R. Randolph Aitken, 58, worked in TV and film production

R. Randolph Aitken was well versed in film, TV and music, and is recalled for his creative mind.

Richard Randolph "Randy" Aitken, a TV production assistant who also worked in the local film industry, died of cancer Nov. 8 at Mercy Medical Center.

The Riderwood resident was 58.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Park Avenue in Bolton Hill, he was the son of Richard Aitken, a pianist and music teacher who performed at the Belvedere's 13th Floor, Prime Rib and Chesapeake restaurants. His mother was Mary Wootsey Derr, also a music teacher.

He was a 1975 graduate of Friends School, where he played center on the school's basketball team and sang in a chorus. He performed in productions of "Guys and Dolls" and "Hello, Dolly." Friends recalled he sang tenor and later baritone.

As a child, he would sit at the Prime Rib as his father played for the restaurant's diners.

"He watched people there when he was between 12 and 15. He thought it was like being in a movie," said a longtime friend and classmate, Kitty Bryant. "He loved going to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum. He was a city child, and he spent nights in the summer listening to the park band play at Mount Vernon Place. He brought his differentness to his suburban classmates at Friends, and they accepted him for his uniqueness."

Gary Blauvelt, a former Friends School teacher, recalled that Mr. Aitken "had an enthusiasm for everything, and as a teacher, you appreciate a student who doesn't just sit there like a stone. He was always willing to ask questions, even one a bit off the beaten track. He was somebody I enjoyed having in a class."

Mr. Aitken earned a bachelor's degree in 1979 at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studied film and journalism.

As a young man he worked at Record and Tape Collector in the Rotunda shooping center in North Baltimore.

"He immersed himself in all genres of music," said Ms. Bryant, who lives in Essex. "He knew the music, lyrics and the context of a recording. He was an encyclopedia of music and song.

"He was familiar with he music of the 1940s that his fathered played, and he knew the music of recent time," she said. "He loved Frank Zappa. When [Mr. Zappa's] statue was unveiled [in Southeast Baltimore], Randy was there."

Mr. Aitken was also a television series fan and studied the "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "Mission Impossible." He attended a golden anniversary conference in 2014 in California related to the shows.

"He appreciated the artistry behind these productions," said Ms. Bryant. "He was a visual person and could be looking out a window and setting up a film shot. At times, he thought of himself as a dashing man of mystery. In his younger years, he resembled Robert Vaughn," who starred in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

She said he had favorite actresses, all brunettes, including Sophia Lauren and Monica Bellucci.

Mr. Aitken joined Bonner Films and did commercials for WJZ-TV, the old Bank of Baltimore and the Maryland Lottery Commission. He also was a freelance editor for Savage Pictures in Savage, and was a production assistant and assistant editor for the Maryland-made film "Adventure of the Action Hunters."

"Film production has long periods of sitting around and waiting, and Randy was so good with people on the set," said Lee Bonner, owner of Bonner Films. "He was terrific with impersonations and could do Marlon Brando in 'The Godfather.' He was constantly learning comedy bits. We later would send him ahead to get a place ready for filming because he was just so nice with people."

A colleague on the film electrical crew, Stewart Stack, recalled him: "He had that manic quality like Robin Williams and could keep things moving in surprising ways. He was very endearing."

Mr. Aitken moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s and fulfilled a l dream to become a television production assistant. He worked on the series "Unsolved Mysteries" in that capacity.

"He was a sweet person, and his knowledge of music and movies were amazing," said a film colleague, Mary Holland, who lives in Lewes, Del. "He was a gentle and unique soul."

Mr. Aitken returned to Baltimore and later cared for his parents. He had recently enrolled at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to study graphic design. He also drove for Freedom Services.

He was also a dog fancier and owned a 13-year-old miniature poodle, Louie.

He attended Orioles games, both at Memorial Stadium and at Camden Yards. He was also a Ravens fan.

Mr. Aitken donated his body to the Anatomy Gifts Registry.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 4 at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, where he was a communicant.

Mr. Aitken leaves no immediate survivors.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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