Sad, sad news. Character actor extradordinaire Richard Bright died yesterday in New York. He was, of all things, hit by a bus.
Starting his feature film career in Robert Wise’s noir Odds Against Tomorrow, the intense Bright appeared in some classic and just flat out cool pictures including The Panic in Needle Park, Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Marathon Man, Richard Brooks' Looking for Mr. Goodbar Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time in America and all three of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather films as Corleone bodyguard Al Neri.
He was 68-years-old and still going strong but damn— if you can measure a life by significant scenes in film history, than Bright lived a full one. Not only did he famously end the The Godfather by shutting the door on Diane Keaton’s soon-to-be shattered Kay (ushering in Al Pacino's all-business Michael Corleone) but he also, on Michael's orders, killed Fredo in The Godfather Part II. One could almost say he was the cold-eyed, physical manifestation of Michael's wickedness—what eventually consumes him with eternal guilt. And if that's not enough meaty, relevant work, Bright made stage history in 1965 when arrested for "obscenity" while performing in The Beard. The A.C.L.U. intervened and charges were dropped in a landmark case of artistic expression. Quite an actor, quite a career and, my God what a way to go. Rest in peace Richard.
*Originally posted on my new film blog at MSN, Movies Filter.