In the past few days, we have lost the actors John Hurt, Mary Tyler Moore and Emmanuelle Riva.
John Hurt’s magnificent career started in the 1960s, but I first noticed him in 1976 when he leaped out of the screen as the lethally mad Caligula when PBS broadcast the BBC miniseries I, Claudius. Hurt is probably most recognized (by my generation) for his Oscar-nominated performance as the title character in 1980’s The Elephant Man or as the first victim of the alien in Alien. But Hurt was always able to stay current with performances in popular films like V for Vendetta and Hellboy and he played Ollivander in the Harry Potter movies. He also recently made Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) and Snowpiercer (2013), and was the best thing (as The Priest) about the awful film Jackie (2016). My own favorite John Hurt performance was as the more disciplined hit man in the 1984 British neo-noir The Hit.
Mary Tyler Moore, of course, is a giant of television history because of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and all the fine shows produced by her MTM Enterprises. And her Mary Richards instantly became a societal icon. If ever anyone doubts the genius of her comic timing, they can just watch the 4-minute Chuckles the Clown funeral from the Mary Tyler Moore Show (it’s on YouTube).
She made very few movies, but they are worth remembering. She was Oscar-nominated for her still, emotionally distant parent in Ordinary People – a performance that she later said that she had modeled on her own father. She was hilarious as Ben Stiller’s mom in Flirting With Disaster. And she was also Elvis Presley’s last movie leading lady in the unintentionally funny Change of Habit, in which she played a social worker nun (!) who had to choose between her religious order and the ghetto doctor (Elvis!).
Emmanuelle Riva’s 89 screen credits are spread over the past SEVEN decades. She was a fixture of the French New Wave, beginning with Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour in 1959. We remember her Oscar-nominated performance in 2012’s heartbreaking Alzheimer’s drama Amour.