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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 27, 2021

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Raymond Cauchetier, French photographer of New Wave film actors on set, including Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in 'Breathless'Bill C. Davis, playwrightAleksander Doba, Poliah kayakerJoseph D. Duffey, college chancellor and poliitical appointeeLawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and cofounder of City Lights Bookstore in San FranciscoJimmy Gamonet de los Heros, Peruvian ballet dancer and choreographerPeter Gotti, right, with his late brother, John GottiAntoine Hodge, bass-baritone opera singerKenneth C. Kelly, electronics engineerMargaret Maron, crime fiction novelistDavid McCabe, photographer who chronicled Andy WarholFred Segal, LA retailerMichael Somare, Papua New Guinea’s first prime ministerRichie Tienken, owner of Comic Strip comedy clubAhmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabian oil minister

Art and Literature

Raymond Cauchetier (101) French photographer who documented the revolutionary early films of Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and other New Wave directors 50 years ago with now-classic portraits, only to go uncredited for decades. A self-taught photographer who did not own a camera until he was in his 30s, Cauchetier for most of his life was known for pictures of Romanesque sculptures and architectural treasures of Europe and Southeast Asia, including thousands of images of the ancient temples at Angkor Wat, a portfolio mindlessly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge when it toppled the Cambodian government in 1975. But the photographs that made Cauchetier's global reputation—a pictorial record of the iconoclastic New Wave cinema from 1959–68—were taken in his capacity as a low-paid set photographer, one of the film industry’s most obscure occupations. He died of Covid-19 in Paris, France on February 22, 2021.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (101) unlike Beat novelist Jack Kerouac and poet Allen Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti was known for neither public drunkenness nor public nudity. He biked to work at City Lights, the bookshop that became a landmark of intellectual freedom not long after he cofounded it 70 years ago. He was a prolific poet with more than 30 collections published over 50 years. Ferlinghetti and a partner launched City Lights as the country’s first all-paperback bookstore in 1953, when Ginsberg, Kerouac, and other East Coast Beats began adding their voices to the literary renaissance unfolding in San Francisco. The bookshop—renowned for its bohemian atmosphere and vast collections of international poetry, fiction, progressive political journals and magazines—soon spawned a literary press, which in 1956 published Ginsberg’s controversial epic poem, Howl. Ferlinghetti stood trial for selling Howl in a precedent-setting 1st Amendment case, in which the judge found that Ginsberg’s profanity-laced work had “redeeming social significance” and therefore was not obscene. The victory paved the way for publication of other controversial works of literature, including D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg became famous, as did City Lights, still going strong after nearly 70 years. Ferlinghetti, who outlived most of the major figures of the literary movement he promoted, died of interstitial lung disease on February 22, 2021.

Margaret Maron (82) whose crime fiction, much of it set in her native North Carolina, racked up mystery-writing awards and a devoted army of fans. Maron was known for two series featuring strong female characters. The first, introduced in One Coffee With in 1981, was Sigrid Harald, a New York police detective, who solved crimes and dealt with the obstacles of being a woman in what was at the time a largely male profession. Then, in 1992, came Deborah Knott, who in the initial novel, Bootlegger’s Daughter, was a legal aid lawyer running for a judgeship in North Carolina. By the second book she had become a judge, and as the series went along—it ultimately stretched to 20 books—Maron explored environmental stress, racial prejudice, domestic abuse, and other aspects of modern life in the state. She died of a stroke-related illness in Raleigh, North Carolina on February 23, 2021.

David McCabe (80) photographer who was given the assignment of a lifetime in 1964 when Andy Warhol (died 1987) hired him to follow him around New York and chronicle his exploits for a year, thereby participating in the manufacturing of Warhol’s public image and the enduring myth of Downtown New York. When McCabe arrived in the city, he was a 20-year-old art school graduate fresh from England. He got a room at the YMCA, began working as a photo assistant, and started shooting fashion editorials for magazines like Glamour and Mademoiselle. Four years later Warhol noticed the young photographer’s work and asked to meet him at the Factory, his silver-foil-lined studio on East 47th Street, for a job interview of sorts. Warhol wanted to hire a personal photographer to document his cavorting at parties and gallery openings around town. He wanted, in other words, someone to document him engaging in the performance of being Andy Warhol. McCabe died of lung cancer in Albany, New York on February 26, 2021.

Business and Science

Peter Gotti (81) mobster brother of notorious Gambino crime boss John Gotti. Peter Gotti was sentenced to a 25-year term for his conviction in 2003 on racketeering and other charges alleging he took command of the Gambinos after his brother was locked up. Peter had sought an early release, citing his poor health and his rejection of the gangster life, in an effort to avoid dying in prison. He served more than 17 years behind bars. John Gotti, known as both the “Dapper Don” because of his expensive suits and silvery swept-back hair, and the “Teflon Don” after a series of acquittals, was serving a life term for racketeering and murder when he died of cancer in 2002. Peter Gotti had been sick for some time, suffering from thyroid problems, and was blind in one eye when he died while incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina on February 25, 2021.

Kenneth C. Kelly (92) electronics engineer whose antenna designs contributed to the race to the moon, made satellite TV and radio possible, and helped NASA to communicate with Mars rovers and search for extraterrestrials. Kelly also worked to erase race barriers in the Navy, California housing, and even on the newspaper comics pages. As a black resident in Los Angeles, his efforts to buy residences in largely white neighborhoods had been repeatedly rebuffed. Kelly was awarded more than a dozen patents for innovations in radar and antenna technology, work that appears in peer-reviewed journals from 1955–99. His early work at Hughes Aircraft helped to create guided missile systems and the ground satellites that tracked the Apollo space missions. His two-way antenna designs at Rantec Microwave Systems enabled consumers to have DirecTV and Sirius XM connections and are featured in the massive Mojave Desert radiotelescopes that search for signs of life in space. Kelly was battling Parkinson’s disease when he died on February 27, 2021.

David Mintz (89) the rise of Mintz from Brooklyn caterer to a multimillionaire who became known as the “P. T. Barnum of tofu” began with a grandmother—not his own but a 90-year-old woman who happened to walk into his prepared-food takeout grocery one day and apply for a job as a cook. Her homemade noodle kugel became such a neighborhood hit that from then on Mintz hired only grandmothers as cooks—a babushka marketing brainchild that proved so successful, he opened a restaurant on the East Side of Manhattan, near Bloomingdale’s. His menu, including prepared takeout dinners and catering, was strictly kosher. Most of Mintz’s customers were observant Jews whose faith forbade mixing meat and milk. If they craved ice cream after dinner, for instance, they would have to buy a version made without milk. What another restaurateur might have lamented as his just deserts, Mintz accepted as a challenge to develop a pareve, or nondairy, crossover substitute. It took several years, and he gained 50 pounds. Mintz died in Englewood, New Jersey, near his home in Tenafly, on February 24, 2021.

Fred Segal (87) Los Angeles-based celebrity fashion retailer. Segal's company’s website counts the Beatles, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley, and Farrah Fawcett as his earliest fans. He opened his first shop in West Hollywood in 1961, where he sold denim jeans and flannel and velvet ensembles. Segal died of a stroke in Santa Monica, California on February 25, 2021.

News and Entertainment

Bill C. Davis (69) whose play Mass Appeal was a hit both off and on Broadway in the early ‘80s and has been performed countless times since. Davis was virtually unknown in theater circles and still in his 20s when he wrote the play, a two-character comic drama in which a middle-aged Catholic priest is challenged by an outspoken young seminarian. A friend—a priest, in fact—sent the play to actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, who in turn brought it to Lynne Meadow, artistic director of the Manhattan Theater Club. The play opened there in spring 1980 to rave reviews. Starring Milo O’Shea as the older man and Eric Roberts as the younger one, It enjoyed an extended run at Meadow’s theater before moving to Broadway, where Michael O’Keefe replaced Roberts. It ran for 212 performances at the Booth Theater, earning Tony Award nominations for Fitzgerald and O’Shea. Davis adapted the play for a 1984 film version that starred Jack Lemmon as the priest and Zeljko Ivanek as the younger man. Davis died of Covid-19 in Torrington, Connecticut on February 26, 2021.

Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros (63) ballet took Gamonet de los Heros away from his homeland, Peru, to Florida, where for the first 15 years of Miami City Ballet he was the company’s resident choreographer, helping to establish it as one of the leading troupes in the US. But ballet also took him back to Peru in 2015, when he became artistic director of the National Ballet there. Born in Lima, Jimmy began studying ballet as a teenager and joined one of the companies that merged to form the National Ballet in 1979. That same year he won his first international competition. But when he joined Ballet Oklahoma (now Oklahoma City Ballet), his career took off. The director of that company was Edward Villella, who had been a star with New York City Ballet. When Villella founded Miami City Ballet in 1985, he made Gamonet resident choreographer. From 2004–09 Gamonet ran his own company in Miami, Ballet Gamonet. At the Ballet Nacional del Peru, he revived his past works and created new ones, including a full-length Romeo & Juliet in 2019. Gamonet died of Coved-19 in Lima, Peru on February 26, 2021.

Antoine Hodge (38) when it came time for chorus members to audition for solos in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019 production of Porgy & Bess, bass-baritone Hodge tried out for nearly every role available to him—not one was too obscure. He saw the production as a milestone in his career, and he was gunning for a part and the exposure it would bring. Hodge ultimately won a sought-after solo in the prayerful scene referred to as “Oh, Doctor Jesus.” He performed with opera companies across the country. Over the past 20 years, he appeared with more than 15 professional companies, singing mostly small or featured roles with troupes like Charlottesville Opera in Virginia and Opéra Louisiane in Baton Rouge and in the chorus at the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Atlanta Opera, and Opera Colorado. He sang at every opportunity, including Sundays in the professional choir at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Hodge died of Covid-19 in Orlando, Florida, where he had been flown to receive specialized treatment, on February 22, 2021.

Richie Tienken (75) cofounder of the Manhattan comedy club the Comic Strip, where Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and countless other leading comics did some of their earliest work. In the mid-‘70s Tienken, who owned several bars in the Bronx, went to see one of his bartenders, an aspiring comic, perform at the comedy club Catch a Rising Star, which was in Manhattan at the time. It was a Monday night—normally a slow one in the bar business—and Tienken was impressed by how packed Catch a Rising Star was, as told in his 2012 book, written with Jeffrey Gurian, Make ‘Em Laugh: 35 Years of the Comic Strip, the Greatest Comedy Club of All Time! Another business fact was not lost on Tienken: At the time, comics weren’t generally paid (although the Comic Strip did eventually start paying modest amounts). Tienken suffered from throat cancer. He died in Ridgewood, New Jersey on February 27, 2021.

Politics and Military

Joseph D. Duffey (88) coal miner’s son and ordained minister whose antiwar campaign for the US Senate from Connecticut in 1970 galvanized a generation of campus liberals. Duffey was later a cultural arbiter in the Carter and Clinton administrations and presided over two major universities: He was chancellor of the University of Massachusetts (1982–91) and of American University in Washington (1991–93). A self-described “hillbilly and a Baptist” from West Virginia, he had organized Freedom Rides for civil rights in the South and protests against the Vietnam War before seeking the Senate seat from Connecticut. He lost, but his candidacy catapulted him into appointive jobs, thanks to two other “hillbilly Baptists” who became presidents of the US. Jimmy Carter named him assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs in early 1977, and later that year Duffey was named chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a post he held until '82. In 1993 Bill Clinton recruited him to be the last director of an independent US Information Agency; it was absorbed into the State Department in 1999. Duffey died in Washington, DC on February 25, 2021.

Michael Somare (84) Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister who played a major role in leading the country to independence from Australia. Widely regarded as “papa blo kantri,” father of the nation, Somare was the Pacific country’s longest-serving prime minister, over three separate terms—for 17 of its 45 years of independence to date. He was the country’s leader, from 1975–80, ‘82–85, and 2002–11, and played a pivotal role in navigating the many challenges raised by the country’s disparate tribal groups, Australian expatriates, and Australia’s government in the lead-up to independence. Somare died of pancreatic cancer in Port Moresby, the capital, on February 26, 2021.

Ahmed Zaki Yamani (90) long-serving oil minister in Saudi Arabia who led the kingdom through the 1973 oil crisis that shattered the West and once found himself held hostage by assassin Carlos the Jackal. Known for his Western-style business suits, Yamani helped Saudi Arabia command a dominating presence in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries from its birth. The kingdom remains a heavyweight in the group even today, and its decisions ripple through the oil industry, affecting prices from the barrel down to the gasoline pump. Yamani became oil minister in 1962 and led the ministry until ’86. He played a crucial role in the oil cartel OPEC as producers around the world tried to dictate prices to the world market previously dominated by the economic policies of Western nations. He died in London, England on February 23, 2021.


Aleksander Doba (74) Polish adventurer who kayaked alone across the Atlantic at age 70 after having twice paddled alone across the Atlantic when he was in his 60s. Doba’s three daring voyages earned him Guinness World Records titles, and in 2017 he became the oldest person to kayak across the Atlantic. His feats made him a national hero in Poland. A former chemical plant engineer, Doba had long been the most accomplished kayaker in his country. His desire to conquer the sea grew from an idea that gradually consumed him. He had kayaked everything else, so why not the Atlantic Ocean? As a young man in Communist Poland, he had joined a local kayaking club and took to the sport avidly. In 1989 he surpassed the record for the most days paddled by a Polish man in a single year. Later he spent 100 days paddling the circumference of the Baltic Sea. He also kayaked the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle. On that trip he was thrown from his boat during a storm and woke up to the sound of his own screaming after washing ashore. But Doba wanted to cross an ocean so vast that it seemed infinite, and he began plotting to kayak the Atlantic. He died on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa on February 22, 2021. The cause was asphyxia resulting from high-altitude pulmonary edema.

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