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OBITUARIES.

JEAN MARAIS

Jean Marais, the French film and stage actor whose body of work ranged from Jean Cocteau's classic "La Belle et la Bete" to a host of swashbucklers in the 1960s, died at a hospital in Cannes on Nov. 8 of pulmonary disease. He was 84.

Despite his having worked with a host of European film directors, Marais is best known for his long relationship with Cocteau, with whom he had a partnership both on screen and stage and off, until the latter's death in 1963.

The pair first met in 1937, when Marais had a non-speaking role in a Cocteau directed version of the play "Oedipus Rex." Audience reaction was less than friendly, but the athletic Marais stared down the public, in the process impressing the director. The thesp was later to describe the meeting with Cocteau as his "second birth."

During a film career that began with Jean Tarride's "Etienne" (1933) and ended with Bernardo Bertolucci's "Stealing Beauty" (1996), Marais worked with Cocteau on numerous occasions. And while Jean Delannoy's "Eternel Retour" (1943) brought the thesp wide acclaim, it was Marais' outstanding portrayal of the Beast in "La Belle et la Bete," that secured his reputation as an actor.

Marais went on to star in Cocteau's "L'Aigle a Deux Tetes" (1947), "Les Parents Terribles" (1948), "Orphee" (1949) and "Le Testament d'Orphee" (1960). When Cocteau died in 1963, a shattered Marais wrote, "I am going to sleep and die because as of now I will only be pretending to live."

The inspiration for Francois Truffaut's "The Last Metro," Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais was born in Cherbourg and led an unsettled childhood. As a young man he turned his hand to photography, copying postcards, caddying on golf courses and selling newspapers. He also dabbled in what was to become a lifelong occupation, painting. Film director Marcel L'Herbier bought one of his works and offered him small roles in "L'Epervier" and "L'Aventurier" (1933).

Having failed in his first attempt to join an acting school, the unpaid Marais worked at the theater of Charles Dullin in return for acting classes. Throughout his career, he continued to mix film and legit work, often insisting that "theater is my real passion." For Cocteau, he trod the boards in "La Machine Infernale" and "Les Parents Terribles."

In the early 1950s, Marais returned to the Comedie-Francaise and acted in "Britannicus" Appearances in such popular plays as "Pygmalion" and "Cher Menteur" followed. His legit reputation see-sawed but was ultimately revived by the success of "Bacchus" in 1988 and the hit "Monstres Sacres" at the Bouffes-Parisiens in 1993.

A prolific film actor, Marais worked for a host of celebrated directors in addition to Cocteau, including Sacha Guitry ("Napoleon"), Jean Renoir ("Elena et Les Hommes,) Luchino Visconti ("Nuits Blanches") Abel Gance ("Austerlitz") Jacques Demy ("Peau d'Ane") and Claude Lelouch ("Les Miserables du XXeme Siecle").

By the late '50s, Marais had moved from what many have described as his "poetic" period to his "athletic" period, appearing in a host of swashbucklers, most notably "Le Bossu" (1959), "Le Capitain" (1960) and "Le Masque de Fer" (1962).

Never far from the memory of Cocteau, Marais took the role of the king in Jacques Demy's hommage to the director, "Peau D'Ane" (1970), opposite Catherine Deneuve.

Not known for introspection, Marais commented that his only regret was not having played Aschenbach in Visconti's "Death in Venice," a role that went to Dirk Bogarde instead.

PETER COTES

Celebrated English actor and director Peter Cotes, remembered for staging the first theater production of Agatha Christie's venerable "Mousetrap" in 1952, died Nov. 10 of natural causes at his home in the English village of Chipping Norton. He was 86.

Cotes was perhaps best-known for his hit production "Pick-Up Girl" in 1946, which was denied a license by the censor but received the go-ahead after Queen Mary, the Queen Mother, came to see it. The play was an American tale of child abuse and venereal disease.

Born in Maidenhead in 1912, Cotes was the oldest son of parents who had managed a theater company in South Africa.

As a director, Cotes argued against the trend of actors becoming stars, overshadowing the plays.

Along with his wife, the late actress Joan Miller, he became a major force in serious British theater throughout the 1940s and 1950s by establishing his own theater group.

During the '50s and '60s, he also directed feature films and TV dramas, but theater remained his first love.

Cotes also penned several books, including a biography of Charlie Chaplin in 1951.

MARY MILLAR

Mary Millar, a British television star and veteran of the London musical stage, died Nov. 10 of cancer in London. She was 62.

In the 1990s, Millar was known to millions of British, American and other television viewers as Rose in the BBC comedy series "Keeping up Appearances."

Through her musical talents she enjoyed a long and successful career on the London stage, appearing in "The Phantom of the Opera" as the original Madame Giry.

Millar also won acclaim as Judi Dench's replacement in 1984 in the hit drama, "Pack of Lies." At age 17 she enjoyed her first TV success in the show "Those Were the Days."

Illness forced her to withdraw recently from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," in which she played Mrs. Potts and sang the show's love theme.

STEVE CURRIE

Steve Currie, a former prexy of the National Assn. of Television Program Executives and a longtime TV executive for the CBS affiliate in Portland, Ore., died Oct. 2 of undisclosed causes at his Portland home. He was 52.

He was born in Larch Mountain, NY., and attended the U. of South Carolina. Currie, who was president of NATPE in 1979, joined KOIN-TV that same year and served as program/operations manager until 1993.

After leaving KOIN-TV, Curtie worked as a private consultant.

ARNOLD M. AUERBACH

Arnold M. Auerbach, a long-time comedy writer whose resume included Broadway, film, radio, TV and writing gags for Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra and Milton Berle, died Oct. 19 of natural causes in New York. He was 86.

A Manhattan native educated at Columbia U., he later contributed sketches for several Broadway revues including "Call Me Mister," "Inside USA" and "Bless You All."

Following a stint working for radio comedian Fred Allen, Auerbach worked on both the Paramount and Warner Bros. lot in the early 1940s. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army and wrote skits for the musical comedy "About Face" for Special Services.

RANDOLPH CARTER

Randolph Carter, author of several Broadway plays, died Oct. 12 at St. Albans Naval Hospital in Queens, NY. He was 90.

Closely associated with J.J. Shubert for more than a decade, Carter served as a play doctor and provided dialogue for musicals and operettas including "The Student Prince," "Countess Maritza," "The Land of Smiles" and "The Merry Widow."

His first Broadway production was "Arms of Venus." He participated in other Broadway productions including a dramatization of "Wuthering Heights" in 1940 and "Eugenia," starring Tallulah Bankhead, in 1957.

In the late 1960s Carter served as the drama critic on the John Wingate news program on WOR-TV.

Carter adapted "Wuthering Heights" for a television production that starred Richard Burton and Claire Bloom as well as James T. Farrell's "Death of Nora Ryan" in 1984 which was presented Off-Broadway.

He also authored biographical works on Flo Ziegfeld and Joseph Urban.

RUMER GODDEN

Rumer Godden, prolific author whose imagination was fired by living in India and whose writings inspired films, died of natural causes Nov. 8 in a nursing home near her daughter's home in Thornhill, Scotland. She was 90.

Godden, who published her 21st novel, "Cromartie vs. the God Shiva," last year, had her first major success with her third novel, "Black Narcissus," published in 1939. The story of a group of nuns who establish a convent in northern India explored themes of cultural conflict and obsessive love, and was made into a film starting Deborah Kerr in 1947.

"The River," published in 1949, was one of her most acclaimed books and was made into a film by Jean Renoir in 1951.

Margaret Rumer Godden was born in the English south coast city of Eastbourne. At 9 months of age her family moved to India, where her father ran a shipping line.

She returned to London at age 20 to learn how to teach dance to children and opened a school back in India. She fell in love with a stockbroker, Laurence Sinclair Foster, became pregnant and married him.

Returning to England while she was pregnant, she wrote her first book, "Chinese Puzzle," published in 1936.

The baby died at birth, but the ill-suited couple later had two daughters. The marriage ended in 1941 with Foster leaving her penniless and alone in Calcutta. "I have distrusted charm ever since," Godden later said.

She tried to repay his debts, and moved her family into a mountain cottage where she ran a school, made herbal teas for sale and wrote books. The family survived an apparent poisoning attempt by two servants, an episode that figured in her 1953 novel, "Kingfishers Catch Fire."

She returned to England to stay in 1945, and made a happy second marriage n 1949 to James Haynes-Dixon, a civil servant. He died in 1973.

"The Doll's House," the first of more than two dozen books for children, appeared in 1947. Godden said the inspiration was to see "if I could write a real novel -- it's a murder story -- in the tiny compass of a doll's house, and make it acceptable for children."
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Publication:Variety
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 16, 1998
Words:1597
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