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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 1, 2020

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Kobe Bryant, retired LA Lakers star, with his daughter, GiannaBob Shane, top, last surviving founding member of Kingston Trio, with Dave Guard and Nick ReynoldsFrank Anderson, former CIA agent in AfghanistanXana Antunes, business journalistArnold Aronson, retailing executive who revived Saks Fifth AvenueLina Ben Mhenni, Tunisian activist bloggerJack Burns, left, half of comedy team Burns & SchreiberMichou, French proprietor of drag cabaretAnne Cox Chambers, media heiress, diplomat, and philanthropistMary Higgins Clark, 'Queen of Suspense'Elizabeth Cullinan, short-story writer and novelistTerry DeCarlo, LGBTQ spokesmanChris Doleman, Minnesota Vikings pass rusherPaul Farnes, WWII Battle of Britain fighter pilotLarry Field, LA developerHarriet Frank Jr., screenwriter with her husband of 'Hud' and 'Norma Rae'Andy Gill, guitarist for British punk band Gang of FourHarry Harrison, longtime NYC disk jockeyLucy Jarvis, TV and theater producerSantu Mofokeng, South African photojournalistLouis Nirenberg, mathematicianLiu Ouqing, official of Wuhan, ChinaNicholas Parsons, British actor and broadcasterJason Polan, sketcherFrank Press, chief science adviser to President jimmy CarterPeter Serkin, classical pianistFred Silverman, TV executive who promoted hit shows on all three networksDyanne Thorne, actress who starred in notorious film

Art and Literature

Mary Higgins Clark (92) long-reigning “Queen of Suspense” whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world’s most popular writers. Widowed in her late 30s with five children, Clark became a perennial best-seller over the second half of her life, writing or cowriting A Stranger Is Watching, Daddy’s Little Girl, and more than 50 other favorites. Sales topped 100 million copies, and honors came from all over, including a Chevalier of the Order of Arts & Letters from France or a Grand Master statuette from the Mystery Writers of America. Many of her books, like A Stranger Is Watching and Lucky Day, were adapted for movies and TV. Clark also collaborated on several novels with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. The elder Clark specialized in women triumphing over danger, such as the besieged young prosecutor in Just Take My Heart or the mother of two and art gallery worker whose second husband is a madman in A Cry in the Night. She died in Naples, Florida on January 31, 2020.

Elizabeth Cullinan (86) at age 22, Cullinan began her working life with an entry-level job at the New Yorker. Her task was to type manuscripts submitted by literary lions like John Updike, James Thurber, and e. b. white. Soon she was writing stories herself—and being compared to Chekhov and Joyce. The magazine began publishing her in 1960. By the time Cullinan died, 64 years later, her work consisted of two volumes of short stories, most of which had appeared in the New Yorker, and two novels, House of Gold (1970) and Change of Scene (1982). She never became well known, but her relatively modest output earned her outsize critical acclaim. Cullinan died of lung disease in Towson, Maryland on January 26, 2020.

Jason Polan (37) sketcher whose drawings and art projects—one was called “The Every Piece of Art in the Museum of Modern Art Book”—made him one of the quirkiest and most prolific members of the New York art scene. Polan’s signature project for the last 10 years or so was “Every Person in New York,” in which he set himself the impossible task of drawing everyone in the city. He kept a blog of those sketches, and by the time he published a book of that title in 2015—which he envisioned as Vol. 1—he had drawn more than 30,000 quick sketches of people who often didn’t know they were being sketched, done on the fly, with unfinished results. Polan’s other creations included the Taco Bell Drawing Club, a loose group that at first consisted of anyone who joined Polan, who lived in Manhattan, at a Taco Bell outlet off Union Square and drew something. As the group expanded, any Taco Bell would do for club gatherings. Polan died of cancer in New York City on January 27, 2020.

Business and Science

Arnold Aronson (85) retailing executive best known for reviving the financial fortunes of Saks Fifth Avenue in the early ‘80s, in part by appealing to a younger clientele. Aronson, who never retired, spent more than 30 years operating an array of national stores and chains, including Saks, before becoming a consultant. As chairman and chief executive of Saks from 1979–83, he sought to erase what he called its “traditional dowager image” and focus instead on a younger customer base, mainly baby boomers at the time. That transformation involved a complete remodeling of Saks’s flagship store, built in 1924, on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan, including the installation of escalators, an expansion of its national store count to 40 from 27, and a major marketing and public relations effort highlighting European and American fashion designers. Those initiatives led to a 50 per cent increase in revenue and an almost doubling of operating profits during his four-year tenure. When he died in New York City on January 28, 2020, he had been principal director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates since 1997.

Michel Georges Alfred Catty (also known as 'Michou') (88) flamboyant fixture of the Parisian demimonde who ran France’s most celebrated drag cabaret for more than 50 years. It was in 1956 that Michou opened his tiny jewel box of a nightclub at the foot of Montmartre, the storied Paris neighborhood known for its nightclubs and connection with artists like Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. Dressed habitually in blue, with a snowy white coif, manicured fingernails, a perpetually wide smile, and a glass of Champagne always in hand, Michou was instantly recognizable in France, in part from his many TV appearances. His death was front-page news in France. In Montmartre, Michou was known for holding free luncheons for elderly residents. Cafés there engraved his name on plaques on his favorite seats, permanently reserving them for him. Local residents often blew kisses at him as he walked to his cabaret from his apartment overlooking Sacre Coeur, the basilica at the heart of Montmartre. Michou died of a pulmonary embolism in Saint-Mandé, a suburb of Paris, France, on January 26, 2020.

Anne Cox Chambers (100) newspaper heiress, diplomat, and philanthropist, one of the US’s richest women. A director of Cox Enterprises Inc., Chambers promoted Jimmy Carter’s political career and was US ambassador to Belgium during his presidency. Forbes estimated her net worth several years ago at nearly $17 billion. She was well known for her charitable giving and served on the boards of the Atlanta Arts Alliance and the High Museum of Art among other institutions. Chambers was the daughter of James Middleton Cox, 1920 Democrat presidential candidate and founder of Cox Enterprises Inc. The privately held company has included the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other newspapers, radio and TV stations, cable TV systems, and other businesses. Chambers and her mother and siblings inherited the company when the senior Cox died in 1957. Chambers owned a white-columned manor across from the governor’s mansion in Atlanta; she also had an estate in France and a posh apartment in New York. But while most of her wealthy friends were Republicans, Chambers remained a staunch Democrat. At 89 she even knocked on doors for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She died in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 2020.

Larry Field (89) Los Angeles developer who led the way on converting aging industrial warehouses into creative work spaces, worked repeatedly with architect Frank Gehry, and poured his resources into LA’s cultural institutions. The son of immigrants who grew up stocking shelves in his parents' tiny grocery store in the Bronx, New York, Field arrived in LA in 1965 when the city was filling up with new arrivals and homes couldn’t be built fast enough. One of his first projects was a two-block stretch of beaten down storefronts along the Venice boardwalk—7.5 acres in all for $1 million. His first tenant was Gehry; the two became lifelong friends and work associates. Field died in Beverly Hills, California on January 28, 2020.

Louis Nirenberg (94) mathematician who explored the complexities of equations commonly used by physicists and engineers and shared the 2015 Abel Prize, a top math award modeled after the Nobels. Nirenberg’s work focused on partial differential equations, which describe the vibrating of strings and drums, the flow of heat, the movement of water, and many other phenomena. The equations can have an infinite number of solutions, and few of the solutions can be written down exactly. Instead mathematicians try to pin down the general behavior of the solutions and try to prove what is possible and what is not. Nirenberg died in New York City on January 26, 2020.

Frank Press (95) key voice in American science policy as chief science adviser to President Jimmy Carter, then as president of the National Academy of Sciences, promoting international cooperation at a time when Cold War tensions still predominated. A geophysicist by training, Press was a professor at the California Institute of Technology in 1956 when he began consulting for the federal government—first for the Navy, then the US Geological Survey, the State Department, the Department of Defense, and NASA, among other agencies. Carter named him director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy in 1977. In that role Press was the president’s top science adviser, concerned with ensuring that the US stayed at the forefront of scientific research and with pursuing international alliances and agreements. He had previously worked on a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union. He died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on January 29, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Xana Antunes (55) business journalist who was editor of the New York Post from 1999–2001 and later ran the business news site Quartz. Antunes worked for some of the best-known business news outlets over a 30-year career. When she was appointed editor of the Post, she joined a handful of women who were leading major newsrooms at the time. At the Post, under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch, Antunes bolstered the paper’s business coverage and introduced new lifestyle features, including a page devoted to the fashion industry. After moving to Quartz in 2014, she oversaw major pieces on President Trump’s aide Steve Bannon, maternal mortality, and a boom in lobster consumption. She also built a team of video journalists that won a Gerald Loeb award for business news. Antunes died of pancreatic cancer in New York City on January 27, 2020.

Lina Ben Mhenni (36) activist blogger who wrote about the 2010–11 popular uprising in Tunisia and the violent reaction of the country’s autocratic regime, a clash that began the revolts known as the Arab Spring. For weeks Ben Mhenni was on the front lines during the Tunisian uprising, drawing international attention through her blog, “A Tunisian Girl.” In December 2010 and January '11, she and other bloggers traveled to the central city of Sidi Bouzid after a street vendor there, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in protest after a confrontation with a police officer who had slapped him and confiscated his wares. News of his self-immolation set off the Tunisian uprising and the Arab Spring. In Tunisia the revolt led to the overthrow in January 2011 of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had held the country in an oppressive grip since seizing power in 1987. Ben Mhenni documented police violence against protesters in several regions while the Ben Ali regime sought to impose a news media blackout. She took photographs and wrote accounts, posting them on her blog and on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Several French media outlets that could not enter the country were able to report on the violence because of her work. Ben Mhenni died in Tunis, Tunisia of a stroke resulting from complications of an autoimmune disease, on January 27, 2020.

Jack Burns (86) found fame as the hilariously pompous half of Burns & Schreiber, one of the best-known comedy teams of the 60s and ’70s, then made another mark as a TV writer. Burns was a popular comic presence for nearly 40 years, beginning with a brief but successful stint as a partner of George Carlin. After his long and fruitful partnership with Avery Schreiber (died 2002) ended, he produced The Muppet Show, writing about two dozen episodes. He also wrote for variety shows like Hee Haw and comedy specials starring Flip Wilson and Paul Lynde. Burns lent his booming voice to animated series like Animaniacs and Wait ‘til Your Father Gets Home and to an ad campaign promoting the use of safety belts, in which he was the voice of a crash-test dummy. But it was Burns & Schreiber that cemented his fame. The two comics became known for routines with social satire, perfect timing, and rapid-fire repartee, exemplified by their signature “yeah/huh?/ yeah/huh?” bantering. Burns learned he had pancreatic cancer in 2017. He died in Toluca Lake, California on January 27, 2020.

Harriet Frank Jr. (96) collaborated with her husband, Irving Ravetch, on screenplays that explored the social conflicts and moral questions of postwar American life in movies like Hud and Norma Rae. To film industry peers and moviegoers who paid attention to the credits, the wife-and-husband team of Frank and Ravetch, who died in 2010, stood out among Hollywood’s most successful and literate script writers. The two generated 16 screenplays from 1958–90, many inspired by the works of William Faulkner, William Inge, Larry McMurtry, Elmore Leonard, and other best-selling authors. Frank and Ravetch dramatized the charms of a brawling, arrogant Texas rogue (Paul Newman) in Hud (1963), the struggles of a teacher (Jon Voight) against the effects of poverty and racism on black children in a South Carolina island school in Conrack (1974), and the union fight of a worker (Sally Field) against labor injustices in a North Carolina cotton mill in Norma Rae (1979). Harriet Frank died in Los Angeles, California on January 28, 2020.

Andy Gill (64) guitarist who supplied the scratching sound that fueled the influential British punk band Gang of Four. Gill, along with original bandmates Jon King, Hugo Burnham, and Dave Allen released in 1979 one of the most seminal albums of the punk era, Entertainment! It was named by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 as one of the 500 greatest albums ever. Gill was also a respected record producer, notably working with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their self-titled debut in 1984. Other bands he produced included The Jesus Lizard, the Stranglers, and Killing Joke. Gill died of pneumonia in London, England on February 1, 2020.

Harry Harrison (89) disk jockey who awakened radio listeners and accompanied them on their morning commute with a deep, mellow voice as the “Morning Mayor of New York” for more than 40 years. Harrison’s first radio program had played so well in Peoria, Illinois that in 1958, when he was still in his 20s, WMCA brought him to New York. He later became the only DJ to broadcast, in succession, on three of the top music stations in the city. He was a WMCA Good Guy and a WABC All-American—the clubby team names adopted by the stations to brand their announcers—and a morning drive-time host for WCBS, 101.1 FM, until he retired from full-time broadcasting in 2003. Harrison died in Westwood, New Jersey on January 28, 2020.

Lucy Jarvis (102) groundbreaking producer in TV and theater known for gaining access to hard-to-crack locations, including the Soviet Union and China at the height of the Cold War. In the late ‘50s and early ’60s, when TV’s top producing ranks included few if any other women, Jarvis helped to bring about some remarkable programming, including gaining access to the Kremlin for a 1963 TV special about that Moscow complex. In 1964 she took TV viewers on an extensive tour of the Louvre in France, a documentary that won multiple Emmy Awards. In the early ‘70s she got permission to film in China, giving American viewers an inside look at ancient sites there at a time when that country was still largely sealed off. Her work in theater was just as internationally adventurous. In 1988 she collaborated with Soviet producers to take a production of Sophisticated Ladies, the Duke Ellington musical revue, to Moscow. In 1990 she brought the first Soviet rock opera ever seen in the US, Junon & Avos: The Hope, to City Center in New York. Jarvis died in New York City on January 26, 2020.

Santu Mofokeng (63) photographer whose images of everyday life in South Africa’s black townships documented the prospects of freedom from apartheid and the unfulfilled promise of its overthrow. While Mofokeng never considered himself an integral part of the struggle against apartheid, he was steeped in the policy’s consequences. He attended Morris Isaacson High School, a forge for the student uprising in Soweto in 1976 against white rule, and witnessed his younger brother being beaten by white bullies retaliating for the protests against the government and its brutal suppression of dissent. After beginning his career as a darkroom technician, Mofokeng plunged into photojournalism, covering demonstrations and strikes and the police’s response—all of which attracted international attention. He had progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative brain disease that confined him to a wheelchair and left him unable to speak. He died in Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 26, 2020.

Nicholas Parsons (96) British entertainer who covered most of the spectrum from lightweight character actor via game show panelist to game show host with a notably long run on ITV's Sale of the Century and on BBC Radio as host of the long-running panel game Just a Minute. Parsons also stooged for Benny Hill and was not averse to sending himself up. He was Lord Rector of the University of St. Andrews for four years. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 2004 for services to drama and broadcasting and named Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014 for charitable services, especially to children's charities. Parsons died in Aylesbury, England on January 28, 2020.

Peter Serkin (72) classical pianist admired for his interpretations, technically pristine performances, and commitment to contemporary music. Serkin was descended from historic musical lineages on both sides of his family. His father was pianist Rudolf Serkin (died 1991). His maternal grandfather was conductor and violinist Adolf Busch, whose musical forebears went back generations. By age 12 Peter Serkin was performing in public, and he soon seemed destined to continue the legacy of his father. His first two recordings, made for the RCA label when he was 18, confirmed that impression. One was a buoyant account of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations that many critics compared favorably to Glenn Gould’s version. The other was a glowing performance of Schubert’s late Sonata in G, Op. 78. Yet, although he was proud of his heritage, Serkin found it a burden. Like many who came of age in the ‘60s, he questioned the establishment, both in society at large and within classical music. At 21 he stopped performing, going for months without even playing the piano, but returning in the early '70s. Serkin died of pancreatic cancer in Red Hook, New York in Dutchess County, near the campus of Bard College, where he was on the faculty, on February 1, 2020.

Bob Shane (85) last surviving original member of the Kingston Trio, whose close harmonies helped to transform folk music from a dusty niche genre into a dominant brand of pop music in the ‘50s and ’60s. Shane, whose whiskey baritone was the group’s most identifiable voice on hits like “Tom Dooley” and “Scotch & Soda,” sang lead on more than 80 per cent of Kingston Trio songs. He didn’t just outlast the other original members: Dave Guard, who died in 1991, and Nick Reynolds, who died in 2008. He also eventually took ownership of the group’s name and devoted his life to various incarnations of the trio, from its founding in 1957 until 2004, when a heart attack forced him to stop touring. Along the way the trio spearheaded a reinvention of folk as a youthful, mass media phenomenon. At its peak, in 1959, the group put four albums in the Top 10 at the same time. Shane died in Phoenix, Arizona on January 26, 2020.

Fred Silverman (82) only TV executive who steered programming for each of the Big Three broadcast networks and brought All in the Family, Roots, Hawaii Five-O, and other hit series and miniseries to TV during his more than 30-year career. Silverman’s gift for picking shows that resonated with viewers—if not always TV critics—prompted Time magazine to dub him “The Man with the Golden Gut” in a 1977 profile. As ABC’s entertainment chief, he had turned the network’s fortunes around with shows including Roots; Rich Man, Poor Man; and Charlie’s Angels. He had already brought success to CBS with an overhaul that included the end of country-themed series including Petticoat Junction and Green Acres and a pivot to what advertisers considered more upscale and urban fare, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and Mannix. Silverman, who had been battling cancer, died in Pacific Palisades, California on January 30, 2020.

Dyanne Thorne (83) actress who starred in one of the most notorious sexploitation movies of the ‘70s, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS—a mix of Nazi fetishism, sadism, and female empowerment that is still talked about by grindhouse film aficionados and by more serious scholars. Thorne began in show business as a singer and comedian before veering into risqué movies like Sin in the Suburbs (1964) and a 1971 version of Pinocchio decidedly not for children. But the release of Ilsa in 1975 elevated her to a different level of fame, at least among moviegoers of a certain stripe. The film and her character, a Nazi doctor with a taste for sex and torture, inspired, among other things, songs by several rock bands. Thorne died of pancreatic cancer in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 28, 2020.

Politics and Military

Frank Anderson (78) US spymaster who oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency's covert mission to funnel weapons and other support to Afghan insurgents fighting their Soviet occupiers in the ‘80s. During his nearly 27 years with the CIA, Anderson became the ranking US clandestine officer in the Arab world. He was Beirut station chief; was promoted to chief of the Near East and South Asia division of the agency’s Directorate of Operations, its covert branch; and directed the agency’s technical services division, a role similar to that of James Bond’s “Q.” Among his missions was, as head of the CIA’s Afghan task force in the late ‘80s, to supply weapons to the mujahedeen, the anti-Communist Muslim fighters who resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The Soviets invaded in December 1979, setting off a nine-year Cold War proxy struggle that left as many as a million Afghan civilians and tens of thousands of troops and insurgents dead. It ended with the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the year the Soviet Union collapsed. The withdrawal left a vacuum and ignited a civil war with the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist political movement, that has raged for decades. Anderson died of a stroke in Sarasota, Florida on January 27, 2020.

Paul Farnes (101) one of the last remaining Battle of Britain fighter pilots who helped to protect the United Kingdom during World War II. Farnes was a wing commander during the war. He had been the last surviving pilot officially designated an “ace” because of the number of enemy aircraft he downed. He was one of roughly 3,000 airmen who fought the German Luftwaffe in the skies above southern England in 1940 when Britain was vulnerable to invasion by Nazi forces. The group was honored by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Farnes died in West Sussex, England on January 28, 2020.

Liu Ouqing (78) official of Wuhan, China. At a young age, Liu joined the Chinese Army, then worked in a state-owned factory before becoming a civil servant and a school administrator. In the ‘90s, as China was moving to open up its centrally planned economy, Liu was party secretary of the Wuhan Grain Bureau, responsible for ensuring that the city had enough to eat. His life took a turn in 2000, when he was reassigned to work as a manager at a vocational school. To Liu, it was a demotion—“the consequence of offending the mayor,” he later said. He had been punished for looking into a bribery case involving a man connected to the Wuhan mayor at the time. He later helped to establish what is now known as Wuhan Business University. Liu died of the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China on January 29, 2020.

Society and Religion

Terry DeCarlo (57) spokesman for Florida’s LGBTQ community thrown into the national spotlight after the mass killing in a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando in 2016. DeCarlo moved to Orlando in 2014 to become executive director of the Center, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy organization. He became a familiar face in his community. But after a gunman opened fire at the nightclub Pulse in the early hours of June 12, 2016, killing 49 people and wounding 53, DeCarlo found himself in a role that he could never have imagined—becoming a public source of comfort and information on TV and radio news programs while the country mourned the victims of what was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. DeCarlo died of face and neck cancer in Hollywood, Florida on January 27, 2020.


Kobe Bryant (41) one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. The retired Los Angeles Lakers star was proudest of his five championship rings, the most recent in 2010. Only four NBA players who weren’t on the Boston Celtics’ ‘60s dynasty teams have won more titles. Bryant reached seven NBA Finals. His career was remarkable for its longevity and because he played all 20 seasons with the Lakers—the most ever for one team. He was the fifth player to last a full 20 years. He scored 33,643 career points, third-most in league history, and averaged 25.0 points per game, including a 60-point performance in his final game on April 13, 2016. His 81-point game on January 22, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors was the second-highest scoring performance in the NBA and arguably the most dazzling single-game offensive performance in hoops history. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. His post-playing career in the entertainment industry began when he won an Oscar for Dear Basketball, an animated short film based on the letter he wrote announcing his retirement. He was killed with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in the hills above Calabasas, California on January 26, 2020.

Chris Doleman (58) was clinging to his preferred position of outside linebacker, struggling through his second NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings. The team’s vision for his 6-foot-5 frame was at defensive end, where he could use his long arms, strong legs, and quick feet to become the kind of premier pass rusher to build a scheme around. Finally, during a late-night conversation with a confidant and coach, Doleman relented. His willingness to move up front sent him on a path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Doleman’s blend of speed and power made him one of the game’s most feared pass rushers during 15 seasons in the league. The longtime Vikings star had 150½ career sacks to rank fifth on the all-time list. He died in Atlanta, Georgia two years after being diagnosed with brain cancer, on January 28, 2020.

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