Michael Lennick 61
Dec 14, 1952 – November 7, 2014
If you were to Google Michael Lennick the hits would be almost as vast as his beloved outer space.
Click on one site, you are intrigued then lured to another learning about rockets, outer space, special effects, and astronauts that broke the sound barrier free falling while testing parachutes.
You become an unwitting traveler discovering new worlds.
I suspect Lennick would have wanted it that way.
Born in Toronto in 1952 to actors Ben and Sylvia Lennick, he was an avid Sci Fi buff reading everything he could get his hands on. Lennick saw the Stanely Kubrick production of Arthur C Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” about 50 times. He was 16 when it premiered in 1968.
Lennick nurtured that passion and became a science documentary film maker, writer, director, producer, and special effects wizard earning several awards from film festivals and competitions.
See his resume at end of post, its ridiculously impressive. For one thing he was the special effects supervisor on David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983).
Lennick and his wife Shirley Gulliford met in 1986, they later founded Foolish Earthling Productions creating space/technology documentaries and specials for various channels including PBS and Discovery.
One such production was “2001 and Beyond”, a documentary about the science and visual effects in Kubrick’s classic film.
Too cool for school
A high school drop out, Lennick ended up at Toronto’s infamous Rochdale College . He was arrested, but not convicted for running a pirate radio station through the college PA system. He was also a security guard there.
He had offers over the years to teach science but couldn’t because he didn’t have a university degree. Ironic, since he was his own teacher.
His first job was as a camera man for CityTV in 1974. He then went on to co-create, co-write, and direct the cult classic late night show The All-Night Show on MTV channel 47. (1980-1981)
“The All-Night Show” was North America’s first regular late-night marathon, running live nightly from after sign-off until 6:00 AM. The format was a montage of old films, clips, episodics, guest appearances and special treats served up by your host Chuck the Security Guard and his cameraman buddies Ryerson Dupont and P.B. Leonard, all of whom had supposedly thrown the station back on-air in the wee hours when management was away.” source – imdb.com
Hmmm, maybe a chapter from his Rochdale days?
I remember watching The All Night Show after my bar shifts and was so excited to learn he was the creator. I even have a picture of me pointing imitating Chuck the Security Guard saying “hey, you!’ in a box somewhere.
I chatted with Lennick’s wife Shirley
I met with Shirley Gulliford on Valentine’s Day, “Michael was a kind and gentle man, a passionate filmmaker and a devoted dad to our dogs, Stanley and Artie. Our nieces called him “Uncle Smarty Pants” because he was knowledgeable on so many subjects. He loved space, science fiction and Stanley Kubrick. He interviewed Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka. He got to meet and interview many of his heroes, including Gene Krantz (played by Ed Harris in Apollo 130), who said our series “Rocket Science” was the best series on the history of the Apollo program. That endorsement meant a great deal to him.
I miss him every moment of every day.”
Gulliford fondly recalls their times spent in Alamogordo, New Mexico where they made the Rocket Science series. She explains the connection to the space program.
“Following World War II several German scientists were brought to New Mexico along with 26 train cars of parts, plans etc from the V1 and V2 rocket program in Germany. This was called Operation Paperclip.
Many of these scientists participated in the development of the space program. At the air force base and missile range in Alamogordo a lot of balloon experiments and rocket sled trials were performed. These were documented in a book called The Pre-Astronauts.
The New Mexico Space Museum is in Alamogordo and Michael did a lot of talks and film screenings there. We were also a part of the White Sands Film Festival (named for White Sands National Monument).”
They spent a lot of time in Alamogordo, and Lennick was revered as a bit of a rock star by the folks there.
This is where they hoped to retire.
The bench is just west of the lighthouse
Lennick’s bench was installed in the summer of 2015. When he was ill, but still able to frequent Cherry with their dogs, he commented about how far the benches were from the rest of the park. At that time the only benches were at the point.
“His bench is closer to the middle, he would have liked that.” Gulliford smiles.
His friend, and science fiction writer Rob Sawyer came up with the inscription, ‘A down-to-Earth guy who loved outer space’.
He signed his emails, ‘with the Love’.
Next time, have a seat and think about how tiny we all are in the grand scheme of things, but in the eyes of our our dogs we are the universe.
Gone too soon, Michael Lennick’s voice and passion lives on in Cyber Space – With the Love
Michael Lennick’s You Tube Channel
Feature Obituary Globe and Mail December 8, 2014