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 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.
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.
DreamWorks’ first movie, The Peacemaker is to the memory of Paul Leder. Leder died at 70, from lung cancer, and was a writer, producer, director and editor of movies. He was also the father of Mimi Leder, the director of The Peacemaker.
PRETTY IN PINK
Pretty In Pink is in memory of Alexa Kenin and Bruce Weintraub, both of whom were involved with the movie. Kenin had a small role in the film, and died in 1985 at the age of just 23, soon after Pretty In Pink was completed.
Bruce Weintraub, meanwhile, was 33 when he passed. He worked as set decorator on the film, having previously contributed to Blow Out, Scarface, The Natural, Prizzi’s Honour and many more.
P.S. I LOVE YOU
The 2007 movie adaptation of Cecilia Ahern’s P.S. I Love You is in memory of Windland Smith Rice. She was the sister of the film’s producer, Molly Smith. She died in 2005, after building a strong career as a photographer, of a rare heart disorder. She was just 35 when she died.
Walter Hill’s 1988 union of Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi is dedicated to Bennie E Dobbins, who was working as stunt co-ordinator on the film. He’s previously worked on the Star Trek TV show, and his extensive film credits covered Dirty Harry, The Towering Inferno, TRON and Commando. Dobbins suffered a fatal heart attack while Red Heat was shooting in Austria, back in February 1988. He was 56 at the time of his death.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS
Before the end credits begin on Rise Of The Guardians, there’s a dedication to Mary Katherine Joyce. She was the daughter of William Joyce, the man who wrote the book the film was based on, and its original co-director. Mary died of a brain tumour at the age of just 18 back in 2010, when Joyce took a step back from directing the film (handing it over to Peter Ramsey). The entire film is dedicated, movingly, to Mary.
Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer produced big blockbuster hit after big blockbuster hit during their fruitful partnership. Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Flashdance and Bad Boys were just some of their films together as producers. Simpson died young, though, of heart failure related to drug use (the book High Concept, by Charles Fleming, charts his life and his legacy).
Simpson was 52 when he died, in January 1996. Bruckheimer, fed up with Simpson’s increasing drug use, reportedly ended their partnership the month before, with The Rock – released in summer 1996 – to be their last project together. Simpson never got to see it, and the film remains dedicated to him. The card reads ‘this film is dedicated in loving memory to Don Simpson’.
Wesley C Skiles died in July 2010 at the age of 52, whilst on a dive in Florida. A pioneer of cave diving, it was some of the incredible underwater photography of Skiles that would go on to inspire Sanctum, the 2011 movie overseen by James Cameron. Sanctum is dedicated to Skiles’ memory.
Brian De Palma’s take on Scarface bears the a dedication to Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht. Hawks was the director of the original Scarface movie, and Hecht was its lead writer.
THE SEA WOLVES
Before his death at the hands of the IRA, Lord Louis Mountbatten was involved in preparatory work for 1980’s The Sea Wolves. The final cut of the film is dedicated to him, reading ‘This film is dedicated to the memory of the last Honorary Colonel of the Calcutta Light Horse – Admiral of the Fleet, The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G. 1900 – 1979’.
The credits also pay tribute to Commander B.S. Davies, for his contribution to the mission that the film depicts.
The Farrelly Brothers’ Shallow Hal includes a dedication to Charles Seabrook. In his mid-50s when he died, Seabrook worked in the electrical and camera department on the film, as he had done on the likes of Forrest Gump, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Shadow Conspiracy. He died six months before the release of Shallow Hal.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
There’s a unfussy dedication to Allen Greene in the credits of the immortal The Shawshank Redemption. Greene was the agent of writer/director Frank Darabont, and a good friend of his too. Sadly, he died just before the film was finished, as a result of complications related to his AIDS diagnosis.
Tony Scott’s thriller, starring Robert Redford, is ‘dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Jean Scott’. As, incidentally, was Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. The connection being, as you might guess, is that she’s their mother. She died in 2001.
STUCK ON YOU
The Farrelly Brothers dedicated their 2003 comedy, Stuck On You, to a frequent collaborator of theirs. It’s in memory of Herb Flynn, who acted in films such as Shallow Hal and There’s Something About Mary for the directors. Flynn died of cancer before Stuck On You was released, at the age of 85.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE
In the opening credits of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, there’s a dedication to Jim Henson, and reportedly not one his family were best thrilled with. It was the last film that Henson worked on, but he was reported to be unhappy with the levels of violence in the first movie. Nonetheless, the film bears his dedication.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY
The Farrelly Brothers dedicated There’s Something About Mary to 17-year old Ryan Mone. The brothers were long-time friends of the Mones, and when Ryan died in a car accident, those chose to dedicate the movie to his memory. A class act.
THIS IS ENGLAND
Shane Meadow’s superb 2006 drama gave young Thomas Turgoose an indelible breakthrough role. The final film is dedicated to Sharon, his mother, who died of cancer at the end of 2005. She got to see a short preview of the film before she passed, although never saw the final cut.
The classic Tom Cruise/Tony Scott blockbuster is dedicated to the memory of Art Scholl. Scholl was a stunt pilot, who died at the age of 53, when his plane went into a flat spin while making the film, and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. The spin was intentional, and designed to get a specific shot for the film, but it became apparent quickly that things hadn’t gone to plan.
You can find the Art School Aviation website here, and a memorial field has been named in his honour.
The Jason Statham-starring sequel is dedicated to the memory of Michael Stone. Stone was director of photography on the film, and had also worked on the likes of Pearl Harbor, Terminator 3 and National Treasure. Transporter 2 was his first director of photography job on the first unit. He died in a car accident in 2005, at the age of 56.
Go through the end credits of DreamWorks’ Turbo, and you’ll get the line ‘In memory of Nicholas Sanger Hoppe’. We had the chance to ask director David Soren about the line, and he told us “he passed away. He had cancer. We just wanted to honour him”. A computer VFX artist and animator for two decades, Hoppe died a year after his diagnosis, in March 2013. He had worked on the Kung Fu Panda movies, Turbo, Megamind and more during his time at DreamWorks Animation.
A fairly obvious one, this. Clint Eastwood adds the words ‘Dedicated to Sergio and Don’ at the end. That’s his nod and appreciation to Don Siegel and Sergio Leone, arguably the best directors he ever worked with. Siegel directed him in Dirty Harry, whilst Leone was the man behind the peerless Man With No Name trilogy.
The late Tony Scott’s final film, Unstoppable, was dedicated to the memory of Hollie Haines Knowlton. The dedication arises from the true story that inspired the film. The movie, about a runaway train, was based on an event that took place in 2001, and Denzel Washington portrayed Jesse Knowlton (albeit under a different name), one of the men who tried to bring said train to a stop. Hollie Haines Knowlton was Jesse’s wife, and she died before the film was released. She shares a dedication in the film’s credits with Ed Limato (for more details on him, see the entry for Flight).
Emilio Estevez’s The Way, which he wrote and directed, was a personal piece of work, not least because his father was cast alongside him. The movie was released in 2010, and is dedicated to Francisco Estevez. He was Emilio’s grandfather, and Martin’s father.
THE WICKER MAN
The infamous 2006 remake of The Wicker Man bears the credit ‘For Johnny Ramone’. It’s not the most beguiling gift that Ramone would have benefitted from, but the late singer was the man who introduced Nicolas Cage to Robin Hardy’s original The Wicker Man. Ramone died in 2004, and never got to see the remake.
The Paul Bettany/Kirsten Dunst tennis-centric rom-com Wimbledon is dedicated to Mark McCormack.He was the founder of the Intenational Management Group (IMG), and as such managed names in the sports and movies arenas. The dedication was in recognition of what he contribution to the spots of golf and tennis. McCormack suffered a cardiac arrest in January 2003, and finally died from complications in May 2003. He was 72 years old.
Skydiver and stuntman Harry O’Connor had worked on films such as The Perfect Storm and Charlie’s Angels, and his final film, xXx, is dedicated to him. He died in the midst of performing a stunt on the feature, with a Prague police officer saying that “he was being pulled at high speed on a paraglider and hit a pillar of the Palacky bridge. He died on the spot due to heavy injuries”. O’Connor was 45 when he died, back in 2002, and the film’s tribute describes him as a “beloved friend”.
The films John Carter and Brave are both dedicated to the late Apple boss. The Brave dedication, particularly poignant given that Jobs was one of the absolute pivotal figures in Pixar’s life, reads: “To Steve Jobs, our partner, mentor, and friend”.
And there are also some non-person specific dedications…
Oliver Stone’s JFK is “dedicated to the young”,
Star Trek Into Darkness is dedicated to post-September 11th war veterans. Star Trek IV is dedicated to the crew of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle, whilst Star Trek VI was in memory of Gene Roddenberry.
The Great Escape is “For the Fifty”.
The Towering Inferno, meanwhile, is dedicated to firefighters.
We will occasionally update this over time. Our thoughts are very much with those affected by the losses we’ve talked about.