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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 15, 2020

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Lynn Cohen, TV and film actressRev. George V. Coyne, Jesuit astrophysicistCaroline Flack, British TV presenterMirella Freni, Italian operatic sopranoA. E. Hotchner, writer and philanthropistPaula Kelly, Emmy-nominated actress, singer, and dancerFrederick Koch, oldest of four Koch brothersBuzzy Linhart, musician and songwriterLyle Mays, keyboardist with Pat Metheny GroupKatsuya Nomura, Japanese baseball catcherCharles ('Chuckie') O'Brien, associate of Jimmy HoffaRajendra Kumar Pachauri, Indian environmentalistEsther Scott, actress from 'Boyz N the Hood'Joseph Shabalala, founder of Grammy-winning music group Ladysmith Black MambazoNikita Pearl Waligwa, Ugandan actressClayton Williams, Texas oilman

Art and Literature

A. E. Hotchner (102) novelist, playwright, biographer, literary bon vivant, and philanthropist whose life was shaped by close friendships with two well-known men, novelist Ernest Hemingway and actor Paul Newman. Hotchner was one of those not-so-famous people whom famous people, for whatever reason, take to. He was aware of that quality in himself and used it professionally. One of his books, Choice People (1984), consists of anecdotal profiles of Clark Gable, Barbara Hutton, Marlene Dietrich, and others. Hemingway, for whom Hotchner was a friend, editor, and traveling companion from 1948 until the novelist’s suicide in ‘61, and Coco Chanel, among others, appear as characters in his ‘81 novel, The Man Who Lived at the Ritz. Newman, a neighbor of Hotchner's, made it a holiday ritual to make batches of homemade salad dressing in his barn, pour it into wine bottles, and drive around his neighborhood giving them away as Christmas gifts. Just before Christmas 1980, Newman invited Hotchner to join him in stirring up an enormous batch with a canoe paddle. Out of that came the idea for Newman’s Own. Founded in 1982, the company has given away hundreds of millions of dollars through its charitable arms. Hotchner died in Westport, Connecticut on February 15, 2020.

Frederick Koch (86) kept a low profile as an arts benefactor rather than joining the family oil business that became Koch Industries. Koch was the oldest of four sons of Fred Koch of Wichita, Kansas. His high-profile billionaire younger brothers, Charles and David, ran Koch Industries and bankrolled libertarian causes, but Frederick rarely saw them and preferred to live in relative anonymity. He used his share of the family wealth to support a career as a benefactor of the arts and historic preservation. He amassed extensive collections of rare books, musical manuscripts, and fine and decorative arts, including Marie Antoinette’s canopied bed. His collection of manor houses included a 150-room castle in Austria once owned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which Koch used for decades as a summer retreat. In 1986 he stood beside Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the new $2.8 million Swan Theater he had built for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Koch died of heart failure in New York City on February 12, 2020.

Business and Science

Clayton Williams (88) Texas oilman who derailed his own 1990 campaign for governor with crude remarks, including an offensive comment about rape. A successful entrepreneur who had never run for political office, Williams, a Republican, made one memorable try in 1990 in a matchup against Ann Richards (died 2006), state treasurer and, like Williams, a larger-than-life figure. Richards had come to national prominence at the 1988 Democrat National Convention when she said that the Republican presidential nominee, George H. W. Bush, had been “born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Williams died of pneumonia in Midland, Texas on February 14, 2020.

Clayton Williams (88) Texas oilman who derailed his own 1990 campaign for governor with crude remarks, including an offensive comment about rape. A successful entrepreneur who had never run for political office, Williams, a Republican, made one memorable try in 1990 in a matchup against Ann Richards (died 2006), state treasurer and, like Williams, a larger-than-life figure. Richards had come to national prominence at the 1988 Democrat National Convention when she said that the Republican presidential nominee, George H. W. Bush, had been “born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Williams died of pneumonia in Midland, Texas on February 14, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Lynn Cohen (86) actress best known for playing the plainspoken housekeeper and nanny, Magda, on Sex & the City. Cohen had a long and diverse career as a stage, film, and TV performer. Her dozens of credits ranged from Nurse Jackie and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to the feature films Across the Universe and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. On HBO’s Sex & the City, Cohen’s character was employed by attorney Miranda Hobbes, played by Cynthia Nixon. Magda was featured in the TV and movie versions of the popular show, which also starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Kim Cattrall. Cohen died in New York City on February 14, 2020.

Caroline Flack (40) British TV presenter who hosted the controversial reality TV show Love Island from its launch in 2015 but stepped down in ‘19 after being charged with assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. Flack denied the charge and was scheduled to stand trial starting in March. The sixth season of the show is currently airing. Love Island deposits young and attractive contestants in a tropical paradise, where they must pair up or risk being exiled. Critics claim the program puts vulnerable young people under intense scrutiny and pressure, increased by blanket tabloid newspaper coverage of the show. Two former Love Island contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, died by suicide in 2018 and ’19. Their deaths renewed a debate about the ethics of reality TV that has raged in the United Kingdom since producers started making British equivalents of sensationalist American programs. Until her arrest, Flack enjoyed a meteoric career rise after cohosting Saturday morning children’s TV shows. Her career blossomed further after she won the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2014, the British version of Dancing with the Stars. While hosting Love Island, Flack made her West End stage debut in 2018, playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago. A family lawyer said she killed herself and was found dead in her London, England apartment on February 15, 2020.

Mirella Freni (84) Italian soprano whose elegance and intensity combined with a sumptuous voice and intelligence to enthrall audiences for 50 years. Freni was the last in a line of Italian sopranos who prompted ovations with their entrances alone, a link to singers from the golden era and earlier such as Renata Tebaldi, Licia Albanese, Magda Olivero, Maria Caniglia, Amelita Galli-Curci, and Luisa Tetrazzini. Broadway playwright Albert Innaurato dubbed Freni “the last prima donna.” From her professional debut at Modena’s Teatro Municipale as Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen on March 3, 1955 to her opera finale as Joan of Arc in Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans at the Washington National Opera on April 11, 2005, Freni chose roles with care and caution. She died in Modena, Italy from a degenerative muscular disease and a series of stokes, on February 9, 2020.

Paula Kelly (77) actress, singer, and dancer who earned an Emmy Award nomination on the sitcom Night Court and costarred with Chita Rivera and Shirley MacLaine in the film Sweet Charity. Kelly earned a best supporting actress Emmy nod in 1984 for portraying public defender Liz Williams on the first season of NBC’s Night Court and received another in ‘89 for playing a lesbian on the ABC miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. She made her Broadway debut in the 1964 musical Something More! directed by Jule Styne and starring Barbara Cook. Kelly later shared a Broadway stage with Morgan Freeman in The Dozens. One of her most important roles was Helene in Sweet Charity, which she played onstage in London, then reprised in Bob Fosse’s feature film debut. Her other film credits include The Andromeda Strain, Top of the Heap, and Soylent Green. Her TV credits also include Santa Barbara, Mission: Impossible, Kojak, and The Golden Girls. Kelly died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Los Angeles, California on February 9, 2020.

Buzzy Linhart (76) singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose compositions were recorded by Bette Midler, Carly Simon, and others. “(You Got to Have) Friends,” written by Linhart and Moogy Klingman, became Midler’s unofficial theme song after appearing in two versions on her debut album, The Divine Miss M (1972). It was also sung by Barry Manilow on his first album, later by the Muppets in a duet with actress Candice Bergen, and by Eddie Murphy’s donkey character in the hit animated feature film Shrek. Linhart wrote the ballad “The Love’s Still Growing,” which closed Simon’s debut album and was later recorded by the Roches for Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the ’60s, a 1999 album on which various artists performed songs from the ‘60s Greenwich Village folk scene. Linhart was a busy session musician in the ’60s, playing guitar, vibraphone, and other instruments on albums by Jimi Hendrix, John Sebastian, LaBelle, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and others. His compositions, included on albums released mostly in the early to mid-’70s, combined elements of folk, jazz, blues, ragas, and psychedelic rock. He had been in declining health since suffering a heart attack in 2018. Linhart died in Berkeley, California on February 13, 2020.

Lyle Mays (66) jazz keyboardist whose work, chiefly with the Pat Metheny Group, won nearly a dozen Grammy Awards. Mays played organ as a youngster, and his parents played piano and guitar. Mays cofounded the Group with guitarist Metheny in the ‘70s, in which he was a performer, composer, and arranger. The Group’s innovative fusion style incorporated everything from rock and contemporary jazz to world music. They won numerous jazz performance Grammys and some for best contemporary jazz album, including the 2005 award for The Way Up. But the Group also scored an award in 1998 for best rock instrumental performance for The Roots of Coincidence. Mays also was a sideman for albums by jazz, rock, and pop artists, including Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, and the group Earth, Wind & Fire. He also helped to compose soundtrack music for several movies, including The Falcon & the Snowman (1985). Mays also was a self-taught computer programmer and architect who designed a house for a relative. He died in Los Angeles, California after a long battle with a recurring illness, on February 10, 2020.

Esther Scott (66) actress who specialized in playing matriarchal roles in films and on TV—most notably in the movies Boyz N the Hood and Dreamgirls. Scott made a career of being the familiar face of nurturing but sometimes strict characters in over 70 movies and on many TV shows. In Boyz N the Hood, John Singleton’s 1991 movie about the challenges young black men faced growing up in south-central Los Angeles, Scott played the grandmother of the protagonist’s love interest. In a memorable scene, she chases the young man out of her granddaughter’s bedroom while wielding a meat cleaver. In Dreamgirls (2006), Scott portrayed the aunt of Curtis Taylor Jr., a record executive played by Jamie Foxx. Her character, Ethel, watches over Curtis’s children. Scott played an asylum nurse in The Craft (1996) and a judge in Austin Powers: Goldmember (2002). She also had roles on Martin, Sister, Sister, and The Wayans Bros., among other TV shows. Scott had a heart attack and was found unconscious at her home in Santa Monica, California on February 11. She died three days later in Los Angeles, on February 14, 2020.

Joseph Shabalala (78) founder of the South African multi-Grammy-Award-winning music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Shabalala was globally known for his leadership of the choral group founded in 1964 that shot to world acclaim, collaborating with Paul Simon on the Graceland album and many other artists. The often a cappella singing style known as isicathamiya helped to make Ladysmith Black Mambazo one of South Africa’s most recognized performers on the world stage. Shabalala’s death was announced as the country marked 30 years since the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, which led to the end of the country’s brutal system of racial oppression known as apartheid. Shabalala died in Pretoria, South Africa on February 11, 2020.

Nikita Pearl Waligwa (15) young Ugandan newcomer who starred in Queen of Katwe, the 2016 Disney film about a chess champion’s coming of age. The film was based on a 2011 essay in ESPN The Magazine about a chess prodigy in Uganda who grows up in a slum and wins international competitions. The film starred Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. It was listed as Waligwa’s only film credit. In the movie, she played Gloria, a friend of the protagonist, Phiona Mutesi, played by Madina Nalwanga. Phiona becomes a chess whiz with help from Gloria and under the tutelage of Robert Katende, played by Oyelowo. The film was directed by Mira Nair and starred Nyong’o, an Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave, as Phiona’s mother. Queen of Katwe was the film debut of both Waligwa and Nalwanga. Waligwa died of a brain tumor on February 15, 2020.

Politics and Military

Rajendra Kumar Pachauri (79) Indian environmentalist under whose leadership a United Nations climate change panel shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Pachauri chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 2002 until he resigned in ‘15 after an employee at his research firm accused him of sexual harassment. The IPCC and former US Vice President Al Gore were awarded the 2007 Nobel for their efforts to expand knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for counteracting it. The allegations against Pachauri included claims that he sent suggestive text messages, e-mails, and WhatsApp messages harassing a 29-year-old female employee in his organization. Pachauri denied the charges, and his attorneys claimed that his messages were hacked in an attempt to malign him. New Delhi police filed a complaint in court, but the trial could not be completed. Pachauri died in New Delhi, India after recent heart surgery, on February 13, 2020.

Society and Religion

Rev. George V. Coyne (87) Jesuit astrophysicist who as longtime director of the Vatican Observatory defended Galileo and Darwin against doctrinaire Roman Catholics and challenged atheists by insisting that science and religion could coexist. Recognized among astronomers for his research into the birth of stars and his studies of the lunar surface (an asteroid is named after him), Coyne was also well known for seeking to reconcile science and religion. He applauded Pope Francis for addressing the role that humans play in climate change and challenged alternative theories to evolution like creationism and intelligent design. Coyne died of bladder cancer in Syracuse, New York on February 11, 2020.

Charles ('Chuckie') O'Brien (86) close associate of union boss Jimmy Hoffa who spent decades denying that he was involved in Hoffa’s disappearance and presumed murder in 1975. Widely known as Chuckie, O’Brien was a child when he first met Hoffa around 1943, and the two became close. Hoffa referred to him as “my other son,” and he was Hoffa’s closest assistant in the ‘50s, ’60s, and early ’70s, including from 1957–71, when Hoffa was president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. When Hoffa disappeared in a Detroit suburb in 1975 (a judge declared him “presumed dead” in 1982, although no body has been found), O’Brien came under suspicion, with news accounts and some law enforcement authorities speculating that he drove Hoffa to a fatal encounter. Although his accounts of the events surrounding the disappearance were sometimes vague, O'Brien maintained that he had not been involved and that he would never have sold out his friend and mentor. O’Brien died of a heart attack in Boca Raton, Florida on February 13, 2020.


Katsuya Nomura (84) mainstay of the baseball world in postwar Japan, one of that country’s greatest catchers before a long second career as a manager. In his 26 years as a player and a player-manager, Nomura hit 657 home runs and had 1,988 runs batted in, both second on the all-time list behind slugger Sadaharu Oh. Nomura collected 2,901 hits in 3,017 games, also the second-highest totals in Japan. His best season was 1965, when he became the first Japanese player in the postwar era to win the triple crown, hitting 42 home runs, driving in 110 runs, and batting .320. He led the Pacific League in home runs nine times and was the league’s Most Valuable Player five times. Nomura was voted the best catcher in Japanese baseball 19 times and elected to Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. He died of a heart attack in Tokyo, Japan on February 11, 2020.

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