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

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Claire Bretécher, French comic artist and cartoonistBeverly and Claude Cassirer with reproduction of painting stolen by NazisLynn Cohen, TV and film actressRev. George V. Coyne, Jesuit astrophysicistLouis A. Craco, NYC lawyerReinhard de Leeuw, Dutch symphonic conductor and classical pianistCaroline Flack, British TV presenterMirella Freni, Italian operatic sopranoJamey Gambrell, translator of Russian literatureJames V. Hatch, historian of black theaterCharles Hobson, TV producerA. E. Hotchner, writer and philanthropistPaula Kelly, Emmy-nominated actress, singer, and dancerFrederick Koch, oldest of four Koch brothersBuzzy Linhart, musician and songwriterAnne Marion, Texas oil heiress and art patronLyle Mays, keyboardist with Pat Metheny GroupMatvey Natanzon, professional backgammon playerKatsuya 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 MambazoZara S. Steiner, historian who studied WWITobi Tobias, dance criticNikita Pearl Waligwa, Ugandan actressJosé Zalaquett, Chilean lawyer who defied dictator Augusto Pinochet

Art and Literature

Claire Bretécher (79) satirical French comic artist, one of the first women to break into France’s male-dominated cartoon industry. Bretécher became a celebrated cartoonist in the ‘70s, and her comic strips were a fixture in French newspapers and magazines for decades. Her work also appeared around the world. In the US she was published in Ms. magazine, Esquire, and National Lampoon. She brought wit to gender issues and was so clear and direct about the human condition that in 1976 philosopher Roland Barthes called her the “best sociologist of the year.” Bretécher specialized in holding up to scrutiny the affluent urban female in all her angst, melodrama, and hypocrisy. Her two signature series were Les Frustrés (1973–81) and Agrippine (1988–2009), the latter about a morose young woman whom she followed through teenage crises and existential quandaries. Agrippine was turned into a 26-episode series on French TV in 2001. Much of Bretécher’s work was adapted for animation, stage, and radio. She died in Paris, France on February 10, 2020.

Beverly Cassirer (99) for decades Cassirer and her husband Claude chased after the Impressionist painting, “Rue Saint-Honore in the Afternoon. Effect of Rain,” which had been taken from Claude's family by the Nazis at the start of World War II, a hunt that came up empty again and again. The Parisian street scene by Camille Pissarro had vanished, then resurfaced decades later in Madrid, hanging for all the world to see in the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, a treasured work by an Impressionistic master valued at roughly $30 million. The Cassirers pursued the painting in the Los Angeles courts, arguing that it had essentially been stolen by the Nazis, who had forced Claude's grandmother to trade it for her own freedom as she tried to flee Germany. The painting ultimately made its way to Spain when the Madrid museum purchased it and hundreds of other paintings from a Swiss art collector. When the couple asked, the museum refused to return it, and the two turned to the courts for relief. Neither lived long enough for that day to come. Claude Cassirer died in 2010. Beverly Cassirer died in San Diego, California, six days short of her 100th birthday, on February 13, 2020.

Jamey Gambrell (65) award-winning translator who conveyed the intricacies of work by contemporary Russian authors like Tatyana Tolstaya and Vladimir Sorokin to English-language readers. A native New Yorker, Gambrell steeped herself in Russian culture and literature, spending time in Moscow in the ‘80s and ’90s and becoming involved in its art scene as artists there who had once been underground rose to international prominence. She was a critic, writer, and editor for Art in America magazine for about 15 years, covering the careers of artists like Alexander Melamid, Vitaly Komar, and Ilya Kabakov and providing insights into modern art, made near the end of the Soviet era, that was unfamiliar to many in the West. Gambrell died in New York City of cancer, which had only recently been diagnosed, on February 15, 2020.

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.

Anne Marion (81) Texas oil and ranching heiress who founded the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Marion and her husband, John Marion, established the museum in 1997. Anne Marion was chairwoman of the board of trustees until 2016. She was the great-granddaughter of Samuel Burk Burnett, founder of the 6666 Ranch in Texas. Under her leadership, the museum grew to also include artist O’Keeffe’s two historic homes and studios in northern New Mexico, at Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch. Marion died of lung cancer in Palm Springs, California on February 11, 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.


James V. Hatch (91) historian of black theater who, with his wife, artist and filmmaker Camille Billops, created a vast archive of interviews with black actors, singers, writers, and artists. Hatch, who taught English and theater at City College of New York (now City University) for 30 years, was the author or coauthor of more than a dozen books, including The Roots of African-American Drama: An Anthology of Early Plays, 1858–1938 (1990), which he edited with Leo Hamalian, and Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One: The Life of Owen Dodson (1993), about the black poet and playwright. Hatch's area of scholarship sometimes raised eyebrows because he was white. He died of Alzheimer's disease in New York City on February 14, 2020.

Zara S. Steiner (91) historian who wrote books on the origins of World War I and the period between the two world wars. Steiner was unusual not only because she was a woman in a male-dominated field but also because she was an American whose writing largely centered on Britain. She was married to essayist and scholar George Steiner, who spent much of his career at Cambridge University and died 10 days before the death of his wife. Zara Steiner's books looked not just at the standard official documents related to the war, but also at how staff members, public opinion, and more influenced history. She died of pneumonia in Cambridge, England on February 13, 2020.


Louis A. Craco (86) lawyer who in the ‘80s helped to expand the pool of volunteer attorneys providing free legal services to people in New York who could not afford them. A partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Craco was a founder in 1984 of Volunteers of Legal Service, a program, designed in part to make up for cutbacks by the Reagan administration in federal legal services for the poor, that more than doubled the amount of time private lawyers donated to public interest work. Law firms and corporate legal departments, which together employed 5,000 lawyers, agreed to provide 30 hours a year per lawyer, mostly to cases involving civil fraud, landlord-tenant disputes, and wrongful denial of government benefits. Services were already being provided, particularly in criminal cases, by the Legal Aid Society and other organizations, but Craco’s program expanded the available resources for civil matters. Today, Volunteers of Legal Services enlists about 1,000 lawyers and others every year from 60 law firms and legal departments to serve some 4,300 low-income New Yorkers through collaborations with more than 200 community organizations. Craco died of a stroke in Manhasset, New York on February 15, 2020.

José Zalaquett (77) Chilean lawyer who investigated human rights abuses during Augusto Pinochet’s regime—spending time in prison and in exile as a result—then helped to bring to light similar abuses elsewhere in the Americas and in Africa and the Middle East. Zalaquett was admired not only for his efforts in Chile in the ‘70s, when standing up to Pinochet was an act of courage, but also for his work years later in helping that country to come to grips with its past after its return to democracy in 1981. He was a key figure on the National Truth & Reconciliation Commission, writing much of its 1991 report, which detailed abuses under the dictatorship and suggested how to guard against a recurrence. Zalaquett died of Parkinson’s disease in Santiago, Chile’s capital, on February 15, 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.

Reinhard de Leeuw (81) Dutch conductor, pianist, and composer who championed contemporary music in his homeland; enjoyed associations with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and had a memorable stint at the Tanglewood Festival, where he was director of contemporary music from 1994–98. Although De Leeuw was not the kind of big-name maestro who frequents the international guest-conductor circuit, he brought attention to contemporary music by working with smaller ensembles, directing festivals, and advising major institutions. He was an influential figure in the Netherlands, where he conducted important productions of contemporary operas by Gyorgy Ligeti, Claude Vivier, and his countryman Louis Andriessen, and led performances of scores by Schoenberg and Messiaen. De Leeuw first came to wide notice as a pianist, with performances and recordings of works by Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Messiaen. He died in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 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.

Charles Hobson (83) Emmy Award-winning producer who helped to shatter racial stereotypes by delivering a black perspective that had been missing from early TV programming. Hobson was instrumental in the success of the ground-breaking series Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant and Like It Is, which introduced white audiences to everyday life in black communities. Those places had been largely invisible, or defined by negative images, during the first decades of TV’s evolution. Hobson’s programs not only provided a singular perspective on contemporary issues; they also gave an unfiltered voice to people who had been neglected when TV was struggling through its adolescence. Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant, which ran from 1968–70 on WNEW-TV in New York, has been called the city’s first regular program written, produced, and presented by black people. Hobson died of heart failure in the Bronx, New York on February 13, 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.

Tobi Tobias (81) whose dance criticism for New York magazine and other outlets made her an influential voice in the genre for decades. Also the author of several children’s books, Tobias began writing about dance in the early ‘70s, starting with an article about Twyla Tharp for the alumni magazine of Barnard College, both women’s alma mater. Armed with that and another article about Tharp for a different publication—the sum total of her dance writing at that point—Tobias offered her services to Dance magazine. She became dance critic at New York magazine in 1980 and held that post for 22 years. She also wrote for the New York Times, the Village Voice, Bloomberg News, and the website Arts Journal, among other outlets, where her articles made her a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in criticism. She died in New York City on February 13, 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.


Matvey Natanzon (51) compulsive gambler, also known as “Falafel” because he subsisted on deep-fried chickpea balls while hustling gullible opponents in Washington Square Park in Manhattan as he groomed himself to be the world’s greatest backgammon player. Born in Soviet Russia, Natanzon emigrated to Israel with his mother when he was 4 years old and later moved to the US, spending his teenage years in Buffalo. A jovial giant who weighed upward of 300 pounds at one point, Natanzon died less than two years after doctors first told him he had stage-4 brain cancer, which prematurely ended an up-and-down career during which he went from sleeping under a bench in Washington Square Park, where he lived for nearly six months after college, to mastering backgammon, a board game that combines rolls of the dice with strategic checker moves. Natanzon died in Clarence, New York, near Buffalo, on February 14, 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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