by Robert Weintraub.
Thirty years ago this week, a Hollywood star was decapitated while shooting a scene for a movie. The actor was Vic Morrow, the veteran star of the TV series Combat. He was killed, along with child actors Renee Chen and Myca Dinh Le, by a falling helicopter during filming of The Twilight Zone, a feature-length adaptation of Rod Serling’s television series.
Morrow played a bigot who skipped through time getting a taste of his own medicine. In the scene that would prove fatal, he was earning some Serling-style redemption by trying to rescue a pair of Vietnamese children from an American air raid. Mainly, the setup was an excuse for director John Landis to capture immense explosions on film.
At the controls of the helicopter that was “bombing” the village was Dorcey Wingo, an actual Vietnam veteran. Wingo was new to the movie business, so even when the rehearsal explosions that buffeted his chopper scared him witless, he swallowed his concerns, especially as Landis, who had a reputation for being dictatorial on set, screamed expletives into the California night. (The shooting was taking place at a disused motorcycle track at Indian Dunes Park, a few miles north of Los Angeles.)
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