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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 1, 2018

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Inge Borkh, German operatic sopranoRosa Bouglione, 'Madame Rosa' of Paris circus fameDr. Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, Italian physician and geneticistRabbi Rachel Cowan, convert to JudaismPeter Frame, ballet dancerBarbara Clement Gould, photographer's modelWard Hall, among last of carnival sideshow barkersLindsay Kemp, British dancer, choreographer, and mimeIosif Kobzon, 'Soviet Sinatra'Erich Lessing, photojournalist who covered postwar EuropeJan Ellen Lewis, historian who studied Thomas JeffersonEllie Mannette, father of modern steel drumIrving Petlin, painter who worked with pastelsGloria Jean Schoonover, former child singing starMarie Severin, comic book artistCarole Shelley, Tony-winning actress in 'The Odd Couple' and 'Wicked'Neil Simon, prolific Broadway comedy playwrightPaul Taylor, modern dance performer and choreographerJanet Weinberg, social service advocate and fund-raiserRandy Weston, pioneering jazz pianistAmanda Kyle Williams, mystery writer

Art and Literature

Irving Petlin (83) artist whose paintings and pastels reflected a moral commitment to document inhumanity—during the Vietnam War, in the Middle East, and on the streets of Paris and Los Angeles, among other examples. Petlin tried to preserve history in a style that was neither realistic nor abstract. Rather than depict brutal events graphically, he reimagined them with subtlety and surrealism. He died of liver cancer on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts on September 1, 2018.

Marie Severin (89) comic book artist who drew most of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Comics pantheon at a time when women were rare in that field. Severin was a consummate comic book artist, engaged in most parts of illustrating a comic book, which involves penciling outlines of the characters and scenes, finalizing the images in ink, then coloring them in. She started in the industry in 1949 as a colorist for EC Comics, working with her brother, John Severin, an artist known for his realistic war and western comics. Marie was one of a handful of female artists who gained prominence during comics’ so-called Silver Age, from the mid-‘50s until the early ’70s. She also designed the first “Spider-Woman,” The character had her own comic book from the late ‘70s until the early ’80s and has since been revived in different variations. Marie Severin died of a stroke in Amityville, New York on August 29, 2018.

Amanda Kyle Williams (61) mystery writer who conquered a late diagnosis of dyslexia, a learning disorder. While free-lancing for the Atlantaa Journal-Constitution and dog-walking on the side, Williams dreamed up a female protagonist, a tough Chinese-American private investigator; Keye Street, a recovering addict who worked odd jobs. The first book in the series, The Stranger You Seek (2011), was well received and translated into seven languages. It followed the tale of Keye Street as she helped a small-town sheriff to solve a mystery that began with the discovery of two murdered teenage girls. Williams died on of endometrial cancer in Decatur, Georgia on August 31, 2018.

Business and Science

Dr. Luigi Cavalli-Sforza (96) millions of people in recent years have sent off samples of their saliva to DNA-testing companies like 23andMe and, hoping to find out where their forebears came from and whether they have mystery relatives in some distant land, or even around the corner. The trend itself can be traced to Cavalli-Sforza, an Italian physician and geneticist who laid the foundation for such testing, having honed his skills more than 60 years ago using blood types and 300 years of church records to study heredity in the villagers of his own country. Cavalli-Sforza was a pioneer in using genetic information to help trace human evolution, history, and patterns of migration. The founder of a field he called genetic geography, he was renowned for synthesizing information from diverse disciplines—genetics, archaeology, linguistics, anthropology, and statistics—to explain how human populations fanned out over the earth from their original home in Africa. He died in Belluno, Italy on August 31, 2018.

Ellie Mannette (90) Trinidadian musician known in the US as the father of the modern steel drum. Mannette became a master tuner, builder, and teacher. His shop, Mannette Instruments in Morgantown, W. Va., is a major supplier of the instruments in the US, and he trained students in tuning at West Virginia University for nearly 20 years. Numerous American universities now have steel-pan ensembles of their own, some led by Mannette’s former apprentices. He was among the first to fashion a steel drum that had all the notes of the chromatic scale, so it could play any melody in any key. He died of kidney failure in Morgantown, West Virginia on August 29, 2018.


Jan Ellen Lewis (69) historian whose fascination with President Thomas Jefferson and his family led her to organize a groundbreaking conference to reassess his legacy after DNA testing showed that he had fathered children with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves. Lewis, of Rutgers University, joined with Peter S. Onuf, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Virginia, in organizing the Hemings-Jefferson conference, held in March 1999 near Monticello, Jefferson’s plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia. A few months earlier, the scientific journal Nature had published the findings of DNA analysis of living Jefferson descendants showing with great certainty that he was the father of at least one of Hemings’ children. But it is believed likely that he had been the father of at least six children with Hemings, four of whom survived to adulthood. Lewis was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, in which bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. She died from complications of a bone-marrow transplant, in New York City on August 28, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Inge Borkh (97) German soprano who portrayed some of the most hair-raising and daunting roles in the operatic repertoire. Salome and Elektra, in operas of the same titles by Richard Strauss, were the roles for which Borkh was most renowned. She died in Stuttgart, Germany on August 25, 2018.

Rosa Bouglione (107) daughter of a traveling Roma, or Gypsy, circus family, known as Madame Rosa to millions of circus lovers for generations. When she was 17, Rosa Van Been married animal trainer Joseph Bouglione inside the lions' cage, where she regularly performed a Serbian dance. Among her pets was a foul-mouthed parrot, Coco, who lived to 45 and was fluent in French obscenities. Bouglione memorialized her dead pet leopard Mickey by converting him into a dining-room table throw, gnashing teeth included. She once smuggled a baby gorilla into a hotel in a hat box and roomed with him for a month. Eventually she moved from performing at the fabled one-ring 19th-century Cirque d’Hiver in Paris, where the flying trapeze was said to have been introduced, to managing the show. Rosa Bouglione died in Paris, France on August 26, 2018.

Peter Frame (61) former New York City Ballet principal dancer who became a mentor to young dancers. Frame was a dancer with the NYC Ballet for 14 years and taught at the School of American Ballet in Manhattan, where he created a strength training class for male dancers. A highlight of his career came in 1986 when Frame—then a soloist with the NYC Ballet—was selected to restage a rare piece of George Balanchine choreography. It was originally performed by modern dancer Paul Taylor in “Episodes,” a 1959 collaboration between Balanchine and Martha Graham set to the music of Anton Webern. After Taylor stopped performing the solo, Balanchine dropped it from the ballet in 1961. But in 1986, Taylor revived the solo, set to Webern’s Variations (Op. 30), and taught it to Frame. It was an opportunity Frame called one of the most exciting in his career. Peter Frame jumped to his death from his Manhattan apartment building a day after Taylor's death from renal failure, on August 30, 2018.

Barbara Clement Gould (81) photographer's model who appeared on the covers of magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s and in TV commercials, particularly one ad in the New York market of the ‘70s and ’80s that ran for 14 years and became the subject of news stories. It was for the Ritz Thrift Shop, a store then on West 57th Street in Manhattan that specialized in used furs. A beautiful but unremarkably dressed woman (Gould) gets off a bus, goes into the store, and comes out in a fur. A voiceover announcer says, “You don't need a million to look like a million.” Gould died of cancer in New York City on August 31, 2018.

Ward Hall (88) impresario of the carnival sideshow who beckoned customers with oddities and amazements and withstood decades of cultural change to be among the last of his kind in the US. For decades Hall and his partner, Chris M. Christ, ran World of Wonders, a traveling sideshow seen at state fairs, carnivals, and other events in towns large and small. Hall was the frontman, the “talker. His patter drew patrons to a “10 in one”—10 acts in a single show—where they might see swords swallowed, ice picks shoved up noses, and an assortment of what were often called human oddities. That type of entertainment had thrived in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th but began to fade not long after Hall got into the business, so that besides being one of the leading sideshow barkers, he became a sort of keeper of the flame. He died in Sun City, Florida on August 31, 2018.

Lindsay Kemp (80) British dancer, choreographer, and mime artist known for tutoring singers David Bowie and Kate Bush. Kemp left Britain in 1979 to live in Spain before later moving to Italy. He often performed in stark white-face makeup and dramatic costumes. He formed his dance company in the’60s and was credited with helping Bowie to create his Ziggy Stardust persona and teaching Bush to dance. He choreographed and performed during Bowie’s celebrated Ziggy Stardust concerts in London in 1972 and made cameo appearances in the films The Wicker Man and Velvet Goldmine. Kemp died suddenly of heart and lung failure in Livorno, Italy on August 26, 2018.

Iosif Kobzon (80) Russian crooner and political figure dubbed “the Soviet Sinatra” for his decades-long career. One of the most revered Russian singers of the 20th century, Kobzon is remembered not only for his concerts but also for efforts to negotiate the release of hostages and prisoners of war. With his trademark toupee and striking baritone, Kobzon was a perennial fixture on Soviet and Russian radio and TV starting in the early ‘60s. His devotion to the Communist Party and a repertoire of patriotic songs about the heroic achievements of the Soviet people helped him to become one of the most successful performers of the Soviet era. But to generations of Soviet dissidents and rock music fans, Kobzon symbolized Communist propaganda that contradicted the idea of artistic expression free from censorship and government control. He died of cancer in Moscow, Russia on August 30, 2018.

Erich Lessing (95) self-taught photojournalist who fled the Nazi annexation of Austria as a teenager in 1939 but returned after World War II to document Europe’s political and cultural rebirth. Magnum Photos recruited Lessing in 1951 after he returned from Israel. First for the Associated Press, then for Magnum, and in dozens of magazines, newspapers, and scores of books, he emerged as a chronicler of the 20th century’s second half. He photographed President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955 in Geneva tipping his hat as a beam of light crossed his face, jubilant Viennese outside the Belvedere Palace when the Allied occupation of Austria ended that year, Gen. Charles de Gaulle saluting French troops in Algeria in ‘58, and Nikita S. Khrushchev wielding an ax 70 miles outside Paris after walking out on a summit conference with Eisenhower in ’60. Lessing died in Vienna, Austria on August 29, 2018.

Gloria Jean Schoonover (92) former child singing sensation remembered for her popular ‘40s Universal Studios films and her leading part in W. C. Fields’s antic comedy Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). Known simply as “Gloria Jean,” Schoonover started singing for an audience when she was quite young, first appearing on local radio in her native Scranton, Pennsylvania. She was trained as a coloratura soprano and brought an engaging voice and a crowd-pleasing wholesomeness to the many musicals in which she appeared at a time in Hollywood when child stars like Shirley Temple and Micky Rooney were box-office gold. But by the mid-‘50s her film roles had grown sparse. Her last credited part in a major studio release was a bit in Jerry Lewis’s 1961 comedy The Ladies Man, in which she did not sing or even speak. Gloria Jean died of heart failure and pneumonia in Moutain View, Hawaii on August 31, 2018.

Carole Shelley (79) Broadway actress who played Gwendolyn, one of the bubbly Pigeon sisters, in the stage, screen, and TV versions of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple and won a Tony Award in 1979 for portraying a woman who develops an emotional connection to the disfigured title character in The Elephant Man. Shelley, who was born in London and began her theater career there, strove to convey complexity, even in characters who might appear shallow. She also originated the role of Madame Morrible in the long-running Broadway musical Wicked. She died of cancer in New York City on August 31, 2018.

Neil Simon (91) playwright, a master of comedy whose laugh-filled hits such as The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, and his Brighton Beach trilogy dominated Broadway for decades. In the second half of the 20th century, Simon was the American theater’s most successful and prolific playwright, often chronicling middle-class issues and fears. Starting with Come Blow Your Horn in 1961 and continuing into the 21st century, he rarely stopped working on a new play or musical. His list of credits is staggering. Simon’s stage successes included The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Sunshine Boys, Plaza Suite, Chapter Two, Sweet Charity, and Promises, Promises, but there were other plays and musicals, too, more than 30 in all. Many of his plays were adapted into movies, and one, The Odd Couple, even became a popular TV series. For seven months in 1967, he had four productions running at the same time on Broadway. Simon died of pneumonia in New York City on August 26, 2018.

Paul Taylor (88) US dancer and choreographer, a towering figure in American modern dance who, in a career that spanned more than 60 years, created a vast body of work that reflected both the giddy highs and the depraved lows of the human condition. Taylor kept working well into his 80s, venturing into his company’s Manhattan studios from his Long Island home to choreograph two new pieces a year, and 147 in all. His diverse style was born in the ‘50s. His own company has been one of the world’s superlative troupes. As a gifted dancer in his 20s, Taylor created roles for master choreographers Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine. He died of renal failure in New York City on August 29, 2018.

Randy Weston (92) pianist whose music and scholarship advanced the argument—now broadly accepted—that jazz is, at its core, an African music. On his earliest recordings, in the mid-‘50s for the Riverside label, Weston performed jazz standards and original tunes in a typical small-group format. But his sharply cut harmonies and intense rhythms conveyed an Afrocentric sensibility. He died in Brooklyn, New York on September 1, 2018.

Society and Religion

Rabbi Rachel Cowan (77) Mayflower descendant who converted to Judaism and became an innovator in three nontraditional movements in that faith. Cowan was a leader in helping couples to navigate mixed marriage, injecting practices like meditation and mindfulness into religious life, and designing “healing services” to comfort the sick and dying. After she learned of her own cancer more than two years ago, her friends held twice-weekly services of songs, psalms, and readings for her. She died of brain cancer in New York City on August 31, 2018.

Janet Weinberg (63) advocate for people with disabilities who found her calling as a top executive and fund-raiser at social service organizations like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Weinberg had been an occupational therapist for 10 years when she accepted an offer to join the board of the Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center in Manhattan in the mid-‘90s. It was a career transition she had been preparing for after building a reputation as a politically savvy activist for people with disabilities and hoping one day to help a population still affected by the AIDS epidemic. Having been disabled in the ‘80s by an illness that required her to use a wheelchair, Weinberg brought a new voice to the cause. She died of a chronic heart condition in the Bronx, New York on September 1, 2018.

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