Milos Forman was a Czech filmmaker who won best director Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus.” He died April 14 at a hospital near his home in Warren, Conn. He was 86. Forman arrived in Hollywood after communist troops invaded his homeland in 1968. His first U.S. film, 1971’s “Taking Off,” flopped and he didn’t direct a major feature again for years. Forman got a second chance with “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) which won five Oscars, including best picture. He received a second Oscar for 1984’s “Amadeus,” which also won for best picture. Other movies he directed included “Hair,” “Ragtime” “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Man on the Moon.”
Yvonne Staples was a member of the renowned soul, gospel and R&B group The Staple Singers. She died April 10 in Chicago. She was 80. Staples performed with her sisters Mavis and Cleotha and their father, Pops, on hits such as “Respect Yourself” and “I'll Take You There,” their first No. 1 hit. The family also became active in the civil rights movement after hearing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver a sermon while they were on tour in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1962. They went on to perform at events at King’s request. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with her family in 1999. The group also received a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 2005.
Susan Anspach was a screen and stage actress best known for playing non-conformists in “Five Easy Pieces,” “Blume in Love” and other films. She died April 2 of heart failure at her home in Los Angeles, her son said. She was 75. Anspach had an extensive stage career before breaking into movies in the early 1970s. She starred in the original off-Broadway production of “Hair” and in a production of “A View From the Bridge” that also featured Robert Duvall and Jon Voight. She appeared as Woody Allen’s ex-wife in the movie “Play It Again, Sam.” She was also a political activist who marched with United Farm Workers head Cesar Chavez, protested the racist apartheid system of South Africa and advocated for human rights in Central America.
Mitzi Shore was owner of the Los Angeles club the Comedy Store and one of the most influential figures in stand-up for more than four decades. She died April 11. She was 87. She took over ownership of the two-year-old club on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip after divorcing its co-founder, comedian Sammy Shore, in 1974. Virtually every major comic from Richard Pryor to Robin Williams to Jerry Seinfeld used the club as a stepping-stone and returned to hone their acts after gaining fame.
Chuck McCann was a character actor in films and TV who became a prolific voice actor. He died April 8 of congestive heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 83. McCann created the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, who cried “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!” in commercials. He also lent his voice to characters on “The Garfield Show,” “DuckTales: Remastered” and “The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.” He appeared in his first major film, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” in 1968. He made guest appearances on shows including “Little House on the Prairie,” “Bonanza,” and “Columbo.”
Lois Wheeler Snow was a former actress and writer whose criticism of human rights abuses in China was amplified by the legacy of her husband, American journalist Edgar Snow. She died April 3 at a hospital in Nyon, Switzerland. She was 97. She was an up-and-coming Broadway actress in 1949 when she married Snow, a native of Kansas City whose “Red Star Over China” (1937) was a sympathetic portrayal of China’s struggling young communist revolutionaries, many of whom would go on to lead the People’s Republic of China. She and her husband were treated like royalty on her first visit to China in 1970, and even after her husband died in 1972, she remained on friendly terms with Chinese leaders and continued to visit China frequently. But her friendship with Chinese officials soured following the government’s violent suppression of Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989.
Donald McKayle was a modern dancer and choreographer who brought the black experience in America to the Broadway stage in musicals such as “Raisin” and “Sophisticated Ladies.” He died April 6. He was 87. McKayle was the first African-American man to both direct and choreograph major Broadway musicals, including 1973’s “Raisin,” which won the Tony as best musical, and 1981’s “Sophisticated Ladies.” He also choreographed for movies and TV shows and was professor emeritus of dance at the University of California, Irvine.
Isao Takahata was co-founder of the prestigious Japanese animator Studio Ghibli that stuck to a hand-drawn “manga” look in the face of digital filmmaking. He died April 5 of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital. He was 82. Takahata started Ghibli with Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, hoping to create Japan’s Disney, and helped shape the style and voice of what became one of the world’s most respected animation studios. His last film, “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” based on a Japanese folktale, was nominated for a 2015 Oscar for best animation feature.
Tim O’Connor was a character actor who was probably best known for his role as convict-turned-newspaperman Elliot Carson in the 1960s prime time soap opera “Peyton Place.” He died April 12 at his home in Nevada City, Calif. He was 90. O'Connor’s television career began in the late 1950s, and over the next four decades he appeared in such shows as “Gunsmoke,” “M.A.S.H.,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Murder, She Wrote.” He portrayed Dr. Elias Huer, Buck Rogers’ boss, on the NBC science fiction show “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” (1979-81).
Compiled from news service reports by Chris Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org.