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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 26, 2020

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Ron Cobb, artist and film production designerTommy DeVito, right, with other Four Seasons members Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi, and Frankie ValliHarold Evans, publisher, author, and muckrakerRev. Robert S  Graetz Jr., Alabama clergymanJuliette Greco, French singer and actressJoseph Laurinaitis, professional wrestler known as Road Warrior AnimalGale Sayers, Chicago Bears running backJackie Stallone, mother of Sylvester Stallone

Art and Literature

Ron Cobb (83) artist and movie production designer known for his work on the spaceship in Alien, the DeLorean in Back to the Future, and some tipsy aliens in Star Wars. A self-taught designer who worked largely behind the scenes, Cobb advanced an aesthetic that still influences the spaceships and time machines of today’s science fiction films: futuristic, yet retro; modular, but boundless; and bursting with meticulous detail. He died of Lewy body dementia in Sydney, Australia on September 21, 2020.

Harold Evans (92) publisher, author, and muckraker who brought investigative moxie to the British press, newsmaking dash to the American book business through best-sellers like Primary Colors, and synergy to all as author-publisher Tina Brown’s husband. Evans was a high-profile go-getter, starting in the ‘60s as an editor of the Northern Echo and the Sunday Times of London and continuing into the ‘90s as president of Random House. His marriage to Brown was a model of media clout and A-list access that helped to shape the book and magazine markets for years. A defender of literature and print journalism well into the digital age, Evans was one of the all-time newspaper editors, startling British society with revelations of espionage, corporate wrongdoing, and government scandal. He died of congestive heart failure in New York City on September 23, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Tommy DeVito (92) founding member of the ‘60s Four Seasons quartet. DeVito along with Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, and Nick Massi founded the Four Seasons in 1960. They sang huge hits such as “Oh, What a Night,” and other sensations from Valli’s solo collection, like “Can’t Take My Eyes off You.” The Broadway musical Jersey Boys, which opened in 2005, tells the story of the group. The musical eventually won a Tony award for best musical and a Grammy Award for best cast album and was made into a feature film. DeVito died from the coronavirus in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 21, 2020.

Juliette Greco (93) French singer, actress, cultural icon, and muse to existentialist philosophers of France's postwar period. With expressive eyes inherited from her Greek ancestors and a deep, raspy voice—acquired from years of cigarette-smoking—Greco immortalized some of France’s most recognizable songs in a 70-year career, including the classics “Soul le ciel de Paris” (“Under the Parisian Sky”) and “Je hais les dimanches” (“I Hate Sundays”). She died in the South of France, near Saint Tropez, on September 23, 2020.

Joseph Laurinaitis (60) World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer known as Road Warrior Animal. Laurinaitis paired with Michael Hegstrand, also known as Road Warrior Hawk, in the ‘80s to form the legendary tag team known as the Road Warriors and Legion of Doom. Laurinaitis died on September 22, 2020.

Jackie Stallone (98) celebrity astrologist and mother of actor Sylvester Stallone. Jackie was well known in the ‘90s for her series of astrology books and her own psychic hotline. In the ‘80s she appeared on—and produced—the wrestling show G.L.O.W.: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which has been adapted as a Netflix drama. Stallone made several talk show appearances over the years, including on The Howard Stern Show, Oprah, The Late Show with David Letterman, Larry King Live, and The Graham Norton Show. She died in her sleep in Los Angeles, California on September 21, 2020.


Society and Religion

Rev. Robert S. Graetz Jr. (92) as a young Lutheran minister in Alabama in the ‘50s, Graetz defied the Ku Klux Klan, intimidation by the authorities, and isolation among fellow clergymen. The pastor of Montgomery’s all-black Trinity Lutheran Church, he was a voice for desegregation among white people in Alabama, supporting the Montgomery bus boycott that transformed the US civil rights movement. He died of Parkinson's disease in Montgomery, Alabama on September 20, 2020.


Sports

Gale Sayers (77) running back who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite the briefest of careers and whose fame extended far beyond the field for decades thanks to a friendship with a dying Chicago Bears teammate. Sayers was nicknamed “The Kansas Comet” and considered among the best open-field runners the game has ever seen. He was a blur to NFL defenses, ghosting would-be tacklers or zooming by them like few running backs or kick returners before or since. Yet it was his rock-steady friendship with teammate Brian Piccolo, depicted in the film Brian’s Song, that marked him as more than a sports star. Sayers became a stockbroker, sports administrator, businessman, and philanthropist for several inner-city Chicago youth initiatives after his pro football career was cut short by serious injuries to both knees. He died of dementia in Wakarusa, Indiana on September 23, 2020.


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