WILLIAM GIBSON, PLAYWRIGHT
William Gibson, a playwright who had a gift for creating strong, popular female characters and wrote “The Miracle Worker,” died on Tuesday in Stockbridge, Mass. He was 94.
His agent, Mary Ann Anderson, confirmed his death.
First written for television, “The Miracle Worker,” which portrayed the relationship between the young blind and deaf Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, was adapted for Broadway in 1959 and won the 1960 Tony Award for best play. Nearly half a century later, it is still performed at regional theaters around the country.
Over the course of a writing career that lasted seven decades, Mr. Gibson wrote many poems, short stories and plays, but none achieved the breakout fame and popular acclaim of “The Miracle Worker,” which won five other Tony awards.
The 1962 film version earned Oscar nominations for Mr. Gibson for his adaptation, and for the director, Arthur Penn. Anne Bancroft, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Sullivan, won a best actress Oscar, and Patty Duke, who also replayed her role as Keller from the Broadway production, won another for best supporting actress.
Mr. Gibson’s other works include “Two for the Seesaw,” which opened on Broadway in 1958; the book for a musical adaptation of “Golden Boy” by Clifford Odets; and “Golda” and “Golda’s Balcony,” two productions about the life of Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel, the first starring Ms. Bancroft, the second Tovah Feldshuh. “The Monday After the Miracle,” a sequel to “The Miracle Worker” had a brief run on Broadway in 1982.
For many years as a young man in Topeka, Kan., Mr. Gibson labored over various writing projects for meager pay. But after he and his wife, Margaret, moved to Stockbridge in the early 1950s, where Margaret took a job as a psychoanalyst, he wrote a novel, “The Cobweb,” which was sold to MGM and made into a movie in 1955. After that, Mr. Gibson could have had a lucrative career as a screenwriter, but he decided to remain a playwright so he could own his work and not just be a gun for hire.
He finished one play in 1958 — “Two for the Seesaw” — and began working on another — “The Miracle Worker.” “The Miracle Worker” was first mounted as a teleplay, with Mr. Penn directing, and then became a Broadway hit. Mr. Penn won a Tony for his direction of the play.
“He was working on ‘Two for the Seesaw’ and he told me he needed money,” said Mr. Penn in an interview. “I asked him what he was working on and he said something he called a kind of a dance narrative between Helen Keller and her teacher. I could not even begin to visualize what he was talking about.
“It was a huge hit, of course,” added Mr. Penn, who went on to become lifelong friends with Mr. Gibson. “In both of those plays and later, ‘Golda’s Balcony,’ I think that Bill had a particular love for a kind of gallantry in women.”
Mr. Gibson, who was in his 50s by the time he experienced success as a writer, told Mr. Penn, “ ‘Good things come to those who wait … far too long.’ ”
Mr. Penn added that “Bill was a remarkable man, perfectly brilliant, but he had a very ironic relationship with his success.”
His wife, Margaret Brenman Gibson, died in 2004. Mr. Gibson is survived by his sons Daniel, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., and Thomas, who lives in Stockbridge.
Even into his 90s, Mr. Gibson continued to write as if his life depended on it, perhaps because it did.
“Writers go bad when the angels desert them,” he told The Hartford Courant in 2005, “Dylan Thomas was a marvelous poet and drank himself to death. Somewhere along the way, the angel left him. An angel has left me too, but the writing angel is still with me. And that’s the thing where I feel most alive — at least while I’m doing it. I started out to be a writer and I’m still a writer. Not bad.”
MC BREED, RAPPER WITH MIDWEST ROOTS
MC Breed, one of the first commercially successful and nationally recognized rappers from the Midwest, died on Saturday in Ypsilanti, Mich. He was 37.
Prince/ATL Pics, 2007
The cause was kidney failure, said his manager, Darryl Morris. In September, Mr. Breed was hospitalized for the same condition after collapsing at a basketball game and was briefly placed on life support.
Born Eric Breed on June 12, 1971, he began his career in economically depressed Flint, Mich., where he was reared: “A city/where pity runs low,” he rapped of his hometown.
At the time he released his debut album with Da Flint Crew, “MC Breed & DFC,” in 1991, rappers hailing from the Midwest were still novelties, but Mr. Breed’s lyrical dexterity and songwriting gifts helped him gain wide attention. A single from that album, “Ain’t No Future in Yo Frontin’,” with its crisp drums, drawn from New York hip-hop, and needling synthesizers, which were a Los Angeles rap staple, became his biggest hit.
Shortly after the album’s release, Mr. Breed moved to Atlanta, where the label he recorded with, Ichiban, was based. Quickly, his house and studio became a hotbed for local talent, where emerging producers like Jazze Pha and established stars like Too Short would gather to play video games and record music.
“If you took Breed out of the equation, there are many careers that would never would have happened,” Too Short said in an interview.
On later albums, Mr. Breed moved toward a funk-driven sound similar to Los Angeles gangster rap; on his 1993 album, “The New Breed,” he worked with the West Coast rap pioneer the D.O.C.
During this period, Mr. Breed was in high demand as a collaborator. He worked with Too Short on several albums, both as a rapper and a ghostwriter. A chance meeting with Tupac Shakur in a tattoo parlor led to the single “Gotta Get Mine,” which became a hit in 1993. That year Mr. Breed also appeared, alongside Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, on a characteristically wacky George Clinton song, “Paint the White House Black.”
Living mostly in Atlanta, he continued to release albums through the 1990s. At his death, he was preparing a new album and a DVD about his career.
Mr. Breed is survived by his parents, Roy LeEster and Willie Breed; his children, Kiara Monique, Erica Ariel, Alexis Cymone, Marco Chene and Eric Jalen; two brothers, Pete and Kevin Breed; and a sister, Bridgette Breed.
ENNIO DE CONCINI, OSCAR-WINNING SCREENWRITER OF ‘DIVORCE—-ITALIAN STYLE’
Ennio De Concini, a prolific Italian screenwriter who won an Academy Award for the internationally popular comedy “Divorce — Italian Style,” died on Nov. 17 in Rome. He was 84.
Film Forum/Janus Films
His family announced the death to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Released in 1961 as “Divorzio all’Italiana,” the film was directed by Pietro Germi and starred Marcello Mastroianni. Mr. De Concini shared an Oscar for best original screenplay with Mr. Germi and Alfredo Giannetti.
Reviewing “Divorce — Italian Style” in The New York Times in 1962, Bosley Crowther praised its “lively dialogue,” calling the film a “nifty frolic about a bored Sicilian baron who plots to force his wife to compromise herself with another man so he can honorably shoot her and then marry a 16-year-old girl.”
Other directors with whom Mr. De Concini worked include Michelangelo Antonioni (“Il Grido,” 1957, released in the United States as “The Cry”); Alessandro Blasetti (“Europa di Notte,” 1959, released as “European Nights”); and Mario Bava (“La Maschera del Demonio,” 1960, released as “Black Sunday”).
In 2001 “La Grande Strada Azzurra” (“The Wide Blue Road”), a 1957 film written by Mr. De Concini, Franco Solinas and Gillo Pontecorvo, received its extremely belated American premiere, to critical acclaim. Directed by Mr. Pontecorvo, it starred Yves Montand as an embattled, impoverished Italian fisherman.
Mr. De Concini also directed films, the best known of which was “Hitler: The Last Ten Days” (1973), starring Alec Guinness.
Ennio De Concini was born in Rome on Dec. 9, 1923. His early screenwriting credits include “Il Brigante Musolino” (“Outlaw Girl,” 1950); “I Tre Corsari” (“Three Corsairs,” 1952); and “Gli Undici Moschettieri” (“The Eleven Musketeers,” 1952). In later years he wrote extensively for Italian television.
Information on his survivors was not available.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, his daughter Christine McKelvey said.
Before his work with Monster.com, Mr. McKelvey created a company called Telephone Marketing Programs, which became the nation’s largest Yellow Pages advertising agency. Begun in 1967 in borrowed office space and with one part-time assistant, TMP Worldwide, as it was later named, grew to employ thousands of workers and handle nearly a third of the American Yellow Pages ad business.
Mr. McKelvey combined hard work, persistence and deft timing. He explained his philosophy in an interview with The New York Times four years ago. “What you do in business is, you follow your nose,” Mr. McKelvey said. “The secret of success is being in the right place at the right time.”
Mr. McKelvey followed that dictum repeatedly over the years. After graduating from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., where he also found time to run a movie theater, and serving a stint in the Army, Mr. McKelvey headed to Australia.
In the mid-1950s, Mr. McKelvey figured that Australia was a decade or so behind the United States in adopting social and consumer trends. “So my father decided to go to Australia, start a business and gain what people would now call a first-mover advantage,” his son, Stuart McKelvey, said in an interview Friday.
In Australia, Mr. McKelvey began a music jukebox business that became one of the largest such concerns in the country.
But by the early 1960s, Mr. McKelvey decided that advertising was a promising growth industry of the future, and that New York was the place to be. In 1963, he got a job as an account manager at a Madison Avenue ad agency, handling consumer products like Vaseline Hair Tonic.
Later, Mr. McKelvey moved to another agency and took over the account of a company that advertised not on television, the hot new medium of its day, but only in the Yellow Pages. He became intrigued, saw an opportunity, and started the Yellow Pages ad agency, TMP, which he built up with a steady stream of corporate acquisitions.
It was Mr. McKelvey’s foray beyond Yellow Pages into help-wanted agencies in the 1990s that introduced him to Internet commerce. Mr. McKelvey wanted to buy Adion, a Boston-area recruitment ad agency run by Jeffrey Taylor. When they met, Mr. Taylor was most excited by a little sideline, a fledgling Web site, the Monster Board.
Mr. McKelvey was skeptical at first that the Web was going to be the future of job searches, said George R. Eisele, a former board member of Monster Worldwide, the parent company, and a longtime business associate of Mr. McKelvey. But he eventually became convinced, bought Adion in 1995, and pursued the Internet strategy with a vengeance. He quickly bought Online Career Center, Monster’s larger rival at the time.
Mr. McKelvey invested heavily over the next few years, including buying Super Bowl ads that helped make Monster.com the popular first choice for online job searching.
“Once he perceived its importance, he was relentless,” Mr. Eisele recalled in an interview on Friday. “That’s why Andy McKelvey was so successful on the Internet, even though he wasn’t a technological visionary.”
In the last few years, Mr. McKelvey’s business reputation was tarnished by a stock-options investigation at Monster Worldwide. He left the company in 2006 amid questions about his role in backdating employee stock options. In a settlement earlier this year, Mr. McKelvey agreed to pay the company $8 million and give up most of his voting shares. In a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he also paid about $276,000. Mr. McKelvey, the commission noted, did not receive any backdated options himself.
Mr. McKelvey, who was married six times, is survived by two sons, Geoffrey McKelvey of Stuart, Fla., and Stuart McKelvey of Mamaroneck, N.Y.; two daughters, Christine and Amanda McKelvey, both of Manhattan; and six grandchildren.
Mr. McKelvey’s personal wealth enabled him to become an active philanthropist, setting up the McKelvey Foundation in 2000 to provide college scholarships to young men and women who show an entrepreneurial flair in high school.
Mr. McKelvey’s foundation, it seems, is intended to provide financial help to teenagers in his own image. His first entrepreneurial venture was as a 14-year-old, buying eggs from a farmer in Southern New Jersey and selling them to neighbors for a profit of 10 cents a dozen.
Mr. McKelvey’s eclectic charitable efforts mirror his personal interests and enthusiasms.
For example, Mr. McKelvey, who had a lung-scarring ailment, supported the research of the physician who successfully treated him and donated $25 million to set up the Andrew J. McKelvey Lung Transplant Center at Emory University.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. McKelvey played a central role in organizing the Families of Freedom fund for college scholarships for the children of the victims. The program, which raised more than $100 million, was headed by former president Bill Clinton and former senator Bob Dole.
V. P.SINGH, A LEADER OF INDIA WHO DEFENDED THE POOR
V. P. Singh, a former prime minister of India who was considered the father of coalition politics there and who stirred controversy by championing the rights of the country’s poorest citizens, died on Thursday in New Delhi. He was 77.
The cause was blood cancer and renal failure, said his close associate, Wasim Ahmad.
Mr. Singh changed Indian politics significantly despite leading the country only briefly, from 1989 to 1990.
Having broken with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the wake of a scandal, he united the entire spectrum of parties against the Congress Party of Mr. Gandhi under one umbrella and forged the National Front, with additional support from the Bharatiya Janata Party and left-wing parties. The National Front came to power after defeating the Congress Party in the 1989 general elections.
On Dec. 2, 1989, Mr. Singh became the 10th prime minister of India. He gained wide notoriety by moving to carry out the long-forgotten Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal Commission recommendations to reserve a fixed number of all the jobs in the public sector for the historically disadvantaged members of the lower and backward classes.
This led to widespread protests by higher-caste youth in urban areas across India, including a series of self-immolations.
His government lasted less than a year, falling after the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its support and the plan went into abeyance.
Vishwanath Pratap Singh was born into a landed family in Allahabad in the northern state Uttar Pradesh on June 25, 1931. When he was 5, his parents gave him up for adoption by the childless Maharaja Bahadur Ram Gopal Singh of Manda, one of the small principalities in Uttar Pradesh. After a sheltered and lonely early childhood under armed guard, he passed into the care of a guardian at the age of 11 when his adoptive father died.
He studied law at Udai Pratap College, Varanasi, and later physics at Fergusson College, Pune. He studied physics with an eye toward becoming a nuclear scientist and joining India’s atomic energy research center in Mumbai, but he gave up his studies for politics.
One of his first political acts was giving large tracts of fertile land to the landless poor as part of the land donation movement initiated by Vinoba Bhave, a disciple and spiritual successor of Mohandas Gandhi. He built an college in Koraon and taught there when it opened.
He entered politics in Allahabad during the Jawaharlal Nehru era and soon made a name for himself in the state Congress Party. He was elected to the state assembly in 1969 and to the Parliament in 1971. He was appointed deputy minister of commerce by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974. She named him chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when she returned to power in 1980.
As chief minister, he pressed a ruthless campaign against bandits in Uttar Pradesh. However, he quit his position after bandits killed his brother and amid feelings that he had failed to capture or tame the bandits.
In 1984 he became finance minister under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, ordering high-profile raids on those suspected of being tax evaders. At the height of this campaign, he was moved to the post of defense minister. Shortly after that, he resigned. He then quit the Congress Party over a scandal in which he suspected the prime minister was involved.
He was the guiding force behind the formation of United Front, another political coalition, and he was the first choice to become prime minister after the Congress Party’s defeat in May 1996. However, he declined. After the government of H. D. Deve Gowda fell in April 1997, he again played an important role in maintaining the unity of the United Front and making Inder Kumar Gujral the prime minister.
In 1955, Mr. Singh married Sita Kumari. He is survived by his wife and two sons, Ajeya and Abhay.
Mr. Singh also dabbled in Hindi and English poetry, as well as painting and photography. Exhibitions of his artwork have been held in prominent galleries.
JORN UTZON, CREATED SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
Jorn Utzon, an architect who designed one of the world’s most recognizable buildings — the Sydney Opera House — but never saw it finished, died in Copenhagen on Saturday. He was 90.
Greg Wood/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
He died of heart failure in his sleep, according to his son Kim.
Mr. Utzon left Australia amid controversy seven years before the Opera House was completed. He lived out most of his final decades on the Spanish island of Majorca while his gull-roofed building came to symbolize Australia, 10,000 miles away.
As a young architect Mr. Utzon worked for Gunnar Asplund in Sweden and Alvar Aalto in Finland before establishing his own practice in Copenhagen in 1950. In 1956 he read about the Sydney Opera House competition in a Swedish architecture magazine. He spent six months designing a building with sail-like roofs, their geometry, he said, derived from the sections of an orange. Mr. Utzon’s plan was championed by Eero Saarinen, the Finnish architect who was one of the judges in the competition.
In 1957, Mr. Utzon — who until then was hardly known outside his native country — was declared the winner, and for the next five years he worked on the project from his office in Denmark. In 1962, he moved with his wife, Lis, sons Jan and Kim, and daughter, Lin, to Sydney.
When only the shell of the opera house was complete, the architect found himself at odds with Davis Hughes, the New South Wales minister for public works, over cost overruns and delays. When Mr. Hughes stopped payments to Mr. Utzon in 1966, the architect packed up his family and left the country.
Supporters of Mr. Utzon said that an unreasonably low construction estimate made it seem as though costs had escalated far more than they had, and that Mr. Utzon had been treated unfairly.
Writing in Harvard Design Magazine in 2005, Bent Flyvbjerg, a professor of planning at Aalborg University in Denmark, argued that “the real loss in the Sydney Opera House project is not the huge cost overrun in itself. It is that the overrun and the controversy it created kept Utzon from building more masterpieces.”
In recent years, Australian organizations tried to heal the breach. In 2002, Mr. Utzon was commissioned to design interior renovations that would bring the building closer to his original vision; his son Jan, who is also an architect, traveled to Australia to carry out the work. And in 2003, Mr. Utzon received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney. (Jan took his place at the ceremony.)
The same year, Mr. Utzon won the Pritzker Prize, considered architecture’s highest honor. Frank Gehry, who was a Pritzker juror at the time, said that Mr. Utzon “made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinary malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”
Jorn Utzon, the son of a naval architect, was born in Aalborg, Denmark, on April 9, 1918. He studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. After leaving Australia, he worked in Hawaii, Switzerland and Spain before settling in Majorca in the mid-1970s. In addition to the Sydney Opera House, he designed the National Assembly of Kuwait, a church at Bagsvaerd, Denmark, and many private homes, including two in Majorca for himself and his wife. He chose the spot for the first house, he said, because it reminded him of the Australian beachfront he had hurriedly departed.
Though he suffered from failing eyesight in his final years, he continued to discuss architecture and could visualize plans the way a chess player can visualize a board, Jan Utzon said.
He is survived by his wife, three children — Jan, of Hellebaek, Denmark; Kim, of Copenhagen; and Lin, of Majorca — five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
When he was accepting the honorary doctorate in 2003, Jan Utzon said the fact that his father had never visited the opera house did not mean he had not experienced the building. “As its creator, he just has to close his eyes to see it,” he said.
EDWIN SALPETER, CORNELL ASTROPHYSICIST
ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) — Edwin E. Salpeter, an astrophysicist widely known for his studies of chain reactions in stars and as a developer of the “Salpeter-Bethe equation” describing how helium changes to carbon, died Tuesday at his home here. He was 83.
His death was announced by Cornell University, where he was an emeritus professor of physical sciences.
Along with Hans Bethe, a theoretical physicist at Cornell who won a Nobel Prize in physics in 1967, Dr. Salpeter introduced an equation in 1951 showing how helium nuclei fuse to form carbon in the interiors of ancient stars. Until then, the origin of elements beyond helium in the periodic table was unexplained.
From that work, Dr. Salpeter determined the formation rates of stars of different masses. The process remains the basis of today’s studies into the rates of stellar births and deaths.
In 1964, while working independently, Dr. Salpeter and a Soviet physicist, Yakov Zeldovich, were the first to propose that a stream of gas falling toward a black hole could in principle be heated to very high temperatures, where it would produce detectable X-rays. Thirty years later, data from the Hubble telescope confirmed his idea.
“It’s good to finally win the bet,” Dr. Salpeter said at the time.
In 1997, Dr. Salpeter and Sir Fred Hoyle, the British scientist who coined the term “Big Bang,” shared the $500,000 Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for “their pioneering contributions involving the study of nuclear reactions in stars and stars’ development.”
The prize is given annually to honor accomplishments in scientific fields not covered by the Nobel Prizes in science, whose winners are also chosen by the academy.
Born in Austria, Dr. Salpeter moved to Cornell in 1949 as a postdoctoral student and spent his career there. Although he retired in 1997, he kept publishing papers and moved into new arenas of research, including explorations of neuromuscular disorders and the epidemiology of tuberculosis.
A self-deprecating man, Dr. Salpeter described his mind as “quick but sloppy,” saying he preferred the challenge of tackling a contentious new problem to undertaking mathematical calculations.
Late in his career, research by Dr. Salpeter and his wife, Miriam Salpeter, an expert in cell biology and a neurobiologist at Cornell, contributed to the understanding and treatment of neuromuscular disorders like myasthenia gravis. She died in 2000 at the age of 71.
Dr. Salpeter remarried and is survived by his wife, Lhamo; two daughters, Judy and Shelley; and four grandchildren.