he met Joe Campbell at the Jacob Riis Park beach which was a popular beach for gay men. Campbell was seven years younger than Harvey, but he still pursued him passionately. Even after they moved in together, Harvey continually wrote romantic love poems for Joe. After growing bored with New York, the two moved to Dallas, Texas. They found nothing but unhappiness there and decided to move back to New York. Harvey got a job at an insurance firm as an actuarial statistician. After 6 years, the two split up. That was Harvey's longest relationship. Harvey soon struck up a new relationship with Craig Rodwell who was 10 years younger and an activist for gay rights. Craig was arrested at a rally and charged with inciting a riot. He spent three days in jail. Harvey quickly ended the relationship because of Craig's tendency to agitate the police.
Harvey quit his job at the insurance company and became a researcher for the Wall Street firm Bache & Company. Harvey was excellent at his job and was frequently promoted. Harvey then started up a relationship with 16 year old Jack Galen McKinley and recruited him to work on Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. Harvey focused on his job first and Jack became jealous, threatening suicide if Harvey didn't give him enough attention. Harvey finally got tired of Jack's persistent rants and took him to the hospital to visit ex and friend Joe Campbell who was recuperating from a suicide attempt himself.
Harvey decided it was time for a change. He wanted to move to San Francisco and Jack wanted to stay in New York and work on stage productions. Their relationship came to an end and Harvey moved like he wanted to and began working at an investment firm. In 1970, after the US invasion of Cambodia, Harvey became frustrated with the political climate and stopped taking care of himself. His hair grew out long and, when his boss confronted him about it, Harvey refused to cut it and was fired.
Harvey drifted back to New York, working as a theater aide with O'Horgan's Theater Company, becoming an associate producer for several plays. The time he spent with flower children (or hippies) wore away a lot of his conservatism. At this point, Harvey had no real plan for the future. He just existed. He began a relationship with Scott Smith and the two moved to San Francisco. In 1973, the two opened a camera shop.
Harvey became more invested in political and civic matters when he was faced with civic issues and policies that he disliked. On a particular day in 1973, a young bureaucrat walked into Harvey's store and informed him that he owed $100 as a deposit against state sales tax. The two traded shouts and the cost was eventually reduced to $30. On a separate occasion, Harvey realized the government's priorities were not aligned when a teacher came and asked to borrow a projector because the one at the school was not working and the government wouldn't fund them a new one. The final straw was when Harvey and a few friends were watching the Watergate hearings. Attorney General John N. Mitchell consistently stated "I do not recall" when asked any question, which angered Harvey to the point of him kicking the television. He decided to run for city supervisor, later stating, "I finally reached the point where I knew I had to become involved or shut up."
Harvey searched for endorsements and after receiving an icy 'no' from Jim Foster, he looked elsewhere. Some gay bar owners who were still battling harassment by the police decided to endorse him. He tried to run without using money and advertisements and instead came up with a plan and traveled throughout the city making speeches and trying to relate to the crowds. He earned 16,900 votes, coming in 10th out of 32 candidates. He didn't let this stop him, however. He still remained active in the community, helping the "little guys" get what they deserved from corporations. As his popularity grew, he ran again in 1975. He cut his hair and swore off marijuana in order to be taken seriously. He lost the election, coming in seventh place.
Mayor Moscone appointed Charles Gain as police chief, which caused an uproar in the SFPD. Gain had criticized the police many times for their abuse of power, racial insensitivity, and alcohol abuse on the job. Gain made it clear that things would change and that gay people would be welcome on the force. His announcement became national news.
In 1976, Mayor Moscone appointed Harvey Milk to Board of Permit Appeals, making him the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. He was only on the board for five weeks before he was fired. It was against the law for appointed and elected officials to run a campaign when they were on duty. Harvey broke that law and announced he was running for California State Assembly. Throughout his campaign, Harvey was a representative of the gay community. While visiting San Francisco, President Ford was walking from his hotel to his car when Sara Jane Moore attempted to shoot him. A former Marine who happened to be walking by grabbed her arm and pushed the gun downwards. The shot hit the pavement, saving the president's life. The Marine turned out to be Bill Sipple, the man who broke Joe Campbell's heart which led to Joe's suicide attempt. He was on psychiatric leave from the military and refused to be called a hero. Sipple did not want his sexuality exposed, however, Harvey saw this as an opportunity to show that the public perception of gay people would be improved if they knew that a gay man saved the president. So, he contacted a newspaper. The story didn't unfold as Harvey thought it would. Instead, writer Herb Caen exposed Sipple as gay and a friend of Harvey's. Time magazine labeled Harvey as leader of the gay community and reporters hounded Sipple and his family. Sipple's mother, a strict Baptist, cut all ties with him. Sipple sued the paper for invasion of privacy. President Ford sent him a note of thanks for saving his life. Harvey stated that it was only because Sipple was a gay man that he received a thank-you note instead of being invited to the White House.
Harvey continued his campaign, recruited random people off the streets and kids to help him. His rallies may have been a success but on the inside his campaign was disorganized. His campaign manager's assistant was an 11-year-old girl. Harvey's notes and volunteer lists were on scrap pieces of paper. His "funds" came out of the register of his camera store with no consideration for accounting. Lover Scott Smith became filled with disappointment as Harvey was no longer the laid-back hippie he'd fallen in love with, eventually breaking off the relationship. Milk lost the election by just under 4,000 votes. He ran again in 1977, winning at last. Harvey had been receiving a heavy amount of death threats since his run for State Assembly and they only worsened when he won the race for City Supervisor. Harvey stated in his winning speech, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
Harvey's swearing-in made national headlines because he had become the first openly gay man to win an election for public office. Other people sworn in that day were also firsts for the city, they being single mother Carol Ruth Silver, Chinese-American Gordon Lau, and African-American Ella Hill Hutch.
Milk began his term by sponsoring a civil rights bill that made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal. Only one supervisor voted against it. The bill passed into law. The next bill he worked on was the "pooper scooper law" which required dog owners to pick up their pet's excrement. It earned him the most fan mail of his entire tenure in politics.
Harvey got a call from his newest lover, Jack Lira. Jack was drunk yet again and demanded he come home. When Harvey arrived, he found that Jack had hanged himself. Jack had been severely depressed lately because of the public's growing support for John Briggs, a man who was dead-set on punishing gay people for no other reason than the fact they were gay. John Briggs began the Briggs Initiative, which was a proposed law that would make the firing of gay teachers and the firing of supporters of gay rights mandatory. Harvey attended every event Briggs hosted and fought against the proposed law as hard as he could. Briggs tried to make people believe that pedophiles were all gay but Harvey fought back with statistics straight from the police that pedophiles identified primarily as heterosexual. During one of the events, Briggs and Harvey engaged in quick-wit banter against each other. Harvey shut Briggs down by saying, "If it were true that children mimicked their teachers, you'd sure have a helluva lot more nuns running around."
Attendance at Gay Pride marches during the summer of 1978 swelled. An estimated 250 to 375 thousand people were in attendance. Newspapers claimed this was due to Briggs. The Briggs Initiative faced heavy opposition, even from the likes of former California governor Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter. The Initiative was shut down by more than a million votes, a huge win for Harvey and gay activists everywhere.
On November 10, 1978, Dan White resigned his position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After a few days, he requested that his resignation be withdrawn and Mayor Moscone at first agreed, but after further consideration and influence from the rest of the board, Mayor Moscone decided not to withdraw White's resignation and instead appoint someone more in line with the growing ethnic diversity and the liberal leanings of the Board.
On November 27, 1978, Mayor Moscone intended to announce White's replacement. A half hour before the press conference, White entered City Hall through the basement window, avoiding metal detectors, and entered Mayor Moscone's office, shooting the mayor in the shoulder and chest then twice in the head. White reloaded his gun and walked to his former office. He saw Harvey and asked him to step aside for a minute. He shot Harvey five times, two of those shots being in the head. Within an hour, White called his wife from a nearby diner. She met him at a church and stayed with him when he turned himself in to the police.
That evening, 25 to 40,000 people formed a candlelight march from Castro Street to City Hall, many of them leaving flowers on the steps of City Hall. A service was held for Mayor Moscone at St. Mary's Cathedral where 4,500 mourners attended. Two memorials were held for Harvey, a small one for family and friends at Temple Emanu-El and a big one for the public at the Opera House where 6,000 people attended.
Paul Walker - November 30, 2013
Paul William Walker IV was born to a fashion model mom and a sewer contractor dad who also was a two-time Golden Gloves Champion boxer. Paul's grandfather was also a boxer, known as "Irish" Billy Walker. His other grandfather raced factory cars for Ford during the 1960s. Paul was raised in Los Angeles and attended high school in Sun Valley's Village Christian School, graduating in 1991. He was raised a Mormon as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Paul attended several community colleges, majoring in marine biology.
Paul's showbiz career started even as far back as the age of three in a Pampers commercial. While going through High School, he landed roles on Highway to Heaven, Who's the Boss?, The Young and The Restless, and Touched by an Angel. His first film role was in 1986 in Monster in the Closet. He finally gained fame in the comedy Meet the Deedles. This led to supporting roles in hits like Pleasantville and Varsity Blues.
Paul moved out on his own and lived in Santa Barbara. He adopted dogs and surfed in his free time. He met Rebecca McBrain, who he loved but never married. They had a daughter named Meadow Rain Walker. Rebecca and Paul broke up and she took Meadow to live with her in Hawaii where she would live for the first 13 years of her life.
He landed his breakout role in 2001 in The Fast and the Furious opposite Vin Diesel. He secured his spot in fame with this film which helped him grab more major roles such as Timeline and Into the Blue and even a supporting role in the Clint Eastwood directed Flags of Our Fathers.
In 2006, Paul starred in Disney's Eight Below which was given critical acclaim and hit number one at the box office, grossing well over $20 million during its first weekend. He made films that he wanted to make rather than getting stuck in contract deals with studios. In fact, Fast & Furious was the only franchise he openly stated he'd continue returning to as he absolutely loved the stunts and racing. He also had become close with costars Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson, both of whom considered Paul like a brother to them.
While maintaining his film career, Paul had studied jiu-jitsu and reached the Brown Belt level. Paul also continued holding an interest in marine biology and in 2006 joined The Billfish Foundation. He fulfilled a lifelong dream by starring in a National Geographic series titled Shark Men. He spent 11 days as part of the crew, catching and tagging seven great white sharks off the coast of Mexico.
In 2007, professional racer Roger Rodas became Paul's financial adviser and helped him establish Reach Out Worldwide, a humanitarian organization. Paul also owned a high-end vehicle performance shop called Always Evolving in which Roger was the CEO.
In 2010, Paul traveled to Constitucion, Chile to offer help and support to the people injured in the 8.8 mag earthquake. He and his humanitarian team, Reach Out Worldwide, also flew to Haiti to help victims of the Haiti earthquake.
In 2011, daughter Meadow returned to California to live with Paul. Paul had started dating Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell and the three got along wonderfully. Paul also converted to non-denominational Christianity the same year.
On November 30, 2013, Paul and Roger Rodas left an event for Paul's charity Reach Out Worldwide which was raising money to support victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Roger was driving his Porsche Carrera GT and Paul was the passenger. There had been a tree that fell that neither were aware of. Roger turned the curve and swerved to miss the tree, slamming into a concrete lamp post, bouncing off and slamming into two other trees. The car caught fire. Roger died of multiple trauma and Paul died of trauma and burns. By the time Fire and Rescue arrived and the fire was put out, both of the men's bodies were burned beyond recognition. Both Meadow Walker and Roger's widow Kristine filed wrongful death lawsuits against Porsche. The judge ruled in favor of Porsche both times.
Fans visited the crash site days upon days, laying flowers and memorials on the site. Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson both visited the site as well, leaving flowers and speaking to the fans as a way of sorting through their grief and comforting everyone else as well. Cody Walker, Paul's brother, took his place as head of Reach Out Worldwide and also helped Universal finish Furious 7, which was halfway finished when Paul died.
Jim Nabors - November 30, 2017
Jim Nabors, born in Alabama, had a love for the entertainment field at a young age. He sang for his high school and church and attended the University of Alabama where he began acting in skits. After graduating, he moved to New York City where he worked as a typist for the United Nations. After a year, he moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where he got his first job in the television industry as a film cutter.
Because of his asthma, Jim moved to Los Angeles to work as a film cutter for NBC. He also worked in a tavern called The Horn, singing and acting in a cabaret theater. At the club, comedian Bill Dana saw Jim's act and invited him to appear on The Steve Allen Show. Jim signed on, but unfortunately it was canceled not long after. Jim continued working at The Horn where he was eventually discovered by Andy Griffith. Andy put in a good word and Jim was hired to play a one-shot role of Gomer Pyle, an "addlebrained" gas station employee on The Andy Griffith Show. Jim's character became so popular that he was made a regular on the show and was later given his own spin-off show Gomer Pyle, USMC.
Despite Gomer Pyle airing during the Vietnam War, the show remained popular because it avoided war-related themes and instead focused on the hilarious relationship between Gomer and Sergeant Carter. After five seasons the show was canceled and Jim moved on to The Jim Nabors Hour, a variety show. The show was popular with fans, but not critics. Regardless of the critical bashing, it still received an Emmy nomination. After the show was canceled, Jim began a nationwide roadshow.