Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: February 14, 2018.

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

A little late on this, but here’s your obit for Vic Damone.

After winning on the radio show “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” in 1947, he recorded some 2,500 songs over 54 years. He had his own radio and television programs, made movies, survived rock ′n’ roll and its noisy offspring and became a mainstay of the Las Vegas Strip, and nightclubs where audiences were so close he could almost reach out and touch them with his voice.
Along the way, he made millions, entertained presidents and royalty, refused a part in “The Godfather,” married five times, had four children and underwent analysis. He also survived a brush with the mob, four divorces, a custody fight over his only son and the suicides of two former wives. And he was still working as the millennium turned, with a voice that critics said had not lost its mellow subtleties.

Marty Allen is dead at the age of 95. He was most famous as half of the comedy team Allen and Rossi, who were big in the post Martin/Lewis era. (Steve Rossi apparently died in 2014: I don’t seem to have noted his passing here.)

Victor Milan, SF and fantasy author. I read Cybernetic Samurai not long after it came out, and kind of liked it.

Obit watch: February 8, 2018.

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

I haven’t found a good mainstream source for this yet, but John Perry Barlow, former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, passed away yesterday.

EFF. Mike Godwin’s Twitter feed has a lot of good tributes.

Edited to add 2/9: NYT obit.

Obit watch: January 29, 2018.

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Mort Walker, creator of the “Beetle Bailey” comic strip. NYT. WP “Comic Riffs”.

Brian Walker said that the strip will continue, and that he and his brother Greg had been working on it with their father for decades.

Obit watch: January 24, 2018.

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Edited to add: David “Cloud Atlas” Mitchell on A Wizard of Earthsea.

Obit watch: January 22, 2018.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Hemmingway and Ruark have a new hunting partner.

Harry Selby passed away on Saturday at the age of 92.

I’ve touched briefly on Selby in the past, but more in the context of Ruark. So please indulge me:

Mr. Selby was a postwar protégé of the East Africa hunter Philip Hope Percival, who took Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway on safaris, and he became a professional hunter himself in the late 1940s. He took the American author Robert Ruark on safari in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and with the 1953 publication of Ruark’s best-selling book “Horn of the Hunter,” Mr. Selby became one of Africa’s most famous hunting guides.

Without cellphones or evacuation helicopters, Mr. Selby had to be the doctor, mechanic, chauffeur, gin-rummy-and-drinking partner and universal guide, knowledgeable about mountain ranges, grassy plains, rivers, jungles, hunting laws, migratory patterns, and the Bushmen, Masai, Samburu, Dinka and Zulu tribes. He spoke three dialects of Swahili. And he improvised; if there was no firewood, he burned wildebeest dung.
He was no Gregory Peck, but had an easygoing personality that made for good company in the bush. He coped with emergencies, pulling a client clear of a stampede or a vehicle from a bog, treating snakebites or tracking a wounded lion in a thicket — his most dangerous game. He was left-handed, but his favorite gun was a right-handed .416 Rigby, which can knock down an onrushing bull elephant or Cape buffalo in a thundering instant.

For 30 years, Mr. Selby ran company operations in Botswana, and guided hunters and photographers into leased concessions covering thousands of square miles in the Okavango Delta in the north and the vast Kalahari Desert in the south, home of the click-talking Bushmen. He cut tracks and built airfields in the wilderness.
In 1970, he established Botswana’s first lodge and camps for photographic safaris. He hired guides and a large support staff for what became a dominant safari business in Southern Africa. After Ker, Downey and Selby was bought by Safari South in 1978, he remained a director, and even after resigning in 1993 he continued to lead safaris privately until retiring in 2000.

Noted actor Bradford Dillman.

Mr. Dillman played prominent roles in “The Enforcer” and “Sudden Impact,” the third and fourth films in the “Dirty Harry” series, and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1975 for his work on the TV series “The ABC Afternoon Playbreak.”

He was “Capt. McKay” in “The Enforcer” and “Captain Briggs” (not to be confused with Hal Holbrook’s “Lt. Briggs” in “Magnum Force”) in “Sudden Impact”. As we all know, Callahan went through captains like CNN goes through Russian conspiracy theories.

And finally, more of local interest: Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts. Mrs. Roberts and her husband, Thurman, founded the Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood, a little outside of Austin.

Tsuchiyama Roberts, who held a masters degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, dedicated her professional life in Texas to running the restaurant in the idyllic setting. She brought her flavors of her own culture to the smoked meat specialists, according to her son, Scott Roberts, who in his 2014 book “Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love,” wrote about his mother’s tempura frying of vegetables and shrimp for the menu along with her addition of poppy seeds to cole slaw and celery seeds to potato salad.

…with her passing, family shared a tale of the diminutive Tsuchiyama Roberts felling a charging buck with the swing of a pecan bucket she was using for shelling and killing it with a rock while her husband and his friends were away on an unsuccessful hunting trip.

She was 104.

Obit watch: January 20, 2018.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Paul Bocuse, one of the great French chefs.

I don’t have my copy of Alice Let’s Eat in front of me, but I remember Trillin quoting Bocuse: “Without butter, without cream, there is no point to cooking.” Bocuse was 91.

Dorothy Malone, Texan and retired actress. She was in Douglas Sirk’s “Written on the Wind” (and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). She also played Constance McKenzie for four out of five seasons of the “Peyton Place” TV series. (She was written out after season four.)

Dorothy Eloise Maloney was born on Jan. 30, 1924, in Chicago and grew up in Dallas, one of five children of Robert Ignatius Maloney and the former Esther Smith. Two of her sisters died of polio in childhood, and a brother was fatally struck by lightning in his teens.

Stansfield Turner, former CIA director.

Peter Mayle, author. I never read A Year in Provence but from the description it sounds a lot like a French version of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

Obit watch: January 18, 2018.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Dan Gurney, one of the all-time great racing drivers.

In all, according to All American Racers, Gurney drove in 312 races in 20 countries in 51 makes of cars. He won 51 races, including seven in Indy cars and five in Nascar Winston Cup stock cars (all five in 500-mile races in Riverside, Calif.). He twice finished second in the Indianapolis 500.

…alternating with his fellow American driver A. J. Foyt, he won the 24 Hours of LeMans in France in a Ford prototype. It was the first time in that race’s 45-year history that it had been won by an American driver in an American car.
A week after that, Gurney won the Grand Prix of Belgium in a 416-horsepower American Eagle, a car he had designed and built himself. He was the first American in 46 years to win a world championship race in an American car.

Obit watch: January 8, 2018.

Monday, January 8th, 2018

A roundup of obits from the past couple of days:

John Young, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle astronaut. NASA.

Jerry Van Dyke, noted television actor (“My Mother the Car”).

Peggy Cummins. She’s mostly forgotten now – she stopped acting in the 1960s – but she was the female lead opposite John Dall in the famous 1950 noir film “Gun Crazy”.

Start with a badass, end with a badass: Ulrich Wegener, founder of the German Border Protection Group 9 (aka Grenzschutzgruppe 9):

The unit, also known as GSG-9, was created after the September 1972 attack on the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Palestinian militants kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. Ill prepared for terrorism, and lacking a tactical sniper team, the German police botched an attempt to rescue the athletes, who were killed, along with one police officer and five of the eight kidnappers.

One of his first accomplishments: Lufthansa Flight 181.

Around 2 a.m. on Oct. 18, Somali soldiers lit a fire 65 yards in front of the jet, creating a diversion. As the hostage takers entered the cockpit to see what was going on, Colonel Wegener and his commandos stormed the aircraft. Over the next seven minutes, three militants were killed and the fourth was wounded. Three passengers, a flight attendant and a commando were injured. But all 86 passengers, along with the four surviving crew members, were saved.

Later that night, three members of the Red Army Faction — Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe and Andreas Baader — were found dead in their cells, having committed suicide, and Mr. Schleyer, the abducted executive, was murdered.

Briefly held by American troops as a prisoner of war, he returned home, to what became East Germany, to finish his schooling.
Caught handing out leaflets critical of the Communist government, he was jailed for 18 months. Upon his release in 1952, he fled to West Berlin, where he went on to join the police.

(I haven’t found a source I consider completely trustworthy for this, but there are reports that Colonel (at the time) Wegener also participated with the Israeli Sayeret Matkal in the raid on Entebbe.)

Obit watch: December 31, 2017.

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

It looks like the NYT replaced the incomplete Sue Grafton obituary I linked to on Friday with a full obituary, without changing the link. Okay fine. LAT. WP.

I wish I had more to say about her: I’ve never read any of the books. They are sort of on my list, but I have it in my head that I want to start with “A” and read them in alphabetical order, and I’ve just never gotten around to doing that.

NYT “The Lives They Lived”.

They missed one, and I think this is a nice tribute:

Damn it all to Hell and Hong Kong.

Friday, December 29th, 2017

The NYT is reporting the death of Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone “alphabet” mysteries, at the age of 77.

The paper of record does not have a full obit up yet: I will try to post a follow-up when I can.

Obit watch: December 29, 2017.

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Rose Marie.

Originally known as Baby Rose Marie, she is probably best remembered for her “Dick Van Dyke Show” role as Sally Rogers, one of three comedy writers — the others were Rob Petrie (Mr. Van Dyke) and Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) — who worked for the fictional series-within-a-series, “The Alan Brady Show.”

I’m too young to remember the “Dick Van Dyke Show” (and oddly, never caught it in reruns).

Sally was witty, wisecracking and independent-minded, but she was also perpetually on the hunt for a husband; though tough as nails, she was not immune to romantic misadventures. Her main significance, though, was that she worked as a comedy writer, a rarity for women at the time. (One inspiration for the role was said to be Selma Diamond, who had written for Sid Caesar in the 1950s.)

Yeah, that Selma Diamond. I did not know this.

She was also seen frequently — from the first episode, in 1966, to the last, in 1980 — on the original version of “Hollywood Squares,” the game show on which celebrities answered questions (and made jokes) to help contestants score X’s or O’s on a giant tick-tack-toe board. There, with her trademark bow in her hair, she flaunted the persona she had perfected: a feisty, witty, outspoken spinster (although she was actually a widow) who refused to grow old without a fight.

This is where I remember her from. And here’s a neat piece of trivia:

In this first phase of her career, she performed with Rudy Vallee, Benny Goodman and Milton Berle, among many others. She had at least one famous friend outside show business as well: Through her father she met Al Capone, who took an interest in her career, often driving her to and from shows. She referred to him as “Uncle Al” in her memoir and quoted him saying, “If you ever need me for anything, tell your father to call me.”

Obit watch: December 22, 2017.

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg.

WP obit for Clifford Irving.

Jerry Yellin. Mr. Yellin and his wingman, Philip Schlamberg, flew what turned out to be the last combat mission over Japan on August 15, 1945. Mr. Schlamberg never came back.