A generation confronts its mortality

Dean Martin as Matt Helm with Stella Stevens in The Silencers.

The Baby Boomer generation is confronting its own mortality.

Just this month, the obituary pages included entries for Burt Bacharach, Raquel Welch, Stella Stevens and Gerald Fried. As this is being written, former President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) has entered hospice care.

The Boomers, roughly born from 1946-1964, have already seen many of their icons pass away. But in February 2023, the toll has come fast and heavy.

The post-World War II generation caused many disruptions: A surge of children after World War II disrupted public schools. A generation that had an impact with protests during the Vietnam War. Etc., etc.

The broader social issues associated with the Boomers can’t be examined in detail here. Nevertheless, the Boomer impact was felt in a serious way in the 1960s and ’70s. That impact still is felt a half-century after the Boomer peak.

Things move on. Boomers are moving to the long goodnight. The Spycraze was driven by Boomers. We probably won’t see anything quite like the Spycraze.

That’s how life works.

Raquel Welch dies at 82

Cover to the Fathom soundtrack

Raquel Welch, one of the most famous sex symbols of the 20th century, has died, according to various outlets, including The New York Times.

Welch was in the running to play Domino in Thunderball. She almost had the role but Claudine Auger was cast. Welch instead ended up starring in Fantastic Voyage, where a team of scientists (and a security agent played by Stephen Boyd) is miniaturized and injected into the body of a defecting scientist to perform delicate surgery. One of the team, it turns out, is a traitor.

Welch ended up with her own entry in the spy craze: Fathom. It included a main title sequence by Maurice Bender of Raquel Welch packing a parachute.

Welch’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 70 acting roles from 1964 until 2017. They included movies such as One Million Years B.C., Kansas City Bomber and The Last of Shiela.

Claudine Auger dies at 78

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger in Thunderball

Claudine Auger, who played the lead female character in Thunderball, died this week at 78, the French newspaper Sud Quest reported.

Auger died on Wednesday. The newspaper cited “the artistic agency Art Time who represented her” as the source of the information.

The actress won the role of Domino, the mistress of SPECTRE villain Emilo Largo (Adolfo Celi) in Thunderball. James Bond (Sean Connery) wins over Domino, who provides the British agent help on his mission. In the film’s climax, Domino kills Largo with a spear gun, saving Bond’s life.

Auger turned 24 during production of the fourth Bond movie. Other contenders for the role included Julie Christie, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway. Thunderball was a huge hit and came out at the peak of the 1960s spy craze.

The November 1965 U.S. television special The Incredible World of James Bond included a Thunderball scene at a Nassau casino where Auger and Celi could be heard speaking in their own voices. Both were dubbed for the final version of the movie, which came out a month later.

Auger’s IMDB.COM entry lists 80 acting credits, lasting into the 1990s.

Leslie H. Martinson, versatile director, dies at 101

Cover to the Fathom soundtrack

Cover to the Fathom soundtrack

Leslie H. Martinson, a versatile director who mostly worked in television, has died at 101, according to an obituary published by The New York Times.

Martinson’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists 108 directing credits, from 1953 through 1989. Besides TV, he also directed some movies, including the 1966 Batman feature based on the Adam West television show and 1963’s PT 109, with Cliff Robertson playing John F. Kennedy as a U.S. Naval officer in World War II.

Naturally, with a resume that long, Martinson dabbled in spy entertainment.

Another one of his movie credits was 1967’s Fathom, Raquel Welch’s entry into the 1960s spy craze. It also featured a script by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and main titles designed by Maurice Binder, and prominently feature the movie’s star.

What’s more, Martinson directed nine episodes of the original Mission: Impossible series. Those episodes ran during the show’s later seasons.

The director worked at various studios. He was in demand at Warner Bros. in the late 1950s and early ’60s, directing episodes of the studio’s detective (77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, Bourbon Street Beat, Surfside 6) and western (Maverick, Lawman, Cheyenne) series.

In the latter category, Martinson directed a particularly amusing Maverick installment, Gun-Shy,  which was a parody of the hugely popular CBS western Gunsmoke.

In Gun-Shy, Bret Maverick (James Garner) keeps running afoul of Marshal Mort Dooley. Maverick is repeatedly thrown out of town by Dooley. But Bret, trying to find buried riches, keeps coming back. Writer Marion Hargrove even threw in a joke referencing another CBS western, Have Gun-Will Travel.

Eventually, Bret has to face off against Dooley in a gunfight. But Maverick outsmarts the marshal by staying just outside the range of the lawman’s pistol. Martinson staged the sequence as a send-up of the opening of Gunsmoke where Marshal Matt Dillon faced off against a gunfighter.