MARIA COLE, JAZZ SINGER AND WIFE OF NAT KING COLE
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: July 13, 2012
Maria Cole, a jazz singer who performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington in the 1940s and who was married to Nat King Cole for 17 years until his death in 1965, died on Tuesday in Boca Raton, Fla. She was 89.
The cause was stomach cancer, her daughter Timolin Cole Augustus said. Mrs. Cole was also the mother of the Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole.
Mrs. Cole grew up in genteel circumstances in North Carolina, then left college in Boston to pursue a jazz career, moving to New York and joining Benny Carter’s band. She performed with Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson before Ellington heard a recording of her throaty, resonant voice in the mid-1940s and hired her as a vocalist for his band, Duke Ellington’s Orchestra. In 1946 she began appearing solo at Club Zanzibar in Harlem as an opening act for the Mills Brothers.
One night the Nat King Cole Trio had substituted for the Mills Brothers, and as Mr. Cole stood backstage and glimpsed her as she sang, he was smitten. He divorced his first wife, Nadine, and they were married in 1948 by Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the congressman, at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.
“Nat wanted to improve himself,” Mrs. Cole told The Boston Globe in 1989. “I wanted to help him improve. What he needed, I had. What I needed, he had. That’s why our marriage worked.”
Mrs. Cole paused her career to raise their five children and travel with her husband as his career flourished. His string of hits included “Unforgettable,” “Candy” and “Mona Lisa,” and he became the first black host of a national variety show on television, “The Nat King Cole Show,” which ran from 1956-57. On tour they risked and sometimes encountered racial violence in the Jim Crow South; Mr. Cole was attacked onstage in Alabama in 1956.
Before Mr. Cole died of lung cancer, at 45, Mrs. Cole had returned to singing, recording songs with her husband with Capitol Records, according to her family. Her best-known solo album, “Love Is a Special Feeling,” was released in 1966.
Marie Frances Hawkins was born in Boston on Aug. 1, 1922. Her father, Mingo Hawkins, was a postal worker; her mother, Caro Saunders, died in childbirth when Ms. Hawkins was 2. Ms. Hawkins and her sister Charlotte were sent to North Carolina to live with their aunt, Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, who founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, a prestigious black preparatory school near Greensboro. She graduated from the institute in 1938.
Ms. Hawkins returned to Boston to attend a clerical college but began working with a jazz orchestra by night and soon dropped out to pursue her love of music in New York, much to the chagrin of her family, who thought jazz an inappropriate vocation for a proper young lady.
In 1943 she married Spurgeon Ellington (no relation to Duke Ellington), a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black unit of the Army Air Corps in World War II. He died during a training flight.
After Mr. Cole’s death, Mrs. Cole continued to record and perform, once on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” She also was the host of a talk show in Chicago and Los Angeles. A subsequent marriage ended in divorce.
In addition to her daughters Timolin and Natalie, and her sister Charlotte, Mrs. Cole is survived by another daughter, Casey Cole Hooker; and six grandchildren.
RICHARD D. ZANUCK, PRODUCER OF BLOCKBUSTERS
Published: July 13, 2012
Richard D. Zanuck, the once-spurned son of the legendary Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck who carved out his own career as a frequently honored producer, running up more than $2 billion in grosses and, by producing “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989, becoming the only son to duplicate a father’s best-picture Oscar, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 77.
The cause was a heart attack, Jeff Sanderson, his publicist, said.
Richard Zanuck’s successes rivaled those of his father, who co-founded 20th Century Fox, won three best picture Academy Awards and later fired his son in a studio shake-up. The younger Mr. Zanuck produced or helped produce movies like Steven Spielberg’s first feature film, “The Sugarland Express,” in 1974 and the director’s first blockbuster, “Jaws,” the next year.
In a statement, Mr. Spielberg said Mr. Zanuck “taught me everything I know about producing.”
David Brown, an urbane New Yorker with whom Mr. Zanuck produced the two Spielberg films, also worked with him in producing “The Sting” in 1973. Reuniting Paul Newman, Robert Redford and the director George Roy Hill after their 1969 box office hit “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting” won the best movie Oscar, though Mr. Zanuck and Mr. Brown (the husband of the Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown) were not listed as its producers.
Mr. Zanuck produced six movies directed by Tim Burton, including this year’s “Dark Shadows,” starring Johnny Depp as a heartsick vampire. They also collaborated on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005), Mr. Burton’s reimagining of “Planet of the Apes” (2001), and “Alice in Wonderland” (2010). “Alice” has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
As a boy Mr. Zanuck had the run of 20th Century Fox, where his father reigned as one of the most powerful Hollywood moguls. Richard attended his first Academy Awards ceremony at age 7.
In high school and college, he worked in a different department at Fox every summer. In 1962, when Mr. Zanuck was still in his 20s, his father defied charges of nepotism and made him Fox’s production chief. Under Richard, the studio won 159 Oscar nominations, and three movies — “The Sound of Music,” “Patton” and “The French Connection” — were named best picture.
Darryl Zanuck, a cigar-chomping Midwesterner who never made it to high school and waved a polo mallet to reinforce a conversational point, fired his son in 1970 after a studio shake-up. The father was trying to save his own job, unsuccessfully. Richard Zanuck’s resentment lasted almost until his father’s death, in 1979.
“It was different from the usual father-son relationship,” Mr. Zanuck told The New York Times in 2003. “But I was able to patch everything up before my father died.”
Richard — soft-spoken, Stanford-educated and comfortable on a California beach — went on to his productive collaboration with Mr. Brown after a brief stop at Warner Brothers.
Richard Darryl Zanuck was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 1934. His mother was the silent film star Virginia Fox. As a youngster, Richard was made to sell copies of The Saturday Evening Post to teach him the value of hard work. “Of course,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 2010, “my dad did have a chauffeur take me to pick up the papers.”
To show he cared about his son, Darryl Zanuck bused studio executives to Richard’s ballgames so that they could cheer on his son, as if they were extras in a sports movie. Personalities like Orson Welles were regular visitors to the Zanuck home.
Richard, who excelled in sports in high school and continued running five miles a day into his 70s, served in the Army as a lieutenant after his graduation from Stanford. His father, meanwhile, had been fired by Fox in 1956 and moved to Paris to become an independent producer. The elder Zanuck, who had a wide reputation for womanizing, had affairs with three French actresses in succession but failed to advance their careers, as he had suggested he might.
Darryl Zanuck arranged for his son to produce his first film, the murder mystery “Compulsion” (1959), at age 24. It won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the ensemble work of Welles, Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman.
In 1962, Fox, still struggling, rehired Darryl Zanuck as president. But because he did not want to abandon his romantic interests in Paris, he asked his son to give him a list of possible candidates to run the West Coast studio. Richard Zanuck presented him with a piece of paper with one word on it, “Me.”
His father went for it. “I have always considered that one of the gutsiest moves,” Mr. Zanuck said of his father’s decision. The son kept his father up-to-date by trans-Atlantic telegram.
Mr. Zanuck moved to Warner Brothers to be executive vice president and there collaborated with Mr. Brown on such box office hits as “The Exorcist” and “Blazing Saddles.” In 1971, the two men formed the Zanuck/Brown Company.
After they split up in 1988, Mr. Zanuck started the Zanuck Company. That year it made “Driving Miss Daisy,” which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four, including best picture. It cost $5 million to make and grossed more than $100 million.
Mr. Zanuck’s first two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, with whom he produced the 2000 Oscar ceremony; his sons Harrison and Dean, who have produced movies; and nine grandchildren.
Mr. Zanuck was a hands-on producer, going to the set every day and watching the day’s work every night. Mr. Spielberg recalled that while filming “Jaws” in 1974, he and Mr. Zanuck were in a boat off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts as they watched the movie’s mechanical shark sink to the bottom of the sea. As Mr. Spielberg recalled, “Dick turned to me and smiled” and said, ‘Gee, I hope that’s not a sign.’ ”
DARA SINGH, BOLLYWOOD STAR AND WRESTLER
By HARESH PANDYA
Published: July 14, 2012
Dara Singh, a popular professional wrestler who parlayed his fame, physique and stouthearted image into a thriving Bollywood film career as India’s first action hero, died on Thursday at his home in Mumbai. He was 83.
Divyakant Solanki/European Pressphoto Agency
Fans of the veteran Bollywood actor Dara Singh held portraits of him during his funeral in Mumbai, India, on Thursday.
Strdel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Singh with his son Vindoo in Mumbai in 2011.
The cause was a heart attack, said his doctor, R. K. Agarwal.
His death set off a wave of mourning nationwide. Thousands followed the body in a procession to his cremation on Thursday afternoon. India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, called Dara Singh a “self-educated son of the soil” who had been “an inspiration and icon to many generations in our country.” In a Twitter message, the Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan called Mr. Singh “our very own Superman.”
Mr. Singh, a household name in India, rode that renown to win a seat in India’s upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, serving from 2003 to 2009 as a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Many likened him to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-governor of California.
Though never deemed more than an average actor, Mr. Singh nevertheless commanded a mass following in Hindi cinema’s black-and-white era as a hero who, while championing what was right and good with rippling muscles, was also every inch the gentleman. He vowed never to play a bad character.
Dara Singh Randhawa was born into a Sikh farming family on Nov. 19, 1928, in a village in the northern province of Punjab, near the Pakistan border. Brawny even as a child, he was encouraged to pursue traditional Indian-style wrestling and did so with spectacular success, winning tournaments across India and earning a reputation for flooring opponents with ridiculous ease.
In the 1950s and ’60s, the British wrestling historian Charles Mascall ranked Mr. Singh as the 10th-greatest heavyweight wrestler of all time.
He became the Commonwealth Champion in 1959 and, in 1968, world champion when he defeated the American wrestler Lou Thesz.
Mr. Singh was at the pinnacle of his prowess and fame as a wrestler when he started working in films in the 1950s. His massive physique and noble image made him ideal for characters that epitomized masculine strength and pride and heroic virtues. Among his Hindi cinema hits were “King Kong,” “Samson” and “Tarzan Comes to Delhi.” The popular Bollywood actress Mumtaz appeared with him in 16 films.
Mr. Singh, who appeared in nearly 150 movies, later switched to character roles. He was also involved with Punjabi films as an actor, director and producer.
For all his film work, he may be best remembered in India for a television role, that of the mythical monkey god Hanuman in the popular series “Ramayana,” an adaptation of the Hindu epic.
Mr. Singh, who married twice, is survived by three sons and three daughters.
Some Indians saw him as a man who transcended any narrow characterization, whether wrestler or actor.
“He had star quality, all right,” Vir Sanghvi, a former editor of The Hindustan Times, wrote in a blog post on Friday. “But he had much more to offer. He represented an Indian ideal of goodness through strength. His persona — like his real-life personality — was straightforward: he was a good guy, who never did anything dirty or devious and who used his strength to protect the weak and to fight evil. In that sense, he was the first Indian superhero.”