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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 10, 2020

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Eddie Van Halen, rock guitaristBess Abell, Lyndon Johnson's social secretaryJoseph L. Bruno, New York State senatorJim Dwyer, Pulitzer-winning journalistWhitey Ford, record-breaking Yankees pitcherMike Foster, former governor of LouisianaTom Kennedy, game show hostRuth Kluger, Holocaust survivorClark Middleton, film and TV actorMario Molina, Nobel-winning scientistJohnny Nash, singer-songwriterMargaret Nolan, actress in 'Goldfinger'Max Osceola Jr., helped Seminoles to prosperLulu Peyraud, matriarch of French wine-producing familyMohammad Reza Shajarian, Iranian singerFaith Stewart-Gordon, former owner of NYC's Russian Tea RoomKenzo Takada, French-Japanese fashion designerErin Wall, Canadian operatic sopranoJames Weaver, US congressman from OregonPeregrine Worsthorne, British newspaper editor

Art and Literature

Ruth Kluger (88) whose memoir of growing up Jewish in Nazi-occupied Vienna and escaping death in a concentration camp redefined the myth of the heroic Holocaust survivor. Published in English in 2001, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered spared no one with its blunt narrative—not Kluger's neighbors who stopped suppressing their latent anti-Semitism when Germany annexed Austria; not her adult relatives who she believed should have foreseen the “final solution” for European Jews and fled the continent with their families; not her liberators who grew tired of hearing about the Holocaust. Kluger was 6 when the Nazis marched into Vienna. Her father fled to France, where he was deported and later killed. Her half-brother, six years older whom she idolized, was also murdered. Ruth and her mother labored in several concentration camps, where she survived first by lying about her age, then by escaping from a forced march ordered by their German guards as the war was ending. Mother and daughter immigrated to America, where Kluger became a professor of German literature. She died of bladder cancer in Irvine, California on October 5, 2020.


Business and Science

Mario Molina (77) winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1995 and the only Mexican scientist to be so honored. Only two other Mexicans have been awarded Nobels: Alfonso García Robles received the Peace Prize in 1982 for his work on nuclear weapons negotiations, and writer Octavio Paz was awarded the prize for literature in ’90. Molina won the prize along with scientists Frank Sherwood Rowland of the US and Paul Crutzen of the Netherlands for their research into climate change. Molina and Rowland published a paper in 1974 that saw the thinning of the ozone layer as a consequence of chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals used in a range of products. Molina’s work contributed to the drafting of the first international treaty on the subject, the Montreal Protocol, which phased out use of the chemicals. He later focused on confronting air pollution in major cities like his own Mexico City and pushing for global actions to promote sustainable development. He died in his native Mexico City, Mexico on October 7, 2020.

Lulu Peyraud (102) matriarch of a wine-producing family in the Bandol region of southern France who epitomized a Provençal way of life as a cook and a hostess. Throughout her long life, Peyraud was known for the extravagant meals she served to friends, family, and visitors at Domaine Tempier, in the village of Le Plan du Castellet. People might reasonably dispute which region of France offered the best cuisine, but few would argue that there was a better invitation than luncheon at Tempier. Peyraud might have cooked for decades in obscurity were it not for the excellence of Domaine Tempier’s Bandol reds and rosés. The wines drew people in. Lulu Peyraud died in La Ciotat, France on October 7, 2020.

Faith Stewart-Gordon (88) actress who gave up a Broadway career when she married Sidney Kaye, then owner of the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan, then spent nearly 30 years as its owner, greeting the glitterati who dined there with her Southern lilt. Stewart-Gordon owned the storied restaurant on West 57th Street from 1967, when her husband died, until ‘95, when she sold it to restaurant impresario Warner LeRoy. Under Kaye and Stewart-Gordon, the Russian Tea Room became the de rigueur lunch, dinner, and after-show gathering and gossiping spot for anyone who was associated with the performing arts or wanted to be. Stewart-Gordon died in New Preston, Connecticut on October 9, 2020.

Kenzo Takada (81) French-Japanese fashion designer famed for his jungle-infused designs that channeled global travel. Takada’s death came at the tail end of Paris Fashion Week, whose nine-day calendar is undertaking an unusual fashion season for spring-summer 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was only days ago that the Kenzo fashion house unveiled its bee-themed collection. Although Takada had been retired from his house since 1999 to pursue a career in art, Kenzo remains one of the most respected fixtures of high Paris fashion. Since 1993 the Kenzo brand has been owned by the French luxury goods company LVMH. Takada died from COVID-19 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, near Paris, on October 4, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Jim Dwyer (63) Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, columnist, and author whose journalism captured the human dramas of New York for readers of New York Newsday, the Daily News, and the New York Times for nearly 40 years. Dwyer portrayed the last minutes of thousands who perished in the collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001. He described the terrors of innocent black youths pulled over and shot by racial-profiling state troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike and told of the coronavirus besieging a New York hospital. He won the 1995 Pulitzer for commentary for columns in New York Newsday and was part of that paper's team that won the 1992 Pulitzer for spot news reporting for coverage of a subway derailment in Manhattan. He worked for six metropolitan dailies and wrote or cowrote six books. He died of lung cancer in New York City on October 8, 2020.

Tom Kennedy (93) veteran game show host best known for hosting programs like Name That Tune, Password Plus, You Don’t Say!, and Split Second. Over 30 years Kennedy hosted 14 game shows. NBC’s The Big Game was his first national hosting gig, followed by You Don’t Say! (where he stayed for six years), Split Second, It’s Your Bet, Name That Tune, Break the Bank, To Say the Least, Whew!, Password Plus, Body Language, and Wordplay, his last hosting job. He briefly hosted a talk show, The Real Tom Kennedy Show, in 1970 and a syndicated nighttime version of The Price Is Right in ’85. Kennedy also appeared on a handful of other game shows including Hollywood Squares, Super Password, Wheel of Fortune, Password, and The Match Game and had small acting roles on TV shows like Cannon, Cybill, Hardcastle & McCormick, That Girl, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. He died in Oxnard, California on October 7, 2020.

Clark Middleton (63) film and TV actor who delivered striking performances in supporting roles. Middleton's struggles with rheumatoid arthritis as a child gave him a cause to champion and grist for an autobiographical one-man Off-Broadway play. He was 5-feet-4 and had little movement in his neck. He seldom played leading roles but was a scene stealer. He was often cast as peculiar, feisty, and eccentric characters. In Bong Joon Ho’s postapocalyptic thriller, Snowpiercer (2013), he played the painter who chronicles horrors that unfold on a train. In Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), he helped to bury Uma Thurman alive. Middleton appeared on Broadway in 2018 alongside Denzel Washington as anarchist Hugo Kalmar in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. His best-known role was on the NBC crime drama The Blacklist, where he played Glen Carter, the Department of Motor Vehicles employee who becomes an unlikely informant to the show’s villainous protagonist, Raymond Reddington, played by James Spader. Middleton died of West Nile virus on October 4, 2020.

Johnny Nash (80) singer-songwriter, actor, and producer who rose from pop crooner to early reggae star to creator and performer of the million-selling anthem “I Can See Clearly Now.” Nash was in his early 30s when “I Can See Clearly Now” topped the charts in 1972. In the mid-‘50s he was a teenager covering “Darn That Dream” and other standards, his tenor likened to the voice of Johnny Mathis; 10 years later he was co-running a record company, had become a rare American-born singer of reggae, and helped to launch the career of his friend Bob Marley. Nash was among the first artists to bring reggae to US audiences. He peaked commercially in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when he had hits with “Hold Me Tight,” “You Got Soul,” an early version of Marley’s “Stir It Up,” and “I Can See Clearly Now,” still his signature song. Reportedly written by Nash while recovering from cataract surgery, the song was a story of overcoming hard times that itself raised the spirits of countless listeners with its pop-reggae groove and promise of a “bright, bright sunshiny day.” Nash died in Houston, Texas on October 6, 2020.

Margaret Nolan (76) stage and screen actress whose gold-painted body was used as a canvas to project the opening credits of the James Bond film Goldfinger. Nolan played the character Dink in the movie. In a career that was mainly in the ‘60s and ’70s, she appeared on numerous BBC-TV productions and in films, including No Sex Please, We’re British and Carry On Girls (both 1973). She also appeared in A Hard Day’s Night (1964), the musical comedy featuring the Beatles. But it was the opening title sequence of Goldfinger (1964), which was projected onto Nolan’s body as if it were a screen, that brought her fame. She died of cancer in London, England on October 5, 2020.

Mohammad Reza Shajarian (80) Iranian singer who sang traditional Persian music on state radio for years before supporting protesters after Iran’s contested 2009 election. Shajarian enlivened Iran’s traditional music with his singing style, which soared, swooped, and trilled over long-known poetry set to song. But the later years of his life saw him forced to perform only abroad after he backed those who challenged the disputed reelection of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by telling state radio to stop using his songs. In March 2016, Shajarian revealed to fans he had been receiving treatment for kidney cancer for some 15 years, both inside and outside Iran. He died in Tehran, Iran on October 8, 2020.

Eddie Van Halen (65) guitar virtuoso whose speed, control, and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fueled the unmistakable solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It,” and became elevated to the status of rock god. With his distinct solos, Van Halen led the ultimate California party band and helped to knock disco off the charts starting in the late ‘70s with his band’s self-titled debut album, then with the blockbuster album 1984, which includes the classics “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Hot for Teacher.” Van Halen was among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time, and his band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine put Van Halen at No. 8 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists. He died of esophageal cancer on October 6, 2020.

Erin Wall (44) Canadian opera singer whose soprano voice infused works by Mozart, Strauss, Britten, and Mahler. Lyric Opera was an artistic home base for Wall, who got her professional start as a member of the company’s young artist program, now known as the Patrick G. & Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Chicago was the site of the season-opening performance that boosted her career in 2004, when she jumped in with just a few hours’ notice to replace an ill colleague as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Wall made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 as Donna Anna. She returned as Helena in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2013 and Arabella in ’14. Although acclaimed in staged opera, she concentrated more of her time on concert work, in pieces like Strauss’s “Four Last Songs,” Britten’s “War Requiem,” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and Mahler’s choral Eighth Symphony, of which she made several recordings. Wall died of metastatic breast cancer in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on October 8, 2020.

Peregrine Worsthorne (96) British arch-Conservative newspaper editor, columnist, and defender of empire and aristocracy. Worsthorne depicted himself as an unabashed elitist. In an interview in 2013 marking his 90th birthday, he proclaimed that there’s always going to be an elite and bemoaned the decline of traditional British Conservatism under what he called the “bourgeois triumphalism” of Margaret Thatcher, who awarded him a knighthood in 1991, and high-born former Prime Minister David Cameron. Worsthorne died in Buckinghamshire, England on October 4, 2020.


Politics and Military

Bess Abell (87) White House social secretary during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. Abell was code-named “Iron Butterfly.” She had a light touch and exuded charm and warmth, but she was organized, efficient, and tough as nails. She always lived up to her code name. Averting last-minute crises is part of the unwritten job description of a social secretary, one of the most crucial but unsung roles in any White House. Abell, who grew up in a political household and learned the art of quick-thinking compromise at her father’s knee, was built for the job, carried it out in style, and had a good time doing it. Her skills were called on early in the Johnson presidency. On December 23, 1963, after the White House had ended its official month-long period of mourning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Johnson decided to invite every member of Congress to a party—that night. Within hours Abell had the black crepe removed, party decorations in place, and food ready for 1,000 guests. She died of Alzheimer’s disease in Potomac, Maryland on October 9, 2020.

Joseph L. Bruno (91) Rensselaer County Republican who rose from poverty to a pinnacle of power as New York State Senate majority leader but fell from grace when he spent 10 years fighting corruptions charges of which he was ultimately acquitted. A Korean War veteran, regimental boxer, and millionaire businessman, Bruno was a state senator for nearly 32 years, from 1977–2008, and majority leader during his last 13 years in office. He had been treated for cancer in recent years. He died in Brunswick, New York on October 6, 2020.

Mike Foster (90) former Louisiana governor, a millionaire businessman who pushed major changes in education policy and lawsuit rules through an increasingly conservative state Legislature in the ‘90s. Foster was a political late-bloomer, first elected to the state Senate from south Louisiana’s St. Mary Parish as a Democrat at age 57 in 1987. In 1995 he switched to the Republican Party before launching a bid to succeed retiring Gov. Edwin Edwards, a Democrat who had dominated state politics for most of 30 years. Edwards had been elected governor four times despite a penchant for scandal that eventually led to his imprisonment on federal corruption charges. Foster was his equal in neither style nor oratory, but he proved more adept at politics than many would have thought. He challenged the incumbent and won handily. Among his causes: overhauling a workers’ compensation system that many said was a drag on business recruitment and changing rules governing lawsuits that conservative lobbyists complained were weighted too heavily against businesses. He died in Franklin, Louisiana on October 4, 2020.

Max Osceola Jr. (70) when Osceola was growing up in the Seminole Tribe of Florida, many of his fellow tribe members eked out a living raising cattle and working in tourism. In traditional Indian villages along the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades, Seminole women sold handmade crafts while the men wrestled alligators for amused tourists who put money in a cup. Poverty was rampant and educational opportunities were few. Most families on the tribe’s Hollywood (Fla.) Reservation lived in thatch-roofed huts, known as chickees. Osceola referred to that period as “BC”—before casinos. In 1979 the tribe began operating high-stakes bingo on their land. Since winning a federal lawsuit in 1981 that upheld their right to operate legal gambling establishments, the tribe has become wealthy running casinos, hotels, and restaurants. Osceola was a key figure in bringing about that prosperity. As an elected representative of the Seminole Tribal Council from 1985 through 2010, he helped to broker the $965 million purchase of Hard Rock International, the restaurant, casino, and hotel chain that the Seminole Tribe bought in '07. Osceola died of the coronavirus in Weston, Florida on October 8, 2020.

James Weaver (93) former Democrat congressman for Oregon’s 4th District, an advocate for environmental preservation. Weaver held the seat from 1975–87, during which time he pushed for major environmental legislation and protections for wildlife in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. He died in Eugene, Oregon on October 6, 2020.


Sports

Whitey Ford (91) had the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the 20th century and helped the New York Yankees to become baseball’s perennial champions in the ‘50s and ’60s. Nicknamed the “Chairman of the Board,” Ford was a wily left-hander who pitched from 1950–67 in the major leagues, all with the Yankees. He was among the most dependable pitchers in baseball history. He won 236 games and lost just 106, a winning percentage of .690. He helped to symbolize the almost machinelike efficiency of the Yankees in the mid-20th century, when only twice between Ford’s rookie year and 1964 did they fail to make the postseason. The World Series record book is crowded with Ford’s accomplishments; his string of 33 consecutive scoreless innings from 1960–62 broke a record of 29 2–3 innings set by Babe Ruth. Ford still holds records for World Series games and starts (22), innings pitched (146), wins (10), and strikeouts (94). He died on Long Island, New York on October 8, 2020.


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