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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 28, 2017

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Fats Domino, rock 'n' roll pioneerRobert Guillaume in Broadway musical 'Purlie' and TV sitcom 'Benson'Dianne Bady, Ohio environmentalistJack Bannon, TV actor on 'Lou Grant,' other seriesFrank Barron, cartoon writer and editor of 'Hollywood Reporter'Robert Blakeley, designer of Cold War fallout shelter signsLewis D'Antoni, high school basketball coach and father of Houston Rockets Coach Mike D'AntoniAl Hurricane,  'godfather of New Mexico music'Jane Juska, author of memoir about late-life search for sexBruce Kaji, spearheaded LA's Japanese-American MuseumWalter Lassally, Oscar-winning cinematographer on 'Zorba the Greek'Red McLendon, AP photographerGreg Miller, former president of Arizona Board of EducationJohn Mollo, Oscar-winning costume designer for 'Star Wars'Iona Opie, British folkloristRob Potts, Australian music promoterBernal E. Smith 2nd, Memphis newspaper publisherMarina Sturdza, former princess of RomaniaJoe Taub, part owner of New Jersey NetsVirginia Thoren, fashion photographerChuck Weber, NFL player and coachPaul Weitz, retired US astronaut

Art and Literature

Jane Juska (84) former English teacher whose chronicle of searching for sex as a woman in her 60s became a best-selling memoir and later a stage show. Juska was a retired and divorced schoolteacher living in Berkeley, California when she wrote her frank and funny book, A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex & Romance (2003). The memoir grew out of a personal ad Juska placed in the New York Review of Books that read, “Before I turn 67, next March, I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” The ad was a success, leading to numerous flings—with men of all ages—that changed her life. Her book was adapted into a one-woman show starring Sharon Gless. Juska died in Chico, California on October 24, 2017.

Virginia Thoren (97) advertising designer who had no formal training behind a camera but became a leading fashion photographer in New York and Paris in the mid-20th century. Thoren photographed Julie Andrews, Vivien Leigh, Lee Radziwill, and other celebrities, and models like Carmen Dell’Orefice, Dorian Leigh, Barbara Mullen, Suzy Parker, Mary Jane Russell, and Anne St. Marie in what she characterized as “relaxed portraiture” for magazine covers and advertisements. She died in New York City on October 27, 2017.


Greg Miller (69) former president of the Arizona Board of Education who resigned his post last year amid an ongoing battle with state schools chief Diane Douglas. Miller and his wife Pam founded the Challenge Charter School in Glendale in 1996, and he served on the Board of Education from 2010. Before opening his school, Miller volunteered as part of the group involved in discussions that led to the passage of the Arizona law authorizing charter schools in 1994. There are now more than 550 of the public schools across Arizona educating more than 180,000 children. Miller died in Phoenix, Arizona after battling coronary artery disease for years, on October 24, 2017.

Iona Opie (94) British folklorist who worked with her husband, Peter (died 1982), to produce major studies of nursery rhymes and the oral traditions of games, jokes, nicknames, taunts, and pranks among schoolchildren. The Opies, lovers of reference books who did not attend college, were nearly inseparable for almost 40 years. In The Lore & Language of Schoolchildren (1959), they surveyed 5,000 students in 70 schools throughout Britain and revealed that a type of secret childhood code of interaction is perpetuated through songs, rhymes, games, jeers, and bullying. Iona Opie died in Petersfield, Hampshire, England, three weeks after her 94th birthday, on October 23, 2017.

News and Entertainment

Jack Bannon (77) familiar face on primetime TV and best known as assistant city editor Art Donovan on Lou Grant. Bannon was a regular on the acclaimed newspaper drama, which starred Ed Asner in the title role and aired on CBS from 1977–82. The crusading journalists of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune were high-spirited, but Donovan stood out as a calming presence. Before Lou Grant, Bannon appeared on such series as Here's Lucy, Daniel Boone, Mannix, Kojak, and The Rockford Files. Both Bannon's parents were actors; his mother, Bea Benaderet, was a regular on The Beverly Hillbillies, which she left to star in another long-running sitcom, Petticoat Junction. His father, Jim Bannon, played cowboy Red Ryder in several films. Jack Bannon had long been involved in the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, as was his wife, Ellen Travola, sister of John Travolta, also an actor and best known from the sitcoms Joanie Loves Chachi and Charles in Charge. Bannon died in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where he had lived since the mid-‘90s, on October 25, 2017.

Frank Barron (98) cartoon writer for Hanna-Barbera who later created an offbeat TV western and twice was editor of the Hollywood Reporter. Barron grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player but fell under Hollywood’s spell early, writing radio show material for Red Skelton and Edgar Bergen, creating story lines for Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and keeping track of the A-listers he came to know—Walt Disney, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Steven Spielberg. In 1959 he created the western series The Man from Blackhawk, which starred Robert Rockwell and lasted one season. Barron died in North Hills, California on October 23, 2017.

Fats Domino (89) rock 'n' roll pioneer whose pounding piano and easy baritone helped to change popular music while honoring the traditions of New Orleans. In appearance, Domino was no matinee idol. He stood 5-feet-5 and weighed more than 200 pounds, with a wide, boyish smile and a haircut as flat as an album cover. But he sold more than 110 million records, with hits including “Blueberry Hill,” ''Ain't That a Shame”—originally titled “Ain't It a Shame”—and other standards of rock 'n' roll, and was one of the first 10 honorees named to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Domino's dynamic performance style and warm vocals drew crowds for 50 years. One of his show-stopping stunts was playing the piano while standing, throwing his body against it with the beat of the music, and bumping the grand piano across the stage. His 1956 version of “Blueberry Hill” was selected for the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry of historic sound recordings worthy of preservation. He died in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana on October 24, 2017.

Robert Guillaume (89) actor and singer who rose from squalid beginnings in the St. Louis slums to become a star in stage musicals and win Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the sharp-tongued butler in the TV sitcoms Soap and Benson. Guillaume toured with Broadway shows Finian's Rainbow, Golden Boy, Porgy & Bess, and Purlie and began appearing on sitcoms such as The Jeffersons and Sanford & Son. Among his achievements was playing Nathan Detroit in the first all-black version of Guys & Dolls, for which he earned a Tony nomination in 1977. He also became the first black to sing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, appearing with an otherwise all-white cast in Los Angeles. While playing in Guys & Dolls, he was asked to test for the role of an acerbic butler on Soap, a prime-time TV sitcom that satirized soap operas. His character became so popular that ABC launched a spinoff, simply called Benson, with the setting changed to a fictional governor’s mansion. The series, which lasted from 1979–86, made Guillaume wealthy and famous. He died of prostate cancer in Los Angeles, California on October 24, 2017.

Al Hurricane (81) known as the “Godfather of New Mexico music” for developing a distinct sound bridging the state’s unique Hispanic traditions with country and rock. Al Hurricane (born Alberto Sanchez) began his professional music career by singing in Albuquerque Old Town restaurants before releasing his first songs, “Lobo” and “Racer,” under the band Al Hurricane & the Night Rockers in 1962. He released his first album, Mi Saxophone, in 1967, containing his signature song, “Sentimiento,” and later recorded more than 30 albums. He died of prostate cancer in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 22, 2017.

Walter Lassally (90) German-born cinematographer who won an Oscar for the 1964 movie Zorba the Greek. Lassally lived outside the city of Hania, near the beach that served as the backdrop for the movie’s final scene with actors Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates dancing to the theme music from the film. A refugee from Nazi Germany, Lassally moved to London as a boy. He worked on dozens of movies, including the British comedy Tom Jones in 1963 and the drama Heat & Dust, directed by James Ivory 20 years later. Lassally died in Athens, Greece of complications from surgery, on October 23, 2017.

Red McLendon (74) globe-trotting photographer who chronicled news events ranging from the Vietnam War to the Academy Awards during a long career with the US Navy and the Associated Press. McLendon earned the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V for his work as a photographer during the Vietnam War. After leaving the service he worked for Georgia’s Marietta Daily Journal for two years before joining the AP’s Los Angeles bureau in 1976. During 22 years with the AP, he covered earthquakes, fires, and other breaking news, plus Hollywood awards shows, the Olympics, and other major sports events. McLendon had suffered from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. He died in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 24, 2017.

John Mollo (86) largely self-taught British historian whose expertise on military uniforms led director George Lucas to choose him to design costumes for Star Wars, winning Mollo the first of two Oscars. He had a long career in the movies, creating costumes for Richard Attenborough’s epic Gandhi (1982), which brought him his second Oscar; the Revolutionary War drama Revolution (1985) with Al Pacino; Cry Freedom (1987), with Denzel Washington as South African freedom fighter Steve Biko; Chaplin (1992), with Robert Downey Jr. in the title role; and The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the second installment in the first Star Wars trilogy. Mollo died of vascular dementia in Froxfield, Wilshire, England on October 25, 2017.

Rob Potts (65) Australian music promoter who brought some of the biggest American country music acts to his home country. Potts was one of the Country Music Academy’s board members. The organization honored him this past March, recognizing his efforts in promoting the genre in Australia. Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, and fellow Australian Keith Urban were among the tours he promoted. Potts died after a motorcycle accident on the Australian island of Tasmania, on October 27, 2017.

Bernal E. Smith 2nd (45) publisher of the Memphis, Tenn.-based New Tri-State Defender. The paper covers news affecting the black community in Memphis and surrounding areas in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Smith was known as a community leader who mentored young men in the inner city. He was a past president of the 100 Black Men of Memphis and founder of the Memphis Academy of Health Sciences charter school. He died in Memphis, Tennessee on October 22, 2017.

Politics and Military

Robert W. Blakeley (95) former civilian manager for the US Corps of Engineers, in charge of administrative work for some 60 harbor, river, and other military construction projects. Blakeley designed the Fallout Shelter signs in 1961, never dreaming his utilitarian creation would become America’s most visible symbols of the Cold War. It was the time of the Berlin crisis, when fears of a nuclear holocaust, and survival mania, reached a fever pitch in America. Newspaper articles detailed the killing effects of Soviet nuclear weapons; children learned to “duck and cover” in schools; homeowners built shelters in basements and backyards, and the morality of private shelters accessible to privileged families became a raging national debate. On TV, a Twilight Zone episode depicted friends and neighbors in fear of an imminent nuclear attack fighting over access to one family’s shelter. Blakeley died in Jacksonville, Florida on October 25, 2017.

Paul Weitz (85) retired NASA astronaut who commanded the first flight of the space shuttle Challenger and piloted the Skylab in the early ‘70s. Weitz was among the class of 19 astronauts chosen in April 1966. He was command module pilot on the first crew of the orbiting space laboratory known as Skylab during a 28-day mission in 1973. He also piloted the first launch of the shuttle Challenger in April 1983. The Challenger was destroyed and seven crew members killed during its 10th launch on January 28, 1986. In all, Weitz logged 793 hours in space and retired as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in May 1994. He died in Flagstaff, Arizona on October 23, 2017.

Society and Religion

Dianne Bady (67) founder of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. In 1987 Bady and others organized to thwart efforts by BASF Corp. to burn or bury toxic waste near Huntington. Among her targets as director of Huntington-based OVEC, Bady tackled pollution and mountaintop removal mining and fought off construction of a pulp mill in Mason County. She died of cancer in Huntington, Ohio on October 23, 2017.

Bruce Kaji (91) key figure in fund-raising, securing a building lease, and making initial hires in the launch of the Japanese-American National Museum. When the museum—now a staple of Los Angeles cultural life—opened its doors in Little Tokyo in an old Buddhist temple in 1992, it was understood that without Kaji the institution might never have come to life. Last May the museum presented him with its Legacy Award. A US-born son of immigrant parents and a World War II veteran, Kaji was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal—along with fellow members of the Military Intelligence Service and the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team—in 2011. He died in Torrence, California on October 26, 2017.

Marina Sturdza (73) former Romanian princess who returned from exile to Romania after communism ended to become one of the country's leading humanitarians. Princess Marina, as she was known in Romania, was associated with charities working to move children from state orphanages to family homes. She also dedicated her efforts to palliative care. Sturdza was known for her elegance and love of fashion; earlier in her life she was a journalist who covered fashion and the arts. She died in New York City on October 22, 2017.


Lewis D'Antoni (103) father of Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni. Lewis D'Antoni had a 35-year coaching record of 450-200 at three high schools. He also was a high school principal and assistant principal before retiring. Mike D'Antoni's older brother, Dan D'Antoni, is the men's basketball coach at Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va. The D'Antoni brothers grew up in Mullens, W. Va., where their father was a high school coach who was inducted into the state Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. Lewis D’Antoni died in Charleston, West Virginia on October 28, 2017.

Joe Taub (88) helped to build the giant payroll processing company known as ADP with his brother, Henry, and Frank R. Lautenberg, a future US senator from New Jersey, then turned his love of basketball into an influential role as part owner of the New Jersey Nets for about 30 years. Taub was part of a syndicate that acquired the Nets in 1978. He was often the most public member of the group of friends and associates—nicknamed the Secaucus Seven—and the one most identified with pursuing big-name coaches and success in the NBA. He was at various times the Nets’ president and principal owner (although he never owned a majority stake) and later a minority owner. He died in New York City on October 27, 2017.

Chuck Weber (87) former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker. A seven-year NFL veteran, Weber spent his final three seasons in Philadelphia (1959–61), where he played in 38 games and helped the Eagles to win the 1960 NFL championship. He was second on the team with six interceptions in 1960. Weber also played for the Cleveland Browns (1955–56) and the Chicago Cardinals (1956–58). He later coached in the NFL for 21 years with the Boston Patriots (1964–67), the San Diego Chargers (1968–69, ‘82–85), the Cincinnati Bengals (1970–75), the St. Louis Cardinals (1976–77), the Cleveland Browns (1978–79), and the Baltimore Colts (1980–81). He died in San Diego, California on October 22, 2017.

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