Happy 100th to a familiar, often villainous, face

Nehemiah Persoff in Mission: Impossible

Aug. 2 is the 100th birthday for Nehemiah Persoff, a character actor who excelled at playing villains.

Persoff, over a career lasting from the late 1940s to the early 2000s, played:

–A Blofeld-like villain in the 1961 John Wayne Western The Comancheros;

–A secondary Thrush villain out to kill his former mentor Mandor (Jack Lord) in The Master’s Touch Affair in the final season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.;

–Three episodes of The Wild Wild West, including the show’s 1965 pilot;

–Two episodes of I Spy, three episodes of Mission: Impossible, an episode of It Takes a Thief, and seven episodes of Hawaii Five-O.

Persoff could play heavies in comedies as well as dramas.

For example, Persoff played gangster Little Bonaparte in 1959’s Some Like It Hot. The mobster was hearing impaired, wearing hearing aids. Little Bonaparte has fellow gangster Spats Columbo (George Raft) and his men gunned down at a party, with the killer coming out of a large cake.

A lawman played by Pat O’Brien enters asking what happened.

“There was something in that cake that didn’t agree with them,” Little Bonaparte replies.

Luciana Paluzzi attends Thunderball screening

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

Luciana Paluzzi, who played femme fatale Fiona Volpe in Thunderball, attended a screening of the fourth James Bond film and took some questions.

The film was shown at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, owned by writer-director Quentin Tarantino.

Today I moderated a surprise Q&A at the @newbeverly with THUNDERBALL star Luciana Paluzzi after watching a gorgeous Technicolor print of the film,” writer Matthew Chernov said on Twitter.

“It was a packed house, and Ms. Paluzzi wept in happiness because this was the first time her grandchildren saw her on the big screen.”

The theater is showing five 1960s James Bond films this month, with each showing at 2 p.m. local time on Wednesdays. Thunderball, starring Sean Connery and released in late 1965, came out at the peak of 1960s spymania.

Paluzzi, 82, also made appearances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and Hawaii Five-O during her career.

Here is Chernov’s tweet:

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Five-O writer tells anecdotes about the series

Jerome Coopersmith’s title card for Nine Dragons, a ninth-season episode of Hawaii Five-O

Jerome Coopersmith, a writer on the original Hawaii Five-O series, chatted recently with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his time on the 1968-80 show.

Coopersmith, 93, wrote or helped write 32 episodes, including three featuring arch-villain Wo Fat.

According to the story, Coopersmith wrote his scripts at his home on Long Island. He would then take them to the CBS mailroom in New York City and they’d be flown overnight to Los Angeles.

Five-O had production offices in both Hollywood and Hawaii. Coopersmith also flew to Los Angeles for meetings with producers.

He was busiest on the series during the fourth through eighth seasons. He departed after penning the first two episodes of the ninth season.

Some of the highlights in the article include:

Ideas for scripts: “Some were suggested by the producers, but for the most part, the ideas came from reading the newspapers,” Coopersmith told the newspaper.

“A fabulous variety of crimes are committed every day,” the scribe added. “All I had to do was figure out how to transplant them to Hawaii, and how to make the criminals smarter than they are in real life so that it would take ‘Five-O’ an hour to catch up with them and not just five minutes. In real life most criminals are stupid.”

Local actors on Five-O: Creator-executive producer Leonard Freeman “wanted authentic Hawaiian faces on the ‘Five-O’ team,” Coopersmith told the Star-Advertiser. “That’s why he cast it that way.

“Besides his fondness for locals, there was another reason. When you cast Hollywood actors from the mainland you have to pay their travel and living expenses on Oahu, which strains the budget.”

While the article is of interest for fans of the original Five-O, some caveats are in order.

Coopersmith mis-remembers some details. He describes writing a 1975 episode titled Diary of a Gun. A cheap handgun keeps changing hands, with tragic events occurring.

“CBS was afraid of doing the show, but Len Freeman and (star) Jack Lord were strongly for it, and it was done,” Coopersmith told the newspaper. Problem: Freeman died in early 1974.

Coopersmith also tells anecdotes about Nine Dragons, a two-hour Wo Fat episode that led off the ninth season (1976-77). He mentions Bob Sweeney prominently.

Problem: Sweeney, whose title was supervising producer, worked on the show during the fourth through seventh seasons. He had departed Five-O long before Nine Dragons.

Noah Keen, character actor, dies at 98

Noah Keen, right, with James Gregory and Jack Lord in the pilot to Hawaii Five-O

Noah Keen, a veteran character actor whose career ran from the late 1950s into the 2000s, died last month at 98, according to a Los Angeles Times obituary.

Keen’s parts included a doctor who programs Steve McGarrett to impart false information under an unusual torture in the pilot to Hawaii Five-O. As a result, Chinese spy Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) takes the false information with him back to his government.

When Keen’s character meets McGarrett (Jack Lord), he reads from a dossier that indicates the lawman, during his days in the military was “an organizational misfit,” received some presidential citations and “flies by the seat of his pants.”

His other TV series credits included Have Gun-Will Travel, The FBI, The Twilight Zone, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, It Takes a Thief and Mission: Impossible. The final credit listed in his IMDB.COM ENTRY was a 2006 episode of The Sopranos.

Joseph Sirola, character actor and voice over artist, dies

Joseph Sirola as U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye is about to spring a surprise on Steve McGarrett and let Wo Fat go in The Jinn Who Clears the Way,

Joseph Sirola, a character blessed with a voice that attracted much voice over work, has died at 89, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sirola “died of complications from respiratory failure Sunday at a rehabilitation hospital in New York City,” according to the entertainment news website and trade publication.

The actor played villains in second-, third- and fourth-season episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He also portrayed U.S. spymaster Jonathan Kaye in five episodes of the original Hawaii Five-O series.

In his final appearance as Kaye, in The Jinn Who Clears the Way, his character springs a major surprise on Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett. The Big Kahuna has captured arch villain Wo Fat. But Kaye makes the lawman let the villain go because there’s to be a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and China.

Sirola was known the “King of the Voice-Overs,” THR said, citing a 1970 Wall Street Journal about his frequent work on commercials., Sirola also won a Tony in 2014 for producing the musical , THR said.

Here’s the end of The Jinn Who Clears the Way:

Nancy Wilson dies at 81

Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson, an accomplished singer who also was cast in dramatic parts on television, has died at 81, according to The Washington Post.

Wilson’s “beguiling expressiveness in jazz, R&B, gospel, soul and pop made her a crossover recording star for five decades,” The Post said. She died on Nov. 13.

An excerpt from The Post’s obituary:

Jazz historian and critic Will Friedwald, in his volume “A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers,” called Ms. Wilson a formidable presence in pop, jazz and blues — “the most important vocalist to come along after these three genres were codified and move freely among them.”

Wilson caught the eye of casting directors, including parts where a character was also a singer.

Among her acting credits were:

I Spy, “Lori”: Wilson played the title character in the episode written by series creators Morton Fine and David Friedkin. Wilson’s Lori was the sister of a man (Greg Morris) suspected of killing members of a team trained in detecting underground nuclear tests. But the situation isn’t as clear as it seems. Wilson was a friend of I Spy star Bill Cosby, according to The Post’s obituary.

Hawaii Five-O, “Trouble In Mind”: Wilson played Eadie Jordan, a singer addicted to heroin. She’s in Hawaii at the same time poison-laced heroin is being circulated. Five-O is trying to find the source of the deadly heroin. The cast included Morton Stevens, composer of the famous Five-O theme, as a musician who dies from poisoned heroin.

The FBI, “The Confession”: Wilson was Darlene Clark, a diva singer. Her manager Abel Norton (Hal Linden) blames her for the death of his son. Norton then kidnaps her daughter. The idea is to force Darlene to publicly confess to a hit-and-run accident years earlier. The cast also included a mustache-less Tom Selleck as an FBI agent.

John D.F. Black, Star Trek, Five-O writer, dies

McGarrett thinks he has Wo Fat in custody but a U.S. spymaster is about to spring a surprise in The Jinn Who Clears the Way, written by John D.F. Black

John D.F. Black, a writer whose credits included the original Star Trek and Hawaii Five-O series, has died at 85, according to the Star Trek.com and Jacobs Brown Press websites

The writer died on Nov. 29, the websites said. Jacobs Brown said it had been informed by Black’s widow.

Black wrote for various television series including Mission: Impossible, The FBI and Mannix. He submitted a script (The Charge d’Affair) during the fourth season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But it went unproduced after the series was canceled in midseason.

The scribe was versatile, writing for various genres, including westerns (Laredo, The High Virginian) and comedies (The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Besides his television work, he also co-scripted the original 1971 Shaft movie, starring Richard Roundtree and directed by Gordon Parks.

Black had the title of associate producer during part of Star Trek’s first season. He acted as story editor, helping secure and revise scripts. He wrote The Naked Time, where the Enterprise crew suddenly lose their inhibitions. Black also received two “story by” credits (one under the pen name Ralph Wills) on the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. One was a sequel to The Naked Time.

On Five-O, Black penned 10 episodes, including five in the first season. On some he received solo credit, on others his scripts based on plots from the show’s creator and executive producer, Leonard Freeman.

Black also wrote three episodes featuring arch-villain Wo Fat: A two-parter in the fourth season (The Ninety-Second War) and a single-part story (The Jinn Who Clears the Way) in the fifth.

The latter was Black’s finale for the show and he went out with a bang. McGarrett (Jack Lord) finally has Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh) in custody. But before McGarrett can savor the triumph, U.S. official Jonathan Kaye (Joseph Sirola) arrives. He lets Wo Fat go because the mastermind is to be exchanged for a U.S. spy plane pilot.

The episode ends with McGarrett slamming Wo Fat’s phony U.S. passport an object on the lawman’s desk. It was one of the highlights of the entire series. (I have been advised by those who’ve reviewed the sequence in slow motion it wasn’t Wo Fat’s phony U.S. passport.)