Betty Allen, an American mezzo-soprano who transcended a Dickensian girlhood to become an internationally known opera singer and later a prominent voice teacher and arts administrator, died on Monday in Valhalla, N.Y. She was 82.
Betty Allen with composer Virgil Thomson preparing for a New York Philharmonic performance of “Four Saints in Three Acts” in 1952.
June 26, 2009
John Vignoli, Courtesy of Musical America Archives
The cause was complications of kidney disease, her daughter, Juliana Lee, said. A longtime resident of Harlem, Ms. Allen lived most recently in Bronxville, N.Y.
An Ohio native who fell into opera by chance, Ms. Allen was part of the first great wave of African-American singers to appear on the world’s premier stages in the postwar years.
Active from the 1950s to the 1970s, she performed with the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and the opera companies of Houston, Boston, San Francisco, Santa Fe, N.M., and Buenos Aires, among others.
Ms. Allen, who also toured as a recitalist, was known for her close association with the American composers Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem and David Diamond. At her death, she was on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, where she had taught since 1969. She was also the president emeritus and a former executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts.
In 1954 Ms. Allen made her City Opera debut as Queenie in “Show Boat,” by Jerome Kern. She sang the role of Begonia in the City Opera production of Hans Werner Henze’s comic opera “The Young Lord,” conducted by Sarah Caldwell in 1973. Reviewing the production in The New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg wrote of Ms. Allen, “When she was onstage everything came to life, and everything around her was dimmed.”
With the Met, Ms. Allen sang the role of Commère in Mr. Thomson’s “Four Saints in Three Acts” in 1973; she later participated in the first complete recording of the work. Elsewhere, her roles included Teresa in “La Sonnambula,” by Bellini; Jocasta in Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex”; Monisha in Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha”; and Mistress Quickly in Verdi’s “Falstaff.”
Elizabeth Louise Allen, known as Betty Lou, was born on March 17, 1927, in Campbell, Ohio, near Youngstown. Her father worked in the steel mills; her mother had a thriving business taking in laundry. Growing up, she was exposed to the opera that poured from neighbors’ radios.
“The families on my street were mostly Sicilian and Greek,” Ms. Allen told The Times in 1999. “On Saturday, walking down the street, you could hear the Met broadcasts coming from the windows of everybody’s house. No one told them that opera and the arts were not for them, not for poor people, just for rich snobs.”
When Betty was 12, her mother died of lung cancer. Her father, as she said in interviews afterward, began drinking heavily. Betty took over running the house and caring for him till, one day, fed up, she boarded a bus to Youngstown. At the courthouse there, she told a startled judge that she wanted somebody to adopt her.
“That judge didn’t know what to do with me,” Ms. Allen told The Times in 1973. “You see, in those days, there was no orphanage for black children. You either had to be put in a detention home or you were put in a foster home. I chose to be put in foster homes.”
Several turbulent years followed, first in the home of a white couple where the husband turned out to be “lecherous,” Ms. Allen recalled. Next came a white family who made her do all the cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing in exchange for $3 a week and a bed in the attic. After that, she lived with an elderly black woman.
“She was a mean old lady,” Ms. Allen told The Times. “You couldn’t play the piano on Sunday, you couldn’t play cards, you couldn’t go out, you couldn’t wear makeup.”
At 16, Betty moved into the Youngstown Y.W.C.A., supporting herself by cleaning houses. On a scholarship, she entered Wilberforce College in Wilberforce, Ohio. (A historically black institution, it is now Wilberforce University.) She had excelled in Latin and German in high school and hoped to become a translator.
At Wilberforce, Ms. Allen met Theodor Heimann, a former Berlin Opera tenor who taught German and voice there. He encouraged her to sing. (The soprano Leontyne Price was a classmate at Wilberforce.) Ms. Allen went on to earn a scholarship to what was then the Hartford School of Music in Connecticut.
In the early 1950s, Ms. Allen studied at Tanglewood, where Leonard Bernstein chose her to be the mezzo-soprano soloist in his Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”); she was later a frequent soloist with Mr. Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Allen made her New York recital debut at Town Hall in 1958 in a program that included Brahms and Fauré.
Besides her daughter, Juliana Catherine Lee, of the Bronx, Ms. Allen is survived by her husband, Ritten Edward Lee II, whom she married in 1953; a son, Anthony Edward Lee of Bronxville; and three grandchildren.
The executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts from 1979 to 1992, Ms. Allen was on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the New York City Opera, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Theater Development Fund and the Manhattan School of Music. She also taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the North Carolina School of the Arts, now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
If Ms. Allen was not as well known as other singers of her era, like Ms. Price, Shirley Verrett and Grace Bumbry, it did not seem to bother her in the slightest.
“I’m not a household name,” she told The Times in the 1973 interview. “I don’t stay awake nights plotting and planning. Maybe I don’t have that extra drive and ambition and energy that makes for a blazing career. I need a home, and I need to be looked after. I may look to be a very self-sufficient female. I act very brazen and hard and matter-of-fact and seem as though I could cope with anything. Well, I can’t. I’m as soft as putty underneath.”
Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, a doctor who treated herself for breast cancer for months while stationed at the South Pole in 1999 and then when the weather thawed a bit was flown out in a daring rescue mission, died Tuesday at her home in Southwick, Mass. She was 57.
June 25, 2009
National Science Foundation, via Associated Press
Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, a National Science Foundation physician, at the South Pole in 1999.
The cause was breast cancer, which had recurred in 2005, her husband, Thomas, said.
Dr. FitzGerald’s ordeal was headline news in 1999. Known then as Dr. Nielsen, her name from her first marriage, she had been through a bitter divorce and was exhausted by long hours at an emergency room in Olean, N.Y., when she spotted a want ad in a medical journal. It offered an opportunity for escape: a doctor was needed at the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott research station at the South Pole.
Vetted for her ability to handle procedures as varied as trauma surgery and routine dental work, Dr. FitzGerald was accepted for the job and arrived at the pole in early 1999. The dilapidated station was overcrowded because a construction crew was replacing the 25-year-old dome that had been the base for Antarctic research since 1975. There were 41 people there, not the usual 27. Temperatures plunging past 100 degrees below zero, which could turn airplane fuel to jelly, soon made flights in or out impossible.
In late May, Dr. FitzGerald discovered a lump in her right breast. Through her supervisors at the science foundation, she made e-mail contact with Dr. Kathy Miller, an oncologist in Indianapolis. Using e-mail, computer graphics and satellite imaging, Dr. Miller guided Dr. FitzGerald through months of improvised diagnosis and treatment.
Because Dr. FitzGerald was the only person with medical training at the pole, she needed help from her untrained colleagues.
A welder who had practiced by poking a needle into a shriveled apple helped Dr. FitzGerald perform a biopsy by aspirating tissue from her breast. A maintenance worker prepared the slides for video transmission and a computer technician synchronized the transmission with a satellite passing overhead.
In the frigid weather, six crates of chemotherapy equipment and other medical supplies were airdropped in. But with the side effects of chemotherapy made worse by the cold, Dr. FitzGerald became weak and disoriented.
By October, glimmers of hope came with the first hints of the Antarctic spring.
Temperatures that had dropped to minus 118 were now at about minus 60.
On Oct. 15, an LC-130 Hercules jet from the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard equipped with both skis and wheels landed at the pole. Twenty-two minutes later, Dr. FitzGerald was on her way home.
In 2001, Dr. FitzGerald’s book, “Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole,” written with Maryanne Vollers, was published by Miramax Books/Hyperion. Two years later, Susan Sarandon played Dr. FitzGerald in the CBS-TV movie “Ice Bound.”
Jerri Lin Cahill was born in Salem, Ohio, on March 1, 1952, one of three children of Phillip and Lorine Roesti Cahill. She graduated from Ohio University in 1974 and the Medical College of Ohio in 1978. Besides her husband and her parents, she is survived by her two brothers, Scott and Eric; and three children from her first marriage, Julia, Ben and Alex.
The FitzGeralds, who first became friends in 1986 while on a tour in the Amazon, were married three years ago. Despite her long battle with cancer, Mr. FitzGerald said Wednesday, his wife never lost her “adventure bug.”
In the last 10 years, sometimes as a speaker on cruise ships, he said, “she’s been to China; Vietnam; Turkey; South Africa; Australia; and Antarctica five times.”
LOS ANGELES — For his legions of fans, he was the Peter Pan of pop music: the little boy who refused to grow up. But on the verge of another attempted comeback, he is suddenly gone, this time for good.
Michael Jackson, whose quintessentially American tale of celebrity and excess took him from musical boy wonder to global pop superstar to sad figure haunted by lawsuits, paparazzi and failed plastic surgery, was pronounced dead on Thursday afternoon at U.C.L.A. Medical Center after arriving in a coma, a city official said. Mr. Jackson was 50, having spent 40 of those years in the public eye he loved.
The singer was rushed to the hospital, a six-minute drive from the rented Bel-Air home in which he was living, shortly after noon by paramedics for the Los Angeles Fire Department. A hospital spokesman would not confirm reports of cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm.
As with Elvis Presley or the Beatles, it is impossible to calculate the full effect Mr. Jackson had on the world of music. At the height of his career, he was indisputably the biggest star in the world; he has sold more than 750 million albums. Radio stations across the country reacted to his death with marathon sessions of his songs. MTV, which grew successful in part as a result of Mr. Jackson’s groundbreaking videos, reprised its early days as a music channel by showing his biggest hits.
From his days as the youngest brother in the Jackson 5 to his solo career in the 1980s and early 1990s, Mr. Jackson was responsible for a string of hits like “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” that exploited his high voice, infectious energy and ear for irresistible hooks.
As a solo performer, Mr. Jackson ushered in the age of pop as a global product — not to mention an age of spectacle and pop culture celebrity. He became more character than singer: his sequined glove, his whitened face, his moonwalk dance move became embedded in the cultural firmament.
His entertainment career hit high-water marks with the release of “Thriller,” from 1982, which has been certified 28 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and with the “Victory” world tour that reunited him with his brothers in 1984.
But soon afterward, his career started a bizarre disintegration. His darkest moment undoubtedly came in 2003, when he was indicted on child molesting charges. A young cancer patient claimed the singer had befriended him and then groped him at his Neverland estate near Santa Barbara, Calif., but Mr. Jackson was acquitted on all charges.
Reaction to his death started trickling in from the entertainment community late Thursday.
“I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news,” the music producer Quincy Jones said in a statement. “I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.”
Berry Gordy, the Motown founder who helped develop the Jackson 5, told CNN that Mr. Jackson, as a boy, “always wanted to be the best, and he was willing to work as hard as it took to be that. And we could all see that he was a winner at that age.
Tommy Mottola, a former head of Sony Music, called Mr. Jackson “the cornerstone to the entire music business.”
“He bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and pop music and made it into a global culture,” said Mr. Mottola, who worked with Mr. Jackson until the singer cut his ties with Sony in 2001.
Impromptu vigils broke out around the world, from Portland, Ore., where fans organized a one-gloved bike ride (“glittery costumes strongly encouraged”) to Hong Kong, where fans gathered with candles and sang his songs.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of fans — some chanting Mr. Jackson’s name, some doing the “Thriller” dance — descended on the hospital and on the hillside house where he was staying.
Jeremy Vargas, 38, hoisted his wife, Erica Renaud, 38, on his shoulders and they danced and bopped to “Man in the Mirror” playing from an onlooker’s iPod connected to external speakers — the boom boxes of Mr. Jackson’s heyday long past their day.
“I am in shock and awe,” said Ms. Renaud, who was visiting from Red Hook, Brooklyn, with her family. “He was like a family member to me.”
Dreams of a Comeback
Mr. Jackson was an object of fascination for the news media since the Jackson 5’s first hit, “I Want You Back,” in 1969. His public image wavered between that of the musical naif, who wanted only to recapture his youth by riding on roller-coasters and having sleepovers with his friends, to the calculated mogul who carefully constructed his persona around his often-baffling public behavior.
Mr. Jackson had been scheduled to perform 50 concerts at the O2 arena in London beginning next month and continuing into 2010. The shows, which quickly sold out, were positioned as a comeback, with the potential to earn him up to $50 million, according to some reports.
But there had also been worry and speculation that Mr. Jackson was not physically ready for such an arduous run of concerts, and his postponement of the first of those shows to July 13 from July 8 fueled new rounds of gossip about his health. Nevertheless, he was rehearsing Wednesday night at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. “The primary reason for the concerts wasn’t so much that he was wanting to generate money as much as it was that he wanted to perform for his kids,” said J. Randy Taraborrelli, whose biography, “Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness,” was first published by Citadel in 1991. “They had never seen him perform before.”
Mr. Jackson’s brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy, have all had performing careers, with varying success, since they stopped performing together. (Randy, the youngest, replaced Jermaine when the Jackson 5 left Motown.) His sisters, Rebbie, La Toya and Janet, are also singers, and Janet Jackson has been a major star in her own right for two decades. They all survive him, as do his parents, Joseph and Katherine Jackson, of Las Vegas, and three children: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, born to Mr. Jackson’s second wife, Deborah Jeanne Rowe, and Prince Michael Jackson II, the son of a surrogate mother. Mr. Jackson was also briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said the department assigned its robbery and homicide division to investigate the death, but the spokesman said that was because of Mr. Jackson’s celebrity.
“Don’t read into anything,” the spokesman told reporters gathered outside the Bel-Air house. He said the coroner had taken possession of the body and would conduct an investigation.
At a news conference at the hospital, Jermaine Jackson spoke to reporters about his brother. “It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest at his home,” he said softly. A personal physician first tried to resuscitate Michael Jackson at his home before paramedics arrived. A team of doctors then tried to resuscitate him for more than an hour, his brother said.
“May Allah be with you always,” Jermaine Jackson concluded, his gaze aloft.
In Gary, Ind., hundreds of people descended upon the squat clapboard house were Mr. Jackson spent his earliest years. There were tears, loud wails, and quiet prayers as old neighbors joined hands with people who had driven in from Chicago and other nearby towns to pay their respects.
“Just continue to glorify the man, Lord,” said Ida Boyd-King, a local pastor who led the crowd in prayer. “Let’s give God praise for Michael.”
Shelletta Hinton, 40, drove to Gary from Chicago with her two young children. She said they had met Mr. Jackson in Gary a couple of years ago when he received a key to the city. “We felt like we were close to Michael,” she said. “This is a sad day.”
As dusk set in, mourners lighted candles and placed them on the concrete doorstep. Some left teddy bears and personal notes. Doris Darrington, 77, said she remembered seeing the Jackson 5 so many times around Gary that she got sick of them. But she, too, was feeling hurt by the sudden news of Mr. Jackson’s death.
“He has always been a source of pride for Gary, even though he wasn’t around much,” she said. “The older person, that’s not the Michael we knew. We knew the little bitty boy with the big Afro and the brown skin. That’s how I’ll always remember Michael.”
Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary on Aug. 29, 1958. The second youngest of six brothers, he began performing professionally with four of them at the age of 5 in a group that their father, Joe, a steelworker, had organized the previous year. In 1968, the group, originally called the Jackson Brothers, was signed by Motown Records. The Jackson 5 was an instant phenomenon. The group’s first four singles — “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There” — all reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1970, a feat no group had accomplished before. And young Michael was the center of attention: he handled virtually all the lead vocals, danced with energy and finesse, and displayed a degree of showmanship rare in a performer of any age.
In 1971, Mr. Jackson began recording under his own name, while continuing to perform with his brothers. His recording of “Ben,” the title song from a movie about a boy and his homicidal pet rat, was a No. 1 hit in 1972.
The brothers (minus Michael’s older brother Jermaine, who was married to the daughter of Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder and chief executive) left Motown in 1975 and, rechristened the Jacksons, signed to Epic, a unit of CBS Records. Three years later, Michael made his movie debut as the Scarecrow in the screen version of the hit Broadway musical “The Wiz.” But movie stardom proved not to be his destiny.
A Solo Sensation
Music stardom on an unprecedented level, however, was. Mr. Jackson’s first solo album for Epic, “Off the Wall,” released in 1979, yielded two No. 1 singles and sold seven million copies, but it was a mere prologue to what came next. His follow-up, “Thriller,” released in 1982, became the best-selling album of all time and helped usher in the music video age. The video for title track, directed by John Landis, was an elaborate horror-movie pastiche that was more of a mini-movie than a promotional clip.
Seven of the nine tracks on “Thriller” were released as singles and reached the Top 10. The album spent two years on the Billboard album chart and sold an estimated 100 million copies worldwide. It also won eight Grammy Awards.
The choreographer and director Vincent Paterson, who directed Mr. Jackson in several videos, recalled watching him rehearse a dance sequence for four hours in front of a mirror until it felt like second nature.
“That’s how he developed the moonwalk, working on it for days if not weeks until it was organic,” he said. “He took an idea that he had seen some street kids doing and perfected it.”
Mr. Jackson’s next album, “Bad,” released in 1987, sold eight million copies and produced five No. 1 singles and another state-of-the-art video, this one directed by Martin Scorsese.
It was a huge hit by almost anyone else’s standards, but an inevitable letdown after “Thriller.”
It was at this point that Mr. Jackson’s bizarre private life began to overshadow his music. He would go on to release several more albums and, from time to time, to stage elaborate concert tours. And he would never be too far from the public eye. But it would never again be his music that kept him there.
Even with the millions Mr. Jackson earned, his eccentric lifestyle took a severe financial toll. In 1988 Mr. Jackson paid about $17 million for a 2,600-acre ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Calling it Neverland after the mythical island of Peter Pan, he outfitted the property with amusement-park rides, a zoo and a 50-seat theater, at a cost of $35 million, according to reports, and the ranch became his sanctum.
But Neverland, and Mr. Jackson’s lifestyle, were expensive to maintain. A forensic accountant who testified at Mr. Jackson’s molesting trial in 2005 said Mr. Jackson’s annual budget in 1999 included $7.5 million for personal expenses and $5 million to maintain Neverland. By at least the late 1990s, he began to take out huge loans to support himself and pay debts. In 1998, he took out a loan for $140 million from Bank of America, which two years later was increased to $200 million. Further loans of hundreds of millions followed.
The collateral for the loans was Mr. Jackson’s 50 percent share in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a portfolio of thousands of songs, including rights to 259 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, considered some of the most valuable properties in music.
In 1985, Mr. Jackson paid $47.5 million for ATV, which included the Beatles songs — a move that estranged him from Mr. McCartney, who had advised him to invest in music rights — and 10 years later, Mr. Jackson sold 50 percent of his interest to Sony for $90 million, creating a joint venture, Sony/ATV. Estimates of the catalog’s value exceed $1 billion.
Last year, Neverland narrowly escaped foreclosure after Mr. Jackson defaulted on $24.5 million he owed on the property. A Los Angeles real estate investment company, Colony Capital L.L.C., bought the note, and put the title for the property into a joint venture with Mr. Jackson.
A Scandal’s Heavy Toll
In many ways, Mr. Jackson never recovered from the child molesting trial, a lurid affair that attracted media from around the world to watch as Mr. Jackson, wearing a different costume each day, appeared in a small courtroom in Santa Maria, Calif., to listen as a parade of witnesses spun a sometimes-incredible tale.
The case ultimately turned on the credibility of Mr. Jackson’s accuser, a 15-year-old cancer survivor who said the defendant had gotten him drunk and molested him several times. The boy’s younger brother testified that he had seen Mr. Jackson groping his brother on two other occasions.
After 14 weeks of such testimony and seven days of deliberations, the jury returned not-guilty verdicts on all 14 counts against Mr. Jackson: four charges of child molesting, one charge of attempted child molesting, one conspiracy charge and eight possible counts of providing alcohol to minors. Conviction could have brought Mr. Jackson 20 years in prison. Instead, he walked away a free man to try to reclaim a career that at the time had already been in decline for years.
After his trial, Mr. Jackson largely left the United States for Bahrain, the island nation in the Persian Gulf, where he was the guest of Sheik Abdullah, a son of the ruler of the country, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Mr. Jackson would never return to live at his ranch.
Instead he remained in Bahrain, Dubai and Ireland for the next several years, managing his increasingly unstable finances. He remained an avid shopper, however, and was spotted at shopping malls in the black robes and veils traditionally worn by Bahraini women.
Despite the public relations blow of his trial, Mr. Jackson and his ever-changing retinue of managers, lawyers and advisers never stopped plotting his return.
By early this year, Mr. Jackson was living in a $100,000-a-month mansion in Bel-Air, to be closer to “where all the action is” in the entertainment business, his manager at the time, Tohme Tohme, told The Los Angeles Times. He was also preparing for his upcoming London shows.
”He was just so excited about having an opportunity to come back,” said Mr. Paterson, the director and choreographer.
Despite his troubles, the press and the public never abandoned the star. A crowd of paparazzi and onlookers lined the street outside Mr. Jackson’s home as the ambulance took him to the hospital.
Reporting was contributed by John M. Broder from Washington; Randal C. Archibold from Los Angeles; Susan Saulny from Gary, Ind.; and Melena Ryzik, Ben Sisario, Brian Stelter and Peter Keepnews from New York.
Farrah Fawcett, an actress and television star whose good looks and signature flowing hairstyle influenced a generation of women and bewitched a generation of men, beginning with a celebrated pinup poster, died Thursday morning in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 62 and lived in West Los Angeles.
Her death, at St. John’s Health Center, was caused by anal cancer, which she had been battling since 2006, said her spokesman, Paul Bloch.
To an extraordinary degree, Ms. Fawcett’s cancer battle was played out in public, generating enormous interest worldwide. Her face, often showing the ravages of cancer, became a tabloid fixture, and updates on her health became staples of television entertainment news.
In May, that battle was chronicled in a prime-time NBC documentary, “Farrah’s Story,” some of it shot with her own home video recorder. An estimated nine million people viewed it. Ms. Fawcett had initiated the project with a friend, the actress Alana Stewart, after she first learned of her cancer.
Ms. Fawcett’s doctors declared her cancer-free after they removed a tumor in 2007, but her cancer returned later that year. She had been receiving alternative treatment in Germany and was hospitalized in early April for a blood clot resulting from that treatment, according to her doctor, Lawrence Piro. He also said her cancer had spread to her liver.
Ms. Fawcett’s career was a patchwork of positives and negatives, fine dramatic performances on television and stage as well as missed opportunities.
She first became famous when a poster of her in a red bathing suit, leonine mane flying, sold more than twice as many copies as posters of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable combined. No poster like it has achieved anywhere near its popularity since, and, arriving before the Internet era, in which the most widely disseminated images are now digital, it may have been the last of its kind.
Ms. Fawcett won praise for her serious acting later in her career, typically as a victimized woman. But she remained best known for the hit 1970s television show “Charlie’s Angels,” in which she played Jill Munroe, one of three beautiful women employed as private detectives by an unseen male boss who (in the voice of John Forsythe) issued directives and patronizing praise over a speaker phone. Her pinup fame had led the producers to cast her.
Ms. Fawcett and her fellow angels, played by Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, brought evildoers to justice, often while posing in decoy roles that put them in skimpy outfits or provocative situations.
“Charlie’s Angels,” created and produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg for ABC, was a phenomenon, finishing the 1976-77 season as the No. 5 network show, the highest-rated television debut in history at that time.
Ms. Fawcett was its breakout star. Although she left the show after one season and returned only sporadically thereafter, the show’s influence — among other things, it inspired two much later feature films starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu — was so indelible that she was forever associated with it.
The series, whose popularity coincided with the burgeoning women’s movement, brought new attention to issues of female sexuality and the influence of television. Commentators debated whether the show’s athletic, scantily clad heroines were exemplars of female strength or merely a harem of pretty puppets doing the bidding of a patriarchal leader.
As the show’s most popular star, Ms. Fawcett became another sort of poster girl, for the “jiggle TV” of the ’70s, and a lightning rod for cultural commentators. Chadwick Roberts, writing in The Journal of Popular Culture in 2003, described her “unbound, loose and abundant hair” as marking “a new emphasis on femininity after the androgyny of the late ’60s and early ’70s.”
In 1978 Playboy magazine called Ms. Fawcett “the first mass visual symbol of post-neurotic fresh-air sexuality.” She herself put it more plainly: “When the show got to be No. 3, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be No. 1, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.”
Ms. Fawcett acknowledged that her sex symbol status was a mixed blessing. It made her famous, but it often obscured the acting talent that brought her three Emmy nominations, most notably for “The Burning Bed,” a critically acclaimed movie about spousal abuse.
“I don’t think an actor ever wants to establish an image,” she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1986. “That certainly hurt me, and yet that is also what made me successful and eventually able to do more challenging roles. That’s life. Everything has positive and negative consequences.”
Ferrah Leni Fawcett was born in Corpus Christi, Tex., on Feb. 2, 1947. Her father, James, worked in the oil pipeline industry; her mother, Pauline, was a homemaker.
After dropping out of the University of Texas, Ms. Fawcett moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. She soon found work in commercials for Wella Balsam shampoo and Noxzema shaving cream, among other products. A Noxzema commercial in which she shaved the face of the football star Joe Namath was shown during the 1973 Super Bowl.
Ms. Fawcett also found acting work in television, landing guest roles on “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Flying Nun” and other sitcoms. She appeared in four episodes of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” whose star, Lee Majors, she had married in 1973. When Ms. Fawcett was cast on “Charlie’s Angels,” she had a clause written into her contract that allowed her to leave the set every day in time to prepare dinner for Mr. Majors.
She was billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors until 1979. She and Mr. Majors divorced in 1982.
The poster that ignited Ms. Fawcett’s career was shot at the Bel Air home she shared with Mr. Majors. “She was just this sweet, innocent, beautiful young girl,” said Bruce McBroom, who took the photograph. Searching for a backdrop to Ms. Fawcett in her one-piece red swimsuit (which she chose instead of a bikini because of a childhood scar on her stomach), he grabbed an old Navajo blanket from the front seat of his 1937 pickup.
After leaving “Charlie’s Angels” to pursue a film career (she came back for guest appearances for two more seasons), Ms. Fawcett made three forgettable movies in quick succession, then salvaged her reputation by returning to television. In 1981 she starred in the mini-series “Murder in Texas,” as the wife of a doctor who is subsequently accused of murdering her; in 1984 she made “The Burning Bed.”
Both movies were shown on NBC, and both performances received strong reviews. In “The Burning Bed,” Ms. Fawcett was one of the first prime-time actresses to forgo cosmetics in favor of a convincing characterization.
In 1983 she played another victimized woman who fights back — a vengeance-seeking rape victim — in the Off Broadway production of “Extremities.” She took over for Karen Allen, who had replaced Susan Sarandon. Ms. Fawcett went on to star in the film version of the play in 1986.
Other roles followed in film and television — she won praise again in the searing 1989 television movie “Small Sacrifices” — but throughout, Ms. Fawcett tended to attract more attention for her looks and personal life than for her professional accomplishments. Her long relationship with the actor Ryan O’Neal, with whom she had a son, kept her on the gossip pages long after her television work had become sporadic. In recent months she and Mr. O’Neal had been living together. Interviewed by Barbara Walters this month on the ABC program “20/20,” Mr. O’Neal said that he had asked Ms. Fawcett to marry her and she had said yes.
In 1997 Ms. Fawcett negated much of the respect she had earned as an actress when, during an appearance on “Late Show With David Letterman,” she promoted a bizarre body-painting Playboy video and appeared ditsy to the point of incoherence.
But later that year she appeared in the acclaimed independent film “The Apostle” as Robert Duvall’s long-suffering wife, and her critical star rose again — only to be dimmed by publicity about a court case involving a former companion, the director James Orr. Mr. Orr was convicted of assaulting Ms. Fawcett and sentenced to three years’ probation.
In addition to Mr. O’Neal, Ms. Fawcett is survived by her father, James, and her son, Redmond James Fawcett O’Neal.
Though her career was volatile, Ms. Fawcett’s fame never diminished after “Charlie’s Angels.” She tried to capitalize on her celebrity with the 2005 reality series “Chasing Farrah,” but it was a critical and ratings flop. Writing in Medialife magazine, Ed Robertson described the series and its star as “a living example of a talented actress whose career has been turned into a parody by poor decisions.”
Ms. Fawcett herself described her career succinctly. “I became famous,” she said in her 1986 Times interview, “almost before I had a craft.”
Ed McMahon with Johnny Carson on the set of “The Tonight Show.” More Photos >
By RICHARD SEVERO
Published: June 23, 2009
Ed McMahon, who for nearly 30 years was Johnny Carson’s affable second banana on “The Tonight Show,” introducing it with his ringing trademark line, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!,” died early Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 86.
His publicist, Howard Bragman, said Mr. McMahon died at Ronald Reagan Medical Center of the University of California, Los Angeles, surrounded by his family. Mr. Bragman said Mr. McMahon had many health problems, including bone cancer and pneumonia, for which he had been hospitalized in February.
Mr. McMahon was one of the most recognizable men in America. With his broad, genial, regular-guy features, he had the face of someone you would buy a used car from. Indeed, for decades he was one of television’s most ubiquitous pitchmen, selling everything from boats to beer. He also took a few acting roles and in later years was the host of the long-running television talent show “Star Search” and wrote some popular books, including his memoirs.
But it was in the role of the faithful Tonto to Carson’s wry Lone Ranger that Mr. McMahon made his sideman’s mark. After he rolled out his introduction like a red carpet for the boss, and after Carson delivered his nightly monologue, Mr. McMahon, in jacket and tie, would take his seat on the couch beside the host’s desk, chat and banter with Carson a bit before the guests came on and almost invariably guffaw at his jokes, even when he was the butt of them. When the guests did arrive, he would slide over to make room and rarely interrupt.
The work paid handsomely — some reports said $5 million a year — and it made Mr. McMahon a familiar face, and voice, in millions of households. “The Tonight Show” became the country’s most popular late-night television diversion, and the “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” introduction became a national catchphrase.
“I laugh for an hour and then go home,” Mr. McMahon once said. “I’ve got the world’s greatest job.”
Off camera he and Carson were friends and occasional drinking buddies, although Mr. McMahon noted that Carson, who died in 2005, was not terribly social. “He doesn’t give friendship easily or need it,” he said. “He packs a tight suitcase.”
Mr. McMahon rarely ran the risk of upstaging Carson. “To me, he’s the star and I’m on the sidelines, just nudging him a bit,” he said. But early in their association he slipped up.
It happened one night when Carson was telling the audience about a study concluding that mosquitoes preferred to bite “warm-blooded, passionate people.” Before Carson could deliver his punch line, Mr. McMahon slapped his own arm, as if crushing a mosquito. The audience roared. Carson coolly produced a giant can of insect spray from under his desk and said, glaring at Mr. McMahon, “I guess I won’t be needing this prop, will I?”
It was a rare flare-up in an association that began in the late 1950s, when Carson was the host of the ABC comedy quiz show “Do You Trust Your Wife?” and Mr. McMahon was hired to announce the show and read the commercials. (The title was later changed to “Who Do You Trust?”) In 1962, when Carson moved to “The Tonight Show,” replacing Jack Paar, he took Mr. McMahon with him.
Mr. McMahon warmed up the studio audience, read commercials and served as Carson’s straight man until Carson left the show in 1992. Though Mr. McMahon sometimes projected the image of an amiable lush and got laughs for it, the cup that was always before him on “The Tonight Show” held only iced tea, he said. Years later, he said he had missed only three tapings in 30 years, because of colds or the flu.
Edward Leo Peter McMahon Jr. was born in Detroit on March 6, 1923. His father, a vaudevillian, had to move a lot to find work, and young Ed had attended 15 high schools by the time he was a senior. Edward Sr.’s career was so erratic that one year, awash in money, the McMahons lived in the Mark Hopkins hotel, atop Nob Hill in San Francisco; another year, flat broke, they existed in a cold-water flat in Bayonne, N.J.
As a boy in Bayonne, Mr. McMahon recalled, he dreamed of becoming an entertainer and did impersonations of stars, using a flashlight as his microphone and his dog, Valiant Prince, as his audience. He shined shoes, sold newspapers, dug ditches, sold peanuts, worked as an usher, labored on a construction gang and sold stainless-steel cookware door to door.
At his request he spent his last high school years in Lowell, Mass., where his grandmother lived. By the time he was 18 he had been a traveling bingo announcer in New England and had sold a gadget called the Morris Metric Slicer to tourists on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and in Times Square. He also took elocution lessons at Emerson College in Boston.
Mr. McMahon enlisted in the Marine Corps toward the end of World War II and became a fighter pilot, but did not see combat. After his discharge he attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1949. He then landed a job at a Philadelphia radio station and began appearing on television as, among other things, a clown and the host of a cooking show.
But his budding television career was interrupted when he was recalled into military service during the Korean War. He flew 85 combat missions in 15 months, winning six Air Medals, and remained active in the Marine Corps Reserve afterward.
Returning from the war, he resumed his television work in Philadelphia while traveling to New York hoping to break into network television. He also pursued a separate career as a businessman. By the time he made it as an announcer, he had acquired a stationery company, a company that made knickknacks, two television and film companies and a talent agency. He also speculated in real estate.
Even when he got his big break with Carson, he never let up on his business activities. Carson would tweak him about them on “The Tonight Show,” suggesting that after that night’s show was over, Mr. McMahon would be selling jams and jellies in the elevator.
Over the years Mr. McMahon became a paid spokesman for many products and companies, including Budweiser beer, Alpo dog food, Chris-Craft boats, Texas Instruments, Breck shampoo, Sara Lee baked goods and Mercedes-Benz. His name and photograph were fixtures on the form letters mailed by American Family Publishers announcing sweepstakes winners. He marketed his own brand of liquor, McMahon Perfect Vodka. Most recently, he and the rapper MC Hammer promoted a gold-buying business called Cash4Gold. (In a commercial for the business during the Super Bowl this year, he spoofed himself with the line “Heeeeere’s money.”)
And for more than 40 years, Mr. McMahon appeared with Jerry Lewis on Mr. Lewis’s Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon over Labor Day Weekend. He did some film acting as well. Among the movies he appeared in were “The Incident” (1967), in which he played a passenger brutalized by young thugs on a New York subway train; “Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off” (1973); and “Fun With Dick and Jane” (1977).
After leaving “The Tonight Show,” Mr. McMahon appeared in summer stock and kept his hand in television, appearing as a guest star on various series and taking supporting roles in television movies. For 12 years he was the host of the talent show “Star Search”; he joined Dick Clark on “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes”; he was Tom Arnold’s sidekick on the short-lived sitcom “The Tom Show.” For the USA Radio Network, he broadcast “Ed McMahon’s Lifestyles Live” weekly from his home.
There were books, too, most recently the best-selling “Here’s Johnny! My Memories of Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show, and 46 Years of Friendship” (2005). Others were “For Laughing Out Loud: My Life and Good Times” (1998), written with David Fisher; “Ed McMahon’s Barside Companion” (1969); and “Here’s Ed, or How to Be a Second Banana, From Midway to Midnight” (1976).
Despite his many business ventures, Mr. McMahon encountered hard times in his last years. He faced foreclosure on his Beverly Hills mansion last year after falling behind in payments on $4.8 million in mortgages. In the end a deal was worked out allowing him to stay in his home, but he was also being sued over other debts.
Mr. McMahon, who appeared on “Larry King Live” with his wife, Pam, to discuss his financial problems, blamed two divorces, bad money management and bad investments for his woes. “I made a lot of money, but you can spend a lot of money,” he said by way of explanation.
He was plagued by health problems as well, undergoing a series of operations after breaking his neck in a fall in 2007.
Mr. McMahon married Alyce Ferrell during World War II. They were divorced in 1976. They had four children, Claudia, Michael, Linda and Jeffrey. His second marriage, to Victoria Valentine, in 1976, ended in divorce in 1989. They adopted a daughter, Katherine Mary McMahon. Mr. McMahon and his third wife, Pam Hurn, a fashion designer, were married in 1992, and Mr. McMahon adopted her son, Lex. His wife and children survive him.
Mr. McMahon regarded his friendship with Johnny Carson as a marriage of sorts. “Most comic teams are not good friends or even friends at all,” he wrote in “Here’s Johnny.”
“Laurel and Hardy didn’t hang out together, Abbott and Costello weren’t best of friends.”
But, he added, “Johnny and I were the happy exception.”
“For 40 years Johnny and I were as close as two nonmarried people can be,” he wrote. “And if he heard me say that, he might say, ‘Ed, I always felt you were my insignificant other.’ ”
ROBERT A. DERZON, FIRST DIRECTOR OF MEDICARE AND MEDICAID
Robert A. Derzon, the first director of the federal agency that manages Medicare and Medicaid, died June 17 in Orangeville, Ontario, where he was visiting a friend. He was 78 and lived in Mill Valley, Calif.
The cause was swine flu, Mr. Derzon’s son Mike said.
Mr. Derzon, who had previously been deputy commissioner of New York City’s Department of Hospitals, was chosen by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 to head what was then called the Health Care Financing Administration. Now called the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency was created in March 1977 to coordinate the two programs, which since they were created in 1965 had been run separately.
Essentially, Medicare provides health insurance for people 65 and over and Medicaid provides insurance for poor people.
In his two years as director, Mr. Derzon faced the difficult task of minimizing fraud and abuse in the programs and the apparently insurmountable task of slowing the soaring rate of hospital cost increases. His cost-cutting suggestions were sometimes controversial.
In a memo sent on June 4, 1977, to Joseph A. Califano Jr., the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare at the time, Mr. Derzon suggested that the federal government adopt a “living will” law similar to one enacted by California. Living wills permit patients to authorize their doctors to terminate life-support systems when there is no chance for a cure or recovery. He also favored Medicaid financing of abortions for mothers on welfare.
Throughout his career, Mr. Derzon was a proponent of universal health care coverage. In 1969, when he was first deputy commissioner of New York City’s Hospitals Department, he told a state legislative committee that the existing method of paying for health and hospital care was “a disaster.”
“The vast majority of our population in suburban, urban and rural areas is not receiving convenient and economically produced quality health services,” he said. Because of Medicaid cutbacks, he added, hospitals that had expanded health services to the poor in the city were “on the brink of fiscal disaster.”
Robert Alan Derzon was born in Milwaukee on Dec. 30, 1930, one of two sons of Matthew and Mildred Gordon Derzon. Mr. Derzon graduated from Dartmouth in 1953 and received a master’s degree in 1955 from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. In 1956, he received a master’s degree in public health administration from the University of Minnesota.
From 1960 to 1966, Mr. Derzon was associate director of the New York University Medical Center. He was first deputy commissioner of New York’s hospital department from 1966 to 1969 and acting commissioner in 1970. Before being appointed to the federal post, he was director of the University of California’s medical school hospital in San Francisco.
Mr. Derzon’s wife of 54 years, the former Margo Harris, died in 2002. Besides his son Mike, he is survived by another son, James; a daughter, Andrea Merenluoto; his brother, Gordon; and nine grandchildren.
Billy Mays filmed segments for a Kaboom commercial at Omnicomm Studios in Clearwater, Fla., in February.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50.
Tampa police said Mays’ wife found him unresponsive Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. It was not immediately clear how he died. He said he was hit on the head when an airplane he was on made a rough landing Saturday, and his wife, Deborah Mays, told investigators he didn’t feel well before he went to bed about 10 p.m. that night.
There were no signs of a break-in at the home, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn’t answer questions about how Mays’ body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner’s office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.
”Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days,” Deborah Mays said in a statement Sunday. ”Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times.”
U.S. Airways confirmed that Mays was among the passengers on a flight that made a rough landing on Saturday afternoon at Tampa International Airport, leaving debris on the runway after apparently blowing its front tires.
Tampa Bay’s Fox television affiliate interviewed Mays afterward.
”All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping,” MyFox Tampa Bay quoted him as saying. ”It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.”
Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said linking Mays’ death to the landing would ”purely be speculation.” She said Mays’ family members didn’t report any health issues with the pitchman, but said he was due to have hip replacement surgery in the coming weeks.
Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said she did not know if Mays was wearing his seat belt on the flight because the FAA is not investigating his death.
U.S. Airways spokesman Jim Olson said there were no reports of serious injury due to the landing.
”If local authorities have any questions for us about yesterday’s flight, we’ll cooperate fully with them,” he said.
Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other ”As Seen on TV” gadgets on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.
AJ Khubani, founder and CEO of ”As Seen on TV,” said he first met Mays in the early 1990s when Mays was still pitching one of his early products, the Shammy absorbent cloth, at a trade fair. He said he most recently worked with Mays on the reality TV show ”Pitchmen” on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs.
”His innovative role and impact on the growth and wide acceptance of direct response television cannot be overestimated or easily replaced; he was truly one of a kind,” Khubani said of Mays in a statement.
After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.
Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it’s done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, ”Long live your laundry!”
Sarah Ellerstein worked closely with Mays when she was a buyer for the Home Shopping Network in the 1990s and he was pitching Orange Glo products.
”Billy was such a sweet guy, very lovable, very nice, always smiling, just a great, great guy,” she said, adding that Mays met his future wife at the network. ”Everybody thinks because he’s loud and boisterous on the air that that’s the way he is, but I always found him to be a quiet, down-to-earth person.”
His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans for his commercials on a wide variety of products. People lined up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stopped him in airports to chat about the products.
”I enjoy what I do,” Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. ”I think it shows.”
Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel (”powered by the air we breathe!”) on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.
As part of ”Pitchmen,” Mays and Sullivan showed viewers new gadgets such as the Impact Gel shoe insert; the Tool Band-it, a magnetized armband that holds tools; and the Soft Buns portable seat cushion.
”One of the things that we hope to do with ‘Pitchmen’ is to give people an appreciation of what we do,” Mays told The Tampa Tribune in an April interview. ”I don’t take on a product unless I believe in it. I use everything that I sell.”
His former wife, Dolores ”Dee Dee” Mays, of McKees Rocks, Pa., recalled that the first product he sold was the Wash-matik, a device for pumping water from a bucket to wash cars.
”I knew him since he was 15, and I always knew he had it in him,” she said of Mays’ success. ”He’ll live on forever because he always had the biggest heart in the world. He loved his friends and family and would do anything for them. He was a generous soul and a great father.”
Associated Press Writer Sarah Larimer in Miami and Ron Todt in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
Jackson Was Not Breathing When Authorities Arrived, LA Times Says
POSTED: 4:56 pm EDT June 25, 2009
UPDATED: 6:29 pm EDT June 25, 2009
Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead by doctors Thursday afternoon after arriving at a hospital in a deep coma, city and law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Capt. Steve Ruda said Thursday that Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.
L. Londell McMillan, a lawyer for Jackson, did not have any information. Messages left for other Jackson associates were not immediately returned.
The hospitalization was first reported by the Web site TMZ.
The emergency entrance at the UCLA Medical Center, which is near Jackson’s rented home, was roped off Thursday with police tape.
News trucks were gathered, helicopters flew overhead, and orange cones were laid out to redirect traffic.
“We have no statements as far as transporting Michael Jackson,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Devin Gales said.
The news comes as the Jackson was expected to kick off a series of shows in London.
Jackson, 50, hasn’t released a studio album since 2001, and his turns in the spotlight have mostly focused on his personal troubles.
Jackson was arrested in 2003 on child-molestation charges and acquitted in 2005 after a trial in California.
Associated Press entertainment reporters Derrik Lang and Anthony McCartney and special correspondent Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles and music writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this story.
By SHEILA MARIKAR and EMILY FRIEDMAN June 25, 2009
Michael Jackson, the self-anointed “King of Pop” who revolutionized music but whose legacy was marred by allegations of child molestation and bizarre behavior, died after suffering cardiac arrest Thursday. He was 50 years old.
Singer Michael Jackson is shown in this November 15, 2006 file photo in London. Jackson was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center this afternoon after suffering cardiac arrest, according to multiple reports.
The Los Angeles Fire Department was called to Jackson’s residence at 12:26 p.m. P.T., according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reported that paramedics performed CPR on Jackson, who was not breathing when they arrived at his home. He was rushed to LA Medical Center, just six miles from his home.
Jackson’s death comes less than a month before the start of a scheduled series of so-called comeback concerts. From July 13 to March 6, 2010, Jackson was scheduled to perform 50 sold-out concerts at London’s O2 Arena.
Jackson is survived by his three children, Prince Michael I, Paris and Prince Michael II.
Fans last heard from Jackson during a press conference in London last March, where he assured about 2,000 fans that his upcoming concert would be his “final curtain call.”
“I just want to say that these will be my final show performances in London,” he said to the screaming crowd. “This will be it. When I say this is it, this will be it.”
Groomed for Stardom
Born Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, Ind., in 1958, “The King of Pop” was the fifth of nine children of Joe and Katherine Jackson. Both parents instilled a love of music early in their children’s lives: Katherine taught them folk music while Joe, a budding guitarist, managed them and molded their musical work ethic. Michael was only four years old when he started singing with his older brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon and formed the original Jackson 5.
The brothers were discovered by Motown singers Diana Ross and Gladys Knight and pianist Billy Taylor after a performance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y. Motown Records founder Berry Gordy would soon sign them to a contract. Gordy’s investment paid off: The Jackson 5 broke through to national stardom in 1969-70 with four consecutive hit songs. Energetic, dancing prepubescent Michael was the standout of the group. “I saw so much of myself as a child in Michael,” Diana Ross told a reporter in 1970. “He was performing all the time. That’s the way I was. He could be my son.”
International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. This resolution recommended further action with regard to the report and conclusions of the 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, on 26 June, reminds us that torture is a crime and provides us with an opportunity to stand united and voice our opinion against torture, a cruel violation of human rights.
IRCT members, in collaboration with the IRCT Secretariat, and human rights organisations around the world celebrate the day with a multitude of events. You are more than welcome to join us. To find out how, go to 26 June around the world or to Campaign tools for inspiration, materials and suggestions.
2008 campaigner in activity organised by MRCT, Romania
The Convention against Torture
26 June was the day that the Convention against Torture came into force. It was also the day that the United Nations Charter was signed – the first international instrument to embody obligations for Member States to promote and encourage respect for human rights.
The UN General Assembly, in its Resolution 57/277, designated 23 June as Public Service Day (A/RES/57/277). The UN Public Service Day intends to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector. Since the first Awards Ceremony in 2003, the United Nations has received an increasing number of submissions from all around the world.
The United Nations Public Service Awards is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide. Through an annual competition, the UN Public Service Awards promotes the role, professionalism and visibility of public service. Click here to download the brochure.
UNPAN receives hundreds of submissions every year for the prestigious UN Public Service Awards. For the benefit of policy makers at the national, regional and international levels; the academic community, NGOs; the private sector; as well as nominees, we have made available a number of past UN Public Service Awards initiatives that had been pre-selected for the final round of evaluation by the Committee of Experts on Public Administration. These cases have not been edited and they do not imply any expression of opinion on the part of the United Nations.
Other titles on refugees
from UNBISnet UN • Non-UN
World Refugee Day20 June
For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even Weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on 20 June in several countries.
As an expression of solidarity with Africa, which hosts the most refugees, and which traditionally has shown them great generosity, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 55/76 on 4 December 2000. In this resolution, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June. The Assembly therefore decided that, from 2001, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.
[Note: The OAU was replaced by the African Union on 9 July 2002.]
2009 World Day to Combat DesertificationThe World Day to Combat Desertification is observed every year on 17 June. This year, the Day’s theme is “Conserving land and water = Securing our common future” more..
COP9 will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina The Ninth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification will be held at the Hotel Hilton in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 21 September to 2 October 2009. more..
The UNCCD Ten-Year Strategy commits to increase the flow of science into the Convention process. To help achieve that, the Sessions of the Committee on Science and Technology will be organized in a predominantly scientific and technical conference-style format.more..
The UNCCD Secretariat is organizing on Saturday 6 June 2009 a one-day event for climate change negotiators to consider in depth the linkages between climate change and desertification, land degradation and drought. more..
Strategic Partnership between UNCCD and UNDP
The two-day UNCCD/UNDP Retreat was held on 4-5 June in Bonn to build a common ground and a cooperate framework for partnership to combat desertification, land degradation and to mitigate effects of drought more..
Call for the UNCCD Photo Contest
Deadline of Submission Extended to 17 July
The UNCCD secretariat in cooperation with the Secretariat for Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina launched the second international photo contest to call amateur and professional photographers to support raising wider awareness for the issues of desertification, land degradation and drought through their photographs more..
Regional Coordination Mechanisms
3/COP.8 calls “… each region to develop a proposal, in collaboration with the Executive Secretary and the Global Mechanism on mechanism to facilitate regional coordination of the implementation of the Convention …”.Following the mandate received with decision 3/COP.8, and along an agreed upon joint work programme, the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism have assisted Parties in the development of five proposals, one per Regional Implementation Annex to the Convention, on mechanisms to facilitate regional coordination. more..
Enhancing the participation of Civil Society Organizations in UNCCD processes and events In accordance with decision 3/COP.8 and the relevant recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit, the UNCCD secretariat has conceived the “Draft Eligibility Criteria for funding the participation of Civil Society Organizations in UNCCD processes and events”, in order to submit it to COP 9 for consideration and possible adoption. more..
Unpredictable and extreme droughts threaten food security UNCCD Executive Secretary concerned over severity of droughts in southern hemisphere and China; urges more coordinated international action more..
Rio Conventions Calendar 2009 The beautiful images in this calendar should not only remind us of what we stand to lose; they should also remind us of what we stand to gain if we stop destroying humanity’s sustenance: our natural resources. more..
CRIC 7, Istanbul, Turkey
3-14 November 2008 The seventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 7) and the First Special Session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) were held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3 to 14 November, 2008. more..
Parliamentarians address next steps lawmaking bodies can take in helping combat desertification
A two-day meeting of the Steering Committee of the Seventh UNCCD Parliamentarians’ Forum ended with an agreement of measures that lawmaking bodies can do to help combat desertification and land degradation as well as mitigate the effects of drought. more..
UNCCD Secretariat organizes side event in Climate Change Conference
UNCCD Secretariat organizes side event in Climate Change Conferencemore..
High-level Policy Dialogue
The High-level Policy Dialogue took place on 27 May 2008 in Bonn, Germany. High rank officials met to identify conditions required and political commitment necessary for the implementation of the Ten-Strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention in the context of current global emerging issue more..
‘If You Feed the Land, It Will Feed You Back’
In an extensive interview with IPS European director Ramesh Jaura, Mr. Gnacadja highlights the global framework offered by the UNCCD which could serve as “a platform to address the important issue of climate change and soil.” more..
International Congress “Oasis and Sustainable Tourism”
8 to 10 August. Water Tribune. EXPO Water 2008 more..
The beauty of the Deserts the challenge of Desertification.
Deserts of the Earth by Michael Martin more..
Pathways for Success: Dialogue on Sustainable Land Use more..
The UNCCD Ten-Year Strategy commits to increase the flow of science into the Convention process. To help achieve that, the Sessions of the Committee on Science and Technology will be organized in a predominantly scientific and technical conference-style format. more..
UNCCD Secretariat organizes side event in Climate Change Conference more..
CSOs from Sub-Saharan Africa meet in Pretoria to discuss the establishment of a civil society coordination mechanism for SLM, with a view to tackle Issues and challenges to CSO engagementmore..
2do Congreso Mundial de Páramos, 21 – 27 June, Loja, Ecuadormore..
Panel discussion on climate, land and food security was held in Berlin on 15 October 2008 more..
Regional initiative on financial resource mobilization for strengthening the implementation of the UNCCD in Central and Eastern Europe more..
iSeek interviews Mr. Luc Gnacadja.Mr. Gnacadja pointed out the extent of the desertification problem worldwide, more..
Visit the UNCCD photo gallery for images on desertification.
Desert nights: Tales from the desert.
International Film Festival, Rome, 1-7 December 2006
Frank J. Low, who helped astronomers extend their vision beyond visible light into a vast realm of previously invisible colors, revolutionizing the study of the birth of planets, stars and galaxies, died on June 11 in Tucson. He was 75.
Associated Press, 1966
Frank J. Low
His death, after a long illness, was announced by the University of Arizona, where he had been a professor since 1965.
Starting as a young physicist at Texas Instruments in 1961, Dr. Low spent his career developing devices to detect and measure infrared, or “heat,” radiation from stars and getting them deployed in telescopes, airplanes and satellites.
Using Dr. Low’s devices and their successors, astronomers have been able to peer through dust clouds to find the birthplaces of stars; discover galaxies and quasars invisible to ordinary telescopes; discern rings of dust and, recently, even planets around other stars; and study what is believed to be residual heat left over from the Big Bang.
NASA’s next big effort, the James Webb Space Telescope, destined for a 2014 launching, is an infrared space telescope built in a design Dr. Low created.
Dr. Low helped drive the field of infrared astronomy with his enthusiasm and an intuitive knack for solving technical problems, said George H. Rieke, a longtime associate at the University of Arizona. Along with Gerry Neugebauer of Caltech and the late Harold L. Johnson of Arizona, Dr. Low was a co-father of the field, Dr. Rieke said.
Frank James Low was born in Mobile, Ala., on Nov. 23, 1933, and reared in Houston. He studied physics at Yale University and then Rice University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1959.
He then joined Texas Instruments, where he developed a low-temperature thermometer made of the rare-earth element germanium doped with trace amounts of gallium. Dr. Low realized that the device, which responded to absorbed energy by changing its electrical resistance, could be used as an infrared bolometric detector that could measure heat from stars.
Every object in the universe — from a fevered brow to an exploding star — emits some of this heat, which consists of electromagnetic waves longer than visible light waves but shorter than radio waves. For several years, astronomers, including Dr. Johnson, had been trying to tap into this radiation.
Dr. Low’s bolometer was more sensitive than previous detectors, and he was eager to put it to work. In 1962, he moved from Texas Instruments to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va. There, he tested his bolometer on a radio telescope.
Besides being invisible, infrared rays also are absorbed by the atmosphere, especially water vapor, so a high, dry place is necessary for infrared astronomy. Dr. Low solved this problem by going above the atmosphere’s water vapor and initiating airborne astronomy, using ever larger and higher-flying laboratories: a U.S. Navy Douglas A-3 bomber carrying a 2-inch telescope in 1965 and 1966; and a NASA Learjet, Dr. Low’s favorite, with a 12-inch telescope.
With the Learjet, he discovered that Jupiter and Saturn emitted more energy than they received from the Sun, which meant they had some source of internal energy. In 1975, NASA began operating the Gerard P. Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a converted Lockheed C-141 military cargo plane, but Dr. Low continued to use the Learjet.
The Kuiper is soon to be replaced by a modified Boeing 747SP, called SOFIA, for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.
Yearning to be completely free of atmospheric interference, Dr. Low, along with other astronomers, pushed NASA to build and launch the Infrared Astronomy Satellite, IRAS, which did the first infrared sky survey from space. Dr. Low was its chief technologist.
When an accident at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory destroyed the preamplifiers for the satellite’s detectors, throwing the project into a crisis, Dr. Low built new and better ones at his own company, Infrared Laboratories Inc., which he had founded in 1967 to supply astronomers around the world.
Launched in 1983, IRAS — a joint venture by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands — pinpointed more than half a million sources of infrared radiation in the sky, many of them galaxies. Indeed, astronomers now say that half of the energy released by galaxies is in the form of infrared emission, created when interstellar dust absorbs light from young stars and re-radiates it as heat.
IRAS also discovered rings of debris and dust around other stars, in particular Vega, suggesting that the same processes that had formed planets close at hand were at work deep in space.
Astronomers later found a similar debris field, the Kuiper Belt, which lies beyond Neptune. Dr. Rieke called it “certainly the first example of discovering a feature in other planetary systems before we found it in our own.”
NASA planned to follow IRAS with a Hubble-class infrared satellite called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, now known as the Spitzer Space Telescope. Dr. Low was named the facility scientist, but the project was stalled for years by cost concerns.
At a retreat for the project scientists and engineers in Colorado in 1993, Dr. Low had a midnight inspiration for how to build the telescope more cheaply.
Previously, to keep infrared telescopes from being swamped by their own heat, the telescopes were encased in a giant thermos bottle and cooled to nearly absolute zero by liquid helium. Dr. Low proposed leaving the telescope out in the open and letting it radiate its heat to space naturally. Only the detectors at the focal plane of the telescope needed to be cooled with liquid helium.
Dr. Low’s design saved the project and opened up a new way to build space telescopes, including the coming James Webb Space Telescope, Dr. Rieke said.
Dr. Low retired from the University of Arizona in 1996, after 31 years; he also maintained a connection with Rice University from 1966 to 1979. He remained active in his company until 2007.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Edith Low; three children, Valerie Rossiter of Tucson, Beverly Fjeldstad of Oslo, Norway, and Eric Low of Rogers, Ariz.; a sister, Sallie Beckner of Washington; and six grandchildren.
John A. Eddy, a solar astronomer who studied the history of the sun and demonstrated that it is not a constant star with a regular cycle of behavior but rather one that has periods of anomaly, died June 10 in Tucson, where he lived. He was 78.
John A. Eddy
The cause was cancer, his wife, Barbara, said .
In 1976, Dr. Eddy published an article in the journal Science in which he confirmed the speculative and largely unknown observations of 19th-century astronomers that for seven decades, from 1645 to 1715, the surface of the sun was inordinately calm, with the magnetic storms that often roil it — as indicated by the presence of sunspots — peculiarly absent.
Dr. Eddy called the peaceful interlude the Maunder Minimum, after E. W. Maunder, an English scientist who, along with a German, Gustav Spörer, first noted the presumed anomaly in the 1890s.
“I have re-examined the contemporary reports and new evidence which has come to light since Maunder’s time and conclude that this 70-year period was indeed a time when solar activity all but stopped,” Dr. Eddy wrote.
His research consisted largely of digging into historical documents — including accounts of telescopic observations going back to Galileo; reports of the aurora borealis from centuries past; visual observations of sunspots recorded in Asia and historical descriptions of the appearance of the sun’s corona during solar eclipses — all pointing with overwhelming coincidence, if not outright scientific proof, to the same conclusion.
But lastly, Dr. Eddy found confirmation of his findings in measurements of the concentration of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 found in tree rings, which is known to correlate with solar activity. The carbon-14 evidence also indicated earlier periods of solar quiescence, before the first telescopic observance of sunspots, including a period from 1450 to 1540, which Dr. Eddy called the Spörer Minimum.
The Science article was a striking repudiation of the generally held belief that solar activity is relatively consistent, with the number of sunspots rising and falling in an 11-year cycle, and it raised the possibility that irregularities in the behavior of the sun could have an effect on Earth and its climate. Dr. Eddy pointed out, for instance, that both the Maunder Minimum and the Spörer Minimum coincided with the coldest intervals of the Little Ice Age, a period of brisker-than-average temperatures, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, from 1450 to 1850.
“This behavior is wholly unlike the modern behavior of the sun which we have come to accept as normal, and the consequences for solar and terrestrial physics seem to me profound,” Dr. Eddy wrote, and though the idea that the climate is in flux is still a matter of scientific debate 33 years later, satellite observations of the sun have determined that its irradiance is variable.
“The observational evidence that the climate responds to the sun’s variations has continued to grow,” said Dr. Judith Lean, a former colleague of Dr. Eddy, who was at the University of Colorado while he was at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colo., and who is now a solar-terrestrial physicist at the United States Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. “His vision has been validated.”
John Allen Eddy, known to all as Jack, was born on March 25, 1931, in Pawnee City, in southeastern Nebraska, where his father managed a cooperative farm store. It was a small town, but it happened to be the home of a senator who sponsored him for the United States Naval Academy. At Annapolis, he took a course in celestial navigation, which engendered his love of the sky. After four years as a naval officer during and after the Korean War, he entered the graduate program in astrogeophysics at the University of Colorado. He received his doctorate in 1962.
Dr. Eddy’s first marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, whom he married in 1992, he is survived by a brother, Robert, of Longmont, Colo.; a sister, Lucille Hunzeker of Humboldt, Neb.; four children, Alexandra Eddy of Longmont; Amy Gale of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Jack Jr., of Laguna Beach, Calif., and Elisabeth Walker of Kirkland, Wash.; and four grandchildren.
Dr. Eddy’s historical research also led him to demonstrate that the wheel-like formation of stones and cairns on a Wyoming mountain top — known as the Bighorn Medicine Wheel — was a purposeful, sky-oriented arrangement of stones, a crude astronomical observatory crafted by Native American inhabitants of the Western plains.
He spent his later years advancing the study of the relationship between Earth and the sun, and he had just completed a book on the subject, “The Sun, the Earth and Near-Earth Space: A Guide to the Sun-Earth System,” which is to be published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Dr. Eddy explained why he named his most famous discovery after a second-tier scientist who was not even the first to notice the hiccup in the sun’s behavior. Spörer’s observations preceded Maunder’s, but Spörer Minimum just didn’t sing. “Maunder Minimum,” with all those m’s, he said, did.
“You know, the temptation was to think that it might someday be called the Eddy Minimum, that is, to call it nothing in the hope that someone else would do that,” he said in an oral history interview for the American Institute of Physics, “but being from Nebraska, I could never do anything like that.”
Bob Bogle, a founding member of the Ventures, the long-running guitar band whose jaunty 1960 hit “Walk — Don’t Run” became an early standard of instrumental rock ’n’ roll and taught generations of guitarists how to make their solos sparkle, died on Sunday in Vancouver, Wash., where he lived. He was 75.
The cause was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Fiona Taylor, the Ventures’ manager, said.
Although not the first instrumental band of the rock era, the Ventures were the most successful and enduring, applying their twangy, high-energy sound to dozens of albums.
Older than the typical teenage garage band, the members of the Ventures cut wholesome figures, their guitar gymnastics coming across as good, clean sport.
Mr. Bogle and Don Wilson, two young construction workers and novice guitar enthusiasts, started the group in Tacoma, Wash., in 1958. Unable to attract a record label, they founded their own, Blue Horizon.
Their first single, “Cookies and Coke,” was a flop, but for their second they chose “Walk — Don’t Run,” a tune by the jazz guitarist Johnny Smith that Mr. Bogle had discovered on a Chet Atkins album. The Ventures transformed the gentle original with a quick tempo and bright, punchy guitars. Mr. Bogle played the lead part, punctuating the melodies with springy vibrato and various noisemaking tricks.
“They took a jazz song that had some swing to it, and they garaged it out,” Peter Blecha, author of “Sonic Boom: The History of Northwest Rock From ‘Louie Louie’ to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ ” said in an interview on Tuesday. “They stomped their way through it, ignored the niceties of the sound and made it palatable to 15-year-old tastes.”
In the summer of 1960 the single became first a regional hit and then, with distribution by the Liberty label, a national one. It eventually reached No. 2 and sold 2 million copies, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Later that year, when the group prepared to tour, it enlisted a more dexterous guitarist, Nokie Edwards, and Mr. Bogle moved permanently to bass guitar. Howie Johnson was the drummer in the original band, later to be replaced by Mel Taylor.
“Walk — Don’t Run” became the Ventures’ formula, applied on hundreds of subsequent records. That same year, 1960, they had another hit with their instrumental version of “Perfidia,” a much-covered song by the Mexican songwriter Alberto Domínguez. (Charlie Parker, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole and Linda Ronstadt, among others, have also recorded versions of it.)
The band covered pop hits, television theme songs and various novelties in the signature Ventures style, including Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and the “Batman” theme. Psychedelic albums followed in the late 1960s, and in 1972 the Ventures covered “Theme From ‘Shaft,’ ” the blaxploitation classic by Isaac Hayes.
The Ventures scored a total of six Top 40 hits throughout the ’60s, including a surf remake of “Walk — Don’t Run,” which reached No. 8 in 1964, and a version of the “Hawaii Five-O” television theme, which went to No. 4 in 1969.
In 1965 the group released an instructional album, “Play Guitar With the Ventures,” and over the years many top rock guitarists, including George Harrison and John Fogerty, have acknowledged a debt to the band.
By the 1970s, the Ventures’ popularity had begun to wane in the United States, although they remained successful in Japan, where they had toured from their earliest years to the present; confounding record collectors, the group made dozens of albums exclusively for release in Japan.
Among Mr. Bogle’s survivors are his wife, Yumi; his brothers Clarence, Dennis and Curtis; a sister, Sybil; his sons Gary, Mike, Paul, Randy and Brandon; a daughter, Kathy; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008; Mr. Fogerty was the presenter. Mr. Bogle was not in attendance, but Mr. Wilson and Mr. Edwards were, and Ms. Taylor, the band’s manager and widow of Mel Taylor, accepted the honor on his behalf. Mr. Taylor died in 1996, and Howie Johnson had died in 1988. At the ceremony, the band performed the “Hawaii Five-O” theme and “Walk — Don’t Run.”
Philip D. Curtin, a wide-ranging and influential historian whose pioneering use of modern statistical methods to determine the extent of the Atlantic slave trade suggested that far fewer slaves were transported from Africa than had previously been thought, died June 4 in West Chester, Pa. He was 87 and lived in Kennett Square, Pa.
Family photo, courtesy of Johns Hopkins University
Philip D. Curtin
The cause was pneumonia, said his wife, Anne.
In “The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census” (1969), Mr. Curtin followed two widely used estimates of the number of slaves transported from Africa back to their origins, and then applied quantitative methods to come up with his own figure: 9 million to 10 million, with a 20 percent margin of error.
The earlier estimates had been based on supposition, as it turned out. Mr. Curtin’s figure, based on scrutiny of shipping contracts and port data, was substantially less than the widely repeated figure of 20 million, which, he showed, was an extrapolation from now-lost records pertaining to Jamaica, and the figure of 15 million used by W. E. B. Du Bois, who repeated a figure arrived at by Edward Dunbar, a 19th-century abolitionist.
Before Mr. Curtin published his book, estimates varied wildly, from as few as 3.5 million to as many as 100 million. All these numbers, Mr. Curtin, owed their longevity to “a vast inertia, as historians have copied over and over again the flimsy results of insubstantial guesswork.”
The debate continues, but the range has narrowed.
Although he was known principally for his studies of the slave trade and the economic history of Africa, Mr. Curtin later took on even larger questions of human interaction across large geographic areas and periods of time.
“Once he had established himself as the foremost African historian in the United States, he extended his range to world history,” said William T. Rowe, chairman of the history department at Johns Hopkins University. “He was a proselytizer for a kind of world history that treated every human society with equal dignity and equal weight, interacting with each other and having indigenous processes of change, not simply waiting for the Europeans or the Arabs to arrive.”
Philip DeArmond Curtin was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Webster Springs, W. Va., where his family owned a coal and timber business. After a three-year interruption for service in the Merchant Marine, he graduated from Swarthmore College in 1948. In 1953, he received a doctorate in history from Harvard, writing his dissertation on the history and economy of Jamaica in the mid-19th century.
At the University of Wisconsin, where he began teaching in 1956, he and a colleague, Jan Vansina, started a department of African languages and literature, helping to establish African studies as an academic discipline in the United States. From 1975 until his retirement in 1998, he taught at Johns Hopkins.
In addition to his work on African societies, notably “Precolonial African History” (1974) and “Economic Change in Precolonial Africa” (1974), Mr. Curtin commanded an academic readership outside his field for books like “Cross-Cultural Trade in World History” (1984), “Death by Migration: Europe’s Encounter With the Tropical World in the 19th Century” (1989) and “The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex” (1990).
In addition to his wife, the former Anne Gilbert, he is survived by their three sons, Steven, of Northville, Mich; Charles, of North Haven, Me.; and Christopher, of West Chester; two brothers, David and Richard, both of Fort Myers, Fla.; and three grandchildren.
Mr. Curtin’s previous marriages, to Phyllis Smith, known in her opera career as Phyllis Curtin, and Patricia Romero, ended in divorce.
In 1983, Mr. Curtin was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. In 2005, he published a memoir, “On the Fringes of History.”
Barry Beckett, an Alabama-born keyboardist who helped create the distinctly Southern amalgamation of rhythm and blues, soul and country that became known as the Muscle Shoals sound, and who as a producer recorded a wide range of music with Bob Dylan, Kenny Chesney, Bob Seger, Dire Straits and others, died on Wednesday at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., north of Nashville. He was 66.
Matt McKean/Times Daily
Barry Beckett in 1999.
The cause was complications of a stroke, his son Matthew said.
As a studio musician in the 1960s, Mr. Beckett played in the band affiliated with Fame Studios, the production house that turned an unlikely Southern town, Muscle Shoals, Ala., into a center of indigenous American popular music. The band, known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and also called the Swampers, split from Fame in 1969 and, helped by the producer Jerry Wexler, created its own studio, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, in nearby Sheffield.
Either with the Rhythm Section — which also included the guitarist Jimmy Johnson, the bassist David Hood and the drummer Roger Hawkins — or on his own, Mr. Beckett played behind a remarkable list of performers. They include Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, Percy Sledge, J. J. Cale, Boz Skaggs, Paul Simon — he played the organ solo on Mr. Simon’s “Kodachrome” — Bob Seger and Leon Russell. The Swampers were immortalized in Southern rock ’n’ roll when the band Lynyrd Skynyrd tipped hat to them in the 1974 hit “Sweet Home Alabama”:
Now, Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two
Lord, they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue
Now, how about you?
Barry Edward Beckett was born in Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 4, 1943. His father, Horace, was an insurance salesman who also dabbled on guitar and for a time hosted a local radio program. He attended the University of Alabama, where, according to The Times Daily of Florence, Ala., he first heard the music of two of the Swampers, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hawkins, who were then playing in a band called the Del-Rays. He was working with a blues producer in Pensacola, Fla., when he was asked to join the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
In the 1970s Mr. Beckett began producing as well as playing. Among many other projects, he produced or co-produced the hit singles “Torn Between Two Lovers” (1976) by Mary MacGregor, “Smoke From a Distant Fire” (1977) by the Sanford-Townsend Band and Mr. Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonite” (1978), as well as, with Mr. Wexler, Bob Dylan’s albums “Slow Train Coming” (1979), on which he also played keyboards, and “Saved ” (1980).
In the mid-1980s Mr. Beckett moved to Nashville, where he worked for a time producing records for Warner Brothers, including Hank Williams Jr.’s album “Born to Boogie,” which reached the top of the Billboard country chart in 1987. He later became an independent producer, working with rock groups like Phish, and country artists like Kenny Chesney and Alabama.
In addition to his son Matthew, who lives in Nashville, Mr. Beckett is survived by his wife of 43 years, Diane, whom he met when he was playing at a club in Pensacola and she was in the audience; another son, Mark, of Hendersonville, a drummer who plays on Mr. Chesney’s current hit, “Out Last Night”; and a grandson.
“There’s no way I would be where I am today in my life if it wasn’t for Barry Beckett,” Mr. Chesney, perhaps country music’s top male star and whose first two albums were produced by Mr. Beckett, told the newspaper The Tennessean in an interview last week.
“He was one of the first people in Nashville to believe in me, on any level.”
Mr. Barry Becket introduced so many wonderful musicians, singers, and songwriters to the world. May he rest in peace.
On another note, concerning the band Lynyrd Skynyrd……..
Many people who listen to the song “Sweet Home, Alabama,” do not realize the racist self-denial that Lynyrd Skynyrd shows in their contempt towards Neil Young for telling the truth about Alabama’s viciousness towards her Black citizens with murder, lynchings, bombings, rapes and numerous atrocities.
Neil Young told the truth about Alabama, and Lynyrd Skynyrd could not face this truth, therefore, they wrote their angry diatribe of a song. The truth hurts; the truth cuts like a knife; but, the truth shall set you free.
Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote their song in response to Neil’s telling the “Southern Man” and “Alabama” that his hatred would destroy Alabama—and the South—-if the racists did not cease their venomous attacks upon Black citizens. (And it certainly does not help that LS slavishly runs and prarades a Confederate flag all across the stage during their concerts. A flag which is a mockery against the humanity of Black people.)
“Sweet Home Alabama.”
Not for the countless Black women, men and children who had their lives taken from them by a state that for decades upheld racist hatred in its laws.
better keep your head
what your good book said
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
I saw cotton
and I saw black
Tall white mansions
and little shacks.
when will you
pay them back?
I heard screamin’
and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?
better keep your head
what your good book said
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
your hair is golden brown
I’ve seen your black man
Swear by God
I’m gonna cut him down!
I heard screamin’
and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?
The devil fools with the best laid plan.
Swing low alabama
You got spare change
You got to feel strange
And now the moment is all that it meant.
Alabama, you got the weight on your shoulders
Thats breaking your back.
Your cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track
Banjos playing through the broken glass
Windows down in alabama.
See the old folks tied in white ropes
Hear the banjo.
Dont it take you down home?
Alabama, you got the weight on your shoulders
Thats breaking your back.
Your cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track
Can I see you and shake your hand.
Make friends down in alabama.
Im from a new land
I come to you and see all this ruin
What are you doing alabama?
You got the rest of the union to help you along
Whats going wrong?
“Sweet Home Alabama
Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes
Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Here I come Alabama
Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue
Now how about you?
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the governor’s true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Yea, yea Montgomery’s got the answer
Physician, fugitive, federal prisoner, clinician to the homeless, advocate for AIDS patients. epidemiologist: That was the arc of Alan Berkman’s career.
June 15, 2009
Dr. Alan Berkman, right, discussing AIDS in Tanzania.
Dr. Berkman in 1985, accused of armed robbery and possessing explosives.
Dr. Berkman, a Vietnam-era radical who spent eight years in prison for armed robbery and possession of explosives and who later founded Health GAP — a leader in the coalition that helped make AIDS medication available to millions in the world’s poorest countries — died in Manhattan on June 5. He was 63 and lived in Manhattan.
The cause was cancer, with which he had struggled for nearly 20 years, said his wife, Dr. Barbara Zeller.
Eagle Scout; high school salutatorian; National Merit Scholar; honor student at Cornell, class of 1967; graduate of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, class of ’71; medical director of the Highbridge Woodycrest Center in the Bronx, one of the first residences designed for AIDS patients; vice chairman of the epidemiology department at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health since 2007: Those, too, are parts of Dr. Berkman’s record, along with his years working in clinics in the South Bronx, Lower Manhattan and rural Alabama.
His life was laced with an activism that went to extremes, both in the tumult of the 1960s and ’70s and into the Reagan years.
On May 23, 1985, Dr. Berkman and a friend were arrested outside Doylestown, Pa. In their car, federal agents found a pistol, a shotgun and keys to a garage that contained 100 pounds of dynamite. That day ended Dr. Berkman’s two decades of participation in radical groups, among them the Students for a Democratic Society.
Four years earlier, on Oct. 20, 1981, an offshoot of the Weather Underground had attempted to rob a Brink’s armored truck in Nyack, N.Y. In the shootout, two police officers and a guard died.
A year later, a federal grand jury investigating the case subpoenaed Dr. Berkman, who, a witness said, had treated one of the robbery defendants for a gunshot wound. When he was indicted and charged with being an accessory after the fact, Dr. Berkman jumped bail; he spent several years on the run.
While a fugitive, he entered a suburban Connecticut supermarket with a friend; they brandished revolvers, tied up the manager and stole $21,480. Prosecutors later said the money was used to buy the explosives found in Doylestown and to support other radical groups. Dr. Berkman was sentenced to 10 years in prison; he served 8.
In 1994, when a reporter for The New York Times interviewed Dr. Berkman at El Rio, a clinic in the South Bronx where he was treating drug-addicted parolees, the doctor, too, was on parole.
“There is plenty to learn from all the mistakes we made,” he said at the time, referring to his radical colleagues. “Power is corrupting. And the use of violence is a form of power. People motivated to stop the suffering of others have to be careful not be caught up in the same dynamics.”
He changed his dynamics, not his motivation. In 1995, he became a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia, working with mentally ill homeless men who had AIDS.
In 1998 and ’99, Dr. Berkman did research in South Africa, where AIDS was rampant. Upon returning to New York, he gathered a group of fellow AIDS activists and founded Health Global Access Project, known as Health GAP, which became one of the leading groups in the campaign to provide antiretroviral drugs to poor people around the world.
“He was one of the key figures in changing 20 years of U.S. trade policy on patents and medicine,” said James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, one of the organizations that shared Dr. Berkman’s mission.
Health GAP, along with other advocacy groups, successfully lobbied the Clinton administration to change its opposition to compulsory licenses — orders by foreign governments requiring the owner of a drug patent to issue a license to a generic manufacturer, making the drug cheaper. Until that policy change, trade tariffs were often used against countries that issued compulsory licenses.
At the time, antiretroviral drugs cost about $15,000 a year for a patient. Now, with some American manufacturers sharply reducing their prices, and with generic marketers, particularly in India, offering them at very low prices, the drugs can cost as little as $150 a year.
In 1999, fewer than one million people, all in Western countries, had access to the H.I.V. medications they needed, said Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP. “Now,” she said, “there are close to four million, and more than half of them are in the poorest countries.”
Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 4, 1945, Alan Berkman was one of four sons of Samuel and Mona Osit Berkman. The family later moved to Middletown, N.Y., where his father owned a plumbing supply company. Besides Dr. Zeller, whom he married in 1975, Dr. Berkman is survived by his brothers, Jerry, Larry and Steven; his daughters, Sarah Zeller-Berkman and Harriet Clark; and a grandson.
Dr. Berkman learned he had a cancer of the lymph nodes while in prison and had recurring bouts with the disease.
In 1994, while treating parolees in the South Bronx, Dr. Berkman was asked how someone so committed to saving lives could have joined groups that were willing to plant bombs.
“I had seen pain in the communities I worked in,” he said, and “an increasing indifference” to that pain. “We became desperate and kept going further out on the limb.”
He added, “Between going to prison and having cancer two times and knowing that death sits on my shoulder, I try to make every day matter.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 17, 2009 An obituary on Monday about Dr. Alan Berkman, a Vietnam -era radical who became an epidemiologist and AIDS activist, described incorrectly a group to which he belonged. Students for a Democratic Society was a radical group in the 1960s, not an underground group.
SENATE APOLOGIZES FOR SLAVERY, BUT DISCLAIMER DRAWS CRITICISM
By WILLIAM DOUGLAS
Thursday, June 18, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a resolution Thursday calling on the U.S. to apologize officially for the enslavement and segregation of millions of African-Americans and to acknowledge “the fundamental injustice, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws.”
The resolution, sponsored with little fanfare by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where it may meet an unlikely foe: members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Several CBC members expressed concerns Thursday about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.”
The CBC members think that the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. Congressional Black Caucus ChairBarbara Lee, D-Calif., said her organization is studying the language of Harkin’s resolution.
Other CBC members said they’ve read it and don’t like it.
“Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “A number of us are prepared to vote against it in its present form.
There are several members of the Progressive Caucus who feel the same way.”
Thompson and other Black Caucus members noted that a 1988 apology that the government issued to the Japanese-Americans held in U.S. camps during World War II had no disclaimer and didn’t prevent them from receiving compensation.
“The language is unacceptable,” said Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., “I’m a reparations man – how else do you repair the damage?”
Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., the Senate’s lone African-American, went to the floor after the Harkin resolution passed and said, “I want to go on record making sure that that disclaimer in no way would eliminate future actions that may be brought before this body that may deal with reparations.”
Such concerns by the Black Caucus could slow a resolution that many lawmakers and civil rights groups considered such a slam-dunk that plans are already under way for an elaborate signing and apology ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda early next month.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who’s shepherding the Harkin resolution in the House, sponsored a slavery apology bill that excluded a disclaimer and passed in that chamber last year. He described the scheduled Rotunda event as “an understanding, a beginning of a dialogue.”
Instead of making preparations for the event, Cohen found himself Thursday trying to convince Black Caucus members that the disclaimer is simply ultra-careful legalese that senators insisted upon and doesn’t impact the drive for reparations.
“It doesn’t set reparations back,” Cohen said, his voice trailing. “But to be against an apology … .”
However, some African-Americans hailed the Senate vote as a monumental achievement.
Charles Ogletree, a Harvard University law professor who mentored President Barack Obama, placed it on par with the federal government’s apology to Japanese-Americans and said it comes at a time of significant milestones for African-Americans.
“This year we’re celebrating the 80th birthday of Martin Luther King, the 200th birthday of Lincoln and the 100th anniversary of the NAACP,” Ogletree said.
Harkin’s resolution was blunt and direct. It states that Africans and their descendants were forced into slavery in the U.S. and the original 13 colonies from 1619 through 1865 and “were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage.”
To that end, the resolution “apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws.”
“A wrong of segregation was done by the federal government of the United States of America, and we acknowledge that,” said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., a co-sponsor of the resolution. “We say it was wrong, and we ask forgiveness for that.”
The U.S. and other countries have long wrestled with apologizing for their roles in slavery or the African slave trade. Former President Bill Clinton considered apologizing, but stopped short of it during a trip to Uganda in 1998.
“European-Americans received the fruits of the slave trade,” Clinton said then. “And we were wrong.”
In 1997, an apology measure by then-Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, failed to gain support in a Republican-controlled House. Cohen’s resolution passed the House by voice vote last year but lingered in the Senate.
Harkin’s resolution notes that states including Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Maryland and North Carolina have adopted resolutions “officially expressing appropriate remorse for slavery.”
In addition, cities including Philadelphia, Chicago and Richmond, Va., have passed ordinances over the years that require businesses seeking government contracts to provide historic records to determine whether they were involved in or earned profits from slavery before they’re awarded contracts.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair flirted with apologizing for Great Britain’s role in slavery in late 2006, but came up short, like Clinton. The Church of England earlier that year voted to formally apologize to the descendants of victims of the slave trade.
1956 The Platters’ beautiful standard, “My Prayer” (#1 pop and R&B), was released.
1960 Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” charted en route to #2 R&B (#12 pop.) It was his last hit for the independent Keen label before he went on to RCA for major money and began writing gospel-inflected songs with more blues influence.
1963 Little Miss & the Muffets (originally called the Meltones) topped the Hot 100 with “Chapel of Love,” but thanks to a last-minute name change they became known to the world as the Dixie Cups.
1970 Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry headlined the Hampden Scene ’70 concert in Glasgow, Scotland.
1971 Gladys Knight & the Pips were the last pop or R&B act to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.
1992 Earth, Wind & Fire performed on the Great Lawn of Central Park in New York City at the Earth Pledge Concert to save the environment.
1993 The biopic, What’s Love Got to Do With It, based on Tina Turner’s life and her 1986 autobiography, premiered.
1994 Stevie Wonder performed at the twentieth-anniversary concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and then donated his harmonica to the Hard Rock Cafe in Washington, DC.
1954 The Drifters’ “Honey Love” (#40 pop, #1 R&B; $50.00), the Midnighters’ “Sexy Ways” (#2 R&B; $80.00), and the Moonglows’ blues classic, “I Was Wrong” ($800) were released.
1964 The Chiffons began a tour starting in San Bernadino, CA, as the opening act for the Rolling Stones on their debut American tour.
1974 Sly Stone (Sylvester Stewart) married Kathy Silva on stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City prior to a concert by his group, Sly & the Family Stone. It lasted five months (the marriage, not the concert.)
1982 The Temptations’ reunion album reached #37 pop and included all of 1964’s original members, including Eddie Kendricks. In his enthusiasm to get into the music business, Eddie forged his brother’s signature on an $82 income tax refund check to have traveling money to Detroit.
1993 Mariah Carey married Sony Music president Tommy Mottola at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York. Among the guests were Barbara Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel.
1993 Richie Havens performed at UCLA in Los Angeles in the Troubadours of Folk Festival.
1994 Donna Summer performed with the Nashville Symphony at the town’s Summer Lights Arts Festival.
BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS · A BLOGSITE FOR THE PRAISING OF ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL AND SUBLIME IN HONOR OF ALL BLACK WOMEN. "ONLY THE BLACK WOMAN CAN SAY WHEN AND WHERE I ENTER, IN THE QUIET, UNDISPUTED DIGNITY OF MY WOMANHOOD, WITHOUT VIOLENCE AND WITHOUT SUING OR SPECIAL PATRONAGE, THEN AND THERE THE WHOLE. . .RACE ENTERS WITH ME." ANNA JULIA COOPER, 1892