In Passing: Johnny Duncan, Vanity, George Gaynes

While they may not have been considered major stars, they each had key moments in Hollywood history and will each be remembered by their fans. We at MovieFanFare would like to take a moment to note three recent cinematic passings:

Batman and Robin 1949

Johnny Duncan, 98, who turned his jitterbug dancing skills into roles in such films as The Gang’s All Here and Ghost Catchers and was later tapped by Columbia to star alongside Robert Lowery as the younger half of the Dynamic Duo in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin. He was also a biker gang member in The Wild One, a sailor in The Caine Mutiny, got his head cut off in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, and had an unbilled part in Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space.


Vanity, 57, the Canadian-born model/actress–née Denise Mathews–who was groomed by Prince to headline the all-female singing group Vanity 6. Her movie career included turns in the girl-meets-beast softcore saga Tanya’s Island (where she was billed as D.D. Winters), the urban-flavored martial arts comedy The Last Dragon, and such action films as 52 Pick-Up, Action Jackson, and the 1997 remake of Kiss of Death.


and George Gaynes, 98, whose performing career started on European stages as an operatic singer (!) before he came to America, worked on Broadway, and then moved on to films and TV. Along with his recurring role as the befuddled commander in the Police Academy comedies, he is also familiar to ’80s audiences as the lecherous soap opera doctor who pursued in-drag co-star Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie and as the curmudgeonly photographer who takes in and becomes the adoptive father of plucky runaway Soleil Moon Frye in the NBC sitcom Punky Brewster. George’s other big screen appearances, starting with 1963’s PT 109, included The Way We Were, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Mel Brooks’ remake of To Be or Not to Be, and Wag the Dog.