In the past two days, the world has lost two film icons. Actor Douglas Rain and legendary comic book writer and producer Stan Lee have died, aged 90 and 95 respectively.
Douglas Rain, born March 13, 1928 in Winnipeg, Canada, was a revered actor and narrator. Though primarily a stage actor, he provided the voice of the HAL 9000 computer for the 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, and its 1984 sequel, 2010.
The HAL 9000 computer was the sentient controller of life support, systems, and the very mission of Discovery One, the spacecraft that is sent to Jupiter to investigate a mysterious black obelisk in the landmark science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. Rain’s somewhat creepy and detached reading of HAL’s lines made the computer’s murders of three astronauts, as they slept in suspended animation, and the stranding of astronaut Frank Poole to die in open space all the more gripping. The American Film Institute ranked HAL as the 13th greatest movie villain of all time.
The Stratford Festival of Canada, of which Rain was a founding member, released a statement following the announcement of his death.
“Today we lost Douglas Rain, a member of our founding company and a hugely esteemed presence on our stages for 32 seasons. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Rain died on November 11, 2018 at St. Marys Memorial Hospital in St. Marys, Ontario, of natural causes. He leaves three children and a grandchild behind.
With a memorable career on stage and in film spanning four decades, Rain is sure to be missed greatly by fans young and old.
Stan Lee, born Stanley Martin Lieber, was an American comic-book writer, editor, film executive producer, actor, and publisher. Born December 28, 1922 in Manhattan, New York, Lee began his career at what was then Timely Comics in 1939, at the age of 17.
For many years, the comic book business had been dominated by DC Comics, creators of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern. In the late 1950s, DC started reimagining its heroes, kicking off what comic historians call the “Silver Age” of the business. The figures were still largely otherworldly and two-dimensional, living in made-up places such as Metropolis and Gotham City.
In the early 1960s, Lee was asked to come up with a team of superheroes to compete against DC’s Justice League. In collaboration with several artists, including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created fictional characters including Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, and, with the addition of co-writer Larry Lieber, the characters Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor.
Marvel Comics had revitalised the comics business with a series of flawed, more human superheroes. Its figures lived in the real world and struggled with everyday challenges, whether it was paying the rent or wondering about their purposes in life. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation, as well as making cameo appearances in all of the over twenty Marvel films.
Lee’s daughter told sources an ambulance rushed to Lee’s Hollywood Hills home early Monday morning. He was then rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he later died. Lee had suffered several illnesses over the last year or so, including a bout of pneumonia and vision issues. Lee is survived by his daughter, J.C. Lee. His beloved wife of 69 years, Joan Lee, died in 2017.
Lee was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. Lee also received a National Medal of Arts in 2008. Stan Lee’s legacy will live on through his art and in the hearts of his legions of fans around the world.
We at Spectrum FM will surely miss these icons of modern film and hope they may rest in peace.