Straight talk could not save late actor

Even in death, or especially in death, Heath Ledger wins awards, nabbing the British Oscar (the Bafta) on Sunday night. But another great actor died last year and fades from memory. Brad Renfro played Josh in "Ghost World," Marty in "Bully," Todd in "Apt Pupil" and young Mark in "The Client."

Renfro killed himself with heroin at 25 on Jan. 15, 2008. Renfro’s final movie, "The Informers," comes out this year. It’s based on short stories by Bret Easton Ellis ("Less Than Zero," "American Psycho"), co-starring other famous messes Mickey Rourke and Winona Ryder, plus Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Basinger.

Also in the movie is Chris Isaak (singing Friday through Sunday at The Orleans). Isaak, who doesn’t even drink, filmed with Renfro in Uruguay and played music with him on top of a beach hotel. Isaak was so concerned, he pulled Renfro aside. "And I never do this," Isaak says.

"I said, ‘I know we just met and stuff, but I want to tell you what people say about you when you’re out of the room.’ "

Renfro’s eyes widened. He said, yes, he’d like to know. Isaak told Renfro that cast and crew members thought he was "such a good actor" and nice to hang with. But Isaak told him that people also said that "it’s a shame he’s gonna be dead so quick because he’s gonna kill himself."

"I said, ‘I’ve never seen anyone in so much pain before — medicating’ " through the pain. "You’re gonna be dead," Isaak warned Renfro, who listened intently.

Renfro died two weeks later.

In at least one scene, Renfro "had already aged so much from drinking and partying" Isaak says. "You could see there was a very smart, sensitive and a bright guy in there. And there was this troubled guy who had substance abuse problems.

"It was sad. Real sad."


Richard Marx became famous for making the hits "Hold on to the Nights" and "Right Here Waiting." But in a way, he’s not the most successful person from his family. His late dad made ad jingles from the 1960s through the 1980s.

He was a jazz pianist genius behind "Two Scoops of Raisins" for Kellogg’s; "You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby" for Virginia Slims; and "Double Your Pleasure, Double your Fun" for Wrigley gum, among other huge ad campaigns. He arranged horns for Joe Cocker and charted music for his son.

Marx — who sings Saturday at Aliante — sang in some of his dad’s ads, for Peter Pan peanut butter, Kellogg’s and dog food.

His dad, though, was also named Richard Marx, and went by Dick. This posed a problem for Marx Jr. (whom friends often call Ricardo).

"Even at a young age, people would assume that I was going by Dick. And then I was always Little Dick, which was always a drag," Marx tells me. "That’s something you don’t want to be referred to as."

So Marx loved his father and thinks he was the most complete musician he’s ever known. But please don’t refer to them as Big Dick and Little Dick.


Green Valley Ranch’s faux-metal showroom band Steel Panther is shooting a music video in L.A. on Thursday, and chances are 90 percent Sarah Silverman will be in it, says lead singer Michael Starr (born Ralph Saenz). (He did the interview with me in character as Starr.) They’re also pitching for a TV show.

In Vegas, Sully Erna of Godsmack and a few other celebs have sung onstage with Steel Panther, but in L.A., they’ve had guest performances by Drew Carey, Jeremy Piven, Kelly Clarkson, Tony Romo, Michael Strahan, Jerry Cantrell, Billy Ray Cyrus, Paul Stanley, Kip Winger, Tom Morello, the RZA, Lil Jon, David Cook with Joey Fatone, Pink and Juliette Lewis.

"We had Avril Lavigne and her husband (Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley) come up and play with us. Avril actually redeemed herself. A couple of months ago, she came up onstage, and she was horrible — she was just hammered, man.

"Everyone’s hammered who gets up here. That’s the way it is, man. When you see the Panther, you gotta get drunk. It’s a heavy metal show!"


I’m the quizmaster, again, hosting the free pub quiz about 8 p.m. Thursday at PT’s, on Sunset Road east of Paradise Road. Winners of most rounds get free pitchers of beer. First-, second- and third-place teams get $100, $50 and $25 bar tabs. See you there.

What do you think about all this? Write your thoughts on my blog ( or e-mail me (, and I’ll post them. My column runs Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. See you then.

Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like