Thursday, August 10, 2006

CANDICE RIALSON 1952 - 2006


Rialson (center) with Jeffrey Kramer (left) and Dick Miller (right) in Hollywood Boulevard

Bad news straight from Hollywood Boulevard: 1970s B-movie starlet Candice Rialson, has died. But here’s the strange part: apparently she died four months ago and no one seems to have even noticed. According to Ted Cogswell, proprietor of a brand-new blog entitled High and Low, the folks at Code Red DVD were trying to track her down to participate in an upcoming release of her twisted grindhouse classic Pets (1974) and when they reached her husband he informed them of the sad news. (There is a link to Code Red DVD’s blog, where more information may be forthcoming, posted on High and Low, but access requires a registration on MySpace.com.) If you look up Candice on IMDb, you’d see that her last role was a bit part in William Richert’s Winter Kills, but after that it’s left to speculation as to what Ms. Rialson had been up to in the years (27 of ‘em) since that movie’s release, and there is certainly no indication that she is no longer among the living.

Hopefully, the discovery made by Code Red DVD will lead to some acknowledgment in the press of Ms. Rialson’s death—an official obituary in the trades, some kind of tribute from some of the people who worked with her perhaps (Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dick Miller, among many others). It’s hard to understand, even when the passing of someone whose moment in the Hollywood spotlight was brief, and was admittedly a minor one to begin with, how that person’s death can go almost completely unnoticed. None of us knows what her life was like in the months and years before her death, and even the circumstances of that death aren’t, as far as I can tell, public knowledge yet either. Perhaps it was a request she left with her husband that her passing be left unmarked. Perhaps it was a decision he made himself. Rialson’s fans may never know why it took four months for her death to come to light. We’re left only to remember her buxom, sunshiny, anything-goes presence and the smeared-lipstick mark she left on the drive-in exploitation pictures of the ‘70s.

(Thanks to Ted Cogswell and High and Low for the information. Inspired name choice, Ted!)

UPDATE 8/10/06 5:02 p.m.: A friend sends along a link to Candice Rialson’s page on Mr.Skin.com, a site devoted to (among other things, I’m sure) “celebrating nudity in film.” The page’s bio of the actress ends with the following:

“She even remained mysterious in death, as her March 31, 2006, death wasn't discovered by the public until nearly six months later.”

Aside from the fact that Mr. Skin seems to have trouble, at least as far as arithmetic is concerned, with his “gazintas” (his claim that her March 31 death wasn’t discovered until nearly six months later would have it being revealed to the general public sometime this coming October), this is the first note that I’ve seen about Rialson’s passing outside of the reportage from Code Red DVD and High and Low. (I have no idea when Mr. Skin’s bio of Rialson was posted.) I can only hope that more information, or just a simple acknowledgment, in the print and electronic media is just around the corner.

UPDATE 8/11/06 9:43 a.m.: That Little Round-Headed Boy kindly refers us all to Tim Lucas' Video Watchblog, where Tim invited directors Allan Arkush and Joe Dante, who co-directed Ms. Rialson in Hollywood Boulevard, to offer their remembrances of the actress. They obliged, and we are very grateful to them.

Arkush: "She looked beautiful and embodied all the glamour a New World Picture could muster. I'm missing you, Candice... but I'm sure Paul Bartel is calling you & all actors 'cattle' in Movie Heaven."

Dante: "Although her reign was brief, she set many an ozoner heart aflutter and is warmly remembered by not only those of us lucky enough to work with her, but by what Norma Desmond called 'those wonderful people out there in the dark.'"

On behalf of those people out there in the dark that Norma and Joe referred to, thanks, Tim, for contacting these men, soliciting them for their thoughts and, of course, posting them.

UPDATE 8/11/06 10:15 a.m.: Ted Cogswell at High and Low has been busy putting together a good collection of links to discussion and writing about Rialson's passing, including a wonderful piece from Marty McKee and a couple of excellent forums headed up by Casey Scott. Plus, if you go to Ted's site, you'll see a couple of terrific shots of Ms. Rialson, one from Candy Stripe Nurses, the other from Hollywood Boulevard. Ted, the way you've mourned and commemorated Rialson's passing is funny and moving and appropriate, and I bet she would think so too.

UPDATE 8/19/06 10:27 a.m. Candice Rialson's cousin, Kim, was kind enough to write in with her own remembrances in response to this and, I'm sure, all the other obituaries and notices posted since the revelation of Candice's death. You can read that remembrance in the comments column below. Thanks, Kim, for taking the time to give us all a glimpse of the Candice you knew and loved.

UPDATE 12/11/07 I've been corresponding with Candice's brother Scott, who sends along a lovely portfolio shot of the actress as well as his appreciation for all of his sister's fans and the concern shown by them here on this blog and in other places since her death over a year and a half ago. I have extended best wishes for Scott and his family for a happy holiday season, in the hope that memory of Candice enriches it and makes it ultimately more meaningful. Here's the photo:



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30 comments:

tedcogs said...

I've fixed that link for Code Red DVD, you *should* be able to get to it account or no, via http://blog.myspace.com/codereddvd

And thanks for appreciating my chosen blogname.

aaron w graham said...

Sad news indeed.

She was a dazzling presence in the handful of B-pictures she starred in the 70s. My other favorite role of hers (besides the almost autobiographical turn in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD) has to be CANDY STRIPE NURSES, which, I think I'll watch tonight in honor of her passing.

Thanks for passing along the news, Dennis.

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

I just watched CANDY STRIPE NURSES this week. Not good, but she had quite an earthy presence. What a mystery.

blaaagh said...

Wow, how sad. I still have her fresh, youthful image in my mind from our recent viewing of "Hollywood Boulevard," and jeez, she wasn't very old when she died! Maybe, as you say, she and/or her husband didn't want any press coverage, at least until they had time to deal with her passing. Er, and I think March 31+"nearly six months" equals sometime in September, but who's counting? Anyway, she was charming, beautiful and funny, and I hope she had a happy life out of the spotlight.

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

Tim Lucas' site now has comments from Arkush and Dante on Rialson.

Casey Scott said...

That "nearly six months later" quote probably started with me on my blog and Mobius, because it IS almost 6 months later. Key word: nearly/almost.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Blaaagh: My thoughts exactly.

TLRHB: Thanks so much for the point toward Tim Lucas and the Video Watchblog. That should have been the first place I looked. Hope you have a great weekend. (And thanks for the Chaplin too.)

tedcogs said...

I've since discovered that Code Red has another blog url besides the MySpace one. Same content, easier access:

http://www.codereddvd.com/nublog/

Also, last night I posted a round-up of all the online tributes to Candice, including this one and the Video WatchBlog one mentined above, among others.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Ted: Thanks for letting me know. I will add another update with a link to your site. And thanks for the Code Red DVD info.

tedcogs said...

Code Red has posted some more details - right now it's on their MySpace blog, but not the other one yet. I have added the info in my "Remembering Candy" post over at High and Low.

Maya said...

Dennis, I admire your drawing attention to this. All movie stars should have such attentive, respectful fans.

Maya said...

Hey, nice essay on Cary Grant, Dennis! He's da bomb.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Thnaks, Maya. Obviously, Candice Rialson's career won't leave a huge mark on cinema history or anything like that. But she did have an enthusiastic following and she was an important figure in the drive-in genre of the 1970s, and it seems clear from the reaction to the news last week that there are a lot of people who cared about her who were just as surprised as I was to hear of her death, and equally dismayed that it had gone four months unremarked upon. It boils down to a matter of respect, it seems to me.

And thanks, too, for the comment on the Cary Grant piece. I enjoyed yours today as well (it made me want to see Vertigo again right away), and I feel honored to be asked by David Hudson to join in the company of you and all the others whose pieces were highlighted over the last couple of weeks.

Anonymous said...

check the 'eiger sanction" for a brief but fetching sample of candice.

Kim said...

Candice was loved by many. I will never forget the very first time I met her. She was in her late 20's...effervescent...engaging...
beautiful. I was only 8, but as her cousin I knew I wanted to be just like her.
When I learned of her illness last spring, I was extremely saddened. Next came her death and I was at a loss for words. Here was a woman that so many loved, so few really knew, who died a very hushed death.
Being a writer, my first instinct was to write about Candy, for she is a person who should not be forgotten. However, out of respect for her and the rest of our family, I chose not to.
Candy is a woman whose life can be learned from. At times, I feel she may have suffered greatly because of all that was given to her...beauty, personality, intellegence...a huge heart. Sometimes, the more you are given...the more you suffer. Candice was one of them.
God Bless Candice. She may have lived a private life...but she will never be forgotten.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Kim, thank you so much for writing.

I hope that you and your family know that, by writing about Candice's death and questioning why it took so long to come to light, neither I nor, I'm sure, any of the others who joined in commemorating her meant to imply any indignance at not being informed or that anything untoward was behind that four-month lapse between her death and its coming to light. I'm sure I can speak for all of us when I say that we appreciated very much your cousin's contributions to what amounted to a cinematic education in the special joys, energy and low-down fun of the '70s drive-in exploitation genre. Candice was one of the central stars in that firmament, and deservedly so. We only hoped that some of the people who worked with her would come out and be able to express how they felt as well, and it was very gratifying when they did.

I'm very happy for your decision to respect your family's privacy-- that's far more important than anything else. But I'm also very happy that you wrote and gave us all a glimpse of the Candice that none of us knew, the Candice we could only assume was as bright and lovely and wonderful in real life as she was on the screen. It's nice to know we were right.

All our best to you and the rest of Candice's family, and our belated condolences as well.

Barbara Peeters, director of Summer School Teachers said...

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to not only direct Candy, but share a friendship with her. She was fun, funny, private, sad, warm, considerate and loving. I have often wondered what became of this beauty. Someone told me she had gotten married and had quit the business. I had always hoped she found some happiness and comfort in this screwed up scene. She was too young to die, but then she packed alot of life into her years. May her sweet spirit soar into an eternity of peace.
Barbara Peeters

Anonymous said...

Hello, My Name is Scott Rialson. I am Candice's brother. Yes, she passed March 31st and was too young but she is no longer suffering. She became ill from various things and it was too much for her.

I can be reached at srialson@yahoo.com if anyone would like to contact me.

Sincerely,

Scott

Scott said...

Who is "KIM"? I am Candice's brother and we DO NOT have any cousin named KIM or any name like that anywhere!

So, KIM, who are you? Why would you post your obvious fantasy in real time? This is really strange.

Can I clear up any confussion for you "KIM" whoever you are?

Scott Rialson

Alicia said...

I'm Alicia and am Candice and Scott's (the previous blogger) real cousin. We don't have a Kim in the family and we are hurt that she is intruding on our grief.

Candice would have been very surprised and flattered that she was getting all this attention on the internet -- but one of us would have had to show her how to use a computer because she was decidedly old school about technology.

I wish they hadn't taken so long to find her. She was in a lot of pain, and knowing that someone wanted to interview her would have given her some joy at the end.

By the way -- one of the blogs -- Mr. Skin is sating she danced topless as a teenager, but that is false. Candice was a go-go dancer in the '60s, which meant something entirely different then than it does now. She danced in a cage at Gazzari's on the Strip wearing miniskirts & sandals with heels and all the other latest fashions available to teenage girls in The OC at the time.

Alicia said...

I'm Alicia and am Candice and Scott's (the previous blogger) real cousin. We don't have a Kim in the family and we are hurt that she is intruding on our grief.

Candice would have been very surprised and flattered that she was getting all this attention on the internet -- but one of us would have had to show her how to use a computer because she was decidedly old school about technology.

I wish they hadn't taken so long to find her. She was in a lot of pain, and knowing that someone wanted to interview her would have given her some joy at the end.

By the way -- one of the blogs -- Mr. Skin is sating she danced topless as a teenager, but that is false. Candice was a go-go dancer in the '60s, which meant something entirely different then than it does now. She danced in a cage at Gazzari's on the Strip wearing miniskirts & sandals with heels and all the other latest fashions available to teenage girls in The OC at the time.

Anonymous said...

I went to Tustin High School with Candy in the mid 60's, she was 2 years behind me. I didn't know her personally, but we would sometimes walk past each other, and the few times that she looked at me with those big doe eyes, I would just melt. Very sorry to hear of her passing, she was so gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Candice and I believe her brother Scott went to Foothill High School for ahile. I am sorry for you and your families loss Scott. Candice played an excellent Anastasia when I worked with her in the high school theatre production and I always though she was an excellent actress who could do whatever she wanted to do in film, television or theatre if given the chance.

Bennett B.

Laurie said...

Scott ~ My husband used to date Vickey, how is she doing? Candy was a year behind me at Tustin High School, beautiful girl.

Scott said...

Thank you all for your sympathies and condolences I found here.

Candy's brother, Scott

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Scott-- Thanks for dropping by and leaving a note. I know that the people who read this blog greatly appreciated your sister and her place in the movies we loved. She genuinely exuded charm and likability on the screen.

Scott said...

How can I post one of Candice's portfolio photos here?

Scott

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Scott, I'm not sure that the photo can be published here in the comments section. Someone may know for sure, but it's hard to say how many people are looking at this thread right now.

If you want to, you're more than welcome to send me an e-mail with the photo attached. (I'm assuming it is an .jpg or some other similar format.) If you were to do that, I would be honored to publish it in the body of my post above, just before the start of the comments. You can find my e-mail address in the profile, but for convenience's sake, it is: powser2@earthlink.net.

Thanks, Scott.

miami broadband said...

I am big fan of Candice Rialson!!! I so regreat it!!

Such an amazing star, talented and impresive good looking!!

mrzoom said...

Thanks again for the belated condolences, miami broadband!

Again, with the exception of our wanna-be cousin Kim (who does not exist in reality except in previous posts, Candice would be thrilled to know the acknowledgements post here and elsewhere on the internet, really.

Thanks you and to all the others as well. Of course, my heart is a bit heavier tonight after re-reading this blog-post about my sister...very sad and painful loss for me as well as others.

Scott
srialson@yahoo.com