So Sayeth the Odinson: 2020 The Year in Review: Remembering: Part 1 of 2

Greetings from the Odinson

The Odinson would like to take a moment to remember those that brought so much joy and entertainment to us who unfortunately passed away in 2020.

Here in no particular order are pop culture heroes, personalities, and icons we lost in 2020 and a brief description of what they meant to the Odinson.

2020 The Year in Review: Remembering: Part 1 of 2

Neil Peart – Considered by many to be the greatest rock n roll drummer of all time, Peart was the backbone of RUSH, one of the greatest live rock n roll bands of all time. 

Ed Byrnes – He was a singer, actor, and teen idol from the 50s, but the Odinson will always remember him as the fast-talking, devil’s smile TV host and dance contest judge Vince Fontaine from the movie Grease.

David Stern – He was commissioner of the NBA during what could be considered a Golden Age (1984-2014) for the game as superstars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, and many other legends of the game took the sport globally and to new heights of popularity.

Sam Wyche – He was a professional football player that turned head coach and he would have been a Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals if it weren’t for the San Francisco 49ers, a team Wyche actually worked for at one time, and their super human quarterback Joe Montana.

Christopher Tolkien – He was the son of J.R.R. Tolkien, legendary author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he was also instrumental in the publication of his father’s unfinished works.

Stan Kirsch – He played Richie the Robin to Adrian Paul’s Duncan MacLeod’s Batman in the TV series spin-off of Highlander

Steve Stiles – An award-winning artist with the talent to contribute to a wide range of genres in magazines and comics like Creepy, Heavy Metal, and the gorgeous panels in Mark Schultz’s Xenozoic Tales.

Terry Jones – A member of the legendary comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus including writing and directing credits on the gold standard of absurd comedies – Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Kobe Bryant – 5 time NBA champion, 2 time Finals MVP, 18 time All-Star, and one of the Top 3 greatest players to ever play the game.  Legend.

Kirk Douglas – With a career that spanned from the 1940s to the 2000s, from films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to The Vikings and from characters like Doc Holiday to Spartacus, Kirk Douglas has left his mark on the history if cinema.  Father of almost equally accomplished actor Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas lived to the age of 103.  We should all be so lucky.

Robert Conrad – Appearing in many memorable TV shows from the 60s and 70s, Conrad achieved immortal status as the lantern-jawed protagonist of the genre-bending, wild west-adventure series The Wild Wild West.

Victor Gorelick – Longtime writer/editor for Archie Comics.

Russ Cochran – A cultivator of Comics History, Cochran’s Complete EC Library collections were, and are, instrumental in preserving a very important era of our beloved medium.

James Lipton – Speaking of cultivators.  Every cinephile knows James Lipton and his role in mentoring new generations of great actors and his stellar interview show Inside the Actors Studio

Max Von SydowThe Exorcist, Conan the Barbarian, Strange Brew, Dune, Ghostbusters II, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Needful Things, Judge Dredd, Minority Report, Solomon Kane, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Game of Thrones, and for so much more than I can remember, Max Von Sydow is pop culture royalty!  For the Odinson, next to Terence Stamp’s General Zod from Superman II, Sydow’s portrayal of Ming the Merciless in 1980s Flash Gordon is the most devilishly entertaining arch villain to ever appear on the Big Screen. 

Lyle Waggoner – He was the chiseled straight man in the hilarious sketch comedy The Carol Burnett Show and Steve Trevor in the iconic 70s Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter. 

Kenny RogersLady, Coward of the County, The Gambler and too many other treasures to list here, Rogers was a music icon whose chart-topping hits permeated across generations of country music fans.

Albert Uderzo – Comic book writer/artist that co-created the globally-loved comedy/adventure series Asterix.

Stuart Gordon – The writer/director that gave us the cult classic 80s horror/comedy adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator and the highly ambitious, and criminally underrated, sci-fi film Robot Jox.

Brian J. Blume – Without Blume, we may not have gotten Dungeons and Dragons.  He was highly instrumental in helping Gary Gygax and Dave Anderson fund the beginnings and early production of their historical roleplaying game. 

Mort DruckerEisner Award Hall of Fame artist that worked at Mad Magazine for decades and became one their definitive talents.

Juan Gimenez – French comic book artist known for his work in the sci-fi/horror anthology Metal Hurlant, the precursor to Heavy Metal Magazine.  His best known work is probably the sci-fi/drama Metabarons.       

Brian Dennehy – A great character actor with memorable roles in such films as Silverado, Cocoon, and Tommy Boy, but he earned his seat at the table of the immortals with his role as the inhospitable Sheriff Will Teasle that pushed one John Rambo too far in the classic film First Blood

Hector Garrido – A prolific novel cover artist that provided some really beautiful artwork for the classic Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.  He also provided the stunning, eye-catching package art for the GI Joe: A Real American Hero toy line from the 1980s.  

Don Shula – 2 time Super Bowl champion and the only head coach in NFL history to lead a team to an undefeated season.  Legend.

Little Richard – Flamboyant.  Outrageous.  Outspoken.  Extremely talented. And, he was a pioneer in one of the true original American art forms – Rock n Roll. 

Jerry Stiller – Actor, comedian, husband to the late great Anne Meara, father to the great Ben Stiller, and one of the funniest men to ever walk the earth.  I was first introduced to him and his lovely wife back in the early 80s when they used to do a previews show on HBO, but Jerry’s role as the easily excitable Frank Costanza on Seinfeld in the 90s, with catch phrases like “Serenity now!” and “Happy Festivus!,” made him an instant Hall of Famer.       

Roy Horn – One-half of the magician duo Siegfried and Roy.

Richard Sala – Comic book creator with a unique style and known for Kitchen Sink’s Black Cat Crossing and Fantagraphics’ Evil Eye.

Marty Pasko – A prolific and fantastic writer that crossed over between mediums and contributed to such pop culture classics as Metal Men, Thundarr the Barbarian, Gargoyles, GI Joe: A Real American Hero, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, just to name a few.  For the Odinson, he will forever be remembered for providing me with the stellar Beast of the Apocalypse storyline that ran through The Saga of the Swamp Thing #1-13.  It is one of my All-Time favorite comic book runs. 

Fred Willard – Great comedic actor known for roles in such classics as This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and Anchorman.

Denny O’Neil – One of the most influential writers in the history of comics.  He had not one, not two, but three character-defining runs on Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and the Question that set the bar high on those characters for all other creators to follow.  He had one of the most controversial and news-provoking takes on the iconic Wonder Woman.  And, he wrote The Amazing Spider-Man #212, one of the Odinson’s personal favorite stand alone Spidey issues from my youth.  Denny O’Neil is a made man.   

Joel Schumacher – My feelings for the unwatchable Batman and Robin film aside, this writer/director had a career of giving us some true cult classics like D.C. Cab, Flatliners, and Falling Down.  Plus, he gave us The Lost Boys, one of the Top 10 best vampire films of All-Time. 

Joe Sinnott – As one of the most prolific inkers in the business, he has put the remarkable finishing touches on everybody from Jack Kirby to John Buscema.  If you have read a Marvel comic in the last 50 years than you have seen this man’s work. 

Ian Holm – Another great character actor with important roles in such pop culturally significant films as Alien, Time Bandits, The Fifth Element, Lord of the Rings, and From Hell.

There is 36 names of people who had a profound effect on pop culture, and the Odinson.  Next week I will finish my list of remembrance with 35 more people we lost too soon.

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews click HERE.

Also take a dive into my novels that were inspired by 1980s horror The Survivors and Autumn DawnHERE and HERE.

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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