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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 8, 2020

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Kirk Douglas, legendary Hollywood actorDeborah A. Batts, US federal judgeOrson Bean, actor and comedianKamau Brathwaite, Barbados poetStanley Cohen, Nobel-winning biochemistRaphael Coleman, former British child actorRobert Conrad, TV and film actorKevin Conway, stage and film actorBernard J. Ebbers, fraudulent telecommunications entrepreneurTerry Hands, British stage director'Mad Mike' Hoare, Irish mercenaryNathaniel Jones, former federal judgeRoger Kahn, author of 'Boys of Summer'Ivan Kral, Czech musicianDr. Philip Leder, biologist who discovered genetic cause of cancerBonnie MacLean, '60s rock poster artistLynn Evans Mand, bottom left, lead singer with ChordettesAlice Mayhew, editor of political and historical booksDave McCoy, creator of California's Mammoth Mountain Ski ResortDaniel arap Moi, former president of KenyaXavier Montes, founder of Southern California art showBeverly Pepper, creator of towering outdoor sculptureLawrence W. Pierce, US federal judgeGene Reynolds, TV director and producerNello Santi, opera conductorGeorge Steiner, public intellectualAlan Turner, wide-ranging painterSteve Weber, guitarist of folk group Holy Modal RoundersWillie Wood, Green Bay Packers defensive back

Art and Literature

Kamau Brathwaite (89) poet whose lyrical work wove together the history and imagery of his native Barbados, the Caribbean, the African diaspora, and his personal experiences. Brathwaite’s many books of poetry included Born to Slow Horses (2005), which won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Also a scholar of history, literature, and philosophy and a professor emeritus at New York University, Brathwaite was interested in what unified the diverse Caribbean before colonialism fractured it. He died in Barbados on February 4, 2020.

Roger Kahn (92) writer who wove memoir and baseball and touched millions of readers through his romantic account of the Brooklyn Dodgers in The Boys of Summer. The author of 20 books and hundreds of articles, Kahn was best known for the 1972 best-seller that looked at his relationship with his father through their shared love of the Dodgers, an object of nostalgia for the many fans who mourned the team’s move to Los Angeles after the ‘57 season. Kahn died in Mamaroneck, New York, a Westchester County suburb, on February 6, 2020.

Bonnie MacLean (80) whose colorful posters for rock shows in San Francisco in the ‘60s and early ’70s helped to define the psychedelic scene and have since become collector’s items. MacLean was married to famed concert promoter Bill Graham (died 1991) as he was beginning his career in the mid-‘60s in San Francisco, where she was immersed in a vibrant cultural scene that generated groups like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. MacLean worked with Graham, mounting shows—most of them at the Fillmore Auditorium—which he promoted with attention-getting posters commissioned from several artists. A group of men became known as the Big Five of poster art: Wes Wilson (died in January 2020), Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Stanley Miller (known as Stanley Mouse), and Alton Kelley. MacLean wasn’t initially part of the group. When Wilson and Graham had a falling-out in 1967, she stepped in to fill the void. MacLean died in Newtown, Pennsylvania on February 4, 2020.

Alice Mayhew (87) editor of political and historical works whose authors ranged from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to Taylor Branch and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Mayhew edited some of the most notable nonfiction releases of the past 50 years, including Woodward and Bernstein’s landmark Watergate best-seller All the President’s Men, among the first books to investigate a sitting presidential administration; the feminist classic Our Bodies, Ourselves; Branch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting the Waters; and Goodwin’s PP-winning No Ordinary Time. She also worked with former President Jimmy Carter, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and historians Stephen Ambrose, Michael Beschloss, and David Herbert Donald, among others. Mayhew died in New York City on February 4, 2020.

Xavier Montes (67) founder of the De Colores Art Show, an annual showcase of music, dance, and art held in Montes's hometown of Santa Paula, California. The arpeggios he plucked on his harp provided soundtracks for fund-raisers and community nights from Ojai to Oxnard. His paintings, usually ruminations on Mexican themes or farmworkers, hung in the homes of the region’s Latino intelligentsia. After a long illness, Montes died on February 6, 2020.

Beverly Pepper (97) American sculptor whose work was suffused with a lightness that belied its huge scale. After beginning her artistic life as a painter, Pepper was known from the ‘60s on as a sculptor of towering forms of iron, steel, earth, and stone, often displayed outdoors. Her art is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and elsewhere. It also graces public spaces throughout the world. Pepper had lived and worked principally in Italy since the ‘50s. She died in Todi, Italy on February 5, 2020.

George Steiner (90) one of the world’s leading public intellectuals. With his erudition and the lessons he drew from his Jewish roots and escape from the Holocaust, Steiner, a native of Paris whose family fled to the US in 1940, enjoyed a rich life of the mind. He wrote hundreds of essays, poems, book-length works, and a novella, The Portage of San Cristobal A. H., which enraged some readers with its depiction of Hitler, justifying his horrors and connecting them to the modern rebirth of Israel. In works such as After Babel, The Poetry of Thought, and The Death of Tragedy, Steiner drew upon what he called his passion for “scripture and the Classics, for poetry and metaphysics.” He died in Cambridge, England on February 3, 2020.

Alan Turner (76) painter who drew on Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and more in acclaimed paintings and drawings that could be humorous, disturbing, or poignant. Turner’s art was widely exhibited and wide ranging. In the late ‘70s he produced mesmerizing paintings of trees. Then came works featuring humanoid figures and faces, the eyes, ears, and other body parts distorted or bizarrely placed. Turner died in New York City of progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative brain disorder, on February 8, 2020.


Business and Science

Stanley Cohen (97) Brooklyn-born biochemist who shared the 1986 Nobel Prize in medicine for the discovery of chemicals that promote and help to regulate the growth of cells—research that greatly advanced science’s understanding of cancer, dementia, and other maladies. Cohen was a professor emeritus of biochemistry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In the ‘50s, working at Washington University in St. Louis, he was among a small cadre of scientists who sought to unravel the basic mechanisms underlying cell growth and to crack one of the most baffling medical puzzles of that era: How do developing cells reach out and connect to others, forming neural networks? A colleague, developmental biologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, discovered the answer: The cells form those networks through the production of a protein known as nerve growth factor, or NGF. Cohen's work on NGF led to his own discovery—of epidermal growth factor, or EGF, which has applications in medicine for wound healing, cancer therapy, and the growth of transplanted skin in severe burn cases. He died in Nashville, Tennessee on February 5, 2020.

Bernard J. Ebbers (78) built a modest Mississippi phone company into a telecommunications giant, WorldCom, but later went to prison after its collapse in one of the US's largest corporate scandals. In 2005 Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was freed in December 2019, having been granted compassionate release by a federal judge to spend his final months at home. In what was once considered a great entrepreneurial success story, he turned his small company, Long Distance Discount Service, into a telecommunications juggernaut. The company, renamed WorldCom, grew through an astonishing string of more than 40 mergers and acquisitions, including the $37 billion takeover in 1998 of MCI Communications, twice the size of WorldCom. At its peak in 1999, WorldCom employed 80,000 people and had a market capitalization of about $180 billion. But the company’s apparent growth turned out to be an illusion facilitated by accounting trickery. At his 2005 trial, former employees testified that Ebbers had urged them to inflate WorldCom’s financial results to make the company appear more profitable than it was. The jury convicted him of securities fraud, conspiracy, and filing false reports. He died in Brookhaven, Mississippi on February 2, 2020.

Dr. Philip Leder (85) biologist who helped to decipher the genetic code and discovered a genetic cause of cancer. Leder helped to accomplish the final step in deciphering the genetic code early in his career. In immunology, he later helped to unravel the genetic mechanisms behind the great diversity of antibody molecules, then discovered that the misregulation of a gene that guides the growth of cells was a major cause of cancer. He died of Parkinson’s disease in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on February 2, 2020.

Dave McCoy (104) transformed California’s Mammoth Mountain from a remote Sierra peak into a downhill destination for skiers and snowboarders from around the world. The mountain, about 150 miles southeast of Sacramento, was the focus of McCoy’s life for more than 60 years. He oversaw the resort’s growth into an operation of 3,000 workers and 4,000 acres of ski trails. Mammoth was one of the three most-visited ski resorts in 2018, drawing about 1.21 million skiers and snowboarders. McCoy first recognized the potential of the mountain in the late ‘30s while working as snow surveyor for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. With the help of friends, he worked through blizzards, droughts, and economic downturns, building increasingly sophisticated machinery to pull skiers up the mountain and groom the snow. He died in the eastern Sierra Nevada community of Bishop, California on February 8, 2020.


Law

Deborah A. Batts (72) first openly gay judge to sit on the federal bench, who presided over prominent cases involving political corruption, terrorism, and the Central Park Five civil case. Batts served for 25 years on the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. After her nomination in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, it took 17 years before a second openly gay judge, J. Paul Oetken, was appointed to the federal bench. Batts was also the first black faculty member at Fordham Law School, where she continued to teach even after she became a judge. She was a federal prosecutor in New York in the ‘80s and early ’90s, when Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) suggested that she fill out an application to become a federal judge. Batts died unexpectedly in New York City of complications after knee replacement surgery, on February 3, 2020.

Nathaniel Jones (93) former federal judge who served for more than 20 years on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati and previously was general counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1979 former President Jimmy Carter appointed Jones to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, where he served until his retirement in 2002. The native of Youngstown had been chief lawyer for the NAACP from 1969 until his appointment to the federal appeals court. As counsel for the NAACP, Jones argued for the organization in school desegregation suits filed against public school districts in Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In the ‘80s he traveled across Africa, assisting emerging nations in establishing judicial systems. He also helped South African leaders to draft a constitution ending that nation’s system of legal racial segregation known as apartheid. In 2016 the NAACP announced its selection of Jones as recipient of its highest honor, the Spingarn Medal. Jones died of congestive heart failure in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 2, 2020.

Lawrence W. Pierce (95) longtime federal judge who voided a New York State law banning the sale of contraceptives to minors and joined in a decision to overturn New York's elected government structure as unconstitutional. A Republican who had been nominated to the federal courts by Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Pierce was only the third black judge to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, after Thurgood Marshall and Amalya Lyle Kearse. He was the first black judge to be appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 1975, writing for a three-judge appellate panel, Pierce rejected New York State’s claim that limiting access to contraceptives was a proper exercise of police powers to promote morality among minors. The law empowered only licensed pharmacists to sell nonprescription contraceptives and declared that they could not be advertised or openly displayed. The US Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the judges’ ruling, voiding the law. Pierce died in Boca Raton, Florida on February 5, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Orson Bean (91) witty actor and comedian who enlivened the game show To Tell the Truth and played a crotchety merchant on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Bean appeared in several films—notably Anatomy of a Murder and Being John Malkovich—and starred in several top Broadway productions, receiving a Tony nod for the 1962 Comden-Green musical Subways Are for Sleeping. But fans remembered him best for his many TV appearances from the ‘50s onward. Bean was hit and killed by a car in Los Angeles, California on February 7, 2020.

Raphael Coleman (25) former British child actor who starred in the film Nanny McPhee and later became a climate change activist. Coleman appeared alongside Emma Thompson and Colin Firth in the 2005 comedy-fantasy film as Eric Brown. He later played roles in the 2009 films It’s Alive and The Fourth Kind and in the short, Edward’s Turmoil, that same year, then earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Manchester before becoming a climate change activist with the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion. Coleman reportedly collapsed while on a trip and could not be revived, on February 6, 2020.

Robert Conrad (84) actor who starred in the popular ‘60s TV series Hawaiian Eye and The Wild Wild West. Conrad became an overnight star after Hawaiian Eye debuted in 1959. After five seasons with the show, he embraced the TV craze of the time, period Westerns, but with a different twist. On The Wild Wild West, which debuted in 1965, he was James T. West, a James Bondlike agent who used innovative tactics and futuristic gadgets (futuristic for the 1800s anyway) to battle bizarre villains. He was assisted by Ross Martin’s Artemus Gordon, a master of disguise. The show aired until 1969. Conrad later appeared in several other adventurous TV series and films. He died of heart failure in Malibu, California on February 8, 2020.

Kevin Conway (77) actor who brought intensity to roles large and small on the screen and the stage, including memorable turns in the ‘70s in the plays When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? and The Elephant Man. Conway got a late start on his acting career, but by 1969 he was making his Broadway debut in Arthur Kopit’s Indians. His first significant film role was in Slaughterhouse-Five, George Roy Hill’s adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, in 1972. Early on Conway often played explosive characters and tough guys. In 1978 he worked opposite Sylvester Stallone in both F.I.S.T., a tale of organized labor and organized crime, and Paradise Alley, in which he played a hoodlum on the mean streets of ‘40s New York. Conway died of a heart attack in New York City on February 5, 2020.

Kirk Douglas (103) muscular actor with a dimpled chin who starred in Spartacus, Lust for Life, and dozens of other films. Douglas helped to fatally weaken the blacklist against suspected Communists and reigned for decades as a Hollywood maverick and patriarch. His strength and underlying vulnerability made the son of illiterate Russian immigrants one of the top stars of the 20th century. He appeared in more than 80 films, in roles ranging from Doc Holliday in Gunfight at the OK Corral to Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life. He worked with some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, from Vincente Minnelli and Billy Wilder to Stanley Kubrick and Elia Kazan. His career began at the peak of the studios’ power, more than 70 years ago, and ended in a more diverse, decentralized era that he helped to bring about. Always competitive, including with his own family, Douglas never received an Oscar for an individual film despite being nominated three times—for Champion, The Bad & the Beautiful, and Lust for Life. But in 1996 he received an honorary Oscar. The father of actor Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas died in Beverly Hills, California on February 5, 2020.

Terry Hands (79) British director who led the Royal Shakespeare Company in England and in the ‘80s took several productions to Broadway, including a well-regarded Much Ado About Nothing and the notorious musical flop Carrie. Hands was with the Royal Shakespeare Co. for almost 25 years, joining it in 1966 to run Theatregoround, an outreach program. In 1978 he became joint artistic director with Trevor Nunn, and from ‘86 until his departure in ‘90 he was the company’s chief executive. One highlight of his tenure there was his work with actor Alan Howard, whom he directed in an ambitious staging of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1975, with Howard starting out as Prince Hal in the first play in the cycle and growing into the title character in Henry V. Another noteworthy pairing came in the ‘80s, when Hands directed Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. He died on February 4, 2020.

Ivan Kral (71) Czech-born musician whose integral role in the Patti Smith Group, along with his work as a filmmaker who chronicled the earliest days of the CBGB scene, made him a key figure in New York's creative underground of the ‘70s. Kral also played in an early incarnation of Blondie and worked with Iggy Pop, John Cale, John Waite, and Noel Redding, former bassist with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, either cowriting songs for them or contributing bass, guitar, or keyboard parts to recordings by them. A romantic song he wrote with Smith, “Dancing Barefoot,” was covered by several acts, including U2, Pearl Jam, and Simple Minds. A throbbing new wave piece he wrote with Iggy Pop in 1981, “Bang Bang,” was covered by David Bowie six years later on his album Never Let Me Down. Kral died of cancer in Ann Arbor, Michigan on February 2, 2020.

Lynn Evans Mand (95) singer plucked from obscurity to become lead singer of the Chordettes, performing with them during the height of their fame in the ‘50s and ’60s on songs like the instantly recognizable hits “Mr. Sandman” and “Lollipop.” The Chordettes began in the ‘40s in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as an all-woman barbershop quartet. They appeared regularly on Arthur Godfrey’s popular radio and TV shows. In 1953 Evans, as she was known at the time, sang with an amateur barbershop quartet in Youngstown, Ohio. One day the Chordettes came through town for a performance, and Evans had a chance to sit in. The members of the group were so impressed with her voice that when the time came to replace one of the original Chordettes, Dorothy Schwartz, who was leaving to have a child, Evans was asked to audition for the spot and won it. The Chordettes’ popularity waned as rock-’n’-roll grew. They split up in 1964. Later a special-education teacher, Mand died of a stroke in Elyria, Ohio on February 6, 2020.

Gene Reynolds (96) Emmy-winning producer and director, a force behind two of the most acclaimed TV series of the ‘70s and early ’80s, M*A*S*H and Lou Grant. Reynolds started his career as a child actor, appearing in some 80 films and TV shows in the '30s. He racked up more TV and film acting credits, including more than 40 in the ‘50s, but by the end of that decade he had shifted his focus to directing and, soon after that, to producing. In the ‘60s he directed numerous episodes of TV comedies, including Hogan’s Heroes and F Troop, both of which found humor in military settings. That experience served him well in 1972 when he helped Larry Gelbart to develop M*A*S*H, the sitcom about an Army hospital during the Korean War. The series, addressing serious themes with a mix of slapstick and dark humor, is still considered one of the finest in TV history. Its final episode, in 1983, set a ratings record. But by then Reynolds had moved on and already had another acclaimed series to his credit: Lou Grant, which he helped to create in 1977. The show, about a fictional newspaper, with Ed Asner as the title character, twice won the Emmy Award for outstanding drama series. Reynolds died of heart failure in Burbank, California on February 3, 2020.

Nello Santi (88) conductor, one of the most authoritative interpreters of Italian opera, especially the works of Giuseppe Verdi, and a favorite of singers and orchestra players. On the podium Santi upheld a traditionalist approach that called for close adherence to the score and a gentle but firm insistence that singers avoid exaggerated flights of coloratura and prolonged showstopping high notes. At his best he achieved great clarity from his musicians, conducting scores with insight and a deep understanding of voices. Orchestras under his direction rarely drowned out singers, even those with lighter voices. Cutting a portly figure and wielding a vigorous baton, Santi was a favorite of audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he led close to 400 performances from 1962–2000, overwhelmingly of operas by Puccini and Verdi. Musicians and singers referred to him affectionately as “Papa Santi” and complained that New York critics underrated him. Santi died of a blood infection in Zürich, Switzerland on February 6, 2020.

Steve Weber (76) guitarist of the Holy Modal Rounders, a cult psychedelic folk group that grazed the pop-culture mainstream with a song featured in the 1969 film Easy Rider and influenced generations of underground musicians. The Holy Modal Rounders emerged in New York in 1963 as a duo, with Weber on guitar and Peter Stampfel on fiddle and banjo. Like countless others swept up in the folk revival of the time, they were inspired by the traditional songs in the Anthology of American Folk Music, compiled by filmmaker and historian Harry Smith in 1952. But while most of their peers approached old material with reverence, Weber and Stampfel stood out with their spontaneity and almost boyish mischief. On their first two albums, released by the folk label Prestige in 1964 and ‘65, they freely rewrote lyrics to ‘20s songs like “Blues in the Bottle” and “Bully of the Town” and sang with a peculiar kind of nasal harmony. Their antics did not endear the band to folk purists, although Weber was noted for his mastery of traditional guitar styles. He died in Mount Clare, West Virginia on February 7, 2020.


Politics and Military

'Mad Mike' Hoare (100) Irish soldier of fortune who led white mercenary forces in civil wars in Congo in the ‘60s and a ragtag band of commandos in a farcical aborted coup in the Seychelles in 1981. Hoare crossed seas on a sailboat and Africa (south to north) on a motorcycle. He searched for the fabled lost city of the Kalahari and retraced the steps of Victorian explorers to the sources of the Nile. He fought the Japanese in Burma in World War II, rescued hostages from rebel forces in Congo, found nuns and priests hacked to death in the bush, and was imprisoned in South Africa for hijacking an airliner. Called “Mad Mike” for his recklessness under fire, Hoare's exploits were recounted in books by him and others, in a film starring Richard Burton, and in sheaves of foreign correspondents’ dispatches, now faded yellow in old newspaper morgues with datelines from far-off places. Tiring of life as an explorer and safari guide, he first hired out as a mercenary in 1960–61, leading a European force fighting for Moise Tshombe, whose Katanga province was trying to break away from the newly independent Republic of Congo. Hoare died in Durban, South Africa on February 2, 2020.

Daniel arap Moi (95) former schoolteacher who became Kenya’s longest-serving president and led the East African nation through years of repression and economic turmoil fueled by runaway corruption. Moi succeeded Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, in 1978 and ruled for 24 years. His critics called him a dictator for his authoritarian style, although Moi enjoyed strong support from many Kenyans and was seen as a unifying figure when he took over after the death of Kenyatta, who had led the country after its independence from Britain in 1963. In 1982 Moi’s government pushed through parliament a constitutional amendment that made Kenya effectively a one-party state. Later that year the army quelled a coup attempt by opposition members and some air force officers. At least 159 people were killed. Although Kenya was known for its stability, Moi’s government became more repressive in dealing with dissent. Political activists and others who dared oppose him were routinely detained, tortured, and killed. Moi died in Nairobi, Kenya on February 4, 2020.


Sports

Willie Wood (83) Hall of Fame defensive back who won five NFL championships with the Green Bay Packers under coach Vince Lombardi and made the first interception in Super Bowl history. After being undrafted out of the University of Southern California, Wood sent postcards to several NFL teams seeking a tryout. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder signed as a free agent with the Packers and played safety for them from 1960–71. Wood had a key interception in the first Super Bowl, returning it 50 yards to set up a third-quarter touchdown that sealed the Packers’ 35-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967. He had a 31-yard punt return in the second Super Bowl that stood as a record for 16 years. The Packers beat the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in the 1968 title game. Wood was a nine-time All-NFL first or second team honoree and an Associated Press All-Pro from 1964–68 and played in eight Pro Bowls. He won five of the six NFL championship games he played in. He had 48 interceptions and had 1,391 yards on 187 punt returns. His 154 career starts was an NFL record for a safety. Wood had suffered from advanced dementia for several years. He died in Washington, DC on February 3, 2020.


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