Dedications at the end of movies (and what they mean)
Lots of films are dedicated to, or in memory of someone. But it's not always clear why. Updated February 2014.
April 2014 update: Muppets Most Wanted
Back when Breaking Bad returned for its final batch of episodes in August 2013, it had a dedication at the end of it. The card read 'Dedicated to our friend Kevin Cordasco'. As it turned out, Kevin Cordasco was a 16-year old who had been battling cancer for seven years, who had met both Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan. Cordasco died before he could ever get to see the episode dedicated to him.
I found this such a moving story, that it got me wondering about the dedications that appear on films, and what the story behind them was. After all, the dedications are there for a reason. What I uncovered was some funny stories, mainly extremely sad ones, and some extremely moving dedications. These stories are presented with due respect to everyone concerned.
I've tried to stay clear of the more obvious ones (with one or two exceptions). But here are some of the people whose names will forever be associated with the movies they have dedicated to them.
THE ABYSS: SPECIAL EDITION
The special edition of James Cameron's ambitious 1989 film The Abyss is dedicated, via an on-screen card, to Captain Pierce Oliver Kidd Brewer Jr. He was a professional diver, who died in 1990 at the age of 41. He'd also worked with James Cameron on Piranha Part Two, many years earlier, and the two were friends. He reportedly took his own life.
Spike Jonze's brilliant film comes with the dedication of 'In Loving Memory Of Donald Kaufman'. Don't go looking him up, though. Kaufman is a fictional character in the film...
Oscar-winning picture The Artist is dedicated to the memory of Kamel Ech-Cheik, describing him as "one of the classiest men in the world". Ech-Cheik was a composer who had put together scores for films such as OSS 117 and Mes Amis. Ech-Cheik was a childhood friend of The Artist's director Michel Hazanavicius. He died in 2011,
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Towards the end of the credits for Disney's Beauty And The Beast is the following dedication: "To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950–1991".
This was a dedication to lyricist Howard Ashman, who also served as executive producer on Beauty And The Beast. Ashman was widely credited with being one of the major catalysts behind the Disney animation renaissance, thanks to his incredible work, alongside Alan Menken, bringing the musical side of The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast to life. A notoriously hard man to work with, Ashman died of complications relating to his HIV positive diagnosis in 1991, and never got to see the absolute final cut of Beauty And The Beast, nor the critical outpouring that followed it.
The third and thus far final part of Richard Linklater's exquisite Before... trilogy has a special thanks hidden in its end credits to Amy Lehrhaupt. As it turns out, she was the inspiration for the first movie. She and Linklater met and spent a night in each other's company, thus providing the spark that would set Linklater on the path to 1995's Before Sunrise.
Sadly, this story doesn't have a happy ending. Unbeknownst to Linklater at the time, Lehraupt died before she had a chance to see the first film. Her relationship with Linklater had fizzled out after their first night together, and she died in 1994, in a motorcycle accident. She was just 24 years old. Linklater wouldn't find out she'd died for another 15 years or so. Slate reported the story in full, here.
THE BLING RING
Sofia Coppola's 2013 drama was the final cinematic work of Harris Savides. Savides' career as a cinematographer included films such as Zodiac, American Gangster, Milk and The Game. He died of brain cancer at the age of 55, and The Bling Ring is dedicated to him.
Pixar's 2005 movie Cars was dedicated to the memory of Joe Ranft. Ranft was a major creative force at Pixar, the co-director of Cars and writer on films such as The Lion King, Toy Story, A Bug's Life and The Brave Little Toaster. He tragically died at the age of just 45, when his car veered off the road into the ocean. An incredible force in animation, he's sadly missed.
There are two dedications with Cliffhanger. One is for the mother of Mario Cassar, who funded the movie. The other is Wolfgang Gullich, who worked as Sylvester Stallone's stunt double on the movie. He was killed in an automobile accident unrelated to the movie, once production was over. A dedicated sports climber, he was just 31 when he died, failing to regain consciousness after his car accident, and dying two days after it.
As you might expect, Alex Proyas' 1994 movie The Crow bears a dedication to Brandon Lee, who died during the production of the movie, courtesy of an horrific accident. But the film also features a dedication to Eliza Hutton. She was Lee's fiancée at the time of his death, and they'd planned to marry in 1993. She subsequently left the movie industry after the release of The Crow, and lived a private, quiet life, undertaking a sizeable amount of volunteer and charity work.
THE DARK KNIGHT
There are two dedications in the credits of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. The credit reads "In memory of our friends Heath Ledger & Conway Wickliffe". The reasons for the Heath Ledger dedication are well known, but Conway Wickliffe was killed during the filming of the movie. He was a special effects technician, who died while filming a car chase on the movie. He was 41.
The Kevin Costner-headlined thriller from 2002 bears a dedicated to Katharine Curtiss. Curtiss was married to Alan Curtiss, who was the assistant producer and first assistant director on the film.
THE EXPENDABLES 2
Come the end credits of Simon West's Expendables sequel is a dedication to the memory of Kun Lui. Lui was working as a stuntman on the movie, and died in an on-set accident that injured another. He was working on the second unit of the film. He was 26 years old.
Edward 'Ed' Limato died at the age of 73 in 2010, from complications resulting from pneumonia. Robert Zemeckis dedicated his 2012 movie Flight to him. Limato was a long-time talent agent and senior vice president at the William Morris Agency, with a client list featuring Denzel Washington, Steve Martin and Nicolas Cage. There is also a tribute to him in the 2010 movie Unstoppable.
The end credits of Disney's huge animated hit have an in memory of Poppy, Lola, Caleb, Kayla line. As director Jennifer Lee told us, they're the names of the quads that two of the animators were expecting, but sadly lost.
The Pierce Brosnan-headlined resurrection of the James Bond movie franchise has a line in its credits that reads 'To the memory of Derek Meddings'. Meddings died while the film was in post-production, at the age of 64. He was taken by cancer.
He'd had an incredible career, working as a special effects and miniatures designer on Thunderbirds, the first three Superman films, Cape Fear, Krull, Batman and Live And Let Die. Goldeneye was his last film.
We don't make this up. The 1965 Beatles movie, Help!, sports a dedication to Elias Howe. Elias Howe was the inventor of the sewing machine, and he died in 1867 at the age of 48. His inclusion, as the story goes, came as a result of an on-set discussion that traced back the fashion of The Beatles, concluding that if the inventor of the sewing machine had never existed, they would never have anything to wear.
The Denzel Washington headlined John Q has a dedication at the end that reds 'For Sasha'. Sasha is the daughter of the film's director, Nick Cassavetes, and she was born with a heart defect. She's healthy now, thankfully, but from reports, she was critically ill at one stage, and underwent more than her fair share of surgery. Cassavetes would go on to direct the movie take on My Sister's Keeper, partly as a result of his and Sasha's experiences.
'This picture is dedicated to the memory of Dar Robinson', reads the credits of Lethal Weapon, adding that he was 'one of the motion picture industry's greatest stuntman'. He received similar credits on Cyclone and Million Dollar Mystery, making up his final three films. He was 39 when he died back in 1986, and it was while making Million Dollar Mystery when a stunt finally went wrong for him, leading to him riding his motorbike off the edge of a cliff. He was survived by his three children.
THE LION KING
Disney's biggest grossing hand drawn movie is dedicated to the memory of Frank Wells. Wells was the Disney President and Chief Operating Officer from 1984 through to his untimely death in 1994. He died at the age of 62 in a helicopter crash on his way back from a skiing trip.
His death had ramifications too, causing a power struggle at the heart of Disney between Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, that ultimately resulted in the latter leaving, and co-founding DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
The Lion King arrived the summer after Wells' death, and a building at Walt Disney Studios now also bears his name.
LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING
There aren't that many nice stories in this article, but this one feels particularly unfair. 17-year old Cameron Duncan was a filmmaker who came to the attention of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh while making the Lord Of The Rings movies. His life was taken from him at such a young age by a variant of bone cancer. Fran Walsh would write the song Into The West, as used in Return Of The King, inspired by Duncan. You can find out more about him on the extended edition of the film on DVD.
MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME
"For Byron" reads the card at the end of the third Mad Max movie, released in 1985, and it's in reference to Byron Kennedy, the producer of the first two films, who was killed in a helicopter crash back in 1983. He was only 33 years old.
David Lynch dedicated his cinematic puzzle Mulholland Drive to Jennifer Syme. Syme worked for Lynch for a while, and took a small role in Lost Highway. She died at the age of 28 back in 2001, following a motoring accident which killed her instantly. She was driving from a party at Marilyn Manson's house, and he would go on to write the song Just A Car Crash Away about her in 2007.
Disney's 2004 film Miracle, starring Kurt Russell, was dedicated to the memory of Herb Brooks. Brooks, a prominent US ice hockey play and coach, served as a consultant on the movie (not least because Russell was playing him), and died shortly after it was complete, at the age of 66. As the dedication read, "he never saw it, he lived it".
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL
'In loving memory of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt' reads the card in The Muppet Christmas Carol. This was the first Muppet film following Henson's tragically early death in 1990, at the age of 45. Dedications to him appeared at the front of episodes of Sesame Street, Basil Hears A Noise, Dinosaurs and The Cosby Show, too.
Richard Hunt was at the time of his death in 1992 a longtime Muppet performer, for characters such as Statler, Janice, Scooter, Beaker and Sweetums. He was one of only five performers to work on all five seasons of The Muppet Show. He died of complications from AIDS, at the age of 40.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
In the end credits to Muppets Most Wanted, there's an in memory dedication to Jane Henson and Jerry Nelson. Jane Henson was the wife of the late Jim Henson, and she died in April 2013 (whilst Muppets Most Wanted was in production). Nelson, meanwhile, was one of the real legends of the Muppet performers. He died in 2012, but his audio work was used briefly in the new film.
Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda are both given dedications at the end of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, a fitting tip of the hat to two of cinema's finest makers of monsters. Harryhausen died in 2013, having made an unrivalled contribution to visual effects. Put his work in Clash Of The Titans against the recent, loud remake if you want evidence of that.
If you're not familiar with the name of Ishiro Honda, meanwhile, he's the man who directed the original Godzilla movie back in 1954. Regarded in some quarters as the father of Godzilla, he died in Tokyo back in 1993. Both men left a tremendous legacy, and it seems fitting that del Toro pay tribute to it.
The Jason Statham-Jennifer Lopez vehicle was dedicated to the memory of Donald E Westlake. Westlake, under the name Richard Stark, was the man who wrote the novel Flashfire, upon which the film was based. The same novel was also the basis for Payback and Point Blank. Westlake died in 2008, at the age of 75.
This article is continued on the next page. We don't like splitting our lists like this, but with the very longer ones, it does seem to make sense...