EmptyPercy Rodrigues, whose role as a neurosurgeon on the 1960s ABC series "Peyton Place" broke ground because he was cast as an authority figure when relatively few black actors were given such parts, died Sept. 6 of kidney failure at his home in Indio, Calif. He was 89.
With a booming voice and a commanding presence, Rodrigues also had a long career as a voice actor, perhaps best known for his ominous narration of the movie trailers and radio and TV ads for 1975's "Jaws."
When Rodrigues was added to the "Peyton Place" cast in 1968, the headline in the Los Angeles Times said, "A Doctor's Role for Negro Actor." From the 1950s-'80s, he acted in more than 80 film and television productions.
Sigrid Ann Davison, an executive handling international motion pictures sales, distribution, marketing, acquisition and co- production, died Aug. 26 after a long illness at her home in Los Angeles. She was 49.
Davison began her film career at Universal Pictures International Sales, moving to the world of independent distribution at Skouras Pictures, where she became senior vp international.
Returning to the world of larger-budget, major studio films, she directed international sales, distribution and marketing activities as well as raising financing for film projects through international presales for various companies, including Odyssey Entertainment, Cinevox International, Lightmotive, 2K Media AG and Original Voices.
Most recently, Davison was president of international at the Santa Monica-based Motion Picture Corporation of America.
Emilio Ruiz del Rio, the award-winning Spanish set decorator and visual and special effects wizard who worked on such films as "Dr. Zhivago," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Pan's Labyrinth," died Sept. 14 in Madrid. He was 84.
During a career spanning more than 60 years, Ruiz del Rio worked on more than 450 movies in Europe and the U.S., teaming with such directors as Orson Welles ("Mr. Arkadin," 1955), Stanley Kubrick ("Spartacus," 1960) and George Cukor ("Travels With My Aunt," 1970).
Bobby Byrd, a longtime collaborator with the late "Godfather of Soul" James Brown, died Sept. 12 of cancer at his home in Loganville, Ga. He was 73.
A singer, songwriter, keyboard player and arranger, Byrd was one of the chief architects of Brown's trademark sound. His contributions can be heard on early Brown soul tracks and on hits that laid the foundations of funk, like "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine." The punctuating phrase "Get on up," which repeats throughout that song, was sung by Byrd.
Byrd met Brown when they were teenagers playing on opposing baseball teams. Byrd also took Brown into his gospel group. Soon they changed their name to the Famous Flames and their style to hard R&B.
Byrd stayed with the Famous Flames, and the JBs after that, until 1973. Later, he would have a string of modest R&B hits.
Willie Tee, a New Orleans keyboardist, singer and songwriter who melded pop, R&B, jazz, funk and Indian street music into a signature blend, died Sept. 11 of colon cancer in New Orleans. He was 63.
After changing his name to Willie Tee in the early 1960s, he recorded pop songs for Atlantic Records. He had modest success with "Teasin' You" and "Walking Up a One-Way Street," and "Thank You John" became a beach music classic.
In the 1970s, he moved away from pop to jazz, then switched to a harder, funkier sound with the Gaturs. With the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indian group, he helped popularize a musical genre that fused regional sounds into a funky, exotic mix.
He became a scholar in residence at Princeton University in 2006, teaching jazz in the music department.