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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, April 20, 2019

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Warren Adler, author of 'War of the Roses'Bibi Andersson, Swedish actress in Ingmar Bergmnan filmsDr. Juliann Bluitt Foster, pioneer in dentistryCorinne Cobson, French fashion designerDavid Brion Davis, award-winning American history author and professorJörg Demus, Austrian classical pianistMonir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Iranian artistAlan Garcia, former president of PeruOwen Garriott, former astronautJohn MacLeod, winningest coach of Phoenix SunsMirjana Markovic, widow of Serbian leader Slobodan MilosevicJames W. McCord Jr., Watergate figureLyra McKee, Northern Ireland journalistFay McKenzie, actress whose career spanned centuryIra Neimark, retailer who built Bergdorf GoodmanSol Pais, Florida teen obsessed with Columbine shootingDon Perry, coached LA KingsDavid V. Picker, Hollywood studio chiefMavis Pusey, abstract painter and printmakerPhil Solomon, experimental filmmakerDoreen Spooner, first British full-time female newspaper photographerLorraine Warren, paranormal investigatorGene Wolfe, sci-fi and fantasy writerJayne Wrightsman, NYC arts benefactor

Art and Literature

Warren Adler (91) novelist who launched a long and lucrative Hollywood career with his classic story, The War of the Roses—the story of a hollowed-out marriage that became a runaway movie hit in 1989 starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. It was such a success that there was a bidding war for Adler’s next book, Private Lies. TriStar ended up paying $1.2 million for the rights in what was then an astonishing sum and among the largest paydays ever for a novelist at the time. Adler later optioned more than a dozen of his books. It was also a victory for writers across America, who had generally worked in near poverty while studios made money by the bucketful. Adler wrote 50 novels examining love, attraction, infidelity, aging, and the often frayed relationships between married couples. He died of liver cancer in New York City on April 15, 2019.

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (96) Iranian artist whose mirror-encrusted geometric compositions drew on both Islamic architecture and the abstractions of the postwar New York avant-garde. Farmanfarmaian emerged as a key actor in the worldwide development of abstract art in recent years, as curators of American and European museums began to map a global history of postwar painting and sculpture. Her art ranged from decorous early floral painting to stern, memory-haunted collages. But her most compelling works were polygonal wooden forms, sometimes free-standing and sometimes mounted on the wall, covered in thousands of precisely cut small mirrors. She made her first such work in 1969 and soon was producing hexagon-shaped reliefs festooned with mirrors that fractured viewers’ reflections. Farmanfarmaian died in Tehran, Iran on April 20, 2019.

Mavis Pusey (90) painter and printmaker who drew on inspirations as varied as sunsets and scenes of urban demolition to create striking abstract works full of geometric forms. Pusey was a leading abstractionist who, while living in New York, made works that reflected the constantly changing city landscape, giving them titles like “Broken Construction at Dusk” and “Demolishment.” She died of dementia in Falmouth, Virginia on April 20, 2019.

Gene Wolfe (87) science fiction and fantasy writer whose best works, full of inventive language, mysteries, and subtly conveyed themes, are considered among the genre’s finest. Wolfe broke through in 1972 with The Fifth Head of Cerberus, a novella (which he soon expanded to three novellas) whose narrator, an inhabitant of the twin planetary system of St. Croix and St. Anne, tells the story of how he came to kill his father. Wolfe’s most acclaimed work was the four-novel series The Book of the New Sun (1980–83). He died of heart disease in Peoria, Illinois on April 14, 2019.

Jayne Wrightsman (99) benefactor of the arts and grande dame of New York society whose celebrated collections of decorative and fine arts surrounded her life with grandeur and became treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The widow of Charles B. Wrightsman, an oil tycoon who died in 1986, Jayne Wrightsman had no formal training in the arts but became a connoisseur through decades of study, travel, and experience in the field. Over many years she and her husband gave the Metropolitan many of its most important European paintings and perhaps the finest collection of 18th-century French decorative arts in America. Like her husband, Jayne became a trustee of the Met. While giving millions to buy art and refurbish galleries, her involvement was often more personal. She spent many days walking through the galleries, examining paintings and artifacts, talking to curators, and analyzing the museum's artistic needs. She died in New York City on April 20, 2019.


Business and Science

Dr. Juliann Bluitt Foster (80) woman who became a dentist at a time when only about 2 per cent of dental school graduates were women, and even fewer were black women. Bluitt Foster became a leader in the field, mentoring students and using her own career path as an example of what they could achieve, first as director of the dental hygiene department at Northwestern University's dental school in 1967, then as assistant dean, associate dean of admissions, and associate dean of student affairs. She was also the first woman to lead the American College of Dentists, a professional organization headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, outside Washington. She was appointed in 1994, when the organization was 75 years old. She died of heart disease on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on April 17, 2019.

Corinne Cobson (62) French fashion designer whose clothing for women gained acclaim in the ‘80s and ’90s. Cobson’s designs were distinguished by their rock-’n’-roll-inspired edge. They frequently incorporated men’s-wear silhouettes and unexpected pairings of materials, like black leather juxtaposed with silk or feathers. Cobson also played with proportions at her runway fashion shows, for instance layering a chunky, oversize coat over trim trousers. Her clothes typically revealed bare skin—an exposed midriff here, thighs below an extra-high hemline there. She died of lung cancer in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris, France, on April 16, 2019.

Ira Neimark (97) started in retail as a department store pageboy and later built Bergdorf Goodman into the standard-bearer for luxury shopping. As leader of Bergdorf Goodman for more than 17 years, starting in 1975, Neimark helped to transform it into an arbiter of high fashion that catered to the richest New Yorkers and wealthy visitors from around the world. Under his watch, Bergdorf helped to start the careers of young designers like Michael Kors, whose clothing was given coveted space on the sales floor. On New York's crowded retail landscape, Bergdorf—founded in 1899 as a tailor shop and in the same Fifth Avenue location since 1928—has continued to stand out even as its parent company, Neiman Marcus, struggles with a large debt load resulting from a private equity buyout. Rather than expanding the Bergdorf brand widely around the country, as department stores like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor have done, Neimark largely concentrated on the store’s New York presence, catering to women shopping for $200,000 furs and bankers seeking suede shoes and sumptuous suits. He died in Harrison, New York on April 18, 2019.


Education

David Brion Davis (92) professor and award-winning author of a trilogy on the history of slavery in the Western world. Davis had been Sterling professor of American history emeritus at Yale University, where he taught for more than 30 years. He wrote or edited 16 books, but most important were the three that examined the moral challenges and contradictions of slavery in American and Atlantic history. The first, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (1966), won a Pulitzer Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. The second, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823 (1975), won the National Book Award and the Bancroft Prize, one of the most prestigious in the study of American history. The last book of the trilogy, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation, was published in 2014 as Davis approached age 90. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He died in Guilford, Connecticut on April 14, 2019.


News and Entertainment

Bibi Andersson (83) Swedish actress who personified first purity and youth, then complexity and disillusionment, in 13 mid-20th century Ingmar Bergman films. Andersson's emotionally complex role in Persona (1966), the film that made her acting reputation, was one of the great stereotype reversals in film history, a definite departure for 30ish Andersson, who had begun acting in her teens. Before that film, Bergman had given her roles “symbolizing simple, girlish things,” she said in 1977. “I used to be called a 'professional innocent.'” Andersson had a stroke in 2009 and had been hospitalized in France. She died in Stockholm. Sweden on April 14, 2019.

Jörg Demus (90) Austrian pianist widely respected for the refinement and expressivity of his playing. Demus made more than 350 recordings and accompanied major singers like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elly Ameling in song recitals and on classic recordings. He died in Vienna, Austria on April 16, 2019.

Lyra McKee (29) Northern Ireland free-lance journalist who considered herself a member of a generation whose lives would be haunted by the legacy of the Troubles of 1968–98 but would never know such violence themselves. McKee was shot to death while reporting on a night of violent unrest in Londonderry. Police attributed the killing to the New Irish Republican Army, a violent splinter group of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary organization that renounced violence in 2005 after decades of armed struggle to end British rule in Northern Ireland and unite it with the Republic of Ireland. Two men were arrested in connection with McKee's death in Londonderry, Ireland on April 18, 2019.

Fay McKenzie (101) actress and singer whose film career spanned 100 years and peaked when she was Gene Autry’s leading lady in five early ‘40s horse operas. McKenzie made her screen debut in 1918, when she was 10 weeks old, cradled in Gloria Swanson’s arms in Station Content, a five-reel silent romance. Her last role was a cameo appearance in Kill a Better Mousetrap, a comedy filmed in 2018 that has yet to be released. In between, McKenzie appeared in five movies for director Blake Edwards (in one instance playing the hostess in The Party, a 1968 madcap comedy starring Peter Sellers). She costarred with Don Barry in Remember Pearl Harbor (1942) and was cast in dozens of B-movies, revues, and Broadway productions. Despite her precocious start in motion pictures, by her account she was discovered only in 1941, when Herbert J. Yates, then president of Republic Pictures, signed her to appear opposite Autry, the singing cowboy, in Down Mexico Way, followed by Sierra Sue, also '41, and Cowboy Serenade, Heart of the Rio Grande, and Home in Wyomin’, all ’42. McKenzie died in Highland Park, California on April 16, 2019.

David V. Picker (87) first to guide an X-rated film to the top of the Oscar heap, Picker also introduced the Beatles to Hollywood with Hard Day’s Night and Help! and convinced a reluctant Ian Fleming that, yes, James Bond might fare pretty well as a cinematic character. A third-generation movie man, Picker was a studio chief at United Artists, Columbia, and Paramount in a run of box-office successes including Last Tango in Paris and Ordinary People. He didn’t mind taking a chance on a film, such as Midnight Cowboy (1969), an odd story about a friendship between a New York street hustler and a kid from small-town Texas under the impression he could make a living as a gigolo. Despite its X-rating, the film won three Oscars, including best picture. Picker died of colon cancer in New York City on April 20, 2019.

Phil Solomon (65) used old footage, manipulated images, and striking soundtracks to make experimental films that were widely admired by hard-core cinephiles. An emeritus professor of cinema studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Solomon took up the experimental-film mantle in an era when the lure of feature filmmaking was irresistible to most of the creative young minds in cinema. His films, usually relatively short, did not have stars or plots in any conventional sense. He was after something more cerebral. Experimental filmmaking has historically been rooted in celluloid, and it was in danger of being washed away by the video and digital revolutions in filmmaking. Solomon helped to keep it alive. He died near Boulder, Colorado of complications from major surgery on April 20, 2019.

Doreen Spooner (91) was already well known on Fleet Street, recognized as the first woman to become a full-time staff photographer for a British national newspaper. Then came the picture of two saucy showgirls that she snapped surreptitiously from the ladies’ loo in a London pub in 1963. It landed on front pages around the world. Spooner gained her vantage point by squeezing past a scrum of journalists outside Henekey’s Long Bar. Opening the restroom door a crack, she got a shot of the two women, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, sharing drinks on the day they were to testify nearby at the Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court, in the explosive sex scandal surrounding John Profumo, British secretary of state for war, and a Soviet diplomat. Keeler and the married Profumo had had a sexual relationship, and the scandal helped to topple Britain’s Conservative government. Just before Spooner was ejected, she secreted the film in her coat pocket in case her camera was confiscated. The rest is history. Spooner died in Esher, a town in Surrey, southwest of London, England on April 20, 2019.

Lorraine Warren (92) worldwide paranormal investigator and author whose decades of ghost-hunting cases with her late husband inspired such frightening films as The Conjuring series and The Amityville Horror. The Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in Monroe, Conn. in 1952 to investigate suspected hauntings. During their 61 years of marriage, Lorraine and Ed Warren (died 2006) investigated more than 10,000 cases in the US and abroad, often writing about their experiences. Their unusual profession has been credited with sparking popular interest in the paranormal and the TV shows and films now dedicated to the subject. Lorraine Warren died in her sleep in Monroe, Connecticut on April 18, 2019.


Politics and Military

Alan Garcia (69) former Peruvian president who shot himself in the head and died as officers waited to arrest him in a massive graft probe that has put that country’s most prominent politicians behind bars and provoked a reckoning over corruption. Authorities broke through a door at Garcia’s mansion in an upscale neighborhood of the Peruvian capital after hearing gunfire. The former head of state was rushed to a hospital, where a team of doctors performed emergency surgery but could not save him. It was a shocking end for a man who twice ruled Peru—once in the ‘80s and again more than 20 years later. In more recent years he became ensnared in Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal, a sweeping investigation of politicians’ dealings with the Brazilian construction giant known as Odebrecht, which admitted in a 2016 plea agreement that it paid nearly $800 million throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative public-works contracts. Garcia committed suicide in Lima, Peru on April 17, 2019.

Owen Garriott (88) former astronaut who flew on America’s first space station, Skylab, and whose son Richard, a computer game developer, paid the Russians $30 million for a ride to the International Space Station in 2008. Owen Garriott served on the second Skylab crew in 1973, spending close to 60 days in space, a record at the time. He also was part of the ninth space shuttle mission, flying aboard Columbia in 1983 and operating a ham radio for the first time from orbit. While he never flew in space again, Garriott traveled to Kazakhstan in 2008 for his son’s launch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. They were the first US father and son space travelers. Owen Garriott died in Huntsville, Alabama on April 15, 2019.

Mirjana Markovic (76) widow of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian leader accused of war crimes. Markovic was so politically powerful that she was branded “the Lady Macbeth” of the Balkans. The couple wreaked havoc when they ruled as Serbia’s power couple from 1989–2000. After leading their country into catastrophic wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo that left 200,000 dead, Milosevic was the first head of state charged by an international court for crimes against humanity committed while he was in office. He died in 2006 while awaiting trial in The Hague. Markovic, a sociology professor at Belgrade Uuniversity and leader of a neo-Communist party, was suspected of complicity in 1999 in the assassination of Slavko Curuvija, a Belgrade newspaper editor, and the disappearance in 2000 of Ivan Stambolic, Milosevic’s onetime mentor. Facing corruption charges in Serbia in 2003, she escaped to Moscow and was granted political asylum. Markovic died of pneumonia in Sochi, Russia, a beach resort city on the Black Sea, on April 14, 2019.

James W. McCord Jr. (93) security expert who led a band of burglars into the shambles of the Watergate scandal and was the first to expose the White House crimes and cover-ups that precipitated the downfall of the Nixon administration in 1974. It was just reported this week that McCord died of pancreatic cancer in Douglassville, Pennsylvania on June 15, 2017. His death went unnoticed by local and national news organizations at the time. For more information, see the entry on the Life in Legacy page dated June 17, 2017.


Society and Religion

Sol Pais (18) Florida teenager who authorities said was obsessed with the Columbine school shooting and may have been planning an attack in Colorado just ahead of its 20th anniversary. Police and the FBI were tipped off about Pais after the Miami Beach high school student made remarks to others about her “infatuation” with the 1999 bloodbath at Columbine High School and this weekend’s anniversary of the 13 killings. Pais purchased three one-way tickets to Denver on three consecutive days, then flew in on April 15 and went directly to a gun store, where she bought a shotgun. She was found dead in an apparent suicide after a nearly 24-hour manhunt. Her body was discovered in the mountains outside Denver with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after investigators got a tip from the driver who took her there. During the manhunt, Denver-area schools closed as a precaution, with classes and extracurricular activities canceled for a half-million students. Pais committed suicide outside Denver, Colorado on April 17, 2019.


Sports

John MacLeod (81) longtime NBA coach who led the Phoenix Suns to the 1976 NBA Finals. MacLeod was the winningest coach in Suns history, going 579-543 in the regular season from 1973–87. He also coached the Dallas Mavericks from 1987–89 and the New York Knicks in ‘90–91, finishing his 18-year head coaching career with a 707-657 mark. MacLeod had his biggest success in Phoenix, capped by the 1975–76 “Sundarella Suns” run to the NBA Finals. The Suns lost to Boston in six games in the finals, with the Celtics’ triple-overtime victory in Game 5 at Boston Garden regarded as one of the greatest games ever. MacLeod's Phoenix teams made nine playoff appearances, also reaching the Western Conference finals in 1979 and ’84. He had a franchise-record 37 playoff victories and was placed in the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor in 2012. MacLeod also worked as an assistant with Phoenix, Denver, and Golden State, ending his coaching career with the Warriors in 2006. He died of Alzheimer's disease on April 14, 2019.

Don Perry (89) coach of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team for their famous “Miracle on Manchester” playoff victory. Perry coached the Kings for parts of three seasons, from 1982–84. He was behind the bench when the Kings erased a five-goal deficit in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers and won 6-5 on Daryl Evans’ overtime goal on April 10, 1982, in Game 3 of the Smythe Division semifinals. The Kings lost in the next round, but the comeback win stood as the most famous in franchise history until their 2012 and ‘14 Stanley Cup triumphs. Perry died in Green Valley, Arizona on April 15, 2019.


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