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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 29, 2018

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Helena Almeida, Portuguese artistLt. Col. William Baker, US Army officer who reversed historic racial injusticeMarty Balin, founder and singer of Jefferson AirplaneMerle Debuskey, Broadway press agentFrances Edelstein, ran Manhattan's Cafe EdisonIon Ficior, imprisoned Romanian labor camp commanderJane Fortune, arts patron who restored 'Lamentation with Saints' and other art by womenSydney Goldstein, founder of 'City Arts & Lectures'Pam Henry, March of Dimes's last poster childSir Charles Kuen Kao, Nobel Prize winner for fiber optic researchRichard Kaplan, director of Oscar-winning documentaryPhyllis Kind, feisty art dealerGary Kurtz, 'Star Wars' producer, with actress Carrie FisherAngela Maria, Brazilian singerJoe Masteroff, librettist of two hit Broadway musicals, 'Cabaret' and 'She Loves Me'Tommy McDonald, Philadelphia Eagles receiverJack McKinney, LA Lakers coach who started Showtime style of playRoger Robinson, Tony-winning actorOtis Rush, Chicago blues guitaristDavid P. Schippers, chief investigative counsel in Clinton impeachmentMaj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, Holocaust survivor who led US Cold War forces in GermanyJulius Whittier, first black football letterman at University of TexasDavid Wolkowsky, developer who transformed Key West

Art and Literature

Helena Almeida (84) Portuguese artist who used drawing, painting, photography, performance, and more to create works that bent the boundaries among genres and suggested themes of repression and emancipation. Almeida was well known in her home country for half a century, but in the last 20 years she received increasing attention abroad as well. The Tate Modern in London currently has an exhibition of her works. Her signature technique was to use herself in carefully constructed photographs, videos, and performance works—sometimes her whole body, sometimes just her lower torso, her legs, or an arm—but not in the conventional terms of self-portraiture. Almeida died in Sintra, Portugal on September 25, 2018.

Jane Fortune (76) philanthropist from Indiana who, while wandering through an antique book fair in Florence, Italy in 2005, came across a book about Plautilla Nelli, Florence’s first known female artist, whose works date from the 1500s. The book inspired Fortune to visit the San Marco Museum in that city to see Nelli’s painting, “Lamentation with Saints” (shown above); but sadly, It was caked with dirt and had lost its luster. Fortune paid for its restoration, and at age 63 she thus began the final chapter of a long life as a patron of the arts. She founded a nonprofit foundation called Advancing Women Artists to find and salvage art created by women between the 16th and 20th centuries. Her resurrection of those works, many of them Renaissance treasures lost to history and secreted in Tuscan churches and attics for centuries, earned her, in the Italian press, the nickname “Indiana Jane.” She died of ovarian cancer in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 23, 2018.

Phyllis Kind (85) art dealer whose championing of a group of young artists called the Chicago Imagists and major outsider artists helped to expand 20th-century art. Kind had galleries in both Chicago and New York during the ‘80s and ’90s, a period when the mainstream, dominated by Pop Art and abstraction, was becoming much broader and less orderly. As the first American dealer to show outsider art alongside that of contemporary artists, Kind was in many ways as important as Leo Castelli, dean of New York dealers, who introduced the work of Jasper Johns and at one point represented nearly every Pop and Minimalist artist of note. Kind's last gallery, in New York, closed in 2009. She died of respiratory failure in San Francisco, California on September 28, 2018.


Business and Science

Frances Edelstein (92) Holocaust survivor whose potato latkes, matzo ball soup, and blintzes brought cholesterol-loving pilgrims to the Cafe Edison in the theater district of Manhattan for more than 30 years. With her husband, Harry—a childhood friend who had fled German invaders with her in their native Poland—Frances turned the former ballroom at the Hotel Edison on West 47th Street into a hangout for actors, directors, playwrights, and producers and a not-so-fancy eatery for tourists craving a heavy nosh (and a celebrity spotting). Frances was often in the kitchen of what was called the Polish Tea Room—a poke at the upscale Russian Tea Room—cooking from her recipes or making sure her chefs did not veer from her instructions. She died in Manalapan, New Jersey on September 24, 2018.

Sir Charles Kuen Kao (84) Nobel laureate in physics whose research in the ‘60s revolutionized the field of fiber optics and helped to lay the technical groundwork for the information age. Working in Britain in the late ‘60s, Kao and a colleague played a crucial role in discovering that the fiber optic cables in use at the time were limited by impurities in their glass. They also outlined the cables’ potential capacity for storing information—one that was far superior to that of copper wires or radio waves. In 2009 Kao split the Nobel Prize in Physics with two scientists who had invented a semiconductor sensor known as the charge-coupled device, the device behind digital photos and film. Kao was knighted in 2010. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2002. He died in Hong Kong on September 23, 2018.


News and Entertainment

Marty Balin (76) founder of the ‘60s “San Francisco Sound” as lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane and co-owner of the club where the Airplane and other bands performed. Balin was an ex-folk musician who formed the Airplane in 1965 and within two years was at the heart of a nationwide wave that briefly rivaled the Beatles’ influence and even helped to inspire their Sgt. Pepper album. The Airplane was the breakout act among such San Francisco-based artists as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, many of whom played early shows at the Matrix, a ballroom Balin helped to run and for which the Airplane was house band. The San Francisco Sound was a psychedelic blend of blues, folk, rock, and jazz and the musical expression of the emerging hippie lifestyle. Balin himself was known for his tenor on the ballads “Today” and “It’s No Secret,” and on the political anthem “Volunteers.” He underwent emergency heart surgery in 2016. He died in Tampa, Florida on September 27, 2018.

Merle Debuskey (95) press agent who was an influential force on and off Broadway for decades, especially as chief promoter of the Public Theater and counselor to the man who ran it, Joseph Papp. Debuskey was no mere disseminator of news releases, although he disseminated plenty. After actor Zero Mostel was severely injured when a bus ran over his leg in early 1960, Debuskey recruited an old friend, Dr. Joseph R. Wilder, a leading surgeon, to weigh in on the case. Wilder was credited with saving Mostel’s leg, and Mostel, in turn, introduced the surgeon to painting. Wilder later became a well-regarded artist. Debuskey also advised Papp not to charge admission to Shakespeare in the Park in the face of New York City pressure to do so. He died in Englewood, New Jersey on September 25, 2018.

Sydney Goldstein (73) San Francisco impresario who helped to pioneer the art of showcasing conversation as a cultural offering. Goldstein in 1980 founded City Arts & Lectures, a nonprofit organization that brought notable figures—mostly writers, critics, artists, and musicians—to San Francisco for thoughtful, onstage conversations with smart interviewers. Over nearly 40 years, a parade of accomplished celebrities were drawn to her stage, among them Stephen Sondheim, Doris Lessing, Bruce Springsteen, Nora Ephron, Maurice Sendak, Pauline Kael, John Updike, Gilda Radner, William F. Buckley Jr., and Joan Didion. Goldstein’s evenings of literary programming, offered as a series, much like subscriptions to the symphony or opera, were a model for other cities, including Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Oregon. They also helped to elevate the art of literary conversation. The interviews were taped before live audiences, then fashioned into hour-long broadcasts that aired on more than 100 public radio stations around the country. Goldstein died in Los Angeles, California on September 25, 2018.

Pam Henry (68) last national poster child of the March of Dimes and an Oklahoma City broadcaster. Stricken with polio at age 14 months, Henry rose to national prominence in 1959 as the face of the nation’s effort to eradicate the disease as the last poster child for the nonprofit fundraiser March of Dimes. She became interested in journalism and later worked for several Oklahoma City TV stations before retiring in 2002 as manager of news and public affairs at the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. She died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from complications after emergency surgery for an intestinal blockage, on September 25, 2018.

Richard Kaplan (93) director of an Oscar-winning documentary about Eleanor Roosevelt who oversaw production of an acclaimed portrait of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. two years after his assassination. Kaplan, whose dream of making scripted feature films had been frustrated by a lack of financing, had been making documentaries and other nonfiction films in Europe and the US for about a dozen years when he was asked by producer Sidney Glazier to direct The Eleanor Roosevelt Story (1965). In 1967 Kaplan began a two-year collaboration with producer Ely Landau on King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis (1970). He died in New York City on September 29, 2018.

Gary Kurtz (78) producer of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back who helped filmmaker George Lucas to create one of the most successful franchises in movie history. Kurtz first worked with Lucas on his breakout film, the nostalgic coming-of-age comedy American Graffiti (1973) before collaborating with him on the first two films of the Star Wars saga, which established Lucas as a major filmmaker. Kurtz and Francis Ford Coppola produced American Graffiti at a cost of about $775,000 (a little more than $4.7 million in 2018 dollars). It became a sleeper success that made tens of millions of dollars and was nominated for five Oscars. Kurtz died of cancer in London, England on September 23, 2018.

Angela Maria (89) Brazilian singer who became a national sensation in the ‘50s and inspired a generation of artists with her piercing, sometimes hoarse, often melancholy voice. Maria had a wildly successful recording career and performed in sold-out halls well into her 80s, her voice still vibrant. She was equally at home performing tangos, cha-chas, and boleros. She recorded more than 650 songs and appeared in 20 films. She was also the subject of intense tabloid scrutiny. At a time when divorce was frowned upon in Brazil, she broke a cultural taboo by marrying four times, most controversially to Daniel D’Angelo, with whom she had moved in when she was 52 and he was 18. Maria died in São Paulo, Brazil on September 29, 2018.

Joe Masteroff (98) Tony Award-winning story writer of the brilliant, edgy musical Cabaret and the touching, romantic She Loves Me. Masteroff was never prolific but made a profound mark on the theater with two shows at opposite ends of the spectrum—one considered by many the most charming musical ever written and the other a ferociously dark musical with ominous Nazis. He was asked to write the book for She Loves Me with songs by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. It was produced by the legendary Hal Prince. The show, about a case of mistaken identity set in a ‘30s European perfumery, was nominated for five Tonys in 1964, and the ‘93 Broadway revival won the Olivier Award for best musical revival. The original 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László was adapted into the films The Shop Around the Corner (1940) with James Stewart, In the Good Old Summertime (1949) with Judy Garland, and You’ve Got Mail (1998) with Tom Hanks. It was Prince who next asked Masteroff to write the libretto for a musical that took a look at a seamy slice of life in Germany just before the Nazi takeover. Masteroff combined material from Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories and John van Druten’s play I Am a Camera. The songs were provided by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb. The show is set in ‘20s Berlin, where a sleazy nightclub becomes a metaphor for a world slowly going mad and drifting toward world war. It won the 1967 Tony for best musical. The 1972 film version starring Liza Minnelli won eight Oscars. Masteroff died in Englewood, New Jersey on September 28, 2018.

Roger Robinson (78) Tony Award-winning actor known for his work in August Wilson’s plays on and off Broadway. Robinson won the Tony as best featured actor in a play for his work in the 2009 revival of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, one of 10 plays by Wilson exploring the black experience in the 20th century. It was Robinson’s seventh and final Broadway appearance. His first had been 40 years earlier in a short-lived play called Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, in which Al Pacino also made his attention-getting (and Tony-winning) Broadway debut. Robinson appeared in regional theaters all over the US, and in films and on TV. His most recent TV credits were in 2017 on the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder and in the HBO movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. He had a recurring role on Kojak in the ‘70s and on several series in the 21st century, including Rubicon. Robinson died from complications of a heart condition in Escondido, California on September 26, 2018.

Otis Rush (84) Chicago blues guitarist whose jazz-tinged music influenced artists including Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Rush settled in Chicago as an adult and began playing the local clubs, wearing a cowboy hat and sometimes strumming his guitar upside down for effect. He catapulted to international fame in 1956 with his first recording on Cobra Records of “I Can't Quit You Baby,” which reached No. 6 on the Billboard rhythm and blues charts. He was a key architect of the Chicago “West Side Sound” in the ‘50s and ’60s, which modernized traditional blues to introduce more of a jazzy, amplified sound. Rush died of complications from a stroke he suffered in 2003, on September 29, 2018.


Politics and Military

Lt. Col. William Baker (86) US Army officer who was able to rectify a racial injustice from nearly 30 years before he was born. Baker later wrote about the case in The Brownsville Texas Incident of 1906: The True & Tragic Story of a Black US Army Battalion’s Wrongful Disgrace & Ultimate Redemption. He died in Martinsburg, West Virginia of multiple myeloma and a cerebrovascular accident, on September 24, 2018.

Ion Ficior (90) Romanian who was incarcerated for the deaths of 103 political inmates while in charge of a Communist-era labor camp in Romania. Ficior was serving a 20-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity. He was imprisoned in March 2017 but denied wrongdoing and said he was merely following orders. He was commander at the Periprava labor camp from 1958–63. During his trial, former detainees accused him of beatings, a lack of food and medicine, overwork, and unheated cells. In an interview with the Associated Press in 2013 before he was charged with more than 100 deaths, Ficior claimed “two or three had died” while he was prison commander. Romania had about 500,000 political prisoners under the Communist regime, about one-fifth of whom died while in detention. Ficior died at Jilava prison hospital on September 26, 2018.

David P. Schippers (88) chief investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. Schippers, who had been both a federal prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer, was a lifelong Democrat and well connected in Chicago political circles. He voted for Clinton in both the 1992 and ‘96 presidential elections. But he was convinced of the president’s guilt on 11 grounds for impeachment, and the experience embittered him toward the political process. Although they prevailed in the end, Democrats saw Schippers as a traitor to the party. He died of pancreatic cancer in Grayslake, Illinois on September 28, 2018.

Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow (83) Holocaust survivor who escaped a Nazi labor camp in Lithuania as a boy and later rose through the ranks of the US Army, eventually leading its forces in Berlin at the end of the Cold War. Starting as an infantry private, Schachnow rose to captain in the Special Forces, or Green Berets, in 1962 and fought in Vietnam, twice receiving the Silver Star for valor. Transferred to West Berlin in 1970, he was given command of Detachment (A), an elite Special Forces unit that conducted clandestine intelligence missions in eastern Europe, which he led for four years. After other postings, including as director of the US Special Operations Command in Washington, he returned to West Berlin as the Army’s commanding officer in 1989, when events were unfolding that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease, atrial fibrillation, and polycythemia vera, a blood cancer. Shachnow died in Pinehurst, North Carolina on September 27, 2018.


Society and Religion

David Wolkowsky (99) developer and preservationist who helped to transform Key West, Florida from a former carousing Navy town into a bohemian haven and a tourist destination. Wolkowsky was known locally as Mr. Key West for his role as a catalyst in the island’s revival. In recasting it as not only a vacation haven but also an artists’ colony, he befriended literary figures like Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and Judy Blume and rented his two-bedroom trailer to Truman Capote, who wrote his unfinished final novel, Answered Prayers, there. Jimmy Buffett got some of his first gigs playing for drinks at the Chart Room bar at Wolkowsky’s waterfront Pier House hotel, where he also featured reggae star Bob Marley. Wolkowsky died in Key West, Florida on September 23, 2018.


Sports

Tommy McDonald (84) small, speedy, and sure-handed receiver who teamed with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin to help the Philadelphia Eagles win the 1960 NFL championship. McDonald was a two-time All-American from Oklahoma who played 12 NFL seasons for five teams and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. When he retired in 1968, he ranked second in league history in touchdown catches, fourth in yards receiving, and sixth in receptions. But he had to wait 30 years before becoming the smallest player (5 feet 7 inches, 175 pounds) inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1998. McDonald died in Audubon, Pennsylvania on September 24, 2018.

Jack McKinney (83) coach who brought the up-tempo style of play that came to be known as Showtime to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979 but lasted only 13 games as their coach after a bicycle accident put him in a coma, led to his firing, and left a haunting “what if” over his career. McKinney had never been a head coach in the NBA and was not a high-profile candidate for the Lakers job. He had been an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers when they won the 1976–77 NBA championship. With the Lakers he had a roster filled with talent, including Magic Johnson, who almost immediately became a superstar; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the center who scored the most points in NBA history; and guard Norm Nixon. Then came the bicycle accident. McKinney soon returned to the sidelines for the 1980–81 season as head coach of the Indiana Pacers and was voted Coach of the Year but was fired in '84 as the team declined. He died of complications from his brain injury in Bonita Springs, Florida on September 25, 2018.

Julius Whittier (68) first black football letterman at the University of Texas, whose family later sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on behalf of him and other college players who suffered brain injuries. A standout on the Texas freshman team, Whittier joined the Longhorns’ varsity football squad in 1970, one season after Texas fielded the last all-white national championship team in the history of college football. He starred for two seasons at guard before switching to tight end as a senior in 1972, when he caught what he said was the only touchdown pass the Longhorns threw that season, against Texas A&M. With Whittier, Texas won three Southwest Conference titles from 1970–72 and was 28-5 over that span. He later earned a law degree and became a longtime criminal prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's office. Whittier died of Alzheimer's disease on September 25, 2018.


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