Art and LiteratureWilliam Peter Blatty
(89) novelist and filmmaker who wrote a tale of demonic possession and gave millions the fright of their lives with the best-selling novel and Oscar-winning movie The Exorcist,
published in 1971 and followed in ‘73 by the film of the same title. Blatty's story of a 12-year-old girl inhabited by a satanic force spent more than a year on the New York Times
fiction best-seller list and eventually sold more than 10 million copies. It reached a far wider audience through the movie version, directed by William Friedkin, produced and written by Blatty, and starring Linda Blair as the young bedeviled Regan. Even those who thought they had seen everything had never seen anything like the R-rated The Exorcist
and its assault of vomit, blood, rotting teeth, ghastly eyes, and whirlwind head-spinning—courtesy of makeup and special effects maestro Dick Smith. Blatty died of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in Bethesda, Maryland on January 12, 2017.Martha Swope
(88) former dancer whose photographs of dancers and actors at work recorded nearly 50 years of stage history. From 1957, when Swope was invited by Jerome Robbins to shoot rehearsals of West Side Story,
to ‘94, when she shut down her Times Square studio and sold her archive, Swope produced hundreds of thousands of images of performers in action, capturing, among many others, Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in full flight and the cast of La Cage Aux Folles
in full drag. Those photographs appeared in newspapers, magazines, and books and decorated sales brochures, posters, and programs. She died of Parkinson's disease in New York City on January 12, 2017.
Business and ScienceParker Beam
(75) longtime master distiller for Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distilleries who carried on his family's historic bourbon-making tradition. Beam's career as a whiskey maker spanned more than 50 years at Bardstown, Kentucky.-based Heaven Hill, a family-owned and -operated distilled spirits company and maker of the popular Evan Williams brand. He was responsible for distilling and aging Evan Williams—the world's No. 2-selling bourbon—and other Heaven Hill whiskeys. During his years-long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, Beam raised funds in hopes of helping to find a cure. He died in Louisville, Kentucky on January 9, 2017.Dr. Jessica Crowder
(39) within 24 hours of giving birth to her third son in 2011, neurologist Crowder learned she was terminally ill. Her husband, Dr. Jason Crowder, noticed the swelling in her abdomen was not going down. A radiologist, he examined her and discovered a swollen liver. Tests followed, then a diagnosis. Age 33 at the time, Jessica was told she had Stage 4 colon cancer. Doctors gave her three months to live, six months at most. Determined to give her children a happy childhood as long as possible, Jessica Crowder died six years later in Biloxi, Mississippi on January 10, 2017.Dave Dutton
(79) owner and proprietor of Dutton's Books, a Los Angeles landmark with its overflowing shelves and hard-to-find titles. The store on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, along with sister locations in Burbank and downtown LA, was at the very center of literary LA when it opened in 1961. While chains like Crown Books and Waldenbooks pared down their stock to the best-sellers, discounted prices, and moved inventory as if it were produce, Dutton’s was overflowing with choices. Dave Dutton died of Parkinson’s disease in Valley Village, California, roughly 10 years after he packed up the last 50,000 books and closed up the North Hollywood shop for the final time on January 13, 2017.Levi Felix
(32) champion of the virtues of unplugging from smart phones and other technology. Felix cofounded Digital Detox, which sponsored retreats and camps to help people reconnect with real life. Among other programs, Digital Detox sponsored Camp Grounded, a summer camp to help adults unplug from technology. Campers turned in their electronic devices—which were sealed in plastic bags labeled “biohazard”—and participated in activities like hiking, archery, swimming, and capture-the-flag competitions. Felix died of a brain tumor in Pismo Beach, California on January 11, 2017.Victor Lownes
(88) former executive of Playboy who helped to forge the brand's hedonistic ethos and put much of the swing into the “Swinging London” era. In the '50s, Lownes went to work for Hugh Hefner's new Playboy
magazine. The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago in 1960, offering live music and comedy, alongside cocktails served by hostesses in bustiers and bunny ears—a costume based on Playboy's
tuxedo-wearing bunny logo. In the ‘60s, US-born Lownes traveled to Britain to open Europe's first Playboy Club, complete with a casino, in London's Park Lane. He helped to lead Playboy's expansion into gambling and headed its casino division. But when British gambling authorities began investigating alleged licensing irregularities in the early ‘80s, Hefner fired him. Playboy's United Kingdom gambling licenses were revoked, and within 10 years all the more than 20 original Playboy Clubs around the world had closed. Lownes died in London, England, 11 days after suffering a heart attack at a New Year’s Eve Party, on January 11, 2017.Vo Quy
(87) ornithologist who successfully persuaded Vietnam‘s top leaders, including its founding president, Ho Chi Minh, to designate a tract of land near the capital as the country’s first national park. Over a 50-year career, Quy was known for his pioneering studies on Vietnam’s wildlife and his efforts to restore tropical habitats that had been destroyed by defoliants during the Vietnam War. He suffered from diabetes and had problems with his heart and kidneys. He died in Hanoi, Vietnam on January 10, 2017.John M. Richman
(89) former chief executive and chairman of Kraft Inc., maker of popular brands like Velveeta processed cheese and Philadelphia cream cheese, who oversaw its $13.1 billion acquisition by the Philip Morris Cos. in 1988, one of the largest mergers in US history, which made Philip Morris the world’s largest consumer goods producer at the time. After Philip Morris and Kraft merged, Richman became vice chairman of the combined company and chief of its Kraft General Foods division. He oversaw the integration of Kraft with General Foods, manufacturer of Jell-O and Maxwell House coffee, which Philip Morris acquired in 1985. He died of pneumonia in Weston, Florida on January 9, 2017.Oliver Smithies
(91) genetics researcher who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2007 for developing a technique used to manipulate genes in mice. The advance enhanced genetic research to better understand cancer, obesity, heart disease, and other diseases. The University of North Carolina said Smithies' lab created the first animal model of cystic fibrosis in 1992. Smithies shared his 2007 prize with the University of Utah's Mario Capecchi and Sir Martin Evans of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. Smithies died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on January 10, 2017.
(91) one of the most prominent and prolific European sociologists of recent decades. The Polish-born left-wing thinker's works explored the fluidity of identity in the modern world, the Holocaust, consumerism, and globalization. Bauman was a strong moral voice for the poor and dispossessed in a world upended by globalization. His focus was on how humans can create a dignified life through ethical decisions. He wrote more than 50 books, notably Modernity & the Holocaust,
a 1989 release in which he differed with many other thinkers who saw the barbarism of the Holocaust as a breakdown in modernity. Bauman viewed the mass exterminations of Jews as the outcome of industrialization and rationalized bureaucracy. He headed the Department of Sociology at the University of Leeds until his retirement in 1990. He died in Leeds, England on January 9, 2017.Kevin Starr
(76) former California State Librarian deemed preeminent historian of the Golden State. A professor of history at the University of Southern California, Starr researched and wrote Americans & the California Dream,
a series of books considered the definitive account of the California story. Both a scholar and a public figure, he was appointed state librarian by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994 and served until 2004 under Govs. Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who named him State Librarian Emeritus. Starr was working on a series of books about the history of the Catholic church in Mexico, the US, and Canada. The first book in the series, titled Continental Ambitions: Roman Catholics in North America: The Colonial Experience,
was published in November 2016. Starr died of a heart attack in San Francisco, California on January 14, 2017.Zhou Youguang
(111) linguist considered the father of modern China's Pinyin Romanization system. In 1949 Zhou was placed in charge of a committee working on a new system to allow Chinese characters to be converted into Roman script. Adopted by the People's Republic in 1958, Pinyin has virtually become the global standard owing to its simplicity and consistency, although some Chinese communities, especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong, continue to use alternatives. In the era of computers and smart phones, Pinyin has become more ubiquitous than ever, with traditionalists lamenting that it is supplanting the original Chinese characters from which it derives. Zhou later worked on an official Chinese translation of the Encyclopedia Britannica
and wrote on topics including the evolution of Chinese historical languages and scripts. He died in Beijing, China one day after celebrating his 111th birthday, on January 14, 2017.
(59) New York City police officer who was shot by a 15-year-old boy in Central Park in July 1986 and paralyzed from the neck down but forgave his assailant, hoped for the youth’s redemption, and remained in the public eye for his spirit in the face of adversity. A plainclothes police officer when he was shot, McDonald remained on the NYPD’s payroll afterward as a first-grade detective, at times appearing at roll calls and offering support for wounded officers. He was hospitalized January 6 after suffering a heart attack and died four days later in Manhasset, New York on January 10, 2017.Nicodemo ('Little Nicky') Scarfo
(87) mob boss whose reign over the Philadelphia Mafia in the ‘80s was one of the bloodiest in its history. Scarfo led the Philadelphia-southern New Jersey mob from 1981 until he and more than a dozen associates were convicted of racketeering charges in ’88. Ultimately, Scarfo’s vengeance and mismanagement forced several associates to be witnesses for prosecutors. He died at a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina on January 14, 2017.
News and EntertainmentTommy Allsup
(85) guitarist best known for losing a coin toss that kept him off the plane that later crashed and killed rock ’n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Allsup was a member of Holly’s band when Holly and the others, who were on tour, were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959. Allsup flipped a coin to see whether he or Valens would get a seat on the plane. Allsup lost and took a bus to the next stop on the tour. Holly, Valens, the Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson), and the pilot, Roger Peterson, were killed when the plane crashed in the Iowa countryside. Their deaths were recalled as “the day the music died” in Don McLean’s 1971 hit song, “American Pie.” Tommy Allsup died of complications from a hernia operation in Springfield, Missouri on January 11, 2017.Buddy Bregman
(86) music arranger, producer, and filmmaker whose credits ranged from albums by Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby to directing dozens of TV movies and documentaries. Chicago-born Bregman was in his mid-20s when hired by the Verve record label, and he worked with many top acts in the ‘50s and after. He arranged Fitzgerald's classic Songbook
tribute records to Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart and produced Crosby's Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings.
He also worked on music featuring Fred Astaire and Count Basie, among others. His TV credits included directing and producing TV specials featuring Ethel Merman and Judy Garland. His daughter, actress Tracey Bregman (The Young & the Restless, Home & Family),
confirmed that her father had been battling Alzheimer's disease. Buddy Bregman died in Los Angeles, California on January 8, 2017.Paula Dell
(90) Hollywood stuntwoman whose acrobatic feats as a girl made her a Muscle Beach star in her hometown of Santa Monica. Muscle Beach was already a physical fitness haven for weight lifters, stuntmen, and gymnasts when Dell, at age 7, moved there from Colorado with her family in the early '30s. She became known for flying off one side of a teeterboard after a man jumped onto the other side, and for being tossed into the air and caught, by muscular men, in a trick called the adagio. She found stunt work in films like the 1963 Disney comedy Son of Flubber,
with Fred MacMurray, and in Otto Preminger’s ‘65 war epic In Harm’s Way.
As Carol Channing’s stunt double in the 1967 film musical Thoroughly Modern Millie,
Dell was shot from a cannon. She died of pancreatic cancer in Santa Monica, California on January 9, 2017.Dick Gautier
(85) actor who gained fame playing an Elvislike singer in the 1960 Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie
and later played Hymie the Robot on TV's Get Smart.
Gautier, who started out as a standup comic, was nominated for a Tony for his stage turn as Conrad Birdie. He also appeared in films including Divorce, American Style, Billy Jack Goes to Washington,
and Fun with Dick & Jane.
Gautier, who was also a cartoonist, worked as a voice actor for cartoons including Transformers
He died in Arcadia, California on January 13, 2017.Nicolai Gedda
(91) Swedish singer who rose from an impoverished childhood and a youthful career as a bank clerk to become one of the most celebrated operatic tenors of the 20th century. Widely admired for his musicianship, tonal control, and impeccable diction in a spate of European languages, Gedda possessed a lyric tenor voice. He was one of the most versatile and professionally long-lived tenors of his era, with many dozens of roles to his name in a career that lasted until he was well into his 70s—a good 20 years past a classical singer’s customary retirement age. He died of a heart attack in Tolochenaz, Switzerland on January 8, 2017.Buddy Greco
(90) jazz singer, piano player, and long-running Vegas showman whose hits included “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Greco was often associated with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin‘s Rat Pack, and his lengthy career spanned 80 years. For decades he headlined top nightclubs, cabarets, and music rooms around the world and had such solid-selling singles as “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “I Ran All the Way Home,” and “Mr. Lonely” and recorded more than 60 albums. He also performed with Marilyn Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne and once played for Queen Elizabeth II along with The Beatles. Greco died in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 10, 2017.Clare Hollingworth
(105) British war correspondent, the first to report the Nazi invasion of Poland that marked the beginning of World War II. A determined journalist who defied gender barriers and narrowly escaped death several times, Hollingworth spent much of her career on the front lines of major conflicts, including in the Middle East, North Africa, and Vietnam, working for British newspapers. She lived her final 40 years in Hong Kong after being one of the few Western journalists stationed in China in the ‘70s. She died in Hong Kong on January 10, 2017.Milton Metz
(95) former host of Metz Here,
a Louisville radio talk show on WHAS-AM that ran for 34 years (1959–93) and became the longest-running radio show in the city and one of the longest-running in the US. Metz started his radio career in his native Cleveland in the ‘30s after graduating from Ohio State University. After serving in the Army in World War II, he joined the staff at WHAS radio in 1946. He was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 1989. Metz died in Louisville, Kentucky on January 12, 2017.Ari Rath
(92) former Jerusalem Post
chief editor who advocated the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians. Rath was best known for his more than 10-year tenure at the daily's helm. His support of dialogue to resolve past and present conflicts won him numerous honors, including Germany's Order of Merit and Vienna's Golden Award of Honor. He died in Vienna, Austria on January 13, 2017.Tony Rosato
(62) Canadian actor, a veteran of comedy shows including Saturday Night Live
and Canada’s homegrown SCTV.
The Italian-born actor joined Martin Short and Robin Duke as the only three performers to have been cast members of both Saturday Night Live
which was spun out of Chicago's Second City Comedy Club shortly after SNL
launched in the mid-’70s. In 2005 Rosato was charged with criminally harassing his wife. He spent two years in prison awaiting trial before he was diagnosed with Capgras syndrome, a condition that made him believe his wife and daughter had been replaced by impostors. He was committed to a mental institution and died in Toronto, Canada on January 10, 2017.
Politics and MilitaryHenry J. Foner
(97) last of four brothers from New York City who were denied academic jobs in the ‘40s for Communist ties and later were champions of organized labor, higher education, and progressive political causes. Henry Foner led the once-thriving fur and leather workers union in New York and was a leader of the Liberal Party, which is now largely moribund but played a pivotal role in local politics for 30 years starting in the ‘50s. He died of cardiovascular disease in Brooklyn, New York on January 11, 2017.Roman Herzog
(82) former president of Germany who pressed his country to embrace economic reform in the ‘90s and stressed the importance of remembering the Nazi Holocaust. A jovial Bavarian, Herzog was chief justice of Germany's highest court before winning the presidency in 1994, four years after reunification. He was one of the first leaders to address Germany's resistance to reform and its growing economic stagnation at a time when veteran conservative Chancellor Helmut Kohl's 16-year tenure was coming to a close. Germany was struggling with double-digit unemployment amid worries that its labor market was too inflexible. Herzog drew an unfavorable comparison between the dynamism of Asia and the stagnation in Germany, pointing to problems with bureaucracy and regulation, and a resistance to change. He died in Bad Mergentheim, Germany on January 10, 2017.Roy Innis
(82) national leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) since 1968, whose right-wing views on affirmative action, law enforcement, desegregation, and other issues put him at odds with many black Americans and other civil rights leaders. In a stormy career marked by radical rhetoric, shifting ideologies, legal and financial troubles, and quixotic runs for office, Innis led CORE through changes that mirrored his own evolution from black-power militancy in the ‘60s to staunch conservatism resembling a modern Republican political platform. He died of Parkinson’s disease in New York City on January 8, 2017.Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
(82) former Iranian president (1989–97), a political survivor and multimillionaire mogul who remained among the ruling elite despite his moderate views. Rafsanjani's mix of sly wit and reputation for cunning moves—both in politics and business—earned him a host of nicknames such as Akbar Shah, or Great King, during a life that touched every major event in Iranian affairs since before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized north of Tehran, Iran, where doctors performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation in vain for nearly 90 minutes before declaring him dead, on January 8, 2017.
Society and ReligionMichael Chamberlain
(72) former Australian pastor whose 9-week-old daughter's disappearance in the Outback in 1980 was a mystery that captivated his country for years, inspired a Meryl Streep movie, and tormented the parents for more than 30 years. A dingo, a type of wild dog found in Australia, was found to have killed the infant. The couple fought for decades to prove to the world that the animal was responsible for their daughter’s disappearance, but despite a lack of evidence—a body was never found—blame soon fell on them. Only in 2012 did a coroner conclude, after a fourth inquest, that the couple, by then divorced, were telling the truth. Michael Chamberlain died of acute leukemia on January 9, 2017.Patricio Fernandez Flores
(87) former archbishop of the San Antonio Roman Catholic archdiocese and first Mexican-American to rise to bishop in the US Catholic church. Flores was born in the small Texas Coastal Plains farming town of Ganado. He was ordained in Galveston in 1956, became a bishop in ’70, and was appointed head of the El Paso Catholic diocese in ’78. He was appointed San Antonio's archbishop in 1979 and served until his retirement in 2004. Flores died of pneumonia and congestive heart failure in San Antonio, Texas on January 9, 2017.Lord Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon
(86) society photographer and filmmaker who married Britain's Princess Margaret (died 2002) and continued to mix in royal circles even after their divorce. One of England's most famous photographers, Snowdon was one of the few top-echelon royals to hold down an outside job after he married the queen's sister in 1960, and his professional reputation grew steadily. Snowdon was admired for his discretion, never speaking with the media about the breakup of the marriage in 1978 and rejecting offers to write a book about it. The Jones Boy married high-spirited Margaret at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960, in the first royal wedding to be televised. Whatever doubts the country might have had about his suitability were swept aside by general relief that Margaret had, at last, found love. It had been five years since her widely publicized decision to end her romance with divorced war hero Peter Townsend after pressure from church leaders, political figures, and her own family. Armstrong-Jones was named the Earl of Snowdon in October 1961. He died in London, England on January 13, 2017.
(87) former world champion of correspondence chess who won one of the greatest games ever played on his way to the title and later became a pioneering developer of game-playing computers. Berliner was an expert at correspondence chess, in which moves can be sent by postcard or, more recently, over the Internet. Players have days to think about each move, and games usually last months or even years. When Berliner won the Fifth World Correspondence Chess Championship, the final began on April Fools’ Day in 1965 and did not end until ‘68. His margin of victory in the final was three points, the largest in history. Berliner died in Riviera Beach, Florida, two weeks short of his 88th birthday, on January 13, 2017.Jackie Brown
(73) former major league pitcher and pitching coach for the Texas Rangers. Brown was the Rangers' pitching coach from 1979–82 and later had stints in that role for the Chicago White Sox (1992–95) and Tampa Bay (2002). He also worked as a minor league pitching coach and coordinator for several organizations. In 214 career games as a player, the right-hander was 47-53 with a 4.18 earned run average. He made his debut with the Washington Senators from 1970–71, then after the franchise moved to Texas he pitched for the Rangers from ‘73–75. He also played for Cleveland (1975–76) and Montreal (1977). Brown died in Holdenville, Oklahoma, his birthplace, on January 8, 2017.John Jacobs
(91) captain of the first European Ryder Cup golf team and a tour official on the continent. Jacobs played for Britain at the 1955 Ryder Cup in California and was instrumental in later bringing together Europe and Britain. In 1979 he was captain of the first Ryder Cup team that included players from continental Europe. He championed the expansion of golf, and the first European Tour event was staged in 1972. Jacobs was also one of the most popular golf teachers. He died in Virginia Water, England on January 13, 2017.David Modell
(55) first president of the Baltimore Ravens and son of former team owner Arthur Modell. David Modell was president of the Ravens from their beginning in 1996 until 2004. He was instrumental in the selection of the team's name and colors and helped to orchestrate the move to the Ravens' new stadium in 1998. Father and son worked together to make sure the team flourished after its relocation from Cleveland in 1995, but David's connection with the team ended soon after Art Modell sold the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti in 2004. The younger Modell died in Owings Mills, Maryland after a two-year battle with cancer, on January 13, 2017.Graham Taylor
(72) England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John. Taylor won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the ‘80s. He was one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John owned Watford during Taylor’s two stints in charge. Taylor died of a suspected heart attack in London, England on January 12, 2017.François van der Elst
(62) player who won club titles in Belgium and the US and made it to the 1980 European Championship final with the Belgian national soccer team. With Anderlecht in the ‘70s, the striker won two national titles, two European Cup Winners’ Cups, and two European Super Cups during a six-year spell. Van der Elst later won a league title with the New York Cosmos in 1980 before moving to English club West Ham. After his career, he ran a snooker club in Belgium. Van der Elst suffered a heart attack on New Year’s Day and was kept in an artificial coma before he died 10 days later in Brussels, Belgium, on January 11, 2017.Previous Week
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