‘Thirty’ for Murray, more in 2022


If you’ve been reading my current run of posts on C-U Blogfidential, then you realize that last year did not treat my family kindly. I had a gut feeling we would be losing my stepfather Carl at some point in 2022, yet I hardly expected that my mother Pat would follow so close behind. I’m still hurting in the wake of their deaths and have been weighed down by my responsibilities as an executor, wage earner, and not-quite homeowner. I technically don’t get a break and, as one of several concessions, I’ve been limited in how much time and effort can be spent on Confidential or anything “fun” that requires a substantial effort. This defeated all of my attempts at creating content over the late fall and winter but, here in the middle of 2023, I’ve managed to resume my writing. It gives me purpose and focuses me on the constructive. It also opens valuable small windows to follow through with some of the material I wanted to post for you.

At the end of 2021, I put together the first article for an annual series in which I’d pay tribute to those who’ve passed away and had contributed to the local film culture or touched our MICRO-FILM world. Of course, I intended to compile a follow-up but I didn’t want to do a halfhearted job on it when my undivided attention and breaking heart needed to be present elsewhere. I’m happy to finally share that piece with you, belated as it may be, for it doesn’t feel “late” as if I had scratched it out in, say, the first week of February instead of the end of December. Now is the right time for it, dearest readers.



In fact, any time is the right time to meditate on the knowledge, love, values, and camaraderie that we once shared with folks who are no longer here. For example, several community members from C-U have recently posted about David Monk, the late prairie activist and conservationist, and were obviously inspired by the warm-weather gatherings held in his memory on May 20 near St. Joseph and Monticello.

This also goes for individuals we didn’t know personally but whose lives, careers, and artistic output we may have followed from afar. Even if the film director, actor, and Hollywood historian Peter Bogdanovich is gone, we can enjoy his cinematic voice and study his narrative approach in his own words by sitting down with his work, such as on the new Blu-ray of his feature debut, TARGETS, released on Tuesday.

Wherever I look, the evidence keeps appearing. In the last few days, I’ve caught pining on social media from folks who are still feeling the large void left by our mutual friends, Stephen Swords and Aaron Davidson, almost a year after their departure. Even in grief and pain, we can still give in order to heal. Tell that enlightening story. Share that unseen picture. Echo that signature truism. Tie together the details that help the rest of us emphasize; while pulling this together, I could not ignore that Bogdanovich and Carlos Anzelmo struggled with Parkinson’s disease in their respective denouements as did our dear Carl. We can function better as humans and a society by channeling the best life lessons they have left behind.

I hope you’ll finish this piece and visit the linked pages to get to know better those who made their mark on the cinema at large and the movies of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond. If you missed the first “Thirty,” named for the journalism parlance used to note the end of a story as well as the target date for running each year’s entry – December 30, my birthday – then by all means, take a few minutes more to give those friends and acquaintances their due. In fact, when I get a break on a nice temperate day, I should head over to Ottawa and pay a visit to the long-gone B-film entrepreneur, K. Gordon Murray, who in part motivated this series. Maybe a Saturday afternoon matinee showing by yours truly will do.

Did I miss anyone who you think should be included in these remembrances? Always feel free to send us suggestions at cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com. Links and verifiable information are helpful. Thanks!

~ Jason Pankoke



Please click on the links for further reading about these individuals who passed away in 2022.

Aaron Davidson, 48, Jul. 22
An essential service worker of downtown Champaign and loyal friend to the music scene, Davidson expressed big dreams about making movies. He volunteered his time on sets and at festivals from C-U to Chicago and as far away as Hawai’i. His most prominent role as an actor and assistant was on the four-part micro-budget opus, WEREWOLF CEMETERY (2010), and he posed with Samantha Ducey and Monty Joyce for the cover of C-U Confidential #7 in 2013. Pi Omega Omega deeply misses their “Skid.”

Anthony Mockus, Sr., 92, Apr. 1
A theater veteran in Chicago with numerous stage credits, Mockus provided a gravelly conscience on screen as the grandfather to a grown man (Michael Hayden) whose heightened delirium precedes a shooting spree on the edge of a rural town in CHARMING BILLY (2001). It was primarily filmed in Havana, Illinois, by director and native William R. Pace and made the cover of MICRO-FILM 5 in 2002.

Carlo Anzelmo, 89, Nov. 20
After a full career working in the food industry, Anzelmo filled his retirement in the Twin Cities by teaching classes in Italian cooking, serving as a master gardener in community spaces, and reliably volunteering at the Virginia Theatre of Champaign, where he welcomed visitors with a smile for more than 20 years.

David Monk, 91, Dec. 2
“The Prairie Monk,” a native of Australia who called the Midwest home for five decades, took it upon himself to lead restoration efforts in the Illinois grasslands through research, education, activism, and hands-on hard work. A congenial and curious man, he was quite interested in fine arts, crafts, and grassroots media, on occasion making an appearance in unlikely places such as an on-screen performer in Hugh Moore and Mark and Nancy Rubel’s rarely seen video comedy, MELVIN’S DISCONTENT.

Douglas Trumbull, 79, Feb. 7
Movie special effects pioneer Trumbull began his storied career in the most auspicious way possible by designing the “slit scan” process used to create the “stargate” sequence in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) while only in his mid-twenties. Before his death, French filmmaker Grégory Wallet released a documentary on him, TRUMBULL LAND (2018), and Lenny Lipton included his written forward in an exhaustive exploration of the development of film technology, The Cinema in Flux (2021).

Lenny Lipton, 82, Oct. 5
A lifelong technical innovator in media production and projection, Lipton wrote several volumes to collect his knowledge including The Super 8 Book (1975), Lipton on Filmmaking (1979), and his last published work, The Cinema in Flux (2021), which covered a staggering number of milestones in his field including the sound-on-film inventions of the late UIUC engineering professor Joseph Tykociński-Tykociner.



Linda Lawson, 86, May 18
Lawson was a recording artist and a character actress, mostly appearing on television programs that aired between the late 1950s and late 1960s. Of her few film credits, she notably starred opposite a young Dennis Hopper in the moody indie NIGHT TIDE (1963), directed by the stylist Curtis Harrington and discussed via critique by the late UIUC professor Steven P. Hill in C-U Confidential #8 in 2016.

Louise Fletcher, 88, Sept. 23
Prolific actress Fletcher, who won an Oscar for her role in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST in 1976, starred in a wide range of film and television over a long career. She was often cast in fare much smaller and stranger than usual for a talent with Hollywood credibility, such as Michael Laughlin’s sci-fi homages STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981) and STRANGE INVADERS (1983) that were set in Illinois.

Michael C. Holloway, 79, Sept. 15
Holloway taught classes for many years through the adult education department at Parkland College in Champaign as well as other outlets when not writing and performing poetry. He collaborated regularly with fellow artists over his lifetime including the composer Salvatore Martirano and filmmaker Ronald Nameth, for whom he portrayed a “gas-masked politico” in the singular 1967 multimedia piece “L’s GA.”

Mike Schank, 53, Oct. 13
Forever ingratiated to viewers for his affable presence in the Sundance documentary hit AMERICAN MOVIE (1999), musician Schank stood by his friend and fellow Milwaukee resident Mark Borchardt as the latter pursued a calling by finishing the ramshackle horror short, COVEN, which both had hoped would lead to greater things. The duo and COVEN’s cast appeared on the “B” cover of MICRO-FILM 2 in 2000.

Nick Holonyak, Jr., 93, Sept. 18
Before returning to Urbana to teach at his alma mater and retiring as chair of the electrical and computer engineering and physics department at the University of Illinois, Holonyak conducted research that laid the groundwork for controllable LED light and lasers. It made possible the invention and manufacture of portable laptop computers, modern television sets, and digital audio and video players, along with numerous medical and industrial applications, forever changing how we interacted with the world.

Peter Bogdanovich, 82, Jan. 6
Bogdanovich started out as a stage director and magazine film critic before hitting big with sporadic hits like THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971) and MASK (1985) in a career that, as assessed by Richard Brody of The New Yorker, oddly paralleled the ups and downs of his mentor, Orson Welles. To that end, Bogdanovich took speaking roles in others’ films and series later in life including as himself in THE INDEPENDENT (2001), playing off his real-life affinity for the old guard talents of Hollywood; Jerry Stiller starred as a schlock filmmaker in the comedy, which graced the cover of MICRO-FILM 6 in 2004.

Stephen R. Swords, 67, July 19
A retired English professor who completed his career at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Swords was a ubiquitous elder presence at Champaign-Urbana coffee shops and night spots. He loved to start up conversations with those who valued his witticisms on literature, culture, and society at large, and our public spaces now feel a bit stilled without his friendly greeting, dry laugh, and interesting book in hand.

Before you go, I’ll remind you of my suggestion at the end of the original “Thirty” article that you take in Turner Classic Movies’ annual “TCM Remembers” compilation video for those in the business we call “show” who also passed last year. I realize you have probably seen it already. Go watch it again and do your part to keep alive the memories of our families, friends, and forbears in film.

[Updated 6/3/23, 9:45 p.m. CST]


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